July 21, 2020
In August 2020, I will begin my 22nd year as the President of the Weingart Foundation—and the work has never been harder.
Simply stated, we had too much inequality and injustice before the pandemic, and now we have more. COVID-19 has put deep-rooted structural racism on full display, and the disproportionate impact of the crisis on our most vulnerable and marginalized communities has been devastating.
Simultaneously, the growing and potentially transformative movements around Black lives and racial and socioeconomic justice are creating historic opportunities for change. We stand with communities powerfully advocating for change and will continue to use our voice to advance racial equity and justice. It is also important that we act with humility and center the voices of communities of color—including youth—in everything we do. We pledge to use our privilege, resources, and influence to address structural and systemic issues, and to deeply invest in and follow the leadership of impacted communities.
The Foundation’s immediate response to the pandemic focused on providing emergency response funding, providing direct assistance to individuals. We quickly and strategically made over $2 million in emergency response grants throughout our service area, and sought the advice of our nonprofit partners for a longer-term effort. Not surprisingly, nonprofit leaders stressed the importance of unrestricted, multi-year operating support. We also helped initiate a cross-sectoral planning process designed to ensure a just recovery and advance systemic change, and maintained our support for Bold Vision 2028, an ambitious initiative focused on youth of color.
In the current fiscal year, which starts July 1, we will focus on nonprofits’ longer-term needs. Our F.Y. 2021 Program Plan outlines our goal to distribute over $20 million in Unrestricted Operating Support grants to core partners in order to help them maintain and strengthen capacity and—most importantly—to build power. We will also allocate additional resources to make program related investments, maintain flexibility to respond to emerging needs, and sustain our Youth Organizing and John W. Mack Fellows programs. The Foundation will continue to target resources to the historically underfunded communities of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles, and to the issue areas of Immigrant/Refugee Rights, Housing and Homelessness, and Nonprofit Effectiveness Cutting across all of our grantmaking and program investments will be a focus on addressing the structural racism and socioeconomic injustice exposed by this crisis.
A just recovery must move resources and power to the most vulnerable and marginalized in our society, and it will require that we change the systems that are no longer working. This is no easy task, but real change is both necessary and possible. We look forward to working with our partners to advance the vision of a caring, safe, and thriving society through this crisis and beyond.
President & C.E.O.
NOTE: The Weingart Foundation will be hosting a webinar in September to walk through the F.Y. 2021 Program Plan and answer your questions. More information will be coming soon.