Through the program, five nonprofit leaders in California were recognized for their innovative efforts to tackle some of the toughest problems in the state — including youth development, health care, homelessness, and senior services — and will receive a total of $1.25 million to expand or replicate that work and boost its impact. This year, for the first time since the program was established in 2006, all the award recipients are women.
Recipients include Yammilette G. Rodriguez of the Youth Leadership Institute, whose work empowers thousands of underrepresented youth each year to engage as community advocates; Elaine Batchlor, whose resolve led to the completion of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, which serves the south Los Angeles community; Encore.org's Eunice Lin Nichols, who leads the organization's Generation to Generation (Gen2Gen) campaign, an effort to engage one million adults over the age of 50 in the lives of young people; Sherilyn Adams of Larkin Street Youth Services, which works to ensure that youths' voices are heard and that lawmakers understand the unique needs of youth experiencing homelessness in San Francisco and across the state; and Eileen Richardson of Downtown Streets Team, whose creative approach to providing wraparound services in exchange for community improvement has helped thousands of homeless individuals in a dozen California cities transition into permanent housing.
"We are heartened and inspired by the work of these innovative Californians," said Irvine Foundation president and CEO Don Howard. "California's challenges can sometimes seem insurmountable, so it's an honor to celebrate these exemplary leaders and elevate the solutions that are improving lives across the state."