The Los Angeles-based Weingart Foundation has reaffirmed a commitment it made last summer to address systemic inequity in Southern California and base its program and policy decisions on the goal of achieving fairness, inclusion, and opportunity for all residents of the region.
Based on months of "intensive listening" in the communities it serves, including individual phone calls with more than fifty nonprofit leaders across Southern California, community listening sessions, and two teleconferences attended by hundreds of nonprofit representatives, the foundation has issued a Program Plan for FY2018 that reaffirms a number of assumptions that will guide its work going forward. They include the belief that underserved communities of color disproportionately bear the impact of social and economic inequity in Southern California; that service gaps exist in the distribution of nonprofit and public resources available to low-income individuals and communities; that many community-based organizations are unable to meet the continued and projected increase in demand for services and programs serving low-income and underserved individuals and communities; that continuing infrastructure challenges, including insufficient unrestricted funding, limited operating reserves, and the failure of government and private funders to support the full cost of providing services, limit nonprofit effectiveness; and that many organizations providing critical services in low-income communities are small and underresourced and struggle to build their capacity and infrastructure.
The foundation further notes that leadership from the foundation community is needed in two key areas: engaging in and supporting policy and advocacy efforts aimed at increasing fairness and inclusion and expanding opportunities for those facing the most obstacles; and promoting grantmaking policy and practice that supports and strengthens the nonprofit sector, especially in vulnerable communities.
"From our perspective, the primary issue remains equity — especially given the changes at the federal level," Belen Vargas, vice president for programs, said in a message on the foundation’s website. "For us, equity means correcting the imbalances we see across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic lines in our education, health, economic, and justice systems."