Coto Drops AB 624 in Compromise with 10 California Foundations

Assemblyman Joe Coto (D – San Jose) agreed to drop his sponsorship of AB 624, legislation that would have required California’s largest foundations to disclose data about the diversity of their boards and grantees, in a compromise with ten of California’s largest foundations that have pledged to make a multiyear, multimillion dollar investment in the state’s minority communities.  The ten California foundations (the "Foundation Coalition"), together with the chairs of the three ethnic legislative caucuses, agreed to implement a new project aimed at helping nonprofit organizations that serve low-income and minority communities. The Foundation Coalition consists of the following foundations: The Ahmanson Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, the UniHealth Foundation, The Ralph M. Parson Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, The Annenberg Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Weingart Foundation.

The foundations propose to work together over a multi-year period "undertaking tangible actions" to address what they believe to be the three systematic issues that currently hinder these nonprofit organizations from reaching their full potential:

  1. The lack of capacity of many minority-led organization and other grassroots community organizations to compete for funding from large foundations.
  2. The need for additional investment in capacity building and leadership development targeted at such organizations and leaders of color.
  3. The lack of access to larger foundations by many such organizations.

The Foundation Coalition proposes to alleviate these obstacles by making grants for capacity building support and technical assistance, providing support for leadership development activities, and funding ongoing research in the nonprofit sector through an independent study of the California nonprofit sector on topics such as the number of minority-led, community-based nonprofits and their capacity needs. The Foundation Coalition expects to announce "a comprehensive set of grantmaking activities" of an overall multi-million dollar range by the end of 2008 that will begin in 2009 and lead to increased funding towards capacity building support, technical assistance, and activities to train and increase the number of leaders of color. The Foundation Coalition believes organizations receiving such funding for capacity building and leadership development will, in turn, be able to participate in other programmatic activities such as youth development, healthy communities, civic engagement, environmental justice, financial literacy and policy advocacy that will positively affect minority and low-income communities.

The foundations intend to review their progress against their stated objectives periodically with key community leaders and produce publicly available annual reports on their activities. The Foundation Coalition plans to use the key community leaders as valuable assets in better understanding current issues as well as informing the foundation leaders of how they can better serve these organizations’ needs in conjunction with the information obtained from their on-going research on the California nonprofit sector to best direct their efforts towards the success of low income and minority communities.

Read Assemblyman Coto’s press release here.

Read Peter Manzo’s post on the Stanford Social Innovation Review site here.

– Emily Chan

Emily Chan is a new contributor to the Nonprofit Law Blog.  Emily is a 2L at UC Hastings and winner of Best Oral Argument, Moot Court Section Award – Spring 2008.