Irvine boosts community foundations

The James Irvine Foundation is committing another $4 million to an effort to strengthen local philanthropy in underserved regions of California.

The three-year grants to emerging community foundations are intended to build on two previous initiatives by the San Francisco

The Irvine Foundation launched its first effort to support California community foundations with assets under $20 million in 1995.

The new grants provide continued support to seven of the nine community foundations targeted by a second initiative 10 years later.

These nine groups have seen their combined assets grow to $143.8 million from $64.8 million in the past three years, an annual growth rate of 33 percent, surpassing the average rate of 20 percent for similar foundations nationally, Irvine officials say.

With Irvine’s support, the foundations’ grantmaking capacity also has increased to $13.8 million from $10.1 million.

An increased rate of endowment growth and a larger average fund size have contributed to greater operating stability at the nine participating institutions, the foundations says.

“As a group we have been lifted out of our adolescence,” Terence Mulligan, president of the Napa Valley Community Foundation, said in a statement.

The new grants will provide general operating support, as well as funds to be re-granted by the community foundations to nonprofits that meet the goals of Irvine’s arts and youth programs.

The Irvine Foundation also will offer the foundations ongoing technical assistance in the areas of governance, leadership development, sustainability and visibility.

Recipients include:

* Community Foundation of Mendocino County

* Fresno Regional Foundation

* Kern County Community Foundation

* Napa Valley Community Foundation

* Placer Community Foundation

* San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation

* Shasta Regional Community Foundation

The Williams Group, a strategic communications agency in Grand Rapids, Mich., also will receive a grant to continue its work to help community foundations build their visibility.

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