James Irvine, an agricultural entrepreneur in California, founded the James Irvine Foundation in 1937. He built the foundation in an effort to improve and sustain conditions, and build new opportunities, for citizens of California. Today, it is one of the largest foundations in the country.
During his first year with the foundation, Irvine focused specifically on giving money to educational, cultural, health care and community-service related organizations. From its conception through this year, the James Irvine Foundation has worked to expand opportunities for the people of California through three different program areas – youth, arts, and California democracy.
In January of 2016, foundation leadership announced that the philanthropic giant will shift its giving to a new focus: “expanding economic and political opportunity for families and young adults who are working but struggling with poverty.” The foundation will honor commitments it had already made to grantees under the old priorities, and asserts a belief that there are ways in which programs serving youth, arts and California’s democratic process can continue to fit into the new framework.
This framework will specifically support post-secondary success, voice and influence, and career readiness and living-wage work as ways to strengthen all of California by making families and young people who struggle in poverty more self-sufficient, engaged and able to exercise their influence.
Major Program Categories: To support greater economic and political opportunity for struggling Californians, the Irvine Foundation will support projects falling into one of three new categories:
- Voice and influence
- Career readiness and living-wage work
- Post-secondary success
August of 2016 saw the first round of grantmaking under the organization’s new giving priorities. Click here to learn about the latest round of grant recipients, approved at the beginning of October, which represent the new giving categories as well as prior grant commitments by the foundation.
In addition to its program grants, the organization annually distributes the James Irvine Leadership Awards – $200,000 awards to individual leaders “advancing innovative and effective solutions to significant state issues” to further their work, as well as the opportunity to connect within their field to introduce their efforts and approaches.
How to Apply: As of now the foundation is not taking unsolicited letters of inquiry or applications. However, it seems that with the implementation of the foundation’s new priorities and plan, the grant-making process may continue to evolve as well. You can contribute ideas and questions via an online feedback form, with the caveat that not all feedback will be responded to.
See the foundation’s blog for updates on giving activities and potential future opportunities to engage
Name of Foundation: The James Irvine Foundation
Location: Offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA
Contact Information: Click here for relevant staff contact information
Phone: San Francisco main office 415.777.2244; Los Angeles main office 213.236.0552
Coverage Area: California
Subject Area: Working young people and families’ economic and political opportunity
Last Year Total Giving: $73,678,762
Recent News and Grantmaking: