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Irvine in the News: June 2010

BY Thuy Nguyen Kumar
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides project support for a broad ran
User is currently offline
| Jul 01, 2010

In June 2010, the following published articles mentioned the work of the Foundation or our grantees:

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Irvine Announces $8.6 Million in New Grants

BY Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2006 to 2013, last serving
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| Jun 17, 2010

San Francisco The Board of Directors of The James Irvine Foundation has approved 15 grants totaling nearly $8.6 million in support of the Foundation's mission of expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. (For a list of approved grants, click here.)

Supporting Innovation Among Major Arts Institutions

Grants approved as part of the Arts program include $3.7 million to five major California arts institutions through Irvine's Arts Innovation Fund (AIF). The Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco, the La Jolla Playhouse, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Music Center in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Symphony will each receive grants to support creative audience development approaches and/or innovative programming plans. All of the organizations are previous AIF grantees and some will receive funding to further institutionalize projects that were previously funded; others are proposing new innovations that will be developed. These grants are aligned with the goal of Irvine's Arts program, which seeks to promote a vibrant and inclusive artistic and cultural environment in California.

Establishing a Linked Learning Center

Grants approved as part of Irvine’s Youth program include a $750,000 grant to the Los Angeles Small Schools Center to establish a regional Linked Learning Center in Los Angeles. The center would support Linked Learning practice at Los Angeles Unified School District's Local District 4 while also providing specialized support to other Los Angeles area Linked Learning District Demonstration sites. The center will also identify potential new Linked Learning districts within LAUSD over the next two years. Grants made as part of Irvine's Youth program seek to increase the number of low income youth in California who complete high school on time and attain a postsecondary credential by the age of 25.

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From the President: Envisioning the New California High School

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Jun 16, 2010

Dear Friends,

California high schools have faced extraordinary challenges this year. State budget cuts and the economic downturn have forced many schools to resort to drastic measures, including teacher layoffs and shorter school years, to balance their budgets. And in a state where students already lag their peers elsewhere in the country in academic achievement, there is concern that these measures will only put them further behind.

Yet there are reasons to be optimistic about California's educational future, including the work of some of our grantees as described in this quarter's letter. The efforts of our partners demonstrate that despite the considerable, short-term fiscal challenges we face, the state's top educational policymakers have not lost sight of longer-term goals that ultimately will have more far-reaching impact on California's young people and our economy.

Last month, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell released a report outlining a bold vision for transforming California's high schools through an approach called Linked Learning. This approach, originally known as Multiple Pathways, seeks to engage more students and prepare them for college and career by combining the best of college-prep academics, demanding technical education and hands-on work experience.

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Irvine in the News: May 2010

BY Thuy Nguyen Kumar
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides project support for a broad ran
User is currently offline
| Jun 01, 2010

In May 2010, the following published articles mentioned the work of the Foundation or our grantees:

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A Conversation with Joseph Pon, Irvine’s VP for Programs

BY Alex Barnum
Alex Barnum
Alex Barnum was a Communications Officer at The James Irvine Foundation from 200
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| May 01, 2010

Six months ago, Joe Pon became Irvine’s vice president for programs after spending 18 years – his entire career – at one of Silicon Valley’s most respected companies, Applied Materials.

Crossing the boundary from the private to the nonprofit sector is a major career leap, but it was probably less of a stretch for Joe, whose interest in public service has always driven career decisions. He brings to Irvine extensive experience building a respected global philanthropic program, as well as many years in leadership roles with local community nonprofits.

At Applied, Joe oversaw the company’s corporate philanthropy in the 14 countries where it operates, including leading strategy and execution at the Applied Materials Foundation, a well-known Silicon Valley corporate foundation. As Applied’s vice president for global corporate affairs, Joe oversaw a staff of 50 employees in government and public affairs, marketing and communications.

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Irvine in the News: April 2010

BY Thuy Nguyen Kumar
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides project support for a broad ran
User is currently offline
| May 01, 2010

In April 2010, the following published articles mentioned the work of the Foundation or our grantees:

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Seven Californians Honored with 2010 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards

BY Alex Barnum
Alex Barnum
Alex Barnum was a Communications Officer at The James Irvine Foundation from 200
User is currently offline
| Apr 29, 2010

SacramentoThe James Irvine Foundation will announce and honor the recipients of the 2010 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards at an event in Sacramento today. Now in its fifth year, the awards celebrate extraordinary leaders who are advancing innovative and effective solutions to significant state issues. The awards aim to publicize proven solutions that can inform policymaking and better the lives of more Californians.

The seven recipients, described below, will receive six $125,000 awards and additional support from the Foundation for their organizations. (Two co-recipients will share one of the awards.)

Following recognition by legislators on the California Assembly floor, recipients will receive their awards from elected and appointed officials at an event at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.

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The Case for Foundation Performance Assessment

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
User is currently offline
| Apr 27, 2010
From the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, April 26, 2010

Fueled by new technology and a change in mind-set, foundations have become more transparent about their activities and operations in recent years. This has been heartening, given the responsibilities and privileges inherent to our tax status, and the fact that we must work in partnership with many constituents and stakeholders in order to achieve our goals.

Just recently, there has been a major contribution in this regard by the Foundation Center’s Glass Pockets website, which provides a look at best practices in foundation transparency and which encourages the field to move further in this direction. The number of foundations and array of practices reflected on that site is impressive, and Irvine’s work on performance assessment, the subject of these blog posts, has sought to contribute to this movement. 

In the first three posts of this series I described why we developed a performance assessment framework, outlined some of the challenges we’ve encountered in assessing Irvine’s performance, and shared feedback from our board, the primary audience for the Annual Performance Report. In this final post I want to argue that robust performance assessment activities — and the transparency they encourage — serve to make philanthropy more effective.

View the full blog post.

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Our Board’s Perspective on Performance Reporting

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
User is currently offline
| Apr 23, 2010
From the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, April 22, 2010

In an earlier post on this blog, I pointed out that the audience for the Annual Performance Report (.pdf)is Irvine’s board of directors. As we delivered the fourth of these at our annual board retreat last month, we devoted some time to learning more about the board’s perspectives on the report.

There were two key themes that emerged, related to the value of context, and the appropriate frequency of the report. Regarding context, board members expressed in numerous ways how much they value the contextual information that the report provides.  Two sections stood out in this regard: first, a table that describes how Irvine’s funding compares to other funders in our program areas, and second, a section on program context indicators, where we provide broader indicators related to our programs, such as per capita public spending for the arts across the U.S. or data on high school drop-out rates in California. This latter section is not meant to suggest that our work will necessarily affect those numbers, but rather to expose the board to broader data sets that help contextualize our program work. 

The positive reaction to these sections of the report underscores for me how important it is to help our boards gain a deeper understanding of the environment for the Foundation’s activities. We can explain our goals and strategies and describe grants aligned with them, but there will always be a missing piece if the board is not able to contextualize our foundation’s work. The board’s feedback encourages us not only to consider other ways to use the report to provide such context, but also to explore how we can shape other board materials and meetings in ways that expose them to the broader environment for our work.

View the full blog post.

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Challenges to Good Performance Assessment

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
User is currently offline
| Apr 21, 2010
From the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, April 20, 2010

In my last blog post I described why we started assessing our performance as a foundation and how we developed an Annual Performance Report (.pdf) that balances analysis of our grantmaking with tracking of overall institutional effectiveness. As we have engaged in institutional assessment work, we have encountered three broad challenges I will explore in this post: 

  1. The need to distinguish between reporting on activities and describing outcomes and impact
  2. The difficulty of summarizing complex social change
  3. The inherent conflict of assessing the past in a forward-facing enterprise   

Activities vs. Impact

We are always looking for quantitative ways of describing and analyzing our work. Since the grants we award (and the ways we track those grants) are clearly quantifiable, they have become a prominent part of the Annual Performance Report. For example, we examine trends and changes in our grantmaking over time, explore the geographic distribution of our funds, and examine the populations served by our grants. While this provides an easily quantifiable way of examining our grantmaking, we realize that describing where our resources go is not the same as conducting an assessment of impact.

The same challenge applies to other sections of the report, where we describe financial and investment performance, summarize reports we have published, or discuss how we have refined our strategies based on what we are learning. While all of this together provides a comprehensive picture of our activities in a given year, it may or may not provide a complete assessment of institutional performance.

View the full blog post.

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