In 2019, Smart Growth California celebrated its 10-year anniversary and expanded our network of funders working together to build healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities. With network-wide growth, impressive regional and statewide funder collaboration, and many new funders engaging, we’ve deepened our work together over the last twelve months. We’re pleased to share some 2019 highlights and the state of our network with you:
Smart Growth California’s network grew to over 520 professionals representing over 243 funding institutions (a historic high for our network). Over 150 funders participated in SGC workgroup meetings, conference calls and our 2019 Funder Summit. The number of funders serving in leadership positions increased on all key committees, and more funders are working together collaboratively across the state, with nine new funders joining SGC working groups. In total during the past year, 43 individual funders participated in leadership positions in the SGC network.
To keep funders informed on the latest happenings in the California smart growth arena, SGC prepared and distributed a monthly e-newsletter with relevant articles and timely information for funders as well as organizational updates. We authored nine blogs on SGC’s website to report on critical issues in the funder community, and have seen a significant increase in followers on SGC’s Twitter account, which posts timely articles and reports.
SGC started the year strong by hosting its biennial statewide Funder Summit in Sacramento, on Feb. 12 – 13. We focused on four urgent smart growth themes playing out in our state: climate, water, housing and wildfires. At our inception, the focus was primarily the intersection of land-use, transportation and climate, and so the Summit reflected the growth in issue-focus (and size) of the network. The Summit attracted 83 registrants, of whom 60 were funders, with nearly half being first time attendees – a huge success! Throughout the Summit, funders experienced opportunities to learn, align and collaborate with others through site visits, keynotes presentations, breakout groups and social events. Special toasts were made to honor this last decade of collaboration!
Smart Growth California is committed to inviting in speakers who will bring insight and knowledge on the most pressing issues in the State. During 2019, SGC hosted over 80 speakers at our workgroup meetings, webinars and Funder Summit, which included leadership from nonprofits, government, public agencies, academia, media and communities. SGC also hosted three funder learning calls and a network breakfast: a June 2019 video conference on California’s Hottest Topic: The Housing Crisis and our collective response; a two-part webinar on Water, Land Use and Smart Growth in California in October 2019; and a March 20th breakfast at TFN’s 20th annual conference in Miami.
Our working groups remain the heart of Smart Growth California’s mission to engage and align funders. Highlights from our working groups this year include:
- The San Joaquin Valley Funders Workgroup has had its most significant year yet, working to launch a pooled fund of nearly four million dollars to support water and power building in the Valley over the next three years. The initial funding leveraged a $1.6 million matching grant from the Water Funder Initiative, a national funding effort.
- The Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative co-funded and launched the Link Program, currently a $600K initiative to provide technical support to community based organizations and cities to support equitable implementation of park funding from Measure A, which builds upon the Measures Matters report that the Collaborative supported in 2018. TFN’s Partners for Places matching grant program also advanced equitable development of the Los Angeles County’s first comprehensive sustainability plan.
- The Community Foundation Water Initiative entered the second phase of a shared pooled fund project, a $250K effort led by the Local Government Commission to begin implementation of the Bringing Water and Land Use Together report they released in early 2019. LGC selected five organizations around the state to work on developing a plan for local implementation of the report.
- The SGC Steering Committee dove into the intersection between housing, climate and equity and explored potential strategic collaboration opportunities. The Steering Committee plans to continue conversations in 2020 with a joint meeting with the ClimatePlan steering committee in early 2020.
The work that has begun to coalesce this year amongst Smart Growth California funders will continue to grow, and will engage funders and partners more meaningfully over the years to come. At the same time, California’s needs are great and growing, with an ever-deepening economic divide, a mushrooming housing crisis and natural disasters unfolding unlike any before them. The urgency for communities, government, funders and other stakeholders to work towards an aligned agenda on equitable smart growth is more critical than ever. We invite you to join our network to continue the critical work of building more healthy, equitable communities in California. If you would like to learn about ways in which to engage in our network, please contact Ron Milam.
Below are some more 2019 highlights that we shared on social media throughout the year: