For over ten years, Smart Growth California funders have been working together to address some of the state’s biggest challenges.
Current and past regional and statewide priorities have included: reducing greenhouse gas emissions; increasing affordable housing, public transit, and biking and walking infrastructure; preventing displacement; protecting open space and creating urban parks; supporting sustainable water management; increasing climate resilience; and building the capacity of social and racial justice organizations throughout the state.
Smart Growth California funders use a range of strategies to support these priorities. These include driving policy change, increasing public funding, supporting the implementation of key state policies, building the capacity of community organizations and nonprofits, supporting regional and statewide networks, supporting community organizing and power-building, and increasing civic engagement.
Highlights of Smart Growth California’s funder collaboration successes include:
Strategic Action Fund
From 2010 to 2014, a small group of funders worked together to create and finance a pooled grant fund, known as the Strategic Action Fund. The fund focused on supporting CBOs as they advocated for successful implementation of California’s landmark climate policies, including SB32, AB32, and SB375 (brief descriptions below). Funders identified and supported a range of strategies to ensure nonprofit partners could advocate for strong Sustainable Communities Strategies that included social equity and health goals, and ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets in California’s five major regions. Over five years, the fund distributed over $5 million in grants.
Policies background. AB 32 and SB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. AB 32 requires California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and was the first program in the nation to take a long-term approach to addressing climate change. SB 32 expands and extends the state’s climate goals that were set out in AB 32, requiring California to reduce emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. As part of the scoping plan developed by the California Air Resources Board to achieve the emissions reduction goal, a cap-and-trade program was established. SB 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008. SB 375 supports California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals by requiring regions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through land use and transportation planning that reduces sprawl, encourages transit-oriented development, and helps people drive less.
Great Communities Collaborative
The Great Communities Collaborative (GCC) is a network of organizations dedicated to creating healthy, thriving, and affordable neighborhoods in the Bay Area, anchored by transit and linked to all the opportunities and amenities that make a good community truly great. Since 2012, Smart Growth California has partnered with the GCC by connecting their work with state policy work and funders in other regions, helping other funders learn about the GCC, and providing technical assistance. A representative of GCC sits on the Smart Growth California statewide steering committee to support greater coordination between Smart Growth California and GCC. The Great Communities Collaborative is governed by a funder network of community, local, and national foundations. Learn more about the Great Communities Collaborative.
Equitable Implementation and Measures Matter Report
The Los Angeles metropolitan region is undergoing transformational changes thanks to landmark policies and programs addressing transportation, housing, parks, and the environment. In November 2016, Los Angeles County voters approved ballot measures to invest public funding into infrastructure that will improve the sustainability, connectivity, and livability of our region: Measure M for the build out of transportation infrastructure and Measure A for parks and open space. To ensure that these funding streams are invested equitably requires strong and coordinated implementation, and so the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative pooled funding to bring on USC’s Equity Research Institute to develop the report, Measures Matter: Ensuring Equitable Implementation of Los Angeles County Measures M & A. The Measures Matter report serves as a framework and roadmap for advocates, policy makers, agency staff, and philanthropy to use as these initiatives come to life. [Learn more] about the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative.
San Joaquin Valley Power, Equity and Clean Water Collective
In 2019, our San Joaquin Valley Funders’ Collaborative began exploring a pooled fund to partner philanthropies with power-building efforts across the San Joaquin Valley to integrate a time-sensitive and targeted issue campaign with long-term, multi-issue power building goals for progressive governance in the San Joaquin Valley. Leveraging a matching fund from the national Water Funder Initiative, the SJVFC raised over $4.2million to be distributed over three years to ensure equitable implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund (SB200). The tools and power-building infrastructure that is developed will ultimately bear progress for other land use and livability policy goals in the San Joaquin Valley. Read more about the San Joaquin Valley Funders’ Collaborative and the Power, Equity and Clean Water Collective.
Climate and Equity Working Group
The Climate and Equity working group brought together funders to support the successful implementation of the landmark laws from the 2015-2016 California legislative session that resulted in important victories for social and environmental justice. This included a suite of bills focused on addressing climate change and meeting the needs of low-income communities, such as AB 1550, AB 2722, and SB 1000. These bills will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will direct more climate investments to benefit disadvantaged communities, and will alleviate the disproportionate pollution burdens that low-income communities of color live with.
Building the Capacity of Social Justice Organizations
This working group focused on building the capacity of community-based organizations and nonprofits to advance social justice through the implementation of SB 375 and related policies, and helped support the creation of the Miyako Network. The Miyako Network is a statewide learning network of social justice organizations working to build healthy, just, and sustainable communities in California. The group also helped support the creation of the Investment Without Displacement Network, a network of over 40 community based groups and nonprofits working to link local organizing to state policy advocacy to prevent displacement.
These are just a sampling of the exciting work that funders can achieve together through Smart Growth California working groups and collaborations. For more examples, check out:
- 2020: Continued Growth Amidst Unprecedented Change
- 2019: A Year of Collaborative Action
- Our blog for other updates on our work