Learning to Lead: The Journey to Community Leadership for Emerging Community Foundations

Apr 1, 2012
The James Irvine Foundation launched its Community Foundations Initiative II in 2005. This six-year effort involved a $12 million investment to accelerate the growth and leadership of a set of small and young community foundations in rural areas of California. The initiative provided three types of support:
  • Direct grants for core operating support and self-identified projects to build infrastructure
  • Regranting funds for Youth or Arts programs to help develop grantmaking capability
  • A strong program of technical assistance as well as a learning community to help community foundations gain from each other's successes and challenges; this included twiceyearly convenings of board and staff leaders from all participating community foundations
The cohort of seven community foundations participating in the initiative between 2005 and 2011 grew their collective assets 12 percent annually (going from $73 million to $131 million), compared to 7 percent for their peer group nationally. They increased their collective annual grantmaking by about $4 million over this period (not counting Irvine regrant dollars). And they have made important progress as leaders who initiate action to address unmet needs in their communities.

This report offers insights and experiences along a spectrum of roles pursued over the life of this initiative. Included are stories revealing their individual trials and triumphs on the road to community leadership, as well as tools for use by others in the field.
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