Faced with Tri Caucus sponsored legislation that would require disclosure of their diversity in grant making and governance, ten of California’s largest foundations announced last year a multi-million dollar, multi-year investment in communities of color. In response, the Tri Caucus withdrew the bill that would have required foundations with assets of more than $250 million to disclose the ethnic, racial and gender makeup of their boards and staffs. The legislation, Assembly Bill 624, drafted by Greenlining Institute of Oakland, had already passed the State Assembly.
Proponents of AB 624 believe that foundations have a unique responsibility to serve the entire communities. But according to a 2008 study by the Foundation Center, communities of color in California do not get their fair share of foundation dollars from the state’s 50 largest independent foundations. According to the study entitled, “Embracing Diversity,” the overwhelming majority of independent foundations in California give less than 20 percent of their domestic grants to communities of color, in a state where people of color comprise nearly 60 percent of the population. Only nine of the 50 foundation provide more than 20 percent of their grants to communities of color and only two invest more than half of their grants in communities of color.
We applaud the Asian Pacific Caucus; the Black Caucus; the Latino Caucus (Tri Caucus) and the Greenling Institute of Oakland for bringing this issue to the Legislature and the Public. We also applaud the ten (10) foundations, which organized a coalition to respond to the Tri Caucus and the Greenlining Institute.
However we continue to ask the question: What involvement is there from African American and Latino organization? Why is Brotherhood Crusade with 40 years of experience in this area, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) not involved in some of the decision and grant making?
We eagerly await answers from the Foundation coalition.