James Irvine Foundation

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The James Irvine Foundation is a philanthropic nonprofit organization established to benefit the people of California. It seeks to promote social equity and enrich the cultural and civic life of America’s most populous state through its grants in three areas: the arts, youth and education, and state governance and civic engagement.[1]

The foundation was created in 1937 by James Irvine, an agricultural pioneer, largely in response to the Great Depression.[2] Since its inception, the foundation has awarded over $1 billion in grants to more than 3,000 nonprofit organizations.[3] Today it is the largest multi-purpose foundation focused exclusively on California.[4]

The foundation is based in San Francisco, with an office in Los Angeles.

Grantmaking programs[edit]

The foundation makes grants in three core programs:[5][6]

  • Arts
  • California Democracy
  • Youth

The goal of the Arts program is “to promote a vibrant and inclusive artistic and cultural environment in California.”[7]

The goal of the California Democracy program is “to advance effective public policy decision making that is reflective of and responsive to all Californians.”[8]

The goal of the Youth program is “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.”[9]

History[edit]

James Irvine's father was an Irish immigrant who arrived in San Francisco in 1849 during the California Gold Rush and established himself as a successful businessman. Later, he branched out geographically and acquired some 110,000 acres (450 km2) of land in what is now Orange County. Upon his father’s death, James Irvine inherited the land, which at the time was used as a stock ranch, and turned it into one of the largest, most productive agricultural enterprises in the state.[10]

In response to the Great Depression, James Irvine decided to establish a foundation in 1937 that would promote the "general well-being of the citizens and residents of the state of California."[11] The foundation became the primary stockholder of The Irvine Company, which owned the Irvine ranch. With the rapid growth of Southern California during the 1940s and 50s, The Irvine Company was under pressure to develop its property. But in contrast to the unplanned sprawl nearby, the company worked to ensure that development was well planned and included a range of uses on its property such as higher education and agriculture.[12]

Eventually, in the 1970s, the Irvine Foundation was forced to sell its shares in the company and diversify its holdings. When James Irvine died in 1947, his gift to the foundation was valued at $5.6 million. By 2007, these assets had grown to more than $1.8 billion.[13]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Mission Statement The James Irvine Foundation.
  2. ^ For the People of California: A History of the James Irvine Foundation, Heather G. Graham, 1991.
  3. ^ Assets and Financial Information The James Irvine Foundation
  4. ^ Brochure The James Irvine Foundation, 2008
  5. ^ Annual Report The James Irvine Foundation, 2007
  6. ^ Foundation Annual Reports, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 2008.
  7. ^ Arts program overview The James Irvine Foundation
  8. ^ California Democracy program overview The James Irvine Foundation
  9. ^ Youth program overview The James Irvine Foundation
  10. ^ For the People of California: A History of the James Irvine Foundation, Heather G. Graham, 1991.
  11. ^ For the People of California: A History of the James Irvine Foundation, Heather G. Graham, 1991.
  12. ^ For the People of California: A History of the James Irvine Foundation, Heather G. Graham, 1991.
  13. ^ Assets and Financial Information The James Irvine Foundation

External links[edit]