James Irvine Foundation

Location: One Bush Street Suite 800, San Francisco, 94104 CA

EIN: 94-1236937

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23 hours




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Important Information

2017 Deadlines:

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Top descriptors for this funder

6Gives more than money5Responsive4Builds relationships4Insightful4Positive leader in the field4Inadvertently exerts negative influence in the field3Bureaucratic3Culturally incompetent3"Gets" nonprofits and issues3Culturally sensitive3Friendly3Openminded

Advice from a Friend

James Irvine Foundation

Jul 21, 2017

Reviewer 754 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2017

Work closely with your program officer. If they are willing to provide feedback on the outline or first draft before submission take them up on it. Use and illustrate data when articulating the need/problem you are attempting to solve. They are the midst of a large scale shift in funding priorities, so things may be shifting even as you are preparing your grant--it requires more flexibility from grantees.


Positive leader in the field, Gives more than money, Culturally sensitive, Insightful, Friendly, Responsive

More Feedback

Response from James Irvine Foundation

Aug 16, 2017

Thanks for your comment – and advice to others. Yes, we have been undergoing change since January 2016, and as part of that change we have been in dialogue with grantees about new areas of grantmaking we are exploring. We appreciate grantees engaging us in this process, and you can learn more about our grantmaking approach via our blog: www.irvine.org/blog.

Jun 27, 2017

Grant Applicant - applied before 2014

It's best if you can figure out some connection to one of their program officers, or can spend time talking to them, or can get them to attend one of your events. Beware though, they spent millions on consultants, but they don't know nearly as much as they think they do, especially about inequality. Irvine would do better if they actually listen to grantees that are smaller in size and do a better job of engaging diverse communities.


Gives more than money

More Feedback

Response from James Irvine Foundation

Aug 16, 2017

We appreciate the feedback. For anyone curious about our staff, you can find listings and bios on our website (https://www.irvine.org/about/staff), and each month our blog notes events that our staff are participating in or attending (example: https://www.irvine.org/blog/where-will-irvine-be-in-july-2017). In terms of listening to communities and grantees, we agree and have found great value over the last year doing just that. This included listening sessions across the state with Californians who are working but struggling with poverty (learn more: https://www.cavoices.net/), as well as spending more than a year learning from grantees as we develop initiatives related to our new focus. You can read more about that here (https://www.irvine.org/blog/turning-our-new-goals-into-strategy), and stay tuned for more about what we’re learning and planning.

Jun 23, 2017

Reviewer 936 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2016

Be clear on your specific outcomes as it relates to your mission. Seek guidance and feedback (and take it).


Positive leader in the field, Gives more than money, Risk taker, Culturally sensitive, Insightful, "Gets" nonprofits and issues, Openminded, Responsive

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Response from James Irvine Foundation

Aug 16, 2017

Thanks for your input – and we agree! In 2016 we announced a new focus and approach to grantmaking that, we believe, increases clarity about what we fund, what outcomes we seek, and how our work is informed by others. Our grantmaking will now be through different initiatives, not program areas, and each initiative will have specific goals, outcomes, and timelines. To develop these initiatives, we are both listening to Californians and to nonprofits working on behalf of Californians. You can read more about that in this blog post by our Portfolio Directors (https://www.irvine.org/blog/turning-our-new-goals-into-strategy). Through 2016 and into 2017 we also have provided an online form to hear input about our new focus (https://www.irvine.org/focus/input). Thanks again for the feedback.

Jun 15, 2016 1

Grant Applicant - applied in 2010

In all honesty, they talk about wanting to fund low-income and communities of color but what they mean is, they want to fund big white well-funded organizations to engage low-income and communities of color. They don't really understand the communities they want their grantees to serve. And they will not listen to your expertise as an organization led, by, for and about low income and communities of color. In their eyes, your artistic product isn't good enough, unlike mainstream organizations that are struggling to engage people because they have spent the majority of their efforts on well-to-do white people. So basically, as once Irvine officer said, the small organizations like yours to the unpaid R&D, but the mainstream organizations get paid to implement your practices.


Invitation only, Burdensome reporting terms, Inadvertently exerts negative influence in the field

More Feedback

Response from James Irvine Foundation

Aug 16, 2017

Thanks for your comment. Our main focus for Arts funding in recent years has been the New California Arts Fund (NCAF), which supports transformational change in organization and business models that sets up large and small arts organizations to successfully and sustainably reach low-income and/or diverse Californians. This a central commitment by NCAF grantee-partners, and artistic product is only a small part of what they are focused on and what we considered as we reviewed proposals. We also previously made grants via the Exploring Engagement Fund to seed 100+ arts engagement projects. These EEF grants did not focus on artistic product but rather experimentation in engaging more and diverse Californians. For all of these efforts (and for the field change we hope to cultivate), the Foundation has a limited amount to give, making choices about which organizations to fund very difficult.
Please note that we announced in 2016 that our programs, including Arts, were ending as we shifted our approach and strategy (https://www.irvine.org/blog/navigating-the-journey). We are now fulfilling the Foundation’s commitments to NCAF grantees, and the arts engagement work will sunset over the next few years. Thanks again for sharing your perspective.

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James Irvine Foundation