By Adrienne Luce, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and President HMC Designing Futures Foundation
Did you know?
- 1 in 4 children live in poverty in the Inland Empire
- San Bernardino and Riverside are two of the largest counties nationwide with a total population of 4.25 million residents
- The Inland Empire is the fastest growing region in California and 4th nationally
The Inland Empire Funders Alliance is a group of foundation and corporate leaders who have come together to bring attention to the great needs, limited resources and untapped potential in the Inland Empire. The HMC Designing Futures Foundation participates in the Funders Alliance and recently helped organize an “Inland Empire 101” forum hosted in collaboration with Southern California Grantmakers, and generously sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank, in downtown Los Angeles. The goal of the event was to educate community leaders as well as corporate and foundation funders from Los Angeles, Inland Empire and Northern California about the challenges facing the region. It was also an opportunity to share information about promising initiatives and to educate foundation and corporate leaders on how they can use the Inland Empire Funders Alliance as a resource to guide and inform their work. Since HMC Architects was founded more than 75 years ago in the Inland Empire, our firm and our foundation is committed to, and invested in, building long-term prosperity for our region.
There are a many funders who would like to invest in the Inland Empire but who have no idea where to begin. They don’t know much about the San Bernardino or Riverside and the region’s expansive geography can make site visits a challenge. In response, Gregory Bradbard, Funders Alliance Co-Chair and President & CEO of the Inland Empire United Way, kicked off the event by sharing some general information and compelling statistics for the region. He described how the Inland Empire is the epicenter of new growth and demographic change in California. With high rates of poverty, and poor education and health outcomes, ensuring the region’s success is critical to the future of the state. Greg highlighted some sobering realities:
- Due to a lack of economic stability and insufficient incomes, many in the region continue to struggle to meet their basic needs, including housing, health care, food, clothing and utilities
- According to the most recent American Community Survey, 20.4% of San Bernardino residents and 17.8% of Riverside County residents live below the federal poverty level
- There are many strong and promising nonprofit programs and agencies within the region but they are grossly underfunded compare to organizations across the state – receiving just 26% of the statewide average revenue
Perhaps most shocking to the audience was the comparison between per capita private foundation giving in Los Angeles County ($159.35), Riverside County ($12.09), and San Bernardino County ($5.52) [Source: National Center for Charitable Statistics, 2010].
Although the challenges in the Inland Empire seem daunting, Greg emphasized that there is also great opportunity and untapped potential. He explained how there is a strong vision for the future, passionate leadership, and an impressive collaborative spirit. To this point, a group of community leaders and funders generously shared their experiences in the Inland Empire including:
- Jonathan Weedman, Regional Vice President, Wells Fargo Bank
- Al Arguello, Inland Empire Market President, Bank of America
- Adrienne Witternberg, Executive Director, S. Mark Taper Foundation
- Juliet Flores, Senior Program Associate, Annenberg Foundation
So what’s next? Due the success of this event, the Funders Alliance has been invited to do a presentation for foundations in Northern California. We’re also exploring the possibility of holding another event in the Inland Empire or in Los Angeles in the fall. Since the economic future of the state and Southern California region is tied to that of the Inland Empire, the Funders Alliance will continue to work together bring attention to the issues that affect our community and continue to identify ways in which, by working together, we can all make a difference for generations to come.
>> Learn more about the Inland Empire Funders Alliance here
Jonathan Weedman, Regional Vice President of Wells Fargo Bank and event sponsor
Gregory Bradbard, Funders Alliance Co-Chair and President & CEO of the Inland Empire United Way