Unrestricted Funding & Expert Coaching: Trends in Local Collaborative Grantmaking

Back in January, we introduced you to PropelNext California, a funder collaborative involving the William and Flora Hewlett, David and Lucile Packard, Sobrato Family, Weingart, and Edna McConnell Clark foundations.

Related: What’s the PropelNext California Partnership and Who’s Involved?

Well, the group recently announced 15 new grant recipients in the Bay Area and Los Angeles area. Below are new grantees and the funder that’s supporting each one through PropelNext. Each of these grantees is receiving up to $400,000 in funding over the next three years. Meanwhile, the New York-based Edna McConnell Clark Foundation will invest an equal amount in coaching and consulting.

  • Alternatives in Action, Oakland, CA (Hewlett Foundation)
  • Asian Youth Center, San Gabriel, CA (Weingart Foundation)
  • Beyond Emancipation, Oakland, CA (Hewlett Foundation)
  • Bresee Foundation, Los Angeles, CA (Weingart Foundation)
  • Coalition for Responsible Community Development, Los Angeles, CA (Weingart Foundation)
  • Community Youth Center of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA (Hewlett Foundation)
  • East Oakland Youth Development Center, Oakland, CA (Hewlett Foundation)
  • Huckleberry Youth Programs, San Francisco, CA (Hewlett Foundation)
  • Lavender Youth Recreation Information Center, San Francisco, CA (Hewlett Foundation)
  • Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade, Los Angeles, CA (Weingart Foundation)
  • My Friend’s Place, Hollywood, CA (Weingart Foundation)
  • Reach Out West End, San Bernardino, CA (Weingart Foundation)
  • Silicon Valley Children’s Fund, San Jose, CA (Packard Foundation)
  • Social Advocates for Youth, Santa Rosa, CA (Hewlett Foundation)
  • Teen Success, Inc., Milpitas, CA (Sobrato Family Foundation)

So what’s the common thread among PropelNext grantees?

The whole point of this funding program is to support economically disadvantaged youth. And it's easy to see that the nonprofits catching most of the funders’ attention are based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland.

“The 15 nonprofit organizations selected to participate in the PropelNext California Partnership together serve some of the most vulnerable youth in the state,” said Belen Vargas, vice president of programs at the Weingart Foundation.

As we pointed out in the past, PropelNext differs from similar initiatives because it collects data and seeks data-driven insights to improve the organizations that serve troubled and disadvantaged youth groups. It's all about the data, so nonprofits need to embrace high-tech solutions and be opening to updating their ways.

“Now we are eager to blend the local knowledge and expertise our California partners bring with the tools and resources of PropelNext so we can nurture a new cohort of emerging nonprofits as they boost their impact by smartly using and applying data in their work,” said Lissette Rodriguez, managing director for PropelNext.

Hewlett is supporting the most grantees right now (seven), with Weingart supporting six, and Packard and Sobrato supporting just one each. Back in December, 91 organizations were invited by the five participating funders to narrow the grantee base down to 15. The program had committed to supporting between 12 and 16 groups. Selection criteria requires a nonprofit to be in operation for at least three years, serve young people with significant risk factors, and be open to changing significant elements of their programs.

Based upon the praise given to past grant recipients, these funders are looking for organizations that are willing to embrace change to better serve the youth of California. This change often comes in the form of revising a theory of change, implementing new performance management tracking, and redefining staff responsibilities. Check out the July 2015 publication, Celebrating PropelNext's First Grantees to learn more about what has impressed the PropelNext funders so far.

Although the program isn’t open to unsolicited funding requests, the collaborative encourages nonprofits to join its mailing list to keep up with new developments and potential opportunities to get involved in the future.