Goldhirsh Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: The Goldhirsh Foundation revised its grantmaking strategy in 2012 and launched its first major grantmaking initiative, LA2050, in 2013. 

FUNDING AREAS: Education, income and employment housing, public safety, health, environmental quality, social connectedness, and cultural vitality

IP TAKE: LA2050 is Goldhirsh’s only grantmaking initiative, but its approach is broad. The foundation seeks innovative organizations to boost education, entrepreneurship, natural resources, health, and civic engagement in the city of Los Angeles. Interestingly, anyone over 18 years old with a GOOD account can vote for potential grantees.

PROFILE: Although the Goldhirsh Foundation has been making grants for nearly a decade, it re-launched in 2012 in Los Angeles, where most of its grantmaking occurs. The Goldhirsh Foundation was established in 2000 by Bernard A. Goldhirsh, founding publisher of Sail and Inc. Magazines. Shortly after the foundation was established, Goldhirsh was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away in 2003. The Board of Directors, which includes Bernard’s two children, shape a grantmaking program that reflects his values and entrepreneurial spirit. 

Before its 2012 relaunch, a majority of Goldhirsh grantmaking funded research for improved outcomes for patients with cancer and malignant brain tumors. Between 2001 and 2010, the foundation awarded $16.4 million in competitive grants to 59 scientists and medical researchers.

These days, Goldhirsh supports initiatives within the categories of opportunity, sustainability, and activation. The revamped foundation launched its first major grantmaking initiative, LA2050, in 2013 to build and shape the future of Los Angeles. Through its LA2050 challenge, the foundation provides three types of capital to create networks for innovators: financial capital, social capital, and human capital.

The LA2050 initiative is broad and encompasses a range of funding areas. After channeling community feedback, Goldhirsh established grantmaking goals for education, entrepreneurship, cultural diversity, homelessness, volunteerism, the environment, and other socio-economic issues. Its LA2050 initiative supports a detailed list of grantmaking goals in five areas: Learn, Create, Play, Connect, and Live.

The foundation envisions programs that address a variety of concerns:

  • More parent education classes
  • More restorative justice programs
  • Universal day care
  • Programs to increase women’s returns to work after childbirth
  • Business partnerships and job training in Skid Row to alleviate homelessness
  • After school programs that teach valuable life skills to youth
  • More security after dark, more light
  • More organized sports leagues
  • Green open space along streets
  • Planting more drought-tolerant plants
  • Reimagined rest stops on sides of road and bus stops
  • Diversity and access to places/resources providing language education to people of all ages

Goldhirsh has awarded Sustainability program grants to Heal the Bay, LA Waterkeeper, and Treepeople. Recent Activation program grantees include Digital Democracy, LA Commons, which provides docent-led tours through local neighborhoods, and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

LA2050 grants are $25,000, $50,000, or $100,000 and used to help make Los Angeles a "better place to learn, create, play, connect, or live." Goldhirsh established these precise grant amounts after receiving feedback from past participants of the My LA2050 Grants Challenge. Smaller awards are meant to support small and grassroots organizations with, according to Goldhirsh, "less ability to absorb a $100,000 grant."  

In an interview with KCRW, a Los Angeles media outlet, foundation president Tara Roth described Goldhirsh grantmaking strategies:

We wanted to focus our grants on eight issues—we call them indicators—that are impacting life in L.A.: Arts & Cultural Vitality, Education, Environmental Quality, Health, Housing, Income & Employment, Public Safety, and Social Connectedness. We wanted to hear from projects throughout Los Angeles that are tackling these issues, and they really did deliver. We supported organizations that are recruiting volunteer mentors to educate our city’s youth, organizing reformed gang members that trying to end cycles of violence, or partnering with communities to turn around whole neighborhoods to improve conditions for residents and businesses. We’re proud to be a part of their stories.


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