Fred Ali, Weingart Foundation

TITLE: President and CEO

FUNDING AREAS: Health, human services, education

CONTACT: fali@weingartfnd.org, (213) 688-7799

IP TAKE: Ali may have gotten his start with education in Alaska, but he is fully in-tune with the needs of disadvantaged people in Los Angeles. He has an admirable understanding of how the economy is affecting nonprofit organizations, and he recognizes that now is the time for foundations like Weingart to step up.

PROFILE: You might not think that Los Angeles and Alaska have much in common, but Fred Ali has managed to tie the two places together. After earning a pretty traditional undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University and a master's in education from the University of Michigan, Ali began his career as a volunteering teacher and counselor in a small village in a western Alaska. He stayed up there in the wilderness for about 20 years, securing important positions like Deputy Director of the State Employment and Training Agency, President of Kuskokwim Community College, and Vice Chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

After moving down to Los Angeles in 1991, Ali first made his entrance into the world of philanthropy at Los Angeles' Covenant House, which is a large multi-service program that works with at-risk and homeless kids in Los Angeles and Oakland. He began serving as President of Los Angeles' Weingart Foundation in 1999. In 2006, he was bumped up to CEO as well. After all's said and done, he's accumulated over thirty-six years of management experience with educational institutions, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

Weigart's grantmaking program revolves around core, capital, capacity, and program support for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties. Although Ali has always been an advocate for the field of education, he also takes health and human services grant requests into consideration each year

When Ali isn't busy at the Weingart office, he's serving on the board of advisors for The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at the University of Southern California and as a Senior Fellow at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. He's also kept active in the Los Angeles philanthropy community at the California Association of Nonprofits and Southern California Grantmakers. On a somewhat regular basis, Ali gives speeches about organizational effectiveness, capacity building, and sustainability to other organizations in the nonprofit sector.

The recent economic downturn has also been a hot button speaking topic for this CEO. In 2008, Weingart switched gears and began funding grants for general operating expenses rather than for specific programs. At this time, Ali explained that he would now be overseeing one-year grants up to $150,000 for “well-managed nonprofit organizations providing essential human services.” Ali credited this change to overall drops in charitable donations and economic deterioration.

Although Ali got his career start in Alaska, he's fully committed to the people of Los Angeles. At a meeting of philanthropy and business leaders in 2012, Ali announced a three year $750,000 grant to creating jobs and helping disadvantaged people overcome barriers to employment in southern California. So while he remains passionate about education, Ali is well in-tune with the needs of the population in and around Los Angeles. To learn more about Weingart's grantmaking program, check out their Our Grantmaking section on the foundation website.   

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