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Lessons and Opportunities: California Redistricting

It may seem the Census and Redistricting cycles have long concluded, but we continue to learn about details, impacts, and overall experience across the state. Various reports have lifted key findings and recommendations for all sectors to consider. Now more than ever, we must reflect on both cycles to build on the strategies and work of funders and nonprofit leaders. Equally imperative, we must incorporate recommendations and voices from our trusted partners to ensure fair representation for all Californians in future cycles.

In partnership with California Common Cause, Philanthropy California invites you to join us for a half-day convening in Los Angeles. We will host a series of panels of community leaders and funders to learn about their experiences, reflections, lessons learned, and recommendations. Together, we can chart a path forward that will ensure both local and state-level redistricting in California are as equitable and community-centered as possible.

Our first panel focuses on the state and federal redistricting process, led for the second time by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC). The CRC led an open, transparent, and participatory process that serves as a model for the nation, but did it get everything right? An upcoming report from California Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of California examines the commissioner recruitment and selection process, the CRC’s outreach and community education, voting rights compliance, and other topics and makes recommendations for improvement in 2030 and beyond. Speakers will discuss the report’s findings, additionally how philanthropy can amplify commissioner recruitment and help expand the commission applicant pool, support community organizations as they prepare to work with the commission, and potentially partner in the building of tools and resources in the intervening decade that will enable communities of color and working Californians to engage more, and more effectively, in the next state redistricting process.

Our second panel will dive into the complicated, crucial, and sometimes forgotten local redistricting process. Local redistricting shapes whether city council, school boards, and county supervisor districts are drawn in ways that give the people representation and power and help determine whether future state and national leaders can get elected at the local level and start their political careers. In 2019, the FAIR MAPS Act (FMA) set out to engage the voices of and ensure representation for communities left out of local redistricting for decades. A new report from California Common Cause, ACLU, Asian Law Caucus, and the League of Women Voters of California, The Promise of Fair Maps, examines how the FMA improved city and county redistricting but also how the law was subverted by incumbents who cracked communities of interest throughout California to keep themselves in power. Join us to hear from the community experts that monitored and participated in local redistricting processes across the state about what went wrong and how we can finally stop gerrymandering in our local communities.

In our third panel, we turn to philanthropy. It is undeniable that funders across California were committed to a complete and fair census, as evidenced by their $28 million investments. Building on that momentum, in 2019, Philanthropy California launched its first pooled fund, the Fair Representation Fund (FRP). Rooted in the belief that racial and social justice is attainable through representation and community and civic engagement, the FRF granted $2.5 million to statewide and regional organizations supporting community education and participation in the 2021 redistricting process. While that money provided critical support to key partners fighting for representation, the amount dedicated to redistricting paled in comparison to the amount provided for census. Census and redistricting are once-in-a-decade events; how does philanthropy prioritize, invest, and support both areas of work? As memorialized in the report, Funding Redistricting in California, Philanthropy California provides an overview of our state’s first redistricting fund, including grantees’ experience, the commission’s work, challenges, and lessons learned and recommendations. Our panel will include core funders of the FRP to provide insights and recommendations on why philanthropy can and should invest in both census and redistricting.

Philanthropy California
Common Cause
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