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Case Study: The Packard Foundation Invests in Pajaro Valley | 5 Shifts

Update grantmaking practices.

In 2017, an increase in Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) raids led to significant negative impacts on the residents of the rural Pajaro Valley of Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. The impacts were felt especially intensely by immigrant children and their families and the nonprofits serving them. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s grantee partners and other community stakeholders in the Pajaro Valley voiced their concern, describing the devastating effects the raids were having on community security and well-being. Given the Foundation’s longstanding commitment to this region, it was essential for Foundation staff to be an ally to support the community at this critical time.

Foundation staff began by convening grantee partners and community stakeholders to discuss better ways to support leaders from the immigrant community and foster individual and community safety. The group identified the need for better coordination of service providers, faith groups, grassroots organizations, and public entities to provide timely, accurate information and necessary services. At the group’s request, the Foundation provided funding for a facilitator, identified by community partners, to work with the group to develop a coordinated response plan for the needs of families and children impacted by ICE detentions and immigration-related policies.

From the onset, Foundation staff transparently shared the available budget and communicated that decisions about how to use the funds rested with the group. Foundation staff made themselves available for thought partnership, addressing questions and concerns as the group continued their planning. Over the course of three meetings, the group formalized a proposal and the Foundation provided $800,000 in a multi-year grant to cover both overall coordination and collaboration among stakeholders, as well as multiyear general operating support grants for organizations providing direct services to immigrant residents threatened or directly affected by ICE activity and policy changes. All the community stakeholders who participated in developing the strategy and funding plan received a stipend to partially cover their investment of time in the process.

For Foundation staff, listening to grantees was not new. But turning control over to a group of grantees and non-grantees seeking support beyond the Foundation’s traditional funding areas was a departure from the usual ways of operating and represented a promising new approach to effectively meeting community needs. “As staff, we were learning new ways of working with our grantee partners,” recounts Irene Wong, director of the Foundation’s Local Grantmaking Program. “This was a new way of grantmaking for us. But in the end, we knew we could trust the community’s proposal because they are the experts. We placed our trust in the longtime community leaders who have the knowledge, commitment, and credibility to make the changes we all wanted to happen.”

Learning from its experience in Pajaro Valley, the Foundation was well poised to respond when the COVID-19 crisis hit. Using a similar approach, the Foundation deployed over $2 million in funding in Monterey County, with community-based organizations working in the areas most impacted by COVID-19 exercising lead responsibility for funding recommendations.

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