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California Community Foundation pledges $1 billion to local cities

Cynthia Gibson | 10/15/2015, midnight

During a town hall marking the California Community Foundation's (CCF) 100th year of service, the philanthropic organization pledged to give $1 billion to Los Angeles County nonprofit organizations over the next 10 years.

“For those of you who say L.A.County is too big, too complex, too fragmented, too risky to help or support, I have just given you a billion reasons why we can,” stated CCF President and CEO Antonia Hernandez. CCF ranks among the top 100 foundations in the U.S., providing $700 million in grants over the last 10 years to support critical issues such as health, education and economic opportunity.

The funding commitment CCF announced will go towards improving the quality of life for L.A. communities and families, especially those who are struggling.

The town hall provided a summary of the findings from a “Vison Poll” commissioned by CCF/USC Dornsife/LA Times. The public opinion survey quantified how L.A. County residents feel about their community, how involved they were in community issues, what keeps them from being more involved and what can be done to encourage greater levels of volunteerism and community-based developments.

Dan Schnur, University of Southern California Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics director, and Christina Bellantoni, L.A. Times assistant managing editor/politics, gave a snapshot of the major findings of the online survey which consisted of more than 100 questions. Pollsters found that African American and Latino respondents had strong affinity towards their county.

When asked “Can you consider yourself first and foremost a part of Los Angeles County?” White voters responded somewhat affirmatively, but tended to identify more with the neighborhoods in which they lived. Minority respondents overwhelmingly identified as part of Los Angeles County.

Younger voters, 18-25, as well as those new to the region have a very positive outlook for the future of the county. Schnur observed, “When California flourishes, it's because the youngest Californians and the newest Californians lead the way. If those Californians can be given guidance from which they can benefit, then we've all done a tremendous service to move our city, our county and our state forward.”

LA Times Columnist Patt Morrison opened the audience participation sesssion and personal testimonial portion of the town hall by asking Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas about the diverse challenges facing the city and the county. Mayor Garcetti spoke about his initiation of a first-of-its kind forum where the 88 mayors from each of the cities in the county of Los Angeles came together to discuss and resolve common issues.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas offered his annual Empowerment Congress as an example of how thousands of county residents have come together annually for nearly 25 years to address a number of policy points. “They do it because they are self-interested. They want their communities to be better. . . . Where there is a rational, clear and discreet way for people to engage, they do.”

The town hall concluded with testimonials and comments from audience members and closing remarks from CCF Board Chairman Tom Unterman.

For a complete list of results from the CCF/USC Dornsife/LA Times Poll visit http://dornsife.usc.edu/poll.