Pastor Poverty Q6
Philanthropy has actually been playing a positive role in this arena. For example, the Weingart Foundation commissioned an equity analysis of Los Angeles County and Orange County Grantmakers supported an equity analysis in the O.C. as well. The James Irvine Foundation has focused a large share of its recent philanthropic support on addressing the challenges facing the state’s low-wage workers. The California Endowment has invested in a range of low-income communities of color in Southern California, often funding the sort of grassroots organizing that can insure that community voices get heard in the policy-making process. The California Community Foundation – which is really L.A.’s community foundation – has supported a wide range of efforts, including critical support for immigrant integration. Both the United Way and the Conrad Hilton Foundation have led on making sure that homelessness is everyone’s issue. And there are many, many other foundations seeking to partner with the service providers and social justice organizers that can effectively move the needle on poverty.
But the problem is too big for just philanthropic dollars – and going forward, the role of the state, local government, and business will be critical. Another key issue for all those actors will be recognizing and addressing the racial dimensions of poverty. It may be uncomfortable for some to recognize how racial advantage and disadvantage have structured the unequal outcomes we see today. But the fact that median income for households with children under the age of five is about $111,000 for white families in Los Angeles County and about $43,000-45,000 for Black and Latino families is a recipe for reproducing generational disadvantage. Addressing race and racism will require challenging conversations as well as a clear-eyed analysis of how implicit bias still affects hiring and how the combination of neighborhood distress, over-policing, and inadequate workforce systems can limit horizons.
The good news is that we are Californians – and, indeed, we are Southern Californians. We have a long history of challenging inequity, expanding opportunity, and securing hope in the future. As we head to the Olympics in 2028, let’s make sure that the region that greets the world will be able to boast about not just its first-class venues, hotels, and transit but also about the historic progress it will have made on eradicating poverty, homelessness, and discrimination.