Suzanne Potter /California News Service
Three California philanthropic foundations have won Impact Awards this year from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. The award honors foundations that make grants to encourage diversity and empowerment of marginalized communities.
One of the winners, the Sandler Foundation, has given out more than $750 million and has founded a range of nonprofits – including ProPublica, which funds investigative journalism, and The Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.
Herbert Sandler, president of the Sandler Foundation, said his organization is dedicated to improving the rights, opportunities and well-being of the disadvantaged.
“The Center for American Progress is one of the most effective, powerful think tanks in the country,” he said, “and one of the very few that are of the size and strength and competence and intellectual power to combat the much larger group of strong think tanks on the right.”
Another honoree, the Ventura-based Patagonia Foundation, funds small, grassroots activist organizations focused on the environment.
Kim Fraczek is co-director of Sane Energy Project, a group funded by Patagonia that is trying to stop the proposed Spectra Energy Algonquin natural-gas pipeline that would run from New York to Massachusetts.
“We are organizing a direct action campaign where the fracked gas pipeline crosses 105 feet away from the Indian Point Nuclear Facility 30 miles north of New York City,” she said. “If the pipeline ruptures, we face catastrophe for 20 million people.”
The third winner of the NCRP Impact Award is the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, based in San Francisco. Haas funds many initiatives, including the Proteus Fund’s Civil Marriage Collaborative.
Paul Di Donato, interim president at the Proteus Fund, said his group worked for years promoting marriage equality in the run-up to the U.S. Supreme Court decision last June that legalized same-sex marriage.
“The CMC Funding was critical to winning,” he said. “There aren’t that many social-justice issues that go from 70 percent of the public being against to 65 percent being in favor over the course of 11 to 15 years.”
The Impact Awards will be given out at a ceremony May 3 in Minneapolis as part of the national conference of a group called Grantmakers for Effective Organizations.
Information on the awards is online at blog.ncrp.org.