The Long Beach Community Foundation’s significance within Long Beach goes beyond expertise in philanthropic giving and encompasses a real stewardship of positive change, according to LBCF President and CEO Marcelle Epley.
Part of the work being done by LBCF is identifying needs in the community and then funding projects that help address those needs. For example, the foundation last week awarded $100,000 in grants, including $20,000 from Wells Fargo, to nine nonprofit programs that focus on housing and homelessness in Long Beach.
The LBCF Board has doled out more than $700,000 in strategic granting over the last 20 years.
In one recent case, Urban Community Outreach used LBFC money to provide a young mother and her infant daughter with rental assistance after the mom lost her job. Without that safety net, according to LBCF, she risked being evicted. Instead, she found the help she needed while she secured a more stable position and became financially independent.
“We look at the most pressing needs — and that’s been homelessness and housing for the last two years …” Epley said. “In the past, we’ve focused on educational or environmental issues — whatever is the highest and most important need at the time.”
More than $40,000 of this year’s grants from LBCF come from its Community Impact Fund, created to address changing needs and help already effective nonprofits in the city continue and expand their scope of work.
“We are proud to fund such worthy nonprofit organizations that are making a difference in our community,” LBCF Board Chair Gary DeLong said, noting that recipients included Interval House, Conservation Corps, Community Table, Christian Outreach in Action, Children’s Dental Health Clinic, Catalina Island Foundation, Long Beach BLAST, Precious Lamb and YMCA of Long Beach.
“Donations have come from a variety of sources to make these grants possible — including major corporations, bequests, LBCF board members, and hundreds of community members who entrust us to keep our finger on the pulse of the community,” Epley said.
Under leadership from the board of directors and leveraging her own expertise, Epley said the foundation has continued to grow in size and exposure since she joined the team in 2014.
LBCF is a sophisticated operation that helps individuals and organizations manage their philanthropy through connections with financial advisors, estate planners and tax experts. Epley said it does what larger banking institutions do, but it’s a local hometown establishment with national resources.
“When I started, we had $24 million and now there’s $54 million (combined in all of LBCF’s 170 different funds),” Epley said. “We had two people on staff then, and we have four now. And, we’ve greatly increased our network in the community … not many people knew about the community foundation or what it did, but it’s now more of a household name. It’s very fulfilling for me to know we are moving in the right direction.”
She also emphasized that the organization’s growth since its founding in 1996 has increased its ability to effect positive change on critical community issues, through grant making as well as connecting nonprofits, legislators and others in a supportive network.
“Community foundations are a very powerful source to get people together who normally aren’t communicating, and we have taken a hard line on focusing on that role,” she said.
When she does speaking engagements, Epley said she always asks the crowd to raise their hands if they’ve heard of LBCF as a way to measure awareness in the community.
“It used to be one in 50 people would raise their hand. But this April at a Long Beach Health and Human Services conference, 600 people were in the room and every other person raised their hand,” she said. “I could not be more proud of where we have come from. It’s a big, big difference.”
Grant applications for the year 2020 will be available in April at LongBeachCF.org. Anyone interested in learning more about philanthropic giving or making a donation to LBCF’s Community Impact Fund can find out more at LongBeachCF.org/donate.