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75 Years of Funding Groundbreaking Social and Economic Justice Initiatives in California

San Francisco, CA — On Thursday, February 3rd, more than 300 nonprofit, philanthropy and government leaders convened in San Francisco to mark the 75th anniversary of the Rosenberg Foundation.  The event featured California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris; Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP; ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero; Lateefah Simon, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area; Ford Foundation Vice President Maya L. Harris; Vincent Pan, Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action; and Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF.

“For 75 years, this pioneering Foundation has had the privilege of supporting the committed advocates and organizations on the front lines of the movement for social change and justice throughout California,” said Timothy Silard, Rosenberg’s president. “We will continue to work with our grant partners to make sure that the state’s most marginalized communities are no longer left out.””

Since its founding in 1935 at the bequest of California business leader Max L. Rosenberg, the Foundation has distributed more than 2,800 grants totaling nearly $80 million to regional, statewide and national organizations advocating for social, economic, and civic justice in the state. An innovator from the start, at the time of its founding the Foundation was the only one of its kind west of the Mississippi with full-time staff. Since then, it has funded innovative solutions for tackling issues such as immigrant rights, justice for farm workers, criminal justice system reform and economic disparity. A timeline of key accomplishments shows the impact the Foundation has had in California:

1948: Established the San Francisco Foundation in a grant partnership with the Columbia Foundation.  The San Francisco Foundation has since become one of the nation’s largest community foundations.

1953: Launched one of the first funding programs supporting farm workers by providing a grant to the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools to research the tools needed to educate the children of farm workers.

1964: Supplied a grant to the Migrant Ministry, which helped farm labor families form the Farm Workers Organization of Tulare County. The group became part of the National Farm Workers Association and in 1965, helped organize the famous grape pickers strike.

1965: Then-Foundation President Ruth Chance and several others began meeting to exchange ideas and improve cooperation among foundations, leading to the formation of the Northern California Grantmakers.

1973: Gave a grant to establish the San Francisco Child Abuse Council, which now provides training to more than 5,000 children and 5,000 professionals each year.

1975: Joined three other Bay Area foundations in providing start-up support to Legal Services for Children, the first nonprofit law firm for youth in the country.

1986: Assisted undocumented immigrants eligible to achieve legal status under new legislation by providing grants to community-based organizations for planning and direct assistance to immigrants as well as for training, consultation, policy monitoring, litigation and advocacy.

1993: Targeted the struggling child support system in California, kicking off a nine-year, $6 million initiative that resulted in the complete overhaul of the system.

1995:  Foundation grantee Asian Pacific American Legal Center joined the ACLU and the Asian Law Caucus in representing immigrant workers from Thailand who had been held as virtual slaves in an El Monte sweatshop, resulting in an award of more than $4 million in damages.

1999: Supported public interest law organizations and immigrant advocates in successfully challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 187, an initiative that prohibited undocumented immigrants and their children from receiving public education and other services.

2001: Provided its first grant in support of Dukes v. Wal-Mart, the largest civil rights class action lawsuit in U.S. history, pending before the Supreme Court. The case charges Wal-Mart with discriminating against women in promotions, pay and job assignments.

2003: Received the prestigious Paul Ylvisaker Award for Public Policy Engagement by the Council on Foundations for its work on immigration policy and the rights of immigrants and other minorities.

2007: Launched a multi-year, multi-million initiative to reform California’s criminal justice system, making first round of grants to facilitate successful community reentry from prison and to combat employment discrimination against formerly incarcerated people.

2008: A coalition of San Francisco advocates secures agreement for more than $30 million in employment, affordable housing and other community benefits from Bayview Hunters-Point developer, Lennar, Inc.

2010: Made an inaugural grant for “Fairness in the Fields,” a new initiative by a coalition including Oxfam America that aims to establish, enforce, publicize, and monitor a comprehensive set of labor standards for farm work in the U.S.

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