A Guest Post by Joanne, a former member of the Foundation’s Grants Advisory Board for Youth

Youth in Philanthropy Conference

Joanne, her sister, and our Senior Program Associate, Amy, attended the Youth Philanthropy Connect International Conference in Anaheim on behalf of the Foundation recently. Both Joanne and her sister are local high school students who have sat on our Grants Advisory Board for Youth, which develops local students’ knowledge of philanthropy and their service learning skills. 

After returning from the conference, Joanne shared her reflections with us:

When Ms. Amy invited my sister and me to the Youth Philanthropy Conference (YPC) in Anaheim, all I could think about was the free trip to Disneyland. (Well, the actual ticket into the park was not included, but my mind was filled with Mickey Mouses and Disney songs nevertheless!) The only thing I had to do, Ms. Amy informed us, was to speak in front of some kids about Grants Advisory Board for Youth (GABY) and Sacramento Region Community Foundation and attend a few workshops. Then, off to Space Mountain we would go!

I never would have thought that I would enjoy the actual conference itself. Continue Reading »

By Fran Baxter-Guigli, Donor Services Officer at Sacramento Region Community Foundation

I slammed on my brakes when a large bird crash-landed in front of my car. Grateful  I had not been  rear-ended by the car behind me, and that the flapping bird was still alive, I pulled over to see if there was anything I could do for the poor thing. She was a yellow-billed magpie—a species unique to the Central Valley, and a bird that I adore. Her wing was obviously injured, possibly broken, but her feet were working perfectly as she hopped out of reach for the next 20 minutes. I finally managed to throw a towel over her and get her into the plastic storage container I happened to have in the trunk (thank goodness I hadn’t gotten around to cleaning out my car). I called to say I’d be late to work, then drove to the Wildlife Care Association a few miles away. “Maggie” was beside me in her tub on the front seat, and she was not a happy bird. When we arrived at the WCA, I left her in the care of a kind volunteer and headed off to work, a little shaken and happy/sad. I hoped Maggie would be okay.


On the way to the office, I thought about the truck driver who drove 60 miles out of his way to an animal clinic in Roseville to save a little Saw-whet owl caught in the grill of his semi. I visit that owl, named Sophia, whenever I can at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, where she has served as a feathered  ambassador since 2008. I thought about the very cool (and a little creepy) bats that have homes (and jobs!) at the Yolo Basin Foundation. They are the lucky survivors who got a second chance thanks to people who took the trouble to rescue and rehabilitate them.

Continue Reading »

A Guest Post by Kate Towson, Director of Development at Women’s Empowerment



Recently, Social Venture Partners Sacramento hosted its second annual SVP Fast Pitch competition, the culmination of an eight-week “pitch bootcamp” program for nonprofit organizations in the Sacramento region.

Think of the Fast Pitch event as a cross between Shark Tank and a Ted Talk. It was fast-paced and inspirational for all who attended. It was especially rewarding for the nonprofit organizations that participated, as they benefited from more than 18 hours of coaching by local experts in preparation for Fast Pitch, tons of opportunities to work with and learn from their peers at other nonprofits, and chances to win $25,000 in funding and in-kind support throughout the night! 

One of the big winners at Fast Pitch was Women’s Empowerment, an organization that serves women and children experiencing homelessness in Sacramento. They won the Judge’s Award and the People’s Choice Award, taking home a couple of oversized checks to support their work. After the event, Kate Towson, Women’s Empowerment’s Director of Development, shared her reflections with us:

Everything about my SVP Fast Pitch experience was fantastic.

As soon as I heard about the opportunity, it sounded like exactly what Women’s Empowerment needed to gain some valuable feedback and meet new people. We got all of that, and much, much more.

Continue Reading »

Linda Beech Cutler

By Linda Beech Cutler,
CEO of Sacramento Region Community Foundation

Recently, I was “Principal for a Day” at Dyer-Kelly Elementary School, a Title 1 school in the San Juan Unified School District that educates K-5 students, most of whom are students of color.

Dyer-Kelly Elementary School's mascot is prominently displayed on campus and reminds students of their school’s ROAR philosophy.

The school’s mascot is prominently displayed on campus and reminds students of the ROAR philosophy.

When I arrived on campus at 7:15 a.m. (a pretty early start for me!), I was greeted by the school’s actual principal, Kirsten Thomas-Acke, who had been on the job for more than an hour. Most of the students were already at school because they eat breakfast there. The day’s classes hadn’t started yet, so the playground was humming. Kirsten greeted every child by name (an amazing feat because Dyer-Kelly has high rates of student mobility) and exchanged lots of hugs and “good mornings” with students before the first bell. She also spoke with a young girl who proudly showed Kirsten her progress report for the school’s ROAR initiative—an intervention program focused on promoting positive behavior, reminding Dyer-Kelly students to be Respectful, Own their choices, and Always be safe and Responsible. Throughout my short stint as principal that day, I regularly heard the students talk about respect, good and bad options, and the importance of accountability. Clearly, the message was being heard.

Continue Reading »

Jeannie Howell

By Jeannie Howell, Community Impact Officer at Sacramento Region Community Foundation

Before I dove into the world of Foundation work, I worked on the other side of the coin – writing grants and seeking funding for nonprofits. As a development director, I spent my work days creating relationships with potential donors, funders and cultivating new opportunities for funding that would grow, sustain and support the much needed services of the organizations for which I worked. Every ‘Yes’ I got for a grant or a sponsorship, was always followed by an avalanche of ‘No’s and it is not always easy to remain optimistic in the face of such constant rejection. While I no longer work in development, my time in those positions gave me a deep appreciation and admiration for those that choose to dedicate their careers to nonprofit work. Whether you are in fundraising, programming, or are a board member, the blood sweat and tears that it takes to keep things rolling is inspiring on so many levels.

This was one of the many reasons why I was ecstatic to launch the Foundation’s new opportunity – the Responsive Grants program. This competitive grants program was designed with two main goals in mind:

  1. to address community needs and time-sensitive opportunities as they arise, and
  2. to provide an easily accessible way for eligible nonprofits to apply for funding at the Foundation regardless of sector.

Continue Reading »

Linda Beech Cutler

By Linda Beech Cutler, CEO of Sacramento Region Community Foundation

Over the course of the year, the Foundation hosts fundholder listening opportunities.  We just completed our five summer sessions. The agenda is quite simple:  we use these gatherings as a way to update our fundholders on what’s going on at the Foundation and solicit feedback from them.  These sessions are typically small with 10 to 12 participants and last about an hour and a half. There is usually a diversity of fund types represented including donor advised, scholarship, legacy, and nonprofit agency. There is also a wide range of philanthropic passions in the room. In one session alone, there were strong advocates for the homeless, the environment, foster youth, the arts, animals and education. Some of the attendees are relatively new fundholders while others have had an established fund for years.

I tend to fret every time we do one of these sessions.  Because each fund is unique, I worry that there might not be enough commonality among the participants to make the meeting meaningful for all. Each time, my concern is unfounded. Despite differences in their ages, fund types, tenures, and philanthropic focus, our fundholders do have a lot in common. Each one is generous, and each is committed to improving the quality of life in our region and strengthening their relationship with the Foundation. This was particularly evident in the meetings we had this summer.

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PriscillaBy Priscilla Enriquez, Chief Giving Officer at Sacramento Region Community Foundation

A framed letter once adorned a wall in my parent’s house and over time it moved from their living room to their family room, and then traveled across the country where it now rests in my home office, buried in a box.  It is my acceptance letter to the University of California at Berkeley.  For my parents—who immigrated to the United States without college educations of their own—that letter represented the good fortune of their hard work: their daughter was a student at one of the most prestigious universities in the country.

At the time, the implications of that college acceptance letter were not apparent to me.  I was experiencing the emotions most college-bound kids did: joy at being accepted, curiosity about my roommates, worry about what to pack for school and what classes to take.  Back then, public education and student housing were fairly affordable for my immigrant parents. We financed my education through a mix of my own personal savings from my high school job at the local bakery, their tiny nest egg of savings, a few loans from family members, some scholarships, and earnings from my employment during all four of my college years. Paying for college required some juggling, but it was not an insurmountable barrier, as I was ultimately able to graduate from Berkeley. When I did, I framed my college degree and gave it to my parents.

Impact of educationFast forward to today. The bright futures kids should—and must—have are quickly fading, and they are fading most dramatically for underserved students—many, like me, who are the first in their families to attend college, and most disproportionately for young men of color.  When the College Futures Foundation approached the Sacramento Region Community Foundation about participating in their new initiative to boost college acceptance and bachelor’s degree completion rates for these students, the profound impact of my own education hit home.

Continue Reading »

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