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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024

Corporate Citizenship & Giving Guide 2022 – Moving Ahead Through Collaboration

The way in which our local area nonprofits, government agencies, philanthropic foundations and private companies have worked together in the past few years to create greater collective impact has been truly inspiring.

Across Los Angeles County, philanthropy is undertaking unprecedented efforts to collaborate more effectively and coordinate quickly. This type of collaboration was catalyzed during the pandemic and is being sustained by the need to support communities that have been historically left out to achieve more equity and economic opportunity.

Every week I hear of more collaboratives taking approaches that differ from traditional philanthropy, with an increased focus on social justice, systems change, and investing in leaders of color to create opportunities that would have been considered unfeasible in years past. As the largest county in the country, one of LA’s greatest challenges is integrating our services so that we can better serve our communities.

Fortunately, there is increased recognition by our elected officials and public sector leaders for the need not only to collaborate with philanthropy but also with each other. I recently participated in a panel discussion organized by The Center for Strategic Partnerships that brought together the directors of LA County’s department of Public Social Services, Consumer and Business Affairs, and department of Economic and Workforce Development talking about their respective priorities, how they can better integrate their efforts, and how the philanthropic community can help them collaborate more effectively. It was inspiring to see the genuine desire of these department heads to support their mutual goals and acknowledge the need for philanthropy to provide more flexible capital to fill some of the gaps created by significant restrictions placed on the public funds.

Leaders from Wells Fargo, LISC, Inclusive Action for the City, elected officials and small business owners at the Open For Business announcement.

As more attention is placed on collaborative grantmaking it is critical to prioritize community-driven philanthropy and focus on communities most historically underserved.

These groups were most harmed by the pandemic and have been exposed to discriminatory structures that have created deep and long-standing racial inequities in their communities. They know their situation best and philanthropy should build on their experience and solutions. There is unprecedented public investment in recovery and infrastructure that holds great promise to help these communities become more resilient and thrive in a more equitable Los Angeles. Recognizing this is an extraordinary opportunity, collaborative initiatives such as LA n Sync are helping communities leverage these state and federal resources by bringing together entities such as the California Community Foundation, The Center for Nonprofit Management and many other leading civic and philanthropic organizations. Together, these stakeholders are providing guidance and helping communities pursue, secure and effectively administer state and federal grant funding.

Wells Fargo is proud to be supporting this initiative to ensure state and federal resources are reaching grassroots nonprofits and communities most impacted by years of structural inequities and discrimination.

In the wake of the pandemic, one of philanthropy’s important areas of focus has been on the small business community, particularly business owners who are also people of color.

Wells Fargo CEO and President Charles Scharf announcing Open for Business grant with elected officials and community leaders.

Los Angeles County saw more than 700,000 people lose their job at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of the businesses we lost were women-owned or diverse-owned small businesses.

Knowing that small business is the lifeblood of our economy, and with LA County having more small businesses and sole proprietorships than any other county in the United States, we at Wells Fargo have been working with organizations focused on supporting small business and forming collaborations between public sector entities, nonprofits and other philanthropic organizations. The Wells Fargo Foundation has provided more than $30 million since the start of the pandemic to help LA County nonprofits and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) provide the information, technical assistance and access to capital needed to help more small businesses keep their doors open and their staff employed.


As more attention is placed on collaborative grantmaking it is critical to prioritize community-driven philanthropy and focus on communities most historically underserved.


One of the collaborative efforts initiated during the pandemic that continues to support diverse-owned businesses throughout the county today is Together For LA (laedc.org/
togetherforla). Together For LA partners include Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Los Angeles (LISC LA), The Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, The Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County. These organizations are working together to advance a more equitable, sustainable and resilient economic recovery. Thanks to their collective efforts, more than 350 micro-enterprises and small businesses received 1-1 support and technical assistance and over 1,300 jobs were saved. Going forward, Together for LA will continue to focus on a more equitable recovery and develop ways to continue building resiliency so that small businesses in LA County can launch, grow and thrive.

More collaboration is needed to address our region’s most pressing challenges, especially in communities that have been left behind for far too long. The pandemic created the need for greater collaboration and we now must build on our collaborative efforts to address the massive social and economic disparities that have been exposed as we move into the next phase of resiliency. Further collaboration will help us overcome what communities endured and allow us to be better prepared for whatever challenges emerge in the future.

Gregg Sherkin is senior vice president, social impact at Wells Fargo. Learn more at welcome.wf.com/impact.







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