California Forward

For General Operating Support

  • Amount
  • Program
  • Date Awarded
  • Term
    48 Months
  • Type of Support
    General Support/Organization
This grant to California Forward would support its ongoing efforts to fundamentally change the way government operates in the state. In 2007, five major California foundations, including Hewlett, jointly invested in this organization’s launch, reflecting shared concerns about the increasing dysfunction of the state’s fiscal and political systems. California Forward was conceived as a six-year project at a minimum, on the premise that its envisioned reforms would take several years to achieve even under the most ambitious scenario. The foundations’ original commitment was for three years of funding, with the expectation of three additional years of support if progress was being made. Over the past three years, the organization has focused on the following objectives: • Helping California’s institutions of governance become more fair, transparent, and responsive to the needs of the state’s residents • Improving the state’s and local governments’ fiscal performance by strengthening their budgeting processes and making their finance systems more rational and equitable • Improving communication between Californians and public officials by strengthening residents’ opportunities to participate more effectively in decisionmaking • Clarifying the roles, responsibilities, and authorities of state and local governments and agencies to make them more efficient, effective, and rational. With a number of notable successes since 2007, California Forward is now widely viewed as a trusted, bipartisan, public interest organization committed to making the state work. One of its early goals, the creation of a citizen’s redistricting commission (which took the form of a ballot initiative), was realized in November 2008. It has since played an important role in improving the implementation of the Citizens Redistricting Commission created through this initiative. California Forward also helped inform decisionmaking that led to an initiative to allow open primaries, voted into law in June 2010, and provided nonpartisan research on term limit options, expected to be decided by voters in 2012. With regard to potential fiscal reform, California Forward has developed a framework for a nonpartisan, comprehensive budget process that would create stability, improve decisionmaking, and restore public trust. Working with community, regional, and state leaders, the organization has developed a set of potential reforms that reflect best practices and broad public values, as reflected in endorsements, polling, and the analysis of independent experts. Over the next three years, California Forward intends to carry out a statewide conversation and engagement effort designed to support a fiscal realignment plan that shifts significant decisionmaking authority and revenue-raising responsibility from the state to local governments. The organization recognizes that in order to succeed, any fiscal realignment must meet the needs of a large coalition of Californians. This proposed grant includes evaluation funding. All five foundations that originally invested in California Forward are planning to renew their support for the organization this year.
About the Grantee
Grantee Website 
127 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA, 94710, United States
Grants to this Grantee
for creating solutions to California’s wildfire crisis  
California Forward advocates for shared prosperity across all of California’s regions and for improved government performance and accountability. California Forward hosts the California Economic Summit, a robust network that concentrates on ensuring all Californians have access to economic opportunity, stable housing, quality jobs, and a healthy environment. This grant supports California Forward’s ongoing efforts to generate solutions to the state’s wildfire crisis. (Substrategy: Wildfire)
for the "What's Next California?" statewide deliberative poll  
California Forward is a current GOS grantee that intends to carry out over the next three years a statewide conversation and engagement effort designed to support a fiscal realignment plan that shifts significant decisionmaking authority and revenue-raising responsibility from the state to local governments. This project grant is a related but distinct part of this larger effort; linked with California Forward’s other activities, this project has the potential to build significant momentum for reforms. California Forward is part of a consortium of organizations that is organizing and managing a statewide deliberative poll in order to engage and test various reform ideas with ordinary Californians during a weekend of intensive dialogue. Jim Fishkin at Stanford University's Center for Deliberative Democracy developed the deliberative poll concept and model, and he will produce and conduct the poll. It will be conducted with approximately 300-350 Californians randomly drawn from statewide lists of likely voters, offering both a scientifically proven and visible media opportunity to engage state citizens. The consortium has identified state-local restructuring, taxation, initiative process, and representation as the four issue areas best suited for discussion. Jim Lehrer Productions at PBS will work with Mr. Fishkin to manage major media and logistics, and a communications working group will be formed to develop key objectives, messages, and strategies.
for the What's Next California? statewide deliberative poll  
This spring, the Foundation awarded a modest grant for "What’s Next, California?," a statewide deliberative poll designed to engage and test various reform ideas with average Californians during a weekend of intensive dialogue. Conducted by Jim Fishkin at Stanford University's Center for Deliberative Democracy, the poll provided a media opportunity to engage state citizens who had been randomly drawn from lists of likely voters. The event was intended to draw approximately 350 Californians; impressively, more than 400 registered—an unprecedented showing for a deliberative poll. The additional numbers are a testament to the event’s success and to Californians’ genuine interest in engaging on important reform issues, but California Forward needs additional funds to cover the unanticipated cost generated by the extra attendees. This supplemental grant would assist in that effort.

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