The Community Foundation: Celebrating 75 Years

The Community Foundation: Celebrating 75 Years

By Melissa Powless Chacon, Regional Network Weaver: Southern California
Native Americans in Philanthropy

The Community Foundation is celebrating philanthropy – then, now, and in the future! This year marks the 75thanniversary of the foundation which was started by visionary philanthropists Charles and Clara Brouse as a scholarship distribution committee in Riverside in 1941, and has since grown to be the oldest and largest community foundation serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. NAP recently caught up with President and CEO Jonathan Lorenzo Yorba for interview about the foundation’s work and upcoming Gala.

Introduction of President and CEO
Jonathan Lorenzo Yorba is President and CEO of The Community Foundation, which has four offices in Inland Southern California: Riverside, Palm Springs, San Bernardino, and the Temecula Valley. In addition to working with our donors and fundholders, as part of his community leadership Dr. Yorba is also Chair of the Ford Foundation Fellows Fund at the National Research Council, National Academies, in Washington, DC. In addition, Yorba serves on several other regional and national boards: the League of California Community Foundations, for which he is Chair of Government Affairs; Southern California Grantmakers, for which he serves on the Public Policy Advisory Committee; and the Council on Foundations National Standards Board. Yorba is proud to be a new member of Native Americans in Philanthropy.

Q: What was the vision for the Community Foundation’s 75th Gala celebration?

Jonathan: The Community Foundation wants to ensure that as many people as possible know that its vision for the vast philanthropic area we serve is a “vibrant, generous, and just region – with unlimited opportunities”. At the Gala, The Community Foundation will honor the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations (TASIN) and Inland Southern California Tribes for their philanthropic giving, spirit, and support in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Net proceeds will benefit The Community Foundation’s Youth Grantmakers, an after-school program during which high school youth learn about the ineffable power of philanthropy through being introduced to the nonprofit sector, teaching them how to assess grants to which nonprofit organizations apply – including analyzing the narrative and financial documents – and reaching consensus on which organizations to recommend to The Community Foundation Board for funding.

Joseph Ironhawk Little, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and a two-year participant in our Youth Grantmakers program in the Coachella Valley, was recently awarded a prestigious Gates Millennium scholarship to attend Stanford University. We are proud that such a standout young man has been given the opportunity to pursue his dream of an excellent post-secondary education and to reach his highest potential. And we are in discussions with Sherman Indian High School in Riverside to include additional Native American students in our Youth Grantmakers program.

Q: What inspired the Community Foundation to want to recognize the tribal philanthropic sector from within the Southern California region?

Jonathan: The Community Foundation works diligently to build a culture of philanthropy in our region. There literally is not a charitable cause that has not benefitted from the generosity of the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations and other Inland Southern California Tribes, and we believe that their outstanding work deserves to be applauded and celebrated.

Q: What tribes will you be honoring at the Community Foundation’s Gala and what do you hope the tribe’s experience?

Jonathan: At the Gala, The Community Foundation will honor the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations (TASIN) and the following Inland Southern California Tribes for their philanthropic giving, spirit, and support in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians; Cahuilla Band of Indians; Morongo Band of Mission Indians; San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; and the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians.

Our hope is that all will enjoy the evening that so many people have been working on to make the experience a night to remember.

Q: Is there any organization or individuals that helped the organization identify these tribal honorees? How has this relationship positively impacted the Community Foundation?

Jonathan: Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, Co-Chair of The Community Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Gala, encouraged the foundation to recognize the outstanding philanthropic work done by the honorees. Dr. Brown-Hinds, Dr. Yorba, Celia Cudiamat (Executive Vice President of Programs) and Jose Marquez (Director of Philanthropic Services) made presentations to the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations about our desire to thank the members for their generous work. The experience has been inspirational for The Community Foundation and, we hope, this sense is also reciprocal for TASIN.

Q: We recently sat down to discuss the intersection of the Community Foundation and Native Americans in Philanthropy. As the CEO of your organization, what would be the greatest success to come from the work of both organizations within the Southern California Region?

Jonathan: Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) promotes reciprocity and investment in, with and for Native peoples to build healthy and sustainable communities for all. Similar to NAP, The Community Foundation is interested in “creating deep and long-lasting impact, systemic and sustainable change in all of our communities.” One of the surest ways to do this, according to Denisha Shackelford, Programs Associate at The Community Foundation who administers our Youth Grantmakers program, is through encouraging youth to become actively engaged in the many challenges facing our region. We feel very fortunate that Melissa Powless Chacon is NAP’s Network Weaver for the Southern California Region, and that she has a specific interest in youth and philanthropy. We look forward to developing our relationship with Melissa and with Native Americans in Philanthropy, for we are stronger together.

Learn more about The Community Foundation and the 75th Anniversary Celebration here.


About The Community Foundation

The Community Foundation’s mission is “Strengthening Inland Southern California through Philanthropy.” The foundation is committed to the following values as essential to our success.  To our donors, stakeholders and to one another we make the following commitments:

  • Integrity:  An abiding pledge to trust, honesty, professionalism, civility and respect.
  • Inclusion: We believe that philanthropy should mirror the people whom we serve.  Diversity and equity are essential to the fullest realization of our ideas and endeavors.
  • Excellence: In our every endeavor.
  • Collaboration: Working together as a team, for no one person or organization can address the community’s many needs.
  • Knowledge: We strive to be a source of knowledge for the regions we serve.  To exemplify this we consistently train and educate our Board and staff in order to better serve our donors and constituents.