Policy in Focus: A Snapshot of Catalyst’s Policy Initiatives

In the social impact world, we often hear about the need to foster robust partnerships with the public sector over the long-term. But why do we do this, and how? We engage with policymakers, and in policy work, because effective cross-sector connections are necessary to achieve and sustain the solutions that funders support every day. At Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties, we see public policy engagement as a highly effective, “long game” effort that funders of all stripes can focus time and resources on.

Whether you’re a seasoned community advocate or part of a lean organization looking to amplify your impact, we have a way for you to get plugged in — policy analysis and informational sessions, connections with regional and federal policymakers, a statewide leadership voice, and more.

Relationship Building and Policy Priorities

The Catalyst team develops wide-ranging relationships with public offices and representatives, with the goal of engaging more impactfully on issues relevant for local communities and our members’ philanthropic goals. Our Public Policy and Advocacy Committee advises these efforts, working with staff to develop and recommend positions on legislation and emerging opportunities aligned with Catalyst’s public policy agenda. In 2023, our priority areas include climate change and community schools:

Policy in Focus: Climate Change. Philanthropy can play a critical role in building a sustainable future for our community. Catalyst supports regional efforts to lower greenhouse emissions, increase climate and disaster resilience, and implement effective climate policies. Our team is currently monitoring state and federal legislation impacting the Salton Sea/Lithium Valley region, as well as multiple policies driving the implementation of Climate Action Plans in our cities and counties.

Policy in Focus: Community Schools. San Diego is spending significant resources on analyzing and implementing a community schools model — one which addresses the holistic needs of students, provides wraparound services and partnerships with community organizations, and strengthens community engagement. Catalyst is closely watching regional efforts and associated policies that promote the move to a community schools model in the San Diego/Imperial region.

Philanthropy Policy: We’re also actively monitoring pieces of legislation potentially impacting the social sector, including The Charitable Act, Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act, and the California Nonprofit Equity Initiative — stay tuned for analysis and recommendations from our staff and committee members. Our team has also been busy connecting with new and veteran members of our state legislature, as well as regional city councils, school boards, and county supervisors in Imperial and San Diego counties. Through thoughtful relationship-building across public offices and close engagement with emerging policy issues, Catalyst is well-positioned to advocate for policies and public funding to strengthen our region as these opportunities arise.

Foundations on the Hill

The Catalyst team returned recently from Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) 2023 in Washington, D.C., where we joined California-based partner organizations and funders from across the nation for this annual event. On the trip, our delegation met with staff from the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, Congressman Scott Peters, and staffers for Congressmembers Sara Jacobs, Adam Schiff, and Juan Vargas. FOTH is a keystone event on our policy calendar, boosting visibility for philanthropy on Capitol Hill and providing opportunities to advocate on equity-focused issues for the social impact sector and our local communities.

A Statewide Voice for Philanthropy

While our membership and focus areas are distinctly regional, Catalyst helps funders to leverage their voice at the state level and beyond. Philanthropy California is an alliance between Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties, SoCal Grantmakers, and Northern California Grantmakers. With a combined membership representing 600+ funding organizations and individuals, we work together to increase philanthropy’s impact in building and sustaining thriving, equitable communities. Our partnership represents a formidable, united voice for public policy issues impacting philanthropy and the communities we serve, affords opportunities to engage a broad range of stakeholders, and bolsters our connections in Sacramento and on Capitol Hill.

Member Education on Policy and Emerging Opportunities

Catalyst members have access to a variety of learning opportunities to inform or enhance their giving, including ways to leverage public funding in support of the issues important to their work. Building off Catalyst’s climate policy priorities, funders convened just last week at an event co-hosted by Catalyst’s Climate Funders Collaborative. There they learned about a Transformative Climate Communities application which could result in $25 million in state funding for a broad set of place-based, climate infrastructure funding in our region. Recently, Catalyst members also had the opportunity to participate in SoCal Grantmakers’ Policy Conference: REIMAGINE Multiracial Democracy in Los Angeles.

On a statewide level, Catalyst members can join virtual events and conversations through our Philanthropy California collaborative events lineup. Check out our upcoming programs on issues like guaranteed income pilots and redistricting here.

We’re Here For YOU

Everything we do at Catalyst is designed to support the impact of your giving and contribute to better community solutions across our region. Public policy is a key component of this work, and we invite you to get plugged into whatever ways make sense for you and your organization.

  • Keep an eye out for new public policy learning and engagement opportunities on the Catalyst Events Calendar.
  • Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for timely policy updates and news relevant to funders and the social impact sector.
  • Reach out to Catalyst’s Public Policy Consultant Rhiannon McAfee with questions or just to brainstorm about how you can be part of this exciting work with Catalyst and its members.