Updates from the Office of the Governor: May 2020

Philanthropy California has invited Kathleen Kelly Janus, Senior Advisor on Social Innovation to Governor Gavin Newsom, to use our platform to provide an update from the Office of the Gorvernor on California's public-private partnerships. 


Dear Philanthropy California Network, 


I hope you and your families are safe and healthy. We are truly living through unprecedented times, and I know that you are all working tirelessly to help those most in need in this crisis.

Over the last year, I’ve worked with many of you to launch new areas of partnerships. But in the last two months, the support we’ve seen from the philanthropic sector during this crisis has been incredible and has led to the creation of landmark public-private partnerships in California’s response to COVID-19. 

To date, Governor Newsom has announced over a dozen major public-private partnership initiatives to support California’s communities in this crisis and is excited to bring in more partners as we begin our reopening and recovery efforts. Some highlights of the new partnerships include:

  • A first-in-the-nation $125 million Immigrant Resilience Fund that will provide cash assistance to undocumented Californians and their families who are ineligible for COVID-19 federal relief and state safety-net programs. This fund was created in partnership with Grantmakers Concerned for Immigrants and Refugees and will consist of initial seed funding from Blue Shield of California, Emerson Collective, CZI, The James Irvine Foundation, The California Endowment, and many other donors. GCIR has a goal of raising $50 million, which will be combined with $75 million in state funding.
  • The expansion of the California Association of Food Bank’s Farm to Family program to pay struggling farmers to pick, pack, and deliver 21 million pounds of excess fresh produce that would otherwise go to waste to California food banks. Partners have committed to raising an additional $15 million from philanthropy to sustain the program through the end of this year.
  • A housing trailer initiative with Homeful – a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating homelessness – launched in partnership with the state to purchase and distribute trailers to house individuals experiencing homelessness in rural California who have contracted COVID-19 or are otherwise high-risk.
  • The Digital Divide Fund in partnership with the CDE Foundation, to provide devices and Wi-Fi hotspots for the one in five California students, or 1.3 million students, who lack the technology they need for distance learning, with many donors continuing to build on this commitment to keep California students learning through this crisis.

True partnership is needed now more than ever to overcome the unmatched public health and economic challenges our state continues to face. I urge you to bring new ideas and opportunities for collaboration to my attention. Below are a few priorities for California that we consider to be ripe for public-private partnerships in the months ahead:

  • Creating jobs and supporting vulnerable workers through this economic crisis
  • Ensuring the COVID-19 response is equitable across traditionally under-resourced regions of the state
  • Combatting food insecurity and supply chain failures in the food system
  • Offering unhoused populations with safe accommodations to shelter in place
  • Making distance learning possible for disadvantaged students
  • Supporting early childhood learning and families with young children
  • Leading the public health response through community testing, contact tracing, therapeutic research, public awareness, and more

Additionally, building on the interest from the partnership efforts above, in the coming months we plan to launch working groups to develop commitments with philanthropic and state partners on key issues during the COVID-19 response and beyond. I will be in touch with more information soon.

Thank you for your leadership and insights on how the state and philanthropy can best work together to help Californians at a time when so many people are vulnerable. Don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss the work you are undertaking around COVID-19 and potential ideas for partnership with the state -- that’s why I’m here!

I look forward to continuing the conversation and building new partnerships to help all Californians as we respond to and recover from this crisis.

Stay well,
Kathleen Kelly Janus
Senior Advisor on Social Innovation
Office of Governor Gavin Newsom


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