Question: Why is engaging in public policy important for your foundation? How much policy work do you do, and how central is it to your work?

Blue Shield of California Foundation
Debbie Chang, President and CEO

The complex problems we must address to meet our bold goals of making California the healthiest state and ending domestic violence require us to engage in public policy as an essential lever for change. Investing in policy change enables and creates the conditions necessary for our grantees’ social innovations to spread and scale their impact across the state — and even the nation. Policy change works both at the level of a specific innovation, to help spread a practice that improves health and reduces domestic violence, and at the broader societal level, to address the root causes of poor health and violence that must change for our goals to become reality.

Community Foundation Boulder County
Chris Barge, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

Public policy is an important part of creating systemic change, and as such is a best practice of community foundations.   Community Foundation Boulder County (CFBC) has a long history of supporting education measures in public policy, as well as measures in direct support of local nonprofits. We recently adopted a new vision for our Foundation — of supporting an equitable Boulder County — which calls for the creation of systems where all can thrive. In other words, equity is systems change. Public policy is central to this work since it can advance impact over time not otherwise possible.

Helios Education Foundation
Charles Hokanson, Senior Vice President, Florida Community Engagement, and Janice Palmer, Vice President, Public Policy & Government Affairs

In order to realize our vision that every individual in Arizona and Florida has the opportunity to attend and is prepared to succeed in postsecondary education, Helios Education Foundation understands its role in public policy must be deeply rooted in advocacy — advocacy fueled by the needs and aspirations of first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students.

Read the full article about foundations and policy engagement by Naomi Orensten and Ethan McCoy at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.