Next Generation of Philanthropic Leaders

 Monday, January 26, 2015
Rico Guerrero Dear Friends of the Foundation,

Over the last six months, I have had the privilege of working with a score of young professionals intentionally preparing themselves to have a positive and powerful impact in our community.

The NextGen Philanthropy group is best explained by member Renee Rees in a recent blog. Renee writes, “What was truly remarkable about this collection of people was that beyond each attendee’s desire to give back to their community through donating time, talent and treasure, a common passion inspired each to be present: their love for the city in which they live and grew up in and their common desire to see it THRIVE”.

This next generation of philanthropists are civic oriented stewards who are looking for innovative ways to have the biggest impact. In many ways they set themselves apart from their parents’ generation, but yet they are as compassionate as the boomers. They are socially responsible and know that how they use their resources reflects their values.

The mission of NextGen Philanthropy is, “to connect, cultivate, inspire, and engage the Next Generation of philanthropic leaders in the Central Valley”. They have connected with public officials, cultivated relationship with local organizations, inspired peers to get involved, and become engaged in giving back to this community. Their year of work will culminate in awarding grants to local organizations. Fresno Regional Foundation is proud to support them in this work.

Our NextGen Philanthropy group is an annual program that runs from July through June and is open to young professionals who are committed to its mission. If you would like more information about the details of this program please contact me or visit 

Best regards,

Rico Guerrero
Donor Relations Coordinator 
(559) 226-5600 ext. 110 
[email protected]

Responding to an Opportunity to Help Children

 Tuesday, January 20, 2015


The Fresno Regional Foundation will often alert our Donors of Advised funds to opportunities or needs in communities that match their interest or passion for charitable giving. We recently shared with one of our donors the story about a 15 year-old boy scout named Liam who was working hard to make a project he believes in come true.

Liam Niewohner, a 15 year-old Boy Scout contacted the Fresno Regional Foundation (FRF) last May with a request to fund his Eagle Scout project; a rehabilitation mobility course at Valley Children’s Hospital. Liam was diagnosed with a mild form of cerebral palsy at age 6 and later, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. His desire to help with constructing a mobility course arose from a personal experience he had when attending a Boy Scouts of America summer camp. Liam got stuck on the bridge, rocks and dirt when trying to navigate his wheelchair. His first-hand experience of not knowing how to maneuver through the obstacles he faced, coupled with seeing others having the same difficulty, inspired his project.

After contacting businesses and community groups to share his story and seek contributions, Liam was able to collect $4,000 and secure a local architect, civil engineer and construction company- all who offered in-kind services. Valley Children’s Hospital and Foundation staff supported and encouraged Liam through the entire process. However, the last thing needed was funding. Peter Bennett, who has a donor advised fund at the Fresno Regional Foundation, believes in “doing good and helping others.” He admired this same belief in Liam and was happy to support the entire project with a grant from his fund. We are proud to help connect donors to projects that make a difference, especially when it helps a young man like Liam. Let us know how we can help you.

This mobility course will serve as a rehabilitation resource for children with spinal cord injuries, cystic fibrosis, and orthopedic conditions. Pediatric patients, including many in wheelchairs and on crutches will learn how to maneuver through daily obstacles.

On Monday, January 19, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. a special ceremony will be held to mark the opening of the new outdoor Pediatric Rehabilitation Mobility course at Valley Children’s Hospital - funded by the Bennett Family Foundation Fund at the Fresno Regional Foundation.

Best Regards,

Charise Hansen

[email protected]

Investing in our arts and culture

 Monday, January 12, 2015
Hugh Ralston


It seems as if the New Year has just started, and the foundation is ready to launch the first of its competitive grants programs, $250,000 in grants focusing on arts and culture. Released early next week will be priorities for $200,000 of these grants:.

1. supporting culturally relevant art forms that reflect and serve our region’s diverse population and that engage underserved communities 

2. support arts/cultural activities that strengthen academic or life skills 

3. innovative projects that reach/engage broader audiences in new ways/new places 

4. supporting historical societies and arts, cultural and public entities in projects that capture the rich histories across our region.

Because of donor restrictions, many of these grant dollars will remain in Fresno County but the fourth priority is one that will be directed to all six counties in our region, thanks in part to addition of the foundation’s own unrestricted funds. Our hope is to engage many of the smaller organizations that play such an important part in our collective history by capturing the stories that reflect the individuals, families and institutions that have built communities, businesses and organizations across our rich and fertile landscape.

Thanks to a partnership with the Irvine Foundation, we will also be distributing $50,000 for grants that focus on expanding ways communities reach new and diverse populations by exploring nontraditional spaces and new ways of engaging, with a special emphasis on low income and ethnically diverse populations that are traditionally underserved by many arts organizations.

While there is no hidden meaning in the arts being up first on the calendar – we are also moving forward on other priorities like reducing teen pregnancy, strengthening families and children 0-8, river restoration, smart growth, and helping veterans among other priorities -- the question why supporting the arts is worth exploring.

Donors have established almost $7 million in dedicated endowments at the Foundation to support and sustain local arts organizations, and we have distributed over $3 million in grants to local companies, organizations and institutions. Stewarding these funds is a core responsibility. Our donors care about the local arts ecosystem and generously help sustain this work through funds at the Foundation. We help train arts leaders to be more effective in their work – in raising funds, in stronger governance and measuring impact. We engage with local artists by featuring their work in our offices.

National studies show the sturdiness of the arts, as well as the stress from organizations adapting to relentless change – new generations of audience, new technologies and competition, new consumption patterns, increasing diversity of audience and the pressures on artists to earn a living wage. Running an arts organization of any size is not for the faint of heart – and many who do so are fueled by their passion for the work that compels them to continue to engage, inspire, provoke, entertain and reach out to others.

Our arts community is a vital part of the local nonprofit sector, and of our economy, as we see by the number of productions, galleries, exhibitions and solo shows that are available every weekend. Local students are learning skills that will shape their talents, their brains and their ability to communicate. We have a vibrant arts community and it makes a difference in our community – every day.

The arts are critical also because they touch a deeper chord: the arts connect us in ways deep and profound to each other, to our hearts and to those that are different from us, often providing a bridge across one of the most challenging barriers – the distance between human beings.

We know that the arts provide a language that extends beyond the written and/or printed word. As an amateur musician, I have had the greatest privilege of singing in concerts where the words, the music, the location all fused into moments of transcendent beauty and deepest meaning – when I was able to participate in something that will stay with me until the end of my days. It touched my soul in ways that still echo.

We all have experienced such things – the catch of a phrase in a poem or a character in a novel, an image or a painting, a melody, a dance movement – when we stopped at the clarity and simplicity, at the truth of that moment that bore witness not just to the artist and his/her insight, vision, perception, or creation but which reminded us of the things that makes us human; that make us remember the things we share in common.

That is why we see the arts as one of the bands that builds, strengthens and connects communities, and we are privileged to work with so many others across our region to invest in our artists and our arts organizations. We look forward to reading the proposals, seeing the productions and hearing the stories from grantees, and to sharing the impact of the grants distributed last year. Each will remind us we are part of a rich, diverse and talented community, a reflection of why we value this place so much.
Click here to learn more or to apply for the Arts & Culture.

It is going to be another good year. Come join us in this good work.

Best Regards,

Hugh J. Ralston

President and CEO

And a new year opens?..

 Monday, January 05, 2015
Hugh Ralston


As we return to work on January 5th to begin another year of serving as the community foundation supporting donors, nonprofits and communities across the Central San Joaquin Valley, we look forward to opportunities ahead to shape our future and are grateful for the continuing confidence shown in the foundation and its initiatives.

2014 closed with 28 new funds established, a projected $13+ million in gifts to the foundation, and over $9.7 million in grants distributed to agencies throughout our region. Over 250 funds have now been established at FRF – from donor advised and donor directed, to scholarship, field of interest, agency and unrestricted grantmaking funds– each to help channel philanthropic giving to meet the needs in our communities and further the passions and legacies of our donors.

From over $5 million in donor advised fund distributions to local agencies to $1.7 million in competitive and discretionary grants that focus on teen pregnancy prevention, helping children 0-8 get on the ladder to success, river restoration and smart growth, arts & culture, human services, veterans, youth and nonprofit capacity building, the foundation’s grants are investing across the region’s nonprofit sector and in a generation of leaders so important to its, and our, future.

We are proud to be partners with so many that want to invest in broader opportunity, stronger nonprofits, more effective work and new generations stepping up. We have ambitious plans for the year ahead, culminating in a new strategic plan for growth, a more visible presence in our region, and the launch of our 50th anniversary celebrations. We look forward to sharing with you stories of how our work carries on the legacies of donors, strengthens local organizations, touches the lives of individuals all across this valley, nurturing community itself.

Let us know how we can help you make a difference in 2015, and in the years beyond. We are here for the long haul, and we believe in the power of leverage, evaluation and initiative. Come join us in this good work.

Best Regards,

Hugh J. Ralston

President and CEO

Giving through the Foundation

Fresno Regional Foundation helps donors achieve their charitable goals, and we serve as a bridge connecting philanthropy to community-based organizations that provide programs and services throughout the San Joaquin Valley.

Learn more about giving through the foundation.

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