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How California grows is determined in great part by the policies and programs that shape land use, housing, transportation, and infrastructure. This growth, in turn, will profoundly influence how well the state can address climate change, protect open space and arable land, manage water resources, and support health and access to opportunity for all Californians — particularly low-income residents and other vulnerable communities.

About Smart Growth California

Smart Growth California is a network of funders working together to build healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities throughout California. We are dedicated to advancing reforms that will benefit all Californians and the communities in which they live.

Our funders work to achieve a range of outcomes related to land use, housing, water and wildfires. We believe that connecting and working across these issue areas is essential to addressing California’s challenges. Throughout our work, we seek to ensure that these reforms bring benefits and do not harm low-income communities and communities of color.

Founded in 2009 by The Funders Network and The San Francisco Foundation, our approach is grounded in shared learning and collaboration, focusing on facilitating funder action and leadership.

In the past decade, Smart Growth California has grown into a robust, action-oriented network of over 500 funders dedicated to creating healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities throughout California. Smart Growth California works at the state level and in key regions around the state and helps to coordinate and connect funders’ efforts at the state, regional, and local levels.

To go directly to the Smart Growth California website, click here.

Our Goals

Smart Growth California is dedicated to helping bolster and support foundations in their efforts to advance an agenda that will benefit all Californians and the communities in which they live, with particular emphasis on advancing racial equity.

Our main goals are to:

  • Increase the number of foundations actively engaging in strategies to advance reforms at the intersection of land use, climate and equity in California.
  • Foster collaboration among foundations in order to increase their effectiveness at promoting reforms at the intersection of land use, climate and equity in the state.
  • Increase financial resources devoted to reforms at the intersection of land use, climate and equity in California.
  • Increase the knowledge among California foundations about reforms at the intersection of land use, climate and equity.

Connect & Engage

Smart Growth California focuses on increasing funder learning and connections, facilitating funder alignment and fostering funder collaboration. Our activities are designed to meet funders specific needs while also helping them move along a continuum of engagement towards greater levels of knowledge, commitment, investment, and leadership. The overall goal is to enhance their effectiveness and impact through timely, strategic collaboration with other funders.

Smart Growth California funders work together to identify specific opportunities for shared learning, alignment, and action and currently supports the following workgroups:

Smart Growth California is led by an active statewide steering committee, which sets the overall strategic direction in order to facilitate aligned grantmaking and action for the Smart Growth California funder community.

Our Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative supports funder learning and collaboration to promote healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities in Los Angeles County.

Our San Joaquin Valley Funders’ Collaborative supports funder learning and joint action in order to promote healthy, equitable communities and sustainable natural systems throughout the San Joaquin Valley.

Our Climate Funders’ Collaborative supports funder learning and collaboration to promote healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities in the Baja, Imperial and San Diego Region.

Our Community Foundation Water Initiative supports participants as they work individually and collectively to advance sustainable water management in California regions.

Funders that participate in Smart Growth California have the opportunity to:

  • Attend our Smart Growth California Funder Summit and TFN Annual Conference.
  • Deepen their knowledge on timely and relevant topics via webinars and other learning opportunities.
  • Stay connected with colleagues and partners in the sector through our monthly e-newsletter Smart Growth CA’s Twitter account

How can I participate?

TFN working groups and initiatives are open to participation from TFN members and non-members alike. We welcome participation from grantmaking organizations, philanthropy serving organizations, local governments, and infrastructure groups that support funders. If you would like to subscribe to Smart Growth California in order to receive newsletters and other resources, click here. 

To learn more about how your organization can become a TFN member, please visit our members services resource page here.

Partnerships and Collaborations

Smart Growth California frequently works with key California-based networks and other philanthropy serving organizations to forge connections and partner on events and learning opportunities. A few of our partners include:

The Great Communities Collaborative is a great place for funders to engage in issues related to housing, land use, transportation and climate resilience in the nine-county region in the Bay Area. GCC, a pooled funding initiative, is investing in multisector collaboratives and intersectional projects to support policy change and base-building.

ClimatePlan is a network that advances policies and programs to address the relationships between land use policy and climate change, and leverage the resources and partnerships necessary to realize more sustainable and equitable development throughout California.

Fund for an Inclusive California is a collaborative funding initiative seeking to advance racial and economic equity and community well-being by building the power of low-income communities, and communities of color to advance community-driven solutions to the crisis of neighborhood displacement and gentrification at the local, regional and statewide levels.

Southern California, Northern California and Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties: Regional associations of grantmakers that make up #PhilanthropyCA, which Smart Growth California has partnered with on various events.


See what Smart Growth California's funders are learning and doing

Bringing Water and
Land Use Together Report

Supported by Smart Growth California’s
Community Foundation Water Initiative

Measures Matter Report

Supported by Smart Growth California’s
Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative

Power Building in the San Joaquin Valley

Collaborative fund supported by Smart Growth California’s San Joaquin Valley Funder Working Group

Funding Navigation for
California’s Communities

Tool supported by two Smart Growth California funders


Visit the Smart Growth California Blog for news and resources

“Our collective understanding about the complex web of issues that relate to the broad concept of sustainable communities has grown enormously. What hasn’t changed is the collective commitment of funders, primarily those with roots in California, to work collaboratively with one another to identify new ways of building truly sustainable, equitable communities.”

Mark Valentine
founding co-chairperson of Smart Growth California and former member of The Funders Network board of directors.

Steering Committee

Emma-Louise Anderson

The Seed Fund

(2023 PLACES Fellow)

Everett Au

Stuart Cohen

Susanna Osorno-Crandall

Ricardo G. Huerta Niño

Kaying Hang

Sierra Health Foundation

Craig Martinez

The California Endowment (Co-chairperson)

Jennifer Sokolove

Christine Tien

Mark Valentine

Ann Fowler Wallace

The Funders Network

David Weiskopf

Learn More

If you’d like more information on how to join Smart Growth California, please reach out to Ron Milam, director of Smart Growth California, at To sign up for Smart Growth California newsletters and other communications, click here.