President’s Update: Winter 2017

The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation is now working with the end in mind. While the Foundation is in many ways more vibrant than ever – engaged in deep collaboration with grantees and other partners to pursue crucial goals in Education and Environment – we are also marking major milestones toward our conclusion in four years.

As we move into 2017, a final roster of strategic initiatives and cadre of core grantees are in place. The Foundation has issued end grants to more than 100 other grantee partners – in many cases offering flexible funding and capacity-building support to aid the transition for these vital nonprofits.

The Foundation team is focused on guiding active initiatives to achieve impact in the years that remain – staying attentive to shifting contexts and adapting to emerging pressures and opportunities. At the same time, we launched this website and are expanding external communications to make lessons and resources from our experience readily available. Our pipeline of content is growing: The Foundation has committed more than $40 million to research and evaluation since the spend-down decision was made in 2009. These investments will yield knowledge about effective practice and policy across our program areas. While the Foundation has not yet made a decision on whether to create a formal archive, we will take steps to ensure that stakeholders can access salient information, insights, and tools beyond 2020.

With 36 talented professionals, we expect to hold this level as we sprint to the finish line and attend to the crucial work ahead. Our agenda includes monitoring grants, evaluating initiatives, building grantee capacity, strengthening fields, and disseminating lessons learned. Plans are in place to serve the remarkable Foundation team along the way. In addition to ongoing training and professional development, a Transition Assistance Fund will offer financial support so that staff members will have time to search for their next opportunity after the Foundation closes.

Work is also underway related to the somewhat arduous legal requirements that accompany dissolution of the Foundation. Planning and filings are proceeding, and we have put the mechanics of document retention and other compliance steps in motion.

Finally, the Foundation is managing the financial realities of spending down. Last year, 2016, saw the endowment decline for the first time; this trend will continue until the last dollar is granted in 2020. Related, 2017 will bring the final contribution from our founder and sole donor, Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr.

In 2009, our Board of Directors chose to invest the Foundation’s entire assets because of urgent challenges requiring significant resources and creative solutions. We invite you to view the Foundation spend-down timeline.

We thank everyone – past, present, and through 2020 – who is a colleague in our journey toward a more productive, vibrant, and sustainable California.

Sincerely,
Lauren B. Dachs