The Foundation concluded operations on December 31, 2020. Learn more.

Spending Down


California faces many critical challenges, which require resources and creative solutions.

In response to this reality, the Board of Directors decided to invest all of its assets by the end of 2020. This decision reflected a commitment to identifying lasting solutions for education and the environment. In most initiatives, the Foundation hoped to foster the development of models that could become the standard practices of tomorrow – providing support for inspiring projects, enduring partnerships, and high-quality organizations working to improve California well after the Foundation is gone.

The Foundation also invested in grantee organizations to leave them strong, resilient, and positioned to carry on the work of furthering a successful California for decades to come.

As part of its commitment to sharing the evolving story of the spend down, the Foundation reported about its experience and lessons learned along the way.

  • The Foundation published a serialized account of its spend-down journey, available below.
  • This timeline shows major program decisions in the context of relevant external events and contains key information about the Foundation’s grants, endowment, and staffing since 2008 (the year prior to the spend-down decision).
  • In this interview, Foundation President Lauren B. Dachs talks about spending down with the National Center for Family Philanthropy.

These and more than 200 other publications and resources are available beyond the Foundation’s conclusion through a Legacy Collection developed with Candid. The Foundation is also maintaining all pages in this website as they existed at the end of 2020.

Learn more about the Foundation’s investment in strategic communications in its final years.

Sooner Rather Than Later:
The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation Spend-down Journey

Growing a Family Philanthropy: 1957 to 2008

An overview of the Foundation and its program activities prior to the spend-down decision, including the factors and process leading to that decision.




Chapter 1Chapter 1
Setting the Course: 2009 to 2013

A chronicle of the activation of spend-down practices, including the “strategic refresh” that would guide Foundation program investments through its conclusion.




Chapter 2
Working With the End in Mind: 2014 to 2017

A description of the ramp up and adaptation of the Foundation’s major program investments and initiatives during its spend-down years.




Chapter 3Chapter 3
Reaching Conclusion: 2018 to 2020

A narrative of the Foundation’s approaches to securing gains and amplifying impact in its final years. Features perspective on program strategies as well as core operations across the spend-down era – including organizational effectiveness, human resources, financial management, and grants management.