My 150th Client: Southern California Grantmakers


Park needs assessment map developed by GreenInfo Network

I’m thrilled to support my 150th client, Southern California Grantmakers! Like my work with the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative, I’m helping out with their Environmental Funders Group, another collaborative endeavor working on a complimentary set of issues in a larger geographic footprint. Since first wrote this blog post in 2016, I’m happy to report that I’ve now organized over 25 funder convenings, working closely with the SCG Environmental Funders Steering Committee. See the list below to get a sense for the broad range of issues this learning series has addressed. If you’re a SCG member or funder, I invite you to attend the next session. 

Southern California Grantmakers Environmental Funders Group Quarterly Convenings

  1. Environmental Justice: Opportunities & Lessons for Advocacy and Grantmaking 4/16
  2. From Sacramento to Paris: How CA Helped Shape the U.N. Climate Agreement 4/16
  3. Air Quality: Impacts on Health, Community and Justice in Southern California, 6/16
  4. Mapping the Environment to Identify Community Needs 10/16
  5. The New Administration and the Environment: What’s in store for So Cal? 2/17
  6. Healthy Communities, Green Infrastructure and Water Sustainability in So Cal 6/17
  7. Exploring the Evolving Environmental Movement in SoCal 10/17
  8. Public Health and the Environment 1/18
  9. Green Investment without Displacement along the Los Angeles River 5/18
  10. Educating the Next Generation of Environmental Stewards in SoCal 6/18
  11. Global Climate Action Summit: What’s Next for Southern California 11/18
  12. A New Governor, Legislature & Congress: Implications for SoCal’s Environment 2/19
  13. Economic Opportunity, Environmental Wellbeing, and a Just Transition: 5/19
  14. Talking Trash: Towards a Sustainable Southern California 8/19
  15. Building Leadership: Education, Environmental Literacy, and Youth Engagement 11/19
  16. Toward a Regenerative Economy: Envisioning a Just Transition in SoCal, 2/20
  17. COVID-19 & the Environment: Power Building, Leadership & Civic Engagement 5/20
  18. How to Be an Anti-Racist Environmental Movement 8/20
  19. 2020 Election Debrief: What is Next for the Environment in Southern California 11/20
  20. Urban, Green Infrastructure Under the New Administration 2/21
  21. Climate Resilience Investments in So Cal: The Implementation Question 5/21
  22. Climate, Health and Equity: A Case Study 8/21
  23. Bolstering the Green Workforce Pipeline 11/21
  24. Climate and Clean Energy in California: Making Justice 40 a Reality 2/22
  25. Beyond Land Acknowledgments: Indigenous Leadership & the Environment in SoCal 5/22
  26. Beyond Fossil Fuels: Making the Green New Deal Real in California 8/19/22
  27. Next session planned: 11/18/22

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-5-23-27-pmBelow is a description written by my Associate, Katie Jagodka for the Mapping the Environment to Identify Community Needs session, which covered a variety of environmental issues in Southern California and explored various visual mediums for communicating complex issues:


screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-4-26-06-pmOn October 26th, I attended Southern California Grantmakers’ Mapping the Environment to Identify Community Needs funder convening, marking my first official day as an Associate at Ron Milam Consulting. As someone who is passionate about developing equitable communities, I really enjoyed learning about how instrumental visuals, like maps, can be used to express data in compelling ways. They have the potential to tell a story about environmental challenges and opportunities in Southern California, rather than just stating facts.

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-5-24-03-pmThe event opened with a presentation from Jon Christensen from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, followed by a Q&A panel with mapmakers Fernando Cazares and Maianna Voge. Christensen emphasized the significance of using maps and data alongside stories. Using historic and contemporary examples, Christensen illustrated the potential impacts maps can have, both positive and negative. As Christensen expressed, “Results that matter will not just be the map, but a new territory.” Voge acknowledged these implications and emphasized the importance of strategic communications to create the most influential map that demonstrate the specific needs of disadvantaged communities. To do so, people need to know their audience, point, and message.


Map from GreenInfo Network showing protected lands in Southern California:

From racial segregation in housing to neighborhood air quality and proximity of parks and open space to the urban heat island effects, maps helped paint a holistic picture of prominent community issues by highlighting spatial relationships. Through these maps, my understanding of these issues increased as I could clearly see what areas were suffering from the greatest impacts.


screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-5-25-29-pmAttendees then split into four different groups focused on watershed health, open space and ecosystem preservation, air quality and the work of the LA Funders’ Collaborative, which focuses on smart growth. The groups not only explored ways funders can effectively allocate resources to these areas, but also to examined the intersectionality between the categories. Approximately 25 members of the local philanthropic community participated in this breakout session, including the California Water Foundation, Roy and Patricia Disney Foundation, William C. Bannerman Foundation, and the Resources Legacy Fund. Each group reviewed a map created by the Foundation Center Mapping tool that summarized funding in the Los Angeles Metro Counties.

Bea Solís, Director, Healthy Communities, South Region of The California Endowment helped close the session by stressing the significance of transparency and proper metric systems to analyze whether results truly addressed key issues. She challenged everyone to think about whether or not funders are really hitting the most need and to think of ways to ensure democracy works for all. I look forward to attending future events that foster this same breadth of collaboration for healthy communities. 

About Ron Milam

Ron Milam, MSOD, works to transform the Pacific Coast into a sustainable region through leadership and organization development for collaborative change initiatives. Since 2005, Ron has served over 150 clients as an organization and network development practitioner.
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