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Profile Last Updated: 11/27/2018 Grant Information Last Updated: 11/05/2018 eGrant

The James Irvine Foundation

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Purpose and Activities

The mission of the foundation is to expand opportunity for the people of CA to participate in a vibrant, successful, and inclusive society. The foundation has concluded that it has a responsibility to focus more of its efforts and its grantmaking on the millions of Californians who deserve greater opportunity to achieve economic success for their families and to meaningfully participate in an effective democracy. It will focus on expanding economic and political opportunity for families and young adults who are working but struggling with poverty. This is the foundation's evolving focus, and as the words suggest, the changes will occur over time. The foundation is deeply engaged in important and successful grantmaking. It remains firmly committed to its current grants and initiatives, many of which are in the middle of multiyear plans driving toward specific impacts. The foundation will see all of these current grants and initiatives through to their planned conclusions. And some will evolve to be part of its future work.


Incorporated in 1937 in CA - After witnessing the unrest that the Depression caused in California, and after glimpsing his own mortality in the death of a friend in 1936, agricultural pioneer James Irvine decided in 1937 to establish a foundation that would promote the "general well-being of the citizens and residents of the state of California." Trusting the value of land, he established The James Irvine Foundation as the primary stock holder of The Irvine Company, which held Mr. Irvine's most valuable asset: about 110,000 acres of prime ranch land The new foundation made its first grant in 1937, for a sum of $1,000. By 1947, its largest grant had increased to $5,000. With the death of James Irvine the same year, the foundation began receiving the full interest from its Company stockholdings, thereby increasing its grantmaking capacity. During the 1940's and 1950's, new residents poured into the state, particularly into Southern CA. In response, The Irvine Company opened their lands up for development through community planning to allow for a wide range of uses, including agriculture and higher education, including providing the initial land for the University of California, Irvine campus. The company soon had a reputation for inaugurating community development on a large scale. The foundation was forced to sell its share of the company to comply with federal regulations. At the time of Mr. Irvine's death, his gift to the foundation was valued at $5.6 million; at the time the foundation sold their share of the company it was valued at $184 million.


The James Irvine Foundation

Independent foundation



Bridge Number



One Bush St., Ste. 800 San Francisco, CA United States 94104-4425

Contact Information