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Profile Last Updated: 04/05/2021 Grant Information Last Updated: 02/08/2021 eGrant

The James Irvine Foundation

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Purpose and Activities

The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California. The Foundation’s current focus is a California where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically. Since 1937 the Foundation has provided more than $1.87 billion in grants to organizations throughout California. With about $2.3 billion in assets, the Foundation made grants of $95.9 million in 2018. For more information about the Irvine Foundation, please visit our website at


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




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

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