Inland Empire Community Foundation: 80 Years and Counting

By: Sharjeel Sohaib


Dec 4, 2021


iecf Inland Empire Community Foundation

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Founded in 1941, the Inland Empire Community Foundation, or IECF, is the oldest and largest community foundation serving the Inland Empire region. The foundation operates over 27,000 square miles, covering Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Thus, IECF’s impact reaches 52 cities and towns and numerous unincorporated and rural areas of the Inland Empire.

We covered this in our Weekly Wire Roundup

IECF’s President and CEO on the Foundation’s Impact

Here’s a short interview with Inland Empire Community Foundation’s President and CEO, explaining how she got started in her current job, how her previous experiences prepared her for the current role, and how donors can get involved with IECF. The interview was conducted by Acquanetta Warren, Mayor of Fontana.

Video Credit: City of Fontana, CA – City Government

Core Operations

IECF operates as a public benefit corporation and Grantmaker. The foundation works with donors to provide financial support to nonprofits in the region to address community needs and improve quality of life. It also works with other foundations to enhance their work, including:

  • Weingart Foundation
  • James Irvine Foundation
  • California Endowment


IECF Founder

80 years of philanthropic history

In 1941, The Inland Empire Community Foundation was founded as The Riverside Foundation by Charles Brouse, a professional banker and civic leader.

The foundation’s initial mission was to provide scholarships to students attending Riverside City College. The scope of services gradually broadened to include funding for health and human services, civic benefit programs, and arts and culture.

The Foundation has distributed more than $100 million in grants and scholarships and manages assets of nearly $113 million from more than 394 funds.

Currently, R. Michelle Decker serves as President and CEO of IECF, Dr. Paulette Brown-Hindsas is the foundation’s Board Chair, and Nefertiti Long is Vice Chair.

The Inland Empire Community Foundation works with stakeholders across the IE to understand, address, and resource important issues.  Working under a framework of Equity, Economy, Education, and Environment, IECF supports collaborative processes and investments to affect lasting change.

Types of Funds Managed by IECF

IECF manages various types of funds, including:

  • Donor-Advised Funds
  • Field of Interest Funds
  • Designated Funds
  • Scholarship Funds
  • Geographic Affiliate Funds

Each fund type has a specific purpose and attracts specific donors and philanthropists. For instance, the IECF defines Donor Advised Funds, or DAF, as “an alternative to starting a family foundation and is designed for donors to be actively involved in directing how the funds are used.”

On the other hand, the Field of Interest Fundallow donors to specify a broad area of interest (for instance, the arts or youth-serving or disasters)for charitable support that is awarded using a competitive grant application process.”

Some of the major programs and initiatives by IECF include:

1) Community Impact Fund

The Community Impact Fund provides the Foundation with the flexibility to address the most pressing, high-priority needs facing our community. It also supports nonprofit organizations serving our region by building organizational capacity, innovations, and sustainability of these organizations.

2) Youth Grantmakers

Youth Grantmakers empowers young people to become active agents of change and responsible community leaders by learning about the nonprofit sector in their communities, working to understand equity as a grantmaking lens, and undertaking a grantmaking process for local organizations.

3) Community Indicator Reports

IECF publishes research/analysis and documents to track key economic, social, and environmental well-being indicators in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

For instance, it has published the following:

  • San Bernardino Community Indicators Report
  • Riverside County Center for Demographics

Inclusive Economic Development & IEGO

In 2017 and 2018, private- and public-sector leaders from Riverside and San Bernardino counties worked with the Brookings Institution to understand the Inland Empire’s potential to create jobs at good wages for those without a four-year degree.

It resulted in a strategic framework called Inland Growth and Economic Opportunity.

In the future, we plan to cover IECF’s work in detail as the foundation has a rich history of service for the people and communities of the Inland Empire.

Our goal at Startempire Wire is to act as a megaphone to connect the dots between the best startups, events, and people in the Inland Empire. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and like/follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.  


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