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Posted on March 27, 2001
The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to enhancing the social, economic, and physical quality of life throughout California, and to enriching the state's intellectual and cultural environment.
Purpose of Site:
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. From 1948 to 1957, over $2 million was expended in grants to higher education, community service organizations, cultural services, health care, and youth programs.
During the 1940s and 1950s, new residents continued to pour into the state, particularly to Southern California, where they moved into sprawling cities built upon prime agricultural land. The Irvine Company, located in one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation, increasingly felt external pressures during the 1950s to open its lands to real estate development. Its response community planning allowing for a wide range of uses, including higher education (providing the initial land for the University of California, Irvine campus) and agriculture provided a contrast to the unplanned sprawl nearby. Just as the ranch had become known for adopting new agricultural techniques, the company soon enjoyed a reputation for inaugurating community planning on a large scale
Eventually, the Irvine Foundation was forced to sell its share in the company to comply with new federal legislation. When James Irvine died in 1947, his gift to the foundation was valued at $5.6 million; when the foundation's share of the Company was sold thirty years later, his bequest had grown in value to $184 million.
Executive Director: Ami Dar
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