Conrad Prebys was committed to giving back to the community he called home for over half a century. The $1 billion foundation he created ensures that this spirit of philanthropy will live on for many decades to come.
In 2022, the Board of The Conrad Prebys Foundation hired Grant Oliphant, a philanthropy executive with almost three decades of senior experience in the field, as its CEO. Oliphant and a small team of staff, board members, and consultants spent the past year meeting with hundreds of community members, nonprofit leaders, philanthropists, and government officials to learn how to best use the foundation’s assets to serve the people of San Diego County.
Today, the Conrad Prebys Foundation released an initial strategy built on what they learned. Focused on creating an inclusive, equitable, and dynamic future for all San Diegans, the plan will guide the organization as it engages and partners with communities, nonprofits, businesses, and government over the next several years. The strategy plan builds on a core concept of community well-being and seeks to acknowledge that every San Diegan's sense of purpose, opportunity, and belonging are respected and nurtured.
“In every conversation, we had across this county over the past year, we heard about the truly incredible assets that San Diego offers and the great hopes people have for this community,” said Oliphant. “We also heard about how many people are left out and how the potential of San Diego could be so much greater if we could create more opportunities for everyone in this community to participate genuinely in its vitality and success. It became obvious early on that our plan would need to focus on using our work to contribute to building a San Diego for everyone.”
The plan organizes the work into four programs driven by Mr. Prebys’ instructions and giving during his lifetime: Visual and Performing Arts, Youth Success, Healthcare, and Medical Research. The foundation’s work in these four areas will also acknowledge the importance of three issues critical to the future of San Diego: Addressing Climate Change, Embracing Our Border and Indigenous Nations, and Promoting Civic Dialogue.
A summary of the plan can be found on the grants page.
Central to The Conrad Prebys Foundation's approach is a commitment to serve as a partner to the organizations and individuals who continue to work tirelessly to help the greater San Diego area meet the needs and potential of all its residents. With that in mind, the plan is framed as a living document or “learning plan,” one that will continue to evolve as the foundation implements it this year and gathers feedback from its partners. Over the first two years of this new plan, the foundation expects to grant $100 million to local community groups.
The foundation will update the way it makes grants as well. While the foundation previously made grants in limited funding cycles through an application process, it will expand the methods and the timing in which it makes grants to include open applications, requests for proposals, invitations, and community-led grantmaking. The foundation will provide more information about this process in the coming months.
After making several pilot investments in 2023, the foundation will invest an additional $100 million over the next ten years in ways that advance the well‐being of San Diego. These mission-driven investments will represent a commitment to realizing social returns through the foundation’s endowment and financial goals.
Here to Learn and Serve:
The plan unveiled today is designed to adapt based on lessons learned from its implementation. Kaberi Banerjee Murthy, a philanthropic leader with more than two decades of experience, who was recently hired as Prebys’ first Chief Impact Officer, sees this as a central principle of good philanthropy.
“In many ways, we are here to learn and to serve,” she said. “We want to engage the entire community in solutions that will meet the moment. The foundation’s priority for its first two years was to provide much-needed funding to organizations doing great work in San Diego during the pandemic. Building on that, as the foundation expands its staff and deepens its relationships in the community, we are moving into a way of operating that leans heavily into partnerships and the wisdom and expertise that lives in the community.”
As part of that commitment, the foundation will launch a series of community meetings across the county to discuss the foundation’s goals and approach, gather feedback, connect and build relationships with community members, and provide more information about how nonprofit organizations can receive funding.
Information regarding the upcoming community meetings is available here.
What local leaders are saying:
Nora Vargas, Chairwoman, San Diego County Board of Supervisors:
“Our County is taking innovative steps and working collaboratively with the community and philanthropic partners to address some of the region’s most pressing issues. Today’s announcement provides an important commitment to making a real difference in people's lives, and it creates a unique opportunity for public-private partnerships to play a catalytic role in advancing transformative change in our communities. I look forward to partnering with the Conrad Prebys Foundation to help build a county that works for all.”
Mark Cafferty, president, and CEO, San Diego Regional EDC:
“EDC is proud to work with the Conrad Prebys Foundation to advance economic inclusion and cross-sector collaboration in San Diego. Inspired by Conrad’s legacy and under Grant’s leadership, the foundation will undoubtedly support progress toward our inclusive growth goals—growing quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households across the region.”
Megan Thomas, President & CEO, Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties:
“This is an important step in growing the culture of collaborative philanthropy in San Diego that centers the experience and leadership of community members. We have no shortage of needs in our region, but we also have the resources, energy, and creativity to tackle big challenges. With today’s announcement, we have a very important new ally in this work.”