Foresight philanthropy. Disaster resilience. The local philanthropic sector was abuzz with these terms throughout 2019.

The concepts they represent were especially relevant in our state and county for two important reasons:

Regarding foresight philanthropy, because we are living in a world that is changing at breakneck speed, philanthropic individuals and organizations — including community foundations — need to be ready to prepare and adapt to changing economic, environmental and technological conditions that affect the communities we benefit and serve. We need to think of the impact we want to make over a timeframe of decades, rather than just two or three years, to ensure long-term positive change through our investments of leadership, human resources and philanthropic dollars.

As concerns disaster resilience, a series of jaw-dropping disasters throughout California, including devastating wildfires, mass shootings and the east Kern earthquakes of July 4 and 5, taught us the importance of preparing for crises proactively — rather than just responding to them reactively — to attenuate their harmful impacts, especially in at-risk or high-needs communities.

We learned that each disaster has a lifecycle that must involve not just immediate response, but assistance in rebuilding/readapting and addressing unforeseen, yet significant ripple effects — for example, mosquito outbreaks in the standing water of hundreds of swimming pools left abandoned and unemptied following a massive fire evacuation.

At Kern Community Foundation, we have taken to heart the lessons learned from our response to the east Kern quakes and, just as importantly, from the collective base of knowledge and experience shared with our partners at Southern California Grantmakers, a community of individual and organizational philanthropists and grant makers, including family, private, public, corporate and community foundations, and government agencies.

Guiding stars seem to have aligned between KCF and SCG during our 20th anniversary year, when, in the words of SCG President and CEO Christine Essel, “Together, we redefined 2019 … with our eyes cast toward the unwritten,” and in the words of KCF President and CEO Kristen Beall Watson, “With an eye toward a future that looks amazingly bright for Kern Community Foundation, our board and staff are committed to pioneering opportunities to shift our community’s giving spirit from transactional charity to transformational philanthropy.”

Prepare Kern

With that vision in mind, in this new year we have introduced the “Kern Preparedness and Resiliency Fund at Kern Community Foundation,” to start building a monetary reserve to respond to local disasters before they strike.

As we have done in response to past emergencies, such as the Erskine Fire of 2016 and last year’s quakes, we will work with our nonprofit partners to deliver assistance to impacted communities, while ensuring the strength of the local social service safety net that may have been compromised by power outages, damaged facilities and supplies or other effects of a disaster.

“Proactively planning to support the future is at the forefront of our work,” Beall Watson said, “and with the Kern Preparedness and Resiliency Fund, we look to build a permanent reserve to support future community needs.”

Will you be a part of helping to prepare Kern for such emergencies beforehand? We’ve made it easy for community members to give. Simply text “PrepareKern” to 44321 to donate.

You can also visit www.kernfoundation.org > Give Now > Find “Kern Preparedness and Resiliency Fund” and give.

“Through the power of collective giving, we all can participate in building a more responsive and resilient Kern County,” Beall Watson said.

Louis Medina is the director of community impact for Kern Community Foundation. You may reach him at Louis@kernfoundation.org.

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