At the Arts for the IE Fund House Party: LR: Jesse Melgar, Board Member and Chair of the Cielo Fund; Michelle Decker, IECF President & CEO; Jeremy Hobbs, Board Member and Chair of the Salton Sea Fund; Ann Sheffer, Board Member and Chair of the Arts for the IE Fund; Joseph Williams, Board Member

In 1941, Charles Brouse established The Riverside Foundation to benefit students attending Riverside City College. As a young ranch hand and store clerk who worked his way up to President of Citizens Bank (later called Citizens National Trust and Savings), Brouse understood the importance of education. Scholarships were the Foundation’s primary focus until 1979, when it broadened to include community impact. Now, 80 years later as Inland Empire Community Foundation (IECF), we manage over $130M in assets and 407 funds, helping communities in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties build the resources they need to take care of themselves over time. 

Eighty years of giving calls for a big celebration! IECF is proud to announce a slate of Signature Funds, each of which will raise $80,000 in their inaugural year to address pressing issues in the region. Several board members have established Signature Funds to support causes that are especially meaningful to them.

The Signature Funds are:

Arts for the IE Fund, chaired and seeded by Board Member Ann Sheffer; established to enable arts organizations to advocate locally and statewide, create partnerships with businesses and government to increase access to the arts for vulnerable and underserved populations, and build the capacity of cultural leadership in an equitable way;

Inland Empire Black Equity Fund, established in 2020 as a regional pooled fund to advance racial equity and combat anti-Black racism, and to support long-term investments in Black-led organizations. This fund is held in partnership with the Inland Empire Black Equity Initiative and the Inland Empire Funders Alliance;

The CIELO Fund for Latino Empowerment, chaired and seeded by Board Member Jesse Melgar, was established to empower the lives and futures of Latinos in the Inland Empire through community philanthropy, investment in educational excellence, leadership development, program and project support, and capacity building;

The Here for Good Fund, established in 1992 to provide annual operating support to IECF, helps IECF provide community leadership on multiple issues;

Journalism and Media Fund, chaired and seeded by our Board President, Dr. Paulette Brown- Hinds, the fund was established to support IE journalism and media outlets, and build the pipeline of talent for the sector;

Salton Sea Fund, chaired and seeded by Board Member Jeremy Hobbs, this fund was established to support the social, economic, and environmental resilience of the Salton Sea and surrounding communities; and

Women’s Giving Fund, chaired by Board Member Nefertiti Long; established to educate women about philanthropy and to provide grants to nonprofit organizations in the Inland Empire that address critical quality of life issues for women.

Ann Sheffer and Lynda Keeler with mural

No celebration is complete without a party! To kick off each fund, we’ll be holding “house parties” in a variety of locations throughout the region. Our first house party coincided with California Arts and Creativity Month – the perfect time to launch the Arts for the IE Fund. A festive crowd of over 100 guests gathered at the Palm Springs home of Joe Staley, IECF’s Regional Charitable Giving Officer, and his husband Stuart. As they arrived, attendees were treated to an entryway view of co-host and artist Lynda Keeler’s colorful mural, Indian Canyons Roadmap, commissioned by Joe and Stuart especially for the event. Our board member, co-host and chair of the Arts for the IE Fund, Ann Sheffer, shared information on the crucial need for funding of the arts and invited supporters to join her in making a contribution.

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and support the CIELO Fund for Latino Empowerment, we’ll be holding a special event at The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art Culture in September. Dates and locations for other house parties will be announced soon.

Giving to the 80th Signature Funds is easy, and we welcome gifts of any amount that strike a chord with you! You can donate online here; simply select the fund of your choice and make an online contribution with a credit card. Or, mail a check with the fund name in the memo line to: IECF Attn: Paula Myles, 3700 Sixth Street, Suite 200, Riverside, CA 92501. Be sure to include your contact information as well. In addition to cash-giving options, we are also delighted to help you give complex assets or start your own fund with IECF.

To learn more about the 80th Anniversary Celebration, IECF’s Signature Funds and other opportunities to make a difference, please contact Brie Griset Smith, Senior Vice President of Charitable Giving, at

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