HAF dedicates staff time and resources to support grassroots and institutional leaders boldly addressing challenges that affect many lives in the region. Improving the well being of vulnerable and historically marginalized communities has been a particular priority for initiatives that last between 1-10 years. This work is usually undertaken not by one organization with a limited mission, or a sector with a general focus, but commonly over time by networks of leaders from a variety of perspectives and experiences who hold a vision of significantly changing how things are done to make desired changes. HAF’s role can vary from serving as occasional facilitators and conveners to providing dedicated staff support for long periods. We do this work with resources from a combination of the Opportunity Fund, directed gifts from donors, grants from partner foundations, and fees for service support.

Redwood CORE Hub

CORE is a community organization headquartered at the Humboldt Area Foundation in Bayside, CA, with a mission to help solve the climate emergency, and act with urgency to transition our built and natural systems to become both decarbonized and resilient at the same time. To do this important work, CORE supports deep community engagement, expert technical assistance, and centers equity by ensuring benefits accrue to underrepresented and marginalized communities first and to the greatest extent.

Equity Alliance

The Equity Alliance of the North Coast is a multi-year initiative of HAF. We invite institutions, nonprofits, businesses and individuals to take on the largely unintended racialized inequities that cause harm to so many families and communities in our region, and that keep every member of our communities, no matter their racial identity, from achieving full potential. Since 2016, steadily increasing demand for this work means that more and more local talent is training and coaching organizations focused on reducing racialized inequities experienced by those they serve.

Find out where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. Get access to our top ten starter resources and back-issues of our e-newsletter. 

Native Cultures Fund

The Native Cultures Fund has been housed at HAF since 2002. NCF has it's founding in community, and a group of respected Native culture-bearers who desired providing supports to grassroots efforts to Native cultural revitalization, including sacred sites, traditional arts, and languages. All important pieces that form the basis of Indigenous identity and well being. They started by listening and learning to what was needed, largely in what is commonly referred to as northwestern California communities. In time NCF grew these supports to a majority of the state with the partnership of the James Irvine and the William H. and Flora Hewlett Foundations.  In 2014, through a generous donor’s bequest, NCF established the Jack Montoya Memorial Fund that provides for grants supporting cultural revitalization and scholarships for California Native students.

In the past, NCF staff led initiatives that included:

  • Overseeing a $500,000 grant to increase cultural burning in Humboldt County, including working with experts in the cultural burn/traditional fire field to create a trust-based grantmaking program that truly met the needs of this community
  • Collaborating with Indigenous language revivalists as the Live Your Language Alliance (LYLA) that hosts biennial conferences and grows the field of Native language instruction
  • Hosting River As Home in 2013, the most attended art showcase in the history of the Morris Graves Museum of Art, with 92 Native artists’ work in tribute to the Klamath River
  • Supported the establishment of Yurok language programs at Del Norte, McKinleyville, and Eureka High Schools
  • Increasing Native culture-bearers’ engagement in and finding a home for the annual spring Northwestern California Big Time event at Cal Poly Humboldt

Through 2018-19 NCF completed an evaluation process, with staff hitting the road to listen and learn to Native culture bearers and language revivalists across our service region, to identify how to most effectively support the many hardworking people’s efforts to rebuild strong Native identity and practices. We thank the William H. and Flora Hewlett Foundation for their partnership in this process. 

True North Organizing Network

In a region with a history of political division, True North Organizing Network is working to carve out space in local, regional and statewide public decision-making for those historically not heard or included. True North resident grassroots leaders believe human dignity is the heart of justice and progress, and that for a true and honest democracy to thrive every person needs the opportunity for their interests to be heard and respected.

In 2014, True North leaders and staff participated in a “season of listening,” facilitating over 1000 conversations in communities from Loleta to Smith River to Weitchpec. At the end, 220 people came together to set the course of the organization. United by shared values, community members identified five campaign issues for research and action: Water and the Environment, Immigrant Rights, Police Accountability, Mental Health and Homelessness, and Public Education.

To tackle these issues and improve communities for all who call the North Coast home, True North facilitates community organizing that provides resident leaders with the tools, coaching and infrastructure needed to create lasting change.

Building Healthy Communities in Del Norte and Tribal Lands

Building Healthy Communities is a 10-year, $1 billion statewide campaign funded by The California Endowment. The Del Norte and Tribal Lands BHC, one of only 14 across the state, is dedicated to creating and supporting health equity, services and opportunities in our neighborhoods and schools.

The Del Norte and Tribal Lands BHC site is growing leaders that are reshaping the places that influence our children, our neighborhoods and schools. The Wild Rivers Community Foundation office serves as the hub for the BHC staff, which bring together diverse groups of residents, youth, community partners, government agencies and nonprofits all working to guarantee that growing up in this community fosters lifelong health and success for all.

Learn more here.

Examples of Past Initiatives

In the 1990s, HAF brought together antagonists in the “Timber Wars” to find common ground and heal deep wounds tearing communities and families apart. As the timber industry’s role was shifting from an outsized influence to a moderate role in the region’s economy, HAF helped many disparate economic development efforts form one unified vision, plan and set of actions that resulted in successful, continuing growth of “target” sectors of the economy.

HAF supported the arts community to establish itself as a major influence in the culture and experience of north coast residents and visitors. All of these efforts were funded significantly by outside philanthropic partners like the Irvine Foundation and the Wallace Foundation.

In the 2000s, HAF convened partners that spearheaded a decade-long effort to establish broadband access and fiber redundancy in our remote and isolated region where (sometimes prolonged) breaks in internet access were limiting consistent access (and still do in many of the most remote parts of the region).

Native community members who were starting to revitalize traditions that are a key part of indigenous identity and wellbeing asked HAF to house grants and other supports for this work – efforts that grew into the statewide Native Cultures Fund.

We experimented with a leadership development program and nonprofit technical assistance education to help leaders and nonprofits grow their skills and collaborative effectiveness, which became ongoing programs: Cascadia Center for Leadership and Northern California Association of Nonprofits.

Come back soon to read about our work in the 2010s, as local donors started leaving flexible funds that help HAF Community Strategies staff support local social innovators to listen, learn, convene, strategize and solve complex problems together.


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