Our Approach

The Durfee Foundation’s impact cannot be measured solely by the amount of money it gives away—how we work and what we bring to our community beyond grant dollars are just as important. Durfee is a patient grantmaker and seeks to be a trusting partner. We believe that meaningful, lasting change isn’t always easy to measure in a chart and certainly doesn’t happen overnight. We select grantees with great care and attention, we offer them guidance and support, then we let them get to work. We are deeply committed to the success of our grantees,
partners, and LA.

Peer Review

Most Durfee programs involve past grant recipients and community members in the application review process. We value the knowledge and expertise of our robust alumni groups. Their experience as participants in Durfee programs and on-the-ground perspective as current leaders makes them an invaluable resource in helping us select new recipients.


In a city as geographically dispersed as LA, the Durfee Foundation builds bridges by bringing people together. Many of our grant programs are built around gatherings where we spark dialogue between people who work in different fields and have never met, but should, and allow people who know each other to deepen their connections.

Creating and Nurturing Networks

Durfee alumni gather regularly, turning to each other for advice on sticky questions and new opportunities. As their connections grow and deepen with each passing year, our cross-sector platform of leaders is better able to address LA’s most pressing, interrelated problems.

Continuous Learning

Durfee has a “tinkering culture” of constantly testing new ideas and old assumptions. Durfee looks to its grant recipients as active partners in determining how best to shape its programs. In fact, most of Durfee’s programs have evolved because of this direct feedback. While we also engage in more conventional forms of evaluation, we greatly value open conversations with former grant recipients, and we’re always striving to learn
and improve.

Mentor Relationships

Durfee offers extraordinary people the relationships they need to advance their work. We connect people who have been down a path with those who are about to embark on a similar journey. Whether it’s pairing an emerging leader with a seasoned leader, or connecting peers in different sectors, we foster informal working relationships among colleagues.

Small But Nimble

Compared to many other foundations, the Durfee Foundation’s assets are modest. We aspire to have an outsized impact with our grant dollars by being aware, responsive, and nimble. The Durfee Foundation is always looking for ways to stretch resources, leverage other funding opportunities for our grantees, and remain flexible and adaptable to change.