Where We Work
We prioritize places in Northern or Central California that are experiencing acute and widespread poverty, where people of color likely experience disparate outcomes. Our goal is to achieve more capable, responsive, and effective community organizations and institutions.
No two of these places are alike. They may be urban neighborhoods, rural towns, or unincorporated areas.
We make clusters of complementary grants in specific communities, responding first and foremost to the capacities and vision of the community. Then we seek ways to build on the insights, resources, and achievements generated through our grantees’ efforts.
Explore the map to learn more about our communities
McKinleyville is among the largest unincorporated towns in California, with a population of 15,000 and growing.Learn More
North State Region
The North State Region consists of the nine counties in Northern California that bisect or are located directly east of Interstate-5.Learn More
As the largest city in a region world-famous for its wines, Napa exemplifies the beauty, abundance and disparity of California.Learn More
Coalinga and Huron are two distinct farming communities located in the most southwestern part of Fresno County, with a combined population of 24,694.Learn More
El Verano, Sonoma
The neighborhood of El Verano has a population of nearly 5,000 residents and lies within “the Springs,” an unincorporated area adjacent to the town of Sonoma.Learn More
The presence of thermal hot springs made Calistoga, located in northern Napa County, a popular tourist destination long before the region developed into the wine mecca it is today.Learn More
The Tahoe Truckee region runs north from Lake Tahoe, in Placer County, over a mountain pass to the town of Truckee in Nevada County, and is home to 30,000 year-round residents.Learn More
Of Richmond’s total population of about 110,000 roughly 30,000 reside in the area known locally as Southside, lying between the city’s downtown corridor and the I-80/580 freeways.Learn More
The town of Sanger is located at the eastern edge of the San Joaquin Valley, 12 miles from Fresno, close to the foothills below Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks.Learn More
Mayfair, San Jose
Cesar Chavez, who founded the United Farm Workers Association, came of age in the East San Jose community of Mayfair when the area was known for orchards and canneries. Today, Mayfair is a vibrant urban neighborhood of 10,000 residents.Learn More
Commitment Over Time
Our decision to invest in a community represents a mutual commitment that we hope will grow over time. We usually start small, with a grant in one program area. Then, seeing that aspirations, relationships, and accomplishments are growing, we explore promising opportunities to make grants in other program areas. However, when progress is not forthcoming or when collaboration is not possible, we may choose to discontinue funding in that community.
But we know that meaningful change takes time. In communities where we have made the deepest investments, we have stayed active for ten years or more. We have seen multiple grantee organizations — and, most importantly, the children, youth, and families they serve — achieve significant milestones of progress. In the last stages of our involvement, we help our grantees plan and position themselves for long-term sustainability, adaptability, and accomplishment.
A team approach
The entire staff team works together to assess a community’s fit with Cowell’s grantmaking strategy. In response to a promising inquiry from an organization in a community that’s new to Cowell, our staff visits as a team. We have found that this intensive, early engagement with the community leads to a mutually better-informed and more cooperative working relationship over time.
Cowell takes a collaborative, hands-on approach to grantmaking. We view the organizations and communities we fund as partners and we work hard to build mutual trust and respect.
Our Funding Priorities
We invest in Families and Communities, Education and Youth Development to collectively increase the opportunity for lasting community improvement.