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Making a Difference in the Inland Empire

The Inland Empire Community Foundation and Edison International partner to help nonprofits serving vulnerable communities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
By Caroline Aoyagi-Stom @SCE_CarolineA
Photos: Courtesy of Music Changing Lives

Michelle Decker has been on the phone for four hours straight. As president and CEO of the Inland Empire Community Foundation, she has been working nonstop with nonprofits in Riverside and San Bernardino counties ever since the COVID-19 emergency restrictions began devastating local communities.

With an increase in job losses, shortage of supplies, quarantined seniors and more families and kids sheltered at home, nonprofits are struggling to stay open and continue their efforts to help the most vulnerable, low-income residents.

“We all live in communities we love and have been touched by nonprofits,” said Decker, whether a museum, senior center or animal shelter. “This is how we live out our best values. We are trying to keep these nonprofits going since they serve our most vulnerable communities.”

To help raise needed funds for these nonprofits, the Inland Empire Community Foundation recently launched the IE COVID-19 Resilience Fund. The foundation, along with three other nonprofits, also partnered with Edison International in an employee fundraising campaign where up to $2,000 per employee donation was matched by the company. Edison International is the parent company of Southern California Edison.

Music Changing Lives students hard at work designing their master pieces for the Changing Lives Showcase.
Music Changing Lives students hard at work designing their master pieces for the Changing Lives Showcase.

The Edison fundraising drive raised more than $59,000 for the foundation. Combined with a $60,000 direct contribution from Edison International, more than $119,000 is going to help those in need in the Inland Empire as a result of COVID-19.

The campaign was part of a $1 million pledge Edison International made to COVID-19 relief efforts. This includes $500,000 to local food banks and $150,000 to the California Community Foundation's COVID-19 LA County Response Fund. These donations are funded entirely by Edison International shareholders and not SCE customers’ utility bill payments.

“SCE is part of the fabric of the communities we serve, and our employees live, work and play in all of them. Giving back is part of who we are. It’s critical that SCE supports organizations like the Inland Empire Community Foundation that do so much for others,” said Lydia Roman, SCE principal manager, Government Relations.

“Our Local Public Affairs Government Relations managers and all of the Government Relations team are always ready to respond to every emergency and are committed to keeping the communities we serve safe and the service reliable.”

A Music Changing Lives staffer prepares a disc jockey student for the Changing Lives Showcase.
A Music Changing Lives staffer prepares a disc jockey student for the Changing Lives Showcase.

With more than 11,400 nonprofits, Riverside and San Bernardino counties are home to 4.5 million diverse people spread across 27,000 square miles. The area includes 1 million schoolchildren and a pre-COVID-19 average poverty rate of 18% across the region with areas of very high poverty in East Coachella Valley and the city of San Bernardino.

The Inland Empire Community Foundation collaborates with all nonprofits and in this disaster especially nonprofits that serve the most vulnerable and isolated community members — seniors, low income, limited-English speakers and the disabled — so they can receive assistance.

Nonprofits like the TODEC Legal Center, which assists local Latino communities, Lift to Rise that helps low-income families, the United Way of the Inland Valleys that helps administer 211 calls and Music Changing Lives need help now. And donations will help them make it through the COVID-19 crisis.

“We want to make sure the supplies and resources are there,” said Decker. “This is the power of philanthropy, of helping to make a difference.”

To donate, visit:
IE COVID-19 Resilience Fund.