Our History

Origins and Support

Over the last generation, our systems of government have failed at dealing with our state’s challenges. We aren’t getting the results we need from public programs; lawmakers are mired in gridlock; and budgets are out of balance even during good times. There is growing concern that this dysfunction is not only impacting public programs, but the economy and the confidence of entrepreneurs to do business here.

Perplexed by the increasing dysfunction of the state’s fiscal and political systems, five major California foundations – The California Endowment; The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; The James Irvine Foundation; and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation – came together to create California Forward, charging it with reshaping the future of the Golden State by fundamentally changing the way government operates.

California Forward was created by combining projects from California Common Cause, Center for Governmental Studies, New California Network, and The Commonwealth Club of California's Voices of Reform Project. The organization has established itself as a trusted, influential, and bipartisan public interest effort, with an unwavering commitment to making government work better.

Our early steps toward reform include:

  1. Stabilizing the fiscal mess through budget reform.
  2. Changing political incentives with redistricting and the top two primary.
  3. Restructuring state and local government to drive innovation and results.