Public, Society Benefit

Community Initiatives

Oakland, CA


Community Initiatives acts as a thought-partner and provides professional services to nonprofit startups, established initiatives, networks, and collaborations. We sponsor initiatives for the benefit of communities in service to social change.

Ruling Year


CEO & President

Ms. Ruth Williams

Main Address

1000 Broadway Suite #480

Oakland, CA 94607 USA


Fiscal Sponsor





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Citizen Participation (W24)

Other Youth Development N.E.C. (O99)

Community, Neighborhood Development, Improvement (S20)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Where we workNew!

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Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

We are a community of initiatives all seeking to contribute or create public good. Fiscal sponsorship enables our projects to concentrate on pursuing their charitable purposes while we handle the financial, management and organizational issues and provide a secure, reliable mechanism for donors. Our current fiscally sponsored projects benefit arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, public affairs, and social justice goals.

Greg Colvin, in his groundbreaking book Fiscal Sponsorship: 6 Ways To Do It Right, identified six ways to structure a fiscal sponsorship relationship. Community Initiatives is open to using any of these models, but has found, in practice, that three models have served our fiscally sponsored projects most usefully. The most common model (about 90 percent of our projects) is the Direct Project, or “Model A" relationship, in which the project and Community Initiatives are legally considered one and the same: Community Initiatives receives assets on behalf of, and incurs all liability for, the project. Please see descriptions of “Model A," “Model B," and “Model C" project sponsorships. Note: the nature of a project's fiscally sponsored relationship with Community Initiatives is determined at the time of acceptance by our Board of Directors. To learn more about the policies that govern these relationships, please see our Mutual Expectations.

Community Initiatives follows the Best Practices of the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors (NNFS). The NNFS promotes the understanding and professional practice of fiscal sponsorship. While models and missions differ, the organizations that comprise NNFS share common questions and aspirations to ensure responsible use of the tool of fiscal sponsorship.

Community Initiatives provides a wealth of core services to its fiscally sponsored projects. Our current services include:
Fiscal Sponsorship
Programmatic oversight (Model A)
Accounts payable
Cash receipts
Financial reporting and analysis
Budget and cash flow management
Audit and compliance reporting
Financial consulting
Grants/Government Grants
Billing and tracking
Grants consulting
Online donations
Event software
Human Resources
Full benefits
Payroll and taxes
HR consulting
Communications & Marketing
Social Media and communications consulting
Marketing consulting
Project Insurance
Meeting Space
Strategic Planning
Legal Review & Referral

Community Initiatives advances the creation of a more vibrant, innovative, and effective nonprofit sector.

We are guided by our mission and these values:

Empowerment – deepen the capabilities and knowledge of staff, volunteers, and advisory committee members

Integrity – operate ethically and within legal guidelines while managing risk

Trust – be reliable, honest and transparent

Empathy – walk in the shoes of projects and staff as we deliver services and manage people

Teamwork – use the wisdom, expertise and skills of teams to operate effectively

While our mission didn't shift, President and CEO Melanie Beene and Director of Fiscally Sponsored Projects and Philanthropic Services Prudy Kohler both retired. In the early years, they carefully guided Community Initiatives' transition from The San Francisco Foundation to a completely independent organization. During their eight years leading the organization, they diversified the portfolio of projects and services, grew the revenues and staff, and helped the organization to become a respected leader in the sector. At the end of the calendar year, Frances Phillips retired from the board and passed the chair position to Ruth Williams, Regional Director-West Coast for Single Stop USA. Having worked closely with Ruth for the past two years, we knew the board and organization were in excellent hands.

Leadership change can be daunting, especially when it's long-serving leaders. The Board realized the challenges and engaged in a thoughtful and lengthy search process, culminating in the hiring of President & CEO, Theresa Fay-Bustillos who joined the organization 2014. The Board purposely selected a candidate who was well-rounded with extensive leadership experience in the non-profit, philanthropic, and for-profit sectors and who was also a lawyer with experience enforcing civil rights and handling general counsel duties for a non-profit and corporate foundation.

In 2014, CI embarked on a Board-led and staff supported strategic planning process, to carefully plan the next phase of Community Initiatives' history. We realigned core functions to increase efficiencies and improve the coordination of services to projects, resulting in staff promotions and new hires. And, we refined and expanded our service offerings to include, for example, strategic planning, increased legal review, and marketing.

After we completed the strategic plan, we hired Ruth Williams as President & CEO in 2017 to execute and operate our strategic plan. Ruth has a long and deep relationship with Community Initiatives - she served as Board member for 8 years and Chair for 2 years.

Our fiscally sponsored projects and their wide and varied achievements continue to inspire our work. All of them serve the public good—some with large impact, and some with smaller, albeit important outcomes. Staff and Board feel fortunate to support the work of such inspirational and tireless visionaries, making it difficult to highlight the work of a few in this report. Thus, we encourage you to visit our website to learn more about the work of projects in addressing the challenging issues of our time and follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

External Reviews


Community Initiatives

Fiscal year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

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  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2016 and 2016
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2016 and 2016
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Race & Ethnicity

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.


This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity