Special Update From Peter J. Taylor
August 10, 2022
Dear ECMC Foundation community,
Certain times in your life create space for personal reflection and change, and I find myself approaching one of them as I prepare to retire from ECMC Foundation in the first quarter of 2023 when I turn 65. I’ve made this decision with great care, as I am extremely committed to the Foundation’s success—now and in the future.
Forty-two years ago, I graduated from UCLA with dreams of working in public policy. I loved my time as a legislative staff member in Sacramento and did not imagine that I would soon be working in public finance banking where I would spend the next 15-plus years. But throughout my career, I have stayed close to higher education: as a volunteer, as a donor, as president of my undergraduate alumni association, and as a member of the University of California (UC) Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees.
But it was my experience as chief financial officer for the UC system during the Great Recession that crystallized for me the critical importance of higher education in addressing issues of equity. That experience, along with those prior, paved the way to my current role as president of ECMC Foundation. I have never been more personally motivated to achieve a mission than I am in this position.
In 2014, the ECMC Group Board of Directors gave me the great honor to take what was then a foundation focused on direct services for educators and youth and turn it into a more strategic grantmaker. We started with two employees and made less than $1 million in grants annually. We now have a team of 17 and have made more than $250 million in grants and investments over the past seven years. We are recognized as a leading national postsecondary funder at the forefront of systems change in higher education.
We have supported transformative conversations involving institutions looking to leverage each other’s strengths. We have helped improve postsecondary career and technical education for the benefit of thousands of students. We are addressing barriers that impact single mothers in higher education as the only national funder focused on this population. We are the first national postsecondary funder to support basic needs among college students with a designated grantee cohort. We are advancing the national conversation around improving transfer and partnering with grantees who are on the frontlines of redesigning processes to better support students along seamless postsecondary pathways. We are using strategic program-related investments to accelerate progress among early-stage ventures that are producing innovative solutions to improve postsecondary and workforce outcomes.
In the next few years, the Foundation will continue to expand its impact by investing in groundbreaking initiatives to transform students’ postsecondary trajectories. I have recently engaged our Board of Directors in a strategic planning process that targets three key areas: removing barriers to postsecondary completion, building the capacity of institutions, systems and organizations, and transforming the postsecondary ecosystem. Our mission to improve higher education for career success among underserved populations through evidence-based innovation remains unchanged. But how we execute that mission is undergoing a strategic redesign to help us better support the student populations we care about most.
Over the next several months, you will begin to see our new strategic plan take shape, and the Foundation’s new leader will put a finer point on this process in 2023. CohenTaylor has begun the executive search for that individual. I’m excited about what’s to come for ECMC Foundation and optimistic about my own path in retirement. I’m pleased to continue my work as board chair for Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, as well as my service on the boards of Pacific Life, College Futures Foundation, 23andMe and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. I’m also looking forward to spending more time with family, especially my young grandchildren. We have many more memories to make together.
I’m grateful to the staff at ECMC Group, our parent company, as well as the ECMC Foundation Board of Directors and our outstanding Foundation team who continue to make a lasting impact on students across the country. We could not have achieved everything we’ve accomplished without a collective effort.
As I said above, I could not be more proud of the work we have done and the foundation we have laid to drive even more impact on behalf of learners in higher education.
I’d like to personally thank you for your interest in our progress over the years. Be sure to stay tuned for our updates: there is certainly much more to come.
Peter J. Taylor
President, ECMC Foundation