Orange County Opportunity Initiative

Who We Are

Our vision is of an Orange County where immigrant and refugee communities secure justice, solidarity, and a place of belonging in the socio-economic, cultural, political and civic life.

Ensuring a Vibrant Orange County Community

Generations of immigrants have shaped Orange County from our earliest beginnings to our present standing as an international hub of entrepreneurship and innovation. In fact, approximately 913,000 immigrants live in Orange County, making up nearly one-third of our county’s population.
Founded in 2015, the OC Opportunity Initiative is a collaborative dedicated to ensuring that Orange County embraces the promise and potential of our immigrant communities to create a stronger future for our region. Do date, the initiative has granted $2.0 million to 35 nonprofit partners to provide outreach, education, and legal services.
OC Opportunity Initiative partners are working to build a coordinated infrastructure for immigrant-serving organizations that both enhances their direct service capacity and provides a platform for collective action on shared goals. This involves investing in strategic drivers of change: narrative change, systems change, infrastructure development, and cross-cultural and multi-racial work.

The ability for immigrants to successfully integrate into the economic and civic life of our community is essential to the prosperity of our county. By removing the greatest obstacles that immigrants face, we’re putting everyone closer to achieving the American Dream.

Funder Collaborative

Blue Shield of California Foundation

Cormura Foundation

James Irvine Foundation

Open Society Foundations

Opus Community Foundation

Orange County Community Foundation

Orange County United Way

PIMCO Foundation

Sisters of St. Joseph Healthcare Foundation

St. Joseph Health Community Partnership Foundation

Swayne Family Foundation

Tarsadia Foundation

The California Endowment

The Fieldstone Foundation

Ueberroth Family Foundation

Union Bank Foundation

Weingart Foundation

Wells Fargo

Individual Donors

Announcing the 2021 OC Opportunity Initiative Awards!

2021 OC Opportunity Initiative grant awards have been confirmed! For summary details on each of the six scopes of work and lead organization grantees, please review below. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to [email protected]. We look forward to seeing the work of these organizations and their wider coalitions develop through this year.

Planning for Systems Change Advocacy and Narrative Change

This scope of work is intended to lay the foundation for future systems change collaboration among OCOI partners by completing an analysis of power and systems related to immigration, developing an assessment of the local, state, and national landscape in relation to key policy goals, and creating a new regional narrative to shift values and shape public opinion regarding immigration.

Lead Organizations:

Systems Change Advocacy with a Focus on Infrastructure Development for Removal Defense

This scope of work is intended to scale up the existing collaborative work on removal defense and to establish a model that can be used to expand and/or establish other collaborative networks for immigration legal services within the region. It is also intended to support the integration of policy/systems change advocacy into the collaborative’s programmatic work.

Lead Organizations:

Systems Change Advocacy with a Focus on Cross Cultural & Multiracial Work

This scope of work is intended to scale up the existing collaborative work to end collusion between local elected officials and hate/anti-immigrant groups through the integration of advocacy and community engagement activities across communities that have historically been divided by race and/or culture.  It is also intended to create a model for cross cultural and multiracial advocacy work within the regional immigration ecosystem.

Lead Organizations:

Infrastructure Development with a Focus on Base Building, Leadership Development, and Integrated Voter Engagement

This scope of work is intended to develop and implement a unified approach for leadership development and base building within the regional immigration ecosystem, starting with coordinated leadership development and base building to build the capacity of community members to engage in advocacy and systems change work. It is also intended to lay the foundation for integration of base building and leadership development with legal services and outreach/education work and ultimately for integrated voter engagement.

Lead Organizations:

Systems Change Advocacy and Infrastructure Development in South Orange County

This scope of work is intended to address South OC’s current gaps in immigration infrastructure and systems change advocacy.  It is also intended to build upon the ongoing narrative development work taking place and to build capacity for more robust collaborative immigration work in South OC.

Lead Organizations:

How do we build a compassionate and inclusive America in an age of distrust? WAJAHAT ALI knows from personal experience that when we come together to be the superheroes of our own stories, we can create honest social change. The beloved TED speaker has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Atlantic about our urgent issues—immigration, politics, parenthood—with boldness, hope, and humor. His memoir Go Back to Where You Came From, one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year, follows his life as a Muslim Pakistani-American on a surprising, emotional, and challenging quest for the good life. Iconic journalist Katie Couric says that “we are all so fortunate to be on the receiving end of his intellect, his humanity, and his heart.”

Wajahat Ali

“With wit and charm, Ali delivers a masterful meditation on growing up brown in America...he gives us a clear-eyed affirmation of the country America could be.” — Mara Gay, New York Times

Wajahat Ali uses his platform to fight tirelessly for the social change we need in our country—and he isn’t afraid to get personal while doing it. The Daily Beast columnist and former New York Times writer, TED speaker, award-winning playwright, and Peabody-nominated producer of the documentary series The Secret Life of Muslims offers us his experiences of triumph over hardship as a beacon of hope and resilience in the face of life’s impossible situations. From his experiences of Islamophobia growing up as a Muslim Pakistani-American to his two-year-old daughter’s liver cancer diagnosis, Wajahat is living proof that when we share our authentic stories, we build the America we wish to live in.”

In his memoir Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American, Wajahat teaches us how to create our own superhero origin story, invest in hope for the future of America, and enact real social change. The book was called “biting and funny and full of heart” by NPR. Representative Ilhan Omar called Wajahat’s work “hilarious” and “deeply moving”, and legendary writer Dave Eggers said it was the book he’d “been hoping Wajahat Ali would write for ten years—hilarious, stylistically fearless, deeply humane.”

Wajahat is also the author of The Domestic Crusaders—the first major play about Muslim-Americans in a post-9/11 world. He was the lead researcher and author for the Center for American Progress’s seminal report “Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” and served as a national correspondent for Al Jazeera America, where he told stories about communities and individuals often marginalized or under-reported in mainstream media.

As Creative Director of Affinis Wajahat Labs, he worked to create social entrepreneurship initiatives to support and uplift marginalized communities. He also worked with the US State Department to design and implement the “Generation Change” leadership program to empower young social entrepreneurs. Wajahat initiated chapters in eight countries, including Pakistan and Singapore. For his work, he was honored as a “Generation Change Leader” by Sec. of State Clinton and recognized as an “Emerging Muslim American Artist” by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. 

He has given keynote speeches around the world such as TED, The Aspen Ideas Festival, Google, the United Nations, and The New Yorker Festival. His writing appears regularly in the New York TimesThe Atlantic, the Washington Post, and The Guardian. He’s a Senior Fellow at The Western States Center and Auburn Seminary and co-host of Al Jazeera’s The Stream.