Grants through the Orange County Community Foundation reached $29 million in 2011, foundation officials announced at their annual meeting Tuesday at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach.
The foundation, which was founded in 1989, is now the 10th most active grant maker among similar institutions across the nation.
Foundation President Shelley Hoss told local donors attending the meeting that its grant makers have become a critical factor in responding to the "tidal wave of need" triggered by the state's most recent budget cuts and the recession.
"Philanthropy has really stepped into the breach," Hoss told the crowd of 350 people.
Foundation grant makers have helped returning war veterans, given out more than $1 million in college scholarships and made more than $2 million in neighborhood grants to nonprofits that provide food, shelter, health care and other safety-net services, Hoss said.
Hoss also led the foundation's recognition this year of notable charitable accomplishments across Orange County, including those of the executives and workers at Disneyland Resorts, Wahoo's founder Wing Lam and Dr. Gwyn Parry, who heads the Department of Community Medicine at Hoag Memorial Hospital.
Hoss announced a new program moving into 2012 called the Community Leadership Initiative. The program's aim is to coordinate the efforts of nonprofits and donors through data analysis to concentrate on specific needs with the appropriate donors.
— NORBERTO SANTANA JR.