CCPF’s hallmarks are integration, transparency, ethical standards, grantee assistance, advocacy, and protecting the Cy Pres Doctrine.– Judy Johnson, former CCPF Board Chair
As a strategic grantmaker, California Consumer Protection Foundation (CCPF) provides funding for nonprofit organizations, with special attention to small and grassroots programs, addressing and advocating for consumer issues in diverse areas, including health care, auto sales, consumer fraud, privacy, finance, insurance, energy, and telecommunications. Since 1991, our small and experienced staff has effectively and efficiently distributed more than $30 million dollars to approximately 100-140 nonprofit organizations per year across California.
CCPF believes in providing a transparent and accountable process by:
- Conducting a statewide grantmaking process open to both public agencies and nonprofit organizations.
- Reaching out to the hardest-to-reach underserved communities.
- Working with attorneys, regulators, and community groups to devise appropriate grantmaking priorities and strategies for each fund.
- Having one of the most stringent conflict of interest policies of all grantmaking foundations.
Our track record and reputation for accountability, low overhead, and transparency has led to our administration of many consumer trust funds since 1991. We currently administer the $25 million Community Collaborative Fund, which was created from the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE California to form Verizon Communications, subject to California Public Utilities Commission oversight. We also administered the $13 million Electric Education Trust on behalf of Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric, as authorized and approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. We have also received funds from the State Department of Consumer Affairs, the Attorney General’s Office, and private law firms.
1991 – The Federal Trade Commission accused Levi Strauss of illegally fixing prices on men’s and boys’ jeans from 1972 to 1976 and the California attorney general brought an antitrust lawsuit against the company in 1978. Levi Strauss agreed to settle the case for $12 million and was required to give rebates, but not all members of the class could be located. The lawyers and consumer advocates argued that remaining settlement funds should not be returned to Levi Strauss. The Honorable Ira A. Brown Jr. (deceased) of the San Francisco Superior Court of California designated the residual funds as cy pres, which were distributed to the Attorney General and established CCPF, which was tasked with administering and distributing the funds to nonprofit organizations working on behalf of consumer interests.
1996 – When Blue Cross of California converted from a nonprofit to a for-profit corporation in 1993, the Department of Corporations determined that the transaction failed to protect the charitable assets of the former nonprofit corporation. Blue Cross initially proposed distributing a very small portion of its assets to a charitable foundation. CCPF provided funding to Consumers Union, which challenged Blue Cross’ proposal and successfully argued the amount did not approximate the charitable assets that Blue Cross had accumulated over its years of operation. The resolution of the case was for Blue Cross to create two foundations: The California Endowment and the California HealthCare Foundation.
2000 – When Bell Atlantic and GTE California merged to form Verizon Communications, part of the merger approval process called for the execution of the Community Collaborative Agreement by Verizon. Approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, Verizon agreed to contribute $25 million over 10 years to the Community Collaborative Fund, with the purpose of providing benefits to underserved populations in Verizon California’s existing land line service areas. The agreement also called for the creation of a committee composed of 20 community representatives and two Verizon representatives to oversee the implementation of the agreement and monitor the performance of the independent administrator. CCPF was selected as the independent administrator through a competitive request for proposal process. Neither Verizon nor the committee has any role in the grantmaking process or, more importantly, the selection or approval of grantees.
2003 – A settlement of an investigation of GTE California, now Verizon California, and Communications TeleSystems International regarding abusive marketing practices resulted in the creation of the Consumer Protection Fund. CCPF was selected to administer approximately $6 million which was used to fund projects that provided consumer education and protection for limited-English speaking consumers in California.
2006 – A final settlement was reached between members of the class and Capitol One Services Inc./Capitol One Bank for the alleged sale of non-public personal information of cardholders to third party marketers. Approximately $1 million was provided to support privacy-related consumer education and privacy research. CCPF was chosen as the independent administrator of these funds and has partnered with leaders in the privacy field to expand education and understanding of consumer privacy rights.
2010: June – CCPF organized an unprecedented forum to focus on issues surrounding the cy pres doctrine and invited a diverse group of stakeholders and opinion leaders, including complex litigation judges, attorneys, and consumer advocacy organizations. Attendees participated in an engaging discussion on the cy pres doctrine and the critical need for transparency and accountability in distributing settlement funds. The well-attended event was held on June 11, 2010, at the office of the Judicial Council, Administrative Office of the Courts in San Francisco.
2010: November – Cingular Wireless was investigated by the California Public Utilities Commission about alleged abusive marketing practices and a final settlement of $1.9 million was reached. CCPF was chosen to administer a fund in that amount to support community-based organizations in California that educate consumers on their rights in dealing with wireless telecom services and advocate for policies that protect consumer rights in the access and use of affordable and quality wireless telecom services.