The County Voice

ILG Celebrates 60 Years of Service to California’s Local Governments

As the Institute for Local Government (ILG) celebrates its 60th Anniversary, we reflect on our impact promoting good government at the local level and look ahead to our place in helping establish future opportunities and partnerships to support the work of local agencies throughout California.

Creating the Institute

ILG was founded in 1955 with the support of a Ford Foundation grant, to promote inter-jurisdictional cooperation among local agencies. In the mid-1960s, as local agencies were beginning to recognize the need for cities and counties to cooperate on regional issues, the Institute responded with its first publication offering a practical how-to guide on effective collaboration which included examples from the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California and Maricopa County, Arizona.

Throughout the years, the Institute has continued to address issues of concern for local governments. For example, during the gasoline crisis in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it published Local Contingency Planning for Gasoline Shortages; and following the passage of Proposition 13, the Institute focused on public-private partnerships in a series of booklets and workshops. From 1965 to 2000, the Institute published more than 100 publications on urgent public policy issues, furthering its mission to promote good government at the local level by creating practical, impartial, easy to use resources for California communities.

Fostering Communication, Collaboration and Excellence

Through its 60 years, ILG has been fortunate enough to be served by eight executive directors and a Board of Directors composed of dedicated local elected officials and communities leaders. While many of the programs and focus areas have evolved – from telecommunications, water issues and school curriculum in the ’80s to land use, ethics and fiscal issues in the ’90s to collaboration, ethics, local government basics, public engagement and sustainable communities today — its foundation has remained the same. The Institute continues to be committed to promoting good government at the local level.

It is not a mission much different from its humble beginnings, but today we do it with the strength of two additional organizations. This year, ILG became an affiliate of the California Special Districts which rounded out its affiliation with the League of California Cities ® and the California State Association of Counties ®.  In May of this year, the Institute brought together the leadership of these three preeminent local government organizations to share priorities and discuss the current and emerging issues impacting cities, counties and special districts. ILG hopes that this first-of-its kind meeting sets the groundwork for further collaboration in addressing today’s perplexing, community-wide challenges.

ILG’s believes that creating opportunities for leaders to engage in authentic dialogue about complex issues, provides a catalytic opportunity for progress. Earlier this year, ILG hosted a cap-and-trade symposium, “Advancing Climate Action, Sustainability and Community Well-Being,” which drew state and local leaders including four cabinet secretaries  to discuss how local governments and the state can work together to ensure that California communities benefit from the state’s investment in Cap and Trade and the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

ILG has expanded its Collaborations and Partnerships Program to help local governments work together more effectively to maximize human and financial resources and efficiently deliver services and supports to children and families within California’s local communities. The Program now includes the Cities Counties Schools Partnership and the California Summer Meal Coalition.

In addition to fostering collaboration through discussions, resources and practical programs, the Institute now offers technical assistance for local agencies across the state. These projects bring together the resources and expertise of ILG’s programs to provide direct assistance to local agencies.

Looking Ahead

As ILG embarks on new endeavors we remain committed to our foundation of generating practical information cities could use to improve local services or solve problems and promoting good government at the local level. 

We look forward to continuing to work with and be a resource for local governments across California for years to come. Together we can create vibrant and sustainable communities across California. Find out more about ILG’s work at


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