In April 2023, Malin and Roberta Burnham, civic philanthropists and long-time supporters of UC San Diego, made a groundbreaking gift when announcing a $20 million donation to the Burnham Center for Community Advancement (BCCA). Their unprecedented donation, the largest gift the couple has ever given to a single organization, promises significant positive change within the San Diego and Tijuana binational community.
The Burnham’s donation to BCCA exemplifies their longstanding belief in the power of collaborative efforts and individual contributions to uplift communities and address the most pressing challenges faced by the region.
Malin Burnham, known for his signature motto “community before self,” reinforces this guiding principle as more than mere words or the title of his book; it is a philosophy he lives by, particularly when it comes to his philanthropic efforts.
Thanks to this extraordinary contribution, BCCA is now poised to expand its initiatives and secure a lasting positive influence for years to come.
Founded in 2020 by Malin Burnham and President and CEO Tad Seth Parzen, BCCA was established as a nonprofit think-and-do tank focusing on advancing tangible outcomes for the region. Serving as a central hub for community stakeholders and multi-sector partners, BCCA facilitates civic collaboration, identifies regional needs, develops innovative solutions, and ultimately brings the community together to tackle some of our most pressing issues. The organization proudly says that good ideas aren’t enough. BCCA is on a mission to act.
Some of BCCA’s early successes include advocating for long-term fiscal and governance solutions for Balboa Park, the crown jewel of San Diego, and supporting San Diego-Tijuana’s bid to become the World Design Capital of 2024, which will have profound economic and cultural impacts on the community. Every two years, the World Design Organization recognizes a city for its successful implementation of design to promote economic, social, cultural, and environmental growth. Malin Burnham pushed for a cross-border collaboration between San Diego and Tijuana for the bid to show the world that our border is an asset, not a divider for our region.
BCCA has also focused on fostering community collaboration and civic innovation. To advance that effort, they created the Burnham Community Dialogue speaker series. This forum allows community members to delve into topical issues, share their thoughts and ideas, and contribute to meaningful public dialogue, ultimately leading to improved outcomes for the region.
Whether the topic is equitable workforce development, cross-border public transit, or redevelopment, BCCA’s dialogues bring in a cross-sector, cross-regional audience that provides a unique benefit to any issue or project that is being discussed and ignites conversations that drive critical issues and ideas forward for our region.
Thanks to the Burnham’s gift, BCCA is looking to expand its capacity to address new issues and topics, such as housing affordability, homelessness, and cross-border initiatives that celebrate San Diego and Tijuana’s shared culture, environment, and economic opportunities.
The Burnham’s extraordinary generosity and efforts to build a new nonprofit think-and-do-tank for our region serve as a powerful example of how philanthropy can pave the way for a future where communities come together to advance their priorities and improve the quality of life for all.
The Burnham Center for Community Advancement is a resident partner of UC San Diego Park & Market, located in the East Village neighborhood of downtown San Diego, and the first nonprofit to use the space after its opening.