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Weekend Link Roundup (September 27-28, 2014)

September 28, 2014

Hk_protests_07011Our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the nonprofit sector....

Economy

A new report from Jennifer Erickson and her colleagues at the Center for American Progress explores the "middle-class squeeze" -- the double-barreled phenomenon of stagnant income and rising costs that has eroded middle-class Americans' standard of living over the last decade or so.

Technology has been one of the factors behind stagnating middle class incomes. But in this Q&A with Eric Brynjolfsson, a professor of management science at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Nobel laureate Robert Shiller and Jeremy Howard, a research scientist at the University of San Francisco, suggest that the exponential advance of machine learning will further exacerbate inequality and may lead to the end of paid employment for most of us.

Education

It's pretty much become conventional wisdom: Education is the antidote to racial inequality. But an analysis of the Fed's recently released 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances by Demos' Matt Bruenig finds that "white families are much wealthier than black and Hispanic families at every education level....[and] that all white families, even those at the lowest education level, have a higher median wealth than all black and Hispanic families, even those at the highest education level."

Cassie Walker Burke, an assistant managing editor at Crain's Chicago Business, has a good, balanced piece in Politico Magazine about the "Kalamazoo Promise" -- an initiative conceived and funded by philanthropists in that Michigan city "to pay for college for any student who attended the Kalamazoo schools from kindergarten on and then attended a public college in Michigan.

"[M]any public school leaders work with counter-productive assumptions about the readiness, interest and even the basic capacity of regular people to understand the changes our systems need to keep up with the times," writes Nicholas Donohue, president/CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog. And that's a shame, Donohue adds, because direct community engagement just may be the key to advancing meaningful education reform.

International Affairs/Development

On the Partners in Health blog, PiH co-founder Paul Farmer and Joia Mukherjee, the organization's chief medical officer, argue that the way to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is to couple community care with infection control. "Of course, the region needs more treatment units for the sort of care that can only be provided in an in-patient setting," they write. "And hospital care can be improved long-term only by training and equipping Sierra Leoneans and Liberians: the staff and the 'stuff' required to save lives. But it also needs to provide the tools that smaller clinics and front line health workers need to fight the virus in their neighborhoods and villages...."

NPR has a good piece that explains why it has been hard to raise money for Ebola response efforts in West Africa.

Nonprofits

If foundations are serious about advancing solutions to pressing social problems, they need to invest in the leaders of the organizations they fund, writes Nell Edgington on her Social Velocity blog. And that process should start with nonprofit leaders and funders "having better conversations about what it will really take to accomplish their joint...goals."

Philanthropy

In an op-ed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Pablo Eisenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, argues that the Council on Foundations, the most prominent trade association in the grantmaking world, has lost its way and needs to decide, sooner rather than later, what it wants to be.

Regulation/Oversight

And the New York Times' Jonathan Weisman reports on an inside-the-beltway dustup that, in the words of Stanford political science professor Rob Reich, offers further evidence of "the debasement of [our] campaign finance system via corruption of the nonprofit sector."

That's it for now. What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org or via the comments box below....

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