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11 posts categorized "Asians/Pacific Islanders"

Documentary Film and Gentrification (Part 2)

April 15, 2014

(Kathryn Pyle is a documentary filmmaker and a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. Click here to read part one of this two-part series.)

Poster_holding_groundIn my previous post, I wrote about a handful of documentary films that explore the phenomenon of gentrification. In this post, I'll consider urban redevelopment in a broader sense – with the pressure coming not only from private developers but from city government and, in some cases, endowed institutions with agendas of their own.

Over the past decade, the Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia has offered a variety of programs designed to build the media skills of community activists. Through its Precious Places project, for instance, Scribe has provided video production support to nearly seventy organizations looking to record the stories neighborhood residents have to tell about the buildings, public spaces, parks, landmarks, and other sites that define where they live. The series has been broadcast on WHYY and screened in film festivals and community settings around the country.

A number of Precious Places films focus on the eroding sense of community in urban neighborhoods. Two of those short films address the value of green space and community-based arts and, in the process, challenge public policy assumptions about "redevelopment."

Featuring sixty local gardeners and other residents. La Mott Community Garden (2011) tells the story of a two-acre community garden located just outside the city line adjacent to La Mott, the oldest historically black community in Pennsylvania. Part of a larger twelve-acre parcel deeded to Temple University in 1939, the garden has served the community for more than eighty years. At some point along the way, Temple built the Tyler School of Art on part of the property, leaving the garden intact. But when a new facility was constructed for Tyler on Temple's main campus in 2009, the entire parcel was put up for sale. With support from Cheltenham Township and the Conservancy of Montgomery County, the La Mott Community Garden Group is attempting to save the garden and has requested that Temple donate the garden to the community under a land trust agreement or set a fair market price for the property so it can be purchased by the community. Both options have been rejected by the university, and negotiations are at a standstill as gardening season approaches.

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5 Questions for...Charles Bailey, Director, Agent Orange in Vietnam Program

August 19, 2013

Headshot_charles_baileyFrom 1997 to 2007, Charles Bailey was the Ford Foundation representative in Vietnam. At the start of his posting, the war in Vietnam had been over for more than twenty years, but one of its legacies, environmental contamination caused by the U.S. military's use of Agent Orange, was an under-addressed concern. Bailey looked into the facts of Agent Orange use in the Southeast Asian country and began to develop a vocabulary that American and Vietnamese officials could use to discuss the issue. After a few years, Ford invited the Aspen Institute, which has expertise in facilitating difficult conversations, to initiate a dialogue around the issue, and the two governments began to talk. Eventually, the United Nations, other NGOs and foundations, and several European governments joined the conversation.

But one thing was missing, says Bailey, and that was a way to connect the American public to the effort. With his encouragement, Active Voice, a social documentary shop in San Francisco, put together a three-minute public-service video, "Make Agent Orange History," while San Francisco State University contributed fresh reporting to the discussion through its Vietnam Reporting Project. In 2011, Bailey moved to the Aspen Institute, where he continues to support dialogue, advocacy, and public education around the issue.

Recently, PND spoke with Bailey about the Agent Orange program and what remains to be done.

Philanthropy News Digest: Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang recently met with President Obama in Washington, D.C. Why was the meeting significant?

Charles Bailey: President Sang is the second Vietnamese head-of-state to visit the U.S. since the two countries normalized relations in 1995, and his visit was an important opportunity to celebrate the remarkable progress made since 2007 in at last addressing the legacy of Agent Orange. Over the last six years, our Agent Orange in Vietnam Program has had a hand in raising over $100 million to assist Vietnam to begin to deal with this legacy from the U.S.-Vietnam War. Even more important for the future, President Obama and President Sang issued a joint statement at the end of their talks on July 26 that contained a key statement: "The president reaffirmed the United States' commitment to providing further medical and other care and assistance for people with disabilities, regardless of cause."

I published an op-ed in the Huffington Post on the occasion urging both presidents to take advantage of this breakthrough and include language on disability services and rights as part of a new comprehensive partnership agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam.

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Preparing Students for College and Careers

October 19, 2012

(Jessica Pliska is the founder and executive director of The Opportunity Network, an intensive, six-year program designed to equal the playing field for high-achieving underserved high school and college students on the road to college and career success.)

Jessica_pliska_headshotThe son of a mail courier and a homemaker, Eric Santiago is the first generation in his family to go to college. He grew up in a low-income family in the Fordham section of the Bronx. When his acceptance letter to Columbia University arrived, Eric made history, becoming the first student from his high school to ever gain admission to the Ivy League.

At Columbia, Eric was unprepared for the academic rigor. "I didn't even know what office hours were, let alone how to use them," he remembers. Assigned The Odyssey in freshman English, he found that many of his classmates had already read it -- in sixth grade. He learned to hold his own with students from tony prep schools who wore designer clothing to class while his blue jeans were stapled together. In his last semester, a financial aid snafu almost prevented him from registering for classes. Less resilient students drop out in the face of similar challenges.

Eric negotiated these situations, graduated in May, and recently landed his first job. But this makes him unusual -- only 10 percent of low-income students graduate college. This number is even more staggering when you consider how many more low-income students are starting college.

It's easy to blame academic unpreparedness or lack of financial resources, both critical issues. But according to a recent study by the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, "even after taking their demographic backgrounds, enrollment characteristics, and academic preparation into consideration, low-income and first-generation students are still at greater risk of failure" – an indication that "the problem is as much the result of [their] experiences during college as it is attributable to the experiences they have before they enroll." Indeed, while a student's academic or financial problems may seem trivial, the smallest of mishaps can spiral into debilitating problems, no matter how much the student wants to succeed.

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This Week in PubHub: Minorities and Higher Education

February 23, 2012

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her previous post, she looked at four reports that examine the role of racial/ethnic disparities in wealth, health, and educational attainment and how those factors are linked and reinforce one another.)

Diverging Pathways: How Wealth Shapes Opportunity for Children (16 pages, PDF), a report from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development included in my last post, cites 2007 data showing that 69 percent of Latino and 71 percent of African-American households are income-poor, while 40 percent (for both groups) are asset-poor. The report argues that without the financial resources to pay for high-quality early childhood education or college, children in these households face a future of limited opportunity. This week in PubHub, we're featuring four reports that focus on trends in college enrollment among students of color, as well as the role of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

According to Hispanic College Enrollment Spikes, Narrowing Gaps With Other Groups (30 pages, PDF), a report from the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of Latino students between the ages of 18 and 24 enrolled in two- or four-year colleges jumped 24 percent in 2010. That compares favorably with modest increases of 5.2 percent and 5.4 percent for African Americans and Asian Americans, and a decline of 4 percent (due in part to demographic trends) among white students. Funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the report also found that 44 percent of Latino high school graduates attended college in 2010, accounting for 15 percent of all college students in that age group, and that while college enrollment among Latinos is up significantly in recent years, completion rates remain low, at 13 percent, among 25- to 29-year-olds.

Raising college completion rates among Latino students is the focus of Roadmap for Ensuring America's Future by Increasing Latino College Completion (20 pages, PDF), a report from Excelencia in Education. Given demographic trends, the report notes, Latinos will have to earn 5.5 million college degrees to close racial/ethnic gaps and meet the nation's degree attainment goal by 2020. To that end, the report's authors recommend that communities develop partnerships between school districts and institutions of higher education to improve college readiness and participation rates; that colleges guarantee need-based aid for qualified students; and that states track data on equity and success in degree attainment. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation for Education, the report calls on the federal government to support capacity-building efforts at established and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to strengthen educational quality as a way to boost degree attainment.

According to the reports, college enrollment among African Americans and Latinos reached record highs in 2010, with just over half of Latino undergraduates enrolled at HSIs. Indeed, Students Speak! -- Understanding the Value of HBCUs From Student Perspectives (39 pages, PDF), a report from the UNCF Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute, notes that while HBCUs account for only 4 percent of all four-year institutions in the U.S., they graduate 21 percent of all African Americans with a bachelor's degree. According to the report, the decision to attend an HBCU is influenced by many factors, including the perception that they provide a welcoming, supportive environment and a measure of cultural empowerment. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the report suggests that students who feel connected to and supported by their institutions, both academically and socially, are more likely to stay in school, and that student-faculty interaction is a key factor in raising retention and graduation rates.

The Lumina Foundation for Education has been working with HBCUs, HSIs, tribal colleges and universities, and Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions to boost degree attainment. The Role of Minority-Serving Institutions in National College Completion Goals (9 pages, PDF), a report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy, describes Lumina's MSI Models of Success program, which aims to build capacity for data collection and analysis, foster a collective advocacy voice on behalf of minority-serving institutions, strengthen policy and practice related to developmental education, and raise completion rates, especially among men of color.

How do you think we should be addressing racial/ethnic disparities in educational attainment? Do you know of any promising initiatives to raise retention rates among students of color at non-MSIs, or best practices for boosting college completion rates at the community level? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

And don't forget to visit PubHub, where you can browse more than two hundred and sixty reports on topics related to minorities.

-- Kyoko Uchida

5Qs for...Alandra Washington, Deputy Director, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

February 15, 2012

Alandra_washingtonIn January, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, with support from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, released a report based on the work of its Cultures of Giving program, which since 2005 has supported identity-based funds that serve groups traditionally underserved by larger philanthropic institutions. Among other things, the report, Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Color (112 pages, PDF), offers a glimpse into the strategies and lessons learned by the largest single funder of identity-based funds in the country and challenges other funders to develop new ways to collaborate with and advance identity-based philanthropy.

As the report suggests, philanthropy in the United States is becoming more diverse -- not only because there are more ways to give than ever before, but also because giving by communities of color is on the rise. And while those communities have supported leadership development and social change initiatives for decades, the growth in identity-based funds has boosted the visibility of such giving. "Communities of color are overflowing with practices of philanthropy and giving, and have been for a long time," says Alandra Washington, deputy director at the Kellogg Foundation. "But very few people in communities of color define their traditions of giving as 'philanthropy.'"

Washington, who joined the foundation in 2002 and oversees its Family Economic Security and Education and Learning programs, served for five years prior to that as CEO of the Greater East St. Louis Community Fund and before that led the New Spirit Organizing Office, also in St. Louis. PND recently spoke with her about the report.

Philanthropy News Digest: From your perspective, what has been the biggest change in philanthropy over the last twenty years?

Alandra Washington: As the report points out, how we define philanthropist and philanthropy have changed a lot over the last twenty years. Today, we're seeing members of communities that are most at-risk pool their resources to address problems in those communities. Small gifts, when combined, can be quite effective in addressing local issues. And, of course, the explosion of new technologies and platforms, things like mobile giving, has made it easier for individuals across the socioeconomic spectrum to give.

PND: How do you and your colleagues define identity-based philanthropy? What are some of the advantages of an identity-based approach for communities of color? And what are some of the challenges?

AW: At its most basic level, identity-based philanthropy is a collective investment in a community by members of that community focused on addressing problems -- across race, class, gender, or whatever else it might be -- affecting that community. One advantage of this type of giving is that it allows individuals who already are giving back to their communities to organize and pool not just their resources but also their knowledge, influence, energy, skills, and pride to build social capital.

At the same time, as with any group working to actualize social change and address specific injustices, our identity-based grantees have come up against a number of social, political, and economic challenges. Volatility in the stock market, for example, has been a challenge for identity-based funds. Even so, they have been able to work around the ongoing economic uncertainty and raise and distribute a record amount of money.

PND: Did the recession have an effect on identity-based philanthropy?

AW: The whole sector was affected by the recession. Unlike traditional donors, however, communities of color continued to give at increasing rates and levels. As the report shows, 63 percent of Latino households now make charitable donations, as do nearly two-thirds of African American households, to the tune of about $11 billion per year. While communities of color weren't immune to the economic downturn, a 2005 paper by John J. Havens and Paul G. Schervish found that aggregate charitable giving by African Americans was increasing at a faster rate than either their aggregate income or wealth. In fact, identity-based funds now raise and distribute nearly $400 million annually, which, as our report notes, is roughly the same as what a foundation with $8 billion in assets would award in grants annually.

PND: The report examines not only what worked for the Cultures of Giving program at the Kellogg Foundation, but also what didn't and why. What was the biggest surprise for you in the report? And what does the foundation hope to gain by sharing this information with the public?

AW: I was most surprised by the resiliency of these organizations and how they learned from their challenges, learned from their failures, and were willing to go back to the drawing board to figure out innovative solutions when confronted with challenges.

By sharing this information with the public, the foundation hopes to show funders and donors alike that there are resources, networks, influencers, and change strategies happening across these communities. We're hoping that others seek out and partner with identity-based groups and leverage their resources. People should walk away from the report knowing that communities of color and identity-based groups have power, influence, and resources, and that they are a great go-to partner.

PND: What advice would you give to funders looking to support identity-based funds?

AW: I would tell them to approach communities of color with a listen-and-learn attitude. It is important for them to understand that this is an emerging field and that there is a lot to learn. Yes, they should also look for ways to partner and collaborate, but first they need to learn as much as they can about the communities they are looking to fund, what's most important to them, and what their approach is to giving. Finally, I would say that funders should try to identify opportunities to leverage the human resources of these communities. All grantmakers, not just those supporting communities of color as part of their mission, should know that there's a cadre of folks in these communities who are willing, able, and ready to partner with them.

-- Regina Mahone

An Opportunity to Lead: South Asian Philanthropy in Canada

August 10, 2011

(Archana Sridhar is assistant dean, graduate program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and co-founder of the South Asian Philanthropy Project, a forum to inspire increased giving and volunteering among South Asians in North America. A version of this article appeared in the most recent issue of The Philanthropist, a quarterly review for practitioners, scholars, supporters, and others engaged in the nonprofit sector in Canada.)

Archana_Sridhar While the category of "South Asian" comprises quite a diverse population in Canada, it has become an accepted demographic category and identity, particularly beyond first-generation South Asian immigrants. Although a small number of South Asians came to Canada in the early 1900s to work in British Columbia's lumber industry, more arrived after 1960, growing into a diverse population in various professional sectors, including finance, medicine, small business, and service. South Asians now make up about 4 percent of Canada's population, with a total population of about 1.3 million, according to the 2006 census.

About 70 percent of South Asians in Canada live in Toronto or Vancouver. In fact, South Asians make up 12 percent of Toronto's population and more than 8 percent of Vancouver's. Statistics Canada notes that South Asians embody cultural values such as strong family connections, social networks with other South Asians, and preservation of heritage languages. And while South Asians have very high voting rates -- especially when compared to other visible minorities -- and an increasing political presence, their giving practices have not yet been analyzed. The economic health of South Asians is above average as compared to other Canadian visible minorities. Indeed, several notable South Asian Canadians have built enormous wealth and business success, including Sir Christopher Ondaatje; Sabi Marwah, vice chair and COO of the Bank of Nova Scotia and a director of the Toronto Star; Calgary real estate developer Bob Singh Dhillon; and many others.

The South Asian diaspora in North America is strikingly diverse on a variety of axes, such as religion, class, caste, country of origin, language, and immigration status. This vast diversity certainly impacts philanthropy. For example, Ismaili Muslim South Asians give from their personal income as a part of their religious practice, while Hindus often participate actively in a tradition of giving (sometimes known as dakshina) that up to this point has been devoted primarily to supporting local temples in the United States and Canada. In addition, as with other ethnic groups, socioeconomic class can impact the means and manner of giving -- with a few millionaire South Asians establishing private foundations or community foundation-based donor-advised funds, while less affluent South Asians make smaller gifts through community organizations or religious institutions.

The diaspora also faces certain specific needs from the social services sector, which philanthropy could help to address through new and existing charities and other innovative approaches. These include the need for free or low-cost legal services for new immigrants; for domestic abuse shelters for women and children; for English-language instruction and interpretation; and for healthcare education and services for conditions that disproportionately affect South Asians such as heart disease and diabetes. Juxtaposing these community-specific needs against available resources highlights the need for more research and education around philanthropy.

A brief philanthropic history

A variety of philanthropic traditions exist among South Asians in North America. As noted above, religious giving is one key known form of South Asian giving. For example, Hindu communities from around the world raised approximately $40 million for the Swaminarayan Temple in the greater Toronto area. Ismaili Muslims, often originally from South Asia (via Africa and/or the UK), share a strong religious commitment to charitable giving; construction recently began on the $300 million Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Centre, also in Toronto. Religious centers are also a powerful venue for fundraising for non-religious causes. The Sikh Community of British Columbia raised more than $1.5 million through the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Society for Haiti relief efforts within a few weeks of the 2010 earthquake.

South Asians also give to charities in their countries of origin, establishing NGOs to provide education, health care, or other services in their hometowns or villages. In addition, South Asians give in Canada both to mainstream organizations and to those focused on their own ethnic communities. In the first category, the YWCA Vancouver benefits from fundraisers by the Indo-Canadian Business Association, and the Royal Ontario Museum and Art Gallery of Ontario have had very public fundraising campaigns with South Asians such as Arti Chandaria at the helm. One of the most high-profile examples of this trend occurred last year with the announcement that the Canada-India Foundation (CIF) had entered into a joint initiative with the University of Waterloo to establish the Chanchlani India Policy Consortium. Under the agreement, the CIF will contribute up to $2 million and will raise another $10 million from government and other private sources to fund endowed chairs, graduate students, lectures, and conferences on India-Canada relations and foreign policy.

Many other organizations are focused on the diversity of Canada's population, and all of them benefit from South Asian donors and volunteers. There are other organizations and federations focused primarily on the South Asian diaspora in Canada, such as the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), specialized organizations like the South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC), community service organizations like the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP), and organizations and shelters focused on South Asian women such as the South Asian Women's Community Centre of Montreal. While these types of small, community-based organizations receive some support from individual South Asians, much of their funding comes from government agencies.

Many South Asians, much like members of other immigrant groups, also come together to help extended family members emigrate and settle in North America, and to support their children's college and graduate education. And, similar to other ethnic groups, South Asians often send remittances to their families in India, Pakistan, and other countries. In terms of volunteering, board service is a key metric because of formal or informal requirements to give financially and because of the required commitment of time and resources to the community. In Canada, the Maytree Foundation's DiverseCity initiative found that (as of March 2009) visible minorities are underrepresented in the seniormost leadership positions in the greater Toronto area: "Just 13 percent of leaders we analyzed are visible minorities....Within the largest charities and foundation, visible minorities represented 14 percent of executives and 18 percent of board members" (Maytree Foundation, 2009). There is a great need to engage South Asians in this type of philanthropic service, both to diversify civic institutions and to bring the talents of South Asians to bear on broader societal issues.

State of the research field

No one has yet been able to describe empirically the landscape of giving among South Asians in Canada (or the United States). The state of the field in terms of understanding this community's philanthropy appears to be in complete disarray, relying heavily on assumptions and anecdotal evidence. Research does exist at the periphery, primarily related to two themes. First, several scholars have examined the impact of South Asian diaspora populations on giving overseas and the impact of giving from the West to South Asia (Hewa & Hove, 1997; Kulabkar, 2004; Niumai, 2009; Rajan, Pink, & Dow, 2009; Viswanath, 2004). Second, there is some research on diversity in philanthropy writ large. For example, Imagine Canada has collected some data on the giving and volunteering patterns of landed immigrants. When we look at the samples upon which these and other existing studies are based, we find that South Asians are either not represented to any significant degree, or their representation is unclear. The only comprehensive study of a particular South Asian community has focused on the Pakistani diaspora (Najam, 2007), and other smaller and narrower studies have focused on the Indian-American community or subsets thereof (Anand, 2004).

A few academics are beginning to go beyond these themes and examine other trends in South Asian philanthropy and civic engagement in North America (Sidel, 2003; Venkatesh, 2008). In addition, several nonprofit organizations and professional associations have engaged in some preliminary studies on South Asian giving and expressed an intention to study and promote South Asian philanthropy. For example, the South Asian Philanthropy Project is collecting existing resources and assembling a catalogue of South Asian–focused charitable organizations to aid donors in decision-making. Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) has supported or published several white papers and reports on Asian-American philanthropy, for example through giving circles (Ho, 2008). Finally, in both Canada and the United States, charities and community organizations serving South Asian constituencies have come together to found various coalitions or federations, such as CASSA -- noted above -- and the National Coalition for South Asian Organizations (NCSO), in Washington, D.C.

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The Art of Rebuilding: A Japanese Earthquake Update

July 07, 2011

(Laura Cronin is a frequent contributor to PhilanTopic. Her last post was a Q&A with Don Crocker, executive director of the Support Center for Nonprofit Management.)

Dream_Gong The economic importance of the arts has been well documented, and funders with an interest in community development have long recognized that artists and nonprofit arts organizations are essential to community revitalization.

More recently, in the wake of several large-scale natural and man-made disasters, funders have focused on support for arts and culture as a part of the larger effort to help people rebuild their lives. Award-winning television producer David Simon even made the idea that culture can help heal a devastated city the premise for his critically acclaimed HBO series Treme.

In the United States, the Coalition for Artists' Preparedness and Emergency Response, a task force of more than twenty arts organizations, arts funders and individual artists, has been working to build a nationwide safety net for artists and the arts organizations that serve them before, during, and after disasters.

In the months ahead, this approach will cross the Pacific when the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) -- whose mission is to support international dialogue through cultural exchange -- launches Arts in Action, a grant program to support artists working in communities recovering from natural disasters.

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This Week in PubHub: Minorities

February 21, 2011

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her last post, she introduced several reports that explore aspects of democratization, political transition, and nation building in the Muslim world.)

Throughout the month of February, PubHub is featuring reports about racial/ethnic minorities. ccording to Marrying Out: One-in-Seven New U.S. Marriages Is Interracial or Interethnic, a new report from the Pew Research Center, 14.6 percent of all new marriages in the United States in 2008 were between people of different races (i.e., white, black, Asian, American Indian, mixed race, or some other race) or different ethnicities (between a Latino/ Hispanic and non-Latino/Hispanic). The report also found that while intermarriage rates have gone up significantly since 1980 for whites and African Americans, they've declined slightly for Latinos/Hispanics and Asians. Trends vary by race/ethnicity and gender, with the rate of intermarriage for African-American men (22 percent) far outpacing that of African-American women (8.9 percent) and Asian women much more likely to intermarry (39.5 percent) than Asian men (19.5 percent).

Among those who often go unmentioned in such surveys or are subsumed into the "other race" category are Native Americans. Two reports from the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center, Investing in Tribal Governments: Case Studies From the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Investing in Tribal Governments: An Analysis of Impact and Remaining Need Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, describe how partnering with tribal governments can support policy innovations with the potential to spur economic growth in Indian country, even as they make the case that the stimulus funds, while helpful, only begin to address Native Americans' long-term needs. Among other things, the reports call for structural changes to give tribes greater access to federal funds on a consistent basis, more frequent direct engagement with tribal leaders, and better data collection to inform policy.

What about philanthropic support for Native peoples? The Ford Foundation report Native Arts and Cultures: Research, Growth and Opportunities for Philanthropic Support highlights the foundation's Indigenous Knowledge and Expressive Culture initiative and brings together the cumulative findings of three reports. One, a grantmaking evaluation, found that philanthropic support for Native arts and artists remained inadequate, even though grantees managed to leverage funding to achieve greater impact; a second revealed a need for more opportunities to deepen the knowledge and skills of Native leaders; and the third, a feasibility study, determined that creating a Native arts and cultures fund could help support artists at the community level. In response, the Ford Foundation, in partnership with the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and the Wiyot Tribe, created the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation in 2009 to help develop and revitalize Native American artistic expression and foster indigenous arts in American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native communities.

What should be philanthropy's role in supporting diversity and minority communities? How is it doing, and could it be doing more? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. And don't forget to visit PubHub, where you can browse more than two hundred reports related to issues affecting minorities in the United States.

-- Kyoko Uchida

New Racial Equity Statement From Woods Fund of Chicago

November 11, 2009

I haven't come across many statements like the one below, but in light of the debate over diversity (or lack thereof) in the sector, I thought it was worth noting. According to a note on the Woods Fund Web site, the fund "has chosen to employ a racial equity lens and adopt this core principle to help our foundation think more intentionally about addressing inequities both internally, within the communities in which we operate, and beyond."

Here's the statement:

The Woods Fund of Chicago believes that structural racism is a root cause of many challenges facing less-advantaged communities and people and serves as a significant barrier to enabling work and eradicating poverty. The Woods Fund encourages and supports organizations, initiatives, and policy efforts that lead to eliminating structural racism. Success in this area will be evident when there is equal distribution of privileges and burdens among all races and ethnic groups, and when a person's race or ethnicity does not determine his or her life outcomes. Woods Fund will support organizations that pay disciplined attention to race and ethnicity while they analyze problems, look for solutions, and define and document success. Ideally, these organizations will incorporate an analysis of structural racism into all aspects of their operations. Woods Fund is committed to raising awareness in the philanthropic community to support this work.

You know what they say: It only takes a pebble to start a landslide.

-- Mitch Nauffts

ANNOUNCEMENT: Humanitarian Emergency in the Pacific

October 01, 2009

(The following was filed by Adele Waugman on behalf of the United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership and was posted on the UN Dispatch blog earlier today.)

Indonesian_earthquake This week has seen a devastating series of events in the Pacific.

Over the weekend a deadly tropical storm slammed into the Philippines, causing severe flooding in urban areas and affecting tens of thousands.

Tuesday, a powerful underwater earthquake triggered a tsunami with waves 15 to 20 feet high that crashed into the Samoa islands, destroying homes and taking lives.

Then yesterday and today two successive and devastating earthquakes struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra, leaving thousands buried in rubble and in desperate need of aid.

Groups funded by the UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership are deployed in all three Pacific Ocean emergencies to provide vital communications services that enable relief workers to deliver food aid and emergency supplies.

As [was] reported yesterday, both the World Food Program (WFP) and the nonprofit Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) are in the Philippines ensuring that relief workers are connected and, on WFP's part, have access to radio communications to ensure workers' security.

Tropical storm Ketsana dumped the heaviest rains in more than forty years and has affected 2.5 million people, according to government estimates. The WFP has boosted its food aid relief program there and now aims to feed one million people in October.

TSF also deployed to Samoa, where after Tuesday's tsunami entire towns have been wiped out, over one hundred are dead, and many thousands more are now homeless.

TSF added to its roster of simultaneous deployments today when it announced it would also deploy to the Indonesian island of Sumatra to provide communications for aid workers and to conduct a "humanitarian calling operation," providing free three-minute phone calls so that those affected can give news to their family and ask for personalized assistance.

In situations of crisis such as these, a phone line can be a lifeline essential to delivering relief or reconnecting a family. Our thoughts are with all those whose lives have been affected by this deadly string of disasters, and with the relief workers working in difficult conditions to help save lives.

For more information on quake and tsunami relief and humanitarian efforts, visit the ReliefWeb site.

[Photo credit: Sulehka.com]

Diversity in Grantmaking: A South Asian Perspective

August 10, 2009

(Archana Sridhar is associate director of the Hennick Centre for Business and Law at York University in Toronto and a regular contributor to the South Asian Philanthropy Project blog. This post was written for the "Overheard” column in the September issue of Thought > Action > Impact , an e-journal published by the Council on Foundations, and also appears, in slightly different form, on the SAPP blog.)

Diversity2 We often think of South Asians in the United States as newly wealthy, super-educated, and professional. While this is certainly the case for many South Asian Americans (and thus the focus of many of the SAPP's own efforts to encourage philanthropy), there are also pockets of need within the South Asian American community beyond what we normally think about the population. Our community faces issues of poverty, class, immigration status, language access, and gender inequality.

For a grantmaker then, diversity in grantmaking means -- most obviously -- increasing the flow of grants to beneficiaries in need within the South Asian American community. For this to happen, though, program officers themselves need to be more diverse and connected to the community -- intimately understanding its dynamics in relation to the overall health of the larger population. For example, the South Asian community faces some special needs for funding and services, such as immigration counseling, legal aid, certain types of health care and education (such as heart disease and diabetes), domestic violence care, and small business start up and education. On the flip side, diverse grantmaking would leverage special talents in diverse communities -- in our case, perhaps our strengths in the health care and computer technology fields, our strong connections abroad, and our commitment to education more generally.

But these are the obvious answers, right? Reframing the question a bit helps to see a bigger issue that I've mentioned before when blogging about the Greenlining Institute controversy: Rather than thinking about diversity in grantmaking only on the grantmaker side, what about thinking about diversity on the grantseeker side, too? There are many agencies that have a long history of successful foundation fundraising that need to examine their own practices when it comes to diversity -- here I'm thinking of established community organizations that are also large grant recipients, such as museums, orchestras, private schools. This may mean diversifying their boards and staffs, but also (more importantly in my opinion) diversifying their outreach to beneficiaries.

Grantmakers can play an important role in promoting diversity by advocating for it as a stakeholder with grantees. Grantmakers can ask applicants questions like:

  • Who benefits from your programs and services?
  • What is the breakdown of your beneficiaries by race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc.?
  • What steps are you taking to reach out to diverse communities in your programming and access to your services (such as language, board representation, location of activities, etc.)?

A final point. Our work at SAPP so far has shown that while there are tons of organizations serving the needs of South Asians abroad, there are not many focused on the South Asian population here in North America. And of those, most are focused on discrete, small-scale approaches -- so small-scale that grantmakers may not find them attractive. There aren't that many larger-scale organizations providing multi-layered services to South Asians nationally or even regionally -- SAALT being the main exception. Diversity in grantmaking may also mean that grantmakers targeting diverse communities need to prepare a different set of criteria for evaluation, consider awarding more seed funding grants, and provide advice to small nonprofits about scaling up and replicating their services.

-- Archana Sridhar

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