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81 posts categorized "Diversity"

Philanthropy, the Affordable Care Act, and Boys and Men of Color

February 26, 2014

(Jordan Medina is health policy fellow at the Greenlining Institute, where he co-authored the report Pathways Out of Poverty: Boys and Men of Color and Jobs in the Health Sector.)

Headshot_jordan_medinaThe United States faces a crisis. We have a staggering racial wealth gap — for every $1 a white family has in assets, the median Latino family has about 7 cents, while the median black family has less than 6 cents. One reason for that gap is that too many boys and men of color are uneducated, disengaged, and unemployed.

This isn't a new problem, but changing racial demographics mean that politicians and business leaders must start paying attention to boys and men of color if America is to remain economically competitive in the twenty-first century. Fortunately, as with every problem, there's a solution. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) presents stakeholders with an incredible opportunity to create a culturally competent health workforce while simultaneously lowering the unemployment rate for boys and men of color. The question is: Do we have the courage and political will to see it through?

The ACA expands healthcare coverage to millions of Americans, mainly those too cash-poor to afford it on their own and those suffering from pre-existing conditions. People of color are disproportionately represented in both groups, while the influx of newly eligible consumers puts pressure on the healthcare and health services industry to expand its workforce to meet the increased demand for care. Given the high levels of unemployment in communities of color, considerable time and money should be spent figuring out ways to better prepare boys and men of color for jobs in the health sector.

This may sound like a difficult task, but a lot of the groundwork already has been laid. A new report I co-authored for the Greenlining Institute highlights some of the ways in which California, the nation's most populous state and long an incubator of public policy experiments, is forging ahead with plans to better integrate boys and men of color into the health workforce.

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Newsmakers: Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

December 18, 2013

Headshot_darren_walkerIn September, Darren Walker became the tenth president of the Ford Foundation. Before coming to Ford, where he was vice president of the foundation's Education, Creativity, and Freedom of Expression program, Walker served as vice president for foundation initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation and as chief operating officer of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, where he guided the organization's efforts to develop housing for low and moderate-income families in Harlem.

Recently, Michael Seltzer, a frequent contributor to PhilanTopic, spoke with Walker about the current social change environment, the influence of the foundation's activities on his life, and his hopes for the foundation going forward. Seltzer is a distinguished lecturer at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs and an affiliated faculty member of its Center for Nonprofit Strategy & Management.

Philanthropy News Digest: What is it like to be president of the Ford Foundation?

Darren Walker: Although I've been at the foundation for more than three years, in many ways I still have a lot to learn. I certainly didn't arrive here with any idea I would end up as president. When I walked through the doors of this institution for the first time, it was a transformational experience, because the Ford Foundation represents the ways in which my own life has been changed by philanthropy.

I'm a graduate of public schools. I attended public school in a small town in Texas, and I am also a graduate of the first Head Start cohort, a program that was developed out of Ford Foundation-supported research on early child development at Yale University. After high school, I attended a large land grant university -- thanks to Pell grants, another Ford Foundation-supported intervention -- so I know all about Ford's commitment to public education in this country.

After college, I worked on Wall Street and one day found myself at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, which was hosting a representative of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a creation of -- you guessed it -- the Ford Foundation. LISC had awarded a grant to the Abyssinian Development Corporation for capacity-building initiatives that would allow it to realize the aspirations of the organization's founders, who had a dream in the mid-'80s that Harlem could be a community that could regenerate itself from within. And the Ford Foundation, through LISC, believed in that dream and invested in it. And that capacity-building grant made it possible for ADC to hire me. So my journey, like the journeys of so many others, has been deeply influenced by the Ford Foundation.

I was thrilled to receive a call from the foundation's board chair, Irene Hirano-Inouye, and have her tell me that the board had voted to appoint me president. Actually, I wasn't sure how to respond, beyond saying, "Yes!" because I know that with this job comes huge responsibility, and that I stand on the shoulders of some extraordinary people.

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Valley Boys

November 08, 2013

(Andrew Grabois is manager of corporate philanthropy at the Foundation Center. In his last post, he wrote about the addition of corporate sustainability data to Foundation Directory Online.)

Women_on_tech_boardsMuch has been written about Twitter's IPO -- including analyses of the social media company's revenues, profits, share price, and even the stylistic turns of its S-1 prospectus. What you don't see, however, are articles or blog posts lamenting the complete absence of corporate philanthropy at the company. After all, Twitter, as the company's execs write in its prospectus summary, has "democratized content creation and distribution, enabling any voice to echo around the world instantly and unfiltered." With such an empowering, public-spirited mission, why should Twitter -- or any Silicon Valley high-flyer, for that matter -- concern itself with charitable giving or other aspects of corporate social responsibility?

The answer is that Twitter will never truly "democratize content creation and distribution" until it practices what it preaches. In that respect, it has a ways to go. For instance, more than a few people have noticed that Twitter doesn't have any women on its board of directors. And it's not alone. A well-traveled infographic created by Jim Cooke of Gawker shows that Twitter is one of four tech companies without a single female on the board -- and the other dozen companies included in the infographic scarcely do better. Taken together, the companies on Gawker's list averaged slightly more than one out of ten (13 percent) women on their boards, with those sitting at least one woman averaging closer to two out of ten (17 percent). Abysmally low, to be sure, but only marginally lower than the 14 percent reported by GMI Ratings in 2013 for S&P 1500 public companies and the 17 percent for Fortune 500 companies in 2012 as reported by Catalyst.

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The Next Affirmative Action

August 02, 2013

On August 28, 1963, America witnessed what was arguably the greatest demonstration for racial justice in the history of the country. Half a century after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the looming question of racial equality in America remains.

In the lead-up to the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, PhilanTopic is publishing a ten-part series, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in which some of America's most important writers explore our race issues, past and present.

In the fourth installment of that series (click here for the third, "A House Divided," by Thomas J. Sugrue), Kevin Carey, director of the Education Policy program at the New America Foundation, argues that while affirmative action "as we know it is dying," the Supreme Court's targeting of current policies may be "an opportunity to change the way people think about race and higher education." The essay below first appeared in the Washington Monthly and is reprinted here with the permission of that publication.

Affirmative-actionAffirmative action as we know it is dying. A growing number of states have moved to prohibit public universities from considering race in admissions, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments in an anti-affirmative action lawsuit that left little doubt about where the Court's conservative majority stands. Less than a decade after the Court upheld racial admissions preferences in Grutter v. Bollinger, newer jurists like Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts seem ready to render unconstitutional a policy that has helped generations of minority students grab a rung on the ladder of opportunity.

The Court's likely decision is particularly odious given the college admissions apparatus it will leave in place. Elite colleges warp and corrupt the meritocratic admissions process in a wide variety of ways. Academically substandard athletes, for example, are allowed in so they can play for the amusement of alumni and help shore up the fundraising base. While some men's football and basketball players come from low-income and minority households, many athletes at the highly selective colleges where affirmative action really matters engage in sports like crew and lacrosse that are associated with white, privileged backgrounds. Colleges also give preference to the children of legacies, professors, celebrities, politicians, and people who write large checks to the general fund. All of these groups are also disproportionately wealthy and white.

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Weekend Link Roundup (July 20-21, 2013)

July 21, 2013

Man_on_the_moonOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Data

This is the era of big data, and that's a good thing, argues Matthew Scharpnick, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Elefint Designs, in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. But, he adds, "for every new piece of valuable data, a much larger pile of useless data surrounds and obscures it. It's tough work to sift through it all to find the pieces that lead us to greater insights." Which is why,

Organizations need to understand what stories they want to tell with their data -- ideally before those data sets are even gathered. While it's important to let the data collections speak for themselves --being careful not to manipulate them to present stories that are not there -- it's equally important to gather the right kinds of data and to do so with a strategic understanding of how they can become insightful information tied to the larger narrative of the organization. When the right data are gathered in the right way and presented intelligently, that is where the magic of data begins to fulfill its promise...."

Diversity

Writing on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Kelly Brown, director of the D5 Coalition, a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy, reflects on the initiative's progress at midpoint and suggests that it's a bit of mixed bag. "Those who question whether the effective inclusion of diverse perspectives has a positive influence on smart decision-making should look closer at the evidence," she writes. But at the same time, recent events

make it clear that building philanthropy's capacity to fully include diverse perspectives must be as salient and pressing for foundations as dealing with the much-buzzed issues of "big data," managing "networked organizations," "scaling what works," or fostering "collective impact." None of these approaches will reach their fullest potential if they cannot effectively manifest in a diverse and complex world that is yearning for equity....

Higher Education

Responding to a special report in the Chronicle of Higher Education that examined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's postsecondary education strategy and outisize influence on the postsecondary debate, Daniel Greenstein, director of the Postsecondary Success program at the foundation, writes that while he and his colleagues welcome a rigorous public conversation about the challenges facing our education system, the report "missed the big picture." Namely, "that nearly three out of four students aren't enrolled in full-time, four-year degree programs and that the current system doesn't work for adults who are juggling jobs, family and other priorities while they also work toward a degree."

Nonprofits

Looking to start a nonprofit or social enterprise to address a critical community need, one that will be more than just a flash in the pan? Ayesha Khanna, president of Civic Incubator, shares some practical tips to help you do just that:

  • Define your objectives and what you want to accomplish.
  • Develop a business model and test your assumptions.
  • Find seed funding to allow you to make little bets.
  • Develop diverse funding streams.
  • Enroll others in your mission and work.
  • Create a public relations strategy.

Has all the recent talk about overhead myths and ratios left you a bit confused? If it has, hop on over to the Charities review Council's Smart Giving Matters blog, where you'll find five surefire ways to get the full picture of a nonprofit's effectiveness.

Philanthropy

In a new paper ("Beauty and the Beast: Can Money Ever Foster Social Transformation?") written for Hivos, a foundation in the Netherlands, Michael Edwards, one of our favorite contrarians, argues that instead of its current fixation on market-based revenue generation for social change, philanthropy should be directing more support to what he calls "democratic" and "transformational" funding models. (Back in 2012, we published a terrific series of posts by Edwards on more or less the same topic.)

In a similar vein, Josh Mailman, founder of the progressive Threshold Foundation, argues in a video on Bridgepsan's GiveSmart site that philanthropy is missing a great opportunity to "advance business accountability and business responsibility." Mailman, who was among the first investors in yogurt maker Stonyfield Farms, the Utne Reader, and household products maker Seventh Generation, believes that movements drive social change, and that "getting wealthy people involved in building movements is a really good idea, because movements are mostly people that don't have money."

"Orthodoxies are those [assumptions] we are so accustomed to that we barely think about them, let alone question them," writes Lucy Bernholz on her Philanthropy 2173 blog. In the social sector, they include things like the inviolability of property tax exemptions and the charitable deduction, intellectual property rights, and the right to privacy in the digital sphere. The problem with that approach, Bernholz adds, "is in thinking that the rules that have worked for the last century will stay the same, will work the same, will still be useful or needed for the next century. Some might. Some won't. Some shouldn't...."

In a post on the GrantCraft blog, Lisa Suchet, CEO at the UK-based Nationwide Foundation, shares some interesting learnings from the foundation's Money Matters, Homes Matter and Families Matter initiative, which awarded three-year grants to nine charities working with disadvantaged groups to address housing and homeless issues n the foundation's service area.

Writing on their Philanthropy Potluck blog, the folks at the Minnesota Council on Foundations share some findings from a new Council on Foundations report that looks at staff demographics and compensation levels at foundations around the country. Among the findings:

  • The graying of foundation staff has accelerated significantly.
  • There is still a large gender gap at the top of large foundations.
  • Twenty-nine percent of private foundations reported that they employ people of color, while only 19 percent of community foundations said the same. 

Social Good

Trevor Neilson, president of the Global Philanthropy Group, advises readers of the Huffington Post Impact blog to ignore those who disparage Millennials as "lazy, entitled and narcissistic." Not true, says Neilson, who suggests, to the contrary, "that Millennials have more power than any generation in modern history to drastically improve our world for the better...."

Transparency

Last but note least, kudos to the Blue Shield of California Foundation, which earlier in the week posted a downloadable version of its 2012 Grantee Perception Report -- along with a frank assessment of the dimensions in which it has improved since 2010, as well as areas where improvement is still needed.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org. And stay cool!

--The Editors

Weekend Link Roundup (June 29-30, 2013)

June 28, 2013

Hancock_150th_stampOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Civil Society

Responding to the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder on Tuesday, a decision that found Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to be unconstitutional, Niki Jagpal of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy writes that the court, in so ruling, gutted "key provisions of the VRA that protected historically disenfranchised populations." Specifically, the decision undoes the "'preclearance' requirement in the original VRA," which compelled "local governments and states with a history of voting discrimination to get federal approval before making any changes to their voting procedures and laws." Although the court's decision doesn't nullify Section 4, its implementation now depends on Congress enacting "a new statute determining which states and individuals it applies to."

Jagpal continues,

The right to vote is the most fundamental way in which citizens have a voice in our democracy. In addition to Congress needing to reinstate the key provisions of the VRA, it is imperative that nonprofits working on voting rights issues be provided with the kinds of support they need to complement the hoped-for statue.

Philanthropy has an opportunity to contribute to the public good by helping to restore implementation of the now-gutted provisions. And grantmakers must consider that the Court’s ruling is likely an outcome of a sustained, well-funded movement among conservatives to roll back provisions of the VRA and the Civil Rights Movement....

Communications/Marketing

Kivi Leroux Miller shares a slideshow from her webinar "21 Things Nonprofit Marketers Can Stop Doing!" -- a list that includes outreach campaigns designed with the general public in mind, rather than efforts focused on groups likely to support your cause; letting lawyers or accountants dictate marketing strategies; and paying for custom software instead of using commercial or open-source solutions that are more likely to be updated as technology and the market changes.

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Weekend Link Roundup (June 8-9, 2013)

June 09, 2013

RNadal_2013FrenchOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Collaboration

"The idea behind nonprofit mergers isn't cost savings -- in a high-touch world like ours, there is only so much excess you might be able to trim in a merger," writes Boston Foundation president/CEO Paul Grogan in PhilanTopic. "Rather, it's all about service. Organizations that merge and/or collaborate build capacity to do more of what they do best, and do it even better...."

Communications/Marketing

On the Knight Foundation blog, Elizabeth Miller highlights conversations from the 2013 Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference about how funders can better communicate what they learn:

Prioritize the audience. Know specifically whom you're trying to reach with your findings so that what you're learning is shared in the right circles.

Market determines method. Understanding who will benefit from these insights may determine the best way to deliver them. Different platforms or social media outlets may be your "friends" in distinct cases.

Enlist the evaluated. Work with grantees to help disseminate the findings.

Reflect and refine. Take time to measure the success of your efforts. Measurement is as important as the planning process in terms of understanding what works. Use specific analytics to determine whether dissemination methods were effective, whether you targeted the right audiences, and how you could improve on the overall strategy next time.

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Weekend Link Roundup (March 23-24, 2013)

March 24, 2013

Basketball_wilsonOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Black Male Achievement

On the GuideStar blog, Zeina Fayyaz, manager of the Social Innovation Forum and Social Innovation Accelerator at Root Cause, announces a call for applications to the 2013-14 Black Male Achievement Social Innovation Accelerator. Modeled after the Social Innovation Forum, the accelerator program will provide, over twelve months, capacity-building and coaching support totaling more than $150,000 to five BMA Innovators, along with opportunities to network with funders and the chance to become a national leader in the field of black male achievement.

Higher Education

Is student debt the new subprime? Writing on the Demos blog, Thomas Hedges thinks it may be. "Education itself, which many considered a right thirty years ago, has become a market product," writes Hedges. "University presidents are, in the end, fundraisers, soliciting large donations and encouraging students to take out loans that will take decades to pay back. The costs of tuition, which are cleverly obscured for low-income students, slam students years after they graduate, once they realize what paying off, say, $30,000 in student debt means." As one 30-year-old woman with $120,000 in student loans tells Hedges: "The grim truth is that universities and student loans are no longer creating the American dream, they are destroying it, one wide-eyed dreamer at a time.”

Impact/Effectiveness

On the Arabella Advisors blog, Cynthia Muller, director of the firm's impact investing practice, is encouraged by signs that the strategy is gaining traction.

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Weekend Link Roundup (February 23-24, 2013)

February 24, 2013

Oscar_statueOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

On her Non-Profit Marketing blog, NTEN's Katya Andresen looks at new data from eMarketer.com that confirms what a lot of us already know: Nonprofits have been quick to adopt social media.

Diversity

"It is imperative that women of color invest in young girls through volunteering and mentoring to ensure the success of our younger generation," writes Shae Harris on the Washington Area Women's Foundation blog. "Use this Black History Month to begin or continue 'paying it forward.' Our girls are counting on you."

Impact/Effectiveness

In a post on her blog, Beth Kanter, co-author most recently of Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, considers the difference between being data informed and data driven. "The term 'data-driven' has been used to describe organizations that rely solely on cold hard data to make decisions. Being data-driven sounds great -- in theory. But, because it doesn't acknowledge the importance of basing decisions on multiple information sources, it can doom an organization to epic failures," Kanter writes. Data informed, on the other hand, "describes agile, responsive, and intelligent businesses that are better able to succeed in a rapidly changing environment....Data-informed cultures are not slaves to their data."

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On 'Race, History, and Obama's Second Term'

February 05, 2013

Wordmapmlk 2On January 25, Washington Monthly, in partnership with the New America Foundation, marked the publication of its January/February issue by hosting a two-hour panel discussion on "Race, History, and Obama's Second Term." Led by WM editor-in-chief Paul Glastris, the panel sought to do something "that doesn't much happen in Washington...[that is,] talk frankly about questions of race."

First, though, a factoid, courtesy of political scientist Daniel Q. Gillion: President Obama -- who was sworn in to office for a second four-year term on January 21, a hundred and fifty years after Abraham Lincoln formally issued the Emancipation Proclamation during the American Civil War -- mentioned race fewer times in his first two years in office than any other Democratic president since 1961.

The panelists -- Douglas Blackmon, author of Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II and a contributing editor at the Washington Post; Elijah Anderson, author of the Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life and William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Sociology at Yale University; Taylor Branch, an award-winning author and historian; and Dr. Gail Christopher, vice president for program strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation -- engaged in a conversation on race in America while answering a series of questions posed by Glastris: What is the state of race relations in America a century and a half after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation? Have we progressed as much as we like to think we have? Why are people of color in America still subject to disparities in health, wealth, education, and incarceration? What might President Obama do in his second term to narrow these disparities? And, at a time of reduced social and economic mobility, what policies that help minorities can also benefit the majority?

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Weekend Link Roundup (February 2-3, 2013)

February 03, 2013

Super_bowl2013Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Diversity

Writing on the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Owen Dunn shares highlights from remarks made by Karen Kelley-Ariwoola at a meeting of the Association of Black Foundation Executives in April 2012. In her remarks, Kelley-Ariwoola, a former vice president of community philanthropy at the Minneapolis Foundaton, describes her work with community groups to address racial equity issues in a region where many white people thrive while "low-income people of color suffer from disparities on every indicator."

In celebration of Black History Month, Center for High Impact Philanthropy program manager Autumn Walden chats with Sherrie Deans, executive director of the Admiral Center, about philanthropy in the African-American community, which, argues Deans, is an "important yet overlooked part of black history."

Gun Violence

Getting Attention's Nancy Schwartz suggests that nonprofit communicators can learn a thing or two from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Giffords, who was critically wounded by a deranged gunmen at a public event two years ago and has been fighting to recover from her injuries, slowly but clearly articulated her message that the time has come to address gun violence in America. "We must do something," Giffords told committee members. "It will be hard, but...[y]ou must act. Be bold. Be courageous, Americans are counting on you."

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Weekend Link Roundup (January 26-27, 2013)

January 27, 2013

Mosby-cold-snapOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Diversity

On the Tides Foundation's What's Possible blog, Toby Thompkins asks some thought-provoking questions about African Americans and U.S. history to remind us that "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not just a day for or about black Americans; it is a day for and about all Americans."

Governance

On her Social Velocity blog, Nell Edgington shares five questions to get your board "moving." They include: Why do you serve? What do you bring to our organization? And what do you want to contribute financially?

Impact/Effectiveness

Are we on the threshold of a new economic movement "that will result in all investors -- individual and institutional -- committing at least some portion of their investable assets to social impact"? Lisa Hall, president and CEO of the Calvert Foundation, believes we are, and in an essay in GreenMoney she explains how impact investing is driving that paradigm shift.

In a guest post on the Forbes blog, Kayleigh O'Keefe, associate director at the Corporate Executive Board, shares a "three-step method for "converting passive support into lasting partners":

  1. For each of your key stakeholder groups, define a specific desired behavior.
  2. If a certain stakeholder group is not doing what you’d like them to, determine why.
  3. Focus your efforts o n removing the barrier to the desired behavior change.

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2012 Year in Review: Underserved Communities Targeted for Larger Share of Philanthropic Pie

December 31, 2012

Pnd_yearinreview_2012The amount of money flowing to nonprofit organizations serving underserved populations and communities of color, and the number of private funders backing such programs, continued to grow in 2012, even as support for those communities from other sources was declining.

Over the course of the year, a number of foundations announced multimillion-dollar commitments to programs designed to address the needs of underserved communities and communities of color. They included the Ford Foundation, which announced a commitment of $100 million over ten years to extend its Ford Fellows program to young scholars from traditionally underrepresented groups; the Lumina Foundation, which awarded $11.5 million to thirteen partnerships working to increase college graduation rates among Latino-American students; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which announced an investment of $9.5 million over three years to improve the health and success of boys of color; and the California Community Foundation, which launched a multimillion-dollar initiative to expand educational and employment opportunities for African-American teenage boys in Los Angeles.

A number of corporate grantmakers also stepped up their support for underserved populations. They included Walmart, which through its foundation awarded $3.35 million to six women's foundations working to help economically vulnerable women achieve financial and economic security; AT&T, which announced a huge, $250 million commitment over five years to improve graduation rates among at-risk youth; and the UPS Foundation, which in February awarded $6 million to nearly a hundred and twenty organizations working to promote diversity and support underserved communities across the country and in June announced grants totaling $6.9 million to support the same kind of work globally.

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Demystifying Corporate Responsibility Rankings

December 07, 2012

(Emily Keller is an editorial associate in the Corporate Philanthropy department at the Foundation Center. In November, she reviewed Roger Thurow's The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change.)

Csr_globeCorporations have long collected data generated by and/or relevant to their operations –- everything from sales figures, to permit applications, to industry trends and customer behavior. Increasingly, however, regulatory and watchdog groups are demanding that companies provide information about the impact of their activities on society and the environment.

As the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement has gained traction, indices and lists that seek to quantify and rank company activities according to sustainability principles have proliferated. Financial analysts, media groups, and independent consultancies today produce annual assessments of everything from the amount of carbon companies put into the atmosphere to the sustainability of their supply chain management and the diversity of their boards. Those metrics, in turn, are often used by customers, investors, and prospective job candidates to determine their level of engagement with a particular company.

Earlier this year, the Foundation Center added a CSR tab to the company profiles in Foundation Directory Online that highlights nearly two dozen of these corporate sustainability ratings lists and presents basic information from them in a user-friendly format.

But in an emerging field characterized by a multiplicity of definitions and standards, even simple numbers can be hard to make sense of. Using hundreds of data points and a unique methodology, SustainAbility, an independent think tank and strategy consultancy, has taken it upon itself to "rate the raters" in order "to better understand the universe of external sustainability ratings and to influence and improve the quality and transparency of such ratings." As the firm is quick to note, many of these lists have been introduced within the last five years and there's plenty of room for improvement.

With that in mind, here are a few of the more prominent ratings lists/indices:

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For Impact’s Sake: The Need for Transparency on Diversity & Equity in Philanthropy

November 15, 2012

(Kelly Brown is director of the D5 Coalition, a five-year effort to advance philanthropy’s diversity, equity, and inclusiveness. A version of this post originally appeared on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog.)

Kelly_brown_headshotPhilanthropy exists for the common good, and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion helps us live up to that value. In particular, thinking about equity in our grantmaking helps ensure that we are having the greatest impact on the issues identified in our unique missions -- by targeting resources to the people in our constituencies with the greatest need.

But to really maximize our impact and hold ourselves accountable to our values, our constituencies, and each other, we also have to track who benefits from our grantmaking and be transparent about the results. If we can do that successfully, we can: 1) better understand who we are reaching and who we are missing -- and adjust strategies accordingly; 2) leverage public policy and public dollars to fill gaps or create synergy; and 3) connect our work to the work of other foundations that focus on common issues or constituencies.

As a field, we have a dual problem with both collecting and sharing data on diversity and equity.

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