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75 posts categorized "Economic Development"

Documentary Film and Gentrification

April 07, 2014

(Kathryn Pyle is a documentary filmmaker and a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. In her previous post, she wrote about the promise and failure of humanitarian aid in Haiti.)

Urban_gentrificationThe phenomenon of gentrification – how it gets started, who benefits, and who loses – is a longstanding concern in cities across the country.

But the term describes only the most visible and disturbing face of urban change: the crowding out of lower-income residents from a suddenly "hot" neighborhood by more affluent newcomers. At a time of growing income inequality in the U.S., it's an image that has captured the attention of the media and, increasingly, is sparking public indignation.

Writing in the New York Times ("Cities Helping Residents Resist the New Gentry"), Timothy Williams observes that "the arrival of newcomers to formerly working-class areas…is distinct from previous influxes over the past thirty years" because new arrivals tend to want to live in newer housing, and the condos and loft spaces built to satisfy that demand not only are too expensive for long-time residents but also add to the density of a neighborhood while reducing the ratio of older residents to new arrivals. Williams' article goes on to discuss measures that have been adopted by cities to mitigate the impact of gentrification on longtime homeowners, while a Times article ("Gentrifying Into the Shelters") by Ginia Bellafante notes that creating and maintaining affordable housing for low-income renters in gentrifying neighborhoods requires an altogether different set of measures.

The topic hasn't escaped the notice of documentary filmmakers. Told in different styles and about different places, films such as Gut Renovation (2012), Third Ward TX (2007), and We Will Not Be Moved (1980) identify common elements in the gentrification process -- foremost among them real estate speculation and private housing development, in many cases encouraged by tax breaks and rezoning policies.  

Su Friedrich's Gut Renovation is a very personal account of that process as it unfolded in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, and how that process is displacing the local artist community – of which she is a member. It begins, in 2005, when Friedrich notices the first high-rise condo going up down the street and ends, five years later, with her own building's demolition to make way for the umpteenth luxe condo project in the neighborhood. Needless to say, the redevelopment of Williamsburg continues unabated, affecting the neighborhood’s long-term population of Poles, Italians, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans and irrevocably changing the very thing that attracted artists to the neighborhood in the first place.

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To Create Change in America, Think Local

January 17, 2014

(Kenneth H. Zimmerman is director of U.S. programs for the Open Society Foundations. This post was first published on Open Society's Voices blog.)

Headshot_Ken_ZimmermanWe live in an age defined by profound change: New technology has revolutionized how we communicate and get our work done. The Great Recession has left many of us searching for jobs or struggling to gain skills that make us employable in the "new" economy. Shifting demographics offer promise and challenges as our neighborhoods transition. Federal and state funding cuts have left services previously taken for granted on shaky ground.

These changes have particularly affected the U.S. nonprofit sector, especially that portion focused on promoting equitable development, effective and transparent government, and smart and fair criminal justice policies. As anyone who works with these groups knows, nonprofits have been devastated by reductions in public and philanthropic funding.

At a time of rapid change in both the public and private sectors -- some of it driven by federal budget realities and some by how organizations are evolving to meet the demands of new technology and public expectations -- the cuts have limited nonprofits' ability to shape policy, provide services, and engage in collaborative partnerships.

The Open Places Initiative grows out of the realization that the ability of communities to respond to these challenges requires increased civic capacity, especially for efforts that attempt to further the inclusion and participation of those with low incomes, people of color, and other marginalized communities in civic, economic, and political life. By investing in nonprofit collaborations -- and supporting nonprofit groups in their partnerships with government, business, and local communities -- Open Society aims to expand nonprofits' potential to pursue effective responses to the demographic, economic, and technological changes that are re-shaping the country.

As part of this new initiative, we have awarded nonprofit collaborations in Buffalo, San Diego, and Puerto Rico $1.9 million each over two years.

Our commitment to these collaborations is long-term. Indeed, we plan to continue funding each site for at least three years -- and potentially for as many as ten. What's more, each Open Places site is taking the lead in determining the issues it will address and the form of collaboration it will pursue.

Here are a few examples:

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[Infographic] International Financial Inclusion Funding

January 11, 2014

Our first infographic of 2014 comes courtesy of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), which aims to create "a world in which everyone has access to the financial services they need to improve their lives."

Based on the most recent CGAP Funder Survey, the infographic shows that international funders committed at least $29 billion in 2012 to support financial inclusion -- an increase of 12 percent over 2011. CGAP attributes the healthy increase to an improved global economic environment and the willingness of donor governments, which represent more than 70 percent of the estimated total, to step up despite continued pressure on public resources.


To explore the full data set generated by the survey, click here.

Have an infographic you'd like to share with PhilanTopic's readers? Use the comments section to shoot us a link.

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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Philanthropy and the Millennium Development Goals

September 27, 2013

(Bradford K. Smith is president of the Foundation Center.)

Headshot_brad-smith2New York has been abuzz this week with the reconvening of the United Nations General Assembly and the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, and in the streets, cafes and restaurants you can hear people from all over the world taking about "the MDGs." Those who circulate in the acronym-laden universe of international development know that "MDGs" are the Millennium Development Goals -- the ambitious blueprint developed by the United Nations in the year 2000 to make serious progress on the pressing challenges of global poverty, health, education, and environment.

By one measure, "MDGs" is hardly a buzz phrase among America's philanthropic foundations. I just did a quick keyword search of three years' worth of 990-PF tax returns for close to 90,000 foundations and found just seven in which the term "millennium development goals" appeared. Then I tried an "only foundations" Google search on Glasspockets and got 3.65 million results!

But what people usually want to know about foundations is how much money they have spent on a cause or issue. It says a lot that only once in the years since the Millennium Development Goals were established has the Foundation Center been asked to map foundation funding to the eight goals. So this being a week where the MDGs are being discussed everywhere, we decided to pull some very quick data for 2011.

Goal Amount No. of Grants No. of Fdns.
Eradicate extreme poverty $770,761,183 1,663 318
Achieve universal primary ed 42,756,909 294 80
Promote gender equality 223,768,315 312 56
Reduce child mortality 456,276,756 337 54
Improve maternal health 211,008,135 215 38
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, other diseases 1,572,823,543 426 48
Ensure environmental sustainability 534,927,086 1,747 224
Develop partnership for global dev 278,124,929 363 109


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The Social Progress Index: Measuring What Counts?

April 30, 2013

Report-cover_SocialProgressIndexThe Washington, D.C.-based Social Progress Imperative made a splash at the Skoll World Forum earlier this month when it launched its Social Progress Index (SPI), an ambitious effort to inform and influence development policies around the globe.

Developed by Harvard Business School professor and competitiveness expert Michael E. Porter in collaboration with Scott Stern of MIT, the index is founded on the principle that "what we measure guides the choices we make." To that end, the index analyzes fifty-two outcome-based (as opposed to input-based) indicators in three dimensions of social progress: meeting basic human needs; establishing the foundations of well-being that enable individuals to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives; and creating opportunity for all to reach their full potential. (For a complete breakdown of indicators, click here.)

While the index and the report (154 pages, PDF) released in conjunction with the launch of the index includes only fifty countries, those countries represent three-quarters of the world's population. Here's a chart from the report that plots their aggregate SPI scores against GDP per capita (PPP):

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Foundations and the Freedom Not to Forget

January 15, 2013

(Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center, wrote about Lucy Bernholz's annual look at trends in the social economy in his last post.)

Agent_orange_sprayedRecently I had a front-row seat for two profoundly moving presentations that highlighted philanthropic freedom in action. Both involved groups of forgotten people -- the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam and rural Americans without Internet access -- and one foundation, the Ford Foundation.

First, Charles Bailey, the former representative of the Ford Foundation in Vietnam, spoke to staff here at the Foundation Center about the "Make Agent Orange History" campaign. During the Vietnam War, the United States dumped 12 million gallons of a herbicide known as Agent Orange on South Vietnam, exposing in the process some 4.5 million Vietnamese and hundreds of thousands soldiers from America and other nations. Agent Orange contains the chemical dioxin, which remains toxic to living things for hundreds of years and is concentrated in contaminated soil, or "hot spots," throughout the Vietnamese countryside. The Ford Foundation quietly began working on the issue of dioxin remediation at a time when there was no official dialogue between the American and Vietnamese governments and none of the sixteen corporations that had produced Agent Orange would accept any liability for its devastating side effects.

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Better Ways to Bring Social Programs to Scale

January 11, 2013

(Chris Walker is director of research and assessment for the Local Initiative Support Corporation. A longer version of this post was published online in the Stanford Social Innovation Review in December.)

Walker_chris_headshotIncreased demand for social programs that are simultaneously threatened with budget cuts creates a need to not only ramp up proven innovations, but also to be smarter and more effective in doing so. In 2011, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national community development intermediary dedicated to the comprehensive revitalization of low-income neighborhoods, leveraged an investment from the Social Innovation Fund to further expand its Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) program. LISC recently undertook a thorough study of its expansion of the FOC model to identify which elements and strategies made it work, and how they might help similar organizations.

Financial Opportunity Centers help low-income families by offering a suite of counseling services, including financial coaching to support basic budgeting and credit repair; advice about how to get and keep a good job; and assistance in identifying and applying for public benefits. Early results have been promising -- the program has gone from four original sites in Chicago to sixty-six centers nationwide.

The study revealed some important takeaways.

First, successful scaling of the program requires a certain amount of standardization. While granting some flexibility, LISC works hard to maintain the integrity of the core FOC model.

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[Infographic] Women's Wealth and the Future of the Nonprofit Sector

November 10, 2012

After Tuesday, it's pretty clear that American women are not interested in giving up the reproductive rights they won in the 1970s and 1980s. Which is one reason why, as in 2008, a solid majority of them (55 percent) cast their votes for Barack Obama.

Tuesday also saw a historic number of women, twenty, elected or re-elected to the U.S. Senate. We may not have had a female president yet, but from higher ed to the economy to philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, women in growing numbers are exercising power and making their voices heard.

This week's infographic comes courtesy of the folks at, an international consulting firm with expertise in fundraising, corporate social engagement, digital, and research and analytics. Enjoy.

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Why LISC? It Starts With a Cold Call

May 30, 2012

(Michele Sullivan is vice president of the Caterpillar Foundation. A version of this post appears on the LISC Web site.)

Peoria_skylineNot unlike most cities in the U.S., Peoria, Illinois, and its surrounding communities have areas where existing businesses have left and economic development has ceased, housing is crumbling, crime and unemployment are high, and public transportation is inadequate or nonexistent. Yet, the residents of these areas have the same desires as everyone else. They want a safe place to live and raise their children, a job they like, local neighborhood businesses to shop in, and a neighborhood they can be proud of.

Peoria is blessed to have a strong base of nonprofit organizations to help families in blighted neighborhoods that are struggling with the problems mentioned above. While the Caterpillar Foundation supports many of these organizations, we recently found ourselves asking, Why aren't these neighborhoods thriving?

As we thought about that question, it became evident that nonprofits and stakeholders in the community were treating symptoms, not causes, and that the greater Peoria area needed an organization to help redevelop blighted neighborhoods and address challenges such as affordable housing and high crime rates. What's more, those efforts were needed not just within Peoria proper; poverty and high unemployment extend beyond the city limits. Which got us wondering: Does such an organization exist?

Be honest. Everyone rolls their eyes when a cold call comes in. Steve Sagner, head of development for LISC, came calling in February 2011. LISC was fundraising and wanted an investment from the Caterpillar Foundation. Doubt turned to curiosity. As the conversation turned to what LISC had to offer, my team and I began to think this was just what Peoria needed. With a thirty-year track record of revitalizing communities in need, LISC would take the lead in mobilizing all available resources for job training, business development, affordable housing, child care, and more. By the end of the call, LISC agreed to do an assessment of Peoria for a possible future office.

The assessment was soon completed and the news got better. LISC agreed that Peoria fit its organizational model. And while it admitted it had not worked in a metro area which required a rural and urban strategy, it was confident it could deliver results. To be honest, we weren't sure. But the day LISC program VP Anika Goss-Foster took us to visit the Auburn Gresham neighborhood in Chicago was the day all the dots got connected. When we saw that thriving neighborhood, the 'Net center full of people on computers working on resumes and reading USA Today, the new Walgreen's, the financial office for residents, and, most importantly, the pride of local residents, we knew that making an investment in bringing LISC to Peoria was the right idea at the right time.

Caterpillar, Inc. -- and by extension the Caterpillar Foundation -- promotes the health, welfare, and economic stability of communities around the world where its employees work and live. One such community is Peoria, Illinois, our hometown and global headquarters. LISC's expertise and experience, coupled with Peoria's strong nonprofit base and support from the city and county, has convinced us that the residents of the greater Peoria area have a much brighter future to look forward to.

Has your view about cold calls changed? Ours sure has.

-- Michele Sullivan

How Are Foundations Tackling the Global Water Crisis?

March 22, 2012

(Seema Shah is director of research for special projects at the Foundation Center. She can be reached at [email protected].)

World_Water_Day_logo_2012It's World Water Day. And for those of us lucky enough to be able to take clean drinking water for granted, the numbers can be difficult to wrap our heads around. Nearly one billion people globally do not have access to safe water and more than two billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. The implications for the physical, economic, and educational well-being of communities, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, are far-reaching. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted during last year's World Water Day events, "The water crisis is a health crisis, it's a farming crisis, it's an economic crisis, it's a climate crisis, and increasingly, it is a political crisis."

Given the scope and scale of the crisis, what are foundations doing to address the situation?

A year ago, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which has a twenty-year history of supporting safe water initiatives, awarded a grant to the Foundation Center to create a Web portal that would serve as a data and information hub for grantmakers working on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) issues.

Launched in October, the portal,, seeks to promote greater coordination among established WASH funders, while also serving as a resource for new funders in the sector. The centerpiece of the site is a robust mapping tool that helps funders minimize duplication of effort by identifying other foundations that are working on similar issue areas or in the same geographic region. Funders visiting the site also are able to share lessons learned through case studies that highlight both challenges and successes in the WASH arena. And they can access the latest WASH-related research, aggregated in one place. All these resources are designed to help funders work more efficiently and effectively, allowing them to maximize the impact of their grant dollars. (In fact, the portal has become a model for funders working in other issue areas, as they seek to become more strategic and use data-driven decision making and peer-to-peer insights to strengthen their grantmaking.)

WASHfunders_chartIn conjunction with its work on and this week's World Water Day events, the Foundation Center has released a new research brief that summarizes foundation investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene. Among other things, our findings show that support for WASH issues has been on the rise since 2003. Between 2003 and 2010, the number of funders making WASH-related grants jumped from 24 to 78, and that growth was accompanied by a nearly five-fold increase in the number of organizations receiving grants. In 2009-2010, U.S. foundation funding for WASH issues totaled $144 million, up from $11 million in 2003-2004. At the same time, WASH funding, having grown from 0.2 percent in 2003 to 1.7 percent in 2010, remains a very modest portion of international giving by U.S. foundations overall.

The research brief also highlights the top funders of WASH initiatives. Among private foundations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation continues to be the largest funder of WASH programs, with the foundation's grantmaking comprising half of all WASH funding in 2009-2010. Among corporate foundations, the PepsiCo Foundation leads the way, awarding grants of more than $12 million in 2009-2010.

Philanthropic investments to address safe water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene education are poised to increase in the coming years, with several foundations, including the Margaret Cargill Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Skoll Global Threats Fund, beginning to develop strategic initiatives focused on WASH issues.

Indeed, although the number of people lacking access to safe water and adequate sanitation is far too high, we are beginning to see evidence that the collective efforts of foundations, governments, and NGOs are making a difference. In fact, just last week UNICEF and WHO announced that the Millennium Development Goal for water had been met, the first of the MDG targets to be achieved.

For more data on foundation support for WASH issues, see the full research brief here. And feel free to use the comments section below to share how your organization is observing World Water Day.

-- Seema Shah

This Week in PubHub: Affordable Housing

October 27, 2011

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her previous post, she looked at four reports that explore the role played by the arts and culture in our civic life, community economic development, and sense of place.)

The collapse of the housing bubble and the ensuing recession have affected renters as well as homeowners, with the supply of affordable housing shrinking even as incomes have fallen. This week in PubHub we're featuring four reports that examine the impact of the Great Recession on rental housing and what philanthropic institutions are doing to address the crisis.

According to Rental Market Stresses: Impacts of the Great Recession on Affordability and Multifamily Lending (69 pages, PDF), a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, the proportion of renters paying more than 30 percent of their incomes to cover "gross" rent (rent plus tenant-paid utilities) increased from 41.2 percent in 2001 to 48.7 percent in 2009, mostly due to falling real incomes and rising rents and energy costs. Moreover, as of 2009 only sixty-four affordable rental units were available per hundred low-income renters. And making matters worse, loan delinquencies among multi-family rental property owners also were up. Funded by the Annie E. Casey, FordMacArthur, Kresge, Rockefeller, and Surdna foundations, the report notes that a major risk for financially stressed renters is deteriorating housing quality due to lack of maintenance and investment.

In New York City, the share of multi-family properties in physical and/or financial distress increased from 3.3 percent in late 2009 to 5.5 percent in early 2011, a report from the University Neighborhood Housing Program finds. Based on UNHP's Building Indicator Project database, New York City's Multifamily Housing in Distress (39 pages, PDF) examines demographic trends and levels of distress among multi-family properties in the Bronx as measured (in part) by the disconnect between sales prices and net operating income. Funded by the Charles H. Revson Foundation and Enterprise Community Partners, the report calls for policy reforms to include such data in evaluations of loan quality and in banks' responses to distressed properties in their portfolios.

What is philanthropy's role in addressing the affordable housing issue? Based on interviews with foundation leaders, The Potential for Public-Private Partnerships: Philanthropic Leaders Considering Housing as a Platform (49 pages, PDF), a report from the What Works Collaborative (whose partners include the Brookings Institution, the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University, the Urban Institute, and the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University), found little consensus on theoretical models for and approaches to supporting housing as a platform for programs and services designed to improve quality of life. Funders also expressed concerns about forming public-private partnerships with government agencies, citing the need to maintain their independence and grantmaking priorities, and emphasized the potential of targeted collaborations. A case study of a partnership to develop a ten-year community plan to end homelessness in the Minneapolis area highlights a number of accomplishments, including doubled prevention efforts, a street outreach system in collaboration with the local police department, and new housing opportunities for low-income families, as well as lessons learned.

What about supporting affordable homeownership through shared equity programs? Balancing Affordability and Opportunity: An Evaluation of Affordable Homeownership Programs With Long-Term Affordability Controls (41 pages, PDF), a report from the Urban Institute and NCB Capital Impact, examined the outcomes of seven programs that enable low-income families to purchase homes at below-market prices with resale restrictions and found that they succeeded in helping families accumulate assets while also creating a sustainable supply of affordable housing. The report also found that very few "shared equity" homeowners in the programs ended up being foreclosed on and that a large majority were still homeowners five years later, with two-thirds of those who resold their homes moving into owner-occupied market-rate housing. Funded by the Ford and Surdna foundations, the report suggests that shared equity programs could play an important role in advancing sustainable homeownership for lower-income families.

What are your thoughts on the philanthropic and policy responses to the shortage of affordable housing in the U.S.? Are you aware of any programs or successful public-private partnerships that have worked to boost the supply of affordable housing, especially for low- to moderate-income home buyers? Feel free to share your comments below.

And don't forget to visit PubHub, where you can browse more than seven hundred reports about community improvement/development and nearly a hundred specifically related to affordable housing.

-- Kyoko Uchida

Spotlight on Economic Development Grantmaking in Ohio: An Update

May 30, 2011

(This post originally appeared on the Philanthropy Front and Center - Cleveland blog.)

Three years ago, we spotlighted key facts about economic development grantmaking in Ohio. Earlier this month, we released an update to the original report (Spotlight on Economic Development Grantmaking in Ohio, 2011) which found that grant dollars for economic development increased from $24.5 million in 2005 to $62 million in 2008, a 152 percent increase. As a share of total giving in Ohio, economic development grants doubled, from 7 percent to 14 percent.


Giving to two major subcategories, employment and training services and urban development, accounted for nearly three-quarters of all giving for economic development in Ohio. A significant increase in giving for employment training and services can be attributed to a major gift of $20 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to the University of Akron Foundation's Austen BioInnovation Institute; the gift is expected to create 2,100 jobs.


The report also identified the top ten foundations awarding grants in Ohio for economic development as well as the top 10 recipients of economic development.



A special area of the Foundation Center's Web site provides access to the report, free online resources including an interactive map of economic development grants in Ohio, a video highlighting the report's findings (see below), audio and video recordings of local leaders in the field talking about Ohio's funding landscape, and links to other published reports.

To read or download the report (2 pages, PDF), click here.

The report and web page were funded in part by the Cleveland Foundation, the Generation Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.

Philanthropy and...Job Creation

April 05, 2011

Job_creation Whether you interpret the jobs report that was released Friday by the Labor Department as promising or disappointing, the fact remains that the country is still mired in a joblessness crisis, with an unemployment rate of close to 9 percent. Amidst the talk of how the job market is faring in the business community, nonprofits in the U.S. are quietly creating jobs by cultivating entrepreneurship, ensuring that new jobs are both environmentally sound and pay a living wage, testing (and proving) the viability of worker-owned businesses, and advocating for the necessity of subsidized employment programs.

The Foundation Center and IssueLab joined together to interview six nonprofit and foundation leaders working on the urgent issue of job creation. Learn more about their unique perspectives on the issue and what they think is missing from the national discourse.



Stangler_dane Dane Stangler
Research Director
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

The Kauffman Foundation's Approach:
Support and develop programs that make entrepreneurship a more viable option and commission research measuring the impact of entrepreneurs in the United States and the global economy.

Q: What's missing from the discourse?

A: "We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. One reason for that is that policy makers often frame private sector job creation exclusively in terms of the size of businesses. Research increasingly shows, however, that the age of businesses is much more important in terms of net new job creation. Young firms — particularly those that grow — are the most essential piece of job creation in this country. Researchers at the Census Bureau have done an outstanding job of sorting data on firm creation and job creation by age. This has contributed to precision in terms of understanding data but also illuminated larger questions about the nature of entrepreneurship. We are only at the beginning of understanding this phenomenon, which is critical to economic growth."


Howard_ted Ted Howard
Executive Director
Senior Fellow for Social Justice at the Cleveland Foundation
Democracy Collaborative, University of MD College Park

Democracy Collaborative's Approach:
Work with the Cleveland Foundation to create worker-owned cooperative businesses that build longer-term wealth for residents of low- and moderate-income communities.

Q: What's missing from the discourse?

A: "At the federal level the discourse is feeble....We are in a situation where if we don't watch out as a country these eight million jobs that we lost are going to be lost for good. This 9 percent employment is going to become the new norm.

"We have systemic problems in this country that are going to require something other than tinkering at the margins....The issue of job creation and local economic development is not just an economic issue but is a very fundamental issue about the future of our democracy. A lot of democratic theorists agree that the future of a democratic state becomes deeply imperiled when you have tens of millions of people frozen out of the system and that's what we've got. It's a very serious situation, and so we have got to try new approaches to not only create jobs but also to create wealth."


Walz_jo Joanne G. Walz
Community Philanthropy Officer, Promoting Economic Vitality
Minneapolis Foundation

The Minneapolis Foundation's Approach:
Fund with an equity lens, supporting initiatives that address barriers for employment for African Americans, women and refugees, and bringing the public and private sectors together to align funding efforts.

Q: What's missing from the discourse?

A: "I haven't seen evidence of the level of creativity and innovative thinking needed to make changes as rapidly as warranted. Unless we can get some synergy with the changes in education in terms of higher education and postsecondary options and begin to blend that with internship options and mentorship programs from not just big business but middle-size businesses and little businesses and entrepreneurs, especially in our more diverse communities, we're not going to adapt as quickly as we need to.

"There's a significant opportunity with the retirement of the baby boomers. We haven't done enough to create strategies to transfer knowledge and empowerment from baby boomers to the younger generation, who are going to take the hit and the responsibility of moving forward. So the national discourse has helped, but we really need to speed it up and get it on multiple tracks in order to make the changes we need."


Shanley-hope_sarah Sarah Shanley Hope
Director of Strategic Growth
Green for All

Green for All's Approach:
Employ a bold strategy that leverages public dollars, attracts private investment, and mobilizes civil society to create an inclusive green economy in which everyone has access to opportunity and the earth is sustained.

Q: What's missing from the discourse?

A: "What's missing is the immediacy. There is no question that we must take a long view — focusing on good jobs and a healthy environment for all — but the immediate, deep crisis afflicting Americans seems to be lost. Even with a righteous mission, if you're not talking about job creation today and relieving the crisis facing poor and working families, it's hard to get people engaged on your agenda. Looking at want ads is more urgent to folks than e-mailing members of Congress."


Alpert Sharon Alpert
Senior Director, Programs and Strategy and
Program Director, Sustainable Environments
Surdna Foundation

Surdna's Approach:
Support the development of a new energy economy by funding national, state, and local policies and projects that are creating jobs in the energy efficiency, manufacturing, and transportation sectors and playing a bridge-building role between those places of innovation and national policymakers.

Q: What's missing from the discourse?

A: "The national discourse around the green energy economy has focused a lot on renewables and less on energy efficiency until recently. We think energy efficiency is a key area because it's ready to go -- the jobs can be created today and can begin to help businesses and homeowners and consumers immediately reap the savings of a more energy efficient home or a more energy efficient place of business. The savings goes back into the economy, but more importantly, it is one way we can create champions for the new energy economy. We're very interested in having a better national conversation about the mismatch between skills and current job openings out there for the Americans that are out of work. I'm heartened when I hear the national discourse look at the jobs that can be created in a new energy economy and in infrastructure investments, in particular. I get disheartened when I hear that the jobs are not out there or that they are not 'new jobs', which really misses the point. There is plenty of evidence to point to across the states -– from Massachusetts to Ohio to California –- of new economic value and real jobs and new businesses being created in the new energy economy."


Rynell_amy Amy Rynell
National Transitional Jobs Network and Social IMPACT Research Center

The National Transitional Jobs Network's Approach:
Ensure that publicly supported job-creation programs serve those that need them most by advocating for strategies that help the hardest to employ; document and evaluate these job-creation efforts.

Q: What's missing from the discourse?

A: "The large gap between available jobs and people in need of work requires continued discussion about the role of subsidized employment programs to support disadvantaged workers and struggling businesses through the recovery. There is widespread agreement among economists that people with low incomes are very good stimulus engines because they will spend their earnings, thereby supporting local businesses and helping to preserve other jobs. We are very concerned that a very successful job-creation effort for disadvantaged workers, funded through the TANF Emergency Fund, was not extended and allowed to continue. Given the lackluster recovery on the jobs side, those dollars would have continued to bolster low-income communities in key ways."

Those are just a few perspectives from nonprofit and foundation leaders working on job creation. What do you think is missing from the national discourse? What efforts are your organizations undertaking to foster job creation?

Chart of the Day: 'The Kindling of Change' (NY Times)

February 05, 2011

Was Tunisia the first domino in a chain reaction that results in the fall of authoritarian governments across North Africa and the Middle East? No one can say for sure, but New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow has assembled a fascinating statistical portrait of the region that sheds light on some of the socio-political variables likely to influence the outcome.

(Click for larger version.)



And how about that income inequality number for the U.S.?


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