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7 posts categorized "Gun Violence"

It's Time to Make the American Dream Available to All

May 27, 2014

Headshot_geoff_canadaThe barriers to success that black men face have been in plain sight for decades, so it is particularly heartening to see a movement taking shape that is specifically crafted to address these challenges and change the odds for one of the most disenfranchised populations in America.

I was on the board of trustees of the Open Society Foundations when the idea of a black male achievement campaign first came up. While it was obvious that something needed to be done, we immediately found ourselves facing a philosophical dilemma: Was it right to target just one group when other groups also need help?

In a country where cultural and racial relations are as complicated as they are in the United States, people are understandably hesitant to publicly announce they are going to help one group while seemingly ignoring all others. Eventually, we concluded that tailoring our efforts to a group that has a common history and a resulting set of common challenges is absolutely the right approach. Black men in America — while individuals in their own right — are heirs to a unique historical experience. After slavery was ended by the Civil War, black men faced decades of institutional racism, Jim Crow and segregation, public lynchings, and disenfranchisement. More recently, they have been abused and demeaned by a toxic street culture and media stereotypes that glorify self-destructive behavior.

If we are going to close the achievement gap and end what the Children's Defense Fund calls the "cradle to prison pipeline" for black boys and men, we need to take into consideration the insidious context of their situation. Indeed, as the Campaign for Black Male Achievement has taken shape, gaining traction even as parallel efforts have emerged, we've seen how necessary and overdue such an effort is. While there is certainly a lot of day-to-day work still to be done, the narrative and national dialogue have begun to change. Ignorance and fear are giving way to empathy and intelligent action.

We have, in Barack Obama, a president who has given the imprimatur of the White House to the idea that racism will not be sanctioned or ignored by society.  In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting, the president's empathetic response created space for an honest, open, and clear-eyed public discussion of race relations and the stubbornness of racism in America.

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'Under Construction': La Plazita Institute - Albuquerque, New Mexico

March 18, 2014

Under-construction-logoUnder Construction is a multimedia online exhibit showcasing some of the best and brightest organizations working with males of color. The UC team of filmmakers, photographers, writers, and nonprofit experts worked directly with each of these organizations for several weeks. The collaborations yielded comprehensive portraits of the services men of color receive. Each profile features a short video, a photography exhibit, a visual program model, and a narrative essay detailing the efforts of these organizations.

Under Construction is a project of Frontline Solutions and was made possible through the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more profiles, click here.

As in the desert that surrounds this city, it seems almost all living happens at dusk. The sun throws rose-colored light on the Sandia Mountains, the pale houses empty, and the sidewalks fill. Above, the skies look brush-stroked and extravagant, and a breeze comes, as if it had been hiding, too. When you endure in the desert, this hour is your reward.

And if you are a boy here, this is the hour when someone will show you a crooked path to manhood. You'll follow an older brother or cousin down to the Rio Grande to receive an initiation of blows and beatings. There, under the Cottonwoods, you'll try not to cry when they say you need to go beat up that kid you used to play with. In just a little while they'll call you carnalito (little brother, little dude).

Like many of the Chicano and Native American youth in Albuquerque who take guidance from La Plazita Institute, Raymond Maestas was brought into gang life before he got out of middle school. He learned to go at life with a gun on his waist and to get away from it all by taking a hit. But one day when he was fifteen a man invited him to earn respect a different way, by talking about his feelings, by serving his neighborhood, and by beginning to honor a heritage he had never been taught. The man was Albino Garcia, and the place was called La Plazita. The other guys in the room, the ones he was supposed to open up to? They were the ones he'd been conditioned to hate.

"I was stuck in the life, gang style life, I grew up here in the South Valley, you know," Maestas remembers. (South Valley is a neighborhood in the city's Southeast District.) "The words of Albino made me think. I was fifteen and I had a son.

That was ten years ago, soon after La Plazita began trying to help one of the most underserved populations in the country with programs like organic gardening, ceramics, and screen printing, along with traditional Native American rituals like a sweat lodge and "Warrior Circles." Here Maestas, who is twenty-five now and is covered neck to waist in tattoos, will tell younger teens how he learned to talk about his feelings, and, perhaps for the first time, those mentees will know someone who has dared to walk a different path.

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Dispatch From the Frontlines: Council on Foundations' 2013 Annual Conference

April 08, 2013

(Long-time PhilanTopic contributor Michael Seltzer is a trustee of EMpower-the Emerging Markets Foundation and a distinguished lecturer at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs of the City University of New York. He filed this report earlier today from Chicago, site of the Council on Foundation's 2013 annual conference.)

COF- three-mayorsEach year, several thousand grantmakers from around the globe come together at the Council on Foundations' annual meeting to learn, discuss, and network. This week, more than 1,200 donors from 47 states and 17 countries have gathered here in Chicago. Reflective, perhaps, of a longer-term shift in wealth accumulation and the creation of new foundations, the states/regions with the greatest representation here are (host state) Illinois, California, New York, and Washington, D.C., while Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and Great Britain top the list of countries represented at the conference. Another indicator of the changing composition of the field is evident in the large number of new faces. Take it from this philanthropy veteran, a new generation of grantmakers has arrived.

Paul Ylvisaker, the late Ford Foundation officer and a mentor to many veteran foundation leaders, once described foundations as "the passing lane" on the highway to a better world. Entrance ramps to that highway were quite evident in the opening sessions of this week's gathering.

On Saturday, at the annual gathering of the Association of Black Foundation Executives, Maya Wiley, founder and president of the Center for Social Inclusion, focused her remarks on the opportunities available to philanthropy to support solutions to the challenges facing the soon-to-be "majority minority" population in America: people of color. Wiley highlighted examples of grassroots leaders across the country who are working to implement innovative public policies in their communities, cities, and states -- and, through a combination of vision, effective community organizing, and thought leadership, are succeeding in mitigating the structural barriers that for too long have denied access to equal opportunity for people of color, women, and others.

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Reducing Gun Violence: A Q&A With David Bohnett, Chairman, David Bohnett Foundation

March 18, 2013

Headshot_david_bohnett"Now more than ever, we need to provide support for the advocacy organizations that are working to establish a formidable counterweight to the gun lobby, which is well financed, well organized, and will stop at nothing to protect the interests of the firearms industry and obstruct sensible legislation that will help save lives."

So argues David Bohnett in an opinion piece he co-authored with Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad in February. For Bohnett, a technology entrepreneur who co-founded the pioneering community site GeoCities back in 1994, gun safety has long been an interest of his and a focus area of the David Bohnett Foundation. Indeed, as Bohnett told PND, reducing gun violence is consistent with the foundation's mission "to improve society through social activism."

Earlier this month, PND spoke to Bohnett via e-mail about his and Broad's efforts to reduce gun violence in America, his view of recent legislative proposals in Congress to address the issue, and what he thinks other foundations and philanthropists should be doing to advance solutions to the problem. (For more on the issue, check out the special collection on gun violence in Issue Lab.)

Philanthropy News Digest: The Bohnett Foundation supports organizations working in a range of areas. When and why was gun violence added to the foundation's grantmaking portfolio?

David Bohnett: Supporting responsible gun legislation and working on gun safety has been one of our primary focus areas since the foundation began in 1999. Reducing gun violence is consistent with our mission to improve society through social activism. The issue is one of the cornerstones of building healthy and vibrant communities where people feel safe to walk the streets and conduct productive and meaningful lives.

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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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Gun Violence in America: A Q&A With Ellen Alberding, President, Joyce Foundation

January 04, 2013

Ellen_alberding_headshotThe December shooting of twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, by a young man armed with a semiautomatic assault rifle, two handguns, and several hundred rounds of ammunition sparked an explosion of outrage and immediate calls for Congress to do something about the seemingly unchecked and -regulated spread of guns in America. In the three weeks since the massacre, another four hundred and twenty-seven people in the U.S. have been killed by guns and the momentarily white-hot debate over gun control has taken a back seat to other policy issues.

Just before the New Year, PND checked in with Ellen Alberding, president of the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation and an outspoken proponent of reasonable gun-control policies, about the scourge of gun violence in America and what philanthropy can do to address the issue.

Philanthropy News Digest: You wrote eloquently about the problem of gun violence in America after the January 2011 shooting in Tucson that left six people dead and thirteen others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, wounded. Here we are, two years later, trying as a nation to come to terms with another horrific mass shooting, and nothing has changed. Does that surprise you?

Ellen Alberding: There's no question that gun violence prevention is one of the most challenging public policy issues facing our nation. And for too long, that has been an excuse for inaction. But following the recent tragedy in Newtown, our country seems to be done with excuses and is demanding action, in the form of stronger gun laws that can help prevent further carnage.

More than 400,000 people have signed a White House petition asking for action and 900,000 citizens have joined over 800 mayors in cities across the country to demand a plan from Washington to reduce the toll of gun violence. Since the Sandy Hook shooting, the response from so many other groups -- nonprofits, law enforcement, education groups -- has been encouraging as well.

This time is different. And we must demand a different outcome.

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Gun Violence and Mental Illness: A Resource List

December 18, 2012

Mentalhealth_manseatedWe are all struggling to process the shocking violence that erupted in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday. That the cold-blooded murder of twenty-eight people, including twenty small children, can be blamed, in part, on permissive gun laws and a culture soaked in graphic depictions of violence is, for many, indisuptable. Others point to Adam Lanza's precarious mental state -- and the failure of those who loved him to reach out for help -- as a contributing factor. For those interested in learning more about the increasingly intertwined issues of gun violence and mental health, we offer the following list of resources:

Issuelab, a service of the Foundation Center, has assembled a special research collection that explores the problem of gun violence in America, and what Americans can do about it.

A quick search of Foundation Directory Online yields this list of funders who support mental health services for youth and/or autism research/services:

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