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18 posts categorized "Immigration"

Mapping DACA: New Tool Tracks Philanthropy’s Investments in Program for Immigrant Youth

March 25, 2014

(Felecia Bartow is associate director at Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees.)

Headshot_Felecia_BartowIn June 2012, the Obama administration announced a new policy directive that provided the opportunity for nearly two million immigrant youth and young adults across the country to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This temporary form of relief offers eligible immigrants a possible reprieve from the threat of deportation and has the potential to encourage immigrant students to continue and/or complete their education and enter the formal economy.

As word of this historic opportunity spread, foundations from California to New York and Oregon to North Carolina responded. Despite differences in grantmaking and geographic priorities, these funders seized the opportunity to meet the pressing needs of DACA-eligible immigrants in communities across the country by supporting a wide range of implementation activities, including expanding outreach efforts and eligibility screenings, and helping applicants meet educational requirements and cover the cost of the $465 application fee.

The Foundation Center and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees are pleased to announce the launch of the DACA Grants Map, which provides the first-ever comprehensive overview of related investments. This tool offers information on the geographic areas served by DACA-related grants and grant details such as dollar amount, duration, date issued, strategies
supported, and investment type.

Collectively, these investments have had a direct and measureable impact on the lives of the more than half a million immigrant youth and young adults living, working, and contributing in communities across the country. With support from the philanthropic sector, the vast majority of these young people applied for DACA successfully.

We also hope the map serves to emphasize that work remains to be done. There are a million and a half youth and young adults who have yet to apply for DACA, many of whom represent the "hard-to-reach." These individuals face a variety of obstacles: a significant number do not meet the program's educational requirements; others cannot afford the application fee or need help with documentation; those in rural communities may lack access to services; and some face community-based stigma around their undocumented status.

Scan the map and you will notice large swathes of the country with little or no philanthropic activity specific to DACA implementation. Take Florida, an immigrant stronghold and home to the country's fourth-largest DACA-eligible population. Only one DACA-related grant has been reported in the state versus eighteen in North Carolina, despite Florida having nearly three times as many eligible immigrants. In short, we need to "fill the map."

A quarter of the way into the New Year, the fate of comprehensive immigration reform efforts remains uncertain. Meanwhile, there are thousands of immigrant youth and young adults for whom a successful DACA application would take them a step closer to the American Dream. As we wait for action on the federal level, we must seize the available opportunities — and assure that we fulfill the promise of DACA.

— Felecia Bartow

For additional information and funding recommendations, visit GCIR's DACA resource page, or contact Michael Kavate, research and communications associate. And if you don’t see your organization’s grants listed, there is still time to submit them, as the map will be updated on a quarterly basis.

Sincere thanks are owed to all who helped this project, with special recognition to the tireless efforts of Walter Barrientos, GCIR project manager; Matthew Ross, manager of special data projects at the Foundation Center; and Nina Gantcheva, the center's manager of strategic philanthropy.

[Video] 'Apple Forecast: Immigration Reform'

December 28, 2013

Kathryn Pyle, one of our favorite PhilanTopic contributors, also is an acomplished documentary filmmaker. Her latest effort, a very short documentary titled Apple Forecast: Immigration Reform, "gives voice," in Kathryn's words, to small farmers who say our immigration system is hurting their business.

You can watch the film in its entirety below. It's also being hosted on the Web by the Francisan Action Network, where you can read a statements about the film by Kathryn and FAN executive director Patrick Carolan.

(Running time: 4:97)

To read more of Kathryn's posts for PhilanTopic, click here.

Have a thought or opinion about the doc or our immigration system? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Scaling Social Innovation

May 29, 2013

(Paul L. Carttar is a partner at the Bridgespan Group and former director of the Social Innovation Fund, a federal initiative that enlists private intermediaries to help expand innovative programs proven to promote economic opportunity, healthy lives, and youth development.)

Headshot_paul_cartarrIn much the same way a parent feels extraordinary awe and wonder in watching his or her child grow up and succeed, I recently experienced a powerful sense of pride at a conference in Washington, D.C., devoted to the subject of bringing to scale innovative nonprofit programs, particularly those serving low-income communities.

The conference was sponsored by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the country's largest community development organization, and focused on LISC's successful scaling of Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) -- an initiative to help low-income people take control of their family finances. Working off a model developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in just three years LISC has expanded the program from four centers in Chicago to seventy-one locations in thirty cities across the country. Much of the funding for this growth came from an innovative federal program called the Social Innovation Fund when I was the fund's director. As I said, I couldn't be prouder.

The FOC approach is simple but sound. It recognizes that getting a job is just the first step toward achieving long-term financial stability. So FOCs focus on improving the actual net cash a family has each month, taking account of what a family spends as well as what it earns, and helping low-income and unemployed individuals by providing an integrated set of services that are typically siloed. These services include not only job training and help getting and keeping a job, but also hands-on financial coaching related to budgeting and building credit, as well as assistance in identifying and applying for public benefits.

While we still have much to learn about the full impact of FOCs, there are clear indications the approach works. Over the past two years, nearly 75 percent of FOC clients improved their monthly cash flow and net income, while 43 percent raised their credit scores. In addition to improved cash flow and credit scores, clients receiving this integrated set of services showed dramatic gains in employment and net assets compared to those who received such help piecemeal.

Continue reading »

No Second-Class Families

May 09, 2013

(Ben Jealous is president/CEO of the NAACP.)

Headshot_ben_jealousAfrican Americans have spent much of our history fighting for equal treatment. Just two generations ago, our parents and our grandparents were banned from eating at certain restaurants, attending certain schools, and working in certain professions.

So it's not difficult to empathize with the struggle of immigrants in our country. Like our ancestors who migrated from the former slave states of the Deep South, millions of undocumented immigrants move to the United States each year to find work and a decent education for their children. When they arrive, however, they are confronted with blatant discrimination, racial profiling, and hardly any legal recourse.

As people of color, we have a responsibility to stand up for social justice whenever it is violated. That is why the NAACP has joined other civil rights and human rights organizations, including the Rights Working Group and the Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights, to support comprehensive immigration reform.

Across the country, an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live with permanent second-class status. Many immigrants come to the U.S. to find a better life but find themselves living in the shadows, in constant fear of arrest and deportation. This has a cost.

Undocumented workers are exploited on a regular basis. Many business owners pay low wages and provide dangerous working conditions for their undocumented workers, with little fear of retaliation. They know that their employees have too much at stake to risk contacting the proper authorities.

Continue reading »

U.S. Should Follow California's Lead on Immigration

April 12, 2013

(Ira S. Hirschfield is president of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. Robert K. Ross, MD, is president and chief executive officer of the California Endowment. And Timothy P. Silard is president of the Rosenberg Foundation.)

Statue_of_libertyEquality of opportunity is a fundamentally American value. Throughout our history, we have taken important steps to make our country more equal and to bring opportunity to groups that were denied it in the past.

Today, with national leaders debating plans to reform America's broken immigration system, we may soon be taking the next step in this continuing journey. Getting reform right means keeping our core values front and center, and Californians are showing the way forward.

First, more about the problem. More than 11 million immigrants in this country (including nearly three million in California alone) are living in the shadows. Their invisibility and fear of deportation makes them vulnerable to exploitation at work, reluctant to report crimes or to participate in their communities, and hesitant to get health care when they and their families need it.

This situation is not good for anyone. The American economy and our society are better and stronger when everyone has an opportunity to participate. Having a permanent underclass of aspiring Americans who do not have the same rights as everyone else, and who cannot speak up for their interests without putting themselves and their families at risk, demeans our democracy and diminishes our values.

Continue reading »

How Foundations and Immigrant Organizations Can Respond to Supreme Court SB 1070 Ruling

June 28, 2012

(Walter Barrientos is a program officer at the New York City-based North Star Fund.)

Walter_BarrientosOn Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the most chilling provision of the Arizona law known as SB 1070, a provision that allows police to stop anyone they believe to be undocumented and check their immigration status.

For most immigrants, including me and my family, the message from the Supreme Court is clear: the police have been appointed de-facto immigration agents. This means that any time an immigrant is the victim of a crime, he will have to ask himself, Is what just happened to me worse than being questioned about my immigration status, being detained, and possibly deported by the police?

I had to face this question myself when I was assaulted three years ago by gang members on the streets of Queens. At the time, I decided to call the police and report the crime. But when I was summoned to testify in court against the individuals who assaulted me, my knees grew weak. I knew that if my undocumented status were revealed in the course of testimony, I could find myself in deportation proceedings.

Because I had years of experience organizing immigrant communities, I was able to call an attorney friend who worked with community leaders to teach immigrants like me about our rights. From her, I learned that there's a visa for victims of violent crimes like the one I had been a victim of, and today I have that visa. But few immigrants have a trusted contact, as I did, to provide critical information.

My experience shows why it so important for us to build a robust network of immigrant organizations and leaders who can organize immigrants to protect and advocate for their rights. Thanks to the Supreme Court decision, local police departments in Arizona and at least four other states are no longer an institution immigrants can trust. Instead, immigrants must rely on their own community organizations and leaders as the first line of support and advice in critical situations, as well as to assert larger immigrant rights issues in public and policy forums.

From my vantage point as both a funder and a community organizer, there are several steps that community-based organizations and leaders need to take to build their strength and expertise in order to respond to the changing immigration landscape. Here are a few of them:

1. Community organizations need to build their capacity to reach deeper into and build stronger ties with members of immigrant communities. And they need to bolster their efforts to reach even the most marginalized members of those communities to ensure that everyone has basic information about immigration laws and that they trust the organization to be there for them in times of need.

2. Immigrant organizations need to build their capacity to respond to immigrant members who find themselves in dire situations, such as when an undocumented immigrant without a license is stopped by the police after he has gotten off work at 2:00 a.m., or when an undocumented immigrant has witnessed a crime and is afraid to report it. They need to expand their staff and train staff members to be liaisons between community members and police or immigration authorities. Staff also need to be trained and accredited by the Department of Homeland Security to represent individuals in detention. Organizations should encourage all their constituents, regardless of immigration status or citizenship, to complete the G-28 form, which allows accredited representatives to represent them in any immigration detention or matter.

3. Members of immigrant communities need to be taught how they can cooperate with the police without putting themselves at risk of deportation. This is a complex proposition but is critically important.

4. Legal groups, advocacy groups, and others need to develop and push for legislation like the California TRUST Act, which aims to rebuild much needed trust between police and California's immigrant communities. This legislation could offer a smarter alternative to punitive laws like Arizona SB 1070.

The foundation community has an opportunity in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to build on the best of our immigrant traditions by reaching out to our immigrant neighbors and the organizations that represent them and by supporting greater respect for immigrant cultures, immigrant rights, and immigrants’ sizeable contributions to our economic, social, and political life. Immigrants who pooled resources to support families back home were among the earliest American philanthropists. It's time to show them our gratitude.

-- Walter Barrientos

'Freedom Riders': Lessons for a New Generation

January 10, 2012

(Kathryn Pyle is a frequent contributor to PhilanTopic. In October, she spoke with Orlando Bagwell, director of the Ford Foundation's recently launched JustFilms initiative. She first blogged about Freedom Riders in February of 2010.)

FreedomRidersposter_72Writing from the 2010 Sundance Film Festival about the civil rights movement as captured in documentary films, I highlighted Freedom Riders, a documentary directed by Stanley Nelson that premiered at the festival. The film tells the story of the hundreds of courageous people, most of them young, who participated in the 1961 "freedom rides" that helped end segregation in the South.

Freedom Riders aired on PBS this past May; the film went on to earn three Emmy Awards and the New York Times, calling it "beautifully constructed," selected it as one of the ten best programs of the year. The broadcast was preceded by a ten-day reenactment of the original 1961 campaign that was organized by American Experience, the PBS program which had commissioned and broadcast the film. "Get on the Bus" brought together forty college students from around the country to reenact the rides -- from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans -- and interact along the way with some of the original freedom riders, various historians of the period, and community activists. As they made their way south, the kids shared their experience via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools.

"The re-creation campaign had high visibility and great partnerships with state humanities councils, colleges and universities, and museums around the country," says Sonya Childress, community engagement specialist at Firelight Media, the nonprofit partner of Firelight Films, Nelson's for-profit production company. The former organizes audience outreach programs -- a letter-writing campaign for Nelson's film The Murder of Emmett Till helped reopen a criminal investigation into that 1955 case -- and supports emerging documentarians through a producers' lab.

" 'Get on the Bus' was very successful," Childress adds, "but we at Firelight wanted to do something different. We saw our job as bringing the film to a different audience -- particularly youth, and including African-Americans, but people who weren't necessarily connected to the civil rights movement. In targeting youth groups, we immediately thought of the Dream Act, because the story of Freedom Riders is a story about multi-ethnic organizing. We wanted to reach people working on immigration reform who do not see the civil rights movement as part of their history or as relevant to their activism. And we wanted to help them use the film in their own campaigns."

Atlantic Philanthropies, the Open Society Foundations (through its Campaign for Black Male Achievement), and the National Black Programming Consortium were approached and ultimately funded the Firelight Media project.

"Many funders could have said the freedom ride reenactment was sufficient as an audience engagement component," notes Childress. "But these three organizations saw value in bringing the history to a new community. They understood that Firelight Films makes historical documentaries, but that we want to show that the lessons of the past can be dissected and discussed and applied to today. Also, the funders recognized that, being an independent entity, Firelight Media had the latitude to work with a wider variety of community groups than had been involved in 'Get on the Bus', and that was seen as a complement to the American Experience project."

Engaging foundations that are not "media" funders is a new strategy for many documentary filmmakers; the challenge is in helping private and corporate foundations see that film can further their grantmaking priorities, and that there are many points of entry for support beyond a film's production phase.

At the same time, as foundations become more engaged in distribution there is more concern around evaluation of the project's goals. In Social Justice Documentary: Designing for Impact, a new Ford Foundation-supported publication from the Center for Social Media, Jessica Clark and Barbara Abrash put it this way:

In an environment of information overload and polarized sparring, social issue documentaries provide quality content that can be used to engage members of the public as citizens rather than merely media consumers. As a result, they have gained in visibility, influence and number over the past decade.

But despite the box-office and critical success of high-profile examples such as An Inconvenient Truth or Supersize Me, the social impacts of such expensive, long- range projects have been hit-or-miss. As a result, investors and filmmakers are asking tough questions about how best to plan for and assess the impact of such films and related engagement strategies, and to create models and standards for a dynamic field....

The report proposes a systemic approach based on early and continuous community participation that combines quantitative and qualitative indicators and continuous feedback into the evaluation design. The best indicators measure "evidence of [the film's] quality, increased public awareness, meaningful partnerships, increased public engagement, and collective action."

Firelight Media's plan for Freedom Riders incorporated many of those elements, though as noted by the Center for Social Media report, each documentary project is distinct.

Firelight began by convening a small group of civic organizations to help develop ideas for a year-long project; by the time Freedom Riders was broadcast, the project was ready to go. (An agreement with American Experience required that the Firelight project not overlap with "Get on the Bus," which took place immediately before the film aired.)

Sixteen community-based organizations and student groups -- some national and some local -- were selected as formal partners. Seven of the smallest groups received stipends to carry out their activities. All agreed to screen the film and use an online guide, United in Courage (available on the Firelight Media site), to help plan events and facilitate discussions. Their experiences are being disseminated via an e-news broadcast to other partners, funders and filmmakers, and through Firelight Media’s newsletter; in effect, the partners provide ongoing feedback as a way to strengthen the project.

The groups include established organizations like the NAACP, which is bringing some of the original freedom riders to college campuses in the South for screenings and conversations. Puente Arizona has invited some of the freedom riders to discuss immigration reform strategies with members of the migrant communities with which it works. At a workshop on audience engagement earlier this fall in San Francisco, another partner, Bay Area-based Youth Speaks, described using the film at its annual Brave New Voices event, which brings young poets and youth development organizations together: five hundred spoken-word artists attended the screening and a subsequent conversation, later broadcast on Pacifica Radio, with two freedom riders. And New York City-based Brotherhood/Sister Sol showed the film in New York and Ghana and trained youth facilitators to lead post-screening talks. (A complete list of partners and their plans can be found on the "United in Courage" site.)

Recognizing that short films can be useful for community organizing and in educational settings, especially those involving children, Firelight Media produced a twenty-minute version of the film (available only to project partners) and also commissioned three ten-minute films on key issues in the current immigration policy debate. Immigration: Beyond the Headlines was supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and can be viewed on the Firelight Media site. Though apprehensive at first that the films would be seen as standalone media, Firelight staff now consider them to be useful vehicles for driving interested viewers to the longer and more comprehensive film.

Today, halfway through the year-long audience engagement effort, Firelight's independent evaluator is tracking how the full-length documentary is being used and the kind of impact it is having through pre- and post-screening interviews with various partners. The partners also submit formal reports on how they are using the film to enhance their work, in the process creating a repository of "best practices."

"Community organizations have varying levels of comfort with documentary films that are not 'advocacy' films, that are not prescriptive in terms of what to do about a particular issue," says Childress. "Freedom Riders is not a 'call to action'; it's an occasion for reflection. We're interested in knowing how community groups navigate that, how they challenge themselves and how they incorporate films into their programs. We want to know how this particular story resonates, especially within the immigrant rights movement that's looking for stories and trying to build relationships with other movements. The big question for us is: Can historical documentaries move the meter; can this content help people understand the current world?"

The anecdotal evidence is encouraging. Last month, as reported by the Montgomery Advertiser, "Two Freedom Riders who risked their lives to integrate Montgomery's bus station 50 years ago are back in the Capital City with a new cause: repealing Alabama's immigration law. The Rev. C.T. Vivian and Catherine Burks-Brooks joined a rally on the Capitol steps and a children’s march to the governor's mansion."

Some of the Firelight project's results to date are posted on its Web site in the form of testimony from the partners. We'll check back at the end of the year to see what lessons were learned and how they can inform the marriage between documentary film and community activism.

-- Kathryn Pyle

'First-Person Stories'

April 25, 2011

(Bruce Trachtenberg is executive director of the Communications Network, a nonprofit that works to provide resources, guidance, and leadership to advance the strategic practice of communications in philanthropy. Bruce is also an occasional contributor to and frequent commenter here at PhilanTopic. This post was published earlier today on the Network's blog.)

What a story the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund has to tell about "First-Person Stories."

Among the the things to know about the storytelling project making its debut on the foundation's Web site are these:

  • All the stories being published online are oral histories told by the people themselves -- immigrants, gays and lesbians, young students, and others -- who are the focus the Haas, Jr. mission to help build a “more just and caring society.”
  • The effort is receiving guidance and hands-on support from a Pulitzer-Prize nominated author.
  • People who want to tell their own stories can submit their ideas to the foundation via its Web site.
  • Overall, says Denis Chicola, senior communications officer, the Haas, Jr. project is designed "to give a voice to people who might otherwise not have one, yet who have something important to say about the issues at the heart of the foundation's work." Chicola adds that by actively promoting the series, the foundation also Is "giving people whose stories need to be heard access to an audience that also wouldn't be within their reach."

First-Person Stories draws its inspiration -- and technical assistance -- from a nonprofit called the Voice of Witness that was started by author Dave Eggers Voiceto depict "human rights crises around the world through the stories of the men and women who experience them."

Like Voice of Witness, Haas, Jr. is using oral histories as a way to "humanize difficult and complex subjects," says Chicola. More so, Eggers is lending his expertise to the Haas, Jr. effort by editing the first-person stories submitted to and subsequently posted to the foundation's Web site.

From his work with the Voice of Witness, Eggers has already seen firsthand the power of first-person storytelling:

Again and again we see narrators who feel empowered and self-possessed after telling their stories. It's actually a process of reclaiming the narrative of your life. When we published our book about exonerated prisoners in the U.S., the narrators wrote to us saying that it was the first time their story had been told accurately and in full. That's a big deal, especially to someone who's felt wrongly accused or misunderstood. To finally have their narrative reclaimed -- it's very powerful. Even life-changing.

The first to tell his story on the Haas, Jr. Web site is Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1980s. In his early years, he worked as a migrant farm worker, and -- against all odds -- made his way to Berkeley and Harvard Medical School before becoming a renowned brain surgeon. Says Chicola, "In his own words, 'Dr. Q', reflects on his remarkable journey and on what America means to him."

The fund intends to add a new story to the First-Person section of its Web site on a regular basis.

 While largely a communications department-managed project, program staff plays an important role by helping Chicola identify the themes that best embody or reflect the nature of the foundation's grantmaking. For instance, Dr. Q's story is about the challenge of being an immigrant in the UDE.S. Other stories might portray other aspects of immigrant life, such as what it's like to be a native-born child whose parents are undocumented.

The foundation's Web site invites people to submit their ideas for stories that can help broaden awareness and increase more engagement around issues such as gay and lesbian rights, immigrant rights, and education opportunities, and community initiatives. If the story seems right for telling, the foundation will follow up and request that the person write it up and send it in.

Chicola says the foundation is open to the possibility of some day letting people post their stories directly on the Haas, Jr. Web site as a way to "promote an even deeper level of understanding and engagement." He adds, "As a funder, we have access to so many amazing stories."

There are a number of ways to view First-Person Stories. We can label this a smartly designed communications project. Or we can describe it as a productive collaboration between communications and program colleagues. But, in this case, it could be considered something more than even those two things combined. It's an example of how a foundation is trying to make our society more just and the cultural life of communities more vibrant -- and not just by relying on its own resources, but by giving voice to people we rarely hear from and are better off when we do.

-- Bruce Trachtenberg

This Week in PubHub: Immigrants and Their Children

October 28, 2010

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her last post, she looked at four reports that explored the essential role of arts and culture.)

With immigration policy one of the hotly debated issues in the run-up to the November 2 midterm elections, this week PubHub is highlighting reports that examine the integration of immigrant families, with a focus on their children, native- and foreign-born.

According to The Integration of Immigrants and Their Families in Maryland: A Look at Children of Immigrants and Their Families in Maryland, prepared by the Urban Institute for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in 2006 almost one in five children in the state had at least one foreign-born parent. While the poverty rate among children of immigrants is comparatively low, roughly 27 percent live in near-poverty (i.e., family income below 200 percent of the poverty line). The report also found that the number of limited-English-proficient students in public schools statewide doubled between 2000 and 2007, and that there were wide racial/ethnic discrepancies in school readiness and performance. To help close the gap, the authors recommend a three-prong strategy: providing adult education, language, and job skills training to parents; improving access to child care and preschool programs; and strengthening targeted programs for English-language learners and at-risk students.

English-language learners are the focus of Reparable Harm: Fulfilling the Unkept Promise of Educational Opportunity for Long Term English Learners, a report from Californians Together. The study argues that the state's one-size-fits-all education reforms have resulted in a generation of secondary school students who, after years of either having little or no access to effective language development programs and/or being socially and linguistically segregated, are neither proficient in English nor on track to graduate on time. The report lays out basic principles for addressing the needs of long-term English-learners and recommends a comprehensive secondary school program that includes specialized courses, clustered placement in heterogeneous and rigorous grade-level content classes, explicit language and literacy development across the curriculum, and systems for monitoring progress and triggering support.

English language acquisition isn't the only obstacle children of immigrants, some of whom arrive as refugees, have to overcome. Partnering With Parents and Families to Support Immigrant and Refugee Children at School, a 2009 issue brief from the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, explores the impact of refugee and immigrant experiences on children — from trauma that results in post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and behavioral problems to the pressures of serving as their families' interpreters and negotiators — and their unmet mental health needs. Among other things, the report outlines a number of considerations for working with students' families and school staff in offering school-based mental health programs, including breaking down cultural stigmas and learning to recognize the signs of trauma and stress.

One traumatic experience many children of immigrants must live through is the deportation of an undocumented parent. The Urban Institute's Facing Our Future: Children in the Aftermath of Immigration Enforcement analyzes the impact of family separation due to arrest, detention, and/or deportation on children’s physical as well as mental well-being, including safety, food security, housing stability, and behavioral issues. The authors recommend changes to immigration laws, enforcement strategies, and the responses of community groups and public agencies in order to mitigate the hardships children suffer in the process.

Given that 25 percent of foreign-born children and 16 percent of native-born children of immigrants do not graduate from high school, addressing the educational and mental well-being of immigrant children is an urgent matter if America is live up to its promise in the twenty-first century. What role can philanthropy play in strengthening existing services for immigrant children? And which strategies and programs, if any, have already proved to be effective? Use the comments box below to share your thoughts.

And don't forget to visit PubHub, where you can browse more than seventy immigration-related reports.

-- Kyoko Uchida

9/11: Lest We Forget

September 11, 2010

(Michael Seltzer is a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. In his last post, he wrote about the Cordoba House controversy.)

9-11_memorial Nine years ago today, on a similarly gorgeous morning in the Northeast, almost three thousand individuals lost their lives in coordinated terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of United Airlines Flight 43 near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The horror of 9/11 will never be forgotten by the tens of thousands of people who lost loved ones or the hundreds of millions around the world who watched or listened to the terrible events of that day unfold on television, radio, or the Internet.

Nine years later, as we honor the innocent victims of the attacks and the hundreds of brave men and women who sacrificed their lives to help others, let us also remember that the attacks were designed to strike at the core of what most sets America apart from every other nation in history: Its (sometimes fraught) embrace of pluralism, freedom of expression, and the right to worship in one's own fashion.

Nothing illustrates the unique nature of the American experiment better than the fact that individuals from 77 different countries lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Here's the list of countries, courtesy of the U.S. Department of State's Office of International Information Programs:

Antigua & Barbuda Ghana Panama
Argentina Greece Peru
Australia Guatemala Philippines
Austria Guyana Poland
Bahamas Haiti Portugal
Bangladesh Honduras Romania
Barbados Hong Kong Russia
Belgium India Slovakia
Belarus Indonesia South Africa
Belize Iran South Korea
Bolivia Ireland Spain
Brazil Israel Sri Lanka
Cambodia Italy St. Kitts & Nevis
Canada Jamaica St. Lucia
Chile Japan Sweden
China Jordan Switzerland
Colombia Kenya Taiwan
Costa Rica Lebanon Thailand
Czech Republic Luxembourg Trinidad & Tobago
Dominica Malaysia Turkey
Dominican Republic Mexico Ukraine
Ecuador Netherlands United Kingdom
Egypt New Zealand Uruguay
El Salvador Nicaragua United States
France Norway Uzbekistan
Germany Pakistan Zimbabwe

On this, the ninth anniversary of 9/11, let us remember and honor all those who lost their lives, celebrate our differences, and stand together for peace, tolerance, and international understanding.

-- Michael Seltzer

Weekend Link Roundup (May 29 - 30, 2010)

May 31, 2010

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

Environment

As the Deepwater Horizon disaster drags on, Geoff Livingston names BP the "worst corporate citizen of the year," adding that "it will be hard for anyone to beat them in the year's remaining seven months (much less the decade)."

In response to a Washington Post article that examined the Nature Conservancy's ties to BP, Katya Andresen asks on her Non-Profit Marketing blog, "If you were head of PR for [a green charity] happily accepting grants from BP these past years, what would you do now?" Getting Attention's Nancy Schwartz responds with a few "guidelines for guarding [your] brand and developing the right partnerships."

Fundraising

On the Future Fundraising Now blog, Jeff Brooks suggests that fundraisers should think about creating direct mail that generates controversy because it is more likely to "bring home the bacon" than messaging that avoids the unpopular or controversial. Writes Brooks, "Our job as fundraisers is not to create a restful, tasteful, vaguely pleasant experience. It's to make a noise that startles donors to action."

Impact/Effectiveness

On the Philanthropy Potluck blog, Cary Lenore Walski examines a new survey from the John Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies which found that two-thirds of the nonprofits surveyed have been unable to launch an innovative program or service over the last two years due to a lack of resources.

"In both sectors," writes Kristin Ivie at the Social Citizens blog, "the organizations that are having significant impact, and that have employees and constituents that are thrilled to be a part of what they're doing, are the ones that maintain a balance between pragmatism and idealism...."

International Affairs/Development

Philanthrocapitalism authors Matthew Bishop and Michael Green take a look at the final DATA report from the One Campaign,the advocacy organization co-founded by U2 frontman Bono. While the report is generally upbeat about what the major donor countries have done, in terms of international aid, since the G8 Gleneagles summit five years ago, it warns that "a new debt crisis" could derail progress on a range of issues. "The public debt...has spiraled during the current economic crisis," write Bishop and Green, "and with taxpayers on a fiscal crash diet it's hard to see even current levels of generosity to the needy abroad being sustained." Add Bishop and Green:

The tragic irony, of course, is that evidence is filtering through that the aid splurge of the past five years may have started to achieve something. Like it or not, we have to find new ways of making the aid money go further and find new ways of financing development that do not depend on the political will of a few rich countries. Philanthrocapitalism, by tapping the expertise, creativity, money and other resources of the private sector, has to be central to a new development strategy. First, to pilot and test ideas to make aid smarter and more effective. Second, to leverage more private capital -- full for-profit, ethical investment and donations -- to fill the gap....

Immigration

In response to the harsh new immigration law recently passed by the state of Arizona, Julia Craig, research associate at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, issues a call for national funders "to step up to the plate and support their nonprofit partners in [advocating for repeal]."

Philanthropy

On her Philanthropy 411 blog, Kris Putnam-Walkerly lists ten attributes shared by many grantmaking initiatives.

Social Media

Last but not least, social media expert Beth Kanter suggests that nonprofits use Twitter "to see what other...nonprofits are doing in social media spaces and [to] get new ideas."

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at [email protected] and enjoy the long weekend!

-- Regina Mahone

3rd Annual Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting

April 17, 2010

Cgi_logo2 The third annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) has descended on the University of Miami campus, where more than a thousand college students, dozens of university presidents, and various nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs will spend all or part of the weekend participating in workshops and meetings focused on five topics of importance to college students: education, the environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. This year's meeting also will focus on reconstruction efforts in Haiti.

As at all CGI events, participants are expected to make "commitments to action" -- a comprehensive, formal commitment to address a specific problem on their campus, in their community, or somewhere in the world. This year, participating students volunteered a thousand new commitments, while various universities and national youth organizations offered an additional sixty. When fully funded, the value of those commitments is expected to total roughly $42 million and will improve the lives of more than 290,000 people around the globe.

The following commitments (among others) were announced today:

Maren Gelle, Kayla Johnson, Sarah Carlson, and Daniel Novas will offer bike rentals for students on the St. Olaf College campus. The goal of the project is to encourage a bicycle culture on campus while reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Gelle, Johnson, Carlson, and Novas also will work with the local community to donate bikes to Haiti to be used as bicycle ambulances.

• Syracuse University undergraduates Tim Biba, Gregory Klotz, Kate Callahan, and Allison Stuckless will launch a literacy and nutrition program -- Books and Cooks -- for children in low-income housing in Syracuse, New York. In addition to improving students' reading skills, the students will teach workshops devoted to cooking and nutrition.

• New York University student Michelle Pomeroy, in partnership with the Tibetan Women's Association, will lead a two-week leadership skills course in India for exiled Tibetan women. The course will train women in leadership, settlement officer responsibilities, conflict resolution, and gender sensitization, with the goal of preparing the women to be elected or appointed as settlement officers.

• University of Miami undergrads Kaitlin Birgenthal, Safia Alajlan, Kelley Winship, and Sara Johnson will work to expand Ocean Kids to Boston, Washington, D.C., the Bahamas, and Kuwait. Ocean Kids currently brings underserved elementary school students to the University of Miami campus, where they learn about marine life and science.

• Rockland Community College undergrads Mark Svensson and Tarik Abdelqader will work to combat the modern human slave trade in the U.S. by lobbying state officials in New York and urging them pass a resolution that aims to stem the flow of enslaved people into the country. Each year an estimated 14,000 to 17,000 people are brought to the U.S. to be traded as human slaves, with New York state functioning as one of the largest trafficking hubs. In 2009, the legislature of Rockland County passed a memorializing resolution co-authored by Svensson and Abdelqader, and the two plan to target other county legislatures as well.

• Bates College student Razin Mustafiz will create financial literacy workshops for the Somali and Somali-Bantu community in Lewiston, Maine. The workshops will cover the basics of financial planning, from opening a bank account to saving money for education. Mustafiz' commitment is supported by the Bates College Harward Center for Community Partnerships and Adroscoggin Bank.

• MIT student Christopher Moses will develop a course called "Sana Lab" to teach medical personnel and students in the Philippines how to adapt a mobile medicine system developed at MIT to poor, remote locations. His commitment ultimately aims to extend medical care to the conflict-ridden area of Mindanao.

• St. Lawrence University student Grace Ochieng will work to expand the Pads for the People Project that she started in her village of Lwala, Kenya, with the help of the Lwala Community Alliance and thirteen local women. Women who participate in the project are trained to sew menstrual pads and encouraged to sell them for a profit. Over the next six months, Grace will form partnerships and work to make the program more financially sustainable.

John Trimmer and Scott Teagarden, undergraduate engineering students at Bucknell University, will construct a rainwater harvesting system that will provide the three hundred residents of Tumaipa, Suriname, with reliable, clean running water year-round. Local labor and materials will be used in the construction of the rainwater catchment system, and a water committee will be established to take ongoing ownership for the project.

Cynthia Koenig, founder of Hippo Water International and a graduate student at the University of Michigan, in association with Hippo Water International, will work to expand Hippo Water Rollers to India, providing Rollers to women and families. The Hippo, an innovative water transport tool designed to alleviate the problems associated with lack of access to water, makes it possible to collect twenty-four gallons of water, five times the amount possible using traditional methods, in much less time and much more easily.

• Makerere University graduate student Divinity Barkley will build an energy-efficient recording studio for the Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association (AGYA) Learning Center, a community center she founded in Kampala, Uganda. Her commitment will provide digital technology training to the Ugandan youth at AGYA, empower them to produce and market their own music, and serve as a source of revenue for AGYA's arts and educational programs. In addition, the recording studio will utilize solar power for 35 percent of its energy.

• Wesleyan student Kennedy Odede, in conjunction with Shining Hope for Communities and American Friends of Kenya, will work to empower and educate women in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa. His commitment has two parts: a Home Birth Network, through which women will be trained as home birth attendants; and the Women’s Microfinance Empowerment Project, which will use sustainable gardening techniques to grow vitamin-rich vegetables that provide desperately needed sources of nutrition at affordable prices.

• Purdue University student Keith Hansen will create the iRead Foundation to deliver childrens books to community health centers in Indiana. As vice president of the Purdue Engineering Student Council, Hansen oversees a group that puts on the largest student-run job fair in the nation, bringing over 350 of the nation’s biggest engineering companies to campus and raising nearly $500,000 dollars annually. A portion of those funds will be used to set up the foundation.

• Miami Dade College student Ximena Prugue will distribute 10,000 solar-powered lamps in India's rural communities, with the goal of reducing and/or eliminating kerosene lamp use. The D.Light Design Company lamps will be provided by Bogo Light at wholesale price, and Ximena will work with PTK Honor Society at Miami Dade to raise the money neccessary to purchase the lamps.

• MIT student Sreeja Nag will work to bring renewable, sustainable, and affordable energy to rural regions of India. After consulting local citizens, NGO representatives, and staff at Selco Solar India, Nag has created a report outlining how to bring energy to these areas. One of her ideas, for example, is to create detachable table lighting systems for students to carry home from a solar-powered charger at school.

• University of Miami students Kristina Rosales, Arielle Duperval, Austin Webbert, and Lissette Miller will establish two new community centers in Cite Soleil, a slum located in Port-au-Prince. The community centers will provide educational progams, cultural activities, mentoring, and opportunities for intercultural exchanges between the south Florida community and Haiti.

Khushbu Mishra, an undergraduate student at Mount Holyoke College, will open an art institute in Mithila, Nepal, to display and sell the cultural folk art of local women, empowering and improving the lives of their families. After it's completed, the center will be run by local women who will then train other women in the arts, thereby expanding the reach of the program.

Jessica Yamane, an undergraduate student at the University of California-Riverside, will design an experimental course on how communities can promote healing for domestic violence victims. Partnering with Alternatives to Domestic Violence, Path of Life Ministry's King's Hall Transitional Housing Program, and With Her Strength, Yamane hopes to modify this curriculum for integration in K-12 health and wellness programs throughout the Riverside School District.

Christine Meling, an undergraduate student at Luther College, will purchase the materials and sewing machines for women in Yari, Sudan, to make school uniforms for families that cannot afford them. The women also will receive training on how to sew and use the profits from uniform sales to sustain the program.

An Thi Minh Vo, in association with the Office of Genetic Counseling and Disabled Children in Hue City, Vietnam, will provide microloans of $212 to thirty-five families with children disabled by Agent Orange. The project aims to increase borrowers' income and ease the hardship of families struggling to afford health care and other basic needs.

• University of the Pacific graduate student Harnoor Singh will work with local physicians to provide free blood sugar and basic cardiovascular health screenings for California's migrant worker and supply low-cost prescription drugs to those in need. The tests, which can be completed for less than $15 per person, are of vital importance to California's migrant laborers, the majority of whom lack access to basic healthcare services.

Nathan O'Hara, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, in association with Makerere University and Vancouver General Hospital, will work to supply Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, with three hundred half-pins annually. Each year, there are unnecessary fatalities in Uganda due to a lack of vital medical supplies; half-pins, which are used to treat traumatic injuries involving fractured bones, are among those. A collection system in Vancouver-area hospitals will reprocesses the reusable pins, which will be delivered to Mulago Hospital twice a year.

Christina Newman, Sherley Codio, and Fabrice Marcelin, students at Virginia Tech, in partnership with Caritas and the Religious of Jesus and Mary in Gros-Morne, Haiti, will raise $60,000 and oversee the construction of a facility that can house more than 1,500 hens capable of producing 1,250 eggs per day -- 15 percent of the local egg supply. The three have already raised $23,000 and developed a business plan for the project. Their commitment will strengthen the local economy by reducing reliance on imports, and will empower local communities by providing much-needed employment opportunities.

Wow. As Margaret Mead famously said, "Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have." Hats off to those who have stepped up with commitments. You're an inspiration to us all.

To learn more about and/or view webcasts from the event, which ends tomorrow, click here.

-- Mitch Nauffts

New York Foundation: Celebrating 100 Years

December 16, 2009

Birthday_celebration The "Great Recession" of 2008-09 is often compared to the "double dip" recession of 1980-82 and the Great Depression of 1929-33, the searing economic calamity we seem to have avoided (for now).

But more than a few economists and historians think the more appropriate analogy is the Panic of 1907, when a failed attempt to corner the stock of the United Copper Company triggered a sequence of events that eventually caused the New York Stock Exchange to fall 50 percent and led to numerous runs on banks and trusts. The crisis was finally contained when New York financier J.P. Morgan, acting as the lender of last resort in the absence of a central bank, pledged large amounts of his own money (and convinced others to do the same) to restore liquidity to and confidence in the system.

The similarities between that long-ago panic and our own recent crisis are striking. At their root, both were precipitated by aggressive and largely unregulated risk-taking on the part of Wall Street insiders; both led to a paralyzing crisis of confidence in the integrity of financial markets and market participants; and both seemed to blindside all but a handful of observers.

A century ago, one of the few who saw disaster looming was New York banker Jacob H. Schiff. In 1906, according to Taking Risks That Matter (20 pages, PDF), a new report from the New York Foundation that celebrates the foundation's first hundred years, Schiff "issued a stern warning that America would face critical failure if the nation didn't modernize its banking and currency systems. There would be 'such a panic', he said, 'as will make all previous panics look like child's play."

Schiff turned out to be right, and his pre-panic call for the creation of a central bank "with adequate control of credit resources" became reality in 1913 when President Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act into law.

Schiff's most enduring claim to fame, however, was the role he played -- along with Edward C. Henderson, Isaac Seligman, and Paul M. Warburg -- in creating the New York Foundation, one of the first philanthropic foundations in the country and one that, a century after its establishment, remains true to its founders' vision: that New Yorkers, given the tools and means, can create social change.

Well versed, as the report notes, in "the world of risk/reward ratios," Schiff, Henderson, Seligman, and Warburg "imbued their new foundation with a principle borne of the vicissitudes of life on the Street: the greater the expected return, the greater the investment risk." From its earliest days, the foundation worked to address issues and problems that others perceived as controversial or unfashionable. Whether that meant funding efforts to improve conditions for garment workers in the wake of the horrific Triangle Factory fire in 1911 or making one of the first grants to the fledgling National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; funding social welfare work during the Great Depression or supporting the emerging field of community organizing in the 1950s; backing resource-starved community organizations during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s or standing resolutely for the rights of successive waves of immigrants, the New York Foundation has helped and been an inspiration to countless numbers of people who, regardless of race, creed or color, have flocked to the greatest city in the world in search of opportunity and a better life.

Why should we care about the century-old legacy of a medium-sized foundation? It's a fair question, and I like the way the report answers it:

It's important to understand [our] roots, especially in an age when, due to a faltering economy, community needs keep escalating, making philanthropy and its inherent risks matter more than ever. It is also important to note [our] faith in the abilities of community residents. Civic organizations play a crucial role in articulating and advocating community interests. While social theorists, pundits, and political theater customarily stress the necessity of calling in experts to investigate social problems, the New York Foundation has shown a century-old conviction in the irrepressibility of New Yorkers; it has striven to cultivate their capacity to engage social, political, and economic forces while respecting their will to act as the sole arbiters of their fate....

Happy 100th birthday, NYF. We couldn't agree more.

-- Mitch Nauffts

Robert Flaherty Film Seminar

June 26, 2009

(Kathryn Pyle is a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. In her last post, she wrote about Grantmakers in Film + Electronic Media's new Media Database.)

Flaherty_seminar Documentary filmmakers, teachers, librarians, students, film critics, and festival programmers from around the globe are participating in the 55th annual Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, thanks in part to fellowships provided by the New England-based Lef Foundation and the Philadelphia Foundation. The weeklong marathon of documentaries brings the films’ makers (this year from the U.S., Russia, Iraq, India, Israel, Syria, Colombia, Finland, Mali, and Poland) together with other film professionals to see and discuss a range of films. More than forty short or feature-length film or video works will be presented this year.

Founded in 1954 by Frances Flaherty, the widow of pioneering documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty (Nanook of the North), the seminar began as a small group of friends discussing Flaherty's works. Now with an office in New York City, the organization's main program remains the seminar, held this year at Colgate University in upstate New York and programmed by independent curator Irina Leimbacher. Ten presenting filmmakers and another 160 participants have been watching six or more hours of film/video each day and engaging in vigorous debate about documentary structure, intent, look, sound, and impact -- all off it somehow related to the theme "Witnesses, Monuments, Ruins."

"Flaherty is unique," said program director Mary Kerr. "It's an opportunity to see incredible work and exchange ideas, but without the marketplace element of film festivals."

Continue reading »

IS Conference -- Opening Thoughts

November 10, 2008

Is_logo_color_horizontal_6Like Michael (see the post below), I'm in Philadelphia for a few days to report on and network at Independent Sector's 2008 annual conference. As the conference tagline ("Our Hopes, Our Voice, Our Future") suggests, these are uncertain times -- for the economy, for the nonprofit sector, and especially for the least advantaged and most vulnerable among us. But the election of Barack Obama as our next president and the seeming rejection of business as usual that his election implies have most people at this conference looking ahead with guarded optimism. Optimistic that the possibility of change -- in our social, economic, and geopolitical priorities; in our rancorous political discourse; in our relationship to the natural world and the systems that sustain life on the planet -- is real; and guarded in that optimism due to a sober recognition of the magnitude of the challenges we face.

There's also a sense among attendees that the election of Barack Obama represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for nonprofits and the nonprofit sector. An opportunity to reframe in broad, inclusive ways issues that are at the heart of the challenges we face. An opportunity to knock down many of the racial, sectarian, demographic, and gender barriers that divide us as a people. An opportunity to use new technologies to connect people to causes, causes to coalitions, and coalitions to action.

As IS board chair Brian Gallagher and IS president and CEO Diana Aviv put it in their message to conference attendees: "There is no better time than now for nonprofit leaders to come together to set a collective agenda -- one that will help steer our nation on a course to stability and prosperity."

It should be an interesting conference.

-- Mitch Nauffts

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