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17 posts categorized "Native Americans"

Game-Changing Philanthropy Through Funder Collaboration

June 12, 2014

Headshot_bossiere_corvingtonPhilanthropy has spent decades focused on achieving good outcomes with not enough to show when it comes to population-level impact on intergenerational poverty. It's clear that to achieve better results, we need to change the way we do our work.

As we ask nonprofits to collaborate to ensure better alignment and more secure hand-offs between and among programs, we funders have got to be prepared to do the same.

Fortunately, there are a number of foundations that have already figured this out. In Springfield, Massachusetts, the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation asked a dozen fellow funders — banks, insurance companies, family foundations, and the local United Way — to align their grantmaking with the goal of ensuring that every child in the community enters fourth grade reading at grade level. Thanks to those efforts, the Funder Collaborative for Reading Success has supported a variety of tutoring, afterschool, and summer learning programs.

In Iowa, the ten foundations in the Education Funders Network have agreed to jointly fund an early reading initiative, starting with a summer learning push that is being rolled out this month in communities across the state. In Arizona, the state's leading philanthropic organizations have joined with public agencies and more than five dozen community nonprofits to create Read On Arizona, an effort aimed at improving language and literacy outcomes for children from birth through age 8.

These efforts give lie to the social-sector adage that "collaboration is an unnatural act between non-consenting adults." Together, these foundations are pushing through the discomfort that comes with yielding control of the agenda and are diving into the messy work of shared accountability and elevated expectations.

What's more, they're directing their energy toward one of the biggest problems our nation faces: the fact that four-fifths of children from low-income families have not learned to read proficiently by the time they finish third grade.

This is a problem with grave consequences. Third grade marks the point where the curriculum shifts from learning to read to reading to learn. Children who don't reach that critical milestone often struggle in the later grades and are more likely to drop out of high school. Too often, even in good schools with effective teachers, these are the children least likely to succeed, because they are too far behind when they start, miss too many days of school, and lose too much ground over the summer.

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (May 2014)

June 01, 2014

It was a rough month for Typepad, the blogging service/platform used by tens of thousand of blogs, including PhilanTopic. On two separate occasions during the month, the platform was subjected to significant DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks that knocked it completely offline. In fact, we were down for the better part of six days. Despite the inconvenience, it was a busy month here, as some of our favorite contributors -- Allison Shirk, Derrick Feldmann, and Foundation Center president Brad Smith -- checked in with popular posts. Here's another chance to catch up on some of the things you may have missed....

What have you read/watched/listened to over the last month that made you think, surprised you, or caused you to scratch your head? Share your finds in the comments section below....

5 Questions for…John Gomperts, President and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance

May 30, 2014

According to Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic 2014 (112 pages, PDF), a report published in April by America's Promise Alliance and its partners, the four-year high school graduation rate in the United States reached 80 percent for the first time ever in 2012. But while the overall rate is on track to reach the 90 percent goal set by the alliance's Building a GradNation Campaign, the report notes the troubling persistence of achievement gaps for low-income students and students of color. In an effort to help address those gaps, America's Promise just released Don't Call Them Dropouts: Understanding the Experiences of Young Americans Who Leave High School Before Graduation (72 pages, PDF), which looks at the multiple factors that result in students in high-poverty communities leaving high school before they graduate.

PND spoke with John Gomperts, president and CEO of America's Promise Alliance, about the positive trendlines in graduation rates, the implications of the reports' findings, and what philanthropy can do to address the achievement gaps that remain. Before joining America’s Promise in 2012, Gomperts headed AmeriCorps, Civic Ventures, and Experience Corps.

Headshot_john_gompertsPhilanthropy News Digest: Building a Grad Nation notes that one of the factors in the steady rise in the U.S. high school graduation rate over the last decade is the significant improvement in African-American and Latino graduation rates. To what do you attribute those gains?

John Gomperts: We as a nation have seen an almost 10 percentage-point increase in high school graduation rates over about a decade, which is notable, because that means that an additional four hundred thousand young people are graduating every year than were graduating a decade ago. That's four hundred thousand young people who are on track to becoming successful adults, which is a huge thing for those young people, their families, their communities, and the nation. And, yes, we have seen impressive gains among African-American and Latino students. Those two groups had a long distance to travel, and that was one of the huge red flags for all of us who are concerned about young people and opportunity. But while graduation rates for African Americans and Latinos have improved over the last decade, they still graduate at  lower rates and there is more work to do.

To what do I attribute these gains? A couple of things. The first is a much greater awareness of the challenge. For a long time, people just assumed that everybody graduated from high school, or that it didn't matter. One of the big things that America's Promise and its partners set out to do was to help people understand that lots of kids are not graduating from high school, as well as the consequences of not graduating for those kids, their families, their communities, and the country.

Second, greater awareness of the problem led to much greater accountability at the school level, community level, family level, and national level, so that all of a sudden, with significant help from the federal government and from folks on the outside, people are now tracking graduation rates and holding institutions and individuals accountable for the outcomes.

Third, there is no question that targeted school reform has helped drive improvements in graduation rates. Those efforts come in a variety of forms: better teachers, better curriculum, longer school days, charter schools, teacher evaluations, and so on. In addition, a whole host of reforms have been targeted to the lowest-performing schools, and those have made a difference.

Fourth, we've learned a lot more about, and invested more heavily in, evidence-based interventions in schools and in communities. We've gotten smarter about what the real barriers are that prevent kids from staying and succeeding in school. Some of those things have to do with school, some of those things have to do with life, and I think many nonprofits have done a great job of working with local school districts and others to provide the kind of support that young people who are growing up in challenging circumstances need in order to flourish and thrive.

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Time to Put Poverty Back on the Education Reform Agenda

May 19, 2014

Headshot_kent_mcguireA few months ago the Southern Education Foundation released a report detailing the demographics of public school enrollment in the United States. The single most important finding in the report? Nearly half of all public school students in the nation and a majority in Western and Southern states are low-income and qualify for free and reduced lunch — and an increasing percentage of those are students of color. Unfortunately, a much-needed debate about the challenges presented by these demographic realities, especially for the nation's schools, has yet to occur. In fact, the dominant narrative around public education in the U.S. would have it that entrenched poverty has little or no impact on educational achievement. We all recognize that teacher effectiveness and high expectations for students are important elements in student achievement. But can we really ignore the implications of being poor for school readiness and success?

Poverty is really a proxy for a range of conditions and circumstances that shape the daily lives of students. A student who is hungry or cannot see or hear adequately is likely to have problems concentrating in class. We also know that children from low-income families have much higher rates of untreated dental conditions and endure more acute illnesses that lead to chronic absenteeism and lost instructional time. If education reform policies are insensitive to these realities, there is little reason to expect that learning outcomes for low-income children will improve.

In spite of our best efforts, income-related gaps in student achievement in the U.S. persist, from grade school all the way through college. Indeed, I am not at all confident that we have figured out how to break the link between family income level and academic success. And so I would ask: Are we sure that our current reform agenda, with its emphasis on standards, competition, and accountability, is adequate to the challenge of helping kids, especially the most vulnerable, learn and develop in ways that prepare them for the world of work or other postsecondary opportunities? What more should we be doing, and what else might we consider doing, to increase the odds that all kids, regardless of race, ethnicity, or family income, can take full advantage of all this country has to offer?

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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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Creating Paths to College and the Urgency of Now

October 29, 2013

(Rhonda Tsoi-A-Fatt Bryant is the interim director of the Youth Policy team at the Center for Law and Social Policy, a D.C.-based nonprofit advocacy organization that works to improve the lives of low-income people. This is her first post for PhilanTopic.)

Headshot_RhondaTI was a STEM whiz as a child — a seemingly unlikely thing for a girl, and an African-American girl at that, to be. In middle school, I attended a magnet program and learned computer programming while taking advanced math and science classes. In high school, I took calculus and physics and learned a computer programming language. My primary interest was engineering, so my school district helped me attend summer programs at area universities. That experience landed me a job at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at the age of 17.

Although I chose public policy instead of engineering as my life's work, those were the opportunities that put me on a path to college. My middle school and high school offered classes that nurtured my interests in mathematics and science. I had great teachers who used hands-on learning to take basic lessons to the next level. I remember our physics teacher explaining the science behind breaking boards martial arts-style and wading in the Chesapeake River in hip-high boots to learn about plant life. I also had guidance counselors who knew me personally, connected me to summer opportunities that allowed me to cultivate my academic interests, and walked me through the college application process. My family couldn't afford to pay for college. Without these opportunities, it would have been far more difficult to continue my education.

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What Innovation in Education Really Means – Doing What Works!

September 06, 2013

(Dr. Tiffany Cooper Gueye is chief executive officer of BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), a national nonprofit that aims to transform the academic achievement, self-confidence, and life trajectories of children living in underresourced urban communities.)

Headshot_Tiffany-Cooper-GueyeWhen the "No Child Left Behind Act" was signed into law by President George W. Bush in January 2002, there were an estimated 141 million cell phones in use in the United States. Today the number of active wireless devices stands at 326 million and the majority of them are tablets or smartphones -- devices that were the stuff of science fiction back in 2002. Needless to say, technological innovation transformed the telecommunications industry in a few short years -- and the world changed forever.

Sadly, we've seen no such transformation in education since the enactment of legislation that was meant to shine a light on student achievement gaps and schools with consistently poor outcomes. Yes, government leaders are quick to trumpet the latest "innovation" in the field and "experts" obsess over every fad and new technology, but poor schools and student achievement gaps are as much a part of the education landscape today as they were in 2002. And that's a shame, because we already have some of the tools and approaches we need to make huge leaps forward in the way we educate our children.

Case in point: summer learning.

Summer learning works, and the lack of it in places where it's most needed clearly compromises student achievement and school success. Indeed, we have decades of research quantifying the reality of summer learning loss and a growing body of evidence about the value of summer learning programs. Yet for millions of children, summer learning loss is an accepted fact of life.

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The Next Affirmative Action

August 02, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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Top 10 Lessons Learned on the Path to Community Change

July 10, 2013

(Robert K. Ross, M.D. is president and CEO of the California Endowment. In part one of this two-part series, Ross shared three "aha" moments from the first two years of the the endowment's Building Healthy Communities initiative. This post originally appeared on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog.)

Headshot_robert_rossAt times I step back and look at the BHC initiative and wonder, Could we have made it more complicated? Fourteen sites. Multiple grantees in each site. A core set of inter-linked health issues. Multiple state-level grantees. And the expectation that the parts will add up to something greater than the whole and catalyze a convergence that builds power at the community level and leads to greater impact.

But then supporting an agenda for social and community change requires multiple strategies operating in alignment; good data, message framing, and storytelling; influential messengers and convening and facilitating champions; innovative models; "grassroots and treetops" coordination; and meaningful community engagement.

Our Top Ten Lessons for Philanthropy

As we engaged in the BHC planning process, we tried in earnest to stick by a key aphorism, one I learned from colleague and mentor Ralph Smith at the Annie E. Casey Foundation: Make new mistakes. With that in mind, I want to share some lessons regarding planning and implementing a community-change initiative.

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Stemming the Droput Crisis: A Q&A With AT&T's Beth Adcock Shiroishi

November 20, 2012

Beth_shiroishi_headshotBeth Adcock Shiroishi, vice president for sustainability and philanthropy at AT&T and president of the AT&T Foundation, leads AT&T Aspire, one of the nation's largest corporate commitments focused on helping more students graduate from high school ready for college and careers. The telecommunications giant launched the $100 million initiative in 2008 and expanded it earlier this year with an additional commitment of $250 million over five years, bringing its total investment in the program to $350 million.

After a rigorous and competitive process, AT&T recently selected forty-seven schools and nonprofits from among thousands nationwide to share in nearly $10 million in funding through the Aspire Local Impact request for proposal. Applicants were evaluated based on their alignment with evidence-based approaches, their accomplishments in serving students at risk of dropping out of high school, and their ability to use data to demonstrate the effectiveness of their work.

PND spoke with Shiroishi earlier this month about the initiative.

Philanthropy News Digest: Give us a sense of the scope of the dropout crisis in America?

Beth Adcock Shiroishi: One in four students -- more than one million each year -- fails to graduate with their class. And the picture is even bleaker for minority students, with the graduation rate among Hispanic, African-American, and Native-American students nearly 25 percent lower than the rate for their white and Asian American peers. Obviously, this has huge implications for our future job force, the economy as a whole, and our nation's global competiveness. But while it's a serious and urgent problem, there are signs of progress. Nationally, high school graduation rates are increasing, and we've seen huge gains in certain states and with certain programs that give us hope.

PND: AT&T launched the Aspire program in 2008. What were the goals of the program when it was launched, and have they been met?

BAS: Our original goal was to commit $100 million to fund proven programs aimed at raising the graduation rate, create one hundred thousand job shadow opportunities for students, and support one hundred community dropout summits. Thanks to the tireless work of our employees and nonprofit allies, we achieved these goals. At the same time, we impacted more than one million students in all fifty states and worked with more than one thousand community and national organizations that, like us, understand how important it is to improve graduation rates.

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Preparing Students for College and Careers

October 19, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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The L.A. Riots, Twenty Years Later: A PubHub Reading List

May 05, 2012

Last Sunday, April 29, was the twentieth anniversary of the start of what became known as the Los Angeles Riots -- four days of civil unrest and violence sparked by the acquittal of white LAPD officers who had been captured on video in March 1991 brutally beating Rodney King after a high-speed car chase through the San Fernando Valley. In the days that followed the verdict, Reginald Denny, a white truck driver, and a Guatemalan immigrant were brutally beaten by a mob in the South Central neighborhood, home to many of the city's low-income African Americans; buildings were torched; stores were looted; and more than fifty people lost their lives. The prevailing view at the time, as captured by New York Times reporter Don Terry, was that "the acquittal...was only a spark put to a tinderbox of anger constructed from years of deep poverty, governmental neglect, racism, charges of police abuse and high unemployment."

Twenty years later, how much has -- and has not -- changed?

Rand_reparableharmAccording to Reparable Harm: Assessing and Addressing Disparities Faced by Boys and Men of Color in California (126 pages, PDF), a report from the RAND Corporation, African-American and Latino men and boys continue to be negatively affected by structural racism and a variety of socioeconomic, health, and education disparities. Young African-American and Latino boys are more than three times as likely, for example, to live in poverty as their white counterparts; almost seven and more than three times as likely to have HIV/AIDS; more than five and almost three times as likely to end up in prison; more than sixteen and five times as likely to be a victim of homicide; and nearly twice and almost seven times as likely to drop out of high school. Funded by the California Endowment, the report calls for a range of targeted interventions, including more effective foster care and prisoner-reentry policies; community-based zoning laws that address the social determinants of health; and mentoring and school-based programs for children traumatized by violence. The California Endowment itself has funded the National League of Cities Institute's Gang Prevention Network and the Healthy Returns Initiative.

Aecf_puenteOne nonprofit that has worked with disadvantaged and at-risk youth in Los Angeles since before the riots is the PUENTE (People United to Enrich the Neighborhood Through Education) Learning Center, which offers preschool, kindergarten, tutorial, and college preparation programs as well as job and computer skills training, English as a second language, and literacy programs for adults. Of, By, and For the Community: The Story of PUENTE Learning Center (21 pages, PDF), a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, describes how the family-focused organization -- which had a thriving center in the Boyle Heights neighborhood -- was offered the site of a burned-out ARCO station by the ARCO Foundation in the wake of the riots. "The embers were still warm, and the total damage had not been tallied," recalled former ARCO Foundation president Russell Sakaguchi. "We wanted somebody to provide hope and relief to that very visible corner. We wanted an organization that wasn't going to flounder, that was sensitive to the shock in that community [and] had faith in its ability to deliver."

Starting with two trailers, PUENTE eventually built a state-of-the-art facility with ten classrooms serving a thousand students of all ages, one-third of whom are African-American and two-thirds Latino. (As of 2005, the population of South Central was 45 percent African-American, 47 percent Latino.) One of the organization's keys to success, the report notes, is its sharp focus on its educational mission, which enables it to address issues even more fundamental than racial disparities or cultural differences. "Our mission," says PUENTE vice president Luis Marquez, "is not about any particular ethnic group; it's about people. It goes way beyond ethnicity and race. It's about humanity."

Csii_alltogethernowAmong other things, the riots highlighted the serious racial/ethnic tensions that existed between long-established African-American communities in Los Angeles and the more recently arrived Korean and Latino communities. The influx of immigrants into historically African-American neighborhoods has continued in the two decades since, and racial/ethnic tensions have become more pronounced as unemployment rates have climbed. All Together Now? African Americans, Immigrants, and California's Future (66 pages; 7.15MB; PDF), a report from the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California, examines the potential of inter-ethnic alliances to address tensions created by demographic and economic changes. But bringing the various communities together first requires a forward-looking agenda. To that end, the report notes,

  • A number of community-based organizations have developed new mechanisms to both manage tensions and build toward a common ground. Leadership development is key, but the first step is creating the space for new and honest dialogue about what is shared and what is different.
  • Seemingly specific issues can be effectively connected to both populations. The criminalization of black (and Latino) youth has its parallel in the excessive enforcement of a broken immigration system; the racial profiling embodied in Arizona's 2010 immigration law echoes an experience all too familiar to African Americans. If [minority groups] pursue economic opportunity and fair treatment for all residents, the [focus on] difference[s] can give way to a concert of common interest.
  • A common and unifying agenda should be based on a vision of everyday social justice. "Everyday" means three things: address[ing] daily needs around education, the economy, and the social and physical environment; ensur[ing] that dialogues go beyond a more comfortable middle-class and multi-ethnic elite and reach grassroots participants; and realiz[ing] that this will require effort every day and over the long haul.

Funded by the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, James Irvine Foundation, and John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, the report calls for an approach which recognizes that "African Americans have laid the groundwork for America's commitment to equality and fairness" and "that immigrant rights will be insecure as long as African Americans remain vulnerable to racial profiling and economic despair."

Ncrp_strengtheningAll three reports suggest that twenty years after the L.A. riots and almost fifty years after the Watts riots, the City of Los Angeles, the state of California, and the nation still have a long way to go in addressing the racial and socioeconomic disparities that made South Central such a tinderbox on the eve of the Rodney King verdict. At the same time, all three reports suggest that we have only begun to tap the potential of civic engagement, advocacy, and community organizing efforts to bring communities together and advance the cause of social justice. And, of course, funders have a role to play here. Funded by the California Endowment and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the NCRP report Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing, and Civic Engagement in Los Angeles notes that for every dollar invested in the advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement efforts of fifteen Los Angeles County nonprofits between 2004 and 2008, $91 in benefits were generated for marginalized communities.

To learn more about the factors contributing to enduring socioeconomic, health, and education disparities in Los Angeles (and across the country), the demographic shifts that sometimes exacerbate racial/ethnic tensions, and efforts to address these and other problems, see also:

Why Place & Race Matter
PolicyLink; California Endowment

State of Metropolitan America: On the Front Lines of Demographic Transformation Brookings Institution

Critical Condition: Examining the Scope of Medical Services in South Los Angeles
California Endowment

Restoring Prosperity: The State Role in Revitalizing America's Older Industrial Cities
Brookings Institution

Shared Prosperity, Stronger Regions: An Agenda for Rebuilding America's Older Core Cities
PolicyLink

What do you think? Have we made as much progress, as a country, as we should have in the twenty years since the L.A. riots? And if not, what is holding us back? Use the comments section to share your thoughts....

-- Kyoko Uchida

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

February 15, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Regina Mahone

This Week in PubHub: Race, Place, and the Wealth Gap

February 10, 2012

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her previous post, she looked at four reports that addressed the topic of protecting the rights of people with disabilities.)

Research shows that racial/ethnic disparities in a variety of areas, including wealth, health, and educational attainment, have worsened over the past two decades. This week in PubHub, we highlight four reports that examine the extent of these disparities, as well as how they are linked and reinforce one another.

According to the Pew Research Center report Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics (39 pages, PDF), the median net worth of white households in 2009 was twenty times that of African-American households and eighteen times that of Latino households -- a wealth gap, in both cases, nearly double what it was in 1984, thanks in part to the bursting of the subprime mortgage bubble and the recession that followed. Indeed, since 2005 Latinos and African Americans -- many of whom live in states characterized by housing market volatility and/or who derive more than half of their net worth from home equity -- saw their median household wealth fall by 66 percent and 53 percent, respectively, compared to only 16 percent among whites.

What factors other than the housing boom and bust are driving disparities in household wealth and asset accumulation? The Urban Institute report Private Transfers, Race, and Wealth (36 pages, PDF) examines the role of financial support from extended family members and friends, large gifts, and inheritances in asset accumulation and finds that African Americans and Latinos are much less likely to receive large gifts and inheritances than whites -- a fact that contributes significantly to racial and ethnic wealth gaps. Funded by the Annie E. Casey and Ford foundations, the report also found that large gifts and inheritances are a bigger factor in wealth accumulation among African Americans than among whites or Latinos, and that the disparity in private transfers of wealth accounts for an estimated 12 percent of the black-white wealth gap.

Does the wealth gap influence racial/ethnic disparities in child development, health, and economic mobility? And if so, how? According to Diverging Pathways: How Wealth Shapes Opportunity for Children (16 pages, PDF), a report from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development based on 2007 data, 32 percent of white households with young children were income-poor while 14.2 percent had no assets, compared to 69 percent of Latino and 71 percent of African-American households that were income-poor and 40 percent (for both groups) that had no assets. Lacking the financial resources to pay for high-quality early childhood education or college tuition, children in income- and asset-poor households face a future of limited economic opportunity, the report argues. Indeed, racial/ethnic disparities in child outcomes related to health status and skills development appear as early as the age of 2. The report also notes that while there is an inverse correlation between a mother's educational attainment, economic insecurity, and child outcomes, the wealth gap between households headed by white and African-American mothers with bachelor's degrees increased fivefold between 1994 and 2007. Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research, and the National Institutes of Health, the report calls for helping economically vulnerable households of color build wealth and accumulate assets as a way to improve child well-being.

Would narrowing the wealth gap in and of itself eliminate disparities in health status and child outcomes? Any effort to mitigate the former must first address the links between location, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status as well as the physiological effects of bias and discrimination, Why Place & Race Matter (113 pages, PDF), a report from the California Endowment and PolicyLink, argues. According to the report, race/ethnicity is a greater determinant of health status than income, while structural racism continues to shape the economic, social, and physical environments of low-income communities of color -- which, in turn, affects the health status of residents of those communities. Among other things, the report argues that strategies for building healthy, thriving, sustainable communities must be race-conscious and focus on addressing both community conditions and individual interventions simultaneously.

To mitigate racial/ethnic wealth gaps, these reports suggest, policy makers and funders first need to address disparities in health, environmental justice, educational achievement, neighborhood safety, and other areas. Do you agree? And, if so, what strategies are working and deserve more attention and support? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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

-- Kyoko Uchida

This Week in PubHub: Funding for Social Justice

January 12, 2012

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her previous post, she looked at four reports that examined specific grantmaking strategies and practices designed to maximize fundamental long-term social impact.)

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, this week in PubHub we're featuring four reports that examine trends in funding for social justice and advocacy efforts in support of the rights of marginalized populations.

Foundation support is essential if advocacy and community organizing efforts to improve the lives of marginalized populations are to succeed, a report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy argues. Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing, and Civic Engagement in the Gulf/Midsouth Region (88 pages, PDF) found that between 2005 and 2009 twenty organizations in the Gulf/Midsouth region secured more than $4.7 billion -- $114 for every dollar invested -- in benefits for marginalized communities, trained more than 31,000 local residents in civic engagement techniques, and achieved significant policy changes in the areas of environmental justice and LGBTQ and immigrant rights, with foundations providing 78 percent of the funding for said activities. Funded by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the report urges grantmakers to invest more in building the region's advocacy and community organizing infrastructure, make flexible investments in groups working in rural areas, and support organizations with people of color in leadership positions.

Of course, foundations that fund social justice activities saw their endowments take a hit during the post-Lehman financial crisis, as described in the Foundation Center report Diminishing Dollars: The Impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis on the Field of Social Justice Philanthropy (35 pages, PDF). While the report found that giving for social justice as a percentage of total giving by foundations in the sample varied only slightly between 2005 and 2009, in 2009 it fell below 2007 levels, with small foundations experiencing the sharpest declines in the value of their assets. Funded by the Cricket Island, Edward W. Hazen, and Ford foundations in partnership with NCRP, the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and the Social Justice Philanthropy Collaborative, the report projects that unless the field sees five years of above-average investment returns, social justice grantmaking in 2015 will remain below 2008 levels.

The good news, according to Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Color (112 pages, PDF), is that giving within and on behalf of communities of color is increasing. Commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, with support from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the report found that, given the disproportionate need in communities of color, those communities typically have received a too-small percentage of mainstream philanthropic dollars -- a gap that was exacerbated by the Great Recession and cuts in public-sector funding. In response, the report argues, donors of color and others have begun to direct more resources to communities of color, with an eye to building advocacy skills in those communities and empowering local leaders and residents to lead short- and long-term change efforts. The report calls on mainstream funders to advance this kind of identity-based philanthropy by providing seed funding for grassroots efforts and forging stronger connections with local philanthropic leaders and other change agents.

What about trends in social justice work abroad? Mobilising for Social Justice: Migrant Rights Centre Ireland's Community Work Model (50 pages, PDF), a report from the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland that was funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies, offers case studies of MRCI's "community work practice" model on behalf of migrant workers' rights -- work that, among other things, encourages marginalized migrant groups to take part in decision-making structures through participation in discussion/action groups, empowers them through consciousness-raising and skills-building activities, and promotes advocacy and collective action.

What are your thoughts about the future of funding for social justice philanthropy? Are you aware of any new trends or developments that could energize the field or take it to the next level? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below.

And don't forget to check out PubHub, where you can browse more than a hundred and fifty reports on the topic of civil and human rights.

-- Kyoko Uchida

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