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Weekend Link Roundup (January 3-4, 2015)

January 04, 2015

2015_desk_calendar_pcWelcome back! Hope you all got a chance to grab a little R&R over the holidays and are looking forward to the new year. Let's get it started with our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector...

African Americans

The Washington Post's Jeff Guo reports on an examination of the health disparities between white and black Americans over the last century by the economists Leah Boustan and Robert Margo, who found that while those gaps have narrowed considerably, we're still pretty much "in the dark" as to how and why it happened.


As they do every year at this time, the editors at Education Week have compiled a list of the publication's most-read articles from the preceding twelve months.

The continued rollout of the Common Core was one of the big education stories of 2014, and according to the one hundred articles  gathered by the folks at Educators for Higher Standards (two from each state), teachers were some of the loudest voices in support of the standards-based initiative.


In an op-ed in the New York Times, Ron Haskins, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution (and co-author of Show Me the Evidence: Obama’s Fight for Rigor and Results in Social Policy), argues that Congress must reject efforts by some Republicans to eliminate "the most important initiative in the history of federal attempts to use evidence to improve social programs."


As Robert Egger reminds us, ten thousand baby boomers will turn 69 tomorrow -- and the day after tomorrow, and every day in 2015. And that means a lot of nonprofit CEOs and EDs will be retiring this year (and next year, and the year after that), to be replaced, in many cases, by a millennial -- i.e., someone born after 1980. What does that mean for boards and staff? Eugene Fram explains.


In a post on his Nonprofit Law Blog, Gene Takagi, managing attorney at the NEO Law Group, predicts that nonprofits in 2015 will embrace "the importance of recognizing, understanding, and responding to the for-profit social enterprise movement."


On the Philanthrocapitalism blog, Matt Bishop, New York bureau chief at The Economist, weighs in with ten predictions for 2015, including the likelihood of a "mighty struggle" later in the year over what should be included in the so-called "Sustainable Development Goals"; a continued focus on and debate over rising inequality around the globe; the emergence of a new generation of home-grown African billionaires interested in scaling their philanthropy; and rapid growth in the use of social impact bonds.

Social Innovation

Just back from a trip that included a couple of days at the European Venture Philanthropy Association conference in Berlin and meetings in Brussels and London, Bridgespan's Paul Carttar has a message for social entrepreneurs and innovators in the U.S.:  You are not the only game in town.

Yes, it's easy to applaud the work of social innovators who aim "to transform the systems and structures that perpetuate poverty and inequality," writes Remko Berkhout on openDemocracy's Transformation blog. But too often their efforts are less transformative than they could be because they are undermined by a set of biases, including a bias towards co-optation instead of genuine collaboration, a "bigger is always better" mentality,  a bias toward "solutionism" over capacity building, and a serial avoidance of politics.

Social Media

And Forbes contributor and CauseWired president Tom Watson -- a self-described "skeptic when it comes to social media and its power to actually bring about social change" -- looks back at the year's top social change hashtags ("the digital ties that bind a section of the connected population obsessed with news and information and social change") and identifies two ongoing stories in the U.S. which show "that hashtags can unite – and divide, it must be noted – over a longer period of time than the typical news cycle." Good stuff.

That's it for now. What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org or via the comments box below...

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