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Weekend Link Roundup (January 2-3, 2016)

January 03, 2016

Jan_fresh_startHappy New Year! Read on for our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. And for more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

African Americans

In an open letter to friends, supporters, and fellow activists, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement's Shawn Dove looks back on a year that was filled with "both progression and painful reflection."

Children and Youth

"Spending on children makes up just 10 percent of the federal budget, and that share is likely to fall," write Giridhar Mallya and Martha Davis on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health blog. In part as a result of that underinvestment, child well-being in the United States ranks 26 on a list of 29 industrialized nations in a UNICEF report. If we want to change that calculus, add Mallya and Davis, "the best thing we can do to give kids a healthy start in 2016 [is to] support parents and families."


Can America's troubled public schools be fixed? In The Atlantic, a group of "leading scholars of, experts on, and advocates for K-12 education" offer reasons to be both discouraged and hopeful.

In Education Week, Doug Allen, principal of the Bessie Nichols School in Edmonton, Alberta, and a member of the Mindful Schools network, offers some reflections for educators on why they should implement a mindfulness practice.


According to Environmental Health News' Doug Fischer, 2015 was the year that "[c]overage of environmental issues, especially climate change, jumped traditional boundaries to pick up broader — and slightly ominous — geopolitical and health angles."

Environmental Defense Fund's Fred Krupp shares five reasons why 2016 will be a good year for the environment and environmental progress.

Food Insecurity

Before you donate the unwanted canned goods in your pantry to your local foodbank, read this article by the Washington Post's Colby Itkowitz.


In the New York Times, Noam Scheiber and Patricia Cohen explain how "the very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes."

International Development/Affairs

"2015 [was] a milestone year in terms of mobilizing the data revolution for sustainable development...at the Rockefeller Foundation," writes Hunter Goldman, a program associate at the foundation. And an emerging component of that work is earth observation imagery. Goldman explains.


The coming year will be a game-changer for the nonprofit sector, writes Vu Le on his Nonprofit With Balls blog. But before we all jump into it, we would do well to reflect on the lessons the sector learned in 2015. For Lee, they include:

  • Diversity means differences, including of perspectives.
  • There is more than one way to do activism.
  • Not taking risks is one of the biggest risks of all.
  • If no one is listening, it's probably because you're not either.

For another good end-of-the-year list, check out Nonprofit Quarterly's "9 Important Nonprofit Stories of 2015 (and What they Can Teach Us)."

The theme of the January Nonprofit Blog Carnival, which is being hosted by Beth Kanter at her blog, is self care and the techniques, rituals, and habits that keep you inspired, calm, and effective. Want to be included? First, write a post on some aspect of the theme. Then submit it via email to nonprofitcarnival@gmail.com by the end of the day, Friday, January 22. It's that simple. (And be sure to check back on Monday, January 25, to see if Beth has included your post in the January roundup.)


On the Huffington Post's What's Working blog, Ryan Scott, founder and CEO of Causecast, a technology solutions provider in the corporate social responsibility space, argues that Mark Zuckerburg and Priscilla Chan should be applauded for their decision to devote the bulk of the Facebook co-founder's fortune to making the world a better place -- and doing so in a way that may disrupt traditional philanthropic/charity models.

Program officers and leaders at small foundation will want to check out/review the most popular posts of the year from Exponent Philanthropy's PhilanthroFiles blog.


On the Forbes site, Travis H. Brown, president of Let Voters Decide, a coalition that supports state tax reform and the protection of voters' rights at the ballot box, explains why the recent IRS proposal to give nonprofits the option to collect donors’ Social Security numbers instead of sending a contemporaneous written acknowledgment (CWA) of donations of $250 or more is "problematic" for the sector.

Social Justice

The New York Times has published a handful of thoughtful responses to Ford Foundation president Darren Walker's December 17 op-ed "Why Giving Back Isn't Enough."

TED Talks

Last and perhaps most amusingly (though I don't think he's kidding), Benjamin H. Bratton, an associate professor of visual arts and director of the Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego, argues in the Guardian that "[s]cience, philosophy and technology run on the model of American Idol – as embodied by TED talks – is a recipe for civilizational disaster."

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

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  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."

    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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