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Weekend Link Roundup (May 13-14, 2017)

May 14, 2017

Youre-FiredOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Arts and Culture

Although President Trump has signed into law a $1.1 trillion appropriations bill, bringing to an end (for now) months of debate over his administration's controversial budget blueprint, the future of arts funding in America remains uncertain, write Benjamin Laude and Jarek Ervin in Jacobin. Critics who accuse the president of philistinism are missing the point, however. "For better or worse," they write, "the culture wars ended long ago. These days, with neoliberalism's acceleration, nearly every public institution is under assault — not just the NEA. If we want to stop the spread of the new, disturbing brand of culture — the outgrowth of an epoch in which everything is turned into one more plaything for the wealthy — we'll need a more expansive, more radical vision for art."

On the Mellon Foundation's Shared Experiences blog, the foundation's president, Earl Lewis, explains why the National Endowment for the Humanities is an irreplaceable institution in American life.


In a post for the Packard Foundation's Organization Effectiveness portal, Lucy Bernholz, director of the Digital Civil Society Lab at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, reflects on the process that led to the center's Digital Impact Toolkit, a public initiative focused on data governance for nonprofits and foundations.

According to The Economist, the most valuable commodity in the world is no longer oil; it's data. What's more, the dominance of cyberspace by the five most valuable listed firms in the world — Alphabet (Google's parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft — is changing the nature of competition while making the antitrust remedies of the past obsolete. "Rebooting antitrust for the information age will not be easy," the magazine's writers argue. "But if governments don't want a data economy dominated by a few giants, they will need to act soon."

Food Insecurity

According to Feeding America's latest Map the Meal Gap report, 42 million Americans were "food insecure" in 2015, the latest year for which complete data are available. That represents 13 percent of U.S. households — a significant decline from the 17 percent peak following the Great Recession in 2009. The bad news is that those 42 million food-insecure Americans need more money to put food on the table than they did before. Joseph Erbentraut reports for HuffPo.

Higher Education

On the Aspen Institute blog, Meryl Justin Chertoff, executive director of Aspen's Justice & Society Program, argues that Trump's threat to impound federal funding for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) because the schools "may be discriminating against non-African American students" is likely illegal.


Recently, members of the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative sat down with Sally Yee, a program officer with the Meyer Memorial Trust, to discuss their efforts to implement a coordinated and collaborative funding process in support of organizations working on immigrant and refugee issues in Oregon. Their conversation is available as a podcast (running time: 27:15) and an edited transcript.


Forbes contributor Christopher P. Skroupa sits down with Katherine St. Onge, a senior officer on the Investor Relations team at the Calvert Foundation, to discuss challenges to the adoption of impact investing and how an impact investment strategy aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals can produce satisfactory financial returns.

International Affairs/Development

Here on PhilanTopic, Foundation Center's David Hollander explains why "open-source projects…are the wave of the future in both #philanthropy and #development."


Can't say we're all that surprised, but researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business have released the results of a twelve-year study which found that organizations that were early adopters of managerial practices have been able to change relatively quickly to become more transparent and collaborative.


These are challenging times for progressive foundations working to advance social justice and the public good. One thing they can and should do, writes Dan Petegorsky on the NCRP blog, is refuse to do business with firms that undermine the values they stand for — and that includes not only law firms and money management firms that have fueled Donald Trump's rise to power but "hedge funds and private equity firms that use their earnings to work against everything many funders hold dear."

Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther's weekly post offers a sobering look at the social calamity unfolding in coal country — and what philanthropy is, and isn't, doing to help promote a "just" transition — that is, from fossil fuels to a clean-energy economy that does not leave workers and communities behind — in Appalachia and other hard-pressed regions of the country.

Fast Company has a nice piece by Ben Paynter on what the Knight Foundation is doing to diversify the ranks of the people who manage its endowment — and portfolio management more broadly across the sector.

The team behind the estimable HistPhil blog have launched a new forum on political science and philanthropy that will be curated by guest editors Sarah Rechkow and Delphia Shanks-Booth.

Social Entrepreneurship

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has released a new report and announced a big bet ($1 billion) on social entrepreneurs. Forbes contributor Ben Paynter (him again!) has the details.


And the first commercially available birth control pill debuted fifty-seven years ago, ushering in a new era of economic freedom for women. Now, more than a few members of Congress are determined to roll back that progress. Kate Abbey-Lambertz, national reporter for the HuffPost, explains.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org or share it in the comments section below....

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