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Weekend Link Roundup (October 28-29, 2017)

October 29, 2017

Tax_2Our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Civic Tech

On the Getting Smart blog, Tom Vander Ark, former director of education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and author of Getting Smart: How Personal Digital Learning is Changing the World, highlights ten tech-driven developments (widespread unemployment, widening inequality, algorithmic bias, machine ethics, genome editing) that require decisions, sooner rather than later, we are not prepared to make.

In a new post on her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz wonders whether the social sector can "pre-emptively develop a set of guardrails for the application of new technologies so that predictable harm (at least) can be minimized or prevented?" 

Disaster Relief/Recovery

In Houston, the newly formed Greater Houston Flood Mitigation Consortium is convening leading  researchers to compile, analyze, and share an array of scientifically-informed data about flooding risk and mitigation opportunities in the region. Three key stakeholders in the effort — Ann Stern, president and CEO of the Houston Endowment; Nancy Kinder, president of the Kinder Foundation; and Katherine Lorenz, president of the Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation — explain what the initiative hopes to accomplish.


"It is the latest iteration for a philanthropy that has both had a significant influence on K-12 policy over its two-decades-long involvement in the sector — and drawn harsh criticism for pushing ideas that some see as technocratic." Education Week's Stephen Sawchuck examines what the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s recent strategy pivot and new investments in K-12 education signal for the field.


Donald Trump and his administration's policies appear to be behind a dramatic increase in giving to progress groups. Ben Paynter reports for Fast Company.

Forbes has published its annual list of the top givers in the U.S.

Higher Education

Princeton, perhaps the preppiest of elite institutions, has tripled, over the last dozen years, the share of freshmen who qualify for federal Pell Grants. Nick Anderson reports for the Washington Post.


It is time, writes Nonprofit AF's Vu Le, for nonprofit employees to get over their Pride-In-Scarcity-and-Sacrifice (aka, PISS) mentality — and they can start by not settling for another crappy chair.


Philanthropy increasingly is "stepping in to fill government voids spurred by revenue shortages in Detroit, other parts of Michigan and across the country," writes Sherri  Welch in Crain's Detroit Business. But according to Rob Reich, co-director of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the focus on "ordinary services being funneled downward to private philanthropy for their maintenance" represents "philanthropic regress, not progress." 

The October 30 issue of The New Yorker includes an eye-opening piece by Patrick Redden Keefe of the family whose name graces an "astounding range" of cultural and medical research institutions — and whose business, Purdue Pharma, developed the prescription painkiller OxyContin in the 1990s and then aggressively marketed the drug to physicians around the country, generating billions of dollars in profit for the company — and, eventually, millions of people addicted to painkillers. 

According to a recent report, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative — a limited-liability company founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, that's dedicated to "charitable efforts" — has publicly committed to put $45 million "into groups aligned with two political causes: ending the era of mass incarceration and fixing the affordable housing crisis in American cities." In New York magazine, Paris Martineau argues that the announcement is significant not just because it shows Zuckerberg is looking to address "specific concerns of contemporary American society," but because it tells us something about "the role [he] wants to play in the political process."

On his Nonprofit Chronicles blog, Marc Gunther profiles billionaire John Arnold and his wife, Laura, who are determined to not just solve problems, but to improve the way we solve problems — using data.

Caroline Hartnell, the former longtime editor of Alliance magazine, and Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace, in association with Alliance, WINGS, and the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University, have published a new report on philanthropy in India, the first of what is expected to be a series of reports on philanthropy in emerging economies.


Factoring in government aid, child poverty in the United States has fallen to an historic low and is nearly half what it was fifty years ago. Are those gains in jeopardy? Mimi Kirk, a contributing writer for CityLab, reports.

Racial Equity

Recently, the Meyer Memorial Trust in Portland, Oregon, was recognized with a 2017 Governors Gold Award for its racial equity work in Oregon. In remarks made at the award ceremony, Doug Stamm, the foundation's president, shares some of the key learnings from that work.

Social Media

If your nonprofit has a blog — or is thinking about starting one — you'll appreciate these blogging tips from veteran nonprofit fundraiser Claire Axelrad.


Why is it important for foundations to support and promote open access to the knowledge they create? In a new post on the Glasspockets blog, IssueLab's Lisa Brooks lays it out for us and shares what a few leading foundations have to say about the topic.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a line at [email protected].

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