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Weekend Link Roundup (October 20-21, 2018)

October 21, 2018

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


The challenges facing the world's food systems are great and becoming greater. To avoid disaster, food producers, politicians, and consumers must pursue a new vision that "account[s] for human health and nutrition, environmental impact, and the hundreds of millions of jobs that depend on farming," writes Roy Steiner, managing director, food, at the Rockefeller Foundation. That will require at least four major transformations: a shift to more "flexitarian" diets; dramatic reductions in food loss and waste; stepped-up efforts to build and conserve soils; and applying our best technologies to the most underserved regions and populations.

Civil Society

"During much of the last century, philanthropic foundations based in the United States exported American ideals about democracy, market economies, and civil society. That mission was made possible by ideological support from and alignment with the U.S. government, which, in turn, imbued foundations with prestige and influence as they operated around the world," writes Ford Foundation president Darren Walker in Foreign Affairs. But, adds Walker,

American philanthropies such as the Ford Foundation can no longer count on such support. Nor can they be sure that the goals of increased equality, the advancement of human rights, and the promotion of democracy will find backing in Washington.
As U.S. leadership of the global order falters, American foundations must blaze a new path. The first step will be recognizing difficult truths about their history. The old order they helped forge was successful in many ways but also suffered from fundamental flaws, including the fact that it often privileged the ideas and institutions in prosperous Western countries and failed to foster equitable growth and stability in poorer countries. For all the good that American philanthropies have done, they have also helped perpetuate a system that produces far too much inequality. Their task today is to contribute to the construction of a new, improved order, one that is more just and sustainable than its predecessor....

In a time when society seems to be coming apart at the seams, libraries may just be "the last safe, free, truly public space where people from all walks of life may encounter each other.” In Quartz, Jenny Anderson looks at how libraries are reinventing themselves for the twenty-first century.

Climate Change

"I do not expect every foundation, corporation, and nonprofit to make climate change its top priority; there are many urgent issues that demand attention," writes Packard Foundation president Carol Larson on the foundation's website. "But if you care about children, if you care about health, or you care about economic development, you have to care about climate change. There is a role for every organization to play, and an urgent need for every organization to seize the opportunities in front of it...."


Income inequality isn't just a problem in New York City and Silicon Valley. It's a problem that impacts states like Florida, Wyoming, and Colorado, where top 1 percent make, on average, $1.3 million a year — more than twenty times the average income, $61,165, of everyone else. Boulder-based journalist Jenny McCoy reports for the Colorado Trust.


In the foundation's October newsletter, Weingart Foundation president Fred Ali warns that a new proposal by the Trump administration to deny a green card or visa to anyone who has accessed any one of a range of safety-net programs "could hurt millions of children and families across the country." Ali also notes that as of this week no changes have been made to the policy and the federal Office of Management and Budget is currently taking public comments on the proposed change.


On his Nonprofit Chronicles blog, Marc Gunther profiles Future Perfect, a new startup led by Vox's Dylan Matthews, that plans to "carve out a space, away from the regular news cycle, to cover and think about crucially important issues that are currently undercovered,” including big philanthropy and issues like global poverty, communicable diseases, organ donation, and existential risks to humanity.


Can nonprofits learn anything from for-profits? Absolutely, says Nonprofit AF's Vu Le.


The passing of Microsoft co-founder and Seattle philanthropist Paul Allen sparked more than a few tributes (including this one from Bill Gates), as well as a critical take or two on the kind of big philanthropy practiced by Allen and other billionaires.

In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Bush Foundation president Jen Ford Reedy asks, How can we design our strategies so that if they fail, they will be good failures?

On the HistPhil blog, Emily Hauptmann, a professor of political science at Western Michigan University, assesses the strategies of the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation in promoting the behavioral sciences in the mid-20th century.

And on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Linda Baker, a director at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, where she leads the Organizational Effectiveness (OE) team, writes that while two new reports sponsored by the foundation show that almost all the foundation leaders surveyed for the reports said their foundation cares about their grantees' organizational health, "[w]e are falling short of providing the customized and flexible organization-level support that our grantee partners need."

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

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