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11 posts from November 2021

'A new platform for funding collaborative research': A Q&A with Margaret Goldberg, President and CEO, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

November 30, 2021

Headshot_Maggie_Goldberg_2021_reeve_foundationThe newly appointed president and CEO of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Maggie Goldberg, has spent twenty years with the foundation, providing leadership, management, and vision to help establish the only national paralysis-focused organization centered around a dual mission — "Today’s Care. Tomorrow’s Cure®." In addition, by overseeing the foundation’s National Paralysis Resource Center, Goldberg brought to the role her personal experience of suffering a C2 vertebrae injury at age 16 — an injury from which she fully recovered, but which catalyzed her work on behalf of the paralysis community. Most recently, she served as the chief operating officer of the foundation and before that was the senior vice president of marketing and communications. In her new role as president and CEO, she plans to launch a modern approach to the foundation’s scientific endeavors and establish new collaborative partnerships to bring greater awareness and attention to the needs of the paralysis community.

PND asked Goldberg about her plans to launch a modern approach to the foundation’s scientific endeavors, the development and delivery of treatments that move the field closer to cures for spinal cord injury, new partnerships she’d like to align the foundation with, the current status of stem cell research and other therapies, and leading the National Paralysis Resource Center.

Philanthropy News Digest: You’ve indicated that you plan to launch a modern approach to the foundation’s scientific endeavors as CEO. Could you share a little about those plans and how you envision implementing them?

Maggie Goldberg: Since 1982, the Reeve Foundation has awarded over $140 million to a vast network of researchers worldwide. When we began, spinal cord research was in its infancy and was considered the “graveyard of neurobiology.” Many were given no hope of recovery because the prevailing dogma was that the spinal cord was incapable of repair or regeneration once damaged. However, we know much more now, and — finally — innovative therapies and interventions are on the horizon.

To that end, one of my highest priorities is launching a modern approach to the foundation’s scientific endeavors with a new platform for funding collaborative research from the bench to the bedside, designed to address critical roadblocks along the scientific continuum and accelerate progress toward meaningful therapeutics.

Read the full Q&A with Maggie Goldberg.

Rethinking traditional models, committing to an equity lens: A commentary by Amy Klement

November 29, 2021

Equality_GettyImages_rapideyeLeading with learning: How we’re reimagining philanthropic impact in 2022 and beyond

For those who work in philanthropy, the chaos that began in early 2020 have propelled more much-needed critical introspection than the field has ever faced. The inequities laid bare by the devastating pandemic highlighted how too many of our systems have been failing the majority of people. For us at Imaginable Futures, an education- and learning-focused philanthropic investment firm, owning up that we’re part of the system and have been part of the problem was only the first step.

It’s clearer than ever that for philanthropy to be truly effective in driving sustainable change, we need to rethink traditional models that are too often top-down and risk perpetuating the same systems of oppression they seek to transform. We, as philanthropic organizations, need to work harder to undo the culture of colonialism and white supremacy that is deeply woven into our field of work. And, critically, we must commit to utilizing an equity lens, starting from the inside out.

While a strategy refresh for Imaginable Futures was always the plan for 2020-21, it was done against the backdrop of COVID-19 and the global movement for racial justice. We’ve spent the last year and a half listening, learning, and evolving our approach to reimagine our philanthropic efforts.

Throughout this process of reevaluating and refining our strategies, the entire Imaginable Futures team has committed to doing the work individually and as a team to continually evolve and evaluate our own mindsets, behaviors, and approaches....

Read the full commentary by Amy Klement, managing partner at Imaginable Futures.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/rapideye)

The sustainable nonprofit: NGOs and nonprofits are easy targets for cybercrimes

November 22, 2021

Data_globe_virus_GettyImagesIt’s time or NGOs and nonprofits to tighten their cybersecurity standards

“We do not attack health care, education, charitable organizations, [and] social services,” said a representative of LockBit 2.0 (a prominent cybercrime gang) in an interview with the Russian YouTube channel OSINT earlier this year.

As honorable as that makes cybercriminals sound, a glance at recent news headlines tells a different story. From the United States to Australia to Ireland, all kinds of public service organizations have been affected by cybercrime during the past twelve months. Overall, more than 50 percent of NGOs now report that they have been targeted by a cyberattack. What this means is that, as long as hackers can make money from breaching an organization’s cybersecurity, no sector is off limits, regardless of the charity’s or NGO’s mission.

NGOs and nonprofits are easy targets

For any cybercriminal, the ideal victim is not an organization with vast resources but one that is easy to hack and has a lot to lose when its network is breached. Unfortunately, most NGOs and nonprofits more than fit this bill. According to a survey by CohnReznick, more than two-thirds of nonprofits failed to assess their levels of cybersecurity risk. And a 2018 study by NTEN found that eight in ten nonprofits didn’t have a cybersecurity policy in place....

Read the full column article by Rob Shavell, co-founder and CEO of Abine / DeleteMe (The Online Privacy Company).

(Image credit: GettyImages)

'Working with the wider community to support teachers': A commentary by Richard Bernstein

November 16, 2021

News_sheet_musicNonprofits must step up to support teachers

There is a nationwide teacher shortage. This is as catastrophic for today's youth as it is for society's future success. Not all the issues teachers face can be fixed instantaneously, but we must ensure that nonprofits are working with the wider community to support teachers.

I personally know the importance of a good music teacher — I've played the piano since childhood, and today it is a vital part of my daily routine — but like most kids, I had limited access to music in my public school, and even today, 50 percent of New York City public schools don't have a certified music teacher. This shortage reflects the wider challenges in teacher recruitment nationwide.

Teaching is a critical vocation, yet teachers are paid up to 60 percent less than other similarly qualified professionals. On top of this, many teachers pay for their own certifications, transportation, and even classroom supplies.

We know that nonprofits can help address these challenges. When nonprofits donate books so that teachers don't have to buy them themselves, libraries are fuller, and student imaginations are richer for it. Organizations including Verizon Foundation, Infosys Foundation USA, and Intel's Skills for Innovation have tech skills programs for teachers, which help them support their students over a wide variety of platforms. Still, clearly it is not enough: One in four teachers is currently considering quitting....

Read the full commentary by Richard Bernstein, board chair of Education Through Music.

(Photo credit: GettyImages)

'Philanthropic capital must play a bigger role in driving the systems shift we need': A commentary by Leslie Johnston

November 13, 2021

Blah_blah_blah_sign_-_Fridays_for_Future_pre-COP26_Milano_Mænsard vokserAll hands on deck: Philanthropy's extraordinary moment

Pressure is on here in Glasgow. Governments are rebalancing commitments so that they are on the right trajectory for alignment with the 2015 Paris agreement's targets. Business and industry are stepping up to do their part in everything from reducing deforestation to tackling methane emissions. And the finance sector is raising its ambition, as we saw with Mark Carney's announcement that $130 trillion in financial assets — 40 percent of the global total — have pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. I have heard from many COP-weary delegates that there is something different about this one. Pledges abound, and there does seem to be (finally) a sense of urgency.

Yet even after this flurry of announcements, there is no certainty that emissions will actually be lower by 2030. The updated United Nations synthesis report on nationally determined contributions continues to show emissions increasing, rather than halving, by 2030. It is also unclear whether we — collectively — are doing enough to address climate injustice and the deepening inequality in our societies. And critical voices are not at the table, with widespread criticism over a lack of representation from the Global South. Once the delegates leave Glasgow, there is also no certainty over how effectively companies, investors, and governments will be held to account for their commitments.

And that's where we need more philanthropic funders to come in. Philanthropy is society's risk capital, enabling business, finance, and industry to move faster. Yet despite our being in a crisis situation, philanthropic foundations still dedicate a minuscule percentage — an estimated 2 percent — of their approximately $750 billion in global giving to climate mitigation. This must change....

Read the full commentary by Leslie Johnston, CEO of Laudes Foundation in Zug, Switzerland.

Addressing global hunger — the equity challenge of our lifetime: A commentary by Barron Segar

November 11, 2021

Woman in traditional african clothes holding black beans_GettyImages_beingbonnyWhy global food security is the equity challenge of our lifetime

For more than half a century, the global food system operated with a singular mantra: Produce more food.  At the time of the Green Revolution in the 1950s, much of the world was in the throes of hunger as a result of the Second World War. The industrial agriculture model pioneered in places like the United States — monocultures of improved crop varietals fueled in their growth by chemical fertilizers — was unleashed on the world.

That system did its intended job well, driving global hunger numbers down. But today, its legacy has created new challenges of its own, including land degradation and an explosion of noncommunicable diseases resulting from diets rich in carbohydrates but low in important micronutrients. 

Today, too many people are at the mercy of, not willing participants in, the global food system. In a world that produces almost $90 trillion in wealth each year, some forty-two million people in dozens of countries face the looming prospect of famine. As many as eight hundred and eleven million people go to bed hungry each night, and a third of humanity does not have access to adequate food....

Read the full commentary by Barron Segar, president and CEO of World Food Program USA.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/beingbonny)

'Grounded in anger and in love': A Q&A with Richard R. Buery, Jr., CEO, Robin Hood

November 09, 2021

Headshot_Richard Buery Jr.Richard R. Buery, Jr. succeeded Wes Moore as CEO of New York City-based Robin Hood in September, after serving as CEO of Robin Hood's community partner Achievement First, a network of thirty-seven charter schools in New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. He previously served as New York City's deputy mayor for strategic policy initiatives, in which he led Pre-K for All, which for first time offers free, full-day, high-quality PreK to every four-year-old in New York City; created School's Out NYC to offer free afterschool programs to every middle school student; launched two hundred community school partnerships; managed the city's mental health reform initiative; and founded the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Mayor's Office of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises. His experience in civil and nonprofit leadership also included stints as staff attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, chief of policy and public affairs for the KIPP Foundation, and CEO of Children's Aid. He also co-founded Groundwork to support the educational aspirations of public housing residents in Brooklyn, as well as iMentor, which pairs high school students with mentors to help them navigate to and through college.

A first-generation Panamanian American born and raised in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, Buery is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, Harvard College, and Yale Law School and clerked on the Federal Court of Appeals in New York.

PND spoke with Buery about worsening income inequality and the racial wealth gap, the impact of COVID-19 on the fight against poverty, the importance of equitable access to early childhood education and mental health services, and diversity among foundation and nonprofit leaders.

Philanthropy News Digest: You've held leadership positions with and/or founded numerous organizations focused on children and education — from the KIPP Foundation, Children's Aid, Groundwork, iMentor, and Achievement First to spearheading Pre-K for All and community-school partnerships. How did you come to devote your career to improving educational outcomes for underserved children?

Richard R. Buery, Jr: I think it stems from love and anger. I grew up in a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn but was able to attend a high-performing specialized high school, Stuyvesant, in Lower Manhattan. Riding the subway for an hour each way between East New York and Stuyvesant, I realized there were two New York Cities — one where children have all the resources they need to succeed, and one where they don't. Why was I one of the lucky ones who got to attend a great public school, when so many other kids in my neighborhood who were just as talented and driven were sentenced to a second-tier education?

Experiencing those two New Yorks every day did something to me. It made me angry. But I got lucky. In college, I began volunteering at an afterschool program in the Mission Hill housing development in Roxbury, Boston. I fell in love with the children, the families, and the community. It reminded me of home. I wound up starting a summer program to support those children when school was out.

So, I think my career is grounded in anger and in love. My experience in Mission Hill taught me that when injustice makes you angry, you can do something about it. You can organize people, organize resources, and you can work with communities you love to help solve problems.

Read the full Q&A with Richard R. Buery, Jr.

 

An urgent wake-up call for global biodiversity: A commentary by Jim Angell and Lee Crockett

November 08, 2021

Sharks_underwater_GettyImages_vchalPreserving ocean biodiversity begins with sharks

In 2014, the first and most comprehensive survey ever conducted of world shark populations concluded that, as a result of overfishing, habitat destruction, illegal trade, and climate change, 16 percent of the ocean's most magnificent, charismatic creatures were threatened by extinction.

This year comes a grim update: The percentage of the shark population "threatened with extinction" has doubled, to 32.6 percent.

The projections are based on real deaths — more than 100 million sharks are killed each year — that are driven by human-made decisions that imperil the health of not only our oceans and its fish but our entire planet.

These new findings are an urgent wake-up call for the United Nations' biodiversity conference, which began virtually this month and ends with in-person sessions in China next April. A cornerstone of the summit is the vital target 3, which asks every country that is party to the convention to conserve 30 percent of its land and waters by 2030. Seventy countries already have pledged to meet this target, including the United States with an executive order in January....

Read the full commentary by Jim Angell, a board member of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation and a founding member of the cboard, and Lee Crockett, executive director of the Shark Conservation Fund.

A unique opportunity for governments and place-based funders: A commentary by Darius Graham

November 05, 2021

Headshot_Darius_Graham_weinberg_fdn_2021_croppedARPA's $350 billion opportunity and what philanthropy can do

In March 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which provides $1.9 trillion in funds across federal, state, and local governments. The funding streams are numerous and most funds flow through existing programs and agencies to bolster health and economic recovery — for example, $28.6 billion for the Small Business Administration's Restaurant Revitalization Fund and $21.6 billion to continue rent relief. While it would be impossible to identify any one source as more important than another, there is a portion of the funding that presents a unique opportunity for governments and place-based funders to ensure that local communities' urgent needs are prioritized — equitably and strategically — in both the immediate and long term.

Included within ARPA is $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) that will be allocated to state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments with no specific predetermined use.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the SLFRF's goals are to:

  • Support urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control
  • Replace lost revenue for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs
  • Support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses
  • Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic

Notably, these funds offer substantial flexibility for governments to meet local needs and can be used to make investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. These flexible funds, which must be committed by the end of 2024, provide governments with the opportunity to fund immediate needs, fill gaps, and/or make strategic investments....

Read the full commentary by Darius Graham, program director for Baltimore at The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

'The greatest opportunity to develop jobs in a generation': An interview with Paula DiPerna, Special Advisor, CDP North America

November 03, 2021

Headshot_paula_dipernaAuthor Paula DiPerna is a strategic global environmental and philanthropic policy advisor who has consulted with numerous environmentally focused nonprofit organizations, including WorkingNation, with which she is collaborating on a report that examines green jobs potential and workforce needs. She also serves currently as special advisor for CDP North America, and previously served as president of the Joyce Foundation, president of the Chicago Climate Exchange, and vice president for international affairs at the Cousteau Society. DiPerna founded the Jobs and Environment Initiative, which examined how public policy on economic development and environmental conservation could work more closely together to generate employment and livelihoods in all the regions of the U.S.

PND spoke with DiPerna about green job markets, diversity, and how growth in green jobs could affect the U.S. and global economies.

Philanthropy News Digest: Where are the green jobs in the United States currently, and how is that market changing?

Paula DiPerna: First we must define what is a green job. Most of the world, including philanthropy and the environmental movement, have not agreed on a basic point: If we believe the climate science, if we believe that water efficiency and energy efficiency are essential, and if we believe that infrastructure improvement is essential, then almost every job is a green job.

You cannot redo, recreate, and redesign the global economy without environmental considerations any longer. In that sense, the plumber, the electrician, the drywall installer — all these jobs will eventually be considered green. Which means it's impossible to talk about the scale without talking about a redefinition.

Read the full interview with Paula DiPerna.

The sustainable nonprofit: Post-pandemic fundraising

November 01, 2021

Virtual_meeting_GettyImages_SDI ProductionsThe 'virtual' reality of post-pandemic fundraising events: Suggestions for the future

In spring 2020, like so many in the nonprofit fundraising space, the organization I then worked for refashioned our large-scale luncheon to a virtual experience. A year later, with pandemic uncertainty still looming, we did it again. I wrote about the 2020 event last year, and this update provides further learnings from the 2020-21 shift to virtual fundraising as we look ahead to how our events will function in the future. My hope is that these observations inspire conversations among your teams, with your donors and stakeholders, and around your communities.

Programming opportunities within the virtual space

"Virtual events have broken down access barriers, democratized the event space, and solved issues of scale," said Ariel Glassman, a member of the Virtual Gala Collaborative. One of the most striking certainties Glassman shares is that virtual opportunities can be far more inclusive and equitable, and my former organization found this to be true.

The number of participants in our virtual events was double that of the in-person luncheons, and we found the reasons were two-fold: First, the content was incredibly strong, featuring our popular lead researcher — a well-known public speaker who is beloved in the community. Second, the events were totally free, thereby removing cost barriers to entry, and the sponsors who supported the events appreciated the expanded audience....

Read the full column article by Evan Wildstein, a fundraiser and nonprofiteer in Houston, Texas.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/SDI Productions)

Quote of the Week

  • "[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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