12 posts categorized "Mental Health"

Research and Analysis Best Practices in Behavioral Sciences

November 15, 2019

Behavioral health servicesBehavioral and mental health conditions have long been misunderstood and exaggerated. Societal factors play a significant role in how those with behavioral or mental health problems are perceived. Behavioral science research can be used not only to educate the practicing professional but also to educate the public and help fight stigma. With heightened awareness and understanding, health disparities can be eliminated and better health policies developed.

However, before diving into research, there are some best practices we should take into consideration. Below, we will discuss the principles of ethical research, how to disclose funding sources, how to avoid funder bias, and the importance of using inclusive language.

Ethical Research

When it comes to the behavioral sciences studies, it is unethical to conduct research that converts public resources such as foundation funding into private gains. It is unprincipled to conduct biased work. Because research and analysis involve the participation of individuals or groups who have the relevant experience and background, there are also a number of ethical practices to take into account.

The research should not put participants at risk or seriously damage the environment. Informed consent is another one of the foundations of research ethics and is key to minimizing harm, distress, or discomfort for the participants. Participants in a study must not have been coerced or deceived into participating. They should understand the purpose of the research and, more importantly, recognize that they are participating in a study. It's also an ethical practice to discuss research methods and any potential inconveniences participants may experience.

Researchers also should explain how they intend to protect participants' anonymity and ensure their confidentiality. In many behavioral science studies, the subject matter is private or sensitive in nature. Participants want to feel safe when sharing information by knowing that identifiers that reveal who they are will be removed from any published work. If for any reason a study needs to disclose participants' identities, researchers have the legal responsibility to get their permission.

Disclosure of Funding Sources

Behavioral health studies can be costly to conduct and may require multiple funding sources. Research in behavioral science typically is funded by grants from government agencies, foundations, and private companies. However, financial connections between funders and researchers may raise concerns around biases and conflicting interests. Conflicts of interest can occur when the researcher has financial interests or personal relationships with an organization funding the study.

It is a common concern to assume that sponsored studies will favor the sponsor. Complete reporting of financial support sources and the existence of any conflicts of interest allow the research and the accuracy of its published findings to be judged on the merits. Disclosing funding sources also increases transparency and, in turn, public trust.

Disclosure of funding sources is so important in behavioral sciences studies that government agencies such as the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, Institute of Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control have established guidelines for authors to disclose funding sources and financial relationships that may bias their decisions, activities, and work.

For research to be respected, well-received, and assessed fully and fairly, it should be free of funder bias. In a future post we will more fully explore why it’s essential to avoid funder bias and will talk about the importance of using inclusive language and why the communication of research findings is more effective when the research itself is non-discriminatory, unbiased, and free of judgmental labels.

Peter Gamache, PhD, and Jackie Sue Griffin, MBA, MS, are principals at Turnaround Life, Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps others with grant writing, program development, capacity building, and evaluation.

Memo to Foundation CEOs: Get a Youth Council

September 30, 2019

Calendow_presidents_youth_councilSeven years ago, we launched a President's Youth Council (PYC) at the California Endowment, and it seems like a good time to tell you that the young people who've served on the council over those seven years have significantly influenced our programming as a private foundation, been a source of reality-checking and ground-truthing on how our work "shows up" at the community level, and have substantially increased my own "woke-ness" as a foundation executive.

Before I get into the details, I'd like to briefly share why we decided we needed a President's Youth Council and how it works: In 2011, our foundation embarked on a ten-year, statewide Building Healthy Communities campaign that was designed to work in partnership with community leaders and advocates to improve wellness and health equity for young people in California. We had already been using a variation of a place-based approach in our work, and so we selected fourteen economically distressed communities to participate in the campaign — some urban, some rural, and all, taken together, representing the complex diversity of the state.

At the time, I was aware not only of the privileged position I occupied outside my organization, but also of how sheltered I was as a chief executive within my organization. More often than not, I received information about the effectiveness and impact of our work in the form of thoughtfully crafted memos from staff, PowerPoint presentations, and glossy evaluation reports filled with professionally designed charts and graphics. Even when feedback in the form of recommendations from consultants or comments from the community came my way, it was all carefully curated and edited. As I had learned — and this is especially true at large foundations — when members of the community get "face time" with the CEO, it is a carefully managed and considered process.

Being at least vaguely conscious of these issues early on in our Building Healthy Communities work, I wanted to ensure I would have some regularly calendared opportunities to meet face-to-face with young leaders from the communities we were serving. So, we solicited nominations from grantee-leaders in each of the fourteen program sites, and a President's Youth Council, featuring mostly young people of color between the ages of 17 and 21 and of varying sexual/gender orientations, was born.

Seven years later, here's what it looks like.

We meet three or four times a year (just like our board of directors), beginning with an informal dinner on Friday evening and continuing with breakfast and lunch conversations on Saturday. Then I excuse myself so that members of the council can have their own "executive session" and social time in the afternoon. They then de-brief each other over breakfast on Sunday before making their way home. The foundation pays their expenses and also provides them with a modest stipend — a welcome bonus, as many of these young people come from economically struggling families and communities. Between year three and six of their tenure, members rotate off and new young leaders are recruited to replace them. Two foundation staff members provide support with PYC meeting logistics and structure.

It's been a richly rewarding experience for me, and both I, as a foundation president and CEO, and the foundation — have learned a lot:

  • PYC members have pushed me and the foundation out of our strategic comfort zones. With respect to social justice, social media, youth-led and -shaped narrative change, youth empowerment, and governance, we are in many ways a different foundation than we were a decade ago. My young colleagues also have pushed me to be more courageous about using our foundation's brand and voice in the advocacy arena and to speak out more boldly.
  • Council members — and hundreds of their activist colleagues around the state — have helped us see how connecting young leaders across geographies can lead to policy change at the state and national level. Especially in the area of school discipline reform, the voices of young people engaged in "schools not prisons" and "health for all" campaigns have translated into meaningful impact.
  • I have learned a great deal about the intersection of childhood trauma and adversity in the battle for social and health justice. Our PYC leaders are exceptional — but they also carry an enormous burden of trauma and anxiety as a result of family and community stressors, economic distress, stigmatization in school settings, and adverse experiences with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. One of our PYC leaders was murdered two years ago, others have been subjected to police violence, still others have had family members deported or have been kicked out of their homes because of their sexual orientation. The trauma they experience is quite real, and over time we have learned to embrace the use of healing and spiritual supports when these young leaders gather and have built in "how are you doing" sessions on Saturday mornings.
  • We have learned — and are still learning — how to leverage PYC members specifically, and young people more generally, as thought leaders. At the moment, for example, I am asking them to give me their best thinking as we consider investments in grassroots leadership development in the years ahead.

We continue to think about how we engage with young people as authentic — and not "tokenized" — thought partners. For example, our board of directors has considered inviting a young leader or youth representative to sit on the board — although care must be taken when considering what it might be like for a young person (or two) to share his or her thoughts about complicated issues with fourteen or fifteen civic leaders in their forties, fifties, and sixties. We haven't ruled it out and will consider the possibility more thoroughly with members of the PYC in the year ahead.

We've also commissioned an evaluation of our PYC experiment by Professor Veronica Terriquez of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Based on a survey, a focus group, and interviews with PYC members and PYC coordinators and foundation staff, the evaluation found that nearly four in five PYC members "strongly agree" (while the rest "agree") that they had further developed their leadership skills as a result of their involvement in the council. They also cited as a plus the various opportunities they have received, including participation in a support network, professional development and skills coaching, and an investment in healing and self-care.

So let me leave you with this: investing in activist, community-engaged young people has a triple-bottom-line impact: it generates positive benefits in terms of a young person's well-being; it generates positive benefits for his or her neighborhood; and it can result in positive policy and systems changes with respect to social justice and health equity.

Maybe it's time to start thinking about creating your own President's Youth Council.

Robert_K_Ross_2019_for_PhilanTopicRobert K. Ross, MD, is president and CEO of the California Endowment.

This Holiday Season, Don't Forget Families Mourning a Loss

December 21, 2017

Nylife_foundation_bereavementDecember is the "season of giving" — a time when we're all made aware of the many ways we can give back to those less fortunate. On streets and in stores, on TV, and through our social networks, causes and organizations doing good work compete for our attention and year-end donations. But one group in need of support at this time of year often remains invisible: those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. It's time that philanthropy paid more attention.

The holidays are a difficult time of year for grieving children and families. For most, it is a season characterized by family traditions and poignant memories — memories that can trigger powerful emotions when someone significant is missing from the festivities, even when his or her loss is no longer fresh. In fact, a new nationwide survey conducted by the New York Life Foundation demonstrates the profound, enduring nature of loss. According to the survey, for those who lost a parent as a child, the pain was still raw years — and sometimes even decades — later, with 77 percent of respondents saying they would always feel like a part of them was missing and 78 percent saying they still thought about the departed parent every day. 

The survey also revealed a troubling "grief gap" — a disconnect between the length of time that grievers took to move forward after a loss and the time during which they received support. On average, those who lost a parent growing up said it took them six or more years to move forward, with a full 30 percent admitting that they'd never come to terms with their loss. Yet most reported that support from family and friends tapered off within the first three months after a loss, 21 percent reporting that support tapered off within a month of a loss, and 20 percent saying support from others tapered off after just a week.

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To Close the Racial Health Gap, Philanthropy Must Itself Prioritize Wellness

October 31, 2017

In December 2009, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA)  convened a cross-section of leaders working to improve life outcomes of black men and boys at a leadership retreat that included a session focused on strategies for healing and self-empowerment for leaders in the Black Male Achievement (BMA) field. At the time, the BMA field was still relatively new, having been launched by CBMA at the Open Society Foundations in June 2008. What the workshop revealed was both astounding and urgent: that the very leaders working vigilantly to support black men and boys in their communities were themselves in dire need of support and information with respect to how they addressed the myriad health and lifestyle challenges they, and an alarmingly large number of African Americans, face.

Young-black-man-with-head-007-2Then, in 2014, the BMA movement was dealt a tragic blow with the news that BMe Community leader Dr. Shawn White, a renowned academic working on public health matters, had died suddenly at the age of 42 of a stress-triggered seizure due to complications from severe hypertension, a preventable disease. There was and remains little doubt that the high levels of stress associated with doing racial equity work was a critical factor in the kinds of health issues faced by leaders such as Dr. White. There is also little doubt about how these issues are exacerbated by the insidious effects of interpersonal and institutional racism — psychological, physical, and emotional — on black people and communities.

The learnings that came out of that retreat nearly a decade ago have been given new life with the release of a report issued last week by National Public Radio, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Titled Discrimination in America: Experiences and Views of African Americans, the report addresses the various types of individual and systemic discrimination that black Americans experience in a variety of arenas, including employment, buying a home, interactions with law enforcement, civic engagement, and access to health care. In each of these areas, African Americans reported frequent and consistent encounters with race-based discrimination — a finding that spans gender, education, political affiliation, geography, and socioeconomic status.

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Beyond the Emergency Department: How We Can Improve Care for Patients With Complex Needs

April 10, 2017

Healthcare_heart_for_PhilanTopic_300As a physician, I have struggled with the question of how best to care for patients with complex needs since my early days of working in a hospital emergency department. Back then, my colleagues and I routinely encountered people in crisis who were battling medical, behavioral, and social difficulties all at once. And I realized over time that while we did our best to address their clinical problems, the issues they faced at home or in their communities were often what led them to the ED.

In recent years, my colleagues and I collectively have come to the realization that our patients — and others facing similar challenges — have, in many ways, been failed by society. Researchers have uncovered patterns of unstable, traumatic childhoods among patients with complex needs. They've also learned that many of these patients felt disrespected by the hospitals and clinicians who cared for them, which often resulted in patients skipping their medications or missing needed appointments. All too often, patients with complex needs are seen as statistics — just another person with diabetes or heart failure — when what those patients desperately want and need is to be acknowledged as individuals.

While the social implications of how we fail to fully care for these patients are deeply troubling, the economic cost is equally stark. We know that while people with complex needs represent only about 5 percent of the U.S. population, they represent about half of all healthcare spending.

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Reframing Addiction: Removing Stigma, Saving Lives

April 03, 2017

Addiction_disease_brain_300Every parent worries about the harm his or her child might encounter in the world. As parents, we dedicate our time and energy to protecting our children from every preventable danger — accidents, violence, illness. Why, then, don't we take steps to stop the epidemic that is claiming more American lives than car crashes or gun violence — the devastating disease of addiction? Addiction is killing our children. Even worse, the stigma associated with addiction keeps many people who are affected from seeking treatment.

In 2011, I lost my son Brian to addiction. He didn't die of an overdose or as a result of a drug-related crime. In fact, he had been in recovery for more than a year. The undeniable reality is that it was not just addiction that claimed my son's life — it was the shame he felt every morning when he opened his eyes that led him that day to research suicide notes, light a candle, and take his own life.

Brian had struggled with the disease of addiction for nearly ten years, cycling through eight different treatment programs. He desperately wanted to lead a normal life. His substance-use disorder was not indicative of a lack of willpower on his part; rather, the chemistry of his brain continually worked against him. Brian wasn't irresponsible. He was always curious, cheerful, and consistently caring. A dear companion and a beloved child. Full of compassion.

I wish I could say my anguish has subsided over the years since his death. But it has only intensified with the knowledge that addiction is a disease that is preventable but that we don't prevent; that is treatable but that we don't treat; that is undeniable but that we continue to deny.

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5 Questions for...Kenneth Fisher, Chairman and CEO, Fisher House Foundation

November 07, 2016

Since the early 1990s, the Fisher House Foundation has supported more than two hundred and seventy-seven thousand families of service members and veterans by providing lodging near VA hospitals and military medical centers where their loved ones are undergoing treatment. The foundation also awards scholarships to children and spouses of service members and veterans, administers the Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes programs, which use donations of frequent flyer miles and hotel points to provide free airline tickets and hotel rooms to military families, and sponsors the Invictus Games.

Kenneth Fisher has served since 2003 as chairman and CEO of the Fisher House Foundation and is co-chair of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, both of which were founded by his late great-uncle, Zachary Fisher. Ahead of Veterans Day, PND spoke with Fisher about the role of philanthropy in addressing the needs of service members and veterans.

Kenneth_fisher_for_PhilanTopicPhilanthropy News Digest: Providing support to the families of service members and veterans traveling for medical treatment is a very specific area within the broader scope of veterans issues. What made Zachary Fisher decide to focus on it?

Kenneth Fisher: Everything started with the Intrepid. After Zach completed the conversion of the USS Intrepid to the museum it is today, he wanted to do more. So he called the wife of the then-chief of naval operations, Pauline Trost, who told him a story about the day she was at the Bethesda Naval Hospital [now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center] and saw a family run in, drop their bags in the lobby, and run up to the room to see their loved one. They didn't even think about a hotel. There was no real low-cost alternative to a hotel, there was no real housing on the base for those families, and there was a clear need. And Zach said, "This is my skill set. I know an architect; I've been a developer. I can build a house." And so it was decided that what came to be known as Fisher Houses would be built, on two conditions: First, they had to be free of charge. Second, they had to be within walking distance of a VA or military hospital.

That essentially was the birth of the foundation — one phone call that made Zach aware of a need that wasn't being met. We have a saying in our family that has been passed down over the generations: "Don't be somebody who points out problems — we've got too many of them — be part of the solution." So the roots of the Fisher House Foundation can be traced to that story but also to that philosophy.

PND: Over the last twenty-six years, more than seventy Fisher Houses have opened across the United States and in Germany and the United Kingdom. Has the need for these types of facilities near VA hospitals and military medical centers been fully met over the years? And do you expect demand to grow?

KF: Before 9/11, obviously the needs were different. People in the military aren't only hospitalized when they're wounded in battle — they also get sick or are injured in training accidents. But the need for family lodging was so basic and underappreciated that no one really ever thought about it.

After 9/11, we knew that building one or two Fisher Houses a year was not going to be sufficient. In fact, the first house we built after 9/11 was in Germany, which is usually the first stop for many men and women who are wounded in battle overseas and is where they are stabilized before they're sent home to the United States. But back then I looked at the budget and said, "How the heck are we going to meet the need?" And my answer to that question was to apply a private-sector mindset to the running of the foundation. By that I mean, every dollar would be accounted for. I wanted to know how much of each dollar was going to administration, going to fundraising, and getting to the people who needed the program. I was very focused on running the foundation as efficiently as possible. And as we built more and more houses, we got on the radar of the American public, and people responded in ways that I'd never thought possible. At one point we were building nearly ten houses a year. The program still needs to be ramped up, but I don't want it to grow so fast that we can't keep up with it.

Today, some Fisher Houses are running at 100 percent occupancy rates, some at 80 percent, some a little lower. Will we ever fully meet the need? Who knows? It's a difficult question to answer. I can tell you that if a family can't get into a Fisher House because it's full, we put them up in a hotel through our Hotels for Heroes initiative until a room opens up. Any family that comes into the Fisher House program will be taken care of. And by virtue of the support of the American public and the way the foundation is run, I think we're making a very, very positive impact in meeting that need.

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To Truly Reform Criminal Justice, Policy Makers Must Listen to Crime Survivors

August 31, 2016

The 2016 election campaign season has exposed the deep and bitter divides in our political system. Candidates have put forth vastly different views, and the list of what they agree on seems to be getting shorter by the day. Yet criminal justice reform has become that rare thing — an issue on which many Democrats and Republicans can agree.

Criminal_justice_for_PhilanTopicState and federal policy makers are in the midst of an important conversation about how to reform the criminal justice system. After decades of growth in prison populations and prison spending, it is a conversation that is long overdue. Notably absent from this dialogue, however, are data or research on crime victims' experiences with the criminal justice system or their views on safety and justice policy. Given that politicized perceptions of the best way to protect victims has, in part, driven prison expansion, this absence is glaring. Now is the time to correct the misperceptions that drove the failed policies of the past in order to truly reform the system.

A primary goal of the justice system is to protect and help victims, so any reform effort must incorporate the voices of the victims themselves. That's why the Alliance for Safety and Justice decided to conduct a national survey of crime victims, including those who have suffered extreme violence such as rape or the murder of a family member.

While one might expect victims to overwhelmingly support the "lock 'em up and throw away the key" approach, we found something different. Victims were clear that rehabilitation and crime prevention, not more incarceration, is needed to ensure that fewer people become victims of crime.

Nearly three out of four victims we surveyed told us they believe that time in prison makes people more rather than less likely to commit another crime. Two out of three victims support shorter prison sentences and increased spending on prevention and rehabilitation over long sentences. And by a two-to-one margin, a majority of those surveyed were in favor of policies that emphasize rehabilitation over punishment. Crime survivors also overwhelmingly support investments in new safety priorities that can stop the cycle of crime, such as programs for at-risk youth, mental health treatment, drug treatment, and job training. These views cut across demographic groups, with wide support across race, age, gender, and political party affiliation.

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Gun Violence and Mental Illness: A Resource List

December 18, 2012

Mentalhealth_manseatedWe are all struggling to process the shocking violence that erupted in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday. That the cold-blooded murder of twenty-eight people, including twenty small children, can be blamed, in part, on permissive gun laws and a culture soaked in graphic depictions of violence is, for many, indisuptable. Others point to Adam Lanza's precarious mental state -- and the failure of those who loved him to reach out for help -- as a contributing factor. For those interested in learning more about the increasingly intertwined issues of gun violence and mental health, we offer the following list of resources:

Issuelab, a service of the Foundation Center, has assembled a special research collection that explores the problem of gun violence in America, and what Americans can do about it.

A quick search of Foundation Directory Online yields this list of funders who support mental health services for youth and/or autism research/services:

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Sunk Costs and the Need for Social Innovation

November 06, 2009

(Farnaz Golshani is director of programs and services at the San Francisco-based Tides Center. This is her first post for PhilanTopic.)

Old_saab I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of "sunk costs." In economics and business decision-making, sunk costs are unrecoverable past expenditures that, under normal circumstances, should not be taken into account when determining whether to continue or abandon a project, effort, or initiative because costs that are already "sunk" cannot be recovered.

Inevitably, thinking about sunk costs reminds me of my "Saab stories." I purchased a used Saab for $15,000 a number of years ago and then spent more than $5,000 on repairs for it over the next few years -- not to mention the considerable time I spent at the repair shop and the stress I experienced each time the "check engine" light would blink on. But I kept sinking dollars into that Saab, if only to justify all the money I had already "invested" in it.

Organizations and bureaucracies often behave in a similar fashion. Rather than innovate, they choose to stay the course and keep sinking money into existing projects and initiatives simply to justify their previous investments. Indeed, government does this all the time. Two glaring examples -- failing workforce development systems and inadequate treatment of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -- are particularly noteworthy, given that we are fighting two wars and the unemployment rate is the highest it has been in decades.

On the workforce development front, the federal government continues to fund WorkSource Centers through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). In 2009, the Department of Labor had a budget of $53 billion, a good part of which funded WorkSource Center "One-stops," even though the average WorkSource Center only has a 20 to 40 percent success rate.

In contrast, truly innovative workforce development organizations such as Chrysalis, the Delancey Street Foundation, and Rubicon have achieved phenomenal outcomes with the "hardest to employ" -- the homeless and individuals with multiple felonies. Even in this challenging economy, Chrysalis, a workforce development organization based in L.A.'s Skid Row area, helps more than 80 percent of its homeless clients secure jobs each year using transitional employment opportunities.

Sadly, the innovative workforce development models pioneered by these organizations receive only a pittance from DOL, forcing them to rely on variable and much more modest revenues donated by individuals, corporations, and foundations. Adding insult to injury, stimulus funds now going through DOL are simply getting dumped -- sunk -- into existing WIA programs and contractors/agencies already in place. This precludes workforce development programs lacking WIA contracts from receiving stimulus funds, even if those programs have been proven to be more effective.

It also pains me to see the government sinking funds into ineffective treatment for veterans rather than investing in proven models with better track records. The federally funded Veterans Affairs (VA) system offers a largely ineffective thirty-day Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) support program that leaves most of the young men and women who complete it with persistently high levels of anxiety and depression and often no recourse other than to turn to drugs, alcohol, violence, homelessness, or even suicide.

There are existing programs that actually help veterans with PTSD develop the coping skills they need to face their anxieties and reintegration challenges. One such program is the Pathway Home for Returning Veterans, an LLC of Tides. Most veterans entering Pathway are referred by other VA hospitals because their PTSD or traumatic brain injuries were so severe that they had attempted suicide or were still suffering from seizures. Through its holistic 90- to 120-day program, Pathway has helped veterans with PTSD overcome their fears, secure jobs, and live healthy lives with their families. Indeed, its graduates consistently attest that the program saved their lives, armed them with the coping mechanisms to deal with anxiety, and even helped their families to better understand their PTSD.

Pathway's successes could not have happened in the VA -- they are the result of innovative partnerships involving nonprofits, the state of California, and donors who are committed to doing right by those who put their lives on the line for our country. Yes, a 90– to 120-day program is more expensive, but the long-term cost of PTSD is far greater when you factor in the social costs of homelessness, violence, long-term medical issues, drug problems, and so many other problems plaguing our veterans.

In his first months in office, President Obama said it was time for the government to invest in social innovation. Most of us in the social sector were delighted to see our efforts and good work finally get some recognition -- even if it meant we had to ignore the fact that the federal government was willing to sink $85 billion into AIG to keep the giant insurer afloat or spend $13.4 billion on rescuing General Motors but was only willing to invest $30 million in social innovation.

That was then. The "official" unemployment rate in the U.S. is now over 10 percent. We continue to put the lives of brave young men and women on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's time for the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors -- as well as individuals -- to invest in best practices and proven models of successful social innovation and to stop sinking money into organizations and efforts that no longer work, or never did.

Even I managed to learn that lesson. After four years of waiting in dealerships for more bad news, I finally bought a new car.

-- Farnaz Golshani

TED on Sunday: Barry Schwartz on the Paradox of Choice

May 17, 2009

In this wryly amusing talk, psychologist Barry Schwartz interrupts his morning jog to explain why more personal choice in almost every domain -- work, healthcare, entertainment, lifestyle decisions -- is making us less happy and more dissatisfied. It's a problem peculiar to affluent, industrialized societies, says Schwartz, but the consequences are global and increasingly destructive, psychologically as well as environmentally. So remember, when Mom or Dad tells you everything was better back when everything was worse, they just might be on to something. (Filmed: July 2005; Running time: 19:37)

Liked this talk? Then try one of these:

-- Mitch Nauffts

Hurricane Relief Efforts (#3)

September 18, 2008

Today's roundup of hurricane relief announcements....

Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane, Astros players, front-office staff, and the Astros in Action Foundation have committed $1 million to Hurricane Ike relief efforts.

The Valero Energy Foundation will donate $1 million to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief and recovery efforts.

Big-box retailer Kohl's has announced a $500,000 cash donation to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Ike relief efforts.

Nationwide, the country's sixth-largest property and casualty insurance company, has announced a $275,000 grant through the Nationwide Foundation to support Red Cross hurricane relief efforts. The announcement brings Nationwide's disaster relief donations in 2008 to a total of $1 million.

The General Mills Foundation has pledged a total of $200,000 to provide relief and assistance for the remainder of the 2008 hurricane season.

The Alcoa Foundation has announced a $100,000 grant to the American Red Cross of Southwest Louisiana to aid victims of widespread flooding caused by Hurricane Ike.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has established a fund to provide relief to individuals and families affected by serious mental illnesses in communities in Louisiana and Texas devastated by hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Donations to the NAMI Hurricane Relief Fund can be made online at www.nami.org/HurricaneRelief. One hundred percent of the funds raised will go directly to individuals and families through local NAMI affiliates.

In addition, this is a great source of news and information about the government response to the recent hurricanes.

And let's not forget about storm-ravaged Haiti, which, in the last five weeks, has been battered by Tropical Storm Fay and hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, and Ike. "Something of this magnitude has never happened before. It is traumatic, dramatic and a dire situation," Jean Robert LaFortune, chairman of the Haitian American Grass Roots Coalition, told the Florida Courier. "More than one million are without shelter, sleeping in tents in the mud and heat. The storms came just as farmers were readying to harvest their crops."

Here's how you can help:

  • The Haitian American Grassroots Coalition has established a bank account at Bank of America. Donate at any bank branch. Contact Jean Robert LaFortune at hagc2020@yahoo.com.
  • Food for the Poor asks for donations to purchase additional building materials for repairs to homes. Online: www.FoodForThePoor.org (Gustav); call: 1-800-487-1158.
  • Catholic Charities of Miami provides monetary assistance. Make checks payable to Catholic Charities of Miami with a notation in the memo line designating the donation for either Tropical Storm Fay or Hurricane Gustav or both and mailed to: Catholic Charities, Storm Aid, 9401 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami Shores, FL 33138; online: www.ccadm.org.
  • Cross International, a Christian relief and development organization, is sending food. Call, 1-800-391-8545; online: www.crossinternational.org and click on the emergency hurricane support link.
  • Lambi Fund of Haiti is accepting donations to assist people who lost their crops and animals. Donate online: www.LambiFund.org; or mail a check to: Lambi Fund of Haiti, P.O. Box 18955, Washington, D.C., 20036.
  • The Pan American Development Foundation is accepting donations online at www.PanAmericanRelief.org.

-- Regina Mahone

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