Trend: A broader focus on reducing poverty

As reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy

WG member Public Welfare Foundation: “We’re not looking at welfare as a separate issue anymore…Now that groups are stabilizing or looking to expand their own focus to include working toward a living wage and other poverty issues, so are we.”


Grant Makers Shift Focus From Welfare to New Projects to Reduce Poverty
By Michael Anft

As foundations move away from supporting projects related to the federal welfare system, some grant makers have begun financing several new programs aimed at decreasing poverty.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, in Baltimore, which spent more than $70-million on welfare-related grants in the past seven years, has shifted its emphasis in recent years to programs that conduct research into the viability of expanding federal tax credits for poor families. Casey has also made $500,000 in grants to look into ways to help low-income mothers better deal with the often-conflicting demands of holding a job and raising children.

The Joyce Foundation, in Chicago, which made $46-million in grants to welfare-related programs from 1994 to 2004, began in 2002 to direct its focus away from welfare programs to the creation of so-called transitional jobs — which aim to get poor people off government assistance and into work — and to helping workers get more out of their jobs once they have them.

Last year, Joyce also started making $5.4-million in grants for a pilot project in four states in the Upper Midwest. The program will determine whether jobs and training that succeeded in aiding welfare recipients would also work for people returning from stints in prison. The grants will help pay for workers’ salaries at government agencies, private companies, some Goodwill affiliates, and other organizations.

Such programs have gained steam in recent years as several foundations, including the Open Society Institute-Baltimore, have sought ways to keep the 600,000 prisoners who leave jail each year from committing crimes that would send them back. Poor families are especially affected by the lack of work for returning prisoners, says Jennifer L. Phillips, a senior program officer at the Joyce Foundation.

Joyce is also supporting a five-state, $10-million program that helps community colleges develop programs to help low-skilled, low-income adults get training for work…

Full article from Chronicle of Philanthropy