Tag: Beyond Dollars

Undocumented students face challenges heading to college

It’s all hands on deck for the Fundamentals of CSR tomorrow. The Daily will return on Friday!

For many students preparing to graduate from high school, figuring out how to pay for college can be challenging. For undocumented students, being ineligible for federal loans or grants can make those challenges seem insurmountable. (WaPo, 4/11)

It’s an uncertainty that many undocumented students confront during their senior year in high school as they are crossing over from one world to the next. They are moving from a childhood when they had a right to attend public school, where teachers promised that they could achieve anything with enough hard work, to an adulthood where their legal status stands directly in the way of opportunities, including not just federal student loans but also driver’s licenses, certain academic fellowships and jobs.

– Why Do Some Poor Kids Thrive? (Atlantic, 4/6)

COMMUNITY/WRAG/ENVIRONMENT | In an update to WRAG’s Beyond Dollars report originally published in 2009, former managing director Kristin Pauly of The Prince Charitable Trusts shares the latest on their efforts to help protect a cultural and environmental asset in Virginia, and presents a new documentary on the fight, When Mickey Came to Town. (Daily, 4/13)

In their final annual report on the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy, the D5 Coalition shares the voices of leaders in the field and their stories of progress in the struggle to create a more equitable sector. (D5, 4/12)

Opinion: In light of the Council on Foundations’ 2016 annual conference addressing a lack of diversity and inclusion in philanthropy, Council president and CEO Vikki Spruill and Hispanics in Philanthropy president Diana Campoamor recommend strategies for addressing underrepresentation in the sector. (NPQ, 4/7)

Opinion: Pablo Eisenberg, senior fellow at the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership at Georgetown University, discusses why he believes that philanthropy further exacerbates wealth inequality in America, and what he sees as a “culture of silence” in the philanthropic community. (Chronicle, 4/11) – Audio

CHILDREN/DISTRICTWho Pays the Price When Child Care Assistance Is Too Low? (CCN, 4/9)

VIRGINIA/ECONOMYWhy Virginia is shaking up its economic development strategy (WBJ, 4/12

Who better to review the best playgrounds in D.C. than an 8-year-old child?

– Ciara

An update on Beyond Dollars: When Mickey Came to Town

In 2009, WRAG published Beyond Dollars: Investing in Big Change, presenting a series of case studies of the grantmaking initiatives in the region that were creating lasting impact through their ability to build partnerships, leverage key resources, and capitalize on timing and momentum. Later, in 2013 WRAG published a progress report, further exploring the impact that philanthropic investments make on the lives of people who live in our region. One of the report’s featured stories focused on how The Prince Charitable Trusts helped to protect a cultural and environmental asset in Virginia. Today, we bring you the latest update on those efforts from Kristin Pauly, former managing director of The Prince Charitable Trusts. 

by Kristin Pauly
Former Managing Director, The Prince Charitable Trusts

This story begins in 1993, when The Walt Disney Company unveiled plans for a new theme park in Haymarket, Virginia near some of the most significant battlefields of the Civil War. Against a 75 percent public approval rating, a small team of philanthropists and local residents joined forces and mounted a campaign to convince Disney that siting their “American History” theme park in these rural and sacred lands was a bad idea.

Last month, the Environmental Film Festival premiered the documentary, When Mickey Came to Town. While the film documents the campaign in opposition to the Disney site, there is another, equally-inspiring story about the long-lasting impact that is possible when philanthropists go beyond dollars.

The Prince Charitable Trusts were by no means the central players in the campaign, yet the trustees and staff were active and engaged participants. They were inspired by the outcome and changed by the experience.

In the ensuing 22 years, the Trusts have continued to provide relatively small grants – often in the form of general operating support – to the organizations and initiatives that have committed themselves to protecting the very qualities that a Disney theme park threatened to destroy: a healthy environment, social equity, and celebrating and preserving a unique cultural legacy of this region. It has been a form of “engaged philanthropy” that has proven effective in a variety of ways.

All this has been made possible because the victory left people in the region with a sense of hope. As Chris Miller, executive director of the Piedmont Environmental Council, said on the 20-year anniversary of the fight, “It was a big fight and a good fight – a fight made possible by a long list of wonderful and talented people. Our coalition included some of the best organizations and thinkers in conservation, historic preservation, and sound land use planning – and we showed the entire nation that a grassroots movement is capable of taking on the Goliaths of the world, like The Walt Disney Company.”

Among the long-lasting impacts of the campaign are:

  • The Piedmont Environmental Council itself has grown to become an effective community-based conservation organization. Its work has helped permanently protect more than 370,000 acres of land in the Virginia Piedmont.
  • The launch of The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the unparalleled American heritage found in the 180-mile long, 75-mile wide area stretching from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville. In 2008 Congress recognized the Journey Through Hallowed Ground as a National Heritage Area. The Journey was featured in WRAG’s 2009 publication, Beyond Dollars, as an example of “a visionary partnership” and an example of how any foundation can have an impact by becoming engaged in a cause and pursuing a vision.
  • The impetus that catalyzed the smart growth movement in the D.C. metropolitan area, and the creation of The Coalition for Smarter Growth to promote reinvestment in existing communities and walkable neighborhoods connected by transit-oriented development.

In 1993, I was director of Urban and Metropolitan Programs at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. I played a small role in encouraging the Bay Foundation to take a stand on the campaign, and in the process came to know the staff of the Trusts. This led to my being hired as the managing director of The Prince Charitable Trusts two years later.

In the past 22 years The Prince Charitable Trusts have supported – and to some extent helped shape – a multitude of activities needed to permanently protect both the land and the culture that were in danger of being lost. It has taken a lot longer to shape this agenda than it did to defeat “Disney’s America,” and not all the battles were won. But I believe the result is impressive: a stronger sense of community, stronger leaders and institutions, and inspiring stories to share with future generations. And I believe that in this case, philanthropy has made a difference – both with dollars and beyond.

The importance of seeing the impact of philanthropy

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

On May 31, The New York Times published an op-ed entitled “Who Will Watch the Charities?” written by David Callahan, the founder and editor of a site called Inside Philanthropy. In it, he raises many concerns that seem to surface from time to time about the perceived lack of oversight and transparency of philanthropy, the ineffective use of funds, and what he refers to as the “charade that all philanthropy is somehow charitable.”

His comments have created a bit of an uproar in the philanthropic community. Some have noted his conflation of private foundations and public charities. Others have commented on his flippant likening of the charitable (or my preferred term, “social profit”) sector to the Wild West, suggesting an “anything goes” reality. That is not the case.

Contrary to what Mr. Callahan’s title suggests, there is a system of oversight in place that rests with the federal and state governments. What is missing is just plain sight – the actual act of seeing. Ironically, while the general public can see the results of philanthropic investments in their communities, they may not realize, for example, that private foundations are what enabled that new job training program to open or that senior housing center to be built. Local philanthropy is often invisible.

Private foundations are deeply engaged in philanthropy to effectively address entrenched social problems. (We highlighted this impact a few years ago in our report Beyond Dollars: Philanthropy and BIG Change in the Greater Washington Region, which we shared with our region’s Congressional delegation to make sure they were aware of the impact). Private foundations and their social profit partners are both meeting immediate needs in our communities, as well as working to create structural change so that everyone can thrive.

Painting the social profit sector with a broad brush, as Mr. Callahan does, is a disservice to the important work that both private foundations and their grantees are doing to make our country a better place for everyone. Can that work be improved? Of course. But maybe the real question is “who will celebrate philanthropy?”

Read reactions to the op-ed from the Council on Foundations, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, and our colleagues at the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, Philanthropy New York, and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

Business and Philanthropy: A partnership whose time has come

by Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Last week, Bob Buchanan, principal of Buchanan Partners, a real estate development company, and president of the 2030 Group, an association of business leaders focused on regional issues and solutions, came to speak to WRAG member CEOs as part of our CEO Coffee and Conversation series. He was invited after he and Dr. Stephen Fuller (of the Center for Regional Analysis, George Mason University) called for a regional economic summit.  They suggested that, because the backbone of our region’s economy has been the federal government and that given the changes in our region’s relationship to this hometown employer, we must create a new regional economic reality.  They also underscored the fact that this isn’t a situation to be addressed solely by the District of Columbia or Fairfax, VA, or any other jurisdiction in our region, but a regional problem that should be examined as a whole and addressed by regional leaders using a broad lens and a long-range view.

I invited Bob to speak because, surprisingly, they hadn’t viewed philanthropy as one of the sectors to call to the planning table until I reached out. When asked why philanthropy wasn’t included, Bob responded, “business leaders go to those who can move the needle.”

What a wake up call!  Clearly, philanthropy wasn’t viewed as a change agent.

For years, I have thought that philanthropy doesn’t do enough to highlight the role that it plays in social change. That’s why we produced Beyond Dollars in 2009, featured Philanthropy Factoids in the Daily WRAG throughout 2011, and updated Beyond Dollars with a progress report in 2013. We wanted to showcase all that philanthropy does to improve people’s lives.  Unfortunately, that message hasn’t reached the business community, and part of that responsibility lies with us.  When I look back over the speakers that WRAG has presented over the last decade, I can’t find one business leader who isn’t also a philanthropist.  Until the conversation with Bob Buchanan, WRAG had not invited a business leader to present his or her ideas to philanthropy. We had not explored with business shared views and values toward possible shared action. In retrospect, wow.

So, WRAG is working to change that.  Bob Buchanan underscored the altruistic role that funders can play. He noted that when he speaks up for a particular need, he is often lumped in the category of “greedy developer” just trying to make his project work. Often, yes, he is trying to make a project happen, but it is a project that can improve the lives of many who live in a specific community.  His business identity often obscures the fact that he wants to turn a profit and improve the community.  He challenged the funding community to:

  • Consider how they are perceived as only helping the “un-” and “under-” members of the community. He acknowledged that funders are trying to improve the lives of all who live in a community and that when the “un”served or “under”served are helped, all community members are helped. He feels that the business community doesn’t see the role of philanthropy as helping everybody;
  • Look at how they might support start-up businesses that can improve the viability of communities just as they support start up/innovative, new social profit organizations; and
  • Make financial investments with their assets, not just grants.

He believes that elected officials charged with serving their discrete constituencies and limited by a relatively brief time in office can’t be the sole partners of business, particularly in pursuit of a new regional economic dynamic. He wants philanthropy to play a role.  Now we must determine what that role should be.

A Letter to Foundation Trustees and Execs Considering Closing a Foundation

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Closing a foundation is not a choice most executives and trustees arrive at easily. However, if you do make the decision to sunset, you couldn’t have a better roadmap for doing this gracefully and effectively than the closings of The Summit Fund and The MARPAT Foundation.

While no one in the social profit sector was happy to learn that MARPAT and the Summit Fund had decided to close, it is unlikely that any of their long-term grantees would argue that they weren’t given sufficient notice. But giving adequate notice was just the first step.

The foundations wanted their work to continue, not as a legacy to their institutions, but as a recognition that the job was not done. They had both made inroads. MARPAT was proud of their commitment to addressing  the needs of wards 7 and 8 in the District and the Summit Fund had worked tirelessly and effectively to prevent teen pregnancy∗ in the District and to improve the Anacostia River. They had laid a solid foundation, but a continuing dedication to the work was needed.

As a next step, both MARPAT and Summit chose to host meetings to inform the local social profit sector, funders, government, and others of the inroads that been made and of the work that still remains. These meetings were another important step for them as ongoing catalysts for change even in the  waning days of the foundations.

Several years ago, WRAG produced a publication called Beyond Dollars. In it, we talked about the catalytic role of philanthropy, a role that is critical for social change. Four factors were identified as pivotal: understanding timing, leveraging other resources, promoting partnerships and using your voice.

Both MARPAT and Summit recognized that with their closing, this was the time to talk about the work. They knew that they had made investments that could leverage other resources. They brought together diverse segments of the community to encourage new partnerships, and they used their voice powerfully to encourage continued action. Just because they were closing, they didn’t stop being strong advocates.

No one takes the closing of a foundation lightly when communities, like ours, need philanthropic investments to correct scores of problems. But when the decision is made, it is noteworthy that in our region we have two amazing examples of how to do it right.

∗ A community gathering on teen pregnancy is planned for March, 2015.

Education starts with a good breakfast … “Grant providers answer call to action” … Moustaches [News, 1.16.09]

PHILANTHROPY | Grant providers answer call to action –  (WaPo, 11/15) – “Despite the downturn, some are giving more to nonprofit groups.” Article features WG members Sanford and Doris Slavin Foundation, World Bank Group, and Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. “The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers released a ‘call to action’ last week, highlighting the increased need for services and the impact of philanthropy on local projects, and a survey, which found that even as most local grantmakers pull back, nearly a third expect to give more.” … “underscore[s] the message that philanthropy has effects beyond dollars”

HUNGER/NUTRTION | Meal program aims to keep kids hungry for learning (WaPo, 11/16) – “Free breakfast is available to the 45,000 students in D.C. public schools and some of the 28,000 in public charter schools.” (To learn how this came to be, see pgs 14 and 15 of Beyond Dollars: Investing in Big Change … How Grantmakers in the Washington Area are Creating Lasting Impact (pdf).)

groovyMOUSTACHES + NOVEMBER | = “Movember.” This month, moustaches raise awareness of prostate cancer. I’m starting today.

New website for the Catalogue for Philanthropy-DC (11/15)
American charities may not have a happy holiday (AP, 11/15)

SAFETY NET | Opinion: the city can ill afford to lose Catholic Charities’ services at homeless shelters and in health care. Work something out, says the Post.

CORPORATE | New Report Shows Mixed Picture for Corporate Philanthropy (Chronicle, 11/16)

First AEI works with CAP, and now Gingrich and Sharpton? Education policy is giving me the warm and fuzzies.  (WaPo, 11/14)
–  Education by cellphone! (WaPo, 11/14) – At the BIG meeting, Allison Fine mentioned how cell phones have all but bridged the digital divide. It’s a good point. I think it will be even more true once voice-recognition software takes another step forward.
Master Educators Coach and Critique Teachers in D.C. Public Schools (WAMU, 11/16)

VOLUNTEERING | Biden visits Father McKenna Center (WaPo, 11/14). And the print Post (apparently) violates the center’s policy against photos.

Happy Monday,