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Good morning.

President Biden sent an important message about the White House’s commitment to racial justice this week by signing a bill designed to curb hate crimes against Asian Americans. Attending the ceremony were leaders of a new nonprofit dedicated to lifting up Asian Americans in our society, and the group had a stunning announcement: It has collected more than $1 billion in cash and pledges already in its fledgling existence.

Sonal Shah, president of the new Asian American Foundation, offered us her views on what comes next for the fund and why it matters. “Our mission is creating a sense of belonging and prosperity,” she told Dan Parks. “We’re always seen as perpetual foreigners in many communities. We want to create an Asian American community that feels stronger in who we all are and also feel united in the fact that we can make change together.

Marc Gunther reminded us that justice movements can take many forms.

Marc took a closer look at why the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health, spent $10 million last year on work to curb smoking, especially in the 13 Southern states known as Tobacco Nation.

Smoking has practically vanished among well-educated, well-to-do coastal people, but nearly 40 million U.S. adults, many of them low-income and less well-educated, continue to smoke cigarettes.

The foundation is battling the use of both cigarettes and e-cigarettes, a stance that has generated controversy because some health advocates say that e-cigarettes can help wean people off tobacco, which is more harmful.

Its grants have also targeted “predatory” marketing campaigns aimed at Black women and menthol cigarettes, the choice of seven out of 10 African American teenagers who smoke.

“We really are trying to bring an equity lens to our tobacco-control work,” says Matt Pierce, a senior program officer at the foundation. He added: “The people who continue to be harmed by commercial tobacco products tend to be less visible.”

Here’s What Else You Need to Know

World Vision has launched a $1 billion capital campaign, its largest ever, with the ambitious goal of helping 60 million people around the world lift themselves out of poverty. The Every Last One campaign will support programs that provide clean water, education, and health services, among other things, writes Eden Stiffman. The drive is in part a reminder that the impact of the pandemic is far from over. “Infection rates might be going down, but the long-term effects of Covid will be with us for a while,” says Mercy Novak, director of the campaign. As of March, the organization had raised $773 million toward the $1 billion goal.

The new development director of the Oregon Food Bank is taking an unusual approach to evaluating staff members that de-emphasizes the holy grail of the profession: financial measures. Leaders are working to develop tools that allow them to track other indicators of donor engagement and staff satisfaction, writes Eden Stiffman. The change comes at an opportune time, with many fundraisers worried they will be held accountable for a drop-off in giving this year that may be beyond their control, with donors pulling back following an unprecedented surge of generosity amid the Covid pandemic. “If we’re managing staff to financial outcomes, that results in a profession that is less diverse, that is hostile to women, and that generates burnout,” says development director C. Nathan Harris, the architect of the effort.

A pandemic-inspired approach to determining what young people need most is now transforming how a foundation makes decisions. The Emerging Markets Foundation turned to a group of about a dozen girls and young women to help design and conduct a survey of their peers (shown above) and found what was more urgent: Food, access to the internet and phone lines, and mental-health care were high priorities. Not only did the approach allow the foundation to move quickly but Alex Daniels reported that it yielded a more intimate view of what girls and women needed. “They trusted me and shared a lot, even things beyond the interview questions,” says Soni, a 20-year-old participant from Delhi.

And to start off with one fresh insight this weekend, we suggest you turn now to Deborah Blatt’s plea for people to take “clothing insecurity” seriously. While hunger and homelessness command much attention, a related concern, says Blatt, is lack of basic necessities like underwear and shoes. At her nonprofit, which offers used clothing, she says she hears heartbreaking stories every day. “A child who wore a suit to school every day because that was his only outfit. Siblings whose only shoes were Crocs during a New York winter. A teen who appeared at a homeless shelter with just the clothes on his back.”

Lack of clothing is a social problem that is a lot easier to solve than other problems facing the poor, she writes. One part of the solution is for charities to stop treating secondhand clothing as a commodity to raise money, she writes, and the second is for philanthropy to step in and offer grants to nonprofits that provide clothing to those in need.

“Providing a child or adult with quality secondhand clothing will not cure their economic woes,” Blatt writes. “But it can improve someone’s chances in a job interview, increase the likelihood a child will stay in school, and boost self-esteem.”

Relax, recharge, and have a great weekend.

Stacy Palmer and Dan Parks

More News, Advice, and Opinion
Here’s what else you’ll want to read as you catch up this weekend:

What We’re Reading Elsewhere

Here are some of the articles that attracted our attention in the past week. We provide these summaries every day in our free Philanthropy Today newsletter. (Sign up now.)

Cisco is donating $150 million to investor Robert F. Smith’s campaign to support historically Black colleges and universities and their students. Two-thirds of the gift will be in the form of technology infrastructure, cybersecurity services, and technical support. The other $50 million will seed an endowment that Smith hopes to grow to $450 million to pay for educating 4,500 students “in perpetuity.” The donation makes Cisco the first “anchor corporate partner” of Smith’s Student Freedom Initiative, a nonprofit he started after paying off the student loans of Morehouse College’s class of 2019 (Fast Company). Plus, see the Chronicle’s profile of Smith and his work to steer scholarship aid to more colleges.

The international relief group Mercy Corps has apologized to the daughter of a co-founder for repeatedly disregarding her reports of sexual abuse at his hands. Outside investigators, hired after an exposé of the case in the Oregonian newspaper, deemed credible Tania Culver Humphrey’s accusations that Ellsworth Culver had for years sexually abused her and other girls. Culver Humphrey first reported the incidents to counselors in the 1980s, and in the early 1990s the reports reached officials at Mercy Corps. That inquiry was deflected by Culver himself, and when Culver Humphrey tried again in 2018 to get Mercy Corps to investigate the allegations, she received a similar response. Culver died in 2005. Mercy’s board has acknowledged its “extensive failures” in its handling of the problem. (New York Times)

In addition to giving to a foundation named for his late son, President Biden and first lady Jill Biden donated last year to churches, a fire department and firefighters association, and groups that help the poor, military families, and victims of domestic violence. The Bidens gave about 5 percent of their $607,000 income to charities and nonprofits, about average for a family in their income bracket. Among the recipients were St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church in Delaware, where the president receives Communion; the first lady’s church, Westminster Presbyterian; a shelter for abused spouses where Joe Biden’s sister Valerie Owens long worked; and the Morris Brown African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, where during the primaries Biden apologized for having cooperated with segregationists as a senator. (Christianity Today)