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From: Stacy Palmer
Subject: Helping Kids Learn; Foundations Should Give More as Assets Grow (Opinion)
We count on philanthropy to be several steps ahead of what society needs — and this week our senior writer Olivera Perkins brought you a story about a prescient effort kicked off by Tulsa’s George Kaiser Family Foundation.
Three years ago, Kaiser funded an effort to offer cash incentives to lure people who could work from anywhere to move to Tulsa and stay there. The idea was to infuse the city with people who had good paying jobs and who would add to the region’s quality of life.
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In nearly every household with school-age children, there’s no escaping the pain that Covid has inflicted on learning.
Now a growing number of grant makers like Walton, Carnegie, Schusterman, and Chan Zuckerberg are trying to do what they can to seize the opportunity to transform education — and especially to help the hardest-hit youngsters: those who come from low-income families as well as students of color.
Alex Daniels talked to foundation officials and education grantees about what they are doing and why it’s so important for philanthropy to act even though the federal government is already pouring billions into the schools through measures like the American Rescue Plan Act.
Dan Weisberg, chief executive of TNTP, a nonprofit that provides teacher training in 300 school systems, says he hopes the rescue plan money will go to expand test projects foundations have supported to minimize the long-term damage caused by missed classes. That would be better for the long-haul process of improving education, he says, than using it to pay substitute teachers and supply laptops.
The losses and the disruption of the pandemic won’t be made up for in a single academic year, Weisberg says. But given the amount of money that is available now to close learning gaps, concerted action from government and philanthropy could make a big difference.
“If we can’t help students excel who are coming to us with learning gaps, then probably the whole rationale behind public education being the great equalizer, and an avenue for kids to reach the American dream, is called into question,” he says. “This is a year with enormously high stakes.”
HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW
That’s the view of Howard Husock, an American Enterprise Institute scholar who conducted a study that found that endowments at many of the biggest 15 foundations saw double-digit returns on investment from 2018 to 2019, but payout rates stayed just under 6 percent, on average.
By contrast, he writes, the National Philanthropic Trust estimates that the average payout rate of donor-advised funds in 2019 was 22.4 percent.
He also questions whether foundations should operate in perpetuity, saying Congress should require foundations to at least stipulate whether they plan to do so and why. “This would prompt boards of directors to reflect on whether it is appropriate, even ethical, to continue to oversee ever-growing pools of assets.”
The measure will apply to sites that raise money, such as GoFundMe, Network for Good, and Facebook, and to retailers that invite shoppers to add a charitable contribution to their payment, writes Eden Stiffman. Those sites and retailers will no longer be allowed to hide fees or use nonprofits’ names in fundraising without their permission.
The law is the first of its kind in the United States and could be a harbinger of further efforts to regulate online fundraising, say experts.
“It’s going to increase people’s confidence in using online fundraising mechanisms for making donations to nonprofits,” Lucy Salcido Carter, public-policy director at the California Association of Nonprofits, told Eden. “It’s also going to protect recipient nonprofits.”
Instead of putting so much emphasis on disaster response and relief, foundations should put more money toward preventing or mitigating “mega-fires,” droughts, and other climate disasters — and do so in a way that supports “equitable disaster relief and long-term recovery, especially for the most vulnerable communities,” said Alan Kwok, director of climate and disaster resilience at Northern California Grantmakers, in an interview with Eden.
Most foundations that support health or housing or criminal-justice efforts don’t think of climate change as part of their mission, but that needs to change, he said.
“Funders need to start thinking about integrating a climate lens to everything that they do,” he explained, “because if a climate-related disaster happens, all of the previous investments that they’ve made will go to waste.”
And if you have time to read just one piece, make it Dan Parks’s interview with Angela Williams, who is the new head of United Way Worldwide. Williams talks about what’s next for the organization, which was hit by a workplace bias scandal amid the challenges of the pandemic -- but also about what she sees as the future of nonprofit leadership by women and people of color as she becomes the first Black female to head such a large charity network. “This is a moment in time where I hope that organizations do not go back on their commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access,” she says. “This is the time rather to lean into it.”
But if you feel more like listening than reading, we highly recommend the latest podcast from our partners at the Center for Effective Philanthropy, who talked to Elizabeth Alexander, leader of the Mellon Foundation.
Look-ahead for the week: Join our colleague Margie Fleming Glennon on Wednesday for a free discussion about the steps nonprofits can take to attract fundraising leaders from diverse backgrounds. And if you didn’t have a chance to read Eden Stiffman’s cover package about making fundraising offices more inclusive, we urge you to take a look now.
And on Friday, October 29, at 11 a.m Eastern our partners at GrantStation are offering a demonstration to help you use the service better and find the support that will power your mission. Free access to GrantStation is a benefit all Chronicle subscribers get automatically — so that is another reason to subscribe if you have not yet done so.
We hope you have plenty of time to read, listen, rest, and recharge this weekend.
Foundation GivingFor years, climate activists have pressured endowed institutions like Ford to divest. Now the grant maker will invest in alternative and renewable energy.
Individual GivingMuch of her philanthropic work is done through the Emerson Collective, a limited-liability company, or LLC, which means she doesn’t have reporting requirements.
Foundation GivingThe Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced it will spend $120 million to boost access to generic versions of drugmaker Merck’s antiviral COVID-19 pill for lower income countries, if the drug gets approved by regulators.
Donor SentimentDespite increasing economic anxiety among America’s middle class, a greater share of people who gave at least $20 during the previous 12 months plan to continue giving than at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the results of a survey released this week.
Tool KitSome nonprofits spend months planning creative digital campaigns for the fundraising sprint. Others use the day to thank donors or inspire their supporters to give back in other ways.
TransitionsAlso, the Frist Foundation will promote its vice president of programs to CEO at the end of the year, and the Lemelson Foundation has also chosen its next executive director from within.
LeadershipThis year’s winners the David Prize, an annual $1 million award for York City residents have been announced. The prize is named after billionaire real estate developer David C. Walentas and financed by his Brooklyn-based family foundation.
Grants RoundupAlso, Lululemon Athletica pledged $75 million to make grants for health and well-being through exercise, mindfulness, and advocacy, and Bloomberg Philanthropies gave $43 million to create the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation at Johns Hopkins University.
Equity in ActionOnce a brand manager at Procter & Gamble, Eric Rigaud now helps organizations document their work to become more equitable. See the rest of our profiles spotlighting people who are driving conversations about equity.
OpinionTo Create a More Inclusive Future, Philanthropy Should Examine the Overlooked Chapters From its PastWomen, Black people, and immigrants — not just wealthy industrialists — fueled 20th-century philanthropy in cities like Pittsburgh. Understanding their historic role is critical to developing more just and equitable philanthropic practices today.
WHAT WE’RE READING ELSEWHERE
Bank of America is putting another $22.1 million into its largest philanthropic effort, which supports nonprofits in “communities facing economic and social challenges.” (Bloomberg)
The McKnight Foundation says it will reduce its investments in polluting industries while expanding holdings in clean technologies to achieve a “net zero endowment” by 2050, although that doesn’t necessarily mean it will purge all of its fossil-fuel investments by then. (Reuters)
The Art Institute of Chicago’s plans to diversify the corps of people who welcome visitors and lead tours have pulled the museum into the culture wars. ” (New York Times)
NEW GRANT OPPORTUNITIES
Your Chronicle subscription includes free access to GrantStation’s database of grant opportunities.
Preservation. The National Endowment for the Humanities helps cultural institutions preserve large and diverse holdings of humanities materials for future generations. The program helps cultural repositories plan and implement preservation strategies that balance effectiveness, cost, and environmental impact. Optional drafts are due December 9. The application deadline is January 13.
Health. The Department of Health and Human Services offers funding to provide information, education, technical assistance, and peer support to families of children and youths with special health-care needs and the professionals who serve them. This program promotes care systems that promote shared decision-making between families, health professionals, and state and community organizations. The application deadline is January 5.