In August, we reached out to you to get your feedback on a draft position statement regarding simplifying the federal excise tax on private foundations. This was our first time testing the process for taking public positions and we were interested to see what your reactions might be. Overall, the process worked well and smoothly. Here's the specifics!
First, while we received only a small number of comments (12), they were extremely thoughtful and came from a variety of people, primarily CEOs and senior staff, at our member organizations. Most chose not to comment publicly on our website but to send notes privately by email.
The bulk of the comments were positive—endorsing the proposed statement and/or praising Philanthropy New York for moving this issue forward. A couple of the comments were neutral—asking clarifying questions about the issues underlying the statement or about our process in general. Three comments were not supportive of the position statement as drafted. All of the comments have been shared with the Board, which meets later this month and will vote on whether or not our organization will officially endorse the statement on excise tax simplification.
We will continue to keep you informed as we grow our public policy work. If you are not already, I recommend that you sign up to receive our monthly policy-focused e-newsletter Philanthropy Connects. It presents essential, easily digestible information about what's going on with our issue-based working groups, general nonprofit and philanthropic sector policy news, program features and more.
(And, just so you know—whenever you want to know what's going on with Philanthropy New York's public policy work, a great place to start is the newly expanded public policy section of our website. There is a new public policy tab on the toolbar that can take you there quickly from any part of our site.)
And of course, we are always here to answer any questions you might have. Our Vice President for Communications and Public Policy Michael Hamill Remaley has been with us for ten months now, and he loves when members call or stop by and ask how things are going. If you'd like to connect with him, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you often this fall!
President, Philanthropy New York
Four community-based activists from New Jersey, Michigan, Louisiana and Texas were recently introduced as the first fellows in the Everybody at the Table for Health (EAT4Health) initiative created by the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. This initiative is also supported by other funding partners: the Compton, Kresge, Surdna and Lawson Valentine foundations, The New York Community Trust, and the Schmidt Family Foundation's 11th Hour Project.
The fellows have been impacted by food system inequities personally, demonstrated a long-term commitment to their communities and advocated successfully at the local level. Each fellow will work with a national advocacy group based in Washington, DC, and his or her sponsoring community-based organization to design a work plan and project that builds and leverages the power of grassroots leadership and the national organization's expertise.
Twenty local news and information projects across the country, all backed by their community or place-based foundations, have been awarded $3.67 million in matching funds as winners of the Knight Community Information Challenge.
The winning projects (including the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's New Jersey News Collaborative) will improve access to data, strengthen their local news and information infrastructure and empower their communities around social issues.
The challenge was created by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help community and place-based foundations become leaders in supporting local news and information, which is seen as vital to helping communities shape their own futures.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration for Children and Families, along with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, have named the local partners for a new $35 million initiative to stabilize fragile families and keep children out of foster care.
Broward County (FL), Cedar Rapids (IA), Memphis (TN), San Francisco (CA) and the State of Connecticut will be testing a new model for preventing foster care placements by placing highly fragile families in supportive housing that coordinates needed social and health services within the home setting.
This initiative is based on an innovative and successful pilot effort in New York City—known as Keeping Families Together—that paired supportive housing with on-site case management and a comprehensive array of services for families experiencing chronic homelessness, substance abuse and mental health problems and child welfare involvement.
"We know from experience that reaching out to families with an integrated and comprehensive array of services, including stable housing, is one of the most effective approaches to keep children safe from abuse and neglect," said William C. Bell, Ph.D., President and CEO of Casey Family Programs. "We have every reason to believe that the programs this initiative supports will improve outcomes for children and families in those communities, reduce the need for foster care and...help further our knowledge and understanding of how to build communities of hope for all vulnerable children in America."
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, in collaboration with curator Alison Gingeras and artist Jonathan Horowitz, will mount a show titled We the People, which will provide an artistic view of the diverse demographics of our country, coinciding with the 2012 presidential election, and as seen through 50 different artists' eyes.
"This exhibition's theme resonates with Robert Rauschenberg's own artistic and philanthropic legacy—the use of art to explore and expose key issues of our time, the power of media and headlines in our society's understanding of itself and the pulling together of a community of artists as activists to confront those issues," said Christy MacLear, Executive Director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. "Exploring how one characterizes the American fabric is relevant to understanding the voice and representation of the people. This is a part of Rauschenberg's legacy, as much as being an artist he was a man of the people, in all their diversity."
We the People will run from October 3rd through November 9th at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Project Space, located at 455 West 19th Street. The Project Space is open to the public from 11 AM to 6 PM, Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is free.
(View a full text, PDF version of Philanthropy New York Currents, September 2012.)