The Importance of Philanthropy Infrastructure — Guest Post

How One Foundation Invested Deeply in Philanthropy Infrastructure to Deepen Its Learning & Focus

At United Philanthropy Forum we recently highlighted how philanthropists MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett provided notable support to philanthropy infrastructure organizations as part of their most recent round of grants, underscoring the value and importance of these groups to our sector and our communities. In fact, a recent analysis by Bloomberg showed that 32 percent of Scott/Jewett grants to date have gone to philanthropy infrastructure organizations. It’s encouraging to see this level of support for groups that are so vital to philanthropy in our country.

There is another funder that has been investing deeply in philanthropy infrastructure for a number of years, but its support has been under the radar—until now. A new report developed by The Giving Practice tells the story of how the Satterberg Foundation in Seattle has made unprecedented investments in four regional philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs)—all Forum members—over more than half a decade. The foundation has viewed these four philanthropy infrastructure groups—Philanthropy NorthwestNorthern California GrantmakersSoCal Grantmakers, and Catalyst of San Diego and Imperial Counties—as vital partners in the regions where it funds, to help the foundation, in the words of Satterberg Foundation Executive Director Sarah Walczyk, “gain a deeper understanding of the key issues at play in our sector to further hone our foundation funding focus for the future.”

Through its Community Partnerships program, the foundation has provided two rounds of three-year general operating support grants to each of the four PSOs, in amounts ranging from $750,000 to $1,000,000 per year. The grants were open-ended and flexible and came with streamlined grant reporting requirements. A key focus of the funding was on foundation learning, emphasizing “learning together, shared inquiry and sense-making.”

The report makes clear that the foundation went into these partnerships without a lot of expectations or a theory of change. The foundation’s board was not focused on achieving impact or interested in getting progress reports. Instead, it viewed the PSOs as trusted places to connect and learn from partners who “better understood the geographic needs of the regions and states than we do,” according to one foundation representative. Trust and relationship-building were the priority, following principles of trust-based philanthropy.

“We had confidence in those organizations,” a foundation representative said in the report. “We always saw PSOs as a place to connect and learn. More recently, we saw them make sense of their role, align values, respond to diverse perspectives, engage in policy change, build their voice, and speak up. We were inspired to see these organizations build a movement of funders working together on community issues.”

The effects of the Satterberg investments on the organizational capacity of the four PSOs were significant and included adding senior staff positions, investing in more staff learning and professional development, increasing staff salaries, investing in better technology, and much more. The investments led to notable innovations in all four of the regional PSOs, most notably in the areas of advancing equity, shaping public policy, partnering with government, and mobilizing support for communities.

A few examples: SoCal Grantmakers is a key partner and fiscal intermediary for the new Veterans Peer Access Network, a public-private partnership that will use $4.3 million in public-private investment to provide peer-based services to help veterans in L.A. County deal with homelessness, health and other issues. Philanthropy Northwest established the WA Food Fund, in partnership with the state of Washington, which has raised more than $16 million to respond to the growing food crisis as a result of COVID-19. Northern California Grantmakers created the Racial Equity Action Institute, which connects racial equity specialists with leaders in philanthropy, government, business and nonprofits to learn and develop actionable strategies for change in their organizations and fields. Catalyst of San Diego and Imperial Counties is administering the Women’s Empowerment Loan Fund, an impact investing fund providing business loans to women of color entrepreneurs who don’t have access to traditional financing options. The report emphasizes that all of these actions, and many others cited in the report, were made possible because of the PSOs’ increased capacity and expertise resulting from the Satterberg Foundation’s investments.

Support from the Satterberg Foundation also provided the capacity for the three California PSOs to create an alliance that is now Philanthropy California, where the three groups work in operations, programs, public policy, membership and communications. One recent result of this alliance: the creation of the position of Senior Advisor on Social Innovation to the Governor, who works together with Philanthropy California to coordinate public-private partnerships in the state.

The foundation’s support also accelerated important shifts in each of the four PSOs that I’ve been noticing in many regional and national PSOs in recent years, including:

  • Widening the scope of their organization’s vision beyond the boundaries of the philanthropy sector to look at what’s good for their broader communities.
  • A stronger focus on equity, particularly racial equity.
  • Shifting from a member service strategy to a change strategy, which involved the PSO taking on a bigger leadership role.
  • Moving from being responsive to members’ needs to be proactive in advancing critical issues through advocacy and mobilization.

In the end, the Satterberg Foundation’s broad and deep support for these four regional PSOs has played a pivotal role in all of them becoming much more dynamic and influential leadership organizations for their regions and the broader field. They are clearly much better positioned to address whatever may come their way in the future. For example, the report notes that all four PSOs “snapped into action” to inform and mobilize their members in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic effects on nonprofits in their regions, in ways that likely would not have been possible without their added capacity. It’s worth imagining the incredibly positive impact for our sector and our communities if similar types of investments were made in all regional and national PSOs in our country.

In the report, a Satterberg Foundation representative notes that some funders still view regional PSOs as “old school”—i.e. “They do a conference,” but that the foundation views PSOs as places for “power building, movement building, policy work, building funds. They’re the place to invest for funders who really want to move an agenda and provide a regional perspective. We need them in philanthropy.”

David Biemesderfer
President & CEO
United Philanthropy Forum
Follow me @dbiemesderfer

Central Providence Resident Advisory Council awards $100,400 in Community Impact Fund grants

Guest Post from ONE Neighborhood Builders — The Resident Advisory Council (RAC), a group of 16 residents of Central Providence created by ONE Neighborhood Builders, has awarded $100,400 in Community Impact Fund grants to 21 businesses and organizations.
The grants, of up to $5,000 each, are to be used to support creative, community-driven projects that support the goals and objectives of Central Providence Opportunities, a collective-impact initiative to improve economic mobility for residents in the nine neighborhoods located in the 02908 and 02909 ZIP codes.
The RAC took about a month to review and score the grant requests before awarding them in this first funding round. In total, $200,000 has been designated for the Community Impact Fund, and the remaining funds will be awarded in future rounds.
Some of the projects funded would pay for: fencing at Naili Home Childcare on Waldo Street; the purchase of tools to expand the selection of library items that can be borrowed through PVD Things; beautification projects at William D’Abate Elementary School; a community healing and storytelling project from the Wilbury Theatre Group called “Capture the Block”; a job training program for formerly incarcerated people from Garden Time Inc.; and a program called “Museums For All,” by a group called Stages of Freedom, which will help young people from the two zip codes explore race and culture and attend museums at discounted rates.
Shelley Peterson, a member of the RAC, said the grant process “was something that was done by residents, for residents and businesses, so this was a really great way for us to advocate for our neighborhoods.” Peterson pointed to the diverse nature of the RAC and how the group represents the community’s needs and interests.
“I think the RAC was well chosen,” Peterson said. “They created a group that was extremely diverse. … And not only by identity, age, gender, etc., but also by occupation—some of us are educators, students, business owners, and neighborhood volunteers. The wonderful part that brings us all together is that we really care about what happens in our neighborhoods.”
She noted that two of the RAC members, sisters Oluwapelumi “Lumi” Egunjobi and Oluwademilade “Demi” Egunjobi, at ages 16 and 15, respectively, brought a unique perspective to the group, as its youngest members.
“Their perspectives are unique and sometimes what us older RAC members don’t necessarily think of—that point of view from a young adult,” Peterson said of the Classical High School students. “I think it’s wonderful, and I appreciate their experiences and opinions as partners in this.”
Lumi described her experience as “eye-opening.” She said it required her to conduct a lot of research and participate with neighborhood residents in a way she hadn’t before.
“I feel really good,” she said. “I feel like I helped out my community and the people who are living here.”
She said her sister had always been more of an activist and encouraged her to apply for the RAC. But it didn’t take much convincing.
“While I was growing up, I went to a pretty privileged school, like a private school,” she said. “And so I just always saw the disparities between where I live and where other people live, who were my classmates. And I felt it’s my responsibility to give back.”
Her sister, Demi, said the RAC serves dual purposes: It addresses the needs of the community, and it brings people together.
“I feel like these projects are going to give us a chance to get to know each other better,” she said. “I just want more events where we can work on building a tight-knit and supportive community.”
One project that really spoke to her is called “Capture the Block: Community Healing in Storytelling,” which aims to “bring the community together and create [a] shared space for healing.”
“The pandemic has really had a big impact on our community, especially low-income residents,” Demi said.
“And so having a space for residents to connect, become acquainted, and talk about what we all experienced through this pandemic is crucial.”
For more information about the Community Impact Fund and the Resident Advisory Council, visit: https://oneneighborhoodbuilders.org/central-providence-opportunities.
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ONE|NB is the convening entity of the Central Providence Health Equity Zone, which brings together residents, community organizations, health professionals, and others to address root causes of health disparities, and of the Central Providence Collaborative, which includes more than four dozen community-based organizations, local businesses, residents, and elected officials who work together to improve neighborhood conditions. ONE|NB is the backbone organization of Central Providence Opportunities, a collective-impact initiative to increase economic mobility for residents in Central Providence. ONE|NB also created the first free community wireless network in Rhode Island, providing high-speed broadband to about 1,000 users in the Olneyville neighborhood.

RI Foundation to Host Stakeholder Session on Public Education

The Rhode Island Foundation is hosting Make It Happen: World-Class Public Education for RI, a one-day event to convene parents, students, educators, administrators, business leaders, and community members to participate in collective brainstorming.

The event will be led and hosted by the Long-Term Education Planning Committee convened by the Foundation in late 2018. Throughout the year this senior-level group – which includes the Commissioner of Education and Chair of the Board of Education, labor leaders, traditional public school and public charter school representatives, business leaders, representatives from local higher education institutions, and nonprofits serving children and families – has been meeting regularly and have agreed to a vision, priorities, and strategies aimed at developing and sustaining a world-class public education system for our state over the next 10 years.

Rhode Island’s Education Commissioner Angélica M. Infante-Green is expected to attend.

RIDOH Announces New Health Equity Zones

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced that expanded support and funding to three new communities to establish Health Equity Zones. East Providence, Cranston, and Providence’s West End neighborhood were chosen through a competitive process that drew nearly 20 applicants from communities across the State. These new communities will share approximately $1.4 million in funding with seven existing Health Equity Zones receiving support to continue their work in local communities.

RIDOH’s Health Equity Zone initiative is an innovative, place-based approach that brings people together to build healthy, resilient communities across Rhode Island. The initiative is grounded in research that shows up to 80% of health outcomes are determined by factors outside clinical settings, such as access to affordable, healthy foods; high-quality education; employment opportunities; and safe neighborhoods. The model encourages and equips community members and partners to collaborate to address factors like these and create healthy places for people to live, learn, work, and play.

“We are thrilled to expand our Health Equity Zones initiative to additional Rhode Island communities,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. “With plans for strong mentorship from existing Health Equity Zones, these communities are taking the forces that shape their health and well-being into their own hands. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish over the next few years as we continue to lift up this initiative as a national model of how such an infrastructure led by community members can create the conditions needed for every person to thrive.”

Each successful application was submitted by a municipal or nonprofit, community-based organization that will serve as the “backbone agency” for the local Health Equity Zone. These agencies, which include East Bay Community Action Program, Comprehensive Community Action Plan, and West Elmwood Housing Corporation, will facilitate a community-led process to organize a collaborative of community partners, conduct a needs assessment, and implement a data-driven plan of action to address the obstacles to health and well-being in local neighborhoods. RIDOH will provide seed funding and support to ensure that communities ground their work in public health principles and best practices, so that measurable outcomes are reached and evaluated.

 

 

DHS, DOH Partner to Award Preschool-development Grants

As a result of a partnership between the RI Department of Health and the Department of Human Services, five health equity zones throughout the state have received a total of $360,170 in preschool-development grants.

The selected health equity zones will use the funds to help families prepare children to succeed in school.

“Family members are the first, and often the most important, educators in a child’s early life, yet vulnerable families face significant economic, social-emotional and other barriers to fulfilling that role,” said Womazetta Jones, R.I. Health and Human Services secretary and Children’s Cabinet co-chair. “The preschool-development grants will increase the accessibility, choice, affordability and intensity of programs that are available in these communities.”

The successful HEZ’s were Woonsocket, Central Providence, Pawtucket/Central Falls, Washington County and West Warwick.

 

GCRI Members Partner on Arts Advocacy Workshop

In the arts community, there are many overlapping policy issues — from the need for affordable housing, investment in arts and afterschool programming as well as the need for financial literacy to create a more stable existence for many artists and those they serve.

United Way of Rhode Island worked with Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and the City of Providence to train over 40 artists and arts supporters at “Arts Trifecta: Advocacy 101.”

United Way is planning on a continued partnership with the arts and culture funders around advocacy training and intersectional social issues.

Tufts Health Plan Foundation Awards $1.1 Million in Healthy Aging Policy and Practice Grants

Tufts Health Plan Foundation Awards $1.1 Million to Advance Policies and Practices Supporting Healthy Aging

Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced new community investments of more than $1.1 million, reflecting a commitment to advance inclusive policies that create thriving and vital communities that work for people of all ages.

“Communities have greater interest in age-friendly initiatives. There’s a growing understanding of the critical role older people play. They are an asset to community, and their voices and insights are invaluable to the public discourse on what communities need,” said Nora Moreno Cargie, vice president, corporate citizenship for Tufts Health Plan and president of its Foundation.

The Foundation’s new grants support initiatives to engage and train more advocates to participate in policy discussions; extend dementia-friendly programs to new communities; and address gaps limiting access to services and healthy, nutritious food. All are aligned with the Foundation’s focus on support for communities that work for everyone.

Three of the eight grants awarded went to Rhode Island organizations.  The Senior Agenda Coalition of Rhode Island was awarded a $50,000 policy and advocacy grant for a program to engage low-income seniors and develop them as community leaders with the capacity to effectively advocate for policy change.  Rhode Island College Foundation received a two year James A. Roosevelt, Jr. Leadership Fund (community engagement) grant for $252,400 to build a powerful community coalition to advocate, design innovative solutions and develop programs/services for an Age-Friendly Rhode Island.  The Alzheimer’s Association of Rhode Island also received a one year systems and best practices grant for $15,000 to support the update of Rhode Island’s five-year plan on Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders.

The new grants engage nearly 80 community organizations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

LISC Advances Health Equity in Pawtucket/Central Falls

LISC Advances Health Equity in Pawtucket/Central Falls

LISC reports that tremendous strides have been made on the Pawtucket Central Falls Health Equity Zone (HEZ) initiative after just the first two years of a four-year commitment.

In its 2017 Report to the Community, Jeanne Cola, LISC Executive Director, says, “We are enormously proud of being able to provide leadership services and act as the backbone agency for this hard working collaboration of community leaders…. After just a year of executing the plan, we are already seeing the benefits to the community. We are making strides on expanding access to nutritious food and increasing levels of activity; we are developing programs to foster intergenerational relationships, diabetes education and management, and HEZ partners are focused on creating affordable  housing solutions.”

Read the 2017 HEZ Report

Interview on WPRO

Rhode Island Foundation Awards Almost $500,000 in Place-Based Grants

The Rhode Island Foundation awarded almost a half million dollars in place-based grants this summer, through its Community Grants program and Newport County Fund.

The Community Grants program provided $225,000 in grants to support work that ranges from creating performance spaces and urban farms to restoring playgrounds and historic parks.  The Foundation received nearly 130 proposals; 30 received funding.

“Our grants will create places to gather, build relationships and inspire new collaborations that will strengthen community connections all over Rhode Island, said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.  Description of funded projects

The Foundation also awarded more than $270,000 to dozens of nonprofit organizations serving Newport County residents, through its Newport County Fund (NCF).  The grants will underwrite a host of activities ranging from job readiness training and after-school activities to preventing relationship violence and stocking food pantries.

“From enriching arts and educational opportunities for young people to underwriting critical health and environmental programs, we are proud to work with partners that are improving lives here,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are grateful to the donors who make our support possible and the local men and women who keep us closely connected to the community.”

Established in 2002, the NCF has awarded more than $3.8 million in grants for programs and services for residents of Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton.  The NCF offered grants of up $10,000 in seven key funding areas: arts and culture, basic human needs, children and families, economic security, the environment, healthy lives and housing. In making the funding decisions, the Foundation worked with an advisory committee comprised of Newport County residents.  Description of funded programs

Strengthening the Youth Sector: Lessons for Funders, Leaders, and Boards Webinar

Strengthening the Youth Sector: Lessons for Funders, Leaders, and Boards  Webinar

Thursday, June 22nd, 12:00-1:00 PM ET

Funders Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP), a sister organization in the Forum, will be hosting a webinar based on the Youth Engagement Fund’s new report, Strengthening the Youth Sector: Lessons for Funders, Leaders, and Boards. This report was produced with input from over 40 executive directors, staff and board members leading youth-oriented civic engagement organizations to help us better understand how we can better support the development and retention of excellent leaders in this sector of work.

Register