van Beuren Charitable Foundation and BankNewport Support Housing Study

Two GCRI members have provided funding to Connect Greater Newport, the economic development research arm of the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce, to analyze the availability of workforce housing for residents in Newport and Bristol counties.

van Beuren Charitable Foundation provided a $71,000 grant and BankNewport provided a $10,000 grant to study the gaps in available housing for the local workforce and develop a plan to predict and address those gaps for the next decade.

According to The Newport Daily News, “The chamber is currently in the data collection phase of the project and recently released a survey on workforce housing to member businesses.

The goal of the survey is to gauge greater Newport County businesses’ plans for their employees in the future, how many people they expect to hire and what they anticipate paying them, to better understand what the needs for housing will be.

‘We’re taking a bit of a different approach than other more traditional annual reports that come out about housing affordability because we’re not just looking at low to moderate income. We’re looking at the workforce housing category, which is considered to be around 80 to 120% of the median income,’ Donovan-Boyle said. ‘We’re looking at mid-level managers, we’re looking at teachers, nurses, even police officers, firemen, all of those types of individuals who fall into that salary range.’

The median annual income for households in Newport County is estimated to be about $84,282, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, which makes the salary range for households identified as ‘workforce housing’ to be between $67,425 and $101,138. 

The survey is just one part of the larger report the chamber is compiling, which it hopes to release by the end of this year. Donovan-Boyle said the chamber is also looking into how zoning laws impact workforce housing availability and trying to assess what housing stock is already available. The chamber plans to release a more official announcement of the project in the coming months.”

Nonprofits Receive $350,000 to Serve Newport County Residents

Over 40 nonprofit organizations serving Newport County residents will share more than $350,000 in grants through the Rhode Island Foundation’s Newport County Fund. The funding will support work ranging from housing and summer youth programs to food pantries and behavioral health.

Conexion Latino in Newport, FabNewport, the Jamestown Community Food Pantry, Newport Mental Health in Middletown and the Washington Square Cooperative Services are among the 48 organizations that will share the funding.

Aquidneck Community Table received $6,600 to support its Root Riders program, which provides summer jobs to island high school students tending school and community gardens in Newport’s North End.

Best Buddies of Massachusetts & Rhode Island received $2,500 to support its Newport County School Friendship initiative, which will support the inclusion of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through one-to-one friendship programs and inclusive group activities and events from elementary school through college.

Bike Newport received $5,000 to buy bicycle helmets for students who participate in its in-school Bicycle Education Program in partnership with Newport Public Schools. The organization estimates the grant will enable it to give helmets to around 300 children.

The Boys & Girls Club of Newport County in Newport received $9,978 to install a portable pool chair lift that can be used by guests of all ages who cannot use the stairs due to mobility issues to safely enter and exit the pool.

Child and Family in Middletown received $10,000 to supplement its supportive housing program. The initiative is expected to provide safe, secure housing to as many as 12 homeless Newport families with children.  The organization provides participants with wraparound case management and access to a continuum of care that provides the resources necessary for them to eventually secure permanent housing and improve the overall health and wellbeing of their families.

Clean Ocean Access in Middletown received $4,000 to support its Blue Access for All initiative, which connects children with the bay, coastline and local ecosystems. The program is expected to serve approximately 120 children.

The Conanicut Island Sailing Foundation in Jamestown received $10,000 to support its STEAM Ocean Initiative, which serves students in Jamestown schools.  The program inspires young ocean and environmental stewards by engaging and educating over 500 elementary and middle school students each year. It was designed to address the gap between traditional and applied learning as it currently exists in science education.

Conexion Latina Newport received $10,000 to support its housing outreach program targeting residents who identify as Latinx. The organization estimates it gets 5-10 requests for help with housing a week.  The grant will be used to enable the organization’s director of operations to spend more time on working on housing outreach.

Day One, the only agency in Rhode Island specifically organized to deal with issues of sexual assault as a community concern, received $10,000 to provide evaluation, advocacy and treatment services to child and adult victims of sexual violence and abuse in Newport County. Last year, the organization supported over 350 children and adults through its Children’s Advocacy Center in Middletown and its adult advocacy and clinical programs.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport received $10,000 to subsidize its pre-school program. Half the students are English Language Learners and 96 percent come from low-income households.

The East Bay Community Action Program in Newport received $5,000 to support its Baby Steps program, which provides family education sessions and family enrichment activities that engage family members as partners in the education of children through the age of four.

ecoRI News received $6,500 to increase environmental reporting in Jamestown, Little Compton and Tiverton. It reports having an audience of 40,000 and a website that received nearly half a million visits in 2021.

Emmanuel Church in Newport received $7,080 to revive its monthly community meal program for needy residents. The grant will fund stipends for former food service workers as well as cover the cost of food.

FabNewport received $7,500 to provide transportation for approximately 90 middle school students who will participate in its NEX summer immersion program. The six-week program gives youngsters the opportunity to experience art, sailing, golf, farming, music, surfing and hiking among other activities.

Gnome Surf in Little Compton received $7,500 to add instructors at its Little Compton and Second Beach in Middletown sites, expand camps and develop an off-season surf fit program. The Little Compton-based nonprofit offers surf therapy, art therapy, eco therapy and yoga therapy to children and families of all abilities, including youth on the autism spectrum, youth with Down’s syndrome and youth who identify as LGBTQ.  In 2021 the organization used a $5,000 grant from the Newport County Fund in order to establish a secondary site at Second Beach in Middletown with weekly lessons offered by one instructor as well as two, two-week summer camps in partnership with FabNewport to introduce youth to surf therapy.

The Herren Project in Portsmouth received $7,500 to partner with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County on a pilot program designed to meet the critical need for prevention, mental health and intervention strategies for children and adolescents and their families.

Island Moving Company in Newport received $10,000 to support its Dancing Through Boundaries program, a comprehensive educational program that serves 5,000 students across Newport County Schools annually. The goal is to improve academic performance in math, literacy and creativity.  The grant supports programs at the Pell Elementary School in Newport and the Wilbur & McMahon School in Little Compton.

The James L. Maher Center in Middletown received $9,866 to expand its “Fresh” initiative, which blends planting and cultivating fresh vegetables with nutrition counseling, meal preparation and culinary skills training. The work includes hiring a part-time chef in order to increase the food service program’s capacity; installing improved lighting; and buying blenders and other small appliances in order to provide meals that meet special dietary requirements.

The Jamestown Arts Center received $10,000 to support its Free Community Arts Experiences program, which will offer a diverse array of arts experiences for residents to enjoy and learn from in socially-distanced formats.  Plans call for a year-long series of free arts events, workshops and collaborative art-making. The initiative will feature partnerships with local schools and multiple community organizations for community engagement as well as program implementation.

The Jamestown Community Chorus received $2,600 to expand its “Everybody Chorus,” where anyone of any age and singing ability is welcome to come to sing in unison.  The two choruses will perform on the same program. The Jamestown Community Chorus will sing choral music in 4-part harmony and the Everyone Chorus will perform popular music, show tunes and folk tunes.

The Jamestown Community Food Pantry received $10,000 to re-stock its facility on Narragansett Avenue. The pantry, which is the only source of free meat, chicken, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, fresh produce and basic household supplies on the island, serves more than 70 Jamestown households comprising nearly 130 people.  In addition to food, the organization offers personal care items, pet food, and, in the colder months hats, gloves and socks for those who may need them.

The Jamestown Community Piano Association received $3,000 to stage live performances as the organization strives to re-build its audience in the wake of COVID shut-downs.  The organization will use its grant to sponsor performances by well-known pianists that are likely to attract patrons who have lost the habit of attending live concerts in person.

The Katie Brown Educational Program (KBEP) received $6,500 to provide evidence-based, relationship violence prevention education to Jamestown, Little Compton, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton students in grades 4-12. Through the KBEP students learn skills necessary to recognize, avoid, and prevent relationship violence by shifting unhealthy attitudes and changing behaviors.

The Little Compton Community Center received $10,000 to support its Senior Lunch Program. The center prepares meals for pick up, for home delivery and to be served in its dining room.  Since COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed, the organization has returned to serving meals in the center’s dining room. In addition, meals can be served outdoors on the facility’s patio during the summer.

The Little Compton Historical Society received $10,000 to research the history of the Indigenous people of the area as part of its “History of the Sakonnet People” project.  The organization plans to share the results of its research with the public with a book, a special exhibition and a series of public programs in 2025, which is the 350th anniversary of the English settlement of Sakonnet, now Little Compton.

Live & Learn in Jamestown received $10,000 to purchase additional and upgraded kitchen equipment and supplies, growing equipment and supplies, and computing equipment. The organization supports entrepreneurship, creative problem-solving and community-based, innovative approaches to community issues.  The equipment will include two new steel prep tables, a chest freezer, two new stand mixers, bulk bins to store food supplies, an additional sink, three shelving units for growing, additional LED grow lights and planting supplies.

Lucy’s Hearth in Middletown received $10,000 to support an on-site counselor during the evening and overnight hours at the shelter, which serves approximately 160 adults and children.

Meals on Wheels received $5,000 to support its work providing home-delivered meals to Newport County seniors and other homebound adults. In 2021, organization served more than 30,000 meals, a 30 percent increase since 2019.

MENTOR Rhode Island received $10,000 to support the Aquidneck Island Mentoring (AIM) program, which matches children with multiple risk factors with a volunteer mentor from the community who is recruited, screened, trained, matched and supported by the organization.

Newport Classical received $5,000 to support its free, year-round concert series that brings open-air, classical music concerts to community-centered locations across Aquidneck Island.

The Newport Community School received $10,000 to support its One Stop Hybrid Career and Employment Services program, which offers employment and training program services for people who are unemployed or under-employed. The organization expects to serve about 150 people.

Newport FILM received $5,000 to launch a pilot nonfiction story-telling program, in partnership with FabNewport, the Met School and Creative Communities Collaborative, anchored at the Florence Gray Center in the city’s North End.

The Newport Gulls received $5,000 to enable underprivileged children to attend its summer camps with players and coaches in Middletown, Newport and Portsmouth. The Gulls will work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County, the East Bay Community Action Program, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and local little leagues to identify needy children age 6 to 12 that come from families experiencing financial hardship.

Newport Mental Health in Middletown received $10,000 to transport clients to behavioral health and medical appointments. The organization expects the funding will cover the cost of hundreds of rides for clients.

Newport Partnership for Families received $7,000 to support its Reading Reaps Rewards’ Summer Learning Initiative. The program serves 235 Pell elementary students across four city sites: Newport Family & Child Opportunity Zone’s Summer Learning Academy at Thompson Middle School, the Boys & Girls Club of Newport County, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and the Newport County YMCA.

The Newport String Project received $5,000 to support its after-school program for children and a professional chamber music series led by the Newport String Quartet. In partnership with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, the organization will provide free violin, viola and cello lessons to at least 40 students from pre-K through high school.

The Newport Tree Conservancy received $4,400 to support planting 100 trees in the Health Equity Zone in Miantonomi Park. According to the organization, the neighborhood contains only 7.5 percent of the city’s open space, but is home to 55 percent of Newport’s children under the age of 14 and 24 percent of students at the local public elementary school live under the poverty line.

The Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown received $5,000 to buy a sensory tub station and support the creation of a science drawing station and a literacy corner for its new Curiosity Lab. The space, which will encourage children to explore STEAM, is schedule to open in September.

Sail Newport received $10,000 to support its 4th Grade Science and Sailing Program at Pell Elementary School. The 16-week program, which is provided during the school day, takes place on Narragansett Bay, along the shoreline and in the organization’s shore-side classroom. In the school year that just ended, nearly 150 children participated.

The Salvation Army – Newport Corps received $5,000 to support its Pathway of Hope initiative, which primarily families of color. The program will serve up to seven families at a time with case management for up to two years.

Save The Bay received $10,000 to provide environmental and STEM education programs to approximately 350 students at Newport’s Pell Elementary and Thompson Middle schools. In addition to classroom activities, students will participate in a marine science cruise on Narragansett Bay and plant dune grass to restore shoreline habitat at Easton’s Beach.

Shri Service Corps received $3,370 to support its Adaptive Yoga Project at Looking Upwards in Middletown and the Seniors Yoga Project at the Jamestown Food Pantry. The Adaptive Yoga Project serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities while the Seniors Yoga Project serves residents ages 55 and up.

The St. Joseph Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Newport received $8,500 to provide emergency financial assistance to residents facing emergencies, including eviction, utility shut-offs, lack of home heating oil, need of prescription drugs and clothing among other needs.

The Star Kids Scholarship Program received $6,000 to provide one-on-one tutoring, school transportation and after-school and summer camp opportunities for at-risk Newport County children and youth in grades K-12 for the 2022-23 school year.

Turning Around Ministries in Newport received $10,000 to provide case management and job readiness services to under-served and at-risk persons living in the community who face homelessness, poverty, debt, addiction and unemployment.

Visiting Nurse Home and Hospice in Middletown received $5,500 to provide professional development and support at all levels of the organization, which serves residents throughout Newport County.

The Washington Square Services Corp. in Newport received $10,000 to provide intensive case management services to homeless men and women at the McKinney Cooperative Shelter. The shelter serves more than 40 people a day and over 100 individuals through the course of each year, according to the organization.

The Women’s Resource Center received $5,000 to support resident leaders as they begin implementing the Newport Health Equity Zone Collaborative’s North End Equitable Development Strategy, which focuses on housing affordability and open green and civic spaces. The work will include expanding the base of North End residents involved in advocacy as well as making significant progress in coalition-building with individuals, organizations and other constituencies.

The Newport County Fund awards grants of up $10,000 to strengthen or expand established programs, to support policy or advocacy efforts on behalf of community concerns, to fund new projects that focus on significant problems or opportunities, and to leverage strategic collaborations and partnerships. In making the funding decisions, the Foundation worked with an advisory committee comprised of residents from every community in Newport County.

Established in 2002, the Fund has awarded $5.3 million in grants for programs and services for residents of Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton. It is just one of the grant programs that enable the Foundation to serve Newport County communities.

Leaders of 10 Local Organizations Chosen for New Nonprofit Innovation Lab

The leaders of 10 local organizations have been selected as fellows to participate in the latest Nonprofit Innovation Lab. This marks the third cohort of the joint effort of United Way of Rhode Island and Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) that launched in 2020. The unique program challenges organizations to think outside the box to develop new solutions to pressing social issues, and offers an opportunity to secure seed funding to bring those ideas to life.

With the Nonprofit Innovation Lab, United Way and SEG help to accelerate organizations’ ability to hone and implement unique ideas with the potential to create positive social impact. The effort pairs each fellow with a custom team of coaches and provides the knowledge, resources, and networking opportunities that help turn transformative ideas into reality. The months-long program culminates with “Sparked!”, a “Shark Tank”-like presentation broadcast on Rhode Island PBS where fellows compete for $90,000 in seed funding and other in-kind services and supports. The fellows selected and their organizations are:

  • Christopher Antao, Gnome Surf
  • Elizabeth Cunha, The Center for Dynamic Learning
  • Eugenio Fernandez, Melior
  • Bior Guigni, Beat the Streets New England
  • Jody Jencks, Meeting Street
  • Helene Miller, The Partnership for Providence Parks, Recreation Centers, and Streetscapes (P3)
  • James Monteiro, Reentry Campus Program
  • Nicole O’Malley, Hands in Harmony
  • Valerie Tutson, Rhode Island Black Storytellers
  • Kristen Williams, Riverzedge Arts
  • Among the projects selected for advancement are Meeting Street’s vision to create a Teacher’s Assistant Apprenticeship Program to address both an ongoing labor shortage and the longstanding underrepresentation of minorities in the field; Hands in Harmony developing a specialized Mental Health and Music Wellness program to decrease stress and improve healthcare utilization; and Riverzedge Arts expanding its art and entrepreneurial programming to serve adults while simultaneously growing its career development and employment offerings for at-risk youth.

 

Newport Historic Spring receives $100,000 contribution from BankNewport

First new public park in 30 years advances to a Fall 2022 ground breaking

BankNewport has made a $100,000 charitable contribution to the Newport Historic Spring to advance the effort to install a public park on the site of the original town spring and the birthplace of Newport. This represents the largest corporate contribution to the project to transform the former Coffey’s gas station into a park that pays tribute to the values of religious freedom and tolerance, the founding principles of Newport as the first secular government in the colonial period of the United States.

After years of careful planning, site remediation, the discovery and study of the 18th-Century spring box, and extensive input by the City of Newport and the public, the vision for this park will become a reality once this $3.5 million phase two is fully funded. A total of $2.7 million has now been raised and the leaders hope to raise the final funding by September 2022 to break ground and begin construction. To learn more about the Newport Historic Spring, visit www.newportspring.com.

Olneyville Programs Awarded $182,708 in Grants by United Way of Rhode Island

Through its Olneyville Community Fund, United Way of Rhode Island has awarded $182,708 in grants to programs whose work is strengthening the Providence neighborhood it calls home. The investments focus on creating opportunities for all by improving access to services for residents, enhancing educational offerings for children through adults, and increasing nonprofit capacity to meet community need. Eleven organizations received funding.

Grantees include Amenity Aid, Children’s Friend, Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, Community Libraries of Providence, FirstWorks, Inspiring Minds, Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island, Olneyville Neighborhood Association, Project 401, Providence Promise, and Teatro ECAS.

More information

RISCA and RIHPHC Award $3.46 million in Capital Grants

Governor Dan McKee, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) jointly announced the recipients of 24 State Cultural Facilities Grants and 18 State Preservation Grants.
Together the projects represent some $2.28 million from RISCA and more than $1.18 million from RIHPHC for capital preservation work at public and nonprofit arts and performance facilities, museums, cultural arts centers and historic sites throughout the state.
Last March, Rhode Island voters overwhelmingly passed the Cultural Arts and State Preservation Grants Programs ballot measure, which authorized the state to allocate funds to arts, culture and historic facilities. Included in this funding are carryover funds from the 2014 $30 million ballot measure totaling $460,930.
For a listing of State Cultural Facilities Grants, click here.
For more on HPHC’s State Preservation Grants, visit www.preservation.ri.gov.

Bank Newport Awards $74,000 in Family Support Grants

BankNewport awarded $74,000 in proactive grants to support the missions of 64 organizations throughout Rhode Island and to provide additional aid for the holiday season.

“As a true community bank, we are dedicated to making a positive impact around the state,” said Jack Murphy, President & CEO, BankNewport. “These organizations work tirelessly to ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors receive the care and support they need every day.  We are so thankful for their efforts throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, when they go above and beyond to make the season a bit brighter for those in need.”

Twenty eight nonprofits in Providence County received grants, seven in Kent County, thirteen in Newport County, five in Washington County, and three in Bristol County.  Eighteen additional statewide nonprofits received grants.

Photo: Jessica Couto, vice president, branch sales manager at BankNewport’s newest branch in Warwick, joins Lara D’ Antuono, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick, at the Club’s holiday market.  The Boys & Girls Club used a BankNewport family support grant to purchase gifts for its holiday market, which allows parents and caregivers to shop for gifts for their children at no cost.

Champlin Foundation Awards $13.2 Million to Nonprofits Statewide

The Champlin Foundation announced today $13.2 million in capital funding to 126 nonprofit organizations serving a variety of priorities, including 17 first-time grantees. From building renovations and facility expansions to equipment upgrades and vehicle purchases, grants will help Rhode Island build back stronger.

This grant cycle builds on a round of $5.8 million in funding that was distributed in June for a 2021 total of $19 million.

Of the 126 organizations receiving funding, the greatest number of applicants came in the Social Services category, ranging from smaller projects like a storage shed for Amenity Aid to store basic care items for shelters, to larger initiatives like the work of Open Doors to provide transitional employment services to individuals with criminal records.

The first round of applications for 2022 grants will open on December 15th and close on January 15th. The second cycle will begin June 1, 2022, and close on July 1, 2022. A secondary track for campership grant applications will open in September 2022.

Full List of Grantees

50 community organizations receive funding from Tufts Health Plan Foundation

$500,000 supports nonprofits in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire

Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced 50 community organizations across the region will receive a total of $500,000 in Momentum Fund grants to advance health equity and support community resilience. The organizations serve people disproportionately affected by the pandemic after years of system inequities, especially older people.

The 2021 Momentum Fund grants support organizations that improve nutrition security; make access to transportation more equitable; address social isolation and mental health; deliver reliable and clear COVID-19 information; support caregivers; and advance workforce solutions. The grants were informed by more than 100 conversations with community members.

A total of 10 organizations in each state — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire — will receive unrestricted grants due to the challenges many have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources can be used to address the most urgent community needs.

The Rhode Island grantees are Aldersbridge Communities, Center for Southeast Asians, Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, Conexion Latina Newport, Grands Flourish, Higher Ground International, Refugee Dream Center, RI Minority Elder Task Force, We Share Hope, and West Bay Community Action Program.

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