Friday, September 16, 2005

Race & Philanthropy in the 3rd Millennium...

I just returned to New York from a brief trip to Indianapolis, where I brought the EPIP perspective to my first meeting of the Advisory Committee for Third Millennium Philanthropy & Leadership Initiative (its nickname is simply 'Millennium').

This is an exciting new 5-year Kellogg Foundation funded initiative at my alma mater, the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy. It is designed to faciliate access to, and equip women and people of color for leadership roles in philanthropy, as well as to attract and cultivate succeeding generations of philanthropic leaders. While the initiative is still taking shape, it has a lot of potential.

The Kellogg, Charles Stewart Mott, and Ford foundations all invest in the health of the philanthropic sector itself, along with the Surdna Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and a slim few others. But the first three I listed have all shifted in recent years to focus on some iteration of race and diversity issues within philanthropy.

At Kellogg, they have retooled their whole Philanthropy and Volunteerism program to unleash the resources of women, people of color and young people. Mott has allocated a significant portion of its nonprofit sector funding stream to look at racial diversity (this program funds EPIP's Professional Development Fund). And Ford created a program on "Community Philanthropy, Race and Equity in the American South." That program provided start-up funds to EPIP, and remains our major funding partner.

It is a fascinating process to see how these national foundations find synergy amongst their programs, how they put their own stamps on the issues, and how the academic centers, affinity groups, and others in the field respond and react in the ongoing fundraising ballet.

One of the resources I learned about at the meeting is a new report called Short Changed. Prepared by the Applied Research Center, this is a study of the levels and ways that foundations have been providing support for racial justice work and efforts in communities of color, particularly noting that such giving has been proportionately decreasing in recent years.

For more resources on Philanthropy and Diversity/Race, visit the links page of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity.

Unfortunately I cannot provide a link to Millennium b/c the Center has yet to mention it on their website (?!) To learn more about the initiative, contact Sheryl Forte, Millennium Program Coordinator, at 317-278-8989 or Or get in touch with the Center and ask them why they are not telling the whole world wide web about Millennium.

I will keep you informed about how the Millennium moves forward. I am hopeful that EPIP will be able to partner with this initiative in a number of ways. Thanks to Larry Smith for inviting me to represent my take on the needs of emerging practitioners in philanthropy through the Advisory Committee.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Think NOLA, Act Locally: An Excerpt from the Meyer Foundation's e-newsletter:

"Hurricane Katrina surfaced in a very dramatic way the issue of persistent poverty in our nation and reminds us of the poor in own region. Were disaster to strike Greater Washington, many of our most vulnerable neighbors would face challenges similar to those faced by the people of the Gulf states.

"Over the coming weeks and months we will all seek answers to questions raised by the experience of Hurricane Katrina. What more can we do to ensure an effective response to a possible disaster in our region? How can we ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors are cared for when disaster strikes and each day as they face challenges to meet basic needs? What are the broader lessons for foundations, nonprofits, and others who seek to help?"
Samantha Bickham: EPIP Member & NOLA Evacuee

Samantha Bickham is an EPIP member and former program officer at the Community Foundation of Greater New Orleans. She was the first recipient of a scholarship from the EPIP Professional Development Fund (Spring 2004), through which she attended a seminar of The Grantmaking School. I met through Linetta Gilbert, EPIP's program officer at the Ford Foundation, who came to Ford from the Community Foundation in NOLA. I usually see Samantha a couple times a year at the community foundations and Southeastern Council of Foundations conferences.

Here is a report on Samantha and her family's (thankfully) safe status. It was sent in by Wanda Jenkins, an EPIP member at the Community Foundation of Chatahoochee Valley (near Atlanta).

For those of you who have not had about Samantha Bickham's status, she is safely in Tyler, Texas with family.

I finally spoke with her last night and she is doing well considering the circumstances.

As you may know, Samantha was a 2004 Hull Fellow and formerly a program officer with the Greater New Orleans Community Foundation. Additionally, Samantha has just recently ventured into the entrepreneurial world by starting her own consulting business.

She was able to leave New Orleans with her mother and brother on Sunday; however, she has lost everything. Personal vehicle, furniture, clothing, EVERYTHING.

But in true Samantha style, she remains in good spirits. If those of you that have had the pleasure of meeting her, you know that she has an electric personality and is truly a wonderful person. I hope that while we are supporting evacuees everywhere, that we can find it in our heart to reach out and support to our own sister in philanthropy in her time of need.

If you want to know Samantha and want to contact her, or if you want to reach out and offer words of support or other resources, email for her phone numbers.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Man-Made Natural Disasters?

A few months back, NYC Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy held a roundtable discussion on how foundations can make grants in response to disasters with a social justice lens. The event was timely then, due to the tsunami that struck Asia. It was a fascinating conversation, featuring senior and emerging leaders from the Red Cross, CitiGroup Foundation, the Foundation Center, Give to Asia, and related groups.

One of the more remarkable comments that lodged in my memory, which came from one of the mentors in the NYC EPIP Mentoring Program, went something like this:

"Every natural disaster is a man-made disaster."

It is the human decisions and policies (regarding thing like zoning and real estate, water use, public transportation, poverty, infrastructure investment) that determine the human costs of naturally-created events.

In the case of the tsunami, decisions about where to build (and re-build) villages and homes -- where poor people could afford to build (i.e. in known dangerous areas), where wealthier people would never build, where government allow developers to build -- then has a tremendous impact on who was killed, made homeless, etc. When foundations and other donors attempted to respond, those thinking about how to avoid a repetition of the disaster had to consider what equitable rebuilding would mean.

As part of my previous job, I worked on a grantmaking program that supported community organizations in a number of states in the South. Through this work, I had the opportunity to travel to Mississippi, Alabama and elsewhere in the region. I heard stories first hand from community leaders that flatly laid out the economic and racial disparity, and the reactionary politics and policies, that are very much alive today in the South.

Clearly the social aftershocks of Katrina have been this bad in large part due to the under-development, entrenched poverty, and continuous institutionalized racial segration. Many of the human effects of this natural disaster were likely man-made.

Of course, this does not just apply to the South. The line of cars clogging the highways to get out of town before the storm were evidence of the generally severe individualism of this society. Who would have thought of getting buses or trains or caravans or carpools to help people without cars or other resources out of town? But if cities and regions invested in regional rail or other forms of public transportation, more people probably would be able to get out of such situations in timely, affordable ways.

So while the natural disaster calls for recovery and rebuilding, the man-made disaster calls for rethinking our society's investments in urban and rural areas, and the new ways in which we need to address poverty and disenfranchisement.

A Sept 1 column, The Storm After The Storm, by David Brooks column in The New York Times more eloquently describes how "(f)loods wash away the surface of society, the settled way things have been done. They expose the underlying power structures, the injustices, the patterns of corruption and the unacknowledged inequalities." I would encourage readers to post comments with your own thoughts on these matters, and invite any EPIP members in the Mid-South or the South at large to add comments.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Philanthropic Response(s) to Katrina

Right now, there is a flurry of philanthropic chatter -- mostly well intentioned -- on the web regarding Katrina. While governments are the main mode of actions, Americans - and even their governments - continue to rely on civil society organizations such as foundations and relief organizations to both express their will to help, their need to 'do something,' and to meet real needs on the ground. Even at this early date, President Bush has called on his father and President Clinton (the one man 'NGO' himself) to bring in private funding!

Certainly philanthropy -- both individual and institutional -- will have a role to play in short-term relief, mid-term recovery, and long-term rebuilding. This will encompass everything along the continuum of philanthropy: from self-help to mutual aid, from charity, and community building, to long-term institution building, cultural creation and social change. Let us hope, at least.

For those interested in the foundation community's responses, the Southeastern Council on Foundations is seeking out colleagues, and providing giving information. Visit

The NC-based Babcock Foundation, one of the few progressive, regional foundations in the
South, sent out an email listing the following organizations:

Enterprise Corporation of the Delta:

ECD is a strong CDFI based in Jackson, with credit union branches in New Orleans and Gulfport. It has set up a Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund for anyone willing and able to make a contribution to help the region recover. ECD will coordinate its lending and relief efforts with the Red Cross, state and municipal governments, and others. If you would like to make a contribution, please send your check to:

Enterprise Corporation of the Delta
c/o Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund
222 North President Street, Suite 220
Jackson, MS 39201

You can contact ECD at (601) 944-1100 or you can go to their website for more information (

Louisiana ACORN

Louisiana ACORN is a statewide community organizing group with local members throughout LA. It is affiliated with the national ACORN org. Anyone who wishes to make a contribution, send in your donation to:

ACORN Hurricane Recovery & Rebuilding Fund

739 8th Street SE
Washington, DC 20003

You can also make an online contribution at

Southern Mutual Help Association, Inc.

Southern Mutual Help Association in New Iberia, LA has an urgent call out to any organizations and donors that can assist them with helping the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. SMHA has a solid track record of working with rural people and communities in Southern LA. Please contact Lorna Bourg, or by phone (337) 367-3277, with any assistance or contributions.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation in Biloxi, MS will have a mailing address to receive contributions. In the meantime, they are using the facilities of Just type in Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Mississippi.

Greater New Orleans Foundation

The Greater New Orleans Foundation has established a fund to receive on-line contributions for hurricane relief in that community. Go to the foundation's website ( and click on Hurricane Katrina Recovery Fund.

Baton Rouge Area Foundation

The Hurricane Katrina Displaced Residents Fund ?
will benefit those individuals evacuated to Baton Rouge from the hurricane impacted areas in Greater New Orleans, who are now unable to return for what maybe an extended period.

The Hurricane Katrina New Orleans Recovery Fund ? will focus on the rebuilding of infrastructure to provide basic human services to residents of these devastated areas. If you would like to make a contribution, please send your check to:

Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund
402 N. 4th Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

You can also make an online contribution at and click on Hurricane Katrina Relief Page link.