As I wrote in last month's letter, Philanthropy New York's Strategic Plan is now available on our website. I hope that you have read it—or will now take a moment to read it. Please provide us with your reactions and feedback. In addition to posting your comments online you can also join us at an open forum for our members to share their thoughts, either in person or by phone, on February 1st. We hope that many of you will join us!
I would like to take this time over the next three months to highlight the three primary focus areas in the plan—each of which were reached through careful consideration by the Strategic Planning Committee and our Board of Directors. These strategies are critical if we are to strengthen our ability to support you and your work, as well as the sector.
The first priority is around Member Engagement. This goal focuses on ensuring that we provide opportunities for our members to obtain the knowledge they need and want. The use of the word "engagement" reflects our understanding that we are not simply providing services to members, but that to be most successful, we must engage our members in an interactive way. (Please see the text for this goal here.) We know that it is crucial for Philanthropy New York to continuously find new ways to increase the relevance and effectiveness of our work, as we respond to your needs and engage your participation. We look forward to serving you with even greater impact.
President, Philanthropy New York
Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo's recently delivered addresses both touched on several key issues, including challenges to the state and city economies, education, immigration reform, workforce development, and an overhaul of the juvenile justice system.
The Overbrook Foundation's Board of Directors recently completed a year-long strategic review of its mission, its program focus, and its internal operations. It undertook this review in light of the impact of the economic downturn on the Foundation's grantmaking capacity and because the Board believes periodic comprehensive review of programs is critical to assuring that the Foundation's mission and programs are in harmony with each other.
Overbrook's Chair, Kathryn G. Graham, and President, Stephen A. Foster, recently posted a letter on their website which outlines the decisions the Board made about program direction and the Foundation's expected grantmaking over the next few years. As is noted in their letter, the Foundation deeply appreciates the difficulties that its grantees continue to face as the nation slowly recovers from the economic downturn of the last several years. Overbrook's board and staff are sensitive to these challenges and expect to work diligently with its grantees and colleagues as they continue their work.
Community groups in all five boroughs have been awarded $520,000 from The New York Community Trust to help families fight foreclosure, find jobs, and make ends meet.
These groups will each receive $40,000 for initiatives such as enrolling eligible families in food stamp and other benefit programs; helping senior citizens avoid eviction and control clutter; and helping youth who age out of foster care become independent by offering career counseling, job placement, and paid internships.
"Despite some signs of economic recovery, the City's low-income neighborhoods continue to suffer," said Patricia Swann, Senior Program Officer for Community Development at The Trust. "A growing number of people need help finding decent-paying jobs; more families are relying on government benefits and food pantries, and tenants and homeowners alike need help to hold on to their homes. The groups we chose have impressive track records and are anchors in their communities, but they often are restricted by the government contracts that limit who is eligible for help. Our modest grants go a long way to enable them to serve needy people who would otherwise be ineligible."
Since 1978, The Trust's Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) has awarded more than $14 million in grants to groups working in poor neighborhoods.
Each year, the Council on Foundations and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers have co-sponsored Foundations on the Hill, an annual opportunity for grantmakers to meet with their federal lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
This is a great occasion to inform and educate Congress about philanthropy; create visibility for foundations and philanthropy on Capitol Hill; advocate on issues affecting foundations; and encourage Congress to view foundations as resources on key public policy issues.
Foundations on the Hill is March 8-9th in Washington, D.C. If you'd like to attend, please contact Nur Ibrahim at nibrahim at philanthropynewyork dot org for more information.
(View a full text, PDF version of Philanthropy New York Currents, January 2011.)