One of Philanthropy New York's most important missions is helping you build relationships with your peers, creating the types of connections that allow our members to learn from each other and increase their impact. Two of our recent initiatives are prime examples of this.
I mentioned our Essential Skills and Strategies for New Grantmakers (ESS) program in my October letter. We offered this intensive two-and-a-1/2 day course designed for new philanthropic program officers to a cohort of 15 members, orienting them to the sector and helping them build a framework for understanding and implementing effective grantmaking. Just as importantly, ESS helped the participants develop relationships and build a sense of community—they said that they valued having the chance to step outside their own foundations, see the diversity of grantmaking organizations, and learn how their work fit in the larger context of the philanthropic sector. Each participant brought different experiences to the program, but the common experience of being new to the sector helped create a common bond and a safe space for exchange.
In January, we will be starting the 2012 season of our Young Leaders Breakfast Club (YLBC). Over a six-month period in 2011, the YLBC organized younger foundation practitioners into small peer groups and then paired each group with a mentor from another organization. These young leaders were able to learn from experienced foundation professionals who were often outside of their own circle, and share what they might have thought were solitary concerns and issues with their peers in the program. Having the opportunity to connect with people at these different stages in a philanthropic career worked well for all involved, and as a result, we are doing the program again in 2012. (Both of these programs benefited from additional support provided by a number of members, for which we are deeply grateful.)
Our best wishes to all of you for a Happy Holiday season and a peaceful New Year. We hope that you take advantage of the many opportunities we provide to connect with each other in 2012!
President, Philanthropy New York
The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded 57 American Art Renewal Fund (AARF) grants to museums across the country for a total of nearly $5.5 million. The AARF initiative was established in 2010 to strengthen museums' American art programs in response to the economic downturn that forced widespread layoffs, cancellation of exhibitions, modified capital projects, deferred building maintenance, shortened public hours, and increased admission fees. It was completed in November 2011.
Instead of its typical project grants, the Luce Foundation considered requests for operating support restricted to American art activities—personnel, maintenance, capital needs, cash reserves, and debt reduction were among eligible expenses. The AARF initiative was open to 93 art museums, all prior grantees with successful track records fulfilling Luce-funded projects. Applicants were required to describe how the economic downturn affected their overall institution, specifically the American art activities, and how an AARF grant would assist in the museum's recovery.
The Open Society Foundations and Echoing Green have announced a new fellowship program for individuals dedicated to improving the life outcomes of black men and boys in the U.S. It is the first fellowship program of its kind that targets social entrepreneurs who are starting up new organizations in the field of black male achievement.
"We're proud to support innovators working to transform the lives of black men and boys and their communities," said Shawn Dove, Manager of the Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement. "Historically, black males have been prevented from fully engaging in American society due to a host of economic, civic, social, and political barriers. Now for the first time, there's a fellowship program dedicated to providing creative thinkers the space and support they need to tackle this complicated and entrenched problem."
The Fellowship will be awarded to eight fellows who are generating new ideas and best practices in the areas of education, family, and work such as initiatives related to fatherhood, mentoring, college preparatory programs, community building, and supportive wage work opportunities. Fellowships will also be awarded for efforts in the areas of communications and philanthropic leadership. Each BMA Fellow will receive a $70,000 stipend in start-up capital as well as technical assistance over 18 months to help them launch and build their organizations; access to technical support and pro bono partnerships; a community of like-minded social entrepreneurs and public service leaders; and other benefits.
The online application for the Open Society Black Male Achievement Fellowship will be available until January 9, 2012.
The D5 Coalition is pleased to announce the launch of the Philanthropic Inclusion Fund, designed to provide small grants to population-focused funds (PFFs) for targeted and strategic capacity building efforts and to pursue opportunities to engage the larger philanthropic sector.
PFFs are community-defined and culturally specific funds that target grant support to organizations and individuals in communities defined by race, gender, disability, or sexual orientation. The D5 Coalition believes PFFs are becoming an increasingly important resource for communities. However, many PFFs need capacity building assistance designed to strengthen financial positions, particularly in the areas of grant resources, operations, and building endowments.
In addition, PFFs need greater access to philanthropic and other gatherings that offer opportunities for board and staff members to acquire new skills, update knowledge about advancements in the field, develop new contacts and networks, and secure additional resources. Therefore, the Philanthropic Inclusion Fund has been established to help address these needs.
The application deadline for participation in the Fund is January 6, 2011.
Learn more about the eligibility criteria and how to apply.
We are saddened to report that John P. Casey, CFO and Treasurer of the Altman Foundation, died on Tuesday, December 6th. After a career at B. Altman & Co., Mr. Casey joined the Altman Foundation in 1992, and for almost twenty years made it his mission to contribute to the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors' understanding of financial sustainability.
Mr. Casey was an active member of both the national Foundation Financial Officers Group and the local Foundation Financial Managers Group, and served on the Audit Committee for NYRAG (now Philanthropy New York).
"We will miss his humor, his honesty, and his deep commitment to the well-being of the Foundation, its staff, and its grantees. Our hearts go out to his family and to his endless circle of friends," reads a memorial on the foundation's website.
All of us at Philanthropy New York send our deepest condolences to Mr. Casey's family, friends, and colleagues for their loss. He will be sorely missed and long remembered.
The New York State Attorney General's Office and the New York State Bar Association have launched an initiative to match volunteer attorneys with nonprofit organizations in need of legal counsel. The partnership, called Charity Corps, will help improve governance and legal compliance by assisting nonprofits that cannot afford legal counsel.
Charity Corps attorneys will help ensure that nonprofits fulfill their responsibilities and continue to provide critical services through difficult economic times. The Attorney General's Charities Bureau will support the initiative by providing training and guidance to volunteer attorneys and nonprofits. The New York State Bar Association will administer the program.
Charity Corps will begin as a pilot program, serving up to 50 nonprofits in its first year. To be eligible, an organization must have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. It must also lack in-house counsel and be unable to afford outside counsel. Organizations interested in participating in the program must file applications before December 31, 2011.
Learn more about the Charity Corps program.
(View a full text, PDF version of Philanthropy New York Currents, December 2011.)