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Find out how your giving can fuel greater educational, employment, and housing opportunity in the U.S.

The author of Opportunity For All, Ira Silver, is a professor who has spent his career documenting how giving can create lasting social change.

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Ending Homelessness in New Jersey

On March 25, 2014, three staff members of Monarch Housing Associates, along with other advocates to end homelessness from across New Jersey, had the opportunity to help shape the state’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.  The State Interagency Council on Homelessness held a public hearing that gave testifiers the opportunity to make recommendations to the Council.

About 60 individuals attended the hearing, which was held at the NJ State Museum Auditorium in Trenton.  They addressed Council members including the State Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable and Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez. 

Many of the speakers referenced proven strategies for preventing and ending homelessness in their recommendations including

*Housing First
*Rapid Re-Housing
*Centralized/Coordinated Assessment Systems
*Public Housing Authorities Prioritizing Homeless Households

Monarch Housing Associates is a mission-driven, results-oriented nonprofit located in Cranford, New Jersey.   Monarch works statewide with the vision that everyone will have quality, affordable, permanent housing that fosters freedom, independence and community integration.  Our mission is to expand the supply, accessibility and variety of affordable, permanent supportive housing through development, planning, advocacy and partnerships.

Monarch develops partnerships with public-private entities and the non-profit community through our mission driven programs focused on Ending Homelessness, Housing Production. and Public Policy.

Click here to read more about the hearing and testimony.

Students tackling inequality of opportunity in the U.S.


“The Final Four” — Though that phrase usually refers to the basketball tournament that ended this week with the University of Connecticut’s double crowning as NCAA champs, another exciting competition is just beginning to heat up.

The students in my Nonprofit Giving course at Framingham State University have narrowed their pool of grant applicants to four promising organizations in the greater Boston area. These four are under consideration for up to $10,000 in funding, thanks to generous support from the Learning by Giving Foundation. (See prior post about how the class is addressing the growing opportunity gap in the U.S.)

The four nonprofits are:

1. School on Wheels of Massachusetts — educates children impacted by homelessness by providing academic support and one-on-one mentoring so children can reach their full potential.
2. Roxbury Youthworks — helps youth caught in cycles of poverty, victimization, and violence to transition successfully into adulthood.
3. Dorchester Youth Collaborative — engagess high-risk youth in relationships and projects that promote their psycho-social development, as well as the health and safety of the community.
4. United Teen Equality Center — nurtures the ambition of disconnected youth, encouraging them to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success.

Yesterday, the class visited School on Wheels. The other site visits will take place over the next couple of weeks. Then comes the BIG DECISION – where to give the $10,000.

Stay tuned for details!

Students tackling “the defining challenge of our time”


For the students in my Nonprofit Giving course at Framingham State University, the growing opportunity divide in American society isn’t just a subject to talk about in class. It’s a problem they’re equipped to go out into the world and mitigate.

With generous support from the Learning by Giving Foundation, the class has $10,000 to give away to Boston-area nonprofits that are measurably increasing access to economic opportunity. This money will address what President Obama has called “the defining challenge of our time.”

The class first read and discussed my book Giving Hope: How You Can Restore the American Dream, which shows how philanthropy can enable Americans experiencing hard times to move their lives forward. Students subsequently researched nonprofits that, at least from their websites, appear to be doing promising work to fuel greater opportunity. They came up with a list of nearly 50 organizations which, after lengthy discussion, we whittled down to 27 whose work seemed to most closely fit our mission.

We spent a couple of hours creating a grant application, discussing the kinds of information we would need to make a proper evaluation of organizations interesting in obtaining funding. We then invited our list of 27 to submit proposals, 20 of which did.

In class this past week we evaluated the first ten. The class especially liked a few in particular. These, as well as more to be determined next week, are competing to make it into the top four. In a couple of weeks, the entire class will visit each of these four and subsequently decide how to distribute the $10,000.

Stay tuned for more about how this exciting process unfolds!

Fifty years against poverty and towards opportunity

GUEST BLOGGER: Sid Mohn, President, Heartland Alliance

It’s been 50 years since Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of the War on Poverty. In that time much has changed, and yet much has stayed the same. Fifty years ago, the faces of poverty were children, the elderly, and those living in rural areas. And while poverty amongst these groups is still a cause for concern, today new faces are emerging. Among them are single mothers and workers, as well as those in suburban areas. What remains the same is the basic injustice of it. Poverty is a cycle built upon a lack of the most basic human need – the opportunity to build a safe, stable, healthy life. The programs developed through the War on Poverty can turn that cycle around, but today’s changing needs demand we look at on-the-ground realities with fresh eyes.

To look at the current poverty rate of 15%, it would seem these programs have had little effect. In fact, the opposite is true. The War on Poverty spawned Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, housing programs, and job training, among others. They work together holistically, and together they’ve had an incredible impact in both preventing and mitigating the most devastating effects of poverty. It’s estimated that without government programs, the national poverty rate wouldn’t be near today’s 15% or even 19% as it was in the 1960’s, but a staggering 31% – almost a third of the population. The War on Poverty not only created programs to address immediate needs. It also offered a way out, preventing a fall into increasingly inescapable depths of poverty.

One key underpinning of poverty today is the nature of employment, which is changing drastically. In the 1960’s, if you were working, you could provide for your family. Today, that’s not the case. At Heartland Alliance, the Midwest’s leading anti-poverty organization, we’ve recently released our yearly report on poverty in Illinois (where we’re based). It’s the most comprehensive of its kind and it found that 388,000 impoverished Illinoisans live in a household where someone works full-time, a trend that’s growing across the nation.