Archives for "Social Investing"


Giving to close Boston’s opportunity gap

Earlier this week, the students in my Nonprofit Giving course at Framingham State University held a ceremony where they honored the work of the Boston-based nonprofit Bridge Over Troubled Waters. They awarded the organization a $10,000 grant to support its vast array of services and supports for the city’s homeless youth.

The overarching goal of the course was for students to see how giving can enable low-income people to access greater opportunity. The class invited local nonprofits to apply for funding that the Learning by Giving Foundation has generously donated to the university. Created by Doris Buffett, this foundation annually supports 40 experiential philanthropy courses at colleges and universities across the U.S.

At the beginning of the course, the class read my book Giving Hope: How You Can Restore the American Dream, which offers hands-on strategies for how giving can fuel opportunity. Then, they crafted a grant application, researched local nonprofits, and invited 20 of them to apply for funds. Students subsequently evaluated the 16 grant proposals we received. Lengthy discussion produced the list of four that received site visits (see prior post), and even more intense deliberation preceded the final vote. The students had the option of splitting the Learning by Giving grant in half, but the majority preferred to give it all to one organization.

At the grant ceremony one of my students, Dan, commented that “since the beginning of the process Bridge Over Troubled Waters was one of very few organizations that had strong support from a majority of the class. The organization offers countless services that include, but are not limited to, counseling, high school equivalency and career development, the mobile medical van, runaway services and a transitional living program. The organization addresses a group typically invisible from mainstream media but that deserves to have the opportunity to be upwardly mobile and should be near the forefront of national attention: homeless adolescents.”

Kudos to my students for selecting such a worthy organization to support!

The Final Four

Even though winners of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments were crowned this week, another Final Four is just beginning to heat up!

The students in my Nonprofit Giving course at Framingham State University have $10,000 to give away, thanks to generous support by the Learning by Giving Foundation which annually sponsors 40 experiential philanthropy courses at colleges and universities around the country.

Early in the course, my students read Giving Hope: How You Can Restore the American Dream, which familiarized them with how giving can enable low-income people to access greater opportunity. Then, they researched Boston area organizations that appear, at least from their websites, to be doing similarly promising work. As a class, we decided to invite 20 to apply for funding, and received 16 grant proposals. Students have spent the past two weeks discussing the nuances of these proposals, and have narrowed the pool of applicants to four, each of which we’ll be visiting in the next two weeks:

  1. Friends of Boston’s Homeless
  2. Bottom Line
  3. Key Program / Children’s Charter
  4. Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Our first site visit is to Friends of Boston’s Homeless this afternoon. Once we’ve done all four site visits, then comes the BIG DECISION – where to give the $10,000.

Stay tuned for details!

And the winner is…

This week, the students in my Nonprofit Giving course at Framingham State University gave away $10,000!

The recipient of this money, generously provided by the Learning by Giving Foundation, is United Teen Equality Center. This organization enables disadvantaged youth in Lowell and Lawrence, Mass. to pursue education and employment as alternatives to the lure of gang involvement.

For students in the class, coming to this decision was exciting but by no means easy. The prior two weeks they had visited four organizations in the greater Boston area, all of which do significant work to expand low-income people’s access to economic opportunity. (See prior post.)

At the beginning of the course, the class read my book Giving Hope: How You Can Restore the American Dream, which offers hands-on strategies for how giving can fuel opportunity. Then, they crafted a grant application, researched local nonprofits, and invited the most fitting to apply for funds. Students subsequently evaluated the 20 grant proposals we received. Lengthy discussion produced the list of four that received site visits, and even more intense deliberation preceded the final vote.

The students could have split the Learning by Giving grant two, three, or even four ways. But, most of them wanted the entire sum to go to one organization since that would make the greatest impact. After a very close vote, United Teen Equality Center proved to be the favorite.

Congratulations to the students for a job really well done and to UTEC for proving so deserving of the class’ investments. And thanks to the Learning by Giving Foundation for making this tremendous experience possible!

Helping neighbors in need for 50 years

GUEST BLOGGER: Tim Esterdahl, Communications Director, Inter-Faith Community Services

In 1964, our founder Maida Navis had a dream to fill the gap between federal governemnt aid and the working poor. This dream is now known as Inter-Faith Community Services, the largest nonprofit in Colorado. We have stood the test of time and now see our role as greater than ever.

What has made IFCS last? Simple, our impact is felt every day by thousands of individuals, families, and seniors. For those struggling to make ends meet, we are the safety net to keep them from falling deeper into a cycle of poverty that is nearly impossible to break.

IFCS faces a unique issue every day – suburban poverty. This type of poverty is different than the pan handlers in downtown Denver. Our clients are unseen. They aren’t standing on the street corner. They are out working, trying to make a living while facing a world with escalating costs for food, transportation and health care.

For them, they are stuck in an unenviable position. Quite often, they make too much money for the government support that would improve their lives. Yet, they are constantly scrapping together pennies to pay their bills. Unable to further their lives, they are stuck. If they lose a job, get sick, or their vehicle breaks down they are really in trouble. For them, we are their safety net.

What makes our mission so much harder is all the politics surrounding what we do. Each day, we are at the crossroads of differing opinions. Why? We have clients that are immigrants scared of deportation, others who are uninsured under-insured, others who can’t afford college tuition, and single parents trying to get SNAP benefits. We stand at the forefront of all of these issues without prejudice or political motives. In simple terms, we help those who need help regardless of who they are.

For 50 years, our mission of helping our neighbors in need has been our guiding light. Our work is continually focused on it and our donors and friends count of us to see their donations going directly to those in need. We are proud to say that 91 cents out of every dollar goes directly to our clients.

Join us as we celebrate 50 years of making a difference, each and every day. With your support, we will continue to serve those in need and bring stability to our entire community.

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