Rick CohenView Posts by Contributor

It’s a little unfair to sit through a 90-minute panel and laud it for what it covered and rap it for what it missed, but in a way, that’s the challenge of sessions at the Council on Foundations Annual Conference. Listening to the discussions is a matter of looking for trends and patterns, the big [...]

With the drawdowns of U.S. military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, this nation faces a new challenge that should be front and center for U.S. foundations—the reintegration of veterans into society. Those of us from the Vietnam era remember a very different dynamic, a younger demographic of returning veterans, younger largely because they were draftees, [...]

During “Supporting Our Military Families: Partnerships, Innovation, and Entry Points,” a session at the Annual Conference, Bess Bendet of the Blue Shield of California Foundation shared that the she has tried to convene funders who support programs for military families and veterans, but turnout has been sparse. Nancy Jamison of San Diego Grantmakers is starting [...]

One of the best panels at the Council on Foundations Annual Conference, “Supporting Our Military Families: Partnerships, Innovation, and Entry Points,” addressed how philanthropy can most effectively address the needs of military families. Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have this challenge, if U.S. military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan hadn’t led to the [...]

Foundations in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Detroit have faced conditions before and after crises that are all but unimaginable. For example, Detroit has enough vacant and unused land to fit inside San Francisco, more vacant land than any city in the U.S. except for post-Katrina New Orleans, a poverty rate of 38 percent, and [...]

If there is an epicenter of the decline of a city and its loss of an economic base, the candidates start with Detroit, where the population has plummeted 25 percent in the last decade to 714,000–this for a city whose population was 1.85 million in 1950. The city now has an extraordinarily high poverty rate, [...]

This year’s Paul Ylvisaker Public Policy Award winner, Linda Reed, president and CEO of the Montana Community Foundation, delivered a formal talk on the relationship of rural philanthropy and public policy. Given that Reed was talking about Montana, where there are only three communities with populations above 50,000, almost anything she might have addressed could [...]

Panels of talking heads during conferences are all well and good, especially when they are saying something of importance that we don’t know. However the audiences at Council on Foundations conferences often have knowledge and perspectives that are just as interesting as the speakers. At today’s session, “The Leadership Opportunity for Corporate Philanthropy,” three items [...]

Last year’s Council on Foundations Annual Meeting was held before the Occupy Wall Street movement highlighted the role and power of corporate America in this nation’s wealth divide. Even then, according to Chris Pinney of the Aspen Institute, one of the researchers behind the new Council report on corporate philanthropy, Increasing Impact, Enhancing Value: A [...]

For the past two decades, the James A. Joseph Lecture has been one of the intellectual high points of the Council on Foundations Annual Conference. The list of past lecturers at this Association of Black Foundation Executives event helps make the case, not just Ambassador Joseph delivering the first lecture in 1991 and again in [...]

Living Cities, one of the more impressive foundation collaboratives still in existence, celebrated its 20th anniversary late last month. I was lucky, having been involved tangentially at the birth of Living Cities, when it was emerging from the thinking of a handful of national foundations plus two national community development financial intermediaries, the Enterprise Foundation [...]

Using the work of the National Rural Funders Collaborative (NRFC) as the lead-in to a plenary speech by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was a serendipitous scheduling choice at the Council on Foundations Rural Philanthropy Conference. NRFC is closing down after 10 years. Unlike other programs that seem to institutionalize themselves past their intended shutdown dates, [...]

Sitting through this week’s Rural Philanthropy Conference, one hears many sidebar conversations worth mentioning:

Understanding outside funding: Did Ford or Kellogg money funds “create” the Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF) transfer of wealth strategy? No. Nebraskans generated the ideas, conceptual framework, and infrastructure for NCF’s approach. Ford funding for example allowed NCF to, as we were told, [...]

Last night, we were treated to competing visions of governmental dysfunction, as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner seemed to play a dangerous game of chicken with the nation’s potential default. Even if somehow Obama, Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid strike a deal in the next hours or days, the nation [...]

In the realms of rural philanthropy, the Nebraska Community Foundation’s Jeff Yost is something of the avatar of how community foundations can identify, find, and tap rural philanthropic assets.  What are rural philanthropic assets in a part of this nation that some would say has a difficult time attracting and capturing investment capital from government, [...]

The nation’s top interpreter of Census information about rural demographics has long been the remarkable Mil Duncan of the Carsey Institute of the University of New Hampshire. She doesn’t simply report and track census data, but she explains what they mean. Too many people simply lump all rural areas together as an undistinguished rural mass [...]

The mythologies characterizing rural America are just that, mythologies that rural is doing just great, that rural people are pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and navigating their way through the never-ending recession.  Foundations serving rural communities know a different reality, one of assets and needs in rural America, but communities often short-shrifted for resources [...]

Speaking about race is uncomfortable and perplexing for many people inside philanthropy. Lori Villarosa of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity designed a workshop during the Council’s annual conference that contained more information and more depth than anyone might have expected and got at issues that few in philanthropic gatherings ever get close to. [...]

“Philanthropy on Trial” ended with a hung jury. The sector was charged with not living up to its mission to advance the common good, and, while ten jurors were ready to take away philanthropy’s tax-exempt status—the penalty if convicted—two jurors held out. It was marvelously entertaining: the Law and Order music, the extraordinarily witty and [...]

Can foundations end homelessness? The affinity group Funders Together to End Homelessness believes that the problem of chronic homelessness can be solved, if done the right way, according to Executive Director Anne Miskey. In the midst of all of the Council on Foundations workshops, we were fortunate to find a moment to have a conversation [...]

In a panel on looking at foundation roles over the long run, Gerry Salole of the European Foundation Centre warned of what many philanthropists innately assume. “The real problem,” he said, “is that the solutions are not as simple as people like to think they are…the rhetoric from social engineers is unsatisfying…things are measured in [...]

Arianna Huffington can tell a story, but the important message she had for the foundation sector was about the role of the media in social change.
While many people are concerned about the future of newspapers due to competition from the Internet and social media, Huffington looks at social media as an instrument for [...]

Having Clair Gaudiani, Tony Proscio, and Dan Pallotta open the Council on Foundations 2011 Annual Conference gave the program a particular flair. While Proscio is known as a fabulous writer on and for philanthropy, reflecting his long history as a top-notch journalist at the Miami Herald, Pallotta and Gaudiani are flashpoints in philanthropy and in [...]



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