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Nonprofits First partners with Varona Insights

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Thursday, February 1, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Nonprofits First is proud to announce a partnership with Andre' Varona, IOM, CEO, Varona Insights, to enhance their membership program. Varona has extensive experience in Multi-Cultural Strategies and Community Relations for business and the non-profit sector.

Prior to building his own business marketing development firm, he served as CEO of The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Palm Beach County and VP of Membership & Sponsorship Sales for The former Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce. He currently sits on the Discover The Palm Beaches
(DTPB) Board of Directors, is a 2008 graduate of The US Chamber of Commerce Institute of Organizational Management(IOM) Southeast Region and served on The Florida Association of Chamber Professionals (FACP) Board of Directors.

Varona has a history of service in the Non-Profit and business communities utilizing Leadership, Planning, Advocacy. "I believe passionately in engaging one's self in the community that you live through connecting, collaborating and mentoring to impact our quality of life and effect change."

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10 Reasons Why the 15% Charity Overhead Myth Prevents Social Change

Posted By Josh Hirsch, 10 hours ago
Updated: Saturday, March 18, 2017

This past year, Charity Intelligence (CI) defined the Top 10 Impact Charities of 2016. That three of the ten “impact charities” are food banks makes the whole notion of impact charity a national joke, albeit a very bleak one all the same. If there was ever a synonym for Band-Aid in the charitable world, a world constructed of mostly Band-Aids, the food bank would be that synonym. Why attempt meaningful social change when you can hand out dusty cans of pasta sauce for which some solid citizen paid retail price?

But perhaps it was their balance sheets that looked attractive to CI. After all, in 2016, that’s where charities essentially lived—on their balance sheets. Ask anyone on the street the one thing they know about what makes a deserving charity and they are likely to say it’s the one spending less on overhead. “Like, uh, 10 or 15 percent or something like that.”

Left unchallenged, the myth of the 15 percent means Canadian charities will lead the charge on absolutely nothing—not climate change, a cure for cancer or world hunger. And here are the ten reasons why:

  1. It makes board members stupid. The cost of overhead is often the only number many members of Boards of Directors care about when they look at financial reports, ignoring numbers that could give them a sense of how effective the charity is at fulfilling its mission.
  2. It makes charities stupid. Designing financial tools around measuring overhead and administration as priorities means you don’t get the reports you need to actually see how you’re doing in relation to your mission.
  3. It guarantees mismanagement among charities. A 15 percent cap on administration means essential resources for effective management—program evaluation, professional development and evaluation, strategic planning, long-term goal setting—go by the wayside as “administration.”
  4. It impedes progress on issues. When the criterion of a “good” charity is keeping a 15 percent limit on your administration, what happens to your success in making the world a better place?
  5. It keeps the people who work in the program area of the sector among the poorest paid people in the country. Fundraisers aside, the majority of people working in the nonprofit sector, like personal support workers, toil away at hourly rates of between $14 and $18. Not exactly McDonald’s wages, but having someone’s life in your hands is not exactly a Big Mac either.
  6. It makes charities liars. Charities and auditors everywhere bend over backwards to make sure their admin expenses don’t exceed the 15 percent, “hiding” perfectly justifiable expenses (in a sane world) in other line items so a charity doesn’t see what it’s actually spending money on.
  7. It institutionalizes inequity among organizations: $1 million is not always $1 million in the charitable sector. If 80 percent of your organization’s $1 million is from government and 10 percent comes from the United Way, the amount of money you have to raise is $100,000 and the resources you need to do that won’t break the bank. But if you get no government funding and are not a member of a United Way, your $1 million organization is dependent on a large number of small donations and the resources you need to generate that revenue are considerable, thus increasing “overhead.”
  8. It institutionalizes inequity. Period. When an organization has a smaller number of large donors as opposed to a large number of small donors, the process of administrating that organization takes substantially less resources. So if you are friends with big government, big institutions, and big money, your position of “good” charity is all but guaranteed. If not, then your designation as a “bad,” administratively heavy charity is also all but guaranteed.
  9. There is no threshold for risk. Risk-taking and experimentation with the world’s most intransigent problems should involve trying new things. Overhead caps prevent “wasting” money on things that may not work.
  10. It sets up the wrong criteria for project success. Evaluative measures on charity projects are often transactional as opposed to taking a mission-oriented view, i.e., $10,000 = # of workshops delivered, as opposed to $10,000 = movement toward ending hunger.
    What can be done?

    Stop talking about money all the time. You are on the earth to change the world. Talk about that.

    While you are at it, stop pandering to self-styled overseers like Charity Intelligence, who had their charitable status revoked in 2013 for failing to file proper CRA returns. The status later was reinstated when they made the same filings everyone else in the sector has to make.

    But if it were up to me, someone who has a job to do and who sees this asinine scenario play out every day? If it were up to me, you’d print out this column and distribute it at your next board meeting.

    Call it a report from the front line.

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Nonprofit Leaders Respond to White House Spending Plan

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Nonprofit leaders nationwide are reacting to the outline of the administration’s proposed budget. The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal each published lists of programs that would lose all their funding.

Arts: The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the proposal to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities “may not translate into any policy change,” as many members of Congress are balking. In The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Patricia Harrison, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, predicted “the collapse of the public media system itself” if her agency’s budget is zeroed out. NPR and Public Broadcasting System affiliates in small markets rely heavily on federal funding.

Education: Conservatives are hailing the proposed downsizing of the U.S. Department of Education and the shift of funds to charter schools, private-school vouchers, and other forms of school choice, according to The Washington Post. A big fight could loom over the proposal to eliminate $1.2 billion in grants to after-school and summer programs run by churches, nonprofits, and schools; the programs serve 1.6 million children, but the administration says there’s no evidence they are effective.

Environment and Energy: What critics are calling a “scorched-earth budget” for the Environmental Protection Agency takes aim at climate-change research, grants for energy technologies, and coastal- and marine-management programs, according to Bloomberg. Regional environmental advocates are worried about the proposed elimination of programs to clean up the Great Lakes (Detroit Free Press) and the Chesapeake Bay (The Washington Post). The Wall Street Journal reports that Republicans in Congress are opposed to the Great Lakes move.

Foreign Aid: Politico describes a “furious, diverse and largely united cast of critics” of the proposal to reduce State Department spending and American international assistance by 28 percent. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the previous spending levels are "simply not sustainable," according to the BBC.

Science and Medicine: Leaders in these fields are warning that proposed cuts could threaten the country’s pre-eminence in science and technology, according to The Washington Post. The Associated Press reports that the administration’s plan would roll funding at the National Institutes for Health back to 2003 levels; the only program targeted specifically so far focuses on global health.

Rural and Urban Poor: The Boston Globe analyzes how proposed cuts would affect rural areas, while The New York Times looks at what could happen in inner cities. A Washington Post analysis concludes that low-income Americans will lose help “on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherizing homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, and obtaining legal counsel in civil matters.”

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Tyrina Pinkney - Why are you participating in Rising Leaders?

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Updated: Thursday, December 29, 2016
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The Curb-Cut Effect

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Updated: Saturday, March 18, 2017

One evening in the early 1970s, Michael Pachovas and a few friends wheeled themselves to a curb in Berkeley, Calif., poured cement into the form of a crude ramp, and rolled off into the night.1 For Pachovas and his fellow disability advocates, it was a political act, a gesture of defiance. “The police threatened to arrest us,” Pachovas recalls. “But they didn’t.” 2 It was also pragmatic. Despite their unevenness, the makeshift sloping curbs provided the disabled community with something invaluable: mobility.

At the time, getting around Berkeley—or any American city—in a wheelchair was not easy. The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 required government buildings to make themselves universally accessible, but traversing the streets in a wheelchair resembled the running of an obstacle course: Wheel to the driveway in an alley or at a loading dock; roll into the street until you reached another driveway; hope all the while that a truck didn’t pull out. Students with disabilities at the University of California, Berkeley, housed in Cowell Hospital—the only space that could accommodate them3—planned their class schedule according to which class was downhill from the previous one.
Yet this was Berkeley in the era of political activism. There was a Free Speech Movement, an antiwar movement, a civil rights movement. Why not a movement for movement? Pressed by disabled activists, in 1972 the city installed its first official “curb cut” at an intersection on Telegraph Avenue.4 It would become, in the words of a Berkeley advocate, “the slab of concrete heard ’round the world.”5

Curb cuts were not an entirely new invention—the first appeared in 1945, in Kalamazoo, Mich.6 But the one on Telegraph changed the way the country thinks about access and opportunity for a population that has faced barriers at every turn. This turnabout and the remarkable ripple effects are salient today, as the nation confronts the anguish of rising inequality and the mounting barriers to economic mobility.

Hundreds more curb cuts followed Berkeley’s. Then hundreds of thousands, all across the country. Disabled advocates continued to push for access to the basics that many Americans take for granted—sidewalks, classrooms, dorm rooms, restrooms, buses. At last, on July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits disability-based discrimination and mandated changes to the built environment, including curb cuts. “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down,” he proclaimed.7

Then a magnificent and unexpected thing happened. When the wall of exclusion came down, everybody benefited—not only people in wheelchairs. Parents pushing strollers headed straight for curb cuts. So did workers pushing heavy carts, business travelers wheeling luggage, even runners and skateboarders. A study of pedestrian behavior at a Sarasota, Fla., shopping mall revealed that nine out of 10 “unencumbered pedestrians” go out of their way to use a curb cut.8 As journalist Frank Greve has noted, the barricades stormed by disabled advocates in Berkeley 40 years ago were a few inches high, “yet today millions of Americans pass daily through the breaches.”9
An economist might call it a “positive externality.” A military officer might call it a “force multiplier.” I like to think of it as the “curb-cut effect”—and it’s changing the way the country thinks about the struggles of the most vulnerable communities.
Access, Opportunity, and the New Demographics

There’s an ingrained societal suspicion that intentionally supporting one group hurts another. That equity is a zero sum game. In fact, when the nation targets support where it is needed most—when we create the circumstances that allow those who have been left behind to participate and contribute fully—everyone wins. The corollary is also true: When we ignore the challenges faced by the most vulnerable among us, those challenges, magnified many times over, become a drag on economic growth, prosperity, and national well-being.

This has become painfully evident as inequality has reached toxic levels in the United States. Since 1979, the income of workers in the top 10 percent has grown nearly 15 percent.10 For workers in the bottom 10 percent, incomes have fallen more than 11 percent.11 The top 25 hedge fund managers earn more than all kindergarten teachers in America put together.12 Only 9 out of 100 children born to parents in the bottom fifth of the income distribution can expect to rise above their circumstances, the cornerstone of the American Dream.13

A wave of recent publicity has focused attention on the toll that these trends are taking on white America. In a paper published in November 2015 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Princeton University economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton revealed that the death rate for middle-aged whites without a college education jumped more than 20 percent from 1999 to 2013,14 a staggering increase attributable largely to drug- and alcohol-related deaths and suicides. Case and Deaton see the spikes in addiction and suicide as a response to financial insecurity and economic despair. They write: “After the productivity slowdown in the early 1970s, and with widening income inequality, many in the baby boom generation are the first to find, in midlife, that they will not be better off than were their parents.”

While commentators debate the extent to which economic shock is driving white mortality, one thing is indisputable: Economic distress is deepest and the inequities are widest in communities of color. In 149 of the country’s 150 largest metro areas, the percentage of college-educated whites exceeds the percentage of African-Americans and Latinos with college degrees.15 The national unemployment rates for blacks and Latinos are 9.5 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, compared with 4.5 percent for whites.16 One in four black and Latino Americans live in poverty, more than twice the rate for whites.17 People of color lag well behind whites on just about every measure of well-being, including health, homeownership, wealth, and (Case and Deaton notwithstanding) longevity.

The point is not to argue about who is suffering more, but to identify the best solutions to remedy these inequities. And here, another number should command attention: 2044. That is the year in which people of color are expected to become a majority of the US population.18 The nation—80 percent white in 1980, 63 percent white today19—is already well on its way. Since 2012, the majority of babies born in the United States have been children of color.20 By the end of the decade, the majority of Americans under age 18 will be people of color.21

These demographic shifts matter to every American. Not because there is something frightening about a nation where whites are no longer the majority. Rather, it is because the costs of society failing people of color are climbing as the population grows—and because the benefits of strategies that expand opportunity for people of color would extend to all. Knock down walls of exclusion and build accessible pathways to success, and everyone gains.

The curb-cut effect applies to America’s new demographic profile in two important ways. First, curb-cut thinking is animated by the idea of equity. This should not be confused with the formal legal equality conferred by landmark laws such as the Civil Rights Act. Equality gives everyone the right to ride on the bus. Equity ensures that there are curb cuts so people in wheelchairs can get to the bus stop and lifts so they can get on the bus, and ensures that there are bus lines where people need them so they can get to wherever they need to go. Equity means promoting just and fair inclusion throughout society and creating the conditions in which everyone can participate, prosper, and reach his or her full potential.

Second, the curb-cut effect illustrates the outsize benefits that accrue to everyone from policies and investments designed to achieve equity. The country must choose: Will we make these investments? Will we make sure that everyone has access to the essentials for living productive lives—things like jobs and reliable transportation? Or will we neglect entire communities and waste the talents and potential of tens of millions of people?

There’s really no choice. Continuing to write off poor people and people of color is not an option. Not when the American Dream is nearly unattainable for all low-income people, regardless of their ethnicity. Not when age-old health disparities between whites and people of color are narrowing because whites are sicker than they used to be and more are dying younger. Not when popular fury is growing over an economic system in which a single American family (the Waltons) has more wealth than 41 percent of Americans combined.22

Policymakers tend to overlook the ways in which focusing on one group might help all groups and strengthen the whole nation. Cut into the curb, and we create a path forward for everyone.
Curb-Cut Effects, from Streets to Schools to the Sky

Once you know what you’re looking for, the curb-cut effect is on display all around. It happened when seat belt legislation, adopted initially to protect young children, led 49 states to adopt seat belt laws that have saved an estimated 317,000 lives—children and adults—since 1975.23 It happened when affirmative action was created to open the doors of higher education to black people—and ended up emboldening vast numbers of white women, and other racial and ethnic groups, to push for greater access as well. It happened when fed-up flight attendants spearheaded a national fight to end smoking on planes, setting in motion a decades-long public-health campaign that has largely banished smoking from public spaces and cut tobacco consumption in half since the 1960s.24
And it happened, spectacularly, with another improvement to America’s streets: bike lanes. After years of enduring injuries and fatalities, beleaguered bicyclists—backed by environmental advocates—have pressured a number of cities to install protected bike lanes. As of 2014, New York City had added roughly 30 miles of these lanes.25 My hometown of Oakland is installing a similar amount.26

The verdict? In city after city, despite a “bike-lash” of critics who warn of more congestion and less parking, we’ve seen that—like a bicycle wheel—what goes around comes around. From 2000 to 2013, the risk of serious injury dropped 75 percent for New York City cyclists 27—and pedestrians, a much larger group and not the intended target of the bike lanes, are 40 percent less likely to be injured. 28 In a 2011 survey of Chicago drivers, half believed that they noticed improved driving behavior on a street with bike lanes.29

In addition to creating safer and saner streets, bike lanes add tremendous economic value to a neighborhood. One stretch of Ninth Avenue in Manhattan saw retail sales rise nearly 50 percent after bike paths were installed, compared with a 3 percent rise borough-wide.30 Rents along the Times Square bike paths grew 71 percent in 2010, the largest increase in the city, as people flocked to pedestrian- and bike-friendly neighborhoods.31 A single block in Indianapolis saw the value of its property jump nearly 150 percent after adding bike lanes.32

Then there are the benefits to public health and the environment. A study of the San Francisco Bay Area found that a slight increase in walking and biking each day can reduce the prevalence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease by 14 percent,33 while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent as well.34 If just 5 percent of New York City commuters began biking to work, the CO2 emissions saved would be equal to planting a forest 1.3 times the size of Manhattan.35
The Making of a Middle Class

The most illuminating example of the curb-cut effect is the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more commonly known as the GI Bill. It’s no overstatement to say that the legislation created the white American middle class. The sponsors of the bill, initially scrawled by an American Legion lobbyist on a piece of hotel stationery, didn’t expect to do more than provide job training to some World War II veterans looking to reintegrate into society.36 Supporters of the legislation predicted that just a few hundred thousand of the 16 million returning veterans would use it to go to college. Even that was too much for educators like Robert Hutchins, the president of the University of Chicago, who direfully predicted that campuses would be turned into “hobo jungles.” 37
To the surprise of nearly everyone, nearly eight million veterans went to college on the GI bill,38 and contrary to Hutchins’ warning, they earned better grades, on average, than their civilian classmates. Journalist Edward Humes has catalogued their ranks to include 14 future Nobel Prize winners, three Supreme Court justices, three presidents, a dozen senators, 22,000 dentists, 67,000 doctors, 91,000 scientists, 238,000 teachers, and 450,000 engineers, along with numerous lawyers, nurses, businessmen, artists, actors, writers, and pilots.39 New campuses sprang up to handle the influx, including Claremont McKenna College, Marlboro College, and the State University of New York at Binghamton. In 1944, the United States was home to 58 two-year community colleges. By 1947, there were 358.40

The results of the bill, however, could have been even better. The GI Bill included black veterans in the deal but let local governments decide how to allocate the money. All too predictably, black GIs received much, much less generous subsidies.41 The bill that opened doors of opportunity to so many people who had previously been left out effectively barred entry for too many others.
Despite its shortcomings, the GI Bill demonstrates the transformative effects of smart, targeted investments. The beneficiaries did not just rejoin society; they remade it. The second pillar of the GI Bill, low-interest home loans, boosted homeownership from 44 percent before the war to 60 percent by the mid-1950s.42 (Here, again, black GIs were largely excluded.) This, in turn, spurred the tremendous growth of the suburbs and buoyed an already-booming economy. All told, historians estimate that for every $1 invested in returning World War II veterans, the country recouped $8.43 But the true benefits are incalculable.
Creating a Prosperous Future

Many years ago, trying to get across Los Angeles to a job interview in Watts, I budgeted an hour and a half to take the five buses from my house to my destination. Two and a half hours later—well after my interview would have ended—I got off bus number four and turned around, defeated.
Frustration like this—to say nothing of lost opportunity—reflects a reality still common to people of color living in low-income neighborhoods. Connections to jobs, schools, hospitals, and grocery stores, and often to each other, are few and far between. One in five African-Americans—and 12 percent of Latinos—live in households without access to a car.44 Two-thirds of the roads on Native American reservations are unpaved.45 Half of the people who use public transit are people of color, yet far too many cannot get where they need to go.46 In Chicago, four out of five residents cannot reach their jobs in 90 minutes or less using public transit.47

“Transportation touches every aspect of where we live, work, play, and go to school, as well as the physical and natural world,” writes author and scholar Robert Bullard, often described as the father of the environmental justice movement.48 “Transportation also plays a pivotal role in shaping human interaction, economic mobility, and sustainability.”

If the United States can get equitable infrastructure right, the benefits will ripple far and wide. Transportation investments, particularly public transit projects, create many jobs and contracting opportunities building and maintaining infrastructure. With the right policies in place, those investments can do the double work of building the physical infrastructure that connects residents of underserved neighborhoods to economic opportunities while also delivering jobs and business opportunities to those residents.

Over the next five years, the country could generate more than one million transit-related jobs if the 20 largest cities in America merely shifted half of their transportation budget from funding highways to funding transit.49 No new spending, just shifting our priorities.

Businesses would benefit, too. A Harvard Business School survey of business leaders’ priorities found that more and better public transportation was at the top of their wish list,50 and it’s easy to see why. Better transportation leads to less absenteeism, and it gives businesses a larger pool of candidates to choose from to fill the available jobs.51 In a 2013 s tudy, u rban p lanning scholar Daniel Chatman of the University of California, Berkeley, and Robert Noland of Rutgers University calculated that when metro areas added even just a few bus or rail seats—four for every 1,000 residents—this increased the number of employees working in the central city by 320 per square mile, nearly a 20 percent increase on average.52 Similarly, the researchers found that expanding public transit 10 percent boosted the city’s total economic output between 1 and 2 percent. Chatman and Noland estimate that the “hidden economic value” of public transit was $45 million in the average metro area, with a range between $1.5 million and nearly $2 billion depending on the size of the region.

The ripples don’t end there. When people have access to public transit, they can more easily attend good schools and take advantage of higher education, which creates a more prepared workforce for the region. They can more readily get to health clinics and hospitals, allowing for greater preventive care and lower health care costs. Evidence also suggests that public transit leads to a decrease in crime. Simply put, better transit means better access to opportunity. Indeed, the pioneering Stanford University economist Raj Chetty has identified the top 10 cities for upward economic mobility. Five of them—New York, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Seattle—are also in the top 10 for physical mobility.53

To maximize benefits like these, metropolitan regions around the country are rethinking their transportation strategies and investments. The neighboring cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul offer a glimpse of how this is playing out. People of color—more than a quarter of whom are poor—have long been concentrated in disinvested neighborhoods and cut off from opportunity.54 Initial plans for a new Green Line light-rail corridor overlooked these neighborhoods—reminding me of Bullard’s observation, “Follow the transportation dollars and one can tell who is important and who is not.” 55 But local activists worked with the federal government, city government, and others to rewrite the old rules.56 Now, when the city evaluates the viability of a transportation project, planners assign points based on whether the proposed road or rail will enhance racial equity.57 In other words, equity—not just safety or usage statistics, the traditional metrics for transportation considerations—has become central to transportation decisions.

The Green Line is a model of inclusive growth. People of color have made up nearly a fifth of the work hours on the project.58 Women- and minority-owned small businesses have earned nearly 20 percent of construction contracts, worth $115 million.59 The light rail now stops in previously neglected neighborhoods, connecting those residents to the more robust job markets in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The nation can apply curb-cut thinking far beyond transportation infrastructure, to strengthen the entire economy. The misshapen way in which the economy has grown is a problem not only for those at the bottom. As everyone from the OECD60 to the International Monetary Fund61 has concluded, widening inequality leads to declining economic growth. When a country fails to include a large number of people in its economy—when it restricts the circle of opportunity—the economy is weakened and the whole nation suffers.

There’s no mystery about how to decrease inequality and increase economic growth. The answer is not easy credit or subprime mortgages or the privatization and parceling off of the social safety net. The antidote to inequality is equity. That means growing good jobs and improving the pay and quality of low-wage jobs. It means building human capabilities by upgrading the education and skills of today’s workforce, and tomorrow’s. It means eliminating barriers to economic inclusion and civic participation—for example, by revamping a criminal justice system that has trapped seven million people, the vast majority of them black and brown.62 And it means expanding opportunity by investing in the most distressed places in America, and in the people who live there.

If the chasm between the gleaming skyscrapers of Manhattan and the barrios of East Los Angeles is holding the entire country back and limiting American economic potential, just think what closing that chasm with well-chosen policies would do. In 2012, blacks, Latinos, and Asian businesses grew more than three times faster than whiteowned businesses63—so imagine the entrepreneurial energy waiting to be unleashed if the country strengthens programs to boost business owners of color. Imagine the impact of connecting poor people and young people of color to high-growth industries like technology. The term “equity” in a corporate context is currently defined as a mere tally of assets and liabilities. But with racially diverse companies 35 percent more likely to outperform their peers,64 imagine the rewards to be reaped if equity came to mean so much more.
Shrinking the racial gap in the US economy—simply employing and paying workers of color at the same rates as white workers—would boost the total GDP of America’s 150 largest metro areas by nearly a quarter.65 New York City metro would add 31 percent—$409 billion—to its GDP. Miami’s GDP would grow 41 percent, adding nearly $113 billion. In Brownsville, Texas, GDP stands to grow 131 percent. In total, building a racially equitable economy would add $2.1 trillion to America’s annual GDP.

The curb-cut effect underscores the foundational belief that we are one nation, that we rise or fall together. Without equity, there can be neither progress nor prosperity. Despite years of politicians insisting otherwise, the laws of economic gravity have always run in reverse. Opportunity doesn’t trickle down; it cascades out and up.

The initiatives described here are not handouts or giveaways; they are investments in the broader well-being of society. They are highly efficient. They are not a sweeping takeover by the federal government. In fact, many—if not most—rely on policies implemented at the state and local levels.
This is not a liberal or a conservative issue. It is not strictly a question of morality or efficiency. All of us—Democrats and Republicans, businesses and nonprofit organizations, city dwellers and suburbanites alike—have an interest in developing targeted, achievable reforms that yield real results and make noticeable differences in the lives of our most vulnerable. The inescapable conclusion is that it is right and smart to let hard-working Americans see more of the benefits of their hard work. It is right and smart to give more Americans, indeed all Americans, the chance to contribute to this country. It is right and smart to build a future in which every American, regardless of skin color or economic quintile, can participate and prosper. What is called for is nothing less than a return to the notion of a common good.

Half a century ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prophetically wrote from a Birmingham, Ala., jail cell, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”66 Outside that building today, a plaque commemorates its most famous inmate. Along the sidewalk, at regular intervals, are curb cuts.

Notes

1 “Builders and Sustainers of the Independent Living Movement in Berkeley: Volume
IV
,” Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement Oral History Series,
University of California.
2 Frank Greve, “Curb ramps liberate Americans with disabilities—and everyone else,”
McClatchy Newspapers, January 31, 2007.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Steven E. Brown, “The Curb Ramps of Kalamazoo: Discovering Our Unrecorded
History
,” Disability Studies Quarterly, vol. 13, no. 3, 1999, pp. 203-205.
6 Ibid.
7 “Remarks of President George Bush at the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities
Act
,” EEOC History: 35th Anniversary: 1965-2000, US Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission.
8 Greve, “Curb Ramps.”
9 Ibid.
10 “Data Summaries,” National Equity Atlas, PolicyLink and the USC Program for
Environmental and Regional Equity.
11 Ibid.
12 Phillip Bump, “The 25 top hedge fund managers earn more than all kindergarten
teachers combined
,” The Washington Post, May 10, 2016.
13 Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Patrick Kline, Emmanuel Saez, and Nicholas Turner,
Is the United States Still a Land of Opportunity?” American Economic Review:
Papers & Proceedings
, vol. 104, no. 5, 2014, pp. 141-147.
14 Anne Case and Angus Deaton, “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among
white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century
,” Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences of the United States of America
, vol. 112, no. 49, 2015, pp. 15078-15083.
15 Ronald Brownstein and Janie Boschma, “Education Gaps Pose Looming Crisis for
U.S. Economy
,” National Journal, May 20, 2015.
16 “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey,” Bureau of Labor
Statistics, US Department of Labor.
17 “Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity,” State Health Facts, The Henry J. Kaiser Family
Foundation.
18 Sandra L. Colby and Jennifer M. Ortman, “Projections of the Size and Composition
of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060
,” US Census Bureau, March 2015.
19 Frank Bass, “White Share of U.S. Population Drops to Historic Low,” Bloomberg
News
, June 12, 2013.
20 “Most Children Younger Than Age 1 are Minorities,” U.S. Census Bureau, May 17,
2012.
21 Colby and Ortman, “Projections of the Size.”
22 Josh Bivens, “Inequality, exhibit A: Walmart and the wealth of American families,”
Economic Policy Institute, July 17, 2012.
23 “Policy Impact: Seat Belts,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January 2011.
24 Poncie Rutsch, “Will Vaping Reignite the Battle Over Smoking On Airplanes?
National Public Radio, February 24, 2015. “Trends in Current Cigarette Smoking
Among High School Students and Adults, United States, 1965-2014
,” Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
25 “Protected Bicycle Lanes in NYC,” New York City Department of Transportation,
September 2014.
26 Will Kane, “Oakland racing to meet demand for bike lanes,” San Francisco Chronicle,
April 27, 2014.
27 “Protected Bicycle Lanes in NYC.”
28 “Sustainable Streets: 2013 and Beyond,” New York City Department of Transportation,
2013.
29 “Initial Findings: Kinzie Street Protected Bike Lane,” Chicago Department of
Transportation, September 21, 2011.
30 “The Economic Benefits of Sustainable Streets,” New York City Department of
Transportation.
31 “The Re-Design of Broadway Moving All Modes,” New York City Department of
Transportation, July 2010.
32 Jessica Majors and Sue Burow, “Assessment of the Impact of the Indianapolis Cultural
Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick
,” Indiana University Public Policy
Institute, March 2015.
33 Neil Maizlish, James Woodcock, Sean Co, Bart Ostro et al., “Health Cobenefits and
Transportation-Related Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the San Francisco
Bay Area
,” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 103, no. 4, 2013, pp. 703-709.
34 Ibid.
35 “Environmental Statistics,” Statistics Library, People for Bikes.
36 Meredith Hindley, “How the GI Bill Became Law in Spite of Some Veterans’ Groups,”
Humanities, vol. 35, no. 4, 2014.
37 Thalia Assuras, “How the GI Bill Changed America,” CBS News, June 22, 2008.
38 Claudio Sanchez, “How the Cost of College Went From Affordable to Sky-High,”
National Public Radio, March 18, 2014.
39 Edward Humes, Over Here: How the GI Bill Transformed the American Dream,
San Diego, Harcourt, 2006.
40 William Celis III, “50 Years Later, the Value of the G.I. Bill Is Questioned,” The New
York Times
, June 22, 1994.
41 Chuck Leddy, “A critical look at the GI Bill’s impact,” The Boston Globe, September
10, 2009.
42 Ibid.
43 Jared Lyon, “The GI Bill’s Impact on the Past, Present and Future,” Institute for
Veterans and Military Families, Syracuse University, June 21, 2013.
44 Elaine Murakami and Liang Long, “Vehicle Availability and Mode to Work by Race
and Hispanic Origin
,” Census Transportation Planning Products, US Department
of Transportation, October 20, 2015.
45 Demographics, About Tribes, National Congress of American Indians.
46 Mike Maciag, “Public Transportation’s Demographic Divide," Governing, February 24, 2014.
47 Adie Tomer, Elizabeth Kneebone, Robert Puentes, and Alan Berube, “Missed Opportunity:
Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America
,” Metropolitan Policy Program,
Brookings Institution, May 2011.
48 Robert D. Bullard, “Addressing Urban Transportation Equity in the United States,”
Fordham Urban Law Journal, vol. 31, no. 5, 2003, pp. 1183-1209.
49 Todd Swanstrom, Will Winter, and Laura Wiedlocher, “More Transit Equals More
Jobs
,” Transportation Equity Network.
50 Michael E. Porter and Jan W. Rivkin, “An Economy Doing Half Its Job,” Harvard
Business School Survey on U.S. Competitiveness, September 2014.
51 Eric Jaffe, “Public Transit Is Worth Way More to a City Than You Might Think,”
CityLab, August 14, 2013.
52 Daniel G. Chatman and Robert B. Noland, “Transit Service, Physical Agglomeration
and Productivity in US Metropolitan Areas
,” Urban Studies, vol. 51, no. 5, 2014,
pp. 917-937.
53 “2016 City and Neighborhood Rating,” Walk Score.
54 “Choice, Place and Opportunity: An Equity Assessment of the Twin Cities Region,”
Metropolitan Council, 2014.
55 Robert D. Bullard, Growing Smarter: Achieving Livable Communities, Environmental
Justice, and Regional Equity
, Cambridge, Mass., The MIT Press, 2007.
56 John McCarron, “Building Equity By the Tracks,” Next City, August 30, 2013.
57 Rachel Dovey, “Transportation Funding Change Aims for Equality in Twin Cities,”
Next City, September 24, 2014.
58 “Central Corridor Green Line DBE and Workforce Story,” Metropolitan Council,
June 2014.
59 “Council Meets Contracting Goals for Green Line Construction,” Metropolitan
Council, July 17, 2014.
60 “Inequality hurts economic growth, finds OECD research,” OECD, September 12, 2014.
61 Era Dabla-Norris, Kalpana Kochhar, Nujin Suphaphiphat, Frantisek Ricka, and
Evridiki Tsounta, “Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality: A Global
Perspective
,” International Monetary Fund, June 15, 2015.
62 Lauren E. Glaze, Danielle Kaeble, “Correctional Populations in the United States,
2013
,” Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Department of Justice, December 19, 2014.
63 Vanessa Cardenas and Sarah Treuhaft, eds., All-In Nation: An America That Works
for All
, Center for American Progress and PolicyLink, 2013.
64 Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton, and Sara Prince, “Why Diversity Matters,” McKinsey
Insights
, January 2015.
65 Sarah Treuhaft, Justin Scoggins, and Jennifer Tran, “The Equity Solution: Racial
Inclusion Is Key to Growing a Strong Economy
,” PolicyLink and USC Program for
Environmental and Regional Equity, October 22, 2014.
66 Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.],” African Studies
Center, University of Pennsylvania, April 16, 1963.

 

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New App Helps People in NYC Volunteer When They Have Free Time

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Saturday, March 18, 2017

A new app aims to help New Yorkers put their free time to good use.

Using only your smartphone, it connects organizations with volunteers who want to give back.

For 16 years, The Pajama Program has been giving out books and pajamas to kids in need.

The non-profit relies on donations and volunteers. Thursday, all of the volunteers have come through an app called "Deed."

"Volunteering can be really hard on someone's schedule when their schedule isn't very consistent, like mine. So to just be able to say, 'You know what, tomorrow I want to volunteer because tomorrow I have the time to,' Deed allows that," said Janiece Dilone, a volunteer.

Dilone can't commit to a weekly volunteer spot, but through Deed she can book when she has some free time.

Deevee Kashi and Anthony Yoon created the app, and also volunteer through it.

"The system around volunteerism is a bit antiquated," Kashi said.

That's what Kashi found out when he tried to volunteer.

"Reached out to a few organizations and no one really got back to me. And right then and there I realized that there was a problem. When I want to order food there's an app, when I want to order a car there's an app, but when I want to help someone else out of myself, I have to jump through hoops to do so," Kashi said.

But with Deed, all you do is log in and sign up for what you're interested in.

"I just absolutely love it. Honestly, it is way more fun than anything else. When you go you don't think of it as service at all, the kids are so cute," a volunteer said.

So far, Deed has teamed with 75 organizations in the New York City area. If kids aren't your thing, you can volunteer with the elderly, the homeless, at food pantries or work with animals.

Deed isn't a nonprofit. The founders are still trying to figure out how to fund their good work, but those organizations and people that tap into these volunteers are certainly grateful.

For more information, please visit: http://godeed.nyc/

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The Most Compelling Argument For *Effective* Nonprofit Board-Matching

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Saturday, March 18, 2017
Updated: Thursday, March 16, 2017
What issues are you passionate about?

What kind of board do you want to serve on?

Where do you live and work?

To which organizations have you contributed in the past?

If these are the questions that are posed to nonprofit board candidates at the outset of the board-matching process, this can feed into what Tyler Cowen calls “The New Era of Segregation.” Cowen describes how “digital servants help us match to what we already like, or what is like us.” He explains further that “better matching can mean more segregation—broader than race—less mixing by income level, education level, and type of work.” Cowen is describing the algorithms that help people find partners, jobs, and neighborhoods. But the same principles apply to finding the right board match.

The danger of becoming “more and more isolated from other socio-economic classes” is a particular hazard with online/digital matching. But the tendency to be “isolated from those who are truly different” can also be supported, unwittingly, by a variety of approaches to nonprofit board-matching. Questions like the ones above can skew the direction of the process, leading candidates and the match-maker to default to what is most familiar. And the most familiar mission, setting, and community can limit the value of new board member’s contribution and experience.

When people are matched effectively, the new board member grows, personally and professionally; the board is enriched by a fresh perspective as well as much-needed experience and expertise; the nonprofit is better equipped to achieve its aspirations; and the community improves. When the match is right, the board member’s employer also gains. The company’s reputation is enhanced when their employees make meaningful and productive contributions. Additionally, their employees who serve bring back a deeper understanding of the community and its needs, and develop as a leaders. Finally, the company strengthens its relationship with more diverse people and regions when its employees help advance high-impact nonprofits.

The matching process is a journey.

In my experience in training and placing hundreds of business executives and professionals on nonprofit boards, most candidates make unexpected choices when the process itself expands their horizons. The match is best when the candidate can experience a personal journey to explore missions, communities, and opportunities that they might never have imagined. In many cases, the journey zigs and zags in directions that candidate did not anticipate, which is why so many people ultimately choose boards that could not be foreseen.

If candidates are not asked to specify “areas of interest” (like conservation, education, arts and culture, and so on), most candidates indicate that their primary goal is to join a board where they can add value. People tend to have a broad array of interests. They seek the matchmakers’ expertise in presenting options where their particular experience, expertise, and perspective will help to advance the organization in achieving its aspirations. Only through the give and take of the discussion and process with the matchmaker can the candidate find their way to an optimal match.

Good matches help people cross the cultural divide.

Cowen describes the isolation that traditional matching can foster. He suggests that people might not have been so surprised by President Trump’s election had there been a higher level of integration among people from different backgrounds.

Perhaps with more “mixing,” to use Cowen’s term, fewer people would be so shocked by the stories and experiences depicted in the movies “13th,” “I Am Not Your Negro,” and “Moonlight.” Nonprofit board service presents outstanding opportunities for people to engage with diverse communities to understand and help solve vital social, economic, and environmental challenges.

Good matches advance integration and economic dynamism.

Cowen explains that “mixing creates economic opportunity and it boosts the chances of new ideas.” He urges that we “move towards integration and economic dynamism.” This principle of “mixing” applies to making good board matches, where people from a variety of cultures join together in advancing a mission for which they share a passion. The principle also applies to building highly effective boards. Boards comprised of people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives who bring much needed experience and expertise are best equipped to imagine and achieve the nonprofit’s greatest potential.

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Compass Community Center - Virtual Tour

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Friday, March 17, 2017

 

For 30 years Compass has diminished stereotypes by challenging long-standing misconceptions about the character of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. They accomplish this by emboldening youth, promoting pride in the community, and acting as an educator, advocate, health service provider, and focal point for community organizing. 

For the past 10 years, Compass has been Accredited for Excellence in Nonprofit Management by Nonprofits First

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Photo shot list: 7 important shots to nail at your next nonprofit event

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Thursday, March 16, 2017

When planning a gathering like an event, a meetup, a town hall, or a conference for your nonprofit there are a lot of factors that need to be considered. One way to make things easier when it comes to event photography is to create a photo shot list.

People are always looking for easy confirmation that an event was a success. This is why it is so important to have a variety of high quality photos for use in blog posts, annual reports, sponsorship sell sheets, social media shares, and on your website, for example.

Make sure your event photographer – volunteer or paid – has this photo shot list before your next event.

1. Welcome/registration desk

Start the day off right by capturing a few shots of the registration, or sign in, desk. At this point in the day people are generally excited about the event ahead and looking forward to making new networking connections. This is also a good idea because the registration desk will quite often get busy with people, which will make your event look full.

2. Event signage

If you can get a photo of attendees or speakers with the events signage in the background, then you will have an all-encompassing promo shot. No additional explanation required.

3. Shots of every speaker while presenting

In the nonprofit sector, event speakers often provide their time pro-bono. Thank them by providing them with images of their talk that they can then use as they see fit. The more exposure your nonprofit gets, the better.

Tip: before sharing images around make sure you discuss with your photographer, as they legally own the rights to whatever pictures are taken unless otherwise stated

4. Shot of the organizer with the speakers

It is always a good idea to grab a photo of the event organizer, program lead or VIPs with all of the speakers. Some of the speakers may prefer these formal shots to the candid ones of their presentation. Having all of the important players in one photo can also be used for social media publicity for the event.

5. Candid shots of attendees

If you’re looking for an inviting, happy vibe to entice more people to come to the next event, then candid shots are the way to go. Try to make sure that everyone in the selected photos are engaged and enjoying themselves.

Sometimes these photos can be hard to come by because of the nature of a seated event. If that is case then the best time to capture engaged candid photos is during a networking or refreshment break, when the attendees are mingling.

6. Formal shots of attendees

If you are looking for more of a business vibe, then take a few formal group portraits. By getting 2-3 people together in a group photo you can be sure that you have captured all of the key players at your event.

7. Anything unique about your event

Anyone is capable of putting together a lecture series, but not everyone is capable of creating an event that will be talked about for a while. If you are doing something different with the way you structure your event then why not show it off?
If you have an all-you-can eat ice cream bar, or a board games networking station then photograph them! Put them into your follow-up blog post. Make your event memorable in order to draw new and returning attendees to your next one.

Now that you’ve learned what photos to take at your next nonprofit marketing event, consider the best ways in which to capture those photos. Kelly Rembold provides some good insight about capturing photos in this blog post. If you already have a shot list at your organization, please use the comments to let us know what you would add to this list.


About the Author

Janice Power is a professional photographer based in the Toronto area. Due to a keen interest in storytelling Janice prefers to shoot in a narrative style, creating images with a strong emphasis on candid photography and captured moments among people. She is self-employed and does freelance work for many organizations and companies, including Marketers Without Borders, and Tara McMullen Photography.

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Tyrina Pinkney - How will Rising Leaders impact your organization?

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Updated: Thursday, December 29, 2016
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