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Catalogue Blog

In The News … (More!)

Good morning, folks! A few more intriguing items caught me eye today, so I thought that we’d double up on the news digest this week. On a related note, I spent yesterday evening at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (a Catalogue non-profit!) on H Street NE for presumptive mayor-elect Vince Gray’s Ward 6 town hall meeting. Do let us know if you were there and have any post-town hall thoughts; I was in the over-flow room with the video feed, so I would certainly be interested in tales from the main room! Speaking of which:

Gray works to forum up donor support for education reforms: On Tuesday, the Post published a detailed piece on Gray’s effort to “reassure the influential network of private foundations — which have poured an estimated $20 million into D.C public schools over the past four years — that is serious about sustaining the reforms launched by outgoing Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.” The article dubs Rhee “a rock star in the philanthropic sector” and quotes Joshua Kern, executive director Thurgood Marshall Academy PCS, who claimed that many “had the impression that the sky was falling” when she resigned. But the piece goes on to explain that the weeks after the primary saw the beginning of a “a quiet and concerted effort, led by Kern and Reuben Charles, Gray’s campaign operations director, to convince the local and national donor community that Gray was committed to continuing the work that Rhee and Fenty began.” Do you think that effort has been successful? And should that be Gray’s aim at this juncture? Moreover, how do you feel about the vital role of the “national donor community” in DC-specific education reform?

$80-Million in Philanthropic Aid for the the Poor to Go to Five Cities: USA Today reported early yesterday that “Living Cities, a philanthropic collaborative of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions, will 80 million in grants, loans and investments” to five US cities. Nineteen urban areas competed and the aid ultimately will go to Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Newark, and Minneapolis/Saint-Paul. Ben Hecht, Living Cities CEO, asserted that “to do this work, you have to have the public sector, the private sector, local philanthropies, and the non-profit community all at the same table talking about solving the problem.” Do you think such collaboration is the key to inciting change in complex urban centers? Or will it force overly-broad solutions?

Nearly 60% of Big Companies Cut Their Giving in 2009: On the down side, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported yesterday that “fifty-nine percent of companies gave less last year [...] with 40 percent reducing their giving by at least 10 percent,” according to New York’s Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. But on the up side, perhaps this shortage of cash has led companies to target their giving more precisely and to expand the ways in which the can give. In other words, think beyond corporate cash! The Chronicle writes that “some companies said they redirected some of their money and products to groups that serve people hard hit by the economic downturn” and that “companies are also doing more to encourage their employees to give and volunteer.” So what kind of non-financial contribution would you like a company to make in your community?

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