Kauffman Coughs, Packard Dozes

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The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, one of the nation's leading philanthropic organizations supporting youth services, has had an expected shake-up in its Youth Development Division.

Out as president of one of the Kansas City-based foundation's two major divisions is Gene Wilson, one of the more genuinely admired officials in the private grantmaking world. Under Wilson, Kauffman established itself as a first-tier player among the dozen or so other national foundations that are also heavy grantmakers in the youth service field.

A typical reaction to Wilson's transfer came from Larry Brown, president of WAVE, a D.C.-based national school dropout prevention program (and not a Kauffman grantee):"Gene was one of the best things that ever happened to Los Angeles [where Wilson ran the ARCO Foundation for 17 years] and to Kauffman." Wilson lost his job at ARCO in 1994 when the oil company abolished his corporate-giving department, raising a storm of protest that reached to the editorial pages of the L.A. Times. Said one L.A. fan, "I call Gene a quiet giant."

Now Wilson will be Kauffman's giant-size ambassador of goodwill, with the job title of senior vice president of Strategic Programs and Planning and reporting to president and CEO Lou Smith. Wilson will develop a new national grantmaking portfolio for the $2 billion-in-assets foundation.

Moving into Wilson's slot is Steve Roling, who joined the foundation in 1991 and most recently has been senior vice president for Program Administration Services. A one-time youth worker, his first job was on what may be youth work's lowest rung: weekend relief worker at Butterfield Youth Services. He spent four years at the rural Marshall, Mo., nonprofit, culminating in a stint as its residential director. Roling now serves on the board of the 70-bed agency. Roling's public policy career began as assistant director for the Missouri Association for Social Welfare. That assignment led to a 1974-80 tour in Washington as a legislative assistant to then-Sen. Tom Eagleton (D-Mo.), where he handled such issues as social services appropriations and authorizing the Older Americans Act "back when the elderly were disproportionately poor," notes Roling. "Now it's kids" who are poor.

Promoted into a newly created position as vice president for Early Childhood Care and Education is Sylvia Robinson. A staffer at Kauffman since 1992, Robinson has been a program officer in the Youth Development division since 1994. She will report to Roling. Early childhood grantmaking, says Roling, will be "at least as much, maybe more" important than it is now.

No sudden changes are anticipated, says Roling. "I'm the new kid on the block" and he is engaged in a listening tour of the Youth Development Division's 28-member staff. It's no mere exercise, says Roling: "I don't know what I'll do" about any shifts in priorities. Contact: (816) 932-1000 or www.emkf.org

Needed: Volunteers "with the capacity to think big" to implement one of the "core values" of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and to invigorate the Los Altos, Calif.-based foundation's lethargic national youth development initiative. Over a year ago, Packard's Child, Families and Communities Program said it would "develop a strategy for working nationally to build the capacity of the youth development field to recognize, create, staff and sustain high-quality programs" - an entirely accurate and succinct summary of the youth field's greatest needs. It was all part of the foundation's ambitious plans to pack a national punch after its assets shot up to more than $13 billion.

In 1999, during the short tenure of departed Program Officer John Govea, Packard did make a few youth development grants beyond its traditional four-county turf south of San Francisco Bay. Among the national fortunate few were the U.S. Programs of the International Youth Foundation, directed by Karen Pittman ($250,000 for one year); the Academy for Educational Developments' Center for Youth Development and Policy Research ($150,000 for one year), led by Richard Murphy;  and the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Children, Youth and Families for a panel to evaluate community-level programs for youth ($150,000 for one year), directed by Michelle Kipke. Also receiving a grant was Youth Today ($20,000), which, with additional funds from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, conducted 10 nationwide focus groups with current and potential readers. Packard's local and national youth development grants totaled just $1,771,727. Up in the air is the future of a $3 million grant made in 1997 to the Westport, Conn.-based Save the Children for its Web of Support after-school programs that stress youth service and philanthropy in impoverished urban and rural communities. The former top official of what is now the Corporation for National Service, Catherine Milton, directs Save's revitalized domestic programs.

Now, says Lydia Sandoval, a program officer at Packard since 1997 who took over Govea's portfolio, "There will be no national funding in 2000." Instead, it's back to the future with another year to be spent "designing programs in youth development for 2001." The program office in which attorney Sandoval is based will continue its local focus on youth work, particularly by spending $3 million this year on after-school programs tied in with the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Packard is considering getting involved in developing after-school programs throughout the Bay area. To that end, the foundation made a $100,000 planning grant to the Sacramento-based California Foundation Consortium, an eight-year-old group funded by 16 in-state foundations.

Perhaps no one at Packard noticed the national youth development effort dozing off in the midst of a foundation-wide siesta. Packard's chief financial officer, George Vera, told the New York Times in February that thanks to the foundation's explosive growth and sluggish giving, the foundation expected to pay a 2 percent, not a 1 percent, IRS excise tax for 1999. "How fast can you ramp up programs?" Vera asked. The 1998 tax bill came to more than $1.3 million at the 1 percent rate. On the national youth development ramp at least, Packard's operative "core value" for now appears to be "the capacity to think slow." Contact: (650) 948-7658 or www.packfound.org