Youth organizing programs and initiatives will receive a big boost next month when $600,000 in grants launch the first joint effort of 19 foundations (a number that continues to grow) who have created the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO). “We’ve been kicking around this idea since December 1997,” remembers Maria Mottola of the New York-based Edward W. Hazen Foundation. She identified her collaborative early lunch-bunch colleagues as Amanda Berger of the Jewish Fund for Justice, Ben Rodriguez of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Hazen’s president, Barbara Tavaras. Other grantmakers on the organizing drive include the Ford, New York, Active Element, Third Wave and Surdna foundations and the Open Society Institute. Now housed at the Jewish Fund for Justice, which also serves as the fiscal agent, the collaborative began formal operations early last year. A collective of national, regional and local grantmakers, FCYO is “dedicated to advancing youth organizing as a strategy for youth development and social justice.” According to FCYO Project Director Vera Miao, the collaborative expects to raise $5 million over five years for grantmaking, capacity building and administration. Said Miao, “Where just a handful of youth organizing groups existed 10 years ago, now dozens of them around the country are organizing youth to wage campaigns around police brutality, public school reform, environmental justice, the juvenile justice system and many other issues.” Miao singled out as exemplars the Chicago-based Southwest Youth Collaborative for its school reform efforts and the California-based (East Palo Alto and Los Angeles) Youth United for Community Action for its efforts on behalf of environmental justice. Contact: (212) 213-2113, ext. 11, www.jfjustice.org.
Peter Berliner, executive director of the Seattle-based Children’s Alliance for the last 10 years, is now one of four staff at the Paul G. Allen Charitable Foundation, which manages the grantmaking efforts of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Managed through Vulcan Northwest, Inc., the foundation (actually six separate entities) has no endowment, but Forbes magazine estimates Allen’s worth at $36 billion, so not to worry.
Berliner helped build The Children’s Alliance into an exceptionally broad-based statewide youth advocacy organization. The group came to life thanks to a grant from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice in 1978 as a service provider-dominated nonprofit known as the Association of Washington Community Youth Services. It became The Children’s Alliance following a fortuitous 1982 merger with two other statewide groups. The outfit has since campaigned its way into the state’s top tier of players in children and youth issues, amassing 18 staff in Seattle, three in Spokane, and a budget of $1.2 million that includes “very little public money,” says Acting Executive Director Jean Johnson.
At the Allen Foundation, Berliner will be a program officer for health and human services. Five states – Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington – are eligible for grant awards, with priority given to “programs that use a strength-based approach to promote positive change.” Among recent grantees are the YMCA of Greater Seattle for its “Step Up for Kids” capital campaign and Spokane’s Northeast Community Center Association’s Childcare Access Expansion Initiative. Contact: (425) 453-6101, www.paulallen.com/foundations.
At that other Microsoft co-founder’s philanthropy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (assets $21 billion, the nation’s largest), Clinton White House refugee Sylvia Mathews will become executive vice president. Mathews’ last job was as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, where she worked on domestic policy. Beyond the establishment of AmeriCorps, the Clinton White House hardly wins kudos for creativity in promoting the development of the youth service field. Mathews’ appointment may signal a reassessment for the Gates Foundation. It would take little effort – and even less imagination – to upgrade the Gates Foundation’s “if-it-isn’t-wired-fund-it” domestic grantmaking portfolio. Contact: (206)709-3100, www.gatesfoundation.org.
At the Ford Foundation since July is Nancy Sconyers. A program officer for children, youth and families, Sconyers is focusing on “kids in low-income families” within Ford’s Asset Building and Community Development, Human Development and Reproductive Health section. That’s not much of a topical change for Sconyers who, as vice president of the National Association of Child Advocates (NACA), was responsible for health, child welfare and income support issues at the D.C.-based association, comprised of 63 free-standing state and city-based child and youth advocacy groups. In the 1970s and ’80s Sconyers held various policy jobs in Connecticut, including the legislature’s Commission on Children, and the statewide Association for Human Services, which works on behalf of low-income families. Contact: (212) 573-4719, www.fordfound.org.
When William Hewlett, 87, died in January, he left an amazing legacy: the $49 billion in annual Hewlett-Packard Co. sales and a net worth estimated by Forbes Magazine at $9 billion. Most of his fortune will be added to the current $3 billion in assets of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Since its founding in 1966, the foundation has funded children and youth-serving efforts, making a particularly strong contribution in the area of mediation and conflict resolution.
In January 2000 Paul Brest, a former dean of Stanford Law School, became president and embarked on a review of the foundation’s grantmaking, in order to plan for the leap in its assets to an estimated $9 billion. Now the murky outline of a major philanthropic effort is emerging. Last year, Brest hired Mike Smith, a former undersecretary of education in the Clinton administration, to steer education grantmaking. Tapped for the new job of senior advisor to the president for children and youth programs is Brest’s former colleague at Stanford Law School, Mike Wald, a well-known national figure in child and youth advocacy circles.
Wald will not take up his new assignment full-time until June. However, Wald, Brest and other foundation officials, including Wald’s deputy, Nancy Stresser, have been meeting with national experts that include Wald’s former colleague at Donna Shalala’s Department of Health and Human Services, Peter Edelman, now a professor at Georgetown Law Center; Gary Walker, president of Philadelphia-based Public/Private Ventures president; Larry Aber, director of the National Center for Children in Poverty in New York; Deepak Bhargava, director of public policy at the D.C.-based Center for Community Change; and Angela Blackwell, a former vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation and now president of PolicyLink in Oakland, Calif.
For now, Wald says, the foundation is “thinking about different strategies.” Settled in Wald’s mind is that grantmaking will be “infrastructure-oriented” with anointed groups receiving “very large, long-term and core support,” a development that could completely change for the better the internal organizational dynamics of groups heavily dependent on soft money such as the Oakland-based National Center for Youth and Law, and D.C.-based National Association for Child Advocates. For now, says Wald, eligibility criteria and the application process remain “undecided” and he expects to spend the next “year to 18 months” developing Hewlett’s strategy with no unsolicited proposals considered until June 2002. Contact: (650) 329-1070, www.hewlett.org.
The Princeton, N.J.-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (assets $8.73 billion) continues to roll out its trademark national program approach to address targeted behavioral health concerns. In 1999, RWJ launched “Reclaiming Futures: Building Community Solutions to Substance Abuse and Delinquency” as a national project. The $21 million, five-year effort is managed by Laura Nissen at the Graduate School of Social Work at Portland State University. The co-director is Don Costello, a juvenile court judge in rural Bend, Ore.
Emerging as the “most promising strategy” to curb both drug abuse and other criminal behaviors among arrested teens, says RWJ, is a “juvenile justice integrated substance abuse treatment network.” Nissen, who ran just such a program in Denver, cites other successful examples in Eugene, Austin, Los Angeles and Tucson.
Ten communities will be selected through a competitive process, with each receiving $250,000 annually for five years. They’ll receive (for better or worse) the usual array of eager technical assistance and evaluation providers hired thorough Nissen’s Oregon office. That T/A, plus gaining “a deeper understanding of particularly promising treatment models/efforts,” is budgeted at $5 million. The final million will go for Juvenile Judges’ Leadership and Development Fellowships to be awarded to 20 judges – some from courts in the 10 target communities. Turning the average juvenile court judge into a leader in building youth and community services – now that would be a minor medical miracle.
Reclaiming Futures will hold a one-day conference in Portland, Ore., on March 29, followed the next day by a “pre-application workshop” for potential bidders, with eastern providers invited to a similar workshop in Baltimore on April 6. Contact: (503) 725-8911, www.reclaimingfutures.org.
Another year-old RWJ initiative (this one modestly priced at $6 million over six years) is a Developing Leadership in Reducing Substance Abuse program. It is managed by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, where Dr. John Slade and deputy Cynthia Happel are the senior staff. Each of 40 early career fellows receive a $25,000 “leadership development account” and a mentor who will spend up to 24 days with the most lucky fellow each year. Facing reality on the grassroots leadership front, RWJ asks for “no minimum educational requirements” from applicants, who must be employed by a public or nonprofit agency. Fellows involved in youth work who were chosen last year include Phelicia Jones, director of Hope Preservation, Inc. in Belmont, Calif., Linda J. Thompson, director of the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, and Jeannie Villarreal, a project coordinator for the Fighting Back Partnership in Vallejo, Calif., which recently received two grants totaling $1,218,660 from – where else? – RWJ. Contact: (732) 235-9609, www.SALeaders.org.
Peter Klienbard, a program officer for the past four years at what is now known as the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, has departed to become the vice president in charge of the Youth Development Institute at the Fund for the City of New York. Klienbard’s departure marks the last page in the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund’s radical abridgement of its widely praised nationwide investment in youth development organizations and in training youth workers. Since merging two separate foundations in January 2000, the Fund’s president, Chris DeVito, has turned toward “get-the-trains-to-run-on-time” grantmaking to improve public schools, primarily through in-service training of school principals and school system managers, an already crowded area of philanthropic specialization. With Klienbard’s departure, little expertise (or interest) in youth work remains. Among the projects left fundless in their infancy by the Fund is the National Youth Development Information Center (www.nydic.org), a key clearinghouse for youth-serving agencies. Sponsored by the National Assembly’s Collaboration for Youth, the site averages 3,250 visits per week from youth workers and program managers. For NYDIC, managed by Renee Woodworth, the abrupt end of the Wallace-Readers’ Digest Fund may be one hit too many.
Just prior to Klienbard’s departure, the Fund issued what is likely to be its last report of much interest to youth service providers: “New Rules, New Roles: Preparing Young People for a Changing World,” which highlights six efforts to prepare young people for work. The Fund’s Community program still entertains proposals from youth service agencies with program officer Lydia Barrett, a former New Jersey Urban League official, serving by default as the go-to person for youth agencies. Contact: Wallace-Readers’ Digest Fund (212) 251-9700, www.wallacefunds.org; Fund for the City of New York (212) 925-6675, www.fcny.org.
Departing after just two years as the director of the $82-million-budgeted Children, Families and Communities Program at the Packard Foundation (assets: $13 billion) is Lorraine Zippiroli. Now acting in that job is deputy director Deanna Gomby, a veteran of the foundation. The foundation has been painfully slow to make its mark on youth issues outside the San Francisco Bay area. One notable exception is in the always contentious gun-control and violence-prevention arena, handled by program officer Dr. Patti Culross. In December the foundation awarded five groups a total of $4.7 million in grants. Three of these Cycle of Violence grants are national in scope and include $1 million to the American Bar Association’s Fund for Justice and Education to improve juvenile court implementation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997; $2.5 million to the Million Mom March Foundation (formerly known as the Bell Campaign) for the expansion of its youth-led component based in San Francisco; and $1 million to the National Campaign Against Youth Violence for support over two years to expand the City-by-City corporate engagement initiative already underway in Memphis and St. Louis.
With Bush now president (he enacted concealed weapons legislation in Texas), Dick Cheney vice president (he voted as a House member in 1985 against banning cop-killer bullets) and Ashcroft chosen as attorney general (he opposes any restrictions whatsoever on gun ownership), the infusion of cash couldn’t be more timely for a cause that received strong voter support in November. Contact: (650) 948-7658, www.packfound.org.
Taking on the gun violence-prevention grantmaking responsibility at Chicago’s MacArthur Foundation is Kathy Kim Im, formerly a Community Building Fellow at HUD and Clinton White House speech writer. Contact: (312) 726-8000, www.macfound.org.