The Cities of Service coalition has announced two-year grants totaling $2 million to ten cities around the country to hire senior city officials who will develop and implement plans to increase local volunteerism.
Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the grants will enable the cities to hire chief service officers, who will work within the mayor's office to convene strategic committees of service experts, conduct assessments of existing service levels, and identify collaborative partnerships to deepen the effects of local volunteerism. The second round of $200,000 Cities of Service Leadership Grants went to Atlanta; Baltimore; Houston; Pittsburgh; Austin, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Chula Vista, California; Little Rock, Arkansas; Orlando, Florida; and Richmond, Virginia.
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust awarded an $8.15 million grant to the Good Samaritan Society — the largest grant in the GSS history. The grant will be used to deliver sensor technology and telehealth services to help rural seniors age in place.
The McKnight Foundation awarded 117 grants totaling $30,054,000 in its second-quarter 2010 grantmaking.
Of the $30 million total approved, over $1.3 million went to 20 small and mid-sized arts organizations that model innovation in connecting artists and community. Among them, Franconia Sculpture Park, a 20-acre working sculpture park that invites the public into each artist's creative process, received $70,000 over two years; nonprofit literary publisher Milkweed Editions of Minneapolis received $180,000 over three years; Northern Community Radio of Grand Rapids received a $20,000 grant to support its general operations; and Public Art Saint Paul received $60,000 over two years for an artist in residence in the city of St. Paul. Minnesota's oldest performing arts organization, the Schubert Club of Minneapolis, received $80,000 over two years; and SteppingStone Theatre of St. Paul received $60,000 over two years to support youth-specific productions created by professional playwrights.
A new report by the Center for Effective Philanthropy found that nonprofit organizations believe foundations have offered little help and communicated poorly with them during this long economic downturn. According to the report, foundation giving — while only a small portion of most nonprofits' budgets — declined by approximately 8.4 percent in 2009, and foundation giving isn't projected to increase until 2011.
BP today announced significant progress in its half-billion dollar pledge to the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI). Three research institutions in the Gulf region will receive a total of $25 million in fast-track funding for high-priority studies of the distribution, composition and ecological interactions of oil and dispersant. On May 24 BP announced a commitment of up to $500 million to the GRI open research program to study the impact of the Deepwater Horizon incident, and its associated response, on the environment and public health in the Gulf of Mexico.
More than 70 percent of grant makers say not enough is being done to assess the performance of foundations, according to a survey conducted by the LFA Group for the Center for Effective Philanthropy.
The biggest barriers to measuring performance are the difficulty of establishing a causal relationship between a foundation’s support and creating change, and a lack of time to conduct an evaluation, respondents said. LFA Group polled more than 500 foundation executives and program officers in February.
In fiscal year 2008, the federal government gave $38 billion in grants to nonprofit entities and spent $10 billion on non-competed contracts with nonprofits. Billions were also taken in tax expenditures benefiting nonprofits, representing foregone revenues of $50 billion in 2008.
Excluding contracts, that means that the average U.S. household spent $430 a year on programs to nonprofit entities such as universities, hospitals and charities in 2008.
The way nonprofit groups are reimbursed for work done under federal grants is erratic and needs to be clarified, says a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Much of the money flows through state and local governments, which offer different rates depending on their policies, it says.
That makes it difficult to get a clear picture of whether the contracts are covering the indirect costs (such as rent or utilities) of the charities doing the work, it says. When such costs are not fully paid for, it adds, the groups cut back on their services -- or on vital "back office" functions, which can over time compromise their ability to fulfill their missions.
The GSMA announced the details of a further seven grantees from the Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) Fund, which is administered by the GSMA Foundation, Inc., with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. New grantees are Cellcard in Cambodia, Digicel in Fiji, Orange in West Africa, Safaricom in Kenya, Tata Indicom in India, Telenor in Pakistan, and Tigo in Africa.
“Just 15 months after we first announced the launch of the Mobile Money for the Unbanked Programme we are proud to announce that all funds have been committed in support of mobile money deployments across the globe,” said Gavin Krugel, Director GSMA. “Projects were chosen on their ability to deliver, speed of delivery, scale and sophistication. Between now and the end of 2011 millions of consumers are expected to directly benefit from mobile money services launched with the support of the Fund – that is 170 million customers at the base of the economic pyramid and who previously lacked access to financial services, from 19 operators in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.”
As Director of New Media, Bracken will work to advance informed and engaged communities through media innovation and quality journalism.
He will lead the foundation's Knight News Challenge, an international contest to find innovative ideas that use digital platforms to help inform local communities.
"John is already a leading digital media grant maker," said Eric Newton, vice president of Knight Foundation's journalism program. "His work will only grow in impact as all news organizations seek to invent or reinvent themselves for the digital age." “In a world of constant technological and social change, it’s essential that we fund a wide range of experiments that will help point the way we will share and use information in this democracy,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation. “Only by intense experimentation and staying open to new trends and ideas can we hope to sustainably provide communities with the information they need to function in an open society.”