The Obama administration has broken new ground in bringing together the power of philanthropy and government. Near the center of that effort is Michael Smith, the White House aide in charge of My Brother’s Keeper.
The successes of the civil rights movement are rightly remembered as a major achievement of grassroots organizing—with crucial assists by Lyndon B. Johnson and a muscular White House.
But there’s another part of that history that you won’t see on the big screen: How philanthropists supported the civil rights push at key moments. As well—fast forwarding to today—for all the media attention on racial justice in the wake of police killings in Ferguson, MO, and New York City, there’s been little mention of how foundation money has helped frame the response to those events and articulate a policy agenda going forward.
The first female Governor of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo, is going to have her work cut out for her with requests for all sorts of things — funding for everything under the sun, reform ideas from every political perspective, and, oh yes, health care — that little elephant in the room, costing us all a fortune, wreaking havoc on middle class and poor families, and making us look bad internationally for having the most bloated, ineffective system in the world.
Enter Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and the Rhode Island Foundation, stage left. They bring with them many years of sustained investment in improving health care. Whitehouse founded the Rhode Island Quality Institute during his time as Attorney General and is a leading voice in Washington for health care delivery system reform. The Rhode Island Foundation has been funding health care initiatives since early in its history, and continues to look for and fund innovative ways to improve health care access and delivery.
When it comes to the big names in housing and particularly sustainable housing for the underserved community, one man stands out from the crowd fairly quickly. Michael J. Hanley, President of the Hanley Foundation, has been working for more sustainable housing, and housing for those in need, for over 15 years.
LGBT seniors in Philadelphia now have a new housing option in the “Gayborhood,” the nickname for the neighborhood where the William Way Residence opened. The 56-unit housing development, funded by the Dr. Magnus Hirshfeld Fund, is a haven for elderly LGBT folks who need affordable housing.
The good news is that homelessness among veterans has been on the decline, dropping 24 percent (or 17,760) between 2009 and 2013.
Say it with me now, “The people…united….will never be defeated….”