New coalitions and innovations seem to be springing up all over the country to address the challenges facing America’s workers, backed by a range of funders. Last week, we wrote about a big effort on jobs spearheaded by Howard Schultz and Starbucks. And yesterday we wrote about a workforce push in Newark that JPMorgan Chase is helping bankroll.
Attention to race keeps growing in the United States, and that’s true for a bunch of reasons. But, for sure, philanthropy has played a role in elevating race to the top of the national agenda.
Well before the events in Ferguson last year, a number of top foundations were already investing in new work to address racial inequities and empower leaders of color. Most notably, ten top foundations partnered with the White House in February 2014 to address the challenges facing young men of color. And nearly a year earlier, 26 foundations had come together in Chicago, pledging new work in this same area. As we’ve also reported, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched a big initiative on young men and boys of color, Forward Promise, in 2011. Looking even further back, the Open Society Foundations began its Campaign for Black Male Achievement in 2008.
We’ve been writing a lot lately about the role of philanthropy in influencing public policy, with examples of this popping up often in recent months—like the victorious battle for same-sex marriage, the mounting success of the “war on coal,” and the new overtime rule that the Obama administration recently proposed.
In regard to that overtime rule, we wrote about the National Employment Law Project, and all it has done to draw attention to weak and outdated labor regulations. NELP, we noted, has received $15 million in funding from the Ford Foundation since 2009.
Yesterday, we wrote about philanthropy’s major role in the Obama administration’s bid to regulate greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants through executive action. Well, here’s a similar story: As the administration unveils a tougher rule for overtime pay this week, foundations can justly claim some of the credit.
This has been a great month for the president, as many commentators have noted, but it’s also been a good one for progressive funders who seen several longstanding investments pay off.
It really hits you how bad our roads are when they close the bridge on Park Avenue, so that we can’t even get to a friend’s house without having to go all the way down Reservoir and up Elmwood, making what used to be a 10 minute trip into a 25 minute ordeal. Infrastructure: the secret sauce that makes society possible. Please don’t let this funding lapse!
From the Whitehouse press office:
Whitehouse to Hold Press Conference on Highway Funding
Senator to Join Labor Leaders and Major Rhode Island Construction Company to Discuss Need to Pass a Highway Bill before Federals Funding Expires
Providence, RI – With federal highway funding set to expire at the end of July, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will hold a press conference on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the need to pass a long-term federal highway funding bill to create jobs, grow our economy, and make our roads and bridges safer in Rhode Island. Whitehouse will be joined for the press conference by labor leaders and a major Rhode Island construction company to discuss the effect a lapse in federal funding would have on Ocean State workers.
Whitehouse has been deeply involved in crafting the six-year transportation funding blueprint that passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week and awaits further action in the Senate. Whitehouse succeeded in including in the bill a provision to establish an “Assistance for Major Projects Program,” to provide funding to assist states in completing large, important, and expensive projects like reconstruction of Rhode Island’s 6-10 Connector.
EVENT: Sheldon Whitehouse Holds Press Conference on Highway Funding
WHEN: Wednesday, July 1, 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Apponaug Circulator Construction Site, 65 Centerville Road, Warwick (Across the Street from the Burger King)
According to a report compiled last year by the White House, Rhode Island had the highest percentage of deficient or obsolete bridges in America and was tied for the highest percentage of roads in poor condition. And according to the transportation research group TRIP, driving on roads in need of repair costs Rhode Island motorists $478 million a year – $637 per motorist – in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs.
With all the hype in the media about the Clinton Foundation, we wonder how many Americans actually know what the foundation does—or how many members of the media, for that matter.
Listening to news reports, you’d think the sole purpose of this outfit is to help the Clintons get rich and do favors for their shady friends. And while, to be sure, some of the reports about specific donors have been troubling—and suggest questionable judgment by the Clintons—what’s missing is a broader, more balanced look at how the foundation mobilizes money for good causes and who, in reality, puts up most of that money. (Hint: It’s not dictators looking for favors from the State Department.) While people shouldn’t stop asking hard questions about the foundation, they should pay more attention to its approach and programs.
In the United States, discussion of marginalized groups often revolves around terms like discrimination, rights, and integration. Elsewhere in the world, though, the focus is more on inclusion versus exclusion—which, arguably, is a more comprehensive and useful frame.
A commitment to battling exclusion is core to the Open Society Foundations, which has offices in over 30 countries and partners in dozens more. By now, the OSF story is the stuff of legend—how George Soros, the philosopher hedge fund king, used his market winnings to help bring down communism and went on to bankroll a global network of local foundations to advance the ideals of open society, making sure “no one has a monopoly on the truth” and no groups are consigned to the margins.