Mental health is easily the most frustrating corner of a healthcare sector rife with shortcomings and unmet needs. What’s maddening in this case is that government funding has declined even as the potential for improving mental health has increased. Worse, perhaps, is how a backward mental health system routinely inflicts harm on those people who come in contact with it.
Criminal justice is one of those areas where funders have been banging their head against a wall for years—working against harsh practices that defy social science research, not to mention common sense.
Now, that blood-stained wall is finally starting to crack, as policy leaders and the public alike wake up to the negative consequences of embroiling so many Americans in the criminal justice system. With the wind finally blowing in the right direction, some foundations are stepping up efforts to make change.
When you are one, you have only just learned to speak. You move about clumsily and knock things down a lot. You don’t yet know what is possible, but you are burgeoning with life.
The Fund for Shared Insight is a new collaborative effort of seven foundations coming together to back “feedback loops” to improve the social sector. The idea is that nonprofits need to do a better job of listening to the people they serve and incorporate that feedback in how they operate. Corporations vacuum up feedback from their customers all the time to improve performance—”please stay on the line to take a short survey”—but the nonprofit sector has been slow to do this kind of thing. Shared Insight hopes to get the ball rolling in a big way.
From our union brothers and sisters:
Some Certified Nursing Assistants report having to buy their own equipment to make sure they can monitor patients’ oxygen levels. Physical plant workers report troubling shortages of critical equipment they need to combat mold in ventilation ducts to patient and operating rooms. Now the Hospital is threatening to make the situation even worse by laying off more employees.
At the same time, Lifespan – A Health System paid more than $16.6 million in compensation to just ten executives last year. These individuals averaged $1 million more in compensation than the average compensation earned by CEOs of nonprofit hospitals nationwide. Meanwhile, Rhode Island’s largest healthcare employer has employees working more forty hours per week that get no health coverage.
Sam Zell is a Chicago businessman with a fortune of nearly $5 billion. His wife Helen is a philanthropist with wide interests and liberal views. The couple has been stepping up their giving, and we watch them closely, although we’re often struck by the inscrutability of the Zell Family Foundation’s giving, and always on the lookout for clues as to where the Zells’ philanthropy is going.
“There is still some stigma about men who say, ‘My kids are more important than my work,’ ” said Scott Coltrane, a sociologist studying fatherhood who is the interim president of the University of Oregon. “And basically that’s the message when men take it. But the fact that women are now much more likely to be at least a principal breadwinner, if not the main breadwinner, really changes the dynamic.”