All posts by carmen

GIA’s Board Writes to Congress Expressing Concerns on the Proposed Changes to the 2020 Census

Grantmakers in the Arts, the national association of private and community foundations, corporate funders, and government agencies that support communities across America by funding nonprofit arts organizations and artists, is writing to express our strong concerns about the proposed changes to the 2020 decennial census, including the Administration’s addition of a question on citizenship status. The 2020 decennial Census, if conducted improperly or incompletely and with the harmful impact of a citizenship question, will severely hamper the ability of our nation’s citizens to fairly benefit from Federal and State programs which support the arts and arts education. The question on citizenship status alone is especially troubling given the impact it will have on the ability of the census to accurately count all those living in and contributing to our nation.

Read the full letter here. 

ArtPlace Presidents Write a Joint Letter in Support of the NEA

Following the Trump Administration’s 2019 budget request that proposes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), among other cultural agencies, the foundation presidents who fund ArtPlace released a statement in support of cultural federal agencies and their role in strengthening communities.

“If we lose federal agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts, we will not only lose significant direct investments in communities across all 50 states, we also lose the infrastructure that brings us together as one United States of America,” write the letter’s authors.

This statement follows a letter sent by the Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) board of directors impressing upon Congress the urgent need to support appropriations funding for the NEA, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) at the highest levels proposed by either the House or Senate’s 2018 appropriations bills, and to reject outright the elimination of these agencies as proposed by the budget request.

Read the full letter here.

Read GIA’s letter.

GIA’s Board Asks Congress to Support Cultural Agencies at Risk in the President’s 2019 Proposed Budget

The board of directors of Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) has requested that Congress support appropriations funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) at the highest levels proposed by either the House or Senate’s 2018 appropriations bills, and to reject the elimination of these agencies as proposed by the Trump Administration’s 2019 budget request.

Read GIA’s letter here.

Larry Kramer, President of the Hewlett Foundation, Ponders on Today’s Philanthropy

Larry Kramer, president of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, penned a letter in which he reflects on philanthropy after, what he calls, “a year as tumultuous and unsettling as 2017.” Kramer points out the spirit of a funder’s work, the responsibility to steward tactfully a foundation’s resources, and the adaptations and responses required to navigate changes in the political landscape in the US and abroad.

Read GIA’s news post on this letter.

It has not been my usual practice to write annual letters—they feel at odds with the foundation’s commitment to “operating in the modest, low-key style of our founders.” But after a year as tumultuous and unsettling as 2017, a few words seem appropriate. Not to cheerlead or sound a clarion call to the barricades; everyone working in the social sector understands that extraordinary events are afoot and fundamental values are being tested. What matters now, is not rhetoric, but how we meet these tests—substantively, and on the ground.This is especially true for a funder. We don’t do the work that matters: we support other people and organizations who do. Yet that must be balanced against our responsibility to steward the foundation’s resources wisely—a duty that lies here, with us, and that cannot be outsourced to others. How, then, should we weigh what our grantees say and want against our own best judgment about what’s happening and what we should do? How do we find the right balance between change and continuity? That’s a difficult question in the best of circumstances, so the very least we can do is to explain clearly the adjustments we’re making, and why.

We did a lot of adjusting on the fly this past year, learning and adapting to changes in the landscape while trying not to lose sight of principles that have guided us well for more than 50 years. That’s particularly challenging at times like these, when so much that we have taken for granted—shortsightedly it seems—is under threat.

I am thinking especially of democratic institutions, both in the United States and abroad. Having spent most of my adult life studying and writing about U.S. constitutional history, it’s hard to watch the cracks that have emerged continue to widen, even harder to stomach the hate-filled tribalism that passes for public discourse these days. That much, ironically, seems to be shared across the political spectrum. Sometimes, it feels like it’s the only thing shared.

When cynicism or hopelessness creeps in, I remind myself of what inspired Bill and Flora Hewlett to create this charitable foundation: their belief in the capacity of people to do good and to become better. Certainly there is evil in the world, and people can do incomprehensibly awful things. Institutions run by individuals acting in complete good faith can commit, or ignore, terrible wrongs. Our task is to help rectify these wrongs—something we do motivated not by anger, an understandable but unhelpful reaction, but rather from a firm conviction that we can all learn, can all change, can all become better. The work of philanthropy rests, and in the end depends, on this abiding faith in the dignity of individuals and the possibility of progress.

The Hewlett Foundation’s approach to philanthropy flows directly from this hope and ethos. The Hewletts may not have foreseen things like climate change or the rise of social media, but they built into the DNA of their foundation some enduring values that continue to guide us and to which we continue to aspire.

Topping the list, our first Guiding Principle, is a commitment to “seek to bring about meaningful, socially beneficial change in the fields in which we work.” That principle was on my mind a great deal in 2017. As I have written elsewhere, when it comes to complex social problems, meaningful social change is not achieved by quick fixes. Effective philanthropy requires becoming part of and helping to nurture an ecosystem of grantees, beneficiaries, and other funders whose efforts, cumulatively and over time, can deliver lasting impact. This means making long-term commitments, while leaving room for goals and strategies to adapt and change with the times.

Our emphasis in 2017 was heavy on the adaptation side of that equation. Changes in the political landscape, both in the U.S. and abroad, threatened progress and exacerbated problems we’ve been working on for years. We responded by allocating more than $60 million in available flexible funds to bolster our most vulnerable strategies. These extra funds, spent on top of ongoing grantmaking of roughly $400 million, enabled us to pivot responsibly and try new things while our grantees adjusted, altering their own strategies or making new efforts.

As 2018 begins, I want to talk about strategic adjustments we made, and what lies ahead, in three areas: women’s reproductive health in the U.S.climate change, and democratic dysfunction. After that, I’ll close with a few words about developments in a fourth area—diversity, equity and inclusion—that was a matter of concern long before the events of last year but that has become ever more meaningful in their wake.

 

Read the full letter here.