Philanthropedia Blog

Launching Research: Animal Protection, Education and Appreciation in Minnesota

February 10th, 2014 by admin 12 comments »

Animals play a significant role in the lives of nearly all humans. They fill the role of companions, service animals, educational subjects and more. We partnered with Minnesota Philanthropy Partners to explore the many ways that nonprofit organizations across MN protect, appreciate, and learn from animals.

Scope of the research 

In preparation for this research, I interviewed 11 experts working in animal related fields in Minnesota. Their insights have helped define the scope of this research. (Thank you to those of you who offered your time and expertise!)

There are a many facets of the animal sector including diversity of animals, services, and missions focus. This research will concentrate on animal protection, appreciation, and education. These wide ranging and overlapping areas together paint a clear picture of Minnesota’s diverse nonprofit landscape related to animals.

 

Protection

The causes of animal suffering can be thought of in two broad categories: Harm inflicted by individuals (either through malice or ignorance) and harm imposed through systemic conditions, such as food industry regulations, poor treatment of entertainment animals, commercial breeding industries, and the like. While some animal protection efforts seek to eliminate the use of animals for food, entertainment, hunting, or science entirely, many work to minimize animal suffering and exploitation in these situations.

Habitat preservation and restoration efforts are another form of animal protections. This both ensuring mutual safety and comfort in spaces shared by human and animals as well as preserving and maintaining space specifically for various animals. Similarly, animals and their habitats must be protected from the negative effects of climate change such as habitat displacement, diminishing health, and changes in their diet.

Education

In many ways, animals help us to better understand and appreciate the world around us. Exotic, local, free, and captive animals alike, have the ability to open imaginations and peak curiosity. Guided interactions provided by zoos, nature centers, conservatories, and the like give people of all ages the opportunity learn so much more about the world around them. Through this informal scientific instruction, people have the opportunity to learn about habitat, their own role in conservation, and more.

Science and education play a large role in conservation, habitat restoration, and re-population efforts across Minnesota. Scientists, researchers, breeders, zoo keepers and many others work to ensure that animals with dwindling populations or compromised conditions are restored. They research health issues that may be infecting particular species, run re-habitation and breeding programs for dwindling populations, share new methods of care for animals, and more. Many, work to mitigate the negative effects of climate change on animals as well as share those challenges to better educate the public on climate change as a whole.

Appreciation

This research also honors the important roles that animals can fill in our lives. Service and therapy animals support humans experiencing a wide range of emotion and physical difficulties. From hospital visits to daily care, these animals are trained to provide support and companionship that often is unmatched. Nonprofits train these helpful animals and their owners to work together. Not only that, they also work to ensure that the public is educated about the rights of individuals with service animals as well as accreditation process, which ensure that animals are well trained.

Types of Animals – All of the categories listed here overlap with a range of animals. Experts may identify nonprofits working with the following types of animals

  • Captive animals
  • Companion animals
  • Exotic animals
  • Livestock
  • Pests
  • Service animals
  • Wildfire

Types of organizations

  • Advocacy organizations
  • Animal fostering organizations
  • Animal adoption organizations
  • Animal conservatories
  • Animal sanctuaries
  • Education intuitions
  • Nature centers
  • Rescue organizations
  • Service animal training organizations
  • Zoos

 

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in the field of animals in Minnesota and have insight on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until mid-March 2014. We hope you will share your perspective and insights! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact Jasmine Marrow at jasmine.marrow@guidestar.org with information about your current position and background, and we would be happy to send the survey to you to include your recommendations.

Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and will check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!

Launching Research: Nonprofits in the Aging Sector in Minnesota

February 10th, 2014 by admin 2 comments »

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 23 percent of Minnesota’s population will be 60  and older by the year 2030, an increase of more than 33 percent from 2012 (Minnesota Administration on Aging).  

 

Minnesota is experiencing a dramatic demographic shift that is mirrored throughout the rest of the nation. The number of older adults is expected to rise greatly and disproportionately to the rest of the population.  This significant change in the dependency ratio paired with the changing needs and demands of older adults is the catalyst for much attention and positive change in the sector.

Scope of the research

In preparation for this research, I interviewed 14 experts working in the aging sector in Minnesota. Their insights have helped define the scope of this research. (Thank you to those of you who offered your time and expertise!)

Areas of focus

Experts noted the following prominent focus areas in the sector:

  • Aging protection – Some elders have physical, mental or emotional disabilities that make it difficult to care for themselves or to protect themselves from maltreatment. Measures, such as early detection protocols and mandated reporting, are put into place to protect vulnerable seniors from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
  • Building lifelong communities – Increasingly, seniors are opting to stay in their homes (or the homes of their choosing) until much later in life. As a result service provision is becoming increasingly mobile and community based. Infrastructure, such as transportation, built environment, and technology, are needed to keep communities thriving for people at all stages of life. There is a growing movement to ensure that all communities rural and urban are prepared to support older adults in issues related to memory and mobility loss.
  • Health – Nearly 80 percent of individuals age 65 and up have one or more chronic conditions. An estimated 65 percent have multiple chronic conditions. Issues related to health include cost, quality, and convenience. This burden is shared by health service providers (both community and hospital-based, insurance carriers, long-term care providers, and care givers. Health concerns for older adults cover healthy aging and preventive care, intensive health care strategies, and end-of-life-care. Additionally, many services are related to a specific diagnosis including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia.
  • Redefining work and retirement – As life expectancy and age vitality changes, individuals are being encouraged to continue working in both paid and nonpaid roles. Communities greatly benefit from the ongoing contributions of older adults and those adults in turn benefit as well. In order to facilitate this, organizations must have a greater competency around the needs of elders in the workplace. Additionally, seniors are being encouraged to plan and prepare for their retirement and end of life needs.
  • Supporting caregivers – As the demographics shift, there is a growing deficit in the number of formal and informal caregivers available. Since families and friends provide the vast majority of care to older people, there is a large need for services and supports for these informal caregivers. Needed supports include wrap-around service models, workplace accommodations, and education. These roles are especially important, as without the role of caregivers, elders require institutionalization or state supported care much sooner.
  • Maximizing the use of technology – Across the board, Minnesota is working to use technological tools more efficiently to help smooth the transition of the demographic shift. Use of technology can be implemented for improvements in long distance health care, self-managed care, tele-health to address worker shortages, performance management systems, and expanded access to information.

Types of nonprofits

  • Advocacy organizations
  • Associations
  • Civic engagement organizations
  • Coalitions
  • Direct-service providers
  • Research organizations
  • Social organizations

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in the field of aging in Minnesota and have insight on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until mid-March 2014. We hope you will share your perspective and insights! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact Jasmine Marrow at jasmine.marrow@guidestar.org with information about your current position and background, and we would be happy to send the survey to you to include your recommendations.

Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and will check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!

 

Launching Research: National Education 2013

September 24th, 2013 by admin 4 comments »

For years many nonprofits have worked hard to support education in the US. Supporting students, teachers, parents, communities, curriculum developers, tutors, and the many other players that lend to youth education is an important job, in many ways, the future depends on it.

This year about 50 million students are heading off to approximately 99,000 public elementary and secondary schools for the fall 2013 term (National Center on Education Statistics). As the school year begins, it seems fitting to launch our research highlighting high-impact nonprofits making a strong impact in primary and secondary education on a national level.

When we last explored this cause in 2010, 103 sector experts identified 13 nonprofits having the most impact in the sector. In order to keep our information relevant, we re-run each research cause every 3 years. It will be interesting to discover how the research results may have changed over time.

Scope of the Research

For this research we are asking experts to recommend up to four nonprofits working at national or multi-state level with a track record of doing high-impact work in the field of primary and secondary education, and up to two start-up nonprofits that have the potential to scale and have an impact at that level in the future.

Education is a vast topic and improvements and support can take on many forms. When recommending nonprofits experts may want to consider nonprofits addressing the following issues:

  • After-school programming
  • Child development
  • College preparation
  • Curriculum development
  • Data collection
  • Human capital
  • Instructional improvement
  • Literacy
  • Low-performing schools, turnarounds
  • Parental involvement
  • School readiness
  • School reform
  • Standards and assessments
  • Summer programming
  • Teacher training/education
  • The achievement gap
  • Truancy

We’d like to encourage experts to consider a diverse array of organizations. Types of organizations working in education could include:

  • Advocacy
  • After-school program providers
  • Community based organizations
  • Policy/advocacy
  • Public schools/ public charter schools themselves
  • Research
  • Training

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in the field of education and have insight on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until mid-October 2013. We hope you will share your perspective and insights! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact Jasmine Marrow at jasmine.marrow@guidestar.org with information about your current position and background, and we would be happy to send the survey to you to include your recommendations.

Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and will check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!

 

Launching Research: National Arts and Culture 2013

September 24th, 2013 by admin 2 comments »

Arts and culture activities are an integral part of our communities. These activities have the ability to create more beautiful places to live, contribute to a shared identity, transmit knowledge, contribute to an economy, and much more. For this reason individuals, government organizations and many, many nonprofits exist to support the creation, preservation, and sharing of arts and culture. At Philanthropedia we’re excited to once again focus our research on discovering high-impact nonprofits working in the field of arts and culture.

Revisiting this Research

We first explored the topic of arts and culture on a national scale in 2010. Through that research 144 experts identified 17 top nonprofits in the sector. In order to keep our data relevant, we refresh our research results every 3 years. As we prepare to launch this research again this is a great time to reflect on changes that may have occurred in the sector. Arts funding, for example has changed in many ways. In recent years charitable giving to arts and culture nonprofits raised from 4% of the total charitable giving in 2009 to 5% in 2012 (that is 15.81 billion out of a total $316.23 billion donated in 2012) (Giving USA)Crowd funding sites, like Kickstarter.com, have also drastically changed arts funding. As opposed to receiving a large grant from a single source, many arts projects are funded online through multiple individual donors. This form of arts funding is so popular that in 2012 Kickstarter funded more arts related projects than the National Endowment for the Arts (Washington Post). There are also ongoing changes in linking art to technology; changing the ways art is created and shared.

Scope of the Research

In this research we are asking experts to recommend up to four nonprofits doing high-impact work in the field of arts and culture on a national or multi-state level, and up to two start-up nonprofits that have the potential to scale and have an impact in the future.

Arts and culture is a diverse field and we encourage experts to consider all of the types of work that nonprofits may be doing to create an impact in this field. Nonprofits can serve any age or demographic and have any budget size.

Focus areas might include:

  • Developing or producing new work
  • Engaging and supporting artists directly
  • Exhibition and performance
  • Increasing arts and culture access for traditionally marginalized populations
  • Offering educational services
  • Preserving and promoting traditional culture
  • Providing arts grants

We are encouraging experts to consider the following types of organizations when making their recommendations:

  • Traditional arts and culture organizations: theatre, dance, music, visual arts, television, media, and film organizations
  • Funders: organizations that fund nonprofit organizations or artists themselves
  • Policy and advocacy organizations: groups that organize people to support arts in the public policy space
  • Educators: schools or organizations that teach arts

Additionally, experts are encouraged to consider the following kinds of arts disciplines:

  • Design and architecture
  • Literary arts (comics, literature, poetry)
  • Media arts (film/video, new media, digital art, interactive computer based art)
  • Music (blues, classical, country, electronic, folk, hip hop, international, jazz, rock/pop)
  • Performing arts (dance, opera, theatre)
  • Visual arts (ceramics, design, fashion, multi-media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, installation, 3D, 2D, fiber arts)

Participation in the Research

If you are an expert (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, government official, etc.) working in arts and culture we’d love to hear from you. You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until mid-October 2013. We hope you will share your perspective and insights! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact Jasmine Marrow at jasmine.marrow@guidestar.org with information about your current position and background, and we would be happy to send the survey to you to include your recommendations.

Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and will check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!

 

Launching Research: National Nonprofits Working with People with Disabilities 2013

July 10th, 2013 by admin 5 comments »

Collectively, people with disabilities constitute the nation’s largest minority group, and the only minority group of which any of us can become a member at any time (Disability Funders Network). What’s more, people with disabilities are among the most marginalized groups in the world. On the whole, the group is known to have poorer health outcomes, lower educational achievements, less economic participation, and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities.

We feel that it is important to identify nonprofits that are doing outstanding work on a national level in the area of people with disabilities. Nonprofits working in this field cover a wide range of issues including accessibility, support services, medical care, social justice work, stigma reduction, and research. This diverse world of nonprofits reflects the diversity of the population of people with disabilities and their various needs.

Revisiting this Research

In 2011, when we last ran this research, 79 experts identified 11 outstanding nonprofits working in the field of people with disabilities. We refresh our research every three years and it is interesting to note the ways that the sector may have changed since we last explored it. For starters, one expert noted that the US disabled population has grown by nearly 1 million individuals since this research was last run. This represents both challenges and possibilities in the sector. Experts were also optimistic about the rapid progress seen in research in recent years. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 has also had major implications for the sector. Among other things, the law is designed to ensure that those with previously existing conditions cannot be denied coverage. The experts we interviewed noted that this represents a huge positive change for the sector. It will be very interesting to see if, and in what ways, these changes have affected the nonprofit landscape.

Research Scope

Experts will be asked to recommend up to four nonprofit organizations making a significant impact in the field of people with disabilities. They will also be asked to recommend up to two promising start-up nonprofits.

Major issue areas – While this list is not exhaustive, the following is a list of issue areas that nonprofits in the sector are addressing:

  • Access/services – This broad category refers to the development and delivery of supports that help people with disabilities go about their desired activities within the community. This includes transportation, work/school accommodations, assistive technology, and care takers.
  • Employment – Employment is a key indicator in quality of life—affecting income, socialization, and self-worth. This makes the ongoing trend of low employment for this population particularly troubling. In March 2013, the current unemployment rate was double that of those without disabilities. This is contrary to the fact that studies have shown that hiring persons with disabilities generally has positive financial benefits for a company. (Kessler Foundation)
  • Health care – Issues around receiving adequate, affordable, and timely health care often trouble this community.
  • Housing – People with disabilities over the age of 21 attempting to live independently often encounter housing issues related to affordability, access, and availability.

 

The field of people with disabilities covers a wide range of often overlapping populations served including:

  • Elders
  • Those with cognitive or developmental disabilities
  • Those with mental disabilities
  • Those with physical disabilities
  • Veterans
  • Youth

Experts are encouraged to consider different types of nonprofits including:

  • ·         Direct service providers
  • ·         Education/training providers
  • Health care providers
  • ·         Policy/advocacy organizations
  • ·         Research organizations
  • ·         Sports/physical activity groups

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in the field of people with disabilities and have insight on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until late August 2013. We hope you will share your perspective and insights! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact Jasmine Marrow at jasmine.marrow@guidestar.org, and we would be happy to send the survey to you to include your recommendations.

Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and will check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!

 

 

Launching Research: Bay Area Climate Change 2013

July 10th, 2013 by admin 5 comments »

Average global temperatures have increased by about 1 degree Celsius over the 20th century (The Nature Conservancy)

Scientists have already begun to observe the variety of impacts that climate change can have on people, plants, and animals (EPA). The issue of climate change has obvious global implications and is being worked on at every level from local and state to national and international. Our research recently explored the work that nonprofits are doing at the national level to address climate change. To explore the cause from the local perspective, we turn our focus to the San Francisco Bay Area.

In many ways, the Bay Area is a model for local and national climate change work throughout the country. The Bay Area has a long history of involvement in the environment, especially around topics such as land conservation and open-space protection. And Silicon Valley specifically, home to many tech start-ups, has a history of innovation around green tech, renewable energy, and sustainability. At the state level, California’s 2006 legislation AB32–the Global Warming Solutions Act–mandates that by 2020 California reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. Many of the major initiatives for reducing climate change or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are implemented at the local level.  The Bay Area is uniquely situated to showcase many climate change interventions that range from individual action to business practices to government intervention.

Revisiting this Research

In 2010, when we last explored this topic, 97 experts identified 15 exemplary nonprofits in the sector. We refresh our research every three years to keep results relevant. One major regional and national event was the 2011 bankruptcy of Solyndra, a Bay Area alternative energy start-up with a Federal investment. While the events surrounding the close of Solyndra are part of a much lengthier conversation, it is safe to say that the event strained perceptions and operations around alternative energy production (and subsidies). A more positive change in the sector is recent economic growth. In 2010, the US was in the midst of an economic downturn causing a concern that increased emission standards could cripple industry. Today, the economy has not fully recovered, but is in much better shape.

Research Scope

We are asking experts to recommend up to four nonprofit organizations based in the San Francisco Bay Area they feel are having the most impact in the field of climate change. They will also be asked to recommend up to two promising start-ups.

Nonprofits tackle the complex issue of climate change from a variety of prevention and mitigation perspectives including:

  • Alternative energy
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Environmental justice
  • Green jobs
  • Pollution
  • Sustainability
  • Transportation

We’d like to encourage experts to consider a diverse array of organizations. Types of organizations addressing climate change could include:

  • Community-based organizations
  • Conservation groups
  • Policy and advocacy organizations
  • Public outreach/education organizations
  • Research organizations
  • Trade associations

Specifically excluded from consideration will be for-profit organizations such as solar or green tech companies, green architects, or climate/energy consultants.

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in climate change in the San Francisco Bay Area and have insight on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until late August 2013. We hope you will share your perspective and insights! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact Jasmine Marrow at jasmine.marrow@guidestar.org, and we would be happy to send the survey to you to include your recommendations.

Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and will check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!

 

Launching Research: National Workforce Development 2013

May 8th, 2013 by admin 3 comments »
Over the next 20 years, the U.S. must address an aging labor force, a need for highly trained workers who can compete globally, and increasing numbers of low-income working families struggling to climb the economic ladder (Anne E. Casey Foundation)

In 2010, we launched our research to identify high-impact nonprofits working in the field of workforce development at a national level. Through that research, we identified 17 top nonprofits in the field. The dynamic field of workforce development helps keep individuals employed, businesses supplied with workers, and neighborhoods thriving.

The field of workforce development has been subject to changes big and small since 2010.  This includes changes in funding, political rhetoric, industry needs, and best practices within the field. We are now refreshing these research results (we re-run our research every three years), and we’re inviting experts once again to help identify high-impact nonprofits working in the field of workforce development. We hope that many of you will participate in this research to help inform individual donors about which nonprofits are making the biggest impact in the sector!

Scope of the Research

In this research we are asking experts to recommend up to four high-impact nonprofits working in the field of workforce development on the national or multi-state level and up to two start-up nonprofits that have the potential to scale and have an impact in the future.

What is workforce development?

Workforce development is a person-centered approach to economic development. It concentrates on building the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that are needed by individuals in the workforce to deliver services both now and in the future. It allows for both individuals and businesses to reap the benefits.

Approaches to workforce development

While many workforce development organizations view the field from a holistic perspective, workforce development interventions can also be thought of in terms of supply and demand.

Supply (the worker): This side of workforce development focuses on enhancing the worker. Some approaches include: skills training, offering job finding resources, education (through university, community college, or alternative education routes), offering training for specific trades, helping with job retention/stability, and offering support around career advancement. One important sub set of programs helps to bridge the gap for individuals who would benefit from an education or job training program, but don’t yet have the skills to fully utilize that program, such as English language or basic literacy. These programs, known as bridge programs or career pathways, are generally partnerships between community-based organizations and local community colleges.

Demand (the business): This part of workforce development is about creating new jobs, helping businesses develop positions that have potential career ladders within for workers, encouraging businesses to train and develop their employees, or provide businesses with services to train their employees. Increasingly, workforce development organizations that employ these strategies are working with employers in ways that more holistically integrate them into the process of developing trainings.

Types of Organizations

We would like to encourage experts to consider a range of nonprofits when making recommendations. Some examples are listed below:

  • Alternative staffing agencies
  • Business and industry associations
  •  chambers of commerce
  • Community based organizations and service providers (services can include education, training, networks, employers, career centers, etc.
  • Education institutions (including community colleges, universities, technical training, credentialing programs, continuing education, etc.)
  • Funders
  • Labor unions
  • Research organizations
  • Policy and advocacy organizations
  • Technical assistance providers

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in the field of workforce development, and have insights on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. . The survey will be open until early June 2013. We hope you will share your perspective and insights!

You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. If for some reason we have missed you, and  you’d like to share your perspective, please contact Jasmine Marrow at jasmine.marrow@guidestar.org with information about your current position and background. We would be happy to send the survey to you. Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and we’ll check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!

 

 

Launching Research: National Childhood Nutrition/Health 2013

May 8th, 2013 by admin 36 comments »

In 2010 we launched research to identify high impact nonprofits working in the area of childhood health/nutrition. It was an important topic that year–the obesity epidemic was national news, First Lady, Michelle Obama announced her Let’s Move initiative to eradicate childhood obesity, and a federal program connected to the issue was up for re authorization  We’re now ready to refresh this research and it is clear that the cause is equally important today.  The Let’s Move initiative, now in its third year is still going strong. And public interest has been strengthened by advocacy efforts like Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, an obesity advocacy campaign headed by famed chef Jamie Oliver.  And most importantly, about a quarter of 2-5 year olds and one-third of school-age youth are overweight or obese in the U.S. (Food Research and Action Center). This can lead to negative health outcomes both in the short and long term.

We’re asking experts who work in the field of childhood health/nutrition to contribute to our research and let us know which nonprofits they think are doing the best work today.

Scope of the Research

While there are many facets to childhood health, this research specifically looks at childhood health through the lens of obesity and its consequences. The goal of sector experts is to get kids the right amount of healthy calories and then have them expend those calories through physical activity. They call this the energy equation. This equation consists of two major parts: healthy food and physical activity. Both pieces are equally important in this research.

Areas of Focus

While this is not an exhaustive list, the following is a list of prominent issue areas

School Food: Many children consume at least half of their meals at school. With more than 32 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program and more than 12 million participating in the School Breakfast Program, good nutrition at school is more important than ever (Let’s Move). There  organizations are working to improve school food nutrition by advocating for changes in funding and regulations, working to integrate more local food into school meals (This is known as the farm-to-school movement.), and working to decrease access to unhealthy options like sugar sweetened beverages and snacks. Many are also working to make water more accessible at meal times and throughout the school day.

Physical activity – Physical activity doesn’t just burn calories, which is an important part of the energy equation.  For children and teens regular physical activity in improves strength and endurance, helps build healthy bones and muscles, helps control weight, reduces anxiety and stress, increases self-esteem, and may improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Children spend a good deal of their time in schools and, just as with school meals, it’s important that their opportunities for physical activities (like recess and physical education) support healthy outcomes. It’s equally important that the opportunities continue outside of school as well.

Community Design- There are many ways to address issues of health and nutrition from a place-based perspective. Access to healthy foods and spaces for physical activity can be increased through urban planning and development.

Food – For many years, low-income urban and rural communities have faced limited opportunities to purchase healthy food. The term food desert is often used to describe areas with severely limited access to grocery stores and healthy food options. Often, residents in these areas rely on expensive, fatty, processed foods sold at convenience/corner stores. One means of addressing this problem is by providing corner stores access to lower cost produce in order to increase their healthy food supply. City planning can also help low income communities gain access to healthy, affordable food in the long term.

Physical activity – The built environment can have a significant impact on physical activity.  Urban planning solutions for childhood health issues focus on creating safe places to play, increasing access to parks, and making sure neighborhood features (like sidewalks)  encourage physical activity such as walking and bike riding.

Out of school health and nutrition – Increasingly the health and nutrition standards that are encouraged in schools are being encouraged in other institutions charged with the care of children namely after school programming and early childhood education providers. Out-of-school time (OST) programs are uniquely positioned to offer health and fitness activities that schools cannot often provide, because of their flexibility in scheduling and how they structure their programs.

Nutrition Education: Nutrition education is designed to help kids, families, and/or program administrators make healthy choices around food and physical activity. Education can take many form and focuses. Some education activities include gardening, cooking, shopping, workshops for staff and parents that focus on leading healthy lifestyles and modeling healthy eating for youth, and more.

Types of intervention

For this research, we are asking experts to recommend up to four nonprofits doing high-impact work on a national level, and up to two start-up nonprofits that have the potential to do high-impact work.

Children’s nutrition/health is a vast topic, and nonprofits support childhood health goals using numerous strategies and interventions. When recommending nonprofits experts may want to consider nonprofits addressing the following issues (all of which can be addressed in and out of school):

  • Encouraging behavioral changes
  • Encouraging physical activity
  • Improving access to nutrition food
  • Improving access to water
  • Increasing connection to local and organic food
  • Reducing consumption of unhealthy foods
  • Urban planning

 

Types of organizations working in this area could include:

  • Intermediaries and support organizations
  • Nutrition education organization
  • Policy/advocacy organizations
  • Public Education organizations
  • Public schools/ public charter schools/alternative schools
  • Research organizations
  • Training organizations
  • Youth program providers

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in the field of childhood nutrition/health and have insights on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until early June 2013. We hope you will share your perspective and insights! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact Jasmine Marrow at jasmine.marrow@guidestar.org with information about your current position and background, and we would be happy to send the survey to you to include your recommendations.

Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and will check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!

 

 

Launching Research: National Reproductive Health, Rights, & Justice

May 8th, 2013 by admin 5 comments »

Marching with over a million women in support of our reproductive rights was one of the most empowering things I have done, both as a woman and as a Member of Congress. – Sheila Jackson Lee

For years, various reproductive health, rights, & justice organizations have been working to ensure that women have the right to be in control of their physical, mental, and social well-being. This is a cause that is dear to many supporters. We first researched reproductive health, rights, and justice in 2010 and revealed 19 high-impact nonprofits. In order to keep our information relevant we refresh the research every three years, so we are looking into the cause once again.  We’re excited to discover how the sector and the research results will prove changed (or not!)

Scope of the Research

While reproductive health, rights, and justice is a global issue, for capacity reasons this research will focus specifically on identifying organizations within the U.S.

Areas of Focus

“Reproductive health” has come to include three sub-categories: reproductive health, reproductive rights, and reproductive justice.

Reproductive health refers to the work of ensuring the mental, physical, and social well being for women in relation to their reproductive systems. This can include treatment and prevention, prenatal care, cancer screenings, contraception, abortion, and LGBT health concerns.

Reproductive rights are legal rights and freedoms relating to reproduction and reproductive health. Reproductive rights may include some or all of the following: the right to legal or safe abortion, the right to birth control, the right to access good-quality reproductive healthcare, and the right to education and access in order to make free and informed reproductive choices.

Reproductive justice is a concept that links reproductive rights with social justice.  Its application has to do with ensuring equitable treatment and empowering those who are marginalized in this sector, such as younger women, women of color, etc.

Affordable Care Act – The 2010 passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has resulted in major changes in the sector. Some experts believe that it has fundamentally altered the landscape for family planning service providers. The PPACA will extend health care coverage to 32 million people by 2014 and change how patients access care in the public health safety net. The increase in access for individuals will also mean some major changes in infrastructure and capacity for service providers.

Provider Issues – In addition to growing infrastructure needs, providers face a breadth of important challenges which can result in limiting access to care for women.  For example, federal and grant funding has become increasingly limited for a variety of reasons.  Also, the current political climate around contraception and abortion has also severely limited services.

Types of organizations

We are asking experts to recommend up to four high-impact organizations working at a national level and up to two start-up nonprofits that have the potential to do high-impact work. Specifically, we are asking that they recommend nonprofits working in the area of reproductive health, rights, & justice.

We would like to encourage experts to consider a range of nonprofits when making recommendations. Reproductive health, rights, & justice encompasses many focus areas including:

  • Abortions
  • Cancer screenings
  • Contraception
  • LGBT sexual health
  • Pre and postnatal care
  • Sexual education
  • Treatments and prevention
  • Unwanted pregnancy and STD prevention

Types of nonprofits doing this work might include:

  • Clinical service providers
  • Direct service organizations
  • Foundations
  • Litigation organizations
  • Policy and advocacy organizations
  • Professional associations
  • Public education organizations
  • Research organizations
  • Technical assistance/intermediary organizations

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in the field of reproductive health, rights, & justice and have insights on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until early June 2013. We hope you will share your perspective and insights! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact Jasmine Marrow at jasmine.marrow@guidestar.org with information about your current position and background, and we would be happy to send the survey to you to include your recommendations.

Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and will check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!

 

 

Research on Educational Support for Minnesota’s At-Risk Youth

February 5th, 2013 by admin 11 comments »

Philanthropedia is partnering with Minnesota Philanthropy Partners to conduct research to identify high-impact nonprofits that help ensure better education outcomes for Minnesota’s at-risk youth.

Across the nation, poor education and career outcomes for low income youth and youth of color paint a clear picture of the often mentioned achievement gap and opportunity gap. In Minnesota, the trend is no different. Since 2006, the achievement gap has increased by 10 percentage points in high school math between white and Hispanic students and between white and black students on the annual state test. (Minnesota 2020)

Scope of the Research

In preparation for this research, we spoke with 12 issue experts to better understand the area of educational support for at-risk youth in Minnesota. Their insights have helped define the scope of this research. (Thank you to those of you who offered your time and expertise!)

Who Are At-Risk Youth?

Broadly speaking, at-risk youth are young people who have a strong potential for negative life outcomes. These outcomes include:

  •      Criminal justice infractions
  •      Low wage earning
  •      Poor health outcomes (including STIs, diabetes, etc)
  •      Shortened life expectancy
  •      Violence

Common factors associated with at-risk youth include:

  •      Community/environmental risks (high crime, low education attainment)
  •      Homelessness
  •      Little or no family history of higher education
  •      Low socio-economic status
  •      New Immigrants/English language learners
  •      Racial and ethnic minorities
  •      Teen parents

Age considerations:

This research will look at all stages of youth development from birth into early adulthood. It is true that many young people are at a heightened risk of school disengagement and experiment in risky behavior in their teen years (Anne E. Casey Foundation). However, it is equally important to equip young people well before they reach this critical age and to engage them throughout their development.

 

Areas of Focus

Early development – The first five years of life (and even parts of pregnancy) are critical to a child’s lifelong development. Young children’s earliest experiences and environments set the stage for future development and success in school and life. Early experiences actually influence brain development, establishing the neural connections that provide the foundation for language, reasoning, problem solving, social skills, behavior and emotional health. (Gettingready.org)

Early childhood education/kindergarten preparedness – Studies show that at least half of the educational achievement gaps between poor and non-poor children already exist at kindergarten entry. Children from low-income families are more likely to start school with limited language skills, health problems, and social and emotional problems that interfere with learning. The larger the gap at school entry, the harder it is to close. (Gettingready.org)

In-school success – Keeping all young people engaged and achieving in school is critical for reducing disparities among at-risk youth.  This includes identifying struggling students, overall school quality, distributing funds and services to schools in a way that promotes equity, and dealing with school truancy and behavioral issues in ways that keep students in school.

Out-of-school time – There are numerous programs than engage young people after school, during the summer, and on weekends.  There’s a growing understanding that this out–of-school time is deeply important in helping young people succeed academically, as well as developing characteristics/traits that help young people thrive.

Criminal justice intervention – Young people involved in the criminal justice system are often at risk of becoming high school dropouts, victims of crimes, and repeat offenders in adulthood.

Foster youth support – Youth in the foster care system are a vulnerable population in many ways.  Often they are children with a history of maltreatment, such as neglect, who additionally endured various forms of trauma. Youth in foster care also face many educational obstacles because of frequent moves. They will miss many school days while in transition from home to home in addition to facing the challenges of beginning again at new schools. Lastly, many adolescents will age-out of the foster care system when they turn 18 years old and will find themselves with little, if any, financial, medical, or social support.

Rural youth – At-risk youth in rural areas have a more difficult time connecting to programs and services because there are often fewer support programs and transportation opportunities may be limited.

Homeless youth – Homeless youth face a major barrier to achievement because of the inconsistency and uncertainty that comes without having stable permanent housing.

 

Types of intervention for at-risk youth education

For this research, we are asking experts to recommend up to four nonprofits doing high-impact work across the state of Minnesota, and up to two start-up nonprofits that have the potential to do high-impact work.

In particular we are asking experts to identify nonprofits that are working on prevention and/or intervention for at-risk youth. While there are a number of issues about which at-risk youth organizations can be engaged, we ask that the nonprofits recommended in this research be primarily focused on helping at-risk youth achieve educational goals.

This is a vast topic and improvements and support can take on many forms. When recommending nonprofits experts may want to consider nonprofits addressing the following issues:

  • Child development
  • College preparation
  • Data collection
  • Foster care support
  • GED Attainment
  • Human capital
  • Literacy
  • Low-performing schools, turnarounds
  • Mentorship
  • Out-of-school programming
  • Truancy
  • Parental involvement
  • Quality school instruction
  • School readiness
  • School reform
  • Standards and assessments
  • suspension alternatives
  • Summer programming
  • Teacher training/education
  • The achievement/opportunity gap

We’d like to encourage experts to consider a diverse array of organizations. Types of organizations working in this area could include:

  •         After-school program providers
  •         Community based organizations
  •         Intermediaries and support organizations
  •         Libraries
  •         Policy/advocacy organizations
  •         Public schools/ public charter schools/alternative schools
  •         Research organizations
  •         Training organizations

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working with at-risk youth in Minnesota and have insights on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until early March 2013. We hope you will share your perspective and insights! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact Jasmine Marrow at jasmine.marrow@guidestar.org with information about your current position and background, and we would be happy to send the survey to you to include your recommendations.

Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and will check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!

 



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