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Archive for October, 2010

Press Release: 14 Top National Childhood Nutrition/Health Nonprofits Identified by 103 Experts

October 31st, 2010

1 out of 5 children between the ages of 6-11 years are obese -Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2008


Over the last few years, high obesity rates have been making news headlines. The childhood obesity statistics are alarming–one third of children in the US are considered overweight, and childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years (From CBS News.) This year, First Lady, Michelle Obama announced her Let’s Move childhood obesity initiative. The goal of this campaign is to reverse the trend of childhood obesity in one generation so kids today can grown up healthy and well. In addition, the Childhood Nutrition Act (a federal program that that addresses the food served in schools) is up for reauthorization this year, so childhood nutrition/health is a timely and important topic in the US.

Many Americans support nonprofits working in the health field. In fact, in 2009, Americans gave $22.46 billion to the cause in general, representing 7% of the total annual giving (total is about $300 billion). (From Giving USA 2010 report.)

Given the importance of childhood nutrition and all the momentum at the federal level, we decided to learn more about the nonprofits that were doing the best work. Therefore, Philanthropedia surveyed 103 national childhood nutrition/health experts (with an average of 13 years of work experience in the field) to identify those organizations that were making the biggest impact in the field.

Philanthropedia’s experts (funders, researchers, nonprofit senior staff, government officials, etc.) identified 14 top childhood nutrition/health nonprofits (out of 207 total reviewed nonprofits) making an impact at the national level. We asked experts to recommend nonprofits focused on access to healthy foods and drinks in schools, nutrition education, physical activity programs and policies in or out of schools, access to safe play spaces for kids in their communities, access to healthy and fresh foods for kids in their neighborhoods, and/or media campaigns to promote health and nutrition for kids. These nonprofits should be primarily focused on impacting the lives of children. And these nonprofits might focus on different kinds of activities: policy, research, advocacy, direct services, education, etc. The primary focus of this research was not on food deserts, public transit, or helping local farmers or other for-profit organizations.

The following is the list of the top-recommended high-impact nonprofits working on childhood nutrition/health at the national level. “Agree” is the number of experts who agree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in the field. “Disagree” is the number of experts who disagree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in the field.

14 Top High-Impact Nonprofits # of Experts who Agree # of Experts who Disagree Year Founded Location

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation*

75 3 1971 Princeton, NJ

Center for Science in the Public Interest

61 4 1971 Washington, DC

W.K. Kellogg Foundation*

57 5 1930 Battle Creek, MI

Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)

49 3 1970 Washington, DC

The Food Trust

48 3 1992 Philadelphia, PA

Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

49 5 2005 New Haven, CT

Prevention Institute

45 3 1997 Oakland, CA

National Farm to School Network

45 7 1996 Los Angeles, CA

American Academy of Pediatrics

39 5 1930 Elk Grove Village, IL

Alliance for a Healthier Generation

43 12 2005 New York, NY

Action for Healthy Kids

37 11 2002 Skokie, IL

School Food FOCUS

28 7 2006 New York, NY

Community Food Security Coalition

29 9 1994 Portland, OR

Share Our Strength

21 7 1984 Washington, DC

*Philanthropedia enables donors to donate to all top-recommended nonprofits, however Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, top-recommended nonprofits, do not accept donations from individuals.

This week we will highlight the top 5 national childhood nutrition/health nonprofits. We invite you to visit the profiles of each of these top organizations on our website to read the expert reviews here: http://www.myphilanthropedia.org/top-nonprofits/national/childhood-nutrition-health. Experts commented on the impact each nonprofit has had, what the nonprofit’s other organizational strengths are, and how each organization could further improve.

We also invite your feedback here and on our website. Please tell us what you think and what experiences you’ve had with these organizations!

National Arts & Culture Top Nonprofit Countdown: Highlighting Nonprofits #6-10

October 30th, 2010

Of course, there are more than just 5 nonprofits making a major impact on the arts and culture scene at the national level. Here is some more information about the great work and impact top nonprofits #6-10 are making.

#6 New England Foundation for the Arts

Though a regional organization, the New England Foundation for the Arts was cited by experts for spreading the arts on a national scale through funding and other support services. Read more about them here.

#7 Theatre Communications Group

The Theatre Communications Group offers a variety of services and support to nonprofit theaters across the country. Read more about them here.

#8 National Performance Network

The National Performance Network was lauded by experts for its broad and local advocacy efforts in the arts. Beyond advocacy, its decades of funding to arts groups were cited as tremendously impactful to the field. Read more about them here.

#9 Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera Association was described by experts as the most renowned opera association globally. More specifically, nearly every expert cited their HD opera broadcasts as offering a distinct contribution to opera by giving quality access to viewers nationwide. Read more about them here.

#10 Dance USA

Dance USA has a decade plus long track record of supporting dance organizations through programming and advocacy. Read more about them here.

And there’s so much more! View our entire list of top 17 national arts and culture nonprofits here: http://www.myphilanthropedia.org/top-nonprofits/national/arts-culture and dig deeper to review what experts had to say about each organization. We hope you will consider adding arts and culture to your list of great causes to support this holiday season. You can feel confident that your donation is going to support an outstanding group of nonprofits making a real impact in arts and culture in your country and community.

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA): #1 High Impact Nonprofit in Arts & Culture at the National Level

October 29th, 2010

Today we honor our top #1 national arts and culture nonprofit: The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). While the NEA is a nonprofit, it is not a 501c3; therefore, we are unable to distribute donations to this organization. However, if you’re still interested in supporting their great work, we encourage you to donate directly to them.

Our experts particularly praised the NEA for its years spent supporting a variety of artists and groups. Here’s some more information about the National Endowment for the Arts:

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest annual national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.

NEA grants have a powerful multiplying effect, with each grant dollar typically generating up to seven times more in matching resources. Since its establishment, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion in funding, including early support for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial design competition, the Sundance Film Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, PBS’s Great Performances series, and the American Film Institute.

(Read more here: http://www.nea.gov/about/AtAGlance.html)

To learn more about the National Endowment for the Arts and its impact, read more expert reviews here.

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: #2 High Impact Nonprofit in Arts & Culture at the National Level

October 28th, 2010

John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, our #2 top national arts and culture nonprofit, was heralded by our experts for its long history of promoting and presenting the arts to wider and wider audiences. Beyond their general mandate, experts noted a variety of particular programs which have aided artists and arts organizations.

This is the founding story of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts:

The Kennedy Center is a performing arts center located on the banks of the Potomac River near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., opened to the public in September 1971. But its roots date back to 1958, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed bipartisan legislation creating a National Cultural Center.

President John F. Kennedy was a lifelong supporter and advocate of the arts, and frequently steered the public discourse toward what he called “our contribution to the human spirit.” Kennedy took the lead in raising funds for the new National Cultural Center, holding special White House luncheons and receptions, appointing his wife Jacqueline and Mrs. Eisenhower as honorary co-chairwomen, and in other ways placing the prestige of his office firmly behind the endeavor.

Two months after President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, Congress designated the National Cultural Center (designed by Edward Durell Stone) as a “living memorial” to Kennedy, and authorized $23 million to help build what is now known as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Fundraising continued at a swift pace–with much help coming from the Friends of the Kennedy Center volunteers, who fanned out across the nation to attract private support –and nations around the world began donating funds, building materials, and artworks to assist in the project’s completion. In December 1965, President Lyndon Johnson turned the first shovelful of earth at the Center’s construction site, using the same gold-plated spade that had been used in the groundbreaking ceremonies for both the Lincoln Memorial in 1914 and the Jefferson Memorial in 1938.

The Center has co-produced more than 300 new works of theater over the past 38 years, including Tony-winning shows ranging from Annie in 1977 to A Few Good Men, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The King and I, Titanic, and the American premiere of Les Misérables. 17 million people nationwide take part in innovative and effective education programs initiated by the Center, and millions of people watch its television programs every year.

(Learn more here: http://www.kennedy-center.org/about/history.html)

Read more reviews from arts and culture experts here to learn more about the great work the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is doing.

Americans for the Arts: #3 High Impact Nonprofit in Arts & Culture at the National Level

October 27th, 2010

Americans for the Arts is our #3 top arts and culture nonprofit at the national level. Our experts credited this organization for its influence on the field and advocacy efforts to improve government funding of the arts. Its ability to build a network to coordinate advocacy efforts also received repeated praise from experts.

This is Amy’s experience with Americans for the Arts as a professional with expertise in the arts field. Amy contacts AFTA frequently with requests for information and services.

As a member of Americans for the Arts, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville relies upon AFTA’s myriad of services in order to serve our local community at the highest of levels. Just one example of the leadership and direct service provided is the top-notch research studies that AFTA has led in audience spending and economic impact. Our local arts agency has never been able to conduct such broad data collection as was provided through the partnership with AFTA.

Another example would be the engaging, thought-provoking professional development opportunities that are provided at its national conference. The annual event is packed with opportunities to interact with experts in the field. At the local level, we have often showcased these speakers at our own events after hearing their remarks at the national conference.

Finally, the professionals at Americans for the Arts truly set a very high bar when it comes to serving the individual needs of its hundreds of members. We call upon its staff of experts time and again, and always receive prompt, robust answers to our inquiries and challenges.

(Read more reviews here: http://greatnonprofits.org/reviews/org-reviews/americans-for-the-arts/P5/)

Read more reviews from arts and culture experts here to learn more about the great work Americans for the arts is doing.

Creative Capital: #4 High Impact Nonprofit in Arts & Culture at the National Level

October 26th, 2010

Today we’re highlighting our #4 top arts and culture nonprofit having an impact at the national level: Creative Capital. Our experts said Creative Capital has had an impact by supporting less-traditional artists and shifting the arts agenda to value creativity. They also noted the significant professional development artists got while receiving support.

This is the organization’s founding story:

Creative Capital began as an experiment to see what would happen if artists were afforded the same opportunities as entrepreneurs in other sectors. Taking inspiration from venture capital concepts, Creative Capital’s program of support was built on the core principle that time and advisory services are as crucial to artistic success as funding.

In 1999, under the leadership of founding director—and now president—Ruby Lerner, the organization set out to award its first grants in four major arts disciplines: Emerging Fields, Film/Video, Performing Arts, and Visual Arts. Innovative Literature was added in 2005 as the fifth discipline. In hopes of attracting a range of diverse artistic visions and practices, Creative Capital elected to offer an open application rather than the nomination-only process used by many peers in the field. Additionally, in its first years, the organization initiated a nationwide outreach campaign to encourage artists across the country to apply and was among the first art foundations to accept applications online and by mail, promoting accessibility. The strategy worked, and Creative Capital received about 1,800 applications in its first year. It continues to receive as many as 2,500 each grant-making year.

After announcing the first 75 grantee projects in 2000, Creative Capital began working closely with the artists to build its program of Artist Services, beginning with the first Artist Retreat, where dozens of consultants and arts professionals came together to exchange ideas and expertise with grantees, and this has continued since 2000.

(Learn more here: http://creative-capital.org/aboutus/story)

Read more reviews from arts and culture experts here to learn more about the great work Creative Capital is doing.

Walker Art Center: #5 High Impact Nonprofit in Arts & Culture at the National Level

October 25th, 2010

The Walker Art Center, our top #5 national arts and culture nonprofit, has a long history of providing broad support for contemporary art performance on a large scale.

This is the Walker Art Center’s founding story:

Formally established in 1927, the Walker Art Center began as the first public art gallery in the Upper Midwest. The museum’s focus on modern art began in the 1940s, when a gift from Mrs. Gilbert Walker made possible the acquisition of works by important artists of the day, including sculptures by Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, and others.

During the 1960s, the Walker organized increasingly ambitious exhibitions that circulated to museums in the United States and abroad. The permanent collection expanded to reflect crucial examples of contemporary artistic developments; concurrently, performing arts, film, and education programs grew proportionately and gained their own national prominence throughout the next three decades.

Today, the Walker is recognized internationally as a singular model of a multidisciplinary arts organization and as a national leader for its innovative approaches to audience engagement.

(Learn more here: http://info.walkerart.org/about/history.wac)

Read the expert comments here to learn more about the Walker Art Center.

Press Release: 17 Top National Arts & Culture Nonprofits Identified by 144 Experts

October 24th, 2010

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one. -Stella Adler


The arts have always been an important part of American culture and life. In 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts was created by Congress to ensure funding for new and existing arts forms in the country. In the recent decades, however, the arts have had a much more difficult time getting funding and support at a national level and are often the first programs to be cut in schools when it comes time to cut budgets.

While the arts are an important part in our society and add texture and meaning to our lives, only 4% of total giving was to arts and culture nonprofits in 2009, or $12.64 billion (out of about $300 billion). (From the Giving USA 2010 report.)

Therefore, Philanthropedia surveyed 144 national arts and culture experts (with an average of 25 years of work experience in the field) to identify those organizations that were making the biggest impact in the arts and culture field. We believe a high-impact arts and culture nonprofit is one which is successful at creating or producing something of value to those who care about the arts and culture. A high-impact arts and culture nonprofit is able to contribute to the field by creating meaningful work and/or helping others develop an appreciation for the arts and culture.

National arts and culture experts (funders, researchers, nonprofit senior staff, government officials, etc.) identified 17 top national arts and culture nonprofits (out of 275 total reviewed nonprofits). We asked experts to recommend nonprofits that serve a national or multi-state audience or that influence the arts at the national level. These arts organizations could be developing or producing new work, be focused on performance, work to preserve and promote a traditional culture, advocacy, have an educational component, serve any age or type of audience, have any budget size, and/or represent any genre or discipline of art. We were interested in arts nonprofits that have had real impact and do outstanding work, NOT nonprofits that have simply been around for many years or most need additional funding. This research was focused on organizations, not individual artists.

The following is the list of the top-recommended high-impact nonprofits working on arts and culture at the national level. “Agree” is the number of experts who agree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in the field. “Disagree” is the number of experts who disagree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in field.

17 Top High-Impact Nonprofits # of Experts who Agree # of Experts who Disagree Year Founded Location

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)*

68 10 1965 Washington, DC

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

65 10 1971 Washington, DC

Americans for the Arts

63 10 1960 Washington, DC

Creative Capital

55 2 1974 New York, NY

Walker Art Center

52 5 1927 Minneapolis, MN

New England Foundation for the Arts

50 3 1976 Boston, MA

Theatre Communications Group

49 5 1961 New York, NY

National Performance Network

48 7 1985 New Orleans, LA

Metropolitan Opera

48 14 1883 New York, NY

Dance USA

39 10 1982 Washington, DC

National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC)

34 5 1989 San Antonio, TX

Alternate ROOTS

32 5 1976 Atlanta, GA

Fractured Atlas

32 6 1998 New York, NY

Creative Time

26 4 1974 New York, NY

Arts Education Partnership

22 4 1995 Washington, DC

Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation

28 11 1978 Baltimore, MD

Arts Midwest

27 11 1985 Minneapolis, MN

*Philanthropedia usually enables donors to donate to all top-recommended nonprofits, however the National Endowment for the Arts is a nonprofit but not a 501c3, so we cannot direct donations to this particular top-recommended nonprofit.

This week we will highlight the top 5 national arts and culture nonprofits. We invite you to visit the profiles of each of these top organizations on our website to read the expert reviews here: http://www.myphilanthropedia.org/top-nonprofits/national/arts-culture.  Experts commented on the impact each nonprofit has had, what the nonprofit’s other organizational strengths are, and how each organization could further improve.

We also invite your feedback here and on our website. Please tell us what you think and what experiences you’ve had with these organizations!

Bay Area Middle-Secondary Education Top Nonprofit Countdown: Highlighting Nonprofits #6-10

October 23rd, 2010

Middle-Secondary education is just a subsection of the larger world of education. In total, Philanthropedia experts identified 15 nonprofits that fall in this category in the Bay Area. Today, we will highlight nonprofits #6-10 with just a brief summary of their impact according to our experts.

#6 Summer Search

This program identifies first-in-family to attend college students and provides a strong boost of confidence and experience that supports them to get into college and stay there. College acceptance and going rates are in the high 90 percent range for participants. In addition to the individualized support they provide, they help participants realize that they can and should set their sights high as they move through their educational pathway. Read more about them here.

#7 Aim High for High School

Aim High for High School is widely-recognized for helping underserved, and particularly students of color, in San Francisco high schools and middle schools change their attitudes towards college (participants report a higher level of engagement and confidence in school). And this allows them to successfully pursue higher education. Aim High participants are more academically prepared and supported than their low-income peers. Aim High for High School has demonstrated a consistent ability to help kids improve academically–especially in critical areas like math. Aim High for High School is one of the few local summer school providers that has measurable academic and social gains for students. The program increases students’ feelings of connectedness and feelings of success while addressing the “summer learning loss” that plagues most inner-city schools. Read more about them here.

#8 The Education Trust (West)

Experts say the Education Trust West may be the strongest policy-advocacy organization on closing the achievement gap in CA. They have done breakthrough work on showing how teachers are paid better within districts at white-Asian schools. Further, the Education Trust has demonstrated the positive effects of academic rigor and high expectations for low-income and minority students. Finally, they have demonstrated the need for reform in how teachers are paid and trained. Read more about them here.

#9 Envision Schools

Envision Schools has developed a clear theory, educational model and has a strong track record for engaging low-income high school students in meaningful learning and accelerating their achievement utilizing a project based learning model, coupled with real world experiences in work places. They have also been equally innovative in their approach to performance-based assessment and use of student exhibition and portfolio review. 100% of Envision Schools’ graduates have gone on to post-secondary education and have persisted in large numbers. Read more about them here.

#10 Downtown College Prep

Downtown College Prep has created a context in San Jose where college success for all is a reasonable goal to be talking about, especially for the low-income Latino students who are so underrepresented in colleges and universities. Downtown College Prep has a strong track record of taking troubled high school students and getting them into college. Read more about them here.

View our entire list of top 15 Bay Area middle-secondary education nonprofits here: http://www.myphilanthropedia.org/top-nonprofits/bay-area/middle-secondary-education and dig deeper to review what experts had to say about each organization. Especially if you are a Bay Area resident, add middle-secondary education to your list of great causes to support this holiday season. You can feel confident that your donation is going to support an outstanding group of nonprofits making a real difference in education.

Aspire Public Schools: #1 High Impact Nonprofit in the Bay Area for Middle-Secondary Education

October 22nd, 2010

We are excited to announce that Aspire Public Schools is our #1 top nonprofit in Bay Area middle-secondary education. Our experts said Aspire has produced a replicable model for the successful education of minority and low-income students. They serve thousands of students in 25 schools (in more than 92% of districts in CA), with 67% free and reduced lunch students. Data reveals year after year improvement consistently across all of their schools. Their API across the entire network is 816. When their overall API score is compared to districts with 10+ schools, and 50%+ free and reduced lunch students, Aspire ranks first out of 129 schools.

This is Angel’s story, a student at an Aspire Public School:

Angel’s story is typical of many students to come to EPAPA from other districts. More often than not, students like Angel are coming from a background where they are deficient in a great many areas. They are behind the curve academically, emotionally, and socially. The challenge for them is to get back on the right track and start heading towards college.

One of the safe guards to prevent EPAPA students from falling more than a week behind in school work is to attend Thursday Think Tank sessions after school. At the Think Tank, students are required to make up all missed assignments and late work. Sometimes, these students and teachers will be at school as late at 10 or 11 pm. Angel was a constant participant in the sessions during his first couple of months at EPAPA. Many times he was the last student there. “For the first three or four weeks Angel would spend most of the time crying and complaining,” Madson recounted. “Eventually, we had to bring his whole family in as a support mechanism.” Angel’s family made quite a sight at the Thursday sessions. As the youngest member and only boy, Angel had his sisters and parents hovering over him for weeks. His sisters would walk him through math while his parents would sit and help him with other incomplete class work. Despite having his sisters and parents there, little progress seemed to be made.

This particular Thursday Think Tank started out in typical fashion, with Angel fighting his way through the session – still crying and still threatening to leave the school. Until he finished all his work. Early. In fact, he was one of the first students to finish that afternoon. The entire class, realizing a breakthrough had happened, all paused for a moment before giving Angel a standing ovation for his achievement. Not to be outdone, Madson and his staff rushed to Angel and embraced him in a gigantic group bear hug.

Angel is now passing his college preparatory courses and actively talking about college. Although it is still three and half years away, Madson can see the light at the end of the tunnel for Angel. But he also realizes that there is still a long way to go to get him to the end result. “We look at it like a triangle,” Madson said. “To get these kids to college, it takes the school, the family and the students to get them there.” With support both at home and school, Angel now has the framework to continue his journey towards graduation and beyond. He is on the path to college.

(Learn more here: http://www.aspirepublicschools.org/newsletter/0309/02.html)

To learn more about Aspire Public Schools and their impact, read the expert reviews here.


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