Philanthropedia Blog

Launching Research: National Nonprofits Working with People with Disabilities 2013

July 10th, 2013 by admin 10 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 11 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 7 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 116 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 6 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 27 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!

 

Philanthropedia Announces New Custom Research Project in Minnesota

February 5th, 2013 by admin 5 comments »

We, Philanthropedia a division of GuideStar, are excited to announce that we are launching a new round of custom research with Minnesota Philanthropy Partners. Through our custom research offerings we’ve partnered with MN Partners to highlight expert-identified high-impact nonprofits in the fields of the environment, workforce development, access to arts and culture, and access to healthy foods (soon to be released).  This research has uncovered an array of nonprofits working in a variety of ways to help Minnesotans live happier and healthier lives.

Our current research focuses on mental health and educational support for at-risk youth. Through our crowd sourcing methodology, we will harness the professional perspectives of Minnesota’s experts in each of these fields. The results of this research will be available on Philanthropedia and GuideStar’s websites as well as published in MN Partners’ flagship magazine, MNSights.

Research on Minnesota’s Mental Health Nonprofits

February 5th, 2013 by admin 7 comments »

Through a custom research partnership with Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, Philanthropedia is currently conducting research to identify high-impact nonprofits working in Minnesota’s mental health arena in order to bring more awareness to the area.

The state of Minnesota has made many progressive steps forward in the area of mental health care including their establishment of the few mental health Urgent Care centers in the nation.  Support for the wide array of mental health issues from crisis to prevention is an important part of Minnesota’s nonprofit landscape.

Research Scope

In preparation for this research, we spoke with 13 issue experts to better understand the area of mental health in Minnesota. Their insights helped define the scope of this research. (Thank you to those of you who offered your time and expertise!)

Areas of Focus

Children’s mental health – Children’s mental health services encompass both in-school and out-of-school interventions. On the whole, Minnesota has moved toward a model of individualized care for youth to ensure that assessment and treatment strategies are designed to contribute to a holistic model of care. Children’s mental health relies on a trauma informed model of care, which deeply informs their assessment and services.

Crisis intervention – Crisis intervention strategies are often needed as an element of care for those with serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI).  Major goals of crisis support are both to dissolve the current situation and to help the individual avoid future crises. Too often a mental health crisis will result in an emergency room visit for the individual. Emergency rooms are ill equipped to provide care for mental health crises. These visits are often costly and result in inadequate care. Crisis intervention strategies such as mobile crisis teams and mental health urgent care can help reduce the number of ER visits.

Culturally competent care – In order for mental health care to be effective, it must be truly accessible. There is a growing understanding in the field that mental health care often needs to be a trusted and integrated part of the community in order to truly be a resource. New immigrants may also be in need of support as they assimilate into a new community. Language barriers, isolation, and the process of moving to a new community are often anxiety producing and can lead to depression. Many effective practitioners strip away the language of mental health and work to help new immigrants become more integrated into their communities and respond to their emotional needs.

Dual diagnosis and issues exasperating mental illness – Alcoholism and drug abuse are often co-occurring in individuals with mental illness. The co-existing issues of addiction and mental health issues are often called a dual diagnosis. While there are some services that focus on dual diagnosis, there is far more support needed in this area. Like addiction, poverty and homelessness often accompany mental illness. Due to stress, instability, and decreased access to medication, these situations can exacerbate mental health concerns and speed up the cycle of a mental health crisis.

Integration of care – In many areas of Minnesota’s mental health care system, providers are identifying the need to approach individual needs from a holistic perspective. For example, there are significant physical health disparities for those with mental health concerns. In line with the national trend, in Minnesota, those with serious mental illness have an average life-span of 24 years fewer than their peers (Health Partners). There is a nationwide shortage of psychiatrists. This trend negatively impacts those in rural areas even more dramatically. Some of this burden can be alleviated through the of telemedicine and training general practice physicians to manage mental health cases.

Lack of residential options – As a result of the economic downturn, Minnesota is experiencing a lack of residential vacancies. There are very few options for residential support outside of the hospital setting. For many, options such a group homes or treatment facilities may be an appropriate fit, but are not a viable or timely option.

Preventative care – Currently prevention is undervalued in the mental health arena. To qualify for services, often an individual needs to have suffered a crisis. This is in many ways a dangerous trend, though there are a few notable exceptions. Minnesota has a strong suicide prevention focus, both for youth and adults. There is also an emerging trend in programming for individuals experiencing their first mental health crisis, which helps to set up systems to prevent recurring episodes.

Serious and persistent mental illness – Individuals suffering from serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI) have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression or borderline personality disorder that significantly impairs the person’s functioning. Individuals with SPMI are more likely to undergo crisis, be hospitalized, and require ongoing case management and mental health care.

Stigma – There is a strong need for reducing stigma, or stigma busting, in the mental health community. The negative connotation of a mental health diagnosis and treatment keep many people from accessing care for years. It also builds a wall between mental health consumers and their communities. Stigma busting can take the form of community-based services, mobile care, training practitioners in stigma reduction, and emerging practices that make patients an active voice in their own care.

 Veteran mental health – The mental health needs of veterans are as diverse as veterans themselves. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in increased numbers of Veterans who have experienced traumatic brain injuries (TBI). TBIs vary in severity. Some instances can lead to long term cognitive and emotional issues. Older and more recently established veterans may suffer from combat related mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); an anxiety disorder can occur following the experience of a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death. It is also important to keep in mind that there are many veterans whose mental health concerns are not military related and many who have no mental health issues at all.

Types of organizations

For this research, we are asking experts to recommend up to four nonprofits doing high-impact work in Minnesota, and up to two start-up nonprofits that have the potential to do high-impact work. In particular, we are asking that experts recommend nonprofits doing work across the mental health spectrum. Focus areas may include:

  • Addiction support
  • Crisis support
  • Depression
  • Family services
  • Housing for the mentally ill
  • Integration with physical health
  • New immigrant adjustment

 

 

  • Patient centered care
  • Respite care
  • Rural treatment
  • Stigma reduction
  • Suicide prevention
  • Telephone support
  • Veteran care
  • Workforce shortage
  • Youth care

 

Funding and care for mental health issues is made up of a complex relationship between states, the county, insurance providers, mental health care providers, and consumers. This research will look specifically at the nonprofit entities involved in this relationship.

  • Nonprofit care providers
  • Nonprofit insurance profilers
  • Funding organizations
  • School-based programs
  • Community-based programs
  • Peer care programming
  • Support lines
  • Mobile crisis teams
  • Case management

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in mental health 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 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!

 

Identifying High-Impact Education Nonprofits in the San Francisco Bay Area

September 20th, 2012 by admin 2 comments »

“Education is a precondition to survival in America today.” – Marian Wright Edelman

In 2010, Philanthropedia took a close look at early childhood and middle/secondary education nonprofits working in the San Francisco Bay Area. The two overlapping causes were researched separately. Sixty experts participated in our early childhood research and collectively identified 6 high-impact  early childhood education nonprofits. In middle/secondary education, 96 experts participated, recommending 15 outstanding nonprofits

We refresh our research every three years, so we are turning again to Bay Area education to re-run our survey. In the course of our research, we discovered that many experts and nonprofits in the Bay Area focus on young people of all ages. So this year we’re combining our early childhood and middle/secondary causes into a single cause: Bay Area Education. We’re asking experts who work in the education field in the San Francisco Bay Area to contribute to our research and let us know which nonprofits they think are doing the best work in Bay Area Education today.

Scope of the Research

For this research we are asking experts to recommend up to four nonprofits with a track record of doing high-impact work in education (Pre-k through high school) in the Bay Area, and up to two start-up nonprofits that have the potential to scale and have an impact at that level in the future.

The nonprofits recommended might be working or supporting education as far south as San Jose, along the Peninsula, into the East Bay, in San Francisco, and just north of San Francisco, as well.

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 education 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 early November 2012. 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!

 

Identifying High-Impact LGBT Equality & Support Nonprofits

September 20th, 2012 by admin 6 comments »

Overview

At Philanthropedia we are pleased to announce the launch of our research on nonprofits supporting the LGBT community. This is Philanthropedia’s newest addition to our list of causes on which we can supply vital information for donors.

The LGBT Movement is a social justice movement in which lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their straight allies work to bring about equity and well-being to LGBT individuals in various capacities all over the world. For years, nonprofit organizations have been helping to achieve those goals in various ways. Philanthropedia’s research will take a closer look at these organizations and identify top nonprofits achieving their mission in powerful, tangible ways.

Research Scope

In preparation for this research, I spoke with several experts from key organizations working in the issue area of LGBT Equality and Support. Their collective insight has helped define the scope of this research. (Thank you to those of you who offered your time and expertise!)

While attaining LGBT rights and support is a global issue, for capacity reasons this research will focus specifically on identifying organizations within the US. We are asking experts to recommend up to four high-impact organizations working at a national level on LGBT Equality and Support and up to three organizations having a high impact at the local level. Below is an overview of the LGBT nonprofit landscape.

Area of focus within the cause

Over the course of the interviews, experts identified a set of prominent issues that are being worked on in various ways throughout the movement.

  • Aging – Right now, estimates show there are 1.5 million LGBT elders in the United States, and by 2030 that number will nearly double to 3 million LGBT people 65 and older (source: National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce). Issues of ageism and health care access can be easily compounded by homophobia, trans-phobia, and racial and economic injustice. Often LGBT older people don’t have access to adequate health care, affordable housing and other social services they need. This is due both to a lack of resources and a fear of discrimination. One study indicated that LGBT older adults may be as much as five times less likely to access needed health and social services because of their fear of discrimination from the people who are supposed to help them (source: SAGE). This type of social isolation has an enormous impact on the health and well-being of LGBT older adults.
  • Family and Relationship Recognition – –Under Federal and many state laws, same-sex and transgender couples do not receive the same legal protection and recognition as married opposite-sex couples. Not only does the lack of legal recognition invalidate same-sex couples’ commitment, the denial of benefits, tax status, medical decision-making and more is financially and emotionally harmful. Same-sex couples, even those legally recognized by their states, are denied the 1,138 federal benefits available to or required of married opposite-sex couples. LGBT headed families are particularly affected by these prohibitions . There are policies and laws that prevent qualified and caring LGBT people from foster parenting or adopting kids. Additionally, there are laws and practices that interfere in custody and visitation relationships between LGBT parents and their children. These discriminatory practices leave LGBT families vulnerable both economically and socially, which can cause harm for adults and their children.
  • Health & HIV/AIDS –LGBT people suffer disparate health outcomes in numerous health categories. The most visible health struggle in the LGBT community has been the HIV/AIDS epidemic which continues to disproportionally impact gay men, especially men of color. Additionally, negative physical and mental health outcomes ranging from obesity to substance abuse are more prominent in the LGBT community. Lack of heath care, societal pressure, stigmatizing and discriminatory practices by health care providers, and a host of other factors that can contribute to diminished income for LGBT individuals all play an important role in these outcomes.
  • Nondiscrimination – Many LGBT people suffer discrimination in employment, housing, education, medical care and more. For example, in 29 states, a person can be fired solely because that person is gay. If a person is transgender, there are 38 states in which that person can be fired (source: Gill Foundation). The lack of legal protection and attempts to weaken the existing nondiscrimination laws make LGBT individuals vulnerable to discrimination in all aspects of their lives. These conditions significantly hinder even the basic ability to support and care for one’s self and family.
  • Racial & Economic Justice – The LGBT population is vast and diverse in terms of culture, income, and other aspects of identity. Within the movement, there is a growing awareness of the personal and political concerns unique to LGBT individuals who are people of color and/or low income. LGBT immigrants, for example, have a unique set of policy concerns around deportation and relationship recognition. The intersection of these not only has the potential to translate to compounded institutional discrimination, but can also result in marginalization from within their own racial and ethnic communities because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Transgender – People who are transgender and gender nonconforming face issues that are both interrelated with and independent from other populations within the LGBT community.  Often individuals are faced with heightened instances of violence and discrimination. Other issues that are of particular concern in the Transgender community include:
    • Health Care – Trans people are more likely to be uninsured, to be unable to afford to pay for health care out of pocket, and to delay seeking health care because of cost or fear of discrimination (source: IOM). Additionally, insurance plans still frequently exclude coverage of any services for a transition-related medical purpose, even when the same or comparable services are routinely covered for other medical indications.
    • Identity Documents – There are state and federal legal barriers to transgender people obtaining government identity documents appropriate for their gender identity. For example, governments often require proof of surgery and/or court orders to alter identity documents; a set of requirements that have made it impossible for many trans people to obtain an accurate and consistent ID. This requirement limits access to travel, opening bank accounts, starting new jobs, and sometimes voting.
    • Police and Jails – Trans people are at high risk of abuse in prisons, jails, and juvenile detention and there are few regulations to protect them.  The categorical denial of transition-related medical care is common, as is prolonged isolation, which has been shown to have devastating effects on mental health (source: NCTE).
    • Violence and discrimination – These are issues shared across the LGBT community. However, they tend to be experienced more acutely among Trans individuals. For example, LGBT individuals disproportionally experience homelessness. Trans individuals face increased risk of violence within a shelter as well as discrimination from the agencies where they seek help.
    • Violence/Hate Crimes - LGBT people frequently face violence motivated by their sexuality or gender identity. Violence can range in severity from bullying all the way up to murder. While some hate crime legislation is in place, the targeted violence toward the LGBT community represents a significant threat to safety.
  • Youth – Coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender can be challenging for young people. LGBT students encounter widespread bullying, harassment, and alienation in high schools and college campuses. Additionally, ex-gay ministries have decisively shifted their focus to young people. These things have likely contributed to the climbing suicide rates as well as the overwhelming rates of homelessness among LGBT youth.

 

Types of organizations doing this work

The nonprofit landscape of those working for the LGBT cause is broad and diverse. There is a good deal of overlap between the various organizational focuses and categories. In general, it may be helpful to look at the landscape of nonprofit organizations in two broad categories.

  1. Nonprofits working to achieve social justice and equitable treatment for LGBT individuals
  2. Nonprofits working to ensure the mental and physical well being for LGBT individuals

Nonprofits working to achieve social justice and equitable treatment for LGBT individuals

Organizations we’re placing in this category work to change policies and regulations at the national, local and organizational level to ensure safety and equal treatment. This would include:

  • Academic and research organizations
  • Advocacy organizations
  • Legal organizations
  • Public education organizations
  • Watchdog organizations

Nonprofits working to ensure the mental and physical well-being for LGBT individuals

Organizations in this category work in various ways to support individuals, focusing on their emotional, social, spiritual and physical wellness. Organizations in this category include:

  • Community Centers
  • Crisis support centers
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Homeless shelters
  • Medical treatment centers
  • Social clubs and organizations
  • Support groups

Participation in the Research

If you are a nonprofit expert in the field of LGBT Equality & Support, you should have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until early-November, 2012. We hope you will share your perspective and insights!

Experts I interviewed overwhelmingly mentioned that in addition to the rich landscape of nonprofits, there is a passionate network of individual activists and volunteers who fuel this movement. While this research does not highlight individuals (our research is limited to highlighting nonprofits), we hope these individual will contribute to our research so that we can highlight some of the most effective nonprofits working in this sector.

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 will send the survey to you to include your insights.



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