Philanthropedia Blog

Identifying High-Impact Climate Change Nonprofits

May 21st, 2012 by admin 10 comments »

The average temperature of the Earth’s surface has increased by about 1.2 to 1.4ºF since 1900, and with that has come a host of changes in other aspects of climate such as precipitation and storminess (EPA). Climate change affects people, plants, and animals in a variety of ways, and scientists have observed that some changes are already occurring (EPA).

In 2009, Philanthropedia took a close look at nonprofits working to alleviate climate change at the national level. One hundred thirty nine experts participated in this research, and collectively recommended a list of 15 organizations doing great work in the climate change arena.

We refresh our research every three years, so we are turning again to climate change to re-run our survey. We’re asking experts who work in the field of climate change to contribute to our research to let us know which nonprofits they think are doing the best work in climate change today.

Scope of the Research

For this research we are asking experts to recommend up to four nonprofits doing high-impact work at the national level in climate change, and up to two start-up nonprofits that have the potential to scale and have an impact at that level in the future.

Climate change is a multi-faceted issue with a variety of contributing factors and even more ways to address its causes and current effects.  Nonprofits addressing climate change can take on many forms. They may address issues such as:

  • Conservation
  • Sustainability
  • Alternative energy
  • Pollution
  • Environmental justice
  • Energy efficiency

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

  • Research organizations
  • Policy and advocacy organizations
  • Conservation groups
  • Public outreach/education organizations

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in climate change 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 June 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, 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 Nonprofits Addressing Homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area

May 21st, 2012 by admin 3 comments »

As of 2011,every night in America, about 750,000 people experience homelessness. Over the course of a year, 2.5 to 3.5 million people experience homelessness for a period of time (days to months). Each year, 600,000 families and 1.35 million children are homeless, making up half of the homeless population (National Alliance to End Homelessness). 

In 2009, we launched our research to identify high-impact nonprofits addressing homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area. Homelessness is a persistent problem nationwide and is an area about which many donors are passionate. Because of the large homeless population in the Bay Area, we decided to conduct research to find out which nonprofits were most effective in working with and helping this group of people. For this local cause, 83 Bay Area homelessness experts identified 13 top nonprofits working in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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 nonprofit addressing homelessness in the Bay Area. 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 Bay Area homelessness!

Scope of the Research

In this research we are asking experts to recommend up to four nonprofits doing high-impact work to help the homeless in the Bay Area, and up to two start-up nonprofits that have the potential to scale and have an impact in the future.

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

Organizations working in this arena can address the immediate and long term needs of the homeless population in a variety of ways.

These organizations include:

  • Homeless shelters
  • Housing providers
  • Policy and advocacy organizations
  • Mental health and drug treatment service providers
  • Organizations focusing on prisoner re-entry
  • Former-foster youth service providers
  • Family support service providers
  • Food providers

Participation in the Research

If you are an expert (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, government official, etc.) working on Bay Area Homelessness 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 June 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, 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!

 

Minnesota Workforce Development Expert-Identified Nonprofit Countdown: Highlighting Nonprofits #6-10

May 3rd, 2012 by admin No comments »

Of course, there are more than just 5 workforce development organizations making a major impact on the workforce development scene in Minnesota. Here is some more information about the great work and impact expert-identified nonprofits #6-10 are making.

#6 Charles K Blandin Foundation

The Blandin Foundation has strengthened rural communities across Minnesota through leadership development programs, broadband internet access, and other workforce development activities. Read more about them here.

#7 Twin Cities Rise

Twin Cities Rise invests heavily in the training and coaching of low-income individuals, ultimately placing its participants in career-track jobs that earn a living wage and benefits. The organization has both an immediate impact on the people it serves and a long-term, systemic impact on the community through changing attitudes.  Read more about them here.

#8 Workforce Development Inc

WDI has made a major impact in southeastern Minnesota by helping thousands of job seekers during the recession, building strong collaborative partnerships, applying for federal funding for regional workforce initiatives, and developing innovative workforce development programs that meet business needs. Read more about them here.

#9 Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council

The SW MN PIC successfully trains and places individuals into high-demand jobs that allow them to earn a living wage and become self-sufficient. They have developed innovative sector initiatives around energy and healthcare. Read more about them here.

#10 RESOURCE, Inc.

RESOURCE effectively serves individuals with a variety of barriers to employment, including disabled, low-income, and youth populations. Read more about them here.

And there’s so much more! View our entire list of expert-identified workforce development nonprofits in Minnesota here: http://www.myphilanthropedia.org/top-nonprofits/minnesota/workforce-development and dig deeper to review what experts had to say about each organization. These organizations are doing important work to provide and create jobs and employment in Minnesota, so please consider donating to them to show your support. You can feel confident that your donation is going to support an outstanding group of nonprofits making a real impact in workforce development in Minnesota.

 

Minnesota Workforce Development Partnership: #1 Goodwill Easter Seals

May 2nd, 2012 by admin 1 comment »

Today we honor the #1 expert-identified workforce development nonprofit in Minnesota: Goodwill Easter Seals. Read about how Goodwill Easter Seals helped numerous clients secure a job during the recession:

 Ron worked as a printer for 11 years but lost his job due to the recession.  For several months, he collected unemployment insurance and worked temporary labor jobs to support his wife and two daughters. On the recommendation of a friend, Ron applied to the Construction Skills Training Program at Goodwill/Easter Seals, where he thrived. Thanks to his positive attitude and enthusiasm for learning, upon graduating, Ron was quickly hired by Urban Homeworks. Gradually, Ron’s responsibilities have increased, and today his duties include leading a home renovation crew, managing all properties, maintaining all vehicles and preparing volunteer sites. Additionally, he is training to become a Lead Abatement Supervisor. Ron often returns to Goodwill/Easter Seals to share his experiences with other men and women who are hoping to make a better life for themselves and their families.

(Read more here: http://www.goodwilleasterseals.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=16275&news_iv_ctrl=1201)

 According to our experts, Goodwill offers industry-specific training, transitional jobs, counseling, and placement that enable individuals with significant barriers to employment to successfully enter the workforce.  This well-established organization also engages in advocacy, innovative partnerships with educational institutions, and low-cost retail.

To learn more about Goodwill and their impact, read more expert reviews here.

Project for Pride in Living (PPL): #2 Expert-Identified Workforce Development Nonprofit in Minnesota

May 2nd, 2012 by admin No comments »

Our #2 workforce development nonprofit, Project for Pride in Living has helped numerous people with acquiring new skills and increasing their chances to obtain a job. Learn Angela’s story here:

Angela was a regular at PPL’s Computer Access Lab, learning basic computer skills, improving her typing, creating a resume, and eventually searching and applying for jobs online. When she received a call for a job interview, Angela scheduled a mock interview with PPL staff to help her prepare. Now Angela has a great job, and she’s thankful for the training she got from PPL that got her ready for it.

 (Read more success stories here: http://www.ppl-inc.org/page/ppl-stories-success)

According to our experts, PPL has changed the lives of thousands of families in disadvantaged communities through its package of job training, education, housing, and financial services. The organization’s employment training programs are customized to reflect their participants’ cultural backgrounds, and the skills they teach apply directly to career fields such as healthcare and banking.  Read more reviews from workforce development experts here to learn more about the great work PPL is doing.

HIRED: #3 Expert-Identified Workforce Development Nonprofit in Minnesota

May 2nd, 2012 by admin 3 comments »

Have you ever been worried that your skill sets are too narrow and don’t know what to do when your type of job or industry is closing down? Learn how HIRED helped Lynette Carlson acquire more skills to improve her job opportunities.

Lynette Carlson had been employed at SUPERVALU for more than 19 years when she learned that her job as a customer service representative in the IT department was being eliminated. The instability and uncertainty associated with unemployment was frightening enough, but what she feared most was that her skills would be too job-specific and she wouldn’t find a position that challenged her.

Diane Henderson, a counselor in HIRED’s Brooklyn Park office, focused on Lynette’s customer service experience and her “very strong organizational skills and an unabashed willingness to try new things.” Diane recommended two computer skills courses to round out Lynette’s IT background, and a class on being a leader and supervisor, which Lynette is quick to point out, has helped her develop more confidence as a manager. A temporary job at Laneco, a small janitorial service company in Brooklyn Park, was enough to show the project supervisor what Lynette could do. She was eventually offered a full-time position as the company’s Operation’s Manager.

Since leaving HIRED’s dislocated worker program, Lynette has taken the initiative to enroll in Spanish language courses to improve her ability to communicate with some of the employees. In addition to continuing her language courses, Lynette is currently looking into taking small business courses. Lynette said, “When you lose your job in mid-career, you never dream this kind of opportunity will be available. HIRED has helped me challenge myself in new ways that are very rewarding. I have a lot of responsibility here at Laneco, and I really enjoy having the opportunity to work within many facets of the company.”

(Read more about the work that HIRED has done in Minnesota at: http://www.hired.org/jobseekers/dislocated/profiles.htm)

According to our experts, HIRED is a regional leader in workforce development. Their high-quality programming and partnerships enable thousands of people annually to enter the workforce, including low-income, youth, immigrant, and refugee populations. Read more reviews from Minnesota workforce development experts here to learn more about the work HIRED is doing in Minnesota.

Emerge: #4 Expert-Identified Workforce Development Nonprofit in Minnesota

May 2nd, 2012 by admin No comments »

Emerge came in at #4 on the list. Imagine having three young children, ranging in age from 3 to 9 years old and not having housing. Read about how the Emerge Community Development of Minneapolis helped a father who was in that situation.

As a single father to three young children, ranging in age from 3 to 9 years old, Lee Cody Wilson definitely has moments when the weight of his responsibility feels particularly heavy. “There are some days when I tell my kids that Dad needs a timeout,” he said with a laugh. “But every day, we all just get up and do what we need to do.” Wilson, a recovering addict for 13 years, said he has had peace of mind since his family was accepted into Fathers and Children Together (FACT), an initiative funded by the Housing and Urban Development agency. The 24-month transitional housing and family development program serves about 45 homeless families, mostly single fathers with legal custody of their children. It’s administered by Emerge Community Development of Minneapolis in partnership with several local agencies. Today Wilson and his family are happy to have a home, after having spent two months in a Minneapolis shelter before moving into one of the Emerge Villages partner sites. Families are connected to programs that help them with employment, child support, chemical and mental health issues, said DeVon Nolen, director of the Emerge Villages program. About 90 children between kindergarten and eighth grade are tutored in math and reading during the school year, connect with mentors and participate in activities such as a weeklong residential camp in August. (Source: The Star Tribune)

(Learn more about Emerge here: http://www.emerge-mn.org/FACT)

In addition, according to our experts, EMERGE helps individuals successfully transition from correctional facilities to employment through its innovative job training and placement programs. Their holistic service model promotes community development and builds human capital. Read more reviews from Minnesota workforce development experts here to learn more about the great work EMERGE is doing.

Greater Twin Cities United Way: #5 Expert-Identified Workforce Development Nonprofit in Minnesota

April 25th, 2012 by admin No comments »

Nonprofit #5, Greater Twin Cities United Way partners with agencies in Minnesota to provide employment services. Learn how Bryon, a victim of a violent assault was able to pick himself up with the help of one of United Way’s partner agencies.

In 2005, Byron was the victim of a violent assault in South Minneapolis. “A bystander said she heard the sound of my head crack against the sidewalk,” Byron says. “I was in a coma for nearly 60 days. I was in rehab for another 3 or 4 months. I had to learn how to walk again, how to talk.”  Byron has lived in Minnesota for 47 years. He graduated from high school in Minneapolis, served in the Army Reserve and later worked in maintenance for several large companies in the metro area. “Before my accident, I knew how to sheetrock, do electricity, build houses,” he said. “The accident took all of that away.”

Byron received services at the TBI Metro Services, a division of Opportunity Partners, a United Way partner agency located in the Twin Cities. United Way supports the employment services-brain injury program as part of our goal to improve the financial stability of people in need. We also invest in the semi-independent living services and in-home help program as part of our health goal to help people remain independent. The employment program helps prepare people to rejoin the workforce and work independently, something Byron was eager to do. “I used to accept being disabled,” he said. “I would say, ‘I’m disabled. I can’t do it.’ Joining the program was an opportunity to come out of the ‘poor me’ mode.”

Clients like Byron receive training in work skills and ongoing in-home and community support to learn independent living skills so they can lead healthy lives. After training, clients can move to supported employment teams or independent job placement. In 2009, Opportunity Partners participants worked 149,902 hours on supported employment teams at more than 50 companies and nonprofits throughout the community, and 71 percent of 154 independently placed individuals maintained their employment for more than 90 days.  United Way recently contracted with Opportunity Partners, a social enterprise, to staff its janitorial and maintenance services. This allows us to help improve the financial stability of Byron and his co-workers through program investments and through purchasing services. Byron works on a team at our Minneapolis office.  Byron is proud of the progress he’s made. He started out doing light janitorial work. As he worked, some of his former skills returned. Now he’s using the carpet sweeper and the buffer, equipment he used before the accident. “My life has changed,” he said. “I have more self-worth. People here depend on me to get it done.”  He plays chess with a mystery opponent in the building, making a move and leaving a note that reads “Your move next—The Maintenance Man.” Trying to remember the moves helps me up here, he says, tapping his head.  Byron’s long-term goals include getting his independence back, getting a full-time job and getting off Social Security. “I don’t have that much time left,” he said. “Another 20 good years maybe…I’m looking for new and exciting things in my life.”  Last year, United Way invested in job training programs that helped nearly 6,500 people get and keep their job for least six months. Our investment in health programs also helped more than 109,000 older adults and those living with disabilities maximize their independence so they can remain in their homes.

(Learn more about them at: https://www.unitedwaytwincities.org/our_impact/success_stories/opportunity_partners/)

According to the experts, the Greater Twin Cities United Way makes an impact by supporting nonprofits and programs that help low-income people become self-sufficient. They conduct return on investment analyses and promote best practices. Read the expert comments here to learn more Greater Twin Cities United Way.

Press Release: 18 Minnesota Workforce Development Nonprofits Identified by 100 Experts

April 24th, 2012 by admin 11 comments »

Philanthropedia recently partnered with the Minnesota Philanthropy Partners to uncover expert-identified nonprofits working in workforce development in Minnesota, and we are pleased to share the results!

Workforce development is a topic that is relevant to many Minnesotans and people across the country. Developing strategies to increase gainful employment and support growing businesses is essential to building a healthy economy.

For Minnesota, there are two issues that make this cause particularly relevant:

  • In 2010, The Economic Policy Institute in Washington DC released a study stating that the black unemployment rate in Minneapolis was triple that of whites from the same area. That disparity is one of the highest in the nation. (Source: EPI). To help address this issue, we looked to highlight nonprofits focusing on equity as well as job and skill acquisition.
  • Minnesota is home to a large new immigrant population, many of whom choose to become small business owners. To identify resources for immigrant and non-immigrant entrepreneurs, we also focused on small business development and entrepreneurship training as a component of our research to identify high-impact nonprofits working in workforce development.

Philanthropedia surveyed 100 workforce development experts in Minnesota (with an average of 15 years of work experience in the field) to identify those organizations that were making the biggest impact. These experts (funders, researchers, nonprofit senior staff, government officials, etc.) identified 18 workforce development nonprofits (out of 123 total reviewed nonprofits) working in Minnesota. See the experts who participates in this research by clicking here

Which nonprofits were among the top?

We asked experts to recommend up to four high-impact nonprofits working in workforce development in Minnesota. These experts were asked to consider an array of nonprofits—those which served a range of populations (including youth, people with disabilities and immigrants) as well as offering a variety of services such as direct service, advocacy, training, education, and forms of support.

 

 

The following is the list of the expert-identified high-impact nonprofits working in workforce development in Minnesota. Click the link to visit each organizations profile and read expert reviews. Experts have commented on each nonprofit’s impact, other organizational strengths, and how each organization could further improve.


This week we will highlight the top 5 expert-identified Minnesota workforce development nonprofits through our blog and twitter.

If you are an expert, nonprofit organization, or individual, we invite your feedback on our research. You can reach Jasmine Marrow, Manager of Philanthropedia Research at jasmine.marrow@guidestar.org.

Nonprofit Research on Access to Healthy Food in Minnesota

February 21st, 2012 by admin 46 comments »

Overview

Philanthropedia is currently partnering with Minnesota Philanthropy Partners to conduct research to identify expert-recommended high-impact nonprofits that increase access to healthy food in Minnesota, in hopes of raising more awareness on this topic.

 

Did you know that two-thirds of the nation is overweight or obese? Supporting healthier eating habits and educating families and individuals about nutritious food choices are key components to fighting the obesity epidemic.

Scope of Research

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

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 recommend nonprofits that are:

 

  1. Working in the emergency food system
  2. Addressing geographic access problems
  3. Engaging in the agricultural policy system
  4. Working with school food programs
  5. Supporting farmers markets

 

1.    Emergency food system

The emergency food system is an established system in which the government, corporations and other donors provide monetary or food donations to food banks. The donated food or purchased food then gets distributed to the food shelves, food pantries, and organizations with meal programs.

One of the largest factors that limit the emergency food system from providing food to people in need is the lack of capacity of food shelves and other partner organizations to house the food stuffs. This particularly affects fresh produce donations because their shelf lives aren’t as long as dry goods. Another issue these organizations confront is to what extent they provide ethnically specific food. Minnesota is home to large populations of Somalis, East Africans, Southeast Asians, Latinos and Eastern Europeans. Providing food that is a part of a family’s traditional diet is not only culturally sensitive, but it can reduce the amount of wasted food that comes from giving families foods with which they are unfamiliar. Food shelves and food pantries often try to provide ethnically specific food, but they must balance the desire to accommodate ethnic palettes with the increased cost of stocking such items. Recently, there has also been a growing demand for healthier food options within the emergency food system. However, food distributors often struggle to meet this demand because they are often unable to control the type of food that is donated.

2.    Geographic access

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. For example, some residents on reservations in Northern Minnesota live almost an hour round trip from the nearest grocery store. Often, residents in these areas rely on expensive, fatty, processed foods sold at convenience/corner stores. At times, these corner grocery stores buy produce directly from the closest available large grocery store. As a result, the cost of produce at these convenience stores is highly prohibitive and the supply is low. 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.

3.    Reforming the agriculture system

It is important to understand the significant role that food and agricultural policy play in ensuring access to healthy food; in many ways policy drives nutrition.  For example, federal policies heavily subsidize corn and soy production. As a result, a large majority of food in the U.S. is a by-product of corn and soy (e.g. high fructose corn syrup).  Whereas, the production of fresh fruits and vegetables and food production on small family farms get very little institutional support.

Those supporting access to healthy food work to increase support for a variety of produce items as well as advocate on behalf of local, family farms.  Without these smaller farms, healthy produce would be severely limited. Types of support for local farms might include technical support, raising awareness of what subsidies are available, and also helping farmers advocate for themselves.

4.    School food programs

Schools are both one of the largest institutions that distribute food and a great place to educate about healthy eating habits. As a result, the “farm to school” movement developed to help schools purchase fresh produce from local farmers. Additionally, several organizations have developed programs to educate students about healthy eating so children can learn new habits and also potentially influence their parents’ eating habits.

5.    Farmers markets

Minnesota has a vibrant farmer’s market community which can be a great source of healthy, fresh food. However, most vendors at these markets aren’t equipped to accept food stamps. Therefore, to align incentives, there is a new effort underway to help vendors be able to accept and process food stamps. These markets play an important part in supporting local farmers and in making healthy food an affordable option.

 

Additional Research Details

In addition to the five areas outlined above, we are encouraging experts to consider the following types of organizations when making their recommendations:

  • Food banks, food shelves/food pantries, meal programs
  • Research organizations
  • Policy and advocacy organizations
  • Nutrition education organizations

Participation in the Research

Therefore, if you are a nonprofit expert working in the field of access to healthy food in Minnesota, you should have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until mid-March, 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, and we would love to send the survey to you to include your insights.

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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