Amy Morris | Program Officer, Strong Local Economies| April 15, 2014
Progressive icons Paul Wellstone, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale were Minnesotans. Yet despite its reputation for sending towering liberals to the U.S. Senate, present day Minnesota’s political landscape is a whole lot more, well, “nuanced.” So nuanced, in fact, that Minnesota’s minimum wage earners are among the lowest paid in the nation. The legislature hasn’t raised the minimum wage since 2005 when the state’s lowest paid workers got a bump in their wages from $4.90 an hour to the current $6.15 rate. And Minnesota has long been one of only 4 states to proactively set its state minimum wage lower than the federal wage of $7.25 an hour.
That was yesterday. Today, thanks in large part to what TakeAction Minnesota Executive Director Dan McGrath describes as “15 months of organizing, lobbying, and relentless media work,” Minnesota is on the verge of raising its minimum wage – indexed to inflation.
The new legislation will boost the minimum wage from the current $6.15 per hour to $9.50 by 2016 for all businesses with over $500,000 annual revenue. After that, additional bumps would be tied to inflation. So, the increase will occur in three phases, starting with a raise to $8 this August, and increasing annually thereafter.
McGrath is executive director of TakeAction Minnesota, a Surdna grantee, and one of a broad constellation of groups that energized the movement to raise the wage like the Minnesota chapter of the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, Children’s Defense Fund, the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition and Surdna grantees Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), and ISAIAH .
McGrath praised the legislature’s move, but kept up the pressure,
“This is the serious, long-view leadership that Minnesota’s families should expect from our state government. But it’s just a first step. When roughly a million Minnesotans still lack paid sick time, employer-sponsored retirement plans, or a living wage, we know we still have important work to do to help Minnesota families thrive, not just worry about surviving.”
(CTUL), another Surdna grantee and one of the many groups working for the increase, helped to bring the issue to the attention of major Minnesota retailers and the public by organizing janitors who clean Target and other major retailers. CTUL challenged Target’s CEO Gregg Steinhafel to take the Minimum Wage Challenge—attempting to survive for a week on the state’s minimum wage—in hopes that he’d gain some perspective into the issue. When Steinhafel failed to respond, workers organized by CTUL and others groups marched through the downtown Minneapolis skyways to call on Target to take a leadership role in increasing the minimum wage.
And working with the State’s Department of Health, ISAIAH added a healthcare overlay to the debate when it published a report on the status of health in Minnesota explicitly naming the gaps in health between whites and people of color in as being caused by structural racism.
Minnesota ranks, on average, among the healthiest states in the nation. But the averages do not tell the whole story. Too many people in Minnesota are not as healthy as they could and should be, and the health disparities that exist are significant, persistent and cannot be explained by bio-genetic factors. Minnesota has these disparities in health outcomes because the opportunity to be healthy is not equally available everywhere or for everyone in the state.
Minnesota’s successful campaign is a testament to the energy, creativity and persistence of so many different groups. They came at the issue—and aggressively so—from every imaginable angle. In addition to animating the debate through very public demonstrations, door-to-door canvassing, online action, and a savvy media play, they complemented these more visible efforts with a series of quieter, behind the scenes policy dialogues with the Dayton administration and key legislators.
Last week, Minnesota was one of only four states with wages beneath the federal minimum wage of $7.25 -- in August, as many as 350,000 Minnesotans will get a significant raise.
First two investments: to expand regional food hubs; provide upfront capital to contractors owned by women and people of color.
The Surdna Foundation’s Board of Trustees has approved the creation of an $18 million Program Related Investment (PRI) revolving fund to support its mission of fostering just and sustainable communities in the United States by using its capital to create economic and social value. The foundation also announced an investment from the Fund to support the growth of regional, sustainable, and just food systems.
The PRI Fund allows Surdna to make fuller use of its financial resources by expanding beyond the 5 percent share of net assets, on average, it invests in generating program outcomes. And if the principal from these below market rate investments is paid back, as expected, the foundation could extend its social impact by reinvesting the capital into new PRIs or grants.
The Fund’s creation is the result of a decision by the board of the 97-year old, family foundation with a deep commitment to social justice, to amplify the impact of its work by exploring innovative ways of deploying Surdna’s philanthropic resources including capital, revenue, staff expertise, and leadership.
“Our goal is to extend the impact of Surdna’s grantmaking strategies. We know that, in addition to grants, we can help achieve greater impact, and collaborate in new ways to accelerate our mission by using market forces to drive social change,” said Phillip Henderson, President of the Surdna Foundation. “Providing funds at below-market rates, can be particularly useful when capital is needed to start-up, grow, or sustain a social enterprise, or when results cannot be achieved with grants alone.”
Surdna’s second PRI, announced today, is a loan of $750,000 to RSF Social Finance, a nonprofit financial services organization, to capitalize a loan program to supply lines of credit and equipment loans to help food hubs expand their aggregation, distribution, and processing systems so that they can supply healthy food profitably to new markets, including underserved communities. Learn more about our investment in RSF.
“We have seen a huge need for debt financing for social enterprises working to connect farmers to institutional buyers and Surdna’s investment enables us to increase our funding to organizations that would otherwise be turned away,” says Taryn Goodman, Director of Impact Investing at RSF.
The foundation’s first PRI, completed in February, was a $700,000 low interest loan to BOC Capital Corp, a small business development organization, in partnership with Goldman Sachs10,000 Small Businesses, to capitalize a $3.5 million loan program to connect businesses owned by people of color and women in New York’s construction industry to the short-term capital they need to complete subcontracts, including those awarded through the City’s post-Sandy Build It Back program.
“Surdna Foundation’s investment in BOC Capital is helping to expand resources to enable a growing number of small, minority-, and woman-owned contractors to access economic opportunities,” said Nancy Carin, Executive Director, Business Outreach Center (BOC) Network. Learn more about Surdna’s investment in BOC.
“Through a partnership between Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses initiative and the Surdna Foundation, we were able to launch an innovative fund to help small business owners in the construction industry access working capital to grow their businesses and create jobs, ” said Dina H. Powell, head of the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. “We’re pleased to collaborate with Surdna and support their mission to build stronger communities and local economies.”
“We hope the organizations Surdna supports will become more attractive to conventional investors who might otherwise be deterred from investing in them,” said Surdna’s Henderson. He explained that Surdna’s use of PRIs helps to encourage investees to strengthen their business practices—improving cash flow, building financial capacity, creating a track record—that can in turn improve their ability to attract capital from private sector investors seeking market rate returns.
“Surdna is demonstrating how foundations of any size, or any type, like a family foundation, can maximize their impact through the innovative use of capital. I expect these investments will encourage other foundations to look for similar ways to raise the level of investments in their communities,” commented Peter Berliner, managing director of Mission Investors Exchange, a membership organization where philanthropic innovators exchange ideas, tools, and experiences to increase the impact of their capital.
PRIs, which are typically loans or loan guarantees, are designed to generate both a social and a financial return. Like grants, they are made to achieve specific outcomes such as creating condition for good jobs or expanding food hubs that fulfill a foundation’s programmatic goals. Unlike grants, they are expected to be repaid, often with a modest return on investment. Once repaid, the money can be recycled into new charitable purposes, extending the reach and impact of the foundation’s programs.
Surdna intends to use its PRI Fund, in part, to augment grant awards with below market rate loans or guarantees when there is an opportunity to increase programmatic impact and or scale. The foundation may also invest in financial intermediaries like Community Development Financial Institutions which facilitate access to capital and other resources to enterprises in underserved markets.
About the Surdna Foundation
The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States -- communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures. For five generations, the Surdna Foundation has been governed by descendants of John Andrus and has developed a tradition of innovative service for those in need of help or opportunity. Learn more at www.surdna.org
When local government sustainability offices join forces with local, place-based philanthropies, the bottom line is a win for residents. That’s the message from the latest round of grants from the Local Sustainability Matching Fund. San Diego will ensure community feedback counts in developing planned light-rail stations. Holland, Mich., will help residents increase energy efficiency. Providence, R.I., now a two-time grantee, will expand its Lots of Hope program, which turns vacant land into urban gardens and brings fresh produce to neighborhoods.
In all, nine communities were awarded a total of $531,250 by the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and its partner, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, in Round Four of the Local Sustainability Matching Fund (LSMF). The Fund is designed to connect innovative city sustainability projects with local philanthropies.
According to Dana Bourland, Vice President at The JPB Foundation, the LSMF is a pioneering way to leverage the foundation’s commitments to enable healthy and resilient communities of opportunity. “Investing in the LSMF allows us to support what communities need to address sustainability in their backyards while spotting trends or gaps across the pool of applicants. By combining funds with other foundations and securing a local match we not only extend our reach into many more communities but we get to learn both from these communities and from our multiple funding partners.”
The Surdna Foundation has invested in the LSMF since the first round and sees a continuation of impressive projects being selected. “It’s at the local level where sustainability initiatives have the greatest traction and where growth capital is most needed,” said Sharon Alpert, Senior Director of Programs and Strategy at the Surdna Foundation. “Local municipalities are leading the way in combining sustainability with practicality. By partnering with local philanthropy, they are taking a big concept—sustainability—and putting it to work in a way that benefits their community, their environment, and their bottom line. In this round, as in past rounds, a growing group of national and place-based funders is responding to this opportunity to take the work to scale.”
Boston, $65,000 to support a study of the self-sufficiency of Boston’s regional food system and address gaps through substantive policy and programmatic changes designed to lessen dependence on non-regional food sources. (Partners: City of Boston; Henry P. Kendall Foundation)
Buffalo, $85,000 to support a public education and engagement campaign around stormwater management and green infrastructure projects. (Partners: Buffalo Sewer Authority; Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo)
Cleveland, $60,000 to support the establishment of an equitable model for developing and funding neighborhood projects that align climate action with the assets, concerns, and priorities of Cleveland residents. (Partners: Cleveland—Mayor’s Office on Sustainability; Cleveland Foundation; The George Gund Foundation)
Holland, Mich., $65,000 to support the launch of a community energy plan that will result in efficiency retrofits, energy audits, and building performance labeling in 400+ buildings, and use sustainability metrics to drive community participation in the energy program for up to 7,000+ buildings over the long term. (Partners: City of Holland—Office of the City Manager; Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area)
Indianapolis, $45,000 to strengthen the Indianapolis food system through catalytic funding and capacity building, increasing access to healthy food, enhancing ecology, and creating meaningful economic and civic opportunities. (Partners: City of Indianapolis—Office of Sustainability; Central Indiana Community Foundation)
to support the development of an interactive dashboard for Memphis and Shelby County citizens that can be used to map neighborhood assets and analyze sustainability indicators and metrics. (Partners: Memphis and Shelby County Office of Sustainability; Community Foundation of Greater Memphis; The Assisi Foundation of Memphis; Hyde Foundation)
Providence, R.I., $55,000 to enable the conversion of vacant, city-owned properties to support urban agriculture season extension, linkages to food service procurement, and school-based composting. (Partners: Providence—Office of Sustainability; Rhode Island Foundation)
Salt Lake City, $25,000 to support Green City Growers’ establishment of community gardens on city-owned and managed land to increase access to fresh local produce and reduce barriers to urban food production. (Partners: Salt Lake City Development Corporation—Department of Public Services; The Community Foundation of Utah)
San Diego, $56,250 to utilize new tools to engage community members in planning for development and transportation infrastructure at several light rail stations along the forthcoming Mid-Coast light rail line extension. (Partners: City of San Diego—Planning, Neighborhoods, and Economic Development; The San Diego Foundation)
Seven investor funders make up the Local Sustainability Matching Fund: Bloomberg Philanthropies, The JPB Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, The New York Community Trust, Summit Foundation, and Surdna Foundation. To date, the LSMF has awarded $1,472,750 and funded 29 projects across North America.
The Local Sustainability Matching Fund will open a fifth round of funding with a Request for Proposals available in May 2014. To attract additional interest in urban sustainability projects beyond those funded, it also houses an Idea Bank on the Funders’ Network website, which provides summaries of project applications.
The Local Sustainability Matching Fund is a collaborative effort of the Funders’ Network and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. The Local Sustainability Matching Fund is designed to catalyze partnerships between local governments and local, place-based foundations and to advance community-based sustainability initiatives.
For more information on the Local Sustainability Matching Fund, please visit the Funders’ Network website at http://www.fundersnetwork.org/participate/green-building/local-sustainability-matching-fund. Funders interested in becoming a part of the Local Sustainability Matching Fund should contact Ann Wallace at the Funders’ Network.
About the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities The Funders’ Network exists to inspire, strengthen and expand funding and philanthropic leadership that yield environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, and economically prosperous regions and communities. The vision of the Funders' Network is to be the leading resource in philanthropy for interdisciplinary and transformative thinking and action that gives all people the opportunity to live in more environmentally sustainable, socially equitable and economically prosperous regions and communities.
About The Urban Sustainability Directors Network The Urban Sustainability Directors Network is a North American peer-to-peer network of 100 plus municipal sustainability directors who support each other in advancing the practice of urban sustainability.
The Surdna Foundation today announced that Michelle Knapik, director of the foundation’s Sustainable Environments program, has accepted a position as the next President of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation in New Haven, Conn. effective May 12, 2014.
"The entire Surdna community is thrilled for Michelle. She has had an extraordinary three–year tenure at Surdna,” said Phillip Henderson, President of Surdna. “While we will miss her exemplary leadership, both within Surdna and out in the field, and her deep dedication to the work and to Surdna’s grantees, it is in large part due to her efforts and the remarkable team she’s built that our Sustainable Environments program is in such a strong position. We congratulate Michelle and wish her the best in her exciting new position with the Tremaine Foundation.”
Ms. Knapik joined the Surdna Foundation in 2011 following six years as the director of the Environment Program at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in New Jersey.
"The experience of working with the Andrus family and the Surdna board and staff has been rich and rewarding. The drive toward supporting just and sustainable communities through Surdna's environmental lens inspired a deep look at how we use resources and how people are connected to life line services and opportunities," said Knapik. "I am especially grateful for the amazing colleagues who are stretching personal and professional boundaries to get at integrated infrastructure solutions - colleagues I know will continue to be in my networks going forward."
During Michelle’s tenure, Surdna refined its environmental grantmaking to focus on overhauling the country’s low-performing and obsolete infrastructure with a “next generation” infrastructure intended to foster healthier, sustainable, and just communities. The key lines of work under the next generation infrastructure frame include transportation networks and equitable development patterns, energy in the built environment, urban water management, and region food supply.
Ms. Knapik expressed her excitement about this next step in her career, to help shape the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation’s continued growth. The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation seeks and funds innovative projects that advance solutions to basic and enduring problems. For more than twenty years, with an overall emphasis on education, principally in the United States, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation has been engaged in three key program areas: Art, Environment and Learning Disabilities. Funded efforts reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of the Foundation's family forbearers and the founder’s distinction for foresight, imagination and risk taking.
About the Surdna Foundation
The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States -- communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.
For over five generations, the Foundation has been governed largely by descendants of John Andrus and has developed a tradition of innovative service for those in need of help or opportunity.
Join the Brooklyn Museum for and enjoy engaging and eclectic art and entertainment programs every month, from 5 to 11 p.m. Michelin-starred Saul restaurant and bar is open all evening. The Counter café serves sandwiches, salads, and sweets, as well as wine and local beer. Parking is a flat rate of $5 starting at 5 p.m. (All other Saturdays, we close at 6 p.m.)
Someactivities take place in smaller and more intimate locations in the Museum, so you’ll need a ticket for those programs. Ticket lines often form 30 minutes before tickets are distributed at the Visitor Center (in the Rubin Lobby). If you’re a Member, pick up tickets from the Membership Desk while supplies last. While we do our best to keep our listings as up-to-date as possible, sometimes last-minute program changes are unavoidable.
Once upon a time in a faraway land—the United States following World War II—workers reaped what they sowed. From 1947 through 1973, their income rose in lockstep with increases in productivity. Their median compensation (wages plus benefits) increased by 95 percent as their productivity increased by 97 percent. Then, abruptly, the rewards for greater productivity started going elsewhere—to shareholders, financiers, and top corporate executives. Today, for the vast majority of American workers, the link between their productivity and their compensation no longer exists.
Read more of Harold Meyerson’s essay in the American Prospect.
The American Prospect is a Surdna grantee
by Phillip Henderson | President, Surdna Foundation
I have been thinking a lot about collaboration recently.
The Surdna board has already met twice this year, once in retreat to think deeply about where Surdna is heading and once at our regular February board meeting. Our board’s culture is one in which working together with staff, and learning from one another—including learning from our failures—feels straightforward. And our three programs were created for the very purpose of collaborating toward fostering just and sustainable communities. But, at Surdna we have learned that collaboration is neither easy nor straightforward. It takes work and commitment.
Collaborative work has always felt stronger than go-it-alone work. But I’m now realizing just how difficult genuine collaboration is and how un-natural it can feel at first. For most people and organizations, there is a natural tendency to go to your own corner with your ideas, and work in isolation. It’s certainly easier and faster. But we’re not supposed to be in the business of easy and fast.
Since I arrived to lead the foundation nearly seven years ago, I have emphasized the need to collaborate in ways that reflect the complexity and interdependence of the challenges we are trying to address. Our mission of just and sustainable communities provides a clear destination, but actually getting there requires addressing a number of deeply interwoven and complex parts from social justice and the environment, to the economy, and culture. Attempting to isolate just one of these moving parts, and using all available resources to tackle it, we have learned, just does not work. So, Surdna’s three programs are carefully interconnected so that they act together in a creative, innovative, and productive manner. Their approach to a solution must match the reality—and the interconnectedness—of the challenge. This requires coordination, sharing, learning together, and collaboration both in spirit and in practice. And that’s really hard.
Over the past year, Surdna has been experimenting with various methods to enhance our collaboration. Staff invented a monthly cross-program conversation called the Idea Lab, where program teams talk with each other about the work, about new ideas, emergent issues, and areas of common interest and investment. We’ve also been experimenting with sending cross-program teams on site visits, conferences, and meetings with experts so that we are out in the field learning together. These have proven truly valuable, and have led us into deeper conversations and even sharper understanding of each other’s work. But all of this collaboration is time intensive, and, as we all know, there are always too few hours in the day. Keeping collaboration as a high priority requires us to continuously build the case that working together in this way makes a real difference in our ability to effect change.
But to limit our thinking about collaborative work to our program teams doing more stuff together is to miss the bigger picture -- effective collaboration has to happen both internally and externally. I was recently in Detroit at the Environmental Grantmakers (EGA) Association’s State of the States Meeting where I moderated a conversation about collaboration between national and place-based funders with Rip Rapson, president of the Kresge Foundation, and Tonya Allen, president of the Skillman Foundation. Kresge and Skillman are deeply engaged in Detroit and have similar goals, yet both leaders were frank about friction in their styles and perspectives. Let me repeat: collaboration is hard! Nevertheless, Skillman and Kresge--and Surdna--remain committed to building strong collaborative partnerships because we each recognize the fundamental truth that our dollars and influence, when wielded individually, don’t stretch nearly far enough to set in motion the kind of change we seek.
Working together isn’t just a good idea, it’s a necessity.
The conversation in Detroit illuminated the importance of taking the time to get clear on what your organization’s special skill or niche is, and then working with partners to develop a shared strategy to form the basis of a collaboration. Without these two components, collaboration is nearly impossible, irrespective of the reservoirs of good will or shared good intentions. Being clear about each partner’s role and agreeing what the collective is trying to do is critical.
This perspective becomes clearer when you look at partnerships like Living Cities, ArtPlace, or the Strive Together network that are specially designed collaborative entities created to pool dollars, expertise, and reputation. These partnerships have been able to bring together the heft of many powerful institutions, but they are only successful when their strategies are aligned and when the partners are self-aware enough to know their respective roles, and understand who is good at what.
Formal partnerships like Living Cities or ad hoc collaborations based on an emerging issue, take time and resources to do, much less do well. As with internal collaboration, we need to first understand what the value is of creating an external partnership so that it is then easier to determine whether and why the extra time and resources are worth it.
At Surdna, we have always been joiners. Our large ambitions coupled with our relatively small dollars make joining with our peers a priority. Whether collaborating within the foundation or with outside partners, we believe it is the only way of realizing our ambitious mission of just and sustainable communities.
I kept my jacket on which was a good idea. Because Common Market keeps its 73,000-square-foot building in North Philadelphia at a chilly 55 degrees. Any warmer and the produce wouldn’t keep, said one of its co-founders, Haile Johnston. And cooler temperatures might damage delicate vegetables.
The warehouse was one of the final stops on a two-day “regional food study tour” Surdna arranged to better understand how organizations like Common Market, which aggregates local produce, are helping to meet a growing consumer demand for food that has environmental, health, and social benefits.
Outfits like the Common Market, which are known as food hubs, are described by a Surdna grantee, the Wallace Center, as innovative organizations that get local food into grocery and food service supply chains by "navigating the tricky territory between smaller producers and larger buyers." Solving Local, a new report by the Wallace Center, documents how small-farm aggregators, food retailers, and distributors are teaming up to bring local food into larger scale wholesale channels.
Though many consumers have benefitted from the fresh produce, dairy products, and meat supplied by food hubs, few have heard of them or may confuse food hubs with farmers’ markets.
Commom Market's hulking warehouse, in a section of the city hit hard over the last few generations by the exodus of manufacturing jobs, couldn't be mistaken for a farmers' market. Unlike farmers’ markets, where growers and other local producers sell their goods directly to consumers, usually in an open-air public space, food hubs are oriented towards providing farmers, dairies and other producers with access to markets with larger volumes and consistent demand.
Many food hubs, like Common Market, also have an explicit social justice mission to provide nutritious, affordable, locally grown food to all, including the city’s most vulnerable communities.
And, they’ve got business models that, aside from the obvious differences in scale, are quite a bit different from large food service companies. They tend to place relationships at the heart of their enterprises.
Common Market’s Johnston understands that the success of the regional food system rests in large part on the power of these relationships. He knows his growers personally, understands how they are cultivating and preserving their land, and what it takes to manage a family farm. He wears many hats including advocate, customer, and marketer.
Johnston has made an effort to ensure that Common Market’s process is transparent at every step -- from growing and producing, to storage and distribution. Common Market even provides their customers with specific grower information including by whom and how the food was produced, a process known as ‘source identifying’ the food.
The only shame of our visit to Common Market, aside from slipping on the very stylish--but mandatory--hairnets, was knowing that we could only look, but not touch!
It’s hard to taste a luscious piece of fruit when you can’t even pick it up.
California’s largest banks buy few goods and services from minority-owned businesses, reports a new study from The Greenlining Institute, a Surdna Foundation grantee. In a state where people of color make up 60 percent of the population, banks obtained less than eight percent of the goods and services they procured in 2012 from businesses owned by African Americans, Latinos, Asians or Native Americans.
”Banks are a key engine of our economy, purchasing over $51 billion in goods and services in 2012,” said Greenlining Institute Economic Equity Director Sasha Werblin. “It should not be considered acceptable that their supplier networks so completely fail to reflect the diversity of California.”
Key findings of the report include:
Entrepreneurship is essential to the health of communities of color. Minority business enterprises (MBEs) outpaced the growth of their counterparts between 2002 and 2007. When MBEs do business with major institutions like banks, they generate wealth and create jobs in their communities, but these firms still face challenges breaking through “old boy networks” and obtaining contracts.
Banks are major purchasers of goods and services, and thus a huge potential engine of economic activity. In 2012, the participating banks in this report spent over $51.05 billion on goods and services.
Nationwide, contracting with minority business enterprises was nominal, with median spending at just 5.96 percent of total contract dollars and ranging from 3.46 percent to 8.37 percent. Bank of America was responsible for nearly half of all total dollars spent with MBEs.
California MBE contracting was only slightly better, and pales in comparison to the state’s diverse population. The banks’ 7.72 percent median spending with diverse businesses fails to represent a state that is 60 percent people of color. Only five banks currently track state-specific spending in substantial detail, and many with substantial California market share do not.
Currently, no uniform standard exists for how to measure banks’ investment in supplier diversity, making “apples to apples” comparisons impossible. The federal Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion should create standard reporting regulations to create transparency and assist the financial sector, advocates and small businesses as they work together to improve opportunities for minority business enterprises.
Belk Brings More Than 25 Years’ Experience in Strategic Philanthropy, Corporate Social Responsibility and Civic Engagement
Woodland Hills, CA – Judy Belk will lead The California Wellness Foundation as its next president and CEO, effective April 7, 2014, announced Barbara C. Staggers, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Belk is currently senior vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a position she has held since 2002. Belk is also a member of the board of trustees of the Surdna Foundation.
“Judy has stellar operational and strategic leadership expertise in philanthropy and a strong sense of valuing the voices of grantees,” Staggers said. “This coupled with her track record in myriad philanthropic efforts that support underserved communities makes her a strong match for The California Wellness Foundation.”
A seasoned leader with more than 25 years of senior management experience in the philanthropic, government, nonprofit and corporate sectors, Belk played a pivotal role in building Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) into one of the nation’s largest independent nonprofit advisory firms, which currently advises on more than $300 million annually in more than 30 countries.
She launched the firm’s West Coast and Midwest operations and helped position RPA as a global “thought leader” in promoting effective strategic philanthropy, impact investing, and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Previously, Belk served as vice president of global public affairs at Levi Strauss & Co., reporting directly to the chairman and CEO, with responsibilities for both the company’s and foundation’s leadership in the global fight against AIDS, as well as their economic development, environmental and antiracism initiatives.
“I am proud to join the Foundation and support its mission to promote a healthier California,” Belk said. “Since its founding, TCWF has played a historic role in courageously funding in public health areas that had drawn little or no philanthropic attention.”
Belk said that, in the process, the Foundation has expanded the definition of health and wellness for all Californians, particularly underserved, diverse communities.
“I’m looking forward to working with TCWF’s impressive Board, its talented staff and committed community partners across the state in leveraging the Foundation’s resources and voice in bringing about meaningful health changes,” she said.
Eugene Washington, M.D., vice chair of TCWF’s Board, believes Belk’s vast philanthropic expertise will add valuable insight to the Foundation’s current and future grantmaking programs, especially as they relate to health coverage.
“With the expansion of health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, it is an important time in California and the nation,” Washington said. “I look forward to working with Judy on this vital issue and others that are affecting the health of the people of California.”
The Foundation is recognized nationally for its strategic core operating support that builds and sustains the capacity of health and human-service nonprofit organizations, and for its public policy grantmaking. TCWF has also earned national recognition for funding public education and policy outreach, including groundbreaking, multilingual campaigns in violence prevention, teenage pregnancy prevention and promoting diversity in the health professions.
Belk will bring to the Foundation a strong track record of leadership spanning the nonprofit, government and corporate sectors. At Levi Strauss & Co., she led a global team in pioneering work on AIDS education and prevention, and women’s economic development, and launched Project Change, a national antiracism initiative, which was recognized by President Bill Clinton with the first Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership in 1998. She also developed and led the company’s philanthropic efforts in postapartheid South Africa.
Throughout her career, Belk has been a strong advocate in promoting diversity, inclusion and equity both within and outside of the philanthropic sector. She has been a passionate voice in raising awareness of the needs of women and girls, as well as communities of color. She has been actively involved in the D5 Initiative, a national coalition of philanthropic leaders committed to increasing philanthropic resources for women, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, and people of color.
“The Foundation is at a key crossroads in its history,” said Cole Wilbur, TCWF’s interim president and CEO. “As we sunset the Responsive Grantmaking Program, the Foundation welcomes Judy, an enterprising leader with deep knowledge in philanthropy, to lead the next era of our grantmaking.”
Belk joins a distinguished roster of executives who have led the Foundation since it was founded more than two decades ago.
Belk is a frequent writer and speaker on organizational ethics, race and social change, and her work has been recognized with several state and national awards. Her pieces have aired on National Public Radio and appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.
She currently serves on the boards of the Surdna Foundation, a national New York-based family foundation, and the Marlborough School, a Los Angeles-based, independent school for girls. Past board service includes Southern California Grantmakers, Northern California Grantmakers, National Center on Family Philanthropy, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and the Independent Sector.
Belk received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and her master’s degree in public administration from California State University, East Bay, where she was recognized as the 1999 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
Belk has lived and worked in California for her entire professional career. A current resident of Los Angeles, she is a native of Alexandria, Virginia, where she was recently inducted into the Alexandria African American Hall of Fame. She is married to Roger Peeks, M.D., who currently serves as medical director of Valley Community Clinic in North Hollywood. They have two young adult children.
Assisting the Foundation’s Board of Directors in the search for the next president and CEO was Isaacson, Miller, an executive search firm with offices in San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C.
The California Wellness Foundation is a private independent foundation created in 1992 with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention.
One of the largest health grantmaking organizations in California, TCWF was established in 1992 as part of the conversion of Health Net from not-for-profit to for-profit status. It is completely separate from Health Net and operates as a private independent foundation. The Foundation headquarters are located in Woodland Hills with a small branch office in San Francisco. Since its founding, TCWF has awarded 7,338 grants totaling more than $890 million.
Fostering sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.