Large corporations dominate federal subsidy awards; banks, foreign-owned energy firms and federal contractors among the biggest recipients.
Two-thirds of the $68 billion in business grants and special tax credits awarded by the federal government over the past 15 years have gone to large corporations. During the same period, federal agencies have given the private sector hundreds of billions of dollars in loans, loan guarantees and bailout assistance, with the largest share going to major U.S. and foreign banks.
These are key findings of Uncle Sam's Favorite Corporations, a study with accompanying database released today by Good Jobs First, a non-profit and non-partisan research center on economic development accountability which receives support from the Surdna Foundation. They derive from the first comprehensive compilation of company-specific federal subsidy data. The study and database are available at www.goodjobsfirst.org.
The database, which collects more than 160,000 awards from 137 programs, expands Good Jobs First’s Subsidy Tracker, which since 2010 has posted economic development data from states and localities. The federal data was enhanced with Good Jobs First’s proprietary subsidiary-parent matching system, enabling users to see individual entries linked to more than 1,800 corporate parents, along with each parent’s total subsidies.
“For more than 20 years, so-called corporate welfare has been debated widely with little awareness of which companies were receiving most of the federal assistance,” said Good Jobs First Executive Director Greg LeRoy.
“We now see that big business dominates federal subsidy spending the way it does state and local programs,” said Philip Mattera, principal author of the study and creator of Subsidy Tracker. “Our hope is that the new Subsidy Tracker will serve as a resource in the ongoing debates over federal assistance to business," Mattera added.
Other key findings:
Four Surdna Foundation grantees are among this year’s cohort of the country’s best and brightest urban advocates aged 40 or younger. Leaders are selected annually by Next City to attend the Vanguard conference which gathers top urban innovators working to make change in cities.
Theresa Hwang, Skid Row Housing Trust in Los Angeles; Kevin Musselman, People’s Emergency Center in Philadelphia; Ceara O’Leary, DCDC in Detroit; and Tsedey Betru, Community LIFT in Memphis were selected through a competitive application process.
The conference is designed to bring together professionals working across disciplines and sectors, and class includes policymakers and politicians, architects and urban planners, artists and mediamakers.
Francis Carter,inaugural Sylvia Harris Citizen Design Award by Design Ignites Change and In his winning application, which carries a $10,000 prize, Carter proposes the expansion of , which works with farmers from upstate New York and community groups in New York City to deliver fresh produce to Harlem, Washington Heights and the Bronx.
, the strategy and communications firm known for their work towards positive social change, and , in collaboration with Harris’s family, friends and supporters to honor her legacy by recognizing other vanguards dedicated to public design.(1953 – 2011) is widely recognized as a pioneer, a generous mentor and a vital inspiration to the field of social impact design. The Award is presented by
Corbin Hill Food Project was awarded a $225,000 36-month Surdna grant in December 2014. They are a critical part of Surdna’s effort to rebuild regional food systems, a critical—but often overlooked—part of our infrastructure. Surdna is supporting leaders like Francis Carter and CHFP’s Founder and President develop solutions to shorten the distance from farm to table and improve relationships between and among producers, aggregators, processors, and consumers. Surdna’s funding includes support for “food hubs,” a key form of regional food enterprise that performs services including picking up produce directly from local and regional farmers, and sorting, packing, loading and delivering to schools, hospitals, food service companies, and restaurants.
Francis Carter, a graduate of the Parsons Transdisciplinary Design master’s program, will apply the $10,000 prize towards expanding the Food Project’s produce delivery capacity through the deployment of refrigerated cases, acting as pop-up farm stands in communities where the Project is already embedded. The award will also cover the development and printing of educational and outreach materials, to complement current outreach efforts and draw attention to the new refrigerated retail program.
Says Carter, “I’m honored to receive this amazing opportunity, and grateful that it will enable us at Corbin Hill Food Project to better supply fresh food to the places that need it most. I look forward to continuing the practice of citizen design, thanks to the work of Sylvia Harris and her championing of ‘good design for the common good.’”
Carter embodies a new understanding of design’s capabilities to disrupt established but ineffective systems to result in improved quality of life for communities. As a designer on staff at, he strategically uses creative problem solving and design thinking to develop solutions that maximize returns on a triple bottom line: economic, social, and environmental.
Says Gary Singer, Harris’ widower, “Sylvia was always concerned and sometimes outraged at the state of food in this country. I know this would be very close to her heart.”
A jury with great expertise in major facets of social impact design selected Carter’s project as the most outstanding, amongst a pool of highly innovative ideas. Jury members included: Milton Glaser, designer and owner of ; Steven Heller, , co-chair of SVA’s Designer as Author program, and author of the ; Karen Proctor, Principal of and social entrepreneurship teacher at program; and Jessica Garz, Thriving Cultures Program Officer at .
Leticia Peguero, Executive Director, the Andrus Family Fund, was named by Hispanics in Philanthropy as one of its 2015 HIPGivers. HIPGivers, says Diana Campoamor, President of Hispanics in Philanthropy, are collectively altering the landscape for our country. They are pushing the envelope by asking for more — more consideration, more awareness, more compassion, more action, more giving.
ivers 31 Portraits of Latino Giving
Leticia Peguero, Executive Director of the Andrus Family Fund and the Andrus Family Philanthropy Program, doesn’t mince words when it comes to understanding philanthropy as a lifestyle and making it a priority to give back to the community.
“My give is to remind those sitting around the philanthropic table that social justice is not just what we put in our missions, but how we live our lives,” Peguero, wrote in answer to a HIPGivers question.
This philosophy has been Peguero’s touchstone in more than 20 years of working in social justice programming and philanthropy. As she considered the question of her “give” to the community, she added an important component to consider: “how we give of our time and how we challenge the dynamics of power and inequality in the U.S. and in our countries of origin.”
Peguero has a bachelor of arts degree from Fordham University, and a master’s in public administration from the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, both in New York City. She also successfully completed a National Urban Fellows Master in Public Administration Fellowship, a renowned leadership development program in New York City.
She has worked as the Regional Vice President at the Posse Foundation, and as Deputy Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships. In addition to her current work with Andrus, Peguero helps run Areytos Performance Works, which is a dance theatre company focused on Afro-Caribbean forms, contemporary modern dance, and performance art.
Living in New York’s South Bronx is a choice Peguero values.
“I live in the South Bronx and grew up in a community in Brooklyn where lots of Puerto Ricans lived,” she said. “I choose to live in the South Bronx because I love it... The community of young people, the artists, the older women taking care of their grandchildren... The new immigrants wondering how and when we will pass immigration reform.”
Peguero said her neighborhood inspires her to practice giving and compassion in the same ways that she advocates for them. She attributes this outlook to her, “grandmother’s struggle working in factories with little knowledge of the language or culture.”
“Like many of us, I come from a community that has non-traditional notions of what it means to give,” she said.
“Philanthropy in many of our communities means the sharing of who you are,” she added. “Giving is about connection.” For Peguero it’s organic, a way of viewing the world.
“I think if we recognize that philanthropy is alive and well in our communities,” she said, “we can help define it from our own community grown perspectives.”
And those grassroots perspectives, Peguero added, inform her leadership of the Andrus Family Fund, which seeks on a national scale to impact the lives of many who are 16 to 24 years old and are stuck in the cyclical confines of the foster care and juvenile justice systems.
“Give because we are all interconnected...” she said. “Your success is tied up in mine.”
Surdna is a family foundation. A simple statement, but one that carries deep meaning for us -- meaning that shapes much of what we do. At our most recent board meeting, we continued our examination of potential changes to the way we invest our endowment, we discussed some important modifications to the role of the board in our grantmaking process, and we breathed new life into a conversation between Surdna and the Andrus Family Fund, a grantmaking fund we created just over 15 years ago.
California’s minority and women business enterprises (MWBEs) have lost the potential equivalent of $1 billion in public contracts because of Proposition 209, according to a Surdna Foundation-funded report by the Equal Justice Society.
EJS released the report today during an informational hearing by the California State Assembly Committee on Judiciary. The hearing also heard other testimony related to the impact of Proposition 209 on public contracting.
2016 will mark the 20th anniversary of Proposition 209, which ended the use of race and gender conscious decision-making in California in the areas of public employment, public education, and public contracting or procurement.
Proposition 209 not only ended race-conscious programs in California, it unnecessarily ended the collection of procurement data related to race, ethnicity, and gender in most jurisdictions of California that had previously been collecting that data. Therefore, the report states the potential loss of contract dollars due to Proposition 209 and not the actual dollars lost.
EJS commissioned Tim Lohrentz, an expert in affirmative procurement and supplier diversity, to author the report. Lohrentz was formerly the Director, Inclusive Business Initiative, with the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. Lohrentz was assisted by Michael Sumner, Ph.D., former Research Manager at the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, UC Berkeley School of Law.
“Taxes from women and people of color help fund public contracts, but are denied equal opportunities to obtain those contracts, said Eva Paterson, EJS President. “We often tout the great economic engine of California, and public contracting is a major part of fueling that engine. This report clearly shows that Proposition 209 denied Black, Latino, Asian American, and women-owned businesses equal opportunities to contribute to our state’s economic growth.”
Lohrentz and Sumner found that MWBEs, which had been erasing the disparity between their availability and their utilization by participating in race- and gender-conscious programs, were heavily impacted by Proposition 209. Some of these businesses never recovered.
This study shows the following impacts in today’s dollars due to Proposition 209:
John Hawkins | Board Member | Surdna Foundation
My wife Joey and I were lucky enough (particularly given the recent weather) to attend a recent performance of "Schoolhouse Rock Live!" at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, VT. It was a performance of the Autism Theatre Initiative sponsored in part by a three-year Surdna Foundation grant to the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts to support a series of programs for artists and audiences with disabilities.
This adaptation of the Emmy-winning ‘70s Saturday morning cartoon series was presented as an autism-friendly performance. The content remained the same—a teacher nervous about his first in front of classroom who relaxes in front of the TV from which characters appear and show him how to win over his students using imagination and music.
This past summer I visited with John Killacky the Flynn’s Executive Director as he and his staff worked with the artists in the touring company and the National Autism Theatre Initiative to learn how to create a supportive environment for audience members diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensory issues.
The most important lesson for me was how much both sides learned from one another in the process of setting up the single performance of “Schoolhouse.” There was significant disagreement initially around whether “Schoolhouse” should be a performance that encouraged participation by the broader Burlington community or whether it should be focused only on those with autism spectrum disorder.
The Flynn staff argued that all performances should try--if at all possible--to accommodate the entire range of the human condition. Killacky and his staff believed you should never make it your goal to serve a single audience. Ultimately, the decision was to have an inclusive performance to which all family audiences are invited.
A really interesting part of the conversation was that the Autism Theatre Initiative had never staged any single performances at any of the venues where they'd presented over the years. Somewhat surprisingly (to me at least), this was a new paradigm for the Autism Theatre. The planned performance at the Flynn, for those on the autism spectrum, was just one of several performances in all the other larger venues. At this point in the conversation, you could see light-bulbs coming on in people’s heads. --”You mean, this is the ONLY performance at the Flynn?
It was one of those "well-that-changes-things" moments and the conversation quickly shifted from how the Theater must be prepared to accommodate potentially unusual behavior to how the Flynn could make performers, the audience, staff and others feel welcomed and still accommodate potentially unusual behavior. To improve the chances that theater-goers would be able to relax and enjoy the production, the Flynn took special measures to make the theater sensory-friendly for people with autism, which means that the house lights would be a little brighter and typical rules, like enforcing silence in the audience, were relaxed.
The performance, and the preparations leading up to it, became an important learning opportunity for a community. The actual performance of Schoolhouse Rocks Live earlier in February, was but a single, albeit important part, of a months-long, intensive process designed to stage a performance that accommodated autism spectrum needs.
In their typically low-key manner, prior to the performance, the Flynn staff did a superb job of presenting all the auditory, visual, personal space, feelings of safety, and comfort adjustments they'd made to their usual practices.
"Schoolhouse Rocks Live!" may not have been award-winning theater, but it was great community building. Following the performance, John Killacky told me he was as pleased with the production as we were. I've learned a lot by closely observing a process from its initial planning stage to the the performance for the community. I'm proud that Surdna was able to make this grant.
John Hawkins, a fourth generation member of the Andrus family , lives in Strafford, Vermont, and has been a teacher, a cabinetmaker, a wooden toy designer and manufacturer, a software engineer and a college administrator.
While the loss of the organization should be mourned, many others continue its important work, argues Jessica Garz.
In a process led by Kounkuey Design Initiative, residents of St. Anthony trailer park in California’s Coachella Valley plan the design of a public space.
The recent closure of Architecture for Humanity, the San Francisco–based nonprofit known for its post-disaster rebuilding projects, had a distinctly funereal feeling. Founded by Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr in 1999, Architecture for Humanity (AFH) was guided by the tagline “Addressing global humanitarian challenges with architectural solutions.” In addition to managing the design and construction of specific projects in the U.S. and abroad, the organization was known for its international network of local, volunteer-run chapters and its high profile publications including the book Design Like You Give a Damn and associated museum exhibitions.
Read more in The Architect’s Newspaper
24 lenders chosen nationwide to receive intensive training and peer-learning opportunities to help small business succeed in underserved communities
Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), Surdna Foundation, and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses announced today that they have selected 24 mission-driven small business lenders to participate in the Small Business Finance Collaborative. This unique and intensive technical assistance program is designed to increase capacity of small business lending in underserved communities in the U.S.
Responsible, affordable credit is not readily available for small businesses, especially minority and women-led businesses, due to the decrease of mainstream finance serving this market. This new program will build the capacity of CDFIs (community development financial institutions) and other mission-driven lenders to deliver responsible and affordable loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the nation.
OFN will deliver the Finance Collaborative, providing 24 mission-driven small business lenders with an intensive two-year program of peer learning, training, and technical assistance. As a result, each participant will create and implement a strategic growth plan to improve lending strategies and practices, while maintaining asset quality. Participants will be expected to report regularly on growth goals and to adopt best practices. Funding is provided by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses with additional support from Surdna Foundation.
“Our nation’s economic recovery has been very uneven, with minority and women led small businesses in underserved communities experiencing barriers to the credit they need to succeed. The participants in the Collaborative are uniquely positioned to reach these communities, helping owners avoid high cost loans. They will build strategies to aid small business and encourage sustainability, growth, and job creation.” said Mark Pinsky, president and CEO of OFN.
The Small Business Finance Collaborative is built upon a successful prior initiative in 2011-2013 where participants reported doubling their assets, increasing their self sufficiency ratio, and number of small businesses reached. Participants in the Finance Collaborative will expand on concepts learned in a previous training, including value proposition, innovation, talent management, and the lending life cycle. The curriculum’s foundation is adapted from the Babson-designed Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses education program.
“Research shows that small businesses are the leading drivers of economic growth and job creation in this country. Our partnership with OFN will continue to support mission-driven lenders, so that even more entrepreneurs gain access to the capital they need to succeed,” said Esta Stecher, CEO of Goldman Sachs Bank USA. “These Small Business Financing Initiative lenders were chosen because of their expertise and leadership in this area. We look forward to seeing the impact they will have in underserved communities.”
The Finance Collaborative members reflect the diversity of mission-driven small business lenders and approaches. Some participants have a national presence, while others serve local communities. Working in urban, rural, and Native communities, these lenders offer a range of lending products and business models. Collectively, the 24 participants have cumulative assets exceeding $862 million with over 7,500 small business loans outstanding totaling nearly $600 million. The 2015-2016 Small Business Finance Collaborative participants are:
• Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, Inc. (ACE)
• Accion New Mexico ∙ Arizona ∙ Colorado ∙ Nevada
• Bridgeway Capital
• Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union
• California Coastal Rural Development Corporation (Cal Coastal)
• CDC Small Business Finance
• Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF)
• Community First Fund
• Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF)
• Entrepreneur Fund
• Excelsior Growth Fund
• Growth Capital
• Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation (KHIC)
• LiftFund, formerly known as Accion Texas
• Montana Community Development Corporation (Montana CDC)
• Northern Initiatives
• Pacific Community Ventures
• PIDC Community Capital (PIDC-CC)
• The Support Center
• Travois • VEDC
• Virginia Community Capital (VCC)
This search closed March 2, 2015. The Surdna Foundation seeks a Program Officer to join the Sustainable Environments grantmaking program. The Program Officer is part of a four-person team and works closely on all aspects of the program, including day-to-day operations, broader program strategy development, and the implementation of a learning agenda. Ideal candidates should have expertise and knowledge in one or more of the substantive elements of the grantmaking program and to help build networks among funders, as well as grantees, around issues that need attention.
Read the full description.
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.