More than 70 of the nation’s leading foundations with over $20 billion in assets today called on Mary Jo White, Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, to support rulemaking requiring corporate political spending transparency. The foundations represented include the Carnegie Corporation, Ford Foundation, Surdna Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
“Blanket sums of undisclosed money being funneled into our political system is an issue of paramount importance to our democracy,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “These proposed transparency rules would provide a much needed bulwark against individuals and corporations seeking disproportionate impact on elections and policymaking.”
Chairman White has not responded to the rulemaking petition request that was submitted almost four years ago by the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending, a group of prominent law professors specializing in the areas of corporate and securities law.
“How can we know whether companies in which we invest are making questionable or controversial political expenditures, when they are not mandated to disclose them?” asked Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund and the organizer of these Foundations’ call for action. “We are deeply concerned about how our political system is being negatively impacted by huge inflows of company funds following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.”
Currently, over 110 major companies voluntarily disclose their political spending policies and their direct political payments, including more than half of the S&P 100. These companies include Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Merck and Aetna.
“We applaud the corporations that are already sharing the details of their political activity, but we need this type of disclosure across the board,” said Phil Henderson, president of the Surdna Foundation. “Shareholders and the American public have a compelling interest in knowing how corporate funds are being spent in the electoral process.”
"The SEC has an opportunity now to shine a spotlight on the flow of political money which will create greater corporate accountability and help the public better understand who is shaping our elections," said Gary Bass, executive director of the Bauman Foundation.
“The Supreme Court’sCitizens Uniteddecision has allowed unlimited money to flow from corporations into political campaigns,” said Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. “Shareholders have a right to know where their money is going, especially when it comes to politics. It’s imperative that the SEC prioritize transparency and require companies to disclose political spending to their shareholders.”
To read the Foundations’ letter to the SEC and the complete list of Foundations supporting the SEC rulemaking petition, please visit bit.ly/FoundationsLetterToSEC
How do local governments and local philanthropies in North America come together to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy, and well-being for all residents? With the help of the Partners for Places grant program. In Blacksburg, Va., home energy retro-fits will help lower-income older adults maintain their independence. In Cincinnati and New Bedford, Mass., partnerships will strengthen local food systems, while Seattle will create opportunities for all its citizens to participate in local environmental progress. In all, eight communities are harnessing the power of partnerships as local government and philanthropy work together to realize a better future for their communities.
The communities were awarded a total of $520,250 by the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and its partner, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. Partners for Places helps communities connect local government and philanthropy to invest in sustainability projects that promote a healthy environment, a strong economy, and well-being for all residents.
“The Partners for Places grant program continues to help encourage community-based funders to expand their sustainability grantmaking,” said Alison Corwin, a program officer at the Surdna Foundation and a 2014 PLACES Fellow. “Sustainability initiatives, like the eight announced today, create deep impact when they are driven by the community and promote an inclusive process for the many stakeholders in each of these communities.”
The Round Six Partners for Places grants are:
To date, Partners for Places has awarded more than $2.5 million across North America.
Partners for Places will open a seventh round of funding with a Request for Proposals available in June 2015. 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.
Partners for Places – a project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities is a successful matching grant program that improves U.S. and Canadian communities by building partnerships between local government sustainability leaders and place-based foundations. National funders invest in local projects developed through these partnerships to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy and well-being for all residents. Through these investments, Partners for Places fosters long-term relationships that make our communities more prosperous, livable and vibrant.
Please note the Surdna Foundation’s online Letter of Inquiry (LOI) portal will be temporarily unavailable from May 5 through May 27. Non-profit organizations intending to submit an LOI will not be able access the portal during this period.
Nonprofits that have already initiated and saved an LOI through the online portal will not have access to their draft LOIs between May 5 and May 27.
If your organization has already begun an LOI, please submit on or before Tuesday, May 5 at 5:00 p.m. (EDT) in order to avoid losing any data.
Thank you for your patience. Surdna’s online grants portal is being taken offline in order to allow for the transfer to a new grants management system.
In September 2015 Pope Francis will visit the U.S. during which he will address a joint session of Congress, offer remarks at the United Nations, and hold an outdoor Mass in Philadelphia that is expected to draw millions of Americans. In advance of the Pope’s first-ever trip to the U.S., the Surdna Foundation is supporting the PICO National Network’s collaboration with the Vatican to use the watershed moment to carry a message of racial and economic inclusion,and socialprogress.
On April 30, Phil Henderson was in Philadelphia where he participatedinaspecial private breakfast meeting of leaders of key national organizations and foundations with Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, chair of the group of eight cardinals advising Pope Francis on restructuring the Catholic Church and leading the planning in advance of his U.S. visit.
Phil Henderson shares his reflections of that meeting with Surdna’s Communications Director George Soule.
What is the PICO National Network and how are they connected to Pope Francis’s visit?
PICO is a network of faith-based groups that care about many of the same social justice issues we do at Surdna. They are well known to Cardinal Rodriguez, a Honduran who is familiar with the U.S., and who in effect, chairs the Pope's Kitchen Cabinet. The Cardinal has been in dialogue with PICO about some of the themes associated with Pope Francis’s visit with an eye toward amplifying issues around economic opportunity and inequality. These and other themes, including the entrenched nature of poverty, are ones the Francis raised early in his tenure and are coincident with many of the issues that PICO has been working on. And, they are also themes Surdna addresses in its work.
Pope Francis will make his first-ever visit to the U.S. in September.
What is PICO hoping to achieve as a result of these meetings?
My meeting with Cardinal Rodriguez was part of a multi-day series of encounters and discussions designed by PICO for the Cardinal so that he could hear from experts, meet with fellow clergy, members of the Philadelphia community, and get a variety of points of view about the issues that matter in Philadelphia specifically, but more broadly to get a sense of the political winds. Our meeting was a convening of about a dozen leaders in philanthropy and labor, as well as a few experts on the economy, criminal and social justice. The conversation was informal and focused on how our collective issues intersect with issues Pope Francis cares about.
What were the meeting’s attendees hoping the Pope’s U.S. visit might accomplish?
Given the efforts it took to pull this group together, I think there was a generally shared view that the Pope's visit is one of those rare opportunities in the modern world to cut through the constant noise of daily events and to focus on larger themes. And the rarity of a visit by an immensely popular Pope is reason to be optimistic that he can carry some messages into the public sphere in a way that universalizes them, and prevents them from getting caught in the typical Republican-Democrat, right-left ownership of issues.
Was there a sense that the Pope’s message will have broad appeal?
Pope Francis is as popular with Republicans as he is with Democrats. And as he heads into a first-ever joint session of Congress in September, the Pope has approval ratings north of 70 percent. There are a good number of Catholic on both sides of the aisle, though he is not coming to Capitol Hill to speak to Catholics alone. Still, I think it's important to emphasize that religion is ever-present throughout the political spectrum. And Pope Francis seems to have the ability—and certainly the opportunity—to try to help us see that there are some issues around which we should have a common purpose, rather than seeing them as divisive.
Were there any issues that Cardinal Rodriguez noted would be of particular importance to the Pope?
Our meeting occurred in the middle of the week when Baltimore was just reaching a boiling point. So questions of criminal justice, economic opportunity, inequality, and especially race were, very much present in the conversation. It was made quite clear to us that Pope Francis has something to say about each of these issues. And part of what PICO is hoping to accomplish—and which we were there to help them achieve—is to translate those broader global themes of power, economic opportunity, and race into the American context. And at that very moment, you could see each of these issues playing out in real-time.
What can you tell us about the Pope’s environmental views?
Cardinal Rodriguez noted that none of us talked at all about the environment, or as he called it, “ecology.” He noted that the Church would be issuing an encyclical in June on stewardship of the earth. He named climate change and not caring for the earth as another result of our focus on what he called money first, people last.
Was there an acknowledgment that many of the issues Pope Francis intends to communicate to the American public are politically divisive?
The Pope’s attitudes toward climate change will be politically controversial in the United States. But in the rest of the developed world, it is no longer really a subject of disagreement. The U.S. is the outlier in many ways. On several occasions, Cardinal Rodriguez talked about global challenges and geo-politics—how the world is intertwined. He did this by way of emphasizing that Pope Francis is paying attention to what's happening around the globe and cares about all these things. So I believe the encyclical is being issued because the Church and the Pope care deeply about the planet and are concerned about climate change. I don't read it as a political statement in advance of his U.S. trip. It is worth saying, though, that the Pope has recently added Cuba to his itinerary. So he'll be stopping in Cuba on the way to the U.S. This is not an accident—that the U.S. is finally beginning to shift policy with regard to Cuba allows the Pope to think differently about how he might influence that debate internally in the U.S.
The hopelessness in Baltimore is just the just latest reminder that the U.S. economy is not working for everyone, particularly for marginalized communities. What can foundations do to create more robust and inclusive local economies? And if your nonprofit is grappling with this challenge, who are your friends in the funding community?
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Rosie the Riveter has seen better days. On May 21, 2015, the Jobs to Move America coalition will launch the Women Can Build project with a new study and an accompanying photography exhibit revealingthe overlooked contributions, and decline in hiring since WWII, of the skilled and hard-working women who build our 21st Century transportation including trams, rail and buses. The new study, “#WomenCanBuild: Including Women in the Resurgence of Good U.S. Manufacturing Jobs”, issuedby the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE), finds that 87% of the workforce in the American transit manufacturing industry is male.
Making an impactfulvisual statement, the Women Can Build photography exhibit—supported by a grant from the Surdna Foundation and running from May 22 to June 21 at the historic Los Angeles Union Station—will premiere 15 photos and stories of “modern Rosies”. These photographs, by Pulitzer Prize recipient Deanne Fitzmaurice, will be displayed alongside never-before-exhibited historic photographs of WWII-era “Rosie the Riveter” manufacturing workers, from the Library of Congress, connecting past and present.
The “modern Rosies” work for global transit equipment manufacturing companies that have U.S. factories, including Siemens, New Flyer Industries, Nippon Sharyo, and Kinkisharyo. Many of the women workers who were photographed will share their stories of challenges and growth at the exhibit’s opening on May 21. In addition to the manufacturing “Rosies”, included in the exhibit are former Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, California Speaker Toni G. Atkins, and former Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo.
“Women Can Build says it all: the powerful, beautiful women working in these factories can do anything they set their minds to,” said Madeline Janis, Director of the Jobs to Move America coalition. “We hope to inspire more young girls to work in heavy manufacturing, and to encourage the 16 major employers in transit equipment manufacturing to provide more good jobs and equal opportunity to women in these factories. 75 years after Rosie the Riveter, we can do better than 13% women in the workforce.”
With this project, Jobs to Move America’s goal is to deliver the message that “women can build” to the top 16 global companies building mass transportation, and to encourage them to increase opportunities for women on the factory floor in U.S. manufacturing jobs. The USC PERE study shows:
The complete study will be available on May 21st on the Jobs to Move America website.
Examples of some of the women featured in the photo exhibit:
She sums it up saying, “I’m only four foot four, I build trains, and I’m a girl. What more proof do you need? No matter what we do, we all play an important part.”
American cities spend about $5.4 billion each year purchasingbuses and railcars for public transportation systems. These transportation equipment purchases use federal and local transportation funds, and are administered via contracts with global manufacturing companies: e.g. Los Angeles county residents voted in Measure R, 65% of which will be used for rail and bus related projects. U.S. public transit ridership reached 10.8 billion trips in 2014, the largest amount in 58 years (APTA analysis, Progressive Railroading, 4/10/15). Major growth in the U.S. railcar manufacturing industry is expected as California’s future high-speed rail system is built. Along with this expansion, the face of manufacturing is changing. There is a skills gap, compounded by an aging workforce. Even with people looking for jobs, as many as 600,000 manufacturing jobs remained unfilled due to a shortage of qualified workers.
The Women Can Build study, exhibit and women’s stories are part of a major campaign to inform and activate the public, and encourage the manufacturing companies and transit agencies that buy from them to offer more opportunities for women in this changing and expanding area. Mothers are the sole or primary source of income for a record 40% of households with children under 18. Women’s access to good, family-supporting manufacturing jobs could provide stability for these families and inspire the next generation of young women to build.
The Women Can Build project is supported by the following organizations: Platinum Sponsors - Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Surdna Foundation; Silver Sponsors - Ford Foundation, IUE-CWA, the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America, Miguel Contreras Foundation, SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), Women’s Foundation of California; Financial Supporter - Speaker Toni G Atkins.
About Women Can Build: http://www.womencanbuild.org
About Jobs To Move America (jobstomoveamerica.org)
Jobs to Move America is a national project to make our transit dollars go the distance. The Jobs to Move America coalition unites more than 40 community, labor, civil rights, academic, philanthropic, and environmental organizations advocating for cities to make our transit dollars go the distance — to build better, cleaner public transit systems, to create and retain good manufacturing jobs, and to generate opportunities for unemployed Americans like veterans and residents of low-income neighborhoods. Every year, United States transit agencies spend about $5.4 billion on bus and railcar purchases.
The Surdna Foundation announced today that William Cordery, an experienced grantmaker with deep roots in social justice work, has been appointed Program Officer for the Strong Local Economies program. He will begin on May 18, 2015, joining a team working on economic development and economic justice issues around the country.
William's hire will strengthen the commitment of the foundation's Strong Local Economies program to creating opportunities for upward economic mobility among low-income people, communities of color, women, and immigrants.
For the past three years, William has been a program officer at the Marguerite Casey Foundation in Seattle, WA where he managed a $5 million annual grant portfolio focusing on investments in advocacy, organizing, and education in eight states across the U.S. South. William has a background creating and sustaining donor partnerships, including his efforts to coalesce a network of funders to support projects to improve the lives of boys and men of color in the South.
While at Casey, William also assumed a number of leadership roles in philanthropy and social justice organizations. He has served as co-chair for the program committee for Grantmakers for Southern Progress-a national working group of the Neighborhood Funders Group, and is a member of the steering committee for the Seattle chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy. William has published on, and advocated on behalf of LGBT equality, and serves on the steering committee of the LGBT Southern Funding Project, a project of Funders for LGBTQ Issues. He is also on the board of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and an editorial board member at the Grassroots Fundraising Journal.
William was selected for the 2014-2015 class of the Association of Black Foundation Executives' Connecting Leaders Fellowship--a year-long experience designed to sharpen the skills and strengthen the leadership capacity of foundation staff, donors, and trustees who are committed to assisting Black communities through philanthropy.
Phillip Henderson, Surdna's President, said, "William is an ideal fit for Surdna. He is dedicated to advancing our social justice agenda and is not afraid to ask difficult questions to help get us there. He brings passion, leadership and a collaborative way of working to the position. We are thrilled that he is joining Surdna."
"William's unique skill set, combined with his deep commitment to under-served populations, experience with grant making in the South, and passion for true social justice work, make him a tremendous addition to our team," said Shawn Escoffery, Program Director, Strong Local Economies, "We are excited to have William partner with grantees, helping them strengthen their fundamentals so they can focus on achieving their missions."
About the Surdna Foundation
The Surdna Foundation aims to foster sustainable communities in the United States - communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by sustainable environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures. The Foundation seeks to dismantle the structural barriers that limit opportunity for many, helping to create communities that are prosperous, culturally enriching, and sustainable.
Long-time director Jon Goldberg saluted as his board tenure ends
Adriana Jiménez, Grants Manager at the Surdna Foundation, has been appointed to the board of directors of the Grants Managers Network (GMN), a national association of 3,000 members. Jiménez, who has been in the grants management profession since 2010 and Co-chaired GMN’s successful 2014 Annual Conference, will begin her board tenure in June 2015.
GMN Board of Directors Co-Chair éis an ideal choice to advocate on behalf of advancing the knowledge and expertise of grants management professionals so they can lead their organizations to better outcomes. “Adriana has the energy, experience and innovation the GMN board needs as it continues to emphasize effectiveness and transforms the profession toward greater efficiency, innovation and transparency.”
Adriana Jimenez’s service continues the Surdna Foundation’s representation on the GMN Board of Directors and the foundation’s long-standing commitment to Director of Grants Management, Learning and Information, has served on GMN from 2002-2006, and 2011-2015 during which he has held the offices of Chair and Treasurer.é Surdna’s
“Surdna’s grants management team is a critical center of innovation and strategy development, both at the foundation and within the philanthropic and nonprofit sector,” said Phil Henderson, Surdna’s President. “We are pleased that Adriana has been recognized for her leadership. And we salute Jon for his years of GMN board service and his commitment to generating and sharing innovations with the field.”
The Surdna Foundation’s Office of Grants Management works closely with program and administrative staff, as well as grant applicants, to design systems that minimize application and reporting requirements, help the foundation implement strategy, and focus on what we are learning from the work of our grantee partners.
About the Grants Managers Network
The Grants Managers Network is a thriving national association of nearly 3,000 philanthropy professionals with a mission
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.
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.