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Multiplying Our Impact: Why Foundations Should Care about Policy Research

Author: Kristen Keely-Dinger & Jennifer Oldham

Nov02

Creating a public policy research center was not a part of our original plan.

The Healing Trust’s grantmaking initially focused on programs that demonstrated measurable health outcomes for vulnerable Middle Tennesseans. Over time, we realized that public policy affects everything our grantee partners do to improve the health of our community. This realization led us to support health-focused advocacy work alongside direct services. We created an advocacy grant program to provide support for nonprofit partners advocating for policy changes and program improvements that advance health outcomes by either increasing access to health services or preventing childhood trauma.

What Changed?

In 2014, we asked our partners what additional support we could give to organizations engaged in policy and advocacy work. One priority quickly rose to the top: timely, quality, nonpartisan research and analysis on public policy issues critical to our community.

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Helping All Kids Succeed in School and in Life is Possible, and We Have the Tools

Author: Ellen Lehman

Jun28

If we consider the learning process as an assembly line, our first reaction is to say that the assembly line is broken in high school – after all, that’s where dropouts occur.

But although high school is where the dramatic evidence of the failed system is obvious, that’s not where the break occurs, and therefore, that is not the point at which it can be fixed. By then, it’s too late.

If we move toward the beginning of the assembly line, we find that children unprepared for kindergarten often don’t achieve reading comprehension by the third grade and are, therefore, 90 percent likely to become a dropout.

There is nothing more stifling than a compromised beginning; nothing more tragic than a child whose possibilities are unnecessarily diminished.

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Dianne Oliver on the Value of Connection and Supporting Aging Populations

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jul05

Editor’s Note: This year, Grantmakers in Aging’s annual conference will come to the Southeast, taking place at Memphis’ legendary Peabody hotel October 17-19. Ahead of this event, we asked Dianne Oliver, executive director of the West End Home Foundation, based in Nashville, for some thoughts on the value of membership associations like SECF and GIA, as well as the importance of supporting aging populations.

What do you find valuable about being a member of SECF? GIA?

The benefits of being a member of SECF and GIA can be captured in three words: relationships, information and community.

Membership in these associations has provided me the opportunity to develop relationships with other grantmaking professionals that I can call on for advice and counsel on issues related to management and governance or issues related to best practices in the field. SECF gives me strong regional connections where I can access incredible information about grantmaking best practices, policy issues and legal issues impacting our industry. GIA has connected me with grantmakers across the country who focus on my specific content area – aging and older adults. Through both organizations I feel part of a philanthropic community that supports and nurtures its members so that we can all achieve greater impact.

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Improving the Lives of Older Tennesseans Through the Power of Collective Advocacy and Public-Private Partnerships

Author: Scott Perry

Jul17

A unique example of a statewide private-public partnership is part on an ongoing story which should affect Tennessee for years to come.

As a result of two court settlements, $36 million in funding is being granted to six different organizations in Tennessee for the purposes of implementing statewide initiatives designed to make lives better for older residents. Working with the court, five philanthropic organizations – the West End Home Foundation (Nashville), United Way of Greater Knoxville, Memorial Foundation (Hendersonville), HCA Foundation (Nashville), and Assisi Foundation (Memphis) – provided their expertise to develop a process to accept, then carefully vet, statewide proposals in four specific areas:

  • Senior Legal Assistance

  • Senior Affordable Housing

  • Senior Transportation

  • Senior Dental

These areas were selected based on statewide need and a history of limited resources. Proposals were evaluated based on their level of innovation, ability to implement and sustainability. The process took almost two years to complete.

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Small Foundations Can Have a Big Impact with Effective Communications

Author: Kristen Keely-Dinger and Jennifer Oldham

Oct25

Hiring communications staff is usually not at the top of mind for small foundations. Administrative and grant-focused staff usually take priority, and while those positions are necessary, having a communications-focused staff member can also be beneficial to smaller foundations.

As a small health legacy foundation with five staff, we understand the need for efficient use of resources. We want to remain lean and nimble, but we also want to have a big impact. We have seen how focusing on communications can help a foundation meet our missions and advance our causes.

In 2013, our board adopted a new strategic plan which included "promoting our work" as one of the key objectives of the plan. Prior to this time, we typically used only our website and targeted emails to communicate about the work of the foundation. With this new strategic objective, it became clear that we were going to need to focus more of our resources into communicating not only with our grantees but also within the wider community.

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Member Highlight: Terri Lee Freeman

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct25

This year may mark Terri Lee Freeman's first SECF Annual Meeting, but it's a testament to her experience in the field that she'll mark the occasion as a panelist during this year's Breakfast with Champions plenary.

Terri, a trustee of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, has also distinguished herself as president of the National Civil Rights Museum, a role she's held since 2014, and as the former president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region in Washington, D.C.

"As a relative new board member of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, I was shocked that SECF would think I would add value to the panel," Terri said. "But as I realize my unusual background, I think I can bring an interesting perspective to the panel. Additionally, as issues of diversity, inclusion and equity continue to be top of mind for the funding community, I see my current role as lending some expertise on that issue."

Terri says Annual Meeting attendees will hear a new perspective at this year's Breakfast with Champions. While previous offerings of the session have brought CEOs to the stage, this year will shift the focus to the boardroom.

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Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW
Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Hours: M–F from 9:00am to 6:00pm (ET)

Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116
Mission: The Southeastern Council of Foundations serves, connects, strengthens and champions philanthropy and philanthropic infrastructure in the South.