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Engage - The SECF Blog

BEST + NEXT PRACTICE Engage - The SECF Blog

SECF's Blog

Engage, SECF’s blog, is a space for SECF members, staff and partners to share their thoughts on the latest trends and best practices in philanthropy. Engage is also used for important announcements about upcoming SECF events and programs.

Do you have a story or insight you’d like to share with our members on Engage? Contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org or at (404) 524-0911 to discuss your idea.


An Innovative Approach to Launching and Sustaining Student Success

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Karen Lambert

Oct24

Navigating college for the first time can be daunting, especially when you’re the first from your family to do so.

This notion of firsts is what caught the Peyton Anderson Foundation’s attention when Middle Georgia State University presented plans for the Center to Launch and Sustain Student Success (CLASS).

The proposed 8,000-square-foot Macon campus center will be a key resource in helping prospective, incoming and current students navigate the process of applying to college, securing financial aid, meeting with academic advisors, registering for classes and transitioning into their professional careers, all within one central space.

Middle Georgia State University is Georgia’s most affordable public university. With diverse degree offerings, central locations (five campuses throughout Middle Georgia) and tuition and fees totaling approximately $4,600 a year, the university takes pride in its accessibility for students seeking postsecondary education, especially when they are the first in the family.

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Responding to Hurricane Florence

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Sep13

UPDATE (Monday, September 17): After making landfall last week, Florence has continued to bring catastrophic rain and flooding to the Carolinas. SECF has partnered with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to present a special webinar, Hurricane Florence: What's Next?, at 3:00pm Eastern on Tuesday, September 18. Click here to register!

Within hours, Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall somewhere along the Carolina coast. The Category 2 storm is expected to produce high winds, massive flooding and torrential rains.

Many SECF member foundations, and their staff and trustees, are in areas that have already been evacuated or will be affected by the storm as it moves through the region in the coming days. We are keeping everyone affected by this storm in our thoughts and hope those who have had to leave their communities are able to return home soon. SECF is also ready to support any member organization directly affected by the hurricane.

Many grantmakers are already wondering what they can do to assist with relief and recovery in the wake of Florence. SECF has partnered with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy for a special webinar at 3:00pm Eastern on Tuesday, September 18, on how grantmakers can respond to the storm. Registration is now open at CDP's Hurricane Florence overview page.

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Dianne Oliver on the Value of Connection and Supporting Aging Populations

Category: Grantmaking, 
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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Inside Our New Framework for Grantmaking and Learning

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Maurice "Mo" Green

Jul05

For the past two years, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation has been on an exciting, exploratory journey, as we have taken a step back to examine our own work and determine how we can best serve the people of North Carolina moving forward.

One thing we’ve learned is that this process of discovery and reflection will be ongoing and in many ways our learning, and the journey, is just beginning. It is in this spirit of ongoing learning that we recently announced the launch of All For NC: Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation's Framework for Grantmaking and Learning.

Our new framework reflects the foundation’s longstanding commitment to improving the quality of life for all North Carolinians and infuses what we heard during our statewide listening and learning tour about what is critical, and visionary, at this moment in time.

All For NC: ZSR’s Framework for Grantmaking and Learning builds from the strategies of our “emerging direction” and aligns with our mission and core values to:

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

Category: Grantmaking, 
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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Achieving the Dream Through Partnership

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Jim McHale

Mar07

Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” This is the mindset we must have in our efforts to improve postsecondary outcomes for underserved students. No one can succeed alone. Because the challenges are many and the resources limited, it is essential to look for every opportunity to partner.

One such partnership opportunity is coming to Mississippi for the first time, supported by a $900,000 grant from the Woodward Hines Education Foundation. Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of community colleges committed to helping their students – particularly low-income students and students of color – achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth and economic opportunity. This fall, Coahoma Community College and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) will join more than 220 community colleges serving 4 million students across 40 states in the ATD network.

ATD offers data-driven coaching and training for community college leaders, tapping into national datasets and assessment tools to help colleges benchmark their performance over time. Through their participation in ATD over the four-year funding period, Coahoma and MGCCC will have access to these tools to help them set priorities within seven key capacity areas: Leadership & Vision, Data & Technology, Equity, Teaching & Learning, Engagement & Communication, Strategy & Planning, and Policies & Practices. ATD will coach each college on how to use their own data to inform their actions, from the programs they offer to the policies they enact.

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Look to Your Community Foundation in Times of Crisis

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Foundant Technologies

Nov09

This post originally appeared on Exponent Philanthropy’s PhilanthroFiles blog.

Everyone wants to help during a crisis, and, for many, that means giving money. But few understand what it takes to distribute funds to the people, businesses, or nonprofits that will create the greatest impact and fulfill the most need—especially if the money lives in different funds at different organizations.

Enter community foundations, which are inherently good at sharing information and resources. In fact, they do it all the time. Community foundations exist to help others do more with less and find ways to strengthen a community through common resources, ingenuity, and communication.

In the community foundation world, you should never have to ‘reinvent the wheel,’ especially with things like disaster preparedness and recovery. Our community of community foundations is amazing and collaborative.

— Bridget Wilkinson, Executive Director, Bozeman Area Community Foundation

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Introducing the Rural Philanthropy Analysis Project

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Allen Smart

Oct19

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on Campbell University's website. We're sharing it here due to the strong interest among SECF members in rural philanthropy, as well as the author's strong ties to Southern grantmakers.

I am excited to welcome you to become part of Campbell University’s new Rural Philanthropy Analysis (RPA) project.* The RPA is taking a deep look at rural philanthropy – foundation behavior and practice – around the country that is helping rural communities move forward for the health and well-being of all their residents.

For nearly 20 years, I have been involved in the practice and study of rural philanthropy. At no time previously has the interest in rural philanthropy been as strong as now. Some of this interest is undoubtedly stimulated by the recent elections and the accompanying sense that the domain of rural America has been excluded from the public discourse. Philanthropy is no different. Within hours of the results of last year’s presidential election being finalized, I received a call from a national philanthropic publication and a separate call from a national foundation wanting to know more about how they could “learn about rural.”

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Helping Caribbean Islands Recover from a Devastating Hurricane Season

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Dwayne Marshall

Oct04

As anyone who lives in the Southeast knows, hurricanes can cause massive devastation and disruption. Streets and homes flood, power disappears, cellular networks go down and basic necessities are suddenly in short supply.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma represented a 1-2 punch, hitting communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In their wake, many foundations stepped up, creating or contributing to funds to fuel relief efforts that will last long after these storms fade from the headlines.

Unfortunately, as we’ve all seen in the past week, this hurricane season’s impact has spread beyond the Southeast. Many island nations and U.S. territories in the Caribbean, which were already hit hard by Harvey and Irma, were also dealt another blow by Hurricane Maria. Some places, like Barbuda, were rendered nearly uninhabitable. In other places, particularly Puerto Rico, residents are facing the possibility of weeks or even months without electricity.

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Natural Disasters Prompt Difficult Questions for Funders

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Regine Webster

Sep13

I am sitting here in my office in Nashville, Tennessee, surrounded by a steady rain that represents the remnants of Irma. No likelihood of flooding here, but definitely a reminder of the power of water – either via floods or hurricanes – and the devastation that it can bring.

SECF’s footprint covers the 11 states that are arguably hardest hit by hurricanes domestically. Last year, Florida and the Carolinas faced Hurricane Matthew, Louisiana saw vast parts of the state devastated by flooding, and Georgia has been hit by rare winter weather. Until just this past week, it had been years since Florida took a direct hurricane hit. That changed radically this past weekend.

While reports of destruction following Hurricane Irma are still coming in, we know a hurricane and subsequent flooding can cause protracted power outages, water quality concerns, infrastructure losses – roads, hospitals, public health systems – and massive damage to homes, roofs, and community structures.

We also know that the sheer number of global disasters (refugee crisis, famine in North Africa, wildfires in the western United States, Mexico earthquake, South Asia flooding, and Hurricane Harvey) is making it difficult for the philanthropic community to know where to allocate their resources most effectively.

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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.