Data Shows More Needs to be Done to Bring Widespread Prosperity to the South
Author: Stephen Sherman
While economic disparities in the U.S. are widespread, nowhere in the country is the gap in economic mobility more pronounced than the South. Just look at the map below and you’ll notice the broad swath of red indicating the lack of upward mobility in the region. Raj Chetty and a team of researchers from Stanford, Harvard, and Berkeley used data from the most-recent Census and tax returns to chart the chance a child born into the bottom fifth income bracket could reach the top fifth by adulthood.
From a list of 741 commuting zones, four Southern cities were ranked in the bottom ten in terms of upward mobility. These were Atlanta, Charlotte, Jacksonville, and Raleigh, all of which have shown indicators of strong economic growth. The chances of a child going from the bottom quintile to the top in these cities were some of the lowest in the country—nowhere higher than 5 percent. By contrast, the leading cities in upward mobility – New York, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, to name a few – all measured 10 percent or higher.
But is it just geographic differences that are to blame for the lack of economic mobility in the South? In addition to location, Chetty and his fellow researchers found that another primary factor in upward mobility was an individual’s racial identity. The latest research from the Equality of Opportunity Project finds that in 99 percent of Census tracts in the United States, black boys earn less in adulthood than white boys who grew up in families with comparable income. This suggests that differences in resources at the neighborhood level, such as access to quality schools, cannot by themselves explain the intergenerational gaps between black and white children.
Building an Inclusive Economy
Author: Mary Thomas
Our economic landscape today looks very different than it did 25 years ago. This pattern of change will inevitably continue as technological advancements are rapidly introduced to the world.
To adapt to this new landscape, foundations must be willing to shift and evolve with the changing communities we serve. Seventy-five years ago, our founder— Walter Scott Montgomery—had a vision of introducing community philanthropy to Spartanburg County to meet the needs of the entire area. His vision began with a $10,000 investment that has evolved into a $213 million philanthropic organization that is continuously working to improve the lives of Spartanburg County residents by promoting philanthropy, encouraging local engagement, and responding to community needs.
A great thought leader in our community, Roger Milliken, lived by this motto, “Innovate or die.” Community institutions would do well to live by those words to ensure that our organizations continue to think ahead and maximize community impact by deploying innovative solutions to the issues facing our region. The success that the Spartanburg County Foundation has seen over the years is partly because of its ability to look ahead, remain flexible, and change when necessary to address local issues.
Courage to Lead (from our hearts) in Philanthropy
Author: Gayle Williams
Twenty-five years of work in foundations has confirmed for me what is now emerging as a truth in the leadership field: Trustworthy relationships and emotional intelligence are at the heart of all successful leadership. Foundations are heady places where academic knowledge, analytical thinking, measurable impact, and management competence are highly valued. These are all important, but insufficient for life-giving and effective work in family foundations where complicated family dynamics are at play as staffs and boards work on complex community issues. At its heart, philanthropy is about relationships.
During my 20 years as a family foundation executive director, the Center for Courage and Renewal was a source for nurturing my skill and resilience as a leader in at least three key areas: Show Up; Be Trustworthy; Stay curious.
Reading Between the Lines: Transportation Benefits After Tax Reform
Author: Sandra Swirski & Sara Barba
Following the passage of the 2017 tax reform bill, nonprofits are re-evaluating how they determine their unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) tax, specifically in regard to transportation benefits. This week, we’ll dive into what the new transportation benefits provision could mean for your organization and your grantees, as well as what’s being done in Washington to help provide guidance.
Transportation Benefits Are Now Taxable
The 2017 tax reform bill made substantial changes to how transportation benefits are treated. Congress wanted all parking and transportation costs to be paid with after-tax dollars, which was fairly easy to apply to for-profit companies and their employees. For nonprofits, however, Congress thought that by simply applying UBIT of 21 percent on any employer-provided transportation benefit would effectively push employers to stop offering the benefit, and employees would just pay for transportation with after tax dollars.
Likely unforeseen was that this UBIT assessment will have a significant impact on charitable organizations’ bottom lines. This will increase the UBIT owed by many organizations and will lead many nonprofits to pay UBIT for the first time.
Staying in Touch With Philanthropy
“Let’s stay connected!”
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard and overheard phrases like this exchanged among SECF colleagues. Our members crave connection with one another for a variety of reasons. Some appreciate the opportunity to learn and share information about best practices. Others enjoy the camaraderie of friends and colleagues who share a common passion and purpose. Some relish the tailor-made resources and network of potential collaborators. Still others rely on their SECF relationships to build networks beyond their local geography. For most, it’s a combination of the above.
For all these reasons and more, SECF serves as a source of deep and lasting regional connections. Through relationships, conversations, events, reports, newsletters and more, we’ve built a network like no other. And now, we’re pleased to introduce another way to communicate with peers, learn from experiences and opinions, and share stories: ENGAGE, the SECF blog.
How to Get 11,000 People Talking
On Wednesday, March 15, at the invitation of Blue Grass Community Foundation in Lexington, Kentucky, 11,000 citizens joined with their neighbors, colleagues and friends, over a cup of coffee or a meal, to discuss the city’s quality of life – what’s makes it great and what could be done to make it even better – more sustainable, just, safer, stronger and vibrant.
On the Table, a new community engagement initiative sponsored by the community foundation, invited everyone to participate by hosting or attending a mealtime conversation. The result: more than 1,000 small group conversations in a single day, just 10-12 friends gathered around a table with simple food or drink, having an informal conversation about what matters most as they discussed Lexington’s future.
Why On the Table? At the community foundation, we have a commitment to growing more generous, engaged and vibrant communities. We know big ideas can spring from small conversations and people invest in what they help create. When we come together as a community to listen to and learn from each other, we have the power to impact both neighborhoods and lives. That’s what On the Table is all about.
Bringing a Little Heart & Soul to South Carolina
In April 2016, I had the good fortune of being a part of the Aspen Institute's pre-conference for rural philanthropies at the Council of Foundation’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. As someone new to philanthropy, I came looking for place-based organizations who were using community indicators or other population-level data to measure impact. Having recently left the helm of South Carolina's early childhood agency, First Steps, I knew the value of trending data over time to measure the progress of our state against important benchmarks.
Data brings partners together for action. Data illuminates needs and shapes policy in powerful ways.
The J. Marion Sims Foundation, a health legacy foundation created by the sale of Lancaster's Elliott White Springs Memorial Hospital in 1995, had begun to think about new ways of measuring results. Just as important, the foundation was also re-doubling its commitment to collaborate with partners in nonprofit, public, and private sectors for greater community impact.
Helping Grantees Bridge the Gap – Literally
Since the bridge collapsed on I-85, my commute has been 10 minutes longer even though I live on the south side of Atlanta. Each day, my coworkers share travel horror stories around the water cooler about grueling trips to Buckhead for meetings that take an hour and attempts to get to Roswell that end in frustrated banging of the steering wheel. We are lucky that we work for an understanding organization. But what about those that are not in that situation?
For some, this issue is not about inconvenience or funny memes on Facebook. Perhaps they are docked pay for being tardy, no matter the reason, or are paid hourly. Maybe they were already traveling an hour to get to work and now they are faced with double that - complicating second jobs, child care and responsibilities. In short, complicating life.
Philanthropy 'Not Out of the Woods' on Tax Reform
Today SECF members in metro Atlanta had the opportunity to hear from one of the country’s leading experts on the tax reform debate in Washington and how it could affect endowments and grantmaking.
Sandra Swirski, with Urban Swirski & Associates, told attendees that there was still a clear path forward for tax reform legislation that could cause problems for endowed philanthropy. “We are so not out of the woods,” Swirski said.
Listening Our Way to More Effective Grantmaking
Listen for Good (L4G), the centerpiece of a fast-growing collaborative of foundations putting feedback on the front lines of effective grantmaking, is opening its ears even wider.
The program, sponsored by Fund for Shared Insight, has announced its second, national, open request for proposals, with plans to make more than $3.3 million in grants to 75 nonprofits dedicated to listening systematically to the people they seek to help.
The new money and focused attention on feedback comes as the field continues to evolve amid growing interest and greater recognition of the benefits of listening – and acting on what is heard. A recent study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy found that 99 percent of nonprofits collect feedback from the people they seek to help, using a variety of methods, including focus groups, surveys, and one-on-one conversations.