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How to Get 11,000 People Talking

Author:

Apr12

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.

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CEO Forum Provides Chance to Discuss Challenges of Leadership – and Solutions

Author:

Jun19

The benefits of association are – according to much of the literature on foundation philanthropy – among the most powerful tools for learning and professional development in the field. Interaction with colleagues offers valuable opportunities for building networks that are useful over the long term. SECF’s recent CEO Forum, held last week in Charleston, South Carolina, was no exception.

More than 40 foundation chief executives gathered over two days to study, reflect and share their experiences and thoughts on the future of philanthropy in the United States. Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, discussed the findings of one of the Center’s recent research projects, The Future of Foundation Philanthropy: The CEO Perspective. The survey data, collected from foundation leaders across the country, provided the perfect backdrop for helping us think about our own effectiveness.

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Foundation Leaders Offer Ideas for Charitable Expansion – and Washington is Listening

Author:

Jul20

Last week, several foundation leaders were not dissuaded by nearly 100 degree temperatures and high humidity as they set out to meet with key legislators and tax staffers to make the case for expanding the charitable deduction for all Americans.

Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY), Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), and tax staff from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) office listened intently, encouraged open discussion and welcomed our input and advice.

In fact, we were so buoyed by the reception to our ideas and their willingness to engage that we were perfectly primed for a highly-anticipated session with Vice President Pence, the final meeting of the day. Even if we had scripted it ourselves, it wouldn’t have been as significant or momentous as it was.

A very gracious Vice President Pence expressed his gratitude for our efforts to come to Washington to meet with him, for our commitment to our communities and for supporting the broader charitable sector. He was engaged and attentive and he asked relevant questions that proved a knowledge and appreciation of the value of the independent sector to civil society.

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Moving Forward – By Stepping Back to Our Beginning

Author: Davette Swiney

Jan23

This month, Central Kentucky Community Foundation in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College announced a new strategic partnership. The partnership, intending to strengthen both organizations and ultimately the community, is a throwback to the birth of both organizations.

In the late 1950s, one local man, Jim Collier, rallied a few community champions to help him launch an effort to bring higher education to our region. In 1960, their work resulted in the formation of the North Central Education Foundation (NCEF). The foundation raised local money and worked with state and local officials to draft and eventually pass legislation to form the community college system in Kentucky.

NCEF raised money and purchased 227 acres for Elizabethtown Community College and, when state funding fell short, even provided the money needed to finish initial construction so the college’s first class could begin school in 1964. At the same time, NCEF also raised money for scholarships so students would be able to attend the local college.

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49th Annual Meeting Spotlights Work to Bridge Divides

Author: David Miller

Nov14

Last week, more than 600 philanthropic professionals, experts and thought leaders came together in Louisville for three days focused on how foundations can best address divisions within our communities, our region and even our field.

At SECF's 49th Annual Meeting, the theme "Come Together. Bridge the Divide." resonated throughout the conference. A number of sessions looked at the many fault lines that exist in society today, including racial and gender inequity, political polarization, and even divides between philanthropy and the communities and people it seeks to support.

The theme also ran throughout the Annual Meeting's keynote and plenary sessions. Mark Gerzon, author of The Reunited States of America, got the event off to a strong start as he discussed words and methods foundations can use to bring community dialogue away from us vs. them and instead channel civic energy, participation and creative problem-solving to spark collaboration that leads toward innovative solutions.

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Member Highlight: Marianne Smith Edge

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Feb14

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky recently added significant health expertise to its Board of Directors with the appointment of Marianne Smith Edge.

Marianne, from Owensboro, is a registered dietitian who founded The AgriNutrition Edge, a communications consulting firm that helps food and agriculture companies navigate the complex consumer food environment.

A sixth-generation farm owner, Marianne is no stranger to food systems and agriculture. She writes about them, and their connection to nutrition, often on the AgriNutrition Edge website.

"Will the crops we raise today actually sustain the health and well-being of our nation and the world? Are we raising food for nutrient benefits or economic gain? Is having an affordable and safe food supply enough?" she asked in one post. "These are all complex questions without simple answers! Resolution comes with understanding our food systems and consumer concerns. It will do us well to reconnect ourselves and ‘meet at the table' with our neighbors and communities."

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11 States in 11 Months: Southern Philanthropy in... Kentucky

Tags: Kentucky 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

May29


Note: This post is the fifth in a series that will run throughout our 50th Anniversary year. Each month, we'll focus on philanthropy in one of the 11 states in the SECF footprint, using both current and historical data while highlighting a variety of voices. This month's state: Kentucky.


Kentucky Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Member: Foundation for the Tri-State (joined 1980)
Newest SECF Member: Lawrence and Augusta Hager Educational Foundation (joined November 2018)
Number of SECF Members: 21


Learn more about Kentucky foundations from SECF’s Southern Trends Report!


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SECF's Philanthropy Essentials Guides Theory Through Conversation

Author: Kelsie Smithson

Jan23

Last year, fresh off my third board meeting as a program officer for the James Graham Brown Foundation, I jumped on a plane to Durham, North Carolina, for what I hoped would be a comprehensive orientation to the philanthropic sector at SECF's revamped Philanthropy Essentials training. I had already heard great things about the program's predecessor, Essential Skills & Strategies, and was thrilled to mute my email and be immersed in an experience the SECF team built from the ground up.

Upon arriving at the Durham Arts Center, it was clear I was in a for a transformative two days. Along with a beautiful backdrop, I met my Philanthropy Essentials cohort, which included both staff and trustees of foundations from across the region, from Little Rock to Richmond. One of my peers had been on the job for seven weeks -- another had worked in the sector for 13 years.

Together, we ventured into the many complex aspects of philanthropy. Along the way, we collected a wealth of resources, held space for uncomfortable, but necessary, conversations, and set intentions for how we aimed to influence and grow through the work that we are so privileged to do.

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Member Highlight: Lisa Adkins

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Feb27

We're just days away from the debut of SECF's new podcast, The Bridge, which will share stories of how foundations are using various forms of philanthropic capital to bring people together, bridge divides within their communities, and help spark dialogue that leads the way to solutions.

The inaugural episode of The Bridge features two community foundation leaders in the region: Betsy Covington of the Community Foundation for the Chattahoochee Valley in Columbus, Georgia, and Lisa Adkins of the Blue Grass Community Foundation in Lexington, Kentucky. Both talked with SECF President & CEO Janine Lee about the On the Table initiative, which began in Chicago and has since spread to more than 30 communities across the country.

On the Table aims to bring groups of people together for in-person conversations that take place throughout the community over the course of a single day. On The Bridge, Adkins said her foundation was stunned by the outcome the first time they organized On the Table in 2017.

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Check Out the First Episode of SECF’s New Podcast, The Bridge!

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar05

Today SECF launched its first podcast, The Bridge. Hosted by President & CEO Janine Lee, The Bridge shares stories of the ways foundations are bringing together people in their communities to spark dialogue and lasting change. This new offering is one of the first initiatives to come as a result of our Equity Framework.

Each episode of The Bridge will focus on a particular program or initiative SECF members are leading in their communities. Our first installment, "On the Table," explores how two foundations in the region – the Blue Grass Community Foundation in Lexington, Kentucky, and the Community Foundation for the Chattahoochee Valley in Columbus, Georgia – are using their convening power to engage community members in conversations around pressing issues and challenges, find areas of shared interest and agreement and begin working on solutions.

Both foundations are using a platform called On the Table, which aims to bring groups of people together for in-person conversations that take place throughout the community over the course of a single day.

On The Bridge, you’ll hear Betsy Covington, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Chattahoochee Valley, and Lisa Adkins, president and CEO of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, share with Janine how they brought On the Table to their communities, the impact it has had, and what advice they’d give to other foundations seeking to spark similar conversations.

The Bridge, which will release two more episodes this year, can be streamed below and is also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and other podcast providers! We hope you enjoy listening!

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

Visiting SECF:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Hours:
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Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (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.