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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.


Responding to COVID-19 in... Appalachian Kentucky

Category: Coronavirus, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jun11

This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. If you are involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.


While the COVID-19 pandemic first took root in densely-populated cities, it has since found its way to rural communities – a shift that has contributed to rising hospitalization levels in Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Kentucky over the last two weeks.

Communities in eastern Kentucky, the hilly region once dominated by the coal mining industry, were already in a precarious state before the pandemic. Residents there have long experienced higher rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity, opioid addiction and pulmonary diseases, particularly Black Lung disease. The collapse of the mining industry brought with it widespread poverty and greatly reduced access to health care.

“Throughout central Appalachia, COVID is acting in a familiar pattern, one that we see in so many Southern places – effecting people who are already marginalized and living with health disparities at a greater rate,” said Gerry Roll, executive director of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky. “This in a region that has a rural healthcare system that we know is under-resourced and could be overwhelmed in the coming months.”

The pandemic’s arrival amid a massive economic shift has put incredible stress on the small towns that dot the region, Roll said, including nonprofit organizations.

“Small business and entrepreneurship have been major drivers for this economic transition, and we are concerned that our entrepreneurial sector may not be able to recover,” she said. “Nonprofits in our region are struggling just like they are across the country. The difference here, again like most rural and marginalized communities, is there are far fewer places to turn for support.”

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Get on the Map: Help Us Share the Story of Philanthropy's Role in COVID-19 Response and Recovery

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jun11

As part of the Get on the Map campaign, SECF is partnering with Candid to help track philanthropy’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Candid has created a pop-up page, candid.org/coronavirus, which is updated daily with the latest information on philanthropic efforts to aid global response and recovery. The page includes the latest figures on foundation grantmaking to address the pandemic, a listing of funding opportunities, and news items on philanthropy’s efforts. 

Candid has also created a custom map that allows users to explore COVID-19-related funding at the state, county and local levels. You can see which foundations are giving in the Southeast region, where grantmaking is concentrated most, and what gaps might still exist in funding.  

 

If your foundation is funding organizations or initiatives as part of the response to the current crisis, please share information on this grantmaking with Candid. You can follow the instructions on this page, or simply email your grants data to egrants@candid.org. For those who have never shared grants data before, Candid recommends using the “Simplified Template” available 

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Responding to COVID-19 in... St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Category: Coronavirus, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jun04

This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. If you are involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.



On the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the first week of June also marks the start of a time of high alert: the Atlantic hurricane season.

This year, of course, has already been marked by crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t hit the island as hard as the mainland United States, but its economic impacts are impossible to ignore in a place with an economy largely dependent on tourism and hospitality. Cruise ships, normally a regular presence at the island’s ports, have been shuttered for months. The local airport only receives one flight a day.

While there have been real consequences from the pandemic, resilience has been the defining feature of St. Croix’s pandemic experience, said Deanna James, president of the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development.

“For all intents and purposes, we live in a village. There are different human dynamics that happen in a village,” she said. “Basic needs are met in a much more different way than if you lived in an apartment in New York City and didn’t know anyone around you.

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Public Policy Update - June 2020

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jun02

Each month, SECF provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, SECF's vice president of member engagement, at jaci@secf.org.

 

Pandemic Response Legislation

Congress Weighing Changes to Paycheck Protection Program: In the wake of the House nearly unanimously passing a bill that would provide more flexibility for businesses and nonprofit organizations taking Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Senate Republicans have voiced concerns. However, there is still a strong possibility of changes ultimately becoming law.

On May 28, the House, by a 417-1 vote, passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. The bill would extend the loan forgiveness window to 24 weeks, up from 8 weeks. The measure would also give recipients more flexibility in how they can use the loans by changing the so-called 75/25 rule. The new rule would require only 60 percent of the loan to go toward payroll to still qualify for forgiveness, down from the current 75 percent threshold. This legislation would also allow loan recipients to defer payroll taxes for a longer period of time.

Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) says there are technical errors in the House bill that could make it more difficult for recipients to get their loans forgiven, making it unlikely the Senate passes the House bill unchanged. The Senate is expected to move forward with its own set of changes to PPP, possibly extending the forgiveness window to 16 weeks.

Changes to PPP may also be folded into the so-called RESTART Act, which has been proposed by Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). This measure would extend the PPP loan forgiveness window to 16 weeks for businesses that have seen their revenues decline at least 25 percent during the original 8-week window. 

The bill would also create a new loan program to serve businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 5,000 employees. These loans – capped at $10 million – would be available to 501(c)(3) organizations and several other types of tax-exempt organizations. The loans would cover payroll, benefits and fixed operating expenses for recipients that have experienced significant revenue losses during the pandemic. Loan recipients with fewer than 500 employees would have an opportunity to have their loans forgiven, while nonprofit employers with more than 500 employees would receive more favorable loan terms without forgiveness.

A detailed summary of the RESTART Act with loan and repayment examples can be found here.

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Responding to COVID-19, and More, in... Nashville, Tennessee

Category: Coronavirus, 
Author: Amy Fair

May21

This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. This installment was provided to SECF by Amy Fair, vice president of donor services at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

If your foundation is involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.


Disaster Dispatch from Nashville: Tornado Recovery in the Midst of COVID-19

With the New Year being 2020 and the 10th anniversary of the historic 1,000-year floods in Tennessee, there were exhibits planned, news stories being prepared all around the city of Nashville, and an opinion piece in The New York Times titled “Nobody Cared When Nashville Drowned” from Nashville-based author and journalist Margaret Renkl.

To commemorate this natural disaster’s impact on our community, we decided that we didn’t want our activities to join the chorus of those looking back, although we knew these reflective activities would be beneficial. Instead, we set in motion a plan to look ahead and plan for the next disaster – we just didn’t know it would arrive so soon.

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s history with supporting and funding disaster recovery in our community and elsewhere is nearly as long as our organizational history, which began in 1991. In partnership with donors, we have provided relief funding through the years for responding to disasters, including floods, hurricanes, mass shootings, tornadoes, typhoons, and wildfires. But our most significant role has been at home as a named partner in Metro Nashville and Davidson County’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). In this role, we provided $15 million in funding in Nashville and surrounding Middle Tennessee communities for relief and recovery efforts following the May 2010 Flood over the course of two years.

We also participated as a member of our local VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). VOAD continued to meet for several years after the funding of recovery was complete, but eventually went dormant when the concerns of disaster no longer felt like an immediate threat to our community, and when the members named in the CEMP agreement with the city continued to meet on a quarterly basis with Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management. 

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Responding to COVID-19 in... Hartsville, South Carolina

Author:

May14

This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. If you are involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.


Even though small towns are often just as vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, they also lack many of the tools and resources available in larger communities to help with response, relief and recovery.

Place-based philanthropy has a vital role to play in situations like these. One example comes from Hartsville, South Carolina, where the Byerly Foundation has emerged as a key player in the community’s response.

Hartsville, a city with a population of less than 8,000 in the northeast corner of the state, hasn’t been among a number of rural communities in the region to emerge as “hot spots” for the pandemic. However, it is still vulnerable to the considerable effects of school and business closures.

“All of us have been responding the various issues of the pandemic since the beginning of March. Hartsville, like everywhere else, ended up with more questions about what might be happening than specific issues that could be attacked,” said Richard Puffer, the Byerly Foundation’s executive director. “It became apparent to our city officials very early that this pandemic was going to have impacts that were never anticipated.”

Puffer and the foundation’s Board were eager to support the community it has called home since it was established in the 1990s. Thankfully, they were able to draw plenty of ideas and inspiration from the well-connected network of other South Carolina grantmakers responding to the pandemic.

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Responding to COVID-19 in... Asheville, North Carolina

Author: Marsha Davis

May07

This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. This installment was provided to SECF by Marsha Davis, co-director of organizational strategy and practice at The Tzedek Social Justice Fund, formerly known as the Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund. 

If your foundation is involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.

Accelerating Change ­– A Model for a Funding Response to COVID-19

Like many of you, our fund has been rocked by this global pandemic. At the Tzedek Social Justice Fund (formerly known as the Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund), our staff are juggling the lack of childcare and the time-consuming, sometimes traumatizing, preparation to protect the lives of the vulnerable individuals in our families. But, organizationally, what we hold is small in comparison to our grantees. 

Given our commitment to funding organizations that are working in the areas of LGBTQ justice, racial justice, and combatting anti-Semitism, particularly in Asheville, North Carolina, many of the leaders and organizations that we support are also suffering from the same injustices they work to combat. 

As an immediate response to our current grantees in Asheville, we diverted funds from future projects to provide these organizations much needed financial relief. The crisis has disrupted the operations of most of our grantees and many sources of funding have disappeared overnight. 

However, we are now months into the shutdown of North Carolina and emerging public data indicates that we need to shift our response to prepare for a year-long experience of instability and uncertainty in our community. How does a small family fund like ours build a nimble and strategic response? 

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May 2020 Public Policy Update

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

May05

Each month, SECF provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, SECF's vice president of member engagement, at jaci@secf.org.


Impact of Unemployment Insurance Provisions on Nonprofits

You may have seen commentary online concerned about the impact of regulations related to unemployment insurance on nonprofits. However, a close reading of these rules indicates the impact only applies to certain grantee organizations.

Labor Department guidance issued on April 27 instructs states to bill certain tax-exempt employers immediately for 100 percent of the costs of unemployment benefits paid to employees laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, this provision applies only to a small group of tax-exempt organizations known as “reimbursing employers.” It appears only some of the nation’s largest charitable organizations will fall into this group, but the complete impact is unknown. Most either pay unemployment taxes directly into their state’s trust funds or are so small that they pay nothing.

We are continuing to track the impact of these regulations – if you are hearing concern from your grantees about any possible impact, please let us know!

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Responding to COVID-19 in... Charlottesville, Virginia

Category: Coronavirus, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Apr30

This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. If you are involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.


The rapid and catastrophic economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been especially devastating to low-wealth neighborhoods, where residents often live paycheck-to-paycheck and don’t have the savings to cover emergencies.

With families throughout the region suddenly unable to pay rent, many foundations have quickly adapted to provide creative solutions that provide direct support to those that need it the most. For the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation in Virginia, these solutions have included rent abatement for residents of a mobile home park and a helpline that allows households across a seven-county region to request aid.

“What we’re really focused on is trying to stretch outside the bounds of what a community foundation typically does by partnering to respond quickly and directly to the needs we see in the community,” said Brennan Gould, the foundation’s president and CEO. “Our rapid response has also been about deploying philanthropy in places that other systems would not or could not go.”

One of those places is the Southwood Mobile Home Park, a mostly Latinx community of about 1,500 people, one-third of whom are children. Incomes in Southwood were already well below the median for the Charlottesville area – when the economic impacts of the pandemic hit, they hit hard, Gould said.

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SECF's Values & Guiding Principles Seen Throughout Pandemic Response

Author: Janine Lee

Apr23

Note: This letter from SECF President & CEO Janine Lee originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Inspiration. SECF members can view and download the latest issue of Inspiration here.


Dear Friends, 

As I write this, our country is in the grips of a public health emergency unlike anything we have ever seen. The COVID-19 coronavirus has brought public life in America to a halt – schools have been closed, church services canceled, and mass gatherings banned. By time you read this, our health care system could be completely overwhelmed, with nearly all Americans living under a state of lockdown. 

This virus has no cure, but we are not powerless in the face of it. Frontline health care workers – doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, hospital support staff – are putting their lives on the line and doing all they can to address the health consequences of the pandemic. We in philanthropy have assumed a different role: addressing the outbreak’s effects on our communities – particularly nonprofit organizations whose existence is threatened even as they work to support vulnerable populations and marginalized communities. 

Community foundations in every state in our region have launched rapid response funds designed to distribute resources quickly and effectively. Many of these funds have attracted significant support from private foundations. We have kept a running list of these funds – one that continues to grow – on our COVID-19 Resource Hub at SECF.org/COVID-19

In several states, strong coalitions and coordinated efforts have emerged. In Kentucky, the One Louisville Fund reflects a partnership between local government, the Community Foundation of Louisville, the James Graham Brown Foundation and a corporate partner, Humana. In South Carolina, the One SC Fund is the product of a partnership between the South Carolina Grantmakers Network, the nonprofit community, the local United Way and the Central Carolina Community Foundation. 

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