A Philanthropic Fellowship: An Invaluable Experience

November 13, 2017

GCG Member Guest Blog post

by Tracy Sexton, Program Fellow, Missouri Foundation for Health

As I wrap up my two-year Program Fellowship at Missouri Foundation for Health, I’ve started to reflect on the diverse opportunities and skills I’ve gained through my immersion in the field. Grateful for my experience, I want to share more about what I consider philanthropy’s best kept secret – a fellowship.

I had no idea where to start my career after graduate school (in my case, a master’s in public health at St. Louis University). My passion lies in prevention and precision medicine, but because it’s an emerging focus area, philanthropic work in this area is not yet robust. I decided to apply for a fellowship to gain a better understanding as to what drives changes in health outcomes in our region.

Here are the top five reasons a sector fellowship was a valuable option for me, post-graduate school:

  1. Philanthropic Sector Experience

I went into my fellowship not fully understanding the scope of philanthropy. During my time with the Foundation, I not only learned about the field overall, but also about the inner workings of a health conversion foundation, and how impactful such an institution can be on regional health.

  1. Continuous Learning

As a Fellow, about 10% of my time is devoted to continuing my education. This includes attending local and national conferences, staying abreast of health literature, participating in webinars and much more. This aspect of the fellowship has proven to be instrumental to my professional growth. In a short time, I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge and experience that has made me a more well-rounded thinker. Also, from the beginning, I have shared with my mentor where I perceive gaps to exist in my resume, and we built goals around those areas to ensure I have opportunities to refine those skills. I’m excited to use these new capabilities.

  1. Mentorship

MFH assigned me a mentor whom I report to weekly. My mentor helps me learn about the field, challenges me to help me grow, and provides me with access to both local and national networks to learn about other fields of interest.

  1. Leadership

MFH allows me to not only be a leader internally through facilitating discussions and leading projects, but also externally through outreach with the community and working with different coalitions. A rich example is serving on the steering committee while establishing a chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy for the Saint Louis Region.

  1. Systems View

Strategic philanthropy requires an understanding of your target population, the needs of your region, what’s already in place to fulfill those needs, and learning who the key players are who can help address the need. Gaining this 30,000-foot view of the health needs of our region has been a compelling experience.

For more information about Missouri Foundation for Health’s Fellowship program, click here.

While there is no comprehensive list of national opportunities, information about a multitude of philanthropic sector fellowships can be found online. Search terms like “philanthropy fellows” and “philanthropy fellowships” to learn more.

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Philanthropy’s Role in Fostering a Just and Equitable Society

October 30, 2017

Blog post by Deb Dubin, President & CEO, Gateway Center for Giving

Where we’ve been: For more than three years, the Gateway Center for Giving (GCG) has been intentionally engaged in providing our funding community with opportunities to learn and dialogue about the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). In the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in August 2014, we tracked immediate regional philanthropic responses to the events in Ferguson and provided that information to our Members in order to foster collaboration and identify engagement points. Since that time, we have offered Members a robust series of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Funders Affinity Group programs, exploring DEI within our organizations and in the broader community. Our team developed a new sector tool, the Missouri Common Grant Application Version 2.0, which infuses an equity lens into the grantmaking process in order to foster transformation, spark dialogue and boost accountability. Most recently, we’ve become a community co-signor to a powerful statement calling for policy and decision-makers to deliver swift action on Ferguson Commission’s Calls to Action.

REWG co-chairs, Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO of ABFE, and Tamara Copeland, President & CEO of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.

National implications for this work: As a member of the United Philanthropy Forum’s (the “Forum”) Racial Equity Working Group (REWG), I traveled to Washington, DC last week to participate in two days of conversations about how the Forum can best support a national philanthropic commitment to addressing and eradicating inequity. The Forum network consists of various moving parts, with sector leaders sitting in organizational seats all over the country. Some Forum members are already firmly engaged in substantial programming and activities intended to advance racial equity, diversity and inclusion, while others are newer to the work and seeking a meaningful path forward. The Forum intends to bring together all the groups working in this area to connect, learn and share from each other in a more intentional way.

The Forum’s REWG is being co-chaired by Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO of ABFE: a Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities, and Tamara Copeland, President & CEO of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers. The REWG will focus on the following action items:

  • Identify effective resources, programming and strategies that have been developed and used to advance racial equity in philanthropy;
  • Identify any gaps in what is needed in resources and programming to advance racial equity in philanthropy;
  • Provide strategic guidance to the Forum staff to lift up, adapt and/or develop resources and programming that can be used by Forum members across the network;
  • Provide guidance to the Forum’s Education Committee and Board of Directors on the Forum’s strategic priorities and goals around advancing racial equity in philanthropy; and
  • Evaluate progress over time.

How can we, as philanthropy-supporting organizations (PSOs), foster a more just and equitable society? How can we encourage increased philanthropic investment to support transformative change?

This is a watershed moment. Organized philanthropy is a critical partner in the work, and the Gateway Center for Giving is committed to providing our Members with meaningful support and tools for action.

Gateway Center for Giving is grateful to the Trio Foundation of St. Louis, Commerce Bank, Spire, the Missouri Foundation for Health, and the Clemence Lieber Foundation for their support of our DEI-focused initiatives.


Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) Launches Chapter in St. Louis

October 2, 2017

GCG Member Guest Blog Post

by Megan Armentrout, Program Associate, Incarnate Word Foundation and Kristin Cowart, Project Director, Saint Louis Mental Health Board

New to philanthropy? If so, you might like to know that Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP), an organization that empowers newer sector leaders, recently launched a new chapter in St. Louis. The Gateway Center for Giving partners with EPIP nationally, and is excited to support the local effort.

For more than fifteen years, EPIP has been a place where diverse practitioners come together to:

  • Learn about field of philanthropy;
  • Connect with philanthropic and nonprofit peers;
  • Navigate leadership challenges;
  • Hone their professional skillsets; and
  • Find a path forward as change agents.

EPIP envisions a world where people of all identities can live full and prosperous lives supported by a diverse, equitable, inclusive and effective philanthropic sector. The philanthropic sector in St. Louis has changed over the past decade. More young professionals–and other seasoned professionals who are new to philanthropy–have stepped into leadership roles in this field. As we are getting our feet wet, we also bring dedication, new ideas, and connections.

Things EPIP St. Louis wants the sector to know:

  • We bring a fresh perspective. Change first needs to start within our own organizations. We come with a new set of “eyes” and ideas to share.
  • We value transparency and authenticity. We are building connections and networks in new ways that can infuse innovative approaches to build a more just, equitable society.
  • We desire learning opportunities. Help immerse us in professional development opportunities, so we can become knowledgeable and effective leaders in our community.
  • We believe in this work. We believe in the power of philanthropy to advance positive social change in our region.
  • We have BIG dreams for the future. When we asked our peers their hopes for the future of philanthropy they said things like “disruptive” and “systems collaboration in the public/private sector” and “anti-racism, anti-bias framework infused in funding allocation” and “willingness to move beyond self-reflection into action.”

This is a critical time for our community and our chosen field. Together, let’s transform our words into action, and show the region that we mean what we say.

If you’re new to philanthropy and interested in learning more about EPIP, please contact EPIP St. Louis at stlouis@epip.org.


Gateway Center for Giving Launches Missouri Common Grant Application, Version 2.0

July 5, 2017

 

Free, Customizable Tool for Grantmakers Elevates Best Practices in Giving

The Gateway Center for Giving is pleased to announce the launch of the Missouri Common Grant Application (CGA) Version 2.0, which now incorporates questions about diversity, equity and inclusion into the customizable grant application template. The CGA, a free community resource, facilitates the application process for grantmakers and grantees. It is available for download by visiting the Gateway Center for Giving website. A companion User Guide, Budget Template, and all-new Funder Guide are also available.

“For the past several years, the Gateway Center for Giving has taken a leadership role in convening regional funders around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and the impact on philanthropic practices. The newly revised CGA Version 2.0 helps grantmakers to extend their commitment to DEI by infusing an intentional DEI lens into their strategies. While every grantmaker will have different guidelines, priorities, and deadlines, this is a customizable tool, and we encourage funders to utilize it,” said Gateway Center for Giving CEO Deborah Dubin.

“To build CGA Version 2.0, the Gateway Center for Giving team has researched best practices; convened local funders and nonprofits for discussion and feedback; and consulted with national organizations who are leading the charge to incorporate a DEI lens into grantmaking practices,” said Jama Dodson, Board Chairman of the Gateway Center for Giving and Executive Director of the Saint Louis Mental Health Board. Cynthia Crim, a grantmaker and member of the revision committee, noted that “CGA Version 2.0 will help funders expand their conversations with grantees and gather meaningful data on community progress on the road to equity.”

The Missouri CGA was first created in 2012 as a sector tool, and it has been highly utilized by regional grantmakers, as well as drawing considerable interest from organizations across the country. Support for the effort to revise and expand the CGA in 2017 was provided by the Trio Foundation of St. Louis, Spire, and the Clemence Lieber Foundation.


Alleviating Food Insecurity: The St. Louis Food Funders Collaborative

May 17, 2017

GCG Member Guest Blog Post

by Rhonda Smythe, Program Officer at Missouri Foundation for Health, and Megan Armentrout, Program Associate at Incarnate Word Foundation

Missouri is the sixth most food insecure state in the United States. More than half—55 percent—of  St. Louis City residents live in areas designated as food deserts by the USDA, while the national average is 23 percent.  To tackle this crisis, three regional grantmakers, Incarnate Word Foundation, Franciscan Sisters of Mary (FSM) and Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH),  banded together in 2016 to collaborate around a shared interest in funding projects to alleviate food insecurity.

Food insecurity encompasses many elements of the food system including access, quality, cost, and sustainability. Each of the funders comes to this work with their own priorities: Incarnate Word Foundation with a focus on community-driven and led projects, FSM on health and healing for all creation, and MFH on improving the health and well-being of individuals and communities most in need.

The Food Funders Collaborative successfully partnered on multiple projects, but found there was a gap in opportunities for smaller grassroots organizations to work on food insecurity. With that in mind, the collaborative created the Innovative Solutions to Food Insecurity competitive grant program specifically for those groups. The grant was designed to engage the community in conversations about food access and develop potential solutions to this issue. Prospective grantees were encouraged to develop pioneering concepts on one or more aspects of food insecurity, with an emphasis on access, sustainable agriculture, and innovative food and nutrition education. Six grants were awarded at $10,000 each.

Awarded ideas for the 2016 grant:

  • A Community MasterChef challenge to help enhance cooking and nutrition knowledge for mothers and families;
  • Timebanking as a way to facilitate trading of knowledge or skills in cooking, gardening, and nutrition;
  • Food pantry collaborations with WIC (special supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children, chefs for cooking demonstrations, and dietitians to provide nutrition counseling;
  • Faith-based organizing effort to disrupt violence, build trust, and reduce food insecurity by offering healthy brown-bag meals at night;
  • Youth food justice training and community service program in the Dutchtown and Gravois Park neighborhoods; and
  • Container gardening education and supplies offered to food pantry clients to teach and empower people to grow their own food.

To build on this momentum, the Food Funders Collaborative plans to offer this grant opportunity again in 2017. The group welcomes additional funders interested in increasing food security in the St. Louis region; please contact Rhonda Smythe at rsmythe@mffh.org if you’re interested in engaging with the Collaborative.

For more information about St. Louis food deserts, access barriers to healthy foods, and suggestions for municipal strategies to alleviate hunger, please refer to Incarnate Word Foundation’s Food Access in St. Louis webpage. Research on food insecurity was undertaken by Coro Fellows hosted at Incarnate Word Foundation includes an insightful Food Access Ecosystem Map.


Fostering Regional Collaboration: Immigrant & Refugee Services

February 7, 2017
claire-hundelt-picture

Claire Hundelt, Program Manager, Daughters of Charity Foundation of Saint Louis

Gateway Center for Giving Member Blog Post

by Claire V. Hundelt, Program Manager with the Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis

The Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis has been actively engaged in supporting organizations that help immigrants and refugees with the many challenges of their new lives in America. In the spring of 2014, the Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis, Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, and the Saint Louis Mental Health Board hosted three gatherings to convene area provider groups serving immigrants and refugees. The purpose was threefold: to strengthen the work provided to our region’s aspiring Americans by increasing the networking and relationships among professionals and key stakeholders; to enhance understanding of the gaps in safety net provisions available; and encourage proactive planning to prepare the community for changes to the nation’s immigration policies. The gatherings confirmed that efforts underway to serve this population were increasing as new programs were being introduced resulting in knowledge gaps about available resources. The outcome  of these gatherings was the formation of an all-volunteer community-based group of concerned professionals and citizens known as Immigrant Service Provider Network or ISPN.

With nearly thirty members, ISPN has since formalized its structure by identifying executive committee leadership, creating bylaws, and forming working groups. Since 2015, this all-volunteer network has developed membership support and strategic outreach, started a resource directory, implemented a community education and enrollment outreach designed to explain the DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) programs. Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA) serves as the primary convener and fiscal conduit for project activities. With MIRA’s support, ISPN has offered free of charge educational clinics to help prepare immigration documents and delivered webinars on topics including Immigration 101, employment, and DAPA training. The coalition also created a website and developed education materials.

The funder collaborative between Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis and Lutheran Foundation continues to support the staff position at MIRA assigned to actively support ISPN outreach as well as host for the ISPN work groups. The collaborative between MIRA and the ISPN participants has led to a leadership development strategy to strengthen member and volunteer capacities for effective action.  As a result of ISPN’s work in the community approximately 450 individuals were served in 2016.

Click on one of the following links to learn more:

http://www.mira-mo.org/ispn/join-us/

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/new-groups-help-immigrants-refugees-find-their-way-services-st-louis#stream/0


Gateway Center for Giving Celebrates the Strength of “PHIL&THROPY” in St. Louis

January 30, 2017

St. Louis, January 27, 2017—The Gateway Center for Giving convened grantmakers and nonprofits at the Gateway Center’s Annual Meeting today to celebrate the generosity of donors in the St. Louis region and to recognize dynamic sector leaders for their excellence. Gateway Center Members collectively represent $5.8 billion in charitable assets, of which more than $264 million is deployed in the St. Louis region each year, creating sustained and meaningful impact. This year’s Annual Meeting theme, “PHIL&THROPY,” reflects the power and importance of partnerships.

The Gateway Giving Awards reflect an emphasis on best practices in the field and philanthropic sector leadership. Award winners are nominated by their grantmaking peers, community members and nonprofits. This year’s four categories recognize six winners:

Excellence in Innovation in Philanthropy: The Excellence in Innovation Award recognizes a grantmaking organization that has put significant support behind an unproven initiative or project that has the potential to yield great community outcomes, or has engaged in innovative investing strategies.   Honorees: The Boeing Company and Wells Fargo Advisors for their support of the new Venture Café Education Innovation Fellowship, a competitive, paid fellowship for 15 St. Louis Public School educators to learn design thinking, innovative methods and business-oriented practices. Participants translate their learning into curriculum modules they can bring back to their classrooms.  This investment, managed through the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation, has allowed St. Louis Public Schools to approach talent management in an innovative way, and support cross-sector relationships with business leaders to support student outcomes.

Excellence in Collaboration in Philanthropy: The Excellence in Collaboration Award recognizes a grantmaking organization that has made collaboration a central part of its grantmaking strategy, and has shown itself to be an effective collaborator among its grantmaking peers and community partners.  Honoree:  Monsanto Fund for its leadership of regional funder collaborative STEMpact, which was founded in the belief that all students deserve access to high-quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.  Over the course of the past four years, 19 districts, 391 teachers, and 17,612 students have been impacted by participating in the STEM Teacher Quality Institute, creating a pipeline of STEM-proficient individuals in our region. See http://www.STEMpact.org for a list of partners.

Emerging Leader in Philanthropy (two awardees): The Emerging Leader Award recognizes an individual who demonstrates generosity of spirit and a commitment to social impact both professionally, and personally.  The award winner shows creativity and determination to improve the philanthropic sector, and demonstrates great potential for leading the sector in the future. Honoree:  Rhonda Smythe, Missouri Foundation for Health. Rhonda has shown tremendous community leadership, particularly in the area of food access.  In addition to facilitating a pooled grant fund to foster innovative food access and supportive public policy, Rhonda has been instrumental in the development of the St. Louis Food Policy Council, a new coalition that pulls together nonprofit leaders who are working on food access issues.  Honoree: Allie Chang Ray, Deaconess Foundation.  Through her work, Allie has helped attract significant support from outside the St. Louis region to address racial equity and other social justice issues.  She has partnered with local grantmakers to hold conversations about ways to focus funding to leverage limited resources for greater impact, has made presentations locally, statewide and nationally in the areas of capacity building and advocacy, and serves as a Grantmakers for Effective Organizations Capacity Building Champion.

Philanthropic Legacy: The Philanthropic Legacy Award recognizes an individual or a family that has made a significant contribution to the philanthropic sector.  The award winner has led an initiative or program that has changed the landscape of funding, or has made a meaningful or long-lasting contribution to an innovative program in our region, yielding significant outcomes.  Honoree: Amy Rome, The Rome Group.  Amy has worked in the field of philanthropy for her entire career. As founder of The Rome Group, Amy has consulted in strategic planning, resource development and leadership development to a large variety of nonprofits throughout the region for more than two decades.  Amy is also an adjunct faculty member at the Brown School of Social Work, where she has mentored a multitude of business and nonprofit professionals and students in the classroom and in the field.

Business Meeting

Outgoing Gateway Center Board Chair Matt Oldani of the Deaconess Foundation welcomed the following additions to the Gateway Center for Giving Board of Directors for a three-year term:

Julie Hardin, Express Scripts

Melinda McAliney, Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis

Al Mitchell, Monsanto Fund

Board Officers: Jama Dodson of the Saint Louis Mental Health Board was elected as Board Chairman for 2017; Matt Kuhlenbeck of the Missouri Foundation for Health as Vice Chair, Desiree Coleman of Wells Fargo Advisors as Secretary, and Mary Kullman of the Caola Kullman Family Fund as Treasurer.

Outgoing Board Members Ann Vazquez of the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis and Lisa Dinga of the Dinga Family Fund were recognized for their outstanding service to the organization.

The Gateway Center’s Annual Meeting was hosted at the .ZACK Performing Arts Incubator and supported by Emerson and the Enterprise Holdings Foundation. Visit the Gateway Center for Giving Facebook page over the coming weeks to see pictures from the event.


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