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How philanthropists are helping rev stalled economic engines

site visits: Arizona’s Bold Efforts to Promote Educational, Work, and Life Success Wednesday, October 25 Join The Philanthropy Roundtable to explore how Arizonans are benefiting from ambitious innovation. Education Savings Accounts (ESA) allow parents to pay for specific educational needs of their child such as private-school tuition, tutoring, online learning, and therapy. We’ll visit the Foundation for Blind Children, a private school that’s serving ESA-wielding families.

October 26-27, 2017 Arizona Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Donor Intent Workshop: Protecting Donor Intent: How to Define Your Philanthropic Purpose and Identify the People to Help Achieve It Wednesday, October 25

To protect your donor intent, join The Philanthropy Roundtable for a special workshop where attendees will learn how to protect their donor intent with a mission that is clear and operational, a board that is trustworthy and effective, and a governance structure that has bylaws designed to withstand the challenges the future may bring. Attendees will hear from expert speakers such as real-estate developer Tom W. Lewis and the Daniels Fund’s Linda Childears.

Next stop, Rio Salado College. See how its College Bridge Pathways program provides non-traditional students with a bridge to college. Those needing Adult Basic Education, high-school equivalency preparation, English language acquisition, prisoner re-entry, and more are benefiting from its in-person/online programming. The workshop and site visits are offered at no additional cost. Attendees do not have to participate in the Annual Meeting to attend the workshop or site visits.

A Night at the Museum: On Friday, October 27, the Roundtable will gather donors for a reception at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). Founded by former CEO of Target Corporation Robert J. Ulrich, the museum has collected over 15,000 instruments and artifacts from around the world. Join us for a very special evening as we explore the one and only global musical instrument museum.

Register by August 9 and receive an early registration rate of $1,095. A $50 group discount is applied when three or more participants register at the same time. Attendance at our Annual Meeting is limited to donors who make charitable grants and contributions of $100,000 per year or who expect to do so in the future. This is a solicitation-free event.

keynoteS: A Conversation with Michael Crow, America’s Most Entrepreneurial College President Individualism or Nationalism: Which Principle Should Guide America? A Debate Sponsored by National Review Institute Shooting for the Stars: A Philanthopic Voyage to Alpha Centauri The Next “Greatest Generation”: Deploying Today’s Veterans in the Workplace

Additional Session Topics: A Culture in Crisis: How Philanthropy Can Combat the Opioid Crisis Boosting Foundation Assets by Raising Capital from Other Donors Strategies for Combating Regulatory Overkill The Life-Transforming Power of Prison Fellowship Restoring Free Speech to Campus Pension Deficit Disorder: Protecting Workers and Taxpayers Privately Funded Solutions for the V.A.’s Mental Health Failures Shielding Charter Schools from Unionization Washington Update on Philanthropic Freedom and the Charitable Deduction

The William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership

Pitt and Barbara Hyde J. R. “Pitt” Hyde III and his wife, Barbara, epitomize three great American traditions: family business ownership, entrepreneurial leadership, and community giving. From the wholesale grocery business Malone & Hyde, to the creation of Fortune 500 company AutoZone, to involvement in professional sports, education reform, and cultural and civic engagement, the Hydes continue to leave a mark on their hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, and across the U.S. Pitt and Barbara Hyde will be honored during a special luncheon on Friday, October 27.

ONLINE E-MAIL PHONE 202.822.8333 HOTEL RESERVATIONS Fairmont Scottsdale Princess 480.585.4848

table of contents







departments 4 Briefly Noted


Angel of the outfield Curtis Granderson. 


18 Revving Economic Engines at Community Colleges Want to get America back to work? Stop overlooking the thousand schools that serve half of America’s higher-ed students. By David Bass 26  The Apprenticeship Alternative

28 Building Builders

A Christian polytechnic university takes after its inventive founder. By Ashley May

The marriage factor. Faith is first in helping the homeless. Animating characters. Donor-intent nightmare. Benevolent businesses and shark tanks.

11 Nonprofit Spotlight Vets help vets start businesses in an incubator with a twist.

12 Interviews Mike Rowe The “Dirty Jobs” host on overcoming the stigma of careers in the trades.

 J. D. Vance Boosting mobility requires stronger families and more “learned willfulness.”

52 Ideas

40 Drawing a Larger Circle Around Families

55 Books

There are volunteers eager to nurture children and parents, reducing the trauma of foster care. By Naomi Schaefer Riley

46 An Indispensable Donor Memorializes America’s Irreplaceable Patriots

Philadelphia’s new Museum of the American Revolution is a long-overdue landmark. By Tom Riley


Karl Zinsmeister


Caitrin Keiper E D I TO R

Ashley May


Taryn Wolf


36 Two Brothers, a Truck, and Lots of Subs A pair of entrepreneurs answer the philanthropic call. By Daniel P. Smith

Adam Meyerson

Don’t Forget Rural Schools Look outside cities for today’s neediest classrooms. By Andy Smarick

Damaging Solutions in Search of a Problem An anecdotal call for crimping America’s distinctive philanthropy. By John Steele Gordon

Kelly Martin


Madeline Fry Abbey Jaroma I NTE RNS

David Bass Arthur Brooks John Steele Gordon Leslie Lenkowsky Christopher Levenick Bruno Manno John J. Miller Tom Riley Naomi Schaefer Riley Andrea Scott Andy Smarick Daniel P. Smith Evan Sparks Justin Torres Scott Walter Liz Essley Whyte

C O NTRI B U T IN G   E D IT O R S Philanthropy is a multi-prize-winning magazine (FOLIO awards in 2015 and 2016, American InHouse Design 2016, min 2016).

 Books in Brief The spiritual dimension of aid work. How to raise an entrepreneur.

It is published quarterly by The Philanthropy Roundtable. The mission of the Roundtable, a 501c3 tax-exempt educational organization, is to foster excellence in philanthropy, to protect philanthropic freedom, to assist donors in achieving their philanthropic intent, and to help donors advance liberty, opportunity, and personal responsibility in America and abroad.

59 Face  to Face

All editorial or business inquiries:

2017 National Forum on K-12 Philanthropy.

60 P  resident’s Note Left-right collaboration in a hyper-partisan age. By Adam Meyerson

Philanthropy 1120 20th Street NW Suite 550 South Washington, D.C. 20036 (202) 822-8333 Copyright © 2017 The Philanthropy Roundtable All rights reserved Follow us online:





Bolstering families would do good things for school success.


Charitable Competition In this issue, you’ll read many stories of how nonprofits are helping open economic opportunities in the world of commerce. The influence extends in both directions. Competitive techniques from the business world are also increasingly employed to spur nonprofits to step up their game. Take the proliferation of charitable “shark tank” events. At the TANK in Denver, local nonprofits compete for funding from business leaders, lenders, and investors. The Palm Beach Philanthropy Tank in Florida offers young people mentoring and funding for community projects. In Dallas, the recent OneUp the Pitch event hosted by the United Way and five chapters of the Young Presidents’ Organization allowed founders of five social enterprises to introduce their ventures to a packed audience and panel of celebrity judges distributing $100,000. “The chance to connect with partners like the YPO, develop their storytelling capacity, and then share that story at a dynamic event where they can also win money accelerates their ability to be successful,” says United Way of Metropolitan Dallas CEO Jennifer Sampson, who hopes to make OneUp the Pitch an annual event. Ahead of the event, contestants worked alongside YPO coaches to sharpen their business plans and pitches. Contestant Brittany Underwood appreciated this chance to collaborate with accomplished business mentors, pursue new capital, and showcase her


Want to Boost School Achievement? Don’t Forget Families Want to increase high-school graduation rates? Decrease suspensions? Reduce the number of teacher phone calls home to parents about discipline issues? A new study out from the Institute for Family ­Studies issues a clarion call: Don’t forget the importance of strengthening the family. T his study finds more correlation between educational achievement and a student’s home life than any other factor besides family income. What makes this new research particularly interesting is its local specificity. The institute drilled down into state-level data (focusing on Florida, Arizona, and Ohio) and gathered details of concrete outcomes like high-school graduation rates, school suspensions, differences in accomplishment by sex, and more. In Florida, for instance, whether a child’s parents were married turned out to be as important in determining graduation rates as family income, and more powerful than parent education levels, race, or ethnicity. For suspensions, family structure had a higher effect than race, income, or the percentage of college graduates in the county. In Arizona, where girls are much more likely than boys to graduate from high school, it turns out that men catch up to women in school districts with a higher share of married parents. In Ohio, the research team investigated whether family structure had a relationship to whether students were held back a grade, whether students consistently completed schoolwork, and whether parents received calls from school about discipline. On each front, family structure was strongly correlated. Students from two-parent families were more engaged with schoolwork, about half as likely to spark a phone call about discipline, and five times less likely to be held back. Obviously, family poverty is a high contributor to struggles in school. This study showed that there too, marriage and family stability is a major help. Increased average income is one clear advantage of the two-parent home. So donors devoted to increasing opportunity in America by improving our educational outcomes should take a strong interest in the home life of students. That is at least as important to student success as what happens in school. Go to ­ research/reports for details of this local research.


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work to prospective customers and investors. Underwood has organized women who were incarcerated, sexually trafficked, or from multi-generationally poor homes to produce jewelry. The coaches helped her see places she could expand her enterprise, and her Akola Project was ultimately awarded $75,000— which she earmarked for digital marketing. She hopes business-oriented competitions like the one she participated in will become a common way for donors to boost nonprofits. —Daniel P. Smith

Sometimes a Company Is the Best Way to Help Every month, people interested in learning a new language complete about 6 billion lessons on a computer app called Duolingo. With 120 million users, Duolingo trains more people in foreign languages than all U.S. schools. And this service is free. The company is a for-profit entity sustained by investment capital from Google Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and others. CEO Luis von Ahn admits they need to find a way to monetize their offerings, soon. “We spend about $42,000 per day on servers, employee salaries, etc. And this cost keeps going up with our number of users, which doubles every few months.” But the company is committed to providing basic users with services for nothing. So it is experimenting instead with revenue streams like a an option to buy fancy outfits for the app’s cartoon mascot, and translation services for media outlets, and a $50 fee to take an English competency test, which is quickly becoming accepted as an alternative to the more expensive TOEFL exam by entities ranging from the Harvard Extension School to Uber. To date about 50,000 people have passed the Duolingo English Test. To keep expanding while holding costs down, the company runs an incubator where volunteers help build or improve language courses. Currently under construction: French for Chinese speakers, Hindi for English speakers, and more. A specialized app called Duolingo for Schools has been created to bring the platform to classrooms. Like the original app it is free, and now has 300,000 users.

Faith Groups Are the Biggest Saviors of the Homeless Scholars from the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion recently examined who exactly it is that offers crucial services to homeless people today. The results from 11 major U.S. cities show that almost 60 percent of emergency shelter beds for the homeless are provided by faith-based organizations. (And that excludes all homeless outreach by individual congregations, which can be extensive.) Moreover, the study found that cities with lots of faith-based activity have low overall numbers of unsheltered homeless. Conversely, cities with weak faith-based infrastructure have many more people sleeping on streets. The researchers also did qualitative assessments. They found distinctive approaches to homelessness among faith-based organizations. Chief among them: a concern among religiously motivated helpers that homelessness is a symptom of the deeper problem of a lack of healthy relationships, and that re-invigorating family and community life is important to getting people back in homes.


The world is moving so fast these days that the one who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. — HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK (from The Almanac of American Philanthropy) SUMMER 2017


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by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development surveys, report the researchers. Many faith-based organizations now provide effective job-readiness classes, addiction treatment, and their own social enterprises where recently homeless persons can get back on the ladder of work and independence, noted principal author Byron Johnson. The Los Angeles mission run by Pastor Andy Bales, for instance, now houses 1,300 guests each night, including many children, and provides meals, shelter, spiritual encouragement, adult-­ education classes, vocational education (including certificates), many varieties of counseling, medical help, and more.

Government services and mandates don’t always fit well with the local efforts of faith-based nonprofits and individual congregations. It would have been easier “to build a nuclear bomb” than to create a State-of-California-sanctioned preschool in his mission, concluded Herb Johnson of the San Diego Rescue Mission after some frustrating experience. Organizations like Teen Challenge and Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers that serve large numbers of homeless addicts are routinely ignored

Q: It’s easy for those with means Q&A WITH to write a check, but you give your CURTIS GRANDERSON time and presence in addition to


Why did you start the Grand Kids Foundation, and what does it do?


It started in 2007 when I was playing with the Detroit Tigers. Coming from a family of educators, schooling was the immediate priority. But my parents set a good example across the board. Growing up, my mom and dad were very active in the community, whether it was giving people rides to and from work or practice, or taking clothes I had outgrown to their schools and passing them around. Ours was always the house where kids could come and grab something to eat, or meet up. I didn’t necessarily realize what was going on, but I watched it, absorbed it, and followed suit. At UIC I got involved with the Chris Zorich Charitable Foundation. We’d go to Soldier Field and pack Thanksgiving dinners. The response I saw on the receiving families’ faces reminded me of our ability to do things that can make a positive difference in people’s lives. So giving was a part of my background from the beginning, and at a certain point starting my own foundation was the natural next step. When I found out that the highschool graduation rate in Detroit was just over 50 percent, it was clear that education was the place to start, so that’s how the Grand Kids Foundation got its mission. 6

your financial resources.


The biggest thing is really that I enjoy it. I consider myself a big kid. I’m 36 now and when I’m doing these camps and clinics, I’m out there trying to lead the way. I’m having fun with the kids and trying to get as excited as they are when Curtis Granderson gave $5 million for a new stadium at the they make a great play or improve University of Illinois at Chicago on the condition that it be open to in a certain skill. It’s exciting to see youth sports leagues. that change, and to see when kids start to realize what they can achieve. I actually just had this happen right before Detroit you didn’t want to go, but here I was I got to spring training. I was running an looking at black kids, white kids, Hispanic outfield drill and a kid kept missing the fly kids, Asian kids, moving around on a clean, ball. I told him, “Don’t worry. You’ll catch one safe field and excited about baseball. when it matters.” And sure enough, when the competition came around, he caught the Being a professional athlete can be one that helped his team win, and he was so an all-consuming effort both on and off excited. That’s why I want to be physically the field. How do you find the energy to present and involved alongside these kids. contribute on such a personal level? When I speak to students, I let them know that I was in their shoes, that I was a kid There are a lot of guys I play with trying to reach my potential. I don’t shy away who are married and have kids, so a lot of from the questions they might ask. If they their time and energy is devoted to being can look at me and see that we come from a a husband and father. I don’t have that, so similar background, that we look about the same size, and that we have other similarities, I’m able to take that energy and go attend a camp, do a meet-and-greet, or visit a school. then I hope that gives them reason to challenge themselves and chase their goals. I And I like being busy. Back when I was in college, I’d have a morning workout, classes, want to see them and they should see me. practice, and then studying at night, and the There was another special moment last summer when I went back to Detroit for the ball just kept rolling one day to the next. I learned to keep things in order so I could first time in a few years. We did a kids camp perform in the classroom and on the field. just a few minutes away from Comerica I’ve always felt I’m at my best when I’m busy. Park. Years before, that field was a place in

Q: A:


Coleture Group

Current New York Met and three-time baseball All Star Curtis Granderson recently spoke with Philanthropy’s Daniel P. Smith about his giving.

When asked about pressure to reduce their faith orientation and chapel expectations, service providers like Bales offered clear answers. The faith component is crucial to what they do. Without the liberty to offer religious comfort, sustenance, and discipline, most would close their missions. Turning around lives is hard, notes Bales. So “why would I give up that power?”

$27 billion

Amount of money directed into charitable causes by clients of Fidelity Investments since Fidelity began operating donor-advised funds.

An Easy Way to Target College Gifts When an anonymous donor had an opportunity to establish a $15,000 scholarship at a college of his choice, he decided against shunting it to his

Sometimes when I’m out doing outreach activities, I’ll hear comments about how I should be practicing more, how I need to be focused more on the game. First, I’m never too tired to do these things, and second, those comments overlook all the good that comes from this work. Going to a school or hosting a clinic never takes away from my performance on the field. Over the years, I’ve seen kids I met early on graduate from high school and go to college, many of them the first in their families to do so. If my interaction with them is something that inspires them, then taking two hours out of my day is something I will absolutely do time and again.


Some public figures are involved in charity because it builds their “brand.” How is this different for you?

Coleture Group


The term “brand” is thrown around a lot more today than it was when I started the Grand Kids Foundation a decade ago. The only thing I truly wanted to do was to raise money to help the causes I thought needed support. That’s what I was focused on, whether it was hosting a wine tasting after a game or our celebrity basketball match. I just wanted to bring attention to education in Detroit and use baseball as a platform, and take advantage of the fact that I was on a stage where people were more likely to pay attention to what I was saying. I’ve never done this to win recognition. It’s been entirely about bringing attention to these causes I feel are important. Education is so critical in our society, as is physical fitness and nutrition that help you focus in the classroom and at the extracurricular activities where students also learn

( figures up through 2016, plus estimates for the first half of 2017)

leadership and teamwork. I’m grateful for any publicity that allows me to shine more light on the importance of education.

dozen active MLB players with a college degree. Why was that important to you?

Q: How have you tried to use your

I looked at it this way: If I can get that degree in hand, then that’s something that can never be taken away from me. When I got drafted following my junior year at UIC, that started my professional career, but I still had a long way to go in order to make it to the big leagues. I knew the odds and realities of accomplishing that, so I wanted to get my degree taken care of. I actually asked that the Tigers pay for it as a part of my contract. UIC Athletics administrator Denny Wills, whom I still admire to this day, was instrumental in helping me manage it. I remember taking a final exam when I was on the road with my minor-league team, and having my manager sign off that I didn’t cheat before sending the test to the professor. There were a lot of pieces that needed to be put into place to allow me to complete my degree, but I knew once I got that done I didn’t have to worry about what I might do if I stalled out in the minors. After that I just went out there and played baseball like a six-year-old at T-ball and had fun, and the rest took care of itself.

connections as a professional athlete to advance your charitable efforts?


I funnel my endorsement earnings to philanthropy, and I enjoy partnering with other donors as well. When I was in Detroit playing for the Tigers, Derek Stevens was the first big sponsor I had for something. He’s a Detroit native and owns the D Las Vegas casino. I was introduced to him during a Tigers event where there was an auction item called “Bring a Tiger to your son or daughter’s school.” Derek won it and I was the Tiger selected to go to his son’s school. At the time, I had just made the team and wasn’t well-known. I went there and spoke to the kids and Derek and I had a good connection. When I started the Grand Kids Foundation the following year and we were looking for sponsors, he was the first one to jump on board with a $10,000 gift. That was 2007. Fast forward to the present day, and we have great relationships with New Balance, which provides a lot of gear for the kids at our camps and clinics and fitness challenges, and Citibank, which supports camps and food drives. Then there’s Rawlings, which did a special thing for us when we held our Baseball 101 event at UIC. We had 100 kids come out, some of whom had never played baseball before, and Rawlings gave them all their first baseball glove.


You returned to UIC to earn your degree and are currently one of only a few SUMMER 2017


Q: What are your plans after baseball? A: I don’t want to coach, but I do enjoy the

game and would like to stick around it in some form or fashion. On the philanthropic side, I definitely want to see the Grand Kids Foundation continue to grow, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be around it on a more day-to-day basis. We just established a scholarship for graduates of my high school who enroll at UIC, and it’s a goal of mine to see that grow.


Thanks to a creative collaboration between school reformers and the hotel industry, New Orleans service workers can participate more fully in their children’s education.

Helping Parents Navigate Schooling In New Orleans, tourism is a $7 billion industry. The hospitality-industry workers who accommodate nearly 10 million annual visitors to that city often work irregular hours that can complicate tasks like dropping their kids off at school, attending parent-teacher meetings, monitoring homework, and searching out the best educational fit when a school transition is needed. That’s why former leaders of the education nonprofit TNTP launched EdNavigator to serve 700 families who work at New Orleans hotels. Hotels have the option of providing universal access to EdNavigator services through a flat monthly rate determined by the number of their employees, or can sponsor employees on an individual basis. In some cases they also pay employees for time taken off to meet with the nonprofit’s counselors. EdNavigator’s 8

online and in-person guidance helps families find the best schooling option for their kids, maneuver the Big Easy’s open-­enrollment application process, and coordinate with their children’s schools to ensure that kids receive the services they need. Along with the hotel subscription fees, philanthropic donations cover the rest of the nonprofit’s costs. Hotels get a strong return on their investment. They experience less employee tardiness, and reported that the annual job turnover rate in 2016 among participating employees was only 16 p ­ ercent—compared to an industry-wide rate of around 70 percent. Building on their skills in digital presentation of educational information for families, ­EdNavigator recently partnered with the ­Archdiocese of New Orleans to unveil an online database of local C ­ atholic schools. It is focused on helping parents learn about tuition-assistance programs, and how to apply for enrollment at a school that interests them. There are now plans for EdNavigator to bring its services to Boston, D.C., Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Nashville. Across the country, the rise of school choice, both public and private, creates new needs for mechanisms that allow parents to be well-informed directors of their children’s education. Solutions such as EdNavigator that can be adapted and expanded from place to place offer opportunities for donors who want to assist. —Pat Burke

Be Careful Who You Entrust with Your Trust Imagine the horror of discovering that your family’s charitable trust is no longer controlled by you, but by a bank. That is the nightmare scenario the ­Jackson Family Charitable Trust finds itself in. The Jackson family created its wealth through the Pittsburgh Des Moines Steel Company, which PHILANTHROPY


­ restigious and already well-endowed alma mater. p He sensed that his gift could pack more punch elsewhere, but was unsure what to look for. In stepped the Fund for American Renewal. A new resource established by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, FAR aims to help smaller and mid-level donors who lack the staff of a foundation to identify opportunities for giving on college campuses that reflect their values and will have positive effects. Thanks to a $4.5 million gift from the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation to cover the costs of legal work, technical assistance, and staff time, the service will be free to donors. The entirety of their donation can therefore be directed to the recipients they choose. With FAR’s assistance, the $15,000 donor arranged for his scholarship to go to the Society of Tocqueville Fellows at Furman University, a program that provides civic education. This donor with a “keen interest in American history, government, and politics” was “happy to find a program that could cultivate students’ deep and thoughtful appreciation and understanding of these areas.” As a broader alternative, FAR also offers donors a chance to pool their funds with other like-minded givers to support one of five interest areas: science and math, economic literacy, civics and statesmanship, the Western canon, or academic freedom. FAR will seek out opportunities at colleges around the country where the gifts conglomerated for those purposes can be directed to make the greatest difference.

Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary; The Arthur Szyk Society

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Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary; The Arthur Szyk Society


helped erect the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Peace Bridge from Buffalo to Canada, and the “forked” columns in the World Trade Center. In 1950, the Jackson family created a charitable trust, naming William Jackson and the Commonwealth Trust Company of Pittsburgh as co-trustees. Through multiple mergers and acquisitions over the decades, the corporate trustee became PNC Financial, and in 2016 that large bank rejected the list of recommended grantees put forth by Jackson family members at the foundation, and asked a court to resolve the 50-50 dispute. A judge ruled in PNC’s favor and allowed only a fraction of the Jackson family’s grant recommendations to be disbursed. The judge made his ruling without reviewing evidence of the family’s charitable intentions, or its grant history. The Jacksons are now trying to regain control of their charitable trust. This example illustrates how donor intent can be imperiled as trustees change over time. The best protection against that is for donors to record, in detail, their philanthropic intentions, clarifying their charitable purpose and operating principles, and never leaving the disbursement of their fortune to the assumed trustworthiness of today’s trustees, or the legal structure of their giving vehicle.

Noah’s Ark At Noah’s Ark, an animal sanctuary 40 miles south of Atlanta, a bear cub, cub lion, and cub tiger were rescued together in 2001 and grew up as friends. That peculiar group of orphans became a major draw, and is one reason the facility attracts more than 100,000 visitors each year (though the lion, may he rest in peace, recently passed away). But the sanctuary’s tradition of care, and of odd bedfellows, extends much further: Noah’s Ark is also a sanctuary for children. It provides a home for a number of orphans and neglected or needy young people, offering emergency shelter, care, and medical support to youngsters in residence, as well as stimulation and instruction for special-needs children, and educational programs for hundreds of visiting youngsters. Its overarching mission—­“ bringing children and animals together with the purpose of providing unconditional love, unconditional service, and a future full of hope.” With more than 1,500 domestic and exotic animals on the premises—everything from bison

to capuchin monkeys, as well as rescued dogs and cats available to good homes through their adoption center—Noah’s Ark offers lots of opportunities for learning, nurture, and service. It relies on 250 volunteers and charitable donations to cover operating needs—which include $33,000 per month for animal feed and care. —Madeline Fry

Where the lion lies down with the lamb, as well as the tiger and the bear—this sanctuary provides a home to all creatures, great and small, including needy humans.

Satan Leads the Ball by Arthur Szyk depicts Hitler and other Axis leaders parading with the devil.


Rediscovering a Lost Artist “Art is not my aim, it is my means.” So said ­Polish-American artist and political satirist Arthur Szyk, who referred to himself as a “soldier in art.” Thanks to a recent philanthropic gift, a new generation of students, World War II buffs, and Jewish history enthusiasts can now appreciate his work skewering Nazism and celebrating freedom and democracy. This spring, Taube Philanthropies donated $10 million to the University of California, Berkeley to create the only public archive of Szyk’s unusual work. As a result, 450 sketches and paintings, as well as personal diaries and publications, will be added to the university’s Magnes Collection of Jewish Art, which Taube previously gifted in 2010. After moving to the U.S. in 1940, Szyk created religious and political artwork celebrating his culture and satirizing those who tried to extinguish it. (His mother and brother died in Nazi concentration camps.) His ornate work appeared in popular venues like Time and Esquire magazines, before fading into obscurity. “Many American Jews have such a hard time disassociating Poland from the Holocaust that they don’t fully appreciate what their heritage contributed to all of Western culture,” donor Tad Taube, a Polish-American Jew like Szyk, once told Philanthropy. “Unfortunately, many see Poland as nothing but a giant cemetery. I want to restore a sense of perspective.” —Madeline Fry


C Sw ha e ri et ty

Ira Fulton is a classic entrepreneur. He made money founding computer companies, selling clothes, and building homes. He is also a tithing Mormon and very generous philanthropist. Back in 1999 he was impressed with an idea from Brent Adams, an engineering professor at Brigham Young University, who wanted to acquire a supercomputer for the school so that students could do the complex modeling needed for high-end car design. Thanks to Fulton’s generosity, BYU soon had the machine on campus. But once a powerful tool like that is humming away, you never quite know what students are going to do with it. In 2002, Adams helped some students use the big machine to create, of all things, an animated film called Lemmings. And it was good— winning both a student Academy Award and a student Emmy. That was the first in a string of brilliant student-made animated films out of BYU that soon had collected five Oscars and 16 Emmys. It’s not uncommon for a philanthropic gift to evolve in a different direction from what was originally expected, and smart donors go with the flow of success. Fulton was excited by BYU’s success in animation, and started donating more supercomputers. Before long, the college was wielding bigleague processing power. A series of classes



at collaborating.” Professor Adams pointed out that his Mormon students—growing up in big families, with an emphasis on community—tended to be pretty good at teamwork, and pretty light on ego. Then some of the studio executives gave Adams even more surprising guidance on what they would value in new hires for their films or video games. “Will you please make sure your students keep taking religion classes?” one begged him, sotto voce. “This industry attracts creeps, and we’re tired of creeps. We’re tired of working with creeps, and creeps make creepy movies.” Animation is the most family-friendly part of the film industry. But popular movies of all sorts tend to have big, moral themes, and the ability to spell out and wrestle with real good and true evil. A moral sense, understanding human frailties and temptations, and finding ways to bring to light the better natures of people are fundamental requirements of positive visual storytelling. BYU’s mature, educationally rounded, ethically trained students turned out to be perfect matches in many cases for the comparatively wholesome animation business. They know how to work selflessly in teams. They are trained in the practical business needs of entertainment commerce. And they bring an imagination to their work that can lift, rather than darken, the spirits of their audience. That’s why its students have quickly collected so many industry awards and film-festival prizes, and become prized by top entertainment firms. Ira Fulton’s giving to Brigham Young University totals close to $100 million. And one of its most productive elements was a misfire on auto design that turned into a bunch of funny cartoons that get people thinking. That’s the kind of course-correction that philanthropy can be great at.

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BYU Animation

Animating Characters

and two separate degrees in animation were launched. Talented students flocked in. Soon this upstart department in Utah found its graduates being avidly snatched up by movie studios like Sony, Pixar, and Disney, top computer-game makers like Blizzard, and television cartoon companies like Nickelodeon. This was a stunning rise to the top of the industry in less than 15 years. And it was savvy, well-timed philanthropy that paid for the new facilities and curricula. The other crucial contributor—recognized and reinforced by Fulton and other givers—was a unique campus culture. BYU’s animators tend to be very different from other film students. Nearly all are Mormons. Many marry and become parents while in college or just as they start their careers. And BYU requires them to take not just training in the animation trade, but also core classes in English, history, and religion. Further, BYU doesn’t follow the traditional film-school method of having each student create his own film. Instead, the animation majors work in teams. Each team comes up with an idea for a movie, and the entire department discusses and votes to choose one winning concept and select the director and chief animators. Then everyone works together to turn that concept into an annual production. Great animation is hugely laborintensive and specialized. Some animators end up as experts who just create hair, or water, or faces. There has to be close coordination among different designers, and music and dialogue specialists, and programmers who pull everything together. Vanity and big egos are not a great match for film animation. When the BYU professors were consulting closely with the major film studios to design a curriculum for this new school so grads would be prepared for top-level jobs, the studio executives often surprised them. For one thing, they wanted to hire people who weren’t just artists or computer whizzes, but who brought rounded humane values to the work. And they said they needed young people who understand cooperation. Ed Catmull, the brilliant Pixar founder, told Adams, “We can’t find people who are good

nonprofit spotlight

Bunker Labs

Bunker Labs

Years before he joined the Navy, Jarek ­Hamilton knew that one day he wanted to run his own business. He got an early start at the age of 17, buying used ink-and-toner cartridges, refilling them at home, and then selling them to local businesses for a 300 percent markup. But in a difficult economy his business building leveled off, so he joined the Navy and served as an aircraft mechanic. Leaving active duty in 2012 at age 24, Jarek plunged into entrepreneurship, but a bad bet wiped out most of the savings that he and his wife Katie had accumulated, so Jarek went to work for a military contractor in Afghanistan. Jarek’s dream of having his own business was still a shimmer. Today, five years later, Jarek employs a small but growing team. On the phone, he delivers a slick pitch for his venture: “Qikpix is an on-demand photography service that allows customers to book a high-quality professional photographer in as little as 60 seconds for only $99 per hour!” Jarek attributes a share of his success to Bunker Labs, a nonprofit that supports vets pursuing entrepreneurship. He and Katie took its three-month course and studied what a business needs to start and grow. They got specialized training, met sales experts, and made valuable contacts with investors. “Bunker Labs just made it real easy to figure out which direction to go in, and then helped guide us in that direction,” Jarek enthuses. Started in 2014, the nonprofit currently has chapters in 15 cities, and an annual budget of $1.8 million. Its leading donors include JPMorgan Chase, USAA, MetLife, ­Comcast, and the Bob Woodruff Foundation. It works closely with corporate partners in pulling together its programming. Founder Todd Connor, who was in the Navy himself, emphatically rejects the view that veterans are “broken people.” To understand people coming out of the military, he says, you have to take a look at how they

General Mark Milley encourages entrepreneurial veterans at Bunker Labs to seek careers in cybersecurity.

were recruited as 18-year-olds. The military emphasizes adventure and learning how to overcome dangerous challenges. The necessary grit and determination represent “the same ethos that’s required in entrepreneurship.” When setting up a business, as in the service, “There are no points for trying,” he explains. “You either got it done or you didn’t. It’s not like success is, ‘I punched in from 9 to 5. I was compliant. I was there.’ ” Bunker Labs owes its name to ­Connor’s service on the USS Bunker Hill, a cruiser from which he participated in the launching of Tomahawk salvos during the invasion of Iraq. Business school and a successful career followed after he left the Navy, and today he is the CEO of an executive-education firm. But when he became involved with a tech incubator in Chicago, Connor sensed that veterans could benefit from something similar. The barriers to success for many veterans weren’t related to any personal in­­ adequacies or “damage”—they were just lacking connections to the right practical know-how and access to capital. Bunker Labs provides education services, including an online course and an in-person training program. But the deepest root of his nonprofit’s success, Connor believes, is providing inspiration, and then connections: helping vets “build a local SUMMER 2017

network.” Bunker Labs helps people stay excited—and puts them “one phone call away from people who can assist in immediate ways, for free.” The group’s corporate partners play a large role in mentoring, linking veteran entrepreneurs to colleagues, and offering in-kind support. Local chapters have raised a million dollars for their operations this year, over and above the budget of the central Chicago operation. In addition to the group’s educational programming, the chapters encourage collaboration through monthly meetups called Bunker Brews. There are also monthly breakfasts for members who have succeeded in starting a small business, and who are looking to grow. Thanks to donors, all of the group’s programs are free to veterans. Connor often cites a statistic that 49 percent of World War II veterans owned a business at some point following their military service. Owning a local restaurant or car wash or other business was once common, and a major way in which vets became productive members of society. Bunker Labs is taking up this mantle. In less than three years, the businesses started by members have so far generated over $17 million in revenue, and created 290 jobs. Not bad for a small nonprofit that is, in essence, a startup itself. —Aaron MacLean 11

interviews MIKE ROWE

Philanthropy: What does your foundation do? Rowe: mikeroweWORKS is designed to challenge the stigmas and stereotypes that keep millions of people from exploring a career in the trades. Its primary goal is to close the skills gap by calling attention to millions of unloved opportunities, and challenge the idea that a four-year degree is the best path for the most people. We also offer scholarships that pay for specific types of vocational training. At its base, mikeroweWORKS is a P.R. campaign for hard work and skilled labor. Philanthropy: How did it come about? Rowe: When the economy crashed in 2008, national unemployment was headline news. With every new jobs report, a growing sense of dread seemed to be 12

Mike Rowe, here shown hard at work, champions careers in the trades and offers “work ethic scholarhips” to help energetic candidates train for skilled manual professions.

overtaking the country, as the number of unemployed Americans kept growing. On “Dirty Jobs,” though, it was a very different story. The employers I met on that show were all struggling to find skilled workers. Even at the height of the recession, I saw “Help Wanted” signs in all 50 states, and talked with hundreds of small-business owners who said the biggest obstacles they faced were the stigmas and stereotypes that dissuaded people from exploring a career in the trades. It seemed obvious that closing the skills gap would never happen if we didn’t confront those misperceptions head on and challenge them at every turn. Philanthropy: How do you change the way people feel about work? Rowe: Well, it’s hard. Attitudes and perceptions don’t change overnight, and measuring success is difficult. But I had a big advantage going in. “Dirty Jobs” was already a very popular TV show, and part of my job as the host was to promote the program whenever possible. So the first thing I did was change the way I talked about the show in the press. Rather than focus exclusively on exploding toilets and misadventures in animal husbandry (which I still cherish, by the way), I started PHILANTHROPY

talking about the ­widening skills gap, the crumbling infrastructure, and the looming student-loan crisis. These issues were in the headlines, and “Dirty Jobs” touched on many of them. Pretty soon, I was speaking all over the country about the skills gap, and testifying before Congress about the need to reinvigorate skilled labor. Ultimately, I was able to promote my foundation by promoting my TV show, and vice versa. Philanthropy: You started by building a database, right? How did that go? Rowe: The Trade Resource Center was a challenge, but it was important for a couple reasons. Practically, I thought people could benefit from finding a specific training program in their state or county. So we organized thousands of existing programs and put them all under one virtual roof. We started with apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training opportunities that served the specific trades most in demand. Then we expanded to include trade schools and community colleges, along with specific data on what jobs were most in demand in various parts of the country. But the larger reason for building a national database was to prove that the opportunities in question really did exist.

Michael Segal

Mike Rowe has had many jobs: actor, podcast host, even opera singer. But he is best known as a serial apprentice, participating in over 300 grubby gigs on the TV show “Dirty Jobs” and its successor “Somebody’s Gotta Do It.” Affably working alongside people who do the unglamorous tasks that keep our economy humming, such as castrating lambs or laundering tons of dirty diapers, Rowe’s wit and wisdom have made him a favorite with viewers. But over time, he realized that something decidedly un-funny was happening in our country. A narrative that college is the only path to success began to tyrannize the young, honorable trades and manual jobs were not supported, and America began to suffer from a critical skills gap. Millions of youths began to fall between the cracks, at the same time that employers found it impossible to staff millions of well-paying blue-collar jobs. So Rowe rolled up his sleeves and created mikeroweWORKS. It has provided over $3 million in scholarships for training in the trades. Rowe is also using his public platform to spread the message that manual work is valuable and dignified. Allison Futterman interviewed Rowe for Philanthropy to learn more about his philanthropic work on behalf of honest labor.

Michael Segal

Philanthropy: Why? Rowe: Of all the things dividing us today, the very existence of opportunity is somewhere near the top. Half the country is convinced that opportunity is dead. That the system is rigged. That there is simply no hope of finding a meaningful career that pays a fair wage. It’s almost impossible to reinvigorate skilled labor if people believe that nonsense. Just as it’s impossible to champion apprenticeship programs if everyone believes that success can only occur if you purchase a four-year college degree. “Dirty Jobs” challenged those misperceptions in every episode, but I wanted to challenge them in a more tangible way, with proof that opportunity was alive and well. In the same way “Dirty Jobs” was programmed with viewer suggestions, the Trade Resource Center was built with viewer submissions. By 2008, the “Dirty Jobs” online community was not only enormous, it was comprised of fans who were completely engaged with all aspects of the show. So, when I invited them to send me the details of successful apprenticeship programs in their area, thousands responded. We built the Trade Resource Center online—thanks to the fans. A lot of people used it, and a lot of people found work as a result. We also built a “Watercooler” where skilled tradesmen volunteered to answer questions and offer advice, which was even more important. So the Trade Resource Center met a practical need. But the biggest benefit of building it was all the press that surrounded its construction. Building the Trade Resource Center got lots of people talking, and put our efforts on the map. Philanthropy: So what became of it? It’s no longer on your site. Rowe: The site became too cumbersome to maintain, and too far removed from social media to maintain a robust conversation. By 2010, people’s habits and attitudes online were shifting dramatically. Had I understood that then, I would have never built a “destination”; I would have simply taken the message to where the people already were. Once it became clear that Facebook would dominate the social

c­ onversation, I started posting over there, and that changed everything. The real lesson for me in all this has been the importance of being as congruent as possible with my audience, wherever they might be. On Facebook, that means maintaining a personal page that makes no distinction between business, personal, and foundational elements. I’m not talking about traditional “cause-related” marketing—I’m talking about integrating my foundational objectives into everything I do. Because mikeroweWORKS is rooted in my own personal beliefs about the nature of work and education, and because most of what I do in television and media involves creating content that reflects those beliefs, I can benefit the foundation every time I go to work. I can also generate the kind of headlines I want to create, and then steer the resulting conversation around those headlines in a useful direction. It’s a very opportunistic approach to creating awareness. For instance, last month, I wrote a good-natured rant about Hasbro’s decision to replace the work-related icons on the Monopoly board. (The wheelbarrow was swapped out for a rubber ducky. Madness!) I posted the rant on Facebook. Over 5 million people shared it. FOX and CNN and Good Morning America all called to have me come on and have a conversation about America’s dysfunctional relationship with skilled labor—inspired by the removal of a token from the Monopoly board. In the context of that conversation, I was able to talk about our Work Ethic Scholarship Program, and encourage people to apply. Philanthropy: How much have you given away through your scholarship program, and why the emphasis on work ethic? Rowe: About $4 million in total. Half from funds we raised directly, and half through various partnerships with trade schools. We focus on work ethic because that’s what most employers crave in a new employee. That, and a willingness to learn a skill that’s in demand. At base, we want our scholarships to reward the kind of behavior we wish to encourage. Today, there are no shortage of scholarships based on academic ability, athletic ability, musical talent, and all sorts of other things. But SUMMER 2017


I’ve never seen one based on work ethic. We look for applicants willing to show up early, stay late, and approach the job as the opportunity it is. You have to sign a S.W.E.A.T. Pledge. We also insist on references. I really want applicants to make a persuasive case for themselves. Philanthropy: A sweat pledge? Rowe: It’s a simple, 12-point pledge that espouses personal responsibility. It stands for Skills and Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo, and I suspect it sounds a little silly to many. But it’s just one more way to bring the conversation back to the kind of qualities I believe most employers desperately want in their employees. We get some resistance, but that’s actually part of the program’s success. It gives me a chance to say publicly—and respectfully—that those who object to the tenets I think are important might be better served by seeking out a different pile of free money. It gets people’s attention. Fact is, it’s hard to reward work ethic, because frankly, it’s hard to find it. Currently, I’m trying to give away about $700,000 to people who want to learn a skilled trade. You’d think people would line up for a chance to get the training they need to get a job. But they don’t. And that’s part of the conversation. We have to change the current perceptions of what it means to have a “good job.” With respect to job satisfaction, a lot of well-intended parents and guidance counselors have done a great disservice to hundreds of thousands of millennials by pushing them toward a four-year degree. It’s a cookie-cutter approach to education, and it’s causing massive problems, including a $1.3 trillion debt, a widening skills gap, and soaring tuition costs. But there’s also a widespread belief today that job satisfaction is only possible for those who find the proper job. That’s just not true. On “Dirty Jobs,” we featured hundreds of people who were very satisfied with their work, in spite of the fact that they didn’t set out to do that particular job. Somewhere along the line, the notion of opportunity was replaced by the expectation of landing a “dream job.” That’s led to a lot of disappointed people, and a lot of unrealistic expectations. 13

Philanthropy: Who is your typical scholarship recipient? Rowe: There’s no age restriction on the Work Ethic Scholarship, but the majority of applicants are in their early twenties. We get a lot of people who are halfway through college, and looking to change course. Some people need $2,500 for a certification. Others need $15,000 of tuition. It depends on what they want to do and where they want to get training. We work with the largest scholarship organization in the country, Scholarship America, which assists many foundations. It’s great at vetting the first round of applicants. Then my office goes through them one by one.

historic than futuristic. All I know for sure is that 5.6 million openings currently exist that aren’t in danger of being filled by robots. That’s a fact that’s impacting our economy right now. And those vacancies represent more than opportunity, they represent a threat to national security. We need a skilled and balanced workforce, and right now, we don’t have one. As for technology, it’s always impacted the economy, and it will continue to do so. But currently, the skilled trades are in no danger of being usurped by technology. Carpenters, plumbers, welders, mechanics…these jobs are available as we speak. And I suspect they always will be.

Philanthropy: How much have you given personally toward the foundation compared to raising outside funds? Rowe: About half a million dollars. But the money I put in initially was not nearly as important as the smaller amounts I raised auctioning stuff from my garage. I have a garage full of mementos collected from “Dirty Jobs” that I autograph and sell to the highest bidder. We call them “C.R.A.P. Auctions,” which stands for “Collectables, Rare And Precious.” Basically, my version of a “Dirty Jobs” telethon. We’ve raised a lot of money, but more importantly, we’ve generated a ton of press. ( Jay Leno actually featured some fossilized polar bear poo that went for thousands of dollars.) We’re also supported today by other companies and organizations that share our goals but don’t necessarily want to go through the headache of administering a scholarship fund. “This Old House,” for instance, has a vested interest in seeing more people enter the construction field, but rather than setting up their own program, they said, “Why don’t we raise money for scholarships and give it to mikeroweWORKS?” Three months later, they handed me a check for $500,000. Very cool.

Philanthropy: How did your relationship with your grandfather influence your views on work? Rowe: In every way imaginable. My grandfather could build a house without a blueprint. He only went to school through the seventh grade, but he became a master tradesman by the time he was 30. My hope was to follow in his footsteps, but alas, the “handy” gene is recessive, and I didn’t get the natural ability he was blessed with. Pop was the one who told me—when it became clear I would never be able to build a house on my own—that I could still be a tradesman, but only if I got myself a different sort of toolbox. And so I did. I went to a community college and took a theater class. I took singing lessons. I started doing voiceovers and commercial work and hosting all sorts of random shows on various cable channels. I got my new toolbox in order, and went to work in television. Years later, when Pop was 90, my mother called me to say how nice it would be if my grandfather could turn on the television and “see me doing something that looked like work.” Ultimately, “Dirty Jobs” came about as a tribute to him.

Philanthropy: What are your thoughts on American manufacturing moving toward automation, and what that will do to the availability of jobs? Rowe: So much has already been written about the advent of robotics and the impact of technology it now seems more 14

Philanthropy: You’re an Eagle Scout. I take it the Boy Scouts were a formative influence on you as well? Rowe: They were. I was shy and withdrawn as a kid. My parents were worried, and forced me to join a gang of local hoodlums who met in the basement of the local church. It was transformational. PHILANTHROPY

Philanthropy: Hoodlums? Rowe: Well, no. But it felt like that my first night. The kids were rough. The games they played—Swing-the-Thing, British Bill Dog, Capture the Flag—were magnificently violent. There was a boxing ring, where disagreements were settled the old-fashioned way. Bloody noses were a weekly occurrence. But when the Scoutmaster—a former colonel in the Army—blew his whistle, the level of discipline was amazing. I honestly believe the rigor and the physicality would rival what passes for basic training today. The Boy Scouts got me out of my comfort zone, that’s for sure. Sleeping under the stars, even when it was raining. Forcing me to give speeches even though I had a stammer. Challenging me constantly to master simple skills that I didn’t even know existed. But the real benefit, looking back, was not the importance of trying new things—it was the realization that being uncomfortable was an important part of any worthwhile accomplishment. That ’s been so valuable to me throughout my life. I often credit the Scouts for impacting so much of my career. Since “Dirty Jobs” started, I’ve sent out around 55,000 congratulatory letters to newly-minted Eagles. I also patterned my foundation’s S.W.E.A.T. pledge after the Scout Law. Truth is, I really think the country needs the Boy Scouts, the Future Farmers of America, and Skills USA. I’m glad to sing their praises whenever I can. Philanthropy: What’s next for you? Rowe: More of the same. If President Trump is serious about investing a trillion dollars in infrastructure repair, we’re going to see very quickly just how acute the labor shortage really is—especially in the construction trades. Bolstering the workforce is going to become a matter of national importance, and I suspect the government will probably have to team up with a number of big companies reliant upon a skilled workforce and embark upon a national campaign to help make a case for good jobs that actually exist. If mikeroweWORKS can be of use in that endeavor, I’d be happy to help. If not, we’ll stay the course, and keep trying to close the skills gap, one job at a time. P

Reggie Beehner



Reggie Beehner

J. D. Vance and his publisher hoped that Hillbilly Elegy, his memoir of growing up in Appalachia, would attract some niche interest. The first print run was 10,000 copies. They did not foresee that one year later it would have sold nearly a million copies. But the story struck a chord. His upbringing illustrated the traumas of addiction, the costs of family breakdown, and the economic problems of unskilled and disorganized workers. This depiction came just as the rest of the nation was awakening to the anger and despair of working-class America, and unlike sociological books by Charles Murray and Robert Putnam that sounded the same alarm, it came complete with a gun-toting grandma and an inspiring personal journey to a better life. Although Vance’s pathway took him to the elite stratosphere of Yale Law and Silicon Valley, he’s now moving back home to Ohio to invest in local businesses and start a nonprofit to tackle the opioid epidemic. Philanthropy spoke with him about these plans, and about the internal and external barriers that prevent many ­Americans from achieving success today.

J. D. Vance travels between two worlds that are increasingly separate and foreign to each other: working-class America, and the rarefied professional sphere. He hopes to open lines of communication.

When kids grow up in very unstable families, they are more likely to bring instability to the next generation when they make their own family. They’re less likely to graduate from high school, and less likely to be employed as an adult. Philanthropy: At the end of your book, you say, “No policy can fix the problems of the working class.” How does your answer change if the question is what civil society can do to fix the problems of the working class? Vance: I’m not a total policy skeptic. I certainly think that there’s a role for smarter policy. But actions through civil society are so important. It worries me that when you talk to smart people about these issues, both liberals and conservatives often immediately presume that the only way to solve them is through government. We ignore the fact that there are other layers of society, other institutions with vital roles to play. Where civil society can be most helpful is in giving people real networks and social groups that can support them when things are tough—offer them access to better opportunities, to jobs, to activities in their community.

Philanthropy: Economic mobility is a many-layered challenge. Talk us through it. Vance: Although we all love the fact that in America a poor kid can rise through his own ability and work ethic, we know that in a lot of areas of our country, that isn’t as true as we would like it to be. In the places where I grew up, in the South and ­Appalachia and the Rust Belt, poor children are much less likely to live the American dream than in other regions. There are a number of factors that make it hard for poor kids to do especially well. The one that gets talked about the most is the decline of regional blue-collar economies. Coal-mining jobs have been shuttered. Manufacturing jobs in steel, paper, and other fields have disappeared or moved overseas. But today’s mobility issues can’t be attributed purely to the decline of local economies, or people who can’t find jobs. Sometimes people can find jobs, but are so consumed by the disorder in their lives that Philanthropy: There’s this Gordian knot they’re unable to work successfully. This is of family dysfunction, substance abuse, a problem of culture, of family breakdown. and lack of economic opportunity that all SUMMER 2017

negatively reinforce each other. So where do you begin? Vance: You’re right, these problems are intertwined. If you think about addiction, in some cases it’s a straightforward question of medical treatment. But it’s also related to chaos and trauma in certain families. That’s in turn related to the fact that economic opportunities and jobs are harder to come by. If we’re going to make any headway on these problems, we have to tackle each simultaneously. But if I had to pick a single trend that worries me the most, it’s definitely the breakdown of the family, because it’s in the family where kids get dealt their biggest setbacks. Education starts in the family before children ever get to school. It’s in the family where they’re either supported in their pursuits or where they’re dragged down by neglect and abuse. It’s in the family where they either learn good values or destructive values. The very first layer of civil society is the extended family. When nuclear families break down, it’s the most important socialsafety net. That’s especially true in homes that are working class or lower income, like mine. My aunt and uncle were really positive influences in my life, and as I’ve often said, my grandmother truly saved me. But because of the addiction epidemic and the increasing numbers of families breaking apart, some grandparents like 15


mine are stretched to the breaking point. They were counting on a retirement budgeted for one person, and now they’re taking care of three or four people.

­ ublic-health crisis in the United States of p the past three or four decades. And just like family dissolution, it isn’t just kids who are traumatized by addiction—lots of adults and entire communities get damaged. And it doesn’t just have effects in the moment; it creates negative results far downstream. We often approach drug crises through the lens of treatment and cures, and that’s obviously important for the people who have already been ensnared. But my worry is that we’re not thinking enough about how to prevent people from getting access to this stuff in the first place. And how to prevent them from wanting it. One thing we could emphasize more is drug-prevention programs in schools, with a good hard look at which ones are effective. People don’t like to admit that current programs don’t necessarily work, but you have to be rigorous about outcomes. When it comes to treatments, those that have worked best are drugs that actually make it easier for people to resist their cravings for illegal substances. Those are effective in an immediate way. But of course you have to take them. The other big determinant is a life that’s going pretty well, and a supportive community. People often turn to drugs when other things are going downhill. If they have a supportive social network, if they’re active in their neighborhood, if they have a good job, they’re much less likely to either start or relapse. The combination of pharmaceutical therapies and having a life that’s going in the right direction are the two things that have been most effective in my experience. Of course, this brings us back to all the other challenges of mobility.

become self-defeating. It’s really important not to look at your life and say, “Well, I was dealt a terrible hand, so there’s no use in even trying to play it well.” That’s one of the essential messages I’m trying to convey, that while we recognize that life can be unfair, we must still take responsibility for the many things in our lives that we can control, must recognize that we can make a difference even if the deck is stacked against us. That’s something we’re not especially good at talking about in our politics or in our culture—that twin recognition that life can be unfair, yet you still need to make efforts to better yourself and accomplish certain things. We tend to split that conversation. Some people talk about how “life is unfair.” Other people emphasize that you “should take personal responsibility for yourself.” Yet very often both can be true at the same time. When you grow up in a community that’s struggling, where you only see people failing to get ahead, you start to think that’s normal. You start to think of success and achievement and happiness as things that belong to people unlike you. That is certainly how I thought of the world. I thought that people who were happy and did well were just genetically different from people like me and my family. You cannot have that attitude and successfully fight against all of the other environmental effects of your community. If you think that the deck is hopelessly stacked against you, then you start to lose the one thing that can allow you to have any hope or promise: The belief in your own personal agency. Neighborhoods stacked with hopelessness drive agency out of children, and make kids think they have no control over their own lives. Unfortunately, elite culture also often reinforces that. On both the left and the right, you can hear people talking as if the only thing that matters is the economy, or well-designed public programs. Those things matter. But floundering families hear, “The only reason your life is a struggle is because of things beyond your control.”

Philanthropy: The culture you describe is so loyal and insular. No matter what goes on behind closed doors, you band together against the outside world. So even if we can all agree that the family is the most important thing to focus on, how likely is it that those families would be willing to accept help or outside intervention? Vance: It’s certainly a challenge, and it is definitely the case that a lot of these families view outsiders with mistrust. But I don’t think it’s impossible to pierce through that. It’s just something to be cognizant of when we think about interventions. The most successful outside help— things like Nurse-Family Partnerships, for example—presume that parents want the best for their children and try to help them think through how to achieve it. Are they raising their voices too much? Are they reading to their kids? Offering that sort of support can be pretty effective. In contrast, families are not going to be very welcoming to state child-welfare services coming into their homes and poking around, when they know this could result in their kids being taken away. But if you approach children’s services in a more cooperative way, including both the nuclear family and the extended family, that helps you get around this fear of outsiders. While promoting “family values” is going to be difficult, we promote values in our culture all the time. It’s a question of what values we’re promoting and how aggressively we’re promoting them. I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t have seri- Philanthropy: You’ve noted one problem ous conversations about the family. that really compounds addiction: addicts who are told their addiction is a disease are Philanthropy: Both you and your grand- then more passive in the face of it. It may parents experienced upward mobility in be medically true that it’s a disease, but in your lives. But sandwiched in between this case the truth does not set the person there’s a story of extreme downward free. It gets in the way of solving problem mobility in the person of your mom, with through volition and choices. Help me drug addiction playing a major role. Sadly, unpack that irony. she has lots of company these days. Vance: This is true not just in addiction. It’s Vance: Last year, opioid deaths killed more true in a lot of other areas of life, where the people than AIDS at the height of the recognition that you face some real barrier— Philanthropy: The antidote to that HIV crisis. This is now the most significant whether it’s economic, biological, etc.—can is something that you call “learned 16


­ illfulness,” which was instilled in you by w the Marine Corps. How do you learn willfulness? Are there other institutions besides the military that are effective at teaching it? Vance: The Marine Corps is obviously important, and the military plays a critical role in the lives of kids who grow up like I did. I’m not sure there’s any institution that teaches that willfulness quite as well, at least on such a large scale, but there are a number of smaller organizations that try to help. One category that jumps out are the organizations like Big Brothers/Big Sisters that take children from troubled families and connect them to a caring adult who can not only help them directly, but also indirectly expose them to a wide variety of backgrounds and lifestyles in the process. I’m also a big fan of some of these groups that take lower-income children and connect them with college opportunities—not just by providing funding, but also by providing kids with mentors and support networks as they progress through their education. I think what Byron Auguste’s TechHire initiative does is really interesting, in that it’s trying to fix local labor markets by giving people hard skills, but in retraining people for entirely new p ­ rofessions—in transitioning coal miners into software jobs, for instance—it’s implicitly teaching a certain amount of willfulness.  Philanthropy: The military also provided you with a new community that taught life skills—things like knowing how get a decent car loan. You had someone in your corner teaching you how to navigate adulthood. What other organizations can offer that sort of support? Vance: I learned a lot of things in the Marine Corps—soft skills, financial management, how to show up to work on time, how to maintain a professional image. Some people learn these skills in their families or wider communities, but I didn’t. In addition to what I didn’t learn at home, there were things I did pick up that I needed to put aside. When you grow up in a tough community you learn pretty quickly that if somebody insults you or your kin, you have to punch back, sometimes physically. You develop an attitude that conflict is central to survival. But if

you exhibit those traits when you’re an adult in a corporate boardroom, or in marriage, you run into problems. It took me a while to realize that many of the survival modes that were necessary when I was 11 years old don’t translate to being a professional adult. On both a tactical and emotional level, this is one of the areas where philanthropy can make a significant difference. I’m talking about access to community organizations and places that provide social and emotional support, networking, access to opportunities. I mentioned Big Brothers/Big Sisters, which provides excellent mentorship. The strength of Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous is the personal support and reinforcement they offer. Obviously, churches are one of the main venues where people can be part of a community and build social capital. But many lower-income families, even though that claim to be Christian, are falling out of active church participation. We should be worried about that. We know that people who go to church are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to have gainful employment, and have more wholesome lives in other ways. The areas where church participation has declined the most are places like A ­ ppalachia and the Rust Belt, where upward mobility is lowest. States like Utah and Kansas where upward mobility is strongest are, unsurprisingly, places where churches are still a major force in civil society and in people’s lives. Part of the problem is a declining number of active churches in working-class areas. Bringing active brick-and-mortar churches, and responsible churchgoers, back into working-class areas is a great place for philanthropy to help. Low-­ income areas that would have had lots of churches four or five decades ago are missing those institutions today. Philanthropy: Tell us about the nonprofit that you’re starting, Our Ohio Renewal. How is that going? Vance: We’re focusing on the twin questions of the opioid crisis and workforce development—two of the most important issues for the state, and they’re interrelated. SUMMER 2017

O n the opioid-abuse front, we’re identifying the things that have been tried, from prevention programs to physician training to treatment options, and trying to understand how well they are working. This information will be useful in redirecting resources to what actually succeeds. We’ll identify a couple key strategies we can stand behind, and then try to get community buy-in. In workforce development, there’s a retraining component. It has always been the case that the American economy is changing, with new technologies creating new jobs and destroying old ones. Workers adjust, so I’m not a cynic about these trends. Creative destruction opens opportunities for people to do new things, to contribute to the economy in new ways, and to have new jobs that are just as important and just as dignified as the jobs that people had years ago. But when we talk about education, high school, or college these days, we rarely think about the next generation of working-class jobs. We need to have plans that include trades jobs, and advanced manufacturing, and manual work of many kinds. In my other life as an investor, I’ve teamed up with Steve Case to inject venture capital into these overlooked areas. Honestly, I think some of the most important institutions in our society are businesses. It’s not just that businesses provide wages and work; they also provide a sense of community. They give people a place to come together, and to support one another. We don’t have enough venture capital flowing into the areas that have been hit hard by the decline of the industrial economy. Around 80 percent of venture capital currently goes to just three states— California, New York, and Massachusetts. I look at that and see a market opportunity, because I don’t think that 80 percent of the good businesses and good entrepreneurs are concentrated in those three places. That hasn’t been my experience as an investor. So our “Rise of the Rest” initiative is going to funnel venture capital into some of these overlooked companies and communities. It’s not just a winning social-impact opportunity, but a winning business opportunity. P 17

Revving Economic Engines at Community Colleges Want to get America back to work? Stop overlooking the thousand schools that serve half of America’s higher-ed students By David Bass



hio has shed hundreds of thousands of jobs since the mid-1990s, leading to an alarming rise of emptying towns and non-working residents. That’s a problem Karen Buchwald Wright is dedicated to reversing. Called “a quiet philanthropist” by her local newspaper, Wright has made a loud impact on the local economy—through a combination of jobs created at her company and philanthropic investments in the education infrastructure of central Ohio. She has poured millions into area community colleges, technical schools, and trades-­ oriented public colleges, with the aim of helping people acquire the skills they need to become valued employees. Wright’s support for community colleges is closely tied to her workforce. Along with her four grown sons, she owns the Ariel Corporation, a leading manufacturer of gas compressors. When the oil and gas industry (on which her sales depend) laid off 160,000 workers in late 2014 and early 2015, Wright chose an alternative to firings or furloughs for her own employees. She sent them back to school. While keeping her workers at a full 40 hours per week, Wright allowed them to spend a portion of their workday enrolled at a technical college earning an associate degree, either in machine trades or mechanics. “It’s partly a

strategy to keep our workers busy” until the highly cyclical energy business bounces back, says Wright. “But it’s also within a long-term vision of growing a valuable workforce, not just for ourselves, but for other manufacturers too.” Wright and Ariel Corporation had already laid the groundwork for this decision through intensive, strategic donations in preceding years to bolster local community colleges and tech schools. Wright focused on four area institutions—Central Ohio Technical College, Stark State, Zane State, and the Knox County Career Center. She funded the development of courses that workers can take to build mid-level skills that are in short supply today.

David Bass is a Philanthropy contributing editor and author of two guidebooks published by The Philanthropy Roundtable. Clearing Obstacles to Work (2015) focuses on philanthropic supports for individuals struggling to step onto the first rung of the employment ladder. Learning to Be Useful (2016) describes how donors can help workers train or re-train for middle-skill jobs that can support a family.




THE BIG UPSIDE ommunity colleges are a unique U.S. invention. Joliet Junior College was the nation’s first two-year public community college, founded in 1901. Other schools arose during the Great Depression to aid with job training and help put people back to work. During the post-World War II job boom, the President’s Commission on Higher Education urged the spread of community colleges to serve students of diverse abilities and interests for minimal cost. The infrastructure we know today bloomed in the 1960s. Fully 457 new campuses were born that decade, more than doubling the total. By the 1980s, half of all Americans enrolled in college were studying on a community campus. There are now over 1,000 public community colleges spread across the country. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation helped fuel this expansion. It was one of the first philanthropies to make community colleges, and the practical training and instruction they provide, a top priority of their giving. Beginning in 1959, Kellogg made about $125 million in grants to support these institutions. In addition, the foundation worked to establish and fund centers at 12 universities—­including ­Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan, and UT Austin—where administrators for twoyear colleges could be trained. The Kellogg Junior College Leadership P ­ rograms graduated hundreds of future deans and

presidents, and became the centerpiece of Kellogg’s success in this area. Kellogg remains involved with community colleges. When the lead-indrinking-water crisis came to a head in Flint, Michigan, in 2016, Kellogg partnered with Mott Community College (so named because of a long history of support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation) to help reverse the city’s long economic and social spiral. “We want residents to come into their own and take control of their future,” says Ali Webb of the Kellogg Foundation, which will boost unemployed residents into careers in health care, manufacturing, and human services. “Our grant is a crystallization of the way we see community colleges going all over the country. It’s one of the reasons we were a founding organization to the communitycollege movement in the U.S. Our support for these institutions is in keeping with ­ Mr. Kellogg’s belief that people have the ability to solve their own problems, and they need knowledge resources to do it.” A number of other foundations are emerging as prolific givers to community colleges. These include the Gates, Lumina, Kresge, Harry Helmsley, Bernard Osher, Joyce, and Annie Casey foundations. Several of these also support the Aspen Institute’s program to recognize c­ ommunity-college excellence across the country. Donors who want a handy sheet of successes to study can look up the list of colleges that have won the $1 million Aspen award given out every other year. The top pick in 2017 was Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota.


One gift, for instance, involved donating $1 million to the Knox County Career Center to replace aging equipment in its machining lab. Through the nonprofit foundation she established in 2009, Wright has also funded engineering and nursing scholarships at Mount Vernon ­Nazarene University. And she has supported science, technology, math, and engineering classes in local public schools. This included a grant for a highschool engineering program. Wright has committed to give away around 10 percent of her corporate profits to charitable causes. These technical-­training programs, education supports, and grants to community colleges are a big part of her giving. When the charitable results are good, her enthusiasm sometimes leads her to exceed her donation goal. “For me, the joy of giving is real because I can see it resulting in good things.” Wright’s ambitious philanthropy is a snapshot of what individual donors and foundations across the country are beginning to achieve by bolstering community colleges. After decades of gushing (and not always discerning) support for elite four-year campuses, some donors are discovering that they can have much clearer effects by partnering with the kid brother of higher ed: their local community college. As places where the regional economy is more likely to be directly fueled, and where workingclass Americans more often get their first lift toward the middle class, community colleges have vast potential for philanthropy. And communities, colleges, and students alike are finding they are much better off when local donors get involved to provide funds, ideas, and energy to these distinctly American contributions to education.


Donors are trying to solve two problems: Help disadvantaged people grab opportunities, and improve job skills that our economy needs to thrive. Many corporate givers are also coming aboard, seeing a solution to twin goals: helping disadvantaged people prepare for financial opportunities, and improving the job skills our economy needs to thrive. Goldman Sachs, for example, recently gave $2.2 million to LaGuardia Community College in Queens. In South Carolina, the SunTrust ­Foundation supports an initiative at Trident Technical College that allows high-school students to “earn while they learn.” Launched in 2014 with six manufacturing companies and 13 highschool students, the Charleston Regional Youth A ­ pprenticeship Program has grown to include more than 120 participating employers across nine industries. The two-year program combines mentoring, classroom and lab instruction, and on-thejob training. “These youth apprenticeships are designed to change young people’s lives,” says Mark L ­ attanzio, SunTrust’s Charleston director. “We knew it was going to be a game-changer for growing talent in our region.” The city’s Chamber of C ­ ommerce also helps fund tuition, textbooks, and supplies. The youth apprentices are also offered financial-literacy workshops. SunTrust sponsors fun, interactive seminars conducted by the nonprofit Origin SC. In addition to helping people earn money, says Lattanzio, the foundation helps them manage it. “By teaching them how to save, budget, and make prudent financial decisions, we help them start their careers with financial confidence.” The sky is the limit for partnerships between donors and community

colleges. Yet many major foundations and companies that collectively lavish billions in gifts on four-year schools never even consider two-year counterparts. Community colleges lack the development budgets, donor outreach, alumni networks, sports leagues, fraternities and sororities, and reunion groups that four-year colleges use to build sentimental support. “Harvard has been fundraising and cultivating alumni for 400 years,” points out Lisa Skari, vice president for institutional advancement for Highline College near Seattle. “Most community colleges were founded in the 1960s and 1970s, and it hasn’t been until the last 10 to 15 years that we’ve begun to look methodically at donor funding.”

partners they donate to carefully. While top-flight community colleges are still an exception, we are seeing a rapid expansion of the ranks of well-run schools that are aggressively responding to local job demands, addressing America’s rapidly shifting social makeup, and nimbly serving as feeders to the millions of m ­ iddleskill jobs that will open over the next two decades. When supportive funders embrace and challenge a community college, good things can happen fast. One factor making community colleges prime territory for charitable support is the fact that their student bodies include large fractions of lowincome and minority students, of students who were ill-served by public schools and need remedial help, of students from A HUNGER TO BE RELEVANT weak families, or families with no prior here are obstacles that tradition of higher education. One out of community colleges need three community-college students comes to get around. There are too from a family with annual income below many community colleges $20,000. Two thirds of c­ ommunity-college with weak academics, lots of students work 35 hours or more per week irrelevant degrees, and poor while they are going to school. The open job-­placement records. Many two-year admission policies, low tuition, “secondcolleges have high dropout rates (although chance” instructional opportunities, that is partly a function of their willingness and local focus of community colleges to enroll lots of students who have not can offer economic lifelines to younger succeeded in conventional schooling). Americans who have carried burdens, or There are plenty of four-year colleges with simply bloomed late. similar problems, though, and many of Community colleges allow some the old stigmas that pigeonhole two-year students to edge their way into success. college as a low-pay, low-­achievement The Community College Research Center path are misperceptions. has found that students who start some One way donors can move community colleges away from mediocre curricula, and reward high standards and economic relevance, is to choose the



This program exposes students to jobs where they can graduate and get a starting salary of $60,000 per year. community-college coursework while still in high school achieve higher GPAs and are more likely to graduate quickly. These gains are more dramatic for groups that tend to struggle more in college: students who are low-income, minority, or male. In Iowa, Des Moines Area ­Community College is engaged in educating inmates of the men’s and women’s prisons, from life skills and highschool completion to skilled job training. For several years it offered welding, teaching coursework inside the prisons and having the Department of Corrections deliver prisoners to one of its sites with welding laboratories from 10:00 p.m. to 2 a.m. for hands-on instruction. DMACC has also partnered with United Way and Goodwill to do in-prison training in ­transportation-distribution-logistics (warehouse work and OSHA safety) and construction (applied math, OSHA safety, work-zone safety, construction core). “Recidivism for those inmates who come out of prison with our training and a job is only 9 percent. Without our training it is 29 percent,” says DMACC president Rob Denson. Funding these programs “reduces corrections costs and benefits businesses that need skilled workers, not to mention the positive impact on the ex-­offenders and their families.” “DMACC is making available something in the prisons that these individuals would likely not have the


time or support to get when they are on the outside,” says Elisabeth Buck, president of the local United Way. “These men and women can make very good, family-sustaining wages upon release, giving them an essential tool for successful re-integration.” Community colleges with a strong occupational focus also have the capacity to energize local economies. The Pittsburgh-based Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation supports community colleges both to boost their region’s productivity and to unleash economic opportunity for disadvantaged high-school students. Although he was one of the 100 wealthiest men in the U.S. by the end of his life in the 1950s, Michael Benedum had humble origins. He took his first job at the age of 16, working 12-hour days at a West Virginia flour mill for $16 a month. After a chance meeting with an oil executive on a train, Benedum got his start in the petroleum industry. Ten years later, he and a partner formed the BenedumTrees Oil Company. As Time magazine later put it, they began “with $500 in cash and a million dollars’ worth of nerve.” Famous for laboring seven days a week until his death, Benedum amassed one of the largest energy empires in the world. He also became known for his remarkable generosity. Michael and his wife created the Claude Worthington ­Benedum ­Foundation in 1944, named for their only son after he was killed by the Spanish Flu. The foundation has since made gifts exceeding $410 million over a swath of West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. Every year, the Benedum Foundation makes about $3 million of grants to jobtraining programs at community colleges and high schools. One of many examples


is the Advanced Technology Center they funded at Westmoreland Community College in southwest P ­ ennsylvania. The college has partnered with local businesses to create specialized labs where students can be trained in computer-aided drafting and design, electronics, metallurgy, and other advanced manufacturing techniques. The goal is to train, and re-train, workers so well-paying manufacturing businesses in the region stay healthy. Local firms look to the college as an employment pipeline. They provide new equipment and even instructors on how to use it. “It’s really a nice model of secondary and post-secondary corporate training all in one location,” says James Denova, vice president of the Benedum Foundation. “Its real value is in the proximity to major companies.” That allows a two-way human flow: employees who need skill training can head to campus, and community­ college students who would benefit from exposure to real-world work culture can attend classes at company sites. Benedum has a particular commitment to training high-school students. About a third of the funds it has given to ­Westmoreland over the last decade were directed to a high-school program run out of the Advanced Technology Center. Participating students earn college credit, secure a certificate in industrial technology, and complete high school at the same time. For graduates with this certification it’s a short and easy step into jobs like production specialist, welding technician, production operator, and HVAC service technician. The credentials are highly “stackable,” allowing students to mix specialties, and earn an associate degree if they wish. “In southwestern Pennsylvania, we’ve experienced a misalignment between

what students are studying and what jobs are available. So this program is meant to be a way to expose students to jobs where they can graduate and get a starting salary of $60,000 per year,” says Westmoreland’s president, Tuesday Stanley. In a similar example in the western U.S., the Morgridge Family Foundation has made key investments in Colorado Mountain College to expand dual enrollment and certification pathways. CMC is a network of 11 campuses spread across the lightly populated towns of the Rocky Mountains. It even allows high-school students to earn an associate degree at the same time they graduate from high school, with zero student debt. The Morgridge Family Foundation also supports community colleges in Florida and Wisconsin, viewing these investments as both educational and poverty-fighting measures. Carrie Morgridge believes that four-year colleges and universities can learn much from well-run community colleges about adaptability, cost control, and success with hard populations. “Higher education is going to have to have this huge makeover to catch up with what good community colleges are doing now,” she says. “Community colleges are a powerful tool. We’ve found they are hungry to be relevant in the communities they serve.” This outlook is shared by Penny Enroth, president of the Palmer ­Foundation, which has invested ambitiously in community colleges in Wisconsin and North Carolina, including over half a million dollars in North Carolina’s Sandhills Community College alone. The college was scheduled to tear down an unused maintenance building on its property when it realized the structure could be repurposed as a trades-instruction facility. The Palmer Foundation made an initial investment of $212,000 to fund the

renovation. The Palmer Trades Center is now an active venue for students pursuing credentials in production technology, electrical contracting, and advanced welding. Since its trades program launched in 2013, Sandhills has graduated 154 students, with eight out of ten now holding jobs at area manufacturers such as Caterpillar, Unilever, and Butterball. The Palmer Foundation’s investments have helped attract larger grantmakers. The Duke Energy Foundation has now given the college $450,000 toward CTE education, including one grant that allowed the purchase of a virtual welding trainer. The Golden LEAF Foundation put up $750,000 for a 4,500-squarefoot expansion of the Palmer Trades Center. And a corporate donor, Victory ­Technology, has donated valuable welding equipment and a plasma cutter. “We’re not a large foundation,” says Enroth. “But we take risks. And so we’re a little fish that attracts bigger fish.”

one available, and they took advantage of it. Jan also continued to take classes at the school—everything from accounting to culinary arts. Their children attended over the years too. During that time, the Olivas never gave to Clark College for a simple reason: as with many community colleges, the school never asked. After donors Roy and Virginia Andersen gave a historic $28 million gift in the 1990s to start a foundation at Clark C ­ ollege, the institution’s fundraising apparatus began to improve. Jan joined the foundation’s board of directors, and she and her husband started to involve themselves financially with the college, first through two anonymous gifts that served as matching rewards for a yearly fundraising drive. Eventually, the Olivas made a gift of $1 million to renovate the earlylearning center at the school. They also became active in offering scholarships, endowing supports for prospective pharmacy-school students, and TAPPING ALUMNI GIVING for young female immigrants from Russia he local element is what and Ukraine. When the Soviet Union attracted donor and business collapsed, evangelical church networks in owner Jan Oliva to begin their part of Washington drew significant supporting Clark College in numbers of former Soviets to relocate Vancouver, Washington. “We in the area. While the men were finding drive by the college every day, work in construction or the trades, the we see it, and we interact with the people women were not getting out of the house. who profit from being there,” Oliva says. “I was especially concerned that young “In the 52 years we grew a business here, women see that there are opportunities many of our employees had gone to for them that had not been available to Clark. It’s all intertwined.” their mothers,” says Jan, so she and Steve Jan and her husband Steve ran established a scholarship to support Hi-School Pharmacy for more than 35 women who want to become nurses, years in the Pacific Northwest, growing dental hygienists, teachers, and more. the business from one drugstore in For Jan, one of the best parts about downtown Vancouver to a regional chain. the scholarship program is getting to meet The family’s relationship to Clark College ­students—“that’s when the tears start stretches back to when they moved to the flowing. They are so thankful. It’s just area in the 1960s. At the time, Jan wanted heart-warming,” she says. “It’s amazing to earn a teaching certificate in history, the ripple effect a small donation for a and in order to do that she had to take a scholarship can have in the life of the class in ­Washington state history. Clark recipient, the life of the donor, and even in the life of the larger community.” College was the best option available. Then when their daughter was born, Clark’s preschool program was the only



The Olivas also provided funds to create a new cadaver lab at Clark College as part of a major science-building renovation project. For years the school had partnered with Washington state to use its cadaver lab. Now Clark has its own lab with state-of-the-art systems. Tod M ­ cClaskey, co-founder of the Red Lion Hotel in ­Vancouver, is another generous donor.­His family foundation gave $4 million of the $10.5 million cost of renovating Clark’s culinary-arts institute in 2016. Like Jan Oliva, many community colleges have graduates who are capable of supplying significant gifts. Junki Yoshida is a multimillionaire foodindustry entrepreneur known for his Yoshida’s gourmet sauce. He arrived from Japan for a U.S. vacation in 1968, at the age of 19. Liking what he encountered, he cashed in his return air ticket and used the $500 to buy an old Plymouth Valiant, then set out to pursue his own version of the American Dream. Yoshida enrolled at Highline College in Seattle to improve his English, teaching karate on the side to pay for classes. He met his future wife, Linda, on the Highline campus, and together the couple opened a small karate school. Lacking funds to give Christmas gifts to the karate students, Junki and Linda cooked batches of his family’s 60-year-old secret recipe for a ­teriyaki-based sauce. It was the beginning of what eventually became Yoshida Foods International, a collection of private ­companies in food, property management, and real estate. The Yoshidas are now active philanthropists and longtime supporters of Highline College. “When I was a boy on the streets in my hometown in Japan, I would dream about going to America and becoming a businessman,” Junki says. “And look where I am now. But I could not have accomplished that without the help of so many, many people. In 1970, the door was opened for me at Highline.” Though they don’t get as much press as major gifts to four-year universities,


examples of generous donations to community colleges by alumni abound. Last year, for instance, Robert Frey, a 1978 graduate of Suffolk County Community College in New York, gave a $1 million gift to the school for student scholarships and aid. About the same time, engineer and businessman Richard Kraft and his wife Ann gave $300,000 to his alma mater, Muskegon Community College in Michigan, to support its entrepreneurial-studies program. Many community colleges are beginning to develop systems for tracking alumni and asking for support. Jan Oliva notes that a huge step forward for Clark College was when it began building an alumni database. Other schools, such as Cayuga Community College in New York, have established a specific alumni program as part of the college foundation. For many years, the foundations at community colleges just passively received scholarship moneys. “Now, the boards of these institutions are saying, ‘We want to do more,’ ” notes Adam Cermak, director of the Colorado Community College System Foundation. Grants that aid colleges in tracking and soliciting their alumni could be one way donors can encourage community colleges to help themselves. GRADUATING, AND SUCCEEDING ne of the greatest challenges for community colleges is helping students finish their certificates and degrees. The numbers are troubling: completion rates in many associate-degree programs hover around 30 percent (compared to 43 percent at four-year schools). These percentages


have fed an alarming rise of Americans with some college education but no degree, a status that does them little good in the job market, yet often leaves them debt-burdened. Three factors principally determine whether students will earn a credential: how prepared they are for college-level coursework, how many outside life pressures they face (job, family, transportation, finances, etc.), and whether the college offers a clear pathway to graduation. Donors are leading the charge to improve community-college graduation rates. In 2010, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation earmarked $35 million for this purpose. Its “Completion by Design” program funds community-college systems in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio to offer increased guidance and support to students who are at risk of dropping out. Lessons learned through this effort will be disseminated to other places. Similarly, in 2013 the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation invested $25 million at City University of New York to boost student retention and graduation rates. One initiative launched with Guttman funding was found by an independent study to nearly double the percentage of students graduating from the school within three years. Other foundations have taken broad approaches to improving graduation rates. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, for example, believes that lackluster math skills are a major contributing factor to poor graduation rates among communitycollege students. So the foundation created curricula in quantitative reasoning and statistics to help community-college students learn practical math skills.

The best colleges research in-demand occupations and tailor their offerings to the skills that local employers need. Support from the Lumina and Ford foundations launched the I-BEST program at Seattle Central College in 2005. It allows adult students to take remedial courses while working toward a specific credential, certification, or degree. After that approach yielded crisp success, it spread across the state of Washington, and is now being replicated in other states. One way leaders at Valencia C ­ ollege in Orlando, Florida, have found to improve completion rates is through condensed offerings. With support from the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation and other donors, Valencia has created what it calls its “career-express” model— intensive, short bursts of training, in collaboration with nonprofits and companies, that immediately produce a valuable credential. Students who would struggle to maintain momentum in a two-year program are able to add micro-burst classes lasting just five weeks to their normal work and home responsibilities. Valencia’s most popular tracks are in nursing, cardiovascular technology, engineering technologies, entertainment-related technologies, criminal justice, and paralegal work. These classes are focused on the end result most community-college students seek: a better job leading to a better life. “ We tried to understand the value proposition from the student’s point of view,” says Valencia president Sandy Shugart. “It has to be about the end result—work—and not about the training itself. They can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s too long of a tunnel. But if we take them through a series of very short tunnels, where the opportunity cost of lost wages while they’re in school is small, they’re perfectly willing to enroll.” Other donors are forgoing direct investments in community colleges to

instead support nonprofits that provide the so-called wraparound services like transportation or child care that have been shown to be important to helping some students earn their degrees. This can be particularly useful with single mothers, the chronically unemployed, and the formerly incarcerated. The nonprofit Goodwill Industries has very effectively partnered with community colleges in central North Carolina, where textile manufacturing jobs have hemorrhaged away in recent decades. Bob Greene was a board member of the regional G ­ oodwill affiliate and also president of Forsyth Technical Community College during the 1980s. He pioneered the idea of connecting Goodwill with the local college to support unemployed or under-employed individuals while they received short bursts of training in labor-specific areas. This has now spread. The community colleges provide the instructors, materials, and some equipment. Goodwill assesses candidates, provides them with support services, tracks their progress, and offers job-placement services when they are done. Goodwill also provides classrooms and other facilities, sometimes in places where candidates are more likely to show up. The nonprofit sometimes contributes equipment for new labs and training areas. Students who might be intimidated by the idea of taking classes on a college campus often fit easily into the more intimate settings of Goodwill facilities. And Goodwill can offer things like financial assistance, remedial reading and writing, even access to professional clothing. Initially, the collaboration had two career focuses—basic computer skills, and nursing assistance. It has since grown to encompass health care, service and hospitality, trade skills, and office


technology. Training is completed in six months or less, and many times includes a direct pathway to an associate degree. The program is closely tied to the needs of local businesses. The nonprofit does extensive research to gauge in-­ demand occupations and develop the right curricula for the skills that employers need. “These community colleges are trying to reach the same people that we’re trying to reach,” notes Art Gibel, CEO of Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina. “It’s a great marriage for the community colleges and Goodwill to extend both of our missions in a mutually beneficial way.” The partnership currently links ­Goodwill to 11 community colleges in North Carolina. About 6,000 students per year complete skills training under its aegis. Goodwill has separately developed an Access Center Adult High School that allows students without a high-school education to complete their degrees while pursuing specific skills certifications. Tina Lawson, a single mother of two, benefited from this program when she came to Goodwill in search of career opportunities. Lacking a high-school diploma, she felt trapped in an economic hole. She joined the Access Center Adult High School in 2014, and, while working on her diploma, completed a skillstraining class with Goodwill in office technology. Five months later she began a job as an administrative assistant for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools. Last year, Lawson returned to earn certification as an administrative assistant, and secured a raise at work. She is now considering a degree in human resources. “I was so proud of myself and the look in my kids’ eyes when I put my diploma on the table to show them,” she says. “It was the best feeling in the world.” P


The Apprenticeship Alternative Community college is not the only avenue to skills training. A number of philanthropists are now targeting their giving to alternatives such as apprenticeships that provide predictable and successful pathways to middle- and high-skilled jobs. Apprenticeship is a time-proven method of education and training that takes place primarily on the job through structured learning opportunities and increasingly independent work. Although there is no law or regulation that requires an apprenticeship to be registered, doing so ensures that the apprentice receives a national, industry-recognized (especially in the traditional trades) credential and may also enable the employer or the apprentice to receive federal or state funding to offset program costs or provide wraparound support services. A registered apprenticeship must include at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and a recommended 144 hours of classroom learning (called related technical instruction), although some programs are three or four years in length and some award college credit. While many outstanding opportunities are provided by unions through Joint LaborManagement Apprenticeship Programs, apprenticeship is expanding beyond the traditional trades with many new programs being offered by individual employers or groups. Apprenticeships are not the same as internships or shortterm training programs, as they require a longer commitment on the part of the apprentice and the employer. The most important distinguishing feature is that the apprentice is employed from the start of the program, rather than upon its completion, and the apprentice is paid wages and benefits like any other employee. The employer also typically pays the costs of related technical instruction, which can take place on-site or online. Despite the cost employers bear in supporting apprenticeship, they generally report a positive return on their investment that includes increased productivity, greater employee loyalty and retention, lower error and injury rates, and a reliable pipeline of workers who are both highly skilled and acculturated to workplace norms. Apprenticeship also provides an opportunity to retain the institutional knowledge and skills of retiring workers who might enjoy part-time teaching or mentoring even if they no longer wish to remain in a full-time technical job. A number of philanthropic foundations have engaged in bold efforts to expand apprenticeship at the high school and postsecondary level. The Bloomberg Philanthropies and JPMorgan Chase, for example, have committed $9.5 million to CareerWise Colorado, a program that supports Swiss-style youth

apprenticeship. This is just one investment made by JPMorgan Chase as part of its $75 million New Skills for Youth initiative. Currently 250 Colorado high-school juniors and seniors are engaged in apprenticeship learning, with plans to grow the program over the next 10 years to serve 20,000 students per year. The Daniels, Markle, and Walton Family foundations have also contributed to this effort, committing another $1.5 million. The Annie Casey and Joyce foundations are supporting research on the benefits of apprenticeship and are working to expand such programs in a broader range of occupations and to a more diverse group of participants. They also support experimental programs by convening employers and educators and funding startup costs. The Joyce Foundation, for example, is supporting the Industry Consortium for Advanced Technology Training program, a partnership between the German American Chamber of Commerce and advanced-manufacturing companies in Illinois, to provide apprenticeship opportunities in industrial maintenance and advanced manufacturing. ICATT plans to expand its program into Indiana and Wisconsin and to additional occupations, such as IT and allied health. Some philanthropic organizations engage directly in providing apprenticeship programs or helping established programs grow. For example, when Generac Power Systems realized that the apprenticeship program it designed could help others meet their own talent-acquisition needs, it teamed up with the Kern Family Foundation to create GPS Education

Apprenticeships are not the same as internships or short-term training programs. They require a longer commitment on the part of the apprentice and the employer.


Partners, which now includes 100 businesses, 43 high schools, and 20 other community partners, and provides apprenticeship opportunities to over 200 students from 35 school districts throughout the state of Wisconsin. These are just a few examples of philanthropic giving that is having tremendous impact in preparing talented and hard-working individuals for good jobs, providing continuing professional development for incumbent workers, and facilitating upward mobility without the burden of student loans or lost wages. —Diane Jones



ical Education

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Learning to Be Useful A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Career and Technical Education David Bass

One/Two Punch The two best books available on how philanthropists can help strugglers succeed at work

Available at no charge to Philanthropy magazine readers To order your free printed copy of Learning to Be Useful: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Career and Technical Education and/or Clearing Obstacles to Work: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Helping Strugglers Become Self-Reliant, e-mail or call 202.822.8333 To download an e-book or PDF, please visit

Economic mobility—and helping fellow citizens left behind over the last generation due to the decline of entry-level work and industrial jobs—is one of today’s most pressing issues for philanthropists and public-spirited Americans of all stripes. Are there charitable approaches that can build a first foothold on the employment ladder for recovering addicts, the homeless, disabled persons, former prisoners, and others who have had difficulty becoming self-reliant? Yes! We’ll show you a wide range of approaches in Clearing Obstacles to Work. Are there places donors can invest to help families and individuals who are working but not thriving (or at risk of having their jobs disappear right from under them) acquire the skills and habits that will allow them to securely enter our middle class? There are! Learning to be Useful profiles scores of givers and programs that have proven successful at moving workers up the skill and success escalator. If you want to help today’s forgotten and frustrated Americans who have been bypassed by recent economic trends­­­—so they can thrive and become independent (which will also patch holes in our society and economy, fueling national prosperity)—pick up these two new books. They provide exactly the practical advice and inspiration that any donor will need to make a difference in real lives in his or her home community.

LeTourneau University


BUILDERS A Christian polytechnic university takes after its inventive founder By Ashley May

LeTourneau University


n the pines of east Texas, under an open sky, there’s an unassuming college off Mobberly Avenue in Longview, marked with a low blue-and-gray sign: “LeTourneau University.” Turning in, the first sight is a “machine garden” sprouting iron implements invented to level land. Sitting quietly amidst the industrial artifacts is a low, unadorned tombstone marking the final resting place of R ­ . G. LeTourneau. It was his restless creative energy that gave birth to these machines. And next to him is a marker for his wife Evelyn, who turned his tinkering genius into a college where other Americans could be immersed in the unusual mix of mechanics and morality that made him a whirlwind of productivity and character-building. The story goes something like this: East Texas citizens were wooing R. G., then an industrialist known the world over for his earthmoving machines and imaginative heavy equipment, in hopes that he would choose Longview as the home of his next manufacturing plant. On a visit to check out the region, he and his wife were spirited into an airplane for an aerial tour. Glancing out through the windows, Evelyn spotted rows and rows of white barracks, the remains of Harmon Hospital, which had been an Army medical center during World War II. She turned to R. G. and voiced a dream: perhaps that Army hospital could become the campus of a technical college where a generation of strapping men could be formed and educated while her husband taught them how to make good with their hands. Back on the ground, R. G. went to work creating his plant, while ­Evelyn made inquiries about the deserted barracks. It turned out the federal government was willing to sell her the land and buildings for a dollar, with

Ashley May is managing editor of Philanthropy. SUMMER 2017


the stipulation that if the Army needed the facility in the next ten years, she would immediately return it. The technical school would also be committed to training G.I.s returning from World War II. In an unusual mix that gets at the heart of the distinctive LeTourneau formula, it was decided that the students would work every other day in R. G.’s plant down the street, earning a paycheck, and spend the alternating days in classes. They would master the math behind the mechanics, burnish the communications skills needed to be effective supervisors and business leaders, and acquire the spiritual grounding that would make these men good citizens of earthly and heavenly kingdoms. The doors opened in 1946 as the first and only institution of its kind in America: a Christian polytechnic university. LEARNING FROM A HARD-KNOCK LIFE Long before their school opened, the LeTourneaus had become adept at nurturing young men, especially rough-and-tumble boys who didn’t fit easily into the ­ merica— increasingly desk-bound world of post-war A men of the sort R. G. had been himself. Feeding, caring about, and guiding such men had been part of their lives since the early days of R. G.’s business. The couple would have workers over for dinners; they even opened 30


their own home as a boarding house for employees needing shelter in Peoria, Illinois. Starting at their ­ eorgia, factory, and later near their facility in Toccoa, G Vicksburg, Mississippi, they experimented with offering vocational classes to build skills within their labor force. And in all their interactions with the young men attracted to their heavy industry, both Evelyn and R. G. mixed in softening, sweetening spiritual instruction. They incorporated chaplains and chapel services inside each of their plants. They closed up shop on Sundays. They would steer young males to Christian camps that transmitted a vigorous Gospel message in outdoor settings. On one trip driving teenagers to camp, Evelyn was impressed by a camp counselor named Billy Graham, whom she and R. G. would later support financially. This desire to help red-blooded young men become gainfully employed, useful, and civilized stemmed from personal history. Rebellious from a young age, R. G. struggled mightily in school. By the seventh grade, he later remembered, “I quit trying entirely, and came to hate school with an almost physical violence. I wanted to break windows and kick out walls.” In eighth grade he told his parents he was a grown man and didn’t intend to go to school anymore. His father, a building contractor, used a church connection to get him a job as an apprentice at an iron works in Portland, Oregon,

LeTourneau University

Inventor R. G. LeTourneau sits in his favorite spot: atop an earthmoving machine. Despite little formal education, the ingenious and hardworking tinkerer secured nearly 300 patents and engineered whole new categories of machinery. LeTourneau set up his namesake university to instill that diligent, problem-solving spirit in young men.

LeTourneau University

Throughout her life, Evelyn LeTourneau dispensed meals, kindness, and practical wisdom to draw strapping young men into spiritual and educational disciplines. After her husband’s death she lived at LeTourneau University in a humble duplex as a campus “mom.”

where he moved sand by wheelbarrow from massive pile to fiery furnace. After his place of work burned to the ground, R. G. moved to San Francisco hoping for work in another foundry. He was 17. San Francisco was a wasteland after the 1906 earthquake and fire, which destroyed 80 percent of the city. R. G. demolished, pulled tree stumps, repaired houses, worked whatever he could get. It wasn’t enough. “I walked the streets for days. You couldn’t buy a job,” he later wrote, “even if you could have got your money out of a bank to buy it with.” By 21, he was back home, chopping wood for his father. He considered himself a “washed-up bum.” He sent away for correspondence lessons in mechanics. Soon he could take a motorcycle apart and put it back together again in one day. No more courses were needed. He moved to Stockton, California, and found a job as a night worker at a garage, responsible for towing cars back to the premises for repair by the trained mechanics in the morning. R. G.’s gifts were noticed at the garage, and soon he was a daytime mechanic. Then he and a partner struck out on their own repairing cars. He practiced welding, a new technology at the time. He also met Evelyn during this period, while he was boarding in her family’s house. When Evelyn reached 16, the couple eloped and

­married in Tijuana. In addition to a wife, this earned R. G. a kidnapping charge and seven years of silence from her father. The young couple were on their own, with the first World War beginning to spiral. A month into marriage, R. G. went to the Mare Island Navy Yard and begged to help in any fashion as an iron molder, electrician, mechanic, or machinist. He caught on, and expanded his skills. When the Spanish influenza swept the Navy Yard, R. G. and Evelyn were spared, but they lost their first-born son. After the war the couple returned to Stockton to find that R. G.’s partner in the garage business had turned to alcohol and drunk the partnership into deep debt. Saddled with $5,000 in bills, R. G. hit the streets of Stockton desperate for work of any sort. A GIFT FOR INVENTION It’s at this point that an odd job turned into a life calling. A friend asked R. G. to level his field, a key step in farming in northern California, where crops depend upon irrigation systems that work best on flat land. To do this, a tractor would be hitched to a scraper, and with each having its own operator, they would work in tandem. After completing that job, R. G. took another leveling assignment. But the man operating the scraper refused to work the 14-hour sunup-to-sundown days SUMMER 2017


Students at LeTourneau University scheme on ways to adapt a wheelchair to make it more useful and affordable in an under-developed country. The university curriculum stresses hands-on building and practical applications for real-world problems.



No historical epoch found more uses for LeTourneau’s inventive imagination than World War II. His company provided 70 percent of the earthmoving equipment used by the U.S. in the war, churning out everything from bulldozers to cranes specially fitted to pick up and move aircraft. He even set up a plant in Australia to supply the Pacific front. R. G. and Evelyn LeTourneau had long since shed their debt burden. They were successful and wealthy beyond any expectation. But they felt a different burden—a deep-seated belief that their possessions belonged to God and not themselves. They decided in 1932 to give a substantial portion of the profits of their company to religious and educational purposes. In 1935, they put 70 percent of the company’s stock into a newly created LeTourneau Foundation (later upping it to 90 percent). Meanwhile they maintained a simple style of living; the trappings of wealth didn’t fit them. “Although his firm has made millions,” noted a Life article in 1944, “LeTourneau still refuses to pay more than $35 for a suit of clothes.” Instead of finery, he and his wife put much of their money into projects like their college. OPENING OPPORTUNITIES FOR OTHERS LeTourneau University was not much interested in liberal-arts education, or theology, or abstract learning. It focused on useful instruction in how to build things and solve immediate problems. One of R. G.’s signature refrains was that “God needs businessmen, too.”

LeTourneau University

that the financially encumbered R. G. wanted. So R. G. took to his welding torch and created a scraper that could be operated by the single person driving the tractor. He rattled his way across the fields of California, doing the work of two men and pocketing both checks. He began building other machines that sped and eased his work on odd jobs. Gradually, his ideas and adept torch and wrenches allowed R. G. LeTourneau to build, project by project, an engineering empire. He eventually zeroed in on the manufacturing and sale of heavy equipment, often custom machines. Some of these he made for other companies like Caterpillar. Others he put to work on his own jobs, including building the Boulder Highway that stretched to the Hoover Dam construction site. Officially incorporated in 1929, R. G. LeTourneau, Inc. developed many innovations. Instead of riveting parts together he relied on welding alone. He put rubber tires, previously written off as impractical, onto his heavy machinery. His company built the world’s first-ever offshore jack-up drilling rig in 1954, propelling the oil industry into new fields (and launching a partnership with George H. W. Bush). LeTourneau came to hold more than 300 patents, many for machines laughed at by competitors and then later accepted as the gold standard. He erected plants across the country, and trained a special workforce for each one. And he kept inventing. Always inventing.

The LeTourneaus had become adept at nurturing young men, especially rough-and-tumble boys who didn’t fit easily into the increasingly desk-bound world of post-war America. The school was initially funded through gifts from the LeTourneau Foundation, tuition payments, and money raised through the charisma of R. G. himself. He would go on aggressive speaking tours throughout the United States, talking to church members and business councils about the importance of a practical Christianity that not only saves souls but fills bellies. His company newsletter, which eventually became a national publication, captured his approach in its title: Now. Once the ten-year waiting period with the Army was over, the college moved to become co-educational, and tore down the old barracks and built more permanent structures. It also solidified its programs, for instance adding an aviation school. One LeTourneau son, Richard, served as president of the university. Another son, Roy, ran the foundation. R. G. died in 1969 at the age of 80, and after his passing Evelyn retired to a duplex on the campus, where she lived with her daughter Louise until her own death in 1987. The LeTourneau company struggled through the loss of R. G. and an extended sales slump. For some time, “there wasn’t a lot going out the backdoor at the plant. And if there wasn’t anything going out the backdoor then there wasn’t anything coming into the LeTourneau Foundation or the university,” says Gerri Forbis, who has been an administrator on campus for more than 50 years. Eventually Richard left the college to run the company. When he sold it, that created a burst of funds for the foundation. But it also brought a close to the unique partnership that alternated students back and forth between classrooms and the Longview manufacturing plant. The faculty and staff went to work to find compensating ways of maintaining LeTourneau’s focus on practical learning. Planning also began for a future without dependence on the LeTourneau Foundation. The last grants from the original LeTourneau Foundation went out the door in the late 1980s, and the foundation—which had once been the largest religious philanthropy in A ­ merica—closed down. The board of the college transitioned during the ’80s to a group of national business leaders. Evelyn was the last family member on the board, but current president Dale Lunsford says to this day “there’s absolutely honor, respect, and connection to the family.”

MASTERING USEFUL KNOWLEDGE LeTourneau University has been an accredited independent college since the 1970s. Now magazine has evolved into the campus quarterly, and in the back of every issue the school breaks down its revenue and expenses for all to read. It currently has a modest $50 million budget, holds $50 million in investments, and owns $78 million in property and equipment. “A lot of people assume that if R. G. LeTourneau’s name is on the school he must have left some massive endowment,” says Lunsford. “Well, the answer is no, he didn’t. He was definitely very generous. But he would see a need, and he would give to it.” Rather than piling up money for future use, he gave while living. R. G. did bank a lot of goodwill, though. As Lunsford travels the country raising money for the school today, he is regularly thanked by people whose company or family or charity was helped at some point by the big-hearted industrialist. “He clearly knew the joy of giving, because he experienced it at a personal level all the time.” And while R. G.’s spirit of addressing needs in the moment requires the school to fundraise energetically now, that has kept the scrappy institution tied to its mission of always being relevant, practical, and useful. It needs to attract students, and donors, by demonstrating it can get things done, make things happen. “Our founder was a doer,” says Lunsford. “He was a builder. He wanted to make sure that people left this school immediately productive, immediately able to make a difference.” That’s the attitude the school continues to inculcate. The staff doesn’t speak about diplomas as the ultimate goal—it emphasizes work. “After the investment has been made, you need to be able to go out and get a job,” says administrator Don Egle. LeTourneau students’ engagement with employers doesn’t start after they graduate. It doesn’t start when they are in college. It starts even before they have chosen LeTourneau. When prospective students visit campus, they don’t just meet with professors. They also meet with employer partners, who speak about career paths in certain majors and the skills needed to land a job in their company. At the time of my visit, 22 aviation companies had gathered to make the case for careers in their field. SUMMER 2017


“Our founder was a doer,” says Lunsford.“He was a builder. He wanted to make sure that people left this school immediately productive, immediately able to make a difference.” Today LeTourneau educates about 1,100 students on campus, and another 1,000 working adults through online offerings and five microsite campuses. These online offerings were started almost 20 years ago, before distance learning was in vogue. “For us it was an outreach moment,” says Lunsford. “We said, here’s a group of students who we think should have access to practical, Christian higher education, and this is the mechanism that’s going to give them that access. They’re not going to have it any other way.” On campus, the staff has worked to keep costs within reach. Annual tuition is now $28,750. But every student receives a minimum of $14,000 in merit-based scholarship funds. One of the things that attracts kids to LeTourneau is that it offers programs otherwise absent in Christian higher education, and rare in higher education writ large. It is one of only three comprehensive aviation programs in Texas teaching the skills needed to be a pilot, mechanic, or air-traffic controller. It recently added a track in unmanned aerial vehicles, both in piloting drones, and in building and maintaining them. There are only three undergraduate programs in the U.S. that still offer an engineering concentration in welding, now called materials joining: Ohio State University, Ferris State University in Michigan, and LeTourneau. The engineering department is ranked 31st nationally by U.S. News and World Report. Even in practical but not technical degrees, like education, LeTourneau is keeping pace with other colleges. In the last ten years, five of the “student teachers of the year” recognized in the state of Texas have all hailed from this one small college. Forbis lays down a challenge: “Take a survey of any of our employers who hire our engineering graduates and they will say that these students are head and shoulders above other people because they know what work is. They give you a day’s work for a day’s pay.” In addition, they’ve been formed as faithful people of integrity. Lunsford sees a powerful need for this mix of character training and technical expertise in the future. What America needs, he says, is good, reliable engineers. A lot of them. “Civil engineers to build the next airports and bridges and superhighways. Mechanical and electrical engineers to build the next generation of manufacturing facilities, which are going to be as much about robots as 34


they are about welding and hammering. We’re positioned to be a part of the solution for all of that.” BACK AT THE PLANT Down the street from campus, Dale Hardy is writing the parts manual for the largest front-end loader in the world. He’s been working at the plant for 28 years, and in that time it has had several owners. But for him it will always be a bastion of the LeTourneau philosophy. Hardy grew up in Vicksburg, near that city’s LeTourneau plant, and even resided in one of R. G.’s experimental concrete houses. He comes from a family of carpenters and practiced that trade himself for 17 years, ending up in Longview in the process. But as he watched his father “work until he couldn’t,” he started to think about a job change that could allow him to retire with a little more grace. A friend worked at the ­LeTourneau plant and told him to come over. Initially skeptical at the prospect of a seated office job, Hardy was given permission to regularly leave his desk and explore the plant floor. “I needed to understand the machines, so I would go down on the assembly line, crawl over the machines, and get that out of my system.” In the process, he settled into his second career, and was pulled toward a new hobby: understanding the life and work of R. G. and Evelyn LeTourneau. Dale Hardy is the person most familiar with the LeTourneau archives. He has collected oral stories from LeTourneau’s children. He made the Excel list that catalogues every article and book mentioning the couple. LeTourneau isn’t just an abstraction for Hardy—he’s the man who built a company that changed his childhood town and his own vocation, and helped propel America forward. He doesn’t wear rosy glasses. The man was a workaholic, he notes. “I’ll put it like this: Mom LeTourneau won Mother of the Year. R. G. would never have won that award if there was a similar father’s organization. He wasn’t home. He would come home and eat, and then go back to the factory.” R. G. was always on the move, building, compelled by an urge to fix things. And so is his acolyte. At the end of the interview, Hardy shakes my hand and darts away with a smile. “Now I’m off, back to work.” P

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Brothers, a Truck, and

Lots of


a pair of entrepreneurs answer the philanthropic call

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation

Daniel Smith By By Daniel P. Smith



Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation


town of dirt roads and 1,700 residents, ­Pearlington, Mississippi, is rarely seen, rarely heard from, rarely noted. Though the town sits at the mouth of the Pearl River, most passersby know it only as a blink on a two-lane highway taking them to New Orleans or some Gulf Coast retreat, a dot on the Mississippi-­ Louisiana state line. Not brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen, though. The founders of the Firehouse Subs chain that now racks up $650 million in annual sales hold a special place in their hearts for Pearlington. In 2005, the Sorensen brothers spent three days there serving food and water to residents battered by Hurricane Katrina. It was ground zero for Katrina’s wrath in the early morning hours of August 29, 2005. The town was consumed by a 30-foot storm surge and accompanying 140-mile-per-hour winds. The town’s elementary school, library, and post office were swallowed up, and all but a handful of the community’s 800 homes bludgeoned into wrecks. From their homes in Jacksonville, Florida, the Sorensen brothers helplessly watched Hurricane Katrina’s destruction unfold on television. They felt compelled to do something, but didn’t know what until Robin heard Jacksonville fire chief Larry Peterson on the local radio. Peterson reported that about 100 local firefighters had traveled to Pascagoula, Mississippi, to assist in relief efforts, and he urged listeners to donate supplies. “If you take food to your local fire station, we’ll make sure it gets there,” Peterson said. The Sorensen brothers, both former Jacksonville firefighters, called Peterson and soon hatched a plan to drive an 18-wheeler and bus packed with food and water to Pascagoula. “By the time we got there, though, the citizens of Jacksonville

had given so much that there was actually excess,” Robin recalls. A local police officer asked the brothers if their caravan might consider traveling to another town in need. Driving 75 miles to the west, they entered Pearlington—or what was left of it. “When we got there, people were just walking around in a daze,” Chris remembers. “You looked in either direction and you just saw toothpicks.” Days after Katrina had made landfall in Pearlington, the tiny Mississippi town remained an overlooked casualty of the storm. Neither the U.S. government nor established disaster-relief charities had come to help. “There was no FEMA, no other responders,” Robin says. “Just us.” As the brothers provided sustenance amid the wreckage, the residents’ spirits picked up. “Those folks still had a lot of work and uncertainty ahead of them,” Chris says, “but I hope we gave them some peace of mind and some sense that things would be okay, that better days were ahead.” After leaving, the brothers traveled east through Mississippi’s southern edge, feeding students at a school in Kiln, hospital workers in Bay St. Louis, and military staff at an outpost in Waveland, where they swapped their remaining sandwiches for $2,000 worth of jet fuel to power their bus and rig back home. “I remember putting jet fuel in our diesel truck and thinking, ‘I really hope this works,’ ” Robin says. The Sorensens returned to Jacksonville physically and emotionally spent, but also touched by the resilience of those they encountered. They would never be the same. The fraternal entrepreneurs, who had reinvented themselves once before, knew it was time for a new chapter in their lives.

The entrepreneurial itch Helping people in danger comes naturally to Chris and Robin Sorensen. The brothers come from a long line of firefighters, and started their own careers as firemen. But they also felt an entrepreneurial itch, one they tried to scratch with failed ventures in video, real estate, and even a Christmas-tree farm. Both men are avid cooks, and in the early 1990s they set their sights on running a restaurant. In the process of trying to take over a franchised sub shop, lightning struck. We can make better sandwiches than this, they decided, and do it on our own. While Chris continued fighting fires to pay the bills, Robin got a job at another restaurant to learn the food-service business from the ground up. He made friends with the delivery guys and solicited their perspective and insights. He studied competitors. Two years later, with small loans and $16,000 on the credit card of Robin’s mother-in-law (which they hoped to keep secret from his father-in-law, who is an FBI agent), the brothers launched their first Firehouse Subs shop. From the 1994 get-go, guests flocked to their Jacksonville shop decorated with firefighting gear and memorabilia. They offered hearty portions and a unique steaming process for meats and cheeses that made their product distinctive. “Customers loved the food, atmosphere, and customer service—and they kept coming back,” says Chris. Many patrons assumed the concept was a chain from another city. Instead it was an entirely independent creation of two hustling local siblings. But soon there was indeed a chain being forged of new links.

Daniel P. Smith is a contributing editor to Philanthropy and the author of On the Job: Behind the Stars of the Chicago Police Department. SUMMER 2017


The charitable impulse Right from the opening of their first outlet, the Sorensens had raised money through various in-store initiatives for charities like the Muscular Dystrophy Association. They considered creating a formal nonprofit during the 1990s, but tabled those discussions to build on their existing relationship with MDA, out of uncertainty about how to build a charitable organization, establish a mission, and put time and money into it productively. Their experience in post-Katrina Mississippi, however, motivated them to think more about philanthropy. “If there was ever a time to get something going, this was it,” Chris says. “We had been blessed with some good fortune, and needed to pass that along.”

The brothers began piecing together the core elements of a charitable strategy—causes that captured their attention, initiatives they could handle practically, with a reasonable chance of success. Quickly, their attention turned to first responders, a world they knew well. “Some public-safety organizations are lacking the tools they need to adequately serve their communities, so that’s the gap we decided to address,” Chris explains. The brothers created the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. Their mission statement focused on enhancing the lifesaving capabilities of first responders. They secured 501c3 status and distributed acrylic boxes to each Firehouse Subs store for collecting spare change. Then they began taking grant requests. “We didn’t set out with a business plan or a long-term vision,” Robin admits. “We just started with a sincere response and grassroots plans.” The foundation’s very first donation—a used fire truck the brothers purchased on eBay—found a much-needed home in a special place: Pearlington, Mississippi. “I can’t tell you how good that felt,” Robin says.

The firefighting Sorensen clan, from left to right: father Rob, brothers Chris and Robin.



Concentrating on disaster A decade on, the Firehouse Subs ­Foundation has provided lifesaving equipment to first responders all across the U.S. It has also funded education to prevent disasters, training for disaster preparedness, relief supplies, and scholarships for trainees. This help so far exceeds $20 million. About 80 percent of the foundation’s gifts go toward lifesaving equipment. More than 1,500 local public-safety organizations have received gear ranging from bulletproof vests to thermal imaging cameras to auto-crash extraction tools. The foundation has also donated automated external defibrillators, and rescue-ready all-terrain vehicles. Organizations in need of equipment submit an online request, and each quarter the proposals are reviewed by the foundation’s seven-member board (which includes both Robin and Chris as well as retired and current first responders and financial professionals). Community needs and the background of applicants are investigated. Last year, the foundation approved about 400 grants, and negotiated with vendors to procure equipment at reasonable rates. “We approve as many as we can,” Robin says. Each quarter, about a million and a half dollars is distributed. “Honestly, it’s the most fun we ever have.” One recent grant provided three car and building extrication tools—a spreader, cutter, and ram—for the Wayne-Westland Fire Department near Detroit. Their existing extrication tools relied on a 20-yearold, pump-driven system that was not dependable. Fire captain Fred Gilstorff and others raised $17,000 from local businesses; the Firehouse Subs Foundation provided the remaining $10,000. “The day we got the tools, we had a crew behind the firehouse receiving training when a call for an automobile rollover came out,” Gilstorff says. “We were able to extract that person safely from the vehicle in a fraction of the time it would’ve taken otherwise.”

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation

The Sorensens opened additional Jacksonville-area units, and began franchising. They ran a tight ship, maintaining financial discipline, choosing new franchise partners carefully, visiting all their stores regularly, and consistently working to perfect the restaurant experience— fussing over everything from sourcing new kitchen equipment to designing memorable packaging and dining rooms. Today, Firehouse Subs is a national brand with more than 1,000 restaurants.

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation

chain to deliver food and water after disasters. This combination of nonprofit and for-profit tools helped feed thousands following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2011 tornadoes The foundation gifted the Xenia in Alabama, and the 2016 floods in West Township Fire Department near Virginia. “We have an amazing ability Dayton, Ohio, with a $14,000 CPR to react quickly because we have the machine. It delivers more consistent infrastructure of a 1,000-unit restaurant and efficient chest compressions than a company behind us,” notes Peters. human. Deputy fire chief Greg Beegle She reports that 70 percent and colleagues submitted the request of the foundation’s $8 million in amidst growing research linking the 2015 revenue came directly from quality of CPR to survival. “The device Firehouse Subs outlets. In addition to is a bridge to the hospital, which can placing donation canisters at register take us some time to get to given that counters, restaurants sell leftover we cover nearly 80 square miles in a five-gallon pickle buckets for a $2 rural area,” says Beegle. The machine contribution, and promote a program frees up a first responder to insert an that allows guests to round their bill artificial airway, start an intravenous up to the nearest dollar to benefit the line, or defibrillate while it provides foundation. “With 1,000 restaurants, cardio-pulmonary assistance. that’s a big revenue stream for us,” Beegle reports his team used the Peters says. machine in six cardiac-arrest cases The remainder of its funding comes within the first six months of receiving from an annual appeal, charitable golf it. “To know we have a group looking out for us, advocating for us, and helping and tennis tournaments, and executive donations. The Sorensens remain the us do our best is incredibly inspiring,” organization’s largest individual donors, he says. When they receive reports like these, including a $1 million gift last year. The or learn that a foundation-supplied search brothers often time their donations to strategic points when they can stimulate dog found a woman with Alzheimer’s other giving, like offering a matching lost in the woods, the Firehouse Subs philanthropic team gets a thrill. “We want challenge at the annual business meeting to put the best tools in the best hands, and for Firehouse Sub franchisees. Peters calls Robin and Chris the never want to hear first responders say, ‘If foundation’s most devout champions only we had this or that,’ ” says executive and says anything she asks of them, director Robin Peters. they provide. The foundation enjoys rent-free offices at the restaurant’s One task, many tools corporate headquarters in Jacksonville In addition to providing equipment and access to professional expertise in to first responders, the Firehouse Subs areas like marketing and accounting. Foundation supports partners who As a result, 90 cents from every dollar provide the public with DUI education, the foundation receives goes directly fire detectors, and information on to programming. “We’re not paying carbon-monoxide poisoning. It assists for many of the services that other victims and public-safety workers through partners like the American Red nonprofits do, and that really allows us to put our fundraising dollars to work,” Cross. It funds academic scholarships for individuals pursuing careers in public Peters says. The Firehouse Subs brand benefits safety. And it provides quality-of-life from good feelings generated by this aids for first responders and military philanthropy. The brothers insist, veterans injured in the line of duty. though, that any corporate burnishing The foundation also mobilizes is secondary to their direct charitable vendors in the Firehouse Subs supply SUMMER 2017

The foundation mobilizes vendors in the Firehouse Subs supply chain to deliver food and water after disasters. This combo of nonprofit and for-profit tools has fed thousands. aspirations. “This was never a big, strategic marketing initiative, because we’re not that smart,” Robin quips. “This all starts from the heart.” “Not a day goes by that we don’t focus on growing our foundation,” adds Chris. In fact, having transferred day-today leadership of the company to others (“we surrounded ourselves with people who can do the job better than we can,” says Robin), the brothers now devote most of their time and energy to the foundation. In their own balance between corporate and charitable interests, the tail is now wagging the dog. “From the beginning,” exudes Robin, “we really believed the foundation could do great things. To see where it is today, the people it’s helped, is immensely satisfying. And that just motivates us even more.” P 39



Drawing a Larger Circle Around Families There are volunteers eager to nurture children and parents, reducing the trauma of foster care


By Naomi Schaefer Riley ne night about two years ago, Kiley Cobb got into a fight with her husband. The police were called when it got physical, and Cobb’s infant son went to stay with a friend of hers. But the friend had to leave town and Cobb, as she tells me, “was running out of options.” The Department of Child Services in Southwest Florida wanted to place her son in foster care. But before that happened, they offered to put her in touch with Safe Families—a program in which families volunteer to host children in difficult situations while their parents get matters at home under control. No mother wants to be told that she is going to be separated from her child, and “at first, I was livid,” says Cobb. But then she looked at her choices. She could send her son to live with a family close by, see him as often as she wanted, and bring him home after she and her husband had gone through counseling. Or he could go “into the system.” The foster-care system often allows almost no contact between biological parents and foster parents, and only supervised visits with your child. And once a kid is in the system, it can be a bureaucratic nightmare to get him or her out. The average length of stay in foster care is about two years. The separation period for a child placed in a Safe Families home averages six weeks. Cobb describes being in “constant contact” with the Safe Families couple who hosted her son. She received pictures all the time, talked to him every day, and saw him regularly during the month and a half he was not living with her. Cobb and her husband completed a mandatory counseling program during that

Naomi Schaefer Riley, a contributing editor to Philanthropy, is a columnist for the New York Post and the author of, most recently, The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians.



A national nonprofit with strong results Launched in 2002, Safe Families for ­Children has served almost 20,000 children in 27 different states. Over 90 percent of the children hosted through the program have been successfully reunited with their biological families; for kids who enter foster care, that number is only slightly more than half. And Safe Families costs around $10 a day per child served (private money that is evenly drawn from individual donors and foundations like the Schulze and Morgridge family foundations). Foster care costs five times that much, almost all of which comes from tax dollars. The program’s volunteer host ­families—who undergo an extensive training program, home inspections, and background checks—are typically recruited through churches or other religious institutions. Unlike foster parents, they are not given a stipend. Safe Families does help provide for material needs of children while they are being hosted, and pays for state-required fingerprinting and lawenforcement checks. Additional resources are also provided by donors to support the children. Churches, for instance, frequently provide clothing closets, diapers, and other necessities that host families can use. Church and community donors defray the costs of summer camps or extracurricular activities, and provide volunteer help with carpooling or babysitting. How does the charity convince families to take these kids in without any compensation? Donor Doug Campbell, a retired business executive, tells audiences of churches and other religious organizations that Safe Families “is about families helping families. If that’s part 42

of your mission, this is something you should be interested in.” The group has had little trouble finding people who are willing to open their homes to children. In this sense the organization mirrors other foster-care and adoption programs that have launched around the country in recent years. From Project 1.27, which has almost emptied the list of children in C ­ olorado waiting to be adopted, to FaithBridge, which has recruited hundreds of families to foster kids in Georgia, more and more charities are tapping into religious communities as a prime source of volunteers willing to help endangered young people. (For more on these efforts, see our Fall 2013 issue.) A secret of these groups’ success has been their recognition that whole congregations should and can be mobilized to support the couples who take on this tremendous responsibility. This prevents foster and adoptive families from burning out, and brings an entire network of community members to bear in assisting stressed children, along with their biological parents. Caring for a whole family The families who volunteer to be part of the Safe Families program are not just offering to help the children; they also aim to boost and strengthen the child’s family. If the biological parents need help finding a job, or with their housing, or just want a friend to lean on when under pressure, volunteer families are there. Even after children are returned to their biological parents, the relationship between parents and volunteers often continues. If the parents need last-minute child care, or advice on schooling, sometimes they turn to volunteers for help. W hereas many foster children travel considerable distances to reach their placements, Safe Families tries to find volunteers in the immediate vicinity, in order to reduce the chances that a child will have to lose contact for any period of time with his or her biological parents, a frequent problem in the foster-care system. Proximity also allows children to remain in the same school and keep PHILANTHROPY

neighborhood friends even while their home life is disrupted. Chances for biological families to have continuing relationships with host families for years to come are also improved when the families are not far apart. Safe Families is not a replacement for foster care—as any number of people involved with the program emphasize. “We will never get rid of foster care,” says Campbell, who is also chairman of a group called Friends of Foster Children. Abusive situations, for example, are not appropriate for volunteers to handle without state participation. But the majority of kids in the foster-care system are coming from situations of neglect or stress. Many children are in foster care simply because their family situation is in crisis. Sometimes parents are sick and need to be in the hospital for an extended period. If a mother of three shows up at the hospital with appendicitis and no one to care for her children, those children may be placed in temporary foster care. In one case where Safe Families got involved, a mother had an aggressive form of cancer and the father couldn’t work and care for the kids at the same time. They had no relatives or friends to help out, and so they turned to the charity. Filling gaps as families fracture Dave Anderson, a child psychologist who helped to found the first Safe Families program in Chicago, will never forget one five-year-old girl he met while doing professional assessments of abused kids. She had a broken arm and a face that was “black and blue.” And then he met her mother: “She was an incredibly lovely woman. But she had to work, and her babysitter fell through.” So she asked her ex-boyfriend to watch the child. He had substance-abuse problems, and ended up beating the child while she was at her job.


time, and their relationship has been much better since. She reflects, “It’s hard to let your kid go and live with another family. As a parent you don’t want to do that. But sometimes you have to give yourself a break and figure your life out and accept the help.” Indeed, she is sure that “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have my son right now.”


“ The problem wasn’t that she was a harmful parent. The problem was that she didn’t have options.” That was when he started to think about ways to prevent these tragedies from happening in the first place. How do we give mothers like that more options? The “fragmentation of families” is behind many of the problems we’re witnessing in the foster-care system today, notes Anderson. There are “no relatives or caring neighbors to turn to. People are not stepping up to be the backup caregiver.” Shortly after meeting that girl, Anderson and his wife decided to become foster parents, but they concluded that didn’t get at the problem early enough. “There are critical moments when people need an out. How do we build those?” Anderson wondered. He started to recruit in local churches for volunteers who could step in more quickly and flexibly than the fostercare bureaucracy. He now has 1,100 host families in Chicago, and an additional 3,000 volunteers who are willing to help in other ways. Drugs fan foster-care problems Unfortunately, it’s often drug or alcohol problems that lead parents to become poor caregivers. The opioid epidemic spreading across the country has created a significant rise in the number of children being placed in foster care. Over the past few years, opioids have been the main cause of the increasing removal of kids from parental custody, with the fraction of the foster-care clientele originating in that way rising as high as 40 percent in some states, according to the Wall Street Journal. Campbell, who has served as a guardian ad litem for children in Florida for 19 years, says the effects of heroin on the f­ oster-care system are obvious. “The problem is flowing from north to south. We have to head off that tidal wave.” Some of the affected children are taken in by grandparents. The Journal noted that “a Facebook support group for grandparents raising grandchildren due to addiction now has 2,000 members

While many foster children travel long distances to reach their placements, Safe Families tries to find volunteers in the vicinity of their home. nationwide.” In Hillbilly Elegy, author­J. D. Vance (who is interviewed on page 15 of this issue) describes how his grandparents took him in repeatedly when his mother kept returning to drugs. But he also notes that the foster-care system in some states is so inflexible that rather than give his grandmother custody (she wasn’t licensed by the state) they would have sent him to live with strangers. And of course some children don’t have grandparents available to them. Safe Families sometimes provides interim caregiving when one parent is found to be using drugs and the other parent needs a bit of time to rearrange his life before taking over care of the child. “Anything you can do to avoid traumatizing the kids” by disconnecting them from people they know, Campbell points out, is helpful. The personal advantage The child-welfare system, Anderson notes, was built for abuse cases. It was not SUMMER 2017

built for parents who are just o­ verwhelmed and temporarily unable to care for their children. Parents in that situation are never going to call some kind of government agency. In fact, most will take desperate measures to avoid that. Andrew Brown, who runs FlourishNow, a program in Naples, Florida, that used and built upon the model of Safe Families (see sidebar on page 45), recalls asking one mother who came to the program why she hadn’t sought assistance from a social worker affiliated with the child-welfare system. “Those are the people who will take my kids away from me,” she replied. As a result, parents “suffer in isolation. Eventually things get so bad that the child-welfare system has to intervene.” At least 80 percent of Safe Families cases are precipitated by some kind of economic crisis, Brown estimates. An eviction or job loss creates a downward spiral. Safe Families provides a way for parents to ask for help in these circumstances, before things get too bad. 43

Safe Families employs social workers to ensure that there is clear understanding of what’s going on in the family, that the transitions are as seamless as possible, that biological parents and children can reunite as soon as the time is right. But Safe F ­ amilies has no power to take children away from parents against their will. Parents voluntarily place their children with another family, and at no point give up legal custody. Generally, biological parents, host families, and social workers agree about when it’s time for kids to return, or when parents need more time to figure things out. Kristen Gaff and her husband have hosted 26 kids in the past year and a half through Safe Families. Because they have five children of their own, they are not eligible to take in foster kids according to the state of Florida. But Gaff is one of those women who seems to have infinite patience. During the course of our conversation, she is interrupted several times by her own little ones and her tone of voice never changes. The Gaffs completed a training class, a home inspection, a background check, and fingerprinting before any children were placed with them. They have hosted everyone from a two-week-old baby to a pregnant 18-year-old. They cared for a

group of four siblings so the kids wouldn’t have to be separated from each other. The Gaffs have taken hosted children on vacation with them, and celebrated holidays together. And they remain in contact with most of the kids even after they leave. This is something Anderson sees as a vital part of the program. Host families can check in and “provide another set of eyes on a child” to make sure the situation doesn’t repeat itself. The Gaffs had a boy in their home for six months while his mother was in an inpatient drug-rehab program. Today “we still babysit if his daycare is closed, or even if they need a night off.” She says that when a child stays with them, “a relationship is built.” The transparency of the program seems to put the parents at ease. They know where their children are. They can be in touch with them at any point. As Gaff says, “it’s a group plan and no one is left out of the loop.” The fact that host families do not receive any payments also seems to make the relationship less adversarial than it can be in foster care. Overcoming official resistance Despite the fact that Safe Families has a high rate of success and a very low cost, some child-welfare workers and legislators resist the program. “Bureaucrats hate volunteers because they can’t control them,” says Campbell. More fundamentally, “the government is driven by money. And

money begets systems and bureaucracies.” What matters under these conditions is that an official procedure is followed, a public employee deployed, a box checked. Whether a family is actually being wellserved sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Some states, though, have begun to welcome Safe Families. Denise Gonzales, who has been a social worker and administrator in Iowa and Illinois, says that she has worked hard to explain the benefits of Safe Families. With her public-employee colleagues, she says, she has to “talk g­ overnment-speak.” When describing the charity to legislators, she says it gives families “an opportunity to help themselves.” The reaction of some is that “it sounds too good to be true.” Others say “it sounds like we don’t care…sending these kids to live with unlicensed families who are volunteers.” Gonzales assures them that if a situation escalates there is nothing to stop the government from re-engaging, but in the meantime the Safe Families alternative is much gentler on children and parents alike. Social workers should be focused on the difficult cases that involve serious abuse, suggest Gonzales. The time and resources they spend on non-abusive cases today spreads them too thin and distracts them from the cases where they are most vital. “The government needs to focus on doing a quality assessment up front to see what is really needed.” And then it can let

The transparency of the program seems to put parents at ease. They know where their children are. They can be in touch with them at any point. 44


nonprofits like Safe Families handle less severe situations. This would rechannel resources and bring improved results both for the children who are better kept out of state custody, and children who are in real danger and need intense intervention. Safe Families can help thousands of children and parents every year, but it needs the cooperation of state governments in order to succeed. Leaders of the program would like to see more states pass legislation that will help integrate the charity into family-reinforcement and child-assistance work. For instance, provisions that would ensure that if parents use the Safe Families program, that won’t be used against them in custody fights, or by child-protective services. Such legislation has already been passed in 12 states, but backers of the charity are anxious to see it enacted elsewhere. With minor accomodations like that, Safe Families for Children could be expanded a lot in the many states where it already operates, and in new states. Safe Families is committed to operating without public funds—because if it becomes too entangled with the state child-welfare systems, parents will no longer trust it, and regulations could endanger the volunteer model that has made it successful. So Safe Families will need more philanthropic support. That would pay for the modest number of social workers who assess and oversee cases, for the physical needs of the children while they are with host families, and for advocacy to explain and protect the charity and push the legislation that enables it to operate. More volunteers will of course also be needed. But there seem to be many more individuals willing to help children in distress than anyone realized before groups like Safe Families began organizing them. And once parents start helping parents, good things happen not only among children in distress but across entire communities. One of our biggest problems today, suggests Dave Anderson, “is that we draw the circle of our families too small.” P

Creative Job Assistance as an Aid to Family Stability Public-policy reformer Tarren Bragdon has been focused on child-welfare issues for a long time, so when the Safe Families model came to his home region of southwest Florida, his interest was piqued. As his church and others got involved, the success and potential of this new charitable model became apparent. Yet Bragdon couldn’t shake one observation: many of the families that ended up needing help were unstable because of long-term unemployment and joblessness. At the same time Safe Families was protecting children, something needed to be done to fix the economic problems so families could reunify and avoid future tumbles. Bragdon wondered: Could churches help in this area, just as they had become the linchpins for providing emergency caretaking for children? Under the name FlourishNow, a team began to research the question. They surveyed the country to find successful instances where churches connect struggling households to jobs. The results weren’t promising—only 2 percent of congregations nationwide had any semblance of a jobs ministry. It’s not that churches don’t have economic resources: sociological research shows that typical congregations are packed with disciplined, cooperative, successful individuals from their neighborhoods (what economists call “social capital”). These individuals, with their constructive habits and networks to other community leaders, are the best possible resource for helping strugglers learn the secrets to economic advancement. But most churches currently have no idea how to connect volunteer mentors with individuals who need help succeeding at work.


So FlourishNow came up with a plan that would allow church leaders to easily execute a jobs ministry. The church would let FlourishNow use its building for a community-wide job fair. The nonprofit would recruit and train volunteers from among the congregation. It would bring in partner employers willing to hire on the spot. And it would take care of all aspects of marketing and executing the job fair. The cost to the church would be nothing; FlourishNow would raise donations to cover all costs of the event. Churches were interested. In its first eight months, FlourishNow set up 11 church-based job fairs. Over 3,800 jobseekers attended, and one out of eight participants walked away with a job that very day. Fully 55 percent of participants reported having an employment offer within the next six weeks. Over half of those attending the job fairs had no connection to any church before walking through the host’s doors. The efforts of FlourishNow are currently focused in Florida, Phoenix, and southern California, but, given its quick success, the charity is eyeing expansion opportunities. Staging a fair requires a willing church host and 20 volunteers. Generally around 40 employers show up, along with 600 job seekers over a four-hour period. The organization’s costs to stage a fair are estimated at around $10 per job seeker. Bragdon and his colleagues aim to connect parents who use Safe Families with FlourishNow job fairs as often as possible. Two south Florida women who used Safe Families to keep their children out of the foster-care system, then found steady work at a F ­ lourishNow job fair, are now not only stable parents but also helping others by serving as volunteers at additional job fairs. —Ashley May





Indispensable Donor Memorializes

America’s Irreplaceable Patriots Philadelphia’s New Museum of the American Revolution is a long-overdue landmark

Museum of the American Revolution


By Tom Riley

hallmark of a great idea can be that it seems obvious in retrospect. But even the greatest and most palpable ideas can sometimes take a long time to translate into operating reality. In the case of the new Museum of the American Revolution, it took more than two centuries. And if not for the dedication and tenacity of one visionary donor, this memorial to America’s birth pang might yet be nothing but an appealing notion. This year on April 19—the anniversary of the opening shots of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord—the large museum opened in the historic section of Philadelphia, just around the corner from Independence Hall. It has already won admiration for its subtle neo-Georgian architecture and immersive displays. But it all started with an old tent. In 1907, Reverend Herbert Burk was rector of a church on the outskirts of Valley Forge. An amateur archaeologist with a passion for American history and a reverence for George Washington, Burk had conceived an idea for a “Valley Forge Museum of American History.” He began to energetically seek artifacts for it. He learned that Mary Custis Lee, daughter of Confederate General ­­ Robert E. Lee and great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, wanted to sell the tent that had Tom Riley is a contributing editor to Philanthropy and vice president of the Connelly Foundation in Philadelphia. SUMMER 2017


property of the whole people and should not be committed to the custody of any one person, much less a rebel like General Lee.” Eventually the Lees did get the tent back. Looking to raise money for ­ ichmond home for Confederate aR widows, Mary Lee sought a responsible buyer for it. Even a century and a quarter after its historic use, the tent was fairly well-­preserved. And given its intimate connection to ­Washington, and the historical significance of all that had transpired within it, Burk was able to gather sufficient donated funds to purchase it and move it to the museum he was building in Valley Forge. Along with a collection of other Revolutionary-era items, he hoped it would inspire viewers with the ideals and bravery of the Founders. HHH BURSTING AT THE TENT SEAMS Over the decades, the Burk collection grew to encompass thousands of rarely seen artifacts. Its educational value, however, was constrained by its physical

In this very tent, dubbed “the first Oval Office,” Washington, Hamilton, Lafayette, and others made key decisions in our war of independence that led to an improbable victory and entirely new form of governance.



confinement in a church compound and by its geographical location in Valley Forge, 25 miles outside Philadelphia, with little public transportation. Every year, approximately 4 million tourists come to Philadelphia to learn about early American history. Most missed out on what the Center for the American Revolution, as Burk’s collection came to be called, had to offer. Make no mistake: Valley Forge is a historic jewel. But it’s off on its own— which is why George Washington picked it 240 years ago as the wintering site for his tattered army. He was confident it would be safe from easy visits by British troops out of Philadelphia. And while there is an abundance of Revolution-era history to be found in the city of Philadelphia, from Independence Hall to the Liberty Bell to the National Constitution Center and dozens of other sites, there was no place solely dedicated to telling the full story of the ­ evolution. In fact, startlingly, American R there was no major facility anywhere in America focused on that. Historian David McCullough observed that the Revolution had somehow become “the last big subject in our history without a museum.” A serious national omission. Though the Center for the American Revolution had a significant collection of materials and some impressive backers, they couldn’t seem to agree on what their next step should be. There were fitful plans for a massive museum complex in Valley Forge, but that threatened to forever alter the bucolic character of the area, and faced predictable concerns from neighbors and preservationists. The ghosts of the patriots of 1776 needed a contemporary leader to rise up and lead them into the sunlight. HHH THE TURNING POINT One of the center’s board members at the time, an enthusiast for American history, says “the most meaningful contribution” he ever made to the organization was to resign. Not that he had anything against the organization—to the contrary. But his

Museum of the American Revolution

served as G ­ eneral Washington’s mobile headquarters during the Revolution. Sometimes called “the first Oval Office,” the tent had an extraordinary history. Treasured by Washington’s descendants, it had been confiscated along with other family heirlooms when Union troops occupied General Lee’s estate in Arlington, Virginia. During the Civil War, the tent and other seized items were put on display at the U.S. Patent Office, where they were touted as “the only purely authentic souvenirs of the greatest man in modern times.” Some years after the war, Lee’s widow and daughter wrangled with federal bureaucrats to have the items restored to their family. At one point the Secretary of the Interior sent a polite letter to the Lees saying that he had been directed by the President himself to release the items to them. This was leaked to, and sensationalized by, the press, resulting in a Congressional inquiry which concluded that the tent was “the property of the Father of his country, and as such is the

Museum of the American Revolution

It was Gerry Lenfest who rallied funders, scouted locations, negotiated a seemingly impossible land exchange, and donated 78 acres and $60 million to bring about our long-overdue Museum of the American Revolution.

stepping down freed up a board seat. And the person who filled it was Gerry Lenfest. Longtime readers of Philanthropy will be familiar with Lenfest’s extensive personal giving. A Navy veteran and lawyer who worked for Walter Annenberg, Lenfest was quicker than most to see the potential for cable television. He built a cable business and eventually sold it to Comcast in a deal that netted him well over a billion dollars. Gerry and his wife Marguerite immediately embarked upon giving away most of their wealth during the remainder of their lives, with most of their gifts focused on Philadelphia or Pennsylvania, and a special interest taken in education and American history. So it’s not surprising that the Center for the American Revolution came to his

attention. “The more I learned, the more intrigued I got,” Lenfest explained to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “There was no museum in the United States dedicated to the American Revolution. It was a very needed museum in the fabric of this country’s history. The more interested I got, the more involved I got.” To date, Gerry and Marguerite have contributed more than $60 million to what is now the Museum of the American Revolution. And when Gerry was voted board chair, he poured himself into raising about that much more money from other donors. His enormous personal credibility attracted supporters at both the local and national level. The $150 million facility was built largely on private giving, and a $25 million operating endowment is now being raised. SUMMER 2017

In addition to rallying private funders, Lenfest worked to acquire the museum’s desirable location, close to the other tourist attractions. That required some scrambling. Most of the property in the area already had historic landmark status and was therefore unattainable. And thanks to the central-city renaissance then starting to take off in Philadelphia, real-estate prices were rising rapidly. There was one piece of land that might suit, on the block next to ­Carpenter’s Hall (meeting place of the First Continental Congress) and right across the street from Alexander Hamilton’s First Bank of the United States. The bad news: it was National Park Service land, and the agency is not known for easily letting go of anything. Worse, the Park Service visitors’ center sat on the property—a long-shuttered brick edifice built for our bicentennial in the brooding Why-People-Hate-the1970s architectural style. Lenfest set his heart on the location. He turned his negotiating skills to untangling the many political and economic issues that most observers thought would make the site unusable. By 2010 he’d worked it out. In exchange for the downtown site within Independence National Historic Park, the museum would donate to the Park Service a crucial 78 acres of land adjoining Valley Forge Park that Lenfest had purchased earlier. The Park Service hailed the deal as a “win-win-win.” This land exchange was “the decisive moment,” says museum president Michael Quinn. “Without Gerry’s personal leadership I have no doubt it would not have happened.” Building commenced. Once word got out that the long-bruited museum was actually going to happen, a floodgate of personal collections and resources opened. Donors and supporters wanted to be a part of this historic endeavor. Quinn, who previously worked at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and led the restoration of James Madison’s 49

1776 when he exclaimed: “We are in the very midst of revolution. The most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world.” Pre-Revolutionary Colonial society would seem an alien land to the modern American. Not just because of the more rudimentary living conditions, which one might expect, but because of the stifling social structure and the constantly constraining sense of dependency built into everyday economic and political transactions. Aristocracy, patronage, arbitrary justice, HHH and institutionalized graft shock the IN THE THICK OF IT modern sensibility, but were inherent, To that end, the museum puts visitors accepted elements of colonial life. physically and mentally into the context of The American Revolution didn’t just our founding population and the decisions lop one political head off of the body the men and women of the Revolution in politic and replace it with another, as they had to make. From the roots of the very personal ways. Revolution, into open rebellion, and then most revolutions before and after have If there is one message that he would done, but rather effected a fundamental through the war itself, the museum guides you through immersive scenarios from the like visitors to take away, says Quinn, transformation of the way individuals (or, it’s that “it really is ordinary people who 1770s. Who are these people? What are after the Revolution, citizens) understood their lives like? What choices do they face? change the course of history.” This is their place in society—and their potential.  True enough, as the museum does With creative use of multimedia displays, heightened by a haunting wall featuring dozens of highly realistic, early blacknot shy away from showing, these ideals you find yourself in the middle of the were insufficiently extended to women, action, from a rally at the Liberty Tree to a and-white photos of actual Americans Africans, and Native Americans. But mob tearing down a statue of King George who were young people during the the ideas of individual liberty, of self-­ ­Revolution. These portraits, captured III. At one point, Redcoats on a life-size late in their lives after the invention of determination, of equality before the video screen abruptly turn their muskets photography, allow none of the separation law that were eventually and rightfully on you—and fire. The immediacy of the that often comes from viewing a person claimed by all sprang from the American materials, the professionally produced depicted in antique painting or drawing. sound pouring from all directions, and ­Revolution. Before the Revolution, Seeing the seasoned faces of individuals the intimate physical spaces make the ­America was merely the Old World who might just as easily be passing by Revolution come alive. transposed on a new land; after the on the street outside and realizing “this Revolution it truly was a New World.  In one room you are surrounded by guy fought at Yorktown” or “this woman the figures of various Native Americans. The museum emphasizes the point lived here when the British occupied the that the ideas driving the Revolution Who are they? They’ll tell you: Some fought for the British, some fought for city” erodes the gap that time and history are still being fought for. This was not have placed between us and them. Thus the Americans, and some just wanted to some ancient struggle among people transported, the visitor is confronted with with funny hats. They were us, and their be left alone. Interestingly, the Oneida Tribe (who fought on the American side) four “big questions” about the American struggle is ours.  Revolution: How did ordinary people wound up becoming major contributors Initial displays set the stage: Most become revolutionaries? How did the to the museum’s fundraising campaign. colonials were more or less content Revolution survive its darkest hour? How British subjects, living in 13 distinct Everywhere you look, there are “revolutionary” was the war? What kind authentic objects from the period. polities. But a sense of tension builds of nation did the Revolution create? Household items, clothes, books, guns as various affronts (the Stamp Act, the The museum’s design tries to (lots of guns—it is a war museum), most Intolerable Acts, etc.) are presented in bring visitors as close as possible to the in amazingly fresh condition. These a series of interactive kiosks. Visitors electrifying feeling John Adams had in everyday elements connect visitors with stand under a Liberty Tree while 50


Museum of the American Revolution

home Montpelier, appreciates the way the project brought people together. “We Americans are increasingly missing that shared experience. Unlike other countries, we are not a citizenry with a common history. We come from many different places. In most places, a people come together to become a state; we do it backwards. It is our state that makes us a common people. That’s why it is so important that we need to look back to and understand that Founding history to make sense of ourselves.”

Startlingly, there has been no major museum anywhere in the U.S. focused on telling the full story of the American Revolution—until now. costumed museum educators argue for and against independence. Another theater presentation puts viewers in the midst of the Continental Congress’s debates, culminating in the Declaration of Independence. For too many students, this is where their history lessons end. Sure, they might have been assigned a little reading on the war, with perfunctory descriptions of a few battles and generals whose names are now familiar more as street names. But once the stirring cries for freedom rang out, the end result was inevitable, right? Wrong. It is the mission of this museum to correct that misunderstanding. Young Americans today may think the Battle for New York is a Marvel superhero movie. It was actually something far more vital, consequential, and exciting. Mere months after the Declaration,  a series of defeats forced General Washington into a daring, seatof-his-pants escape—but for which the Revolution would have been summarily snuffed out. Freedom, the museum teaches, was brutally hard to win, and came close to being lost. Visitors are beset by the constant penury of the Continental army, the ever-present vulnerability, shifting and uncertain international prospects, a groaningly impatient public, constant infighting, and outright treachery. They get a sense of the misery at ­Valley Forge, and the demoralizing losses in the South. In one room, visitors find themselves in Independence Hall, but under exceedingly gloomy conditions—not in the exuberant moment when our D ­ eclaration of ­Independence was signed there, but 18 months later when Philadelphia had been overrun by the British, and our birthing hall was occupied by hulking redcoats.

There were many times and places when the sunny ideas of liberty seemed impossibly remote, naive, maybe hopeless. The ultimate success of the Revolution was never a sure thing. The museum takes those who enter to the moments where, but for a particular decision (or stroke of luck or Providence), our dream could have ended. Human freedom and world history could have turned out terribly differently. The showstopper, of course, is Washington’s tent. Under this shelter, Washington laid canny plans with ­Hamilton, confided emotionally in ­Lafayette, peered into Benedict Arnold’s eyes with a swirling mix of admiration and unease, and wrote beseechingly to ­Congress asking for more troops and better supplies for men fighting in rags and wanting for bullets. Within this canopy, the Revolution often appeared to be doomed. And it might have been but for the character and determination of the man who labored beneath the canvas, and then out on the field of battle. HHH A MISSION BEGINS Which brings us back to the museum’s own indispensable man. “Gerry Lenfest understood the real value of this national resource before other people did,” says Quinn. “But the most important element of his leadership was that he was never discouraged. He understood our purpose and potential, and would not be dissuaded by temporary impediments that might veer us away from the bigger vision. This was leadership based on insight, not stubbornness. Gerry is an old-school gentleman, someone you don’t want to disappoint. He is an inspiration to me and every member of the staff.” SUMMER 2017

The staff have their work cut out for them. Today, notes Quinn, “people aren’t taught as much about American history. This is a sad truth we learned at Mount Vernon: Fifty years ago, people knew a lot about George Washington. Now, they don’t. Now they arrive as blank slates.” That is both the challenge and the opportunity for the Museum of the American ­­ Revolution. In addition to serving “heritage tourists,” Quinn is optimistic that today’s Hamilton-­ inspired young people are a ripe audience for information. “There is this constant interest and curiosity about the Founding, but it needs to be stoked. Most people today don’t understand the radicalism of the early American ideas. They seem commonplace to us now but they were shocking at the time.” David McCullough, a museum board member, agrees. It pleases him to know that this new center “will illuminate the principles upon which our Republic was founded. There could not be a better or more inspiring place to bring people.” The American Revolution “infused into our culture our noblest ideas and highest aspirations—nearly everything we cherish: our beliefs in liberty, equality, democracy, and the well-being of ordinary people,” says Brown University historian Gordon Wood. At last there is a teaching spot where people can be reminded where these historically rare qualities came from. And the blood shed to put them into effect. Gerry Lenfest hopes that museum visitors “will realize the burden of responsibility of continuing this country on the principles originally espoused.” More than 250 years after the first labor pangs of self-governance surged down our continent, it’s nice to have an entity that tells the American story anew. P 51

ideas Don’t Forget Rural Schools

Look outside cities for today’s neediest classrooms BY ANDY SMARICK

America’s Good Samaritans have often focused their energies on its big cities. This is especially true when it comes to donors committed to improving education. Inner cities have long experienced disproportionate levels of poor schooling, poverty, joblessness, and crime, making life for children difficult. Philanthropic investments in these areas are squarely on the side of the angels. But for too long, we’ve neglected the schools serving boys and girls in rural America. There are deep needs there as well—in fact, as a recent Wall Street ­Journal analysis showed, rural counties are now worse off than inner cities in poverty, educational opportunity, male employment, and a host of other measures. Yet few extra resources are directed toward rural schools. That’s a problem philanthropists can remedy. Real problems; real opportunities The problem is serious and undeniable. About one out of four U.S. students are educated today in schools defined as rural—more than 10 million youngsters. And it’s very little understood that rural kids are actually more likely than urban students to live in deep poverty. Rural poverty can be particularly crippling. Even poor kids in cities have access to great libraries, beautiful parks, lots of nearby examples of success. Rural poverty can be much more isolating. A child born into deep poverty in the rural South has just a 5 percent chance of reaching the top quintile of income as an adult. More than four out of five of the U.S. counties designated as “persistently poor” today are rural. These factors can cause rural kids to internalize a sense of limited expectations, if not hopelessness. Rural kids are more 52

likely to abuse alcohol and meth, and they have a higher teen-birth rate than their urban peers. All of this has a profound influence on schools. According to national tests, rural kids significantly underperform their suburban peers, and a lower percentage of rural high-school graduates go on to college than the national average. One important implication: rural adults are about half as likely as urban adults to earn a four-year college degree. For the last several years, I’ve worked with a number of colleagues on these issues thanks to support from the J. A. and Katherine Albertson Foundation. Our team aimed to better understand rural schooling and the factors influencing it, increase the number of people and organizations working to improve this corner of K-12 education, and trumpet promising efforts already underway while also developing fresh ideas for future approaches. We found many reasons to be encouraged. But we’re also much more aware of the range of challenges facing rural schools, and of the reasons why change can be so difficult. Philanthropy has already played an essential role in some of today’s most fruitful initiatives in rural educational improvement—but there’s no doubt that interested donors could do much more. Mythbusting and migration One of the clearest lessons we learned is that there are chasms separating rural schools and children f rom much of the education establishment, from the ­education-reform community, and from philanthropists. In many ways, rural schools are fundamentally a mystery to a large segment of K-12 experts. With their jobs downtown and their homes in the city or its suburbs, much of our managerial PHILANTHROPY

class has little interaction with rural America. Rural communities are, by definition, at a distance from metro­politan centers. They have far fewer nonprofits in operation and ready to receive additional investments. And in many cases, the reforms that have succeeded in big cities, like charter-school chains, or portable school vouchers, don’t easily translate to rural areas. For instance, our research found a yawning gap between what rural superintendents cite as their most pressing issues and what national experts think rural superintendents need. The “experts” believed rural schools struggled most with recruiting and retaining teachers and acquiring technology. But the practitioners identified too little funding for special-education mandates, too much compliance-related paperwork, and too many strings attached to school dollars. And so much for the idea that teachers are unattainable: rural teachers express higher rates of job satisfaction than teachers in other areas. There’s also a common assumption among national leaders that smaller enrollments at most rural schools lead not only to limited offerings but to few economies of scale and high inefficiency. But our research found that remote rural schools are actually more likely than those of any other type to be “productivity superstars”—generating outsized results for the dollars invested. But there are also important obstacles to improving rural schools. For example, most educators end up teaching in schools close to where they grew up. Because Andy Smarick, a Philanthropy contributing editor, is a Morgridge Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and conducted much of the research mentioned in this article while a partner at Bellwether Education Partners.

rural America is lightly populated, with fewer of its young people earning college degrees, and many of them migrating away for job opportunities, rural schools have a considerably smaller pool of teachers from which to choose. As a result, rural schools can struggle to find math and science teachers, those able to teach English as a second language, and those with special-education certification. There are also knotty economic-­ development issues at play. The dominant industries in rural areas often offer lowskill, low-wage jobs. So school systems can be faced with a dispiriting choice: produce students with minimal skills to fill the local jobs available, or produce more highly skilled students who will be forced to leave their communities for good in order to find suitable careers. This is more than a theoretical concern. We found, for example, that while rural students have higher high-school graduation rates, their highschool coursework can be measurably less rigorous, inadequately preparing them for further education. In other words, it appears that a combination of factors makes it reasonable for some communities to treat high school as the end of the educational road. College prep and charters Despite the hurdles, philanthropists are helping rural schools make important progress on a number of fronts. Among the most prominent initiatives has been the Niswonger Foundation’s work to help rural students prepare for, enroll in, and graduate from college. Niswonger is focused on northeast Tennessee, and has developed programming to help primary and secondary schools, while also offering scholarship and training opportunities to students. The foundation’s work has earned matching funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rural School and Community Trust, the Care Foundation of America, and other donors, as well as an $18 million “Investing in Innovation” grant from the U.S. D ­ epartment of Education. In numerous districts, Niswonger has worked to increase the number of Advanced

Placement and online courses offered, broaden post-secondary dual-­enrollment opportunities, and expand career and college counseling. There have been tangible results in the targeted districts: Enrollment in online courses grew by more than sixfold, more than 1,000 additional students took A.P. courses, and participation in dual-enrollment doubled. Expanded counseling helped students complete college and financial-aid applications and make campus visits. The next continuation of Niswonger’s effort will provide assistance to 30,000 students across 31 high schools. There are also a number of interesting donor-supported charter-school initiatives underway in rural areas. For more than two

daily. Spouses of teachers can struggle to find suitable jobs locally. And the region offers fewer cultural amenities. Donors could soften some of these problems. In New Mexico, another charter school, the Native American Community Academy, was created to serve a different high-need population: Native-American boys and girls. NACA educates students from nearly 40 different tribes, integrating Native culture, history, and language into an academic program designed to prepare kids for college. In addition to a wide array of special offerings like internships, dual-enrollments with other schools, and extracurricular offerings like sports, poetry, and martial arts, the school

More donors need to move away from the big-city fixation that has dominated charitable efforts in education for more than a generation. decades, donors have found chartering to be a terrific tool for giving social entrepreneurs the ability to create public schools and open improved choices for families. But this has happened mostly in urban areas. Of the approximately 7,000 total charter schools open today, our research showed that fewer than 1,000 are in rural areas, and only about 100 in remote rural communities. Exciting successes in rural chartering include KIPP Delta, which started in 2002 as a single school in Helena, A ­ rkansas. Helena had lost much of its work and population over the previous 50 years, and become one of the state’s poorest areas. But the local KIPP network has seen tremendous success. One of its schools was rated the fourth best high school in the entire state. KIPP Delta has grown to six campuses serving an almost entirely low-income student body. But it faces challenges unfamiliar to many urban charters. For instance, because of sparse population, the network’s 30 buses must travel more than 1,000 miles SUMMER 2017

also provides access to health care, counseling, and dental services. Its success spawned copycats calling themselves the NACA-Inspired Schools Network. NISN identifies, recruits, and trains fellows who are committed to establishing similar schools across New Mexico and in other states. It aims to develop ten schools in the next several years to provide children with rigorous academics while also promoting Native-American identity. Out-of-the-box experimentation The Kern Family Foundation is contributing to rural education by helping fund Teach For America’s special “Rural School Leadership Academy.” This yearlong program trains educators to be top-flight school administrators who understand the unique challenges principals can run into in rural regions. More efforts like this could create pipelines of talent for rural schools. Colorado’s Donnell-Kay Foundation is trying something even more ambitious. 53

ideas After two decades of investing in fairly conventional education reforms, the foundation’s leadership concluded that something bolder was required. The result is “ReSchool,” a new way of delivering and overseeing education. The effort, which has also earned support from the Gates and Walton foundations, aims to have 50,000 youths (from the earliest learners to young adults) participating in unconventional school forms by 2030. Though the program isn’t limited to rural areas, it promises to have a substantial influence there by breaking down some of the physical constraints of today’s school districts, which are chained to geography. Among other innovations, ReSchool is contemplating helping students choose from wider ranges of school options, with help from adult guides plus new ways of measuring school quality and value. For the last several years, the Albertson Foundation has been among the philanthropic leaders on rural-education reform. The foundation has always been

to provide students with the credentials and skills needed to secure high-paying Idaho jobs, while offering local businesses an expanded talent pool. The program now includes nearly 20 high schools and other programs that will lead more than a thousand students over the next couple years to job opportunities in aerospace, technology, health care, and other high-growth industries within Idaho. One of the Albertson Foundation’s most prominent initiatives has been the Kahn Academy “personalized learning” pilot program. Started as a small workshop in 2012, it soon grew to a statewide initiative engaging 10,000 students across 33 districts. It was designed to see if an online-learning program could offer more high-quality opportunities to rural students. The program allowed local educators to experiment with Kahn’s digital content and platform so they could figure out for themselves how these resources might be best deployed. The foundation

More than four out of five of the U.S. counties designated as “persistently poor” today are rural. g­ enerous, giving away more than $650 million in Idaho over the last half-century. But it has recently increased its focus on social entrepreneurship and nontraditional strategies. In addition to funding the research and analysis project of which I was a part, the foundation has invested in a range of hands-on projects, including a new-school incubator called Bluum. This new nonprofit aims to help create high-performing spots for 20,000 students over the next ten years. It will identify and develop school leaders, expand successful schools, and provide technical assistance to promising candidates. The foundation has also supported the PTECH Network (Pathways To Early Career High School). PTECH is designed 54

funded the participation of teachers and schools, and paid for associated research to find out what was most effective. Looking beyond high school, the ­P hiladelphia-based Lenfest Foundation sponsors a college-scholarship program specifically for public-school students from rural Pennsylvania. Donor Gerry Lenfest notes that rural students are often overlooked by selective colleges due to the geographical challenge of recruiting, along with other factors, and are likewise invisible to many scholarship programs. His scholarship shines a floodlight on this hidden talent, with a rigorous process that begins in an applicant’s junior year of high school. Beyond financial assistance, the program—chaired by Daniel PHILANTHROPY

Porterfield, president of Franklin & ­Marshall College—offers guidance on applying to college and support throughout a student’s enrollment, resulting in a graduation rate of over 98 percent. By enlisting deans from numerous Ivy-league and equivalent schools for the scholarship’s selection committee, Lenfest put the program and the high schools that it draws from on their radar. In addition, graduates stay involved and help mentor the younger scholars, growing a community now 250 scholars strong and opening new pathways for the students of rural Pennsylvania. We need a new conversation Countless other efforts are underway to provide rural students with expanded and improved educational options. But there are millions of boys and girls in rural America with only one school option, and it could be neglected and untouched by the national conversations on school improvement that philanthropists have stirred up in recent years. More donors need to move away from the big-city fixation that has dominated charitable efforts in education for more than a generation. Philanthropists might consider taking inventory and curating promising programs already underway, launching new initiatives, replicating successful programs, and advocating for more investigation and public attention. American elites are finally beginning to understand that when it comes to our economy and our politics, too many of our citizens outside of metropolitan areas are feeling that they have been ignored and left behind. There is a serious risk of that same neglect when it comes to the resources and inventive energy being put into rethinking and improving the education of our next generation of children. Donors should help advance the cause of rural schooling—both to ensure that kids growing up in remote locations have the same opportunities as their city and suburban peers, and to avoid neglecting a whole set of American communities that have too often been out of sight and out of mind for our nation’s leaders. P


Damaging Solutions in Search of a Problem An anecdotal call for crimping America’s distinctive private philanthropy BY J OHN ST EE L E G O R D O N

There has been an explosion of great fortunes in the United States in the last four decades, thanks largely to the digital revolution and the growth of Wall Street. In 1982 it took $82 million—roughly $200 million in today’s money—to make the first Forbes 400 list, and there were only a handful of billionaires on it. Today they are all billionaires. Indeed, to make the 2016 list it took no less than $1.7 billion. There are more than a hundred billionaires in this country not rich enough to make the Forbes list. Thousands more Americans are worth tens and hundreds of millions. When Twitter went public in November 2013, 1,600 people became millionaires overnight. This extraordinary efflorescence of new wealth has produced a concomitant increase in philanthropy. And, as David Callahan, founder of Inside Philanthropy and author of The Givers and several other books, points out, we have seen nothing yet. Since Bill Gates and Warren Buffett created the Giving Pledge in 2010, 150 signatories have promised to leave the majority of their wealth to charitable purposes. “The U.S. billionaires who’ve signed the Giving Pledge have almost as much money as the combined assets of all U.S. foundations that now exist, over ninety thousand of them,” Callahan points out. Expect a charitable surge, dead ahead. Today’s giving continues the long American tradition of people who have accumulated large fortunes dedicating major funds to public benefit. It’s important we not take that tradition for granted. The idea of making broad, deep, repeated donations is alien among the wealthy people of most other countries. It has been resisted by some Americans. John Jacob Astor, the richest man in the country when he died in 1848, had been notably disinclined to give money away. Yet in his will even he left a large sum to found what grew into the New York Public Library, the largest such resource not owned by a government. It was the next generation, especially George Peabody, a very successful banker, and Peter Cooper, an industrialist, who really fired up the philanthropic tradition in this country. Peabody generously endowed museums and educational facilities, and provided housing for the poor. Cooper, born poor

The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age By David Callahan


and largely self-taught, established the idea of night school so that laborers could also educate themselves, after working during the day, and thereby improve their station. The Cooper Union, an engineering and design school located in New York City, was so well-endowed by its founding angel that it was ­tuition-free for many decades. With the explosion of wealth after the Civil War, vast new fortunes arose. And men like Rockefeller, Carnegie, Frick, and Morgan became legendary for their generosity. For many of them, though, their heaviest philanthropy had to wait for retirement, or bequests. As Callahan notes, today’s new crop of billionaires are not waiting for old age or death to start giving away money. And while the philanthropy of the Gilded Age was concentrated in a few major cities and great universities or cultural institutions, that is not the case today. Philanthropy has been democratized and scattered. Bentonville, Arkansas, population 40,000, is now home to one of the greatest collections of paintings in the country, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, funded with $450 million from Walmart heiress Alice Walton. Los Angeles was a cultural desert 50 years ago but now boasts superb visual and performance art thanks to donors like John Paul Getty and Eli Broad. Wealthy men and women tend to give money to causes that inspire them, and they typically like to do it in their own communities. Is that a problem? Callahan thinks so. He notes that Diane von Furstenberg, who with her husband Barry Diller was one of the biggest donors to the creation of the High Line in Manhattan—once an abandoned elevated railroad, now one of the most beloved parks in the world—has seen her net worth increase thanks to the park’s revival of New York’s old Meatpacking District, where Furstenberg’s corporate headquarters is located. Of course that resurgence has also increased the net worth, and net happiness, of thousands of her neighbors, many of whom are not rich. The same is true of many of the donors to the Central Park Conservancy, the private organization donors established in the 1980s to rescue New York’s crucial park from scandalous decay. In 2012, John Paulson donated $100 million to keep 55

the Conservancy thriving and expanding to additional improvements. Is it reasonable to criticize him for being “self-interested” because he lives half a block from the park? (How much time do billionaires spend in public parks?) While the park’s revival has certainly benefited nearby property owners, the millions of annual visits from ordinary New Yorkers and tourists, who no longer have to endure serious crime dangers and rundown, graffiti-ridden, half-closed facilities thanks to the park donors, have benefited much more, as ­Callahan admits. And there’s an absurdity to comparing small personal advantages to the size of these donations. John Paulson could have added a lot more value to his personal property, and a lot more leisure to his own life, by spending that $100 million on himself instead of giving it away. Diane von Furstenberg offered up $35 million to help create the High Line. Any uptick in the value of her headquarters building is a small fraction of that. Two-for-one mixing of private gain with public benefaction is, of course, nothing new, and nothing terrible. Henry Frick amassed a superb collection of old master paintings for his own joy. (He suffered from insomnia in his old age and, unable to sleep, would often come down from his bedroom and just sit and quietly admire, sometimes for hours, a Frans Hals or a Vermeer, or an El Greco.) But it’s the rest of us who are getting the long-term pleasure; when he died in 1919 Frick left the collection, his Fifth Avenue mansion, and $15 million to the people of New York. Callahan finds far more troubling donations to think tanks that advocate policy positions. Think tanks like the Brookings Institution and the ­American Enterprise Institute are 501c3 organizations fueled by donations, like all other 501c3s that people choose to support. Callahan finds it nefarious that a wealthy donor to a research group like AEI might benefit from its advocacy of policies like lower taxes for capital gains than for ordinary income. For Callahan, a man of the left, any policy that benefits the rich must be bad policy. Callahan suggests that think tanks that “stand up for lower-income Americans” such as the C ­ enter on Budget and Policy Priorities have a harder time raising money from the rich than do those like AEI. Simplistic argument like this mangles all kinds of crucial detail. Callahan doesn’t mention that the CBPP is funded by such benefactors as the Ford and MacArthur foundations, George Soros, and many labor unions. He neglects to say 56

Central Park was a scary place in scandalous decay until donors stepped in.

The High Line raised property values and increased the quality of life of thousands of New Yorkers.


that ­public-policy funding on the left—from the Sierra Club to H ­ arvard University to Brookings— has long been better funded than most of the think tanks on the right. His good-think-tank/bad-thinktank cartoon also leaves no room for the reality that conservative groups like AEI actually expend enormous effort “standing up for lower-income ­Americans”—through family policy, tax policy, regulatory moderation, protection of religious liberties, immigration and defense research, and so forth, and are a vital part of American democracy, along with their counterparts on the left. They just don’t adhere to Callahan’s own policy opinions on what’s good for working people. Strikingly, the author himself has reported that he gives most of his own philanthropic resources to left-wing think tanks, saying that that is how you get the most bang for your philanthropic buck. But he recommends that the charitable tax deduction be revoked for policy and advocacy outfits both on the left and the right, “end[ing] the charade that such gifts are ‘charity.’ ” This book doesn’t break any new ground; certainly not when it points out that philanthropic ideas sometimes don’t work out in the real world. If Bill Gates’s inability to succeed with small high schools are an argument for favoring government programs over private giving, Callahan has just opened a Pandora’s box that contains far more gremlins of government failure than hobgoblins of philanthropic disappointment. Government programs fail every day; they just never get honestly examined and closed down, the way Gates learned from and then shuttered his effort. Government flops are almost never failed innovations, because innovation is something government is terrible at—governments fail simply by reopening the same incompetent school every year, by letting the city park decay and decay and decay, never improving, never trying something new. And anyone who thinks that donors are more selfish and biased and stubbornly self-interested than people who work for government should tell that to one of the thousands of people who got mugged in Central Park during the 1980s. Private philanthropy has one great advantage that government cannot hope to match. When millions of individuals with resources pursue their own idiosyncratic visions of success—whether in social reform, nature, medical care, education, or dog ­spaying—they end up testing thousands of different routes to success, more than any bureaucracy could ever imagine. Some paths will be dead ends, but others will turn out to be a High Line to heaven. Callahan argues that American philanthropy has grown so powerful that reforms are needed to ensure

Anthony Quintano; David Berkowitz


Anthony Quintano; David Berkowitz

that it does good things, not bad things. (Guess who defines the difference?) He would force much more reporting of donations, end privacy and anonymity, obstruct innovations like Mark Zuckerberg’s and Laurene Jobs’s use of limited liability corporations to carry out their benefactions, and otherwise control and intimidate private givers into acting more as he and other activists want. In our country and others, governments have often tried to block charitable organizations from actions they dislike. Callahan’s suggested reforms and pressures would make this far worse. He would discourage giving to 501c3s that do economic and policy research. He wants to give state officials power over what can be advocated, subsidized, resisted, and done with private funds. Never mind little details like our constitutional guarantees of free expression (the ultimate bulwarks of what you choose to give your own money to). Callahan notes that the charitable deduction results in about $74 billion a year less in federal revenue. “Serious money in an age of fiscal austerity when we’re kicking people off food stamps, cutting scientific funding, yanking housing vouchers from the poor,” he says. Strange rhetoric at a time when the federal spending trendlines show no fiscal austerity, but instead fiscal profligacy. We doubled our national debt in the last eight years. And, pssst, $74 billion is less than 2 percent of federal revenues. The Givers is an endless string of anecdotes, thin in facts, weak on logic, and bereft of balance. Almost inadvertently, it gives glimpses of the many large and creative ways that wealthy Americans are returning resources to the society in which they have flourished. Every other country in the world would love to have our striking and multifarious tradition of giving. If Callahan had his way, America would lose much of this distinctive effervescence. We would be like the many nations that shackle individual action, and as a result suffer serious problems with lack of social innovation, cramped personal liberties, and an absence of cultural dynamism. His proposed reforms are damaging solutions in search of a problem. Historian John Steele Gordon is a Philanthropy contributing editor.

{books in brief }

Once upon a time, American aid workers on the frontlines of humanitarian disasters in regions such as today’s Syria were almost exclusively missionaries. They were, often as not, bi-cultural children or grandchildren of missionaries. They knew the languages and customs of their adopted lands. They raised families and frequently buried children abroad. They committed lifetimes to foreign service and also took regular furloughs in America. When disaster struck their adopted homes—famine, war, refugee crises—most of these resilient and experienced missionary firstresponders had strong foundations for effective intervention. After a century of secularization and professionalization of much foreign aid, how are humanitarians faring today? Not well, according to former Doctors Without Borders psychologist Alessandra Pigni. In her new book, The Idealist’s Survival Kit, she diagnoses the i­nternational-aid sector with a variety of illnesses. Instead of longevity, we see shortterm assignments. Instead of families living together in foreign lands, we see single workers abroad SUMMER 2017

separated from loved ones at home. Instead of orderly furloughs, we see alcoholism, dysfunctional relationships, and burnout from overwork. Instead of purpose derived from religious faith or even from secular objectives, we see disillusionment caused by existential doubt and poor humanresource practices. Pigni’s “survival kit” is organized as a kind of modernday devotional for perplexed and exhausted aid workers. Short chapters provide daily guides for self-care, contemplation, and further reading. The author recommends meditation, yoga, therapy, nutrition, sleep, books, recreation, cups of tea, music, cooking with friends, even breathing. “Reasonable working hours, clear boundaries and job descriptions, and peer support” are suggested as corrective disciplines for poorly managed aid organizations. Without such rules and values, she says, the idealist’s flame is quickly extinguished. To be sustainable for its workers, Pigni argues, today’s foreign-aid establishment needs to live by the values it purports to defend. Her book, published by Buddhist P ­ arallax Press, draws heavily on Eastern spirituality. In Rainer Maria Rilke and in Christian sabbatarian traditions Pigni also rediscovers ideas such as “holy days,” which have value deeper than simply “enhancing future productivity.” Real strength, she intimates, comes from connecting with “the source of life itself.” Unfortunately, today’s typical humanitarian gets redeployed again and again as “a missioner without faith.” Pigni condemns the hypocrisy of humanitarian organizations that 57

{books in brief } purport to care for others while neglecting the needs of employees in stressful and often dangerous situations. She describes abusive bosses, heavy paperwork, bureaucracy, overtime, isolation, and poor living conditions. “We know that among aid workers, burnout represents the main reason for leaving an organization.... We suffer because of poor human resources practices, not because of war.” In this way, Pigni’s book lifts the lid on a sector that could probably learn something from the original humanitarian missionaries of old. —Susan Billington Harper

But the book is not really about her own experience. Rather, it is a series of interviews (sloppily woven together) with dozens of entrepreneurs in the business and nonprofit worlds—the founders of Under Armour, TOMS shoes, WordPress, and more—and their mothers. According to Bisnow, mothers are “the secret of all secrets.” It’s not that dads aren’t important, but whenever Bisnow asked successful entrepreneurs how they became who they are, how they became so confident, and who had the biggest impact on their lives, the answer was always the same. “I couldn’t have done it without my mom. She believed in me. She supported my passion. She’s the reason I turned out this way.” This sounds like a cliché, the kind of thing one says on an Olympic medal stand or Academy Award podium. But Bisnow looks beneath the rhetoric to find out what these mothers of entrepreneurs actually did. And she finds that in many cases, it’s what they didn’t do. They didn’t hover over their children every minute. They didn’t demand that their children do extracurricular activities they didn’t want to. Many of these mothers didn’t even ask their children to finish college. When they are young, Bisnow advises, “The key is coding.” That’s what a father told it’s important to help children find me recently about preparing his daughter what they’re good at and enjoy. Many for college and a career. She had been of the entrepreneurs were passionate taking classes in computer coding since she about sports, and reached elite levels in was seven, and he felt certain it was going athletics. Some parents drove thousands to pay off for her someday. Maybe, I thought. of miles to make this happen. Radha and But surely there are other ways to prepare Miki Agrawal’s parents actually organized our children to succeed besides classes a soccer team for them when they were designed to make them useful to Silicon young and coached their teams as they Valley. Even if the goal of this father, and got older. The women, who played the so many middle- and upper-class parents, game at Cornell, went on to found Super is to create the next Mark Zuckerberg, or Sprowtz, a nutrition program for kids, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, coding classes are and Thinx, an underwear company that probably not the crucial ingredient. benefits women in third-world countries. In her new book, Raising an As Radha explains, “We had three hours Entrepreneur, Margot Bisnow offers parents of soccer practice every day, our whole a broader strategy. Bisnow, a former Federal life. You have to be so disciplined. You Trade Commissioner who acknowledges really learn to be focused and organized. that she is not an entrepreneur herself, And you learn the politics of teamwork raised two quite successful ones. One son and what it takes to be a captain.” Many started a band and then became a music of them also say that sports helped them producer. The other one founded the learn to see failure as a kind of “feedback” Summit Series, a conference for millennial rather than something devastating, which business creators. served them well in the world of startups. 58


Though they may have excelled at sports or some hobby, many of the entrepreneurs in this book didn’t do particularly well in school. Some never went to college; others dropped out. Bisnow encourages parents to think before pushing their children too hard academically, noting that there are other ways to achieve success. Indeed, by the time most of these kids make the decision to drop out or postpone further schooling, they are already succeeding in some other arena—many have fully developed and profitable businesses up and running. The moms of successful entrepreneurs don’t just support their kids’ decisions. They often offer their children deep opportunities for independence. In one family, parents embrace the fact that their son likes playing video games and let him play for hours on end. Another family surges in the other direction—hiding the television in the closet and making the children find ways to entertain themselves. Bisnow writes that there were many elements of childrearing that she thought would matter in the likelihood that a kid would turn into a successful entrepreneur—like birth order. But she found they come from all sorts of families. Her subjects were sometimes oldest, sometimes youngest, sometimes in between. There were kids whose parents were educated, and those from disadvantaged homes. A surprising number—10 percent—had parents who died when they were of college age. Part of becoming a successful entrepreneur seems to involve overcoming adversity. And the parents who produce enterprise creators tend to be especially concerned not only that their children understand the value of hard work, but also that they be exposed to life’s problems and hardest demands. As Bisnow writes, these budding entrepreneurs experienced “an affirmation of both reality and possibility. The lesson the child learns is: Yes, there is suffering in the world, and yes, there is plenty you can do about it.” Whether we’re raising entrepreneurs or not, that’s a noble lesson. —Naomi Schaefer Riley

face face TO


2017 National Forum on K-12 Philanthropy

On April 27-28, philanthropists attended the Philanthropy Roundtable’s 2017 Forum on K-12 Philanthropy, in ­Washington, D.C. Donors ­visited schools and heard from national leaders in education reform. Session topics included D.C.’s turnaround in academic quality, when to invest in districts, school choice at the federal level, early ­education, career-oriented schools, family engagement, ­coalition-building, and educator training.


(individuals listed left to right)


1. Jennifer Paradis, Chappell Culpeper Foundation 2. Lethal Ladies of Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women 3. Jeb Bush, Foundation for Excellence in Education 4. Stephanie Kapsis, KIPP D.C., and Brooke Buerkle, Relay Graduate School of Education 5. Maya Martin, D.C. PAVE


Zach Miller Photography




president’s note Left-Right Collaboration in a Hyper-partisan Age

Vitriol. Personal calumny. Extreme narcissism. Across the political spectrum, a disregard for elementary standards of truth. Campus mobs suppressing speech they disagree with. The most overt partisan bias by the media in decades. Public expressions of vulgarity in the name of motherhood. This is the state of America’s public discourse today. This is not the first time our republic has seen such divisiveness. The great American experiment of self-­government has survived the tempestuous election of 1800, the drunken brawling of the Jacksonian era, a titanic civil war, bitter disputes over the New Deal, the sins of slavery and racial discrimination, the lies of Alger Hiss and the false accusations by Joe McCarthy, the riots of the 1960s. There are two features of American life that have saved our country through bitter conflicts in the past. One is extraordinary political leadership during times of crisis. George Washington marshaled in his administration the genius of both Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, even as they were vilifying each other. Abraham Lincoln helped to bind up the nation’s wounds, with malice toward none and charity to all, through the biblical language of his Second Inaugural. Ronald Reagan rekindled a spirit of American patriotism among supporters and opponents alike. The second saving grace has been civil society—­ Americans working together to solve problems, sometimes through the political process and more often through churches and other houses of worship, neighborhood civic groups, and the creation of large-scale reform movements. Alexis de Tocqueville visited America and wrote about our “nation of associations” during the political turmoil of the Jacksonian presidency. My colleague Karl Zinsmeister writes about the remarkable social-change movements of the nineteenth century—for temperance, abolition, literacy, and religious revival—in What Comes Next? How Private Givers Can Rescue America in an Age of Political Frustration. Philanthropists today can play a crucial role in r­ educing the divisive acrimony of our hyper-partisan age. Here are some examples where funders from across the philosophical spectrum are working together: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation are jointly funding the Federalist Society’s Article I initiative to examine and restore the constitutional responsibilities of Congress. This is part of Hewlett’s $150 million Madison Initiative to foster bipartisan problem-solving in Congress. 60

The John William Pope Foundation, Z. Smith ­ eynolds Foundation, and Duke Endowment are jointly R funding the North Carolina Leadership Forum at Duke University, a yearlong conversation in which civic, business, and political leaders with different perspectives engage in civil debate. This year’s focus: how can we enable more North Carolinians to earn enough to support their families? Next year’s question: energy policy. Funders in other states may want to explore similar series of civil debates on the great issues of our times. Koch Industries and the Laura and John Arnold, Ford, and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur foundations are jointly funding the Coalition for Public Safety, which includes the ACLU, NAACP, Center for American Progress, Americans for Tax Reform, and Right on Crime, and is pursuing strategies to lower both incarceration and crime rates. A new guidebook by my Philanthropy Roundtable colleague Thomas Meyer, Uniform Champions, showcases leaders in veterans’ philanthropy such as Bernie Marcus and Howard Schultz from across the philosophical spectrum. Perhaps the greatest area of left-center-right philanthropic collaboration has been in K-12 education reform. The growth of multiple charter-school networks where low-income children beat the odds—one of the most significant achievements in the history of American ­philanthropy—has been made possible by a broad combination of progressive and free-market funders. In the face of well-funded opposition from unions, reform coalitions in many states have often had to supplement philanthropic giving with political giving to candidates who will allow charter schools to grow. Just this May, a left-center-right reform coalition elected a pro-charter school board majority in Los Angeles. The subject of this issue of Philanthropy—community colleges, apprenticeship programs, and other institutions that can open up career and technical opportunities—offers fertile ground for left-right collaboration. Progressive and free-market funders may disagree on issues such as the minimum wage and work requirements for public-­ assistance programs, but they have a common concern for restoring and strengthening upward mobility. Indeed, funders can help lead the country away from the political hyperbole, free-speech wars, and endless partisan conflicts waging around us, and identify concrete paths to truly resolve some of our nation’s greatest problems.

Adam Meyerson, President The Philanthropy Roundtable


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Philanthropy magazine, the premier source of information and inspiration for America’s most savvy and generous donors, is published quarterl...

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