Getting South Bronx kids in tune for success

[Note: This was written for The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.]

BRONX, N.Y. — Giving more at-risk children in the South Bronx hope and a better chance to succeed in school and life is the focus of a $25,000 grant to UpBeat NYC, a local nonprofit that provides free music training and orchestral instruction for kids in the Mott Haven neighborhood.

Founded in 2009 by a family of New York City musicians and operating in a public library and two churches, the nonprofit this year will serve 150 children, teens and young adults ages five to 21, as well as 10 to 15 parents and infants.

“A music program accessible to everyone in a community gives children and youth an opportunity to see the potential in their lives, shows them they have the ability to do whatever they set their minds to, and gives them a taste of creating beauty in a group through hard work,” says Liza Austria, executive director and co-founder of UpBeat NYC.

Mimi O’Brien, executive director of The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation in Durham, N.C., which awarded the grant, says learning to play an instrument and perform in an orchestra “can help children in economically distressed neighborhoods overcome the challenges of low expectations and build the skills, confidence and teamwork that will help them thrive.”

This grant is made as part of the foundation’s celebration of its 60th anniversary. “Mary Duke Biddle, my great-grandmother, lived part of her life in New York City. She wanted her foundation to support programs in that city, and the board takes great care to meet her expectation,” said Jon Zeljo, chair of the board of trustees.

Making music

UpBeat NYC was inspired by El Sistema, an effort that began in 1975 in the slums of Caracas, Venezuela, and now reaches millions of students throughout the world, including hundreds of thousands in Venezuela and 30,000 in 120 communities in the U.S.

Founded by Austria, a singer and dancer, and her husband, Richard Miller, a jazz saxophonist, UpBeat NYC operates with an annual budget of $200,000, and a paid staff of one person working full-time and one working part-time, as well as nine teachers who work on an hourly basis several times a week under contract, and seven volunteer instructors.

Children enroll on a first-come, first-served basis, with no auditions. Most students begin in a pre-orchestra class, learning basic music theory, not an instrument, and participating in a choir.

Next, students take classes that focus on a particular instrument like a violin or clarinet and how they work, followed by classes in which the students are part of a group receiving instruction on how to play a real instrument. Then, they become part of a string or wind orchestra. Eventually, they join an advanced orchestra that combines string, wind and percussion instruments.

Using some of the funds from the Biddle Foundation, UpBeat NYC will begin a new track for brass and woodwind instruments, and for percussion, beginning with pre-orchestra instrument instruction. The organization in the past has offered wind and percussion opportunities at the orchestra level only.

The new track will include a wind-instrument initiation class and then separate classes for clarinet, trumpet, trombone and percussion.

With 50 more students beginning to learn those instruments this year, UpBeat NYC  plans within the next year to form an intermediate orchestra, and then plans the following year to form a beginner orchestra.

This fall, UpBeat NYC also will begin a new class to initiate infants and parents into the world of music. The organization already offers a choir for parents.

It will use the remainder of the Biddle funds to buy new instruments and music supplies, and support its operations.

Music to thrive

For years, UpBeat NYC has taught classes for advanced wind and percussion players, who have shown significant musical and personal progress. They and their parents report that learning to play an instrument in a group with their peers heightens and improves students’ motivation, and helps build their confidence, self-awareness, capacity to focus, empathy, emotional stability and academic achievement.

“We believe that all children are innately musical,” Austria says.

Tapping that natural talent is critical in a community with failing schools, a scarcity of quality programs during periods when children are not in school, and a bleak outlook among families for the education, well-being and future of their children.

Looming over children in the community are ever-present dangers and negative influences. Local rates of teen pregnancy and juvenile criminality are high, and more than half the children live in poverty.

“All our activities are designed to address the root causes of the social exclusion and isolation of children in the South Bronx,” Austria says.

Those causes include the lack of positive social activities open to everyone, social acceptance of low achievement, and the absence of opportunities to pursue challenging, long-term endeavors that promote personal growth and change.

“Music can play a powerful role in preparing children to shape their own lives and become agents of improving their community,” Austria says. “Through long-term musical training and experience in performing, our students develop the patience and persistence required to excel as individuals and to learn to contribute as supporters and leaders in the context of collaborative music-making.”

El Sistema

UpBeat NYC has plugged into El Sistema and its network of programs in the U.S.

The organization collaborates on student workshops and shares best practices with four other El Sistema-inspired programs that serve Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, where UpBeat NYC initially was launched.

In the summer of 2015, it took 34 of its students to Caracas to take lessons and perform with their counterparts in El Sistema’s main orchestra there, while some of its teachers participated in teacher training.

Teaching artists from El Sistema in Venezuela have visited UpBeat NYC to work with its students and provide training for its teachers, some of whom plan another visit Venezuela to receiving more training.

And this summer, five of its students participated at Bard College in the National Take A Stand Festival of El Sistema USA.

Family affair

As struggling artists living and working in New York City, Austria and Miller saw a big gap between the cultural opportunities within their reach and the lack of options for children living in poverty. And her family helped her see the need to create opportunities for at-risk kids.

Austria’s mother, a long-time New York City public school teacher who taught her to play piano as a young child, had long been concerned about budget cuts for arts education and the growing emphasis on testing. Austria’s older brother Ruben Austria, also a musician, is executive director of Community Connections for Youth, a South Bronx nonprofit that provides alternatives to incarceration for youth.

So when her late father, classical bassist Jamie Suarez Austria, learned about El Sistema and its impact in helping children throughout the world lift themselves out of poverty, he inspired Austria and Miller to launch UpBeat NYC.

Austria works on a pro-bono basis. Miller is one of the organization’s two paid employees. Her younger brother John Austria, formerly a volunteer instructor, is a paid instructor. And her mother, Christine Austria, is a volunteer instructor.

While UpBeat NYC still is a small organization, the Biddle grant will allow it to continue to grow from its startup in a storefront in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn.

“My father’s passion about El Sistema showed us a model for this kind of work,” Austria says. “For my family, after my father died in 2010 from lung cancer, we continued to do this work and grow it. We’re a little in awe sometimes by how far this has come.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 10.21.16

Philanthropists, fundraisers to be honored

Marshall B. Bass of  Winston-Salem, Ned and Katherine Covington of High Point, and

Gerald H. Davidson of Greensboro have been named “Outstanding Philanthropist” by the Triad Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Executives, while Susan Gies Conley of the Children’s Law Center of Central North Carolina has been named “Outstanding Fundraising Professional.”

The awards, along with others for giving and fundraising, will be handed out at the Chapter’s National Philanthropy Day Luncheon on November 21 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro.

Keynote speaker for the even will be Ursula Dudley Oglesby, president and CEO of Dudley Q Products.

Other awards and the winners are:

* Lifetime Achievement Award — Elms and Harriet Allen.

* Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser — Reggie and Hope Chapman, Greensboro; Brenda Sloan, Winston-Salem; Kem Ellis, High Point.

* Outstanding Business in Philanthropy — Replacements Ltd., Scott Fleming.

* Outstanding Philanthropic Organization — Home Builders Association of Winston Salem.

* Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy — Lathan Verwoerdt.

* Outstanding Emerging Philanthropist — Spencer Bennett.

Women’s Leadership Council honors leaders

Regena Wiley of BB&T was named “Outstanding Volunteer” and Reynolds American received the 2016 Corporate Award for the largest number of new members in the 2015 campaign year by the Women’s Leadership Council of United Way of Forsyth County at its annual celebration and awards banquet at the Millennium Center on October 12.

Other awards and winners include:

* Outstanding Educator — Joan Deely, Philo-Hill Magnet Academy.

* Outstanding Youth Award — Demus Ramsey, Philo-Hill Magnet Academy.

* 5th Annual Susan Cameron award — Barbara Duck, BB&T.

Founded in 2007, the Women’s Leadership Council has recruited over 1,050 members and raised over $4 million to support United Way’s effort to increase the graduation rate in Forsyth County to 90 percent by 2018.

UNC-Chapel Hill gets $20 million challenge

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a $20 million challenge from an anonymous donor to match donations for need-and-merit-based scholarships.

SECU Family House raises $220,000

SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals raised over $220,000 and attracted a record-high 382 guests at The Carolina Ball on September 16.

Miller joins  Forsyth Tech Foundation

Corey Miller, former director of philanthropy at Crisis Control Ministry in Winston-

Salem, has been named executive director of development at Forsyth Tech Foundation.

Daniel Center names program administrator

Keturah King, a graduate of Winston-Salem State University with a master’s degree in education from Liberty University, has been named program administrator at The Daniel Center for Math and Science in Raleigh.

Foundation Source names managing director for South

Hugh S. Asher, former managing director at investment management firm, Cedar Capital, been named managing director of the southern fegion for Foundation Source in Fairfield, Conn.

High Point University gets $500,000

Harold and Kate Reed of North Palm Beach, Fla., are donating $500,000 to establish the Harold and Kate Reed Family Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will be awarded to students based on financial need.

Miracle League raises $280,000

Miracle League of the Triangle raised over $280,000 and attracted 400 guest at its Ten Year Celebration on October 18 at the The Pavilion at the Angus Barn in Raleigh.

Kroger donating $60,000 in goods

Kroger’s 14 stores in North Carolina will donate over $60,000 worth of goods to ares of the state affected by Hurricane Matthew, including the Triangle and surrounding counties.

Kroger has teamed up with the American Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina to provide the supplies.

Biogen Foundation to make grants to schools

The Biogen Foundation is launching a $135,000 micro-grants program designed to support science education in North Carolina’s public schools.

Grants will be awarded to teachers and schools that serve students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Teachers may apply online through the North Carolina Community Foundation for grants up to $2,000, and schools may apply for grant up to $5,000.

United Arts to hold dining event

United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County will hold its 12th annual “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” event November 3-5 to benefit its “Artists in the Schools” program.

The event will feature 10 individual dinners the first two nights in private homes or other locations, each with a featured artist, and a 180-person dinner with 20 mystery artists the third night at Burning Coal.

Fidelity Charitable gives $2.3 billion

Fidelity Charitable made a record-high $2.3 billion in donor-recommeded grants in the first nine months of 2016, up 15 percent from the same period last year, while the number of grants grew 12 percent to more than 489,000 made to over 90,100 nonprofits.

Schwab Charitable gives $830 million

From January 1 through September 30, Schwab Charitable account holders recommended roughly 145,000 grants totaling $830 million, up from 129,000 grants totaling $670 million in the same period last year.

Wildlife Federation to benefit from event

North Carolina Wildlife Federation will benefit from an event on November 19 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Urban Garden at Bank of America in Charlotte.

Junior Achievement honors firm, volunteer

Ernst & Young received the “Outstanding Corporate Service Award” and Louis Pratt, technical marketing engineer at Cisco, received the “Outstanding Individual Service Award” from Junior Achievement of Eastern North Carolina at its Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast on September 28 sponsored by Delta Air Lines.

Women’s Network names committee chairs

Amy Horgan, a System of Care coordinator, has been named grants committee chair for Women’s Impact Network of New Hanover County, a program of the North Carolina Community Foundation, while Carol Kennedy, a health-care professional, has been named membership committee chair, and Jenny Callison, a communications professional, has been named communications committee chair.

Two join Goetz Foundation board

Heather Campbell, director of finance and operations at The Raleigh School, and Rhiannon Michalski, senior clinical data associate at INC Research, have joined the board of directors of the Noah Z.M. Goetz Foundation.

Leadership seminar for nonprofits

Crumley Roberts’ Education Advancement and Leadership Center, in partnership with the Guilford Non-Profit Consortium, is offering a seminar this spring for 16 emerging nonprofit leaders. The deadline for registration is October 31.

High Point University giving $10,000

High Point University is giving $10,000 to a program that aims to provide swimming lessons free of charge to every second-grader in the city of High Point, or over 500 students.

StudentU working to equip more Durham students to succeed

[Note: This was written for The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.]

DURHAM, N.C. — Preparing more kids in Durham to graduate from high school, enroll in college and graduate, and then find ways to help other students succeed in school and life is the focus of a $25,000 grant to Durham nonprofit StudentU.

With the funds, from The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation in Durham, StudentU aims to double — to 30 — the number of college students it employs who work with middle-school students in its summer and year-long programs.

It also plans to double — to 40 — the number of internships it provides for high school students who work with middle- and other high-school students and at local nonprofits.

“We want to see a Durham where all kids can succeed,” says Dan Kimberg, founder and advancement director of StudentU. “We believe the way to get there is for our students to actually be the leaders who change the system.”

Mimi O’Brien, executive director of the Biddle Foundation, says StudentU is preparing students to thrive.

“With support and encouragement,” she says, “students who face difficult odds in school and in life can believe in themselves, find a path to success, and give back by looking for ways to create greater opportunities for kids like themselves.”

The Foundation made the grant as part of the celebration of its 60th anniversary.

Preparing for college

Inspired by a summer job in New Orleans after his freshman year at Duke that paired college students with middle-school students, Kimberg founded StudentU after graduating from Duke in 2007.

Operating with an annual budget of $2.1 million, a staff of 18 people working full-time and up to 150 working part-time, StudentU is serving 450 students this year, a number that will grow to 500 in its new class that begins next March.

It works with students at all 18 middle schools and all 12 high schools in Durham, and partners mainly with students at Duke and North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

All public school students participating in StudentU begin in sixth grade, most qualify for school lunches that are free or at a reduced price, most are students of color, and most are the first in their families to go to college.

Among students who began StudentU in sixth grade, 110 currently are pursuing bachelors’ degrees, including a few who transferred after graduating from community college. In 2017 the first of those students will graduate from a four-year college.

School-year program

StudentU offers school-year and summer programs.

During the school year, 150 students in grades six, seven and eight participating in StudentU visit the W.G. Pearson Center five days a week after school for three hours a day. Learning specialists teach them literacy and math. Students also participate in dance, orchestra and arts clubs, and get help with homework.

About 190 students in grades nine through 12 participate in StudentU at their schools. StudentU hires and pays a stipend to teachers and guidance counselors already working at the schools who serve as advocates for the StudentU students in their schools.

Each advocate works with a group of four students who meet one-on-one with the advocate every week to make sure they are on track to graduate and enroll in college. And once a month, all the StudentU students and advocates in a school meet to talk about their progress and challenges they face.

During the school year, StudentU students visit about 15 colleges in North Carolina. Before applying to college, each StudentU student visits a total of about 35 colleges.

StudentU employs full-time college advisers who provide support through the application process to its high school juniors and seniors, along with their parents.

Summer program

During the summer, 150 middle-school students attend a six-week StudentU summer program at Durham Academy five days a week, eight hours a day, while 100 ninth-and-10th-graders attend a five-week summer academy and spend another week visiting six or seven out-of-state colleges with high rates of retention of students who are the first in their families to attend college.

And 90 11th-and-12th-graders hold StudentU internships, either at its campus, supporting the operations of its middle-school and high-school academies, or at local nonprofits.

Student support

StudentU employs a full-time social worker to help address the individual needs of students and families, and to manage health partnerships. The social worker works to make sure each student has a primary care doctor, helps arrange or directly provides psychological therapy for those who need it, and arranges for annual vision screening for each student, with those who need prescription eyeglasses getting a free pair.

StudentU also employs one full-time learning specialist who work directly with individual students with the greatest academic needs.

College students

StudentU employs college students to teach middle-school students. And it provides support for college students who began participating in StudentU in sixth grade.

Each semester, the full-time StudentU “college success coordinator” meets one-on-one on campus with each StudentU college student. And each August and winter break, StudentU students participate in a retreat that features experts who talk about key factors for college success, such as time management; getting the most from college advisers; racial identity at white institutions; and dealing with drugs, alcohol and sex on campus.

StudentU also makes gifts up to $500 per family to help keep their children from leaving college because of a financial emergency.

Parents’ role

The parent of every high-school student and middle-school student in StudentU receives a phone call at least every three weeks or two weeks, respectively, that focuses on the student’s progress and on what the organization can do to better support the family.

A parents council, known as Guardians for StudentU, works to support the StudentU staff, and the council head serves on StudentU’s board of directors.

Other communities

Twenty-three communities throughout the U.S. have asked StudentU to consider expanding to their communities. While it has declined because it wants to focus on Durham, it shares with them for free a 515-page document outlining how its programs work. This summer, based on that model, Gaston County in North Carolina launched a program starting with middle-school students.

Long-term goals

StudentU aims over the long-term to help students achieve educational success; gain the knowledge they need to achieve financial security as adults; make progress toward reaching their full personal potential; and become traditional and non-traditional leaders in Durham and other communities who are equipped to help make long-term systemic change happen.

Consider Casey Barr-Rios: She enrolled in StudentU as a sixth-grader and now is a junior at North Carolina Central University and the first person in her family to go to college. She also is the full-time executive assistant at StudentU, and a member of the board of directors of Made In Durham, a community partnership that aims to help Durham youth complete high school, get a post-secondary credential, and begin a rewarding career by age 25.

“As a result of structural racism and systemic inequalities, the odds are against students of color in the Durham Public Schools,” Kimberg says. “We want to see a Durham where all kids can succeed. We are helping students discover their best selves so they can change the system around them.”

Conn Elementary partners with volunteers

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — At 3:45 p.m. every weekday during the school year, nearly 100 students gather in the gym at Conn Elementary School in Raleigh, remaining there until 6 p.m. to do their homework, with breaks for recreational activities and recess outside.

Operating the after-school program is YMCA of the Triangle, which also provides free child care for monthly meetings of the school’s Parent Teacher Association.

The partnership with the YMCA is part of a larger effort by Conn to generate voluntary and philanthropic support to supplement the public dollars it receives.

“As a school, we’re always looking for ways to expand what we do to support our teachers and students, and the community support we get helps us,” says Gary Duvall, Conn’s principal.

About 580 students are enrolled at Conn, and about half of them qualify for lunch that is free or provided at a reduced price. With such a high percentage of students on free or reduced lunch, the school receives federal dollars through the Title I program for schools serving low-income families.

To supplement the public dollars the school receives, Conn’s PTA last year increased to $35,000 from about $15,000 the funds it raised during its annual fall fundraising campaign.

Those dollars were used to pay for playground renovations, and to help fund 30 programs at the school, including mini-grants of up to $500 to teachers for special projects, such as buying books and materials for the school library to supplement what students learn in the classroom.

Conn also is developing partnerships with a growing number of organizations that provide volunteers for the school.

Starting this fall, three members of Lawyers 4 Literacy, a program of the North Carolina Bar Association, are visiting Conn once a week at lunchtime, each working with one or two students in second or third grade on their reading.

And once a week after school, about 10 volunteers visit Conn through a partnership with Cary nonprofit Read and Feed, which provides a meal for about 18 students in first through fifth grade. Each volunteer then works on reading with one or two students, who also receive two books each week to take home and keep.

And thanks to Amy Dameron, a literacy teacher at Conn and a member of Edenton Street United Methodist Church, volunteers from the congregation are scheduled to visit the school on October 15 for campus beautification and painting.

Another seven volunteers from the church also have applied to work on reading once a week with two students each.

And before the school year began, more than a dozen managers from Whole Foods on Wade Avenue visited the school for day of painting and beautification.

This fall, through two separate partnerships, 12 students in the College of Education at North Carolina State University will be visiting Conn once a week to mentor individual students in fourth and fifth grade on topics ranging from goal-setting and self-awareness to character development, while another 10 to 12 students from the College of Engineering at N.C. State will be visiting once a week to work one-on-one with students on science and math.

“We want to make sure all our students are succeeding,” Duvall says. “By having these small reading groups and small programs, we able to serve a broad range of student needs.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 10.14.16

Fundraising veterans form consulting firm

Three veteran fundraising professionals in the Triad have formed Stepstone Strategic, a consulting firm that will work with nonprofit presidents, CEOs and board leaders on fundraising strategy, leadership development and communications.

Forming the new firm are Sandra Boyette, retired senior advisor to the president at Wake Forest University and its former vice president for university advancement; Bill Porter, retired vice president for fund development at Cone Health and former vice chancellor for development and public relations at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts; and J.D. Wilson,  co-founder, chairman, CEO and retired president of Excalibur Direct Marketing.

Offices for the new firm will be at Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem.

Tomorrow Fund to shut down

The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students this fall will launch a final fundraising campaign, aiming to raise $147,000, and then make its final scholarship awards in 2017 before shutting down.

The Tomorrow Fund, which is housed at Triangle Community Foundation, is shutting down in the wake of changes made last year at the Foundation, where it cannot remain and continue fundraising, Diane Evia-Lanevi, founder and board chair of the Tomorrow Fund and a former member of the board of directors of the Foundation, says in an email distributed to supporters.

Since 2009, the Fund has awarded scholarships totaling $824,584 in scholarships, including $153,400 it awarded in June to 23 Hispanic and Latino students in financial need.

Religion’s economic impact valued at $1.2 trillion

Religion in the U.S. contributes $1.2 trillion a year to the economy, a new study says.

That contribution includes $438.4 billion from businesses, $418 billion from congregations, and $302.9 billion from institutions, including those in the fields of health care, higher education, and charity, says the study, “The Socio-economic Contribution of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis.”

Over 150 million Americans, or about half the U.S. population, belong to over 344,000 congregations, says the study, which was prepared by researchers at Georgetown University and Newseum Institute, published in Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, and sponsored by Faith Counts.

Despite declining religious affiliation in the U.S. population, the study says, religious organizations in the last 15 years have tripled — to $9 billion — their spending on social programs.

Congregations coordinate 7.5 million volunteers to help run 1.5 million social programs each year, the study says, and 40 percent of the top 50 charities in the U.S. are faith-based, with combined operating revenues of $45.3 billion.

The economic impact of religion, the study says, exceeds the combined annual revenues of the top 10 tech companies, including Apple, Amazon, and Google.

Nearly 120,000 congregations report attracting visitors for their art or architecture each year, nearly four times the number of American museums visited during the same period.

Defined as gross domestic product, the study says, the economic impact of U.S. religion would make it the 15th largest national economy in the world.

Volunteers collect food for Greensboro Urban Ministry

Volunteers from 39 congregations and civic groups worked for two days during hurricane-related rain and collected nearly 50,000 pounds of non-perishable items to help restock the Food Pantry at Greensboro Urban Ministry.

East Durham Children’s Initiative names chief operating officer

Nicky Charles, former executive director and deputy chief of staff for the School District of Philadelphia, had joined East Durham Children’s Initiative as chief operating officer.

Cumberland funder announces hurricane relief fund

Cumberland Community Foundation announced a $50,000 match for gifts to its Giving Together Hurricane Matthew Relief Fund to support disaster relief and long-term recovery in Cumberland County in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

Distributions will be awarded in collaboration with Cumberland Disaster Recovery Coalition. United Way of Cumberland County is acting as fiscal agent for the fund.

Rotary volunteers repair homes

Volunteers from eight area Rotary clubs provided home repairs for four low-income residents in a four-day blitz starting October 7 through the 10th annual Project Rebuild for Community Housing Solutions.

High Point University gets $1.7 million

The School of Education at High Point University received a state grant, managed by the North Carolina Alliance for School Leadership Development, of $833,000 for 2016-17 and $893,000 for 2017-18 to begin the High Point Leadership Academy in January 2017.

The grant provides funding for the preparation and support of school principals in North Carolina.

Nominations open for awards for business support of arts

November 28 is the deadline for submitting nominations to United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County for awards for business support of the arts.

The awards, co-sponsored by The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, will be presented January 10, 2017, at the 6th Annual State of Arts and Culture in Wake County event.

Winston-Salem Foundation gives $339,000

The Winston-Salem Foundation Foundation awarded 15 community grants totaling $339,338.

Free ‘Ask-A-Lawyer’ event

The Pro Bono Board at the School of Law at Elon University and the Alamance County Bar Association will co-sponsor a free “Ask-A-Lawyer” event on October 22 at Ebenezer Center at 734 Apple St. in Burlington from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

At the event, anyone with legal questions will have an opportunity to consult with lawayers at no cost.

Biddle Foundation grants celebrate 60 years of impact

[Note: This was written for The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.]

DURHAM, N.C. — On September 14, 1956, when Mary Duke Biddle established her philanthropic foundation, inspiring the foundation’s mission were lessons she had learned growing up in a family that believed in supporting causes and communities it cared about.

So she decided her new philanthropy would focus on making modest gifts that could multiply over time, providing access to education, enriching lives and communities through music and the arts, lifting up impoverished people through churches and congregations, and providing critical aid to communities.

In its first 60 years, The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation has awarded nearly $43 million to those causes in North Carolina, where Mrs. Biddle was born and raised, and in New York City, where she lived for 20 years as an adult before returning to Durham.

Now, to celebrate its 60th anniversary, the Foundation has awarded five special grants totaling $125,000 to support efforts in North Carolina and New York City to boost the arts and arts education, to use orchestral training to equip more underserved kids to thrive, and to prepare more at-risk kids to succeed in school and life.

“The philanthropic legacy of Mary Duke Biddle continues to advance the arts and improve the lives of youth, particularly those who are less advantaged, in the communities she loved,” says Mimi O’Brien, executive director of the Foundation.

Making an impact

The five special grants — $25,000 each to the Durham Arts Council, Kidznotes and StudentU, all in Durham; the Asheville Art Museum; and UpBeat NYC in the South Bronx — are designed to have a bigger impact on individual organizations and the people they serve. These awards are made in addition to the Foundation’s regular annual giving, including approximately 40 grants of $5,000 each in response to requests from nonprofits in North Carolina and New York City.

“Arts and youth education remain critical, ongoing needs in our community,” O’Brien says. “These special grants represent an investment to help innovative nonprofits make an even bigger difference expanding the impact of the arts and creating opportunities for young people to succeed.”

With the help of the five grants:

* Durham Arts Council will develop an online arts directory and continue to invest in

career development for emerging artists, underscoring Durham’s growing reputation as a hub for the arts.

* Kidznotes will use orchestral training to equip more underserved students to succeed in school and life, continue its expansion into economically-distressed Southeast Raleigh, and consider expanding to other parts of the Triangle region.

* StudentU will prepare more kids in Durham to graduate from high school, enroll in college and graduate, and then find ways to help their peers succeed in school and life.

* The Asheville Art Museum will provide access to arts education and activities to more underserved children in Asheville, Buncombe County and three rural counties in Western North Carolina.

* UpBeat NYC will provide free music training and orchestral instruction to more at- risk children in the South Bronx, along with hope for the future and a better chance to succeed in school and life.

Philanthropic legacy

Mary Duke Biddle, the daughter of Benjamin Newton Duke and granddaughter of Washington Duke, attended public schools in Durham, and in 1907 graduated from Trinity College, now Duke University.

Her father and uncle, James B. Duke, using wealth generated from tobacco, textile and electric power industries they developed in North Carolina in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, gave generously to their community and became known for their philanthropy. Both were benefactors of Durham’s Trinity College, and in 1924, through the newly chartered Duke Endowment, the college was named Duke University in honor of their father.

In establishing her own Foundation, Mary Duke Biddle designated that half the grant funding would go to Duke University, with the rest going to non-profit organizations that support a variety of causes in North Carolina and New York.

Mary Duke Biddle died in 1960 at age 73. For many years, the Foundation was led by her daughter, the late Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, and her husband, the late James H. Semans, M.D.

“The Biddle Foundation continues its legacy of making the communities we serve Jbetter places to live and work,” says Jon Zeljo, chair of the Foundation’s board of trustees and great-grandson of Mary Duke Biddle. “We invest in programs that expand opportunities for everyone, connect and inspire diverse populations, and give people in need tools and hope for the future.”

Model for future funding

Including grants to organizations such as Duke University that it has funded for many years through long-standing relationships, the Foundation typically makes nearly $1 million in grants a year.

With an endowment of about $30 million, the Foundation continues to focus its funding on the arts and youth education, particularly in collaborative efforts that serve less advantaged populations.

The Foundation is using its 60th anniversary to examine how its grantmaking practices and programs can be more impactful to the organizations and causes it supports.

In addition to support for Duke and to grants it makes in response to applications, organizations the Foundation funds through long-standing relationships include, among others, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts; Durham Arts Council; American Dance Festival; Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle; and Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

Nonprofit news roundup, 10.07.16

TROSA to build $2.6 million care center

Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers plans to build a comprehensive care center on its campus at 1820 James St. in Durham and has raised $2.1 million in pledges and donations for the project.

TROSA still needs to raise $500,000 for the two-story, 10,000-square-foot center, which is scheduled to open in June 2017.

TROSA, which opened in 1994 in an abandoned elementary school, now is located on the site of a former dairy and is the state’s largest nonprofit residential treatment program for drug and alcohol addiction.

Operating at no charge to individuals, it coordinated over 11,000 health-related issues for 987 individuals in 2015.

TROSA has received two grant challenges — from an anonymous foundation and the Stewards Fund — that will match donations to its fundraising effort.

Health, hunger top priorities for donors

Fighting disease, and increasing access to health care and food are top priorities for donors, who says business, individuals and philanthropy should do more to fund solutions to those problems, a new study says.

Thirty-nine percent of over 3,250 U.S. adults surveyed say developing treatment or cure for a disease is the top challenge, while 33 percent cited access to basic health services and 38 percent cited hunger and access to nutritious food, says the study from Fidelity Charitable.

The study, The Future of Philanthropy, included adults who have donated to charities and claimed itemized charitable tax deductions on their 2015 tax returns

Forty-five percent of donors say nonprofits will create the solutions, while 36 percent cite public partnerships, 33 percent cite individuals, 32 percent cite religious institutions, 26 percent cite universities, 26 percent cite business, 24 percent cite social enterprises, and 19 percent cite government.

Forty-seven of Millennials are equally concerned about domestic and international issues, compared to 36 percent of Baby Boomers.

Forty-nine percent of Millennials and 23 percent of Boomers have changed their approach to giving as a result of technological advances in giving, the study says, while 30 percent of Millennials and 11 percent of Boomers have been influenced by increased opportunities to connect with peers about giving.

And 32 percent of Millennials and 14 percent of Boomers have tried alternative forms of giving, such as choosing to buy from a company with a social mission, or investing for social impact.

New effort targets hurdles for low-income youth

MDC in Durham is launching a three-year, $1.6 million initiative, initially in four cities for two years, to prepare local leaders to find ways to help low-income young people move into the middle class.

Key funders of the effort include The Kresge Foundation, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation and The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and each of the four cities — Athens, Ga.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Greenville, S.C.; and Jacksonville, Fla. — will pay $25,000 a year for two years to participate and receive coaching, technical assistance and other support.

Additional cities are expected to participate in the second year of the project.

Proctor & Gamble employees volunteer

Over 700 employees of Procter & Gamble volunteered for two hours on September 21, making 7,500 trail mix snack packs, over 7,000 toiletry kits, 250 pencil bundles and nearly 100 no-sew blankets, as well as cards and notes, that were donated to 20 local nonprofits in an effort coordinated by the Volunteer Center of Greensboro and United Way of Greater Greensboro.

Volunteers pitch in for Meals on Wheels

Members of the Hart, or the Health Affairs Round Table, prepared nearly 1,000 breakfast bags for Meals on Wheels, assembling the bags at Astria Oakridge and Brighton Gardens with over 20 community partners serving as drop-off sites for food donations during a month-long collection period.

Advocacy effort kicking off for individuals with autism, disabilities 

Raleigh nonprofit The Power of the Dream and Research Triangle Park nonprofit Persever8 are launching an effort to prepare parents and families members of individuals with autism to be advocates for improving job opportunities for adults with autism and intellectual developmental disabilities.

The two nonprofits will hold a kickoff event for the effort on October 17 at 7 p.m. at the Frontier in Research Triangle Park.

Me Fine Foundation gala raises $220,000

The Me Fine Foundation raised over $220,000 at its gala at City Club Raleigh on September 17 presented by Centrifuge Media.

The foundation awarded its Hero for Life Award to Ken Steenson at North Carolina Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill.

Girls on the Run of the Triangle celebrating 16th anniversary

Girls on the Run of the Triangle will celebrate its 16th anniversary with the Girls on the Run of the Triangle Sweet 16 Black Tie Dinner Gala onNovember 12 at 6:30 p.m. at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, and a Community Walk & Talk Event on November 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Frontier at Research Triangle Park in Research Triangle Park.

Featured speaker at both events will be Kathrine Switzer, who in 1967 officially registered for and finished the Boston Marathon, which at the time was a men’s-only event.

Event to benefit InterAct

InterAct in Raleigh will benefit from the inaugural Love Heals 5K Run/Walk on October 22 at RallyPoint Sports Grill in Harrison Square in Cary. Registration starts at 3 p.m. and race to begin at 4 p.m.

Event to benefit Mental Health Association

The Mental Health Association in Greensboro will receive all proceeds of the 2nd Annual Shea’s Chase 5K Run/Walk, which will be held November 12 at 11 a.m. at the Railyard at SouthEnd in downtown Greensboro.

DHIC gets $60,000

First Tennessee Bank of the Triangle has donated $60,000 to DHIC in Raleigh.

Biogen Foundation pays educators’ conference costs

The Biogen Foundation is covering registration fees for 30 teachers and 20 administrators for kindergarten through 12th grade who work in 16 of North Carolina’s most economically distressed counties to attend a two-day conference of the North Carolina Association of Biomedical Research on education in science, technology, engineering and math.

The teachers also will receive travel stipends and reimbursement for costs associated with substitute teachers.

New Hanover funders gives $50,000

The New Hanover County Community Foundation, an affiliate of the North Carolina Community Foundation, has made 14 local grants totaling over $50,000.

CPA day of service

As part of a day of service on September 23 by the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, Bernard Robinson & Company closed its offices in Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Raleigh while its more than 100 employees volunteered at seven organizations.

JDRF event set for October 22

The Triangle/Eastern North Carolina Chapter of JDRF will hold its annual One Walk  event on October 22 at Coastal Federal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, located at 3801 Rock Quarry Road in Raleigh. Check-in opens at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10:30 a.m.

Young professionals’ summit in High Point

The inaugural Young Professional Summit in High Point will be held November 17 at High Point Elks Lodge from 11:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Keynote speaker for the event, for young professionals ages 18 to 40, will be High Point City Manager Greg Demko.

Food drive for Greensboro Urban Ministry

Volunteers from 39 congregations and civic groups will pitch in today and Saturday on the fall food drive to collect non-perishable items to restock the Food Pantry at Greensboro Urban Ministry.

Realtors volunteer to repair home

Members of the Greensboro Regional Realtors Association were scheduled to volunteer October 6 and 7 to provide home repairs for a Greensboro homeowner for the group’s 8th annual rebuilding project with Community House Solutions.

Arts Council awards $3,000

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County awarded six mini-grants of $500 each in a program supported by Wells Fargo.

North Albermarle funder gets two advisory board members

Grafton G. Beaman and James M. Watson, both of Elizabeth City, have joined the advisory board for the Northern Albemarle Community Foundation, an affiliate of the North Carolina Community Foundation.