Bensen to head Triangle Community Foundation

DURHAM, N.C. — Mark V. Bensen, executive vice president of MDC, a Durham-based national research group that focuses on economic and workforce development, has been named president and CEO of the Durham-based Triangle Community Foundation, effective August 13.

“Innovative philanthropy and effective stewardship of our region’s financial and social capital are essential to our growth and advancement,” and the foundation is “well-prepared to lead on all fronts,” Bensen says in a statement.

Bensen succeeds Phail Wynn Jr., vice president for Durham and regional affairs at Duke University, who has served as interim president and CEO since the abrupt departure nearly a year ago of Andrea Bazan.

Bensen has managed MDC’s daily operations, including its financial, human resources, and information-technology functions, and has played a key role in developing and implementing short and long-range strategic planning.

He formerly was executive director of the Lucy Daniels Foundation in Raleigh, and was director of the Global Education Initiative for the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also was associate director of the William R. Kenan Jr. Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science, and founding director of the Park Scholarships, both at North Carolina State University.

Wynn, the foundation’s former board chair, has served on a part-time basis, and Lori O’Keefe has served as vice president for philanthropic servcies and chief operating officer.

In mid-July 2011, six weeks after Bazan was given an immediate, “indefinite” paid sabbatical, the foundation announced she would not be returning.

The foundation manages $150 million in funds established by families, businesses, individuals, and organizations, makes grants from those funds to nonprofits, and administers a variety of programs to benefit the community.

It  manages over 750 funds that range in size from $10,000 to $10 million, mainly for the benefit of Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham counties.

In fiscal 2011-12, the foundation granted over $14 million to nonprofits, schools and community efforts.

Indiana philanthropy center to become school

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University is on track to become the world’s first school dedicated to the study and teaching of philanthropy.

Led by the Center, which was founded in 1987 at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus, Indiana University was the first university in the world to offer degrees in philanthropic studies.

Those include a master of arts in 1993, a Ph.D. in 2003, and a bachelor of arts in 2010.

The board of trustees at Indiana University has approved formation of a School of Philanthropy, with the proposal now to be submitted for consideration by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

“Philanthropy and nonprofit organizations are fundamental to a healthy society, and they operate in a constantly-changing, ever-more-complex environment,” Gene Tempel, president of the Indiana Foundation, says in a statement.

Tempel has been named senior fellow at the Center and will play a key role in the university’s effort to establish the School of Philanthropy.

Philanthropy and the nonprofit sector represent roughly 10 percent of the U.S. labor force and about 5 percent of the annual gross domestic project.

The U.S. is home to over 1.4 million nonprofits that will need to hire another 640,000 executives by 2016, according to a study by The Bridgespan Grop.

“Philanthropy’s role and impact in the business and government sectors and around the globe, as well as in the nonprofit sector, are increasing dramatically,” Patrick M. Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy, says in a statement.

The Center, which has mentored dozens of philanthropy-education programs at other universities in the U.S. and abroad, offers research for nonprofit professionals and donors, as well as research, training and service programs, including The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, and Women’s Philanthropy Institute.

Reynolds Trust boosts rural health clinics

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine in Guilford County is getting $51,275 to renovate a home for reuse as a satellite location in Rockingham County for a home community health  center.

And the Free Clinic of Rockingham County is getting $19,450 to renovate new office areas and an educational room, and to buy furnishings, computers and printers.

The two rural health clinics are among nine in some of the state’s poorest counties that are getting much-needed equipment and improvements to their facilities, thanks to a $1 million grant the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem awarded last year to the Raleigh-based N.C. Rural Center.

The funding, which will be used for new treatment rooms, a new x-ray machine, an insulin cooler, a wheelchair-accessible van and other improvements, is being provided as part of a larger initiative known as Rural Hope that aims to stimulate economic activity and job growth in the health-care sector while improving the availability and quality of health-care services in rural communities.

Rural Hope, which has received about $5 million is a collaborative effort that includes the Reynolds Trust and Rural Center, as well as the Appalachian Regional Commission, N.C. Office of Rural Health and Community Care, and the Golden Leaf Foundation.

Allen Smart, director of the health-care division at the Reynolds Trust, says that while it can be tough to differentiate funding requests from different health-care agencies, the collaboration has provided an effective way to “get some collective thinking about the capital needs of health-care providers in rural communities.”

That is becoming increasingly important, he says, because rural health-care providers are trying to “ramp up” with more space, more equipment or simply different space in anticipation of changes in the health-care system scheduled to take effect in 2014 that are expected to generate more demand for service because more people will be eligible for Medicaid and thus for services they have not sought in the past.

The Rural Hope effort also has found that many rural-health providers often are housed in physical space that simply needs to be renovated or replaced, Smart says, needs that must be addressed to meet rising demand for services from people who are not insured.

Arts are big business, study says

Despite a slight drop in audience spending because of the economic downturn, the nonprofit arts-and-culture industry remains an economic engine that will be a key force in the economy’s recovery, a new study says.

The industry fueled $135.2 billion of economic activity throughout the U.S. in 2010, including $61.1 billion by nonprofit arts-and-culture groups and another $74.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences, says Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, the fourth study by Americans for the Arts of the industry’s economic impact.

That activity supports 4.1 million full-time jobs and generates $22.3 billion a year in revenue to local, state and federal governments, over five-and-half times their combined $4 billion in arts allocations, says the study, which includes customized findings on 182 regions representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In North Carolina, the nonprofit arts-and-culture industry drives $1.2 billion in direct economic activity, supporting the equivalent of over 43,600 full-time jobs and generating $119 million in revenue for local and state governments.

Arts and culture groups are “resilient and entrepreneurial businesses,” the study says. “They employ people locally, purchase goods and services within the community, and market and promote their regions.”

The collapse of the economy “erased the gains made during the pre-recession years” and left 2010 spending on the arts trailing 2005 levels by 3 percent, the study says.

The recession’s biggest impact on the arts was on attendance and audience spending, it says.

“Yet even in a down economy, some communities saw an increase in their arts spending and employment,” it says. “As the economy rebounds, the arts are well poised for growth.”

Arts and culture groups also generate additional event-related spending by audiences that benefits local economies such as for parking, dining and shopping, the study says.

Based on 151,802 audience surveys, the typical person attending an arts event spends $24.60 per person per event in addition to the cost of admission.

And 32 percent of people attending arts events live outside the county in which the event takes place, spending $39.96 related to the event, compared to $17.42 spent by local residents who attend those events.

“A vibrant arts community not only keeps residents and their discretionary spending close to home, but it also attracts visitors who spend money and help local businesses thrive,” the study says.

“America’s arts industry is not only resilient in times of economic uncertainty, but it also a key component to our nation’s economic recovery and future prosperity,” it says. “Business and elected leaders need not feel that a choice must be made between arts funding and economic prosperity. This study proves that they can choose both. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business.”

North Carolina counties

The national report includes findings on the economic impact of arts and culture on 17 local communities in North Carolina. Among them:

  • In Mecklenburg County, the arts industry generates nearly $202.8 million in annual economic activity, 6,240 full-time jobs and $18.1 million in revenue for local and state government. The industry also fuels over $101.2 million in event-related spending in the county, with cultural audiences spending $30.72 per person, including $41.58 spent by people from outside the county who attend events in the county, and $23.54 by county residents attending those vents.
  • In Wake County, the arts industry generates $166.2 million in annual economic activity, 6,601 jobs and nearly $15.9 million in revenue for local and state government. The industry also fuels $78.4 million in event-related spending in the county, with cultural audiences spending $17.98 per person, including $36.09 by people from outside the county and $13.43 by county residents.
  • In Forsyth County, the nonprofit arts-and-culture industry fuels nearly $136.6 million in direct economic activity, 4,769 jobs and over $13.7 million in revenue for local and state government. The industry also stimulates over $65.9 million in spending related to arts events in the county, with cultural audiences spending $26.64 per person on costs related to events, including $49.97 spent by people from outside the county who attend events in the county, and $16.15 spent by county residents attending those events.
  • In Guilford County, the arts industry generates over $118 million in direct economic activity, 4,269 jobs and nearly $16.7 million in revenue for local and state government. The industry also fuels over $71.7 million in event-related spending in the county, with cultural audiences spending $19.45 per person, including $27.87 spent by people from outside the county who attend events in the county, and $16.43 spent by county residents attending those events.
  • In Durham County, the arts industry generates $125.5 million in annual economic activity, 4,550 jobs and over $11.4 million in revenue for local and state government. The industry also fuels $51.4 million in event-related spending, with cultural audiences spending $28.16 per person, including $39.33 by people from outside the county, and $14.59 by county residents.


N.C. GSK Foundation works to boost education

By Todd Cohen

When its endowment plunged from $76.4 million in October 2007 to $39.5 million in February 2009 following the collapse of the economy in September 2008, the board of the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation bucked a philanthropic trend and dug deeper, including a new effort to address needs in communities that lacked local funders.

“They felt they could not pull away and reduce their support for the citizens of North Carolina, particularly at a time when that need was at its all-time greatest,” says Marilyn Foote-Hudson, the Durham-based foundation’s executive director.

Formed in 1986, the foundation has approved nearly $60 million in grants, including over $4 million it approved and $3.3 million it has paid out in the current fiscal year.

This year’s funding includes $2.1 million for the new grants program that aims to reach all of North Carolina’s 100 counties through one-time grants of $25,000 to nonprofits for projects that boost science, health and education in their communities.

Education, often to support science or health, and typically delivered through campuses of the University of North Carolina system, including efforts to support education in kindergarten through high school, is the main focus of the foundation’s funding.

“It’s all about education,” Foote-Hudson says. “We are an education foundation.”

And while the new program focuses on smaller grants to nonprofits in local communities, the foundation typically makes a handful of big grants a year to address overarching educational initiatives.

This fiscal year, for example, it approved a five-year grant of $2 million to the North Carolina Museum of Art to help integrate art into the classroom by providing teachers with resources to help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

It also approved a three-year grant of $1 million to the General Administration of the University of North Carolina system to provide access to higher education to six UNC campuses for students who struggle because they learn differently.

And it recently approved a three-year grant of $1.5 million to North Carolina Central University in Durham for scholarships and program improvements to increase the number of women and minority students who graduate with a degree in science, technology, engineering or math, known as STEM, and to pursue careers in those fields.

A key strategy of that effort, which will begin in the fall of 2013 and serve about 40 students at the historically black school, will be to provide them with faculty and industry mentors.

Since 1993, the foundation also has paid over $1.6 million to support its Women In Science Scholars program at 29 North Carolina colleges and universities, providing an endowed scholarship for students studying science, and pairing them with professional women scientists at GSK who volunteer to serve as mentors.

And it provides annual awards of $5,000 and $2,000 each, respectively, or a total of about $100,000 a year, that recognize local health departments and individual advocates for improving the health status of children.

The vast majority of the foundation’s grants support the UNC system, a public institution that is struggling in the face of the economic downturn, with the number of course offerings and faculty being cut, Foote-Hudson says.

“Our commitment is to support the citizens of North Carolina,” she says. “Public institutions are the place to do that.”

Community Link focuses on homeless

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — What was launched in 1929 as a local Travelers Aid Society helping stranded travelers find housing now operates as Community Link, an agency with an annual budget of $3.8 million that helps just over 1,200 families a year get into rental housing or become homeowners for the first time.

And with the consolidation earlier this year of programs from Community Link and two other agencies that focused on providing homeowner education and counseling for first-time homebuyers and homeowners struggling to keep their homes, the organization has taken on that piece of those agencies’ work.

With 34 employees, Community Link focuses on helping homeless people in a six-county region get into housing.

Its mission is to “enable individuals and families to obtain and sustain safe, decent and affordable housing, says Floyd R. Davis Jr., president and CEO.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011, for example, Community Link helped 816 families moved into rental housing, while helping 252 families become first-time homeowners.

It also helped 600 individuals find housing elsewhere in the U.S. after their attempt to live in Charlotte did not work out and they wanted to return to communities where they had support systems, a program that dates to the agency’s roots as a local Travelers Aid Society.

Community Link’s work with first-time homebuyers began in 2004, when it merged with Ugamma, a smaller agency that focused on home-ownership education and counseling.

That program, which now has been consolidated with similar efforts that had been housed at United Family Services and the Latin American Coalition, has faced rising demand for services as a result of the crippled economy, Davis says.

“Given the economic situation of the last few years, we see a growing number of people are facing difficulty in obtaining and sustaining housing,” he says, mainly because people have lost employment or cannot find jobs.

And people who lost jobs with higher pay are taking jobs with lower pay that otherwise might have been available to people with low-to-moderate incomes, making it tougher for them to find work, he says.

The program at United Family Services that provided housing counseling had served roughly 1,800 people a year, while the program at the Latin American Coalition had served about 400 people a year.

Community Link has hired the housing counselor who worked on that program at the Latin American Coalition, filling a vacant position.

And it has taken on a total of $516,000 in contracts United Family Services had with the city of Charlotte and with the N.C. Housing Finance Agency to operate its program.

Davis says he anticipates Community Link will expand its work assisting homeowners who are facing foreclosure as a result of the damaged economy.

The agency will seek funds to pay for that expansion from dollars the state will receive from a big settlement that attorneys general from a number of states made in lawsuit they filed against financial institutions for the way they had been handling foreclosures, Davis says.

Community Link also launched a new fundraising event in May, a “Sweet Escape” chocolate party, that it estimated would raise $10,000 to $15,000, an event it hopes to hold on an annual basis.

As part of its work, Community Link works to help clients repair their credit, cope with their budgeting, and address problems such as substance abuse and other mental-health issues that may keep them from finding housing.

“We help people deal with the barriers that have prevented them from obtaining rental housing or becoming homeowners,” Davis says.