Collaboration key to Latino education effort

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This was written for Triangle Community Foundation. I am working with the Foundation as senior communications adviser.]

RALEIGH, N.C. — A big challenge the Triangle faces is to help more Latino students get into and complete college.

A pioneering effort to address that challenge is a public-private collaboration developed by Hispanics In Philanthropy, or HIP.

With funding from the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation, HIP has teamed up with a broad mix of partners and funders that are working to support Latino students and their families in Wake, Durham and Johnston counties.

The effort underscores the vital importance of collaboration to address some of society’s most urgent problems.

Systems change

Althea Gonzalez, Asheville-based North Carolina program manager for Oakland, Calif.-based HIP, says the Triangle effort is not just about serving 400 students over the four-year life of the project, but also about trying to “change the systems” that affect those students.

And making “lasting change,” she says, requires “multi-level, multi-sector, multi-stakeholders.”

That is the theory behind an approach to change, known as “collective impact,” that is championed by the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

“Large-scale social change,” the publication says, “requires broad cross-sector coordination, yet the social sector remains focused on the isolated intervention of individual organizations.”

Complex problem

The Latino student success initiative spearheaded by HIP reflects a broad-based effort to tackle a truly complex problem.

By 2025, half the U.S. workforce, or over 50 million workers, is expected to be of Latino descent, and 63 percent of U.S. jobs are expected to require some form of post-secondary education or training, according to the Lumina Foundation.

Yet in Wake, Durham and Johnston counties, Latinos are graduating from high school at lower rates than they are throughout North Carolina.

And for those Latino students who do graduate and get to college, the preparation they receive in middle school and high school can have a big impact on whether they complete college.

“As the largest and fastest growing segment of the the U.S. population, it’s clear Latinos represent America’s future,” says Susan Johnson, a strategy officer at the Lumina Foundation, which has set an overall goal of increasing the share of Americans with an education credential or degree to 60 percent by 2025 from 40 percent now.

“To even approach the idea of 60 percent, we need to take into account the post-secondary education of Latinos in America,” Johnson says.

Gonzalez says the need to address the issue is critical.

“This is not just the right thing or moral thing to do,” she says, “but it is an economic imperative for North Carolina to get all our kids of color, with Latinos as the expanding population, to get their graduation rates to improve.”

The strategy

The Triangle project has been funded with a $600,000, four-year grant to HIP from the Lumina Foundation that HIP must match by raising another $200,000.

The local partnership is one of 13 projects in 11 states funded through a four-year, $11.5 million Lumina Foundation initiative that aim to boost education success for Latino students beyond high school.

HIP designed the local project in partnership with the Adelante Education Coalition, a broad-based statewide network  that focuses on Latino education issues and policies from kindergarten through higher education.

To deliver the project programs, HIP has developed a collaboration of Triangle organizations that are working with Latino students and their families in Wake, Durham and Johnston counties to try to improve the rate at which those students complete college.

Partner agencies

In the current school year, three partner agencies are working with a total of 180 students at Millbrook High School in Wake County, Durham Southern High School in Durham County and Smithfield-Selma High School in Johnston County, and in a handful of middle schools in Durham County.

Providing after-school programs and other support are Durham-based Student Action with Farmworkers in Johnston County; El Centro Hispano in Durham; and the North Carolina Society of Hispanic Professionals in Raleigh.

Each after-school partner agency has hired a “success coach” who mentors students and works with them on academic or life challenges they may be facing.

And the Juntos program at North Carolina State University provides classes for parents and families to help them better understand how to prepare their children for college.

While each county program is pursuing its own strategy, success coaches typically spend a total of about three to five hours a week with students.

And after-school activities include academic tutoring; leadership development; support on issues such as self-esteem, character and behavior; and peer learning and support.

The William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at N.C.  State will evaluate the project, including how each county program is working, and then the “best practices” those evaluations find will be incorporated into each program, Gonzalez says.

HIP also has assembled a broad-based Leadership Council that includes representatives of state and local public schools; public and private colleges and universities; state lawmakers; corporations and foundations; and media companies.

Best practices

At a meeting last June, the Leadership Council heard from officials at Georgia State University about remarkable progress the school had made in improving the college completion rate for Latino students.

In 2004, the graduation rate for Latino students at Georgia State trailed that of any other ethnic group.

Seven years later, Latino students at the school were graduating at a higher rate that that of any other ethnic group.

The turnaround reflected, among other things, the use of “interventions” such as structured freshman learning communities for Latino students during their first semesters of college, and a peer-tutoring program through which Latino students who are successful in a course are later hired to tutor students currently taking the course.

It also reflected the use of a “scorecard” that The Goizueta Foundation in Atlanta requires that universities adopt to receive funding.

The scorecard tracked data on Latino students, including their retention rate, the financial aid packages they received, the high schools at which the university recruited students, and the mentoring and tutoring supports the students received.

“That was the first time many of those higher education institutions had ever holistically examined what they were doing,” Gonzalez says.

After hearing from officials from Georgia State about the progress Latino students there have made in completing college, the Council will be talking to provosts and deans at Triangle colleges and universities about identifying best practices on campuses and in public schools, and then looking for ways to help put them into practice.

“The Leadership Council is looking at systemic issues, institutional barriers and how to change systems,” Gonzalez says, “and not just about impacting individual students, but changing the educational pipeline.”

Collaboration matters

The Triangle enjoys a bounty of extraordinary assets and resources: Our region consistently tops national rankings for the best place to live, study and do business.

We are home to world-class universities, companies and thinkers. We benefit from smart jobs, smart workers, affluent and philanthropic residents, and smart social-sector enterprises.

But we also are afflicted with deep and persistent poverty and the full-range of social problems that poverty generates.

Addressing the symptoms and roots of those problems will require the kind of broad-based partnerships that HIP has developed to help Latino students succeed in high school and college.

The road to a better community will be paved through collaboration.

Social business, Part 8: Company teams with nonprofit to solve social problems

By Todd Cohen

As part of a partnership it formed in 2006 with Mercy Corps, a global aid agency based in Portland, Ore., Western Union has worked on a range of projects, including market-driven relief efforts to spur recovery in Haiti in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake there.

Rather than give away water in tent cities, for example, Mercy Corps helped people establish water businesses and also gave people cash or vouchers for work so they could buy water or other services, explained, Talya Bosch, Boston-based vice president for social ventures for Western Union, which is based in Englewood, Colo.

Those new businesses “were designed to be sustainable so people could continue to provide those services,” she said.

The company also uses its global network of agents to engaged migrant communities throughout the world to contribute to development efforts. In Haiti, for example, the company matched consumer donations to Mercy Corps one-for-one and enabled migrants to serve as mentors to fledgling entrepreneurs there, providing expertise on topics such as human resources, marketing and accounting.

“We were able to engage our business partners, agents, employees and customers,” Bosch said. “That makes a difference. People have a choice about which company to do business with and spend money with, and they tend to prefer a company that made a difference in their community.”

Next: Nonprofits work with companies to help find business solutions

The series:

Part 1: Companies team with causes to add value

Part 2: Companies build giving into business strategy

Part 3: Philanthropy adds value for companies

Part 4: Nonprofit builds corporate partnerships from ground up

Part 5: Company works with nonprofits to build markets

Part 6: Companies turn to nonprofits to help develop leaders

Part 7: Nonprofits tap corporate expertise

Part 8: Company teams with nonprofit to solve social problems

Part 9: Nonprofits work with companies to help find business solutions

Nonprofit news roundup, 04.26.13

Kenan Trust gives $5 million for renovating music building at UNC-Chapel Hill

The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust is giving $5 million to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to launch a renovation of the music department’s Hill Hall.

Work will center on improvements to Hill Hall’s rotunda and 550-seat auditorium in the century-old building that originally served as the University’s first library.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $15 million, none of it in state-appropriated funding.

In addition to the Kenan Trust’s gift, the office of the provost at UNC-CH will provide $5 million, and its College of Arts and Sciences will raise the remaining $5 million in a special campaign.

After a planning phase, work is expected to begin in 2015 and take two years to complete.

In 2007, the Kenan Trust gave $8 million to the music department, including $4 million to establish 16 full music scholarships for undergraduates, and $4 million to complete funding for a new music building in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Kenan Music Building was dedicated in 2009.

Twenty-four Kenan Music Scholarships have been awarded since the first class entered in fall 2007.

SECU Foundation funds community college scholarships

The SECU Foundation has made an initial one-year commitment of $435,000 to fund 10 continuing education scholarships of $750 each to be awarded to eligible students at each of the 58 campuses in the North Carolina Community Foundation System.

The initiative is designed to help provide students with short-term job training for new careers or retraining to advance current job skills through the Community College System’s Back-to-Work Program and continuing education courses.

Home builders partner with Wake Habitat

Five local home builders and developers partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Wake County to build four homes in six days during Habitat Wake’s 2013 Home Builders Blitz, which began April 20.

AR Nix Construction, Regency Centers, Savvy Homes, Triangle Builders Guild, and Williams Realty and Building Company gathered cash donations and worked with subcontractors and suppliers to obtain materials and professional labor for the build.

Baker Roofing, Ply Gem and Stock Building Supply sponsored the event by providing much of the needed materials.

Wake Hospice changing name

Hospice of Wake County plans to change its name to Transitions LifeCare at the start of 2014, a branding change that also will affect organizations under its corporate umbrella, including Horizons Palliative Care, Horizons Home Care, HorizonsGriefCenter, and Hospice of Harnett County.

Poston named to community investment post at Time Warner Cable

Keith Poston, former director of communications for the Eastern North Carolina division of Time Warner Cable, has been named senior director for community investment at the company. He will be responsible strategic philanthropy and community engagement for the company’s East Coast operations, including the Carolinas, central and upstate New York, and Maine.

Rex Healthcare Foundation gets $100,000 from Komen for the Cure

Rex Healthcare Foundation in Raleigh received two grants totaling $110,000 from the North Carolina Triangle to the Coast Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure to fund breast cancer screenings and treatments for underserved women.

Since 2007, the Rex Healthcare Foundation has received over $500,000 from the local Komen affiliate and has used the money to help provide free mammograms, other types of diagnostic imaging, and surgical services for thousands of women and breast cancer patients across the region on the Rex Mobile Mammography Unit and in the Rex Breast Care Center.

YMCA of the Triangle gets $25,000

YMCA of the Triangle has been awarded a $25,000 gift from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to help fund a Y Learning Program at Reedy Creek Middle School in Cary.

Tomorrow Fund accepting applications

The Tomorrow Fund is accepting applications through Triangle Community Foundation through May 15.

The Tomorrow Fund also is trying to match $30,000 pledged by three board members of its board, each of whom has agreed to give $10,000 to match, dollar for dollar, all donations through May 12 up to $30,000.

All funds donated will go directly for scholarships this summer.

Over the last three years, The Tomorrow Fund has awarded nearly $300,000 in scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 for students who are Hispanic or Latino immigrants, are the first in their family to attend college in the U.S., and are from low-income backgrounds.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle gets planning grant from John Rex Endowment

The John Rex Endowment is giving an $81,789 planning grant to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle to work with the Southeast Raleigh community to develop a plan for an urban agriculture project to address low access to healthy foods.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle will work with members of “food insecure” neighborhoods to develop a plan to bring healthy and affordable foods to Southeast Raleigh. The plan will include steps to to equip youth and their families to grow and sell their own fresh food.

Boys & Girls Clubs to honor two former members

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greensboro will honor two former Club members at its annual Pratt Family Fundraising Gala, to be held May 2 at the Koury Convention Center at 6 p.m. and sponsored by the Pratt Family Foundation.

At the Gala, the Clubs’ biggest annual fundraiser, Lee Staton and Trina Pratt, will be inducted into the Inaugural Boys & Girls Club Alumni Hall of Fame.

Staton, vice president of operations at Greensboro Housing Authority, won The Salvation Army Youth of the Year award, State Youth of the Year honor and was runner-up for the National Youth of the Year award in 1982 as a Club member in Greensboro.

Pratt, executive director and chief professional officer for The Boys & Girls Club of Danville, Virginia, was a member of Greensboro’s Hickory Trails Club, and later became a staff member there.

Christian Foundation hosting luncheon for women fundholders

The Raleigh affiliate of the National Christian Foundation will host a luncheon for women fundholders on May 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mez Restaurant at 5410 Page Road in Durham featuring Jen Hatmaker, author of nine books, including 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.

Cary grantwriter earns grants credential

Sarah S. Perkins of Cary, grant writer for Hospice of Wake County in Raleigh, has earned the Grant Professional Certified credential, or GPC,  from the Grant Professionals Certification Institute.

Book on promoting nonprofits published

Promoting Nonprofit Organizations: A Reputation Management Approach, by Ruth Kinzey, Salisbury-based president of The Kinzey Company and author of Using Public Relations to Promote Your Nonprofit Organization, has been published by the Taylor & Francis Group of Routledge.

Walk raises funds for MS Society chapter

The Central North Carolina Chapter of the National MS Society raised over $99,000 at its annual Walk MS: Piedmont Triad sponsored by Modern Automotive on April 20th at Fourth of July Park in Kernersville.

The Chapter, which has raised $165,000 from three walks toward the overall campaign goal of $238,000, will host its Bike MS: Gears and Cheers event on May 4 at the Grove Winery in Gibsonville.

Creative Aging Symposium set for May 17

Creative Aging Network-NC, or ICAN-NC, will provide educational opportunities for healthcare providers, artists, older adults and caregivers at its 4th Annual Creative Aging Symposium on May 17  from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Greensboro Cultural Arts Center at 200 N. Davie St.

Community solutions to homelessness urged

By Todd Cohen

[Note: I am working with Triangle Community Foundation as senior communications adviser.]

MORRISVILLE, N.C. — While homelessness can seem beyond any solution, efforts to reduce it are working.

Actually ending homelessness, however, will take truly collaborative community efforts that require patience and hard work, and are well designed, driven by incentives and shared goals, and tracked with useful metrics that show the impact of those efforts.

That was the message of four experts who work on homelessness issues and served on a panel at the April meeting of the Triangle Donors Forum.

Hosted by Triangle Community Foundation and United Way of the Greater Triangle at United Way’s offices in Morrisville, the Forum offered a window into local efforts to fight homelessness by adapting to changes in the funding environment and in perspectives about the causes of the problem and effective strategies to address it.

Roots of homelessness

Characterizing homelessness as “one of the most complex societal problems,” Denise Neunaber, executive director of the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness, told the Donors Forum the keys to ending the problem all are rooted in access — to affordable housing, to services and to income.

In the early 1980s, she said, homelessness was treated as an “emergency situation”  and a problem that eventually would “go away.”

Declines in the development of affordable housing and in wages, however, along with changes in the mental health system and other social forces, have resulted in the spread of homelessness, she said.

Yet the system created to fight homelessness, rooted in the belief it was a temporary crisis, has “taken on a life of its own,” she said.

Shifting strategies

The system that emerged to serve homeless people operated below the “safety net” to “catch people when the safety net doesn’t work,” Neunaber said.

But that system became a kind of “sticky net.”

“We created a system where you need to get services while you’re there,” she said, creating few exits for people in temporary housing who needed ongoing assistance.

But that system should be a “trampoline,” she said, to stabilize their housing while they get other support, including assistance with rent and in securing jobs or disability benefits, or services such as mental health programs or case management.

“People fall out of housing into our system and we try to bounce them back into housing and services,” she said.

Ultimately, she said, getting people out of homelessness requires permanent housing.

“Instead of investing just in services and a temporary place for individuals and families to stay,” she said, “we’re taking it to the next level, investing in housing, in rental assistance and security deposits, to see how quickly we can get people out of the system.”

Homelessness and poverty

Perceptions about what it means to be homeless also have changed, Neunaber said.

For many years, advocates equated fighting homelessness with fighting poverty, believing they had to address the poverty of homeless individuals and families by helping them “get better jobs and make better decisions, ” she said, “and make them better people.”

But over the years, advocates have recognized that “maybe ending homelessness is not the same as ending poverty,” she said. “Maybe ending homelessness is a piece of getting to the next step of ending poverty. We may not be able to end poverty for these individuals and families, but I know we can end  homelessness.”

Neunaber said local partnerships to end homelessness had helped reduce the number of chronically homeless individuals and families in communities across North Carolina, including a declines of 35 percent in Durham, 58 percent in Winston-Salem and and 82 percent in Buncombe County.

‘Rapid Rehousing’

Strategies for serving the homeless more recently have evolved to a “Housing First” model that includes a “Rapid Rehousing” approach focusing on first getting homeless people housed and then providing the services they need to get back on their feet and build stable lives.

“It shortens the time they’re homeless,” Terry Allebaugh, executive director of Housing for New Hope in Durham, told the Donors Forum.

Beth Bordeaux, executive director of PLM Families Together in Raleigh, told the Donors Forum that the Rapid Rehousing strategy also provides an incentive for families not to prolong their stays in emergency housing but rather to begin to prepare themselves to move into longer-term housing.

“First we get them stable,” she said. “If your life is in chaos, the first thing you want is to reduce your stress.”

Allebaugh and Bordeaux both said Rapid Rehousing has helped their agencies house more people for less money.

Last year, for example, PLM Families Together moved 57 families into permanent housing, and this year expects to move 70 families into permanent housing.

And in partnership with three core agencies that provide support services and temporary housing , Housing for New Hope housed 173 households in permanent housing over the two-and-a-half-year period ended August 2012, with 89 percent of those households remaining housed.

Community solutions

Advocates at the Donors Forum said the most effective approaches to fighting homelessness involve community-based partnerships that address the problem from the perspective of the systems that serve homeless people.

Those systems range from job-training and financial-literacy services to those serving people with mental illness or substance abuse problems, or both, and people after they are discharged from military service or prison.

“You can’t end homelessness in a silo,” Bordeaux said.

Bernadette Pelissier, a member of the Orange County Board of Commissioners and of the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness, told the Donors Forum that homelessness is a byproduct of national policies on a range of issues such as poverty and mental health, and that efforts to address homelessness are supported by multiple funding streams.

So partnerships to fight homelessness should approach the problem from a “systems” perspective.

In Orange County, she said, that approach has produced promising partnerships.

The local Partnership to End Homelessness, for example, has enlisted partners such as an assistant district attorney whose efforts helped establish a local “outreach court.”

That court, which has engaged students at the School of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, along with other partners, encouraged homeless people who have been arrested for misdemeanors to take advantage of local services, particularly mental health services.

And a local jobs program works to encourage local businesses to hire people released from prison who may be at risk of homelessness. That effort represents a collaboration between local partners such as the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and Chamber of Commerce, and is administered by a new nonprofit led by students at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“We’re engaging the community,” Pelissier said, “not just providers” of services.

Critical to local collaborative programs, she said, is the ability to track and measure their impact.

Focus on collaboration

The session underscored the growing focus of Triangle Community Foundation and United Way to work more collaboratively to address urgent needs in the region.

“We have to do it together, think collaboratively,” Lori O’Keefe, president of Triangle Community Foundation, told the Donors Forum. “We don’t have to be the experts. We look for resources and partners.”

Mack Koonce, president and CEO of United Way, told the Donors Forum that collaborative thinking “is important to all our social issues.”

United Way, he said, is “going to work closely with other foundations and individuals to work collaboratively on the donor side and on the service delivery side.”

He said United Way plans to raise “designated dollars to do the next systemic change” in the area of financial stability for families, an effort he said would “keep this going” through “collaboration, the use of data, and scaling what works.”

Urban League focuses on social and human capital

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Individuals enrolled with the Urban League of Central Carolinas in Charlotte to get national certification training on heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems also work as apprentice assistants to certified technicians who contract with the Urban League to provide HVAC maintenance for churches, nonprofits and residences.

That maintenance program generates revenue the Urban League uses to provide scholarships for others who enroll in certification training.

The program is one of a handful of social ventures the Urban League has developed and now aims to grow with $200,000 from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation through its Neighborhood Builder program that also will provide leadership training for an emerging leader at the Urban League.

The social venture initiatives “are about building capacity for the agency,” says Patrick Graham, president and CEO of the Urban League of Central Carolinas.

Operating with an annual budget of nearly $2 million and a staff of 10 people working full-time, plus 12 part-time teachers for its after-school programs and 10 contractors for its national certification programs, the Urban League serves roughly 5,000 clients a year through its workforce, education and outreach programs.

The workforce programs include job-readiness, life-skills and financial-literacy training; national certification training in HVAC, broadband and fiber optics, Microsoft specialist and customer services.

Education programs include after-school programs at 12 schools in Mecklenburg and Union counties, with technology training at elementary and middle schools to enhance the core curriculum, and broad band and fiber optic certification, Cisco certification, and leadership development and mentoring at high schools.

In addition to a voter campaign in 2012, outreach programs include a bank the Urban League launched in November 2012 in partnership with Carolina Premier Bank that is geared to “underbanked and unbanked” customers and provides lending to minorities.

The Bank of the Urban League of Central Carolinas already has made loans totaling over $1.7 million and is negotiating another loan for $1 million, Graham says.

The Urban League, which receives two-thirds of its funding from private foundations and individuals, and one-third from government, plans to use the funds it will receive from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to add a development position to increase giving from individual donors.

It also plans to add a job developer who will work with companies to advocate and find jobs for its clients.

And Shannon McKnight, the Urban League’s director of development and communications, will receive training as an emerging leader through the Neighborhood Builder grant.

Graham received similar training in 2006 as director of emergency and financial assistance at Crisis Assistance Ministry, which that year and again this year received a Neighborhood Builder grant.

Graham says his social venture work at the Urban League reflects lessons he learned from that training, and from his doctoral work in history at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

His dissertation focused on the migration of blacks to the North from the South during the Civil Rights movement and the institutions they created to address racism in the North.

As a child growing up on Long Island in New York, Graham attended the Martin Luther King Center, which had been founded by migrants from the South, and which he later served as executive director.

Recognizing that minority communities traditionally have lacked access to capital, Graham says, he has worked at the Urban League to find ways to “generate income and provide a means to build financial literacy and capital that would make the community more independent.”

Social business, Part 7: Nonprofits tap corporate expertise

By Todd Cohen

Eighteen years ago, looking for advice on how to most effectively station supplies and equipment so it could move them quickly and efficiently to locales hit by disasters, the American Red Cross turned to FedEx, the Memphis-based global delivery company.

“We provided in-kind shipping, quality management, logistics, supply chain help, and helped come up with a plan of action to keep inventory in our warehouses and get it shipped out,” explained Rose Flenorl, manager, social responsibility, for FedEx.

FedEx now has provided over $10 million in cash and in-kind support for the Red Cross, shipping thousands of tons of relief supplies a year for the charity, including 650,000 pounds of supplies in 2011, she said.

The company also has partnered with the Washington, D.C.-based agency on a variety of other efforts, including an online survey that let small businesses find out how prepared they were for disasters, as well as an online seminar that any small business could take to get training for emergency preparedness, including how to back up their records and keep their personnel safe.

The partnership with the Red Cross “strengthens the attributes and the brand of our corporation,” Flenorl explained. “When we have a good reputation and brand, that increases our revenue. Employees want to work for a company that’s concerned about its community. Our team members live in these communities. We can recruit and retain them.”

Next: Companies team with nonprofit to solving social problems

The series:

Part 1: Companies team with causes to add value

Part 2: Companies build giving into business strategy

Part 3: Philanthropy adds value for companies

Part 4: Nonprofit builds corporate partnerships from ground up

Part 5: Company works with nonprofits to build markets

Part 6: Companies turn to nonprofits to help develop leaders

Part 7: Nonprofits tap corporate expertise

Part 8: Company teams with nonprofit to solve social problems

Part 9: Nonprofits work with companies to help find business solutions