Obama Foundation Selects First President

Former Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo will join The Obama Foundation in Chicago as its first president.

Adeyemo will manage the foundation’s day-to-day operations, helping to implement the organization’s overall strategic goals and vision. During the past several years, the Obama Foundation, in Chicago, has grown from a staff of a dozen to nearly 200 and launched a number of programs to support the next generation of leaders making positive change in their communities.

“Wally is the ideal person to help lead the Foundation team as we continue to grow the impact of our global civic engagement programs and advance the Obama Presidential Center,” said Board Chair Martin Nesbitt. “Given his executive experience in both the public and private sectors and previous service with President Obama, Wally is well positioned to help us continue to translate our sky-high ambitions into operational reality through daily leadership of our talented staff.”

Adeyemo joins the foundation as it advances its work to build the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago and grows its civic engagement programming. Since 2017, the Foundation has launched a series of programs that support leaders around the United States and the world who work to create positive change in their communities

Adeyemo was appointed in 2015 as President Obama’s senior international economics adviser, responsible for coordinating the policymaking process related to international finance, trade and investment, energy, and environmental issues. Adeyemo also has held several senior management positions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, including Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff. He also helped launch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011 as its first Chief of Staff.

He most recently was a senior advisor at BlackRock and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Adeyemo serves on the board of a number of organizations devoted to community empowerment and addressing inequality, including the Golden State Opportunity Foundation and Demos. His full bio can be found below.

Y Fitness Centers To Close in Sarasota

Two Sarasota Family YMCA fitness centers will close permanently next month after operating at a financial loss for the past several years, the organization announced. The fitness centers are the Evalyn Sadlier Jones Branch at Potter Park Drive and the Frank G. Berlin Sr. Branch on South Euclid Avenue in Sarasota, Fla.

The YMCA’s board will turn its focus to operating its ongoing foster care and social services programs. The closure decision was made after cost cutting, changes to pricing, modifications of program offerings, and other actions failed to make a measurable improvement, according to the announcement. Attempts to merge the centers with other Ys were unsuccessful.

Members will have access to both fitness centers through Sept. 13, with the last membership payment draft will be on Aug. 15. Programs and sports activities will not be continued past the closure date and refunds will be processed on a pro-rated basis. The before and after-school program will continue at the Southside, Gocio and Fruitville elementary schools.

The branches have been experiencing a continual loss in membership and program participation. In a Q&A regarding the closures, officials wrote that the organization “cut costs every year by restructuring staff and eliminating positions, outsourcing some tasks, eliminating underperforming programs, eliminating towel service and adjusting insurance coverages.”

The YMCA has changed membership pricing multiple times in an attempt to attract more members and stepped up efforts to raise funds through grant writing and contribution support from members and the community. Underutilized properties were sold to reinvest into the branches and the YMCA also sought to merge the branches with other YMCAs but none of the initiatives proved to be enough.

Here’s a link to the closing statement

“Optimist” Bloomberg Sets Foundation’s Course

Philanthropist, media mogul and former New York City Mike Bloomberg calls himself an optimist in his annual letter on philanthropy. He also outlined the priorities for his foundation, which include climate and environment, gun violence, opioids, education, and supporting local leaders. Those come under the headings of arts, education, environment, government innovation, and public health.

Taking shots at federal lawmakers in the letter, Bloomberg wrote that “philanthropy can’t replace action by the federal government. But it can spur progress from the bottom up.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies is involved in projects in 510 cities and 129 countries. In 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies invested $767 million around the world. Over his lifetime, Bloomberg has so far given more than $8 billion to philanthropy, according to the organization’s annual report.

Here’s the link to the full letter.

wrote: “I always believe that tomorrow will be better than today. But I’m also a realist, and I know that believing and hoping won’t make it so. Doing is what matters,” Bloomberg said via the report.
He wrote in the letter: “America and the world face enormous challenges. And it’s safe to say that at least for the next two years, given the leadership vacuum in the White House and partisan gridlock in Congress, the federal government will make virtually no progress in meeting them.”

He continued: “We can’t afford to lose two years. Every day, the window for avoiding the worst impacts of climate change grows smaller. More Americans lose loved ones to opioid overdoses and gun violence. More students miss out on a good education and the opportunity to go to college. And communities that were once home to thriving industries slip further behind in the changing economy. Proposing ideas for 2021 isn’t good enough. We need to get things done in the here and now, and I’m lucky enough to be in a position to help do that.”

$1 Billion For Housing

Wells Fargo will commit $1 billion through 2025 to help address housing affordability, led by a former Ford Foundation executive.

The San Francisco, Calif.-based bank today announced that Brandee McHale will become head of corporate philanthropy, leading the Wells Fargo Foundation, effective Aug. 1. Most recently, she was head of corporate citizenship at Citigroup Inc. and president of the Citi Foundation. Previously, McHale developed a portfolio of investments at the Ford Foundation designed to help low-income households achieve financial success. She will succeed Jon Campbell, head of corporate philanthropy and community relations, who previously announced his retirement at the end of this year.

The $1 billion in philanthropy will span homelessness, available and affordable rentals, transitional housing and homeownership, according to Campbell, president of the foundation. “America’s housing affordability isn’t restricted to a few cities on the East and West coasts,” he said via a press release.

Wells Fargo estimated that it donated $444 million last year to more than 11,000 nonprofits. Beginning in 2019, Wells Fargo is targeting 2 percent of after-tax profits for corporate philanthropy, which focuses on three areas: housing affordability, small business growth and financial help. The bank will continue its local giving in communities in which it operates, in areas such as education, arts and culture, Campbell said.

Through its business and the Wells Fargo Foundation, the company will use its philanthropic resources, business expertise, and collaborations with public-private sector organizations, to develop, active and scale new ideas that help solve national community challenges, said CEO Allen Parker.

Wells Fargo dedicated more than $117 million to affordable housing last year, including $75 million to expand NeighborhoodLIFT, a homeownership program for low- and moderate-income communities with NeighborWorks America to nine markets last year. In 2019, the program will reach 10 additional cities.

The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University estimates that nearly one-third of U.S. households spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing and 18 million commit more than 50 percent for a safe place to live, according to the announcement.

Wells Fargo has ramped up its corporate philanthropy in recent years, following scandals involving the creation of millions of unauthorized accounts and overcharging homeowners for appraisals on defaulted mortgages, leading to millions of dollars in fines.

Wyden Blocks Senate Vote On Darling Nomination  

The nomination of OneStar Foundation CEO Elizabeth Darling to a commissioner role in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is being blocked in the U.S. Senate as a protest to new federal rules on foster care being implemented in South Carolina.

 

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said he would use his senatorial prerogative to block her nomination, even through it was voted out of committee on Tuesday. It was not a rejection of Darling but to the policy, which she would oversee as commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) at HHS.

 

Darling declined to comment.

 

This is the second time her nomination, made in March 2018, was put in limbo. The nomination must be voted on by the full Senate. While the nomination came out of committee, it did not get to the floor of the Senate. She was re-nominated last month.

 

The heart of the debate is the change in federal rules regarding foster care now being implemented in South Carolina. It allows agencies to place children only with Christian families. Those agencies receive federal funds.

 

The administration granted a waiver of federal rules to Miracle Hill Ministries, a Greenville, S.C., agency. The federal rules cited as discrimination denies a placement based on religion, sexual orientation of the potential foster parents. The situation reportedly came about when the organization denied the application of a Jewish woman who wanted to foster a child from Miracle Hill, a Christian organization.

 

Wyden called the waiver and change in policy “the most wrongheaded, un-American policies the Trump administration has cooked up in the last two years.”

 

In a statement as the senate committee came to order, Wyden said: “What this means is, adults who can provide safe, loving and nurturing homes for foster kids will be denied that opportunity on religious grounds. People who are Jewish, who are Catholic, who are Muslim, who choose to practice no religion, LGBTQ Americans, potentially others. Under this Trump administration policy, they could legally become the victims of discrimination.”

 

Darling was appointed president and chief executive officer of the Austin, Texas-based OneStar in 2009. She was also chief operating officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. She was the founding director of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2001 Darling was selection by The NonProfit Times as one of the charitable sector’s Power & Influence Top 50 in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

 

Darling was appointed president and chief executive officer of the Austin, Texas-based OneStar in 2009. She was also chief operating officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. She was the founding director of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2001 Darling was selection by The NonProfit Times as one of the charitable sector’s Power & Influence Top 50 in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Foundations Investing Millions On Social Impact Data

The Rockefeller Foundation and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth will invest $50 million over five years to build the field of data science for social impact, starting with a $20-million investment in DataKind.

“Like the introduction of science to medicine 100 years ago transformed the delivery of health worldwide, we are poised to take the next big leap bringing data science to social impact,” Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, said in a blog post announcing the award. “The Data Science for Social Impact collaborative will help us inspire a new generation of social sector leaders using data for good,” he added. The will focus on three areas: capacity and leadership, tools and data, and policy and governance.

DataKind will identify key priorities and investment opportunities to accelerate data for good, including research, skills or new technology platforms. The investment will enable the nonprofit to move from a project- to a platform-based model, in which it will support more organizations on a set of common issues, including community health and inclusive growth.

Founded in 2011, DataKind specializes in matching volunteer data scientists to individual social organizations. It has chapters in New York, Singapore, Bangalore, London, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The organization has deployed expert volunteer data scientists and engineers from their network of more than 30,000 to work on more than 250 projects around the world.

The Brookyln, N.Y.-based charity reported total revenue of $2.6 million on its Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990 for the Fiscal Year Ending 2017, with net assets of $1.27 million.

“In our quest to create a world where every social organization fighting for human prosperity can commission the data science solutions they need, we didn’t feel that more volunteer projects alone was the solution,” Jake Porway, founder and executive director of DataKind, said via a statement. “However, we did see that our pro bono projects were often the catalysts that drove nonprofits to embrace data science, foundations to fund more data science, or tech companies to adopt solutions we’d prototyped. We realized there was a way to rally our volunteer network to do more than just individual projects,” he said.

DataKind will take its work a step further, connecting data science capacity and skills at a higher level. It will help to bridge gaps between those who have data science resources to give, such as technology companies and foundations, and those who could use them, like nonprofits, governments, and social change organizations.

“Over the next year, we’ll be increasing our internal capacity, building out a new global strategy with our chapter leaders, and diving deep into our first portfolio of work in community health work,” Porway said.

“Right now, too many social and civic sector organizations don’t have the same tools or capacity as the private sector to realize the potential of data science, and the Collaborative is an important step forward to address that gap,” said Shamina Singh, president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.

For more information, visit www.rockefellerfoundation.org/dssi or www.datakind.org

Endowment Managers Don’t Expect Much In 2019

More than 50 percent of endowment and foundation managers are bullish on private equity (PE) investments while the vast majority of those surveyed expect domestic equities to be relatively flat or will taper off this year, returning single digits.

The year-end 2018 survey by NEPC’s Endowments & Foundations Practice Group was conducted Nov. 15, prior to the major dip in the Dow during December. NEPC is based in Boston.

Almost half of those surveyed (45 percent) expect domestic equities to be relatively flat in 2019 and almost as many (38 percent) expect domestic equities to “taper off a little, but still return in the mid-to-high single digit range.”

Only 4 percent of those surveyed are bearish on PE during the next 12 to 24 months, expecting it to underperform, while 45 percent are neutral.

A majority of respondents (53 percent) think that the U.S. economy is in a better place compared to a year earlier while nearly one-third (32 percent) said it is in the same place. Only 15 percent said it is worse.

Almost half of those surveyed identified geopolitical tensions (23 percent) and rising interest rates (23 percent) as the biggest threats to portfolios during the next 12 months, followed closely by a U.S.-China trade war (19 percent) and political uncertainty (17 percent).

Forty-seven percent said that they had no plans to adjust their portfolio allocation due to a downturn in emerging markets. The same proportion said that although they did not plan to make changes, they were monitoring the situation and would make a change if volatility continues.

What keeps endowment and foundation managers up at night? The most significant concerns were meeting or exceeding spending plus inflation and falling short of return targets in the near term. Less significant was increasing demands on staff and time commitments and priorities of investment committee members.

When it comes to private equity (PE) and private debt (PD), more than one-third of those surveyed said that 6 percent to 10 percent of their portfolio is dedicated it. Some 28 percent report 11 percent to 20 percent of their portfolio is focused on private equity and private debt. One in 10 estimated that 21 percent to 30 percent of their portfolio emphasized PE and PD and 2 percent said exposure is greater than 30 percent.

Sixty percent are concerned about fees for PE and PD but no more or less than normal. Fees are a greater concern than ever before for 40 percent due to subdued return expectations.

2016 Election Keyed Changes At Small Philanthropies

Leaders at one in four small foundations said the organization changed granting giving as a result of the 2016 elections, with more than half funding advocacy-related activities or increasing allocations to advocacy. Those decisions did not change with the 2018 mid-term elections.

Exponent Philanthropy’s Pulse Check Survey of more than 450 small foundations showed 25 percent said they made changes, and among those, 54 percent said they began to fund advocacy or increased their allocation toward advocacy.

“While the pace of change is often slow in philanthropy, this survey shows that philanthropy, particularly those who operate with few or no staff, can be nimble in responding to current events and the changing needs of a community,” said Henry Berman, chief executive officer of Washington, D.C.-based Exponent Philanthropy.

Foundations are not legally allowed to engage in lobbying but they can commission nonpartisan data or fund public awareness campaigns, influence public policy or address causes of social issues.

The survey was conducted after the 2018 mid-term elections and showed how changes in Washington, D.C., influenced philanthropic behavior or could affect giving in 2019.

Other ways that grant makers said they had changed since 2016 included:

  • Changing allocations to specific funding areas, 32 percent;
  • Adding a new funding area, 30 percent;
  • Giving more general operating grants, 29 percent; and,
  • Giving more capacity building grants, 23 percent.

Most respondents (82 percent) said they would not make any changes to philanthropic giving in 2019 as a result of the 2018 midterms. Fewer than half (45 percent) agreed or strongly agreed that they expected philanthropy to play a more important role in society moving forward considering the outcome of the midterms. A little more than half (51 percent) expected no change.

Exponent Philanthropy, formerly the Association of Small Foundations, represents almost 2,000 members, which includes foundations with little or no staff, philanthropic families, and individual donors.

Information is collected anonymously and the full surveys are neither published nor available for dissemination to the public. On occasion, Exponent Philanthropy will publicly share findings from its surveys when the topics/findings are deemed relevant and useful to the philanthropy sector at large.

Scammers Posing As Kresge Foundation Reps

Bogus messages purporting to be from The Kresge Foundation and asking for personal information have been circulating via email and social media.

The Troy, Mich.-based foundation issued a warning yesterday that people have been posing online, in emails and social media, as “representatives” of The Kresge Foundation. Individuals are using the foundation’s name “without authorization and have contacted people to suggest that funds may be forthcoming if personal identification and financial information is provided,” foundation officials said via the announcement. “These messages are fraudulent. This is an Internet scam and an illegal misrepresentation of the foundation and the grantmaking work we do.”

The Ford Foundation in New York City issued a similar warning in April.

The Kresge Foundation said that its employees do not:

  • Sponsor lotteries;
  • Solicit donations;
  • Ask for personal information;
  • Approach individuals offering grant opportunities or scholarships;
  • Require or request grantees to pay insurance, deposits, or delivery and administrative fees for grants;
  • Request funds through email, text, phone or social media, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instant Messenger;
  • Offer investment opportunities; or,
  • Request conference fees or fees to apply for jobs.

Anyone who receives any form of communication that appears to be from the Kresge Foundation for any type of payment or personal and/or financial information, or communication that appears to be from the foundation is urged to disregard it. Foundation officials asked that any fraudulent communications be reported to media@kresge.org

Scams and fraudulent communications also can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) via www.ftcomplaintsassistant.gov or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) via www.ic3.gov/complaint

Founded in 1924 with an initial gift of $1.6 million from retail pioneer Sebastian S. Kresge, the foundation has a $3.8-billion endowment and awarded more than $144 million this year with another $230 million in active social investments. It works to “expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development in Detroit.”

Russell Foundation Boosts Impact Investments

The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) has shifted impact investments in its portfolio from 7 percent to 76 percent over the past several years.

Impact investments now comprise roughly $100 million of its $141-million endowment. During that time, 2013-2018, the portfolio outperformed its blended benchmark by 2.7 percent annualized (7.9 percent versus 5.2 percent annualized returns.)

The Gig Harbor, Wash.-based foundation outlines the journey to bring almost three-quarters of its endowment into alignment with its mission, in a recent paper titled, “The Impact Investing Journey: Aligning Portfolio with Purpose.”

About 26 percent of its portfolio is still not expressly aligned with mission. Those funds are invested in “various instruments where their impact investment products are in their infancy or capital is illiquid and locked up in prior commitments.”

The foundation has focused on protecting the environment and empowering local communities in the Pacific Northwest and Puget Sound since 1999.

“These decisions helped tighten the alignment between our holdings, mission and values. They also set the path for ongoing refinements to our investment strategy,” Richard Woo, CEO of The Russell Family Foundation, wrote in the foreword to the 41-page report.

“We determined it was our responsibility and opportunity to leverage our role as investor, asset owner, and grant-maker together in a shared objective – our core mission,” according to the report. “We prepared this report to document our experiences and lessons learned.”

The foundation started making impact investments in 2003, with an emphasis community and environmental sustainability. By summer 2013, it began divesting its portfolio of fossil fuels in favor of alternatives, including sustainable forestry, organic farming and renewable energy in the Pacific Northwest.

In 2004, the Investment and Audit Committee and board agreed to allocate $1 million from the portfolio to pilot mission-aligned investments. “We were drawn to the idea that a foundation may be better able to reach its philanthropic goals if it looked beyond traditional grantmaking strategies. Investing in companies that conduct business in ways consistent with the foundation’s mission seemed like a favorable option,” the report noted.

The initial pilot explored environmental mutual funds, community bank deposits, program-related investments and included $500,000 in the Vanguard Calvert Social Index Fund; $100,000 certificate of deposit with Shorebank Pacific, a community bank in Ilwaco, Wash., putting deposits to work with environmental businesses and home loans; and, $200,000 in the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Services (CDARS) program, which enables bundling of small CDs to secure financial guarantees.

The board allocated additional capital to expand its efforts, with $2 million in program-related investments (PRI) in Enterprise Community Partners, supporting green and affordable housing in the Puget Sound region, and $100,000 certificate of deposit with the Thurston Union of Low Income People (TULIP) to “put capital to work in community development.”

The foundation updated its Investment Policy Statement (IPS), detailing goals, policies, and decision-making procedures that govern its investment-related activities. Exploring its portfolio led to a divestment of 15 coal stocks and further examination, eventually divesting fully from all oil, gas and coal holdings, in favor of sustainable forestry, agriculture, and clean technology. The IPS is reviewed at least annually to determine “whether stated investment objectives are still relevant and to assess feasibility of achieving objectives.”

In what TRFF called its “Tug of War” exercise, two investment advisors would construct a portfolio and impact investing strategy with the shared objective of designing a hypothetical mission-aligned portfolio that would maximize the percentage of impact investments without sacrificing potential returns.

On top of that was a layer of additional “impact” considerations. If there were obvious opportunities for mission alignment, i.e., the ability to negatively screen for stocks like coal, without compromising objectives, the “impact advisor” would pull hard in favor of mission-related investments. If there were unacceptable limits in specific asset classes, like emerging market equities, the “impact advisor” would concede to the “traditional advisor” to avoid adding risk.

The exercise “provided us with valuable insights for how we could restructure the portfolio for greater impact over time through various means such as divestment or the integration of new managers that are addressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues throughout the process.” It also revealed what opportunities and challenges look like throughout the transition process, which was expected to take several years.

In 2010, TRFF established a Mission Related Investment Committee of program and finance staff along with representatives from its investment advisor. The committee meets quarterly to vet new opportunities and share insights about investing and program priorities.

Although every foundation is unique, TRFF suggested several processes that were found useful during its pursuit of impact investing goals:

  • Rethink your investment policy statement.
  • Choose between total portfolio activation or create a carve-out
  • Commit to shareholder engagement
  • Make incremental changes
  • Engage in peer-to-peer collaboration
  • Explore catalytic opportunities
  • Take a look at your portfolio
  • Learn from the field
  • Finding the right partner

By 2016, the market of sustainable, responsible and impact investing in the U.S. was estimated to be $8.72 trillion, or one-fifth of all investment under professional management, compared to $3.74 trillion in 2012.