Equity, Philanthropy and Democracy in Hazelwood

As I have written about before, I had a great opportunity a few years ago to participate in The Funders’ Network PLACES Fellowship class, which brought together mid-career philanthropy professionals from all across the country for a year of learning and reflection. I wrote the below essay about a trip to Pittsburgh, PA in late 2015 about the tension between philanthropy and democracy.

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Fighting Service Delivery Chaos & Building Civic Capacity

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Me, behind the podium, wildly gesticulating about the elimination of service delivery chaos at the 2017 Ohio Healthy Homes Network Conference.

In the 1980s, a group of parents met each other in the intensive care unit of Johns Hopkins Hospital, united by some terrible circumstances.  Their children were undergoing chelation therapy for acute lead poisoning, which was traced back to their housing.  These parents decided to form an organization called the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.

As they worked to find solutions, they encountered a confusing array of organizations that were ostensibly there to help them with their homes. Some were nonprofits, some were government agencies. They each had different sources of funding, and different restrictions. They each operated independently from one another.  Parents encountered many challenges: filling out forms, getting on waiting lists, and having to take time off from work as they waited to meet different agencies and their representatives at their homes or offices.

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Word Salad: The Perplexing Language of the Common Good


Steve & Connie Ballmer. Steve is the  former CEO of Microsoft.  Working to fight Word Salad. Photo credit: StriveTogether

A few months ago a delegation from Toledo attended the StriveTogether National Convening. This is an annual conference that the StriveTogether organization hosts.  StriveTogether promotes a “collective impact” approach to improving a community’s educational outcomes.  It got its start in Cincinnati. Because the approach led to results, a group of large national foundations made grants to help the model go national.

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Coffee & Cookies with Judge Andy Devine

coffee-690535_1920At 96 years old, Judge Andy Devine has done it all in local government. Andy started out in electoral politics as an Ohio state representative while in his early thirties.  He served in county government.  He was later elected to Toledo city council.  He jokes that he was often told that he was moving in the wrong direction career-wise.  What he was really doing was moving in a direction that was closer and closer to the people.

“So what’s this blog about?” he asked, over coffee and cookies at his kitchen table a few weeks ago.

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A Quest for Safe Drinking Water in the San Joaquin Valley

2015-07-09 15.08.11What follows is a blog I wrote for The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, a membership organization for philanthropic foundations. In 2015, I was a participant in a yearlong fellowship program for mid-career professionals in philanthropy conducted by the organization.

We had an opportunity to visit communities all around the country and learn. I wrote about some of my experiences on our week-long site visit to the San Joaquin Valley in California. Even though I wrote this piece for an audience of professional philanthropy staff members, I have shared the blog here, with minor edits, as I think it is relevant as we consider the dynamics of philanthropy and the role it plays in our democracy – a topic I write about quite a bit.  Learn more about The Funders’ Network here: www.thefundersnetwork.org.

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Big Government vs. Small Government: Is That Really the Right Question?

In the greater Toledo area, Michael Beazley is a bit of a local government legend. He’s served in a variety of administrations and capacities for a career that has spanned three decades. He was recently described by the Toledo Blade as being the “most experienced public administrator in the region and the most politically savvy.”

Beazley shared with me the following observation about our drive to spread out and edouard-ki-270914.jpgexpand: “We have had roughly the same population in the metro Toledo area since 1972 – around 500,000. But this population has spread out over a dramatically larger area. About 150,000 people have moved out from the core city. We now have twice the infrastructure net costs. We have more than doubled the number of paved roads since that time. We ran twice the sewer and water lines. We have schools in the old communities; and we have built schools in the new communities. We have the same number of taxpayers to pay for it all and we wonder why the math doesn’t work.”

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Runaway Runaway Shelters: More to the Story – Money Matters & Equity

Safety NetThis is a deeper look at the runaway shelter story I covered (here). You may want to check that out first. That blog explained a situation I was in that shows just how easy it is to end up with service delivery duplication in a metro area. Over a short period, our community had three different groups all attempting to do the same thing – start a runaway shelter for homeless youth in Toledo, Ohio. Here, I get a little deeper, exploring both the funding and inclusivity considerations raised by the story.

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Runaway Runaway Shelters: (Nearly) A Service Delivery Duplication Story

Safety NetI was driving home from a trip to Pennsylvania to visit my in laws on the interstate this past summer. About 55 minutes outside of my city, I decided to get off the turnpike, since Waze alerted me to a traffic slowdown up ahead. I found myself driving through a smaller state route, which took me through a couple of small town downtowns. It was dusk, and I was pretty tired.

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