What I’m reading

headshot of claudia smilingPhilanthropy Ohio’s president and CEO, Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D., and I are quite voracious readers, both on the job and off. Suzanne listens to a lot of books on CD during her travel around the state and I’m always amazed at the depth and breadth of what she’s reading. It’s a rare week that goes by without one of us saying to the other, “Here’s a GREAT book I just read, I think you’ll like it.”

The love of reading – and learning – has extended to us creating a “book club” for staff: the current book, which we’ll be discussing during a staff meeting on Wednesday, is Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. As J.D. explains, he wrote the book because “I want people to understand what happens in the lives of the poor and the psychological impact that spiritual and material poverty has on their children. I want people to understand the American Dream as my family and I encountered it.” If you haven’t read the book, check out his TED talk for a glimpse into his life. J.D. Vance has recently moved back to Ohio, as he explains in this NY Times piece, where he’s started a nonprofit focused on the opiate addiction crisis.

 

stack of books on a table

Another Ohioan’s experience about living the American Dream comes in Robert Putnam’s book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, in which he analyzes and compares his growing up in Port Clinton during the 1950s to what’s happening half a century later. Putnam is perhaps best known for his Making Democracy Work and Bowling Alone books, two of 14 books he’s written during his academic career. I’ve read a few of them and just recently finished Our Kids.

Putnam brings the same careful, thoughtful scholarship to this book as he portrays the lives of diverse families at opposite ends of the economic spectrum. At the beginning of the final chapter, Putnam writes, “This book has presented a series of portraits of the contrasting lives of American young people from more and less privileged backgrounds, alongside more rigorous evidence that those personal portraits represent nationwide realities. We have examined the concentric circles of influence… and we have seen how in recent decades the challenges and opportunities facing rich and poor kids have grown more disparate.” He then describes his recommendations for how parents, communities and schools can change the opportunity gap.

Another book I’ve dipped into is Bruce Bartlett’s The Benefit and The Burden: Tax Reform – Why We Need it and What It Will Take. Although published 5 years ago, it is still of great relevance to the debates heating up in Washington D.C. this year. Bartlett served in economic policy positions for both Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush and is a frequent contributor to a variety of news media outlets. One of my favorite quotes is this: “Ideally, one would like to start with a clear philosophy of what government should do and how much it should spend, and only then decide how to raise the revenue to pay for it” – not a likely scenario in 2017.

Next up on my reading list is The Givers: Wealth, Power and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age by David Callahan. He’s the founder and editor of Inside Philanthropy and co-founder of Demos, “a public policy organization working for an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy.” I’ll be interested to read his description and analysis – and his opinion of – the rise of new philanthropists and how they are changing life in America. I suspect I’ll get a different set of perspectives and opinions in the next book in my reading stack, Philanthropy in Democratic Societies, a series of essays edited by Rob Reich, Chiara Cordelli and Lucy Bernholz.

Claudia Y. W. Herrold

June 5, 2017 at 5:22 pm Leave a comment

Welcome Emily to Philanthropy Ohio

2016-jessica-blog-photoWe are pleased to introduce Emily Gneiser to the Philanthropy Ohio team! Emily will serve as the executive assistant to President & CEO Suzanne Allen and Executive Vice President for Communications and Public Policy Claudia Herrold, as well as manage calls and meetings in the Columbus office.

She’ll be posting questions to the listservs on behalf of members, supporting board and committee work, helping with registration for Health Initiative meetings and ensuring the Columbus office runs efficiently and effectively. Emily comes to Philanthropy Ohio with a background that includes nonprofit work and event planning.

Gneiser_Emily Philanthropy Ohio

Emily Gneiser joins Philanthropy Ohio as the executive assistant.

I asked Emily to tell us a bit more about her.

What’s the best part of your job?
Being connected to change agents in Ohio!

Career background/education?
I studied organizational communications at university. Since graduating, I’ve worked at a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., a family forum in Wisconsin, a resort in Vermont and an event company in Columbus.

What do you love about where you live?
I love all the coffee shops, breweries and great places to eat in Columbus.

 Favorite brand or flavor of ice cream?
Ben & Jerry’s strawberry cheesecake ice cream

What do you do outside of work?
In my free time, I like to hang with my sister and her family, hunt for the best donut and volunteer with Rock City Church.

Welcome Emily!

jessica signature
Jessica Howard

May 22, 2017 at 2:55 pm 2 comments

U.S. House vote ends Medicaid Expansion

headshot of claudia smilingI’m disappointed in last week’s U.S. House vote repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), ending the Medicaid Expansion that we have supported since Governor Kasich first introduced it. Over 700,000 Ohioans have health insurance because of the expansion, insurance that is critical to getting care – whether it’s care that addresses pre-existing and chronic conditions or wellness and prevention – that improves their health, keeps them in school or lets them get and keep jobs. Ohio philanthropies – private and community foundations, United Ways, health conversion foundations and more – are strong co-investors in improving the health of Ohioans, and, because of Medicaid Expansion’s coverage of so many who were previously uninsured, have been able to redirect their resources to intractable problems like infant mortality and opiate addiction crises in the state. Philanthropy can’t possibly fill the gap that will be left by the bill’s elimination of the expansion group and the restructuring and decreased funding for Medicaid.

shutterstock_445553I’m glad that Reps. Joyce and Turner stood firm in their objection to the American Health Care Act and disheartened that so many of their colleagues chose to support the bill: Reps. Chabot, Davidson, Gibbs, Johnson, Jordan, Latta, Renacci, Stivers, Tiberi and Wenstrup. About half – 323,000 – of the Medicaid Expansion population lives in the districts of those who supported the repeal.

The bill now moves on to the Senate and faces two distinct barriers. First, the Senate parliamentarian must determine that the various provisions are appropriately in a budget bill. Second, as I’ve been hearing for months, the Senate (including our own Senator Portman) has its own ideas about repealing and replacing the ACA and will likely introduce its own version. Once any bill moves through the Senate, congress will need to iron out the differences.

Capitol Hill2

Our advocacy efforts will continue in coming months with members of Ohio’s delegation, educating them about the negative consequences of the AHCA bill as passed and urging them to keep Medicaid Expansion and the current structure and funding of the Medicaid program in place.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

May 8, 2017 at 4:27 pm Leave a comment

Philanthropy Ohio and members speak out in Washington

headshot of claudia smilingIn mid-March, I headed to Washington, D.C. for my 18th time leading a delegation of Ohio’s philanthropy leaders at Foundations on the Hill (FOTH). Sponsored by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers (on whose board I serve, co-chairing the Government Relations Committee), the annual FOTH event engaged 300 people from 28 states in meaningful conversations with elected officials and their staff. Ohio was well represented, with 16 of us from across the state making the trip to D.C.

Wearing comfortable walking shoes for traipsing the marble halls of the House and Senate office buildings, with one-pagers and packets in hand, we started our day with an 8:30 a.m. coffee with Senator Portman and ended it talking with Rep. Tiberi’s chief of staff, having met with eight other offices during the intervening hours.

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Ohio philanthropy leaders met with Senator Portman during Foundations on the Hill 2017.

Among the thousands of visitors to congressional offices that day, philanthropy’s voice was strong and collective; although every state’s delegation focused on its own particular issues, many of us delivered two key messages:

  • Don’t repeal the Johnson Amendment; and
  • Preserve and protect the full scope and value of the charitable deduction.

The Johnson Amendment, adopted over 60 years ago, prohibits tax-exempt organizations from political campaigning. While nonprofits can lobby (within limits) on policy topics, they cannot support or endorse political candidates. We at Philanthropy Ohio, along with more than 2,300 other organizations, think that’s a good thing (and a recent poll shows that most Americans agree with us.) But President Trump promised at the National Prayer Breakfast to get rid of the prohibition and several members of Congress agree: HR 172 would repeal the provision, while S 264  and HR 781 would substantially weaken it (it has 53 co-sponsors including Reps. Jordan and Renacci). We’ll be reaching out to Ohio’s congressional delegation in coming weeks to urge them to vote against weakening or repealing this amendment that keeps nonprofits above the political fray and charitable dollars directed to addressing critical local needs and not filling campaign coffers.

UW

Cory Schmidt (far left), Claudia Herrold (center) and Garth Weithman (far right) met with Rep. Stivers (center) during Foundations on the Hill 2017.

We also asked our elected policymakers to preserve the charitable deduction, which allows taxpayers to deduct their charitable donations from their federal tax liability. About one-quarter of Ohioans do so, and collectively they gave over $6 billion to charities in one year alone. Current suggestions to double the standard deduction and eliminate the deduction for all but the top 5% of donors would, we believe, have a significant negative impact on giving.

Philanthropy is a strong, effective co-investor in communities and it was clear during our visits last month that our senators and representatives value the sector. But again and again, as we see the intent to pull back government funding from safety net services, we must make it clear that philanthropy cannot fill the resulting gap: there simply aren’t enough charitable dollars to replace public funding in education, health care, human services, the environment and so many other areas. We’ll be meeting with our delegation in their district offices in coming months to discuss these and other issues and I invite you to join us or to reach out individually to those who represent you in the 115th Congress.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

April 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Open Letter to Senator Portman

March 8, 2017Nurse Checks Young Patient

Senator Rob Portman
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C.

 
Dear Senator Portman,

As the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act moves forward in the Senate we appreciate the thoughtful consideration you are giving to the provisions and potential changes – along with the significant related implications. Thank you for your letter to Senator McConnell affirming the need that any reform protect those who are most vulnerable and in need of health care.

We have supported Governor Kasich’s Medicaid Expansion and are heartened to see its positive impacts, as presented in the recent report by the Ohio Department of Medicaid. Many of our members who fund in health (over $200 million a year goes to the health area in Ohio by foundations), as a result of Medicaid Expansion, have been able to re-direct their grant dollars to other pressing problems, including the opiate/heroin addiction crisis. We urge you to stand firm in your support of the expansion and the Medicaid program, keeping both in the bill that comes before the Senate; we strongly support keeping the current structure and federal payment stream in place and ask you to support them.

Capitol Hill2More specifically, among the proposals we urge you to oppose are the shifting of Medicaid to block grants and instituting per capita caps: both of these would cut Medicaid funding and reduce coverage for millions of Americans. Either of those revisions also would shift huge costs to Ohio, forcing us to ration coverage and care and philanthropy cannot possibly fill the resulting gap. We stand ready to help in any way we can and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.                  Claudia Y. W. Herrold
President & CEO                               Senior Vice President

March 13, 2017 at 4:44 pm Leave a comment

Make college affordable for Ohioans

headshot of claudia smilingPhilanthropy Ohio released its latest education recommendations to Governor John Kasich, the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Department of Higher Education and other education policy leaders on February 9, at a briefing held at the Statehouse Atrium. Building on the recent release of Philanthropy Ohio’s K-12 education briefing papers, the report, Investing in Ohio’s Future. Now. A Postsecondary Education Access and Affordability Agenda for Ohio, analyzes Ohio’s progress in making college more affordable for Ohio’s students and families and offers recommendations on how to improve affordability. The report’s ultimate vision is to ensure that more Ohioans attain a post-secondary credential of value so they are prepared to participate and succeed in Ohio’s workforce.

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Philanthropy Ohio President & CEO Suzanne T. Allen, speaks at the College Affordability in Ohio event.

Investing in Ohio’s Future. Now. A Postsecondary Education Access and Affordability Agenda for Ohio is anchored to Ohio’s Attainment Goal 2025: 65 percent of Ohioans, ages 25-64, will have a degree, certificate or other postsecondary workforce credential of value in the workplace by 2025. Currently, Ohio is 36th out of 50 states for overall educational attainment, with approximately 43.2 percent of working age Ohioans holding a post-secondary degree or certificate. Ohio’s investment in higher education, generally, and need-based aid specifically, is not keeping pace with our peer states.

If Ohio wants to continue to grow its economy, we must make college more affordable for all Ohioans or we will continue to face workforce challenges that will threaten our economic future. This report and its recommendations outline the challenges and offer solutions on what we believe needs to happen so Ohio gains ground: being 45th in affordability is not acceptable, particularly given that two-thirds of all jobs in Ohio require post-secondary education.

college-afordability_image_page_1The release of these recommendations coincides with the release of Governor Kasich’s final biennial budget that includes proposals aimed at improving higher education in Ohio. Some of our recommendations mirror or complement those proposed by the governor and his administration and we are heartened by that, and we will continue to push the Ohio General Assembly to build on these proposals to make them even more impactful, sooner.

To learn more about our education policy work and recommendations, visit https://www.philanthropyohio.org/education.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

February 27, 2017 at 11:41 am Leave a comment

Philanthropy Ohio ramps up policy work

headshot of claudia smilingWith new federal and state policymakers settling into their jobs in D.C. and Columbus, Philanthropy Ohio is already working to advocate for critical issues of most importance to our members.

Registration has begun for our annual trip to Washington D.C. for Foundations on the Hill, which is open to all Philanthropy Ohio members. We’ll trek to D.C. March 20 – 22 to meet with Ohio’s congressional delegation, attend a policy summit and network with 200 philanthropy leaders from across the country. This year, philanthropy’s voice is more important than ever as so much change is in the wind, including a promise to reform the tax code with provisions that would impact charitable giving as well as efforts to change health and education policies. And, our Tax Reform Working Group will reconvene as part of the Public Policy Committee.

Portman POH

Philanthropy Ohio’s member cohort met with Rep. Portman as part of Foundations on the Hill in 2016.

We’ve convened a new affinity group of members focused on ensuring a full and accurate 2020 U.S. Census, to learn more about the policy decisions being made in coming months and to add philanthropy’s voice to policy discussions. The group, Ohio Funders for the Census, has formed as part of a Midwest project funded by the Joyce Foundation through the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. Notes from its first meeting in January are online and the next meeting is set for late February.

Here in Ohio, while we await Governor Kasich’s budget proposal, our Health and Education Initiatives are poised to continue their policy work. The Health Initiative coalition will meet in mid-February and the Education Initiative coalition is presenting a briefing on college affordability on February 9 in conjunction with the release of its report on the topic. The affordability brief is the latest in a series of papers Philanthropy Ohio has published and provided to state policymakers to inform critical decisions, particularly related to the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan.

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Philanthropy Ohio developed a series of targeted education briefing papers aimed at helping the state’s elected officials and education leaders plot a clear direction for the future of education and student success.

Policy work – like politics – depends on local relationships and doesn’t happen once every four years when we elect a new president or governor. Policymakers need to hear from philanthropy throughout every year, with messages that include what philanthropy can and can’t do – while philanthropy is a co-investor with government, it can’t come close to filling the gaps after budget cuts – as well as stories of impact, information on promising programs addressing critical issues and suggestions for policy reform. Add your voice, get engaged.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

January 25, 2017 at 4:36 pm Leave a comment

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