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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.

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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.

education-policy-briefs

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

Year of awareness

2016-treye-johnson-blog-photoThis week we welcome Treye Johnson, program officer at the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, as guest blogger.

In the summer 2016 edition of Philanthropy Review, I wrote an article about a racial equity training session Burton D. Morgan Foundation co-sponsored. The article highlighted a few points from the training, which presented an abundance of statistical data to demonstrate the widespread nature of racial inequality in the United States. Since then, Northeast Ohio leaders have continued to explore the topic in conjunction with the Racial Equity Institute (REI). More trainings have been hosted and discussions held about how we might begin moving forward collectively.

Deciding on next steps proved to be challenging as each person had a different opinion on what to do. Additionally, the organizations they represented each had their own goals and motivations, connected back to their missions. The recommendation from REI was to continue building awareness within our community. While introducing nearly 500 Northeast Ohio leaders to REI’s trainings during 2016 was a noteworthy accomplishment, the number still needs to grow significantly before we will be able to meaningfully address racial equity in our region.

reilogoAs a result, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) will be coordinating monthly REI training sessions throughout 2017 in Cleveland, meant to increase our shared understanding of racial inequality, foster productive dialogue among community stakeholders and civic leaders and determine strategies. In addition to the REI sessions, the awareness building will include efforts to compile and present local data related to racial inequality. Lastly, individuals and organizations will be encouraged to host their own equity-focused activities for our community.  Events such as movie screenings, book clubs and discussion groups are easy yet much needed ways to further the discussion about racial inequality. This issue is too complex and entrenched to be solved by any singular method. It will take a truly multi-faceted, cross-sectoral collaboration – in which everyone takes some ownership – to create real change.

CNP hopes to raise enough funding that the trainings can be provided at no cost. In the meantime, individuals and/or organizations can pay on a per capita basis to participate in the training sessions. For more information about the 2017 training dates or to support this effort, please visit www.clevelandnp.org/rei.

Treye Johnsonrei-training-sessions

January 17, 2017 at 4:10 pm Leave a comment

Remembering John Glenn

headshot of claudia smilingI spent Saturday afternoon watching the memorial service for John Glenn, televised from OSU’s Mershon Auditorium, as did many others around the country and here in Ohio. I thought back to the time I met him and got his autograph on a dinner napkin after his election to the U.S. Senate. And, I thought back just a few years to when we presented our annual Ohio Philanthropy Award to him and Annie, and was sorry that not one of the many eloquent eulogists mentioned his deep commitment to philanthropy.

I went back to the press release we sent in 2012, announcing John and Annie Glenn’s selection for that year’s award by our Board of Trustees to remind myself of their philanthropy:

“When Ohioans think of who best represents the highest values of philanthropy and community service, two names are universally recognized: John and Annie Glenn. Their records of selfless service are unsurpassed in this generation, as exemplified by:

  • Their support of alma mater Muskingum University;
  • Establishing scholarships for needy students;
  • Creating the John Glenn School for Public Affairs at The Ohio State University;
  • Glenn’s outreach to people with speech and hearing difficulties; and
  • Glenn’s 24 years of U.S. Senator.
john_glenn_opa

In 2012, the Philanthropy Ohio Board of Trustees awarded John and Annie Glenn the Ohio Philanthropy Award, recognizing their philanthropic spirit, generosity and dedication to strengthening individuals and communities.

A hundred years from now, when Americans think of great Ohioans, the names of John and Annie Glenn will come to mind. They humble us by the example they set of lifetime service to Ohio and America.”

In addition to his space flights and years in the Senate, these are the accomplishments I will remember.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

December 19, 2016 at 12:02 pm Leave a comment

Before You Go: Robert Eckardt

2016-bob-eckardt-blog-photoWe caught up with Robert Eckardt, retiring Cleveland Foundation executive vice president, before he wraps up his tenure at the foundation at the end of the month. Bob shared what led him to the philanthropic field as well as advice for new practitioners. 

What was your career path to the position you are leaving?
I moved to Cleveland in 1977 to run a project funded by a Cleveland Foundation grant looking at health care needs of the growing elderly population. After five years in Cleveland, I almost moved to Connecticut for a job but was asked to join the staff of the (much smaller in those days) Cleveland Foundation as a program officer to handle grants in the areas of health and aging. I thought I might work there for 4-5 years. However, over the years my roles changed at the foundation with growing levels of responsibility, culminating with my current position as executive vice president. This opportunity for growth kept me at the foundation. So, I have been at the foundation more than 34 years in a variety of roles, but all with significant focus on grantmaking.

Ohio, Cleveland, wind driven power generator, downtown skyline, Key Tower,What advice would you offer to someone just entering the field?
Philanthropy is a wonderful field, with the opportunity to work with many interesting people on important issues. But there are several dangers as well. The power differential between the applicants and the foundation can be a challenge. It can lead to arrogance on the part of funders, with poor customer service and worse. A second danger is to think that money is the resource in short supply. You learn that managerial talent and the ability to implement funded projects are also resources. This means you need to focus as much on organization capacity and the ability to implement as on the idea. In a way, ideas are much more common than is the ability to actually implement. Finally, you also have walk the fine line between trying to be helpful to your grantees but not muddling in their work and becoming a burden by unrealistic expectations. The grantee always knows the work better.

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Bob Eckardt speaks at the 2014 Summer Institute in Columbus.

What would you change if you had a chance for a “do-over?”
Not sure I have a great answer to this question. Of course there were individual grants that did not meet expectations, but if properly structured they become fodder for learning and for improvements in the future. If I could do anything, I would probably devote more resources on the back end of the grants, trying to learn from the successes and failures.

What’s next?
I’m still working to fully define that. I plan to stay in Cleveland and will stay on a number of current boards, both locally and nationally. I am interested in getting more engaged in some of the health and aging issues that animated my early career, but the specifics are still being finalized

What will you miss (if anything) about your position?
I’ll miss the opportunity to work with so many committed people who are striving to make the community better. Many are working against incredible odds and clearly not for personal enrichment.

December 12, 2016 at 8:30 am Leave a comment

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