How Funders Can Support Clean, Reliable Water for All

By Allison Harvey Turner, Randall Kempner, and Ridgway White of the Water Foundation (crosspost)

This post excerpted below was originally published by the  Water Foundation on the Currents blog. It also appear in Inside Philanthropy. 

"It’s time to redesign water systems in the United States to meet the needs of all people and communities — not just the privileged. Our present water system structure leaves many, particularly poor people, at risk of significant health and safety dangers. Today, amid a public health emergency, millions of US residents do not have clean water, and race is the strongest predictor of whether someone has running water at home.

According to DigDeep and the US Water Alliance, people of color lack access to safe and affordable drinking water at much higher rates than white people. They also are most likely to be impacted by floods and droughts, which can disrupt water systems.

The crisis facing US water infrastructure is of our own making. Federal funding for water infrastructure has plummeted since the 1970s and now accounts for just 4% of all water-related capital investment. The majority of water infrastructure funding currently comes from local water rates and state funding, which often reinforces underinvestment in poor communities.

With population growth and climate change, the need for these investments is even greater than expected — but the money is just not there. Or more accurately, our elected leaders have failed to appropriate sufficient funds to meet this core human need.

The public is increasingly aware of this failure. Even as voters called on Congress to pass new COVID-19 relief and recovery measures, public support for immediate water investments remained high. Recent polling by the Water Hub at Climate Nexus found that 79% of US voters supported assistance for families struggling to pay water bills, and 77% supported investing in preparation for future floods and droughts. By a 2-to-1 margin, voters want the federal government to immediately invest more in water infrastructure."

You can read the full blog post here.


About the Authors

Allison Harvey Turner is CEO of the Water Foundation.

Randall Kempner is CEO of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.

Ridgway White is president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Indigenous & Black Philanthropy in Canada: Growing Black & Indigenous Leadership & and Investment in the Philanthropic Sector

By: The Funders Network Staff

Indigenous & Black Philanthropy in Canada: Growing Black and Indigenous Leadership and Investment in the Philanthropic Sector

Friday, December 11
1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Register Now!

The TFN PLACES Fellowship alumni invite all current fellows, alumni and TFN members to join us for a frank discussion with our Canadian fellows to talk about Indigenous philanthropy and representation in the Canadian sector and the lessons that can be learned and shared from their work over the last ten years to grow leadership and investment for Black and Indigenous professionals in both the Canadian and the U.S. philanthropic sectors.

Speakers Include:


In 2008, the The Funders Network launched PLACES (Professionals Learning About Community, Equity and Sustainability), its first philanthropic leadership development initiative. PLACES is designed as a year-long fellowship program that offers tools, knowledge and best practices to enhance funder grantmaking decisions in ways that are responsive to the needs and assets of low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. We are currently at over 140 fellows and look forward to going over the 150 mark in 2020.

As a result of participating in the PLACES program, fellows develop:
An in-depth knowledge of how decisions about growth and development relate to issues of race/ethnicity/class;
Tools and resources to help them increase their effectiveness as grantmakers;
Exposure to best practices of grantmakers working in this field;
Leadership development and skill building opportunities;
Expanded networking opportunities; and
Access to PLACES and The Funders Network.

Join Us For Our GREEN 2020 Virtual Meeting: Power, Equity, Climate & Sustainability

By: The Funders Network Staff

Register Now! 

December 2-3, 2020

TFN’s GREEN 2020 Virtual Meeting will offer an opportunity to bring together diverse voices from across the sector to share learning, explore strategies and identify key issues that are impacting grantees, partners and the communities we serve.

 We hope you'll join us as we:

• Deepen learning from practitioners and peers with a focus on racial and social justice, power building, and equity-centered climate and sustainability investments.

• Recognize/strategize how the multiple challenges, inequities, and harms exacerbated by and laid bare by COVID-19 call for new funder strategies centered in racial justice.

• Share learning, engage with funder colleagues on intersectional issues, and explore collaborative opportunities.

• Address key cross-cutting topics that align with our theme: Power, Equity, Climate, and Sustainability.

Agenda Overview
Wednesday, Dec. 2

(Afternoon ET/Morning PT)

• Panel: 2020 Election Results and Implications for Climate Mitigation/Adaptation and City Sustainability
• Panel: From Community Engagement to Collaborative Governance: the Providence Racial Equity Journey and Learning Lab
• Funder Social Hour: A Taste of Rhode Island

Thursday, Dec. 3

(Afternoon ET/Morning PT)

• Panel: Energy Democracy and Justice: Broadening Economic Opportunity, Bringing Economic Relief
• Funder Discussion: Transforming Philanthropic Practices to Center Equity

Stay tuned for more details on session times and speakers!

We are offering individual registration as well as discounted flat group rates for both TFN members and non-members.

Registration fees help support TFN's GREEN working group efforts as well as the network's over-arching mission to leverage philanthropy’s unique potential to help create communities and regions that are sustainable, prosperous, healthy and just for all people. These fees also help us offset programmatic and operational costs incurred in the planning and production of virtual events, including honoraria for invited nonprofit speakers.

Individual Rates
Member: $199
Non-member: $299

Flat Group Rate
Foundations with three or more registrations are eligible for a discounted flat group rate.

Member: $399
Non-member: $499

Register here.

We recognize that many organizations are facing challenges during these uncertain times, so if cost is a barrier to participating in this event, please reach out to Ashley Quintana, at

Who Should Attend

Registration is open to donors, staff, directors, and trustees of all grantmaking institutions. We are seeking to create a small and intimate gathering of funders with the goal of learning, sharing and facilitating strategic conversations about where philanthropic resources can have the greatest impact.

Thank You!

Thank you to our funder planning committee for their ideas, guidance, and assistance in planning this meeting:

• Diane Ives, The Kendeda Fund
• Zoe Kircos, People for Bikes
• John Mitterholzer, The George Gund Foundation
• Wren Patton, The Summit Foundation
• Jennifer Pereira, Rhode Island Foundation
• Mariella Puerto, Barr Foundation
• Jen Somers, Energy Foundation

We are looking forward to a terrific and inspiring meeting and hope that you can join us!

National Equity Atlas: Unlocking the Insights of Disaggregated Data

By: The Funders Network Staff

Advancing economic, environmental and social justice means centering racial equity in grantmaking, advocacy and policy work.

How can we use data to inform our efforts to create a more equitable society?

Join TFN's Inclusive Economies for a webinar exploring the National Equity Atlas, a one-stop-shop for data and policy ideas to advance racial equity and shared prosperity, produced through a research partnership between PolicyLink and the University of Southern California Equity Research Institute.

National Equity Atlas:
Unlocking the Insights of Disaggregated Data

Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. ET

Register here.

Please register by Dec. 5 for this funders-only webinar


Abbie Langston
Senior Policy Associate

Patricia L. Smith

President & CEO
The Funders Network

About the National Equity Atlas

The National Equity Atlas was built to democratize data and make the facts accessible and actionable to everyone — including the grassroots organizations that possess invaluable firsthand knowledge of inequities yet often lack the resources to gather, analyze, and display the quantitative data so crucial to policy campaigns to address them.

Originally launched in 2014, the updated Atlas builds upon its previous data infrastructure but provides new indicators, more detailed data for existing indicators, and additional ways to explore, share, and use the data, including:

Equity data insights, with 31 deeply disaggregated indicators for 301 geographies
Original research and data analyses
The first-of-its-kind Racial Equity index, which compares the state of racial equity across the nation
Policy solutions to build an equitable economy.

Join this webinar to learn how to use this powerful equity resource and how we can support local changemakers leading the way toward equity.

About Inclusive Economies

TFN’s Inclusive Economies working group brings place-based funders and related partners from across the sector together to build working relationships, advancing understanding of practices and policies that lead to inclusive prosperity and taking joint action that drives the field forward. We apply a three-part focus — race, place and prosperity — to economic growth and development. A particular goal is connecting people and neighborhoods of color to employment and wealth-building opportunities through investment, systems change, and policy reform.

For more information, please contact TFN Associate Hazel Paguaga.

The Funders Network Signs on to United Philanthropy Forum's Commitment To Building A National Community

By The Funders Network Staff

The Funders Network President and CEO Pat Smith is among more than 30 leaders of philanthropy-serving organizations calling on the philanthropic sector and other institutions to "use all of your moral, civic, and social capital to voice your strong and vigorous support for preserving and strengthening our democratic institutions."

The letter, titled A Commitment to Building a National Community, was coordinated by the United Philanthropy Forum,  It acknowledges that "much work remains to address the serious threats to our democracy that have been exposed during this election season, and philanthropy has an important role to play."

Among the calls-to-action are:

  • The administration of free and fair elections.
  • Support for a peaceful transfer of power.
  • Philanthropic leaders and institutions to use all of their moral, civic, and social capital to voice support for preserving and strengthening our democratic institutions.
  • The use of philanthropic financial capital to invest in organizations that are working year-round to improve the key pillars of our democracy, including free and fair elections and systems of representation, an informed and active electorate, and laws to adequately protect all voters’ rights.

"As we head into 2021 and the seating of a new administration and a new Congress, the Forum continues to envision a courageous philanthropic sector that catalyzes a just and equitable society where all can participate and prosper," reads the letter. "We stand ready to work with the Biden-Harris administration and members of Congress by advocating for legislation and regulations that address inequities across the country, recognize systemic racism, and seek to rectify social injustices. We will also continue to work to strengthen our democracy by supporting a participatory civil society with fair representation for all.

In her keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the Honorable Barbara Jordan (D-TX) spoke about the concept of building a national community:

'We are a people in a quandary about the present. We are a people in search of our future. We are a people in search of a national community. We are a people trying not only to solve the problems of the present… but we are attempting on a larger scale to fulfill the promise of America. We are attempting to fulfill our national purpose, to create and sustain a society in which all of us are equal.'"

To read the full letter as well as the list of signatories, please visit the original post: A Commitment to Building a National Community.




By: Dion Cartwright, Director of Equitable Initiatives and Leadership Development

This message originally appeared in the PLACES Connection Newsletter, which goes to the Alumni of the PLACES fellowship.

Prior to (and following) the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Black people were often harassed, intimidated and threatened when they would try to register to vote. Voter literacy tests and many other barriers were used to prevent Black people from being able to exercise their civil rights. There were policies in place that would give local jurisdictions the authority to restrict equal rights under the law. Native Americans experienced similar challenges and were often forced to assimilate to European culture before being given their rights to vote. The Latinx community was also negatively impacted by similar barriers to voting. Non-English-speaking voters were also often shut out of voting because of lack of accessibility to translated voting materials and other important legislation.

During the 1960s, there were many youth-led cultural and political movements that erupted as a result of poverty, police violence, the murder of Black activists, voter suppression, the fight for reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and other social issues impacting Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other marginalized communities and peoples. However, in spite of the constant barriers and legislative loopholes/abuses used to suppress the vote or to prevent changes to discriminatory legislation, people stayed resilient. People continued to fight, march and spend entire days in long lines to exercise their rights.

This sounds familiar, right? Today, voting rights protections continue to be under attack. We’ve seen voter suppression increase and continued attempts at suppressing the votes of Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other marginalized communities and peoples. We have seen police violence that has sparked nation-wide uprisings, solidarity marches in the streets and a renewed fight against the political and criminal systems of oppression that perpetuate discrimination and racism.

I share this to remind each of us that the challenges we face today aren’t new. The discriminatory practices targeting marginalized people have always been used to discourage engagement in the political, social and economic infrastructure of the U.S. Although the racist and dehumanizing policies of the current administration seem unprecedented, we know they are not. The system is working exactly as it was designed to — to attack the civil and human rights of all people, but specifically of those of Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other marginalized peoples.

As we prepare for the upcoming election results, I want us all within our PLACES network to keep some very important perspective at hand: no matter what the outcome of November 3rd, we must remember that our work has the ability to create the change we are voting for. We are the change makers.

What does that mean? It means we must invest in the capacity building of the communities most impacted by the political, social and economic policies that have failed to protect our most vulnerable and disenfranchised. As funders, we have an obligation to fight to deconstruct the unjust systems of oppression that hurt and steal from our communities, especially those of color. We must ask ourselves, “How am I contributing to these unjust systems and what power am I willing to give up or challenge in order to see true justice and liberation for all come to fruition?” Our future is not dependent upon the results of this election. It is dependent on our resiliency as we face the gatekeepers of change.

Find hope in knowing that the work you do matters. Find hope in your refusal to let the obstacles we face today daunt you. Find hope in knowing that your unwillingness to compromise who you are, even while under immeasurable stress, violence and grief, represents you fighting for yourself and all who came before you and those that will come after you.

We are (thankfully) not politicians, but we are the advocates and sellers of hope in our sector and communities — and by doing so we are the brick layers of justice and liberation. Keep going — the road we have been fighting for is already being built by you.

Note: The Funders Network’s President and CEO Pat Smith is among the more than 100 philanthropic leaders calling for leaders at all levels of government and across all sectors to ensure a free, fair, and safe election. The letter, which includes signatures from leaders representing a range of ideological viewpoints, presses for safe elections with all votes tallied and the result respected peacefully. The letter was circulated by the Democracy Funders Network, a coalition of grant makers, and Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement. It was published Oct. 19 on Medium and was also featured in a recent story by the
Chronicle of Philanthropy.

You can read more here.

About The Author: 

Dion Cartwright is the Director of Equitable Initiatives and Leadership Development at The Funders Network. She is also the lead staff for the PLACES Fellowship.

Know Your Network: Ella Delio of Greater New Orleans Foundation

By: Martha Cecilia Ovadia, Senior Associate for Equity Programs and Communications

Who are the people that make up The Funders Network? Know Your Network is an occasional Q&A series lifting up voices from across the network. In honor of the national Imagine a Day Without Water campaign on Oct. 21, TFN’s Martha Cecilia Ovadia chats — virtually, of course — with Elaine “Ella” Delio, director for environmental and regional initiatives at the Greater New Orleans Foundation. A co-chairperson of TFN’s Urban Water Funders steering committee, Ella also sits on the planning committee for the Urban Water Funders 2020 Virtual Meeting, which takes place Nov. 18-19. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Q : You are currently the director for environmental programs and regional initiatives for Greater New Orleans Foundation, but we hear you were trained in economics and finance before joining the sector. What drove your shift to environmental and climate issues?

I’ve always been interested in enterprise and business. I started off at Procter and Gamble in the Philippines, where I managed brands such as Vicks and Pringles. In 1998, when my mother had health issues, I was called to oversee our family’s businesses in the Philippines as the eldest of four children. My family’s businesses started as very small businesses that my parents literally ran from our home. These small businesses in logistics and security services grew from tens of employees to thousands of employees within 20 years. Managing these businesses helped me realize firsthand the importance of small and mid-sized businesses in the economic and social development of a country. This made me interested in the role of small and medium enterprises in a country’s development, which is why I decided to take my MBA and MPA. While at graduate school, I honed my skills in finance and economics because I had planned on going back to the Philippines and, hopefully, becoming part of the national government, perhaps as a department secretary.

It was at graduate school where I also read the book How to Change the World by David Bornstein.  I learned about social entrepreneurs delivering positive social and environmental impacts all over the world. Reading this book led me to abandon a management consulting job offer in New York City and start work at a women’s small business development center called Center for Women Enterprise in Boston. (This is where I met and worked with the wonderful Alison Corwin of the Surdna Foundation ) [Note: Alison is also a TFN PLACES Fellowship alum.] We literally sat two feet apart from each other the whole day. At CWE, I helped high-growth potential women-led enterprises gain access to venture capital. This was important given that only 2% of venture capital in the early 2000s went to women-led firms. I worked with amazing women entrepreneurs and met inspiring ones such as Helen Greiner, founder of iRobot, and Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to travel to space. I also collaborated with venture capital and private equity investors in New England and New York in helping increase women-led businesses’ access to capital.

After getting married, I had to move to Washington D.C with my husband.  An angel investor I worked with introduced me to the World Resources Institute (WRI), an environmental “think and do tank” which had an “access to capital” program similar to what I managed in Boston. It was a program called New Ventures, which provided business development and investment facilitation services to innovative environmental enterprises in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia and Mexico. This is how I developed my expertise in the environment. WRI was also one of the foremost experts when it came to climate mitigation and it was one of the first environmental organizations that developed work on climate adaptation. Part of my work involved working with enterprises at the intersection of the environment and the “base of the pyramid,” a concept popularized by C.K. Prahalad. The base of the pyramid is the socio-economic group of the 2.7 billion people worldwide who live on less than a $2.50 a day. I had the honor of working with entrepreneurs who solved environmental issues but also contributed towards delivering better products and services for those who are at the base of the economic pyramid. One of them was S.K. Sharma, an entrepreneur and founder of SBA Hydro, who built and developed small-hydro power plants in partnership with communities in India to provide more reliable and cleaner energy for those who lived in poor, rural villages in India.

Learning from place: Ella leading TFN members on a learning tour at the 2019 GREEN and Urban Water Funders Meeting in New Orleans.

Q.: What brought you to philanthropy? Is there anything specific that has surprised you about working in the sector? 

The Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) is my first stint in philanthropy. I moved to New Orleans because my husband got his first job in academia here after obtaining his doctoral degree. When I was looking for a job in 2014, a couple of friends of mine spoke about the forward-looking work that GNOF was doing and that their building would be one of the first demonstration projects for green stormwater infrastructure in the city. That was intriguing to me given my previous work in the environment. My friend, Alison Corwin, had visited me in New Orleans in 2013 when she came for the Environmental Grantmakers Association Annual Retreat and told me that she had just started a job at the Surdna Foundation. This was the first friend of mine that joined philanthropy. When the position of director for environmental programs at GNOF opened up in 2014, Alison encouraged me to apply.

I had always thought that foundations just made grants. What has surprised me about working in the sector is how much community foundations work on the ground in partnership with non-profit partners and with government partners to solve critical issues. Moreover, in my work at GNOF, I have seen how a community foundation can help provide a platform for grassroots leaders to advocate to local or state governments for the needs and desired policies of their communities.

Q.: You are very involved in TFN’s Urban Water Funders working group. What is one thing you have learned working with Urban Water Funders that you think has been helpful or illuminating during this unprecedented time as we deal with the global coronavirus pandemic? 

Since we decided to shift from being called the “Stormwater Funders” in 2017 to the Urban Water Funders, I think the Urban Water Funders working group increasingly centers racial equity in its programming as well as its aligned work. When the coronavirus pandemic happened, Urban Water Funders members immediately asked the question, “What kind of COVID-19-related programming can we offer not just to funder members but to their grantee partners as well?”  In line with our equity focus, Urban Water Funders members agreed that it would be important to learn about how to advance water equity during the coronavirus recovery.

Given this, the TFN Urban Water Funders members, led by Sara Aminzadeh of Pisces Foundation organized a panel around this topic. One thing Ronda Chapman of PolicyLink made clear was how COVID-19 exposed the underinvestment and unjust city, state, and federal policies around water. For example, when COVID struck Detroit, there were 2,800 homes already experiencing water shutoffs. These homes were set back by not having access to water. Access to clean water is the most fundamental element for infection control and critical to good health. What I love about the Urban Water Funders is how relevant panels such as these can present bold ideas for consideration by funders. For example, Radhika Fox of the U.S. Water Alliance asked the group whether this is the time for philanthropy to provide funding to water utilities in order to support the end of water shutoffs. (Note: You can watch a recording of this Urban Water Funders panel here.)

 Q.: You work with a lot of communities impacted by climate change at GNOF. What is one thing you wish folks knew about the people you are working with? What is the hardest part of doing this work?

The leaders that I work with serve communities impacted by climate change — from the Treme, the birthplace of Jazz which experiences localized flooding every year, to Dulac, home to many members of the United Houma Nation tribe and a land that is at risk of disappearing in the next 50 years due to coastal land loss and sea level rise. They have experienced various injustices and trauma in their lives. Despite that trauma and injustice, they continue to rise up time and again not just to help save their communities’ way of living and culture, but also their land, their neighborhood. I think the hardest part of doing work directly with community is hearing the hurt in their voices right after they experience an injustice or a disproportionate impact of climate change because of systemic racism. I am glad that GNOF is able to provide operating support to these leaders’ organizations. However, I ask myself what more can be done to help them with their restorative justice practices so that they can work towards a process of healing from the tremendous harm brought about by past injustices. One thing that I am working on in the regional affinity group that I belong to, the Greater New Orleans Funders’ Network, is experimenting on a pooled restorative justice fund for BIPOC leaders in Louisiana who work at the intersection of the environment and other issues.

Sharing knowledge: Ella takes the mic during a site visit at the 2019 Green and Urban Water Funders annual meeting in New Orleans.

Q.: You hosted the TFN PLACES Fellowship cohort a few years back and we learned so much about how water and climate work is actually justice work during that site visit to New Orleans. As you know, Imagine A Day Without Water is Oct. 21. Do you have any specific ways you honor that personally? Why do you think it is so important to elevate this day in the sector?

I will talk about how I honor “Imagine a Day Without Water” every year on a personal level. I spend some reflection time on my own to remember how I grew up in the Philippines without reliable access to clean water. From the time I was born until I was 17, I lived in a house where we had to put a sock over our faucet in order to filter particles.  There were several years when we had limited access to water and had to save big containers of water when there was water available, so that we can use it when there was no water coming out of the tap. I learned how to take a bath with just 6 to 7 quarts of water. Because of this, I do not take the water that I have access to for granted.  During this day, I also try remember those who live in other countries where women have to walk for hours just to gain access to water and bring home some for their families.

Q.: We always like to ask about home. With so many of us sheltering in place or unable to travel, can we live vicariously through you just for one question? What is your perfect day in New Orleans? Is there a secret place you wish everyone knew about?

A perfect day in New Orleans for me would be to watch my 11-year old daughter play soccer at The Fly, which has the amazing benefit of being on the Mississippi River. I would then go on a bike ride with my husband and two kids from our home in the Carrolton-Riverbend neighborhood to Parkway Bakery and Tavern in Bayou St. John, known for their po-boys, where we would have lunch. I would order a golden friend shrimp po-boy. (Parkway is also the location of one of the first demonstration projects for a permeable pavement parking lot).  We would then bike to City Park, a park bigger than Central Park, which got flooded during Katrina but was redeveloped after The Storm. My kids would play in the playground right beside Café du Monde where my husband and I would be feasting on beignets and an iced-coffee. (This is very close to the place where Brad Pitt and Kate Winslet have a scene together in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).  Later that night, my husband and I would have dinner at Arnaud’s in the French Quarter where I would order gumbo for appetizer, meunière for my entrée, French 75 for my cocktail, and bananas foster for my dessert. After dinner, we would head over to Frenchmen Street and listen to some jazz at d.b.a., a bar where the greats such as John Boutté play.

Q.: And finally, it’s been a heck of a year. What is something you do as a practice of self-care, especially in 2020 when this work is so stressful and requires us to really rise to the occasion and be present on so many fronts?

It has indeed been a year. During this pandemic, what has helped me recover from the immense stress from different sources are a. bike rides around the Audubon Park (which is less than a mile from our house), and b. doing a weekend trip at least once a month with my family. For example, my family and I spent the Labor Day weekend in the North Shore of the Greater New Orleans region where there is a beautiful biking trail. During that weekend, we also went sailing on Lake Ponchartrain for the first time with a GNOF colleague who lived in the North Shore. Being in the midst of a big body of water had such a profound healing and calming effect on me.

Featured photo at top of post: Ella Delio (center) making introductions at the 2019 GREEN and Urban Water Funders annual meeting in New Orleans. 

GNOF Disaster Response and Restoration Fund

Due to the impacts of Hurricanes Sally, Laura, Delta, and Tropical Storm Marco, the Greater New Orleans Foundation has activated its Disaster Response and Restoration Fund to provide assistance to those who are most in need.

TFN Urban Water Funders

For more information about TFN’s Urban Water Funders, contact Diane Schrauth at or at (856) 834-3755. Registration is now open for the Urban Water Funders 2020 Virtual Meeting Nov. 18-19.



About the Author

Martha Cecilia Ovadia is TFN’s Senior Program Associate for Equity Programs and Communications.



Equitable Economic Growth for the Green Infrastructure Ecosystem

By Lauren King, PhD, Director of Workforce Programs  and Ella Delio, MPA, Director of Environmental Programs, Greater New Orleans Foundation (Cross Post)

Lauren King, Greater New Orleans Foundation's director for workforce programs, and Ella Delio, the foundation's director of environmental programs and a member of TFN's Urban Water Funders steering committee, recently co-wrote an article for Water Environment Federation’s Stormwater magazine. The piece focuses on the equitable workforce development work that the foundation, the city of New Orleans, the Water Environment Federation and other partners are collaborating on in New Orleans around green stormwater infrastructure, highlighting the role of philanthropy in supporting this work. TFN is thrilled to have Greater New Orleans Foundation as one of TFN's upcoming 2021 conference co-sponsors.

"In New Orleans, where the population of African Americans is more than 60 percent and unemployment among African American males has vacillated between 48 percent and 52 percent, the need was apparent. An opportunity in the form of around US $250 million in federal grants for GI Projects laid the foundation to develop the regions emerging GI sector - and the prospect of new jobs."

You can read the full article here.

About the Authors: 

Lauren King, Director for Workforce Programs

Lauren N. King has spent two decades linking adults and youth to resources and opportunities that enable them to move from their current reality to one which they desire to ascend. She is the Director for Workforce Programs with the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) where she works to cultivate new opportunities for GNOF in the workforce development space. Under her current portfolio, she leads the New Orleans Workforce Innovations (NOWI) Program which offers post-hire support services to some of the state’s largest employment sectors. Additionally, Lauren staffs the New Orleans Funder’s Collaborative, NOW, which has successfully influenced workforce policies within the region. In her previous role as Director of Community and Economic Development with Delgado Community College, Lauren managed and implemented workforce programs and played an integral role in the launching of two major programs for the College- the Certified Line Worker Training Program and the Cisco Certified Networking Associates Program. Under her leadership, Delgado obtained the designation of Cisco Networking Academy and is a provider of the Water Environmental Federation (WEF) National Green Infrastructure Certification program. Lauren continues to work extensively with training providers in an effort to align workforce trainings to programs that provide credit toward associate and bachelor degrees.

A native New Orleanian, Lauren is a two-time graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana holding a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communications and a Master’s of Arts Degree in Education-Curriculum and Design. She currently resides in New Orleans with her husband and children.

Ella Delio, Director for Environmental and Regional Initiatives

Elaine “Ella” Delio joined the staff of the Greater New Orleans Foundation as director of Environmental and Regional Initiatives in September 2014. Previously, she was executive vice president and managing partner at Savior Media, a Boston-based strategic communications firm. Prior to that role, Ella worked in Washington, D.C., at the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank, where she served as Global Director of the New Ventures program. In that role, she provided business development and investment facilitation services to innovative environmental enterprises in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, and Mexico. She co-led the development of the program’s five year strategic plan, and she helped build the Green Investor Network in India, a group of investors interested in funding environmental entrepreneurs.  In this capacity, she also worked with various funders from the philanthropic and public sectors.

Ella received her MBA and MPA degrees from the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School and her Management Engineering and Economics degrees from the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. She was awarded the Don K. Price Award by the Harvard Kennedy School for academic distinction and leadership in public service.

Seizing the Moment: Funder Collaboratives for Criminal Justice Reform


After years of regressive criminal justice policies and practices, we are seeing growing bipartisan recognition that criminal justice reforms are crucial to the future of racial equity, economic opportunity and democracy. Advocacy groups are acting with greater urgency and coordination to drive equitable systems change and practice in a number of places across the country. These efforts are increasingly supported by place-based collaboratives of national and local funders. Philanthropy has an opportunity to use this moment to galvanize unlikely partnerships with potential to both change systems to center equity and considers policy that empowers rather than controls.

Join us for Seizing the Moment: Funder Collaboratives for Criminal Justice Reform, the latest in TFN’s Bridge the Divide learning series. This session will feature place-based collaborative funder models for criminal justice reform, and how stakeholders are organizing to capture momentum and advance criminal justice reform across the country.

Seizing the Moment: Funder Collaboratives for Criminal Justice Reform
Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. ET
Register here.

Erika Anthony, Executive Director, Ohio Transformation Fund
Flozell Daniels Jr., President and CEO, Foundation for Louisiana
Jay Jordan, Executive Director, Californians for Safety and Justice

Heidi Reijm, Policy and Program Fellow, Hudson-Webber Foundation

About ‘Bridge the Divide’ webinars:
This webinar is part of an ongoing learning series built around the theme “Bridge the Divide,” which lifts up philanthropy’s unique potential to bridge differences, foster connections and build partnerships — and address urgent issues such as climate change, economic disparity and racial injustice.

Other webinars in this series:
January 2020Climate, Land Use and Transportation Connections
February 2020Public Utilities as Anchor Institutions
April 2020Economic Democracy and Sharing Power
June 2020Equity First: Community-led Approaches to Tackling the Climate Crisis
July 2020Keeping it Local: Strategies to Support Power-Building and Economic Self-Determination
August 2020Representation Matters: Deepening Leadership Pipelines and Building Community Power

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Risks for the Future We Want

By Mekaelia Davis

Program Director for Inclusive Economies Program, Surdna Foundation 

Mekaelia Davis is a TFN PLACES Alum and is part of TFN's Inclusive Economies working group steering committee. In this post, originally published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review Mekaelia shares how philanthropists must learn from protesters and reimagine the formula for making change on racial justice.

Over the last six weeks, thousands of people across America have been arrested at protests, with millions marching in the streets. Despite a pandemic, so many people (including myself) have been willing to take the risk, breaking stay-at-home orders and potentially exposing themselves to the virus, in the fight for racial justice. And these risks have had results: Long-time fearless activists, timely global protests, and many actions of solidarity have taken the Black Lives Matter movement mainstream. A majority of Americans now support the movement, according to a recent Civiqs poll, and politicians at almost every level are following suit. What was seemingly impossible was made possible in a matter of weeks.

How can philanthropists learn from the people in the streets and reimagine risk?

Formula for Change

Taking risk has always been part of the formula for change and securing racial justice will require risks like never before. That’s why those of us in philanthropy who are fighting for racial and social justice, advocating for racial equity, and working to close the racial wealth gap need to re-think how we calculate risk, and raise our tolerance for it. It has been thrilling to see large foundations, financial institutions, impact investors, and other resource holders commit to increasing their financial support to Black leaders, nonprofits, and communities. However, if we don’t fundamentally reimagine our relationship to risk—which dictates who we fund and how aggressively we address systemic barriers—we will be doomed to repeat the results of the past.

You can read the entire post here.

About the Author


Mekaelia Davis serves as Program Director of the Inclusive Economies program at the Surdna Foundation, overseeing a $9.2 million grantmaking portfolio that seeks to create an equitable economy in which people of color can maximize their potential as leaders, creators and innovators across sectors. She has spent fifteen years at the intersection of public and private systems to drive social and economic opportunity for communities across the United States.