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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: December 2017

Minneapolis Institute of Art Receives Two Major Grants in Support of Empathy and Diversity Initiatives

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation Grants Total More than $1.25M

Press Release – Minneapolis, MN, December 15, 2017 — The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) announced today that it has received two major grants: a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of the museum’s Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts; and a $520,000 grant from the Ford Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation supporting Mia’s ongoing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) initiative.

Center for Empathy and Visual Arts /Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding will enable Mia to establish the first-ever Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts (CEVA) within an art museum. Mia is spearheading the project, collaborating with researchers, scholars, philosophers, content experts, artists, thought leaders, and colleagues at other museums to explore and research best practices to foster compassion and enhance related emotional skills. This ambitious initiative will span nearly five years, providing Miaa and other art museums ample opportunities to purposefully build empathy into their learning practices as a strategy for impacting positive social change.

Kaywin Feldman, Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President of Mia, said, “A visitor to our museum has the opportunity to experience works of art made over the course of some 5,000 years, from every corner of the globe. One of the most meaningful aspects of this encounter is the awareness it can awaken of a common humanity—an immediate sense of connection between the viewer and someone who may have lived in a very different time and place. Thanks to the Mellon Foundation, we’re proud to take the lead with partners across the country, in studying how to spark and nurture empathy through the visual arts, so that Mia and all art museums can contribute even more toward building a just and harmonious society.”

The first phase of this initiative kicked off in October, when Mia invited experts from fields as diverse as the social sciences, empathy research, virtual reality, and neuroscience fields, as well as museum curators and directors, artists, and educators, to discuss empathy and the art museum at the University of California, Berkeley—a partner in this research project. The ideas generated by the think tank will be developed and tested with the aim of fostering greater awareness and understanding, wonder, and/or global awareness among visitors.

“To be human is to express our emotions in art,” said Dacher Keltner, Ph. D.​, Professor of Psychology at University of California, Berkeley, Director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab and Co-Director of the Greater Good Science Center. “Aesthetic experiences—in viewing a painting, sculpture, photograph, or dance, or in music—are sources of awe and wonder. They enable us to solve a complex mystery—to understand what our fellow humans think and feel. For these reasons, the museum may be one of the great catalysts of human empathy and compassion. That possibility is the focus of Mia’s new scientific initiative with UC Berkeley and the Greater Good Science Center.”

During the initiative’s second phase, the Center will disseminate easy-to-use tools that guide museum educators and curators in using their collections to foster empathy among their own visitors. The initiative’s leaders at Mia hope that museums across the country and abroad will be inspired to build upon this work by incorporating the key learnings into their own practices, resulting in far-reaching impact inside the field and beyond.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility/Ford Foundation and Walton Family Foundation

The Ford Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation will provide resources for Mia’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) efforts, which strengthen the pipeline of art museum leadership positions for those who have been historically underrepresented: people of color and indigenous people.

With the funding, the museum will hire a Diversity & Inclusion Manager, who will research, develop, and launch a robust fellowship program for college students of diverse cultural backgrounds. The IDEA program expands upon Mia’s current Native American Fellowship Program, which has been active for more than 10 years through financial support from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

“At Mia, we believe that embracing diversity as a core value, not just as a program, will bring more voices, perspectives, and experiences to the field and its practice,” Feldman said. “Within the next decade, we hope to see a significant impact on young leadership in the museum field.

Mia will collaborate with Twin Cities’ colleges and other organizations to develop networks to recruit candidates for fellowships, full-time openings, unpaid internships, and volunteer opportunities. To do so, it will work with other institutions’ H.R. and diversity inclusion departments, college career advisors, and campus student groups.

“We are delighted to partner with Mia on this important initiative,” said Patricia Pratt-Cook, Senior Vice President for Human Resources, Equity and Inclusion at St. Catherine University. “St. Kate’s, home to one of the nation’s largest colleges for women and a student population that is 37.7% diverse, serves diverse students with an innovative approach to learning and a faculty that has been recognized nationally for their commitment to teaching. We look forward to supporting Mia’s success through this grant by sharing our experiences with the museum and connecting our students to opportunities available through Mia’s IDEA project.”

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. Additional information is available at mellon.org.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

The Walton Family Foundation

For three decades, the Walton Family Foundation has continued the philanthropic vision begun by Sam and Helen Walton. Their legacy is more important than ever as the foundation accelerates efforts to improve K-12 education for all students in America, to protect rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and to give back to the region that first gave Sam and Helen Walton opportunity. In 2016, the Walton Family Foundation awarded grants totaling more than $454 million. Learn more at waltonfamilyfoundation.org.

About The Minneapolis Institute Of Art

Home to more than 89,000 works of art representing 5,000 years of world history, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) inspires wonder, spurs creativity, and nourishes the imagination. With extraordinary exhibitions and one of the finest wide-ranging art collections in the country—Rembrandt to van Gogh, Monet to Matisse, Asian to African—Mia links the past to the present, enables global conversations, and offers an exceptional setting for inspiration.

General admission to Mia is always free. Some special exhibitions have a nominal admission fee.


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Koret Foundation Announces New $10 Million Arts and Culture Initiative

Initiative Supports Bay Area Cultural Institutions, Local Arts, Music, And Culture Ecosystem

Press Release – SAN FRANCISCO (December 13, 2017) — The Koret Foundation has established a $10 million multi-year Arts and Culture Initiative. Continuing its longstanding support of innovative and dynamic cultural organizations making an essential contribution to a vibrant Bay Area, the foundation established the new initiative to better address the changing landscape of cultural participation.

Through the initiative, the foundation will fund programs and strategies that expand opportunities for students to participate in arts and music education (both in-school and at the arts institutions), enable new and diverse audiences to access the arts, and build organizational capacity, stability, and resilience.

“We are delighted to announce the grantees for our new Arts and Culture Initiative,” said Dr. Michael J. Boskin, President of the Koret Foundation. “We believe that in a time of great change in the nonprofit cultural sector, it is important to support bold ideas that catalyze innovation and build the next generation of artists and art enthusiasts.”

Grantees include San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Symphony, SFJAZZ, San Francisco Ballet, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Oakland Museum of California, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (de Young Museum), Cal Performances, San Francisco Opera, Stanford Live, The Contemporary Jewish Museum, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

The initiative will also support a group of 42 small to mid-sized nonprofit arts and culture organizations throughout the Bay Area. These organizations, as well as all included in the initiative, play a critical role in the Bay Area’s vibrant arts ecosystem and offer a variety of programs that are rooted in their respective communities.

A main focus of the initiative is to help these organizations pilot and expand arts education programs. “Koret’s visionary support was integral to the creation of San Francisco Opera’s new Opera ARIA Music Performance Residency,” said the Opera’s General Director Matthew Shilvock. “The program, which gives students the opportunity to rehearse and perform side-by-side with members of the SFO Orchestra, is one of the first of its kind for an opera company.”

“Increasing access to culturally relevant, participatory, and welcoming experiences that attract diverse, local community members is part of our DNA,” said Lori Fogarty, Oakland Museum of California’s Director and CEO. “Koret’s support of these types of programs, like the weekly Friday Nights @ OMCA, helps to advance our strategic goals by bringing new audiences to the museum.”

Details about each grantee and the purpose of each grant follows below:

  • Asian Art Museum of San Francisco will receive $2,000,000 for the new Koret Education Center capital campaign as part of the museum’s larger renovation and expansion.
  • Berkeley Repertory Theatre will receive $225,000 to pilot a new arts education program in Berkeley Unified School District that pairs civics with new play development.
  • Cal Performances will receive $620,000: $225,000 to expand the Cal Performances classroom program in Oakland Unified School District, $120,000 for co-presentation support with Stanford Live, and $275,000 to support the organization’s new programming stream to engage new and existing audiences both inside and outside of the theater.
  • The Contemporary Jewish Museum will receive $750,000 to support designated Jewish Peoplehood exhibitions for young adults and families.
  • Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco will receive $600,000: $525,000 to pilot a new children’s learning exhibition at the de Young that helps the museum better understand the role of arts in the development of creativity and problem-solving, as well as $75,000 to support the Friday Nights program, which helps to develop new audiences.
  • The Oakland Museum of California will receive $225,000 to support free community and family programs that reach new audiences, specifically those in the local neighborhoods.
  • San Francisco Ballet will receive $750,000: $375,000 to support the expansion of the Dance in Schools and Communities (DISC) program, and $375,000 for audience development initiatives, including the new Unbound: A Festival of New Works, Sensorium, and various engagement programs and tactics.
  • San Francisco Conservatory of Music will receive $150,000 to support expansion of its Conservatory in the Schools program, which provides mentoring and music education to San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) students.
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will receive $1,000,000: $850,000 to support the museum’s K-12 arts education programs in the Koret Education Center and $150,000 to develop a new partnership and intern program with City College of San Francisco as part of a large Diego Rivera exhibition in 2020.
  • San Francisco Opera will receive $990,000: $600,000 to support core opera revival and $390,000 to develop and pilot an innovative new music residency and mentorship program with SFUSD that utilizes San Francisco Opera Orchestra musicians.
  • San Francisco Symphony will receive $1,000,000 to expand the Music and Mentors program, increasing both breadth and depth by growing the number of SFUSD students that receive music education as well as developing a group of music educators and mentors.
  • SFJAZZ will receive $150,000 to support School Day Concerts, a free student matinee series, as well as the Koret Discover Jazz series, a jazz appreciation course for adults.
  • Stanford Live will receive $750,000: $270,000 toward headliner artist support, $195,000 to expand K-12 arts education programming in the Ravenswood School District, $165,000 toward the Koret Jazz Project, Stanford Live’s jazz programming stream with performances in the new, intimate Bing Studio, and $120,000 toward co-presentation support with Cal Performance.

Additionally, grants totaling $1,000,000 were awarded to the following organizations:

42nd St. Moon Theatre Company
Marin Symphony
Alonzo King LINES Ballet
Marin Theatre Company
Arts Loan Fund of Northern California Grantmakers
Music in Schools Today
UC Berkeley Arts Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Music@Menlo
Bayview-Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology
ODC/San Francisco
The UC Theatre
Performing Arts Workshop
Brava! For Women in the Arts
PlayGround
California Jazz Conservatory
Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
San Francisco Art Institute
Classical KDFC
San Francisco Film Society
Community Arts Stabilization Trust
San Jose Museum of Art
CounterPulse
San Francisco Performances
Dancers’ Group
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival
Diablo Ballet
Smuin Ballet/SF
East Bay Center for the Performing Arts
Stanford Jazz Workshop
Gray Area Foundation for the Arts
Stern Grove Festival
Galería de la Raza
The Crucible
Headlands Center for the Arts
TheatreWorks
Joe Goode Performance Group
Women’s Audio Mission
La Peña Cultural Center
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana
Youth Speaks
Magic Theatre

About the Koret Foundation:

Based in San Francisco, the Koret Foundation is committed to strengthening the Bay Area community and nurturing the continuity of the Jewish people worldwide. Since its founding in 1979, Koret has awarded over $500 million in grants to an array of outstanding organizations doing important work in these areas.

For more information about the Koret Foundation, please visit http://www.koret.org


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Global Impact Stands In The Gap To Serve Partners, Donors And Those In Need

2017 Annual Report released

Press Release – ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 13, 2017Global Impact, whose mission is to build partnerships and resources for the world’s most vulnerable people, today released its fiscal year 2017 Annual Report, which outlines the organization’s achievements, such as helping its more than 100 international charity partners raise $22.6 million in funds. The report’s theme of “standing in the gap” speaks to the ways in which Global Impact bridges generosity and need.

“Global Impact’s work is about connecting donors with the causes they care about, helping organizations succeed and ensuring support for people in the developing world,” said Scott Jackson, president and CEO of Global Impact. “It is in this capacity that we stand in the gap to meet these challenges and provide innovative approaches to serve as a trusted partner to organizations and donors alike.”

Documented in the report are Global Impact’s fiscal year 2017 financials and other accomplishments, including:

  • Helping our more than 100 international charity partners raise $22.6 million in funds.
  • Raising more than $54.5 million in 2016 for thousands of charities through its four administered Combined Federal Campaigns, and continuing its role through implementation of the 2017 campaign.
  • Partnering with CARDONE Industries for the last two years to administer the CARDONE Employee Care Fund, a program that has supported employees who have experienced financial hardship with more than $350,000 in assistance.
  • Increasing visibility for global philanthropy through thought leadership roles at events across the country.
  • Enhancing its proprietary tool Growfund, a platform that operates like a 401(k) plan or a personal foundation to help people at any income level support their favorite charities.
  • Promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the work of some of our charity partners through the release of President and CEO Scott Jackson’s book, “Take Me with You,” which tells the story of Jackson’s life and highlights his personal philosophy of making a choice to live in a way that improves life for others.

About Global Impact

Global Impact is a leader in growing global philanthropy. The organization builds partnerships and raises resources that help the world’s most vulnerable people by providing integrated, partner-specific advisory and backbone services; workplace fundraising and representation; campaign design, marketing and implementation for workplace and signature fundraising campaigns; and fiscal agency and technology services. Global Impact works with more than 300 public and private sector workplace giving campaigns to generate funding for an alliance of more than 100 international charities. Through strategic council and implementation support, Global Impact equips nonprofits, public sector and private sector organizations to achieve their philanthropic goals. The organization also leads national marketing efforts for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), and serves as Outreach Coordinator for the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area (CFCNCA), the Combined Federal Campaign-Overseas (CFC-O) and three other CFC zones across the United States. Since 1956, Global Impact has generated more than $1.8 billion to help the world’s most vulnerable people. Learn more at charity.org. Follow Global Impact on Twitter and like us on Facebook.


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Amida Care Hosts Free Community Fitness Class in Brooklyn with Support from NYC Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr.

Amida Care Presents “Health is Wealth,” an Evening of Fitness to Inspire Healthy Living in Brooklyn

Press Release – Brooklyn, NY (December 12, 2017) — On December 11, Amida Care, a not-for-profit New York community health plan, and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation hosted a free community fitness class, “Health is Wealth” at Brooklyn Stuy Dome. Aimed at inspiring healthy living in Brooklyn, this “Live Your Life” wellness event engaged community members of all ages and fitness levels in a high-energy, low- to high-impact total body conditioning workout. The event was made possible by support from Brooklyn Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr.

“Our ‘Live Your Life’ events highlight Amida Care’s holistic approach to health, meaning that health care needs to be about more than doctor’s visits and medication. We’re thankful for Council Member Cornegy’s support in bringing this exciting, interactive initiative to Brooklyn to encourage the community to make healthy living an important part of their everyday lives,” said Doug Wirth, President and CEO of Amida Care.

Amida Care holds monthly Live Your Life wellness events throughout the five boroughs of New York City, where members and their guests learn about ways to get and stay physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy. In addition to dance and fitness classes, the events cover such topics as art therapy, healthy cooking, meditation, aromatherapy, and more.

“As we continue to address the systemic issues that negatively affect the health of New Yorkers, community wellness initiatives are essential. Amida Care’s ‘Live Your Life’ event is a great way to bring the community together for a lively evening while encouraging healthy living,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr.

Amida Care Inc. is a not-for-profit health plan that specializes in providing comprehensive health coverage and coordinated care to New Yorkers with chronic conditions, including HIV and behavioral health disorders, and people who are homeless or of transgender experience (regardless of HIV status). Amida Care has a wide network of top health care providers in the five boroughs of New York City and is the largest Medicaid special needs health plan (SNP) in New York State. For more information, visit www.amidacareny.org.


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Rowland Hall-St. Mark Teacher Named Utah Educator of the Year

Press Release – DES MOINES, IOWA (December 13, 2017) – The National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) is proud to announce Mike Shackelford from Rowland Hall-St. Mark is the 2017-2018 Utah Educator of the Year.

From more than 5,000 member coaches and teachers across the country, Mike Shackelford was selected as the Utah Educator of the Year because of his unwavering commitment to speech and debate education. His passion for speech and debate has enhanced the quality of education in Utah and beyond.

“Speech and debate changes lives,” said National Speech & Debate Association Executive Director J. Scott Wunn. “Mike Shackelford has provided outstanding leadership in helping students improve their communication skills, build confidence, and increase critical thinking skills. All of these skills will better prepare students for college, a career, and a successful life after school.”

To be nominated for this prestigious award educators must coach and teach speech and debate, have a minimum of 5-years’ experience in the classroom, demonstrate broad contributions to the field of education, provide support and mentorship to the speech and debate community, and model the established NSDA Coach Code of Ethics.

Additionally, each State Educator of the Year award winner will be considered for the 2017-2018 National Educator of the Year Award. The national award winner will be announced on National Speech and Debate Education Day on March 2, 2018.

“We couldn’t be more proud to recognize the hard working, passionate, and dedicated educators who do so much for the speech and debate community, and their students,” said Wunn. “Every day, they empower young people to use their voice. They are making a huge impact on the lives of others.”

To learn more about the award process, visit www.speechanddebate.org/educator-of-the-year.

About the National Speech & Debate Association

The National Speech & Debate Association is the largest interscholastic speech and debate organization serving middle school, high school, and collegiate students in the United States. The Association provides competitive speech and debate activities, high-quality resources, comprehensive training, scholarship opportunities, and advanced recognition to more than 150,000 students and coaches every year. For 90 years, the National Speech & Debate Association has empowered more than 1.5 million members to become engaged citizens, skilled professionals, and honorable leaders in our society. For more information, visit www.speechanddebate.org.


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American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation Selects Morris Animal Foundation as Partner to Invest in Animal Health

Foundations to Collaborate on Awarding New Grants that Reflect a Common Mission

Press Release – DENVER/December 13, 2017 – The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation, as part of its planned dissolution, has selected Morris Animal Foundation to receive the ACVIM Foundation’s remaining funds to invest in animal health research.

“We chose to partner with Morris Animal Foundation because they are the preeminent leader in funding animal health discovery and we will be able to make a much larger impact with our donations utilizing their granting process than we could as a separate entity,” said Linda Fineman, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (Oncology), ACVIM Foundation President. “We believe that partnering with Morris Animal Foundation is the best way to see execution on the ACVIM Foundation’s mission and, through a named fund at Morris Animal Foundation, we will continue to improve the health of animals worldwide.”

Leadership at the ACVIM Foundation had previously made the decision to dissolve the ACVIM Foundation based on a recommendation from its Board of Directors. A transition task force was created to oversee the distribution of remaining funds. Morris Animal Foundation was chosen as the best resource to appropriately use those funds moving forward. Morris Animal Foundation has created a named fund for ACVIM within the Foundation as part of the partnership. ACVIM also plans to support Morris Animal Foundation by sharing Morris Animal Foundation research findings with veterinary audiences.

“We are incredibly honored to have been selected by the ACVIM Foundation to be entrusted with these funds, and the charge of advancing animal health in their honor,” said John Reddington, DVM, PhD, President and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation. “We look forward to working collaboratively with ACVIM to use these funds in a manner that will best advance veterinary medicine and improve animal health and well-being. Together we are advancing the body of knowledge for animal health.”

The mission of the ACVIM Foundation is to improve animal and human health by funding discovery and education. It closely reflects Morris Animal Foundation’s emphasis on funding research to improve the health of companion animals and wildlife, as well as developing the next generation of animal health researchers.

Remaining funds of $423,950.55 have been distributed by the ACVIM Foundation to Morris Animal Foundation. Grants awarded with these funds will recognize the contribution of ACVIM members and ACVIM Foundation donors. Members who wish to continue to make gifts to support animal health research, while recognizing their ACVIM affiliation, can donate to the ACVIM Fund at Morris Animal Foundation.

“The generosity of ACVIM members, and the impact of these funds on animal health, cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Reddington. “We are deeply appreciative and thank the membership for their support and confidence.”

About Morris Animal Foundation

Established in 1948, Morris Animal Foundation is dedicated to improving and protecting the health of animals through scientific innovation, education and inspiration. Our investment in research has yielded life-saving vaccines, new treatments for critical diseases, superior screening tests, and advanced diagnostic tools. We respond to emerging animal health threats that endanger entire species, and make new discoveries in basic animal biology to support applied research. With every study we fund – more than 2,600 to date – we strive to advance the science of veterinary medicine, honoring the founding principles of Dr. Mark L. Morris Sr. to benefit animals worldwide. Learn more at morrisanimalfoundation.org.

About the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM)

The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of animals and people through education, training and certification of specialists in veterinary internal medicine, discovery and dissemination of new medical knowledge, and increasing public awareness of advances in veterinary medical care.

The ACVIM hosts the ACVIM Forum, an annual continuing education meeting where cutting-edge information, technology and research abstracts are showcased for the veterinary community. More than 3,200 veterinary specialists, veterinarians, technicians and students attend.

The ACVIM is the certifying organization for veterinary specialists in cardiology, large animal internal medicine, neurology, oncology and small animal internal medicine.

To find out more about ACVIM specialists, please visit www.ACVIM.org .


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Central Park Conservancy Names Elizabeth Weinberg Smith President & CEO

Press Release – New York, NY — The Board of Trustees of the Central Park Conservancy has named Elizabeth Weinberg Smith President and Chief Executive Officer, effective March 1, 2018. Elizabeth “Betsy” Smith has served on the Board of the Central Park Conservancy since 2014 and sits on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Urban Parks, the Conservancy’s educational arm.

Ms. Smith previously served as NYC Parks Assistant Commissioner during the Bloomberg Administration, with responsibility for the Agency’s large and highly diversified concession portfolio as well as its annual roster of all major special events on City parkland. In addition, she managed relationships with an expanding portfolio of conservancies and other public-private partnerships, serving as principal liaison with the Agency. During her tenure, she also oversaw the marketing and corporate sponsorship departments as well as numerous special projects focused on strategic planning, staffing models, and branding. Since leaving NYC Parks at the end of the Administration in 2013, Ms. Smith has remained an involved and avid supporter of urban parks and open space, serving as a Board Member of Friends of the High Line and the Open Space Institute, and Vice Chair of New Yorkers for Parks, in addition to her role on the Central Park Conservancy’s Board of Trustees.

“Betsy is a dedicated advocate of urban parks in general and Central Park in particular,” said Thomas L. Kempner, Central Park Conservancy Chairman of the Board. “After conducting an extensive search, it was clear to the Board and to me that Betsy’s impressive management, government, philanthropic, and parks experience makes her uniquely qualified to lead the Central Park Conservancy ― and continue to increase the impact of its mission in the future.”

Betsy Smith stated, “I am so pleased at the prospect of working with the superb team whom I have known and admired for many years. Their work to restore Central Park has made it one of the most impactful cultural institutions in the City and one of the most beloved urban landscapes in the world. I hope to build on the team’s success and find new ways to secure the Conservancy’s future as a steward of Central Park and champion of world-class urban park management. It will be an honor to lead the Conservancy and partner with NYC Parks to pursue that mission on behalf of every New Yorker and park visitor.”

Retiring Conservancy President & CEO Douglas Blonsky added, “Our Board of Trustees has made an outstanding decision to entrust leadership of the Conservancy to Betsy Smith, whom I had the pleasure of working with during her time at NYC Parks and later as a Conservancy Trustee. Her forward-thinking guidance during the formation of our Institute for Urban Parks is one great example of her ability to create positive change and inspire planning in consideration of future generations of park users.”

“With her distinguished record of public service ― specifically at NYC Parks ― Betsy will provide inspiring leadership to the Central Park Conservancy,” said Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Under Doug’s epoch-defining leadership, the Conservancy strengthened its partnership with NYC Parks and shared its expertise with parks across our city. We look forward to Betsy’s vision and intelligence further developing this deeply beneficial relationship.”

Prior to joining NYC Parks, Ms. Smith had a 25-year career in finance. She started her professional career in commercial banking at JP Morgan before transitioning to venture capital and private equity management at Prospect Group Inc. and at the family offices of Harry F. Oppenheimer and the Rockefeller Financial Group. She later ran client services and finance at Sotheby’s before joining the Bloomberg Administration in 2002.

In addition to her involvement in parks and open space, Ms. Smith is the Vice Chair of her alma mater, Scripps College. She is also the Vice Chair of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Chair of the Library of America. Ms. Smith has two daughters and lives in New York City with her husband Rick Cotton.

About the Central Park Conservancy

The mission of the Central Park Conservancy is to restore, manage, and enhance Central Park in partnership with the public. The Central Park Conservancy aspires to build a great organization that sets the standard for and spreads the principles of world-class park management ― emphasizing environmental excellence ― to improve the quality of open space for the enjoyment of all. The Central Park Conservancy is committed to sustaining this operating model to provide a legacy for future generations of park users.

In 2013, the Central Park Conservancy formed its Institute for Urban Parks, which aims to share its learnings, expertise, and stewardship practices with other urban park managers in communities around the city, country, and world.

Since its founding in 1980, the Central Park Conservancy has invested nearly $1 billion into Central Park ― and raises 75 percent of the annual funds needed to care for the Park.

Learn more at centralparknyc.org


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Digital Opportunity Trust Youth From Africa And Middle East Visit Ottawa, Encourage Canada To Involve Youth As Innovators

Press Release – Six Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) youth from East Africa and the Middle East are visiting Ottawa from December 4-15 to discuss the powerful impact youth have when they put their minds to solving challenges in their communities and countries.

The group will meet with Canadian influencers – including government ministers, Shopify, and Indigenous Youth Voices – to discuss how Canada can invest in the skills, knowledge, and networks youth need to become daring innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs in their own communities and on the global stage.

As members of DOT’s movement of daring young social innovators, the youth will speak about the power of youth-led social entrepreneurship to build an economy of social good, create jobs and systemic change, and transform communities.

The group includes youth representatives from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Lebanon who are inspiring leaders in their own communities.

DOT, a Canadian-based non-profit that works in 25 countries, supports youth to become innovators and leaders, and to create and apply digital solutions that have positive impact in their communities.

DOT and its youth representatives are calling for Canada to purposefully engage youth – particularly young women and Indigenous youth – as decision-makers and key contributors to policy and innovation programs.

Millennials will be the largest generation voting in Canada’s 2019 election, and nearly half of Indigenous peoples in Canada are under the age of 24. Globally, youth number 1.8 billion. Research shows that youth today are more educated, connected, and socially responsible than ever before.

Equipped with skills, knowledge, and networks, young social entrepreneurs are successfully tackling systemic problems that governments, charities, and the private sector have spent decades trying to address.

Ng’walu Kidayi, 26, from Tanzania, is one of the visiting youth. She shares: “As a young woman, I see first-hand how important it is to provide skills training to vulnerable girls in my community, where opportunities are few. Because I have this personal insight, I can build a solution that works where others have tried and failed. Supporting youth to identify and solve challenges with business solutions is a way to make change and actually solve the big issues that impact their communities.”

Digital Opportunity Trust: http://dotrust.org


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Aspiration Raises Nearly $50 Million to Continue Building America’s Defining Socially-Conscious, Sustainable Financial Firm

Social Impact Finance Leads Investment Round, Joined By Allen and Company, Alpha Edison, Omidyar Network, Orlando Bloom and Los Angeles Clippers coach “Doc” Rivers

Press Release – LOS ANGELES, Calif. – December 12, 2017Aspiration, the financial firm with a conscience, today announced it has raised a $47 million Series B funding round, the largest B round ever raised by an online banking company in America. Aspiration will be using the investment to accelerate its growth in customers and new products as it builds the most pro-consumer, pro-conscience financial firm in the country.

The round, which brings Aspiration’s total funding to $67 million, was led by Social Impact Finance, along with new and existing investors including Allen and Company, Omidyar Network, Alpha Edison, AGO Partners, Reyl & Cie, and Capricorn Investments. Individual investors include award-winning actor Orlando Bloom, Los Angeles Clippers coach “Doc” Rivers, former Citigroup Chief Operations and Technology Officer Deborah Hopkins, Bad Robot President Brian Weinstein, Rustic Canyon Partners founding partner Tom Unterman, and others.

Aspiration offers banking, investing and retirement products that help people improve their own financial situations while making a positive difference in the world. Since it opened for business in 2015, Aspiration has become one of the fastest growing online banking and investing companies in America, adding thousands of new customers every week. Aspiration customers currently transact over $2 billion a year on the Aspiration platform and save over $100 million in bank fees.

Aspiration’s growth has been driven by its revolutionary “Pay What Is Fair” business model which trusts customers to choose the fee they pay, even if it is zero. The vast majority of Aspiration customers choose to pay a fee, even though they are not obligated to – a testament to the honorable nature of most Americans and the value that Aspiration customers see in its products. This foundation of trust has led over 20,000 customers to switch from Wells Fargo to Aspiration since news of the big bank’s recent scandals broke. Aspiration is also one of the most charitable financial firms in America, donating 10% of its earnings to charitable microloans and mentoring for low-income Americans.

“We had our fair share of doubters when we first started Aspiration, but we’ve shown that profit and purpose can go hand-in-hand,” said Andrei Cherny, CEO of Aspiration. “Aspiration is growing fast because we have found innovative ways to put both our customers’ interests and their values first. I’m so excited about our ability to do so for many more people in many more ways in the months and years ahead.”

Aspiration’s high interest, no-fee banking account was named the “Best Checking Account in America” by Money magazine. Earlier this year, the company launched a new Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) feature of its mobile banking app that allows customers to see their own personal Sustainability Score and to choose where they spend based on businesses’ impact on people and the planet. The company partners with the Sierra Club and offers a 100% fossil fuel-free and firearm-free sustainable investment strategy available at a minimum investment of $100. By investing sustainably with Aspiration instead of the S&P 500, Aspiration customers have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of three million fewer miles driven by American cars.

“Aspiration has seen astonishing growth in just a couple of years and we’re convinced this is just the beginning of an even bigger trend,” said Ibrahim AlHusseini, Managing Director of Social Impact Finance. “Consumers are ‘voting with their money’ now more than ever, which means they are increasingly investing in companies that share their values. Aspiration is the world’s leader in bringing this spirit of investing with a conscience to the financial services industry.”

“This milestone is a tribute to the Aspiration community of customers whose demand for people-centered banking and investing is blazing the trail for better financial services for everyone,” said Aspiration co-founder Joseph Sanberg.

About Aspiration:

Aspiration is a financial firm with a conscience dedicated to bringing fair, sustainable banking and investment products that help its customers “Do Well” and “Do Good.” Since it opened for business in 2015, Aspiration has become one of the fastest growing online financial firms in America, now adding thousands of new customers every week. By allowing its customers to pay what they think is fair; donating 10 cents of every dollar earned to charity; helping its customers bank, spend, and invest sustainably; and bringing high-quality financial products to all, Aspiration is revolutionizing the financial industry and changing it for the better. Aspiration is a certified B Corp. For more information, visit Aspiration.com.


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Play For Rings with United Way and First Midwest Bank Offers Community Free M.B.A. Program and More

Press Release – LOCKPORT, Ill., Dec. 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Play For Rings, a recreation outreach company, will use grant money from United Way of Will County and First Midwest Bank to offer programs to an underserved Fairmont community. Looking to make a difference in this forgotten township, Play For Rings will offer services that will promote strong family, culture, and education. Play For Rings will offer programs in three main categories. Their Masters of Basketball and Academics after school program, or M.B.A., features basketball training and a learning center for kids in grades 6 through 12. P4R Fantasy Basketball Leagues offers participants an NBA experience, and features real players, playing real games, for real championship rings. The program is offered to kids and adults. Finally, their Born and Bred Open Gym program is pick up basketball for adults. YG runs are for players over age 21. OG runs are for players over age 35.

  • Kids enrolled in the Play For Rings M.B.A. after school program take a team photo for the Fantasy Basketball League as the OKC Thunder.
  • Kids enrolled in the Play For Rings M.B.A. after school program take a team photo for the Fantasy Basketball League as the OKC Thunder.
  • Play For Rings Flyer
  • Play For Rings Flyer

P4R runs its programs at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, a pillar of the Fairmont community for over 100 years. The church features a basketball gymnasium and classrooms, and is within walking distance of Fairmont Elementary. P4R wants to help the community by making every player smart on and off the basketball court, by boosting standardized test scores for the kids, and promoting an active lifestyle for the adults. The strategy behind their program offerings is to teach players how to achieve personal success through intense work, strong decisions, and fateful connections. The program has been running in the Fairmont community for over three years and is quickly becoming a staple of the community.

The vision for Play For Rings was created by founder Bill Leach, who played basketball at Proviso East High School and Illinois State University. “My team saw the need for a good after school program in the community and tried to fill it! Through research, we found that for every dollar spent on quality after school programs the taxpayer gets a return on investment of $3,” said Leach, who also has a degree in recreation administration. “The simple goal for all our programs is to inspire kids to chase their passions, help them get into college for free, and get everybody in the community active!” Leach explained.

Everything concerning Play For Rings can be found on its newly designed website at www.Premierehoops.Net. Once there, visitors can learn more about P4R mission, register for programs, make donations, shop for merchandise, and a whole lot more. Plans for the renovated website includes bringing more attention to the charity work being done by P4R, and to inspire more people to get involved, through volunteer work or financial contributions.

In 2018, Play For Rings will look to offer more programs to impact the community. Plans are under way with the Lockport Rotary Club to offer the P4R Invitational Spring basketball tournament to kick off the Jr. Fantasy Basketball League on March 10. During the Summer, P4R will work with NBA super agent, Reggie Brown, to offer one day camps for high school kids looking for opportunities to earn scholarships to college. Finally, in early fall P4R will look to work with other local charity groups to offer the 3 ON 3 Super Team Tournament that will aim to be the Oktoberfest for the basketball community. “It’s bigger than basketball!” Leach emphasized! “Basketball helped change my life. Now, we can use basketball to help change a community!” Leach proclaimed.


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