Going Local: As Google’s Philanthropy Grows, the Bay Area is a Winner

Over the past few years, Google philanthropy has been growing and getting more interesting. If you’re not watching this trend, you should be.

We’ve reported on the increasing flow of Google grants going out the door for academic research; on how Google is writing big checks for work on issues like marine conservation and cataloging plant species; how Google is addressing the gender gap in tech and has given to help more girls learn to code; and how Google came through during the Ebola epidemic with some serious emergency funds.

Of course, we’ve written about the growing philanthropy of Google’s high command—about Sergey Brin, who’s piled up over a billion dollars in the foundation he runs with his wife and is giving to a growing range of causes, starting with medical research; about Larry Page, who’s also building a huge foundation and who not only approved that Ebola grant, but kicked in millions of his own money; and about Eric Schmidt, who has emerged with his wife Wendy as an important environmental funder.

But another key trend we’re tracking in Google giving is how the company is doing more for its home region, the Bay Area. Last year, Google was one of more than a dozen tech companies to take the SF Gives Challenge, helping Tipping Point Community create a $10 million fund to fight poverty in the Bay Area. Also, the company gave out $6.8 million to provide transit passes to low-income youth after criticism of its private shuttle service for Bay Area employees. And last year, Google also gave out $5 million to 25 nonprofits through its program, Google Impact Challenge: Bay Area.

There are two possible explanations for all this activity: one, that the company is responding to a growing chorus of complaints about rising inequality in the Bay Area, along with tech’s role in driving that trend; and two, that this is just a sign of a socially responsible company that’s ramping up its local philanthropy as it matures, as many companies do. Both are likely true.

Whatever the case, let’s take a closer look at that Bay Area impact challenge, which just opened up for a new round of submissions for funding. This is a big deal for nonprofits in the region and, if you raise money for one of those groups, here’s what you need to know.

The Money: $5 Million Divided by 25

Google has committed $5 million to the Bay Area Impact Challenge, and that money will be spread across grants to 25 nonprofits. However, this money isn’t going to be divided up equally among all 25. There will be four winners that get $500,000 each, six “almost winners” that get $250,000, and 15 runners-up that get $100,000 each. Google expects this grant money to be spent within one to three years.

Narrowed Down by Local Advisors

It’s really just common sense that local needs are best identified by local people, and Google agrees. Nonprofits’ ideas will be reviewed by a panel of local advisors. These advisors, as well some Google folks, will narrow down the applicants to 10 finalists and 15 runners-up.

This panel includes high-profile names like former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former San Fran Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., and the San Francisco Foundation’s CEO Fred Blackwell. There are also a couple sports celebrities in the mix to build the hype, like the Golden State Warriors’ Harrison Barnes and the SF Giants’ Hunter Pence.

Crowdsourcing Plays a Role

If the group above doesn’t sound like a jury of your peers, don’t fret. There’s also a crowdsourcing aspect to this Google challenge. The entire Bay Area community is invited to vote for the nonprofit that they think will have the biggest impact in the region. The public gets to vote on the 10 finalists that the advisors and Google staff pick out to determine which groups get the most money.

We don’t tend to be so keen on grantmaking by referendum, but you can make an argument for such an approach and, definitely, you can see the benefit to Google. This whole process seems designed to clue in as many Bay Area residents as possible to the idea that Google really does care about the downtrodden.

Deadline and Past Grantees

A July 23 deadline is coming up fast, so check out the Impact Challenge website to learn more and get started on your application. Only nonprofits based in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma are eligible to apply.

You can learn about the 2014 Bay Area winners on the challenge website and see what they did to capture Google’s attention. Last year’s winners included Lava Mae, which provides showers and toilets for the homeless, Center for Employment Opportunities, which helps former inmates get jobs, and Hack the Hood, which promotes tech careers for low-income youth.

It’s More Than Just a Check

Unlike some grantmaking support that involves little more than writing a check and later checking in with a performance report, Google promises to provide ongoing support to it Bay Area grantees after the check is cashed. This support will mostly be coming from Google volunteers and partners. Not a bad crew to have on your side, right?


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Emerging Nonprofit Leaders 2015 Class


Emerging Nonprofit Leaders 2015 Class

Christopher Alcazar

Christopher Alcazar is the Vice President of New York Region Insurance Business Development, Admissions, and Community Relationships at Phoenix House of New York.  He has a broad understanding of operating programs in non-profit settings which he attained from over 20 years of management experience. His expertise lies in ensuring qualitative program services, tracking and managing revenue and loss, as well as other financial performance metrics. Christopher’s current work includes providing the operational oversight and coordination of all insurance business development activities in the New York region.  He also provides management of multi-site programs, and develops market specific strategies that increase referrals and drive maximum performance. Christopher pursued a career in the non-profit field immediately following his undergraduate studies, after securing his first full time job as a counselor working with the homeless.  He grew to love the work and appreciate the feeling of being able to make a difference in people’s lives.  He attributes his success and growth as a leader to his ability to build productive relationships, utilizing a strength based approach to connect well with others. He has a Master’s degree in Program Administration and Clinical Practice from the Hunter College School of Social Work. Christopher is happily married.  He and his wife, Laura, recently bought a home in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  They both enjoy traveling, and exploring the many “off the beaten path” gems in their new neighborhood with their 90 lb. retriever/hound mix, Jack, who is very sweet and thinks he is a lap dog.

Ellie Canter is the Director of Programs at Turning the Page, an education non-profit committed to building family engagement capacity in D.C. Public Schools. She leads Turning the Page’s partnerships with eight public schools in Southeast D.C. to strengthen relationships between teachers and families that foster greater learning outcomes for students. Turning the Page has successfully partnered with over 5,000 public school families and trained over 150 parent leaders through their model for family engagement that has been honed over 17 years of work in the D.C. community. Ellie is now supporting Turning the Page’s expansion to four schools in the N. Lawndale community of Chicago Public Schools and aligning their evaluation efforts across the two cities. Before coming to Turning the Page, Ellie graduated with a Master’s in Education Policy and Leadership Studies from the University of Washington’s College of Education. During her time as a graduate student, she led a pilot undergraduate service learning seminar as well as the National Education for Women’s Leadership program through the University of Washington’s Women’s Center. Prior to graduate school, Ellie served two years as a college adviser through the National College Advising Corps, an AmeriCorps program that supports potential first generation college students and their families as they explore post secondary options for college and career. Her research and work are shaped by the drive for more equitable educational outcomes for parents, students, and teachers in under resourced schools. She is an alumna of the ProInspire Managing for Success Fellowship and was featured by The Washington Business Journal as part of their “People on the Move” segment. Ellie graduated with a Bachelor’s in English and French Literature from the University of Virginia in 2007.

Arthur Cutler serves in the newly created Chief Operating Officer position at Fair Chance.   Arthur is responsible for providing leadership, planning, management, and enhancement of Fair Chance’s internal organization systems and infrastructure. He oversees the budget and directs financial planning and accountability, human resources, and day-to-day office operations and technology systems. Arthur has considerable experience in organizational management, operations, board governance, human resources, strategic planning, resource development and training.  Arthur also serves as Membership Chair for the 100 Black Men of Greater Washington DC,  the Fort Foote PTA President and Founder of the website Arthur has a B.A. in political science from Morehouse College, a law degree from Michigan State University and completed his Nonprofit Executive Management studies at Georgetown University.  Previously, he worked as the Coalition Membership Director at the National Crime Prevention Council, Deputy Director of Network Growth with the Alliance for Nonprofit Management and Director of Organizational Management with the National Disability Rights Network. Arthur is also a former Presidential Management Fellow. Arthur is married to Tracy Cutler and they have two kids, Arthur III and a newborn, Braelyn Gabrielle. They reside in Fort Washington, MD.

Amira El-Ghobashy leads strategic outreach and fund development efforts at the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a national employment reentry organization serving men and women with recent criminal convictions. With nearly a decade of experience in nonprofits, Amira has advanced a range of innovative civic engagement and workforce development programs with measurable impact. She has also forged unprecedented institutional partnerships, promoting mission-driven objectives while extending resources to build capacity. Prior to joining CEO, Amira was Manager of Leadership, Diversity and Student Development at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) where she led several workforce development initiatives, including campaigns to promote STEM education and advancing the role of engineers within the global development community. Amira holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Communication Studies and a Master of Public Administration (MPA), both from New York University.

Cristina Garcia has ten years of non-profit management experience. Her areas of expertise include community outreach and civic engagement, public affairs, advocacy and social service. Ms. Garcia has worked on the design and implementation of community education programs as well as helping drive systemic change through policy and advocacy initiatives. She has worked with diverse groups across various issue areas but maintains a special interest in the advancement of human rights. Ms. Garcia has been a strong advocate of the need to reform our immigration system to reflect more fair and humane policies. She has worked at the local and national levels on campaign and reform initiatives, as well as facilitated dialogues and trainings on issues of immigrant inclusion and integration and on civic participation.  Presently, Garcia works with the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, a national member-based organization that examines, crystallizes, promotes and defends better economic, social and policies that impact migrants in both their host and native countries throughout the Americas. Garcia’s role at NALACC is to seek and form strategic alliances while working towards the rebranding of the organization and the creation of an individual membership program. Cristina holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Robert Morris University and a Master’s degree in Social Policy from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.

Arturo González Vargas was born on October 9, 1988, in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México. He earned his Master of Arts in International Relations from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where he was awarded with the Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for Academic Excellence. He received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Monterrey, where he graduated top of his class and received the highest honors for his performance in dramatic arts and social development projects. Arturo has four years of experience in the nonprofit sector. In 2013, Arturo co-founded, with two of his best friends, the social development program called LiberArte. The mission of this program is to build a strong and peaceful community through artistic education for teenagers. Arturo is currently an Atlas Corps Fellow. Atlas Corps is an international network of nonprofit leaders and organizations that are addressing the biggest social challenges of our communities through innovation and collaboration. Atlas Corps is now the State Department’s strategic partner in the pillar of “Emerging Global Leaders Initiative” in President Barack Obama’s “Stand with Civil Society” agenda announced in September 2014. Arturo was elected by his peers to serve as Chair of the Fellow Executive Committee, which represents the Fellow community directly with the organization’s staff and implements projects to improve the overall experience. Arturo leads the committee meetings and bilateral communication with the Fellows. Arturo was selected by Kids’ Food Basket through Atlas Corps and is currently serving as Projects Specialist. Arturo proposes, designs, implements, and evaluates projects to serve the Latin American community in Grand Rapids. His projects break down cultural, linguistic and transportation barriers to make the organization more inclusive of the Latin American community. He is also responsible for collaborating with key community partners in the region.

Sarah Ha serves as the Senior Managing Director of the Asian American & Pacific Islander Initiative on the Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships team at Teach For America. She currently serves on Teach For America’s Diversity Action Task Force aiding the Chief Diversity Officer in charting the future direction of the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusiveness commitments. Prior to joining the organization, Sarah was the Senior Director of Programs and Student Affairs at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) and Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program in Washington, DC. She oversaw the strategic development and implementation of academic support, leadership development, and community-building programs for recipients of the APIASF and GMS scholarship awards. She also worked in partnership with the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE) to plan and host APIASF’s annual Higher Education Summits in Washington, DC. Sarah has 8 years of experience working in multicultural affairs conducting research on the educational experiences of underrepresented and underserved students in higher education in addition to coordinating diversity related programs and initiatives. Prior to APIASF and GMS, Sarah worked in the Office of the Dean of Students at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the UCLA LGBT Campus Resource Center, and served as an Intergroup Dialogue Facilitator dedicated to creating inclusive and diverse campus environments. Her previous work experience includes a legal analyst position at Cowen and Company, LLC and her litigation paralegal role at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. Sarah earned her Masters of Education degree in Student Affairs, Higher Education & Organizational Change from UCLA. She received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Faith, Peace & Justice from Boston College. Sarah has a deep commitment to engaging in social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusivity work.

Laurin Hodge often says she did not pick prison, prison picked her. It was the unexpected incarceration of her mother which motivated her to craft a social entrepreneurial career. Through Mission: Launch she envisions the elimination of the social stigma Returning Citizens face upon release from prison or jail. In order to reach this vision their team builds community coalitions and software so that the complex re-entry process is simplified. They believe this is the key to improve service delivery and unlock the potential of Returning Citizens to become productive members of society. She is honored when they are invited to walk the re-entry journey with women and men rebuilding their lives.

Cristy Johnston Limon joined Destiny Arts Center as Executive Director in January of 2011 with over ten years of non-profit leadership, community and economic development, and public policy experience. During her tenure at Destiny, Cristy doubled the organization’s size, solidified its reputation as a dynamic, high quality youth development organization, and raised Destiny’s visibility and sustainability by purchasing, renovating and occupying Destiny’s new community arts facility in North Oakland. Cristy has been recognized as an emerging leader, most recently winning the Young Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year award, the Community Impact Award, and is 1 of 50 international arts leaders selected to participate in National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture- designed to bring arts leaders together for collective learning and impact. She is currently pursuing an Executive MBA at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley with a concentration in social responsibility and entrepreneurship. Driven by a commitment to strong and healthy communities through organizing, collaboration and consensus building, Mrs. Johnston Limón’s community involvement focuses on empowering young people through volunteerism, community engagement and the arts as well as strengthening nonprofit leadership. She has been involved in various community organizations including the Oakland Rotary Club, Treasurer of the Board at the Japanese Community Youth Council, LeaderSpring graduate, and alumna of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) and Emily’s List. A native of San Francisco of Guatemalan descent, Cristy is a first generation college graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Political Science. She draws from her own experiences as a public school student immersed in dance, theater, music and sports to advocate on behalf of arts education and for Destiny’s mission and vision to end violence through the arts. Cristy currently resides in Oakland with her husband Tom Limón and one-year old daughter Natalia.

Dr. Sarah Kastelic became the executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association is January 2015, assuming the responsibility from founding director Terry Cross. Dr. Kastelic was selected to succeed Cross in 2011 and spent four years under his guidance, assuming increasing responsibility of operations and management of the 30-year-old national child advocacy organization. Prior to joining NICWA, Dr. Kastelic led the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) welfare reform program and was the founding director of NCAI’s Policy Research Center. Her experience with NCAI gave her a sense of the need for timely, credible data to inform policymaking at the tribal and national levels. She also saw firsthand the tension between tribes reacting to the policy proposals of others and the opportunities for tribes to develop their own, proactive policy solutions.  In November 2014, national leadership network Independent Sector awarded Dr. Kastelic its American Express NGen Leadership Award, calling her “a transformational leader working to further policy research that empowers American Indian and Alaska Native communities.”  Dr. Kastelic is Alutiiq, an enrolled member of the Native Village of Ouzinkie. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Goucher College, she earned a master’s degree and PhD from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.

Faisal Kazi Seraj is a proponent of holistic approach towards reducing world poverty. He believes that synergy between financial and non-financial services for the poor are not only necessary for sustainable impact on their lives but it also makes economic sense. His previous research background and work for BRAC in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Uganda and Bangladesh influences him to promote operational models that will take into account sustainability from the perspective of beneficiaries as well as implementing organizations. As a founding Country Representative for BRAC in Myanmar, Faisal is implementing a development model that harnesses power of the village groups to provide services related Microfinance, Health, Agriculture and Education. Faisal has a Master’s in Environmental Economics from the University of New South Wales in Australia and a Bachelor’s (Hon’s) in Economics from the University of Dhaka. He received Swedish Government’s scholarship to attend PhD level coursework at Gothenburg University and attended AMEX Leadership Academy at Thunderbird School of Global Management.

David Lee is the executive director of Feeding Wisconsin, the state’s association of food banks, and leads its efforts to ensure that all families living in every corner of the state have the access to the food and benefits they need to work, learn and live healthy lives. Previously at Feeding America, the nation’s largest anti-hunger charity, David managed partnership and program development and led its state policy and grassroots advocacy. He has served as an advisor to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Hunger Partnership and the Farm Foundation’s Dialogue Project for a 21st Century Agriculture. In the Milwaukee community where he lives with his wife, David is the President of the Board of Directors for Outpost Natural Foods, the nation’s third largest natural foods cooperative by volume of sales, and also serves on the board of Ex Fabula, a local non-profit that aims to strengthen community bonds through the art of storytelling, chairing its governance committee. David was an American Express/Independent Sector NGen Fellow and a Wisconsin Political Leaders Fellow. He attended Vassar College, where he holds an A.B. in film and drama, and is on a personal quest to deadlift 500 pounds and mix the perfect single-malt scotch.

Blake McKinlay

Blake McKinlay holds a B.A. and M.A. in International Relations and brings 6 years of experience in the international development and social enterprise sectors. While working with the International NGO iDE, Blake started his career in the business development department raising $30+ million to grow programs across 11 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He then launched and led the first Knowledge Management Department for iDE’s Global WASH Initiative and was a key member of the team that tripled the department’s revenue, impact, and geographic coverage in 2 years. Blake continued his career at iDE as the Chief of Party for an $8+ million dollar water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) project, providing technical and financial oversight and coordination for efforts in Cambodia and Vietnam. In 2015, Blake became the Director of Operations for The Level Market, an exciting social enterprise developing the first e-commerce platform for humanitarian products. Blake brings academic and work experience in 25+ countries and a passion for using the power of business to tackle social challenges.

 Uma Subramanian

Uma Subramanian is a child rights activist & the India Program Manager for the Hong Kong based ADM Capital Foundation (ADMCF). She has been the driving force behind the foundation’s Aarambh Initiative (Aarambh means ‘A Beginning’ in Hindi) against child sexual abuse and exploitation, in partnership with Mumbai based NGO Prerana. Under her leadership the initiative launched India’s first online resource portal against Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation. More than 25 national and international organizations contributed resources towards the portal and are now part of the ‘Aarambh India Safety Network’.  Between 2011 and 2012, under ADMCF she worked with 6 partner organizations across 7 states in India focusing on innovative programs to educate & protect children at risk. She worked on various issues faced by children in the underprivileged communities ranging from education of girls in Musahar (Rat Eaters) communities in Bihar to protection for children in the red light areas of Mumbai. Previously she worked with the Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children (PCVC) across 3 states implementing and overseeing grassroots projects on rescue and rehabilitation of working children. Besides her Masters from the College of Social Work Mumbai, she completed an International fellowship for Social Workers at the Oslo University College and an executive education program in Social Entrepreneurship from INSEAD School of Business, Singapore. In 2014, she was selected for the American Express Leadership Academy in India. She volunteers as the Director of Muso Magic India that empowers children and adults through music and song writing workshops. She is the board member of the NARMADA Foundation, Delhi that funds and supports rural development.  Uma’s interest is to ensure that any intervention on child rights & child protection reaches the most vulnerable child in the most deprived community in India. Towards this she hopes to develop a simple, scalable model using technology, engaging with the government and inspiring communities across rural and urban India.

Veronica Vela

Veronica Vela is the Director of Marketing & Communiations at Girls Inc., the nonprofit organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Veronica joined Girls Inc. in 2011 and serves as the primary steward of the national brand.  As Director of Marketing & Communications she leads overall marketing efforts, communications strategies, management of creative services, and marketing support for the entire Girls Inc. network. Before joining Girls Inc., Veronica was an Account Director at various integrated marketing and advertising firms, including The Bravo Group, a division of Young & Rubicam and Publicis Groupe’s Bromley Communications.  Her career as an advertising professional included managing accounts in Healthcare, Retail, Packaged Goods, and Cause Awareness. Veronica is a graduate of Fordham University where she earned a BBA in International Marketing and a minor in Spanish Studies.


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From Prison to Public Service

Ban the Box initiatives are one step toward breaking the cycle of incarceration.



The now-viral video of a Texas teenage girl attending a pool party crying for her mom after she was slammed to the ground by a white male police officer has once again re-ignited the calls for police reform.

While the officer identified as Eric Casebolt was placed on administrative leave by the McKinney police department—and has since resigned—the issues this action raise are neither isolated nor nearly resolved.

The repercussions of profiling—racial and otherwise—encompass the entire justice system and extend beyond the streets of suburban Dallas to our American prisons and back to the streets when those who were incarcerated are released. What will happen to the 650,000 people estimated to be released this year?

The two biggest factors that determine whether or not formerly incarcerated people will recidivate are their ability to obtain housing and employment. The 2008 Jacksonville Ex-Offender Opportunity study found that people with criminal convictions who are unemployed are 500 times more likely to go back to prison.

In a study conducted in New York City, a criminal record reduced the likelihood of a call-back or job offer by nearly 50 percent.

To break the cycle of incarceration that occurs in so many people’s lives—especially in low-income communities—we need to ensure people have the opportunity to become gainfully employed when returning from prison. We need to end profiling of a different kind.

A recent study by the Center for Employment Opportunities found that more than 40 percent of people will be re-incarcerated—and more than two-thirds re-arrested—within three years of being released from prison. Employment challenges, sobriety, housing, mental health, and a lack of strong social ties are among the primary reasons that people return to jail or prison.

Ban the Box is an effort to end employment discrimination against the formerly incarcerated by deferring questions regarding criminal history until later in the application and hiring process. It proposes not including a box to check requesting information on prior convictions on all public employment applications.

This is not an effort to hide applicants’ criminal record from employers; it simply allows applicants to be judged on their current skills and qualifications while not being immediately screened out because of a past mistake.

The results from a recent National Institute of Justice survey suggest that between 60 and 75 percent of former inmates are jobless up to a year after release. In a study conducted in New York City, a criminal record reduced the likelihood of a call-back or job offer by nearly 50 percent. And the negative effect of a criminal record was substantially larger for black applicants.

As the state director of the Georgia chapter of 9to5 Working Women, an organization dedicated to building a movement for economic justice, I led the city of Atlanta’s Ban the Box campaign. In 2013, Atlanta joined the list of more than 30 cities and 13 states that have passed Ban the Box policies to help remove barriers to employment for people with criminal records.

In Durham, North Carolina, since Ban the Box policies were implemented in 2011, the overall proportion of people with criminal records hired by the city has increased nearly seven-fold. In addition to the cities and states that have banned the box, private employers including Target and Koch Industries have also adopted these fair hiring policies, in 2013 and just last month, respectively.

More employers are beginning to understand that screening out applicants because of their past does not allow them to select from the broadest, most qualified pool of candidates, and therefore may have an adverse impact on their hiring decisions.

Employers will still be able to inquire about an individual’s criminal history, but later in the hiring process, preferably during a face-to-face interview after a conditional offer has been made. The goal is not to hide a person’s background. Instead, the goal is for the applicant to have an opportunity to explain the nature of the crime, how long it has been since the crime, and what steps have been taken toward rehabilitation.

In light of the shootings of unarmed black men by police in Ferguson, Baltimore, and New York, President Obama spoke earlier this year about the need for criminal justice reform. “If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do—the rest of us—to make sure … that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons,” he said. “So that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a non-violent drug offense.”

Incidents like the recent treatment by police of a black teenage girl in Texas remind us that reform is necessary in every aspect of the justice system. Let’s work to make sure that those who exit out of that system get the fresh start they deserve.

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Today, New York City became the largest city in the nation to adopt a fair chance hiring policy so people with criminal records have an opportunity to work.

The NYC Fair Chance Act (Intro 318) is one of the strongest ban-the-box policies nationwide, requiring private and public sector employers to delay any inquiry about criminal record history until after a conditional job offer. This gives employers the opportunity to evaluate candidates based on their qualifications and interviews, not their rap sheet.

When VOCAL’s Marilyn Reyes-Scales came home from prison all she wanted was a decent job so she could support her family. She applied for countless jobs but on every application they asked about her criminal record and she never got callbacks. Years later, her criminal record continues to serve as a barrier to work. “I served my time, when can I finally say my sentence is over?” she asks.

Marilyn and all formerly incarcerated New Yorkers deserve a fair chance at employment. And with today’s passage of the Fair Chance Act – they will get one.

Thank you to Council Members Jumaane Williams, Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for co-sponsoring this important legislation. And to our partners at Community Service Society, the National Employment Law Project, 32BJ SEIU, Faith in New York, and more for fighting alongside us every step of the way.

We’ll be celebrating on June 18th at our She’s So VOCAL! Gala – where we’ll honor Marilyn Reyes-Scales for her advocacy on the Fair Chance Act and her unwavering commitment to ending mass incarceration and the war on drugs. It’s not too late to buy tickets or an ad!


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Bill to Promote Social-Impact Bonds Has Support in High Places

The Chronicle of Philanthropy

The Center for Employment Opportunities, which helps former prisoners get jobs, has participated in “pay for success” efforts.

APRIL 28, 2015

By Nicole Wallace

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado are trying again to advance legislation that would appropriate $300 million for state and local social-impact bonds over 10 years.

Although similar legislation stalled in the previous session of Congress, Mr. Hatch now has more clout to push the bill; he became chairman of the Finance Committee when the Republicans took control of the Senate earlier this year.

Sometimes referred to as pay-for-success contracts, social-impact bonds are designed to help government shift from reimbursing nonprofits for the number of people they serve to paying for measurable results. The idea has gained traction quickly, but some critics argue that the potential benefits have been overstated.

The new form of financing allows private investors to pay for a social program that has performance goals, such as reducing the number of teenage pregnancies. If an independent evaluator certifies that the program has met the goals, the government repays the investors’ principal and, depending on the results, may provide a profit. If the program fails to deliver, investors lose their money.

“These public-private partnerships represent a shift to a model of government where results matter and where we pay for competence,” Mr. Bennet said in a written statement. “Supporting targeted early interventions will help improve outcomes in health care, education, job training, child care, homelessness, and a range of other government services.”

Rep. Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana, introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives in March. That bill also has bipartisan support, including from Democratic Reps. John Delaney and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Mr. Van Hollen is the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

Mr. Hatch said in a statement that his bill, titled the Social Impact Partnership Act, would spur innovation and cooperation between the public and private sectors and improve social and public-health programs.

He added: “This bill will keep control in hands of local leaders, reduce the federal bureaucracy, and help improve outcomes for those who use the services and the taxpayers that pay for them.”

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OAKLAND: Governor Brown encourages businesses to give jobs to former prisoners


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Reducing the Prison Population [Video]


  • Aired: 03/20/2015

Oklahoma’s prison system is currently housing 28,652 inmates. That’s the largest number in state history, and there is no more room. New legislation has been introduced to try and reduce the prison population after efforts to ease overcrowding stagnated three years ago.


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CEO is Represented in a Group of 50 Notable Leaders from around the World for Inaugural Leadership Academy Alumni Summit by American Express


Event Connects Influential Leaders to Strengthen and Develop the Leadership Pipeline in the Nonprofit and Social Sectors

NEW YORK, Mar 16, 2015 (BUSINESS WIRE) — American Express AXP, -0.73%announced its first-ever Leadership Academy Alumni Summit in New York City on March 23 and 24, celebrating eight years of its industry-defining program, which has developed more than 1,600 emerging, nonprofit leaders. Fifty distinguished alumni from around the globe will join Academy partners Aspen Institute, Ashoka Changemakers, ASU Lodestar Center, Center for Creative Leadership, Common Purpose, Community Foundation of Broward County, Points of Light and Thunderbird, to collaborate on opportunities to develop the next generation of social purpose leaders and strategies to advance the sector’s impact on society.

A survey of past American Express Leadership Academy attendees conducted in 2013 by Teng & Smith, Inc., found that:

  • 74 percent of responders said this was the first intensive, leadership development training they have ever had;
  • 73 percent cited the value of a national network of peers as extremely meaningful and wanted to continue to engage with each other following the Academy both virtually and in-person.

“We’re proud that our Alumni Network is made up of world class leaders who are tackling some of society’s most complex issues and having an impact on everything ranging from education, the arts, social services, health, the environment and more.,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president, American Express Foundation. “We believe the American Express Leadership Academy and Alumni network can help create a global platform for nonprofit leaders to train and grow on their journey serving the communities in which we all live and work.”

In an effort to benefit global emerging leaders in the social sector who are unable to attend in-person, American Express will live stream the first session featuring Nancy Lublin, CEO of Do Something, and Ami Dar, the Founder of discussing the future of social purpose leadership and how leaders can make an impact. The live stream is on Monday, March 23rd at 4:30 p.m. ET, and anyone can tune in by registering here and joining the conversation via Twitter by using #amexleads.

The Summit, in partnership with Atlas Corps., will feature a variety of workshops and panel discussions, focused on best practices and issues related to nonprofit leadership and will recognize one of its alumni, Anders L. Pettersson, executive director of ECPAT Sweden, with the first-ever American Express Leadership Academy award for his outstanding service in the social sector. In addition, his organization, ECPAT Sweden, will receive a $25,000 grant from the American Express Foundation.

“Given all the great talent and leaders that pass through the Academy, this recognition is very humbling,” said Pettersson. “ECPAT’s mission is to end sexual exploitation of children, and the Leadership Academy has really challenged me to take the fight to the next level. The inspiration that comes from these great programs has been a tremendous inspiration for me in forging a vision and strategy.”

To learn more about Mr. Pettersson and read the biographies of all 50 Alumni selected to participate in the Summit, please visit here.

Launched in 2008 in partnership with The Center for Creative Leadership, today the Leadership Academy includes nonprofit partners from around the globe. Each Academy is tailored to fit cultural nuances and serve different nonprofit niche needs, such as social entrepreneurship and international-facing nonprofits. In 2015, more than 600 nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs will participate in these global Leadership Academy programs.

To date, American Express has hosted over 50 Leadership Academy sessions in six countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Japan, Mexico and Canada, supporting more than 1,600 nonprofit and social sector leaders. In 2015, the Academy will extend with programs in China, Kenya and Senegal. Additionally, 15,000 leaders worldwide have benefitted from American Express leadership programs and grants. To learn more about the Academy and global partners, please visit

American Express: Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow

One of American Express’ three platforms for its philanthropy is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit and social sectors, American Express is making grants focused on training high potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in the 21st century. Fifteen thousand emerging nonprofit and social sector leaders worldwide have benefitted from American Express leadership programs. Launched in 2008, the American Express Leadership Academy addresses the growing deficit of leadership talent in the nonprofit sector. The Academy brings together emerging leaders from a diverse set of nonprofit, social sector and non-governmental organizations.

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on,,,

Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards,travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, corporate card and business travel.

SOURCE: American Express

American Express
Ashley Tufts, 212-640-3193

Copyright Business Wire 2015




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Local nonprofit provides employment help for former prisoners

Jason Camp, a production operator for Quikrete, clubs into heavy equipment to transport sand, at the facility on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World

For Jason Camp, the Center for Employment Opportunities has been the conduit for a second chance.

Convicted of manufacturing a controlled, dangerous substance in 2010 and released from prison a year ago in February, Camp found getting a job impossible.

Every place he applied rejected him because of his felony conviction.

His parole officer recommended the Center for Employment Opportunities, a nonprofit that employs men and women who are coming out of prison on parole in transitional jobs where they build skills and experience before helping to place them in permanent jobs.

“This way I get to work every day. That beats the alternative of going back to prison,” Camp said. “It’s pretty wonderful. Not many people give people convicted of manufacturing a second chance.”

Camp has been working permanently at Quickrete for the last seven months.

Plant manager Randy Fowble said he has hired six people from the agency and that four of them are still on staff.

“As long as it’s not a bad felony, we don’t mind giving them a second chance,” Fowble said. “We get people who made bad decisions, maybe bought or sold drugs, and got caught and are now trying to move forward in their lives.”

The agency, known as CEO, recently celebrated its 500th client placed in full-time, unsubsidized work.

Since opening in 2011, the agency has worked with more than 850 clients.

“These are people who needed work quickly and were motivated. We gave them a job, and we put them to work immediately,” said Kelly Doyle, state director with CEO.

“They were looking for work, needed money in their pockets and needed people to vouch for them in order to get a job.”

The clients start with a four-day course covering soft skills and other things needed to get and retain a job.

“We prepare them to answer questions about their felony and give them training. After a week, we give them steel-toe boots, and they work for us while they are looking for a permanent job,” Doyle said.

The agency has about 20 workers in its transition jobs each day who work doing landscaping for the Guthrie Green, Tulsa Community College, the city of Jenks, the city of Sand Springs and the MET.

Studies have shown that CEO, which has offices throughout New York and California, has a 20 percent reduction in all aspects of recidivism including arrest, convictions and re-incarceration.

Additionally for every $1 spent by CEO there was a $3.30 savings in criminal-justice expenditures.

Fowble said working with CEO clients has helped stabilize a workforce that, because of its supply pool, has a lot of turnover.

“Most day laborers are people that can’t get a full-time job and usually have underlying issues,” he explained, adding that the CEO clients tend to stick with the job.

“These are not the most ideal conditions. You have to want to work to make a paycheck. If you give me what you got, I’ll give you what I’ve got.”

By the numbers

  • 868: People served by CEO Tulsa since the summer of 2011.
  • $560,108: Wages earned by participants for transitional work.
  • $3,641,973: Wages earned through placement wages (only tracked through their first year of placement).
  • 300: Number of people CEO Tulsa will serve this year.
  • 89%: The Department of Labor (national) reported that 89% of individuals who violated the terms of their parole were unemployed at the time.

Source: Center for Employment Opportunities

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Better Business Bureau Convenes Nonprofit Thought Leaders

Written by Remy Tumin
Wednesday, 11 March 2015 04:37


Operational excellence, hiring practices and best methods for foundation funding topped the agenda at the ninth annual Better Business Bureau symposium.

Claire Rosenzweig ,President and CEO of the BBB Serving Metropolitan New York, called the annual conference “an aggregate of thought leadership” and welcomed nearly 300 people at the sold out event. The conference was held at Baruch College on February 24.

This year, the BBB Charity Effectiveness Symposium focused on success and sustainability in the nonprofit sector. Dean and Professor at Baruch College School of Public Affairs David Birdsell said it’s important to take the “hopeful concept” of being proactive rather than reactive in ensuring quality of staff, operations and external relations.

“How do we look beyond the daily demands of operating and funding our operations to demanding environments that are cognizant of the realities?” Birdsell said.

The morning long event included an update from James Sheehan, Chief of the Charities Bureau in the Office of the New York State Attorney General, who emphasized the need for a shift from duties to rules and regulations, and Karen Rosa, Vice President and Executive Director at the Altman Foundation. Rosa led a step-by-step guide for nonprofits looking to apply for foundation funding.

The panel discussions garnered the most spirited discussion on the future of New York’s nonprofit sector. In a conversation on developing internal talent, Jeremy Kohomban, Executive Director at Children’s Village, said inside talent is often the best talent.

“We believe there’s a way we approach our work that takes time for anyone that comes to the Children’s Village to understand what we believe, why we believe it,” he said. “We come from a place of conviction that social justice is a big driver in our world. When we look at managers we are looking for people who are inoculated against difficulty of the work.”

John Sanchez, Executive Director for the East Side Settlement House, said the organization works very hard towards a culture of staff development. Succession planning is key component to that, he said.

“One of the things that’s part of everyone’s job description is finding your successor,” he said. “When I ask you to recruit your successor, it’s not a threat. There’s going to be an opportunity because I recognize strengths and you will be rewarded for that.”

External recruiting from social work students has also been very successful, Sanchez added. A number of student interns are usually hired for entry level positions upon graduation.

On the topic of diversity recruiting, Wayne Ho, chief Program and Policy Officer for the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, said diversity plays an important role in hiring.

“Diversity becomes important because if we want to achieve our mission and strategic initiative, we have to keep diversity in mind,” he said. “At our board level, more and more it’s something we’re looking at.”

But Kohomban took a different view.

“I think the easy answer is to say yes, we want diversity…but the reality is we hire for competence and we’re very proud to do so,” he said.

Staff training and development are also critical to a thriving workplace, Kohomban said. For him, “the most powerful training tool is your example.”

“If you have the connection and the energy to set the right example and create a culture that feeds on itself,” he said. “Training is part of the culture, but if the staff finds it a burden, I’ve failed.”

From best hiring practices to best operational practices, Hilda Polanco said she and the panelists hoped the audience would take a new approach to the subject during a panel discussion of operational excellence and sustainability.

“Operational excellence is a way of thinking, a way of behaving and training for improvement,” said Polanco, Founder and CEO of Fiscal Management Associates said. “The training never ends, the coaching never ends in doing what we do the best we can do as the world around us changes. “

Executive Director at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Warren Scharf said nonprofits need to focus on what they do well. Building a team with a diverse skill set is key.

“You can’t do everything…knowing about chlorination in a pool is not the same as figuring out effective treatment for a mentally ill client,” Scharf said of his diverse staff. “People tend to gravitate towards their strengths and stay away from weaknesses, we all do. The biggest risk for all of us is you have to make sure you have someone doing the part you hate to do.”

“Make sure you have somebody who compliments you and is interested in the things you’re not,” he added.

Sam Schaeffer, Executive Director and CEO for the Center for Employment Opportunities, said data management is “critical” for tracking information, both for staff and those the organization serves. The Center for Employment Opportunities offers employment services for people with criminal records.

“It takes constant vigilance and upkeep to onboard new staff and older staff,” he said. “When we hire we’re looking for these competencies. We try to develop screening questions that show us passion for our work and appetite to engage in these conversations.”

And, Schaeffer said, the agency is adapting to a mobile landscape.

“People are coming home form prison, coming into CEO in their first 90 days and they’re on their smart phones,” he said. “It revolutionizes not just how you communicate with them but you feedback. The next revolution is how do we get information to our constituents in a meaningful way and incorporate that.”

Charles Buice, President of the Tiger Foundation, said while the foundation primarily provides costs of operational expenses, targeted funding could be coming down the line for things like technology investment.


“If we can understand through conversations with leadership where they’re finding value in those types of investments, we’re happy to consider would we help put resources out there,” he said. “If that’s what’s going to drive success then that’s what we should tap into.”

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