October 2013 Working Group Updates

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Community Food Funders (CFF)

Partners: CFF is funded through the support of several Philanthropy New York members, including the David Rockefeller Fund, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the North Star Fund and the Surdna Foundation.

Background: CFF is a philanthropic organizing project formed in 2011 to provide information, resources and networking opportunities for funders in the New York, New Jersey and southern Connecticut region to invest in the transition to an equitable and ecologically sound regional food system that emphasizes local growing, processing and distribution.

Update: On Wednesday, October 30, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., CFF will join community leaders for a site visit to Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene to explore how community residents of all ages are discovering myriad ways to integrate healthy, fresh, local foods into their daily lives. The program will begin promptly at 2:00 p.m. at the Ingersoll Community Center and be guided by staff from the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project and community residents. It will involve walking the avenue, visiting a Farmer's Market and dynamic community gardens on NYCHA property, and hearing about nutrition education, cooking programs and better produce in local bodegas. The program will finish with a roundtable conversation over cookies and coffee as attendees learn from and engage with their hosts and community residents. To attend, please RSVP to CFF Co-Chair Ruth Goldman at rgoldman@merckff.org.  


Education Working Group

Partners: Philanthropy New York members; this group is led by two Philanthropy New York members: the Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Ford Foundation.

Background:  The Education Working Group grew out of policy discussions among a group of members with the State Education Department in late 2009. Since then, members have met several times with former State Education Commissioner David Steiner, current Commissioner John King and Merryl Tisch, Chancellor of the New York State Regents, as well as with Dennis Walcott, Chancellor of the City Department of Education, and key policymakers there.  The Working Group has co-sponsored a series of policy briefings about key issues in education reform, including teaching effectiveness, assessment and the Common Core Standards. While the briefings may have looked at different aspects of reform, each addressed the central question of how foundations could build the capacity of public schools across the state to serve all their students effectively.

Update: Our second Education Funders Research Initiative event on November 21, from 8:45 to 11:00 a.m., at the Ford Foundation, will examine the third EdFunders research paper and the “priorities for the next new administration” that flow out of it.

Our panel will include:

  • Introductory remarks by Merryl H. Tisch, Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents
  • David Steiner (Moderator), Dean of the Hunter College School of Education and Founding Director of the CUNY Institute for Education Policy
  • Ocynthia Williams, Parent Leader, Coalition for Educational Justice and Community Organizer, Highbridge Community Life Center
  • Two current or former superintendents who have successfully achieved system change
  • A speaker who can address potential systemic changes in New York City from a broad community perspective
  • High-level representation from the current leadership of the Department of Education


Funders of Women and Girls (FWG)

Partners: This professional peer network is led by a steering committee of six Philanthropy New York members (Fifth & Pacific Foundation, Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women, The Jewish Women's Foundation of New York, The New York Community Trust, The New York Women’s Foundation and the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation). The Network is committed to raising awareness of the status of women and girls in New York City and also to ensuring continuing investment in them.

Update: An upcoming PNY Members Briefing will explore the essential implications of the Affordable Care Act for women and the uninsured. Presenters will include Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President of Health Initiatives, Community Service Society of New York; Corinne Carey, Assistant Legislative Director, New York Civil Liberties Union; Lois Uttley, Co-Founder, Raising Women’s Voices and Director of MergerWatch; and moderator Laura Wolff, Acting Executive Director of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation.

Lois Uttley also wrote a recent Smart Assets blog post about the Ms. Foundation-sponsored initiative to inform women (especially low-income women and women of color) via social media about the new options for health care available to them through the ACA.


Health Policy Working Group

Partners: Philanthropy New York members; this group is led by the NYS Health Foundation and the United Hospital Fund of New York.

Update: The Health Policy Working Group program planning committee came together on October 9 and made considerable progress on planning three main programs to take place over the next six months. 

The first program will focus on providing funders updates on the progress of Health Exchange implementation in New York State. It will look at:

  • What do we know about the first two months of enrollment?
  • What populations are actually getting into the system?
  • What populations do we believe need more attention?
  • Is there a role for philanthropy to support such efforts?


This program will likely be scheduled for some time in mid-December.

The second program will focus on “Connecting Funders to Newly Appointed Health Leaders within the Mayoral Administration” and will be a joint program with the Fund for Public Health. We are expecting to hold this program sometime in March 2014.

The third program will focus on “Innovations in the Healthcare Delivery System: What Can Philanthropy Do to Speed Systems Improvements?”  That program will take place sometime in the late Spring.