Business

David Levin, President and CEO of McGraw-Hill Education, Joins Denver Frederick

The following is a conversation between David Levin, President and CEO of McGraw-Hill Education, and Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.

1448002996481Denver: When there is a discussion of how entire industries have been disrupted and radically altered, one that often doesn’t get included in that conversation is education. In fact, some fret that our classrooms and the way teaching and learning are conducted are quite similar to the way it was done 50, even 100 years ago. But in actuality, things are changing, and quite dramatically, and there is no one more on the cutting edge of that change and transformation than McGraw-Hill Education. And it is a great pleasure for me to welcome to the show their President and CEO, David Levin. Good evening, David, and thanks for coming in!

David: Denver, thank you very much.

Denver: You know there have been some significant changes in the ownership and management of McGraw-Hill over the last several years that everyone may not be familiar with. So let’s begin by having you tell us what they have been, and precisely who is McGraw-Hill Education.

David: So I think the story really begins just over three years ago. In 2012, the investors in what was McGraw-Hill, a very old, established company– a 128-year-old company– said that the education business was passé, and the board decided to sell it. It was considered, frankly, a bit of a basket case, and the company was put up to bid. A third-party bought it; an investor group bought it.  And that really provoked an opportunity to rebirth the whole company. So, we’re now a completely stand-alone, focused-only-on-education business, completely independent and separately-owned. Nothing to do with the other company, which is actually now called Standard & Poor’s. We’re just McGraw-Hill Education.

Denver: Very interesting. Well, tell us a little bit about that company, what you do, how it works, and the educational experience you’re trying to create for today’s student.

David: Well, as you’ve correctly said, the world of education has been… not quite in aspic… but very, very slow in evolving. And that’s not for lack of trying; it’s because it’s complex to change education. Parents themselves are not that keen necessarily for their children to have something radically different. So, there’s an innate sort of conservatism (with a small “c”) around how we do this. And, of course, you only get one shot at fifth grade, so having somebody gleefully tell you they’re about to experiment with your child is not going to promote a great teacher-parent dialogue.

Denver: Great point.

David: People want confidence as they go into this. We’ve embarked on this very much saying, “Look, we can see that there is a whole range of things which can come.” And in the last few years, we’ve put a lot of energy and effort into: How do we create a software that supports learners and educators?  And the educator’s bit is very important, and I know we’ll come back to that.

If we think about the way that people learn:  people learn by trying things, by experimenting with things, and by actually trying and failing. Much of the education system is unfortunately aligned so that people are too scared to fail.

But to an educator, the understanding of where somebody is struggling in a very specific way… not they’re struggling with this concept as a whole, but here’s the individual step in the maze where they keep stumbling… allows the teacher who’s great to intervene and make a difference.

Denver: What does this software do? One thing that I understand, David, is that it creates feedback. So how does that feedback work for the student?  And how does that feedback work for the teacher?

David: That’s the key point. If we think about the way that people learn: people learn by trying things, by experimenting with things, and by actually trying and failing. Much of the education system is unfortunately aligned so that people are too scared to fail. You only need to think about the big summative assessments, the end of period tests that people do. It’s victory or death.

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Henry DeSio, the Global Chair for Framework Change at Ashoka, Joins Denver Frederick

The following is a conversation between Henry DeSio, the Global Chair for Framework Change at Ashoka, and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City. This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.


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Denver: The presidential campaign trail–no matter what side of the aisle you may be on– can be a microcosm of changes that will eventually take hold in the broader society. For instance: rapid response to events–never letting a news cycle pass without responding to a charge– started with political campaigns, and is now embedded in the DNA of most every corporation and organization. My next guest served as the Chief Operating Officer of Obama for America in 2008, did a stint in the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President, and is now helping young people navigate the new strategic landscape driven by rapid change. He is Henry DeSio, the Global Chair for Framework Change at Ashoka. Good evening, Henry, and welcome to The Business of Giving!

Henry: Thank you, Denver. It’s a pleasure to be with you.

I see social entrepreneurs as everyday citizens who are essentially society’s corrective force. They’re the people who see the gaps in our communities and work to position their leadership, bring their talents, and bring others around those problems… or potential opportunities that can have such a great impact in the world. They are everyday citizens who apply their leadership and their talent to make the world a better place.

Denver: One of my very first interviews on The Business of Giving was with Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka. He is, to many, the father of social entrepreneurship. So, let’s start by having you tell our listeners about Ashoka and its work.

Henry: Ashoka is best known for defining and building the field of social entrepreneurship over the last 40 years. Some people don’t know what a social entrepreneur is, so I’ll just very quickly explain. I see social entrepreneurs as everyday citizens who are essentially society’s corrective force. They’re the people who see the gaps in our communities and work to position their leadership, bring their talents, and bring others around those problems… or potential opportunities that can have such a great impact in the world. They are everyday citizens who apply their leadership and their talent to make the world a better place.

Denver: Before we get to your current work at Ashoka, let’s start with your career in politics. You got the bug, Henry, for politics by watching the Watergate hearings. So tell us how you went from watching Sam Ervin and Howard Baker to becoming the Chief Operating Officer of the Obama for America presidential campaign.

Henry: Well, I grew up in a very rural part of California in the foothills of Sequoia National Park, so you had everything available to you – tennis, baseball, hiking, all kinds of different activities. But in the middle of the day—this is, I guess, 1974—I remember coming in from the hot sun to watch my first reality TV show, and it was the Watergate hearings. And in those days, and particularly where I lived, you had a small black-and-white TV, and the White House just seemed so far away.

And in that moment, I saw  a government and a leadership fail in action, but I also saw a good result for the country. We worked through this; we got through this challenge. But it was in that moment, two of my passions came together. One was leadership, which my dad I think drilled into me, and the other was politics– and later, the political campaign.

I think those two passions seemed to stay with me throughout my life. I was always interested in citizen candidates. I wanted to see everyday citizens break into politics, so I started working on helping everyday people get the skills to build that startup organization that could lead to real change… and could actually unseat the other person. Eventually, that flowed into politics on a national scale… and eventually to joining the Obama campaign

Self-definition: giving yourself permission to solve problems; pursue opportunities; go after the things you’re passionate about; and then delivering on those things — those are all things that are at work in our daily lives.

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Brad Smith, President and CEO of Foundation Center, Joins Denver Frederick

In this interview, Brad Smith, the President and CEO of Foundation Center, describes the next frontier of philanthropy: managing information, and producing and sharing knowledge.  The Foundation Center is a global data platform for philanthropy, equipping donors with the knowledge they need to be strategic in their giving & providing transparency to the philanthropic sector.

The following is a conversation between Bradford K. Smith, President and CEO of Foundation Center, and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City. This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

bradford-k-smith_personfullDenver: The rate of change is increasing in every field of endeavor, including philanthropy. And in order to be a true leader in the field, a person can’t be 100% consumed with just the well-being and state of their own organization; one also must leave some space and time to contemplate what all these changes mean for the entire sector. One individual that fits that description perfectly is my next guest… He is Bradford K. Smith, the President and CEO of the Foundation Center. Good evening, Brad, and welcome back to The Business of Giving.

Brad: It’s great to be back here.

Denver: For those listeners that are not familiar with the Foundation Center, tell us about the work that you do.

Brad: Great. I think the easiest way to understand us is:  what Bloomberg does for the financial markets, we do for philanthropy!  Basically, we publish data and information about the transaction of philanthropy. In other words, these endowed foundations that make grants to support organizations in the social sector to make the world a better place…We track all that information. We put it out there in an unbiased way so that you can search it; you can find it; you can understand who’s funding your cause, who’s not funding your cause, what foundations are doing, and what they’re not doing.

Denver: Let’s talk about foundations for a moment. When we look at philanthropy in the US, last year about $375 Billion was made in contributions. What percentage of that comes from foundations?

Brad: It’s roughly 16 – 17%,  and this is a common misunderstanding. A lot of people look at nonprofits in America, and they assume that their larger supporters are wealthy foundations and maybe individuals, but the largest source of income for American nonprofits in the aggregate is actually government. Foundation money is very important because it’s one of the few sources of income that nonprofits have that usually is not earmarked; it’s very flexible.

Denver: Well, let’s talk a little bit more about that. I think foundations are pretty abstract to most people. It’s kind of a big idea out there, and I think you have a wonderful way of explaining it by talking about the sources of influence that they hold.  There are three of them,  and let’s pick up on each.   I’m going to start with the one you just mentioned. The one that is obvious to everybody: money, but as you say it’s a very special kind of money, right?

Brad: Correct! Foundations have a really important role in American history and American society. Basically, our government has created a kind of social pact in which wealthy individuals are given a tax incentive for creating a charitable foundation. They make a donation of a portion of their assets to the foundation. They no longer control those assets. They can’t take them back for personal use. They get a tax exemption in exchange for creating a stream of charitable giving in the future. Now, there are a lot of ways to look at the size of the philanthropic sector in the US. There are a lot of foundations. I  know when the Foundation Center was created in 1956, there weren’t near as many. In fact, when the Foundation Center published the first print directory of American foundations, there were about 4,000 foundations. Today there are well over 80,000 foundations…about 87,000 to 88,000. And the assets they manage–their investments–surpassed $800 Billion. And it’s the earnings on those investments which are tax-free, that are used to actually fund grants and fulfill their charitable purpose.

Denver: Right. The second source of influence that foundations have is “convening power.”

Brad: Well, there are not a whole lot of people in this world whose job is to give away money. And people always were sort of perplexed about that. They said: “Gosh, how do you find the organizations to be worthy of getting the support of the foundation?” And I used to tell them: “Look, when you are in the business of giving away money, you don’t have to go looking for people; they find you.” So, one of the things that gives a foundation virtually a seat at any table is the fact that they’re giving away money.

And the other thing is, they’re giving away money which, unlike congressional money or city money, isn’t earmarked by elected officials for their pet causes. It’s very flexible, long-term, risk-taking money.  But this also gives them the ability to “convene.”  And we find that the foundations that are having the greatest impact on the issues that are working– whether it be criminal justice, or climate change, or job creation–are not just giving away grants in a retail kind of way. They’re actually creating tables to which policy makers, academics, activists, and others can come, and really think about what the long-term solutions are to these serious problems that our society and world face.

I think the next frontier for philanthropy is going to be managing information, and producing and sharing knowledge.

 

Denver: And it would seem in an era of collaboration, they do have that special role to be able to do that. They don’t have a dog in the fight; they’re neutral…

Brad: Correct.

Denver: They give money away, and they have an incredible ability to get everybody to come when they call a meeting.

Brad: Yeah. When I worked with the Ford Foundation, the two jokes they always tell you when you start to work there is that all your phone calls get returned. And immediately, it seems like all of your ideas are brilliant.

Denver: That’s right, and you also become a little funnier and better looking too.

Brad: That’s right, yes, of course. Two of the perks.

Denver: And finally, and this is so important:  the accumulated knowledge that foundations hold.  Speak to that.

Brad: I think this is really the frontier for foundations. Roughly, I think we can say that… and I know you’ve had a lot of speakers come on this program… foundations have moved from the notion of just giving away money… a charity approach… to what a lot people call social investment. The idea that even though you’re making a grant, you’re investing in a solution, and you’re expecting return in the form of impact.

But another way to look at foundations is–I gave a presentation on this recently–and I said: “When it comes to knowledge and information, foundations are like black holes, and they need to become supernovas.”

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Jacob Harold, President and CEO of GuideStar, Joins Denver Frederick

GuideStar is the largest platform of information about data for nonprofits.  In this segment, Jacob Harold, President and CEO of GuideStar, talks about how both individual donors and nonprofit executives leverage the data that GuideStar curates.  He also discusses the danger of “short-termism”– of thinking everything happens on a quarterly basis. He explains that if you’re trying to build a great company, it takes years or decades… and the same is true for social change.

The following is conversation between Jacob Harold, President and CEO of GuideStar, and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving, on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.


135d0bbDenver: It is a bit ironic that at a time when we have more information and data than at any other time in human history, our ability to predict the future and to make sound decisions has never been less. And one reason for that may be because not enough people are thinking about how to make this data accessible, meaningful, and truly useful. That is why the nonprofit sector is so fortunate to have someone like Jacob Harold, the President and CEO of GuideStar…who just happens to be with us now. Good evening, Jacob, and welcome to The Business of Giving.

Jacob: I’m thrilled to be here, Denver.

Denver: Some listeners may never have heard of GuideStar. For those who have, they may be thinking: “Oh, Yeah, Yeah. The 990 tax form people.” So, let’s start by having you tell us what GuideStar is, and what you do.

Jacob: You bet!  GuideStar is the largest platform of information about data for nonprofits. And let’s just start by saying:  Why do we even care about having data about nonprofits?  And for me, it’s to address what I call “the elephant in the philanthropic room,” which is simply that some nonprofits are better than others.  Some are able to squeeze more good out of the dollars that they spend. It’s not necessarily that those that are not as effective are bad people, but they haven’t figured out the most effective way to do good in the world.

So the challenge that donors face and that nonprofit executives face…and researchers and government officials… is trying to find excellence in the field, to learn from it… to make sure it gets the resources it needs. And so GuideStar’s mission is to help in that process: to provide the kind of information so that the “stakeholders of social change”–the people who have a stake in the work of the nonprofit sector–are able to make good decisions with their time, and with their money,  and with their attention, with their passion. So, we provide data. And historically that’s mostly been, as you said, from the IRS Form 990, the tax form that most nonprofits are required to file. But we realize that that’s a very powerful foundation of data, but none of us would tell our own story through our 1040. And  we need to supplement that with other kinds of information to tell a richer story about nonprofits. And so that’s what we’re really trying to do at GuideStar right now.  And we’re having some success; we have about 7 million people each year who use GuideStar.


I had a chance to work for a whole set of different environmental organizations: Green Corps, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network. And I got to know dozens of others. And it became very clear to me in my early 20s that some of these organizations were simply far more effective. And it led me to a question: ‘Well, okay, how are we going to tackle a great challenge like climate change if we’re not sending money to where it can be most effective?’


 

Denver: That’s right. And you really get into the inner workings of all this data and how the whole philanthropic system works. Where did that come from? What kind of background did you have that instilled this into your DNA?

Jacob: In some ways, it came from the dining room table at the house I grew up in. Both of my parents worked for small community-based nonprofits. My mom worked at an AIDS hospice. My dad worked for Catholic Social Services, providing services to the poorest of the poor in our community. And so over the dining room table, I would hear about the struggles faced by those people who are devoting their lives to try and make the world better.  And these were my parents!

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Rosanne Haggerty, President & CEO of Community Solutions, Joins Denver Frederick

In this segment, Rosanne Haggerty, President & CEO of Community Solutions, discusses her organization’s work towards a future without homelessness, in which poverty never follows families beyond a single generation.  Additionally, Rosanne debunks some myths surrounding homelessness— she explains that homelessness is not just a “big city problem”, and that it’s more cost-efficient to get people into a stable homes than to maintain their homelessness (i.e. via shelters).

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The following is a conversation between Rosanne Haggerty, the President and CEO of Community Solutions, and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City. It has been edited for clarity.

Denver: There are some social problems that, as unfortunate as they may be, just need to be accepted. They will always exist to one degree or another. And one of those problems most people have resigned themselves to is homelessness. No matter what we do, it will never be eliminated entirely. But my next guest is not most people. She is Rosanne Haggerty, the President and CEO of Community Solutions. Good evening, Rosanne, and welcome to The Business of Giving.

Rosanne: Thank you for having me here.

Denver: You have said that the world is full of complex social problems for which no reliable, cost-effective solutions have been found. Homelessness, however, is not one of them. Explain to us what you mean.

Rosanne: All over the country, we’re seeing communities make profound strides in reducing and ending homelessness for good, among people who are chronically homeless–meaning they’ve been homeless for long periods of time– and homeless veterans. We really misunderstood this issue. There is much to be excited about… in terms of what can be accomplished when cities organize their resources properly. That’s the big “Ah Ha!”

Denver: Tells us about Community Solutions. This is now the second organization that you have founded, albeit, related to the first one– which was Common Ground. What is the philosophy of Community Solutions? What are the goals and objectives of your organization?

Rosanne: We help communities solve the complex problems that affect their most vulnerable residents. And we do that by bringing tools from other sectors that have been effective in solving complex problems–from design thinking, quality improvement, data analytics. So, that’s our mission. We have redefined homelessness as a symptom of the larger problem–the breakdown of community systems.


I quickly saw the young people I was responsible for–their problems were not 30-day problems. They were permanent problems around housing, jobs, families that had fallen apart… The real complexity was not homelessness, but poverty… that had driven them into homelessness.


Denver: You started this work back in the early 1980s, and you were exceptionally idealistic back then. You were really hopeful that homelessness was a solvable problem. But what you witnessed was quite disheartening… and gave you a little less of an optimistic outlook. What did you see back then?

Rosanne: When I first moved to New York, homelessness was a newly-defined issue at the time,in the early 80s. I worked by day at a shelter for homeless and runaway young people, and overnight, once a week, volunteering at a church basement shelter for homeless women. And I think in my naïvete, I was of the belief: “We’ll be enough volunteers and shelters–we can nail this!”

Denver: We can lick this thing!

Rosanne: “It’s a new issue; it’s kind of happened on our watch.” And within a couple of months, in both places, I was just appreciating this huge disconnect. I think I had imagined that there was some larger plan, that if we got enough volunteers to staff the shelters, this was all going to work out. But at the Shelter for Runaway and Homeless Youth, the young people could stay for a maximum of 30 days. And I quickly saw the young people I was responsible for–their problems were not 30-day problems. They were permanent problems around housing, jobs, families that had fallen apart… The real complexity was not homelessness, but poverty… that had driven them into homelessness. And yet, we would discharge them after 30 days. No surprise! Most of them would be back 30 days later.

After a few months, I thought, “What exactly are we accomplishing here? This is certainly not something that’s solution-oriented.” And meanwhile, I’m working as a volunteer overnight with women who would be bused to the church basement shelter…They had been lining up for hours and travelling all over the city before being dropped off…They would just sort of stumble in, exhausted. I was able to sit down and speak with a few of them over tea. And it was clear that none of them had any idea how they were going to get out of homelessness. And no one was talking to them about how that could happen. What they knew and had been instructed on was: when and and where to catch the bus to get to that overnight shelter. And so there I was, as a 21-22-year-old, thinking: ”Wait a minute! Nobody’s in charge here! There are a lot of well-intentioned emergency efforts, a lot of people like me who are trying to pitch in, but this is not going anywhere.”

Denver: Well, I think you also witnessed that the resources were available and, just as you said, people had deeply heartfelt intentions. But, the system itself… was broken. How was the system broken?

Rosanne: I’ll start from the vantage point of 2016. Sometimes it takes a while to understand and really see what’s going on. The dots weren’t being connected. There were people who could not solve their housing needs in the marketplace–who needed something other than just affordable housing in many cases–in order to resolve the overriding problem that was making them vulnerable to homelessness. (more…)

Seeking “One Brave Idea” to End Heart Disease: Nancy Brown and The American Heart Association

Heart disease is the #1 killer in this country, but 80% of it is preventable, according to Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. In this segment from The Business of Giving, Ms. Brown spells out the different programs of AHA devised to reduce death from heart disease and to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans.

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Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of The American Heart Association

Heart disease is the #1 killer in this country, but 80% of it is preventable, according to Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. In this segment from The Business of Giving, Ms. Brown spells out the different programs of AHA devised to reduce death from heart disease and to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans.

She also discusses how mission-aligned businesses of AHA are generating 9-figure revenues for the organization, and how they and their partners are using crowdsourcing to find “One Brave Idea” to find a cure for coronary disease. Finally, she shares the keys to alignment, passion and camaraderie in a national charity.
The following is a conversation between Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City. It has been edited for clarity.

Denver: More than one in three American adults suffers from cardiovascular disease. To provide a little context: more women will die from heart disease this year than from all the cancers combined. So, Americans are fortunate that the person charged with leading the oldest and largest volunteer organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke, has created a culture of innovation. In so doing, she has forged some extraordinary partnerships and is increasing the amount of resources available to help better the lives of all Americans. That leader is Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of The American Heart Association, and it is my pleasure to welcome her to The Business of Giving. Good evening, Nancy, and thanks for being with us this evening.

Nancy: Good evening, Denver. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Denver: So, tell us about the American Heart Association, a little about your history, and more about the mission and objectives of the organization.

Nancy: Absolutely! I’d be delighted to. As you’ve mentioned, the American Heart Association is actually the world’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke. We’ve been in existence since 1924. At the foundation of the American Heart Association’s work is the scientific enterprise of the AHA–coupled with our grassroots presence in communities throughout America–and our presence in 70 international locations. In these,  we dedicate our resources to help make the world a better place for people, and to prevent heart disease and stroke. We are guided by the organization’s 2020 strategic impact goal: which is to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% by the year 2020, while reducing deaths from heart disease and stroke by 20% during that same timeframe. So this decade-long goal really is the goal that is the guidepost for the work of the organization.

Denver: Let me ask you a bit about heart attacks. I went around to a couple of my buddies this week, and I said, “Do you know what a heart attack is exactly? How does it differ from cardiac arrest?”  I have to tell you, Nancy, the answers were a little fuzzy; they were a bit uncertain. So give us an abbreviated heart disease 101 course if you would.

Nancy: Sure! I’d be pleased to. So, heart disease is, as you said, the country’s and the world’s number one killer. Heart disease is 80% preventable!  What happens when a person has a heart attack, is that the arteries or vessels leading to the heart muscle generally become blocked. They become blocked from atherosclerosis– which happens as we age, and also happens because of a hardening of arteries in individuals who have high blood pressure. When the arteries narrow, or when the arteries are blocked due to atherosclerosis, the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen, therein causing the heart, in some cases, to have a heart attack. There is another kind of heart attack called a  “sudden cardiac arrest,” which is actually not a heart attack at all.  That is a misnomer. A sudden cardiac arrest happens when the electrical functions of the heart malfunction, and a person’s heart suddenly stops.

Denver: Completely.

Nancy: And that person can be revived generally through CPR or through a defibrillator, if one is available, or if people are trained in CPR. We can come back and talk about the role the American Heart Association has played in that over time. The important thing– if you’re experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or symptoms of a stroke–is to call 911 and get emergency care immediately! (more…)

Kate Roberts of Maverick Collective and the Women-Centric Model of Philanthropy

“Money doesn’t solve problems. People do!” says Kate Roberts, co-founder of the Maverick Collective, an organization that aims to redefine what it means to be a philanthropist.

 

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Kate Roberts, Co-Founder of Maverick Collective

In this interview from The Business of Giving, Ms. Roberts explains how Maverick Collective members invest a minimum of $1 million over three years to pilot an innovative solution for girls and women in the developing world. The organization, co-chaired by Melinda Gates and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, is an initiative of Population Services International (PSI).

The following is a conversation between Kate Roberts, Co-Founder of The Maverick Collective and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving, on AM 970 The Answer in New York City. This interview has been slightly edited for clarity.

Denver: With the constant barrage of messages, tweets, ads, Facebook posts and the rest, it is extremely difficult for any new initiative to break through and capture people’s attention. But then along comes The Maverick Collective, which has quickly become a hot topic in the world of philanthropy….. and beyond. So it’s a great pleasure to have with us this evening its co-founder, Kate Roberts. Good evening, Kate, and welcome to The Business of Giving.

Kate: Good evening! It’s great to be here.

Denver: The Maverick Collective, which is still quite young, has really captured many people’s imagination. What is it?  And where did the spark of this idea come from?

Kate: The spark of it came from being so impressed with watching philanthropists, such as Melinda Gates, who serves as our co-chair. Coming to the realization that she’s leaving so many of her own resources on the table — and having the smarts, as well as money, to create social change. So, personally, I was really inspired by her journey and the great work that she was doing at the foundation. She then started to mobilize billions of dollars for the issue of family planning. So, that really led us to believe that there is an incredible platform for other like-minded, bold women who really do want to use their skills, their resources and their voice to create change…. rather than just writing a check. Go beyond the check…really get involved and amplify your impact as a philanthropist. And then, of course, the sustainable development goals were announced–very aggressive goals.

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Gordon Berlin And The Role of Research Evidence in Shaping Social Policy

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Gordon Berlin, President of MDRC

For organizations seeking government and philanthropic funding, reliable proof of progress is an increasingly important currency. “Programs that had good evidence would get the bulk of the money,” says Gordon Berlin, President of MDRC, a nonprofit research organization focusing on education and social policy. In this segment from the Business of Giving, Mr. Berlin discusses about the role of rigorous research evidence in informing how government and philanthropy invest in education and social programs.

The following is a conversation between Gordon Berlin, President of MDRC and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City. This interview has been edited for clarity. 

Denver: After this country’s “war on poverty” in the 1960s, there was a growing concern that the programs that were being funded were ineffective and selected simply because they sounded good. So, enter MDRC, an organization founded in 1974 to rigorously test and evaluate programs before they became public policy. And here to join us this evening is the President of MDRC, Gordon Berlin.

Good evening, Gordon, and welcome to The Business of Giving.

Gordon: Well, thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Denver: Notwithstanding that brief introduction, tell us in some detail what MDRC does. What are the mission and purpose of the organization?

Gordon: Sure, I’d be happy to. So, MDRC, as you said, was founded in the mid-1970s. Put yourself there;  Nixon was President.  There was broad disaffection with social programs. We’re beginning to wonder about the “war on poverty” and how effective it really was. And there was a growing sense that what we needed to do was to develop new ideas and test them more rigorously before we made them public policy. That was really the spirit with which MDRC was founded.


“You take a group of people that are eligible. You flip a coin essentially in a lottery-like process. Everybody who gets a “Heads” ends up in a program. Everybody who gets a “Tails” does not. You follow both groups over time, and the only thing that could explain any difference you find is that one group participated in the program.”


Denver: The gold standard of evaluation designs is the use of randomized control trials, a term which is almost synonymous with MDRC. What are randomized control trials? And why are they so useful in determining the effectiveness of a program?

Gordon: Well, one of the biggest problems in evaluating a program is trying to figure out what difference the program made… above and beyond what might have happened to anyone. So take a job training program. Let’s say the program has a 60% placement rate, and people stay on the job for 90 days at that 60% rate or so.

Well, in the middle of the great recession, what do you think of that rate? Is it a good rate or a bad rate? Now, go back to the roaring 1990s,  and ask yourself  the same question–when the unemployment rate nationally was only 4%. So, the idea here is that you need a counterfactual–a control group, a comparison. That is a group of people that are just like the people that you’re serving in this program– to tell you, over time, what would have happened. The problem in most studies– when they try to identify that group–is that there are a huge amount of statistical assumptions involved.  And there are always arguments about it.  

And the most elegant, simple, believable approach is random assignment. You take a group of people that are eligible. You flip a coin essentially in a lottery-like process. Everybody who gets a “Heads” ends up in a program.  Everybody who gets a “Tails” does not. You follow both groups over time, and the only thing that could explain any difference you find is that one group participated in the program.
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Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest and the Gender Investing Gap

Data shows that women investors actually have a better track record than men. So, why aren’t more women investing, and why aren’t they investing more?  In this segment, Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest discusses the gender investing gap.

 

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The following is the full transcript of the conversation between Sallie Krawcheck, Founder and CEO of Ellevest and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM970 The Answer in New York City. This interview has been edited for clarity.

Denver: We have all read and heard about the gender pay gap that still exists in America in 2016–with full-time female workers making only 79 cents for every dollar earned by a man. But how many of us are aware of the gender investing gap and the severe financial consequences that can accrue for women who are investing less than their male counterparts?   Not many of us! And that is why it is such a pleasure to have with us this evening the founder and CEO of Ellevest, Sallie Krawcheck. She will explain why that gap exists and what she is doing to address it. Good evening, Sallie.  And welcome to The Business of Giving.

Sallie: Hi, Denver. It’s great to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Denver: Let’s start with this gender investing gap. Data shows that women investors actually have a better track record than men. So, why aren’t more women investing, and why aren’t they investing more?

Sallie: Well, women tend to have a better track record in investing– when they invest– than men do, because they tend to take a longer-term perspective. They tend to trade less. They tend to shift in and out of stocks or mutual funds less often. Here are some other facts:  Women, girls and young ladies tend to be as good or better at math than boys, but you didn’t think that either…

Denver: I’ve seen the studies. It’s amazing!

Sallie: It is really interesting. I would say one of the reasons that women don’t invest to the same extent that men do, is because we still think of it in some ways as a male pursuit. We still have some of the 1957 Ozzie and Harriet — that this is the man’s way. Some of it is –Math — we’ve been told as women and girls that it is hard stuff. But some of it, Denver, comes from the industry itself–Wall Street and the investing industry. Think about it for a second. Turn on CNBC. Turn on Bloomberg. I love those channels. They are talking about beating the market, outperforming the market, picking the winner. Your adrenaline starts to go when the market opens in the morning. It’s like sports programming. So let’s think for a second–war analogies, sports analogies, sports programming. One more: the symbol of the industry is a–?

Denver: Bull…

Sallie: Bull…

Denver: Yeah! [laughter]

Sallie: The industry financial advisers, on average about 85% male, tends to be a more mature financial adviser — so I think in their 50s, really. For so many companies, in their 60s. In fact, there is one company that was telling me they had more financial advisers over the age of 80 than under the age of 30.

Denver: Wow.

Sallie: So it’s an older gentleman’s pursuit, and not too surprisingly, the client base tends to reflect the complexion of the advisers. So it’s guys doing business with guys.

Denver: Now that’s all very fascinating. I don’t think people fully appreciate the profound impact that language can have on our psyche…

Sallie: And symbols, right?

Denver: And symbols. You’re absolutely right! Do Wall Street brokers treat their female clients differently than their male clients?

Sallie: Great question! I’ve spent a lot of time on this. I’ve had the privilege of running Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. I was the CEO of Smith Barney, so I’ve been in this industry for years and years, and there are so many great advisers out there. And there are so many that do a terrific job for women. Not enough though. So typically, when you ask a financial adviser sitting with a couple:  Do you treat the man and woman differently? They say, “No!” (more…)

Cecilia Conrad, Managing Director of the MacArthur Foundation, Joins Denver Frederick

With all the discussion in philanthropy about “Big Bets” for social change, the biggest “Big Bet” of them all just may be the initiative of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. This competition, announced in June, will award a single $100 million grant to a nonprofit or for-profit entity that comes up with the best proposal and plan to solve one of the world’s biggest problems.

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Cecilia Conrad, Managing Director of the MacArthur Foundation

This interview has been edited for clarity.

In this transcript  from The Business of Giving, Dr. Cecelia Conrad, Managing Director of The MacArthur Foundation, traces the history of this idea and outlines the process for the competition. She also offers us a behind-the-scenes look at the MacArthur Fellows Program and shares her mixed feelings about it being dubbed the “Genius Grants.”

 

Denver: There is a foundation out in Chicago that shook up the world of philanthropy and beyond by announcing recently that they would award a single $100 million grant to a nonprofit or for profit entity that could come up with a proposal and plan to solve one of the world’s biggest problems. That foundation, also known for a program that has been coined by the media as the”genius grants,” is the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. And with us this evening is their Managing Director, Dr. Cecilia Conrad. Good evening, Cecilia, and welcome to the Business of Giving.

Cecilia: Good evening, and thank you for including me.

Denver: Before we delve into the two programs I just mentioned, tell us who were John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur. How did they make their money? And tell us a little bit about the history of the foundation.

Cecilia: Well, the MacArthurs made their money in real estate and in insurance. Actually, they did quite a bit of work in Florida real estate. When they passed away, they decided to set aside their estate as the MacArthur Foundation. And what’s unusual about them is that they did not give specific directions about how the money should be spent or on what issues. They basically said, “Here’s our gift. Go and make the world a better place.”

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