Foundations must change

By Todd Cohen

We live in a damaged and divided world, and philanthropy can help heal and repair it.

As a new report by MDC Inc. shows, for example, robust economic growth in the South has left the poor behind, weakening the region’s global competitiveness.

Philanthropy in the region also has grown but it, too, has bypassed poor communities, and has focused on relieving immediate needs, not on tackling the causes of urgent social problems.

MDC urges foundations to be more strategic, investing in change and working more closely with one another and with government and business to take on the critical problems of poverty, failing schools, poor health and workers poorly prepared for jobs.

Philanthropy, MDC says, can act as the South’s “passing gear,” spurring innovation, collaboration and policy change that will make the region more equitable and competitive.

The gaps between rich and poor are not limited to the South: Social and economic progress throughout the U.S. and abroad depends on creating opportunities that make good schools, good jobs and good health care accessible to everyone.

Foundations can play the catalytic role in the collaborative effort needed to bridge those gaps.

First, though, foundations must change themselves.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher Philanthropy Journal

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