How I Made This: Bisa Butler’s Quilt Portraits Honor the Black Experience

Bisa Butler creates vibrant, life-size quilt portraits of Black Americans. The unique process by which she translates photographs into luminous, pieced-cloth images is a synthesis of her formal artistic studies and family traditions. Trained as a painter, Butler later earned a master’s degree in art education. She taught high school art classes for years, making clothes and quilts in her free time. Her many influences include her mother and grandmother, who were sewers; members of the AfriCOBRA...

To Protect a Critical Forest in Appalachia, a Foundation Goes Beyond Grantmaking — Inside Philanthropy

While the coal industry continues to decline, the communities and lands of Appalachia are in transition. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and its funders are playing a significant role in reimagining coal country. In the spring and summer of 2019, TNC acquired 253,000 acres of land in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, which it will place under sustainable forestry management as the Cumberland Forest Project. A $20 million loan in the form of a program-related investment (PRI) from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) played a big role in this land purchase.

We Are Unstoppable: How Female Philanthropists are Turning Giving Circles into a Movement

Giving circles bring people together to practice collective philanthropy. In the same spirit, representatives of giving circles and giving circle networks across the U.S. are now convening to build power. And this past April—when 82 members of dozens of giving circles in the U.S. met for two days in Seattle, Washington, to share stories, hopes and plans for building a stronger giving circle movement—women were leading the conversation.

Why Men Got Picked Over Women in a Blind Review of Science Grants

A recent study of a science grant application process at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found male applicants received higher scores than women, even in a blind review. At the foundation’s request, a team from the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research analyzed this imbalance and reported that factors like scientific discipline and position, publication record, and grant history were not factors — the main difference was in the language used in proposal titles and descriptions.

New Funding and New Alliances Fuel a Stepped Up Legal Push for Racial Justice

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) plays a key role in the ongoing civil rights movement, describing itself as “America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice.” The rise in hate groups and white supremacist terrorist attacks, the persistent racial wealth gap, and ongoing police abuses of people of color are just a few examples of contemporary racial injustice, which also endures in areas like housing, voting rights and education. LDF’s efforts ...

Why Does Hamilton’s Producer Want to Clone Giant Trees? (PDF in new tab)

Trees absorb and hold carbon, a trait increasingly recognized as vital in the era of global warming. Of course, they also release oxygen, clean air and water, lower temperatures, reduce erosion and provide habitats, food and medicines, among other helpful traits. But only a small percentage of the oldest and most powerful trees on Earth remain standing. A Broadway couple that recently took up the cause of forests...

When Black Women Direct: Queen Latifah Gets Women of Color Behind the Camera

Minority directors are underrepresented in film at a degree of three to one, while women are underrepresented at a rate of seven to one, according to UCLA’s 2018 Hollywood Diversity Report. There is clearly room for progress here in terms of equality, especially for women who are black or of another minority identity. Rapper, singer, actress, label president, author, real estate developer and entrepreneur Queen Latifah is out to shift the scales...

A Top New England Education Funder Places Racial Equity Front and Center

As questions of power, privilege and race continue to surface in the U.S., more grantmakers are coming to see racial equity as central to their mission. This is certainly true in the realm of education funding. The biennial U.S. Education Department Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) consistently reveals gaps between black and white students in regard to discipline, AP classes, assignment to special education or gifted and talented programs, and grade-level retention. A 2019 report from Grantm

How I Made This: Marie Watt and Cannupa Hanska Luger’s Crowdsourced She Wolf

Each/Other (2020–2021), a large, multicolored fabric sculpture of a she-wolf, is the first collaborative work by Cannupa Hanska Luger and Marie Watt. The pair invited members of the public to embroider messages onto bandanas and mail them to the artists, who hand-sewed them onto a canvas-covered metal wolf form. For these Indigenous creators, the crowdsourced she-wolf represents kinship among people and between species as well as a protective, maternal shelter.

How Should Virginia Spend Its Cannabis Profits? — The Outlaw Report

Virginia’s plan for adult recreational cannabis use was approved in February, with a major bill review scheduled for 2022 and legalization set for 2024. When it comes to the use of cannabis taxes, the pro-legalization community is split. Governor Ralph Northam, the mayor of Richmond Levar Stoney, and some other Democrats support using the largest portion of taxes for targeted PreK programs...

A Tree Grows in Richmond: Southside Moves from Redlining to Greening

At the peak of a Virginia summer, the difference between the sun and shade is stark. High urban temperatures can be dangerous in the capital city of Richmond. Trees can provide substantial cooling, pull pollution from air and water, and beautify neighborhoods. But in Richmond and other U.S. cities, the racist housing policy of redlining has resulted in less tree canopy for many neighborhoods with predominantly Black residents, making them now hotter in the summer.

“It’s Time for an Intervention.” Edgar Villanueva Has a Message for Philanthropy

We give money its power and create the worldview it functions within, so we also have the power to use it more equitably—as a kind of cultural medicine. That’s the central message in a new book by Edgar Villanueva ... Villanueva considers money to be a type of medicine, referencing an Indigenous view that anything can be medicine, like a place, object, event -- or even a book.
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