|April 16, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Health, Philanthropy, Research|
This week is National Volunteer Week, a program that began in 1974 by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. In 2013, 62.6 million volunteers averaged 32 hours of service each in the United States, with fundraising (25 percent) and the collection/distribution of food (24 percent) ranking as the most popular volunteer activities.
Besides benefiting the organizations and communities receiving these free services – that range from general labor, to tutoring and mentoring youth – volunteerism brings positive outcomes to those who serve. Research from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) indicated a link between volunteering and securing employment, finding that unemployed volunteers were 27 percent more likely to find work than their peers who do not volunteer. A study by UnitedHealth Group and Optum Institute found that participants who volunteered in the last year reported better moods, better health and lower stress levels.
Pennsylvania ranks 26th among the 50 states and Washington, DC with nearly 27 percent of residents volunteering in 2013 – providing over $7.5 billion in service. Just under 70 percent of residents are involved in “informal volunteering,” such as doing errands for neighbors or watching children for a friend. In Pittsburgh during the same time period, 27.7 percent of residents volunteered, putting Pittsburgh in the top half (19th) of the largest 51 Metropolitan Statistical Areas.
Haven’t been able to volunteer this week but looking for an opportunity to get involved? Check out these links to review the volunteer needs at The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, The United Way of Allegheny County, The Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, and Catholic Charities. A few months ago, Kidsburgh posted an article on places to volunteer as a family. It can be as easy as calling a favorite nonprofit or your local civic organization and asking if they need any help with spring cleanup or an upcoming event. Volunteering is GOOD for you!
|April 2, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Education, Management, News, Research|
With budget season looming, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is keeping an eye on the happenings in Harrisburg. They recently commented on the education funding in Governor Wolf’s proposed 2015-16 budget and in February released a brief detailing the state of school readiness among the Commonwealth’s youngest residents. According to their analysis, less than 19 percent of 3- and 4-years-olds have access to quality, public pre-K programs, and 7.5 percent of youth up to age four have high-quality child care. The data briefs on school readiness factors for Allegheny County (and all counties) are also available on the PPC website.
The Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University formed the 74% Project to explore the lives of women leaders in the nonprofit sector. Wage inequality in nonprofits throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania is their current research focus – one that resulted in some interesting data on the salary disparities of male and female executive directors. Their debut fundraiser, “The Great Debate” will be held on Equal Pay Day April 14, 2015 from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the Twentieth Century Club in Oakland.
On the other side of the state, nonprofit leaders are, by their own reports, stressed out. A survey conducted by the Nonprofit Center at La Salle University’s School of Business found that half a decade after the official end of the Great Recession, 51 percent of Philadelphia nonprofits are still struggling to bounce back, with little or no economic recovery reported. Of those leaders who reported some recovery, the majority (75 percent) attribute it to individual giving. Long term financial stability and finding the budget to hire additional staff (to meet in the increase for services since the late 2000’s) were the top concerns among nonprofit executives. Exhausted and stressed were the top responses (tied at 22 percent) describing how the respondents felt as leaders, but 19 percent reported feeling optimistic. The complete report is available at the Center’s website.
Pennsylvania Senate Bill 4 continues to be debated in both the press and the Legislature. The bill would grant power to legislators to determine what charities are eligible for tax exemptions through an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution. Rich Lord and Chris Potter of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette look at the impact of this change and why many nonprofits back the amendment in their article Pennsylvania bill debates definition of taxable charities.
|March 23, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Education, Interview Series|
Zack Block, a life-long Pittsburgher, is the Director of Repair the World: Pittsburgh, a nonprofit that offers volunteer opportunities tailored to meet local needs. Zack is also Board Chair of the Hillel Jewish University Center, and sits on the advisory committee of the Neighborhood Learning Alliance and the board of The Documentary Works.
First job out of college?
My first job out of college was working for what was Mellon Financial which is now the Bank of New York Mellon. I was a Portfolio Administrator, which means that I assisted people who managed high net worth individuals’ money.
How were you drawn to nonprofit work?
I was a tax attorney for more than 8 years and in reality it was a combination of opportunity and inertia that led me to that role and kept me there. For a long time though I wasn’t happy and I looked at a few things that made me happy while trying to determine what to do next. The first was my family, which I love and they are so supportive of me. The second was my volunteering. I spent a lot of time volunteering in the community and it was incredibly fulfilling work. Those two things are what really drove me to look for work in the nonprofit world.
First thing you do each day?
I am lucky enough to help get my kids ready for school and have breakfast with them. In my old work that wasn’t the norm. After I usually take one of them to school and my wife takes the other one then I head to our workshop. I open up the space and make coffee and heat up water for tea for the fellows when we all get together to meet in the mornings at 9a.m. and really get started on the cohort’s day.
What keeps you motivated?
What really keeps me going is that I believe in the work that we’re doing. We work in both education and food justice and in bringing the Jewish community to this work. We believe that change can occur from either a top down or a bottom up perspective and the work that we do is much more geared to the bottom up perspective. So, for example, our fellows mentor in after school programs and then recruit others to mentor in these after school programs as well. This idea of building a partner’s capacity so that it can carry out its missions more efficiently and effectively also really keeps me going.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Collaboration is the key to success. I don’t remember who shared that with me but I truly believe in collaboration. If you partner and collaborate with good people who are doing good things then only more good can come from it.
What are you reading?
I’m currently reading Robert Putnam’s latest book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. I’m reading it with my Repair the World counterparts in Philadelphia and Detroit. The book examines the growing inequality gap in the U.S.
What is one goal that you hope to accomplish in 2015?
I really want to work to start the process aimed at making Repair the World a sustainable program in Pittsburgh.
Best thing about the nonprofit sector in Pittsburgh?
It’s such a collaborative atmosphere. I love collaboration and working with and meeting so many people and individuals who are interested in what we’re doing and how we can and do work together. It’s amazing!
What does Repair the World have coming up this spring?
We have a litter program called Pitch In to Pitch In that we’re kicking off on Friday, March 27 with a dinner. We still have spots open for volunteers on Sunday, March 28.
|March 19, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Health, Research, Uncategorized|
Although the United States leads the world in obesity rates (don’t worry, the world is catching up) a recent study indicates that the majority of Americans do care about their health and put effort into improving or maintaining it. Data from a NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health survey conducted last fall indicate that just over 60 percent of those polled were concerned with their health and 74 percent reported exercising or participating in vigorous activity at least a few times a week (29 percent reported exercising every day). However, just 16 percent were currently dieting to lose weight.
Also from the March 2015 brief What Shapes Health, approximately 50 percent of Americans feel they have control over their own health, but proportions vary by demographic characteristics. For example, respondents who made more than $50,000 a year were twice as likely to feel that they had control over their health than their peers earning less (28 percent compared to 13 percent). Far more respondents with a college degree (27 percent) reported having control over their health compared to those with a high school diploma or less (15 percent). Also, respondents in fair or poor health, or from a household making less than $25,000 a year, had the most concern for their own future health.
Respondents did not identify a single cause of American health problems, rather the responses clustered at the top included a lack of access to high quality care (42 percent), personal behavior (40 percent), and virus/bacteria (40 percent). The most popular responses regarding what could be done to improve health were also varied – increasing access to affordable, healthy food (57 percent), reducing illegal drug use (54 percent), reducing pollution and increasing access to high quality health care (both at 52 percent).