Grantor: The William H. Donner Foundation, New York, New York
Grantee: The Center for Private Conservation
For the past two decades, most of the planet-saving ideas proffered by the environmental movement have focused on harnessing the spending and regulating power of government. The Center for Private Conservation (CPC), a project of the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute, offers a decidedly different approach. Instead of unleashing the power of government, the CPC concentrates on unlocking the potential of private enterprise to conserve habitat and protect wildlife.
Competitive Enterprise Institute Director of Environmental Studies Jonathan Adler describes the CPC’s effort as two-pronged. The first involves researching and documenting successful private efforts to conserve resources and ecologically sensitive lands, and to determine how various institutions, both public and private, stand in the way of these efforts. To that end, the CPC is compiling a growing library of case studies. A recently published study, for example, details how fishermen in Alabama and Florida have simultaneously improved ocean habitat and increased their catches by creating artificial reefs.
The second prong of CPC’s eco-privatization plan involves facilitating solutions to environmental problems. Once armed with documentation and case studies, the CPC concentrates its efforts on bringing these private solutions to the individuals and organizations in the field. In an effort to create habitat for the dwindling numbers of the Karner Blue Butterfly, for example, the CPC recently approached New England Power about planting lupine—the sole food source for these butterflies—along its powerlines in New England.
And as the CPC strives to find new, private solutions to environmental problems, it is also taking a second look at some older nongovernmental environmental strategies. Later this year, according to Adler, the CPC will host a symposium to debate the pros and cons of land trusts (private groups that purchase land and set it aside from development) and their relationship with government agencies.
Grantor: The Wyoming Community Foundation, Laramie, Wyoming
Grantee: The Students of Bar Nunn Elementary School
Numbering 214, the students of Bar Nunn Elementary School constitute over one-fourth of the population of Bar Nunn, a small town in central Wyoming. Their numbers are not their only strength, however. This year, for the third year running, the students of Bar Nunn have won a $500 matching grant from the Wyoming Community Foundation to engage in fundraising and grantmaking as part of citizenship training.
The Wyoming Community Foundation began its Young Philanthropists Initiative three years ago to “instill the spirit of giving as part of being a responsible citizen,” according to John Freeman, president of the foundation. But giving is just the half of it. To win the grant, the students of Bar Nunn had to first raise $500 on their own. They did so by selling T-shirts, recycling aluminum cans, and holding a school carnival.
With the resulting $1,000, the students made grants of $250 to the Central Wyoming Hospice Program, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Holy Cross Center (“because you help people that are down on their luck,” they wrote in their grant transmittal letter), and the Casper, Wyoming Humane Society (“We like that your organization has a ‘No Kill’ policy”).
According to Paula Knudson, the 2nd and 3rd grade teacher at Bar Nunn and advisor to the young philanthropists, the students themselves have planned and executed their fundraising and grantmaking activities. Many of them, she points out, are low income themselves. “But they don’t see themselves as being needy at all,” says Knudson of her students. “They think the real need lies elsewhere, with the people they are trying to help.”
From a single school in Cheyenne Wyoming, the Young Philanthropists Initiative has spread to eight elementary and secondary schools for the Performing Arts has contributed cast members to Broadway plays and sent young pianists to national competitions. The Harbor Academy environmental studies project is a model for the nation.
In all, the Harbor offers 26 different programs that focus on the intellectual, physical and emotional development of young people ranging from age six months to 21 years. For children and adolescents, there are pre-school, daycare and after-school activities. For older kids, the Harbor offers a series of college preparatory programs with a record of success. The Upward Bound program sends an average of 85 percent of its senior class to college each year, and over 250 Harbor Talent Search graduates go on to college annually. Today, 43,000 men and women, many who have entered key posts in business, government and education, count themselves as graduates of the Harbor for Girls and Boys.
Grantor: Lilly Endowment, Indianapolis, Indiana
Amount: $5 Million
Religion is one of the most under-reported news beats in journalism today. Even on public television, religion—particularly as it informs politics and culture—is a neglected area. This two-part, $5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to Channel 13/WNET in New York is designed to change that. It will be used to produce a first-of-its-kind weekly news program on religion and ethics. The program, called “Religion Newsweekly,” is expected to debut in September on PBS.
The purpose of “Religion Newsweekly,” according to Endowment Vice President for Religion Craig Dykstra, is to bring out the religious and ethical dimension of news and current events—to be a kind of a “Washington Week in Review” that focuses on faith. “If you look at the Friday night line up on PBS you see all kinds of programming devoted to the important aspects of life—politics, finance—but not religion,” says Dykstra.
The show will be hosted by veteran NBC correspondent Bob Abernethy and will be produced by Emmy Award-winning producer Chris Koch and former network news producer Gerald Solomon. It will feature live and taped reports filed by a team of correspondents, as well as interviews with prominent newsmakers. In addition, the show will include reviews of religion-related popular culture and profiles of individuals “doing extraordinary things with their lives because of their beliefs.”
The grant, which will be used to produce 39 half-hour programs for the first season of “Religion Newsweekly,” is one of the largest amounts ever awarded to a single project by the Endowment religion program.