The Philanthropy Roundtable's Character Initiative aims to help donors develop a framework for advancing character formation—across social class, ethnic group, and philosophical creed—through their giving, and to build a critical mass of philanthropists who will share ideas, best practices, and grant-making strategies in this field.
Through the Character Initiative, the Roundtable will release a publication this summer on the most successful character formation programs across culture, life stage, and service sector. Program director Anne Snyder will also host a private retreat for donors this fall.
The Philanthropy Roundtable's mental health initiative seeks to unleash the innovation possible in a free society, drawing on the unique resources of individuals, families, markets, and communities. Our aim is to identify opportunities for philanthropists to learn from each other and, in some cases, to develop joint funding strategies.
The initiative rose out of a concern that mental health philanthropy is fragmented siloed, and mental health itself is ill-defined. Mental wellness touches every aspect of American life—work, family, community and social life. Mental illness can be triggered by events as common as stress, physical illness, or loss, or as serious and injurious as abuse, trauma, or neglect. The Roundtable will draw on the latest research about the genetic and biologic underpinnings of mental illness, while recognizing choices to promote mental health occur every day and in every setting.
The initiative seeks to identify opportunities to empower individuals, families and communities to take ownership of mental wellness, which has been called "the new diet and exercise," and has a documented correlation with lifetime morbidity and mortality. The initiative also recognizes current legislative and reimbursement practices have hampered high quality mental health prevention and treatment programs from being widely accessible to the people who can benefit from them. These macro forces have also discouraged the most talented individuals from joining the mental health profession or getting the supervision they need to be most effective.
The initiative will draw on the wisdom of a diverse group of funders who have agreed to guide the project. TPR held a kickoff call this month for these working group members who include: The Achelis & Bodman Foundation, Adolescent Wellness, Anschutz Foundation, Apex Foundation, Cohen Veterans Network, The Duke Endowment, Fairbanks Foundation, and Meadows Foundation. The working group is also open to new members.
The group’s focus over the next six months will be on sharing knowledge and experiences. TPR will facilitate this process by developing a white paper profiling the strategies of admired funders and planning a small mental health conference directly following the annual meeting.
The themes that animate this project dovetail with broader trends in health care, including the movement of medicine from the hospital to the home, new possibilities for reimbursement for community-based prevention and wellness programs, and patient empowerment through new technologies and treatments. These developments provide significant opportunities for philanthropists to reinvent the American health care system into one that is more patient-centered, innovative, and cost effective.
The Roundtable is expanding programming around these broader themes, by introducing speakers on these health care topics at our October Annual Meeting.