Reaching Out Through and To the Arts

When one considers the term, “community service,” food collections, fundraisers, and rebuilding houses are charitable activities that often come to mind. These stereotypes are not incorrect; much of what many non-profit or charitable organizations strive for is to make sure that all humans have the “essentials” to survive. However, we often overlook one of the most basic and inalienable rights of humans: creation. Creation should never be a privilege, yet it is an absolute right and an absolute need. While the mediums of art and creation may vary, we must survive through perfecting our own “art”. While one may have to sift through various files, online searches, contacts, and references, there are indeed non-profit organizations in existence whose goals are to educate, liberate, and inspire through art. These organizations give their participants the opportunities to learn and grow as artists. They also give them a “safe space” and a warm artistic playground to discover themselves and learn to safely observe, appreciate, and embrace the world around them. These organizations prove that art is a viable method of outreach, and that this method is essential to continue to increase the quality of life for people young and old alike. 

In recent years, arts programs are being underfunded or not funded at all at public schools. This is detrimental to both the future of the children that do not experience arts education, and the future world as a whole. In my paper, I want to examine the effects of a lack of art education, what organizations are doing now to improve or reinstate art programs, and/or how art can be used to reach out to the underserved. What is the effect that art has on those that cannot speak for themselves because of their financial situation, race, gender, or (dis)ability? 

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4/7/14 Response

After reading chapters 12 and 13 in Salamon and the SSI review article, I find myself questioning the success of nonprofits. It seems that, today, many nonprofits are finding a lack of success due to government control or the lack of need. I find it to be the opposite. Today, there seem to be more nonprofit organizations than ever, and many successful ones. There is always and will always be a need for nonprofits, at least until the government suddenly takes on any and all issues and is able to resolve them itself (yeah, right). However, the main principle I found most interesting was the idea that nonprofits are only successful if they all members have a common goal instead of separate, individual goals. This is both true and untrue. It is good and beneficial to have individual goals, because if they are related to the issue at hand, these goals and intentions may be brought up at different times. However, individual goals may distract from the common or main goal, and prevent the organization from having success. There needs to be an attainable goal set in an attainable time, and with an attainable amount of support. The support needs to come from anyone and everyone, and these nonprofits need to be able to appeal to the general public. In the SSI article, the authors discuss how certain nonprofits “develope shared performance indicators, discuss their progress, and most important, learn from each other and align their efforts to support each other.” The key to a successful organization is a devoted and successful group of people to support and run it. Without this, the organization can not maintain itself or stay afloat, or support anyone for that matter. 

3/31 Warren Buffet & Co.

Warren Buffet has done well on his commitment to donating his fortune to charities, some of which are the organizations he founded for his children to run. The articles read are particularly interesting because each makes an argument of what philanthropy is and means to the individual and to the world, The most interesting argument on philanthropy is the one constructed by Peter Buffett. Mr. Buffett calls philanthropy a “crisis of imagination,” and he is not wrong. I also agree that it is a “perpetual poverty machine.” While philanthropy should not come to an end, there is no doubt that the “system” could use some help. The word “philanthropy” is often associated with celebrities and those of high social status and wealth. It is not impossible for someone of middle or low class to afford to be “charitable,” but it is obviously much easier for someone with so much to give back a little. However, it is not uncommon to hear of celebrities or people of wealth using their wealth to do philanthropic things, but whether it is for good and for status it can sometimes be hard to tell. Mr. Buffett also makes the point that at philanthropic events and meetings, there are often people sitting in the room who are helping while others in the room are assisting in creating other problems. The goal of philanthropy and charitable work should not be to place a bandage on the problem, but to find the source of the problem and eliminate it so the wound can properly heal instead of covering it up in the meantime. Philanthropy has grown relative to business and government, despite Phil Buchanan’s disagreements. While there is still good being done, as anything involving money, the business of philanthropy has become a way for people to claim and flaunt status and also created opportunity for business outside of the organization(s). 

Funding Draft

The VH1 Save The Music Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to restore music education programs in public schools and promote the positive impact music education has on students. The initiative donates $30,000 worth of musical instruments and equipment per recipient to schools across the country each year. Potential recipients must apply through the website, and then are invited to submit another application to be viewed by the board and partner organizations. Because the organization is a foundation itself, they are the ones actually donating the equipment. However, in order to raise their funds, they receive monetary funding from a number of sources, the first being the parent network, VH1. Secondly, private donations are given by private donors (individuals) and partner organizations. These partner organizations also serve on the foundation’s board, and assist the foundation in making final decisions as to where donations and funding should go. The school’s must agree to hire a certified professional in the music field as a teacher and must agree to continue funding the program for years to come. Additionally, organizations, companies, and individuals can choose to sponsor a program, through social media exposure and other means. Organizations can “align ‘their’ brand with an internationally known and respected pro-social cause through turnkey music-based fundraising programs that help to improve public school music education opportunities for children across the country.” Sponsors may also choose to sponsor a special Piano Grant as part of a national KEYS+KIDS pilot community impact program.

Ross & Thomas Chapter 5

As Ross and Thomas describe, when choosing to work with a nonprofit organization it is extremely important to read and analyze the organization’s mission statement. The authors describe how to analyze one and I find that their methods are much like my own. When I research an organization, the first thing I look at is their mission statement. I make sure that the statement includes words or synonyms of words that I hold as values or as important in some way. I usually avoid politically affiliated organizations, however I am willing to work with government agencies. While mission statements are important and crucial to the introduction of an organization, I find that I cannot merely look at a mission statement or two when deciding who to work with. I usually navigate the website and try to find a current or former volunteer or employee that is willing to share their experience with me and to hear about their own values. I tend to navigate towards organizations and companies that employ people with similar tastes and personalities to my own. 

When working as an employee or volunteer of any type of organization, I know that I work best with a mentor or employer that has similar goals and interests. I enjoy working with those that can teach me something and those that I can also teach, so I try to gain a mutual empathy with my employer or mentor. I also try to connect to my fellow volunteers and employees, and especially the community that I am serving. These are all suggestions of Ross and Thomas that are important for anyone, volunteer or employee.

“Welcome Judy Grey” Assignment

After exploring the three websites for SURDNA, the Community Foundation of New Jersey, and the Geraldine R. Dodge foundation, we can come to the conclusion that the three offer grants and support to nonprofit organizations as each of their mission is to create a more sustainable world. This includes a more sustainable nonprofit sector.

The Geraldine R. Dodge foundation, for example, is particularly passionate about funding innovative Arts, Education, Environment, and Media initiatives. The GRD foundation is New Jersey based and meant for NJ organizations, and is very local to our community partners. This would be a great place to start looking for grants as the organizations may directly affect the area of the GRD foundation.

CFNJ would be attractive to our partners because as small, New Jersey based nonprofit organizations, it may be more difficult to receive funding from national organizations, whereas CFNJ is meant for organizations found in New Jersey. This “home base” of sorts may be a good place to start looking for grants, or looking for other local organizations that offer grants.

The Surdna Foundation is a large foundation based in New York, close to home but possibly too large for a fledgling organization. The website mentions that they sponsor organizations in larger cities, and small organizations in small towns may have a chance for a grant (and possibly a large one), but competing with larger organizations may provide a problem.

Each of these organizations have their pros and cons, but our partners may find more difficulty with a larger one. There’s no harm in trying for a grant, but there may be more hoops to jump through and different processes for each. Each foundation is looking to fund sustainable organizations, environmentally friendly organizations, and arts/media related organizations, so all of our community partners would do well partnering with any of these foundations.

Salamon & Drew

Drew University’s mission statement claims that it is devoted to its students, and that it is determined to foster the best liberal and social education it can for its small body of students. Salamon’s chapter on education states that, due to the economic downturn of 2008 and beyond, small, private liberal arts colleges in particular are taking a hit financially. While Drew has met its standard for students, Drew has downsized over recent years. The school has become less selective academically, but students here are aware that there are less than the standard quota of students on campus during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years. Students and their families have taken a hit financially and can no longer afford a $60,000 per academic year education, and Drew wants to make its education as financially available to potential students as possible. However, with tuition climbing each and every year and financial aid being given to less people less often, it has become nearly impossible for most to attend without taking out hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans or by, unfortunately, transferring after their first year.

Drew’s strategic plan also claims that it wants to make its students as financially able as possible to attend the student-driven university, and to improve our institutional and financial sustainability. We are failing. What may seem glaringly obvious to any Drew professor or student is that the largest issue students face is a financial one. As previously stated, practically no one can afford Drew without taking out loans or transferring at some point or another. Unfortunately, students are often led into Drew with a great financial package: merit scholarships, civic engagement scholarships, and a “fabulous” grant offer. While some students do not qualify for aid from the FAFSA, they may receive a grant from the university. Often this grant is not offered again the next academic year, and so these students suddenly need to come up with $10,000 to come back. Not only do students face the stress of fighting their way through their piles of work, but fighting to keep afloat because they are drowning in a pool of financial misery. Faculty and staff are often not paid much at all (despite their Ivy League alma mater and various doctoral degrees), and it makes students wonder where their money has gone and/or where it is going to. Oftentimes (and currently) the board of trustees consists of various benefactors to the university, people who have made significant contributions to the community of and surrounding the school and/or have made large donations of money to the university. Students view these people as a Godsend as they are helping us to better afford what we are paying for, our education while they assist us with educational resources. However, if our money isn’t going to our professors (and we all know it’s definitely not going to the food) then where is it going? Is it going to the $40,000 per month electric bill of the DoYo? Is it going to all of the shrubbery planted before 2013’s Alumni & Family weekend or the spectacular fireworks display?

We’ve expanded many educational programs, such as our CBL’s (also mentioned in the strategic plan), and the campus as a whole is passionate about civic and social engagement. We’ve also brought the Forest to the City and vice versa, and do an excellent job of having a presence in the local community (i.e. Madison and Morristown), so this section of the plan in particular has been successful. However, one of our top priorities needs to be making this once prestigious education affordable to the students who have worked for it. Drew needs to prepare its students for a life of service, leadership, and success instead of preparing them for future financial instability. 

Salamon: Chapters 3-5 response

In Chapter 3, we explore the anatomy of America’s nonprofit sector. Organizations can be divided into two basic categories: member-serving organizations and public-serving organizations. Member-serving organizations aim primarily at providing benefits to their members rather than the public at large. They include labor unions, business and professional associations, social and recreational clubs, veterans organizations, mutual insurance companies, credit unions, cemetery companies, and cooperative telephone companies (31). Public-serving organizations exist primarily to serve the public at large rather than primarily the members of the organization. Public-serving organizations are the only ones entitled to tax-exempt status. To be eligible for tax-exemption, organizations must operate “exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes” (33). However, religious organizations are the only ones automatically entitled to tax exemption (55). The primer primarily focuses on public-serving organizations. These organizations receive their revenue through substantial government support and private giving, and also through fees (service charges, tuition payments, and other commercial income) (38). America’s non-profit sector is larger than most people are aware of, but not the largest in the world (considering that the US is still considered a somewhat young country in comparison to many others).

 

Chapter 4 is titled “The Nonprofit Sector in Context: The Government and Business Presence.” While tensions exist between the government and the nonprofit sector, a widespread partnership has developed between the two (67). However, the government has a large presence in health, education, and social welfare, and approximately half of the government’s spending is for these purposes (68-69). The largest portion of social welfare spending went to health benefits, the second largest to social insurance, one quarter to education, and under ten percent to be split among the rest of activities. Government and nonprofit sectors have grown and continue to work together, though Americans have a greater reliance on private charity and the nonprofit.

 

Chapter 5 discusses the historical developments and recent trends within the nonprofit sector. Government involvement in the nonprofit sector began in the 1930s. However, government involvement in social welfare and education is not a recent development in the US. FDR created the New Deal system of social welfare aid which consists of three principal programs: old-age pensions, unemployment insurance, and needs-tested cash assistance. During the 1960s, there was change within the government and nonprofit sectors, including: human service programs, health care for the elderly, health care for the needy, pre-school and other education and research aid, and broadened health care coverage. The 70s included inflation protection for retirees and food aid. It was in the 60s and 70s that the partnership between the government and the nonprofit sector was brought to a state and local level. Private philanthropy is essential to supporting the nonprofit system, but income from government and fees is even more important 

Writing for Real: Page 37, Question 4: What do you expect of your relationship with your agency mentor?

Working with various non-profit organizations in the past, this will not be the first time I have had an agency mentor. From my past experiences, I am aware of what I prefer to see in a mentor over certain other details, but every mentor is different and I am looking forward to see what this mentor has to offer, and what I have to offer them. The mentor/student relationship truly is a two way street; one cannot do their job without the other. I cannot learn about the organization and expectations without the mentor teaching me, and the mentor will have less hands without me. 

I expect and would prefer that my relationship with my mentor develop over time; I want our relationship to progress and for us to rely on each other within reason. I hope that we can teach each other more about the organization and the non-profit world, and that we will have reasonable expectations (as far as work) of each other, as one is most likely a full time employee of the organization and I am a full time student. I have had mentors that have taught me a great deal about their organization and I would like that to be the case in this project as well as those projects were all successful and I was able to carry the knowledge I gained working with them and keep it for future use. 

However, I have also had not so positive experiences with mentors that did not teach or had high expectations; for example, I was expected to do things that were not in my volunteer/job description, such as pick up organization employees and cart them around for supplies they needed or to use my personal money for the project. I found these situations unacceptable and demeaning, and I wish to be treated as a member of the organization as much as possible. I expect my mentor to expect a reasonable amount from me and to be available when needed for help or guidance on the project, so that I may, to the best of my ability, produce the best project and fulfill the needs of the organization as efficiently and fully as possible. I will maintain an open mind with my mentor and hope that they will do the same for me. I look forward to having a close relationship with my mentor so that we can both learn from each other and produce a brilliant project together that will affect the community.

Writing For Real Short Essay: Page 11, Question 3

While working for the non-profit organization, ARTS By The People, I often found myself working in company branding and marketing for our art classes and our various types of work with youth and senior citizens. Most commonly, I worked in the Lester Senior Housing facility in East Hanover, NJ, where I assisted teaching artists (artists that ran classes in their own artistic medium) with their classes, programs, projects, and so on. At the end of the rotation for classes, the organization held a large Arts Day that each senior student could participate in, whether it was singing a song they wrote in the song writing class or displaying a pastel art piece in the art show in a separate room. In order to gain not only artistic participants but audience members and visitors, we needed to advertise on the organization website and in the facility itself efficiently.

Now, I have never before taken a marketing class, but I am educated in social media and basic computer skills. I also have great people skills and had become personally acquainted with the comings and goings of the organization and all policies. What I find most important in not only academic writing but in community-based writing is to actually know your audience. There is no better way to get their attention without knowing them, whether personally or by acquaintance. One should know their target audience not necessarily personally, but know enough about their age group, their likes and dislikes and their capabilities. Know what captures their attention. To gain participants and spectators for our Arts Day, it was important to capture the attention of the seniors, their caretakers, and their families. This is a broad range of people, and when targeting a wide range it is important to keep things as simple as possible, but still remain upbeat and respectful of their time and intelligence.

Aside from public announcements within classes and directly approaching students to participate and inviting them to invite their families, I developed a more formal announcement that I blew up for posters to post around the building, inserted into e-mails to send to residents (they do have access to internet and personal e-mails), as well as forwarding the document to the offices of the facility so they could enclose it within their weekly news letters and post them on their news bulletins. The font was large and noticeable and the language was simple. I also made the font different colors in order to grab and maintain attention. I find that, with a wide audience (and with seniors in particular), their attention is fleeting and so it is important to grab their attention and get one’s point across quickly so they have the information and do not walk away because of too many little details. Only include the vital information but keep it upbeat and exciting.

When Arts Day arrived, we had over one hundred people in attendance, the most ARTS By The People has ever had. Overall, I think our advertising worked, and I contribute our success largely to the posters and flyers that were posted and handed out. After getting to know the seniors I was working with and seeing how and what they read and some other examples of posters hanging around the facility, I realized that it would be a good idea to follow a similar method. The only change I would make is to make the actual size of the poster larger instead of the standard paper size. Increasing the size of the actual paper would allow us to use even larger font and it would be instantly eye-catching. Overall, we as an organization were happy with our turn out and plan to use similar flyers for our next Arts Day.