From the time the Clinton School of Public Service was first developed, a focus on “philanthropy” was intended as a unique and specialized aspect of global public service. If, indeed, giving/dedicating one’s career and life energies to serving humankind is the goal of public service, the giving to others of one’s time, resources and wealth takes that notion to another level.
Given the fact that Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama commonly are listed as the most impoverished states in the nation, yet are always ranked by the Internal Revenue Service at or near the top in per capita charitable giving, it seemed the word “philanthropy” needed a modifying adjective to avoid the common notion that it is simply rich people giving to poor people.
Such grassroots or “community philanthropy” (a term used by the Ford Foundation) thus connotes that giving is a common and natural component of communal life and civic engagement, and that it is a vital though poorly understood aspect of public service. It seemed from the outset that the creation of a special Center to carry out research, education, and service in community philanthropy should be a Clinton School priority.
The creation of the Center on Community Philanthropy is unique – there is not another like it, either in philanthropy or in academia. While more than forty “philanthropy centers” have been created at colleges and universities across the U.S. in the past twenty-five years, what exists at the Clinton School is far different. There is no other center on philanthropy that is grounded in and committed to building on the strengths, gifts and talents of the American South. More importantly, it is both domestic and international in its targeted constituencies, moving theory into practice from an informed experiential basis where research by students and scholars shape on-the-ground experience. It is at this intersection between issues and ideas where the greatest potential exists for new thinking.
Leadership – The Center on Community Philanthropy is a leader in promoting issues and concepts that illustrate its philosophy that community-based philanthropy is a powerful tool in social, economic and political change. This approach allows the center to lead new efforts to increase access, visibility and engagement of population groups of women, youth and communities of color in the practice of giving.
Research – The Center’s work involves conducting research and writing about philanthropy. The research analyzes the emergence of philanthropy in communities of color, communities of deprivation, and communities of multicultural “citizenship” by improving access to useful knowledge about giving and social change philanthropy.
Convening – The Center has a strategic approach to convening with the goal of creating better connections between philanthropists, non-profits and for profit organization and stakeholders across all community sectors. The center sponsors seminars and forums for dialogue about how government, business and the non-profit sector can understand each other better and work together to address social, economic and human development issues. These convenings are a mechanism to increase collaboration of stakeholders, business leaders and grassroots champions.
The Center on Community Philanthropy is a groundbreaking venture focusing its teaching, research and policy-analysis exclusively on the emerging field of sharing and giving in a community context. Although the center is part of a growing number of university-based programs focused on civic engagement and volunteerism, it is unique in its mission to study philanthropic concepts and acts emerging from within communities.
Grounded in and committed to building on the strengths, gifts and talents of the American South, The Center is a place of learning about philanthropy in a way that will be understood and practiced by a new wave of donors, foundation board and staff members, community leaders and policy decision-makers.
The creation of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service provided the opportunity to establish the Center on Community Philanthropy because of the school’s mission to train leaders for public service, a unique vision apart from traditional schools of public policy and public affairs.
The Center on Community Philanthropy is a leading voice for philanthropic approaches that stem from community and leader assets, emphasizing concepts that often are misunderstood, ignored, or mishandled in traditional giving relationships such as equity and inclusion, race and racial healing and implicit bias.
Through its convening work, the Center hosts intentional dialogues on the significance of race and diversity in setting achievable priorities for the American South. To enhance these discussions, the Center’s Scholar in Residence program invites scholars to study structural racism within communities and institutions of all sectors. These activities, which gather and disseminate knowledge, represent a coordinated effort to help those in the government, business and nonprofit sectors understand the nature of racial problems, learn what perpetuates those problems and where the system needs repair.
The Center on Community Philanthropy hosts an annual summit as a part of its project, “Pathways to Racial Healing and Equity in the American South: A Community Philanthropy Strategy.” This event convenes researchers and practitioners to explore structural racism impacting children’s education and health, and mobilize community philanthropy leaders to better heal racial divisions and improve lives and communities. The project has been funded by grants from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Through its work, The Center has joined the unprecedented effort titled “America Healing: A Racial Equity Initiative of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation,” which aims to improve life outcomes for vulnerable children and their families by promoting racial healing and eliminating barriers to opportunities.
Visit The Center’s Facebook page for more information. Contact the Center on Community Philanthropy at 501-683-5656.
The Clinton School Speaker Series not only enhances the education of Clinton School students, but also provides a venue for the public to engage in intellectual discussions on the issues of the day.