Foundation Friday: Pioneering for the government, or swimming in its wake?

Interesting piece in last Thursday’s New York Times about a Wyoming jobs program for women focusing not only on training for high-paying jobs but on forging solidarity among the trainees to increase their likelihood of success.

Note that this innovative program depends largely on public funds; less than one-third of its $1.8 million budget comes from foundations. So much for the notion that foundations experiment and create while the government executes; apparently, afraid to risk failure, foundations are happy to have the government do most of the innovating, too.

Or maybe the problem is that foundations want to do more groundbreaking work but can’t because they think the 5% floor on expenditure of assets is actually a ceiling. (Maybe we should create a job training program for foundation Boards and executives? Most workforce development projects struggle with placement, but these people already have the high-paying jobs.)

Either way, foundations could be doing more, and better. And if they’re truly concerned about diversity, advancement programs for women are exactly where they should be doing it.

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