New Startup Aims to Empower Donors With Information, Community

Giving Compass's goal is to enable people to make wise decisions about making an impact with their philanthropy.

We all know about Charity Navigator and GuideStar, and how they are used by savvy donors and advisors to help provide direction for effective giving.

But now there’s a new game in town. Giving Compass wants to be the go-to destination for the world of philanthropy.

In spite of the fact that Americans are donating almost $400 billion to charities every year, most people spend very little time figuring out which nonprofits are effective in achieving their goals.

Giving Compass hopes to empower donors to make sure their gifts are making a real, meaningful difference. Not only does it provide users with information about charities, it helps them to learn about charitable giving and builds community around philanthropy.

“The amount of money being given in this country is mind-blowing,” Giving Compass CEO and Co-Founder Luis Salazar told GeekWire. “What is the impact of that, is the core question, and how do we make it more impactful?”

Giving Compass launched about a year ago, and it’s funded mainly with a catalyst grant from the Raikes Foundation, which was established by former Gates Foundation CEO and Microsoft executive Jeff Raikes and his wife, Tricia, who also came from Microsoft. Even Salazar came from Microsoft—he was the co-founder of Office 365.

So far, Giving Compass has impressed many people in philanthropy. They are particularly happy with the diverse backgrounds of the staff and board (it includes technology, philanthropy, and marketing experts), and they say there’s a huge need for educating donors.

The creators of Giving Compass say they’re not trying to push donors in any particular direction. “We’re not trying to remove the heart in favor of the head,” said Giving Compass Chief Marketing Officer Shelly Kurtz. Instead, they hope people will consider multiple approaches when choosing where to make their donations.

Giving Compass differs from most charity monitoring sites in that it works more to help potential donors realize the impact a nonprofit is having rather than focusing exclusively on measures like overhead ratios.

“That is where people go wrong when they’re trying to have impact,” said Katherine Lorenz, board chair for The Philanthropy Workshop. “They’re starving the whole sector.”

If nonprofits need to focus so intensely on keeping costs down in order to impress a donor, they may well starve themselves by being unable to make needed technology upgrades or staff training, both of which are needed in order for a nonprofit to be able to carry out its mission.

“A lot of people don’t know what they’re interested in, and coming into philanthropy for the first time it can be overwhelming,” said Sarah Hopper, founder of Sound Philanthropy, a Seattle business that advises people in their giving.

Giving Compass hopes that by providing information about charities’ performance, they will be able to give donors a better picture of the impact those nonprofits have.

“We’re asking people to give us five minutes a week to spend on outcome-driven philanthropy,” said Kurtz. “You can break that down into bite-size pieces.”


How to Convince Your Manager to Let You Work Remotely

Working remotely is gaining popularity in every part of the workforce. Here are some tips to help you explain to your manager that it's a win-win to let you work from home.

With the growing popularity in the private sector of working from home or other non-office locations, it’s not surprising that the trend has begun to enter the nonprofit world, too.

But what do you do if you want to convince your manager to allow you to work remotely? Here are a few tips.

First, understand what makes you productive. Are you an early riser or a night owl? When do you find yourself fully immersed in your work? What makes it easy for you to be creative and solve problems? Does working remotely tick your high-performance needs?

Also understand what could harm your productivity. If you’re working at home, do you have pets or children around to distract you from your work? Do you have people asking you to babysit because they assume that if you’re home, you’re not working? If so, you’ll want to figure out how you’re going to deal with those issues.

Examine how you allocate time to your key responsibilities. Review your job description and break your responsibilities down into three categories: those that require you to be on site, responsibilities that can be managed through email, video conferencing, and responsibilities that you can take care of alone, from anywhere.

Obviously, if 100 percent of your responsibilities require you to be in the office, you’re not going to have much in your favor for working at home. Instead, try requesting a flexible schedule—for example, if you want to beat rush hour traffic, maybe you can work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., or 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Maybe you can work four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days. However, if parts of your job can be done from anywhere, you’ll have a better argument for working remotely.

Once you have a better understanding of your needs and your employer’s needs, think about different scenarios that can meet both of your needs. Come up with a few options that you believe will satisfy those needs.

Finally, talk with your manager. When doing so, focus on the win-win of the remote working arrangement, and share the scenarios you’ve come up with. Say that you’re willing to try it for a month or two to see if it works.

Keep the lines of communication open. Have a set of clearly formulated questions that you and your employer want to answer during the trial arrangement. Both you and your manager will need to make a commitment to give honest feedback about the effectiveness of your remote work situation as the trial period goes on.

Pre-schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss how effective your remote working arrangement is. Be prepared to come back to the office if it turns out that working from home is not working for you or your employer.

Do you work remotely? What do you like about the arrangement? Is your employer happy with your performance when you work from home? Please share your experiences and tips in the comments.

Rasmuson Foundation Awards Almost $9 Million to Alaska Nonprofits

The Alaska-based Rasmuson Foundation has awarded almost $9 million in grants to organizations that benefit the state.

The Anchorage-based Rasmuson Foundation recently announced that it made grants totaling $8.6 million to 18 Alaska nonprofit organizations. This is one of the largest awards in the foundation’s history.

“These uncertain economic times in Alaska have put a strain on many of the programs that fill a critical role in our state,” said Rasmuson Foundation President and CEO Diane Kaplan. “Making sure these programs are not just existing, but thriving, means more Alaskans have the opportunity to be safe, healthy, and supported.”

The foundation awarded $500,000 to the Tanana Chiefs Conference, which will go to construction of a new clinic in Circle, Alaska. The current clinic is in a flood zone and has no running water, making waste disposal and infection control a challenge. The new clinic will provide a safer location, medical equipment and technologies to better serve Circle’s residents.

They also awarded $500,000 to The Children’s Place, the only child advocacy center serving children and families in the Mat-Su Valley. A child advocacy center is a safe, child-friendly location in which specialists from a variety of disciplines come together in one building to investigate allegations of child abuse, help children heal, and hold offenders accountable. The grant will support construction of a larger facility to accommodate the growing need in the region.

Other grant recipients are as follows:

  • Alaska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, to renovate their Anchorage building.
  • The Alaska Community Foundation, to implement a statewide automatic voter registration project.
  • Alaska Primary Care Association, to develop a statewide data warehouse and quality improvement project.
  • Alaska State Council on the Arts, to renew funding for arts touring and arts-in-education programs throughout the state.
  • Alaska State Fair, to construct public restrooms on the fairgrounds.
  • Breast Cancer Detection of Alaska, to renovate their Fairbanks facility.
  • Challenge Alaska, to acquire property in Girdwood.
  • Christian Health Associates, to expand Anchorage school-based health centers.
  • Cook Inlet Housing Authority, to provide working capital for the development of workforce housing.
  • The Conservation Fund, for the restoration of the Eklutna River.
  • Denali Education Center, to build a multi-purpose building in Denali Park.
  • Gustavus Community Center, to construct a community center.
  • Ilisagvik College, to upgrade phone, technology, and security systems in Utqiagvik.
  • International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics, in recognition of Nobel Laureate Dr. Vernon Smith and his contributions to the Rasumson Chair of Economics and the experimental economics program at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
  • Thread, an organization that connects early care and education, to support a technology initiative, including updating a statewide data management system, website improvements, and training facility upgrades.
  • United States Artists, to sustain the growth and success of their mission to directly support America’s most accomplished artists.

The Rasumson Foundation was created by Jenny Rasmuson and her son Elmer to honor Jenny’s late husband, E.A. Rasmuson. The foundation is a catalyst to promote a better life for all Alaskans.

Google Awards €22 Million in Digital Innovation Grants

Google's Digital News Initiative has awarded $25 million in grants to European organizations seeking to promote fact checking and news transparency.

The influence of “fake news” in election coverage is as much of a concern in Europe as it is in the U.S. Photo: Hadrian /

Google’s nonprofit arm,, recently announced that it had awarded nearly €22 million ($25 million) to European organizations seeking to support the integration of news and technology.

The grants were made through Google’s Digital News Initiative and its DNI Innovation Fund.

In this round of applications, the organization received more than 988 project submissions from 27 countries. Of the 107 projects funded, 49 are prototypes (early stage projects requiring up to €50,000 of funding), 39 are medium-sized projects (requiring up to €300,000 of funding), and 27 are large projects, requiring up to €1 million of funding.

Google found in these applications that there is a growing interest in fact-checking experiments, with 29 percent more applications in that field when compared with previous rounds. They have also seen increase in the number of projects including artificial intelligence, investigative reporting, and immersive approaches through virtual and augmented reality. Also, 47 percent of all the applications selected for funding have a collaborative element.

A few of the projects funded in this round are:

  • The Open State Foundation of the Netherlands will receive €50,000 to prototype a real-time database of what politician say and do, drawn from a wide range of sources. The goal of the database is to increase transparency and give journalists better access to political information, particularly on niche topics, local politics, and alternative local parties.
  • of Spain will use the €208,500 from the DNI grant to offer an open-source application that gives readers behind-the-scenes access to the newspaper’s editorial process so they can trace news gathering and editing work in a transparent way. It will also provide the publisher with data about the cost of producing each story, with a view to monetizing more content through formats like micropayments.
  • German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle was awarded €437,500 from the DNI Innovation Fund. It will use the funds to build “news bridge-Bridge the Language Barrier for News,” a platform that will integrate and enhance a mix of off-the-shelf tools for automated transcription, translation, voiceover, and summarizing of video and audio content in almost any language.
  • England’s WikiTribune, a news platform launched by Jimmy Wales, was awarded €385,000 to scale its operations. It seeks to fight the proliferation of low-quality news sources with fact-based, transparently sourced articles written by professional journalists and verified and improved by a community of volunteers.

Since February of 2016, the DNI has evaluated more than 3,000 applications, interviewed 748 project leaders, and offered 359 organizations in 29 countries a total of €73 million.

Washington University Receives $20M Gift for Scholarships

Washington University has received a $20 million challenge gift from philanthropist John McDonnell.

Washington University has received a $20 million challenge gift from philanthropist John McDonnell. Photo: Shutterstock

Washington University, based in St. Louis, has announced a $20 million pledge from trustee John F. McDonell.

This is one of the largest single scholarship gifts in the history of the university.

The pledge is to create a challenge fund in support of scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students at Washington University, as part of the institution’s Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University.

The gift establishes the McDonnell Scholarship Challenge, which will match all new or increased gifts for scholarships and fellowships.

“In 2009, a generous challenge by John McDonnell helped to launch Opening Doors to the Future: The Scholarship Initiative for Washington University, which reached its goal two years ahead of schedule. Now he has stepped forward once again to help us reach our scholarship goal for Leading Together,” said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

“Washington University students all share extraordinary potential to make a difference in the world,” McDonnell said. “They will go on to found and manage organizations, find cures for diseases, fill important government posts in this country and around the world, author the next Pulitzer or Booker Prize-winning novel, and design the next architectural masterpiece. What a loss it would be, and how sad it would be, if, we, who could have helped, didn’t.”

The Leading Together campaign has raised more than $440 million for scholarship support to date.

“John McDonnell has been a dedicated leader, tireless advocate, and visionary philanthropist on behalf of Washington University for more than 50 years, and we are deeply grateful for this wonderful support,” Wrighton said. “Together, we have an unprecedented opportunity to raise half a billion dollars or more to help future generations of students achieve their dreams of a Washington University education.”

To qualify for the match, gifts and commitments must be received by June 30, 2018, when the campaign ends. Multi-year pledges payable through June 30, 2023, are encouraged and will count toward the campaign total.

McDonnell earned his MBA from the Olin Business School at Washington University, and the university awarded him an honorary doctorate of science in 2006. He received the Arts & Sciences Dean’s Medal in 1999; the William Greenleaf Eliot Society’s highest honor, the “Search” award, in 2005; and the Robert S. Brookings Award in 2013. His wife, Anne, is also a graduate of Washington University, and their daughter Alicia, also a Washington University alum, is serving as vice chair for scholarships and fellowships for the Leading Together campaign.

GuideStar Removes Hate Group Flags From Directory Listings

GuideStar recently removed "hate group" flags from 46 nonprofits.

Early in June, GuideStar, a website that maintains a database of information about U.S. charities, flagged 46 nonprofits for being labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Those 46 nonprofits included a nonprofit run by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who coined the term “alt-right” to describe the anti-immigration, white supremacist movement. But it also includes bigger nonprofits like the Family Research Council and the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

GuideStar President and CEO Jacob Harold said the feature reflects a “broader shift in how we imagine our role in the [nonprofit] field,” and added that that the warning labels were a response to the increase in what he referred to as “hateful rhetoric” in the U.S.

Leaders of the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation, and other conservative groups, criticized GuideStar for using the labels and accused the Southern Poverty Law Center of using its list of hate groups as a “political weapon targeting the people it deems to be its political enemies.”

Harold said that he considers the SPLC credible enough to rely on its judgment.

“In the weeks and months since [we instituted the labels], we have heard from both supporters and critics of the decision, many of whom have presented reasonable disagreements with the way in which this information was presented,” GuideStar said in a statement. “Dismayingly, a significant amount of the feedback we’ve received in recent days has shifted from constructive criticism to harassment and threats directed at our staff and leadership.”

On the week of June 26, GuideStar removed those labels.

“Driven by both our commitment to objectivity and our concerns for our staff’s wellbeing, we have decided to remove SPLC annotations from these 46 organizations for the time being,” the statement read. “In the meantime, we will make this information available to any user on request.”

GuideStar did say in its statement that it views this event as an opportunity to refine how it presents and curates information about nonprofits. “We do believe that it is in line with our mission to provide as much information about nonprofit organizations as possible. We hope to engage in constructive dialogue with experts from across the political spectrum to help us determine the best way to fulfill this need.”

What do you think? Was GuideStar out of line to flag nonprofits as hate groups? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Bezos Crowdsources His Next Philanthropic Effort

Amazon's Jeff Bezos is crowdsourcing ideas for his next philanthropic effort. Is this a good idea?

Back in 2015, Jeff Bezos made the Forbes list with a net worth of “only” $34.2 million. Photo: aradaphotography /

On June 15, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wrote a tweet nobody expected.

It was an image with the text “This tweet is a request fro ideas. I’m thinking about a philanthropy strategy that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time—working on the long term. For philanthropy, I find I’m drawn to the other end of the spectrum: the right now…I’m thinking I want much of my philanthropic activity to e helping people in the here and now—short term—at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact. If you have ideas, just reply to this tweet with the idea (and if you think this approach is wrong, would love to hear that too).”

Amazon recently made a commitment that outlines the near-term effort he has in mind: the company provided Mary’s Place, a homeless shelter for families, with a permanent home in a new Amazon office building that will begin construction later this year.

“I would call it surprising, but welcome,” Jacob Harold, the president of GuideStar, told the New York Times. “It’s rare for big-dollar donors to be honest about their desire for short-term results.”

Bezos didn’t say how much money he planned to commit, but give the sheer scope of his wealth—he is now the second richest man in the world—his giving to this point has been pretty modest. He and his family have donated $15 million to Princeton University (Bezos’ alma mater), and $35 million to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle (the largest donation in Fred Hutch’s history).

The replies to Bezos’s tweet came fast and furious—more than 3,600 of them just five hours after his request—with suggestions ranging from contributing to affordable housing, LGBT causes, and veterans’ organizations.

But Bezos’ request is a bit problematic. First of all, crowdsourcing philanthropic ideas has had mixed success. “The denominator of ideas you will get in, the vast majority of ideas which are not good, not viable, will flood this process,” said Larry Brilliant, acting chairman of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, a philanthropy created by eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll, who formerly ran Google’s philanthropic division.

Secondly, as Jake Hayman wrote in Forbes, there are issues with Twitter’s demographic and the desire to accomplish short-term goals that concurrently have long-term results.

Of Twitter, Hayman wrote that “it is mainly an American platform (so lack of insight from around the world), it is … disproportionately male and disproportionately from more privileged user groups.” Instead, Hayman suggested that Bezos ask, and listen to, the communities he wants to serve rather than bypassing them by the sheer nature of the platform’s demographics.

Hayman said that it’s an impossible oxymoron to spend money on short-term activity that has lasting impact. “It’s the business equivalent of looking for ‘safe, proven investments’ with imminent 10-fold returns. It doesn’t happen,” he wrote.

He also argued that short-term philanthropy resulting in long-term change is “a flawed strategy based on a misunderstanding of how social change happens and a longing for instant personal gratification that clouds judgment.”

Hayman suggested that Bezos spend real time with the people on the front lines of social change and social assistance charities like Mary’s Place. “You would very quickly hear a common message: that the answer is not to provide shelter and employment services to homeless families everywhere but instead to fix the systems that have consistently and repeatedly failed people to the point at which they rely on charity.”

What do you think? Is it possible to make a short-term philanthropic commitment and get long-term results? What would you suggest to Jeff Bezos’s request for ideas on how to spend his philanthropic dollars? Please let me know in the comments.

Gund Sells Painting to Start Criminal Justice Reform Fund

Agnes Gund has started a criminal justice reform fund with the proceeds from the sale of a Lichtenstein work.

Agnes Gund has founded the Art for Justice Fund, to provide funding for criminal justice reform initiatives. Photo: Shutterstock

Philanthropist Agnes Gund, a former president of the Museum of Modern Art, sold one of her most valuable paintings to provide seed funding for a nonprofit criminal justice reform fund.

Roy Lichtenstein’s “Masterpiece” hung on Gund’s mantel until she sold the piece in January for $165 million, including fees. Most of that money—$100 million—went to establish the Art for Justice Fund, which supports criminal justice reform and seeks to reduce mass incarceration in the United States.

“This is one thing I can do before I die,” Gund told the New York Times. “This is what I need to do.”

The Ford Foundation, which will administer the fund along with Rockefeller Philanthropic Associates, has joined Gund in asking other collectors to donate to the fund, with the goal of raising another $100 million over the next five years.

“The larger idea is to raise money among a community of art collectors that they can use their influence and their collections to advance social justice,” said Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. “Art has meaning on a wall, but it also has meaning when it is monetized.”

The founding donors—people who have already committed to the fund—include Laurie M. Tisch, a chairwoman of the Whitney Museum; Kenneth I. Chenault, CEO of American Express, and his wife, Kathryn; philanthropist Jo Carole Lauder; financier Daniel S. Loeb; and Whitney trustee Brooke Neidich.

Tisch will contribute $500,000 in proceeds from a Max Weber painting she recently sold. “It’s ambitious, but when Aggie puts in $100 million, that’s a real signal that it’s important and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Tisch said.

“There’s long been this criticism that people who have the means to acquire fine art are allowed to surround themselves with beautiful things while they are unwilling to look at the ugly realities that sometimes shape a community or a culture or a country,” said Equal Justice Initiative founder and executive director Bryan Stevenson. “Using this art to actually respond to over-incarceration or racial inequality or social injustice is a powerful idea.”

Walker says participation in the fund doesn’t require people to sell art works; any types of contributions are welcome.

Over the next five years (2017-2022), the Art for Justice Fund will support innovative advocacy and interventions aimed at safely cutting the prison population in states with the highest rates of incarceration, and strengthening education and employment opportunities for people leaving prison. It will also support a few artistic initiatives that enable artists to “bear witness to the injustices of the system and speak to the potential of people enmeshed in it,” the Art for Justice Fund website reads.

Criminal justice has not been a particularly popular venue for philanthropic funding. Stevenson hopes that the Art for Justice fund not only provides funding for prison reform efforts but that it will “help energize some long-overdue reform efforts.”

Detroit’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund Gets $2.5 Million in Philanthropic Support

Detroit's revitalization is being supported by gifts from the Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Detroit’s revitalization is being supported by gifts from the Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Photo: Shutterstock

On June 1, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced that they are investing $1.5 million in Detroit’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund.

The Strategic Neighborhood Fund is a public-private partnership between the City of Detroit and Invest Detroit whose goal is to show that neighborhood redevelopment can be done in financially sound, sustainable, and inclusive ways.

The Ford Foundation, as part of its larger commitment to addressing inequality in all its forms, has also awarded $1 million to the Strategic Neighborhood Fund.

The investment will be focused initially on three areas of the city: the West Village on the city’s lower east side, the Vernor Highway corridor east of Clark Park in southwest Detroit, and the Livernois-McNichols area of northwestern Detroit. Development in these neighborhoods includes a mix of new commercial and residential projects and rehabilitation of existing residential properties. In the Fitzgerald Neighborhood on the northwest side, the Strategic Neighborhood Fund plans to develop a quarter-square-mile of blight-free residential homes with new green recreation space, community gardens, orchards, and a walking path connecting the University of Detroit Mercy to Marygrove College.

“We are deeply appreciative of the commitment of the Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation to Detroit’s strategic plans for revitalizing neighborhoods that suffered disinvestment for too long,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “The foundations’ leaders understand, as Invest Detroit does, that for the city’s recovery to be sustained and inclusive, it must focus on the needs of longtime residents who never gave up on the city. We’re making the case that neighborhood reinvestment works in Detroit.”

The Strategic Neighborhood Fund is a more than $30 million public-private partnership that is part of a broader vision for stabilizing Detroit neighborhoods with targeted reinvestment including new and rehabilitated mixed-income housing and new commercial developments designed to enhance neighborhoods and draw new residents and businesses. The fund’s redevelopment efforts are driven by the needs of neighborhood residents who participate in community meetings that guide the city’s planning.

“Building a network of thriving neighborhoods in Detroit is essential to attracting and keeping talent in the city, and creating new economic opportunities for all, said Katy Locker, Knight Foundation program director for Detroit. “The Strategic Neighborhood Fund will help support the growth of more small businesses in Detroit, bring people of different backgrounds and income levels together, and create more of the kind of places where people want to live.”

“We are pleased to partner in this potentially game-changing initiative to ensure the revitalization of the city of Detroit is shared across neighborhoods and to all those committed to the continued ascension of this great city,” said Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. “I commend the mayor and his team for understanding the importance of capital flowing to all corners of the city for a true resurgence and equitable recovery.”

Ultimately, Detroit wants to expand neighborhood redevelopment and community planning to seven more areas, spanning more than 50 neighborhoods, over the next three years.

The investments by the Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation build on $10 million previously awarded to the Strategic Neighborhood Fund by JP Morgan Chase and the Hudson-Webber Foundation. It also allows the City of Detroit to implement the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative, a partnership between the Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the JPB Foundation that aims to counter economic and social fragmentation by revitalizing and connecting public spaces such as parks, plazas, trails, and libraries.

Successful Grad Gives Back, Makes Hefty Donation to Alma Mater

The Mehlman Talent Initiative is one generous donor's way of giving back to his alma mater

The Mehlman Talent Initiative is one generous donor’s way of giving back to his alma mater. Photo: Shutterstock

When Ken Mehlman graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in 1988, nobody knew who he was. At the time, he was just another college grad trying to make something of his life. But in the years since then, Mehlman has made quite the name for himself. He is now a distinguished political figure, lawyer, and businessman.

It’s no secret that education played a big role in Mehlman’s career, which is why he is funding a new program at Franklin & Marshall College designed to teach students how to lead successful lives. It’s called the Mehlman Talent Initiative. But here’s the key differentiator: the program doesn’t focus on intellect or success alone. Rather, it focuses on developing the personal characteristics associated with success.

Scholars and researchers are finding that there’s more to success than just being book smart. This concept is best illustrated in the classic “rags to riches” stories, where a severely disadvantaged person overcomes nearly impossible odds. Researchers think they have finally identified the key trait behind some of the world’s most successful people: grit.

Those unfamiliar with the term can think of it as perseverance, tenacity, or determination. It’s that ever-so-rare quality that makes a person never give up, and it’s commonly found in underserved communities.

Mehlman believes that studying the ways in which high-achieving, disadvantaged students have overcome adversity will bring forth insights about how a person can develop grit. If grit can be cultivated, taught, and developed, then students will be better equipped to conquer the challenges that come their way. And that’s the goal of the Mehlman Talent Initiative.

“At a time of increased global competition, accelerating technological evolution, and rapidly-shifting business, political, and social environments, resilience and the ability to rebound and reinvent are critical,” Mehlman stated. “Young men and women who have already overcome adversity bring different life experiences and are well positioned for 21st century success, but they need practical tools to flourish. This initiative will support these students and provide a framework for the rest of us to learn from them.”

The Mehlman Talent Initiative was just launched this past April, so it remains to be seen whether the program yields any results. But it’s certainly a revolutionary idea that is worth exploring.