This week John met with Wendy Garen, President and CEO of the Ralph M. Parson Foundation, at the California Endowment in downtown Los Angeles. Wendy discusses the importance of collaboration and some of the biggest ideas that are changing the ways nonprofits, foundations, and governments create social impact.
Links to subjects mentioned:
- The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
- The California Endowment
- Wicked Problems
- Collective Impact – 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Article
- Kaiser Permanente Study on Adverse Childhood Experiences
- LA Times Article on Gabriel Fernandez
- FUSE Corps
- Foster America
- Bloomberg Foundation’s Accessory Unit Initiative
- Pacific Council on International Policy
- Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative
- David La Piana’s Nonprofit Mergers Workbook
- The Nonprofit Finance Fund
- Community Partners (listen to our episode with Community Partners President and CEO, Paul Vandeventer)
- Marian Wright Edelman and the Children’s Defense Fund
- The Deepest Well by Nadine Burke Harris M.D.
Listen to our other podcasts here or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play
John Bwarie: Hello, this is John Bwarie, and welcome to another episode of Community Intelligence, where we explore how leaders engage and build community. For this episode, I met with Wendy Garen, the president and CEO of the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, who’s innovating the way foundations give grants and engage grantees in their communities. Meeting at The California Endowment in Los Angeles, a complex that provides an effective collaborative space for the local nonprofit community. Wendy shared her experience of working with LA’s foster care system and the importance of collaboration to achieve real and lasting impact.
We’re sitting here pretty much at the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Just a few steps away from the civic center where you have the county seat, you have the Los Angeles City Hall, and this is a community here about collaboration and people being proximate with each other in order to get things done as best they can to serve the community. And theoretically, that same ecosystem should exist just a few steps away at our civic center. But I know that sometimes there’s challenging government, and I know that you have spent some time trying to be that bridge. And so it’s really great that we’re sitting here to think about this ecosystem of community change makers and its relationship to the community of change makers that exist in our civic systems. So I thought maybe we could talk a little bit about the role of government in communities and the balance between philanthropic support and government support, and how you get involved as a philanthropic leader in government.
Wendy Garen: Well, the first thing I would say is that the philanthropy that I represent is private money for the public good. So it’s different because it is private. Our board gets to decide how it would like to make its investments. And sometimes people feel that they would like to control how philanthropy spends its money, that they could do it better or, but that would, it’d be like kill the golden goose. If you start to try to assume ownership of it, people will stop doing it. It really is private money for the public good. And I think the reason that we’re now trying to engage more directly, for example, with the county of Los Angeles, is because our foundation exists for the wellbeing of Angelenos. We want to make better lives for the people of Los Angeles, particularly those who are poor or left out or disadvantaged young children.
All the philanthropic money, all added up together at all donations in LA, I think come to $2 billion a year, and county government is $30 billion a year. And then if you think of the GDP of the county as a whole, we’re like budget dust philanthropy. So what I will say is, why do we want to work with government? Well, because they’re the deliverer of key services to the people we care about, either through contracts or directly. So if we want to affect the lives in a positive way of kids in foster care, and if we do that without having any contact with the county, we might not do harm, but we probably won’t do that much good. Increasingly, we’re drawn to work collaboratively with the county because the county recognizes that it could do better. There could be systems change, but they need help in doing that. They’re like fighting fires on the front end and they can’t be up in the balcony looking at the system and thinking, Gee, why do we do that? We could do it this way. So I think that’s what drives us. It’s a desire for impact.
John Bwarie: And you’ve been in this space for a long time, how did you come to this point?
Wendy Garen: I think that we… I helped chair a conference in, Oh, I don’t know, maybe ’92, the year that The Autry opened, whenever that was. And it was a conference on collaboration, a philanthropic collaboration. And really, we were talking it, but we weren’t doing it. Maybe part of it is the 2008 financial crisis. Maybe it was just that it took a long time for people to develop relationships. Maybe it was the theory behind it, behind collaborating. This idea of wicked problems require collective impact. The idea of collective impact is you can’t stay in your silo, you’ve got to reach out to people from across many different parts of civil society to make an impact. And it’s only when you can knit those together that I think you can actually drive change.
John Bwarie: We’ve talked a little bit, I mean, a lot about theory right here, great terms, and I’m going to come back to collective impact and wicked problems, but let’s put it in context. Let’s talk about LA County. For those who aren’t familiar with the, for instance, the foster system here. Give us a picture of what it looks like. We’re in a county of 10 million people generally. Of that 10 million, how many people are affected by the foster care system?
Wendy Garen: Well, the dial around child welfare is, the whole point of the child welfare system, the foster care system is to keep kids safe. It’s not necessarily to promote optimal outcomes, but it’s to keep kids safe. LA county gets over 200000 hotline calls a year, and they’re mostly mandated reporters, pediatricians, teachers. It’s rarely the neighbor or the person trying to get their spouse in trouble because they’re fighting over custody. It is mostly people who are doing what they’re supposed to do. And then the county has to sort that out and try to keep these kids safe, and triage this information. It’s like the county is the parent of last resort. So there are 35000 kids in LA County that are system involved kids in the Department of Children and Family Services.
John Bwarie: That means they’re under care of the county.
Wendy Garen: The county is responsible for them, that they are either placed with relatives or they’re placed with what sometimes people call stranger care, which I think of as the heroes of the community that step up to take a child into their homes that they didn’t know, that they might not adopt, that they’re there for a while. Because 80% of all children are ultimately returned to their parents.
John Bwarie: Wow.
Wendy Garen: So my view is, this is an area where we all could do better. When a child is in six to eight placements by the time they’re 12 years old, we are creating really damaged kids, damaged by adverse experiences of childhood that are going to have a hard time later in life. And so it is, child advocates will say you can pay now or you can pay later. And we think investing in those early years and trying to get outcomes for these, the most fragile kids is just smart.
John Bwarie: Knowing your bio and having mentioned at the beginning you started your career in the early childhood space and now, I don’t want to say come full circle because you’re nowhere near being done with the work you’re doing. But the idea that has that experience back then in the 80s informed this project?
Wendy Garen: The world now.
John Bwarie: Yeah. The world now.
Wendy Garen: Yeah. I think it absolutely has. The other thing I would say is the timing is everything and the science is there now. And before the science wasn’t there. We thought it mattered to talk with kids. You don’t just say yes or no to a child. You engage them in full sentences. You try to have as much dialogue with your child as possible and not, people aren’t born knowing how to be parents. But we thought we knew what was right. And then it turns out we got the data first around brain science that the first five years, the interaction really matters because the brain architecture is being formed, and kids are just a hotbed of growth and if we don’t do it right, then it’s going to be very hard to remediate later.
Then we also found out about adverse experiences and this was a big Kaiser study of 17000 people, of actually middle class people. And it turned out that if you experience more than four adverse experiences in early childhood, experiences like divorce, a death of a parent, a parent going to prison-
John Bwarie: Trauma.
Wendy Garen: Physical trauma, it’s a list of horrors. They actually impact us and they impact us in an epigenetic way. And what that means is later on, you won’t have as long a life, you’re more susceptible to stroke. The data is not just about, we’re not producing kids that are competent and ready to deal with life, but we’re actually shortening people’s lives. And so now we’ve got all this science behind us to do the right thing for kids. And it’s a slow road, but we think that we can change both the way government and nonprofits make these investments to get better outcomes.
John Bwarie: So you have this knowledge based on your previous experience, your interest. Did you go to the county and say, “We can do something together.” Did the to the county come to you and say, “Help, we need help?”
Wendy Garen: No, I think the newspaper covered a child death. Five years ago, there was a child that died up in the Antelope Valley. His name was Gabriel Fernandez. And the newspaper tracked the death of that child in an obsessive way. And so this death of a child was catalytic in that it was a horrifying saga of governmental failure to protect a child, this child should not have died. We knew there were problems there and in a shocking way. And so the community then pushed the board of supervisors into commissioning a Blue Ribbon Commission.
John Bwarie: When you say, I’m going to stop you there and say, when you say community, what’s the community in this case?
Wendy Garen: I think, people who care about kids. So for example, oh gosh, and I’m forgetting her name, which is embarrassing, but she ran the county art museum and she was a muckety muck at UCLA. She was very close to Zev Yaroslavsky. She died of cancer. And she was like a dog with a bone. She just, “Zev, we’ve got to have this commission.” This child died, we need accountability, we need oversight, we need a Blue Ribbon Commission to focus… So a lot of people were hammering on the board who didn’t really want to do this, but between the newspaper and I think being pummeled by people they respected-
John Bwarie: And that’s the case.
Wendy Garen: … and cared about, by people who were donors, by people-
John Bwarie: People with influence.
Wendy Garen: Yeah.
John Bwarie: It may not have been, and would have maybe not even been their issue, it’s just it was an important humanitarian issue.
Wendy Garen: Oh yeah. I think it, absolutely, the people were shocked and felt compelled to say something. So the board spent money by staffing a commission, which took hearings over a year and then came up with a report recommending 45 different things the county could do or something like that. And [Eileen Adams 00:11:30] was one of the people staffing that commission and she came and talked to philanthropy about it. And it was at one of the, that meeting where collectively philanthropy said, “Okay, we’re well informed. What are we going to do about it?” And what we did was for the first time ever use our voices collectively, we wrote a letter to the board of supervisors collectively ever.
John Bwarie: For the first time ever. Now, were you sitting around together because that’s what you do or was there a reason for it?
Wendy Garen: It was an educational program that was telling us, it was giving us, this is the latest of what’s going on in the crisis in foster care.
John Bwarie: Got you.
Wendy Garen: And a lot of us make grants in this area. So instead of just passively making grants, we did something that was harder. We exercised an influence muscle-
John Bwarie: Wow.
Wendy Garen: … that we didn’t even really know we had. And we wrote this letter, and a bunch of signed the letter, a bunch of local foundations, totally outside of our comfort zone. And then went and testified before the board and the board had, we were told that raising our voices on behalf of the commission’s recommendations mattered, they knew who we were. They adopted the recommendations.
John Bwarie: And it hadn’t been something you had done before.
Wendy Garen: Never.
John Bwarie: So it was a place where it’s like, well, if they’re involved, we should pay attention.
Wendy Garen: Yes, it helped. It helped. And I think it helped philanthropy feel that collectively we could matter, and it encouraged us to work more collaboratively, particularly in this area. And then that led to the creation of this office of strategic partnership within the county.
John Bwarie: Well, let’s pause there. I want to get back to the office in a moment, but usually I think people look at philanthropy as the ones who people come to with a request. And philanthropy sits on high and decides you are worthy or you are not, in nicer terms, but they make decisions. There has to be decisions made. Even if you’re giving 300 grants a year, there’s probably 10000 grants that you could be giving if you had unlimited resources. So in this role reversal, it pushed you out of your comfort zone, as you said, was there collateral damage to that? Does that make you vulnerable in other ways?
Wendy Garen: I think it can be, but in this case, no.
John Bwarie: Okay.
Wendy Garen: In this case, no, really no damage. And more, it’s presenting opportunities to people. We’re passionate about this. We see an opportunity, would you like to join us? And it puts us in the rule of not just convening, but curating people to, something you do, I know, bringing people together to share background and then do work together. If it’s just about learning, it’s not enough. It needs to be about action. You’re right about the bulk of our grant making this transactional. People come to us with their best ideas or their need for general support. They make their case. We look at it. We either say yes or no.
This other work that we do, whether it’s the nonprofit sustainability initiative or our leadership work, or this proactive work, like the collective impact work in child welfare. I would say that we’re, that’s at the margins. In other words, the foundation remains true to its basic mission of listening deeply and trying to make smart investments in what the community brings us. But then at the margins, we’re doing something else. And whether you want to call it leading, it’s certainly, it’s trying to set the stage and build trust and relationships and figure out ways we can act together. But it’s slow. The problem with it is it takes time. So you can’t be in a hurry to get it done. And you’ve got to figure out where, I think about as the Venn diagram, where is the common interest of everyone that we can give something up because we know we can focus on the common interest. And that’s where I think we’re poised for some impact.
John Bwarie: You were mentioning that you came together as a group and said, you wrote a letter, you testified, you said, “We need to do something and create this office,” so describe what happened there.
Wendy Garen: Yeah. The county did a number of things executing on the recommendations. They set up an office of child protection. And then they also agreed, it was really what the leadership of the Weingart Foundation and Parsons at the table with the county, emulating what had been done earlier under Mayor Villaraigosa. There was an office of partnership under his administration.
John Bwarie: In the city of Los Angeles.
Wendy Garen: That did not persist in the city of Los Angeles under the next mayor. And actually, we focus on the city all the time as the shiny object, but if you really think about people’s lives and their wellbeing, the game is the county. It’s all about the county. That’s where all the money comes through. Whether it’s welfare dollars, job training dollars, foster care dollars, the county is the big player. And so we thought, well, we could recreate that office at the county. And the county agreed. And we did it as, really as a pilot. Let’s try this for three years. And philanthropy, a group of 12 foundations, I think it was, scraped together the money for half of it, and then the county paid the other half. And we did this experiment, and we’ve had outcomes. The office has raised over $4 million to make investments in shared priorities.
But I think more than that, it’s creating a mechanism for there to be less siloing and more dialogue and not just among the private sector with the county, but among the various county departments. What magic can you do if you can get the Department of Children and Family Services working with the Department of Mental Health, with private money to help facilitate?
John Bwarie: And those looking from the outside, so that makes perfect sense. But if you’re in the system-
Wendy Garen: Very hard to do.
John Bwarie: Very hard to do.
Wendy Garen: And I think we also can help in a way, this may not be the most political way of saying it, but I think we can help give cover to the county. It’s hard for the county to do things different or to even execute a grant in less than two years. And when we join with them, it can make things much faster and it can make them willing to do things that are a little different.
John Bwarie: And so how long has this all been going on?
Wendy Garen: Just about three years.
John Bwarie: And what does the next two, three years look like? Does foundations slowly make an exit and allow the county to run this office, or are you there hand in hand?
Wendy Garen: No. I would say that we’re out of the business of funding the office, but hopefully way into funding the work that will flow.
John Bwarie: Got you.
Wendy Garen: So I think that’s where we stand. And I think there’s also a tremendous opportunity to look nationally. We don’t get enough, it’s like we are always cranky. We don’t get enough money from Sacramento. We don’t. We don’t get enough national philanthropic money invested here either. And it’s because they don’t have their boots on the ground. And we think that if we share our successes and provide, here’s an opportunity that we can entice some of that money to come here to help scale up this work, so.
John Bwarie: So I mean, I know the answer, so I’m going to ask the question. This is a model that could work in any level of government with the private sector and foundations together. What’s the piece of advice that you give a smaller community in California, in Minnesota, in New York? How can they learn from this experiment that has been going on for a couple of years here in Los Angeles?
Wendy Garen: That’s a good question. Part of it requires trust and relationships. And so I think that we were able to do this, it was because the chief aide to supervisor had run a foundation, had run Liberty Hill. And she was the first person in Villaraigosa’s office running the, so they had life experience. They knew both philanthropy and government, and then followed by Eileen. So we had people on the government side who were more open minded than you would typically find because they’d had multi-sector experience.
John Bwarie: How do we help government be open minded if they don’t have the experience?
Wendy Garen: I think part of it can be things like FUSE Corps-
John Bwarie: Tell us about that.
Wendy Garen: There’s a group called Foster America. These are groups that bring in mid career fellows with life experience outside of government to come in to be change agents inside government. So fresh eyes.
John Bwarie: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a really good, you got to be open to it though. And I know that sometimes government has a hard time being open to new ideas or outside influence.
Wendy Garen: Yeah. I think part of this is you’ve got elect the right people. And I think we’re very fortunate in Los Angeles right now in that we have, it’s a small board. It’s only five people running the county, incredibly powerful, and they really want to do better. I think they genuinely want reform. Now, it’s one thing to want it, it’s another thing to do it. I believe we’re making headway.
John Bwarie: So what’s next if you look at this area on the edge of your transactional grant making? What’s the next project that’s looming that you think philanthropy needs to start to pay attention to or roll up its sleeves with that mirrors this work in the foster system?
Wendy Garen: Well, obviously, we’re consumed with the homelessness crisis and there are philanthropists that we could name that have made this central to their grant making. I think every Angeleno needs to care. It’s an even more complicated wicked problem.
John Bwarie: Absolutely.
Wendy Garen: Very challenging. But I just was at SCI-Arc for a site visit, which is one of the 10 best architecture schools in the country. And we’re lucky that it’s here. It’s very creative. They pride themselves on being radical, disruptive architects. And they’re doing a charette, a student thing where they make the kids work really, really hard around homelessness. And can they create, for example, there’s some group in Mexico that can build a unit for $10000, 500 square feet, and we can truck them in for 10000. We need creativity because what we can’t afford is to build units that cost $500000 to house one person. That’s just a nonstarter. There isn’t enough money to do it.
John Bwarie: Is there something that we haven’t, hasn’t really come to the surface that you’re keeping an eye on?
Wendy Garen: Well, I was excited when I heard the Bloomberg Foundation was investing in the accessory dwelling unit model, which would help a homeowner build a unit in their yard, which is now permissible because of zoning change from Sacramento, give them the money to build it and then, like a loan, and if they provide housing to a homeless person for something like five years, they’ve earned the right to keep the unit. I think that’s clever, and you could get a lot more people housed. It’s tricky but worth trying. So I’m looking for those kinds of creative ideas.
John Bwarie: And as you look at those creative ideas, those are always stirring and you’re thinking about and learning as you, where do you source that information? How do you get more information about issues or what’s coming besides maybe through, SoCal grant makers, are there other sources that you’re using to keep up on the social issues that matter to you?
Wendy Garen: Well, it’s funny, years ago we interacted with a Japanese automaker, and their grant making staff. And they had a list of everything they read to stay caret. And one of the things they read was good housekeeping and the Reader’s Digest. And I would say, I don’t read Reader’s Digest if it’s still is produced. I read three papers a day, I go to the Pacific Council meetings, I put myself out there to be exposed to information all of the time. And then I think most importantly, our team, we site visit every grantee. It’s not a paper process. It’s a human process where we engage with people, we visit them on their turf. We see how it smells. We meet the kids. And I think we’re there not to talk, but to listen. And so I think that’s just really important that we’re paying attention. We’re respectfully listening.
John Bwarie: And you’re on the ground.
Wendy Garen: Yeah. We’re asking people, help me understand because we’re all generalists, we’re not experts. And so that gives us permission to ask lots of help me understand questions.
John Bwarie: Before I go to our lightning round. I want to talk for a minute about the Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative. This is something that I admire. I will assert that there are probably too many nonprofits in most communities that a lot, and not for bad intention, just people have created this model of nonprofit as a way to solve a problem and a lot of duplication. I’m probably saying things that you would say. Tell us about this initiative and why it’s so important to you as a grant maker.
Wendy Garen: Well, I think that we all recognize that we deal with scarce resources. The scarcest resources are time followed closely by money. And we looked at this, actually, we went to a workshop and we joked that we went to a workshop and it was presented by UCLA’s Luskin School. And it was this guy, David La Piana, who’s written the book on nonprofit collaboration, mergers, and acquisition. And we came out of that workshop thinking, really and talking to other foundations, in this case it was the community foundation. On one guard, we all thought an initiative was needed. We came away from that workshop thinking, Oh my God, we need to help nonprofits develop a more robust toolkit. They need to have in their toolkit concepts like, can we deeply collaborate? Could our back offices be the same back office?
And, Oh my goodness, could we come together with someone else to have more impact? So it’s not driven by the idea of let’s save money. It’s driven by the idea of how can we have more impact? And we created a pooled fund, again, about 14 foundations, maybe three or $4 million has been pooled. We’ve made over 70 grants to nonprofits and they come in, both their CEO and their board chair have to agree, and we’ll pay for a coach, really a facilitator, a business consultant to help them examine how they might collaborate. Because it can be emotional. People have their identities wrapped up in their nonprofits and sometimes they don’t think as much about the mission as they do about themselves. And having an outsider to help them go through that can really help. And we’ve seen some incredible outcomes. I’ll give an example.
There was a group of organizations that do, they go to probation camps to work with kids using the arts. It can be very transformative for kids who are locked up in probation camp to have access to this kind of opportunity. But each of these programs was independently negotiating access to the camps and all of it. And it was very hard on probation and hard on them. They came together to talk about, could they do better? And they ended up creating an umbrella for all of these arts nonprofits. They grew it from six nonprofits to I think 12, who now have much more robust access to the population they want to serve and are improving in other ways. And then in some cases there have been charter schools that have merged or-
John Bwarie: Through your program?
Wendy Garen: Yes. So just some incredible outcomes.
John Bwarie: How does someone get into that, they have to be invited?
Wendy Garen: No, the application is available on the community foundation’s website and they simply-
John Bwarie: That’s the California Community Foundation.
Wendy Garen: California Community Foundation. And then it’s managed by a team of the funders.
John Bwarie: And limited to the LA-
Wendy Garen: It’s LA County nonprofits. The investment is about $40000 for consulting assistants. And then once they’ve executed their plan, we’ll also double down with implementation money.
John Bwarie: Wow.
Wendy Garen: Because you may need your IT systems or a stationary or websites or-
John Bwarie: All the things that-
Wendy Garen: Dealing with whatever, the execution often costs money. So we’re excited about what that’s meant. And it’s part of a national movement. We’re not the only program doing this. There are programs around the country that are very similar.
John Bwarie: How do we tell nonprofits respecting their ego, respecting the passion they have to serve their community. How do you help them see a new way?
Wendy Garen: Well, I think that through capacity building, one of the best nonprofits in town is called The Nonprofit Finance Fund. And I think every nonprofit should be trained by that agency on how to understand their financials. Just understanding you’re running a business and what that means is so important, and it’s one of the weaker areas in our sector.
John Bwarie: And when someone says, “I want to start a nonprofit,” what do you say?
Wendy Garen: Well, I don’t want to tell the person with a really brilliant idea, yeah, the joke that I use is I would not want to have been the grant maker that told Wendy Kopp, “Don’t create Teach For America,” because it went gangbusters. But mostly people should look to who else is doing it and see if they can collaborate. And if they can’t find a nonprofit that they can affiliate with, they ought to think about working with a fiscal sponsor like Community Partners, which is housed here in this campus at The Endowment that literally exists to help organizations incubate so they can test their idea out before they hire a lawyer, drop, I mean, it’s expensive to become a nonprofit.
John Bwarie: Absolutely.
Wendy Garen: You have to have incorporation papers and blah, blah, blah. Why go through all that if you don’t have to?
John Bwarie: And I think the last figure I saw in LA County alone, there’s something like 35000 nonprofit organizations.
Wendy Garen: Yeah, it’s crazy.
John Bwarie: It’s amazing. And we see this all across the country. Communities of 100000 having 700 nonprofits.
Wendy Garen: Well, and I will say, and I mean it with love, that too many nonprofits are hobbies, and they’re not real organizations. They don’t have real fiduciary boards. In other words, boards that are behind them, responsible for their work. They’re almost independent practitioners in a cover being of a nonprofit. And doing good, I’m not saying that often they’re not doing really good things, but tons and tons of $50000 a year organizations will not drive impact in Los Angeles.
John Bwarie: Well said. We’re wrapping up here and I want to go through our lightening round. I’m going to ask you as many questions as I can with short answers from you that are about the work you’ve done and the work in the community. And we’ll set a timer for 60 seconds-
Wendy Garen: Sure.
John Bwarie: … and see how well you can do. There is no prize. The prize is that you completed the answers.
Wendy Garen: Okay, good.
John Bwarie: So we’ll start, and here we go. Who’s a leader who has influenced you in your work?
Wendy Garen: Marian Wright Edelman.
John Bwarie: Great. What book has changed the way you think about your work in the community?
Wendy Garen: Right now I’m reading, The Deepest Well, which is about childhood trauma.
John Bwarie: What’s the best quality in a partner to achieve good collaboration?
Wendy Garen: Authenticity and honesty.
John Bwarie: Nice. What advice do you have for someone trying to work with government?
Wendy Garen: Be patient.
John Bwarie: What do nonprofits not understand about foundations and philanthropy?
Wendy Garen: I actually think they understand us pretty well.
John Bwarie: We’ll keep going.
Wendy Garen: Yeah. I actually think that community understands philanthropy pretty well. Philanthropy prides itself on being snowflakes. We’re all snow but we’re really, really different. And there’s a line, I’ve seen one foundation, you’ve seen one foundation, that is true and I think that frustrates people but that’s just built into the DNA of we are private organizations for the public good and vive la difference. The more that we have diversity, the more likely they can find a fit.
John Bwarie: What for profit business by name or characteristic makes the best partner to making impact?
Wendy Garen: Sometimes it’s the banks because they are required by federal guidance to do-
John Bwarie: The CRA.
Wendy Garen: Investment activities. And businesses that give are the minority. In terms of charitable giving, businesses only make up 5% of the charitable giving in the United States. And there is less business giving than there used to be 30 years ago. It used to represent 10% and then most of their giving is goods and not money. And so I want to kiss and hug and give praise to every one of them that does something.
John Bwarie: One last bonus question here. What’s the best career decision you ever made?
Wendy Garen: Really the best career decision I ever made was going to graduate school because it really gave me a worldview, and I went to school in urban planning, and from the beginning I knew that you had to work with others
John Bwarie: And that’s a great place to end because the work that you do is about collaboration, it’s working in communities. Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us today. You do have deep community intelligence in this region and I really look forward to seeing what’s next from you and the work of the Parsons Foundation and the partners that you have collected and work with. Thanks Wendy.
Wendy Garen: Thanks so much.
John Bwarie: Thanks for listening to Community Intelligence. And for more information on this and other episodes, visit our website at stratiscope.com. At Stratiscope, we provide community intelligence services to businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies. Let us know how we can help you.