Dec 5, 2019

The Future of Philanthropy

Sesame Workshop's Sherrie Westin on the Axios stage. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

On Giving Tuesday, Axios Co-founder Mike Allen hosted a series of one-on-one conversations on the future of philanthropy and innovation in corporate giving.

David Heath, CEO and Co-founder of BOMBAS
David Heath in conversation with Mike Allen. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

David Heath, CEO and Co-founder of the sock company, BOMBAS, discussed the importance of socks for the homeless community and how to guide a company's decision-making by focusing on its mission.

  • On recognizing an unaddressed need: "[Socks] are an item of clothing that I have never spent more than a couple of seconds a day thinking about and they are perceived as a luxury item for a large population of people...When I started to interact with the homeless community...I wanted to go out and do something to help scale and solve this problem."
  • On having the brand catering to the homeless population: "They're not spending money with us, but we want to treat them with the same amount of dignity and compassion that we show our current customers. And so it's really amazing the idea that we're creating something for a group of people that never had a brand created or dedicated for them."
Andrew Plepler, Global Head of Environmental, Social and Governance at Bank of America
David Plepler in conversation with Axios' Evan Ryan. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

View from the Top segment guest, Andrew Plepler, the Global Head of Environmental, Social and Governance at Bank of America, discussed corporate social responsibility with Axios Executive Vice President Evan Ryan.

  • On financial institutions being responsible for responding to shifts in public opinion: "And what is the role of a financial institution? [When things] aren't getting solved in the public policy domain...the target becomes the financial institutions that people feel they can have more influence over."
  • On making politicized decisions: "After a series of mass shootings -- many of which impacted our employees around the country -- we felt that the responsible thing to do was to make a decision around no longer financing the manufacturing of military-style firearms for civilian use."
Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation
Darren Walker on the Axios stage. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

President of the Ford Foundation, Darren Walker, discussed the role of philanthropy in addressing larger social issues and how philanthropy cannot solve these problems alone.

  • On the mission of the Ford Foundation: "I believe that actually the work of philanthropy is not charity and it's not generosity. It should be dignity and justice. And that's a different kind of philanthropy. And so at Ford, I think what we aim to do is to look at the root cause. Often the root causes make us uncomfortable. And so when we look at problems in our society, we have to ask, why does this problem exist?"
  • What the Ford Foundation is focused on in the coming years: "We are supporting organizations who are fighting for immigrant rights. We are supporting organizations that are suing in states in the South that are reducing the number of polling stations. How do we think about strengthening our democracy...a high functioning, robust democracy? These ideas are actually contested in ways that they haven't been contested in my lifetime."
Dr. Sheila Davis, CEO of Partners in Health
Dr. Sheila Davis on Wednesday morning. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

Dr. Sheila Davis, the CEO of Partners in Health, highlighted the importance of building health equity up from the ground level.

  • On the mission of Partners in Health: "Our goal is to work with the public sector to build up health systems, not have kind of a one on one silver bullet issue, but to build a health system from the community up."
  • On how health equity is changing: "I think the ship is rising, but it's rising in an unequal way. So the most vulnerable continue to be the most vulnerable. And I think that includes rural areas and very urban areas...But I think in rural areas that typically have been left behind with the most vulnerable people...they continue to be a group that needs advocacy, needs people paying attention and providing them a comprehensive model."
Sherrie Westin, President of Social Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop
Sherrie Westin on the Axios stage. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

President of Social Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, Sherrie Westin, discussed the importance of accessible, relevant early childhood education, as well as the mission of the Sesame Workshop to meet needs for children in vulnerable communities.

  • On being intentional with representation: "We don't just export Sesame Street around the world. It's going to places like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, partnering with ministries of education and creating local adaptations with storylines, characters within the culture of that country and really addressing the needs of those children...we're reaching children who often have no other access to quality early learning."
  • On childhood education for refugees: "If we are not invested in bringing early education to displaced communities, it really is a lost generation."

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

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