Green Funders Affinity Group Embraces Cross-Group Collaboration
Continuing on the theme of cross-group collaboration, our Green Funders Affinity Group actively seeks and explores ways to highlight how issues related to the environment impacts other work supported by Maryland Philanthropy Network members. With our new chair, Julie Hester of the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, and the continued leadership of consultant Rebecca Ruggles, the Green Funders welcome your participation and encourage you to attend an upcoming program!
At the beginning of the year, Rebecca and I, with former chair Allen Hance, brainstormed our goals for the Group. A format that continues to work well for the group is to focus on an issue and allow ourselves the time to "go deep" on a topic. Not feeling that we had finished exploring human health and the environment, our first goal states that we will "continue to deepen members' understanding of the intersection of human health concerns and environment challenges." Our programs are designed to increase members' awareness of the pressing issues and promising work in the field. It is our aim that funders will feel more connected to the field which is changing rapidly and that this leads to an informed grantmaking strategy.
So, with an eye towards cross-group collaboration and deepening our knowledge on issues related to human health and the environment, three of our programs this year already featured collaborations with other affinity groups. Two joint programs with the Education Funders took us to Great Kids Farm and updated members on the environmental literacy requirements that will be implemented at the start of the 2012-2013 school year.
The recent program on the environmental literacy requirements highlighted the work and energy of several Maryland Philanthropy Network members - the Baltimore Community Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Constellation Energy. Collectively, these funders support advocacy efforts and the school systems (both Baltimore City Public Schools and other districts around the region) so that the requirements are not simply "another check box" on a long list of high school graduation requirements.
The requirements fit into existing work with the Maryland Green Schools and we were fortunate to learn from Bo Hoppin and the Boston Youth Environmental Network about how place based education in the Boston Public School System has measurably supported academic achievement. We also heard from Michael Sarbanes and Keisha Matthews about how the Baltimore City Schools are enriching existing coursework with the environmental literacy materials, resources and experiential learning. Ms. Matthews spoke about how the teachers are experiencing and participating alongside the students and are receiving professional development targeted towards integrating the new requirements into their lesson plans.
I encourage you to contact Rebecca Ruggles if you are interested in learning more or exploring your own funding interests for possible intersections with issues related to the environment and human health. We will explore the very topical issue of "fracking" and will hear from funders and the Health and Environmental Funders Netowrk about the widespread community mobilization around this issue.