A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Philanthropy & Nonprofits

North Texas Giving Day Is Off To a Great Start, But It Needs Your Help More Than Ever

| 1 week ago

North Texas nonprofits have had a year like no other. The pandemic increased need and demand to unprecedented levels. It decimated the volunteer force and disrupted in-person fundraising efforts that so many rely on. The call for help was so urgent that North Texas Giving Day, which normally holds its center-stage charity event in September, collaborated with United Way Metropolitan Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys to create an emergency day of donations on May 5.

But today is the main event, the annual region-wide fundraiser that last year generated a record $50 million for about 3,000 nonprofits. Organizers have the ambitious goal of topping that number again, despite the unique nature of this year’s edition.

North Texas Giving Day is an 18-hour online donation initiative that marshals a large network of nonprofits and connects them to individual donors. The effort is led by Communities Foundation of Texas and seeks to engage communities in causes that are relevant to them, from grassroots movements to larger operations like the Salvation Army. (Full disclosure, D editor Tim Rogers’ wife, Christine, handles its PR.)

This year, of course, North Texas Giving Day looks a little different. About 24 percent of participating nonprofits are new to the event. That’s 787 additional organizations. There are new search filters, which allow donors to locate nonprofits led by Black, Latinx, indigenous, or people of color, a response to the social justice reforms called for in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

The online portal is nothing new, but the marketing approach has always involved in-person events. This year, in light of social distancing measures, that can’t happen. So the organization got creative.

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Meet the 14-Year-Old Dallasites Raising Money for the North Texas Food Bank Through Chalk Drawings

| 4 months ago

For most 14-year-olds, this year’s biggest milestone will be graduating from middle school. Local students Stella Wrubel, Quinn Graves, Isabella Dickason, and Trevor Godkin have their sights set on a bigger goal–raising $10,000 for the North Texas Food Bank’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

The four friends developed a Chalk4Change challenge as a creative and simple way for kids and their families to make a difference during the pandemic.

Participants challenge their neighbors, family, or friends to donate $20 or more to the Chalk4Change GoFundMe page. In return, participants will decorate the donor’s sidewalk or driveway with colorful chalk drawings and inspiring messages.

All of the donations go directly to the North Texas Food Bank; each dollar provides three meals to families in need. To date, the GoFundMe has 65 donors and has raised $9,742 of its $10,000 goal.

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Doing Good

Dallas: The City of Random Acts of Kindness, Pt. 12

| 4 months ago

Though Dallas Maids has been a thriving cleaning service for 16 years, its future looked grim when the shelter-in-place order took effect. Residential cleaning services were deemed essential businesses, but the company’s owner, Greg Shepard, knew that many of his regular customers wouldn’t feel comfortable having someone visit their homes.

Though cancelations rolled in “like an avalanche,” says Shepard, he and his team were touched when many customers insisted on paying anyway to support the small business. Others kept their appointments and added generous tips.

“[Our customers have] shown that the worst of times brings out the best in people,” says Shepard. “I want to pay this generosity forward by providing our local area first responders with free home cleanings [to lessen] their stress.”

Dallas Maids’ First Responders Fatigue Relief fund provides complimentary home cleaning services for the first responders working to fight COVID-19. The fund also ensures that the company’s professional cleaners receive their regular pay. Customers can choose to donate their scheduled cleanings to first responders by continuing to pay their regular rates. Non-customers can help, too: donate here, share the link with friends, and let first responders know about the opportunity.

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Arts & Entertainment

Can Local Collaborations Between Governments and Philanthropists Mimic New Deal Art Boom?

| 5 months ago

These are tough times for art. I mean, they are tough times for everyone, but artists and art museums have been one of those industries that have been hit particularly hard. Museums are shuttered. The art market has all but dried up. A report found that 62 percent of artists are unemployed. Museums, galleries, and artists are attempting to improvise virtual exhibitions and experiences. But art is meant to be experienced physically—seeing a painting on a screen is not really experiencing art.

Writing in Artnet, Nasher Sculpture Center director Jeremy Strick has an idea for how museums—as well as artists, art donors, and local governments—could respond to such a moment. Looking back to the many commissions made through the New Deal during the Great Depression for inspiration, Strick proposes commissioning artists to create new works of public art for our cities. Public art, Strick argues, is uniquely able to deal with the spatial restraints of the pandemic. Museums will not be opening any time soon, and when they do, admissions will likely be regulated, and crowds kept to safe limits. We may be more comfortable seeking our cultural experiences outdoors. And while Strick readily admits that the Trump Administration is unlikely to come through with any New Deal-style program that will fund public art commissions, Strick has an idea for how to fund new work:

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How the United Way and Communities Foundation Are Helping Small Nonprofits Fight COVID-19

| 6 months ago

As the coronavirus continues to spread, vulnerable members of our society–the elderly, the homeless, children living in poverty–will feel its effects to an unprecedented degree. North Texas’ nonprofit community is swiftly adapting to meet increasing demands, but many are struggling to find the money to pay for it.

Some of our region’s largest companies and foundations have acknowledged that smaller nonprofits need assistance. Nearly 30 Dallas-Fort Worth Area organizations (including Toyota Motors North America, Communities Foundation of Texas, and The Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation) have partnered with local branches of United Way to create North Texas Cares. The goal is to bring together donors to provide financial support to small nonprofits that serve the people and communities affected by COVID-19. To date, a total of $1.3 million has been awarded to applicants.

North Texas Cares’ streamlined application process uses a single form; nonprofits are able to submit their requests to all partners at once. This ensures that they get the resources they need as quickly as possible.

“In urgent times such as these, it is imperative that we come together to simplify the process for submitting funding requests, for all of our nonprofit partners,” said Leah King, president and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County.

Dozens of applicants have already received funding. Meals on Wheels Senior Services is now delivering shelf-stable foods in addition to hot meals. Domestic violence shelter Emily’s Place continues to provide housing, childcare, and other resources. Empowering the Masses, which typically focuses on vocational training, has pivoted to fight food insecurity with grocery drop-offs and pickups. All are doing so with money from North Texas Cares.

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Philanthropy & Nonprofits

Jessica Nowitzki Talks Nonprofits, Hygge, and Dirk’s Favorite Children’s Book

| 1 year ago

It’s North Texas Giving Day, so I spent a few minutes chatting with Jessica Nowitzki about the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation, starting with how the Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Tournament went on Sunday with Luka Doncic’s first appearance.

D: How did Luka do?

Jessica: He did good! I hadn’t seen him play before the event, but I was happily surprised. And he looked like he enjoyed it, too.

D: So you originally met Dirk at a charity event for the Sports for Education and Economic Development Project (SEED) back in 2010. How did your interest in nonprofits get started?

Jessica: I used to work for Kenny Goss and George Michael and was in the art world for many years. They did a lot of charitable work, and they always made sure there was an open door if we wanted to be part of any of their endeavors. I always tried to be involved as much as I could with some of the organizations that spoke to me. I got involved in a couple of organizations in terms of just sort of assisting and volunteering. I was part of the host committee for SEED. And, yeah, the evening of the event, Dirk and I have some mutual friends. We got introduced, and that was that.

D: So what’s happening with the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation for the upcoming year?

Jessica: So, you know, the foundation has been around for quite some time. We as a board take in grants from children’s organizations in North Texas and throughout the country, and even outside the United States. In fact, the deadline for this year is coming up September 30 for grant applications. So then we review those grants and narrow them down and decide which programs and projects we want to support for the year.

D: I noticed all of the board members are women except for Dirk.

Jessica: Oh yeah, I hadn’t actually thought about that. That wasn’t on purpose, but I guess that’s good, right? We have a solid foundation, I think.

D: I was on the website and it looks like you’ve done some new things with it. Is the FortyOne magazine something new?

Jessica: It is new. As you may know, Dirk has a foundation here in Dallas, of course. And there’s one in Germany that his sister runs. We’re trying to streamline so we’re all on the same page and have the same look. FortyOne just gives you a little bit more of an in-depth, kind of behind-the-scenes look at the foundation and community work that Dirk has going on.

D: I have a Swedish friend who practices hygge, the Scandinavian sort of philosophy of living a life of contentment and well-being by enjoying the simpler things in life. How do you find that happiness and balance in your life while juggling the foundation, your kids, and Dirk?

Jessica: I think the foundation for us is kind of the catalyst for getting everybody on the same page as far as being happy and living a peaceful life. Because, you know, you’re giving back and at the same time you’re involved with these organizations on a one-on-one basis where you actually get that instant feedback and you can see the change. To me, that’s the most valuable thing. And it transfers back to our children and becomes a part of our family. I don’t really call it work–it’s just part of our lives.

D: OK, time for the speed round. Ad side or deuce side?

Jessica: Ad side.

D: Wham or George Michael?

Jessica: I have to say George.

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Philanthropy & Nonprofits

A Reminder: Today Is North Texas Giving Day

| 1 year ago

Last week, our Shawn Shinneman chatted with Matthew Randazzo, the head of the Dallas Foundation. That’s the first community foundation ever established in Texas, which helps connect donors to the nonprofits that match their preferred causes. If you missed it, read it here. Today is North Texas Giving Day, which is sort of like a hyperdrive version of Randazzo’s day job. It’s run by the Communities Foundation of Texas. You give to your favorite local charity, and that charity then becomes eligible for matching funds and various bonus donations. Your dollar is no longer just a dollar.

Right now, just after 10:45 a.m., the live ticker shows that somewhere around $15 million has already been given to Dallas-area nonprofits. Last year, a record $48 million was donated. I think there is a new giving record every year. You don’t want to see that stop, do you?

I’m going to excerpt a piece of that Randazzo interview, which helps sum up a bit why this day is so important for our nonprofits.

As a sector, community philanthropy—for the past several generations—has operated largely as a nonprofit bank or a philanthropic back office for well-intentioned, high-net-worth individuals who want to quote-unquote do good in their community. Increasingly, the 21st century model of community philanthropy and what we’re leaning into is how do we hold, on equal grounds, donor impact and donor intent with community impact.

So a big part of our role is to really understand some of the on-the-ground realities. One in three kids in this community live in poverty. There are between 3,000 and 6,000 kids every single night who don’t have a safe place to lay their head, who are couch surfing, in hotels, in cars, or in homeless shelters. We know that if you are low-income or are a student of color, your access to youth mental health services is critically low and it just sets those kiddos on a trajectory to not be able to reach their full potential.

Those are the sorts of organizations you can help.

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Philanthropy & Nonprofits

The Dallas Foundation’s Matthew Randazzo on the Role of Philanthropy in Solving Dallas’ Problems

| 1 year ago

Before Matthew Randazzo took over as head of the Dallas Foundation last year, he spent 20 years leading nonprofits around the state, the last of them atop the Dallas-based National Math and Science Initiative. That means he’s now experienced philanthropy on both sides. Before, he was advocating for funding to run his organization. Today, at what was the first community foundation ever established in Texas (in 1929), he works with donors to funnel money to the right causes.

The trick is determining exactly what right means. Every community has its priorities—Randazzo lays out what he sees in Dallas below—but a donor brings to the table their own set of interests. What Randazzo loves about his work is the challenge and opportunity that presents, running the two conversations side by side, engaging a donor’s interests alongside the larger conversations about the problems in this city. With North Texas Giving Day about a week out, he answered a few questions about doing community philanthropy in Dallas.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (6/6/19)

| 1 year ago

Brenda Delgado Trial Continues Today. She had denied knowing Kendra Hatcher, the Dallas dentist who was killed in 2015, but evidence says otherwise. In testimony yesterday, an analyst said Delgado had saved photos of Hatcher and Delgado’s ex-boyfriend Ricardo Paniagua, as well as his social security number. She was also tracking his iPhone location.

Lyda Hill Donates $4.6 Million to Help Combat HPV. The Dallas philanthropist wants to increase vaccination rates for human papillomavirus in counties across North Texas.

Man Arrested in Killing of DeSoto High School Classmate. Kenaijae Keon Anderson, who is 18, was arrested in the shooting death of 17-year-old Leroy Hawkins. Anderson admitted to the crime following his arrest.

Frisco Announces Interim Police Chief. For now, assistant Chief Greg Ward will fill the role starting June 14 since Police Chief John Bruce was hired away to Washington.

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Gloria Lopez Wasn’t Supposed To Make It

| 1 year ago

Gloria Lopez likes to say her best school year was the one she spent at Thomas A. Edison, the West Dallas middle school that closed in 2018 after years of failed assessment tests. That was the first time—in eighth grade—that Lopez felt understood.

She’d arrived in the United States at age 4, taken from the people she was closest to by parents who sought a better life. It was her aunts and her grandmother who raised her from birth, filling in for a mother suffering depression after the death of her brother. But it was a different set of aunts and uncles who joined Lopez and her parents and siblings on their journey across the Rio Grande, up I-35 to Dallas.

Partly in reaction to the stark realities of her new life, Lopez became fiercely independent and smart. She was hustling for food by age 6, in a gang by 9. She faced racism and prejudice—even, she says, within the Latino community. She was called every name in the book.

She learned to deal. She was the first in her family to learn English. If she missed the bus in the afternoon, to avoid getting jumped, she would sprint out to the portable classrooms and then climb up on top. When she was called “beaner,” she had a shirt made. It was a bean. In a backward hat. Chile pequín, is what her dad took to calling her—spicy chile.

The spice had the backbone of some very real anger. In addition to the teasing and getting ripped away from loved ones, there was also physical and sexual abuse at home. Lopez says she was not a bad kid but, she would grant you, a “problem child.”

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