Atlantic Philanthropies

Letter from the President

How Atlantic Is Changing

In the past two years, amid these global challenges and advances, and with our eye always trained on the end of Atlantic as we spend down our assets before the end of the decade, we’ve also looked at ourselves, asking how can we better assist our grantees in achieving the change they seek?  

In our 2008 Annual Report, I wrote about the adoption of Atlantic’s social justice framework, sharpening our focus to ask why people and communities are disadvantaged  and what structural barriers of economic status, race, nationality, gender, age, disabilities, immigration status, sexual orientation, political affiliation or religion stand in the way of full personhood and citizenship. We refined our strategies to focus on dismantling the structures that create and sustain inequity and supporting efforts that raise the voices of disadvantaged communities to speak for themselves and on behalf of others:

  • The Ageing Programme has made a priority of improving the health and economic security of older adults by strengthening their capacity for voice and social action.  For example, we support the Older & Bolder Campaign in the Republic of Ireland that is articulating the impact of the economic crisis on older people and campaigning energetically to protect the State pension, which is the sole income source for half of all older people.
  • The Children & Youth Programme has sharpened its strategic focus to address disparities in opportunities available to children, particularly those who are disadvantaged due to income, race, gender or sexual orientation.  In the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United States, the programme aims to create an enduring advocacy capacity for children and youth by supporting a lasting network of organisations to advocate for children.   In the United States, for instance, building on the strength of our Elev8 initiative, we intensified our grantmaking to support advocacy efforts that promote policies and practices that ensure children’s access to health care.  We have also added the objective of school discipline reform to tackle the zero-tolerance practices that put large numbers of young people of colour in a school-to-prison pipeline.
  • Because we believe that access to quality health care is a fundamental right, our Population Health Programme refined its strategies to improve the quality of health care and health outcomes for all, with particular attention to vulnerable populations.  In Viet Nam, for example, we recognised the need for a systematic approach to connect resources to people in need, whether in the primary health care clinics or in the tertiary hospitals—facilities offering the most advanced care—that we built. So the programme has added the development of social work as a field in Viet Nam as one of its strategic objectives.  The professionalisation of social work in Viet Nam will advance all of our strategic goals related to improving the health care and well-being of vulnerable populations, and reducing health care inequities.
  • And in Bermuda, we have strengthened our focus on structural inequalities and income disparities.  Our Bermuda strategy now supports groups like Youth on the Move to gather better data on how the justice system criminalises at-risk young people and to provide resources and support to disconnected youth. 

I encourage you to explore our Web site to learn more about these programmes and initiatives.  

Strengthening our Organisational Capacity

Nobayeni DladlaThree appointments made in summer 2010 underscore the steps we have taken this year to deepen our work and gear up for the final years of spend down for maximum impact.  Dall Forsythe, our new Vice President for Finance and Operations, who had been the chief budget official for the State of New York and other government agencies and nonprofits, represents an operations approach in line with our social justice values, that maximises every penny of Chuck Feeney’s generosity for programmes – for people who need it most. Nobayeni Dladla, the new Director of our South Africa Programme, an experienced U.N. and South African official, represents the shift to an emphasis on geographic leadership, so that we can make the best and toughest decisions about priorities closest to the ground wherever we work. And Fran Barrett, who heads our newly created Capacity Building Unit after a long career providing management assistance to community organisations, represents our awareness that Atlantic’s money is important, but only in the context of strong and well-led organisations that are in a position to sustain themselves after we leave the scene.

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