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On Thursday, Nov. 29 2018 members of Humboldt Area Foundation’s Social Justice Donor Circle met and unanimously agreed to make four grants of $40,000 each to: Applied Human Centered Design 2019 Boot Camp & Clinics, McKinleyville Alliance for Racial Equity Leadership Initiative Program, Cooperation Humboldt, and California Kitchen Inherent Food Sovereignty Project. This final decision was met with applause.
“We at Cooperation Humboldt are absolutely thrilled with the generous gift from HAF's Donor Circle. It has already allowed us — just over one month in — to obtain our first physical space, and to establish regular hours,” said Cooperation Humboldt co-founder Tamara McFarland.
The group plans to spend the next year planting fruit trees, installing food gardens, launching a tool library and hosting more events and skill shares.
“The seed money we received from the Donor Circle has truly empowered us to spread our wings in 2019 and we could not be more excited about all the exciting projects we have in store,” added McFarland.
The Social Justice Donor Circle began in the spring of 2017 at the initiative of a donor at the Humboldt Area Foundation. The donor wanted to pull together locals who would commit to building a donor community and pool funds for collective grant making in the region. The Circle, supported by HAF, consists of 17 anonymous donors who have met and learned about social justice philanthropy. Members have expressed optimism about their grantee’s projects and said they are looking forward to the next round of grant making in 2019, as well as learning “the needs in our community and the ways that [they] as donors can positively effect change."
The McKinleyville Alliance for Racial Equity Leadership Initiative will use its grant to develop a leadership cohort to promote racial equity in McKinleyville’s schools and community. California Kitchen Inherent Food Sovereignty will sponsor weekly community meals in Hoopa to build community, revive traditional food uses, and work together on community issues. Applied Human Centered Design, facilitated by HAF Community Strategies Director Jen Rice, will use processes that have proven successful in Del Norte in promoting social health to foster new levels of collaboration amongst child and family agencies in Humboldt.
About Humboldt Area Foundation:
Vera Vietor established the Humboldt Area Foundation in 1972. Since then, more than $80 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded in Humboldt, Del Norte, Curry and Trinity Counties. Humboldt Area Foundation promotes and encourages generosity, leadership and inclusion to strengthen our communities.
For more information on services provided by the Foundation please visit the Humboldt Area Foundation website at hafoundation.org or call (707) 442-2993.
Donors and nonprofits who are interested in seeing their charitable money work for social good have a new way to invest. Humboldt Area Foundation is now offering a Socially Responsible Investment Fund (SRI) which focuses on investments that address climate change, sustainability and other social issues.
“HAF has been evaluating the possibility of a Socially Responsible Fund for over a decade,” said Humboldt Area Foundation Executive Director Patrick Cleary.
Cleary explained that socially responsible investing has historically generated lower returns than traditional investments, creating a “conundrum” for donors who would then have less money to offer in grants and scholarships. That, combined with a lack of consensus on what “socially responsible” meant, gave HAF’S staff and Investment Committee much to research before deciding on the best strategy.
“The approach we settled on after much research was to focus the fund on investments which address environmental and climate change issues, which resonated with our donors,” said Cleary. “In addition, we were able to construct a portfolio that appears to be competitive on return with our long-term pool, so hopefully donors will not have to accept lower returns. The reaction from our fund holders has been positive enough for us to reach a large enough threshold to launch the fund.”
The investment option is broadly consistent with the investment policy established by HAF for its long term investment pool, but invests with fund managers whose security selection and portfolio construction processes focus on companies with high sustainability ratings, positive economic development, attention to renewable resources and good governance. Holdings in the pool will be regularly reviewed to assure they are meeting sustainable investment practices.
“At HAF we incorporate the tenets of our Mission statement in all we do,” said Finance Committee Chair Charlie Jordan. “Our investment strategy is yet another way that is true. By investing in socially responsible funds we seek funds that provide both financial returns and social and environmental good to bring about a positive change.”
Because this is a new offering, there is no historical track record on investment performance, but simulations show that the proposed fund mix for the SRI would have performed slightly better than HAF’s long term pool over the last three years and matched HAF over the trailing five years, with somewhat higher volatility. The underlying investment costs of the funds are very comparable to the fees on HAF’s Long Term Investment portfolio.
“Some of our donors would like to direct their donations into an investment vehicle that more aligns with their values,” said Investment Committee Chair John McBeth. “HAF is lucky to have Angeles Investment advisors on our team, and with their help we have developed a Socially Responsible Investment Portfolio to address this complex issue.”
Investing in the Socially Responsible Fund is at the option of the donor or nonprofit. Individuals interested in learning more should contact Patrick Cleary at (707) 267-9902
July 16, 2019
I am honored to write this letter to you as I enter my twelfth and final year on the Board of Directors of Humboldt Area Foundation. This is an exciting time at HAF. As we look forward to this new chapter, we are fully engaged in the upcoming transitions. On August 1, 2019, we welcome Bryna Lipper as our new Chief Executive Officer. Her previous work in philanthropy includes co-founding the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities. Bryna has an impressive range of skills, experience and expertise to guide HAF to the next level. We enthusiastically welcome her into her new role at HAF.
As we moving forward, I am also reflecting on the many milestones HAF has achieved in the past six years under the leadership of Patrick Cleary as Executive Director and with the help of our community partners. We have compiled a list of some of those accomplishments which you can find below. HAF’s future success will be built on the strong foundation that was set during his tenure, and we are glad he will continue his work at the Foundation in a new role as Director of Community Prosperity and Investment.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I full-heartedly thank Patrick for his years of dedication, his deep commitment to the mission of the Foundation and for the many significant accomplishments as Executive Director.
Our future is looking very bright!
Kathryn Lobato, Board Chair, Humboldt Area Foundation Board of Directors
Here are some of our major accomplishments since 2013:
(Story by Kimberly Wear, North Coast Journal)
When Ernesto Cappuccio arrived in Arcata with his family just over four years ago, a lot about his life changed. There were all the usual things that such a move entails for a fifth grader, which in this case included starting over at a new school in a small town where everyone seemed to have known each other forever.
But that wasn't the hardest part. It turned out that a seemingly simple thing proved to be one of the toughest adjustments — he could no longer play basketball.
Born with spina bifida, Ernesto uses a wheelchair. Back when he lived in the Bay Area enclave of Livermore, the now 15-year-old was part of a competitive basketball team that had access to a court with an adjustable hoop. But here in Humboldt County, there were no similar programs.
And while there was a park with a court just down the street from his new house in Arcata's Greenview neighborhood, the lone basket stood at regulation height and Ernesto was blocked from using it by a swath of grass that was difficult, if not impossible, for his wheelchair to traverse.
"It was in the back and there was no way to get to it," Ernesto says. "No way. No how."
When his two younger sisters — Chloe and Zoe — played on the swings or climbed the jungle gym, Ernesto was often relegated to the sidelines, or — more accurately — the sidewalk.
And considering that he not only played competitive basketball and sled hockey, but also went caving and rock climbing through the nonprofit Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program, Ernesto was not accustomed to sitting things out.
Now an Arcata High School freshman, he's on the track and field team in discus and shot put, while also playing trumpet in the orchestra.
"It was tough," Ernesto says of the move. "I liked to do all of those sports. They were fun."
So, when neighbor Daniel Bixler organized a meeting in the spring of 2015 to look at replacing Greenview Park's outdated equipment, Ernesto and his father Frank went to talk about more than just what play structures should be installed.
They went to talk about access for everyone. And they were not alone.
Bixler says he still becomes emotional when thinking about the families who came forward in those early planning stages to explain how playgrounds are often symbols of isolation to their children.
Instead of welcoming places to shoot a few hoops or zoom down slides with abandon, the combination of a lack of access and equipment they could use made the parks seem more like exclusive clubs that didn't include them on the guest list.
The father of two young daughters, Bixler says he couldn't believe he'd missed what should have been so obvious.
"It was more than a lightbulb that went off," he says, recalling he immediately turned to Dan Diemer, then the city's parks superintendent, and asked, "What would it take?"
What it was going to take was money, about twice as much as a traditional playground build, not just for the specialized play equipment but also to install wheelchair-friendly surfaces and things like accessible picnic tables.
Instead of around $150,000, the project would cost upward of $300,000.
With his eyes now opened wide, the owner of Humboldt Hot Sauce knew there was only one way forward and the stage was set for Arcata's first fully inclusive playground. Then the hard work began.
"There was no turning back," Bixler recalls.
Playgrounds haven't always been the neighborhood fixtures that most people now take for granted. The idea first appeared around the mid-1800s, in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, to offer children a safe place to play and respite from the bleak tenement life so many faced in inner cities.
With the baby boom following World War II and the rise of suburban neighborhoods, playgrounds became more common place and have continued to evolve over the years, embraced not only for providing needed green space amid urban sprawl but also as an outlet for unfettered play that helps children learn to interact and use their imaginations.
But there's also a more serious side — psst, don't tell the kids — especially for children with developmental delays.
All that playing builds physical coordination, which in turn helps kids who have trouble navigating the complicated dance of social interaction to develop those skills, according to Jayne McGuire, a professor of recreation administration at Humboldt State University.
Children who might have a tough time communicating can find themselves on more even ground with their peers when they can go head-to-head on the monkey bars just like everyone else, she says.
As an added benefit, those skills can develop faster on playgrounds than with rote exercises because the kids are simply having fun, McGuire notes.
"They're little microcosms of social engagement that develop a sense of self and a sense of independence," says McGuire, who consulted on Greenview Park's design. "It lets parents take that one step back and let their kids be kids."
Along that vein, inclusive playgrounds are gaining a foothold following the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act and special education laws in the 1990s.
McGuire notes that inclusive playgrounds are not just for children who might have difficulties using traditional play structures. They ensure there is something for everyone to enjoy — and to enjoy together.
"The goal is that everyone plays side-by-side and we break down those barriers," she says.
While it's hard to quantify how many now exist, National Public Radio's "Playgrounds for Everyone" app — which crowdsources locations and information on the growing movement — lists nearly 3,000 inclusive playgrounds in the United States.
For Mara Kaplan, founder of Let Kids Play, a Pittsburgh-based national consulting firm on inclusive play areas, the importance of making sure all children and adults have access to playgrounds can't be overstated.
The mother of a special needs son, Kaplan knows first-hand the heartbreak of not being able to do what so many people take for granted — spending a day at the park with her children.
"It really isolates a family and takes them out of the community when you don't make the community inclusive and welcoming for everybody," she says.
While there are ADA requirements for newer parks, both Kaplan and McGuire say those are "low bars" that mainly address access.
"ADA might get my son to the playground, but it doesn't necessarily get him through the playground and it doesn't mean there is anything for him to do at the playground," Kaplan says.
But things have changed by leaps and bounds in the 24 years since her son was born, with many communities, like Arcata, embracing the idea that making inclusive playgrounds can be the rule, rather than the exception, to the benefit of everyone.
"You see children learn about one another in a way that no other place else than a playground can be," Kaplan says. "A playground is normalizing."
While Arcata might not have been on the forefront of fully inclusive playgrounds, the city is now moving toward leading the nation by making Greenview Park just the starting point.
"We hope it will be the first of what will be many," says Julie Neander, the city's director of Community Services. "That is our goal. ... It means it will cost us more money but it's so worth it. We want our parks to be for everyone."
This past Saturday marked a major milestone when, after more than two years of planning, fundraising and hard work, Greenview Park officially opened to a crowd of about 200 who gathered at the one-acre site tucked into a cul-de-sac off 11th Street.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it also took one to reinvent Greenview Park.
Between the spare change dropped into collection cans, $200,000 in state funds granted to Arcata because of its commitment to affordable housing and the donations of community members and local businesses, more than $300,000 was raised.
"Our world is better by our actions," Bixler told the crowd in a voice choked with emotion.
As children scrambled across the spongey green and black speckled matting that replaced the grass to explore their new space, grownups wandered about the vibrant yellow, orange and blue play structures, where once only meager swing sets and a lone steel jungle gym the color of a dreary Humboldt day stood.
There are still swings, but this set includes one with a specialized seat to strap in children who might not have the ability to hold on for themselves. Near the entrance, a sensory wall with patterns to trace and music makers to play stands at the ready, along with the obligatory climbing structure and side-by-side slides.
Toward the back and off to the side, sits a dome that can be scaled while also providing a quiet refuge inside for autistic children who can become overwhelmed by sensory overload.
There is also a sway glider with a ramp to accommodate wheelchairs that rocks back and forth.
None went unused. Still in the back but with a paved path leading the way, there is a basketball court with an adjustable hoop.
By far the most popular feature on Saturday was a zip line structure with a large chair resembling a child's car seat that zooms back and forth along a track on the park's outer edge, the idea of Zoe Cappuccio — Ernesto's 8-year-old sister.
Standing at the head of a long line waiting to take a turn, her sister Chloe could not be happier with result.
The pair — like the rest of the family — took part in the park's fundraising, with the girls setting up a lemonade stand that raised $60 for the cause.
"I think it's fun," Chloe says of the zip line. "It feels like you're flying."
What started out as a simple renovation project had transformed into something much more — a place with something for everyone, where children and adults, regardless of whether they are blind or deaf, autistic or use a wheelchair, can mingle and play — together.
Calling Greenview Park "a great example of collaboration," Bixler notes his tiny Arcata neighborhood now boasts the only fully inclusive playground in the 350-mile stretch between Oakland and Medford, Oregon.
After Ernesto cut the opening day ribbon, Bixler was there to give him a high five.
As the celebration in the park continued, Lucy Bixler stopped by the sign with glass blocks denoting the 66 donors who gave more than $250 toward the effort — proudly pointing out the block with her and her sister Bella's names.
Her father says that, years from now, his girls and other children will still be able to look up at those names and know there were people who cared enough about them and their community to make a difference.
"I think it's going to work out very well for everyone," Bixler says.
“Meeting the National Standards benchmarks is a rigorous, comprehensive process,” said Randy Royster, Chair of the Community Foundations National Standards Board. “This accreditation is a significant accomplishment that indicates Humboldt Area Foundation demonstrates a commitment to transparency, quality, integrity and accountability as it carries out its mission.”
Founded in 1972 by Vera Vietor, Humboldt Area Foundation has over 700 funds established by donors to advance the causes most important to them. National Standards also apply to Humboldt Area Foundation’s two geographic affiliates, Wild Rivers Community Foundation (serving Del Norte and Curry Counties) and the Trinity Trust. In addition to providing grants to individuals and nonprofits, HAF provides support to the Northern California Association of Nonprofits and offers a variety of support services including a nonprofit resource center and meeting rooms. . In addition to affirming the organization’s philanthropic services, the accreditation validates Humboldt Area Foundation’s grantmaking practices for
the nonprofit community.
National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations® is the first program of its kind for charitable
foundations in the United States. Humboldt Area Foundation promotes and encourages generosity, leadership and inclusion to strengthen our communities.
The Community Foundations National Standards Board is a supporting organization of the Council on Foundations
and is responsible for the quality, value and integrity of compliance with National Standards. For more information on
the National Standards Board, visit its website at www.cfstandards.org.
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Humboldt Area Foundation is confirmed in compliance with National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations
Humboldt Area Foundation promotes and encourages generosity, leadership, and inclusion to strengthen our communities.