Systems Thinking Mini-Course by Felicia Chavez (MC45) Can we make the world a better place with systems thinking?
Caridad Partners, A Bay Area Giving Circle
"Patricia Stirling and I actually conceived and founded Caridad Partners while we were in the EFM cohort." Pamela Cook, 10/23/19
San Francisco, CA – Caridad Partners, a giving circle of Bay Area women, reached a milestone in distributing more than $500,000 during its 13-year history.
The goal of Caridad Partners is to enhance the health, education and economic self-sufficiency of women and children in the developing world through high-impact grants to non-profit organizations. A giving circle is a pooled charitable fund through which members make grants together. Caridad Partners was founded by development professionals and philanthropists Pamela Cook and Patricia Stirling in 2006.
Caridad Partners demonstrates an effective and efficient model for giving circles, inspiring others to engage in collaborative philanthropy. The name, “Caridad” was chosen because it is a Spanish word encompassing the concept of charity, philanthropy and generosity; this remains a motivational mantra for the partners. Partner numbers have fluctuated between 12 and 19 women and represent a diverse group of leaders from a variety of sectors and spheres of influence.
Pooling individual contributions made to collaboratively selected organizations allows the participant partners to increase their individual annual giving impact. The research and selection methods constitute a learning process resulting in the members becoming more astute and effective philanthropists. Caridad Partners identify organizations with an impressive track record, a commitment to measuring and reporting impact and results, as well as maintaining a Bay Area presence. This allows for in-person, direct relationships to be fostered between Caridad Partners and recipient organizations.
Caridad Partners is grassroots in nature, flexible and reflective of the partners’ preferences. Partners share their knowledge, experience, contacts and research to select two organizations to receive a high impact grant from the pooled fund made up with a minimum of $2,500 from each member. Each partner makes a direct individual donation to the selected grantees according to the minimum agreed by consensus.
Wetlands Habitat Restoration
Amanda Meecham (MC45) volunteered at the Hamilton Native Plant Nursery for six years supporting its work to establish and maintain native plants in the restored wetlands. The nature based adaptations employed in the Hamilton wetlands provide habitat for migratory shorebirds, waterfowl, fish, and other wildlife. In addition to wildlife benefits tidal wetlands dampen storm surges, prevent tidal erosion, and sequester greenhouse gases. When she heard that funding for the nursery operations was due to expire in two years she determined that unless steps were taken the nursery’s restorative work in the wetlands and education program would also end.
For her Master Class project she joined with classmate Barbara Ball to conduct a feasibility study of ways to continue the stewardship efforts of the nursery. They investigated the many aspects of the nursery’s programs, jurisdictions of different organizations currently involved with the wetland, and potential avenues for securing funding for continuation of the nursery operations.
Amanda and Barbara then secured a fiscal sponsor, MarinLink so they can accept funding under their 501(c)3 designation.
May 2020 - a two year grant of $1.4 million was received from the State Coastal Conservancy to not only maintain the Hamilton wetlands but also to oversee the Bel Marin Keys wetlands restoration. Christina McWhorter, project manager, and grant writer Jake McVaugh did an incredible job writing the application and got letters of support from Save the Bay, Point Blue, Conservation Corps, Jared Huffman and Jens Kullberg.
See more Members' Impacts from Straws Upon Request to the Yellow School bus program. It started here.
Electrification of our Transportation
2019 update: Kurt Johnson (MC 44) and Chair of San Anselmo's Sustainability Commission, drafted an EV strategy which was unanimously approved by the San Anselmo Town Council in February. The strategy includes increasing the number of public stations, electrifying the town's fleet and raising awareness of electric vehicles.
In 2017, Kurt Johnson's MC44 student advocacy speech proposed the electrification of Marin’s public transportation system. The idea seeded a regional effort: involving 11 cities and town’s and a cadre of environmental organizations (Drive Clean Marin); to advocate that the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM), which includes local jurisdictions and the Board of Supervisors, adopt policies to reduce green house gas emissions and provide dedicated funding for the acceleration of private and public electric vehicle use through out the County.
The Master Class project mentor and four students, participated in the collaborative advocacy effort. The result was every city and town requesting that the TAM Board adopt the proposed recommendation and dedicate funds for that purpose in it’s budget expenditure plan. Dedicated funding of $1.3 million, over the next 3 years, was allocated by TAM for programs: to assess impacts of sea level rise (SLR) on transportation; installation of public charging stations to accelerate use of electric vehicles (EV,s); and to facilitate community education about EV’s ability to significantly reduce green house gasses, save them money and keep oil in the ground.
History Made: Marin County is the first in California to have all its municipal electricity accounts powered by 100% renewable energy!
Helene Marsh and Sarah Loughran, MC 43 (Master Class 43 graduates), applied their advocacy skills to encourage the County and seven Marin municipalities to purchase their electricity through the Deep Green program offered by MCE, which ensures that all electricity is generated by renewable energy sources. They have been successful in persuading Larkspur, Corte Madera, Novato, San Rafael, Ross, Mill Valley, Tiburon and most notably Marin County to commit to Deep Green resulting in an estimated 3,900 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions to be taken out of the atmosphere annually - roughly equivalent to taking 835 passenger cars off the road.
San Francisco Bay Area, What Might have been?
What if Marincello had been built?
Victoria Bogdan (MC 40) donated her fabulous collection of 10 paintings by the artist Alfred Twu to EFM. She commissioned the work for her Master Class Project to increase awareness: SF Bay Area, What might have been?
Star Route Farm
Melinda Stone, Master Class 41 graduate, saw her Master Class project through to fruition in the summer of 2017. Her plan was to get The University of San Francisco to buy the 100-acre Star Route Farm in Bolinas to ensure it's future as a farm. Melinda wrote: "The (master) class was instrumental in shaping my proposal and connecting with people that made the project come to fruition".
Environmental Forum of Marin is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and a United Way of the Bay Area Certified Agency.
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