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4/28/2021 |

As promised, we took some time to look back on a year that fundamentally challenged how we do our work. 2020 taught all of us that we can only plan so far ahead, which further strengthens Barra’s commitment to remain flexible and open to new approaches and ideas. Though it’s easy to feel like hope is on the horizon, as more people become vaccinated and greater action is being taken to combat systemic racism, we can’t forget how far we’ve come together, including the ways in which philanthropy – and Barra’s work in particular – has adapted.

FROM 2020…

  • As we move further into the year, many institutions are sharing how they responded to COVID-19 shaking the world. Our shift in grantmaking enabled grantees to continue strengthening communities throughout Greater Philadelphia and taught Barra some lessons along the way, too. In the same spirit of learning, this story reflects on our 2020 grantmaking to consider how to move forward throughout 2021 and beyond.
  • In January, we let you know we were working on a summary of our 2020 efforts to summarize what our role has been in our grantmaking and support of nonprofit partners. Please see our new webpage that highlights our responses to COVID-19 and the fight against racial injustice to-date, and more importantly, showcases the organizations on the frontlines.

…INTO 2021

  • In terms of our grantmaking, we are continuing our Recovery and Response Efforts, with the Board recently approving $50,000 to Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia’s COVID-19 Prevention & Response Fund and $200,000 to the Philadelphia Foundation’s Black Leaders/Black Communities Fund. To be more responsive to emerging and evolving needs, our Barra Awards remain on hold. We have maintained our Catalyst Fund as well and its focus on risk capital for novel approaches that have a far-reaching ripple effect. For folks who think they have an idea that could be a good fit, we encourage you to fill out a very brief LOI here.
  • For Beyond the Money, ImpactED will continue engaging our grantees’ leaders throughout the year, as they work together to think in new ways and reimagine what the future looks like, while prioritizing their work as they look toward recovery of the sector. We will also keep building on our conversations about race with a series of workshops, titled, Voice Lessons, designed to bring forward stories that reflect grantee experiences with race in their lives and in their work. Additionally, we will keep connecting our network with opportunities to problem solve and build greater racial awareness through a smaller monthly learning community facilitated by Dr. Kenneth Hardy.

As always, we thank our partners for their work and dedication to making the region a more equitable and just place for all people. We wish you a happy spring and positive thoughts as we move through 2021 to better days.

The COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL Fund Announces $4 Million in Grants to 467 Arts & Culture Organizations and 1,025 Artists

6/30/2020 |

June 30, 2020 (PHILADELPHIA, PA) – The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA) today reported that $4 million from the COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL Fund has been awarded to 467 arts and culture organizations as well as 1,025 individual artists since it opened on April 13. This unprecedented collaborative effort, which was created by GPCA, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund (PCF) and the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) focused on supporting individual artists as well as small arts and culture organizations (Annual budgets no greater than $250,000) and mid-sized organizations (Annual budgets of $250,000 – $15M) whose operations, revenues, work and livelihood have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full press release here

OUR Crisis

6/4/2020 |

In March, we reached out to you when the COVID-19 crisis descended upon us.  Even though we are still in the midst of addressing the negative effects of the pandemic,  today we’re reaching out again as we face another crisis that is affecting our cities and shaking  our nation to its core—and it should.   The crisis we are facing is not new, it is embedded in hundreds of years of systemic racism which we must stand up against in our personal lives and our professional roles.  (read the full message)

Welcome New Staff!

6/25/2019 |

We are delighted to announce our two new staff members:

Linda Rich, Senior Program Officer, Learning and Network
Stephanie Lerner, Program Officer, Catalyst Fund

Linda and Stephanie bring deep knowledge and experience working with nonprofit organizations and in philanthropy.  Linda Rich will manage the Barra Awards process and portfolio as well as learning across the Barra network.  Linda will join the team in mid-July.  Stephanie Lerner will begin in early August and will work closely with Kristi Poling, Program Director, Catalyst Fund.  Please click here to learn more about the Barra team.

We want to thank everyone who expressed interest in these positions.  We were grateful to receive such a positive response to our work and to meet so many individuals committed to improving our region.  Thank you to Criterion Search Group for their help in managing the search process.

Innovating Intentionally

8/10/2017 |

Event Recap

Innovating Intentionally is a celebration of Barra’s grantees, a showcase of exciting innovations from our network and an opportunity for nonprofit leaders to connect across disciplines.

This year’s event was hosted on June 29th at the beautiful Barnes Foundation and featured several exciting innovations from our grantee network. Shelley Bernstein from the Barnes gave the keynote presentation. Shelley, who is Deputy Director for Digital Initiatives & Chief Experience Officer, described how the Barnes is using observation, pilot testing and evaluation to improve the visitor experience in a number of ways. She also shared some of the challenges and rewards related to recent projects as the organization shifts to visitor-centered thinking throughout its operation.

Tina Wahl, President of The Barra Foundation, reflected:

“A couple of weeks after the event, the leader of Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, Corinne O’Connell, emailed us to ask for an introduction to Shelley at the Barnes. Corinne was excited to apply the museum’s ‘visitor-centered thinking’ to her work in housing and retail. Two weeks out and the presentation was still on her mind. To us, this is a strong signal that an event has been a success: this is exactly the kind of cross-sector inspiration that we aim to facilitate.”

Following the keynote, four grantee organizations presented Ignite-style presentations on projects that are leveraging technology to solve problems and seize opportunities in the fields of Arts & Culture, Education, Health and Human Services. Ignite presentations are fun and fast: “Rapid five-minute presentations, accompanied by 20 slides ticking down at 15-second intervals, inspire the crowd with ingenuity, humor and imagination—ideas that are a call to action, that turn the past upside down, that point the way by which you help make a better future.” As always, the program was followed by a networking reception to reconnect, introduce and thank colleagues from Barra’s network.

Event Photos & Videos

8/10/2017 |

Thank you to everyone who joined us for Innovating Intentionally at the Barnes Foundation. We hope you will enjoy these photos and videos from the event.

We are grateful to the nonprofit and foundation leaders who took time out from their busy schedules to learn from and reconnect with their colleagues. In particular, we are thankful to our presenters, who invested time, talent and creativity to share their innovation stories. Each eloquently demonstrated that it is indeed possible to address persistent problems with new ways of thinking.

  • Shelley Bernstein, The Barnes Foundation, Toward Visitor-Centered Thinking at the Barnes
  • Andrew Siegel & Dan Treglia, StreetChange
  • Aaliyah Green Ross, The Schuylkill Center, NaturePHL: Prescriptions for Play
  • Kelly McGlynn, MANNA, Food is Medicine
  • Tracy Buchanan, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, The TechniCulture Experiment
Event Videos & Photos

Visit Barra’s YouTube channel to watch their presentations and Flickr for photos of the event.

Steering Through Uncharted Waters

11/23/2016 |

Special Webinar from Nonprofit Finance Fund

“What keeps you up at night?”

It’s a standard site visit question for us at Barra, one that sometimes even elicits an awkward laugh from Executive Directors and Development staff. But over the past couple of weeks, this question has revealed intense anxieties from the people and organizations we serve. So it was a relief to have Philanthropy Network’s conference to attend last week and to see so many of you together, having a laugh with Vu Le and hopefully feeling a sense of unity in these dissonant times. There is a lot of uncertainty, but the conference speakers (particularly Antony Bugg-Levine of Nonprofit Finance Fund) reinforced that there are steps we can take today to be better prepared for whatever lies ahead tomorrow. More than ever, we at Barra will be keeping an eye out for resources that may help along the way.

Here is the first:

NFF Special Webinars: Steering Nonprofits Through Uncharted Waters

These are uncertain times for the people and organizations dedicated to providing crucial services to underserved U.S. communities.

But an unclear operating environment does not mean we should sit still and wait. This is exactly the time to prepare our organizations for whatever change is coming in a thoughtful, data-driven way. Understanding our organizations’ financial health and readiness, and crafting potential scenarios for our programs and services, are the crucial first steps.

NFF has been teaching this preparedness to thousands of social sector leaders for decades. In response to concerns voiced in the post-election period about an uncertain funding and policy landscape, we are offering special webinars to help nonprofit leaders and funders talk openly and plan proactively, so that mission-driven organizations can have and maintain the financial strength to support their communities.

These webinars are free of charge and will be recorded.

Webinar for Nonprofit Leaders and Board Members
Offered on two occasions:
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 1-2pm ET
Wednesday, Dec. 7, 1-2pm ET
Click here to register

Webinar For Funders
Wednesday, Dec. 14, 1-2pm ET
Click here to register

Press Release: 2016-2017 Barra Awards Announced

12/16/2015 |

The Barra Foundation has announced $2 million in unrestricted funding for the recipients of its 2016‐2017 Barra Awards, which acknowledge and advance nonprofit organizations that exhibit exemplary leadership, performance and adaptability. Forty organizations will each receive $50,000 over a two‐year period. In addition, leaders of those organizations become members of a diverse network of entrepreneurial and innovative thinkers. The awardees come from the Arts & Culture, Education, Health and Human Services sectors in the Greater Philadelphia region.

“It was an honor to serve as a nominator and to take time to reflect on and recognize the exciting work that my peers are doing in the field,” said Amanda Jefferson, Executive Director of Summer Search Philadelphia. Summer Search was awarded a 2013-2014 Barra Award and Jefferson later served as a nominator for the 2016-2017 grant cycle. Read the complete Press Release.

New Barra Directors

3/24/2015 |

The Barra Foundation’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce its four newest members: Matthew Bergheiser, Donna Marie De Carolis, Ph.D., Valerie V. Gay and Laura A. Williamson.

Click here to read their biographies.

A Message About Our Changes

7/8/2014 |

Learn more about how The Barra Foundation is evolving and adapting to further innovation in Greater Philadelphia.

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