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Philanthropy + Policy Update: Supreme Court Special Edition - July 7, 2023

Friday, July 7, 2023

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This Philanthropy + Policy Update: Supreme Court Special Edition by United Philanthropy Forum includes updates, analysis, and news about recent SCOTUS decisions and their potential impact on the sector and communities we serve.

Highlights of this Issue

  • Forum and ABFE Host Briefing on SCOTUS Affirmative Action Cases
  • Forum Network PSOs and Broader Sector Respond to SCOTUS Decision
  • New Forum Blog: Giving Data Underscores Need for the Charitable Act

Key News

Forum and ABFE Host Briefing on SCOTUS Affirmative Action Cases

Last Thursday, United Philanthropy Forum and ABFE joined together to host a PSO Advocacy Check-In: Special Edition Briefing on the recent Supreme Court cases regarding affirmative action.

The briefing was held as a place for PSO and foundation staff and leaders to gather and learn specifics about the Court’s decision, what it may mean for philanthropy, and how philanthropy can work together in the aftermath of the decision and be proactive on racial equity.

The recent Supreme Court cases on affirmative action were Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. University of North Carolina and SFFA v. Harvard College. In these cases, SFFA challenged the “race-conscious” admissions policies of these universities and questioned whether they comply with the Supreme Court's precedent on affirmative action.

The briefing emphasized the importance of noting that these cases specifically address “race-conscious” college admissions and nothing else. Any suggestions that the decisions will impact other areas, such as employment, government contracting, philanthropic strategy, K-12 schools, or workplace diversity initiatives, are premature and unfounded.

Also, during the briefing, ABFE outlined a collective strategy they have helped coordinate and design with Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP), Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), and Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), which includes building and maintaining a resource bank that provides tools and strategies for foundations and nonprofits to navigate backlash on racial equity. More on this work will be released from ABFE in the coming weeks.

In the wake of these decisions, the Forum remains committed to working with our members and the broader sector to protect racial equity efforts against regression and retrenchment, using our voice and platform to advance and advocate for solutions that create and maintain vibrant, equitable communities.

If you have any questions about this work, please contact Senior Director of Public Policy, Matthew L. Evans.

Forum Network PSOs and Broader Sector Respond to SCOTUS Decision

Forum members and the broader philanthropic sector have been rigorously responding to the 6-3 Supreme Court decision that severely limited, if not effectively ended, the use of affirmative action in college admissions and how it may impact racial equity and diversity efforts.

From Our Members and Partners:

  • ABFE released a statement on the latest Supreme Court decision to limit the use of race as an indicator for university admissions. The statement not only calls out the blatant attacks on Black and brown communities; it also makes aware how affirmative action was a stepping tool for many to achieve the American dream. In the statement, ABFE explains, “we know that race continues to impact every indicator of wellbeing, so we will continue to hold the line on pushing for equity and justice in this country.”
  • On July 13, Independent Sector, Candid, National Center for Family Philanthropy, and Council on Foundations will be hosting a webinar about what the Supreme Court's decision means for philanthropic organizations. Register to join the conversation with legal experts to find out what may come next.
  • In their June 2023 newsletter, Funders Concerned About AIDS called out how restricting the use of affirmative action in college admissions has the potential to impact Black and brown communities beyond college settings. According to a statement from the National Minority AIDS Council that was included in the newsletter, “the conservative majority on the Supreme Court has shown it is willing to target the health, safety and dignity of our country’s most vulnerable populations without consideration for the damage those rulings will do or for the people who will suffer as a result.”
  • Funders for LGBTQ Issues posted a statement on their LinkedIn page about the intersectionality of the Supreme Court’s decision affecting our freedoms and rights. From repealing affirmative action to expanding the rights of businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ communities, “the far right's attack on our communities' civil liberties and bodily autonomy is gaining significant momentum.”
  • Grantmakers in the Arts released a statement opposing the Supreme Court’s decision restricting consideration of race in college admissions and notes that the most important thing to do right now is to continue to support racial equity toward justice and liberation. With this ruling, it is important to recognize that “this attack on our nation is part of a larger pattern ambushing our humanity. This includes proposed legislation denying the rights of, and access to healthcare for trans residents, and the bans against teaching the history of our country’s anti-Indigenous and anti-Black practices and policies.”

From The Broader Sector:

  • The Ford Foundation and RWJF released a joint statement in response to the Court’s decision, noting that the sector will remain steadfast in our collective mission to create a more equitable nation within the bounds of the law. Interested organizations can add their names to the signature form and by notifying the RWJF team.
  • The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WFFK) created a webpage with information on the series of SCOTUS rulings that will have generational impact on the work of racial equity, including voting rights, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and affirmative action. The webpage has resources on the impact of the decisions, and WKKF grantee reflections.
  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy published an article about what nonprofit and foundation leaders are saying about the Court’s affirmative action ruling, mentioning a joint statement of over 52 foundations and organizations that represent grant makers.

SCOTUS Addresses Redistricting and Voting Rights in Other Recent Decisions

On Tuesday, June 25, 2023 the Supreme Court declined to impose new limits on state courts’ reviewing certain election-related issues by ruling against Republicans in North Carolina fighting for a congressional district map that would favor their candidates, according to NBC News.

Justices ruled 6-3 that North Carolina’s Supreme Court was right in concluding that a district map constituted a partisan gerrymander under the state Constitution.

In addition to the North Carolina case, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, there are now at least 36 pending lawsuits around the country where voters of color are challenging maps after last month’s Supreme Court ruling in Allen v. Milligan.

In that case, the Court issued a decision upholding Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) by striking down Republican-drawn congressional districts in 2021 that diluted the electoral power of Black voters in the state of Alabama.

As a fallout from that ruling, AP News reported the Supreme Court lifted its hold on a Louisiana political redistricting case, increasing the likelihood that the Republican-dominated state will have to redraw boundary lines to create a second majority Black congressional district. The Louisiana redistricting case had been on hold pending the Allen v. Milligan decision.

To make sense of it all, Fair Representation in Redistricting, is hosting a virtual briefing Tuesday, July 11, 2023, at 2:00 pm ET.

The briefing, which is co-sponsored by the Forum and other sector organizations and foundations, will give attendees the opportunity to hear from litigators, advocates, and funders about the Supreme Court cases on voting rights and redistricting – and discuss next steps. Registration is open to staff of funders and PSOs.

PSO Advocacy Resources + Updates

New Forum Blog: Giving Data Underscores Need for the Charitable Act

In the newest blog post from United Philanthropy Forum, President & CEO Dave Biemesderfer highlights how the most recent Giving USA report underscores the need to pass the Charitable Act. The report shows a decline of 6.4% in individual giving (13.4% inflation-adjusted) and a drop of 3.4% in total charitable giving (10.5% inflation-adjusted) for 2022.

Given this new data, Biemesderfer explains how the Charitable Act would incentivize millions more of Americans to give and support their communities – not just the shrinking number of Americans who itemize their taxes.

PSOs can support this legislation by participating in the Charitable Act campaign on the Forum’s Advocate Action Center and by imploring their foundation members to do the same.

Check out Dave's blog to learn more.

Matthew L. Evans Named 2023 NGen Fellow by Independent Sector

The Forum is proud to share that Independent Sector has named Forum Senior Director of Public Policy, Matthew L. Evans, a 2023 NGen Fellow.

The 2023 NGen Fellows program, sponsored by American Express, provides a dynamic leadership development opportunity for 12 changemakers, 40 and under. The program aims to strengthen their leadership capacity and grow their personal and professional network.

The NGen Fellows program, now in its 13th year, focuses on driving results for participants in six core areas: self-awareness, racial equity, adaptive leadership, results-based decision-making, systems change, and network development.

Learn more about the 2023 NGen Fellows Program and Cohort from Independent Sector.

Deadline Approaching: Submit Session Ideas for the Philanthropy + Policy Institute 2023

Remember that the Forum is accepting session proposals for the Philanthropy + Policy Institute 2023. The proposal deadline is August 1, and the Institute will take place virtually October 4-5.

As the premier opportunity for sector advocates and leaders to learn together and strengthen their policy and advocacy work, the Philanthropy + Policy Institute is designed to cultivate and reinforce the public policy skill set of PSO staff and their foundation members, uplifting a strategic and collective approach toward advocacy and government relations.

Forum members are encouraged to submit session ideas that seek to inform attendees about public policy as a practice and build their advocacy capacity.

Please read the guidelines and submit session proposals via our online survey form. We look forward to session submissions!

State Public Policy News

Pennsylvania House Passes Bill That Would More Accurately Track Maternal Morbidity

On June 22, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that would ensure proper data collection on maternal morbidity. The bill was sent to Governor Josh Shapiro for his signature.

Introduced by Women’s Health Caucus (WHC) co-chair Sen. Judy Schwank, the legislation (S.B. 262) would require the Pennsylvania Department of Health to report severe maternal morbidities. It mirrors legislation authored by state Rep. Morgan Cephas and is a part of the WHC’s efforts to end maternal mortality and improve maternal health outcomes.

Read the announcement from the WHC.

North Carolina Senate Passes Changes to Election Rules

North Carolina-based WRAL News reported one June 21, 2023, the state Senate passed two bills that would impact future elections in the state. S.B. 747 would change election rules, particularly for mail-in ballots. S.B. 749 would remove the Governor’s influence over the State Elections Board.

The article highlights that Republican state lawmakers support the legislation, claiming that the changes are necessary to improve trust in elections. Democratic state legislators say the bills would discard legitimate ballots and remove the Governor’s constitutional authority. The bills will now go to the state House for consideration.

Find out more from the WRAL News article.


The Philanthropy + Policy Update regularly features state updates from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities’ State Priorities Partnership (SPP).

Oregon Lawmakers Pass Child Tax Credit

In June, state legislators in Oregon passed the Oregon Kids’ Credit, a fully refundable $1,000 tax credit for each child younger than five given to families earning $30,000 or less. The Oregon Center for Public Policy led the campaign to create the credit.

The Center built a coalition of 28 organizations and provided research to support the campaign. It also engaged the public through earned and social media and worked with lawmakers to get the legislation passed.

Check out the Oregon Center for Public Policy’s campaign.

Missouri Legislature Passes Postpartum Medicaid Extension

The Missouri Budget Project worked with its “Cover Our Kids” partners to secure passage of postpartum Medicaid extension as part of a broader public health package sent to Governor Mike Parson on May 30. In its campaign, the Budget Project engaged child health advocates to ensure strong bipartisan support for the extension and worked closely with state legislative champions to overcome opposition.

Learn more about the recently passed public health package.

Advocacy Across the Network

CHANGE Philanthropy Releases Statement on Philanthropic Pluralism

Late last month, CHANGE Philanthropy, a coalition of PSOs working together to strengthen bridges across funders and communities, released a joint statement addressing “philanthropic pluralism.”

Titled, Philanthropy’s Bridge Bends Toward Justice, Not Cooperation, the statement emphasizes that philanthropy’s goal should not be survival or cooperation, but to help foster justice. It reads, in part: “Collaboration that moves us forward past tough issues and difficult conversations is a partnership based on mutual respect and power. True partners are not afraid to be transparent with each other or held accountable to their current or past action.”

Read the full statement on the CHANGE Philanthropy website.

NAP Launches Partnership to Connect Tribal Leaders, Funders, and State Officials

Last Thursday, Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) announced their new partnership to enhance collaboration between philanthropic funders, Tribal leaders, and state officials. The announcement cites one of the biggest barriers to stronger partnerships is “a lack of knowledge and understanding by state elected officials about Tribes.”

In the coming months, NAP and NCEL will embark on a learning series to educate state legislators on strategies to enhance and fortify state-Tribal partnerships. The series commences on July 11 with the inaugural event titled “Tribal Relations 101 for State Legislators.” This session will provide state legislators with a foundational understanding of how they can prioritize Tribal perspectives in policymaking.

Learn more by reading the full announcement from NAP and NCEL.

CMF Members Testify in Support of Michigan Charitable Tax Credit

Last month, several Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) members testified in front of the Michigan House of Representatives Tax Policy Committee in support of bipartisan legislation that would reinstate the Michigan Charitable Tax Credit.

In this recording of the testimony, CMF members highlight the value of the Michigan Charitable Tax Credit for their nonprofit partners to the House Committee.

See CMF’s write-up of the testimony.

GWPA and Regional PSOs Host Webinar on Funding Advocacy as Part of 2023 Grantmaker Toolkit Series

Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania (GWPA) is hosting a webinar titled “Investing in Change: Foundation Support for Lobbying and Other Advocacy.” The webinar will take place on July 27, as part of the 2023 Grantmaker Toolkit Series in partnership with several regional PSOs. Attendees will learn from Bolder Advocacy about activities foundations can engage in and grantmaking best practices for advocacy efforts.

The webinar is for members of the following PSOs: Maryland Philanthropy Network, Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, Florida Philanthropic Network, Philanthropy Wisconsin, NY Funders Alliance, and North Carolina Grantmakers.

Find out more at the GWPA event page.

Legislative Calendars

House of Representatives

The House of Representatives is out of session.
View the House of Representatives calendar.

United States Senate

The United States Senate is out of session.
View the United States Senate calendar.

2023 State Legislative Session

For State Legislative Calendars:
View the National Conference of State Legislatures' 2023 State Legislative Session Calendar.