This year’s Council on Foundations Annual Conference, held in Los Angeles 29 April-1 May, provided its usual mix of excellent speakers, huge plenaries and thought-provoking sessions. I was struck throughout the meeting by the enormous challenges facing the USA today and for foundations operating in this environment.
The theme of social exclusion and inequality was highlighted in two of the plenaries, one examining philanthropic responses to crises including the LA riots, Hurricane Katrina and the depopulation of Detroit and the other on the vanishing middle class. Changing demographics and stark differences in attainment between BME and other communities in the States are creating divisions which one speaker compared to being as serious to the US depression of the 1890s. We were struck by how strategic US foundations are being in responding to this deficit, with a willingness to support core costs and attempts to scale up programmes that have worked.