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Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Fellowship

Detroit and New York provide unique settings to explore social change and economic development through the lenses of philanthropy and entrepreneurship.

Humanity in Action Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Fellowship

About the Fellowship

The story of philanthropy and innovation amid Detroit’s ruin and revitalization served as the inspiration for the Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Fellowship. In 1950, Detroit was the fifth-largest city in America. In 2013, Detroit became the largest city to file for bankruptcy in American history. Likewise, New York provided an exceptional setting to explore case studies in philanthropy and social innovation. The program supported eight Humanity in Action Senior Fellows as they examined contemporary trends in philanthropy, community development and entrepreneurship across the United States.

Humanity in Action Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Fellows

Humanity in Action Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Fellows

The Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Fellowship consisted of three phases:

  1. Detroit: March 19-21, 2015
  2. Research period: April-September 2015
  3. New York: October 15-17, 2015
Phase 1:

The program began with a three-day, intensive session (March 19-21, 2015) in Detroit. The Senior Fellows engaged in Detroit-based discussions with local leaders in philanthropy, social entrepreneurship and community organizations, including representatives of the Kresge Foundation and the Detroit Institute of Arts. The Senior Fellows explored the remarkable actions of philanthropic leaders and social innovators during Detroit’s bankruptcy, including “the Grand Bargain” – the unprecedented intervention of national foundations to fund municipal pensions and save the city’s art collection.

Phase 2:

In the six months following the initial session in Detroit, the Senior Fellows embarked on independent research projects exploring the  role of philanthropy and social entrepreneurship in addressing economic development and issues of social equity in their home communities. Collectively, the Senior Fellows examined geographies as far as Seattle, Denver and Washington, DC and issues as diverse as agricultural development, elderly health care and the corporate social responsibility programs of technology companies.

Phase 3:

Upon completion of the research projects, the Senior Fellows reconvened in New York City in October for a second set of meetings with local philanthropic, entrepreneurial and community leaders (October 15-17). The Senior Fellows shared their research at Humanity in Action’s New York Conference at The New School. Brief reports for each of the projects are now published below.

See the Program Schedule

Explore the Fellowship Reports

  • Atlanta: Resettled Refugees and the American South

  • Aligning Incentives: Funding Care for Our Most Vulnerable Elders

  • Growing Equity: Philanthropy, Government and Social Enterprise in Minnesota's Sustainable Food System

  • Helping Our New Neighbors: Volunteering and Philanthropic Giving in Latino Organizations

  • City in Flux: The Impact of San Francisco's Tech Industry on Local Communities and the Non-Profit Organizations that Serve Them

The Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Fellowship was generously funded by the Ann Arbor-based RNR Foundation.