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Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center;
This report contains voices and recommendations from campaign and roundtable meetings with Native American community women and young survivors of sexual assault. The goal of the campaigns is to increase public awereness on the issue, encourage women to break the silence, help them move forward and heal while at the same time helping other do the same. The overall purpose of the report is to advocate for stronger policies and resources from tribes and federal agencies.
This report aims to share and illustrate the ways we invest in the Native nations and people in our region. One of our guiding values is to seek to do more good every year. This report will help us look internally at how we can do more to make the region better for everyone, including the Indigenous people of this land
Environmental Working Group;
As the southern Great Plains get hotter and drier, is federal policy that encourages farmers not to adapt to climate change leading to another Dust Bowl?
That's the troubling question raised by a new EWG report that shows how a provision in the federal crop insurance program provides a strong financial incentive for growers to plant the same crops in the same way, year in and year out, regardless of changing climate conditions. What's worse, this program is focused on the same southern Great Plains counties hit hardest by the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the worst man-made environmental disaster in American history.
The federal crop insurance program guarantees farmers' earnings from their crops won't fall below a percentage of their usual income. The percentage is set based on a multi-year average of a farmer's actual crop yields. Averaging good and bad years grounds the program in reality.
But a provision called the Actual Production History Yield Exclusion – snuck into the 2014 Farm Bill during conference negotiations – allows growers to drop bad years from their average crop yield calculations. The government simply pretends these bad years didn't happen. In some cases, more than 15 bad years can be thrown out when calculating the average yield, resulting in artificially inflated insurance payouts.
It makes sense for crop insurance to give growers a break if they're occasionally hit by one or two bad years, but keeping growers on a treadmill of failed crops and insurance payouts is foolish. Helping farmers adapt to the new weather conditions would be considerably better, and was exactly what helped growers survive the Dust Bowl and return to productivity.
The southern Great Plains are getting hotter and drier. Drought has been common over the last 10 years and forecasts show the number of days above 100 degrees quadrupling by 2050. Implementing conservation practices to adapt to changing climate conditions is vital for growers who want to stay in business.
Some, but not enough, growers are already adopting conservation techniques in this region. Savings from ending the misguided yield exclusion policy could be used to help more growers change the way they farm to face the challenges posed by a changing climate.
Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED);
The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard is a comprehensive look at Americans' financial security today and their opportunities to create a more prosperous future. It assesses the 50 states and the District of Columbia on 130 outcome and policy measures, which describe how well residents are faring and what states are doing to help them build and protect assets. The Scorecard enables states to benchmark their outcomes and policies against other states in five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care, and Education.
The Bush Foundation launched the Native Nations Initiative in 2009 to support governance reform efforts of all 23 Native nations that share geography with Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Five years into this 10-year initiative, the Foundation hired Wilder Research as an independent evaluator to assess our progress and challenges. Wilder interviewed program participants, tribal leadership and regional leaders from the field. This learning paper summarizes Wilder's evaluation.
Four Bands Community Fund, Inc.;
Cheyenne River Reservation (Cheyenne River) has high rates of both unemployment and economic poverty. It also has a large number of individuals who are able to work but do not have job opportunities or access to applicable jobs. The data presented here will help tribal leaders and employers better understand the strengths and needs of the workforce. It will also help develop a reservation-wide strategy to increase the skills of individuals seeking permanent employment, while ensuring employers build their capacity to effectively hire and retain qualified employees.
Pacific Community Ventures;
Impact measurement is central to the practice of mission investing, allowing mission investors to understand if their investments are meeting their goals and furthering their mission. The Northwest Area Foundation (NWAF) has worked with PCV InSight for eight years to evaluate and understand the impact of its mission-related investment, Invest Northwest. In this white paper, we detail how the fund has delivered consistent social impact since its inception, including: strong job growth; steady increases in annual median wages; and higher employee wages than at other private businesses nationally and regionally.
American Mental Health Counselors Association;
This comprehensive study shows that 6.7 million uninsured people with a mental illness are currently eligible for coverage under the Medicaid Expansion that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. But the majority of these individuals with mental health conditions will be left out in the coverage cold due to their state's antagonism toward the Medicaid Expansion health insurance initiative.
In 2009 the Bush Foundation announced a 10-year Teacher Effectiveness Initiative (TEI) focused on transforming the ways in which teacher candidates are recruited, prepared, assisted with employment, and supported by teacher preparation programs (TPPs). This initiative is guided by the Bush Foundation's educational achievement goal to increase the percentage of students who are on track to earn a degree after high school and eliminate disparities among diverse groups.
The initiative aims to increase K-12 teachers' quality and effectiveness, and thereby improve students' educational achievement. The impetus for this initiative lies in a strong body of evidence suggesting that teacher quality is the most influential in-school variable affecting student performance.
Fourteen institutions of higher education (IHEs) in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota involved in the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative are: Augsburg College, Bethel University, Concordia University, Hamline University, Minnesota State University–Mankato, Minnesota State University–Moorhead, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, North Dakota State University, St. Catherine University, University of St. Thomas, St. Cloud State University, University of South Dakota, Valley City State University, Winona State University
In 2012, the Bush Foundation invested over $31.4 million to support leaders and improve community vitality across Minnesota, North Dakota,South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography.These investments took a variety of forms and focused on myriad issues, but all were aimed at ensuring that great ideas and the people who power them have opportunities to create positive change in communities.
This report is a snapshot of some of the work the Bush Foundation's resources supported in 2012, including:
Investing in the development of emerging and proven leaders
Creating opportunities for community-driven problem solving
Investing in educational effectiveness to increase educational achievement and close achievement gaps
Laura and John Arnold Foundation;
State and municipal pension systems are in financial trouble. According to a 2012 Pew Center on the States report, state pension plans estimate that they were collectively $757 billion short of the funding needed to meet the pension promises that had, as of that publication, been made to public employees. Moreover, that figure depends on a risky set of assumptions (e.g., expected rate of return and life expectancy) and may be considerably larger if reality does not match the predictions made by each system. Estimates produced using more conservative assumptions, similar to those used for private sector pensions, approximately double the shortfall.
Regardless of the exact size of projected deficits, rising annual pension costs have already spurred financial distress in many jurisdictions. For instance, Central Falls, Rhode Island, recently declared municipal bankruptcy because of unaffordable pension costs. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pointed out that the city faces $20 billion in unfunded liabilities and will soon spend a staggering $1.2 billion per year solely on pension costs, or roughly 22 percent of Chicago's entire budget. As Mayor Emanuel stated, "Our taxpayers cannot afford to choose between pensions and police officers, or pensions and paved streets."
In light of looming deficits, states and municipalities across the country are taking steps to reform their pension systems. While some reforms are relatively modest, a few jurisdictions have enacted comprehensive reforms that aim to solve their pension problems permanently. Enacted reforms generally have addressed the following: cost-of-living adjustments, increases in retirement age and contribution rates, and establishment of defined contribution, cash balance and hybrid plans.
Earth Policy Institute;
Defying conventional wisdom about the limits of wind power, in 2012 both Iowa and South Dakota generated close to one quarter of their electricity from wind farms. Wind power accounted for at least 10 percent of electricity generation in seven other states. Across the United States, wind power continues to strengthen its case as a serious energy source.