Rip Rapson, President and CEO, The Kresge Foundation

On Tuesday, April 8, 2014,The Philanthropy Forum welcomed President and CEO of the Kresge Foundation, Rip Rapson, to the stage at the O'Hara Student center. His talk was titled Diego Rivera, Public Pensions, and Detroit's Bankruptcy: What's Philanthropy Doing in the Middle?" Through a series of colorful, detailed, and remarkably nuanced hand-sketched drawings, Mr. Rapson presented his own playbook for Detroit’s way forward, through the throes of bankruptcy proceeding toward what he calls “Reimagining Detroit 2020. The Kresge Foundation and its key partners, including The Ford Foundation, have made strategic multibillion dollar investments into creating livable and thriving communities where industrial collapse and financial divestment have left crumbling infrastructure and urban decay in their wake.

Throughout his talk, he drew parallels with Pittsburgh and praised the collaborative approach that led the city through its own financial crisis and into a role of innovation in urban transformation. 

Dr. Lucy Bernholz, Visiting Scholar, Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society

Lucy Bernholz, self-proclaimed "philanthropy wonk" and thought leader in digital civil society, delivered a public lecture on March 5, 2014. Her visit was co-hosted by Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania. Her talk, titled "Inventing Digital Civil Society," introduced the concept of digital philanthropy and civil society. According to Dr. Bernholz, every time you text a donation, use open source maps to help inform disaster response, share digital video of a protest, or donate blood samples that get digitized for medical research you are helping to invent digital civil society. Civic technologists, nonprofits, political organizers, open data and open government advocates, mobile phone-toting activists – this is all part of the ever-expanding practice of participating in a digital civil society. 

Josh Wright, Executive Director, ideas42

Josh Wright, executive director of ideas42, delivered a lecture on January 30, 2014 titled "Using a Greater Understanding of Scarcity to Combat Poverty." He discussed behaviors and choices made in low-income and disadvantaged populations that may on the surface seem counter intuitive, but in fact are driven by rational decisions.

Responses from Susan Rauscher, executive director of Catholic Charities in Pittsburgh and Dr. Sera Linardi of GSPIA tied Josh's remarks to a local context. Dr. Linardi connected Mr. Wright’s notion of inhibition and cognitive scarcity to her experience with the role of exhaustion among the poor. The extra effort required to save more money or to establish important support networks is exhausting when poverty forces individuals to make difficult decisions to get by on a daily basis.