Return on Investment (Summer 2009 Trust Magazine)

Source Organization: The Pew Charitable Trusts

08/12/2009 - Pew’s program investments seek to improve policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life through operating projects, which are managed by Pew staff; donor partnerships, which allow us to work closely with individuals or foundations and achieve shared purposes; and targeted grant-making. The results of some recent work are highlighted here. Click on the links to learn more.

The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council votes to prevent the expansion of industrial fishing into all U.S. waters north of the Bering Strait for the foreseeable future.

In an early victory for the Pew Environment Group’s new Arctic program, nearly 200,000 square miles of U.S. Arctic waters will be closed to industrial fishing to limit stress on ocean ecosystems in light of the dramatic effects of global climate change in the Arctic.

With no large-scale commercial fishing in that part of the world at present, this decision establishes one of the largest preventive and precautionary measures in fisheries management history.

The Pew Environment Group is partnering with the Ocean Conservancy, Oceana, scientists and Native American and community leaders to spotlight how this protection can serve as a model for national and international management of the region and to urge the Obama administration to support this decision and act in a similar manner on other Arctic issues.

Informed by the Pew Environment Group’s Campaign to End Overfishing in the Southeast, including new data showing that the number of red snapper has declined 97.6 percent since 1945, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council votes to halt red snapper fishing for six months, with an optional six-month extension, in the Atlantic from North Carolina to Florida.

The ban is intended to protect red snapper in the short term while fishery managers develop science-based, long-term solutions to end overfishing and restore a healthy population.

Culling whales will not increase fisheries catches in tropical waters, according to a new study supported by the Lenfest Ocean Program and published in the journal Science. For years, Japan has argued that reducing the number of baleen whales in the oceans would improve fisheries because whales eat fish that are caught for human consumption. The report finds that even a complete eradication of whales in tropical waters would not lead to any significant increase in fish populations.

For their analysis, the authors construct ecosystem models that account for feeding interactions between whales and fish to understand the role that baleen whales play in tropical marine ecosystems in Western Africa and the Caribbean, where they are known to breed. The scientists use global and regional data, validated through scientific workshops in Senegal and Barbados, to determine whether competition is occurring.

The Pew-initiated Shark Alliance achieves a longstanding campaign objective when the European Commission releases its first-ever Plan of Action for the Conservation of Sharks.

The plan, which sets the stage for sweeping reforms in European Union shark fishing and protection policies, aims to improve information about shark fisheries, end overfishing of this animal, focus more closely on threatened species and close loopholes in the EU’s ban on shark finning (the wasteful practice of slicing off the fins and discarding the body at sea). The plan includes actions at the national, EU and international levels.

President Obama signs the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, resulting in the largest expansion of U.S. wilderness in 15 years. The measure adds 2.1 million acres of publicly owned land in nine states to the National Wilderness Preservation System, protects more than 1,000 miles of rivers as “wild and scenic,” establishes a 26-million-acre National Landscape Conservation System and creates 10 new National Heritage Areas.

Fighting over Forests,” a segment on the TV program NOW on PBS, wins first prize for TV Environmental Reporting at the National Headliner Awards, one of the oldest and largest annual contests recognizing journalistic merit in the communications industry. The Pew Environment Group provides assistance to the piece, which focuses on the Roadless Rule and its potential impact in Idaho.

Senator Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduces comprehensive legislation to update the 1872 law that governs the mining of gold, uranium and other hardrock minerals on public lands in the West.

His proposal includes a number of environmental and taxpayer-protection provisions such as imposing royalty payments on metals taken from federal lands, raising additional revenue through increased claims fees, establishing an abandoned mine reclamation program and eliminating “patenting” (the practice of selling public lands at frontier-era prices). The bill includes the key elements of reform being advanced by the Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining.

A comparable bill introduced in the House of Representatives in 2007 is re-introduced in January, the same day the Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining releases Reforming the U.S. Hardrock Mining Law of 1872: The Price of Inaction. The congressional proposals mark the first time in well over a decade that both chambers are considering serious measures to modernize the nation’s outdated mining law.

Fulfilling a request that the Pew Environment Group makes of President Obama on his first day in office, the Environmental Protection Agency declares in April that greenhouse gases are a danger to human health and welfare. This finding creates a potential opportunity for global warming emissions to be regulated as pollutants under the Clean Air Act and may also accelerate the progress of the administration’s proposed legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions for manufacturers and permit companies to trade the right to pollute to other firms.

With 31 cosponsors, Representative Rosa DeLauro submits the Food Safety Modernization Act to enable federal authorities to better ensure the safety of the food supply. The House bill comes as the Food and Drug Administration is under criticism by the public and Congress for its failure to prevent or swiftly detect the peanut-product Salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 575 people and been linked to at least eight deaths.

The legislation, which embodies most of the key reforms called for by Pew’s Campaign for Food Safety, would require far more frequent inspections of food-manufacturing establishments based on the risks presented by the facility; require the establishment of produce safety rules; give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to issue mandatory recalls of tainted food; strengthen safety standards; establish a system for ensuring import safety; and ensure accountability and improved coordination by establishing a new Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Pew issues a public statement supporting the legislation and runs ads in congressional trade publications urging House members to support the measure.

In April, groups representing the 76 million Americans who are needlessly sickened each year by contaminated food, along with major consumer and public health organizations, gather at the U.S. Capitol to launch the new “Make Our Food Safe” coalition. Established by the Pew campaign, the alliance intends to raise awareness of food-borne illness and urge policy makers to modernize the nation’s outdated food safety laws.

Nearly one year after the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production recommends that America reform the way livestock are raised on factory farms, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter and Senator Ted Kennedy introduce the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009. The bill seeks the withdrawal of antibiotics important to human health from use on factory farms unless animals are sick.

The Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, a joint project of the Pew Environment Group and the Pew Health Group, helps update the legislation and is encouraging congressional leaders to support it through co-sponsorship.

Senators Herb Kohl and Chuck Grassley sponsor the Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2009, which would require pharmaceutical, biotech and medical-device companies and their subsidiaries to publicly report payments over $100 to doctors every year.

In a major step toward the passage of such a bill, Senator Max Baucus includes the Physician Payments Sunshine Act in his plans for major health reform legislation, outlined in a memo to the Senate Finance Committee.

Pew’s Prescription Project has worked to shape the legislation and educate lawmakers and the general public about the need to bring transparency to financial relationships between physicians and the medical industry.

At least 10 states introduce such measures, including transparency bills or bans on pharmaceutical- and medicaldevice- industry gifts to prescribers, creation of physician education programs and restrictions on the use of prescriber records to target pharmaceutical marketing. In addition, the pharmaceutical industry implements a voluntary code that bans gifts of branded office supplies and other trinkets to doctors.

Congress passes and President Obama signs the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act in May, culminating a long effort led by the Pew Safe Credit Cards Project and others to help consumers avoid hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in fees and escalating interest rates.

The project, an initiative of the Pew Health Group, helps set the stage earlier in the year when it issues a set of standards designed to prevent deceptive and dangerous credit card practices and calls for legislation to enforce its recommendations.

Developed after more than a year of research, including reviews of more than 400 credit cards from the largest issuers and extensive outreach with industry and consumer representatives, the Safe Credit Card Standards seek to protect consumers while preserving banks’ ability to manage risk when extending credit.

As the report notes, the Federal Reserve previously outlawed a number of the same credit card practices addressed in Pew’s independent standards, but issuers are not required to adhere to those guidelines until July 2010. The project calls on legislators to accelerate enforcement of the Federal Reserve’s rules and add new protections similar to those described in the project’s standards, including limits on punitive penalty interest-rate increases and harmful payment-processing methods.

The project releases its findings, together with its Safe Credit Card Standards, during a week when both houses of Congress deliberate reform bills, and the new legislation ultimately reflects many of the project’s standards.

Doug Chapin, director of Election Initiatives for the Pew Center on the States, testifies before the Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on Elections on “The 2008 Election: A Look Back on What Went Right and Wrong.” Chapin recognizes the successes of election officials, but also provides evidence of remaining election administration challenges, particularly on voter registration.

His testimony is based on findings from the 2008 Survey of the Performance of American Elections, conducted for Pew by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with support from AARP and the former JEHT Foundation. The study suggests that as many as 3 million registered voters did not vote in the 2008 general election due to voter registration problems.

The Pew Center on the States’ Government Performance Project launches a partnership with three states in a year-long effort to strengthen state operations and save tax dollars. Each collaboration addresses a different challenge: achieving savings through statewide-purchasing reform in Georgia; applying best business practices to Ohio’s personnel system; and strengthening West Virginia’s planning and budgeting.

The states receive a planning stipend and intensive management support from Pew experts and advisors to accelerate state improvements.

This work builds on a center report, Trade-off Time: How Four States Continue to Deliver, on how states are tackling the fiscal crisis and which states are leaders in using program- performance information to make program-reduction and investment decisions.

At their winter meeting, members of the National Lieutenant Governors Association resolve to “seek to provide three- and four-year-old children in the nation with the opportunity to participate in high-quality, voluntary pre-k and to enhance pre-k program quality.”

The resolution, which passes with not a single dissenting vote, is to be sent to the president, congressional leaders and the chairs of the Republican and Democratic national committees. Pew’s Pre-K Now project works on resolution language with the authors, and project manager Danielle Gonzales provides testimony at the association’s meeting.

In May, Pre-K Now’s report Leadership Matters: Governors’ Pre-K Budget Proposals FY10 notes that, despite the current economic climate, governors, by a ratio of five to one, are proposing to protect or increase pre-k offerings rather than reduce them.

In addition, the governors of Alaska, North Dakota and Rhode Island recommend creating the first state-funded pre-k programs in their states, and the Obama administration’s stimulus package includes funding for early education programs such as Head Start.

These findings underscore a growing interest among policy makers in targeting limited public resources to effective programs backed by research. Legislatures in several other states have already increased pre-k funding, partially as a result of Pre-K Now’s efforts to raise awareness of the long-term benefits of investing in early childhood.

Federal subsidies to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could reach $290 billion in fiscal year 2009 and climb to $389 billion between 2009 and 2019, according to an analysis by Subsidyscope, an initiative of Pew’s Economic Policy department.

At those levels, projected subsidies to these two organizations will exceed the cost of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which is expected to total $356 billion over the same period. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are governmentsponsored enterprises that purchase mortgages and guarantee pools of mortgages; they have been in conservatorship since last fall. TARP is a U.S. Treasury program that purchases preferred stock and provides loans and asset guarantees to banks and other institutions.

The Pew Charitable Trusts launched Subsidyscope last year to increase public and policy-maker attention to the size and scope of all federal subsidies. While Subsidyscope’s early work has been on financial subsidies, it will be expanding its focus to transportation and housing later this year, and to energy, agriculture and other sectors next year. The project is guided by a bipartisan advisory board of budget, tax and financial experts.

Information Today, a newspaper that reports on the information industry, gives the Pew Research Center its annual BUDDIE Award (for Best Unknown Database). The publication acknowledges that the center “isn’t exactly unknown”— the media frequently cite its reports—“but there is a strong iceberg effect here: The total [Pew Research Center] production is much larger and more diverse than you might think, and it deserves your fuller attention.”

The article praises the center’s reports as “models of dispassionate analysis,” notes that the site is “attractive and intuitive with uncluttered, logically arranged pages [and] minimal but effectively deployed graphics,” and credits its researchers with “a keen, almost clairvoyant, sense for the issues of greatest public concern and interest.”

A poll by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that 39 percent of Americans have “positive and improving” attitudes about their mobile communication devices, which in turn draw them more deeply into digital life. The remaining 61 percent, according to the study, include many who have access to information and communication technology but who consider technology “on the periphery” of their interests.

These results are the centerpiece of the project’s second typology of users of such technology, who are categorized according to the gadgets they have, how they use them and how they feel about the technology’s role in their lives.

While many adults “reach a plateau in their technology use,” the report notes that, as more and more people gravitate to wireless and mobile access to supplement their home high-speed wired connections and have greater opportunity to share their advice, creativity and observations online, the “penalty” for having little or no access increases.

As many newspapers struggle to stay afloat, fewer than half of Americans (43 percent) say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community “a lot,” and only one third say they would personally miss reading the local newspaper “a lot” if it were no longer available. Those are among the findings of a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. (Nearly 85 percent of respondents say they are aware of the newspaper business’s financial problems.)

Less than a quarter of those under 40 (23 percent) say they would miss the local newspaper they read most often if it folded. However, even young people—41 percent of those under 40—say the shutdown of their local paper would hurt civic life in their community “a lot.” Nearly half of all Democrats and independents say their communities would be hurt by the loss of the local newspaper, compared to one third of Republicans.

As economically developing countries grow more prosperous, their middle classes understandably become more satisfied with their lives. But many of their basic values also appear to change. Over time, the values of the middle classes in emerging countries become more like those of the public in advanced nations, according to a new analysis by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, conducted in partnership with The Economist magazine.

The study finds that, in 13 middle-income nations from regions around the globe, people tend to hold different opinions about democracy and social issues once they reach a certain level of wealth.

Compared to poorer people in emerging countries, members of the middle class assign more importance to democratic institutions and individual liberties, consider religion less central to their lives, hold more liberal social values and express more concern about the environment.

The analysis, which is based on the project’s 2007 survey, supports the hypothesis that economic well-being is linked with support for democracy.

A national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project finds that nearly half (46 percent) of the public would rather live in a different type of community than the one they’re in now—a sentiment most prevalent among city dwellers.

When asked about specific metropolitan areas where they would like to reside, respondents rate Denver, San Diego and Seattle at the top of a list of 30 large cities and Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati at the bottom.

People are also asked, “just for fun,” whether they would prefer to live in a place with more Starbucks or more McDonald’s. The Golden Arches win the contest, 43 percent to 35 percent; the remainder have no preference.

Paul Taylor, executive director of the Pew Research Center, provides invited testimony at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on middle-class tax relief. Taylor shares findings from Inside the Middle Class: Bad Times Hit the Good Life, a 2008 report by the center’s Social & Demographic Trends project that combines results of a Pew Research Center survey with analysis of relevant economic and demographic trend data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Even before the current recession settled in, the American middle class felt stuck in its tracks,” Taylor says. Nonetheless, middle-class Americans also believe they have a higher standard of living than their parents had. “Income data from the Census say they’re right on both fronts,” he notes.

Taylor adds that about half of all Americans think of themselves as middle class and that, like the nation overall, they are older, better educated, less likely to be white and less likely to be married than their counterparts 40 years ago.

The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, releases demographic portraits of American voters in the 2008 presidential election—the most diverse in U.S. history, according to the center’s analysis of Census Bureau data. Voter turnout among eligible African Americans rises nearly 5 percentage points over the last four years (from 60.3 percent in 2004 to 65.2 percent in 2008), and participation levels increases by more than two percentage points among both Asians and Hispanics, to 47 percent and 49.9 percent, respectively.

Pew’s Cultural Data Project, a Web-based data-collection system for arts and culture organizations, welcomes three new states: Illinois on May 1 and Massachusetts and New York on June 1. These three states join Pennsylvania, California and Maryland as project participants.

The project helps streamline the grants application process for arts groups by providing a centralized online repository for detailed financial and programmatic information, using technology to reformat the data to match the needs of participating funders. The project also yields reliable, verifiable and standardized data that can be used for research and analysis.

The Philadelphia Research Initiative, created in Pew’s Philadelphia Program last November, issues reports on a variety of city-centric topics, from a survey on the quality of life to a wide-ranging State of the City report that depicts Philadelphia making progress on a number of key fronts but still struggling with long-term forces of decline. (For a free, bound copy of State of the City, e-mail

The initiative’s budget brief Tough Decisions and Limited Options: How Philadelphia and Other Cities are Balancing Budgets in a Time of Recession is released in May to budget officials, other leaders and reporters both locally and in each of the other 12 cities examined. Media coverage includes the Philadelphia Associated Press and the Reuters newswires, and articles in The Economist, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Kansas City Star, York (Pa.) Daily Record, Worcester (Mass.) Business Journal, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Detroit Free Press, Indianapolis Star, The Boston Globe and the Dallas Morning News’ blog— beyond the circle of cities analyzed in the report. In addition, project director Larry Eichel is interviewed on the radio in Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle and Boston as well as for the network of stations of Clear Channel Radio Pennsylvania.

As the body of research grows, the findings are cited in Philadelphia City Council and other public meetings as well as by candidates for office in the city’s recent primary election, and Eichel is invited to discuss them at the staff meetings of Mayor Michael Nutter.

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