Return on Investment (Fall 2012 Trust Magazine)

Source Organization: The Pew Charitable Trusts

09/25/2012 - The Pew Charitable Trusts’ program investments seek to improve policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life through projects managed by Pew staff; partnerships, which allow us to work closely with individuals or organizations to achieve shared goals; and targeted grantmaking. The following highlights some recent Pew work. Additional information is available at


Major wins for forage fish

The Pew Environment Group (PEG) marked three victories for forage fish that will, when implemented, lead to significantly improved management for species on the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Forage fish are important prey species and these measures represent the first time federal managers have acted to adequately monitor the catch and taken steps to prevent new forage fisheries:

  • The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council voted to recommend 100 percent at-sea observer coverage on the industrial mackerel fleet and to develop a cap on river-herring bycatch. The council also voted to initiate an amendment to make river herring a “stock in the fishery,” bringing this fish under federal management. The amendment has been a cornerstone of PEG’s work in the region since the Forage Fish Conservation Initiative’s inception.
  • The New England Fishery Management Council voted for 100 percent observer coverage on the Atlantic herring fishery, requirements to weigh all fish caught by industrial trawlers, and the first-ever limits on “slippage” (dumping unwanted catch at sea). PEG has been working on this amendment since the summer of 2007; in its latest efforts, the team helped deliver 48,000 public comments and a letter signed by 25 members of Congress in support of a cap on river-herring catch.
  • The Pacific Fishery Management Council declared its intent to prohibit the development of new fisheries on currently unmanaged forage species until an ecosystem-based approach can be put in place.
In Venezuela, important protections for sharks

Efforts by PEG’s shark conservation campaign resulted in the adoption of measures that will safeguard sharks in Venezuela’s waters, including fully protecting sharks within an area encompassing 1,440 square miles of the Caribbean around the Los Roques and Las Aves Archipelagos. The measure also bans shark finning in all Venezuelan waters by requiring sharks to be landed with their fins naturally attached, and it implements protection measures for bigeye thresher, oceanic whitetip, hammerhead and silky sharks in the Atlantic as well as oceanic whitetip sharks in the Pacific. The Los Roques Archipelago is among the world’s most biologically diverse archipelagos; at least 21 shark species are found in its waters.

Oceans get global attention at Rio+20

As a result of PEG’s extensive work at the United Nations, as well as its global advocacy and communications efforts, ocean health and conservation were squarely on the agenda for the once-in-a-decade Rio+20 U.N. sustainable development conference, which took place at the end of June. Much-needed commitments were made by governments to end overfishing, take action to stop illegal fishing, phase out harmful subsidies, eliminate destructive fishing practices and protect vulnerable marine ecosystems. There were also decisions to make regulating the catch of commercial species such as tuna more transparent.

Ontario Implements Boreal Forest Agreement
Ontario is the first province to incorporate an agreement, brokered by Pew, between the forest products industry and conservation groups that envisions protecting 178 million acres of boreal forest across Canada. The pact is being implemented through negotiations, area by area. In June, Ontario agreed to manage 7.5 million acres in the Abitibi River Forest, protecting caribou habitat as well as jobs in the forest products industry. Two million acres previously scheduled for logging will be left intact, and the remainder of the area will be managed under strict sustainable-development standards.


Strategies to Improve the Housing Market Are Focus of Pew Conference

Sheila Bair, a Pew senior adviser and former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, led an invitation-only, day-long discussion of the challenges facing the U.S. housing market, the impact they are having on the nation’s economic recovery, and potential short- and medium-term policy options. Pew supported 13 research papers by prominent thinkers in the field to inform conversations among the more than 120 participants, who included leaders from the financial industry, academia and housing and regulatory organizations. The conference proceedings will be summarized in a forthcoming white paper.

Regulators React to Pew’s Call for Action on Bank Overdrafts

Pew urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to adopt a one-page disclosure document to better protect checking account holders from questionable bank overdraft policies. In response, the bureau has launched a public inquiry into attitudes and experiences related to these practices. The data collected will inform future regulations and policy making on overdrafts.


Turning prominent chefs into advocates

As part of its work to promote food safety, the Pew Health Group is working with the James Beard Foundation to recruit and mobilize prominent chefs as public advocates. The Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming hosted the first of these efforts, in which more than a dozen chefs learned about the issue of antibiotics overuse in farming and were trained on effective presentation, advocacy, media outreach and interview techniques. The goal is to deploy them as part of Pew’s overall strategy to promote policies to rein in the overuse of antibiotics in meat and poultry production. From popular programs such as “Top Chef” to the Food Network, chefs have achieved widespread public recognition and have access to the media and policy makers, some nationally and many more in their home regions.

Health impact assessment evaluates new USDA school nutrition standards

The Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods and Health Impact projects released the first-ever health impact assessment evaluating a national policy. The Health Impact Assessment on National Nutrition Standards for Snack Foods and Beverages explored the likely impact of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s upcoming rule on sales of these foods in schools, reviewing over 300 published peer-reviewed scientific articles and providing a detailed economic analysis. The study found that national nutrition standards would improve children’s health without negatively affecting school districts’ bottom lines.


Pew Helps States Lower Crime at Less Cost

Intensive support from the Public Safety Performance Project was instrumental to passing comprehensive sentencing and corrections reforms in half a dozen states this year. In Pennsylvania, a new package of policies  includes more effective sentences for nonviolent, misdemeanor offenders and a program of swift and certain sanctions for probation violators. Similar laws, developed with data-based research, were adopted by broad bipartisan majorities in Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Missouri and Oklahoma. These reforms are expected to generate combined savings for taxpayers of approximately $1 billion over the next five years.

Iowa and Michigan Direct Home-Visiting Dollars to Proven Programs

The Pew Home Visiting Campaign worked with advocates to pass laws that will help ensure high-quality home visiting services for families in Iowa and Michigan.  The new statutes, which were based on Pew’s model policy framework, create two of the strongest systems in the nation for using solid evidence and data-driven accountability systems to get the best outcomes from states’ home visiting dollars. Michigan’s law mandates that all of its $30 million investment in home visiting go to proven, effective programs. Iowa’s requires that 90 percent of its home visiting funds support programs with a record of achieving at least one meaningful family outcome.

Four States Act to Increase Access to Dental Care

Backed by research and support from the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia changed laws or rules this year so that more children can receive sealants applied by dental hygienists. Sealants prevent 60 percent of tooth decay at one-third the cost of filling a cavity. The campaign also worked successfully with stakeholders to improve access to dental care in New Hampshire, where nearly 60,000 residents live in areas with a dentist shortage. Governor John Lynch signed a law in June that expands the scope of services dental hygienists can perform.

Pew Experts Advise on States on Tax Incentives

A first-of-its-kind report by the Pew Center on the States showed that half the states have not taken the basic steps to know whether their tax incentives for economic development are delivering a strong return. The study highlighted several promising approaches to ensure that evidence about incentives’ effects informs policy makers’ decisions. Officials in Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas and Washington have requested Pew’s assistance in improving how they evaluate these investments.


Trends in American Values

Americans’ values and basic beliefs are more polarized along partisan lines than at any point in the past 25 years, according to the latest report on American values by the Pew Research Center.  The values gap between Republicans and Democrats, which increased dramatically during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama years, is now greater than divides in gender, age, race or class. Republicans are most distinguished by their increasingly minimalist views about the role of government (just 40 percent agree that “It is the responsibility of the government to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves,” down 18 points since 2007), and lack of support for environmentalism (only about half agree that “there needs to be stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment,” a decline of 17 points since 2009). Democrats have become more socially liberal (about half agree that “We should make every effort to improve the position of minorities, even if it means giving them preferential treatment,” an 11-point increase since 2007) and secular (roughly three-quarters say they “never doubt the existence of God,” down 11 points over the past decade).

European Unity in Trouble

A survey of eight key European countries by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project revealed a crisis in public confidence in the economy, the future, the benefits of European economic integration, membership in the European Union, the euro and the free market system.  Europeans report being very worried about joblessness (nearly 9 in 10 say unemployment poses a major threat to their economic well-being), inflation and public debt (8 in 10 think their country’s national debt is a major threat), and those fears are fueling much of this uncertainty and negativity. They reject the notion of closer economic integration, yet want to retain the euro as a common currency.

Immigration from Mexico at a standstill

The Pew Hispanic Center found that after four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants from Mexico to the United States (more than half of whom came illegally), the net migration flow has stopped and may have reversed. Between 2005 and 2010, 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States, and about 1.4 million Mexican immigrants and their U.S.-born children moved from the United States to Mexico. 


Sol LeWitt sculpture blooms at last

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, with Pew support, introduced a public artwork that was planned 30 years ago by American artist Sol LeWitt but not realized until now. Sited alongside the Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden at the museum, the piece, titled Lines in Four Directions in Flowers, is composed of four large, rectangular flower beds, each bordered by boxwood and planted with flowers of a single color in a unique pattern of lines.  Comprising more than 7,000 individual plants, the work will evolve over two years as seasonal blooms emerge.

Pew Center for Arts and Heritage 2012 grantmaking Is a “wrap”

The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, through its six artistic initiatives, has wrapped up its grantmaking for 2012, awarding more than $5.2 million in funding for 49 projects and $720,000 for 12 Pew Fellowships in the Arts. Highlights include: a major multidisciplinary exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art centered on its Marcel Duchamp collections; the Pennsylvania Ballet’s mounting of its third and most challenging work by internationally acclaimed choreographer William Forsythe; and the Arden Theatre’s two-year study of the work of Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov, in partnership with Trinity Repertory Company, in Providence, R.I. 

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