March 2014 Newsletter — Foundations at the White House

Check out a report on Fenton’s recent work on many fronts. So proud of our staff!


a progress report

Foundations Join the President for Young Men of Color

Photo © Tom Williams

Many of the nation’s leading foundations were recently at the White House to announce My Brother’s Keeper, a new initiative to expand opportunities for young men of color.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The California Endowment, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Open Society Foundations (all FENTON clients) were on hand, along with Magic Johnson and Colin Powell.

When the President addresses an issue so directly, it injects new energy into the conversation, in this case along with $200 million from the foundations and an interagency task force for best practices.

Our Paul Hernandez (SVP – LA) was there. “The President said something we have all been feeling: it’s time to end the acceptance that it’s okay for these young men to fail.”

At FENTON, we have been helping to broaden support for solutions to help young men of color graduate, learn skills and get on the path to meaningful careers. This includes removing barriers like “Zero Tolerance” school policies that do more harm than good. The NYC Young Men’s Initiative, another client that is a public private partnership focusing on education, health and employment is a model for this national program. (See video here.) We’re proud to be part of this urgent effort to give all young people a chance to succeed. Our Eric Antebi (SVP – SF) also leads this work. Read more here.

Foundations Divest from Fossil Fuels

Screenshot of NYTimes article

Foundations are usually a cautious group, especially with their investments. But the climate change emergency has brought more than a dozen foundations with assets over $2 billion to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy instead. They join the student divestment movement, now active on over 400 campuses.

To the Divest/Invest initiative the issue is both moral and financial. “If you own fossil fuels in your endowment, you own climate change,” explained Ellen Dorsey of the Wallace Global Fund to the New York Times (read the story here). Meanwhile, the financial risks from fossil fuel stocks are high. Scientists have set a “carbon budget” showing fully 75% of known fuel reserves can never be burned if we are to maintain a climate suitable for civilization. This translates into a “carbon financial bubble” larger than the housing bubble of 2008.

At FENTON, we’ve been working on climate change since the early 1990s. We are honored to be helping these foundations with media, investors and online. More are joining weekly, so stay tuned…. This is going to be big.

Cycle for Survival Logo

Cycle for Rare Cancer Survival

Cycle for Survival raises awareness and funds for research to fight rare cancers, which account for 50% of all cancer diagnoses. The Memorial Sloan Kettering indoor cycling event is the country’s fastest-growing athletic fundraiser (link). FENTON promoted the high-energy, celebrity-supported event, securing national and local media coverage in all 13 U.S. cities, including New York, LA, Chicago and Miami. Stories of cancer survivors and research breakthroughs brought the cause to life on ABC’s Good Morning America, in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, People, AP, and many local broadcast and print outlets.

Graduation Cap

Education: The Core Curriculum for Justice

The education practice at FENTON, led in NYC by Jennifer Hahn, believes access to quality education is the core of social and economic justice. In higher education, we are working with the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance and the American Association of Community Colleges. From early childhood through middles grades, a strategic messaging research project is underway for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Additional clients include the Harlem Children’s Zone, the NYC Department of Education, Horizons National, National Academy Foundation, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Civic Builders and the Parent Child Home Project.

Arcus Foundation Logo

Fighting Putin’s Gay Prejudice

The Arcus Foundation hired us to support LGBT activists in Russia fighting oppression under Putin during the Sochi Olympics. FENTON directed message and media for Uprising of Love, a movement founded by singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge and supported by a coalition of LGBT activists including GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign. We helped coalition members increase awareness and raise funds from an international audience during Sochi. Placements in both LGBT and mainstream outlets — including CNN, Al Jazeera, Washington Blade, The New Yorker, USA Today and Mashable — helped bring more supporters and more funds to the cause.

Social Media Week Logo

Social Media Week at FENTON

In February, we hosted a sold-out event for Social Media Week.  “New Trends in Online Fundraising” convened an all-star panel to discuss the rapidly shifting donor landscape, as well as innovative, breakthrough ways to get the attention of younger donors and inspire them to take action.

Ethical Electric Logo

Get Your Ethical Electricity

Ethical Electric is a new renewable energy company that sells clean energy direct to consumers from wind farms and solar. FENTON is positioning the company and its CEO, Tom Matzzie, with business, environmental and energy media about how and why Ethical Electric is transforming the nation’s energy sector. Ethical Electric is a licensed retail energy provider and participates in the wholesale energy markets in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England.

Erin Hart

Erin Hart Returns to FENTON

Erin Hart has returned to FENTON in the new firm-wide position of Chief Client Officer. She will focus on working with major clients, building the firm’s teams and evaluating its work. Erin recently served as the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s communications director and built its first strategic communications department. Prior to that, Hart spent five years as an SVP in FENTON’s West Coast office. She also serves as one of the organizers of frank, which is further establishing the field of public interest communications and recently hosted the first gathering of professionals, researchers and students in the field.

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