Column: Effort aims to reduce violence against women
By Maria Saporta
Friday, October 16, 2009
The Atlanta-based organization Men Stopping Violence has just received a major vote of confidence.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is announcing that Men Stopping Violence has been awarded $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice to organize and manage the first national initiative to engage men and youth in the work of addressing violence against women.
“It’s very exciting,” said Shelley Serdahely, executive director of Men Stopping Violence, about the two-year grant. “We will work with the Department of Justice to create the program. It will be based on the work we’ve already been doing for many years.”
Men Stopping Violence first will conduct a national inventory of what different communities are doing to engage men in the effort to prevent violence against women.
Then the Department of Justice will solicit proposals from around the country from entities seeking funding to implement or expand programs, and it will award grants to selected agencies and organizations.
“Men Stopping Violence will have the job of providing training and technical assistance to those organizations, including providing materials and sharing best practices,” Serdahely said. She added that the Justice Department had “particular confidence in MSV’s director of training — Ulester Douglas, who will manage this project.
MSV has been in existence for 28 years, and over the years, it has changed its focus from an intervention agency to a prevention agency. It is working with men to create communities where it is clear that disrespect and violence against womenis not acceptable.
As Serdahely said: “One in three women will be battered or sexually abused at one point in their lives.”
Days of Giving
The Wells Fargo approach to giving is having its Atlanta debut.
San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, which has acquired Wachovia Bank, is launching a “Days of Giving” program in the Atlanta market where each branch and business center is giving grass-roots organizations $1,000 grants to help improve their communities.
Wells Fargo, which has had a Days of Giving program on the West Coast since 1999, has selected Atlanta as its first city on the East Coast to have such a program. The bank will be holding five local community celebrations over the next 10 days and will give out 208 grants to 180 different philanthropic organizations. (Some branches selected the same organizations.)
“Atlanta is absolutely important to Wells Fargo, but I also think the new Wells Fargo will be an important community player in Atlanta,” said Jerome Byers, Atlanta regional president for Wachovia.
Wachovia has the second-largest market share among banks in the region, and the Atlanta market is the third-largest for the entire Wells Fargo system, after San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Byers said the new program will help the bank have both a “macro and a micro” approach to philanthropy in the Atlanta market.
Wachovia will continue to support larger initiatives — such as the Atlanta Beltline, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, Grady Hospital, United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta Inc. and the Woodruff Arts Center. But on a micro-level, it also will touch customers at the most local level — its branches. As an example, one of the grantees will be the North Georgia Angel House, which provides a home for 15 girls in state supervision in Waleska.
Byers said this program only reinforces the bank’s intent to remain a strong civic player in Atlanta.
In 2009, the bank’s giving in Atlanta “will be north of $5 million,” Byers said.
“I expect [giving] in 2010 to be greater than in 2009, and 2009 to be better than 2008,” say Byers, adding that some gifts for this year are still in the works. “We want to be a great company here in Atlanta. To do that, we have to not just be a key giver on major projects. We have to also not neglect our grass-roots responsibility.”
Speaking of banks and giving: Bank of America announced Oct. 14 grants totalling $400,000 to two key Atlanta nonprofits — the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Pan Asian Community Services. Both will receive unrestricted grants to help support their operations.
The gifts are part of the bank’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative, which is investing a total of $20 million around the world in 2009. The initiative has been established to help sustain nonprofits during the difficult economy — where resources have decreased yet the needs have increased.
Making the announcement for Bank of America in Atlanta was Brian Moynihan, head of consumer banking. Incidentally, he is thought to be a contender to succeed Ken Lewis as CEO of Bank of America.
Metro Chamber more effective
The Metro Atlanta Chamber is on a mission to operate more like a business.
Its latest move is hiring Pam Beckerman as its new vice president of human resources. Beckerman, who most recently has been director of human resources for Kurt Salmon Associates, has worked in human resources for 30 years.
Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, said this completes a multi-pronged effort that’s been under way at the chamber for the past year.
First, it hired the Zyman Consulting Group to help fine-tune its message. Next, it established the New Economy Task Force, and worked with Bain Consulting, to make sure it was targeting the right industries and addressing challenges to the region’s economic development strategies. Then, it hired Bixler Consulting Group to help improve its internal operations. That led to the hiring of Beckerman, who will implement many of Bixler’s recommendations.
“This really completes the whole program to be more effective than we’ve been in the past,” Williams said. “We want to push the organization. I feel like we have a good business plan; we have a brand; and we know how to manage it. We are working to improve the quality of our organization.”