The MacArthur Foundation is pleased to introduce this monthly electronic newsletter. Foundations are fortunate to have access to vast networks of information and thanks to new technologies, we can do a much better job of making that information available to you. This newsletter is a small step in that direction. We believe that by telling a short story-and including electronic links to larger sources of information-we can provide a lot of information in a very compact form.

Each issue will typically include information about the impact of those whose work we support, news about the Foundation, and special coverage such as the focus on neighborhood development in Chicago that you will find in this issue.

We will keep the prose sparse, the information reliable, and the pathways to more information robust and easy to use. We welcome your suggestions and hope you will comment on what you read so that we can be in an ever-expanding conversation about issues of interest to us all.

Jonathan F. Fanton President, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

 

Reducing the Threat of WMD

A long-time grantmaking focus of the Foundation is support for projects and institutions designed to help reduce the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. Reports, publications, and articles by these organizations provide analysis and recommendations useful to policymakers. Most recent is "Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security," published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The document, circulating widely in draft form, includes more than 80 specific recommendations for action by states involved in nuclear nonproliferation efforts. It urges that the international community "establish a Contact Group, led by special envoys designated by heads of states that possess nuclear weapons and related materials that would give political urgency to securing all potential nuclear weapons." In light of the fact that in many countries theft of nuclear materials is a minor crime, the report urges much tougher national and international laws to "deter and criminalize nuclear proliferation." We also note the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs, which includes a provocative article by Ashton Carter entitled "How to Counter WMD," based on his recent Congressional testimony on that topic. Establishing itself in Washington, DC, is the newly opened office of the MacArthur-supported Center on Science, Technology and Security Policy. Led by Dr. Norman Neureiter, the Center is located at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and it will focus on bringing objective scientific advice to policymakers. It is funded through the Foundation's Initiative on Science Technology and Security.

 

Juveniles and Justice-Should They Face the Death Penalty?

Early in October, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments concerning the death penalty for 16- and 17-year olds. In prior rulings, the court has prohibited the penalty for children under 16. Brain development research is bringing an important new perspective to this debate, much of it the product of the Foundation-funded Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice. In an amicus brief filed by the American Psychological Association, the argument against the death penalty for those so young is based on what is known about psychological development of adolescents. Professor Laurence Steinberg of Temple University, director of the Network, and his colleagues have published widely on this topic. A good example is "Less Guilty by Reason of Adolescence," originally presented as a lecture, that was also published in American Psychologist. The Juvenile Justice Network is one of 12 such interdisciplinary research efforts funded by MacArthur exploring aspects of human and community development.

 

Untangling Copyright Law

Through support from a MacArthur initiative called Intellectual Property and the Long-Term Protection of the Public Domain, the American Library Association has just published "Complete Copyright: An Everyday Guide for Librarians." This comprehensive and lively publication stresses the breadth and flexibility of copyright law and will likely become the definitive work on this topic for the library community. New technology has brought considerable murkiness to copyright law, which could lead to material that could be in the public domain being held back, or even to abuse of the law for profit. This new publication will help clarify the law and will be circulated among librarians nationwide.

 

Rebuilding Chicago Neighborhoods

One of the nation's most ambitious comprehensive community development efforts is well underway in 16 low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in Chicago. Called the New Communities Program and operated by the Chicago office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the 10-year effort seeks to rejuvenate distressed communities, bolster those in danger of sliding downward, and preserve the diversity of areas in the path of market development. The New Communities Program involves local residents and leaders in creating and carrying out comprehensive community plans that address such issues as employment, parks and recreation, health care, housing affordability, commercial and retail development, childcare, education quality, neighborhood aesthetics and personal security. The MacArthur Foundation was instrumental in developing the New Communities Program with LISC and has provided more than $17 million in grant support thus far. The Foundation has also awarded grants to several organizations to work across multiple neighborhoods on matters such as neighborhood safety and workforce development. These include the Center for Economic Progress, which provides financial counseling and free tax preparation services to low-income households to ensure that they gain access to the Earned Income Tax Credit and other public benefits; the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, which organizes neighborhood residents to reduce homicides and shootings; Neighborhood Housing Services, which works with homeowners to maintain their properties and prevent predatory lending and foreclosures; and Project Match, which assists long-term unemployed or never-employed individuals in getting and keeping jobs. The overall program is designed to strengthen communities from within-through planning, organizing, and human development-and from without-by creating stronger connections to metropolitan-wide business, employment, and educational opportunities. In these ways, the Foundation, the New Communities Program, and other organizations aim to recognize and exploit market forces, trigger large-scale improvements, and contribute to the overall competitiveness of the city and region over the long term. They also seek to demonstrate what happens when national funders come together to support city-specific plans for comprehensive community development. Taken together, the 16 neighborhoods of the New Communities Program comprise one of four sites for a national demonstration project, the Pilot Cities Initiative, launched by Living Cities, a consortium of foundations, financial institutions, and federal agencies that fund community development in 23 cities and support urban research and policy initiatives, including the Census Project and the Urban Markets Initiative of the Brookings Institution.

 

About the Foundation

We welcome three new program officers to MacArthur, Dr. Christine Varga in the Population and Reproductive Health area of the Program on Global Security and Sustainability (GSS), Steve Cornelius in the Conservation and Sustainable Development area of GSS, and John Bracken in the General Program. Christine, who will work with international population organizations as well as with our country offices in India, Mexico, and Nigeria, spent 10 years in South Africa working on population matters for the Human Sciences Research Council. Steve joins the Foundation after seven years as Director of the Sonoran Desert Program for the Sonoran Institute, an organization that focuses on cross-border collaboration between U.S. and Mexican resource managers, residents and nongovernmental organizations. For eight years prior, he managed World Wildlife Fund's conservation program in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Before joining MacArthur, John was assistant director of an Israeli-Arab peace project. Earlier he worked at the Center for Media Education in Washington and was a fellow at the Ford Foundation where he worked on media policy and technology issues. At MacArthur he will help with each of the General Program initiatives, with a particular interest in media.

Community & Economic Development, Human Rights & International Justice, Juvenile Justice, Chicago, Community Development, Human Rights, Justice, Youth