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At great pivot points in American history, leaders and everyday Americans have been faced with huge choices. We are the beneficiaries of those who have shown vision and courage before us. Let us use this moment to make another set of critical choices, a commitment to a future America stronger for all. To that end, these documents provide draft thinking on a potential policy framework for the next administration and Congress. We look forward to feedback and input from any interested parties. Draft Tele-America PresentationDownload Draft Tele-America Policy AgendaDownload Read more...

This memorandum offers a suggested approach for a project that could be launched in the next six months. The initiative would increase impactful Administration policy change by creating a clear role within an Administration for collaborating with outside philanthropic entities, as well as by developing a corresponding defined external entity to help share information and potential opportunities. Draft: A New Innovation Initiative & a Future Administration: Key Considerations and Proposed StructureDownload Read more...

We’ve compiled this living document to include resources for tracking COVID-19 response efforts by philanthropy, the private sector, national, state, and local governments, and other entities. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, is not for commercial use, and is intended to be updated as efforts grow or change. Please note, it is not a collection of disease or public health trackers. If you have other resources to feature, or ideas on how to make it more useful in this crisis, please email info@tfreedmanconsulting.com. Sections included: PhilanthropyPrivate SectorState and Local GovernmentFederal GovernmentHealth and TechnologyMedia and EducationLegal Read more...

This op-ed was featured in The Washington Post as part of their collection of ideas that could mitigate the impact of COVID-19. You can read the full article here. By Tom Freedman The COVID-19 crisis has revealed a huge opportunity for improving our government. That’s because a wonky policy tool — public-private partnerships — has become much more important during the pandemic. The problem, however, is that these are being deployed in an ad hoc, uncoordinated manner, with too little thought given to how they fit the needs of our democratic society. What’s missing is an effective structure for how we could Read more...

Originally featured in The Chronicle of Philanthropy By Matt James and Bill Nichols As foundations and nonprofits continue to think through the new political reality, much of their collective mindshare is being spent on a central conundrum: How do organizations that focus on big issues support and promote their causes in a world where, seemingly, facts don’t matter? How do they ensure that the public is getting the information it needs to support informed decision making and understanding the consequences of major policy shifts? We would argue that facts matter more than ever in an environment of proposed sweeping policy changes and sometimes Read more...

San Jose Mercury News - December 29, 2014 By Tom Freedman, Alan Davidson, and Alexander C. Hart As we look to the New Year, we should recognize that there is a new trend in politics. The digital world isn’t just changing the way election campaigns are run; it is also changing the way voters think. From specific issues like net neutrality to a general willingness to support building our national communications infrastructure, this trend will change American politics. Immediately after the 2014 elections, we conducted a national poll of midterm voters. Digital voters, those who spend more than three hours a day on Read more...

USA Today – September 18, 2012 By Sam Gill and Katharine Wilkinson As a new NFL season kicks off, we're seeing a greater emphasis on safety at all levels of organized football, all the way down to the Pop Warner League's decision to limit contact in practice. While this has been a refreshing shift, the current approach won't achieve the "culture of sportsmanship, fairness and safety" promised by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. If the NFL wants to achieve culture change, it will take more than punishments and new rules. It will take meaningful rewards as well. These policies have had a limited effect. Just last season, Cleveland Read more...

The Foundation Review - October 1, 2014 By Sam Gill and Tom Freedman This article proposes a new methodology for planning and evaluating public-policy advocacy. The methodology is designed around a series of stages, each with a different set of strategic planning and assessment requirements. The article suggests that both planning and evaluative approaches that fail to take account of the necessary stages required to develop and then implement an advocacy strategy will likely assign the wrong indicators of success. This analysis is based on direct experience working with both policy processes and a wide range of foundations and nonprofits that have invested in Read more...

The Christian Science Monitor – February 18, 2011By Sam Gill Among all the programs that face cuts in President Obama's new budget, education is a clear winner. Charter school funding, however, suffers a slight decrease. And this may be a good thing. Charter schools have become another silver-bullet 'idea fad' racing through education reform. President Obama released his 2012 budget proposal earlier this week to a fanfare of predictable criticism from the right and a few cries from the left. In a budget that saw cuts to many cherished programs, one of the big winners was education – with an 11 percent boost in total funding. Within Read more...

The Chronicle of Philanthropy - February 26, 2009 By Franklin Foer, Tom Freedman, and Elizabeth Wilner It's hardly breaking news that high-quality journalism is facing severe economic challenges. Nor is it news that many philanthropies are grasping at ways to draw more attention to important problems. As veterans of the worlds of media, public policy, and philanthropy, we propose an endeavor to put more philanthropic might behind supporting effective journalism. Some worthwhile experimentation has been done in this area. The time has come for a broader and more systematic effort. The newspaper industry's troubles have gone from being bad news to almost old news. Even Read more...

MinnPost - November 26, 2008By Sam Gill No matter who prevails in the recount for U.S. Senate, I fear an unheralded chapter in Minnesota politics will come to a close. Call it the “Eccentric Era.” Whether incumbent Norm Coleman or challenger Al Franken wins, Minnesota’s role as the engine of business as not-quite-usual politics will end, and the national political scene will suffer as a consequence. Minnesota has always produced senators who did not quite fit into the Washington culture. When Hubert H. Humphrey was successfully elected to the Senate in 1948 on the Democratic-Farmer-Labor ticket (which he helped to found), he was the Read more...

The Christian Science Monitor - June 2, 2002By Tom Freedman The unlikely sight of rock star Bono and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill touring Africa together last week underscored an old symbolic debate, as well as the possibility of a new consensus, on American aid to the developing world. The two sides of the debate have long had simple and static arguments: Supporters of aid complain that America does not give enough; opponents say US help is wasted by corrupt governments. But now, challenged by the moral issue of suffering abroad, and the reality that terrorists are exploiting poor countries, conservative American policymakers are Read more...

Washington Post - March 4, 2001By Tom Freedman The current fevered interest in Bill Clinton's last-minute pardons is endangering the real debate the Democratic Party needs to have: How do we go forward? The peril comes only partly from the sheer amount of attention focused on Clinton's exit from the White House. Media fascination has prompted an avalanche of Clinton psychological profiles and has tempted too many prominent Democrats to form circular firing squads. Ultimately, the pardons are done and irrevocable. After the investigations and interrogations, we must still confront our future. The pardons are the past. The greater danger posed by pardon Read more...

The Christian Science Monitor - January 26, 2011By Daniel Altschuler and Sam Gill In a speech as significant as the State of the Union, what is left unsaid matters as much as what is said. Last night, President Obama laid out a clear charge: to “win the future.” Focusing on the steps to help America compete in the 21st century, the president outlined a vision to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world” in order to secure greater prosperity for all. Yet the modest sampling of policy proposals seemed to pivot away from the ambitious attempt to take on long-term problems that marked the first two Read more...

The Chronicle of Philanthropy - November 13, 2011 By Sam Gill As the political-campaign season heats up, so have debates about whether courts should interpret the Constitution based on exactly what it says or more as a set of principles to guide contemporary affairs. Foundation and nonprofit leaders should ask themselves the same kind of question. Nonprofit organizations are beholden to their stated missions in a way profit-seeking corporations are not. As new pressures complicate how charities and foundations carry out their missions, the issue has become more significant than many organizations may recognize. The political debate boils down to some simple questions: Can courts Read more...

The Christian Science Monitor - October 28, 2010By Daniel Altschuler and Sam Gill As 20-somethings, we are often accused of having an exaggerated sense of self-importance. But this political season, we have every reason to be self-absorbed. After voting for Democrats in record numbers in 2008, our generation has retreated from the political arena, and the Democratic Party has failed to bring us back. Losing our generation may now cost them control of Congress. Just how crucial is the Millennial vote to Democratic success? Consider this: If young people voted in this upcoming election at the same rate as in 2008, it could completely Read more...

Los Angeles Times – August 2, 2010 By Sam Gill I often dream about retirement. But at 27, I’m unlikely to leave the workforce for at least another 40 years. If existing law doesn’t change, that’s when I will take my full Social Security benefit. To most Americans my age, collecting Social Security is a tenuous assumption — if they think about it at all. Polls show that my peers have lower confidence in its survival than any other age group. A 2009 National Academy of Social Insurance poll found that 67% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 are not Read more...

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – July 6, 2010 By Sam Gill
 and Katharine Wilkinson As 20-somethings who grew up under the shadow of the Exxon-Valdez spill, we don’t agree with those who believe Deepwater Horizon will create lasting momentum for energy reform. Even the president recently compared the spill to the 9/11 attacks, saying it would shape “how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come.” Far from an indelible mark on our national psyche, history tells us that the Gulf spill will be forgotten soon after the well is finally controlled. Despite a succession of environmental catastrophes, our nation suffers Read more...

Huffington Post – February 24, 2010By Sam Gill There’s a battle brewing in Washington — one that may not garner much attention from insiders, but that could have unintended and unanticipated consequences for 2010 and beyond. As President Obama signs an executive order to convene a bipartisan commission to tackle deficits, many commentators are already demanding — and expecting — that the commission address what they consider the Prodigal Trinity behind long-term budget growth: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. While there’s a real policy debate to be had about which of these three programs really has a long-term spending problem, the political Read more...

Washington Post - February 2, 2007 By Thomas Z. Freedman If the House and Senate are able to agree on a minimum-wage hike and the president signs the bill, some may say we will have done enough to help low-income workers. It's true that low-wage workers urgently need a raise, that millions of Americans work full time and still live below the poverty line. But while an increase in the minimum wage is better than nothing, alone it is an incomplete instrument for really making work pay. We should raise the minimum wage while committing our country to a bigger bargain: If you Read more...

Politico - March 21, 2007By Warren Bennis and Thomas Z. Freedman Amid the horse-race-like coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign and its focus on topics such as electability and likability, it's worth considering which candidate would make the best leader and president. At the end of the day, voters won't be having a beer with the next president, but we will depend on him or her to be a great leader and deal with the daunting challenges of globalization and terrorism. American history offers some clues about qualities that tend to show up in our great leaders. Here's a scorecard of Read more...