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An Update from the Center for Strategic Philanthropy

An Update from the Center for Strategic Philanthropy

In this Issue:

Event Roundup »

In-Depth: Place-based Philanthropy »

Reports and Toolkits »

Changemakers in Focus »


At the Center for Strategic Philanthropy (CSP), our mission is to maximize the strategic deployment of philanthropic capital to create a better world – and this year, we continued to make great strides. Together with our philanthropic partners, we designed three robust giving strategies and helped launch six new funding programs based on expert systems analysis. 

We also built learning communities for major depressive disorder, data science integration, biodiversity, and storytelling for impact. In addition, CSP continued to lead the philanthropy track for the Milken Institute’s major convenings, released three new Giving Smarter Guides, and published a report on the findings from a trailblazing survey of people living with depression and bipolar disorder. 

With support from the Sergey Brin Family Foundation, CSP launched Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s, a groundbreaking, philanthropically funded alliance that aims to advance understanding of basic science for Parkinson’s disease. 

This update provides an overview and highlights of our work. Follow the Center for Strategic Philanthropy on LinkedIn and join the Milken Institute’s Instagram and Twitter handles for more. We’ll be back in touch next year after Global Conference with another update. In the meantime, enjoy the giving season.

Melissa Stevens
Executive Director, Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy

 Event Roundup

Giving Compass’ Jen Jope attended The Milken Institute Global Conference in May, taking a close look at the philanthropy track. Here’s more about what she heard. Missed the conference? You can watch the videos here on our newly refreshed website.

And in October, the Institute’s Future of Health conference drew leaders and experts, who shared their insights on creating a healthier world.

Center for Strategic Philanthropy

 In-Depth: Place-based Philanthropy

Experts from the Center for Strategic Philanthropy weigh the benefits of investments that examine and respond to the needs of the local community

 Reports and toolkits 

This year, CSP’s Giving Smarter Guides and reports examined key issues and made recommendations on how carefully targeted philanthropic funding can make an outsized impact. 


For some, the sound of sniffling or chewing can trigger an intense physical and emotional response. This Giving Smarter Guide examines misophonia and opportunities for philanthropists to direct funding toward cross-discipline research, open data, and more to understand and treat this disruptive condition.

Nonprofit Drug Development

Over the past decade, the nonprofit sector has played a major role in overcoming barriers to drug development. This guide examines the critical role foundations and nonprofits have in navigating new drugs through the “valley of death” and moving us closer to cures.

Next Generation Prevention

Genomic testing, digital health tracking, telemedicine, and cloud-based technology provide routes to less expensive, preventive care for all. Philanthropists have an opportunity to make focused investments that can spur innovation and re-engineer our reactive health system toward one of more proactive health care.

Supporting Wellness

It’s not often that the scientific community gets to hear from people who live with the disease, especially a condition like depression. CSP partnered with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance in a first-of-its-kind survey effort to give these individuals a voice, all in an effort to better target therapeutic development, describe and understand their experiences, and comprehend their needs.

 Changemakers in Focus

  • CSP Executive Director Melissa Stevens was featured in Morning Consult, writing about a high-tech cure for the costs of chronic disease

  • CSP partners Cindy and Rob Citrone launched EMBRACE, a city-wide campaign involving Pittsburgh’s sports teams to promote mental wellness and resilience. 

  • After leading an impact campaign for the award-winning documentary Eating Animals, CSP partner Simone Friedman of EJF Philanthropies began a long-term effort to raise awareness about the role philanthropy can play to use social impact entertainment as a tool to create change. 

  • Vista Equity Partners President Brian Sheth is joining forces with Leonardo DiCaprio and Laurene Powell Jobs in a unique funder collaborative to protect wildlife and enhance conservation on a large scale.

  • Nobel Laureate Randy Schekman, PhD and CSP Director Ekemini Riley, PhD are leading Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP), a new alliance to advance basic science for Parkinson’s disease.

  • CSP Director Mali Locke spoke to Working Nation about the workforce of the future.

  • CSP Director Cara Altimus, PhD was featured in Giving Compass in a piece focused on findings from a major Milken Institute/Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance survey

Thank you for a wonderful year and for your continued support. We’ll be in touch in a few months with another update. In the meantime, keep an eye on our LinkedIn page for more.