As Economy Roils Non-Profit Sector, a Phoenix Rises; Announcing the Launch of the Palette Fund

A severe reduction in available public and private funds since the economy has soured has put many non-profits in grave danger. However, amongst all the gloom is a glimmer of good news. The Palette Fund, a foundation with an endowment of over $10MM, is launching this week.

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Rand Skolnick
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The Palette Fund was established this year after the tragic death of Rand Harlan Skolnick, a nutrition/health executive and philanthropist who succumbed to his battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 50. The Palette Fund honors the legacy of Rand Skolnick through collaborative grant making and programs that value human rights and education.

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Specifically, the Palette Fund is focused on four health and/or societal issues:

LGBT Youth
HIV/AIDS
Nutrition and its Effect on Health
Patient Navigation

These four areas were of key importance to Rand Skolnick – he dedicated his heart and soul to his philanthropic work throughout his life, and the Palette Fund seeks to continue and grow his pioneering vision.

“We address these health and societal problems through grantmaking, education and, in some cases, program development with organizations that provide critical services and build knowledge in areas that are still very much new frontiers,” said Terrence Meck, President and Executive Director of the Palette Fund, and former life partner of Rand Skolnick.

Why the Palette Fund is Needed

Statistics tell a grim story about the unfortunate need for The Palette Fund:

LGBT Youth

LGBT youths are often socially marginalized or abandoned by family, friends and society because of their sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity.

30% of all suicides are committed by LGBT youths, while they are only 5-10% of the population. Approximately 40% of of homeless youth identify as LGBT – having been kicked out of their own homes by their parents. They are also the most frequent victims of hate crimes and often receive no support whatsoever.

HIV/AIDS

Despite the emergence of new HIV/AIDS treatments in recent years, the disease continues to take its toll. There are approximately 1.1 million people in the U.S. who are living with HIV/AIDS, including almost 4,000 children. The disease still kills about 15,000 people a year in the U.S.

Black and Hispanic communities have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in the U.S. In 2007, 50% of all new HIV diagnoses and 42% of all new AIDS diagnoses were in black people, despite the fact that they comprise just 13% of the population.

The National Coalition for The Homeless estimates that the rate of HIV infection is 3-20% higher among the homeless.

Nutrition and its Effect on Health

More than half of all Americans are either overweight or obese. The problem of obesity, which has dramatically increased in this country over the last 20 years, is leading to other serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, several types of cancers, sleep disorders, and more.

Obesity is a particular problem among young people. In the U.S., one in three children and youths (aged 2-19) is overweight or obese, and this statistic is only going up.

Patient Navigation*

Seven out of 10 Americans who die each year, or about 1.7 million people, die of a chronic disease, such as cancer, AIDS, heart problems, etc.
Patient navigation generally refers to assistance given to patients that facilitates access to appropriate care and resources, in order to ensure completion of medical treatment. It is emerging as a valuable service in many disease categories, particularly cancer care.

Milestones to Date

The Palette Fund has already partnered and/or provided grants to a number of organizations in its areas of focus. These include:

LGBT Youth: Center for Progressive Leadership
The Point Foundation
The Trevor Project
Hetrick-Martin Institute
Liberty Hill’s Queer Youth Fund

HIV/AIDS

Bailey House
Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
Funders Concerned About AIDS
The National AIDS Housing Coalition

Nutrition and its Effect on Health

Natural Gourmet Institute
Urban Zen Foundation
Touro College’s Project Aspire

Patient Navigation

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Smith Farm Center for Art & Healing

The Birth of a Grassroots Movement

The Palette Fund works in three different ways. First, it provides grants and collaborates with other non-profit organizations aligned with its program areas. Second, it offers educational resources on specific areas (e.g. nutrition as health) to key audiences. And third, it encourages people to get involved directly.

“Together with our partners, The Palette Fund hopes to support a groundswell of consciousness and change throughout all of our program areas. We will continue to find new ways for Rand Skolnick’s philanthropic legacy to help as many people and causes as possible, and to inspire others to get involved. In the end, we hope that one man’s death will better the lives of thousands of others,” said Meck.

For more information, to learn how to become involved or to make a donation, please visit www.thepalettefund.org.

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