In the spring of 2006, The Bingham Program became interested in the issue of violence against women and children. Initially, we thought we would be able to focus our attention on the role we could play in health care. We quickly learned that health care expenses are only a piece of the yearly $1.3 billion costs to Maine economy. With a population of 1.3 million people, $1,000 per resident per year is not an insignificant sum for a small, relatively poor state. The Bingham Program advisors decided it was time to affect a change in the cultural acceptance of violence against women and children. Social change, however, was not something we were going to be able to bring about on our own so we began to look for partners.
Over the years the issue of violence against women and children had been mislabeled a “women’s issue” and relegated to the less important issues with which the state needed to deal. For the Bingham advisors, however, this was an economic as well as a health issue that needed the voices of business and men added to the discussion of solutions.
In the fall of 2006, Bingham asked former Governor Angus King and Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors to convene a group of business leaders who were men. The leaders were chosen because they had adopted policies within their own companies and because they were known to domestic violence and sexual assault advocates as supportive. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce them to the work of Vincent Felitti, MD at Kaiser Permanente and Robert Anda, MD of the CDC concerning the long term effects on health and productivity of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Because of the need to get the attention of business and industry focused on these productivity losses, we also began discussions with the Maine Development Foundation about the possibility of developing a measure of growth for the Maine Economic Growth Council’s yearly report. At its meeting in January 2008, the Council set a goal of
developing a safety indicator or cluster of indicators for its next report.
In the fall of 2007, at the 75th Anniversary celebration of The Bingham Program, the advisors committed to spending up to $1 million to focus the state’s attention on the devastating personal and economic effects of violence against women and children and on what we all can do to foster primary prevention efforts in our personal and professional lives. We are also working to match that amount and to find partners interested in this work.
Because one of the strongest indicators for continuation of the cycle of abuse is exposure to it at an early age, we envision our work taking place in the wider context of providing safe and supportive early childhood experiences. Early quality care and education are vitally necessary for Maine to insure that our most precious resource is well developed. There are currently a number of initiatives – statewide and local -- focusing on the need for and development of healthy birth-to-three environments. We support these efforts because of the
research indicating the critical importance of this period for infants’ and toddlers’ healthy development and the economy. We are a member of the Maine Children’s Economic Growth Council because we believe that our economic future depends on our investment in the birth to three period of children’s lives.
Areas of Focus
Strategy: To raise awareness of the need for quality early childhood care and education to break the cycle of violence.
Grants to date:
$69,000 over two years to incorporate a public health approach for educating parents before they leave any Maine hospital after the delivery of a child to avoid the consequences to the child, family and community of Shaken Baby Syndrome.
$60,000 to implement the Strengthen Maine Families’ work using existing early childhood infrastructure to engage parent leadership and develop child care provider capacity.
$5,000 for grant coordination to leverage $500,000 of stimulus money allocated for developing the infrastructure of early childhood councils (in our state it’s the Maine Children’s Growth Council) over three years.
$69,818 over three years to develop and evaluate its Peaceable Stories curriculum designed reduce aggressive behavior in early childhood programs statewide by training early childhood educators in conflict resolution practices based on children's books. The project includes a comprehensive evaluation with comparison groups and post-program information.
$2,000 To support the Policy Review dedicated to early childhood research.
$88,585 over three years for Muskie staff in collaboration with state domestic violence programs, attorneys, guardians ad litem (GALs), courts and key decision makers to develop and provide advanced education to GALs and key decision makers in cases where domestic violence is present. Training will include an in-person conference in the first year with follow-up teleconferences for guardians ad litem who have completed the beginning course on domestic violence and child custody required by the state, and for other key decision makers. Year two will include 2 regional in-person events for new people or people who could not attend the year 1 conference, and follow-up teleconferences for both groups will occur in year 3. Adding an on-line component will be an option for year 3 along with work to incorporate a requirement for
Convening and Educating Community Sectors
Strategy: To develop the voices of unusual advocates in a variety of sectors
Business: To contract with the Maine Development Foundation to spearhead the effort to engage business’s attention on this issue because we know that the voices of men and business are missing from this discussion and that it is precisely to those voices that the culture listens.
Grants to date:
$5,000 to convene six business roundtables to bring newest research in brain development and returns on early childhood investments to business leaders around the state.
$66,000 over two years to support our efforts with the Maine business community to raise its awareness of Domestic Violence and Early Childhood Development issues. The objective is to provide the business community with the necessary information that will encourage them to invest in prevention efforts at their places of employment and to support early investment in childhood care and education.
Healthcare: To focus the attention of those in healthcare – hospitals, medical practices, other health providers -- on the long-term health effects of violence against women and children and the ways in which the healthcare sector can make a difference.
Grants to date:
$41,900 over three years to adapt and promote its program YOU THE MAN for use in training healthcare workers including physicians, nurses, social workers, med students and residents. The training and play, Major Medical Breakthrough focuses on the importance of universal screening of patients and the why and how to recognize and respond when patients disclose domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
$3,738 in support of its annual Spring Conference focusing on child abuse, child abuse prevention and the impact of child abuse on the health and welfare of children.
$36,858 to evaluate the Domestic Violence Response Initiative funded earlier by Bingham. Physicians for Social Responsibility is providing training for physicians and medical practices using a physician and a domestic violence advocate as the trainers to advocate for universal screening of patients and to train them in how to respond to patients who disclose they are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence.
Men and boys: To support the work begun by the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Maine Attorney General’s office through A Call to Men.
Grants to date:
$20,364 to fund the independent evaluation of Boys to Men's Reducing Sexism and Violence Program
$5,000 to allow the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault to hold an invitational forum for "well-meaning men" throughout the state to help determine the role men will play in ending men's violence against women and to develop a plan of action for engaging other men in their communities in this work.
$5,800 for a follow-up meeting with the men from the initial Call to Men meeting and to host a second with college-age men.
$42,819 over two years for its Men Ending Violence Against Women project on high school and college campuses.
$5000 to assist with training and public awareness efforts by utilizing footage of interviews with seven family members who had lost someone to domestic homicide and two victims of domestic violence. The footage will be used to develop a training video to illustrate the parts of the Domestic Violence “Power and Control” wheel with powerful statements from Maine victims and the family members of domestic homicide victims.
To support the development of unusual voices calling for and working toward peaceful Maine families.
Grants to date:
$1,700 to attend a conference on engaging clergy in domestic violence prevention
Research and Measurement
Strategy: Polling and development of a media campaign.
Because of the expense of a successful campaign, this is the area in which we will most need to create partnerships with other foundations, corporations and the media. One of our staff is co-chair of the Communications Committee of the Maine Children’s Growth Council that is working on, among other things, statewide messaging for the business community. In the spring of 2009, the Council received $10,000 from the Pew Charitable Trust and in January 2010, a two year $250,000 from the Nellie Mae Foundation to support the messaging work.
What are we looking for in a project?
For initiative-funded proposals we are interested in projects that address primary prevention from a statewide perspective. Applicants should use the Spectrum of Prevention as the framework for their activities and be specific about how their activities fit within one or more levels. Because the Spectrum works comprehensively to bring about social change, the more levels a project is able to effectively address, the better. We are also interested in projects that bring unusual partners to the table as
well as other sources of money, whether from the community, business sector or philanthropy.