Monday, April 24, 2017 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM CDT
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UWM School of Continuing Education 
161 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53203

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Bryce Lord 
Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management 

The Self-Help Myth: How Philanthropy Fails to Alleviate Poverty

  • Can philanthropy alleviate inequality?
  • Do antipoverty programs work on the ground?
  • How do we develop a "win-win"?

Through the lens of a provocative set of case studies, The Self-Help Myth discusses how philanthropy maintains systems of inequality by attracting attention to the behavior of poor people while shifting the focus away from structural inequities and relationships of power that produce poverty. Foundation professionals pursue well-intentioned, hopeful strategies that contain specific “theories of change” based on traditional American ideals of individualism and hard work. But when used in partnership with well-defined limits around what foundations will and will not fund, do these ideals become fuzzy concepts that leave relationships of poverty and inequality untouched?

Join Erica Kohl-Arenas for an enthusiastic debate into the root causes of poverty and what the existing philanthropic structure can and cannot do to address them.


Erica Kohl-Arenas is an Assistant Professor at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School and is a recipient of  the university's awards in Outstanding Achievements in Diversity and Social Justice Teaching and the Distinguished University Teacher Award. She earned her PhD from the Social and Cultural Studies in Education program at the University of California, Berkeley (2010), an MS in Community Development from the University of California, Davis (1999), and a BA in Sociology from Reed College (1991).

Kohl-Arenas' book, The Self-Help Myth: How Philanthropy Fails to Alleviate Poverty (University of California Press, 2016), analyzes the history of philanthropic investments in addressing farmworker and immigrant poverty across California’s Central Valley. Her primary research areas include studies of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, participatory development, and the intersection of American and global poverty studies.

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There is no charge for this event, but space is limited!