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What's Next for Kaitz Foundation?

Beneficiaries of The Walter Kaitz Foundation's first round of organizational grants are completing their initial projects — and wondering whether the foundation will offer another round of underwriting so that they can continue their work.

The foundation's board is also asking itself those questions. Two years ago, it dropped its own internship program in favor of funding existing groups that promote diversity in the workplace. Initial grantees included the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, NAMIC, Women in Cable and Telecommunications, the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association, the Emma L. Bowen Foundation for Minority Interest in Media and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.

Those groups reported on their grant activities to the Kaitz board members during last June's National Show in Chicago. According to foundation president Spencer Kaitz, trustees were pleased with the programs, but the organization has not decided yet whether it will keep on its current path.

Over the last month, trustees have been interviewed about their sentiments on the most effective means of dealing with the diversity issue, Kaitz said. Among the questions: Is diversity an issue worthy of external, multicompany efforts? How can the cable industry make its pro-diversity efforts most cost-effective? Should the Kaitz Foundation continue to exist on its own, or should it be a part of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association?

Kaitz would not reveal the findings. A comprehensive draft report should first be presented to the trustees, he noted, and that presentation is scheduled for the organization's Sept. 16 meeting in New York.

He did say, though, that he believes executives judge workplace diversity to be an issue that should receive no less attention than it currently attracts — and probably more. It's just a matter of creating the most effective plan of attack.

CTAM studies

Meanwhile, the initial grantees point to the success of the programs fostered with those monies, and vow to expand on their early work if the foundation provides more funding.

CTAM used its grant to fund a multicultural marketing study. The data in the report was generated through 61 in-depth interviews with senior executives from eight of the largest MSOs, 20 programming networks and 33 cable systems located in markets with significant ethnic populations.

The study, which uses data collected by The VBS Group Inc., was released in January.

The survey found, among other factors, that local systems are more likely (70%) to have multicultural marketing plans or objectives than do their MSO parents (20%). Still, most MSOs do employ executives responsible for ethnic marketing.

Also, when they execute their specialty campaigns, they turn to specialty outside agencies for help.

Given those results, CTAM put together a vendor directory of agencies staffed by a multicultural workforce and focusing on ethnically targeted media, said vice president of marketing Tania Jones.

The reaction by member companies to the work funded by the Kaitz grant has been very positive, Jones added.

"I've been amazed by the momentum," said Jones, who noted that Comcast Corp. recently hired a multicultural specialist and Cox Communications Inc. is actively looking for a similar hire.

CTAM hasn't discussed what it would do to attract Kaitz funding in the next round, but Jones would like to develop another research project. Such work is contingent on further grants, according to Jones, as the trade group's current resources are already committed.

Mentorship momentum

The Kaitz-funded program conducted by the Bowen Foundation concluded in August, said its president, Phylis Eagle-Oldson. It supported a summer mentorship program that not only placed minority students at participating companies, but also gave each of those students a high-level mentor.

"I was absolutely blown away by the response from mentor candidates, and from senior levels, too," she said.

The program was conducted in New York, due to the concentration of media companies there. Twenty-one students benefited from the experience of 13 mentors from companies including ESPN, Food Network, CBS, BMI, Katz Media Group, Viacom Inc. and Fox. Mentors included CEOs, vice presidents and director-level managers, according to Eagle-Oldson.

The volunteer time was a lot to ask of busy executives, she acknowledged, especially when students asked such pointed questions about personal challenges the mentors faced as persons of color in the workplace.

Mentors met with the students four times during the summer, for four-and-a-half hour training sessions. Work sessions also included group discussion on topics such as managing different behavioral types.

Despite the hard work, the participant evaluations were overwhelmingly positive, Eagle-Oldson said.

"We certainly hope to apply again next [cycle]," she said.

Latino film prospects

Hispanic writers and directors also found benefit in the programs funded by the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, especially those who came away from workshops with deals for agents, said executive director Kathryn Galan.

For instance, one writer who participated in a NALIP forum leveraged his one-on-one mentorship participation into a place in ABC's new-talent program, she said.

NALIP staged a two-day conference in Miami, attended by minority filmmakers, as well as content buyers and instructors from Los Angeles. The main purpose: to teach the neophytes how to storyboard and pitch film projects.

The first national Latino Writer's Lab followed, attended by 36 scribes from the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Perhaps the highlight for participants was the roundtable lunch groups, which resulted in representation deals for some attendees with International Creative Management and the William Morris Agency.

An April meeting in Los Angeles featured industry attorneys who discussed intellectual property rights and relationships.

NALIP has approached Kaitz about further funding, but at press time had not been asked to apply for a second round of funding, Galan said.

"If not, we'll go to other corporate funding sources. But it makes it more difficult for other organizations that don't have [diversity] as their mission as Kaitz does," she said.

PAR progress

WICT may also apply for further funding for its initiatives. The group used its grant to support scholarships to its annual WICT Forum.

The women-in-cable trade group has also conducted a confidential survey of all programmers and operators to gauge pay equity, advancement opportunities and resources for work and life support.

This PAR study is being conducted in conjunction with Working Mother
magazine, leveraging the publishing company's experience with its annual "Best 100 companies for women" feature, said WICT vice president of marketing and communications Melissa Northern.

WICT will use those surveys to generate three lists in November, detailing the industry's top five system operators, programmers and overall companies based on their PAR rankings.

Northern said only the top companies will have their names published. But survey participants will get information on how they ranked, along with prescriptive suggestions for improvement as well as industry-wide improvement measures.

"We hope to do this each year, to maintain growth and so companies know where they need to work in order to attract and retain women, persons of color and other minorities," Northern said. Comparisons will be made between the industry and U.S. Labor Department statistical averages for women, persons of color and ethnicity, she said.

CTHRA will have its next grant-funded course on scouting and retaining qualified minorities during the week of the Kaitz dinner festivities. The course, scheduled for a full day of studies at the New York Hilton on Sept. 17, will reflect refined curriculum, based on feedback the organization got for its first session in July.

A two-hour course, focusing on the organizational dynamics that affect minorities in the workplace, was held at the National Show in Chicago.

The upcoming session, to be attended by 50 industry human-resources professionals, will give managers more effective techniques for recruiting diverse candidates, said Lyn Cason, a partner in executive-recruitment firm Warren & Morris Ltd.

"It's our expectation that these courses will continually evolve," perhaps by adding regional workshops, she said.

"We've given Kaitz an overview of the next phase. We're waiting to see what strategic plan they commit to for the organization's direction," she added.

NAMIC also hopes for further funding to continue its well-received Executive Leadership Development Program. This entails a 10-day course, created in partnership with the Anderson School of Management at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Fifty-four executives have gone through the ELDP, said NAMIC executive vice president Kathy Johnson. For its third class, limited to an enrollment of 30, NAMIC received 65 applications.

"In the third year, to have that kind of demand? We're extremely pleased," she said.

Students get an intense educational experience: Some days extend from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in order to complete the required course load.

The next session will even feature an added day, based on student requests. That new curriculum will focus on accounting, as budgeting has become an even bigger responsibility for executives.

Despite its demonstrated popularity, Johnson said it is unlikely the enrollment will be expanded. NAMIC wants to retain the close contact that exists among the students and faculty, she said.

NAMIC has just launched a Web site for program alumnae, so they can continue to network and share their work experiences.

"That's been a missing component in Kaitz in the past — no alumni contact," Johnson said.

Participants want to share news, such as the fact 30% of the leadership program graduates have been promoted at their respective companies since participating in the grant-funded program.

Other applications?

It's unclear what other organizations will step forward to apply for grants, should the Kaitz Foundation continue its current strategy.

One organization that unsuccessfully applied for funding in the past will not approach Kaitz if there is a next round: Cable Positive. The AIDS-fighting charity previously asked for a grant to support "Positive Generation," a program for young filmmakers of color planning to shoot public service announcements.

Thomas Dima, Cable Positive's vice president of communications and marketing, said the group would pursue other sources of funding for its initiatives.

He added that Positive Generation did not go unsupported. After the grant was turned down, Comcast Corp. bankrolled the project.