Grants further ASU Lodestar Center's non-profit development programs

April 29, 2015

Jehryn Plunkett credits Public Allies Arizona with giving him not only hands-on work experience, but the opportunity to finish his college degree.

The program, run by Arizona State University’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation, places dedicated individuals in 10-month apprenticeships within various non-profit organizations. ASU Lodestar Center Download Full Image

Now, with help from the American Express Foundation, the ASU Lodestar Center will be able to extend the program.

The Public Allies National Office from the American Express Foundation selected ASU’s Lodestar Center as one of only three sites in a nationwide network of 23 to receive a $25,000 grant (the other two were in New York and Washington, D.C.).

It is one of two recent grants from longtime partners that are expanding their investment in the center’s efforts to build capacity in the non-profit sector – that is, to create non-profit leaders capable of doing more with limited resources, and to help organizations become sustainable.

The American Express grant will help the center identify more participants from diverse backgrounds – specifically men of color – engaging them in the program to increase their educational and career opportunities and help them to bring about positive change in their communities.

“Public Allies is especially beneficial for men of color because of the opportunities it provides towards education and careers in the non-profit sector,” Plunkett said. “It also helps us demonstrate that we are hardworking and capable of breaking negative stereotypes about men of color.”

Plunkett is working at Phoenix Day, a local non-profit that promotes school readiness and success in school.

“As someone who didn’t complete college for financial reasons, the AmeriCorps education award I will receive at the end of my term of service will help me finish my degree,” Plunkett said.

The partnership with the American Express Foundation has grown over the years, said Robert F. Ashcraft, executive director of the ASU Lodestar Center and professor in the School of Community Resources and Development, part of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

“This latest grant extends our reach as we increase participation and retention of underrepresented citizens who are otherwise disconnected from school or jobs to help ensure they are on pathways to educational or employment success when they complete our Public Allies Arizona program,” Ashcraft said.

In addition to completing 1,700 hours of service at a non-profit organization, Allies also receive values-based leadership training and personal coaching preparing them for a culminating team project.

Freeport-McMoRan Foundation has also stepped up investment in programs that have proven successful and received recognition on both a local and national level.

Building on a six-year relationship, the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation has given a $170,000 grant to the ASU Lodestar Center, an extension from a similar contribution last year that gives funding for a dedicated program coordinator to assist in addressing and resolving sustainability issues through capacity-building activities and project development.

The Lodestar Center and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold have collaborated to build and strengthen the capacity of non-profit organizations in six rural Arizona mining communities, offering numerous tools and training sessions dedicated to building sustainability.

“We understand the importance of investing in the capacity of the non-profit sector,” said Tracy Bame, president of the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation. “Partnerships with community organizations help fulfill our commitment to build capacity that grows, diversifies and sustains communities beyond the life of our operations.”

“This grant is the next step in our overall effort to connect non-profits in these communities with the resources they need to strengthen their impact, and as a result our dollars have a multiplier effect,” Bame added.

Collaborations with partners like Freeport-McMoRan and the American Express Foundation have helped the ASU Lodestar Center build a dynamic link between the non-profit community and ASU.

Written by Christopher Hernandez

Media contact:

Heather Beshears

director marketing and communications, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Study of human behavior takes ASU anthropology student across globe

April 29, 2015

How do humans obtain and transmit information in their social environments? What are the evolutionary foundations of human deception? How does human behavior vary across cultures?

These are some of the questions Arizona State University doctoral anthropology student Leonid Tiokhin is attempting to answer. Leonid Tiokhin Download Full Image

Tiokhin’s research is strongly grounded in evolutionary theory. In particular, he is interested in the evolution of information transmission and the ways in which humans’ reliance on social information leaves them vulnerable to deception.

“For my master's thesis I am developing a new hypothesis for the evolution of symptom expression, grounded in evolutionary theories of communication,” he explained. “In the future, I hope to expand my work across cultures by establishing a long-term field site in Indonesia.”

Tiokhin has already conducted on-the-ground research in two diverse regions. In Indonesia, he worked with the Karo Batak of North Sumatra for two months and lived in different villages for the next four as he studied Bahasa Indonesia, the official language of Indonesia. After Southeast Asia, he traveled to Armenia and spent six months learning Armenian before returning later to do fieldwork.

This summer, he will revisit Indonesia as a Fulbright-Hays scholar. He plans to immerse himself in the study of Bahasa Indonesia by attending the Consortium for the Teaching of Indonesian advanced language program in Salatiga, Java.

Born in Russia, Tiokhin moved to the U.S. when he was three and grew up in California, graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles. While at UCLA, he worked at the Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture, where he spent two years as its coordinator.

As an undergrad, he was part of a news-making research team led by evolutionary anthropologist Daniel Fessler, which introduced the “Crazy Bastard Hypothesis.” This research proposed an evolutionary basis for the typical risk-taking behavior of young men: it creates the image of a dangerous enemy and a powerful ally in the eye of the beholder.

At ASU, Tiokhin’s research is conducted as part of the Laboratory of Culture Change and Behavior, overseen by associate professor Daniel Hruschka in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Hruschka is excited about his advisee's recent Fulbright-Hays win, as well as his future. "This will be a great opportunity for Leo to grow his Indonesian skills as he prepares for a career in anthropology and evolutionary medicine," he said.

Tiokhin hopes to eventually obtain an academic post at a major research university.

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change