Thursday, February 11, 2010

America's Biggest Donors Increasingly Looking to Address

A growing number of major donors are funneling money into ambi- tious projects designed to address global and societal challenges instead of simply choosing to support nonprofit entities such as hospitals, museums, and colleges, the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Slate magazine report.

According to the latest edition of the annual Slate 60 list, the effects of the economic downturn on major giving were plainly evident in 2009, as the $4.1 billion given to nonprofit and charitable causes by the top fifty philanthropists was barely more than a quarter of the $15.5 billion given by the top fifty in 2008. Topping the list, which first appeared in Slate in 1996 and has been compiled since 2000 by the Chronicle, were Stanley and Fiona Druckenmiller, who gave $705 million to the Drucken- miller Foundation, and the late John M. Templeton, who left $573 million to the John Templeton Foundation. Other major gifts were made by Bill and Melinda Gates ($350 million), George Soros (three large gifts totaling $300 million), Michael R. Bloomberg ($254 million), and Cincinnati arts patron Louise Nippert ($185 million).

Despite the economic downturn, the editors at Slate and the Chronicle argue that many donors on the list are becoming more creative in their giving, with fewer of them content to give large sums for traditional brick-and-mortar projects and a growing number using their philanthropic investments to address major social problems or encourage charities to collaborate in new ways.

"Wealthy Americans increasingly see philanthropy as way to catalyze big changes in society, rather than choosing only to write a check for a new building or to further existing proj- ects," said Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer. "More and more top donors now put their money, clout, and vision into fueling the development of new ideas and shaping future leaders -- whether in education, business ethics, economics or climate change."

"The 2009 Slate 60." Slate Magazine 2/05/10.

Kresge Foundation Awards $5.5 Million to Safety-Net

The Kresge Foundation ( ) in Troy, Michigan, has announced grants totaling $5.5 million to free public health clinics and safety-net organizations that provide care to under- served and low-income populations in rural and urban areas.

A total of $4.6 million was awarded through the foundation's Health Clinic Opportunity Fund, which was launched last year to help build the operational capacity of charitable health clinics, public health clinics, and clinics designated as federally qual- ified health center lookalikes -- facilities that did not receive federal stimulus money and, in many cases, have experienced a major increase in demand as a result of the economic downturn. As part of the fund's first grantmaking round, two-year, $300,000 grants were awarded to twenty clinics in twelve states and the District of Columbia. Recipients include Mobile Medical Care in Bethesda, Maryland; Mercy Primary Care Center in Detroit; and the Santa Cruz Women's Health Center in California. A second round of grants will be announced in June.

In addition, the foundation awarded grants totaling $900,000 through its four-year Safety-Net Enhancement Initiative, which is designed to reduce disparities and improve the health outcomes of low-income children and adults. Grants of $75,000 each were awarded to twelve public health agencies and community nonprofits in eleven states. Recipients include North Country Health Care in Flagstaff, Arizona; Primary Care Coalition in Baltimore; the Cleveland Clinic; and the Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation.

"Overall, these grants are intended to improve the quality and access to public health services for low-income and uninsured individuals," said David D. Fukuzawa, program director for Kresge's Health Team. "This is an opportunity to assist organi- zations serving the most vulnerable populations."

For a complete list of grant recipients, visit the Kresge Foun- dation Web site.
"$900,000 in Grant Awards for Safety-Net Enhancement Initiative; Additional $4.6 Million Awarded for Health Clinic Opportunity Fund Grants." Kresge Foundation Press Release 2/01/10.

Number of Americans Seeking Emergency Food Assistance Up

One in eight Americans -- or more than 37 million people, includ- ing 14 million children and nearly 3 million seniors -- receive emergency food each year through the nation's network of foodbanks and the agencies they serve, a new report from Feeding America ( ) finds. The number represents an increase of 46 percent since 2006.

Based on data collected by Mathematica Policy Research, including a survey of some 37,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, and other emergency feeding programs, the report, Hunger in America 2010, found that approximately 5.7 million people receive emergency food assistance each week from agencies served by one of Feeding America's more than 200 foodbanks -- a 27 percent increase since 2006, when the organization last released such a study. The sur- vey also found that more than one in three client households is experiencing very low food security -- a jump of 54 percent since 2006.

Over that period, the report found significant increases in the number of children (50 percent), Hispanics (66 percent), and African Americans (26 percent) being served annually by emergency food programs; the number of households with seniors facing very low food security (64 percent); and the number of households that have to choose between paying for food or their rent or mortgage (39 percent), their utilities or heating fuel (46 percent), or their medical bills (34 percent).

"Clearly, the economic recession, resulting in dramatically increasing unemployment nationwide, has driven unprecedented, sharp increases in the need for emergency food assistance and enrollment in federal nutrition programs," said Feeding America president and CEO Vicki Escarra. "Hunger in America 2010 exposes the absolutely tragic reality of just how many people in our nation don't have enough to eat. Millions of our clients are families with children finding themselves in need of food assist- ance for the very first time."

"Landmark New Study Reveals Unprecedented Number of Americans Seeking Food." Feeding America Press Release 2/02/10.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gates Foundation Commits $13 Million to Eliminate Two Tropical Diseases

The Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has announced a five-year, $13 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve efforts to eliminate two parasitic diseases, elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis) and river blindness (onchocerciasis), in the developing world.

The grant will support a new project in which scientists at multiple universities work to determine whether existing drugs given in different doses and combinations can be more effective than current treatments. At WUSTL, a team will test the costs and benefits of twice-yearly mass drug administration versus the standard annual treatment of filarial infections. At the same time, scientists at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine will conduct two clinical trials of different treatments for lymphatic filariasis and one trial of new treatments for onchocerciasis, while scientists at Michigan State University and McGill University will review all available information on the drug flubendazole to determine how best to reformulate it for use against human filarial infections. Developed in the 1970s to fight lymphatic filariasis, the drug has been effective when administered by injection to animals and humans, though it can cause severe reactions in humans.

According to the World Health Organization, lymphatic filariasis, which is caused by tiny worms spread by mosquito bites, is a leading cause of disability worldwide, infecting an estimated 120 million people and causing symptoms in 40 million people. Onchocerca volvulus, which causes onchocerciasis, is spread by black fly bites and occurs mainly in Africa, where it infects an estimated 20 million people and has caused blindness in approximately 300,000 people.

"This project will work to optimize treatments that already are being used to help hundreds of millions of people," said Gary Weil, the project's principal investigator. "We have simple and cost-effective treatments for many neglected tropical diseases, and for a cost of about 50 cents per person we can alleviate a tremendous amount of human suffering and disability and...eliminate some of these diseases permanently."

“WUSTL Receives $13 Million Gates Foundation Global Health Grant Toward Elimination of Tropical Diseases.” Washington University School of Medicine Press Release 1/28/10.

Gender Gap in College Enrollment Stabilizing Except Among

The gender gap in higher education has leveled off for most racial/ethnic groups except Hispanics, where the gap between the number of young men and women enrolled in college is widen- ing, a new report from the American Council on Education ( ) finds.

Gender Equity in Higher Education: 2010, a follow-up report to ACE's 2000 study and 2006 update, found that the percentage of male Hispanic undergraduates age 24 or younger declined from 45 percent in 1999-2000 to 42 percent in 2007-2008. Young His- panic men also have the lowest bachelor's degree attainment level (10 percent) of any group studied, while Hispanic women are attaining a bachelor's degree at the same rate as African- American women (18 percent).

Immigration is considered a key factor in the low educational performance of Hispanics. Only 51 percent of young Hispanic adults born outside the United States have completed high school, compared with 81 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics. Male immigrants, who represent one of every three young Hispanic adults, are at a particular disadvantage, with fewer than half having completed high school and only 6 percent having earned a bachelor's degree. "In order for the attainment rate of Hispanic young men to rise, degree production will have to outpace population growth or immi- gration will have to slow," said the report's author, Jacqueline E. King, assistant vice president of ACE's Center for Policy Analysis.

The report found that men 25 and older represent 14 percent of all undergraduates and are outnumbered two-to-one by women in the same age group; that 63 percent of all African-American under- graduates are women, the largest gender gap of any racial/ethnic group; and that, for each racial/ethnic group, the gap in enroll- ment disappears as family income rises. The report also found that the share of women enrolling in graduate school continues to increase and has reached 60 percent overall, with significant variation by race/ethnicity, degree program, and field of study.

But while the gender gap in higher education is no longer widen- ing for most groups, the report's author was far from sanguine that it would be eliminated any time in the near future. "While the gender gap is important and should be addressed by educators and policy makers," said King, "these findings suggest the cur- rent female majority may be higher education's new normal."

"College Gender Gap Appears to Be Stabilizing With One Notable Exception, American Council on Education Analysis Finds." Ameri- can Council on Education Press Release 1/26/10.

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Funding Woes Push Nonprofits to Consider Mergers, Closing

Hit by a drop in donations and cuts in government funding, non- profits of all types and sizes are being forced to make painful choices, including cuts in services, restructuring, mergers, collaborations, and/or closing, the Wall Street Journal reports.

After more than doubling between 1987 and 2007, private giving declined by 6 percent in 2008, the largest drop since Giving USA began tracking the data more than fifty years ago. At the same time, state and local government funding, which in some cases can represent more than two-thirds of an organization's budget, has also been falling. States paid out 5 percent less in 2009 and 4 percent less in 2010 for education, health care, and human services, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities -- yet state governments still owe nonprofits more than $15 bil- lion in back payments, according to Independent Sector.

While one-time events such as the earthquake in Haiti can result in a surge of donations, nonprofit leaders are planning for a future in which securing long-term support for their organiza- tion is even more challenging than it is today. And with growing demand for a relatively flat supply of donor dollars, more and more organizations are arguing that there is too much duplica- tion and overlap in the sector. At the same time, many nonprofit leaders are concerned that essential services would be lost should the number of nonprofits shrink, while others question the savings and efficiencies to be gained by combining different organizational cultures and forms of governance through mergers and alliances.

Those concerns aside, donors have begun to provide incentives to encourage nonprofits to collaborate or merge with other organiza- tions when it makes sense. In 2008, for example, the Arizona- based Lodestar Foundation launched a $250,000 annual collabora- tion prize, and when world leaders and philanthropists gather for former eBay president Jeff Skoll's annual forum on social entre- preneurship in April, the theme of the conference will be cata- lyzing collaboration for large-scale change.

"This is a wave of the future, not just a result of these times," said Lodestar Foundation president Lois Savage. "The sector is realizing that running a nonprofit isn't a God-given right. It's a privilege. Leaders need to look beyond their organization and focus on the mission they're trying to accomplish."

Banjo, Shelly. Kalita, S. Mitra. "Once-Robust Charity Sector Hit With Mergers, Closings." Wall Street Journal 2/01/10.

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Foundation Center Launches Web Site to Promote Foundation

The New York City-based Foundation Center ( ) has announced the launch of, a Web site designed to promote and facilitate greater openness and transparency among private foundations.

Developed in partnership with the Center for Effective Philan- thropy, the Communications Network, the Global Philanthropy Forum, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, and the One World Trust in London, Glasspockets is designed to encourage foundations to share stories of their successes and failures -- in part by high- lighting the exemplary efforts of their peers. The site offers essential facts about all 97,000 U.S. foundations, illustrations of philanthropy's impact on important issues, and information about the ways in which foundations are striving to become more transparent. The site also features a real-time foundation Twitter feed; a Transparency 2.0 section that showcases the growing number of foundations using social media; and a Who Has Glass Pockets? section that offers at-a-glance profiles of foundations' online communication practices according to information they make public regarding their governance, finances, grantmaking processes, and performance metrics.

The term "glass pockets" was used more than fifty years ago by then-chairman of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Russell Leffingwell, who told a McCarthy-era Congressional hearing: "We think that the foundation should have glass pockets." Leffing- well's comment underscored a popular sentiment -- still held today -- that organizations receiving tax exemptions for serving the public good should be willing to explain the ways in which they do so. A series of such hearings inspired the creation of the Foundation Center in 1956 as the "glass pockets" through which America's foundations could be made more transparent to the public.

"The Foundation Center believes strongly in the kind of freedom that allows U.S. foundations to be innovative, take risks, and work on long-term solutions to the world's most vexing problems," said Foundation Center president Bradford K. Smith. "To preserve this freedom, foundations must tell the story of what they do, why they do it, and what difference they make. Glasspockets will serve as a central source of knowledge that can fuel this move- ment toward greater transparency in philanthropy."

"New Web Platform Encourages Foundation Transparency in the Digital Age." Foundation Center Press Release 2/01/10.

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Gates Foundation Commits $10 Billion to Vaccine-Related

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ( has announced a ten-year, $10 billion commitment to support the research, development, and delivery of vaccines for the world's poorest countries.

Announced at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the commitment will fund a range of vaccine- related activities, from basic research to innovations in deliv- ery. Using a model developed by a consortium led by the Institute for International Programs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the foundation projects that scaling up the delivery of life-saving vaccines for the world's children by 10 percent could prevent the deaths of some 7.6 million children under the age of five between 2010 and 2019. If a malaria vaccine is introduced by 2014, that number could reach 8.7 million, with even more lives saved if vaccines for diseases such as tubercu- losis are developed and introduced in the coming decade.

Although the commitment is believed to be the largest pledge ever made by a grantmaker to a single cause, the Gates Foundation pointed out that billions more dollars will be needed from other funding sources -- foundations, governments, and the private sector -- to achieve the ambitious goal of vaccinating 90 percent of the world's children. Critical funding gaps exist in global polio and measles vaccination programs and at the GAVI Alliance, which was created ten years ago at Davos with $750 million from the Gates Foundation. In addition, more support is needed for the research and development necessary to produce new vaccines; the introduction of vaccines for pneumonia, severe diarrhea, and other diseases; and efforts to ensure a steady market for -- and an adequate supply of -- vaccines in developing countries.

The Gateses said their pledge was inspired by progress made in the area of vaccines in recent years. Global vaccination rates have reached an all-time high, rebounding from years of decline in the 1990s, according to the World Health Organization, while new vaccines for the two leading causes of global child deaths -- severe diarrhea and pneumonia -- are becoming available. To date, GAVI has reached 257 million children with new and under- used vaccines, preventing five million future deaths.

Before this most recent pledge, the Gates Foundation had already committed $4.5 billion to vaccine research, development, and delivery, making vaccines the highest-funded cause at the founda- tion, the New York Times reports. The foundation will not divert money from other projects to fund the new commitment; instead, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett will increase their annual gifts to the foundation, with the share of the foundation's overall spending that goes toward vaccines increasing from 20 percent to 30 percent.

"We must make this the decade of vaccines," said Gates. "Vaccines already save and improve millions of lives in developing countries. Innovation will make it possible to save more children than ever before."

"Bill and Melinda Gates Pledge $10 Billion in Call for Decade of Vaccines." Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Press Release 1/29/10.

McNeil, Donald. "Gates Foundation to Double Spending on Vaccines." New York Times 1/29/10.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Global Green celebrates the completion and opening of its first New Orleans model green school by Beth Galante

Global Green USA is proud to announce the results of our three year partnership with the Recovery School District (RSD) and the Broadmoor Improvement Association (BIA) to develop the green design of the Andrew H. Wilson Elementary School -- making it one of the greenest schools in the nation that will have dramatically lower utility costs and substantially improve student health and performance.

National studies have shown the profound effects that learning in a green and energy efficient environment can have in classrooms. Green schools protect children and teacher health, increase student performance by as much as 25%, connect students to the natural world, increase average daily attendance, reduce operating costs, improve teacher satisfaction and retention, and reduce overall impact to the environment by reducing operating costs by 20% to 40%.

We are proud to be a part of the team that helped to create one of the greenest schools in the country and are thrilled to have worked with the RSD to ensure that this is just the first of many new schools that will help current and future generations learn in healthy energy-efficient schools.

As a showcase green school, the Wilson Elementary School building incorporates more than 40 specific green measures to enhance the building's energy efficiency and student performance. Among these green technologies are a solar hot water system that will provide 90% of the hot water for the school's kitchen as well as a 5.04 kW solar electric system. There is also a 12,000 gallon water cistern to collect and store rainwater for irrigation, as well as an internet-based monitoring and data collection system to collect solar domestic hot water, solar electric, rainwater, and day lighting usage to educate students and calculate carbon offsets.

We have contributed $300,000, with the help of the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, plus technical expertise to fund the transformation of Andrew H. Wilson Elementary School into the first official Model Green School, as a part of our "Model Schools" initiative, which overhauls existing public school buildings to yield high performance showcase green schools.

Andrew H. Wilson Elementary, the only school in the Broadmoor neighborhood, sat in several feet of flood water in the wake of Katrina. With the help of the state school district, which has committed to achieving LEED Gold status for the school, and financial and technical assistance from Global Green USA, a design team has integrated the highest standards of efficiency and sustainability while applying needed structural improvements.

For more information, please contact Jeanne Nathan at 917-232-4522