“Donor of the Day: Cooking Up a Better Future.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. April 7, 2013. To Jeffrey Koslowsky, board members can roughly be divided into three types. There are the fundraisers, the “causers” and the roll-up-your-sleeves types. During his more than 10 years of board service with the Yonkers, N.Y.-based Greyston Foundation, Mr. Koslowsky, 45 years old, has rolled up his sleeves and become passionate about the charity. This month, he’s working on his fundraising. Next month, Mr. Koslowsky will be honored by Greyston’s at the annual benefit of the 30-year-old organization. He’s recently made a $125,000 gift to the foundation and now, for the first time, he’s making fundraising calls. It’s easier to write the check than to make phone calls, he admits. But he’s got a pitch for would-be donors and it goes something like this: “You know all about it because I’ve been talking about it for years,” he says with a laugh. “So now it’s time to write the check.” Mr. Koslowsky, an attorney, is managing member of Indigo Asset Management and chief financial officer of Advocate Brokerage in Scarsdale, N.Y., where he resides. What he does professionally is generally known as “vulture” investing, working to provide capital to distressed businesses. “It’s got a terribly negative connotation to it,” says Mr. Koslowsky. “But like I say to my borrowers when I finally speak to them, ‘Think of me as the good vulture…I’m trying to save your business and save your capital.’” And preserving Greyston was exactly what the organization needed when Mr. Koslowsky began his service on the board of directors. The organization provides employment to low-income people at an industrial bakery located in Yonkers. Profits from the bakery—which makes brownies, bars, cookies and whoopie pies, among other gourmet sweets—support an affordable-housing program and services like low-cost child care, HIV health services and job training and placement. The goal of the organization, which is rooted in Buddhist concepts, is to help individuals and families become self-sufficient. Greyston serves about 2,400 people annually.
“Donor of the Day: Ensuring a ‘Basic Education of a Certain Standard’.” By Mike Vilensjky. Wall Street Journal. April 8, 2013. Lise Evans has concerns about the American education system. “We should all do something to even the gap,” said Ms. Evans. “Society is not happy and healthy unless the bottom is raised.” Ms. Evans, who lives in an art-filled apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City, has donated $100,000 to Turnaround for Children, a nonprofit that helps improve low-performing, high-poverty public schools. With her husband, Goldman Sachs vice chairman Michael Evans, Ms. Evans will accept an award on behalf of Goldman Sachs Gives at Turnaround’s fourth annual Impact Awards Dinner at the end of the month. (Goldman Sachs Gives is a donor-advised fund from which Goldman partners give money to nonprofits.) Ms. Evans, a fashion-model-turned-philanthropist, became concerned when she was a volunteer at a New York City public high school, a role she took on while working toward her undergraduate degree in journalism at New York University. “I was in complete disbelief that this was what kids were being offered,” she recalled. “There were metal detectors at the door…and few opportunities to go elsewhere and succeed. If you don’t have a basic education, it’s hard to be really successful.”
“Foundation Releasing Aid to Families in Newtown.” By Peter Applebome. New York Times. April 10, 2013. Facing complaints that money raised in the wake of the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was not being distributed promptly to the families it was intended for, the foundation charged with distributing the largest pool of aid said this week that it would distribute $4 million to 40 families directly affected by the massacre. The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation said the $4 million would be divided between the families of the 20 children and 6 educators killed on Dec. 14, as well as families of 12 first graders who survived and the two teachers who were injured. A committee set up by the foundation, which was formed to distribute the funds, will also consider contributions to address the needs of first responders and school personnel. The money is part of the $11 million that was donated to a charity jointly established by the United Way of Western Connecticut and the Newtown Savings Bank. The committee hopes to distribute it by April 24. On Tuesday, the foundation also announced a schedule of meetings to solicit advice and feedback from families, first responders, teachers and others affected by the tragedy, with the likelihood that others beyond the 40 families will receive aid.
“Reviving a trailblazer; CEO tries to make Ms. Foundation relevant to a new generation of women.” By Theresa Agovino. Crain’s New York Business. April 7, 2013. As the head of the Ms. Foundation for Women, Anika Rahman was understandably interested in attending a private meeting where Sheryl Sandberg would be discussing her controversial book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. In a postsession interview, Ms. Rahman echoed the critics who chastised Ms. Sandberg for suggesting that women’s failure to take more responsibility at work is why they haven’t conquered the C-suite. “She lets government and employers off the hook,” said Ms. Rahman, the foundation’s president and chief executive. But, the 47-year-old added, “she is getting 20-year-old women to think about how our culture shapes the workplace. She started a conversation.” It’s a dialogue the Ms. Foundation might have started back in the 1970s when it was co-founded by Gloria Steinem, a mother of the feminist movement. But over the years the foundation’s importance has waned amid a wave of new groups and changing politics. Ms. Rahman is striving to bring the Ms. Foundation back to the forefront by launching a major rebranding campaign and fundraising initiative. To increase its influence, she has pared its focus to three main issues: prevention of child sexual abuse; reproductive rights; and access to safe, affordable child care. In the past year, the foundation has started a social-media campaign, revamped its website, replaced its logo and hired an executive to lead a state-level lobbying effort. At its May fundraising gala celebrating its 40th anniversary, the foundation will give awards to young feminists for the first time as it kicks off a campaign to raise $40 million in five years. “We need to raise our national profile,” said Ms. Rahman, who took the helm of the advocacy group, which also provides funding to smaller organizations, in 2011. That’s crucial because donations are falling, especially from other foundations, its traditional base of support. Fundraising fell 42%, to $5.5 million, for the four years ended June 30, 2012. Meanwhile, support from foundations dropped to 52% of its total fundraising in fiscal 2012, from 79% in fiscal 2009.