“Surprise Grants Transforming 23 More Lives.” By Felicia R. Lee. New York Times. October 1, 2012. Natalia Almada, a 37-year-old filmmaker in Mexico City; Raj Chetty, a 33-year-old public economist who teaches at Harvard; and Eric A. Coleman, a 47-year-old physician in Denver, have now become connected, part of an eclectic group whose lives were recently, and irrevocably, changed with a single telephone call. The three were among the 23 MacArthur Fellows for 2012, whose names were revealed Monday afternoon, ahead of the official announcement scheduled for 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. The fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, awards that can’t be applied for, are the stuff of fantasy. Besides the imprimatur of outstanding achievement, they come with a no-strings-attached $100,000 a year for five years. The 13 men and 10 women named fellows this year range in age from 31 to 66 and, as in years past, are a diverse group. They include an astronomer, a stringed instrument bow maker, two photographers and a marine ecologist. This year the boldface names belong to writers and musicians: Junot Díaz, 43, the writer and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Chris Thile, 31, a mandolinist and composer in New York City; David Finkel 56, a Washington Post reporter; Dinaw Mengestu, 34, a novelist and journalist in Washington; and Claire Chase, 34, a flutist and arts entrepreneur in Brooklyn
“This Year’s ‘Geniuses’ Get Their Reward; Recipients of $500,000 MacArthur Foundation Grants Include a Mandolin Player, a Marine Ecologist and a Filmmaker.” Wall Street Journal. October 1, 2012.
“Mandolinist Chris Thile, Novelist Junot Díaz Among 2012 MacArthur ‘Geniuses’.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. October 1, 2012.
“Donor of the Day: The Young Try to Improve Health of the Very Young.” By Mike Vilensky. Wall Street Journal. October 2, 2012. As the youngest partner at health-care focused investment-management firm Deerfield Management, Alex Karnal, 30 years old, wanted to energize a new generation of philanthropists. “My group of friends is, thankfully, an extremely generous set of people,” Mr. Karnal said, noting that many of them go back to his days as a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology or have become his friends through the finance industry. Last month, Mr. Karnal pledged $36,000 to the Children’s Health Fund to coincide with the organization’s 25th anniversary event, which will be held on Thursday at Radio City Music Hall. The gift brings Mr. Karnal’s total donations to the Children’s Health Fund to $100,000. Thursday’s event is organized by music legend Paul Simon, who will perform along with Sting, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. Mr. Karnal is also assisting in selling tickets and sponsorships for the event. The youngest board member at Children’s Health Fund, Mr. Karnal recently organized the group’s first Young Professionals event at the Manhattan nightclub SL. A mobile pediatric clinic was parked outside the club. “It was such a cool accomplishment,” Mr. Karnal said. “[My friends] knew it was important to me, and they had an interest in learning more about it.” So what did they learn? The Children’s Health Fund seeks to provide health care to the city’s and nation’s medically underserved children. It was co-founded in 1987 by Mr. Simon and pediatrician Irwin Redlener.
“United Way Names New CEO.” By Anjali Athavaley. Wall Street Journal. October 3, 2012. The United Way of New York City is expected to name the leader of a Harlem economic-development group founded by the Rev. Calvin Butts as its first female president and chief executive. Sheena Wright, president and CEO of Abyssinian Development Corp., will take the reins at the United Way in November, officials said. The appointment was set to be announced Thursday. With a $62 million budget, the New York chapter of the national charity focuses on income inequality, education and health care and assists more than a million people a year, working with other nonprofits in New York on programs that range from mentoring chronically absent high-school students to connecting food pantries with farms. “As you can imagine, an organization like ours, we went through a rigorous process,” said Robert Kueppers, chairman of the board at United Way and a senior partner at Deloitte LLP. “Sheena was very impressive with her record of success.” Ms. Wright will replace Gordon Campbell, who left in September to be a professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University.
“Donor of the Day: Helping Students Get Hand With Education.” By Mike Vilensky. Wall Street Journal. October 3, 2012. Colm Kelleher is the co-president of Institutional Securities at Morgan Stanley, but if he had taken another path, he said, he would be teaching Byzantine history at a university. “I experienced a quality education and saw how it affected me,” said Mr. Kelleher, who graduated from Oxford University in England, where he majored in history. “Education was always a big part of my life.” Last month Mr. Kelleher, who is 56, donated $50,000 to Student Sponsor Partners. He is also responsible for getting Morgan Stanley employees to donate another $1 million to the organization’s annual gala in May, and his support of the 2012 Founder’s Dinner, as the Founder’s Award honoree, helped the event raise $2.1 million. Student Sponsors Partners provides tuition and mentoring to New York’s neediest and most underserved children so that they can attend private schools. Some 95% of new students within the organization qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch. The per capita family income for students in the class of 2016 is approximately $7,300. The students come from some of the poorest ZIP codes in New York, significantly increasing their odds of dropping out of high school. But each year, more than 85% of Student Sponsor Partner students graduate from high school, and 95% of those graduates are accepted to college each year.
“On the Wings of a Bird, Effort to Save a Bay.” By V.L. Hendrickson. Wall Street Journal. October 5, 2012. to their former state of natural glory. As part of his efforts to do that, he’s keeping an eye on the osprey. One particular member of the species of seaside birds of prey, in fact. Mr. Burke donated $25,000 to fund an effort to equip Coley, a male osprey, with a GPS device to track his local hunting trips near the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, as well as his annual fall migration. “This used to be a great, wonderful harbor—the oyster capital of the world,” Mr. Burke, the founder of Waterfront Properties, a New York City-based commercial real-estate company, said. “I want to bring that back and energize the people of New York about the great harbor and estuary they have. The study of migration can help improve the health of harbors up and down the East Coast.” Working with ornithologist Bob Kennedy, the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy and Gateway National Recreation Area used Mr. Burke’s donation to outfit the osprey with a very light harness with an antenna—”extremely light,” Mr. Burke, a member of the Harbor Conservancy’s board, stressed. The GPS allows scientists to follow “the bird’s wanderings when fishing in the area and on its trip south,” he said. Mr. Burke hopes the journey of the osprey will help scientists understand the ways birds operate and aid them in restoring Jamaica Bay and the New York Harbor. He also wants to remind people of the resource in their area.