Archive for the ‘Charity’ Category

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 23-29, 2009)

Monday, November 30th, 2009

CHARITY

Bingo not just fun and games.” By Abbe Smith. New Haven Register. November 23, 2009. Charitable gaming, the most innocuous subcategory of gambling regulated by the state Division of Special Revenue, includes bingo, sealed-ticket machines, even cow chip raffles. And for many nonprofits and service organizations, this type of revenue generator is a lifeline, especially during dark economic times. And usually it is a perfectly innocent combination of a social event and a fundraiser. But with the prospect of bringing in tens of thousands of dollars in revenue comes the possibility that someone will take advantage of the system and seek to pocket some of the money.

Charity Thanksgiving dinners, turkey giveaways planned for Southern California.” No by-line. Los Angeles Times. November 24, 2009. Several charity Thanksgiving dinners and turkey giveways are planned in Southern California, highlighted by a dinner tonight hosted by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Cardinal Roger Mahoney for 600 Para Los Ninos children and their families at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Salvation Army will test taking credit cards at kettles.” No by-line. Indianapolis Star. November 26, 2009. There could be less jingle in some of the Salvation Army’s hallmark red kettles this season. The charity is testing kettles that take debit and credit cards as fewer shoppers carry cash.

A father’s donation of food leads to family tradition.” By Amy Hsuan. Oregonian. November 26, 2009. Every family has their Thanksgiving traditions, and Jones and her father, Kwik, have theirs: For the past four years, they’ve made sack meals for the homeless.

Volunteers find the key to happy holiday is giving back; For many, family tradition involves feeding neighbors who are in need.” By Kevin O’Neal. Indianapolis Star.
November 27, 2009.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 9-15, 2009)

Monday, November 16th, 2009

CHARITY

Gay Teens Count on Hetrick-Martin Gala to Boost Funds for Haven.” By Patrick Cole. Bloomberg.com. November 9, 2009. Grammy-winning singer Jennifer Holliday, star of the original “Dreamgirls” on Broadway, will perform at tomorrow night’s gala of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, one of the U.S.’s leading gay-youth assistance groups. Kimora Lee Simmons of the reality TV show “Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane,” will emcee. The institute will celebrate its 30th anniversary and distribute its 2009 Emery Awards at the gala at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan. Hetrick-Martin hopes its patrons and gala guests will help it raise $1 million for such programs as mental-health counseling, after-school arts-and-culture activities, meals and showers. Declining donations for Hetrick-Martin cut its budget this year by about $1 million to $4.2 million.

Indiana University aims for food drive record.” No by-line. Indianapolis Star/Associated Press. November 10, 2009. Indiana University and other colleges around the country will try to break the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of food gathered for the hungry in 24 hours. The attempt Thursday is part of Helping Hands Across America. Last year the drive brought in more than 380,000 pounds of food, with more than 5,000 pounds collected at IU.

Record Breaker Gets on All Fours for Charity.” By Xi Yu. Harvard Crimson. November 13, 2009. As a high school junior, Laura E. D’Asaro ’13 broke the world record for being the fastest person to crawl a mile. In doing so, she raised over $5,000 for the American Cancer Society during a Relay for Life fund raiser. One-and-a-half years after that momentous June day, D’Asaro—an unconditional optimist who seeks inspiration in unusual non-profit ventures—continues to explore the philanthropic potential in breaking world records. Her latest project is starting a club at Harvard that will work to raise money for charity by breaking world records.

MAJOR STORIES (November 2 – 8, 2009)

Monday, November 9th, 2009

CHARITY

Charities eye not-so-generous giving season in sour economy.” By Sandra Block. USA Today. November 2, 2009. The fragile economy won’t rebound quickly enough to rescue some of the nation’s largest charities from a bleak holiday giving season. The nation’s 400 largest charities expect giving to decline by a median of 9% this year, according to a survey by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, a trade publication. That means half the nation’s largest fundraisers expect donations to drop even more than 9%. Last year, charitable giving fell 2% to $308 billion, the first decline since 1987, according to “Giving USA,” an annual report published by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Report: Giving to drop by more than 10%.” By Miriam Kreinin Souccar. Crain’s New York. November 4, 2009. Foundation giving is expected to decline by more than 10% in 2009 and is likely to fall even further in 2010, according to a study released by The Foundation Center. The results were culled from a September survey of nearly 600 of 5,000 large and mid-size independent, corporate, and community foundations in the United States. Despite the reduced resources however, more than three-quarters of the survey respondents said the field of philanthropy would become stronger and more strategic as a result of having weathered the financial crisis.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 26 – November 1, 2009)

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

CHARITY

BELIEFS: A charity event that always hits its stride; The Crop Hunger Walk, a national interfaith program whose feet-on-the-ground method has been emulated for many other causes, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.” By Larry B. Stammer. Los Angeles Times. October 26, 2009. This is the 40th anniversary of Crop Hunger Walk, a national interfaith program sponsored by Church World Service and viewed by many as the granddaddy of charity walks. Its feet-on-the-ground method has since been emulated for other causes, from fighting breast cancer and HIV-AIDS to raising funds for animal shelters. Nationwide, this year’s Crop Hunger Walks are expected to draw an estimated 200,000 participants sponsored by 2 million people. In years past, sponsors would pledge a specific amount of money for every mile walked by the volunteer. These days, most sponsors simply contribute a lump sum, no matter how far the volunteer walks. About $15 million is expected to be raised this year from hunger walks in communities across the country.

Brightpoint president on foot today for charity.” By Tom Spalding. Indianapolis Star. October 28, 2009. J. Mark Howell, an executive with Indianapolis-based Brightpoint, a cell-phone and wireless distributor, is commuting across three counties on foot to spur donations to United Way of Central Indiana.

“Joyce Furman’s life was a combination of grace and grit.” By Helen Jung. Oregonian. October 28, 2009. First, we import 100 fiberglass cows from Poland, she told her fellow board members for the New Avenues for Youth nonprofit. We’ll display them around Portland for a while, auction them off for artists to paint, place them around town again, and auction them off again. And all this will raise lots of money that will all go to help kids. The six-month “Kows for Kids” fundraiser in 2002 not only generated $2.5 million for children’s causes but captivated Portlanders. The stunt was the brainchild of Portland philanthropist and civic leader Joyce Furman, philanthropist who served as a board member for the Portland Parks Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation and several other civic and children’s organizations. She died at age 67.

Making An Impact: Help a Kid Take the Leap from the Mean Streets of L.A. to a College Campus.” By Arianna Huffington. Huffington Post. October 28, 2009. A Place Called Home started with twelve inner city kids in the basement of a church. Within three years, A Place Called Home was serving 400 kids and moved to a new 10,000 square foot facility. It now has a LAUSD school on site and boasts a recording studio, a computer center, and programs in music, art, dance, yoga, tutoring and mentoring. Last year, A Place Called Home gave out 58 scholarships totaling $250,000.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)

Monday, October 26th, 2009

CHARITY

Group fixing up Vietnam memorial.Boston Globe/Associated Press | October 22, 2009. Repair work was underway yesterday at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall as a private memorial fund took over maintenance of 13 acres from the National Park Service. Last month, the group announced plans to pay for maintenance at the site because of scarce funding from the federal government. The organization plans to raise more than $1 million to care for the memorial and grounds, including $500,000 to buy replacement granite if sections of the wall need to be replaced in the future.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 12-18, 2009)

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

CHARITY

Charities get more donors, fewer dollars.” By Miriam Souccar. Crain’s New York. October 16, 2009. More than half of charities are experiencing a downturn in contributions so far this year compared to the same time in 2008, according to the Association of Fundraising Professionals. A recent poll of 665 nonprofits found that 51% had seen a drop in fundraising this year, while 27% said they were on par with last year. A minority, 22%, reported they were raising more.

MAJOR STORIES (October 5-11, 2009)

Monday, October 12th, 2009

ARTS & CULTURE

Offbeat Barnes, Gardner Museums Face Decay, Change: Commentary.” By James S. Russell. Bloomberg.com. October 7, 2009. Because of their small size, limited appeal, and the peculiar legal stipulations of their founders, eccentric museums like Philadelphia’s Barnes and Boston’s Gardner are struggling to survive.

CHARITY

Advertising: Selling a Charitable Feeling, Along With Treats for the Dog.” By Stuart Elliot. New York Times. October 9, 2009. One of the most popular tactics in consumer advertising these days is what is known as cause marketing or cause-related marketing, whereby companies seek to do well by doing good. So widespread has cause marketing become that it is being expanded from products for people to products for their pets. For instance, for some time the Pedigree brand of dog food sold by Mars has been promoting its support of pet adoption. Now, Del Monte Foods is making its donations to an organization named Canine Assistants the centerpiece of a campaign for its Milk-Bone line of dog treats. Underlining that focus is the theme of the campaign: “It’s good to give.” The double meaning is meant to convey that just as Milk-Bone is good to give your dog, you can also get a warm and fuzzy feeling if you give to good causes — or support brands that do.

Can walking help find a cure for breast cancer?” By Christie Garton. USA Today. October 9, 2009. As part of the Susan G Komen for the Cure®, this Breast Cancer 3-Day walk has brought together women and men of all ages from different parts of the country. Many are walking to show their support for loved-ones that are either fighting or fought the disease. Many are survivors. Together, they are walking to raise money and awareness for breast cancer and patient support programs.

S.F.’s parking meters for homeless at the ready.” By Heather Knight. San Francisco Chronicle. October 11, 2009. In May 2008, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Mayor Gavin Newsom’s proposed installing 10 “homeless meters” along Market Street and Van Ness Avenue in order to discourage people from giving to panhandlers by offering a way to donate spare change to organizations that help the homeless. Although condemned by many advocates for the homeless, the plans are still afoot.

EDUCATION

Teachers union’s objection bolstered; State panel finds contract disparity.” By James Vaznis. Boston Globe. October 5, 2009. The Boston Teachers Union’s objection to the Teach for America program has sparked an investigation by the state Division of Labor Relations, which has determined that a strong likelihood exists that the Boston School Committee violated the union contract when signing an agreement with the highly regarded national program. Some of the possible violations center around differences between the union contract and the Teach for America agreement, which essentially appears to give the 19 Teach for America recruits greater rights in retaining their positions in the event of any layoffs. That prospect is significant because the Boston Teachers Union has questioned the wisdom of bringing in the national program at a time when budget cuts have forced the city to lay off roughly three dozen teachers in the last school year. City finances are also expected to remain tight for the foreseeable future.

Foundation gives $10 million toward early education center in Chicago Heights.Chicago Tribune. October 9, 2009. Chicago’s Griffin Foundation is donating $10 million to fund an educational initiative in south suburban Chicago Heights. The Griffin Early Education Center, expected to open in September, will provide daylong instruction for up to 250 students selected by lottery.

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Lawsuit spurs charter school support in Gwinnett.” By D. Aileen Dodd. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. October 8, 2009. Last month, the Gwinnett schools sued Ivy Prep, the state Department of Education, Superintendent Kathy Cox and several others, launching a battle over the local control of public education and the dollars allocated for students. Gwinnett’s lawsuit alleges that the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, which approved Ivy Preparatory Academy of Norcross to operate in Gwinnett, is illegally funding and authorizing new schools outside the mandates of the state constitution. It also scolds the state for giving Ivy Prep money meant for Gwinnett public school students after the Gwinnett school board rejected the charter school’s application.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Fine Could Hamper Southeastern U. Merger; 2008 U.S. Review Says School Improperly Disbursed Federal Aid to Students.” By Daniel de Vise. Washington Post. October 7, 2009. A potential fine for an alleged violation of federal education regulations could imperil the prospective merger between ailing Southeastern University and neighboring GS Graduate School, according to a school official. The U.S. Department of Education found in a 2008 review that Southeastern had improperly disbursed federal aid to students in an unaccredited online education program, according to an Aug. 21, 2008, investigative report.
Southeastern lost its accreditation entirely at the end of August. School officials say the institution will shut down barring a merger with GS. No classes are being offered this fall. Founded by the YMCA, Southeastern has operated since 1879 in southwest Washington, serving lower-income and international students. Its accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education lapsed over concerns of diminished rigor and dwindling enrollment and faculty.

Harvard Losing Money Externally Helps Mendillo Return to Roots.” By Gillian Wee. Bloomberg.com. October 8, 2009. Losing money with 86 percent of its fund managers last year is giving Jane Mendillo, chief executive officer of Harvard Management Co., a big excuse to return to the university’s investing roots by making more of its own decisions on what to buy and sell. The credit unit of buyout firm Bain Capital LLC and TPG- Axon Capital Management LP were among the 54 funds that lost money for Harvard University’s endowment while just nine posted gains, according to internal data obtained by Bloomberg News. About 60 percent of the funds fell short of targets used by the endowment, second in assets only to the $30 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among U.S. nonprofit institutions. Mendillo, who joined Harvard in July 2008 from Wellesley College, is reducing the influence of independent firms that oversee two-thirds of the $26 billion endowment after last month reporting a record $10 billion loss for the year ended June 30.

Leaner Times at Harvard: No Cookies.” By Abby Goodnough. New York Times. October 9, 2009. Gone are the hot breakfasts in most dorms and the pastries at Widener Library. Varsity athletes are no longer guaranteed free sweat suits, and just this week came the jarring news that professors will go without cookies at faculty meetings. By Harvard standards, these are hard times. Not Dickensian hard times, but with the value of its endowment down by almost 30 percent, the world’s richest university is learning to live with less. Harvard is not the only elite university where student life is more austere this fall: Princeton has closed some computer labs, and one of its dining halls on Saturdays. At Stanford, the annual Mausoleum Party, a Halloween gathering at the Stanford family burial site, lost $14,000 in financing and might be canceled.

In Brief: Endowment Drops 23% at Dartmouth.” No by-line. Wall Street Journal. October 10, 2009. The value of Dartmouth College’s endowment dropped 23% to $2.8 billion in the last fiscal year.The endowment’s long-term performance was an 8% annual return over the past decade. The school spent $227 million from its endowment in the last fiscal year, but contributions to the budget from the endowment will be flat or reduced over the next several years.

Stanford Said to Offer Sequoia, Kleiner Funds as Prices Recover.” By Gillian Wee. Bloomberg.com. October 10, 2009. Stanford University is seeking to sell $1 billion in private investments, including stakes in two venture capital as prices rise in the secondary market. The university’s endowment is taking bids on portions of $6 billion in holdings of venture capital, buyout, real estate and energy funds.. Those interests also carry $5 billion in future commitments to the fund managers. Stanford, with an endowment of $12.6 billion, fourth among U.S. schools, is gauging investor interest after its investments lost 26 percent in the year ended June 30.

HUMAN SERVICES

Cancer patients get free housecleaning through foundation; Treatment can sap energy for housework.” By Ruth Fuller. Chicago Tribune. October 7, 2009. Chicago’s McMaid is one of almost 500 maid service partners in all 50 states and in two Canadian provinces to partner with the Cleaning for a Reason Foundation, which offers free professional housecleaning to women undergoing treatment for cancer. Supported through donations of its cleaning service partners, corporations, grants and individual donations, the foundation has served more than 2,000 women since its founding in 2006.

For Families of Mentally Ill, Mixed Feelings Over Push Away From Adult Homes.” By Anemona Hartocollis. New York Times. October 9, 2009. New York State is being pushed to disgorge thousands of mentally ill residents from institutional homes to less restrictive settings under a court decision last month. This has been a long-term goal of their advocates, who say that mentally ill New Yorkers have been warehoused in adult homes that provide minimal care while segregating them from society and stripping them of their dignity and initiative. But the decision has roused mixed feelings among those closest to the residents — their own families. In interviews, relatives said they were happy that the residents might soon be able to live on their own. But they also expressed fear, well founded or not, that life on the outside might prove difficult or even dangerous.

Salvation Army struggles to help the needy.” By Miriam Kreinin Souccar. Crain’s New York. October 9, 2009. The Salvation Army Greater New York Division is laying off 120 employees in the social services organization’s second round of staff cuts in less than six months. The layoffs will come from the agency’s foster boarding home and preventive care program, which is closing locations in December because the program’s city funding was discontinued. In June, the organization announced it was closing down its adolescent housing program and laying off 98 full- and part-time staffers. The Salvation Army, which had an operating budget of $142.6 million for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, is grappling with how to pay for the skyrocketing needs for its services due to the recession.

At Reunion for the New York Foundling, a Kinship of a Shared Past.” By C.J. Hughes. New York Times. October 10, 2009. 600 people convened in New York to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the establishment of New York Foundling, a Catholic charity which serves the needs of neglected and abandoned children. At the turn of the last century, New York Foundling sponsored trains which shuttled tens of thousands of orphaned or abandoned children from New York to families in the Midwest. Today, most babies come in against their mothers’ wills, removed from troubled homes by social workers. They children typically wind up in short-term foster care, and they ultimately return to their biological families.

INTERNATIONAL

GENERAL

POLITICS: NGOs Hold Arms Exporters to Account for Abuses.” By Suzanne Hoeksema. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 11, 2009. With 2,000 people dying daily in armed violence fuelled by irresponsible arms transfers, talks to create an international treaty regulating these weapons can no longer be delayed, says a coalition of NGOs in a new report “Dying for Action.” While nuclear disarmament is high on the U.N. agenda these days, 90 percent of casualties in conflict areas are caused by small arms such as submachine guns, mortars and hand grenades, according to the Red Cross. The main contributors to the report, Amnesty International and Oxfam argue that governments should be prevented from exporting arms to countries where there is a substantial risk that those arms will be used for serious human rights violations.

AFRICA

Trade: NGOs Welcome EU’s Vow Not to Push Africa into EPAs.” BY Isolda Agazzi. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 09, 2009. Non-governmental organisations have expressed their satisfaction at the European Commission’s declaration that it would not put “undue pressure” on African and other countries to conclude the controversial trade deals called economic partnership agreements (EPAs). This statement by the European Commission (EC), released on Oct 1, sounds like a victory for the Stop EPA Campaign which has been running for years now.

CHINA

Confucianism a vital string in China’s bow.” By Jian Junbo. Asia Times Online. October 9, 2009. The more China’s economic and military muscles expand, the more talk there is of “the rise of China”. Economic and military muscle, though, fall under the so-called “hard power” heading. Comparatively, China’s “soft power”, which it needs to become a real world-class power, is lagging. All the same, some scholars in China argue that Beijing’s soft power is rising, pointing to a revival in Confucianism. The thought of Confucius, the Chinese thinker and educator who lived about 2,500 years ago, is becoming increasingly popular in China. The government is also using Confucius to spread Chinese culture worldwide to increase the influence of China’s soft power. For example, since 2004, when the first Chinese Confucius Institute was set up in Seoul in South Korea, more than 250 Confucius Institutes have been set up across the world.

INDIA

Business with Balaji: Rs 50,000 crore is a lot of money, even for a deity. But many say this is just a rough estimate of the offerings devotees have bestowed at Lord Balaji.” No by-line. Times of India. October 10, 2009. Balaji, Lord of Seven Hills, is reportedly one of the richest deities in the world. 20 lakh pilgrims visit the temple each year, adding Rs 300 crore in offerings, most of it in hard cash, to its kitty. Then there are donations that come in the form of gold, 350 kg, and silver, 500 kg, annually. The total annual income of the temple trust is Rs 600 crore and the budget outlay for the year 2008-09 was Rs 1,925 crore. TTD has more than Rs 1,000 crore in fixed deposits in various banks. [A "crore" is a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to ten million; a "lakh" is a unit equal to one hundred thousand].

Ford Foundation fellowships to end in 2010.” No by-line. Times of India. October 2009. The International Fellowships Programme (IFP) run by the US-based Ford Foundation will end in 2010. Launched in 2001 to broaden access to higher education and help build a new generation of leaders hailing from various groups and communities that lack access to quality in high education, the foundation committed $355 million to the project over a 10 year period to underwrite fellowships in 22 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

JAPAN

Group got tax forms for ‘dead’ donors.” No by-line. Asahi Shimbun. October 7, 2009. Prosecutors are looking into tax deduction forms issued for 75 people who “donated” money to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, even though many were dead or did not make donations, sources said. The forms were requested by Hatoyama’s political fund management group, Yuai Seikei Konwa-kai (fraternity association of politics and economics). The group, currently under investigation over suspected falsifications in its political fund reports, received the forms from the internal affairs ministry for 160 donors from 2004 to 2007, including the 75 “contributors” from 2005 to 2007 who were dead or said they did not make donations. Hatoyama acknowledged at a news conference in June that 192 fake entries were made between 2005 and 2008 for donations worth 21.778 million yen.

SAUDI ARABIA

In Saudi Arabia, a Campus Built as a ‘Beacon of Tolerance’; High-Tech University Draws the Ire of Hard-Line Clerics for Freedoms It Provides to Women.” By Sudarsan Raghavan. Washington Post. October 9, 2009. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which opened last month on this sprawling site 50 miles north of Jiddah, is is the latest, and so far most significant, endeavor by a Persian Gulf nation to diversify its economy and help wean the region from its dependence on oil wealth. Saudi officials describe the multibillion-dollar postgraduate institution as the spear in the kingdom’s efforts to transform itself into a global scientific center rivaling those in the United States, Europe and Asia. The kingdom’s powerful religious establishment is increasingly critical of the university, blasting the school’s coeducational policy as a violation of sharia, or Islamic law.

UK

Major fundraising appeal launched for south-east Asia disaster victims; 609 people confirmed dead in Indonesia alone.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). October 6, 2009. A coalition of charities is today launching a major fundraising appeal to help those left destitute by the devastating earthquakes and typhoons in south-east Asia. The appeal is being set up to help those affected by Typhoon Ketsana, which hit the Philippines and parts of Vietnam, and those left coping in the wake of huge earthquakes which struck western Sumatra in Indonesia.

Q&A: Social enterprises and the law.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). October 6, 2009. An attorney answers questions about legal, tax, and regulatory issues relating to social enterprises in the UK.

Stop treating us like traitors, pleads private schools chief.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). October 6, 2009. Parents who send their children to private school have been so stigmatised that they have been made to feel their decision is “tantamount to treason”according to Andrew Grant, chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference.According to Green, politicians and other critics of the fee-paying system should be grateful for the money parents are saving for the state sector.
Related story:
Charity Commission too generous to private schools, say campaigners; Private schools now have up to five years to meet requirements of public benefit test.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). October 7, 2009.

Church of England’s new mission: to save hedge funds; Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that financiers had failed to repent for the excesses that led to the global recession.” By Ruth Gledhill. Times of London. October 7, 2009. Two weeks after the Archbishop of Canterbury attacked the “unreal” financial culture and lack of repentance in the City of London, the Church of England has launched a robust defence of hedge funds. The Church Commissioners, who manage the £4.4 billion assets — down from £5.7 billion in 2007 — of the established Church, have criticised European proposals to regulate hedge funds. A new European Union directive designed to limit the way hedge funds are managed restricts the Church’s ability to make money, the Church’s investment managers warn.

Private schools ‘tighten grip on top universities’.” By Joanna Sugden. Times of London. October 7, 2009. Private schools have increased their stranglehold on top university places in the past decade despite government efforts to open up higher education to students from working-class and state school backgrounds. The figures from a study into entrance to universities commissioned by a coalition of independents suggest that pupils whose parents have paid for their schooling are four times as likely as their state school peers to get a place at one of the top ten universities. Only 7 per cent of the school-age population is educated privately.
Related story:
Inequality is the source of our schools gap.” Editorial. Guardian (UK). October 11, 2009.

Oxford slips in international university ranking as Asian rivals ‘snap at heels’; UK retains four out of top 10 places in league table; More Asian institutions placed among first 100.” By Polly Curtis. Guardian (UK). October 8, 2009. Oxford University has slipped down an international league table of the world’s top universities which also reveals the advance of academia in Asia that will soon pose a challenge to the Ivy League and Oxbridge. Oxford fell from fourth to joint fifth place with Imperial College London in the QS/Times Higher Education rankings, published today, widening the gap with Cambridge which was rated second in the world. University College London (UCL) leapfrogged Oxford coming fourth after Yale, Cambridge and Harvard. Overall the UK still punches above its weight, second only to the US. It has four out of the top 10 slots and 18 in the top 100. But there has been a significant fall in the number of North American universities in the top 100, from 42 in 2008 to 36 in 2009. The number of Asian universities in the top 100 increased from 14 to 16. The University of Tokyo, at 22, is the highest ranked Asian university, ahead of the University of Hong Kong at 24.Leading UK universities said institutions in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong were “snapping at the heels” of western institutions arguing they needed more funding to compete on the global stage.

“Judge overturns couple’s £2.3m will and awards farm to daughter; Court accepts that husband bullied wife into signing will giving RSPCA their estate.” By Helen Carter. Guardian (UK). October 9, 2009. A woman who contested her parents’ will after they left their £2.3m estate in North Yorkshire to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals today won her legal battle to inherit their farm. The RSPCA said it would appeal against the decision. Christine Gill started legal action in July to challenge the will, which she claimed her father had forced her mother into making. The RSPCA said it was “concerned at any implications this could have for charities and other groups”.

From verse to chorus: Trinity College buys the O2 Arena.” By Adam Sherwin. Times of London. October 9, 2009. The wealthiest of Cambridge University’s colleges has bought the lease to the O2 Arena in London in a £24 million deal. It concluded a deal to buy Meridian Delta Dome, the holding company of the 999-year lease for the entertainment venue on the Greenwich peninsula in London, at a price around £4 million higher than expected. One of Britain’s biggest landowners, with an endowment fund estimated at £650 million, Trinity will take a cut from future box office revenues at the former Millennium Dome under a rental arrangement with Anschutz Entertainment Group, which will continue to operate the venue. Last year, the O2 generated £1 million in rental income and the figure is set to rise in 2009, despite the cancellation of Michael Jackson’s 50-night residency.

Anglicans, in row, may cut women bishops’ powers.” By Peter Griffiths. Washington Post/Reuters. October 9, 2009. The Church of England could restrict the powers of some women bishops under a plan designed to end a rift between traditionalists who want to keep the all-male senior clergy, and liberals demanding equality. The proposal has reignited the long-running debate over a supposed ecclesiastical “stained-glass ceiling” that stops women from attaining the most senior roles in the church. Along with homosexual bishops and same-sex marriages, the ordination of women is among the most divisive issues facing the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide.

Old-fashioned universities are letting students down, says David Willetts; Conservative education spokesman says quality must improve to justify rise in fees.” By Polly Curtis. Guardian (UK). October 9, 2009. Universities are badly failing students with unfit teaching and old-fashioned methods and will have to radically modernise lectures and facilities if they want to raise fees, according to the Conservatives’ spokesman on higher education. David Willetts told the Guardian that vice-chancellors are not prepared for the pressure their students will put them under if fees go up and that many have failed to prove students are getting value for money. Students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently pay up to £3,225 a year in tuition fees but many universities want a rise in the cap or even its removal. Willetts signalled the Tories were prepared to look at increasing fees, but with strings attached.

MPs call for urgent inquiry as thousands of students still await loans.” By Joanna Sugden. Times of London. October 10, 2009. The full extent of delays to student loans and grants emerged yesterday as Parliament called for an urgent inquiry into the crisis. Delays to money from the Student Loans Company (SLC) have left up to 175,000 students without financial assistance. Many have had to pay for their first weeks of term with credit cards, borrowing from parents and income from temporary jobs.The loans company has failed to cope with the 8 per cent rise in applications since last year. It is also struggling to cope in its first year administering maintenance grants, which it took over from local authorities. In a statement the company said that 87,346 more students had applied for finance this year. The company, a quango that is overseen by Student Finance England, blamed technical problems and late applications but had given assurances that students who applied on time this year would get their money for the start of term.

Charity shops hit by soaring thefts; Volunteer staff and poor security exploited by crooks to loot tens of thousands of pounds-worth of goods a week.” By Simon Lennon. Guardian (UK). October 11, 2009. Shoplifters are stealing tens of thousands of pounds worth of goods from charity shops every day, taking advantage of the increase in trade due to the credit crunch to steal clothes, DVDs and books. The Association of Charity Shops, which speaks for 270 charities including Oxfam, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research, said that charity shops were now seen as an easy target.

Millions will starve as rich nations cut food aid funding, warns UN; Aid agencies fear global disaster as support for World Food Programme hits 20-year low.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). October 11, 2009. Tens of millions of the world’s poor will have their food rations cut or cancelled in the next few weeks because rich countries have slashed aid funding. The result, says the head of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), could be the “loss of a generation” of children to malnutrition, food riots and political destabilisation. “We are facing a silent tsunami.”

Hirst, Quinn Aid $1.26 Million Charity Auction by Jeweler Graff.” By Scott Reyburn. Bloomberg.com. October 11, 2009. Artists including Damien Hirst, Raqib Shaw and Marc Quinn have donated paintings for an auction by London jeweler Laurence Graff that seeks to raise 800,000 pounds ($1.26 million) for Africa. The 26-lot sale is one of Christie’s International’s“Frieze Week” events in London. It will benefit FACET (For Africa’s Children Every Time). The charity was set up last year by Graff to raise money for the education, health and wellbeing of children in Africa, where Graff Diamonds, of which he is chairman, sources many of its stones.

LAW & POLICY

Bridgeport Diocese Loses Bid to Keep Sex-Abuse Records Sealed.” By Paul Vitello. New York Times. October 6, 2009. The United States Supreme Court on Monday rejected a request by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport to delay the court-ordered release of thousands of legal documents from lawsuits filed against priests accused of sexually abusing children. The decision, stemming from a suit brought by The New York Times and three other newspapers in 2002, does not mean the documents can be immediately released. But it leaves the diocese with few options in its seven-year fight to keep from public view 12,000 pages of records and depositions.The papers detail decisions the diocese made in assigning priests who had molested children in the past to positions where they abused children again. “The right of the church to determine the suitability of its own ministers has been compromised by this decision,” the current Bridgeport bishop, William E. Lori, said on Monday after the stay was denied.

LEADERSHIP

Five Leaders Honored for Perseverance in Downturn.” By Susan Kinzie. Washington Post. The DC-based Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation honored five exceptional local nonprofit leaders with a two-year $100,000 leadership development grants. The awards are meant to encourage leaders to remain in demanding jobs that pay little. Winners included executives of Martha’s Table, which provides meals, clothing and a variety of support services to low-income families in Washington, Community of Hope, which provides housing, medical care and other services, the Young Playwrights’ Theater, which teaches low-income youths to write and produce plays, Community Bridges, which works with girls from immigrant families through partnerships with local schools and nonprofits, and the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.

MUTUAL BENEFIT ORGANIZATIONS

L.A. THEN AND NOW: Masonic Hall’s history is quieter than the fraternity’s folklore; The 151-year-old building south of Olvera Street doesn’t live up to the hype of the Masons. The casket-maker may be as suspicious as it gets.” By Steve Harvey. Los Angeles Times. October 11, 2009.

RELIGION

New data on the second-biggest faith: A shifting locus.” No by-line. Economist. October 8, 2009. A new survey of the world’s Muslim population, by the Pew Research Center based in Washington, DC, will help those who are keen to break that link. It estimates the total number of Muslims in the world at 1.57 billion, or about 23% of a global population of 6.8 billion. Almost two-thirds of Muslims live in Asia, with Indonesia providing the biggest contingent (203m), followed by Pakistan (174m) and India (160m). Perhaps more surprising will be the finding that the European country with the highest Muslim population is not France or Germany, but Russia, where 16.5m adherents of Islam make up nearly 12% of the total national population.

Conservative Episcopalians prepare for their exodus; Worshipers who split from the national church prepare to turn over the keys to the diocese after losing a property battle.” By Duke Helfand. Los Angeles Times. October 10, 2009. When the congregation of LA-area St. Luke’s Anglican Church in 2006 broke with the national denomination of issues of gender and sexual preference, the diocese sued to retain St. Luke’s property. After rounds of costly litigation, the courts ruled in the diocese’s favor, concluding that St. Luke’s property was held in trust for the diocese and the national church. Last week, a judge ordered St. Luke’s congregation to leave.

California Christians worship in a big way; The state has more megachurches than anywhere else in the country, with the majority in the suburbs between Los Angeles and San Diego. Their upbeat approach is luring thousands each weekend.” By Duke Helfand. Los Angeles Times. October 11, 2009. Thanks to good weather, sprawling suburbs and a number of charismatic pastors, the Golden State has more of these megachurches — defined as those with at least 2,000 congregants — than any other state. California is home to 193, slightly more than Texas with 191, according to the most recent survey by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. The majority of these congregations are in the suburbs between Los Angeles and San Diego, an area that some who study the phenomenon call the Southern California Bible Belt.

SCANDAL

Some Criticize SEIU for Its ACORN Connections.” By Carol D. Leonnig. Washington Post. October 6, 2009. A rapidly growing union that represents nurses, janitors and other low-wage workers is coming under fire from conservatives because of its long-standing financial and leadership ties to ACORN, a liberal organizing group recently embarrassed by videos filmed covertly. Some Republicans say federal agencies that recently cut ties with ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — should also consider severing their relationship with the Service Employees International Union. The SEIU and ACORN have long worked closely together, with the union paying the association more than $3.6 million in the past three years and sharing some office locations and leaders with the group.
Related Stories:
An ACORN Amendment for Pfizer.” By Jeremy Scahill. The Nation. October 5, 2009.
Amount Embezzled From Acorn Is Disputed.” New York Times. October 6, 2009
FEMA: ACORN story ‘inaccurate’.” October 7, 2009 03:14 PM EST
Acorn Woes Hit Union, Democrats.” Wall Street Journal. October 6, 2009.
ACORN: Congress can’t hurt us.” By Michael Falcone. Politico.com. October 6, 2009
WashTimes: Lewis called ACORN foes ‘racist’.” Politico.com. October 7, 2009.

D.C. Officials File for Takeover of Two Homes for Mentally Disabled.” By Henri E. Cauvin and Nikita Stewart. Washington Post. October 6, 2009. The District filed court papers Monday seeking a takeover of two group homes, saying the operators of the privately run facilities are endangering the health and safety of the mentally disabled residents. The homes are two of 11 facilities operated by Individual Development, a nonprofit group whose board includes three politically connected lawyers, David W. Wilmot, Frederick D. Cooke Jr. and A. Scott Bolden. A federal court monitor and legal advocates for the mentally disabled have been raising concerns for years about the quality of care at IDI’s homes. “This court action,” D.C.’s Attorney-General, “sends a clear signal to providers that the District will not tolerate recurrent deficient practices that put our most vulnerable citizens at substantial risk to their health, safety and welfare.”

Brooke Astor’s Son Guilty in Scheme to Defraud Her.” By John Eligon. New York Times. October 9, 2009. The son of Brooke Astor, the philanthropist and long-reigning matriarch of New York society, was convicted in Manhattan on Thursday on charges that he defrauded his mother and stole tens of millions of dollars from her as she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in the twilight of her life.
Related stories:
Looking Beyond the Glamour, Astor Jury Found a Moral Flaw.” New York Times. October 9, 2009.
Brooke Astor’s Son Is Guilty of Fraud.” Wall Street Journal. October 9, 2009.
Brooke Astor’s son, lawyer guilty of bilking estate.” CNN.com. October 8, 2009.
Brooke Astor’s son found guilty.” No by-line. Crain’s New York. October 8, 2009.
Marshall Led Astray by Co-Defendant, Key Juror Says.” Bloomberg.com. October 9, 2009.

North Dakota Scandal Raises Concerns About Health Co-op Route.” By Karl Vick. Washington Post. October 10, 2009. North Dakotans are in an uproar over the reports of a $238,000 Caribbean retreat for executives of the state’s nonprofit Blue Cross-Blue Shield. This compounded by news of other perks, including $15 million in executive bonuses over five years, $400,000 for charter flights and $35,000 for a vice president’s retirement party. A cooperative, owned by its policyholders, it is an arrangement resembling the model promoted by some in Congress as an alternative to the “public option” that would put the federal government in the insurance business. A liberal group in North Dakota argues that the North Dakota scandal illustrates the danger of assuming that the cooperative model would assure virtuous behavior, especially in an industry awash in money.

MAJOR STORIES (September 21 – 27, 2009)

Monday, September 28th, 2009

GENERAL

Nonprofits Paying Price for Gamble on Finances.” By Stephanie Strom. New York Times. September 24, 2009. Far from being conservative stewards of their assets, many nonprofits engaged in what some experts call risky financial behavior. “They did auction-rate securities, interest-rate arbitrage, complex swaps — which backfired on them the same way it would backfire on any hedge fund or asset manager,” according to Clara Miller of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, which has experienced a huge increase in organizations turning to it for assistance with soured bonds. Those struggling now include the full range of nonprofits, including museums, colleges, orchestras and small local social service providers. Much of the nonprofits’ debt is in the form of tax-exempt bonds. The number of charities issuing such bonds more than doubled from 1993 to 2006, according to figures compiled by the Internal Revenue Service, and the amount of debt linked to those bonds rose to $311 billion from $98 billion (adjusted for inflation to 2006 dollars). In many cases, charities used the money from bonds to buy real estate and build facilities. Prep schools added golf courses, pools and observatories. Colleges bought entire neighborhoods and put up labs and sports facilities. Museums erected new wings, and symphonies added thousands of seats to their concert halls. These nonprofits gambled that income from donations and investments would more than cover their debt service. But the recession turned that logic inside out.
Related story:
Even the Smallest Nonprofit Groups Tried Their Hands at High Finance.New York Times. September 24, 2009.

ADVOCACY

Green groups open ‘climate war room’.” By Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei. Politico.com. September 21, 2009. Climate bill supporters say they have spent the summer building precisely the kind of grass-roots network that health care didn’t have, with grass-roots operations in more than 20 states. A “climate war room” — funded by more than 60 labor, business, faith, agriculture and environmental groups — has been set up to coordinate ad dollars and communications.

Kristol and the Tea Baggers; Intellectuals don’t always guide movements; often, movements guide intellectuals.” Kevin Mattson. American Prospect. September 23, 2009. As fate would have it, Irving Kristol’s death was announced amid continued debates about the significance, or lack thereof, of the tea baggers’ march on Washington. Sliced into reports about screaming marchers who called Nancy Pelosi a Nazi and threatened to come back armed next time, there was the passing of Kristol (1920-2009). What better contrast could this coincidence present: screaming paranoids passing through the streets of the nation’s capital versus a New York Jew and sophisticated man of ideas passing away. You could even construct a narrative around this: Once a movement of ideas, small magazines, and intellectual levity, conservativism was now only paranoid and irrational. It’s a nice story. Too bad Kristol’s life doesn’t bear it out.

New Groups Revive the Debate Over Causes of Climate Change.” By Steven Mufson. Washington Post. September 25, 2009. In Montana a new advocacy group opposed to climate legislation called C02 Is Green is taking aim at the next big battle for Congress.
The group is already running television ads asserting that there is no scientific evidence that CO2 is a pollutant and that higher CO2 levels would help the Earth’s ecosystems. Its founders are H. Leighton Steward, a veteran oil industry executive, and Corbin J. Robertson Jr., chief executive of and leading shareholder in Natural Resource Partners, a Houston-based owner of coal resources that lets other companies mine in return for royalties. They have formed two groups — CO2 Is Green designated for advocacy and Plants Need CO2 for education — with about $1 million. Plants Need CO2 has applied for 501(c)(3) tax status, so that contributions would qualify as charitable donations.

ARTS & CULTURE

Arts, Briefly: Taxing Culture in Pennsylvania.” By Eric Konigsberg. New York Times. September 22, 2009. A Pennsylvania state budget deal that would extend the state sales tax to arts and cultural institutions, including performance spaces and museums, has consumers and arts organizations in Pennsylvania “shocked and angered.” The tax would not be extended to movies or sports events, although it would be imposed on zoos. The sales tax in Pennsylvania is 7 percent.
Related stories:
Arts community shocked by new tax burden.Philadelphia Inquirer. September 20, 2009.
Cultural leaders blast planned tix tax.Philadelphia Daily News. September 22, 2009.

Folk festival debt mounting; Organizers consider charging fee for 2010.” By Emily Burnham.” Bangor Daily News. September 23, 2009. Organizers of the American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront presented a sobering picture of the festival’s future, as new figures regarding the financial health of the event were released. According to its executive director, the folk festival has accumulated a total of $130,000 in debt. Debt has been accumulating since 2006, but it was just this year that it became too much for the festival to handle. It is now a burden that must be overcome before plans for the 2010 festival can begin in earnest, the organizers said. Festival officials issued an appeal to festival stakeholders, both corporate and individual, to consider an additional gift to help overcome the current challenge. They also put out the question to all festival sponsors, volunteers and attendees: should the American Folk Festival, currently free, become a paid-admission event?

SFMOMA gets Fisher art collection.” By Kenneth Baker. San Francisco Chronicle. September 25, 2009. Doris and the late GAP founder Donald Fisher have found a home for their monumental art collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that will keep it in the city and elevate SFMOMA to one of the world’s leading showplaces of late 20th century art. Placing the Fishers’ collection of 1,100 contemporary artworks – one of the finest in private hands anywhere – at the museum will put SFMOMA in the league of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London and enhance the city as a destination for art lovers internationally. The fate of the collection came into question this summer after bitter local opposition caused the Fishers to withdraw their 2007 proposal to build their own museum in the Presidio, a national park.

CHARITY

United Way shifts goals from fundraising to ‘impact’.” By Judy Keen. USA Today. September 27, 2009. The recession is forcing some United Ways to cut fundraising goals even as demand grows for food, shelter and other services they help provide. Sal Fabens, spokeswoman for United Way Worldwide, says its emphasis has shifted from fundraising goals to “impact goals.” In 2008, it announced a decade-long focus on cutting dropout rates and improving families’ health and financial stability.

EDUCATION

CHARTER SCHOOLS

A political swirl on charter schools; E-mail points to Patrick’s agenda in Gloucester pick.” By James Vaznis. Boston Globe. September 22, 2009. The Patrick administration urged approval of a controversial Gloucester charter school earlier this year, over the fierce objections of city residents and the advice of state specialists, based not on its merits but because it would further the governor’s political agenda, according to a recently published e-mail.

Charter Success; Poor children learn; Teachers unions are not pleased.” Editorial. Washington Post. September 27, 2009. Opponents od charter schools are going to have to come up with a new excuse: They can’t claim any longer that these non-traditional public schools don’t succeed. A rigorous new study of charter schools in New York City demolishes the argument that charter schools outperform traditional public schools only because they get the “best students.” This evidence should spur states to change policies that inhibit charter-school growth. It also should cause traditional schools to emulate practices that produce these remarkable results.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

Tackling a Tough Assignment: For Prestigious Private Schools Looking for New Leaders, the Market Is Highly Competitive.” By Michael Birnbaum. Washington Post. September 21, 2009. In the past, school heads could luxuriate in a Mr. Chips-like existence, focusing primarily on education. Today, they have to be schmoozers who raise funds to pay for costly programs, construction titans who dream up new facilities, and managerial stars who keep students, parents, alumni and teachers mixing smoothly.

HIGHER EDUCATION

At the foot of the ladder.” By Divya Subrahmanyam. Yale Daily News. September 21, 2009. For a host of reasons — from economic efficiency to the need for full-time teachers for introductory classes — Yale has been hiring non-permanent teaching faculty at a higher rate than it has been hiring tenured and term professors over the past several years. This nationwide trend, known as “casualization,” has drawn criticism from many in the academic world, who point to the lack of job security in these positions and argue that it lowers the quality of education. By no means an insignificant population, non-ladder faculty — which includes part-time adjunct professors of varying rank, lecturers, senior lecturers, lectors, senior lectors and senior lectors II — make up more than a quarter of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Struggling Murtha Institute Exemplifies Congressman’s Sway.” By Carol D. Leonnig. Washington Post. September 21, 2009. Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s John P. Murtha Institute for Homeland Security. Named for the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, who has shepherded most of its $50 million in funding, the Murtha Institute was supposed to embark on projects to protect America from terrorists and clean up environmental dangers. A Washington Post investigation shows that, in fact, much of the work went to companies and friends close to the congressman, and few of the projects met their goals.

New president has Dartmouth eager for change.” By Tracy Jan. Boston Globe. September 21, 2009. Faculty, students, and alumni have high hopes that Dr. Jim Yong Kim, who will be inaugurated as the college’s 17th president tomorrow, can usher in a new era for the 240-year-old university – an institution often viewed from the outside as a conservative bastion of white privilege dominated by raucous fraternities. Kim’s appointment, supporters say, signifies the college’s determination to look outward and adopt a broader, more global perspective to undergraduate education. It could also bolster Dartmouth’s public profile: Kim, born in South Korea, is the first Asian-American to lead an Ivy League school.

It’s official: Endowment posts worst loss ever.” By Isaac Arnsdorf. Yale Daily News. September 23, 2009. The Yale endowment posted a 24.6 percent investment loss in the fiscal year that ended June 30, falling $5.6 billion to $16.3 billion in its most severe decline ever, University officials announced. With certainty about the extent of the university’s losses, administrators to move ahead with planning for next year’s budget because they can now determine how much revenue they can expect from the endowment. Spending from the endowment in the University’s 2009-’10 fiscal year is expected to total $1.1 billion, down from $1.2 billion last year. To cushion the effect of the market on the University’s budget, the amount that Yale spends from its endowment is smoothed over several years. But since the University’s budget is based on a model that counts on 10 percent annual growth, the reduced payout will tear hole in the budget that runs in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

UCLA volunteers fan out across city; About 4,600 university students, faculty and staff — including Chancellor Gene Block — painted public school classrooms, cleaned beaches and worked at the veterans hospital and cemetery.” By Larry Gordon. Los Angeles Times. September 23, 2009. An army of about 4,600 UCLA volunteers who came to the South Los Angeles campus and seven other spots around the region for a day of community service. In what UCLA officials hope will become an annual event, Volunteer Day brought fresh paint, trash removal and gardening help to five public schools, as well as to Griffith Park, Point Dume State Beach and the veterans hospital and cemetery on the city’s Westside. About a hundred buses ferried the UCLA students and faculty to those sites, with transportation costs and other expenses covered by a $250,000 grant from the Entertainment Industry Foundation.

Is Yale U. starting to run more like Yale Inc.?” By Isaac Arnsdorf. Yale Daily News.
September 24, 2009. Facing entailed the deepest cuts in at least three decades, on the heels of years of exuberant growth, planning Yale’s budget for the coming year will be negotiated, for the first time, with the participation of senior administrators from the University’s Business Operations who will join department heads and deputy provosts to work out the details of budget proposals. The Business Operations Leadership Team, many of them from corporate backgrounds, have been charged with the task of transforming a process traditionally dominated by academics. At issue are two paradigms, perhaps stereotypes: on the one hand, corporations as ruthlessly efficient and conformist, and on the other, academia as freethinking, decentralized and slow to act. To the extent that either notion is true, and to the extent that either is preferable, their blending has introduced some degree of creative tension and raised institutional questions about how best to operate a university. And it has led many to wonder if Yale U. is starting to run more like Yale Inc.

Stanford University endowment plunges 27 percent.” By Lisa M. Krieger. San Jose Mercury-News. September 24, 2009. Stanford University’s endowment, one of the richest in the country, plunged a staggering $4.6 billion last fiscal year, declining more than one-quarter in value because of an investment strategy that has produced stellar results for years — but also exposed it to huge risk. Stanford’s loss, announced Wednesday morning, mirrored whopping declines reported this week by many of its Ivy League peers, which all rely on esoteric funds in an effort to expand their long-term purchasing power. Harvard University’s endowment lost 27.3 percent. Yale’s dropped 24.6 percent. In contrast, the University of Pennsylvania shifted strategies in 2008, loading up on safe but conservative Treasury securities — and experiencing only a 17.5 percent decline, according to The Wall Street Journal.

University may cut classes to save money.” By Isaac Arnsdorf and Divya Subrahmanyam. Yale Daily News. September 25, 2009. Budget constraints are forcing Yale administrators to consider an idea they have long spurned: eliminating classes to save money. The suggestion marks the first significant foray into searching for cost-savings within the academic core of the University.

Brandeis president to step down; Says Rose outcry didn’t affect move.” By Peter Schworm, Boston Globe. September 25, 2009. Brandeis University president Jehuda Reinharz, after months of sharp criticism over his financial stewardship and plans to close the university’s renowned Rose Art Museum, announced yesterday that he will resign at the end of the academic year.

OTHER

It’s reality – high school classes are going virtual; Online consortium offers hard-to-find courses to students worldwide.” By Jennifer Fenn Lefferts. Boston Globe. September 24, 2009. As schools all over the country are affected by the economy and budget cuts, they are cutting Advanced Placement and enrichment courses. The nonprofit Virtual High School collaborative is trying to fill these curricular gaps by making available on-line courses not offered in schools. The collaborative now involves more than 9,500 students, 419 schools, and 260 teachers in 28 states and 23 countries.

HOUSING

Nonprofit scales back plans to house poor in Palo Alto.” By Will Oremus. San Jose Mercury-News. September 24, 2009. Neighborhood resistance has force the scaling back of nonprofit Eden Housing’s ambitious plan to build low-income housing in Palo Alto. The original plan called for the construction of with 48 apartments for families, another 48 for senior citizens, and ground-floor offices and shops. The more modest plan proposes a four-story, 50-unit apartment building for poor working families. Opponents of the project claimed that the proposed structures were too tall, didn’t offer enough parking and would bring new kids into overcrowded local schools, among other problems.

HUMAN SERVICES

Cuts Ravage California Domestic Abuse Program.” By Jesse McKinley. New York Times. September 26, 2009. Because of cuts in state financing, several domestic violence shelters in California have closed in recent months, with layoffs or fewer full-time staff members at many others. Legal services — like help obtaining restraining orders — have been curtailed, as has counseling. Shelters have also dropped 24-hour services, cut overnight staff at emergency centers and eliminated more comprehensive services like safe visitation centers, where staff members are posted when children are dropped off or picked up as part of custody agreements. Other states, including New Jersey and Illinois, have struggled to find ways to keep domestic violence centers open, but national advocacy groups say no state has gone as far as California in “zeroing out” domestic violence money.

IN MEMORIAM

Rev. Forrest Church, Who Embraced a Gospel of Service, Dies at 61.” By William Grimes. New York Times. September 27, 2009. The Rev. Forrest Church, longtime pastor at New York’s Unitarian Church of All Souls, preached a message of love, compassion and social service in stirring fashion, inviting his listeners on a shared quest. He set up a shelter for homeless women in Harlem, started a scouting program for boys and girls at a welfare hotel and organized free lunches and dinners for the homeless. In 1985, early in the AIDS epidemic, he organized a task force to place placards on buses and subways reading “AIDS is a human disease and deserves a humane response.” When he took the job at All Souls, church attendance hovered around 100 on Sundays. Today, it is not uncommon for 1,000 worshipers to attend. Frank Forrester Church IV was the son of U.S. Senator Frank Church, who serve as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

INTERNATIONAL

GENERAL

The Moral Equivalent of Anti-Slavery; Gender equality in developing countries may be the premier human-rights struggle of the 21st century — but first the rest of the world has to care.” Book review. By Michelle Goldberg. American Prospect. September 25, 2009. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, Alfred A. Knopf, 320 pages, $27.95. The book presents a catalogue of horrors, including sex slavery, obstetric fistula, female genital mutilation, gang rape, honor killing, and AIDS. The authors are clear-eyed about the difficulties facing those trying to make change, the failures of foreign aid, and the occasionally terrible unintended consequences of foreign interventions. Yet Half the Sky manages to be inspiring and engrossing rather than numbing. The book’s thesis is that the systematic abuse of poor women is the premier human-rights struggle in the world today. “In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery,” Kristof and WuDunn write. “In the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism. We believe that in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality in the developing world.” The analogy to abolitionism is helpful, because it underscores the enormity of the problem while suggesting it can be overcome.

AFGANISTAN

Diverse Sources Fund Insurgency In Afghanistan; Restricting Cash Flow Difficult, U.S. Says.” By Craig Whitlock. Washington Post. September 27, 2009. The Taliban-led insurgency has built a fundraising juggernaut that generates cash from such an array of criminal rackets, donations, taxes, shakedowns and other schemes that U.S. and Afghan officials say it may be impossible to choke off the movement’s money supply. Obama administration officials say the single largest source of cash for the Taliban, once thought to rely mostly on Afghanistan’s booming opium trade to finance its operations, is not drugs but foreign donations. The CIA recently estimated that Taliban leaders and their allies received $106 million in the past year from donors outside Afghanistan.

AUSTRALIA

Churches allowed to discriminate.” No by-line. Sydney Morning Herald. September 27, 2009. The Victorian government is expected to announce today that religious groups will be allowed to discriminate against gays and single mothers in a controversial compromise reached on workers’ rights. Attorney-General Rob Hulls has approved of a plan to let church-run organisations refuse employment to anyone they believe undermines their beliefs. The plan will allow church groups to discriminate on grounds of sex, sexual orientation, marital status and parental status, but in return these groups will cease being able to discriminate on the basis of race, age, disability, political beliefs, breastfeeding and physical features.

CHINA

Trees of profit.” By Muhammad Cohen. Asia Times. September 26, 2009. Cutting down Asia’s forests has for decades been an easy way to get rich. Now a trio of pan-Asian “serial entrepreneurs” hope to prove planting trees can be a moneymaker, too. Paolo Delgado, Paolo Conconi and Victor Yap started Project Oikos last year hoping to profit from concerns about global warming. But their primary goal is to educate Asians about the benefits of tree planting and protecting forests.

In China, Philanthropy as a New Measuring Stick.” By Julie Makinen. New York Times. September 24, 2009. Chinese business leader Jack Ma, head of the Alibaba Group, joined Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel-winning founder of Grameen Bank, a pioneer in the field of microfinance, to unveil plans for Grameen China. Alibaba is contributing the initial $5 million in seed money, but both men hope their combined star power will soon draw in other corporate sponsors, giving Grameen a hefty piggy bank from which to start making modest loans to farmers and other small-business people in Sichuan and Inner Mongolia, two of the poorest provinces in China. Alibaba’s donation is the latest example of a change in attitude by corporations in China toward philanthropy, where
donations soared last year to 107 billion renminbi, or $15.7 billion, three times their level the previous year, according to a recent report by Jia Xijin and Zhao Yusi at the NGO Research Center at Tsinghua University in Beijing. About $11 billion of that went to relief efforts after the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

http://www.nautilus.org/fora/security/09040XijinZhou.html

JAPAN

Suspected embezzler at social welfare organization arrested.” No by-line. Asahi Shimbun. September 24, 2009. Prosecutors on Thursday arrested a former executive of a social welfare organization on suspicion of embezzling about 10 million yen for personal use, including betting on horse races. Sadao Sotome, the 58-year-old former vice director of the secretariat for Zenkoku Seishin-Shogaisha Shakai-Fukki Shisetsu Kyokai (National association of facilities for rehabilitating people with mental disorders), is also believed to have donated several million yen of the embezzled funds to politicians. Prosecutors plan to pursue criminal charges over the suspected diversion of the subsidies.

UK

Boris Johnson: museum visitors should pay to get in.” No by-line. Times of London. September 21, 2009. “Boris Johnson, London’s Mayor, argues that the city’s museum visitors should pay to get in.” Johnson said he had been impressed with New York’s semi-voluntary admission system. Although New York’s museums are officially free, each one has a range of entry fees and visitors are usually made to feel compelled to pay. Mr Johnson said he had no interest in coercing people, but felt that a similar system could work in London. Free museums are considered one of the Britain’s biggest cultural attractions, particularly in London. The idea formed one of New Labour’s first election pledges and entrance fees to national museums were officially scrapped on December 1, 2001.The scheme proved an instant success, with overall visitor numbers increasing by 70 per cent in the first year alone.
Related Story:
UK museums should adopt US-style ‘voluntary’ fees, says Boris Johnson; Tougher funding policy could help arts as corporate sponsors dry up, London mayor claims.” Guardian (UK). September 21, 2009.

CBI report casts the first shot in battle over university funding.” Commentary. By John O’Leary. Times of London. September 21, 2009. Today’s report by the Confederation of British Industry’s higher education task force represents the first shot in what promises to be a long war over top-up fees and university funding. Conservatives and Labour would be more than happy to neutralize fees as a general election issue with the start of a conveniently lengthy independent review next month. The tactic was successful in 1997, when the Dearing Report straddled the election and allowed the incoming Labour Government to charge undergraduates for tuition for the first time. But the CBI’s analysis shows why it may not work again. Any conceivable rise in fees would not be enough — and would not come soon enough — to satisfy the demand for cuts in public spending.
Related story:
CBI advises raising university fees to £5,000 a year to tackle funding crisis.” By Polly Curtis. Guardian (UK). September 21, 2009.
Set the universities free: The answer to higher education’s funding crisis is neither higher fees nor higher taxes, but liberation from state control.Guardian (UK). September 21, 2009.

Private school charity laws would be revised by Tories; Shadow schools minister says private schools would have freedom to decide how to meet public benefit test.” By Polly Curtis. Guardian (UK). September 21, 2009. New laws forcing private schools to justify their charitable status – and nearly £100m a year in tax breaks – have become too bureaucratic and prescriptive and will be revised if the Conservatives win the general election, according to the shadow schools minister, who said a Conservative government would keep the charity law but challenge the way it is interpreted by the independent watchdog, the Charity Commission. Schools would be given more freedom to decide how they meet the test. These comments follow complaints from private schools that the Charity Commission has become too focused on schools providing bursaries, instead of on sharing facilities with other schools.

Q&A: Charity fundraising and the law.” By Luke Fletcher and Alana Lowe-Petraske. Guardian (UK). September 21, 2009. In the third of a series of pieces giving legal advice to the voluntary sector, Luke Fletcher and Alana Lowe-Petraske, of Bates Wells and Braithwaite solicitors, explain what every charity should know about fundraising.

Recession means people give less to charity; Charities say donations have fallen by 11% in the last year.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). September 23, 2009. The amount people give to charity has fallen by 11% in a year because of the recession, a survey revealed today. The study, by the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, found the average person gave £10 a month to charity during the year to April, £1 a month less than they had donated during the previous 12 months. The groups said the reduction was equivalent to a £1.3bn drop in the amount of money the UK’s 170,000 charities received in real terms.But despite people giving less, the overall proportion donating money to charities on a monthly basis fell by only 2% to 54%.
Related story:
Charities miss out on £1.3 billion because of recession.Times of London. September 23, 2009.

High ideals: Princes William and Harry, like their parents, have chosen to support charities that are close to their hearts. Patrick Barkham is given a rare invitation to hear how they are forging links between the organisations.” By Patrick Barkham. Guardian (UK). September 23, 2009. Several years ago, Princes William and Harry established the Princes’ Charities Forum, in order to see if the charities they support could also help each other. Twice a year, the princes coax their charities to discuss their plans and devise new ideas to work together. The charities and organisations are an idiosyncratic mix of the princes’ passions – the Football Association and the Welsh Rugby Union – and charities connected to friends or family, such as the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund, which is building state primary schools in Uganda in memory of a schoolfriend of Harry’s who died in a car accident. There are also charities that represent a continuation of their mother’s work, such as William’s continuing support for the homelessness charity, Centrepoint. They are focusing on three themes in their charity work: young people, sustainable development, and supporting injured soldiers.

Notts County trust ‘should never have handed control to Qadbak; Fans group says trust ‘went against its very reasons for existing’.” By David Conn. Guardian (UK). September 25, 2009. Notts County’s supporters trust should never have given away its majority control in the club to the anonymous investors who now own it, according to the chief executive of Supporters Direct, the government-backed body which promotes fans’ involvement in running football clubs. The principles behind supporters trusts are that football clubs are community institutions which depend on fans’ loyalty, and that clubs will benefit from fans owning shares and being represented on the board. The Notts County Supporters Trust’s own objectives were to seek ownership in the club, which it had, and representation in its running, which it also had, so by giving those away, the trust went against its very reasons for existing.

LAW & PUBLIC POLICY

S.C. Supreme Court rules for breakaway Episcopal parish.” By Daniel Burke. USA Today/Religion News Service. A South Carolina parish that split from the Episcopal Church in 2004 can keep its church property, the state’s Supreme Court has ruled, handing a rare legal victory to conservative dissidents. A majority of members of All Saints Church at Pawley’s Island voted to secede from the Episcopal Church five years ago, after an openly gay man was consecrated bishop of New Hampshire. Applying “neutral principles,” South Carolina’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday (Sept. 18) that All Saints, which dates to the early 18th century, had secured ownership to the property in 1902, well before the Episcopal Church instituted its trust rules in 1979. Other state courts, including those in New York, California and Colorado, have sided with the Episcopal Church in recent decisions over property rights. Still, courts seem to be moving away from a deferential approach to church property disputes, meaning they do not always defer to internal church rules, said Robert Tuttle, a church-state expert at the George Washington University Law School.

THE QUESTION: Should Religious Charities Discriminate?” By Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham. Washington Post. September 26, 2009. Dozens of major religious groups and denominations are urging Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to renounce a Bush-era memo that allows faith-based charities that receive federal funding to discriminate in hiring. Should religious charities that receive federal grant money be allowed to discriminate in hiring?

MEDIA

Should Obama Bail Out the Newspapers?” By Derek Thompson. The Atlantic. September 21, 2009. As America’s newspapers continue to seek the bottom of the advertising abyss, Obama told reporters that he is “happy to look at” bills that would give newspapers tax breaks if they became non-profits. The Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as non-profits, if they choose, under 501(c)(3) status for educational purposes, similar to public broadcasting. Under this arrangement, newspapers would not be allowed to make political endorsements, but would be allowed to freely report on all issues, including political campaigns. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt and contributions to support coverage or operations could be tax deductible.

WGBH bids for broader presence in public radio.” By Megan Woolhouse. Boston Globe. September 22, 2009. Boston public broadcaster WGBH made a bid yesterday to buy classical radio station WCRB, a move that could directly challenge rival Boston public radio station WBUR. Boston public TV and radio giant WGBH already broadcasts classical music on its flagship radio station, 89.7 FM. But with the acquisition of 99.5 FM, the region’s only 24-hour classical music station, WGBH plans to convert 89.7 FM to an all-news and talk format. That would make the station more like WBUR, at 90.9 FM, the city’s only other public radio station and one of the nation’s most successful noncommercial stations.
Related story:
WGBH deal may spark a radio battle; Plan to launch news and talk station creates new competition for WBUR, WBZ.” Boston Globe. September 23, 2009.

In Amish paper, the news is old but readers don’t care.” By P.J. Huffstutter. Los Angeles Times. September 27, 2009. The Budget is not your typical newspaper. Since 1890, it has served as the primary communication link among Amish settlements across the country. The vast majority of the paper’s reporters – called “scribes’’ – are Amish and Mennonite volunteers, hundreds of people who send in handwritten dispatches in from rural outposts. Their only payment is a free subscription, worth $42 a year. They send their dispatches by mailbag, buggy, and the occasional fax to the paper’s office in Sugarcreek (population 2,100), a village 52 miles south of Akron whose downtown is lined with Swiss-style architecture and horse-and-buggy hitching rails. Although a couple hundred subscribers have dropped the paper, advertisers – many of whom are either Amish or Mennonite – have refused to shift to online advertising. At least 80 percent of the weekly’s 19,000 subscribers live a life without electricity, phones, or modern conveniences. “You may not believe it, but there’s a lot happening out here,’’ said publisher Keith Rathbun, whose paper is mailed out to readers across North America and a smattering of Amish missionaries living overseas.

PHILANTHROPY

Dick Grace: Vintner blends compassion, Cabernet.” By Jon Bonné. San Francisco Chronicle. September 27, 2009. Dick Grace, who is credited with creating California’s first cult Cabernet – expensive, rare, virtually impossible to buy – is using profits from his vineyards to help rebuild Tibetan schools and Nepali medical clinics. His profits, along with contributions from his customers, go to his foundation, which distributes more than $250,000 a year to humanitarian projects throughout the United States, Mexico and Asia.

Generous bequest has Pasadena magnet school asking: Who? Joyce Stallfort Davis leaves $440,011 for scholarships at Blair InternationBaccalaureate School. Officials don’t remember her but learn she worked at the school in the 1960s.” By Seema Mehta. Los Angeles Times. September 25, 2009. Joyce Stallfort Davis, who died last year at age 81, has bequeathed nearly half a million dollars to a Pasadena magnet school, Blair International Baccalaureate. The money will fund three $2,500 scholarships every year for students who are “hard workers” and involved in community service. Davis worked for the Pasadena Unified School District for two decades, including as a counselor and assistant principal at Blair when it opened in 1965 until 1968.

Postal Museum Receives $8 Million Gift.” By Jacqueline Trescott. Washington Post. September 23, 2009. William H. Gross, founder of Pimco, a global investment firm headquartered in California, has given the National Postal Museum a gift of $8 million. It is the single largest gift in the museum’s history. The funds will enable the museum to add a 12,000-square-foot gallery, named for Gross, to the 65,000-square-foot facility near Union Station. Scheduled to open in 2012, the gallery will provide room for the permanent display of 5,000 stamps and objects from the museum’s 6 million-piece collection.

RELIGION

Tiny S.F. church fights closure by denomination.” By Carolyn Jones and Bob Egelko. San Francisco Chronicle. September 21, 2009. Facing the threatened closure of their small church near Twin Peaks, a small group of Calvinists vowed Sunday to continue fighting for survival despite a recent court ruling that barred them from breaking away from their denomination. At issue is not theology or politics, but the church’s size. With between 25 and 50 members, leaders of the Reformed Church of America felt their resources could have been better used elsewhere, an attorney for the denomination said. Miraloma members said they suspected real estate was a factor in the decision. The lot where the San Francisco church has stood since 1945 is worth between $3 million and $4 million.

People with ‘no religion’ gaining on major denominations.” By Cathy Lynn Grossman. USA TODAY. September 22, 2009. Americans who don’t identify with any religion are now 15% of the USA, but trends in a new study shows they could one day surpass the nation’s largest denominations — including Catholics, now 24% of the nation. American Nones: Profile of the No Religion Population, to be released today by Trinity College, finds this faith-free group already includes nearly 19% of U.S. men and 12% of women.

Lutheran bishop warns about withholding donations.” No by-line. Washington Post/Associated Press. September 23, 2009. The presiding bishop of the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination warned Wednesday that withholding financial support to protest a recent gay clergy vote would be “devastating” to the church. The bishop laid out his concerns in a letter to leaders of the 4.7 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is based in Chicago. The ELCA churchwide assembly voted last month to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy, dropping a requirement that gay clergy remain celibate. Hanson’s letter comes on the eve of a meeting in suburban Indianapolis of conservative ELCA group Lutheran CORE, which has urged supporters to “direct funding away from the national church” because of the vote.

SCANDAL

As Acorn Falls, Democrats Would Be Wise to Duck.” Commentary. By Kevin Hassett. Bloomberg.com. September 21, 2009. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now is no fringe organization. It is woven into the political firmament at the highest levels. Over the past 15 years, Acorn has received more than $53 million from the U.S. government, according to a recent report by House Republicans. Democrats clearly appreciate the value they received for that funding. While specific budget lines seldom include the word Acorn, the group and similar nonprofits are eligible to receive as much as $8.5 billion in stimulus money alone. Its Advisory Council includes John Podesta, who was co-chair of President Barack Obama’s transition; Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union; and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former lieutenant governor of Maryland and daughter of Robert F. Kennedy. It is hard to tell what has Acorn done with its money. It’s hard to tell. Purporting to serve noble objectives, such as registering voters, the organization is unbelievably complex and opaque. Acorn makes Enron seem like a simple organization.
Related stories:
Former AG to oversee review of ACORN; Enters controversy over videotapes.” Boston Globe. September 23, 2009.
For ACORN, controversy now a matter of survival.USA Today. September 23, 2009.
ACORN fights back.” Politico.com. September 23, 2009
ACORN Sues Over Damaging Video; Secret Recording in Baltimore Violated Wiretapping Law, Liberal Group Says.Washington Post. September 24, 2009.
GOP, Treasury up ACORN scrutiny.” Politico.com. September 24, 2009.
Congressional Research Service: House ACORN ban may be unconstitutional.” Politico.com. September 24, 2009.
Acorn Sues Over Video as I.R.S. Severs Ties.New York Times. September 24, 2009.
IRS puts an end to ACORN affiliation; White House urged to cut ties, withhold funding.Boston Globe. September 24, 2009.
ACORN sues over hidden video; FBI probing case.” USA Today. September 24, 2009.
ACORN circles the wagons; After a videotape scandal, some Los Angeles members say the political attacks have pushed them to work harder for the activist group.Los Angeles Times. September 24, 2009.
For ACORN, Truth Lost Amid the Din.” Opinion. By Harold Meyerson. Washington Post. September 24, 2009.
ACORN Funded Political, For-Profit Efforts, Data Show; Actions Were Before Leadership Change.Washington Post. September 25, 2009.
Too Much Hot Air, and Not Enough Deep Breathing.” Opinion. By Dana Milbank. Washington Post. September 25, 2009.
ACORN has scaled back Indiana operations; Gary office closed in May; last staffer in Indy was furloughed after videos.Indianapolis Star. September 27, 2009.
Opinion: ACORN looks inward but hopes to emerge stronger.San Jose Mercury-News. September 27, 2009.
OOPS! The ACORN Ban Could Snag Lockheed & Catholic Charities.The Nation. September 27, 2009.

Dark charges from Mahony’s inner circle; A monsignor testifies he wrote a memo urging the cardinal to tell police about molestation by a priest. Perhaps, a paper trail exists.” By Steve Lopez. Los Angeles Times. September 22, 2009. Msgr. Richard Loomis, former vicar of clergy for the archdiocese, said under oath that in the year 2000 he wrote a memo advocating that the archdiocese inform police about allegations of sexual abuse by a now-defrocked priest named Michael Baker. His superior, Cardinal Roger Mahony, directed him not to report the allegations, Loomis testified. The monsignor also testified that Mahony ordered him not to inform parishes where Baker had worked of allegations against the priest. Baker, by the way, was eventually convicted of molesting Luis and two others, and he began a 10-year sentence in 2007.

SOCIAL CAPITAL/COMMUNITY

Study questions Starbucks’ role as community hub.” By Kathy Matheson. Boston Globe/Associated Press. September 27, 2009. If Bryant Simon owned a coffee shop, it would not have conversation-killing Wi-Fi. It probably wouldn’t offer to-go cups. But it would have a big, round table strewn with newspapers to stimulate discussion. That sense of community is what’s missing from Starbucks, a conclusion Simon reached after visiting about 425 of its coffee shops in nine countries. And yet millions of people patronize the outlets each day. Simon, a history professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, has spent the past few years figuring out why. His new book, “Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks,’’ is meant “to be part of a public debate about what our purchases mean . . . [and] how consumption shapes our lives even when we don’t intend it to,’’ Simon said.

MAJOR STORIES (September 14 – 20, 2009)

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

ADVOCACY

75 years on freedom’s front lines.” By Josh Richman. Oakland Tribune. September 19, 2009. An organization created to defend Californians’ constitutional rights marks its 75th anniversary today, celebrating a track record of cases that have played a big part in shaping civil liberties in the Golden State and across the nation. Be it labor rights, wartime internments, free speech, police abuses, abortion, same-sex marriage or a litany of other issues, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has put itself at the forefront of the biggest debates of the times.

The 16 years’ war: A Wal-Mart proposed for a cornfield has long divided a small Vermont town.” By Sarah Schweitzer. Boston Globe. September 20, 2009. Longing for Wal-Mart’s prices may be keen in St. Albans, a one-time railroad depot a half-hour from the Canadian border, where the main thoroughfare’s weathered Victorian homes quickly give way to a jumble of car dealerships and strip malls. Yet it is here that a group of residents, teamed with preservation and environmental groups, spent four years fending off a 1993 effort to raise a Wal-Mart in a cornfield and the last nearly six trying to spoil a second attempt. The battles add up to what is believed to be the nation’s longest ongoing Wal-Mart fight.

ARTS & CULTURE

New York Philharmonic gets big gift.” By Miriam Kreinin Souccar. Crain’s New York. September 14, 2009. The New York Philharmonic Music announced that it will receive a $10 million gift from Henry R. Kravis to endow its new composer-in-residence position. The gift, given in honor of Mr. Kravis’ wife, Marie-Josee, will create a two-year post where a composer works with the orchestra. Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg will hold the position first. The Kravis gift will also fund a $250,000 prize for new music, one of the largest awards of its kind. The grant will be given every two years, beginning with the 2011-12 season.

IN THE FRAY: Ghosts in the Museum.” By Eric Gibson. Wall Street Journal. September 16, 2009. The art museums hit hardest in the financial crisis have been those in the building game. Some have squeaked past the crisis. For others, like the Cleveland Museum of Art, it’s been touch and go. Last fall, with the start of the second and last phase of the plan on the horizon, the museum found itself caught in what Michael J. Horvitz, the board’s chairman, calls “a perfect storm”: With $138 million remaining to be raised, philanthropy dried up, the credit markets froze, and the museum’s endowment plummeted—to $558.5 million as of June 30 this year from $736 million before the crash. To be able to proceed, the museum has chosen a highly unorthodox way out of its quandary. It has gone to court for permission to draw up to $75 million over 10 years from the interest paid out on two endowment funds and two outside, restricted trusts for acquisitions. A decision is expected by the end of this month. The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), a professional oversight body, prohibits museums from selling works of art—”deaccessioning”—for any purpose other than purchasing other works of art. But it has (so far) no prohibition against raiding a restricted acquisitions trust for non-art purposes. Presumably it believes museums will honor donor intent as a matter of course. The Cleveland Museum, though, doesn’t see its actions as violating its donors’ wishes. On the contrary, it cites precedent: In 1955, when the museum ran short of funds for an expansion, it received permission from a judge to use money from restricted acquisitions endowments to pay the bills.

CHARITY

D-Day memorial in dire need.” By Andrea Stone. USA Today. September 15, 2009. The financially troubled National D-Day Memorial in the southwest Virginia may close unless it receives a major infusion of funding. Constructed with $19 million in private funds, the memorial has relied on admission fees and donations since its dedication in 2001. Visitor fees bring in $600,000 for a memorial that costs $2.2 million a year to run. Because of its remote location and relatively small number of visitors, the National Park service has declined to assume ownership of the memorial.

Pastor raises funds for charity with English Channel swim.” No by-line. USA Today. September 20, 2009. A Rockford Illinois pastor has fulfilled his goal of swimming the English Channel to raise money for a school in Africa. His goal is to raise $50,000 to build a school in Waku Kungo, Angola. So far, he’s raised more than $30,000.

EDUCATION

GENERAL

Harvard education school offers 1st new degree since ’35.” No by-line. USA Today/Associated Press. September 15, 2009. Citing what it calls a “leadership deficit” in the nation’s schools, Harvard University is introducing a doctoral education program aimed at attracting top talent to transform the U.S. education system. The Doctor of Education is designed for people who want to be top-level managers — such as superintendents of large districts or state education agency heads — and seeks to attract upper-echelon candidates who normally would choose other, more lucrative fields. The program will be based on collaboration with the Harvard Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government, both strongholds of management education.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Levin’s pay tops $1 million.” By Isaac Arnsdorf. Yale Daily News. September 15, 2009. Yale President Richard Levin’s compensation reached seven figures for the first time in the 2007–’08 academic year, according to the University’s most recent tax filings. But Levin was still only the fourth-highest paid employee at Yale. Topping the list, Chief Investment Officer David Swensen’s salary and benefits amounted to $4.3 million, about twice what he made the year before. Swensen’s deputy, Dean Takahashi, earned the second most, with $2.6 million in salaries and benefits. Swensen’s and Takahashi’s pay trails that of their counterparts at the Harvard Management Company, some of whom have earned as much as $35 million in recent years.

At tiny colleges, a bit of the old rah-rah-rah; Try to raise their profile with mascots and cheerleaders.” By Tracy Jan. Boston Globe. September 19, 2009. Boston has long been known as the Athens of America, boasting the highest concentration of colleges and universities of any metropolitan area in the country. But beyond the Harvards and the MITs, many locals would be hard-pressed to name a fraction of the 80-plus colleges dotting the city and its suburbs, even if they pass the campuses routinely. Fed up with their anonymity, many of these colleges are stepping up efforts to put themselves on the map by boosting student pride – efforts some college presidents say could also help increase enrollment and alumni donations.

HEALTH CARE

Nonprofit Groups Upset at Exclusion From Health Bills.” By Stephanie Strom. New York Times. September 14, 2009. Nonprofit organizations say they are upset that Congress and the Obama administration have not addressed their rising health care costs in the various health care proposals being floated on Capitol Hill. The main bill in the House would award a tax credit to small businesses that provide their employees with health insurance — but nonprofits do not pay income taxes and thus would not benefit. Some nonprofit groups have called for a subsidy along the lines of the Earned Income Tax Credit, in which money would be returned to organizations that demonstrate they have paid for an employee’s health care. As a group, nonprofit organizations are the nation’s fourth-largest employer. But their advocates say policy makers know little about the workings of nonprofits, which pay payroll taxes and, in rare instances, taxes on unrelated business activities, but are exempt from taxes on their income.

Is the Mayo Clinic a Model Or a Mirage? Jury Is Still Out. Duplication Wouldn’t Be Easy, Critics Say.” By Alec MacGillis and Rob Stein. Washington Post. September 20, 2009. Few question the accomplishments of the nonprofit Mayo Clinic, the Rochester, Minnesota medical complex to which President Obama has pointed as a possible model for health care reform. The clinic brings in $9 billion in revenue a year and hosts 250 surgeries a day. But some health-care experts and lawmakers question whether its success can be so easily replicated, since Mayo’s patients are wealthier, healthier and less racially diverse than those elsewhere in the country. It has few poor patients, limits the number of procedures it performs per patient, and charges private insurers and self-paying patients higher than average rate, which is why it thrives despite the lower Medicare spending cited by its supporters.

HUMAN SERVICES

NYC food bank says demand rising sharply.” By Kira Bindrim. Crain’s New York. September 16, 2009. Some 90% of the New York Food Bank’s member organizations are reporting increases in the number of people coming to them for emergency food assistance. Over half of the Food Bank’s organizations have seen demand grow by more than 25% in the last year. The growing number of needy New Yorkers is made more challenging by a falloff in charitable giving. More than half of corporations have cut back their giving because of the recession, according to an August study from the LBG Research Institute. And money allocated to emergency food services from the federal stimulus bill, as well as last year’s federal farm bill, has not been enough to offset the increase in food costs.

Killing Kid Care: Carol and Hurt Porter Jr. ran a well-connected, million-dollar “model charity” in Houston—until it all came crashing down.” By David Theis. Texas Observer. September 18, 2009. Until 2002, the Porters headed a nationally prominent charity, Kid Care. Started in the kitchen of their modest northside house in 1984, Kid Care had grown spectacularly, feeding more than 20,000 a month in the nation’s first Meals on Wheels program for hungry children. As donations came in, the program had branched out into delivering health care and providing cultural-enrichment programs for inner-city kids. The charity was named as one of George Bush 41’s “Thousand Points of Light”—No. 866. Kid Care went international and was recognized as an NGO by the United Nations. But in the fall of 2002, an investigative reporter the local ABC affiliate, produced the first in a series investigating how Kid Care spent its money. , the Porters were sued by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The AG’s office shut down Kid Care and ordered another charity for children opened (without the Porters’ involvement) in its place. The IRS joined in, claiming the Porters owed $550,000 for unreported income. The exposé was later exposed as being written with the knowledge that it would create a false impression in order to influence the outcome of a Houston mayoral race.

A Lifeline for Victims of Violence Needs One of Its Own; D.C. Nonprofit Set to Close as Funding Dries Up.” By Susan Kinzie. Washington Post. September 20, 2009. WEAVE, a D.C. nonprofit organization that has provided legal and emotional help to tens of thousands of victims of domestic violence over the past 13 years, has decided it doesn’t have enough funds to keep operating and has voted to begin the process of shutting down. With 25 employees and a budget of $2 million, WEAVE is the second-largest nonprofit agency assisting victims of domestic violence in a city where, according to a national survey by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, an average of 10 battered women a day were turned away last year because there wasn’t enough help available.

IN MEMORIAM

Irving Kristol, Godfather of Modern Conservatism, Dies at 89.” By Barry Gewen. New York Times. September 19, 2009. Irving Kristol, the political commentator who, as much as anyone, defined modern conservatism and helped revitalize the Republican Party in the late 1960s and early ’70s, setting the stage for the Reagan presidency and years of conservative dominance, died Friday in Arlington, Va. The neoconservatism with which he was identified may have begun as a dispute among liberals about the nature of the welfare state, but under Mr. Kristol it became a more encompassing perspective, what he variously called a “persuasion,” an “impulse,” a “new synthesis.” Against what he saw as the “nihilistic” onslaught of the ’60s counterculture, Mr. Kristol, in the name of neoconservatism, mounted an ever more muscular defense of capitalism, bourgeois values and the aspirations of the common man that took him increasingly to the right. Kristol profoundly influenced American philanthropy by persuading conservatives to overcome their deeply rooted suspicions of foundations and other nonprofits and to build a nonprofit infrastructure of grant makers and policy think tanks to develop and disseminate conservative ideas and policies. The Philanthropy Roundtable, an influential organization of conservative grant makers, grew out of a movement, inspired by Kristol, to rein in what he and his followers viewed as the dangerously leftward drift of the Council on Foundations, then the major philanthropic trade association.
Related Stories:
Irving Kristol, ‘Neoconservative’ And Father Of William, Has Died.” National Public Radio. September 18, 2009.
Editor Was Godfather Of Neoconservativism.Washington Post. September 19, 2009.
Irving Kristol: 1920-2009; Neoconservative Pioneer Paved Way for Reagan.Wall Street Journal. September 19, 2009.
Remembering Irving Kristol” — links to reportage and unpublished writing from the Weekly Standard.

INTERNATIONAL

GENERAL

Activists, Big Business Converge on G20 Meet.” By Jeb Sprague. Interpress News Service Agency. September 22, 2009. As media and government delegates prepared for the G20 Summit held in Pittsburgh, local business and activist groups promoted clashing visions of days to come. Not far from the Regional Enterprise Tower, where business groups promoting the summit met, a peace and justice coalition based out of Pittsburgh’s Thomas Merton Centre is organized for a people’s march against the G20, sending a very different message. The umbrella coalition, including organized labour, anti-war activists, and numerous environmentalist, socialist, and grassroots organizations, leveled steep criticism at the G20 leaders and global capitalism, most pointedly the effects on low-income and working-class people by state policies meant to benefit transnational corporations.

JAPAN

Social welfare organization diverts 18 million yen in subsidies.” No by-line. Asahi Shimbun (Japan). September 14, 2009. Shady activities have been uncovered at a social welfare organization that helps mentally disabled people, including diverting research subsidies to a struggling hotel and using the association’s funds for gambling and political donations. The chairman and other officials at Zenkoku Seishin-Shogaisha Shakai-Fukki Shisetsu Kyokai (National association of facilities for rehabilitating people with mental disabilities) has admitted to diverting 18 million yen in subsidies.
Related Story:
Welfare organization for mentally ill people bought politician’s party tickets.” Asahi Shimbun. September 15, 2009.

Okubos plead not guilty in Kanji case.” Asahi Shimbun. September 19, 2009. Two former directors of the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation pleaded not guilty to some of the breach of trust charges brought against them. The two are accused of causing about 287 million yen in losses to the organization by transferring money to two businesses run by the senior Okubo as commissions for fake subcontracting work between 2004 and 2009.

MEXICO

In Mexico, where state is vital to arts, museums struggling.” By Tracy Wilkinson. Boston Globe/Los Angeles Times. September 20, 2009. Across Mexico City’s eclectic art world, museum directors, curators, artists, and performers are bracing for a round of recession-triggered budget cuts that could prove devastating. across Mexico City’s eclectic art world, museum directors, curators, artists, and performers are bracing for a round of recession-triggered budget cuts that could prove devastating. Many museums in Mexico rely heavily on government money, part of what is seen here as a legacy of the Mexican Revolution, whose goal to modernize the country included building up education and the arts. With the state taking such an active role, the tradition of philanthropic support for museums lagged. And where private donors do figure, their contributions also have diminished in hard times.

UK

Cameron will have to fight the quangocracy; If they are to succeed in cutting spending, the Tories must win control over the plethora of bodies that dole out public money.” By William Rees-Mogg. Times of London. September 14, 2009. If the conservatives win the next election, they will have to take the responsibility for deciding public expenditure away from the quangos. Spending public money ought to be controlled by accountable elected bodies, either Parliament or local authorities. He will not be able to cut public expenditure in a considered way unless he greatly reduces the number of quangos. They will also need to rebalance the boards of the quangos. He will not be able to control public spending if he waits for the normal process of board resignations working through the quangos. Neither the British budget nor British culture can afford another five years of the big spenders who control too many quango boards.

Third academy declared ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.” By Tom Peck. The Independent (UK). September 14, 2009. A £30m school created under the Government’s flagship academy scheme has been given an “inadequate” rating by Ofsted following a visit by inspectors in July, making it the third such school to be placed in special measures. The verdict will come as a significant blow to Labour, particularly given that the school it replaced was not said to have been failing. Labour introduced the academy scheme to replace failing schools with semi-autonomous institutions directed by sponsors from industry as well as private individuals, universities and colleges. At the start of this school year 67 new academies opened, bringing the total to 200.

QC challenges private school law.” By Polly Curtis. Guardian (UK). September 14, 2009. New government rules forcing private schools to open up their services, including the provision of more bursaries, are unlawful, according to a leading attorney who has accused the charities watchdog of “attacking” fee-charging schools. Independent schools should be considered charities simply because they educate children and should not be forced to provide free classes for those who cannot afford their fees, she argues. The Charity Commission is establishing new rules after a change in the law in the Charities Act 2006 which means private schools have to show their fees are not a barrier to the services they provide, or risk losing charitable status. Loss of status would mean forgoing £100m in tax breaks independent schools receive every year.

Prince Charles’s architecture body faces inquiry.” By Robert Booth. Guardian (UK). September 14, 2009. Charity regulators are investigating the activities of one of Prince Charles’s most prominent causes, the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. The move was sparked by reports in the Guardian last month that the prince and his charity had influenced the course of a series of major property developments in the UK. The Charity Commission has ordered the foundation, which describes itself as an educational charity, to explain its trustee decision-making, the activities it undertakes to further its charitable purposes for the public benefit and its relationship with the prince.

Deluxe introduction to the voluntary sector; The UK’s new graduate scheme saw more than 1,000 people around the world registering interest, so how does it measure up?Guardian (UK). September 16, 2009. At least 14 graduates will this month begin a one-year programme described as the “ultimate introduction” to working in the charity sector. The Charity Works scheme, which launches this year, will offer its first cohort of new graduates and rising stars already working in the sector an overview of how the industry works through management training, mentoring, peer-to-peer support and placements. The programme is being run in partnership between the development agency, Vanilla, and six national charities – Together, the Terrence Higgins Trust, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Advance, Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID) and the Children’s Society – and its purpose is twofold. It aims to offer new graduates a paid route into an industry that has few graduate programmes, while making it attractive enough to retain good staff by offering quality training.

Passion for a cause.” Joe Public blog. Guardian (UK). September 16, 2009. Compulsory community work will succeed at a certain level, says Stephen Greene. Better though that young people volunteer because they want to make a difference. This month, 20,000 school-leavers will begin compulsory community service. The scheme paves the way for a wider national youth service that would see teenagers perform 50 hours of community work. In the US, local school district schemes already operate in some cities. The jury is still out on the longer-term effects, as there is conflicting data on the long-term impact of this requirement. When exercising your civic conscience becomes something into which you are forced, it does raise the question what the true legacy of compulsory schemes will be?

The Big Issue celebrates its 18th birthday.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). September 16, 2009. Exactly 18 years on from the launch of the Big Issue, this radical street paper is still offering a vital lifeline for homeless people. It is 18 years this week since Gordon Roddick, who with his wife Anita ran the Body Shop, came up with the idea for a UK street paper. In 1991, at the height of the homelessness crisis, Roddick had seen a street paper on sale in New York. The only thing that troubled Roddick was that homeless people were being given that paper for free. A pioneer of social business, he thought selling it to the homeless instead might end what he saw as a disempowering and dehumanising cycle of charity.

Demand for care homes rising, market survey finds; Government policy has been for older people to live in the community; Market has been declining for 15 years.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). September 18, 2009. Demand for places in care homes for older people has started to rise again after 15 years of decline, according to the leading annual market survey. According to one survey, the number of residents in homes in the independent sector is projected to grow from 419,000 this year to 459,000 over the next decade. The news will come as a relief to care home chains that have been struggling to stop occupancy rates falling. Southern Cross, the biggest chain, last month reported that its rate had dropped to 88% from more than 90% in 2008. But government ministers will not be so pleased: the clear thrust of policy is to encourage more older people to live independently in the community, with appropriate support, rather than enter costlier residential care.

Universities to axe places for UK students.” No by-line. Times of London. September 20, 2009. LEADING universities are drawing up plans to slash thousands of places for British undergraduates and replace them with foreign students paying far higher fees to cope with an expected cut in government funding of 20%-25%. They argue that reducing admissions is preferable to making deep cuts to staff numbers and harming the quality of teaching, for which universities have recently faced fierce criticism.

Government warned of quango bungling last year.” By Jack Grimston. Times of London. September 20, 2009. THE government was warned a year ago of failings at the quango whose bungling has left an estimated 100,000 students likely to start university or college in the new academic year without knowing what loans and grants they will receive.

Taxpayers fund ‘Doolittle’ awayday for quango staff.” No by-line. Times of London. September 20, 2009. MOST would regard it as horseplay, but staff at a disability quango have been sent to a farm at taxpayers’ expense to improve management skills by communicating with animals.The “equine assisted leadership” courses are among a series of bizarre awaydays and team-building exercises used by public bodies to train staff, according to documents obtained under freedom of information rules.Councils, Whitehall departments, police forces and quangos are spending millions of pounds sending staff to Shakespeare-themed classes, go-karting and on escapades involving black cabs. “I don’t think taxpayers will approve of this kind of expenditure, particularly in the current climate,” said Jeremy Hunt, the Tory culture spokesman.

“The slumdog banker giving the poor a break; Many Britons have no choice but to take out loans at exorbitant rates. But Faisel Rahman tells us there is another way.” No by-line. Times of London. September 20, 2009. Faisel Rahman is a visionary financier — named as a “young global leader” at the World Economic Forum earlier this year — who has shown with his scheme in east London that it is possible to run a social enterprise that, though small, pays its own way. After working for the pioneering microfinance enterprise, Grameen Bank, Rahmeen decided to bring the idea back to Britain. There crucial difference between his UK plan and the Bangladeshi model. The Grameen relies on groups of borrowers holding each other to account, so few debts turn bad. That kind of “peer lending” could never be effective in Britain’s inner cities, where communities are not so close-knit. The solution was for individual lenders and borrowers to get to know each other properly and build a relationship of mutual trust — just like old-fashioned banking. Five years since Fair Finance launched, it seems he may have got it right.

LAW & PUBLIC POLICY

Panhandling bans drive some fundraisers from streets.” By Judy Keen. USA Today. September 15, 2009. Communities seeking to prevent panhandlers from venturing into streets are stirring controversy with bans that also prevent people from approaching vehicles to ask for charitable donations. The ordinances’ advocates say they must apply to everyone to ensure safety and preclude legal challenges, but groups such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) say such bans hurt fundraising. When Dallas passed a panhandling ban that included charity solicitations, MDA collections dropped from $260,000 to less than $50,000.

Judge says Hindu temple must allow creditors onto property.” By Andria Simmons. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. September 17, 2009. A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday ruled that the Hindu Temple of Georgia must allow creditors onto its property to inventory its assets and must not spend its income.
Attorneys for the temple, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month to avoid foreclosure of its Norcross facility, had sought to block creditors from photographing or entering its holy places. They said any non-Hindus were barred from entering the temple while the priests are undergoing a 216-day period of spiritual cleansing. However, Judge James E. Massey found a compromise: whoever is sent by creditors to photograph and inventory the rooms must be a Hindu. The temple had defaulted on a $2.3 million bank loan and was facing foreclosure of its $5 million, nine-acre property.

Court Strikes Down Regulations Limiting Nonprofits’ Campaign Funds.” By Del Quentin Wilber. Washington Post. September 18, 2009. A federal appeals court has struck down regulations that strictly limited how nonprofit groups raise and spend money for political campaigns. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit made the ruling in a lawsuit brought by Emily’s List, which backs women Democratic candidates who support abortion rights. The group had challenged the regulations, which went into effect in 2005, as being an unconstitutional infringement on its free speech rights. The regulations, which were enacted by the Federal Election Commission in response to concerns about the flow of “soft money,” which are unlimited donations by individuals, corporations, political action committees and unions, to nonprofit groups, placed a $5,000 cap on donations.
Related Story:
Court Backs Outside Groups’ Political Spending.” David D. Kirkpatrick. New York Times. September 19, 2009.

Groups Push to End Hiring Bias Legalized for Religious Charities.” By Carrie Johnson. Washington Post. September 18, 2009. Nearly 60 groups concerned with civil rights, labor, health and education urged Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Thursday to renounce a Bush-era memo allowing religious charities that receive federal grant money to discriminate in hiring. The groups signing the letter include the Anti-Defamation League, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the NAACP, which are asking the Justice Department to withdraw a legal finding that they say stands as “one of the most notable examples of the Bush administration’s attempt to impose a constitutionally questionable and unwise policy.”

Arts community shocked by new tax burden.” By Stephan Salisbury. Philadelphia Inquirer. September 20, 2009. The $27.9 billion state spending plan announced Friday night includes expansion of the state sales tax to performing-arts programs – dance, music, theater – and other cultural venues, such as museums and zoos, to generate about $100 million. The tax will not be imposed on movies or sports events. The bulk of the ticket-tax revenue – the exact percentage was unclear – will go into a special fund for cultural institutions and the arts and will be to support institutions previously subsidized by the general fund, such as museums, theaters, and zoos.

PHILANTHROPY

$150 Million Gift to Children’s Aims to Revolutionize Surgery; D.C. Philanthropist Arranges Abu Dhabi Largess.” By Susan Kinzie. Washington Post. September 16, 2009. In one of the largest philanthropic donations ever made to a U.S. pediatric hospital, Children’s National Medical Center will receive $150 million from the government of Abu Dhabi — a gift that the hospital hopes to use to dramatically change pediatric surgery. The money comes from the government of Abu Dhabi, one of the United Arab Emirates. The Persian Gulf country has given large sums to Johns Hopkins Medicine and other U.S. institutions. But the gift was arranged by Joseph E. Robert Jr., a prominent Washington philanthropist with deep ties to Children’s and personal connections to wealthy members of the UAE’s royal family.
Related Story:
Abu Dhabi Gives U.S. Hospital $150 Million.” New York Times. September 16, 2009.

Stressing results, charity retools grant-giving.” By Erin Ailworth. Boston Globe. September 16, 2009. The biggest public charity in New England is changing the way it hands out millions of dollars to a wide range of community groups, giving more money to those it considers to be the most effective and cutting funding to others. The shift in strategy at The Boston Foundation, which gave out $86 million in its most recent fiscal year, is raising concern among nonprofit organizations that some will be forced to scramble for other funding, or to cut programs.

Harvard To Award $100K in Grants.” Michelle L. Quach and Peter F. Zhu. Harvard Crimson. September 20, 2009. The grants benefit initiatives focused on health, education, and neighborhood improvement. Earlier this year, six local nonprofits, including a community health center and a poetry outreach project, were awarded grants. Alston is the Boston neighborhood where Harvard is planning major physical expansion.

RELIGION

Biggest U.S. churches ‘contemporary, evangelical’.” By Cathy Lynn Grossman. USA Today. September 16, 2009. The October issue of Outreach magazine lists the 100 largest U.S. churches, based on attendance statistics gathered by LifeWay Research, Nashville. The newest trend in church growth involves transmitting worship services to multiple sites. Such contemporary, aggressively evangelistic and evangelical churches are “moving beyond the ‘big box’ megachurch model.” Despite growth among the evangelicals, the Hartford Seminary’s latest edition of Faith Communities Today finds that, overall, the nation’s congregations — Catholic, Protestant and other world religions — are suffering. Only 19% say they are in excellent financial health, down from 31% in 2000.Less than half (48%) could report at least 2% growth in worship attendance, down from 58% in 2005.

Survey: Number of female senior pastors doubles in 10 years.” By Daniel Burke. USA Today/Religion News Service. September 17, 2009. One in 10 U.S. churches employs a woman as senior pastor, double the percentage from a decade ago, according to a new survey by the Barna Group. Most of the women — 58% — work in mainline Protestant churches, such as the United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Episcopal Church; only 23% of male senior pastors are affiliated with mainline churches, the survey said.

Hindu Americans face challenges, growth in following their faith.” By Michael Paulson. Boston Globe. September 20, 2009. Among issues facing the estimated 1.5 million to 2 million Hindus in the United States is the challenge of transmitting faith from immigrants, most of whom grew up in predominantly Hindu India, to their children, who are growing up in a predominantly Christian society. Temples are launching religious education programs, modeled after those in churches and synagogues.

SCANDAL

Cemetery task force report to paint dismal picture of industry in Illinois; Task force due to issue report Tuesday amid Quinn-Hynes spat.” By Kim Janssen. Chicago Tribune. September 14, 2009. Crooks demanding cash payments from grieving families in their weakest, most confused moments. Whistle-blowers ignored or treated as “cranks” by public officials unwilling or unable to act. Untrained cemetery workers employed without even the most basic background checks. That’s the unflattering picture of parts of the Illinois burial business painted at hearings of Gov. Pat Quinn’s Cemetery Oversight Task Force, due to report Tuesday its recommendations on how to prevent the Burr Oak Cemetery grave desecration scandal from being repeated.

Senate Votes to Halt HUD Grants to ACORN.” No by-line. Washington Post/Associated Press. September 15, 2009. The Senate voted Monday to block the Department of Housing and Urban Development from giving grants to ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), a community organization under fire in several voter-registration fraud cases. The group is suffering from bad publicity after conservative activists, who posed as a prostitute and her pimp, released hidden-camera videos in which ACORN employees in Baltimore gave advice on home buying and how to account on tax forms for the woman’s income. Other videos depict similar situations in ACORN offices in Brooklyn and the District. The Senate’s move would mean that ACORN would not be able to win HUD grants for programs such as counseling low-income people on how to get mortgages and for fair-housing education and outreach.
Related stories:
The GOP’s Blame-ACORN Game.” Nation. November 10, 2008.
ACORN Fires 2 After Hidden Camera Video; 2 Southeast D.C. Workers Are Shown Advising Couple on How to Buy House to Use as Brothel.Washington Post. September 10, 2009.
Census Bureau Cuts Its Ties With Acorn.Wall Street Journal. September 12, 2009.
Senate Acts to Deny Acorn Aid.USA Today. September 15, 2009.
ACORN Confronts More Pressure Over Videos.” Wall Street Journal. September 15, 2009.
Conservatives Draw Blood From ACORN, Favored Foe.” New York Times. September 16, 2009.
ACORN Employee Says She Thought Couple Was Part of a Stunt.Washington Post. September 17, 2009.
ACORN to Review Incidents
White House Joins Criticism Over Hidden-Camera Videos
.” Washington Post. September 17, 2009.
House votes to block ACORN funding.” Politico.com. September 17, 2009.
Pelosi punts on ACORN funding ban.” Politico.com. September 17, 2009.
“‘Writing is on the wall’ for ACORN.” Politico.com. September 17, 2009.
Nadler: ACORN ban unconstitutional.” Politico.com. September 17, 2009.
The $1,300 Mission to Fell ACORN; Duo in Sting Video Say Their Effort Was Independent.” Washington Post. September 18, 2009.
ACORN May Cut Voter-Registration Work.” Wall Street Journal. September 18, 2009.
House Prohibits Federal Money to ACORN.” New York Times. September 18, 2009.
ACORN could open Pandora’s box.” Politico.com. September 18, 2009.
Did ACORN get too big for its own good?San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press. September 19, 2009.
ACORN scaling back or shutting down in many cities; The community activist group is taking no new clients while it investigates its operations, which have been dragged down by the poor economy and recent scandals.” Los Angeles Times. September 19, 2009.
For ACORN, Video Is Only Latest Crisis.” Washington Post. September 20, 2009.

Postal Museum Rental Violated Policy.” By Jacqueline Trescott. Washington Post. September 16, 2009. The Smithsonian Institution restated its policies on renting its facilities to outside groups Tuesday, acknowledging that it had made an error in allowing the Federation for American Immigration Reform to hold an event Tuesday night at the National Postal Museum. “This was a violation of the special-events policy that says it is unacceptable to have groups which are partisan, political or religious in nature use the Smithsonian space,” a Smithsonian spokesperson said.

Details emerge on WNET’s Justice probe.” By Matthew Flamm. Crain’s New York. September 16, 2009. A Department of Justice investigation dating back to 2008 into how funds were used by Channel Thirteen continues to hurt the public television station, The investigation has contributed to a cash crunch at the organization, resulting in delayed payments to vendors. The federal investigation followed an audit into how grants were used by WNET subsidiary Educational Broadcasting Corp. for the animated children’s math series Cyberchase, according to a statement issued Monday by WNET. The funds in question included those provided by the National Science Foundation, and go back to 2000. The grants totaled $10.5 million, and the investigation of how they were used was begun by the inspector general of the foundation.
Related stories:
WNET’s Use of Grants for Children’s Math Show Is Under Investigation.” New York Times. September 15, 2009.
WNET’s Use of Grants Is Under Examination.” New York Times. September 16, 2009.

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

Merck, British charity to jointly develop vaccines.” No by-line. Crain’s New York/Associated Press. September 17, 2009. Drugmaker Merck & Co. and Britain’s largest charity, the Wellcome Trust, said Thursday they are starting a not-for-profit partnership to create affordable vaccines against diseases common in poor countries. The joint research venture will develop new vaccines for diseases with unmet need and work to improve existing vaccines, such as by finding lower-cost production methods or tweaking them to make them stable at room temperature.

“Billions of dollars and a Nobel Prize later, it looks like ‘microlending’ doesn’t actually do much to fight poverty.
” By Drake Bennett. Boston Globe. September 20, 2009. Two new research papers suggest that microcredit is not nearly the powerful tool it has been made out to be. The papers are believed to be the most thorough, careful studies yet done on the topic. They find that, by most measures, microcredit does not offer a way out of poverty. It helps a few of the more entrepreneurial poor to start up businesses, and at the margins it may boost the profits of existing microenterprises, but that doesn’t translate into gains for the borrowers, as measured by indicators like income, spending, health, or education. In fact, most microcredit clients actually spend their borrowed money not on a business, but on household expenses, on paying off other debts or on a relatively big-ticket item like a TV or a daughter’s wedding. And while microcredit champions point to microloans as a tool for empowering women, the studies see no impact on gender roles, and find evidence that if any one group benefits more, it’s male entrepreneurs with existing businesses. “Microcredit is not a transformational panacea that is going to lift people out of poverty,” says Dean Karlan, an economics professor at Yale and a co-author of one of the studies. “There might be little pockets here and there of people who are made better off, but the average effect is weak, if not nonexistent.”

MAJOR STORIES (August 3 – 9, 2009)

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

ARTS & CULTURE

Milwaukee Theater Has Drama of Its Own.” By Daniel J. Wakin. New York Times. August 4, 2009. In the half century since its foundsing, Milwaukee’s Skylight Opera Theater grew into a beloved local institution. Its mix of less frequently heard and classic operas, musicals and revues has drawn a devoted audience and a core of loyal performers. But now the company is facing a meltdown. It has suffered demonstrations, petitions, mass resignations of performers, subscriber revolt and Facebook vitriol interpreted by management as violent threats.

The Guggenheim At 50: A Legacy Spirals On Fifth.” By Edward Lifson. NPR. August 5, 2009.

New Endowment Chairman Sees Arts as Economic Engine.” By Robin Pogrebin. New York Times. August 8, 2009. In his first sit-down interview since his nomination to head the National Endowment for the Arts, Broadway producer Rocco Landesman said that as chairman he will focus on the potential of the arts to help in the country’s economic recovery. Given the agency’s “almost invisible” budget, he said, goals like these would require public-private partnerships that enlist developers, corporations and individual investors — largely by getting them “to understand the critical role of art in urban revitalization.”


CHARITY

Group will help ‘pick up the tab’ for charity.” By RaShawn Mitchner. Indianapolis Star. August 7, 2009. Founded in 2007, Jerry Paul’s Kokomo-based charity group, Veterans for a Better Community, collects tabs for other groups that then recycle the tabs and keep the cash. Last year, his group collected 903,000 pop tabs, donating the proceeds to a local veterans group. This year, Paul’s group will help the Ronald McDonald House of Indiana by donating an estimated 1.2 million tabs today at the nonprofit’s annual Pop Tab Drop on Monument Circle in Downtown Indianapolis. So just how much are pop tabs worth in recycling dollars? About $78,000 if you have 108 million of them. That’s what the Ronald McDonald House collected last year through its program, bringing in 8 million during the event on the Circle.

“‘Cash-for-clunkers’ program worries charities.” By Trevor Hughes. USA Today. August 9, 2009. Charities across the country are concerned that the popular “cash-for-clunkers” program will entice people to junk old cars for credit toward new ones rather than donate them. Many charities depend on reselling donated cars to fund programs. Goodwill Industries International earned $14.5 million last year from donated cars, which it used to fund job training for disabled workers, spokeswoman Lauren Lawson says. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki says the program, which got a $2 billion boost Friday, will have a “negligible” effect on charities. Psaki says the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) was created to provide a “timely, temporary and targeted” economic stimulus and was not intended to divert vehicles from charities.

EDUCATION

Boston to get school athletics boost; Foundation created to funnel millions to underfunded programs, hire coaches.” By Bob Hohler. Boston Globe. August 3, 2009. Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino will announceS the creation of a multimillion-dollar charitable foundation and consortium of professional sports teams, colleges and universities, and corporations to enhance opportunities for Boston student-athletes – a potential breakthrough for Boston’s chronically underfunded high school athletic system.

Charter Schools

Backers seek end to charter school cap; Ballot item wider than Patrick’s plan.” By James Vaznis. Boston Globe. August 5, 2009. The number of charter schools in Massachusetts could increase without limit under a ballot question that proponents will file today, putting a reticent Legislature on notice that inaction on expansion proposals could place the issue in voters’ hands. Charter school supporters intend to file the necessary paperwork by today’s deadline to officially launch the effort to repeal the state-imposed cap, which has left more than 20,000 students on waiting lists for available slots. The ballot question, if it meets legal criteria and gains the necessary signatures, would go before voters in the next statewide election in November 2010.

Private Schools

Private school tuition loophole exploited; Taxpayers help cover private school costs.” By James Salzer and Nancy Badertscher. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. August 9, 2009. A loophole in Georgia law is letting some kids in private schools get taxpayer-subsidized scholarships that were created to help children in struggling public schools. Some public school systems are reporting that private-school parents are showing up to fill out paperwork to enroll their kids in public schools solely to qualify for the scholarships. They say parents have told them their children have no intention of actually attending classes in the public school. But enrolling makes them eligible for the scholarship. Officials at two local private schools contacted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution acknowledged that some of their students are using the loophole to get scholarship money to cut their tuition costs.

Higher Education

Harvard Reduces Sports Travel as Ivys Cut Athletics to ‘Core’.” By Curtis Eichelberger. Bloomberg.com. August 5, 2009. The deepest recession in five decades may leave the Ivy League behind on the field. The economy is choking donations, battering endowments and threatening to eliminate some sports programs. The eight schools, which have educated 14 U.S. presidents and half of the 110 justices in Supreme Court history, have estimated endowment losses of as much as 35 percent this year. At Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sports travel budgets were reduced and the school closed the Malkin Athletic Center during most of the summer, according to a May 11 news release. The sports budget at Columbia University in New York was cut too. Yale within the past year started requiring the athletic department to raise 100 percent of the funding on any new projects before they will be approved.

INTERNATIONAL

GENERAL

Leadership Vacancy Raises Fears About USAID’s Future.” By Mary Beth Sheridan.
Washington Post. August 5, 2009. USAID, the main U.S. foreign aid agency and a major funder of development-related NGOs, is entering its seventh month without a permanent director despite pledges by the Obama administration to expand development assistance and improve its effectiveness in poor countries. The Obama administration inherited a foreign aid system starved of civilian experts and burdened by a bewildering array of mandates. USAID’s full-time staff shrank by 40 percent over the past two decades, but the assistance it oversees doubled, to $13.2 billion in 2008. The agency has a skeleton crew of technical experts, with four engineers for the entire world, Clinton noted recently. Increasingly, USAID has become a conduit for money flowing to contractors, who have limited supervision from the agency. As USAID has weakened, foreign assistance programs have proliferated across government agencies, especially the military, causing duplication and confusion. During his presidential campaign, Obama promised to double overall U.S. foreign assistance to $50 billion and build a “modern development agency.” His campaign literature said that “no single person . . . (is) responsible for directing and managing what should be one of our most powerful foreign policy tools.”

AUSTRALIA

Record runners step up for charity; Celebrity starters…Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Olympic swimmer Eamonn Sullivan.” By Heather Quinlan. Sydney Morning Herald. August 9, 2009. A record 75,000 people are taking part in today’s Sun-Herald City2Surf community run from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach. The huge field cements it as the world’s biggest foot race, eclipsing the New York and London marathons combined and putting it well ahead of the JPMorgan Corporate Challenge in Frankfurt, with 69,042 entries. The size of this year’s race has been matched by the generosity of participants and supporters, who have already helped raise almost $2 million for charity.

CHINA

Chinese cultural industry maintains growth via government-supported loans.” By Chen Yuxin and Li Huizi. Xinhua.net. August 4, 2009. A list of 15 cultural enterprises has been submitted to the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim) via the Ministry of Culture for a huge amount of bank loans to support development of China’s cultural industry. The programs include an acrobatic interpretation of the classic ballet “Swan Lake” by a Shanghai dancing company, a Shaolin martial arts drama by a film production group and a dance drama called “Dunhuang My Dreamland” by a troupe in northwestern Gansu Province’s Lanzhou which will be staged in Europe. The 15 enterprises are expected to receive China Exim’s first batch of loans totaling more than 4 billion yuan (588 million U.S. dollars). Cultural industries in China include production and distribution of cultural products and services such as publishing, music, television and film production as well as crafts and design.

Confucianism at large in Africa.” By Bright B. Simons. Asia Times. August 7, 2009. Under the sponsorship of The Hanban, the Chinese National Office for teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, “Confucius institutes” are being established around the world, including 19 in Africa, with four of these classified as “classrooms” in existing African universities, and another three in the offing. The plan is to have 500 Confucius institutes in operation by 2010. The Chinese government is currently spending $300 million annual on cultural cooperation initiatives.

INDIA

Schools can hike fee only with Govt consent.” By Dhananjay Mahapatra. Times of India. August 8, 2009. : In a major victory for parents resisting `arbitrary’ fee hikes by private unaided schools in the capital and a partial relief for the schools, the Supreme Court on Friday allowed school managements to increase fee but only with prior approval of Delhi government’s Director of Education. By tying the school fee structure, which has seen massive increase in the recent past, to DoE’s consent at the commencement of an academic year, the apex court said it wanted to protect parents from being fleeced in the name of capitation charges by greedy managements.

ISRAEL

Homeless Holocaust survivor leaves $100,000 gift.” By Jen Thomas. The Huffington Post. August 9, 2009. Hebrew University has received a surprise donation of more than $100,000 from an unexpected benefactor – a woman who survived the Nazi Holocaust and appeared to be destitute, a university official said Sunday. Upon her death two years ago, a homeless Holocaust survivor living on the streets of New York City willed the gift to the university. The 92 year old Jewish woman lived out of a shopping cart in Manhattan and had no known relatives.

UK

Social enterprise could bring in new era of public services.” By Allison Ogden-Newton. Guardian (UK). 8-3-09. In the face of government austerity, social enterprises are ready to offer a compelling alternative to public provision, heralding a new era of tailored, locally responsive public services in health, education, and social welfare.

Equality row reveals a deeper rift for Labour; The meltdown at the human rights quango is more than a bureaucratic squabble. It is about the future of the Centre Left.” By Rachel Sylvester. London Times. August 4, 2009. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, the quango responsible for promoting equality in the UK, is in meltdown after a mass exodus of senior figures complaining about the leadership of its chief executive, Trevor Phillips. The conflict within the agency is symbolic of a wider battle over the future of the Labour Party. There is profound disagreement within the commission about what is the correct strategy for trying to achieve greater equality. Traditional campaigners think that their job is to stand up to the Establishment on behalf of the oppressed group they represent. The modernisers — led by Mr Phillips — think that it is time to take a more positive approach. The first group wants the State to enforce a level playing field, with quotas for representation and fines for bodies that fail to achieve equality. They do not understand how their chief executive, Britain’s most prominent black campaigner, could say that multiculturalism has gone too far, claim that institutional racism is a meaningless phrase or oppose all-black shortlists for political parties. As one insider puts it: “The real battle is over world view, not leadership. It’s about whether you should be inculcating a sense of permanent victimhood or encouraging people to have aspiration instead.”

Oxfam shops set the pace in selling second-hand books; Charity is accused of taking away trade from professional booksellers.” By Steven Morris. Guardian (UK). August 4, 2009. Second-hand booksellers in the UK complain that the stores operated by the international charity Oxfam compete unfairly with their for-profit counterparts. They allege that the charity sells donated stock, receives 80% business rate reductions – as do other charities – and largely employs volunteers. The smaller running costs, they argue, allow it to undercut rivals. They say it is no surprise that Oxfam, which now has 130 specialist bookshops across the country, has become the biggest retailer of second-hand books in Europe.

Majority of privately educated applicants accepted into medical schools, study finds.
By Jessica Shepherd. Guardian (UK). August 5 2009. Medical students are far more likely to have gone to a private school than they were five years ago, statistics reveal. In 2004, 57% of applicants from private schools were accepted into medical schools in the UK, while 49% of applicants from state schools were accepted, according to the university admissions service Ucas. The figures come less than a month after a cross-party government report argued that family wealth and a private education remain the key to well-paid professions. Alan Milburn’s report, Unleashing Aspiration, accused the professional classes of a “closed-shop mentality”, which the former cabinet minister said made Britain one of the least socially mobile countries in Europe.

Secret mission to expose L. Ron Hubbard as a fake.” By Dominic Kennedy. London Times. August 6, 2009. The founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, was exposed as a fraud 30 years ago by British diplomats who were investigating his qualifications. Hubbard, who invented a religion now followed by celebrities such as Tom Cruise, awarded himself a PhD from a sham “diploma mill” college that he had acquired, the diplomats found. Such was the climate of fear and paranoia surrounding Scientology that the US believed the sect had sent bogus doctors to declare a high-ranking legal investigator mad and then taken his papers relating to the case. When Scientologists threatened to sue the British Government for libel after it acted in 1968 to ban followers from entering the country to visit the sect’s world headquarters, to defend itself, Britain needed to establish whether Lafayette Ron Hubbard was a charlatan — an allegation that was confirmed by an investigation of the California diploma mill that had issued Hubbard’s bogus academic credentials.
Related Story:
The battle for East Grinstead.” London Times. August 6, 2009.

Evangelical Christianity: It’s Glastonbury for God.” No by-line. The Independent (UK). August 6, 2009. Church of England pews may be empty, but the fields of Somerset are rocking with a series of evangelical festivals this summer. As the leaders of Britain’s more mainstream denominations scratch their heads and debate how to revitalise their congregations, evangelical Christianity in Britain is going from strength to strength. The number of evangelical churches in Britain has risen from 2047 to 2,719 since 1998 and their followers now make up 34 per cent of Anglicans, figures show. Nowhere is the strength of British evangelism more apparent than at the numerous summer festivals that have sprung up and attract tens of thousands of people every year.

Carers being denied access to funding; £150m allocated for breaks is not reaching carers, say charities.” By Anna Bawden. Guardian (UK). August 7, 2009. Carers are being denied access to tens of millions of pounds of funding, according to new research out today. Last year, the government announced £150m for primary care trusts (PCTS) in England to finance breaks for those caring for friends and family members. But many trusts are either unaware of the funding or claimed they had not received any money. Others said since respite care funding was not ring-fenced, it would be used for other priorities. Some trusts cited budget restrictions for not being able to make any funds available. Of 100 PCTs surveyed, 35 said they were not spending any money on carers’ services and 16 said they were spending only part of the funding on carers’ services. 26 said they were still deciding. Only six said they were spending the entire amount on respite care. Charities called on the government to issue more information and guidance to trusts and for PCTs to report on what they have done with their allocation and what services they are providing to meet the needs of carers.

Charities beg BBC to let George Alagiah stay as Fairtrade patron.” By Patrick Foster. London Times. August 8, 2009. Britain’s leading overseas aid charities have called on the BBC to reconsider its decision to order a leading newsreader to step down as patron of the Fairtrade Foundation. The corporation has been roundly criticised for its position, particularly as it coincided with a decision to allow Jay Hunt, the controller of BBC One, to continue as company secretary of her husband’s business, which is paid by the BBC to train presenters. One senior newsreader told The Times: “There’s been a lot of disquiet about it. Jay Hunt can stay on as a director of her husband’s company, which takes money from the BBC, but we can’t lend our support for free to a charity. It’s madness. There’s a degree of chaos about what’s going on.”

Quangos blow millions on ‘irrelevant’ celebs; Taxpayers are unknowingly footing the bill for countless ‘vanity projects’ with stars like Mylene Klass and Midge Ure; Myleene Klass has graced government campaigns at the taxpayers’ expense.” By Chris Hastings and Steven Swinford. London Times. August 9, 2009. Quangos have forked out millions of pounds to hire celebrities to host prize-giving ceremonies and make after-dinner speeches, even if they have no connection with the cause. Figures obtained by The Sunday Times under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that over the past three years some 40 quangos and government departments have hired more than 200 personalities to boost their profiles. In many cases the celebrities, paid up to £30,000 each, have little or nothing in common with the quangos or campaigns they represent. Some are BBC presenters who already receive a large salary from licence fee payers.

ZAMBIA

NGO Bill Still Inspires No Confidence.” By Kelvin Kachingwe. Inter Press Service News Agency. August 6, 2009. Civil society organizations (CSOs) have come out strongly to oppose the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Bill, which seeks to regulate their operations. The 2007 NGO Bill was withdrawn from Parliament by the government after civil society protested against it on the grounds that it was a draconian piece of legislature that could not facilitate any meaningful growth of the NGOs in the country. Among the controversial provisions of the bill is the proposal to give the minister discretionary powers to accept or reject nominations for NGO boards, empowering the government-dominated NGO Registration Board with far-reaching powers to approve the area of work for NGOs, issue policy guidelines on “harmonising” their efforts with the national development plan, and “advise” on strategies for efficient planning of activities, compulsory registration (which can be denied under a vague “public interest” standard), and compulsory submission of information regarding their activities, accounts and administration.

LAW & PUBLIC POLICY

Disturbing the Dead: Nation’s Cemeteries Desperate for Oversight, Experts Say Burr Oak Scandal Just the Latest Case of Burial Ground-Related Fraud.” By Justin Grant. ABC News. August 3, 2009. Consumer advocates are calling for stronger federal oversight of the U.S. cemetery industry after Illinois cemetery workers were accused last month of digging up hundreds of graves and dumping the remains so the burial plots could be resold. Members of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection met in Chicago last week and said they would likely propose new legislation to prevent similar cases from happening in the future.

“‘Minor hero,’ major questions; A defunct charity with nearly $1 million in forgotten assets. A handyman who says he wants to revive the organization and continue its good works. Volunteers who question his motives.” By Jeff Long. Chicago Tribune. August 4, 2009. When the last board member of the Lake County Humane Society died in 2003, the influence of the century-old organization that once fought poverty had long since faded. All that remained was its fortune. Few suspected that the defunct charity had an aging safe-deposit box in a Waukegan bank vault crammed with stocks or that there were other assets, totaling in all more than $1 million. Now, the Illinois attorney general’s office is investigating how a man who once mowed the lawn at the society’s ramshackle headquarters gained access to those assets. The society originally was incorporated in 1939 but has roots that go back decades earlier. In its heyday, the group distributed food, furniture and clothing to the needy of Waukegan and Lake County.

MUTUAL BENEFIT ORGANIZATIONS

Military officers’ clubs near extinction.” By Larry Copeland. USA Today. August 2, 2009. Just seven officers’ clubs remain on Army installations in the USA — down from about 100 in the late 1970s. The Marine Corps, which boasted dozens of officers’ clubs in the mid-1980s, has 10 left. The Air Force has nine, down from 27 in 2003, and the Navy is down to 20. Clubs are nearing extinction because of changing demographics of today’s armed forces; what the military calls the “deglamorization” of alcohol; economic realities; cultural shifts; and the availability of wider dining choices nearby.

PHILANTHROPY

“NBC’s Philandering Philanthropist: Where Is the Rest of the Story?” By Deborah Richardson. The Huffington Post. August 5, 2009. NBC’s “The Philanthropist,” modeled loosely after the real-life experiences of American entrepreneur Bobby Sager, who retired from a successful business to use his philanthropic resources and business acumen to change communities and lives of those around the world, chronicles the adventures of a wealthy, philandering businessman who jets around the world closing business deals while ministering to the “misfortunate” on the side. According to the reviewer, who is Chief Program Officer of the Women’s Funding Network, the show
“suffers from a misunderstanding of philanthropy and perpetuates the Global North’s stereotypes.”

RELIGION

Southern Baptists talk leadership change.” By Christopher Quinn. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. August 3, 2009. Southern Baptist leaders could remove the president of their North American Mission Board. In 2007, they hired Geoff Hammond to run the evangelism arm of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. He is overseen by a board of 57 members, including 21 executive committee members and 36 trustees. An e-mail from one trustee says some of the executive committee believe Hammond has not responded to direction from them, and morale at the agency is low. At the same time, conversions have dipped in recent years and the denomination has stopped growing.
Related Story:
Southern Baptist missions chief’s job reviewed; ‘cronyism’ a concern.USA Today. August 6, 2009.

U.S. Catholic sisters probed on doctrine, fidelity.” By Eric Gorski. USA Today/Associated Press. August 5, 2009. A Vatican-ordered investigation into Roman Catholic sisters in the U.S., shrouded in mystery when it was announced seven months ago, is shaping up to be a tough examination of whether women’s religious communities have strayed too far from church teaching. The study, called an apostolic visitation, casts a net beyond fidelity to church teaching, with questions also covering efforts to promote vocations and management of finances. The investigation is focused on members of women’s religious communities, or sisters. These are women who do social work, teach, work in hospitals and do other humanitarian work of the church. The investigation is not looking at cloistered communities, or nuns. Conservative Catholics, have long complained that the majority of sisters in the U.S. have grown too liberal and flout church teaching, taking provocative stands including advocating for female priests and challenging church teaching against abortion rights or gay marriage.

Cross purposes: Who are the Rosicrucians?” By Paul Vallely. The Independent (UK). August 6, 2009. This summer, two of the main Rosicrucian sects are celebrating their 100th anniversary. The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC) and The Rosicrucian Fellowship, both headquartered in California, claim more than 100,000 members worldwide.

LA priest’s mission: Saving flock from foreclosure.” By Christina Hoag. San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press. August 6, 2009. A priest’s typical mission is saving souls, but the Rev. John Lasseigne has a more down-to-earth goal — saving homes. That’s like trying to work a miracle in Lasseigne’s Roman Catholic parish of Pacoima, a blue-collar corner of the San Fernando Valley where bank sale signs sprout faster than weeds. One in nine homes is in default, making it one of the nation’s hardest hit towns in the foreclosure crisis.

At Home in the Houses of the Lord; Church Missions, Portfolios Embrace Residential Real Estate.” By Ovetta Wiggins. Washington Post. August 8, 2009. Washington area churches are purchasing properties and partnering with developers or builders to construct communities that can include subsidized units, full-price residences and even commercial space. Churches have a steady income from weekly donations to spend in a depressed real estate market and to qualify for financing. The churches say their goal is to diversify revenue streams so that, among other things, they can expand their community service projects to support growing congregations. And the developers can get tax benefits.

SCANDAL

Conn. priest: Bishop wanted to send me to the nuns.” By John Christofferson. Washington Post/Associated Press. August 3, 2009.” A former priest claims a bishop who played a leading national role in responding to the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal threatened to send him to live with nuns after he hired a private investigator to look into his pastor. The pastor, the Rev. Michael Jude Fay, later pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge and was sentenced to three years in prison for stealing more than $1 million from St. John Roman Catholic Church in Darien to support a luxurious lifestyle.

City Hall Broke Rules Funneling Money to Groups.” By Michael BArbaro and Ray Rivera. New York Times. August 4, 2009. For years, aides to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg routed hundreds of thousands of dollars in city money to at least two politically connected nonprofit groups in violation of government contracting rules. By law, the mayor’s office can give the money only if it has been requested by a City Council member or borough president, but in these two instances, records and interviews show, the money was given by the Bloomberg administration, then later attributed to a council member without his knowledge. Agudath Israel and Ohel provide services including career counseling and mental health care and are powerful institutions in the city’s Orthodox Jewish communities — political forces long courted by the mayor. The organizations have substantial ties to the Bloomberg administration: Mr. Bloomberg, since becoming mayor, has personally donated $200,000 to Agudath Israel, and a former top aide to the mayor is a lobbyist for Ohel.

Cemetery owner pleads guilty in trust fund case; Terms for owner’s repayment of more than $20M still undecided.” By Jon Murray. Indianapolis Star. August 4, 2009. Operators of the Indianapolis-based Memory Gardens Management Corp., which controls six Indiana cemeteries, stand accused of misappropriating $27 million in trusts funds intended for pre-paid burials and maintenance.

Sorority Mum On President’s Alleged Wrongdoings; Alpha Kappa Alpha President Barbara McKinzie is accused of grossly misspending money belonging to the nation’s oldest black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc.” By Natalie Moore. NPR. August 4, 2009. Members of the nation’s oldest black sorority have filed a lawsuit alleging the national leadership of Alpha Kappa Alpha is grossly misspending the organization’s money. Among the allegations in the lawsuit are that President Barbara McKinzie solicited a $375,000 salary for what has historically been an unpaid position; that she used an AKA credit card for jewelry, lingerie and designer clothing; and that she took out a $1 million life insurance policy. Founded in 1908 at Howard University and now has more than 250,000 members around the world.

Labor nonprofit’s consulting fees to officials investigated; Payments of $30,000 each to former L.A. Unified Board of Education members David Tokofsky and Jose Huizar, now an L.A. city councilman, are the focus of the federal probe.” By Howard Blume, Scott Glover and David Zahniser. Los Angeles Times. August 6, 2009. Federal investigators are examining whether a labor-affiliated nonprofit improperly funneled consulting fees to Los Angeles city officials. The inquiry is looking into payments of about $30,000 by Voter Improvement Program Inc., a nonprofit headed by former local labor leader Miguel Contreras, who died in 2005. Investigators want to determine if Contreras was, in effect, using the nonprofit as a slush fund to reward allies.

A little too cozy in Carmel? Complaint filed over panel’s ties to Performing Arts Foundation.” By Robert Annis, Heather Gillers and Tim Evans. Indianapolis Star. August 9, 2009. The Carmel Redevelopment Commission recently approved giving the Performing Arts Foundation $400,000 in taxpayer money so it can pay for, among other things, the salary of a new artistic director for the Performing Arts Center. But how much will he be paid? According to foundation Director Nancy Heck, it’s none of the public’s business — even though it’s public money paying that salary — because The Performing Arts Foundation is a nonprofit agency, and thus, Heck asserts, doesn’t have to immediately disclose how it’s spending public money. Using nonprofits as an extension of government has been an increasingly popular tactic since President Lyndon B. Johnson made them a staple of his war on poverty in the 1960s, said Leslie Lenkowsky, a clinical professor at IUPUI’s Center on Philanthropy. Even if a nonprofit is formed by city officials and funded by city money, Lenkowsky said, it typically isn’t constrained by the rules that govern cities. “It’s not the most open process,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong.”

VOLUNTEERING

Faith groups more likely to attract volunteers, report says.” By Lindsay Perna. USA Today. August 3, 2009. Faith-based organizations attract more volunteers than any other type of organization, according to a survey by the Corporation for National and Community Service. More than one-third of the country’s almost 62 million volunteers served through religious organizations last year. “Religious organizations are a key source of potential volunteers for nonprofit organizations,” said Nicola Goren, the corporation’s chief executive officer. “Nonprofits looking to expand their reach and impact may find it beneficial to work more closely with religious organizations in their communities, especially in these tough economic times.”