Archive for August, 2009

MAJOR STORIES (AUGUST 24 – 30, 2009)

Monday, August 31st, 2009

ARTS & CULTURE

Allocation of Arts Funds Is Working, Office Says.” By Robin Pogrebin. New York Times. August 28, 2009. A change in the way New York City allocates funds to arts organizations has helped level the playing field, according to a report the New York City Independent Budget Office issued on Wednesday. The Department of Cultural Affairs adopted a peer-review system intended to award grants competitively and give larger organizations more fiscal stability by providing them with multiyear awards. The department “generally achieved these goals,” the budget office said. In fiscal year 2007, before the change, 884 groups applied for financing and 780 received awards, according to the budget office survey. Groups that once had individual line items in the city budget got $17.2 million; others got $6.3 million. In fiscal year 2009, 1,084 groups applied, and 882 received awards, with that first set of groups getting $14.7 million and the allocation to the others more than doubling, to $14.3 million.

EDUCATION

GENERAL

Who Speaks Best for Matthew? Legal Fight Over Payment for Tutoring Fairfax Special-Ed Student Illustrates Growing Trend.” By Michael Alison Chandler. Washington Post. August 30, 2009. The outcome of litigation over public school system’s legal obligation to pay for special education for disabled students will have significant implications for nonprofits, many of which provide these services. Schools are required by federal law to provide a free and appropriate education for the country’s more than 6 million special education students. About 1,100 special education cases were reported in state or federal courts from 2000 through March, up more than 50 percent from the 700 decisions issued in the 1990s, said Perry A. Zirkel, a professor of law and education at Lehigh University who tracks such litigation. Cases are concentrated in a few parts of the country, where parents have high expectations and deep pockets.

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Vote could open 250 L.A. schools to outside operators; Backers of the Board of Education decision tout choice and competition. Foes call the move illegal, illogical and improper.” By Howard Blume and Jason Song. Los Angeles Times. August 25, 2009. The Los Angeles Board of Education voted to adopt a resolution that could turn a third of its schools over to private operators. The proposal was approved on a 6-to-1 vote after a contentious three-and-a-half-hour public hearing and board debate.
Related stories:
California: Privatization of Public Schools.” New York Times/Associated Press. August 26, 2009.
L.A. school board OKs school choice plan with private operators.” Los Angeles Times. August 26, 2009.

To Survive, a Catholic School at Newark Abbey Makes Way for a Rival.” By Winnie Hu. New York Times. August 28, 2009. St. Mary’s, a parochial school operated at a Benedictine monastery in Newark, has been closed to make way for a nonreligious charter school, the Robert Treat Academy. The arrangement generates $150,000 a year in rent for the Newark Abbey, which also operates a Roman Catholic high school for boys, St. Benedict’s Preparatory, and underpins a more ambitious plan to share not just space but also resources. Robert Treat is proposing that its students be allowed to use a swimming pool and field house on the grounds and have future access to St. Benedict’s Latin and advanced math teachers, and is envisioning sending more of its eighth-grade graduates to St. Benedict’s. Such collaboration between Catholic and charter schools is unusual, because Catholic leaders have long viewed charter schools, which are publicly financed and independently run, as competing for the same students. Some Catholic officials even contend that charter schools masquerade as Catholic schools because they offer the traditional hallmarks of a Catholic education — strict discipline, uniforms, specialized programs and character education — but without charging tuition.

High marks for New Orleans’ charter schools.” By Rick Jervis. USA Today. August 26, 2009. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina four years ago brought with it many changes for this city, but perhaps its most enduring mark may be the new charter school system that came cascading in during the storm’s aftermath.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Harvard Endowment Regroups; Facing 30% Loss, Investment Chief Seeks to Manage More Money Internally.” By Craig Karmin. Wall Street Journal. August 24, 2009. The keys to Harvard’s new financial strategy strategy is reducing holdings in hedge funds, private-equity firms and other money managers in order to bring more money under the purview of its internal investing staff. Harvard’s shift is the latest example of an elite school trying to regroup after a year when the strategy of investing in hard-to-sell assets like private equity backfired. Harvard recently borrowed $1.5 billion in taxable debt, while the University of Chicago last year sold $600 million in stocks to reduce risk and volatility. Harvard faces the same problem as some other private universities: too great a commitment to illiquid holdings. It has projected a negative return of as much as 30% for the fiscal year that ended in June, roughly in line with its Ivy League peers, though recent market rallies may improve results. Because of Harvard’s investment losses and the economic downturn, the university froze faculty salaries, slowed campus expansion plans and enacted other cutbacks. The school, which counted on the endowment for 34% of its budget, will also have to make do with a smaller contribution from the fund. The budget will receive 8% less from the endowment in the current fiscal year, and 12% for the following fiscal year.

Holy cow! Bovine to visit Harvard Yard; Religion scholar to exercise traditional grazing rights with ‘Pride’.” By Sam Allis. Boston Globe. August 30, 2009. Harvey Cox, the celebrated Harvard religion professor, was the Hollis Professor of Divinity until his recent retirement this past June after 44 distinguished years at Harvard. The Hollis chair, endowed in 1721, is the oldest endowed chair in American higher education. The chair traditionally came with grazing rights in Harvard Yard for the cows of chair holders. During the late afternoon of Sept. 10, Cox will do the same and bring a Jersey cow named “Faith’’ from The Farm School in Athol into the yard to graze. The cow’s name is really “Pride,’’ but as that is first among the seven deadly sins, she will go by “Faith’’ for the day to occasion his retirement from teaching and the release of his new book – wouldn’t you know it – “The Future of Faith.’’

GOVERNANCE

Leadership House Call: Leading a Dysfunctional Family Foundation.“: No by-line. Washington Post. August 26, 2009. A newly appointed executive director for a medium-sized family foundation, and asks how to make meaningful changes to the foundation’s antiquated programs in the face of old patterns and the founding family’s dysfunctional dynamic.

HEALTH CARE

Cooperatives’ Record Is Up for Debate; Some Herald Them as Cure for Health Care; Others Question Their Power, Costs.” By Steven Mufson. Washington Post. August 27, 2009. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a pivotal lawmaker in the health-care debate, wants to deliver coverage to the uninsured by starting up new cooperatives modeled on rural electric cooperatives that were founded during the Great Depression. Nonprofit organizations owned by their customers, rural electric cooperatives — date back to 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Rural Electrification Administration to bring power to poor and remote farm areas. But rural electric cooperatives have a mixed track record, experts say. They brought electricity to millions of rural Americans who lacked it in the 1930s and today serve about 14 percent of Americans. But after 75 years, the rural electric cooperatives still rely heavily on federal credit subsidies, have weak balance sheets and, some studies suggest, operate less efficiently than privately-owned utilities. Over the past three years, some rural electric cooperatives have also come under criticism for excessive payments to executives and for promoting obsolete technologies. According to critics, health care cooperatives would require close regulation to avoid many of the problems he says afflict rural electric co-ops.
Related stories:
Health co-ops’ fans like cost and care; But successful models still rare nationwide.Boston Globe. August 19, 2009.
Health Co-Ops Touted As Alternative To Public Plan.” NPR. August 17, 2009.
Key Blue Dog Democrat Pushes Health Insurance Co-ops.” NPR. August 17, 2009.
Health co-ops have checkered history.Oregonian/Associated Press. August 17, 2009.
Compromise Co-Op Proposal Won’t Lower Costs, Government Study Showed.” Huffington Post. August 17, 2009.
Health Co-ops: Slow Road to Government Care.Wall Street Journal. August 20, 2009.
Health ‘Co-ops’ Are Government Care.” By Michael O. Leavitt. Wall Street Journal. August 21, 2009.
Northwest HMOs cited as alternatives to a government-run health plan.Oregonian. August 22, 2009.

St. Anne’s Hospital, Fall River, to ally with Dana-Farber Institute to provide oncology services.” By Robert Weisman. Boston Globe. August 28, 2009. Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River is set to disclose today that it has struck an agreement to allow Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to provide oncology care at Saint Anne’s. A memo of understanding between Dana-Farber and Saint Anne’s, a community hospital owned by Caritas Christi Health Care, is the latest example of Boston health care providers moving outside the city to offer care in partnership or in competition with local institutions.


HUMAN SERVICES

Cutbacks pinch homeless programs.” By Wendy Koch. USA Today. August 24, 2009. All but a handful of states are facing deep shortfalls in their fiscal 2010 budgets and federal stimulus funding will fill only part of the gap, say service providers.

Movie Fund Set to Close Housing Unit for the Aged.” By Michael Cieply. New York Times. August 26, 2009. Residents of a long-term-care unit and associated hospital in the San Fernando Valley — an operation that has tended generations of elderly movie stars, character actors, directors, crew members and others, along with their dependents — received word from the site’s operator, the Motion Picture and Television Fund, that it would go ahead with plans to close the two by year’s end. Relatively small hospital-residential facilities like that operated by the fund are being squeezed rising costs, diminishing support, and a growing tendency among the elderly to remain at home as long as possible. The fund, long regarded as Hollywood’s favorite charity, said it could not afford to operate the 150-bed hospital and care center without endangering its other assisted-living and health care operations. Those serve about 60,000 people. Legal action may help sort through claims that have turned the dispute into a crucible for debate about the sustainability of premium care for an aging population and about whether Hollywood’s wealthiest power brokers are turning their backs on their own during hard economic times.

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Rudd’s $26b funding gift to private schools.” By Anna Patty. Sydney Morning Herald. August 24, 2009. The Rudd Government will deliver an estimated 32 per cent increase in funding to private schools, raising their national windfall to more than $26.2 billion over the next four years, new analysis shows. Despite a federal Department of Education review which uncovered entrenched ”inequities” in the system, Kevin Rudd has remained committed to maintaining the Howard government’s controversial funding arrangements for private schools until 2012. Annual reports reveal Sydney’s wealthiest schools make annual surpluses of up to $3.6 million after generating as much as $28 million in tuition fees and $8 million in donations. Many have also been given $3 million from the Federal Government’s $14.7 billion primary school building program. Nationwide, government figures show that 1.6 million homeless people received shelter last year, largely unchanged from 2007, but the number of families increased 9% to 517,000.

BURMA/MYANMAR

Strategies of Dissent Evolving in Burma; Activists Find Political Breathing Room in Humanitarian Nonprofit Groups.” No By-line. Washington Post. August 24, 2009. Many Burmese have adopted a new strategy that they say takes advantage of small political openings to push for greater freedoms by distributing aid, teaching courses on civic engagement and quietly learning to govern. Ad hoc groups have developed informal nonprofit organizations, meeting regularly, volunteering in villages, and securing funding from foreign nonprofit agencies. To avoid having their activities labeled as activism, the groups negotiate with the authorities for access to the villages, often with the help of local Buddhist monasteries. Such groups have also allowed urbanites to network in ways previously inconceivable.

CHINA

Journalists’ Arrests Hamper Aid Groups.” By Gordon Fairclough and Jay Solomon. Wall Street Journal. August 24, 2009. Christian aid groups say the high-profile arrest in March of two American journalists for illegally crossing into North Korea from China has made it more difficult to help the people the women went to report about: North Koreans who have escaped to China. The Durihana Association said that one of its missionaries has been expelled from China and its program caring for children of North Korean refugees has been shut down.
Since last year, aid groups say that security on both sides of the border has grown tighter and North Koreans and those helping them have been pushed further underground.

UK

As the government today announces its package of support for charities hit by the economic crisis, the third sector minister tells Anna Bawden why talk of possible electoral defeat won’t dent her enthusiasm for action.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). August 26, 2009. Angela Smith is a popular choice as minister for the voluntary sector. She is something of a ministerial rarity. Whereas many ministers have been responsible for policy about which they have had little or no professional experience, the third sector minister is almost over-qualified for the job. Before becoming an MP, Smith spent 12 years at the League Against Cruel Sports, initially as a campaigner and then as the head of politics and public relations. In fact, Smith says, her whole life has been influenced by voluntary organizations.

Policing protest; An ever-bigger tent; The Climate Camp demonstration has become as much about the right to protest as it is about the environment.” No by-line. Economist (UK). August 27, 2009.

Philanthropic hedonism and cool charity parties; Love a good time as well as a good cause? Meet the DJs, celebs, bands and fundraisers sexing up fund-raising events.” No by-line. Times of London. August 30, 2009. Parading under the title “party”, they rarely deliver what is technically known as a good time. Now a new generation of “philanthropic hedonists” are throwing flamboyant, wild parties for worthy causes.

Oxford University dragged into Indian land-grab row.” No by-line. Times of London. August 30, 2009. Oxford University has become embroiled in a human rights row that has hit plans for its first overseas outpost in a new town in wooded hills 125 miles southeast of Mumbai. The Indian developers of the 12,500-acre Lavasa site have been accused of intimidating indigenous farmers into selling their land and of pressing them to accept rock-bottom prices. They have also been accused of worsening deforestation by cutting down millions of trees. Oxford plans to offer courses for Indian executives in an education centre in Lavasa, a privately managed city modelled on hill stations built by the British when they ruled India. The Girls’ Day Schools Trust, a private education chain, will establish a boarding school there. The controversy highlights the potential pitfalls of the commercial strategy pursued by universities of opening campuses abroad.

Hansel and Gretel open a refuge for lost souls.” No by-line. Times of London. August 29, 2009. Despairing of today’s easy acts of charity, a writer and his wife have sold their home and bought a wood to serve as a sanctuary for people in crisis. It is modeled on the Pilsdon Community, a farm where 25 or 30 people live together to work the land and reflect on their lives. Established half a century ago, it was inspired by Nicholas Ferrar’s 17th-century community at Little Gidding in Cambridgeshire and on the radical monasticism of the early Christian church. Pilsdon welcomes all-comers: returning soldiers, the bereaved, tearaway teenagers, recovering alcoholics or drug addicts, single parents, those facing marital or mental breakdown, recently released prisoners with nowhere to go, hard-up pensioners, refugees, wayfarers and others.

LAW & REGULATION

Supreme Court ruling unfavorable to Conn. diocese.” By John Christofferson.
Washington Post/Associated Press. August 25, 2009. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against a Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut, saying that thousands of documents generated by lawsuits against six priests for alleged sexual abuse cannot remain sealed. The records have been under seal since the diocese settled the cases in 2001. They could provide details on how retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan handled the allegations when he was bishop in Bridgeport from 1988 to 2000. The suit against the church was brought by three newspapers, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post.

LEISURE & RECREATION

Nonprofit seeks control of Will Rogers State Historic Park; A foundation dedicated to the ranch wants to work with the state to preserve the memorial, saying California’s financial troubles are jeopardizing the park’s maintenance.”
By Martha Groves. Los Angeles Times. August 28, 2009.

PHILANTHROPY

Life lessons: From one Gates to another.” By Marco R. della Cava. USA Today. August 27, 2009. Profile of Bill Gate and his father.

RELIGION & FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS

“U.S. Nuns: Pawns or Queens?” No by-line. Washington Post. August 26, 2009. The Vatican has launched an investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in the United States and its members. there are two interventions directed by the Vatican. One is called an “Apostolic Visitation” that is intended to report back to Rome on the faithfulness of all the sisters in following the rule of life that governs their institutions. It was ordered in January of 2009 by Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rodé, who heads the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The other dates from February 2009 under the direction of American Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This investigation is supposed to assess the doctrinal purity of only the LCWR. (No one is investigating the conservative association of sisters called the “Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious”). The stakes are high. There are 400 groups of sisters in the United States, counting approximately 59,000 women religious. Many parishes depend on these consecrated religious women to direct ministries as varied as religious education, liturgy, and social services.. The current U.S. Catholic Church could not function today without these religious women who are involved in active apostolates.
Related stories:
Catholic sisters under Vatican review want answers.” No by-line. USA Today. August 18, 2009.
America’s Nuns Suspicious Of Vatican Probes.” By Barbara Bradley Hagerty. Morning Edition/National Public Radio. August 21, 2009

Conservative Christians say U.S. health care system ‘is working’.” By Kristen May. USA Today/ Religion News Service. August 26, 2009. Conservative Christian groups have ramped up their opposition to health care reform, saying the current system “has problems” but “it is working.” Members of the newly formed Freedom Federation, comprised of some of the largest conservative religious groups in the country, say they oppose taxpayer-supported abortion, rationed health care for the elderly and government control of personal health decisions. The groups are particularly concerned about sanctity of life issues, including abortion and end-of-life counseling.

Shotgun Adoption.” By Kathryn Joyce. The Nation. August 26, 2009. Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), the nonprofit pregnancy-testing facilities set up by antiabortion groups to dissuade women from having abortions, have become fixtures of the antiabortion landscape, buttressed by an estimated $60 million in federal abstinence and marriage-promotion funds. The National Abortion Federation estimates that as many as 4,000 CPCs operate in the United States, often using deceptive tactics like posing as abortion providers and showing women graphic antiabortion films. While there is growing awareness of how CPCs hinder abortion access, the centers have a broader agenda that is less well known: they seek not only to induce women to “choose life” but to choose adoption, either by offering adoption services themselves, as in Bethany’s case, or by referring women to Christian adoption agencies. Far more than other adoption agencies, conservative Christian agencies demonstrate a pattern and history of coercing women to relinquish their children.

Iraq violence puts off plan for Shiite seminary to train Westerners.” By David Grant. USA Today/Associated Press. As Muslims try to establish communities in the West, they have been struggling with how they can educate Western-born imams to fill a leadership vacuum in local mosques. A family of prominent American Shiite scholars, the Qazwinis, began building a seminary in Karbala, but violence has delayed its completion. The founders hope to open the institution in 2010.

Some Roman Catholic Bishops Assail Health Plan.” By David D. Kirkpatrick. New York Times. August 28, 2009. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been lobbying for three decades for the federal government to provide universal health insurance, especially for the poor. Now, as President Obama tries to rally Roman Catholics and other religious voters around his proposals to do just that, a growing number of bishops are speaking out against it. some leaders of the conference, like Cardinal Justin Rigali, have concluded that Democrats’ efforts to carve out abortion coverage are so inadequate that lawmakers should block the entire effort. Others, echoing the popular alarms about “rationing,” contend that the proposals could put a premium on efficacy that could penalize the chronically ill.

MAJOR STORIES (August 17 – 23, 2009)

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

ADVOCACY

“FreedomWorks not free: $10K to participate in D.C. tea party march.” No by-line. Politico.com. August 18, 2009. FreedomWorks, which is chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, is charging other groups a minimum of $10,000 for the right to distribute material to the activists gathered for the march, and to attach their own names to the event. The group has raised its rates from an initial fee schedule, which would put a group’s name on the website for free, and would allow it to distribute materials for $2,500. Groups can also pay to have a speaker address a rally and workshops, with $10,000 securing a prime Saturday afternoon speaking slot.

“D.C.’s astroturf home field.” By Ben Smith. Politico.com. August 21, 2009. The on-going health care debate, which has well-financed conservative groups battling well-financed unions to get their members to the head of the line at the town halls of hapless members of Congress, has highlighted the growing role of “astroturf” movements. The term was coined in the 1980s to describe fake “grassroots” efforts, but now “grassroots” and “issue campaigns” are themselves just the names for a product lines at dozens of major political consulting firms.

“Grass-Roots Battle Tests The Obama Movement; His Supporters Play Catch-Up on Reform.” By Eli Saslow. Washington Post. August 23, 2009. Obama’s campaign ethos asserted that grass-roots support can power government and shape legislation. The theory that now faces a defining test as conservatives wage an angry and effective battle against Obama’s health-care legislation. Organizing for America, a pillar of the Obama campaign, has responded by asking its volunteers to visit congressional offices and flood town hall meetings in a massive show of support.

ARTS & CULTURE

“Seattle Theater Takes No-Frills Approach to Filling a Top Job.” By Patrick Healy. New York Times. August 17, 2009. When the esteemed Intiman Theater here needed to hire a new managing director last year, the trustees went the route that most major nonprofit theaters take: spending about $50,000 on a national search, retaining consultants and an interim managing director, and devoting countless hours to discussions of the candidates. But soon after, the trustees decided to try something different when they had to find a successor for their artistic director. The trustees skipped an expensive search and instead relied on the managing director’s assessment of directing talent around the country. . Like many corporations, universities and other organizations, major theaters have found that succession planning has the potential be a messy business. Consultant-driven searches can take a year or more; boards can descend into squabbling; and donors, foundations and subscribers often pause in their support until a new artistic director has arrived — or wait even longer, to judge the successor’s taste and style. Forgoing a typical search has its drawbacks. Organizations can learn about themselves through such a process, and the Intiman trustees proceeded without an outside analysis of the theater’s artistic strengths and weaknesses or a list of independently vetted candidates.

“Stratford Struggles With Its House of Shakespeare.” By Jan Ellen Spiegel. New York Times. August 23, 2009. For 30 years beginning in 1955, this community of 50,000 and its theater were central to the production of Shakespeare in America. But today, the legacy of what the theater once was is running headlong into the reality of what it should become. Like many Shakespearean tragedies, it is playing out against a backdrop of competing political and cultural agendas and disruptive natural forces. The theater’s serene setting belies the discord that has roiled for decades over one main question: not “to be or not to be,” but “what to be.”

CHARITY

“IUPUI team doles out 2,000 pairs of shoes.” By Jeff Rabjohns. Indianapolis Star. August 20, 2009. The IUPUI men’s basketball team distributed about 2,000 pairs of shoes during its recent trip to Costa Rica. Ron Hunter, whose barefoot coaching has started a grassroots groundswell in basketball circles toward helping impoverished nations receive free shoes, organized the trip.

CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY

“And Now, an Exhibition From Our Sponsor.” By Robin Pogrebin. New York Times. August 23, 2009. Since the 1960s, when Chase Manhattan Bank assembled one of the first major corporate art collections under the guidance of its president, David Rockefeller, banks and other large companies have been acquiring fine art as a way to give their offices a cultured, dignified aura. Over time many companies have expanded these collections — with in-house curators to oversee them — and lent works to museums and other exhibition spaces, mostly for marketing reasons. But a few corporations, including JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and UBS, have occasionally gone a step further, lending out complete shows. And Bank of America has lately gone further still, creating a roster of ready-made shows that it provides to museums at a nominal cost to them— essentially turnkey exhibitions. Traditionally museums have been loath to allow the sponsors of an exhibition a significant role in curatorial decision making — particularly when the sponsor is a corporation, given the potential taint of commercialization and artistic compromise. And most major museums still draw the line there.

EDUCATION

GENERAL

L.A. school district benefactor puts her money where her heart is; Melanie Lundquist of Palos Verdes Estates is optimistic that her promise to write a $5-million check each of the next 10 years will result in wider school reforms nationally.” By Steve Lopez. Los Angeles Times. August 21, 2009.

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Dangling Money, Obama Pushes Education Shift.” By Sam Dillon. New York Times. August 17, 2009. Holding out billions of dollars as a potential windfall, the Obama administration is persuading state after state to rewrite education laws to open the door to more charter schools and expand the use of student test scores for judging teachers.
That aggressive use of economic stimulus money by Education Secretary Arne Duncan is provoking heated debates over the uses of standardized testing and the proper federal role in education. The administration’s stance has caught by surprise educators and officials who had hoped that Mr. Obama’s calls during the campaign for an overhaul of the No Child law would mean a reduced federal role and less reliance on standardized testing.

Gates Foundation seeks education’s magic pill.” By Donna Gordon Blackenship. San Jose Mercury-News/Associated Press. August 19, 2009. After spending nine years and $2 billion to improve America’s public schools, the William and Melinda Gates Foundation is turning its focus to teacher effectiveness. Over the next five years, the foundation plans to spend another half a billion dollars in its quest to figure out what qualities make the best teachers and how to measure those qualities in the classroom. The project has two parts: research to develop and test methods to rate teachers and experiments at a handful of school districts around the nation to try out new ways of recruiting, training, assigning and assessing teachers.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

New admissions policy upsets many Verbum Dei alumni; The Catholic school in Watts now accepts only low-income students, leaving no room for legacy admissions.” By Carla Rivera. Los Angeles Times. August 19, 2009. Because Verbum Dei High School, an all-boys Catholic campus with a long tradition as an athletic powerhouse, is now dedicated to serving only poor students, .many middle class applicants, including sons of alumni, cannot gain admission because their family incomes are too high. A decade ago, In 2000, Verbum Dei was cash-strapped and struggling with low enrollment. Then a Jesuits to take over, engineered by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony linked Verbum Dei with the Cristo Rey Network of Catholic schools, which provides a college preparatory experience for disadvantaged urban teenagers. Students participate in a work-study program that finances part of their education, which school officials say averages about $13,000 per pupil. Annual tuition and fees are about $2,900; the difference is made up through grants and fundraising. The Cristo Rey model was first launched in 1996 at a Chicago high school. Other schools began adopting it in 2001, and there are now 22 campuses nationwide. Two new schools, in San Francisco and Houston, are scheduled to open in the fall. Ninety-nine percent of the program’s graduates go on to college.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Ivy League Schools Learn A Lesson in Liquidity.” By James B. Stewart. Wall Street Journal. August 19, 2009. Just a year ago, in the midst of the subprime meltdown, many of the nation’s top universities and colleges were reporting significant gains. This year, the University of Pennsylvania is being hailed for Ivy League-leading results—with a decline of 15.7% for its fiscal year ended in June; Harvard University is expecting a drop of 30%, and Yale about 25%. These are staggering losses in absolute terms—many billions in the case of both Harvard and Yale. In the past year, many endowment managers learned the true meaning of “illiquid”: the exits for most private equity and venture-capital funds slammed shut; existing positions yielded no cash flow even as investment partnerships made new demands for funding; many investors were forced to sell their liquid investments into weak markets to fund cash needs and to meet prior commitments to investment funds. Asset allocations went wildly out of balance, overweighted to illiquid partnerships as the value of equities plunged. Liquidity turned out to be the Achilles’ heel of the Ivy League model.

College Try: Chicago’s Stock Sale; How the University’s Unloading of $600 Million in Shares Divided Its Managers.” By Craig Karmin. Wall Street Journal. August 21, 2009. In the wake of sharp declines in the value of university assets, a struggle has broken out among the overseers of the nation’s 10th-largest university endowment. Amid last fall’s market turmoil, the committee argued over whether their portfolio’s assets, $6.6 billion in June 2008 but falling fast, were too risky and volatile. The endowment’s managers staged a $600 million share selloff to buy safer instruments, an unusually abrupt no-confidence vote in its portfolio model. Though reluctant to discuss their money-management strategies, many universities appear to have considered moving to more conservative investments

HEALTH CARE

Health co-ops’ fans like cost and care; But successful models still rare nationwide.” By Michael Kranish. Boston Globe. August 19, 2009. A collection of little-known insurance cooperatives around the country is winning attention as being key to a possible health reform compromise in Washington, but while some of their practices have cut costs and serve as models for change, big questions remain about their ability to transform American health care. There are only a few large health cooperatives in the country. Typically, they combine a health insurance plan with networks of doctors and hospitals. Unlike most private insurance plans or HMOs, they are mutual plans, owned and overseen by patients through a board of trustees. They maintain slim margins, using leftover funds to expand treatment or lower premiums. In cooperatives, physicians work closely with patients to explore alternatives before rushing into costly tests and surgery. Doctors are paid salaries instead of getting compensated for every service or procedure they provide, eliminating the financial incentive to provide lots of expensive care.
Related stories:
Health Co-Ops Touted As Alternative To Public Plan.” NPR. August 17, 2009.
Key Blue Dog Democrat Pushes Health Insurance Co-ops.” NPR. August 17, 2009.
Health co-ops have checkered history.” Oregonian/Associated Press. August 17, 2009.
Compromise Co-Op Proposal Won’t Lower Costs, Government Study Showed.” Huffington Post. August 17, 2009.
Health Co-ops: Slow Road to Government Care.Wall Street Journal. August 20, 2009.
Health ‘Co-ops’ Are Government Care.” By Michael O. Leavitt. Wall Street Journal. August 21, 2009.
Northwest HMOs cited as alternatives to a government-run health plan.” Oregonian. August 22, 2009.

GOVERNANCE

Four Tips for Building Accountability.” By Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Bloomberg.com. August 19, 2009. “Accountability” is a favorite word to invoke when the lack of it has become so apparent – such as now, with the global financial crisis. It is also a loaded word and political football in major sectors crying out for reform, such as health care and public education. Who should get what data? What should be measured or tested, and what should be done with the data? What factors should be part of outcome measurement?

HUMAN SERVICES

With Donations and Grants Down, Social Service Agencies Feel the Pinch.” By Diane Cardwell. New York Times. August 22, 2009. Across New York City, nonprofit groups that provide social services to New Yorkers are reeling, trying to fulfill their core missions as demand for those services rises and their ability to provide them shrinks. With government, foundation and individual grants down by as much as 50 percent, agencies are trimming and delaying programs and cutting staff, in essence contributing to the very problems they exist to fix. According to one survey, more than half of the city’s nonprofit social service providers, saw some reduction in government financing in the last fiscal year, with more than a quarter losing an entire contract. The survey also found that 80 percent of the respondents lost private financing, and that 73 percent had no reserves like endowments or lines of credit.

INTERNATIONAL

GENERAL

Interview: From microfinance to social shake-up.” By Marwaan Macan-Markar. Asia Times. August 22, 2009. Interview of Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, founder of the microfinance pioneer, the Grameen Bank.

AUSTRALIA

Private school parents put tables low on list.” By Anna Patty. Sydney Morning Herald. August 19, 2009. Parents of children at private schools say they are not as interested in school performance as the Federal Government claims they are. Parents are more interested in the happiness, safety and social development of their children, says a position statement being drafted by the Australian Parents Council, a national federation of organisations representing parents of non-government school students. The council’s executive director, Ian Dalton, said parents ranked happiness and safety way ahead of student results in public tests.

CHILE

The Environmental Fight Starts in Your Neighbourhood.” By Daniela Estrada. Inter Press Service News Agency. August 23, 2009. An ecobarrio (eco-neighborhood) is a place where people voluntarily join forces to revamp human relations and take ownership of public space in order to improve the environment and quality of life. A working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital, which stood united against the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s and 1980s is today doing so against climate change, is launching the country’s first “ecobarrio” project. The Ceibo Centre and the Cuatro Álamos Neighbourhood Council are working with other organizations, like the Union of Maipú Women, to transform the neighborhood. Citizen participation occurs at various levels, said Márquez. Some collaborate directly in specific efforts, while others only take part by voting. But the majority participates in recycling.

CHINA

Asian countries seeking ways for cultural development as crisis lingers.” No by-line. Xinhua.net. August 18, 2009. The development of Asian culture during the present global downturn is the focus of a ministerial round-table meeting involving 17 countries, a major part of the 11th Asian Arts Festival, which began Tuesday in Ordos of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. China’s minister of culture said that many cultural projects in Asian countries had to be cancelled or suspended due to shortage of funds as a great deal of social funding had been diverted to bolster the economic sector to weather the financial crisis. Companies and organizations were reluctant to commit to cultural investments. He said the downturn had also caused a drop in demand for culture and associated activities. “Bankers who lost their jobs are no longer seen at art auctions, and those who are worried about the future won’t go to an opera.”

Overseas Chinese in London collect money for Taiwan victims.” By Wang Yahong. Xinhuanet.com. August 19, 2009. Overseas Chinese groups in London gathered in London’s Chinatown for a donation raising for the people affected by typhoon Morakot in southeast China’s Taiwan Province. The Chinese mainland has donated about 176 million yuan (26 million U.S. dollars) and disaster relief materials worth 25 million yuan to Taiwan, which was hit by typhoon Morakot.
Related Story:
Mainland fundraiser raises 310 mln yuan for Taiwan typhoon victims.” Xinhua.net. August 21, 2009.

JAPAN

Kanji foundation to file for damages.” No by-line. Asahi Shimbum. August 19, 2009.
The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation here said Tuesday it will file a damages compensation suit against its former chief director, his son and their four family-owned companies, who have been indicted for breach of trust for transferring the assets of the public-interest entity to those family companies. In July, the foundation demanded the Okubos and the companies pay 2.7 billion yen.

NIGERIA

Nigerian police raid sect premises; The latest crackdown came weeks after Boko Haram violence killed about 800 people.” No by-line. Aljzeera.net. August 20, 2009. Nigerian police have detained hundreds of people belonging to an Islamic community in the state of Niger. The arrests came weeks after a radical sect killed almost 800 people in the north of the country. The sect had established an exclusive settlement because of their concerns about corruption, drunkenness, and prostitution in the larger society. Local media said as many as 3,000 people were believed to live in Darul Islam community.

PARAGUAY

RIGHTS-PARAGUAY: NGO Offers Girls a Way Out of Sexual Exploitation.” By Natalia Ruiz Díaz. Inter Press Service News Agency. August 18, 2009. Luna Nueva (New Moon) is a non-governmental organization that runs a comprehensive care program for girls and adolescents victims of sexual exploitation that works both from its La Casa centre and through outreach activities conducted in the streets and brothels of Asunción. The NGO has a team which goes out into the streets to identify girls and adolescents in situations of social risk. What it offers these girls is what they call a ‘multistage journey back to life,’ which takes about three years and is divided into five stages: welcome, integration, exploration, life plans and training for life. The rescued girls are offered the possibility of living at the centre – even bringing their children with them, in the case of young mothers – or of continuing in the programme as external participants. The only requirement is that they get out of the sex trade. In exchange, they receive psychological counselling, are incorporated into some form of work and participate in activities that encourage them to express themselves. There are no official figures on the number of underage female victims of the sex trade in Paraguay, but a 2005 special report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that in Paraguay, two out of three sex workers are underage girls.

UK

Tory council plan to fund private schools.” By Andrew Grice. The Independent (UK). August 19, 2009. The leader of the Tories was embarrassed yesterday when a Conservative-controlled council admitted it was considering plans to subsidize the tuitions for children attending private schools if their parents lose their jobs. David Cameron moved to squash a proposal by the London Borough of Bromley to pay up to enable pupils to remain at independent schools rather than switch to state schools in the area. The Labour Paty is using the controversy as a second front in its campaign to convince voters that the Tories cannot be trusted to support public services.

Charles’s architecture foundation could face investigation.” No by-line Guardian (UK). August 20, 2009. Charity Commission is considering whether to launch inquiry into allegations Charles, the Prince of Wales, has undue influence over direction of Foundation for the Built Environment. Prince Charles’s architecture charity could be investigated over allegations he has used it “as a private lobbying firm”, it emerged today.

“Keep the campfires burning: 100 years of the Girl Guides; A century after the movement was founded, the Girl Guides is still the biggest organization for young women in Britain. Why do they find it so appealing?” No by-line. Guardian (UK). August 21, 2009.
Related story:
Glad to have been a Girl Guide.The Independent (UK). August 23, 2009.

Minister: independent students’ success due to ‘narrow focus’.” No by-line. Times of London. August 23, 2009. Responding to last week’s A-level results which sparked debate over the gap in performance between state and private schools, an education minister has claimed that the reason independent schools achieve such high grades at A-level is the “narrow focus” of their curriculum compared with that of state schools. The proportion of A grade papers taken by independently educated pupils passed 50% for the first time, an increase of 2.1 percentage points since last year, more than double the rise for comprehensives, sixth form colleges and state grammars.

Quangos blackball … oops, sorry … veto ‘racist’ everyday phrases.” By Chris Hastings. Times of London. August 23, 2009. Dozens of quangos and taxpayer-funded organizations have ordered a purge of common words and phrases so as not to cause offence.

Why I will set up a new school to give my children the best chance in life.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). August 23, 2009. Toby Young, son of the visionary founder of the Open University, wants to break down Britain’s apartheid between the private and state sectors by creating a new type of ‘free’ school where access to a good education is not based on income.

LAW & REGULATION

Court Reins in Terror Finance Policy.” By William Fisher. Inter Press Service News Agency. August 21, 2009. A federal court this week ruled for the first time that the U.S. government cannot freeze an organization’s assets under a terror financing law without a warrant based upon probable cause and without telling the organization the basis for its action and a meaningful opportunity to defend itself. If the decision is upheld, it will strip the government of a key weapon in the broad counter-terrorism authority claimed by the Bush administration following the 9/11 attack.

MISCELLANEOUS

Remember the Alamo? It’s Under Siege Again — This Time From Within Daughters of the Republic Manage the Site, But Rebel Group Says They’re Stuck in the Past.” By Ben Casselman. Wall Street Journal. August 20, 2009. There’s a new battle under way for control of the Alamo — and just like the Texas legend, neither side shows any sign of surrender. For more than a century, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas — nearly 7,000 women who trace their pedigrees back to the origins of the Texas Republic — have had total control of the Alamo, the state’s most revered historic site. They maintain what’s left of the old mission, manage its historic exhibits and run the gift shop. They don’t charge admission, and the site doesn’t cost the state government a penny. Now a small group of renegade Daughters has broken away, saying the Daughters’ outmoded traditions and iron grip on the “Shrine of Texas Liberty” are holding back progress and preventing much-needed preservation work from moving ahead.


MUTUAL BENEFIT ORGANIZATIONS

Members of Black Sorority at Odds Over Leader’s Spending.” By Ian Shapira. Washington Post . August 20, 2009. In June, eight members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation’s oldest black sorority filed suit against its board, alleging that the chief executive was improperly awarded a $375,000 stipend, the first-ever compensation for the sorority’s president. The suit also claims that the president used the sorority’s American Express account to purchase lingerie and designer clothing for herself and friends, racking up American Express Rewards points that she then redeemed for gym equipment and a 46-inch high-definition Toshiba television. The members want the judge to remove McKinzie as president and want unapproved payments to be returned. Unlike other college fraternities and sororities, black Greek letter organizations include undergraduates, graduate students and professionals who join later in life. AKA’s educational foundation provides college scholarships, and chapters across the country emphasize volunteerism, advocating for foster children, hosting community meetings on domestic violence and mentoring middle school boys.

PHILANTHROPY

Sweet benefactor James; Donating his fees for 5-day festival, pop star Taylor gives Tanglewood and classical music a lift.” By Geoff Edgers. Boston Globe. August 19, 2009. James Taylor is the centerpiece of an unprecedented five-day festival at the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer concert venue. For the orchestra, which has faced financial challenges in recent years, the Taylor event will provide a welcome financial boost. Instead of being paid for the gig, Taylor has given the symphony $500,000, his earnings after expenses. For Taylor, who has literally married into the BSO – his wife, Kim, was a longtime staffer and has now been elected to serve as a trustee – the concerts, roundtables, and master classes represent his latest and most dramatic show of support for the institution. The amount of Taylor’s gifts – the couple gave $500,000 this year and more than $700,000 in total from 2005 to 2008 – is large but not unheard of. The BSO has 60 other donors who have given $1 million or more over time.

Rise of the Super-Rich Hits a Sobering Wall.” By David Leonhardt and Geraldine Fabrikant. New York Times. August 21, 2009. Between the 1970s and 2006, income became more concentrated at the top than it had been since the late 1920s. But today a significant change may in fact be under way: The rich, as a group, are no longer getting richer. Last year, the number of Americans with a net worth of at least $30 million dropped 24 percent. Monthly income from stock dividends, which is concentrated among the affluent, has fallen more than 20 percent since last summer, the biggest such decline since the government began keeping records. Such shift in the financial status of the rich could have big implications, complicating things for elite universities, museums and other institutions that received lavish donations in recent decades. Governments — federal and state — could struggle, too, because they rely heavily on the taxes paid by the affluent.

Wikipedia operator gets $500,000 foundation grant.” No by-line. San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press. August 20, 2009. The nonprofit organization that operates the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia has received a $500,000 grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to expand its work bringing free educational content to people around the globe. The grant will help it make the encyclopedia’s software more user friendly, will be used to develop training materials to engage new potential volunteer editors, and will set up key metrics to track the organization’s impact.

RELIGION

Churches, again, wrestle with gay debates.” By Jeff Diamant. USA Today/ Religion News Service. August 18, 2009. Emotional debate over the status of gays continues this summer among Episcopalians and members of other largely liberal mainstream Protestant denominations: Four Episcopal dioceses have split with the national church over the issue; the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (4.7 million members), has voted on whether non-celibate gay people can be ordained as clergy, and on a statement saying same-gendered relationships have a place in the church; the United Methodist Church (11 million members, 8 million of whom are Americans) is on track to reject an amendment that would let any professed Christian become a church member; in June, the Presbyterian Church (USA) (2.3 million members) announced the rejection of an amendment that would have allowed non-celibate gays and lesbians to serve as clergy. Opponents of expanded church rights for gay people point to biblical passages that unequivocally condemn homosexuality; proponents cite an overarching charitable spirit of the Bible they say welcomes gay believers, even non-celibate ones, who want to participate in church life in all ways that heterosexual Christians can.

Catholic sisters under Vatican review want answers.” No by-line. USA Today. August 18, 2009. An association of U.S. Roman Catholic sisters raised questions Monday about why they are the target of, and who is paying for, a Vatican investigation that is shaping up to be a tough review of whether sisters have strayed from church teaching. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, representing about 800 heads of religious orders, said there was a “lack of full disclosure about the motivation and funding sources” for the inquiry. The group also said it objects to the Vatican plan to keep private the reports that will be submitted to the Holy See.
Related Story:
America’s Nuns Suspicious Of Vatican Probes.” By Barbara Bradley Hagerty. Morning Edition/National Public Radio. August 21, 2009

As Ramadan nears, Muslims plan to donate.” By Cathy Lynn Grossman. USA Today. August 19, 2009. Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and prayer, begins at sunset Saturday, and many believers are already planning a key observance: zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam. Often translated as “charity,” it requires believers to give 2.5% of their cash assets (even including the value of their jewelry or stocks) to the Muslim needy and poor. Zakat might be given at any time in the year, but Ramadan’s focus on compassion and introspection often prompts a greater outpouring. Websites such as Global Giving, which was created in 2003 to support projects around the world, will highlight Islamic charities to make it easier for Muslims to give to reputable groups within legal guidelines.

“‘Monogamous’ Gays Can Serve in ELCA; Largest Lutheran Denomination in U.S. Split on Divisive Issue.” By Jacqueline L. Salmon. Washington Post. August 22, 2009. Leaders of the nation’s biggest Lutheran denomination voted Friday to allow gays in committed relationships to serve as clergy in the church — making it one of the largest Christian denominations in the country to significantly open the pulpit to gays. Previously, only celibate gays were permitted to serve as clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a denomination of 4.8 million members.
Related stories:
Lutherans move toward more open view on gays.USA Today. August 20, 2009.
Lutherans to allow gay clergy in committed relationships.” USA Today. August 21, 2009.

Abundant Faith, Shrinking Space; Mosques Turn to Synagogues, Ballrooms to Accommodate Growing Membership.” By William Wan. Washington Post. August 22, 2009. As area mosques prepare for the start of Ramadan this weekend, many are simply bursting at the seams. Nobody knows how many Muslims are in America — estimates range from 2.35 million to 7 million — but researchers say the population is growing rapidly, driven by conversions, immigration and the tendency for Muslims to have larger families. A building boom has brought new mosques to the suburbs, but many have been full from the moment they opened. Muslim communities, desperate for room, have started renting hotel ballrooms, office space and synagogues to handle the overflow.

SCANDAL

Compton pastor accused of embezzling $800,000 in church funds; The Rev. E. Joshua Sims of Double Rock Baptist Church has been arrested after an 11-month sheriff’s investigation. He allegedly used the money to pay for personal luxuries.” By Alexandra Zavis. Los Angeles Times. August 20, 2009.

VOLUNTEERING

USA TODAY Snapshot: How big a role do volunteers play?USA Today. August 17, 2009. USA TODAY Snapshots are easy-to-read statistical graphics that present information on various issues and trends in a visually appealing way.

MAJOR STORIES (August 10 – 16, 2009)

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

ADVOCACY

Loose Network of Activists Drives Reform Opposition.” By Dan Eggen and Philip Rucker. Washington Post. August 16, 2009. The rowdy protests that threaten President Obama’s health-care reform efforts have been spurred on by a loose network of activists — from veteran advocacy groups with millions of dollars in funding to casual alliances of like-minded conservatives unhappy over issues from taxes to deficits to environmental laws. Most of the groups helping to organize protests view the proposed health-care overhaul as just one part of a broader assault by government on free markets and individual liberty, their leaders say. Conservatives portray the movement as largely organic, fueled by average citizens alarmed at the direction the country has taken since Obama moved into the White House. One of the most prominent organizers is FreedomWorks, a Washington-based advocacy group headed by former House majority leader Richard Armey (R-Tex.) that is also pushing to defeat Democratic climate-change legislation. FreedomWorks’s major financial backers have included MetLife, Philip Morris and foundations controlled by the archconservative Scaife family, according to tax filings and other records. , Democratic party leaders have portrayed the protesters as products of a fake grass-roots — or “Astroturf” — organizing.
Related story:
Oil Group’s ‘Citizen’ Rally Memo Stirs Debate; Firms Asked to Recruit Employees, Retirees.Washington Post. August 16, 2009.


ARTS & CULTURE

Architecture: When Creativity Diminishes Along With the Cash.” By Nicolai Ouroussoff. New York Times. August 12, 2009. three years ago when the Parrish Art Museum unveiled its plan to build a lavish new home in a meadow in Water Mill, part of the town of Southampton, N.Y. Established at the end of the 19th century, the Parrish had been a sleepy institution. The economic boom that preceded the current financial collapse sparked plans for an ambitious new building and a collection featuring noted contemporary artists associated with the Hamptons like Willem de Kooning and Roy Lichtenstein. The crash has forced a radical scaling back of the Parrish’s plans.

Mission: Rebuild a Workable City Opera.” By Anthony Tommasini. New York Times. August 16, 2009. When George Steel took over as general manager and artistic director of the New York City Opera in February, it faced a debt of $15 million, staff members were demoralized, and unions representing the orchestra and chorus did not know whether to dig in and hold the City Opera to its commitments or face facts and negotiate new contracts with fewer guaranteed work weeks. Since he arrived, some $10.5 million has been raised for various funds and future projects. Things could still fall apart. City Opera has had to dip into its dwindling endowment for operating expenses. And delicate negotiations are still under way with the American Guild of Musical Artists, representing the chorus, solo singers, dancers, stage managers and others.

CHARITY

From Pulpit to Policy, Souls to Stomachs; Bread for the World Founder Reflects On Life, Mission.” By Greg Gaudio. Washington Post. August 13, 2009. Profile of Rev. Arthur Simon, the New York clergyman who founded an international charity that boasts 61,000 members whose annual letter-writing campaign has helped to generate billions for the cause at home and abroad. In his recently published memoir, The Rising of Bread for the World: An Outcry of Citizens Against Hunger, Simon recounts Bread’s rise from a shoestring operation run out of a parish building in Manhattan to a Capitol Hill mainstay that leverages $1.2 billion annually for hunger prevention.

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Corporations Take a Low-Key Approach to Event Sponsorship.” By Leslie Wayne. New York Times. August 12, 2009. Even in these tough times, major corporations are spending to entertain valued clients at golf tournaments and exclusive receptions. But where these companies once splashed their names and logos on every polo shirt and tote bag in sight, they are now going to extraordinary lengths not to be noticed. Those who plan corporate events call the new practice “stealth spending.” In some cases, a corporate gathering is so well disguised that the event planners may not even know whose event they are working on. The subdued approach — no greeters at airports with corporate signs, no large banners — stems from worries that anything too lavish will suggest the companies are out of touch with the painful financial circumstances of many Americans.

What Does Financial Capital Owe Society? Corporate social responsibility is a worthy goal, but it’s no substitute for regulation, subsidy, and government sponsorship of social institutions.” By Barry Zigas. American Prospect. August 14, 2009. The idea that private enterprise should be harnessed to the creation of social capital is an old claim given new resonance by the financial crisis. After beggaring millions of people and threatening the global economy with ruin, banks and other credit providers surely have an obligation both to run their businesses soundly and to meet a higher standard of social responsibility. While some argue this could hobble, distract, or damage corporate focus on the bottom line, It was not an excess of attention to social needs that caused the near total collapse of the world’s financial system but almost every other kind of excess.

EDUCATION

Charter Schools

Villaraigosa advocates letting outside operators bid for control of L.A. Unified schools.” By Howard Blume. Los Angeles Times. August 11, 2009. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Tuesday he will push the school district to allow outside operators to bid for control of hundreds of campuses, a move he described as the centerpiece of education reform for his second term. The mayor’s proposal would let charter-school organizations, the mayor’s nonprofit, and other groups compete to run 50 new schools scheduled to open over the next four years. Villaraigosa also wants to allow outside groups or the district to shut down and restaff hundreds of existing schools that have long been rated “failing” under federal accountability rules. Critics of the plan include United Teachers Los Angeles and other employee unions.

Charter schools lag in serving the neediest; Disparity widens rift with districts.” By James Vaznis. Boston Globe. August 12, 2009. Although Governor Deval Patrick has touted his proposed expansion of charter schools as a way to help students who face the greatest academic challenges, such as language barriers and disabilities, a Globe analysis shows that charter schools in cities targeted by the proposal tend to enroll few special education students or English language learners. This raises questions about whether these schools can recruit and meet the needs of students whose academic needs are generally greater than those of other children. In Boston, which hosts a quarter of the state’s charter schools, English language learners represented less than 4 percent of students at all but one of the charter schools last year, although they make up nearly a fifth of the students in the school system. Collectively, the 16 Boston charter schools taught fewer than 100 students who lacked fluency in English; six schools enrolled none.

Norcross, Statesboro charter schools cleared to get matching funds.” By D. Aileen Dodd. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. August 12, 2009. Two charter schools have been given state school board support to become Georgia’s first commission charter schools. This clears the way for local matching funds to be released to Ivy Preparatory Academy in Norcross and Statesboro’s Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts & Technology – a key benefit of becoming a commission charter school. The schools can receive a share of local education dollars as well as the state and federal funds they already receive. They would be funded as any other public school.

Expanding the Charter Option.” By Anne Marie Chaker. Wall Street Journal. August 13, 2009. The U.S. Education Department is engaged in a high-pressure campaign to get states to lift limits on charter schools through a $4 billion education fund, Race to the Top, that encourages more charters as one of the criteria for states to qualify for a piece of the pie. A total of 40 states and the District of Columbia permit charter schools. In recent weeks, seven states have lifted restrictions, a spokesman for the department says. Tennessee, for instance, passed a law that raises the state’s limit on the number of charter schools to 90 from 50 and allows more students to qualify for entry. Illinois doubled its limit on the total number of charter schools to 120. Louisiana passed a law that simply eliminated the existing cap of 70. And several other states are moving in a similar direction. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick proposed legislation that more than triples slots for students in charter schools to over 37,000 from the 10,000. Rhode Island’s Legislature, which had considered cutting $1.5 million from the budget for charter schools, restored that money in large part to compete for the federal funds.

Higher Education

Strapped colleges keep leaders in luxury.” By Tracy Jan. Boston Globe. August 12, 2009. The opulent estates housing the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and other elite area universities strike a contrast to the frozen faculty salaries, widespread layoffs, and slashed programs that these institutions have resorted to in the wake of the global financial collapse. Nationally, 28 percent of public and private college presidents live in university-owned housing, and another 20 percent receive a housing allowance, according to the most recent survey conducted by the American Council on Education. At some private colleges, the longstanding tradition of free housing also extends to senior administrators, including provosts, deans, and even former presidents.

For-profit colleges’ increased lending prompts concerns.” By Justin Pope. USA Today/Associated Press. August 15, 2009. Some of the nation’s biggest for-profit colleges and vocational schools are boosting enrollment in tough times by making more loans directly to cash-strapped students, knowing full well many of them probably won’t be able to repay what they borrowed. The schools still make money because the practice boosts their enrollment and brings in tuition dollars subsidized by the government. Among the for-profit colleges that are booming are ITT, Corinthian Colleges and Career Education Corp. They and other such institutions have an estimated 1.2 million U.S. students pursuing degrees in such fields as nursing, computers and the culinary arts. Many for-profits are seeing enrollment surge. New enrollments at ITT are up one-third from a year ago; last month the company forecast profits 50% higher than last year. Laid-off workers returning to school and increased government aid have boosted the number of students at many of these places. Even critics acknowledge many for-profit schools — also called “proprietary” colleges — offer convenience and innovation that nonprofit colleges could stand to emulate. They also proudly enroll many low-income students.

NYU Commute To Get Better If You’re In Abu Dhabi.” No by-line. Weekend Edition Sunday. NPR. August 16, 2009. New York University is in the midst of an ambitious plan to build a campus in the United Arab Emirates. Guest host David Greene talks to NYU president John Sexton about what it means to be a global university.

HEALTH CARE

Hospital For Hollywood’s Elderly Set To Close.” NPR. August 10, 2009. “We Take Care of Our Own” is the motto of the Motion Picture and Television Fund. For almost 90 years, the fund has supported the people who are the backbone of the entertainment industry — not the highly paid stars, directors and producers, but the below-the-line folks: prop masters, wardrobe mistresses, secretaries, janitors and character actors. The victim of rising costs, the Fund will be closing its long-term care unit because the costs of maintaining it threaten to bankrupt the charity.

South Florida Hospitals Compete For Foreign Patients.” By Greg Allen. NPR. August 13, 2009. As U.S. citizens go abroad to save money on medical care, some U.S. hospitals are trying to lure foreign patients of their own: They’re marketing to well-to-do and even middle-class people in the Caribbean and Latin America, urging them to come to the U.S. for quality care. In 2008, 400,000 people from foreign countries came to the U.S. for health care, spending nearly $5 billion. It’s a fast-growing market that’s expected to double within the next three years. The competition for international patients among hospitals in Miami is intense. To help build ties with patients and doctors, Florida hospitals are opening recently offices in Caribbean and Latin American countries. Prestigious institutions like the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins Hospital have long catered to patients from abroad. Hospitals in Houston, led by Methodist Healthcare, have also worked to market their region as an international medical destination.

Super-clinic finds super-need in L.A. region; Remote Area Medical Foundation provides free care with volunteer doctors and dentists for unemployed and poor people at an eight-day event at Inglewood’s Forum arena.” By Bob Pool and Kimi Yoshino. Los Angeles Times. August 12, 2009. Remote Area Medical Foundation, a Tennessee-based charity, has staged health clinics in rural parts of the United States, Mexico and South America. This week it brought its health camp to urban Los Angeles County for an eight-day stint that the group’s officials described as its first foray into a major urban setting. The mobile clinic, based in Knoxville, Tenn., has staged 576 medical clinics over the last 25 years. They have treated nearly 380,000 patients and provided care valued at $36.9 million. The group raises money through contributions. Doctors, nurses and other medical workers donate their time and skills to the effort.
Related Stories:
Thousands Line Up for Promise of Free Health Care.” New York Times. August 13, 2009.
LA sports arena hosts health clinic of last resort.” Reuters. August 13, 2009.
“The brutal truth about America’s healthcare; An extraordinary report from Guy Adams in Los Angeles at the music arena that has been turned into a makeshift medical centre.” The Independent (UK). August 15, 2009.
How L.A.’s massive free clinic event came together; A record producer and his wife saw a piece on 60 Minutes about the Remote Area Medical Foundation and contacted the founder. The couple used their connections and pieces fell into place. Thousands have been helped.” By Kimi Yoshino. Los Angeles Times. August 16, 2009.

Blood banks brace for donation drop.” By Ben Jones. USA Today. August 13, 2009. Across the USA, plant closures and layoffs have reduced the number of workplace blood drives or canceled them altogether. Corporate blood drives make up about 20% of collections for the American Red Cross. Regional blood bank officials across the country say they are seeing declines in donations.

“‘You don’t want to go to war with me’; Voicemail puts hospitals’ aggressive recruiting efforts in spotlight.” By Robert Weisman and Liz Kowalczyk. Boston Globe. August 16, 2009. Boston area hospitals are seeing intense competition area to hire and retain established physicians. Primary care doctors are an especially prized commodity. They can help hospitals attract more patients, boost revenue, and draw medical specialists when the health care industry is bracing for sweeping change. Some doctors say they expect to see predatory behavior intensify as the state overhauls the health care payment system. A special commission has recommended that Massachusetts insurers and public payers scrap their method of paying doctors and hospitals negotiated fees for individual visits or procedures, and instead put providers on a budget, paying a set amount intended to cover a patient’s medical care for an entire year. Under that scenario, primary care doctors could become even more powerful if they more closely orchestrate where their patients get speciality and hospital care.

HUMAN SERVICES

Santa Clara County Supervisors vote to keep victim’s advocacy services with non-profit group.” By Karen de Sá. San Jose Mercury-News. August 12, 2009. Santa Clara County supervisors voted unanimously this week to approve a new $1.8 million contract for Silicon Valley FACES, the region’s longtime provider of victim support services. In doing so, the supervisors rejected an aggressive bid by District Attorney Dolores Carr to fold the state-funded services for victims and witnesses into the prosecutor’s office. Carr had argued that the thousands of victims and witnesses to crimes would be more effectively served by her staff. Supervisors — lobbied heavily by retired judges, elected officials and law enforcement — determined that FACES deserved to keep its contract of more than three decades. The nonprofit’s supporters maintain that crime victims deserve an independent agency to serve them with their myriad needs, including therapy and help paying for funerals.

Priest’s anti-gang program in budget crisis.” By Christina Hoag. USA Today/Associated Press. August 13, 2009. A Roman Catholic priest’s 21-year-old effort to rehabilitate gang members by offering jobs, counseling and schooling, will run out of cash — the result of an economic recession that has ripped a $5 million hole in the nonprofit’s budget this year. One of few agencies that have proven success with a population traditionally difficult to reach, Homeboy last year received $500,000 for mental health programs from the Califonia Endowment, which has donated to the nonprofit since 1999. But this year contributions from foundations and corporations dried up, government contracts were slashed in half, and state budget woes made collecting bills for past contracts impossible, including a $310,000 tab owed by the Division of Juvenile Justice for mentoring young parolees. The nonprofit, which carries a top, four-star ranking from nonprofit analyst Charity Navigator, has lost about 40% of its $9 million annual budget.

From its inception, Wilsonville complex for people with mental illness unlike any other in country.” By Stephanie Yao Long. Oregonian. August 13, 2009. Rain Garden, along with two group homes and two apartment complexes for adults with mental illness, is situated squarely among the 700 upscale houses and condos at Wilsonville’s Villebois “urban village.” Developers, along with state and county mental health experts, say this is the first place in the United States where mental-health housing was part of a larger master-planned community from its inception. From 1961 until 1995, Dammasch State Hospital was located here. Hailed at its opening as a national model for progressive treatment regimens, the hospital eventually succumbed to the move to deinstitutionalize the mentally ill. Legislators, recognizing that Dammasch had been dedicated to mental-health uses, passed a bill stipulating that money from its sale to private developers be set aside for grants to groups wanting to build housing there for people with mental illness.

State shifting clients to cash-strapped nonprofits.” By Christine Stuart. ctnewsjunkie.com. August 14, 2009. The closure of state operated group homes for the mentally retarded and drug rehabilitation facilities grabbed headlines the past few weeks, as Connecticut’s private nonprofit network warned state officials about a precarious trend. They say while the state is increasingly turning to nonprofit providers to serve the mentally ill, mentally retarded, and other disabled individuals, it is failing to provide funding. Without a state budget in place and facing major cuts in human services expenditures, the state’s nonprofits face major challenges in meeting rising demand for their services.

Downturn Brings A New Face to Homelessness; Charities See More Women, Families.” By Alexi Mostrous. Washington Post. August 15, 2009. Across the country, community housing networks, charities and emergency shelters are seeing a flood of mothers driven out of their homes by the economic collapse. More than half a million family members used an emergency shelter or transitional housing between Oct. 1, 2007, and Oct. 1, 2008, the latest figures available from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The number of homeless families rose 9 percent, and in rural and suburban areas by 56 percent. Women make up 81 percent of adults in homeless families, and tend to be younger than 30 with children younger than 5. In some areas of the country, family homelessness has almost tripled since 2007, new figures obtained by The Washington Post show. Formerly prosperous areas such as Bergen County, N.J., and Hillsboro, Ore., have been particularly affected, with increases of 161 percent and 194 percent, respectively. Oakland County, Michigan has experienced a 111 percent jump in the number of families seeking shelter or emergency housing since 2007. The Obama administration announced last month a $1.5 billion package focused on tackling first-time and family homelessness. The funding, which lasts for three years, represents a change from President George W. Bush’s approach, which limited most HUD funding to the chronically homeless with substance-abuse or mental-health problems.

Two Acres of Hope for Recovering Addicts.” By Cara Buckley. New York Times. August 16, 2009. The Renewal Farm in rural Garrison, NY is run by two dozen recovering addicts and alcoholics from New York City, men whose various addictions, and repeated relapses, have left them sickened and homeless. The farm is run by Project Renewal, a Manhattan nonprofit that helps the homeless, the addicted and the mentally ill. Headed by David Harrington, a 61-year-old horticulture expert, and Anthony DeArmas, a 45-year-old former crack addict and alcoholic, about two dozen men participate in the farm program at a time, usually for six to nine months. The farm is financed mostly by public dollars. The land was donated by the nearby Garrison and Highlands country clubs. Much of the harvest is sold at the farm’s road stand, about 1,200 pounds of the produce is provided to the two country clubs annually in exchange for the donated land.

IN MEMORIAM

The Olympian Force Behind a Revolution.” By J.Y. Smith. Washington Post. August 12, 2009. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, 88, devoted her life to improving the welfare of mentally disabled people and founded the Special Olympics to showcase their abilities, died August 11 in Hyannis, Mass. She played a major role in changing the perception of mental retardation. When she began her work in the field half a century ago, it was common for mentally disabled people to be placed in institutions that did little more than warehouse them. Through Shriver’s programs and hands-on efforts, she demonstrated that with appropriate help, most developmentally disabled people can lead productive and useful lives. In the 1950s, as executive vice president of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, she shifted the organization’s focus from Catholic charities to research on the causes of mental retardation and humane ways to treat it. When her brother John became president in 1961, she persuaded him to appoint a committee to study developmental disabilities. An outgrowth of the panel’s work was the establishment the next year of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development as part of the National Institutes of Health. Shriver organized the Special Olympics in 1968. The Special Olympics has become the world’s largest year-round sports program for mentally disabled children and adults. More than 2.5 million athletes in 180 countries take part in competitions each year. Contestants work through local and regional meets toward the World Special Olympics, held every two years.
Related Story:
Shriver poured heart, soul into helping disabled.USA Today. August 11, 2009.

INTERNATIONAL

GENERAL

For Global Investors, ‘Microfinance’ Funds Pay Off — So Far.” By Rob Copeland. Wall Street Journal. August 13, 2009. Investing in funds that make small loans to third-world borrowers has been lucrative the past 12 months. But the weak global economy has some investors worried about trouble ahead. The $30 billion industry, partly made up by small lenders on the ground financed by bigger microfinance investment funds, has been expanding its lending at a 40% to 50% annual pace over the past five years, according to the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, a research institute hosted at the World Bank.Those microfinance funds have returned 4.47% for investors the past 12 months, according to a benchmark index, compared with a 22% loss by the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index. Already more than 100 investment funds are focused on microfinance, typically accepting money from targeted individuals or institutions, usually with a minimum of $10,000. The funds then buy the bonds or stocks of small, local banks in mostly third-world countries. These banks then lend money to tiny entrepreneurs at annual interest rates up to 50%.

BRAZIL

Bishop accused over billions of donations.” By Tales Azzoni. The Independent (UK)/ Associated Press. August 12, 2009. The founder of one of Brazil’s biggest evangelical churches siphoned off billions of dollars in donations from his mostly poor followers to buy jewelry, TV stations and other businesses for himself, authorities charged. A Brazilian judge accepted charges from prosecutors alleging that Bishop Edir Macedo and nine other people linked to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God committed fraud against the church itself and against its numerous followers. Sao Paulo state’s prosecutors office alleged in a statement that Macedo and the others took more than $2 billion in donations from 2003 to 2008 alone, but charged that the alleged scheme went back 10 years. Universal Church of the Kingdom of God receives nearly $800 million in donations every year from faithful in 4,500 temples across Brazil. The church claims to have nearly 8 million followers in Brazil and many more around the world.

CHINA

China’s NGOs fear for the worst.” By Verna Yu. Asia Times. August 15, 2009. China has in recent weeks resorted to unusually heavy-handed tactics to crack down on non-governmental organizations (NGOs), prominent lawyers and human-rights activists, sparking concern that a new round of persecution has begun on the nation’s nascent civil society. Last month, authorities closed down the Open Constitution Initiative (locally known as Gongmeng), a NGO that provides free legal assistance, accusing it of tax evasion. Two weeks ago, its founder Xu Zhiyong, a respected law professor, was taken away by police and no one has been able to contact him since. Targeting NGOs is nothing new for the Chinese government – officials are always wary of groups over which they have no direct control. Unlike almost every other institution in China, from labor unions to schools, NGOs do no represent the ruling Communist Party and often receive funding from the West. According to statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, there were 230,000 registered “social organizations” across the country at the end of 2008. The Chinese government believes it has reason to fear the growth of a robust civil society. For a worrying precedent it need only look at the role an independent labor union (Solidarity) played in the eventual meltdown of the communist regime in Poland.

JAPAN

Tokyo Medical University hospital linked to health insurance scam.” No by-line. Asahi Simbun. August 13, 2009. A hospital attached to the Tokyo Medical University illegally claimed medical fee reimbursements from public health insurance programs at the urging of its director, according to an in-house investigation by the university. The Ibaraki Medical Center siphoned 118.7 million yen from the national health insurance and other programs through underhand practices, the university and other sources said.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s Kanto-Shinetsu Regional Bureau is now investigating the case, the sources said.

RUSSIA

Director of Children’s Charity, Husband Found Shot to Death in Chechnya.” By Philip P. Pan. Washington Post. August 12, 2009. The head of a children’s charity in Chechnya and her husband were found shot to death in the trunk of a car Tuesday in the latest sign of violence and lawlessness in the region and the Kremlin’s inability to contain it. The killings of the couple, who ran a center for children suffering from war injuries and trauma, came less than a month after the slaying of a colleague, the prominent human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, prompted international outrage. Kremlin critics suggested that the killings were intended to intimidate the few remaining activists left in Grozny, the Chechen capital.
Related Story:
“Head of Chechen children’s charity found shot dead with husband.” Times of London. August 12, 2009.

UK

Private schools threaten legal action to keep charity millions; Watchdog challenged over public benefit test; Public ‘will pay up to £4bn extra tax if schools close’.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). August 11, 2009. The head of the organization that represents the country’s top independent schools today issued a threat to the government’s charities watchdog that it may consider legal action against moves to force private schools to open up their facilities to pupils from low-income homes. The chief executive of the Independent Schools Council (ISC says there is potential for a legal challenge against the Charity Commission’s interpretation of new laws to make every charity – including most private schools – pass a new “public benefit test” to qualify for charitable status and tax breaks worth millions of pounds every year. He said the 2006 Charities Act was not at fault, but that the commission had wrongly interpreted it. “There is the potential to test this in the courts. That’s a major and expensive step to take. Private schools, he argued, are already providing a public benefit by educating children who would otherwise be in state schools paid for by taxpayers, he said. The commission has said that to qualify, schools must not bar pupils who cannot afford their fees.

Top universities: only the rich need apply; Money should not buy entry to our elite institutions, but with top-up fees, watch the market bite.” By David Papineau. Times of London. August 13, 2009. If the top universities asked the Government for permission to charge fees on top of their state funding, they would price themselves out of the reach of the poor. This is exactly what is about to happen to the British university system. Whichever party wins the next election, it will clamp down hard on state support for universities. In return it will allow the leading universities to charge top-up fees of £7,000 to £8,000 a year. At present university funding is a hybrid system. In most of Britain, the government gives universities an annual sum for each undergraduate of between £3,000 and £15,000, depending on subject. Students themselves are charged about £3,000 on top. The government doesn’t allow universities to ask for more, although they can, in principle, charge less. And because this cap on fees is so low, nearly all universities ask for the full £3,000, with the result that doing a degree at Oxford costs no more than at Hull. But if the limit on top-up fees is raised in line with all the noises currently emanating from Peter Mandelson’s überdepartment, the market will start to bite for real. Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College and the other top dogs will promptly charge the maximum. But the Hulls of this world won’t be able to fill their seats at those prices, and will ask far less. At which point the best universities will become the preserve of the rich. We all know that public money will be tight over the next decade. But the government must find some alternative to free-market university fees. It is no accident that admission to one of our world-leading universities is one of the few things in modern Britain that money can’t buy. Once it is restricted to those children lucky enough to have rich parents we really will start to slide down the international scale.

Oxbridge squeeze on triple-A students.” By Richard Garner. The Independent (UK). August 13, 2009. Record numbers of pupils set to get three grade-A passes at A-level next week have been turned away from Britain’s most elite universities. Oxford and Cambridge experienced a large surge in applications for places, meaning that more than 12,000 students with three predicted top-grade passes have been left disappointed. The number of applications to Oxford has soared by more than 10 per cent from 13,388 in 2008 to more than 15,000. A spokeswoman said that home and overseas applications had increased. It had only made about 3,000 offers. At Cambridge, applications have risen from 14,498 to 15,679, while the number of offers made has been cut from 4,066 to 4,016. The admission’s crunch coincides with intensifying debate over educational inequality in the UK.
Related story:
University clearing fears for A-level students; Top students fear missing out as courses declared full; Labour criticised as Ucas trebles helpline staff.Guardian (UK). August 14, 2009.

LAW & REGULATION

Church’s Request For Tax Break On Rental Property Is Denied.” No by-line. Hartford
Courant
. August 12, 2009. The City of Manchester has rejected a request for a property tax break by a church that plans to move into a former gym in an industrial park. Faith Tabernacle First United Pentecostal Church and the owner of the former Body Fit gym at 110 Utopia Road had requested the exemption that would have cost the town $30,000 a year and allowed the church to pay less in rent. The money the property owner saved in taxes would have allowed a lower rent. The city feared granting the request would have forced them to extend the tax break to all other churches and nonprofit organizations that rent space in town. (Under normal circumstances, real estate is only tax exempt if it is owned by an exempt organization and used for activities relating to its charitable purposes).

Look Who’s Discriminating Now.” By Patrick J. Reilly. Wall Street Journal. August 14, 2009. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took a giant leap toward encroaching on the religious liberty of Catholics when it ruled that a small North Carolina Catholic college discriminated against female employees by refusing to cover prescription contraceptives in its health insurance plan. With health-care reform looming before the country, this ruling is a bad omen for people of faith. Although the ruling is consistent with the commission’s published guidance on “pregnancy discrimination,” under which contraceptive coverage is mandated by the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination, North Carolina also has made its position clear with a law requiring employers to cover employees’ contraceptive expenses if other prescription drugs are insured. The difference, however, between the EEOC’s guidance and the North Carolina law is that the latter exempts religious employers such as a Catholic college, whereas the commission fails to consider that the tenets of a faith may preclude an institution from offering such benefits. It is increasingly obvious to Catholics and other religious groups that without very clear exemptions for religious employers—and conscience protections for individual doctors, nurses, pharmacists—federal health-care laws and guidelines could severely restrict religious freedom in the U.S.

MUTUAL BENEFIT ORGANIZATIONS

An Era of Tribulation For Fraternal Orders; Md. Knights of Columbus Hall Burns As Groups’ Ranks, Finances Decline.” By Matt Zapotosky. Washington Post. August 10, 2009. Times are tough for organizations like the Knights of Columbus, Elks. and other private, charitable clubs. Old members are dying off faster than they can be replaced and what once were hubs of social activity are fading into obscurity.

PHILANTHROPY

Charities Ask a Court to Direct More of Helmsley’s Billions to Help Dogs.” By James Barron. New York Times. August 11, 2009. A petition has been filed by three animal protection groups that say Leona. Helmsley’s money is not being spent the way she wanted it spent — on dogs. The Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Maddie’s Fund, a charitable foundation created by the former chief executive of the business software company PeopleSoft accuse the trustees of Mrs. Helmsley’s estate of a “scheme to deprive dog welfare charities” of their share of her fortune, estimated to be worth about $5 billion. They want the court to throw out a six-month-old decision by Judge Troy K. Webber that said Mrs. Helmsley’s money could be distributed as the trustees saw fit.
Related Story:
Dog Charities Sue For More Leona Helmsley Wealth.” NPR. August 11, 2009.

Soros Uses Leverage To Aid New York Children.” All Things Considered/NPR. August 11, 2009. Billionaire philanthropist George Soros says he will provide a $35 million gift to the state of New York as a way to leverage federal stimulus money to assist low-income children in the state. With the addition of federal funds, the gift will actually be worth $170 million. Under the program, about 850,000 low-income families will each get $200 to help cover the cost of back-to-school supplies and clothing. “Because we are in a particularly difficult period with a very severe recession,” he says. “Philanthropy has been badly hit by the financial crisis and so the usual donors actually are cutting back. I feel that people who can afford it should step up to the plate and actually increase their philanthropic donations.” The gift is being made by Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society, the sister organization to the Open Society Institute.

RELIGION

Slump Strains Church Finances as Need Grows.” By Tom Benning. Wall Street Journal. August 11, 2009. The slowing economy is squeezing church budgets more families ask for spiritual and financial help, but fewer can afford to give. Churches, synagogues and mosques have historically fared reasonably well during recessions, even as other institutions struggled. But the magnitude of the current downturn has caught up with places of worship, too. According to the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at Indiana University, the economic climate for religious organizations is the worst in at least 30 years, forcing membership drives and construction projects to take a back seat to balancing the budget.

Study: More diverse recruits joining Catholic orders.” No by-line. USA Today/ Associated Press. August 11, 2009. A study conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate for the National Religious Vocation Conference finds that next generation of priests, brothers, sisters and nuns who belong to Roman Catholic religious orders in the U.S. are more ethnically diverse and tradition-bound than their predecessors. The report found that most religious orders in the U.S. suffer from aging membership, diminishing numbers and few if any new candidates, though the few orders that are attracting and retaining younger members are more traditional.

Confronting Religionophobia.” By Katherine Marshall. Washington Post. August 12, 2009. Mainstream development specialists neither take faith-inspired work seriously nor and truly engage with and support it. The issue came up again and again at three different gatherings this summer: a meeting on service delivery and faith in Accra in early July, organized by the World Bank and the World Faiths Development Dialogue; a U.N. agency meeting in New York last week organized by UNFPA, the Family Planning Organization; and the African Religious Health Assets Program meeting in Capetown, South Africa. At all three, participants were frustrated by the way the experts ignore the multitude of faith-run hospitals, clinics, and other programs, and genuinely puzzled as to why. Discounting the role of faith-based agencies in international development is due to “religionophobia,” a real tendency that was named by many working in distinguished institutions — the United Nations, national governments, think tanks, and universities.

Hallelujah! Mich. church wins $70K in lottery.” No by-line. USA Today/Associated Press. August 13, 2009. The Covenant Life Worship Center and its 25 members in Haslett, Mich. had one of the second-prize tickets in the Lucky 7s raffle held May 4 — winning a prize of $70,000. The prize money will go toward the church building fund, setting up a missionary fund and supporting local community service projects.

Focus on the Family faces ‘serious’ shortfall.” No by-line. USA Today. August 14, 2009. A “serious budget shortfall” at Focus on the Family has prompted the conservative Christian group to issue a special fundraising plea, and contributed to a decision to cede control of its contentious “Love Won Out” conferences about homosexuality to another religious organization. Founded by child psychologist James Dobson, Focus on the Family is projected to fall $6 million short of a $138 million budget for the current fiscal year. Last fall, budget problems prompted Focus on the Family to eliminate more than 200 positions.

Believers Invest in the Gospel of Getting Rich.” By Laurie Goodstein. New York Times. August 16, 2009. Even in an economic downturn, preachers in the “prosperity gospel” movement are drawing sizable, adoring audiences. Their message — that if you have sufficient faith in God and the Bible and donate generously, God will multiply your offerings a hundredfold — is reassuring to many in hard times. Many in this flock do not trust banks, the news media or Washington, where the Senate Finance Committee is investigating whether the Copelands and other prosperity evangelists used donations to enrich themselves and abused their tax-exempt status. The ministry of prosperity gospel leaders Kenneth and Gloria Copeland boasts 386,000 “partners” worldwide — people who send regular contributions and merit special prayers. A call center at the ministry’s 481-employee headquarters in Newark, Tex., takes in 60,000 prayer requests a month, a publicist said. The Copelands’ broadcast reaches 134 countries, and the ministry’s income is about $100 million annually.

SCANDAL

Madoff Had Affair With Ex-Hadassah Finance Chief, Her Book Says.” By David Voreacos. Bloomberg.com. August 13, 2009. An accountant who has publicly blamed imprisoned con man Bernard Madoff for stealing her family’s savings has written a book that will disclose a secret she previously withheld — they once had an extramarital affair. Sheryl Weinstein’s account, “Madoff’s Other Secret: Love, Money, Bernie, and Me,” will be published Aug. 25 by St. Martin’s Press. Hadassah invested its own money with Madoff. Between 1988 and 1997, its investments with the financier totaled more than $40 million.

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

Banks as Heroes: Community-development banks show what financial institutions can do when they have the right motivation and the right mission.” By Adam Serwer. American Prospect. August 10, 2009. ShoreBank, a community-development financial institution (CDFI), launched in 1973 as the South Shore National Bank, was founded to provide loans to Chicago neighborhoods devastated by redlining, racial discrimination, and the fallout of the riots of the late 1960s. A profitable business, it reported $2.6 million in profits in 2008 and, along with its affiliates across the United States, holds over $2.4 billion in assets. ShoreBank has purchased and renovated more than 55,000 units of affordable housing since 1973. Located in the same communities as their lenders, CDFIs like ShoreBank focus on a “triple bottom line,” that includes profitability, on raising the value of the homes in the community, and on making them environmentally sustainable. ShoreBank uses its influence with borrowers to encourage them to weatherize their homes and retrofit them with appliances that use less energy, which also leaves the borrower with more money in the long run. Since its creation, ShoreBank has become a model for CDFIs across the country.

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.”

Gatesgate: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

By Peter Dobkin Hall

As a block watch captain living on a short side street in an academic neighborhood, the news that Professor Gates was arrested in response to a citizen’s call to the police was necessarily of interest.

What, my wife asked me, would be have done had we seen two men early in the afternoon attempting to gain entry to a neighbor’s house?

We both agreed that we would have taken a closer look, perhaps even gone over and asked how we could be of help. And, when we engaged with the men, we certainly would have recognized that one of them was our neighbor of eighteen years.

Countless reporters and editorialists have weighed in to explaining the Gates affair in terms of race and class. But not one has asked the most obvious question: why didn’t the people on Gates’s street recognize him as a neighbor?

Or, to pose the question more broadly, what is it about contemporary neighborhoods that makes it increasingly unlikely for residents to even know one another by sight?

When we moved to our New Haven house twenty-five years ago, we caught the tail end traditional neighborhood life. At the time, the average tenure of a family in a Ronan-Edgehill house was forty years. Most breadwinners taught at Yale or were Yale alumni; their wives, few of whom worked, were active community volunteers. Their children went to the same schools. Most families belonged to the New Haven Lawn Club or the Graduates’ Club, located a few blocks away. They worshipped together in nearby churches.

Residents were committed to the neighborhood. When the city’s financial problems led to cutbacks in police services and crime skyrocketed, they organized block watches and held annual rummage sales to support a local security patrol. They partied together (the neighborhood was remarkably bibulous) and helped one another out (when an elderly neighbor fell, his wife never hesitated — day or night — to call me to help him back to bed).

Things are very different now. Annual turnover in the ownership of houses is about ten percent. While still largely a Yale neighborhood, the university itself has become so large and distended geographically that the mere fact of working there is unlikely to give rise to any broader social ties. Many of us work out of town, in New York or Cambridge, returning to New Haven for long weekends. Wives who once volunteered and socialized together are now likely to be working themselves. And children attend a variety of public and private schools, usually not returning home until late afternoons; they spend their weekends in organized activities. (It has been many years since I’ve seen kids playing pick-up games of back baseball or football on spring or autumn afternoons). Though the crime rate remains high (we are located in the richest and poorest ward in the city), there are no functioning block watches; we depend on high-tech security systems to keep the criminals at bay.

Under current circumstances, it’s highly unlikely that residents would know one another unless they made a special effort to do so. Because I was a block watcher and had been active in the neighborhood association for two decades, I knew who my neighbors were — by name, if not by sight. Because my house is one of the few on the street with a commodious front porch on which I (as a smoker) spent a lot of time, I became familiar with the faces and habits of my neighbors.

But my experience was the exception, not the rule. I’d guess that it is only luck that what happened to Professor Gates did not happen here.

The problem highlighted by the Gates affair is not one of race or class. (Our neighborhood is not “lily white”: its residents have included people of color just as distinguished as Professor Gates, including a former Solicitor General of the United States and a current United States Attorney).

The problem is one of neighborhood. Once geographical proximity gave rise to relationships, mutual obligations, and a sense of community. Today, communities are largely defined by affinities and shared professional, political, and institutional interests that have little connection to geography. Our neighborhood listserv — a tenuous electronic thread — is the sole remaining artifact of the idea of community as place.

MAJOR STORIES (July 20 – 26, 2009)

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

GENERAL

USA Today features regular coverage of giving and volunteering on its website. Check it out!

Britain’s Guardian newspaper features special section of “voluntary society.” Check it out!

ADVOCACY

“An Obama accident: nation of lobbyists.” By Andie Coller. Politico.com. July 24, 2009. The President’s aversion to traditional lobbying tactics, combined with the extraordinary grass-roots campaign that helped propel him to the presidency, has produced a result he probably didn’t foresee: a new enthusiasm for grass-roots campaigns among lobbying firms and their clients. In the public affairs world, interest in bringing constituents’ voices into the lobbying game has been growing since the early ’90s, when technology and new media began to make reaching and influencing individuals possible on an unprecedented scale. Firms devoted to grass-roots work or that touted a “campaign-style” approach to lobbying began to spring up, bringing both average Americans and local “influencers” into the process, while firms which once distained such tactics are now jumping on the bandwagon.

ARTS & CULTURE

“New York City’s Ballet Master Martins Earned $699,000 in 2008.” By Philip Boroff. Bloomberg.com. July 22, 2009. Ballet Master Peter Martins earned $699,000 in pay and benefits for the year ending in June 2008 — a 1 percent cut from the previous year’s $706,000. City Ballet is one of several New York cultural institutions that paid top dollar for experienced managers, particularly before the contracting U.S. economy put pressure on donations. For the year ending in June, 2008, the ballet’s revenue fell 6 percent to $58 million, according to the tax return. Charitable contributions by the public fell 16 percent to $19.5 million as ticket sales increased 1 percent, to $23.7 million. Expenses inched up 4 percent to $59.1 million, leading to a $1.1 million deficit. That year, Martins’s top deputies received raises. In March 2009, as donations fell further and the deficit grew, senior staff took a 10 percent salary cut. Most other staffers took a 5 percent cut beginning this month. The company instituted a hiring freeze, and 11 dancers — out of 101 total — did not have their contracts renewed. The deficit for the 2008-2009 season was about $7 million.

“Museums’ funding sources going bone dry.” By Jillian Berman. USA Today. July 22, 2009. Plummeting endowments and decreases in donations and public financing are forcing museums to make large cutbacks, and some are even closing.

“Music festivals: Brass in pocket.” No by-line. The Economist. Jul 23rd 2009. Throughout the US, small towns are discovering that music festivals can give a big boost to local economies.

“Renaissance Man: The Met’s new director.” By Rebecca Mead. The New Yorker. July 27, 2009. Profile of Thomas Campbell, the new director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Documentary sparks uproar at Jewish film fest.”
By Matthai Kuruvila. San Francisco Chronicle. July 25, 2009. The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the oldest and largest Jewish film festival in the nation, has come under siege after deciding to show a documentary about Rachel Corrie, a Washington state 23-year-old killed in 2003 while trying to prevent an Israeli military bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian’s home. The reaction has been outrage. The festival board’s president stepped down from her role, opening-night ceremonies were boycotted by some, and Israel Consul General Akiva Tor said it was a “big mistake to invite Mrs. Corrie.” At the core of the debate are questions about how broadly Jews can discuss Israel within their own community – and how Jews represent Israel to the broader world. It is also overlaid with accusations of the “new anti-Semitism,” prejudice that is disguised as particular criticisms of Israel, the only Jewish state.

“To Respond to Downturn, Museums Join Forces.” By Phillip Lutz. New York Times. July 26, 2009. Arts groups are seeking strength in numbers — forming alliances, pooling resources, networking and accommodating one another’s diminished circumstances. The joint efforts, which sometimes bring together dissimilar groups, don’t always go smoothly. But by and large, the atmosphere is one of growing cooperation that works to the benefit of artists — and the public.

“Vital staffers have been leaving LACMA; Already down a Chinese art specialist, five other curators have left or are leaving the museum this year.” By Suzanne Muchnic. Los Angeles Times. July 23, 2009. Amid a financial crunch that has forced painful cutbacks at arts institutions across the country, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is forging ahead on many fronts. The board of trustees continues to grow. Construction of a new building for temporary exhibitions, funded by Stewart and Lynda Resnick and scheduled to open next year, is on track. But one part of the picture doesn’t look so rosy. The museum’s curatorial ranks have dwindled as key staff members have retired or moved on to new positions. A search for a Chinese art specialist has dragged on for nearly three years, and five curators have left this year or will depart soon. With a hiring freeze in effect, the situation raises questions about how long the vacancies will remain open.

CHARITY

“Parking cars hits the spot; Brickyard offers fundraising opportunity for schools, community groups and residents Brickyard offers chance for schools, community groups to earn some cash.” No by-line. Indianapolis Star. July 24, 2009. While NASCAR drivers bank around turns Sunday during the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Speedway residents and organizations will be banking on race fans to help fill their wallets. Nonprofits, a school fundraising group and town residents will be out in force, parking cars and selling water to raise extra cash. Many are old hands at this. The local Lions Club raised about $20,000 by parking cars at last year’s Brickyard, and members hope to make at least $18,000 this year. “With the funds that come in, we’re able to help out cancer patients, collect eyeglasses to give away, (and) we do a lot for the schools and hospitals,” said Jim Hollis, chairman of the club’s Brickyard fundraiser. “The more money we have, the more we’re able to do for others.”

“Charitable giving goes layaway route.” By Jennifer Brett. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. July 26, 2009. In these financially unfabulous times, organizers of charity events are permitting participants to buy tickets — $500 for general admission or up to $10,000 for 10 VIP patron billets — on an installment plan. Atlanta society has embraced layaway.

CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY

“Applied Materials Foundation gives $1 million for emergency assistance to needy in South Bay.” By Jessie Mangaliman. San Jose Mercury-News. July 21, 2009. The Urgent Community Response Fund, has received a one-time grant of $1 million from Applied Materials Foundation. Applied Materials is a semi-conductor manufacturer headquartered in Santa Clara, CA. Tens of thousands of working poor — finding themselves in precipitous economic circumstances — will benefit from the new fund, which will be distributed through the United Way and other social service agencies that help the needy with food, shelter, prescription medication and transportation. “The fact that the (charitable) sector itself is under stress” convinced Applied Materials Foundation to give the $1 million, according to a spokesman. A recent survey by the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits shows that 59 percent of all charitable groups are dealing with cash-flow problems, 24 percent are downsizing, and 19 percent are looking at mergers or collaborations.

“Boost Performance By Tapping Employees’ Altruism.” By Sylvia Ann Hewlett. Bloomberg.com. July 21, 2009. Ramping up altruism may well be the killer app in 2009 — a year when companies need top talent to be firing on all cylinders to spur growth and renewal, but where conventional rewards such as pay raises and bonuses are hard to come by. Most progressive companies already recognize the value of being socially responsible, but they don’t go far enough. Donations, philanthropy and employee volunteer efforts are important, but it is time to take the next step. Weaving the “feel good” factor into a go-to-market playbook gives high potential employees priceless psychic rewards, and a reason to stay, play and win.

EDUCATION

“Harvard Staggers as Endowment Shrinks.” Morning Edition. National Public Radio. July 20, 2009. Interview with Nina Munk, author of Vanity Fair’s revealing exposee of the world’s wealthiest university’s financial crisis.

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2009/06/harvard.html

“Harvard may be realigning $2b loan.” Bloomberg News/Boston Globe. July 24, 2009. – Harvard University, the wealthiest US school, is in talks to replace a $2 billion line of credit that expires next month with a smaller one that charges a higher interest rate, said a person familiar with the discussions. The university wants a $1.75 billion, 364-day loan, which is $250 million less than its existing revolver. The school is offering to pay a rate of 1.25 percentage points more than the benchmark London interbank offered rate. The rate on the current loan is 0.25 percentage points. The worst recession since the 1930s is eroding the finances of schools. Harvard estimates that its endowment has fallen about 30 percent in the past year to $25.8 billion. The university has cut staff and athletic programs and has delayed construction projects. In December, it sold $2.5 billion of bonds, in part to meet shot-term obligations like payroll.
Related Story:
“Harvard Considers Swapping in Tighter Credit Line.” By Athena Y. Jiang. Harvard Crimson. July 23, 2009.

HEALTH CARE

“Replicating Cleveland Clinic’s Success Poses Major Challenges.” By Vanessa Fuhrmans. Wall Street Journal. July 23, 2009. The Cleveland Clinic, one of the country’s pre-eminent medical institutions has caught the attention of the Obama administration because of the way it stacks up cost-wise against similar hospitals. According to one study of U.S. medical-cost patterns,chronically ill patients in the last two years of life cost Medicare $55,000 on average when they are treated at the Cleveland Clinic, tens of thousands of dollars less than at many highly-ranked academic medical centers. According to policy makers, the Cleveland Clinic’s success is due to its integrated approach. Like other so-called multispecialty clinics, the Cleveland Clinic employs its own physicians, creating teams of specialists that collaborate in treating each patient. By contrast, at most traditional community hospitals, doctors remain independent, private practitioners. This clinic model makes it easier to coordinate care, implement evidence-based treatments and reduce the red tape of referrals; doctors also have less incentive to order unnecessary tests or procedures because they are paid fixed salaries, not on a fee-for-service basis like the majority of U.S. doctors. Cleveland’s model is not easy to duplicate: it requires physicians to embrace a teamwork ethos and tight hierarchy; in rejecting the fee-for-service model, it reduces the incomes of doctors and hospitals; lower earned revenues also require heavier reliance on philanthropy.
Related Story:
“Obama Visits Clinic Known for Quality Care, Controlling Costs.” Washington Post. July 23, 2009.

HUMAN SERVICES

“Los Angeles-area child-care centers feeling a pinch; In one more sign of the recession, more parents are cutting back on day care and asking for tuition help as they find themselves out of work.” By Nicole Santa Cruz. Los Angeles Times. July 21, 2009.

“Red Cross Has Cut Deficit, Met Fundraising Goals, Official Says.”
By Susan Kinzie. Washington Post. July 22, 2009. Gail McGovern, president and chief executive of the Red Cross, said the nonprofit agency’s deficit was cut to $50 million from $209 million a year ago. The Red Cross cut more than a thousand jobs at its headquarters and more than 350 positions elsewhere across the country, scaled back raises and benefits and reduced expenses, including renting out space at its main office, McGovern said, and plans to balance its budget next year. Over the past nine months, the agency surpassed its $100 million fundraising goal with $95 million in cash and $15 million in in-kind donations.

INTERNATIONAL

ARGENTINA

“Mining Funds Pose Ethical Conflict for Universities.” By Marcela Valente.
Inter Press Service News Agency. July 23, 2009. An Argentine non-governmental organization has warned that a mining consortium under scrutiny for polluting the environment has been funding public universities for the past two years, bringing into question the independence of any technical reports the universities may be asked to submit.

AUSTRALIA

“Charities face economic ‘triple whammy’ yet see a silver lining.” By Adele Horin. Sydney Morning Herald. July 23, 2009. In the economic downturn, 6 out of 10 charities have lost revenue in the past six months. But a major new survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Centre for Social Impact and the Fundraising Institute Australia shows that many are finding opportunities to restructure, refocus and make changes that were delayed in the good times. The survey of 263 non-profit organisations found two-thirds expect further loss of income over the next 12 months. At the same time their costs are rising, putting many in a bind. In response to declining income, one-third of charities intended to reduce their activities, 28 per cent intended to charge more for their services and 30 per cent intended to make staff redundant. About half would make greater use of volunteers. Only the larger charities believed they would be able to reduce their costs. About half the organisations found a silver lining in the difficult times. A large national health organisation said the stressful environment had “forced tremendous debate over core and non-core activities” and had prompted organisational changes. Others said the times had been a “wake-up call” to work more efficiently. Australia’s nonprofit sector is an important provider of health, disability, aged care and other social services. It employs more than 880,000 people and turns over $76 billion a year.

FRANCE

“The meek shall inherit the Negresco.”
By John Lichfield. The Independent (UK). July 22, 2009. The eccentric owner of the the Hotel Negresco in Nice, has bequeathed it to a foundation for animals and the poor. The octogenarian owner of the palatial, art-encrusted hotel, classified as a historic monument by the French state, has just re-written her will. On her death, the title deeds will be handed over to a charity which rescues homeless people and unwanted animals. Her motives are three-fold: To help the wretched, both man and beast; to keep together the staff of the last privately-owned luxury hotel in France; and to prevent the much sought-after Negresco from falling into the hands of an international hotel chain. Mme Augier, a childless widow, has also bequeathed the rest of her property portfolio in Paris, Nice and Grasse (said to be worth more than €100m) to the Mesange-Augier-Negresco foundation.

INDIA

“NRI donates 90,000 pounds for bowel cancer research in UK.” No by-line. Times of India. July 22, 2009. Balwant Singh Grewal, popularly known as ‘Bobby Grewal’, a 73-year-old Indian philanthropist, has donated 90,000 pounds collected after an 800 km fund-rising walk for bowel cancer research in the UK. Grewal, who is president of the India Association, recently completed an 800-km marathon walk to raise funds for the project.

“India opens door to foreign universities.” By Varun Sood and James Lamont. Financial Times (UK). July 22 2009. India plans to open its higher education sector to foreign investment and some of the world’s leading universities next year to help meet the growing skills requirements of millions of its young people. India is one of the most attractive education markets but historically the government has not encouraged foreign participation in the country’s halls of academia. India faces an enormous challenge to provide education to young people, many in remote locations. By some estimates, the country needs to build 1,500 universities over the next five years to equip enough people with the skills to sustain rapid growth in Asia’s third-largest economy. Currently, nearly a quarter million Indians are studying in foreign universities, including 104,522 in the US.

“Govt colleges remain state toppers’ choice.” By Hrusikesh Mohanty. Times of India. July 26, 2009. The attractive packages offered by the private colleges to woo students have failed to serve the purpose. Instead, most bright students in the state are preferring government-run junior colleges with better infra-structure and facilities to pursue higher studies.

IRELAND

“Second child abuse uproar engulfs Catholic Church in Ireland; A second report has given details of alleged sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Dublin.” By David Sharrock. London Times. July 22, 2009. A report detailing the alleged sexual abuse of 450 children by Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin was handed to the Irish Government yesterday. It is the second one this year to examine the extent of abuse perpetrated by members of the Catholic Church in Ireland and will undermine further its position in a country that only a few decades ago conformed rigidly to standards set by the Vatican.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

“British Museum treasures head for Abu Dhabi.” By Richard Brooks. London Times. July 26, 2009. The British Museum has struck a multi-million-pound deal to help launch a museum in the Middle East. In its biggest overseas venture, the institution will be unveiled tomorrow as the official partner of the national museum of Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich Gulf state. The new building will sit alongside offshoots of the Louvre and the Guggenheim museums. As part of a 10-year contract, the British Museum will lend some of its treasures to the venue and help it set up and curate exhibitions. The museum’s galleries will be based on a number of themes, one promoting “the story of oil”. Critics are likely to argue that the British Museum is being too commercially driven for a publicly funded body.

UK

“Homeless charity Quarriers threatens 2,000 workers with dismissal.” By Lindsay McIntosh. London Times. July 21, 2009. Thousands of workers at a charity that provides support for the vulnerable, homeless and disabled in Scotland have been warned that their jobs are in jeopardy as the organisation struggles to cut costs during the recession. The Unison union said that the Quarriers charity had told its 2,000 staff that they could be dismissed unless they agreed to a cut in wages and changes to conditions.

“NHS hospital faces partial sell-off.” By Nicholas Timmins. Financial Times (UK). July 21 2009. The private sector is to be invited for the first time to take over and run a big National Health Service under plans backed by the Department of Health and the Treasury. The hospital, which has an accumulated deficit of almost £40m on a £90m turnover, is being offered up as a franchise, probably for seven years, with independent hospital operators and NHS foundation trusts being invited to take on its running and financial risks. The move partially to privatize the hospital has met strong union opposition. The health authority is understood to have explored the idea with a number of operators in the independent sector. The franchise proposal stops short of outright privatization. But it goes further than the previous big attempt to involve the private sector directly in the running of a large NHS hospital, when the Tribal Group was given a management contract – involving less financial risk than is likely in this case – to run Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham in 2003. Its board eventually judged the hospital “no longer financially viable”, and it was taken over by a neighboring foundation trust.

“Elderly prioritised over people with learning disabilities, say charities; Charity coalition says government green paper on care inflicts ‘needless hardship’ by ignoring younger age groups.”
By Owen Bowcott. Guardian (UK). July 24, 2009. Children and adults with learning disabilities are being ignored by the government because current policy is too focused on care of the elderly, a coalition of charities claims today. In a joint letter to the Guardian today, the heads of 15 charities warn of a £200m shortfall in funding and express dismay at the “needless hardship” inflicted on individuals and their families. The complaint that older people have usurped political attention is unusual but one that may become increasingly common as the age profile of the UK population tilts in favor of pensioners. There are already more people aged over 65 than under 16 in the UK.

“State schools may be run for profit; Students must also be taught traditional literacy and numeracy, Mr Bloomer said.”
By Jonathan Oliver. London Times. July 26, 2009. State schools could be run by private companies for a profit under plans being considered by the Conservatives. The Tories had said that only charities and non-profit-making bodies would be allowed to create new “free schools” supported by the taxpayer. However, the party is considering a big change to its flagship policy for improving primary and secondary education. Under the existing plan, the Tories would remove the red tape that stops the creation of new schools. These institutions would then be free from local authority control, with central government paying an allowance of about £6,000 per pupil. The plan, modeled on a Swedish system, is designed to appeal to middle-class parents, particularly those in large cities who are frustrated at the poor quality of state schools. Because senior Tories are concerned that too few voluntary bodies will come forward to set up the schools, they are considering whether private companies should be allowed to join the scheme. Among organizations that would be interested is Civitas, the conservative think tank, which runs private schools with fees of about £5,000 a year. Investors in Civitas can make profits, but the size of the dividend is carefully limited.

“Plan for tuition fees to hit £7,000 a year; A rescue deal for universities could include rising charges and free, no-frills degrees.” By Jack Grimston. London Times. July 26, 2009. British students face tuition fees of £7,000 a year by 2013 under plans being developed by both Labour and the Conservatives. Both parties are studying an overhaul of the system under which top universities would be allowed to lift fees above the current legal limit of £3,225, while many former polytechnics would offer no-frills degrees for free. It has emerged, however, that Mandelson is also studying options that go far beyond simply deciding whether fees can be increased. Denham’s idea calls for a wholesale restructuring of higher education. Some post-1992 universities and further education colleges could offer free, government-funded “walk to study” degrees, often in vocational subjects, to local students living at home. Elite research institutions, meanwhile, would be allowed to charge far higher fees than at present, with students paying for future earning power. Supporters of an increase believe university funding has become an emergency. Cuts of 5%-20% in government funding for higher education are expected whoever wins the next election, despite increasing numbers of students.

“Sudden rush of young blood peps up gentlemen’s clubs.” By Matthew Holehouse. London Times. July 26, 2009. Gentlemen’s clubs, once the preserve of grumpy old colonels drinking gin and talking about the empire, have loosened their collars and are undergoing a resurgence in membership, thanks to an injection of new blood. Young men — and women — are clamouring to be allowed to join some of the capital’s oldest institutions, and they are being lured by reduced membership fees and, in some cases, the promise of cheap beer.

LAW & REGULATION

“New York’s Phantom Government.” Editorial. New York Times. July 23, 2009. For years, there have been two New York State governments. One is the public structure with its $131 billion budget and its various lawmakers wreaking havoc in Albany. The other is a dopplegänger government of as many as 800 quasi-public authorities that operate mostly out of sight. These authorities run the New York City subways and almost every major public building project in the state. While the state’s official debt is about $52 billion, these authorities are believed to hold another $134 billion in debt. Yet too much of what they do remains secret. Originally, these public-private authorities were created as a way to make government work as efficiently as a private company. They have managed to cut through bureaucracy and Albany’s political miasma to get many important projects done. Over time, the system has increasingly become a patronage parking lot for New York’s governors, who have the power to appoint almost anybody to most of these plummy jobs. A bill that would finally require transparency and accountability from this huge shadow government has been passed in both houses of the Legislature. Gov. David Paterson should sign it as soon as it gets to his desk.

MEDIA

“WGBH says cuts, layoffs needed.” By Megan Woolhouse. Boston Globe. July 24, 2009. One of public broadcasting’s flagship stations, Boston’s WGBH, has announced that budget shortfalls will require major budget cuts and layoffs. Department heads have been asked to cut their budgets as much as 8 percent to help make up an expected revenue shortfall of 12 percent in fiscal 2010. It is unknown how many employees would be let go because the station is in negotiations with one of its major unions.

MISCELLANEOUS

“Making The Case Against Kidney Donation.” By Patrick Appel. The Atlantic. July 24, 2009. It is often assumed that at least permitting compensation for kidneys would result in more living donors, but this is not necessarily the case. Under the current system, a person who needs a kidney will usually turn to his family, and possibly his friends, for help, but if he could obtain a kidney from a stranger, paid for by his insurance, would he ask a person he loved to undertake the nuisance and risk of surgery? . It seems likely, too, that the sort of person who might now donate to a stranger for altruistic reasons would not do so if the donation were a commercial proposition (one altruistic donor asks compensation proponents to consider whether an offer of cash from a boyfriend would increase the probability that the girlfriend would have sex with him)—though there are so few altruistic donors that their numbers don’t much affect the calculus. The case for legalizing kidney purchase hinges precisely on the fact that it is not like other organ donations: having just one kidney does not seem awfully risky to the donor’s life. perhaps donating blood and donating kidneys are special cases, and should be treated individually rather than as part of a blanket policy towards donating “organs” or “tissue”.
Related articles:
“What sort of person gives a kidney to a stranger?” By Larissa MacFarquhar. The New Yorker. July 27, 2009.

PHILANTHROPY

“Soon Dillinger name will foster some good; Notorious criminal’s family creates fund for troubled youths.” By Justin Jacobs. Indianapolis Star. July 23, 2009. John Dillinger died outside a Chicago theater on July 22, 1934, with $7.71 in his pockets. Seventy-five years later, his family is giving that money back to the people. The John Dillinger Troubled Youth Fund was officially founded Wednesday with an initial donation of $7,007.71 from Jeff Scalf, Dillinger’s great-nephew and owner of Dillinger LLC. The fund, which will provide troubled youths with Christian literature and motivational speakers, was established by Dillinger’s family to “protect other families from going through what we went through,” said Scalf, 52. The money will first filter through police agencies and prosecutors in Morgan County to pinpoint local kids to help. Scalf hopes that as the fund grows, it eventually will benefit every state in which Dillinger committed a crime.

“The Aristocracy and Its Discontents.” By Michael Knox Beran. Wall Street Journal. July 24, 2009. Critical profile of the late New York philanthropist, Brooke Astor.

RELIGION

“A Constant Parish, Now Called to Leave? Episcopal Church Struggles With New Acceptance of Gays.” By William Wan. Washington Post. July 20, 2009. Rural Virginia parish endeavors to adjust to changes in denominational policies.

“Churches open nonprofit cafe in Whiteland; 50-seat facility will offer food, books and music; money earned will go to charitable programs in county.” By William J. Booher. Indianapolis Star. July 23, 2009. A consortium of Indianapolis-area United Methodist churches has launched the nonprofit Under the Sun Cafe. Beginning with a grand opening Friday and Saturday, the cafe will offer soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. And it also will host periodic concerts, provide video games and a big screen TV, and plenty of space in its leased 2,800-square-foot site for community groups as well as free book exchanges and free Wi-Fi access.Any income above expenses from the cafe’s operation will not go to cafe owners as profit but will be donated to programs to help youth, the hungry and the homeless in Johnson County. The idea for the cafe arose about two years as Whiteland United Methodist Church considered finding a place to conduct contemporary services to attract people not interested in attending traditional services in the church.

“Baptist Leaders Face Challenge On Women’s Roles.”
By Barbara Bradley Hagerty. Morning Edition. National Public Radio. July 24, 2009. When former President Jimmy Carter left the Southern Baptist denomination nine years ago, primary reason, he writes, was the group’s treatment of women. The Southern Baptist Convention says women cannot hold positions of leadership over men. And now some Baptists say that stand is contributing to the convention’s problems. Of 44,000 churches, fewer than 100 Southern Baptist congregations have women leaders. Church leaders proclaim their opposition to empowering women as clergy and seminary professors despite falling membership in the denomination.

“Pulling Together On Health Care: Some community organizations and national faith groups are joining forces and setting aside differences to promote congressional action on what they consider a moral imperative.” By Jacqueline L. Salmon. Washington Post. July 25, 2009. Several large coalitions are mobilizing religious communities nationwide in support of overhauling the nation’s health-care system. In recent weeks, hundreds of clergy members and lay leaders have descended on the offices of members of Congress, urging lawmakers to enact health-care legislation this year. With face-to-face lobbying, sermons, prayer and advertising on Christian radio stations, the coalitions are pressing the idea that health care for everyone is a fundamental moral issue. Organizing groups with disparate religious beliefs around a single goal has been challenging. The coalitions have had to tiptoe around sensitive issues, such as whether to support a government-run health insurance option and whether government-subsidized plans should pay for abortions. They have also had to deal with some clergy members’ fears of offending their congregations by speaking out for universal health care.

“GOP’s Reed seeks redemption after political exodus.” No by-line. USA Today. July 22, 2009. Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, has established a new organization, the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Currently little more than a website, Reed hopes to turn it into a strident new force that uses social media to capture a broader, younger and more diverse audience. “This is not the Christian Coalition redux,” Reed said. “It’s a much broader attempt. Our primary focus is jobs, the economy, taxes, creating economic opportunity.”

“Mormons: The Most Conservative Religious Group In America.” By Chris Good. The Atlantic. July 24 2009. According to a new report from the Pew Center, released today and based on data from the group’s 2007 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. More Mormons (60 percent) identify themselves as conservatives than any other religious group; they also lead every other group in GOP party identification (at 65 percent)–much higher than the general population in both categories. The only group that’s more partisan is members of historically black churches, according to Pew, 77 percent of whom identify themselves as Democrats.

SCANDAL

“Questionable homeless group shuts its doors.”
By C.W. Nevius. July 21, 2009. In February, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the San Francisco Homeless Services Coalition, which claimed to be an advocacy agency, had been engaging in questionable financial practices. According to its 2007 Form 990, of $172,627 in donations, only $20,170 was distributed to charities. A former leader of the organization confirms that the group is “on hiatus,” both here and at its Los Angeles headquarters.

“A Conservative Sellout? Quelle Surprise.” By Thomas Frank. Wall Street Journal. July 22, 2009. The American Conservative Union, a leading nonprofit advocacy group,, became embroiled in another of Washington’s pay-to-play scandals, for offering its services to Fed-Ex for a cash consideration. In June, an officer of the ACU named wrote a letter to an officer of FedEx proposing that the ACU organize grassroots opposition to a congressional bill that would have made it easier for the firm’s workforce to join labor unions. In exchange for a $2 million donation, the ACU proposed to contact voters, participate in Hill meetings including key members of the Senate,” and produce op-eds and articles. Fed-Ex declined to participate in the scheme.

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

“Tech confab with a conscience goes global.”
By Jon Swartz. USA Today. July 20, 2009. The TED (technology, entertainment and design) conference, an annual gathering of the world’s top techies and thinkers has marked its new global orientation with a meeting in Oxford, England ro mark its expansion into Europe. It plans a fall meeting in India and 300 regional meetings around the world. The organization awards the annual TED Prize, designed to motivate participants to do something socially significant. Past winners of the $100,000 prize include Bono, former president Bill Clinton and Cameron Sinclair, founder of Architecture for Humanity.

MAJOR STORIES (July 27 – August 2, 2009)

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

GENERAL

“Charity Aimed at Change.” By William A. Schambra. Wall Street Journal. July 28, 2009. Is the record of America’s nonprofits in addressing major social problems any better than that of government, asks Hudson Institute philanthropy guru Bill Shambra in his review of Steven H. Goldberg’s new critique, Billions of Drops in Millions of Buckets. While agreeing that foundation grants are too small and too short-term, he quarrels with Goldberg’s assertion that “the lack of social progress in recent decades is attributable in large measure to the way we fund nonprofit organizations. The lack of progress, Shambra argues, has more to do with the fact that we really have no idea how to bring about “transformative social impact.”

ADVOCACY

Exhibit traces history of Hoover Institution with rich display of artifacts.” By Denis C. Theriault. San Jose Mercury-News, July 26, 2009. An exhibit celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Hoover Institution traces the story of a place that was born as a world-renowned collection of World War I ephemera but grew up into one of the nation’s leading hubs of conservative thought.

National Urban League mapping its future; Annual conference kicks off in Chicago.” By Lolly Bowean. Chicago Tribune. The National Urban Leagues, celebrating its 99th anniversary in Chicago, sets an agenda which aims to narrow the education gap between whites and minorities and to help minorities who are suffering disproportionately from the foreclosure crisis. The League promotes economic equality and individual empowerment through job training, networking, mentoring and investing in educational programs.

Newt’s big cash haul: $8 million.” By Kenneth P. Vogel and Kathryn McGarr. Politico.com. July 31, 2009. Newt Gingrich’s political group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, raised $8.1 million in the first half of the year to support an operation that includes at least 17 employees. IRS filings show that accepted at least $460,000 from oil interests in the first half of the year, after advancing offshore oil drilling as an issue during the 2008 campaign cycle, and $150,000 from the Workforce Fairness Institute, a business-backed group opposed to the Employee Free Choice Act. Gingrich’s 527 group has raised a total of $31.9 million and spent $31.6 million since it was created in 2006.

Oregon conservatives launch nonprofits to push initiatives.” By Ross William Hamilton. Oregonian. August 01, 2009. Oregon’s top conservative activists meet discuss a cluster of new groups they’ve created to serve as a one-stop operation for conservative initiative drives.

ARTS & CULTURE

Lawsuit Seeks to Save Art Museum at Brandeis.” By Randy Kennedy. New York Times. July 28, 2009. Three overseers of the Rose Art Museum filed a lawsuit seeking to halt Brandeis University’s plans to close the museum and clear the way to sell some of its works, which include pieces by Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Ellsworth Kelly. The university’s trustees voted in January to close the museum and sell the works, collectively estimated to be worth a total in the area of $350 million.

Notable & Quotable: From ‘The Culture Crash” by James Panero. Wall Street Journal. July 29, 2009. From “The Culture Crash” by James Panero on Forbes.com, July 20: “The reductions in arts endowments reported over the past year have been significant, raising the question of how they have been managed. If the investment goal of arts endowments is the preservation of capital, how can they now face decreases of 35%.” Arts organizations must confront the governing and investment decisions that exposed their endowments, big and small, to excessive levels of risk and brought many of their organizations to the brink. For full story, see: “The Culture Clash.” Forbes.com, July 19, 2009.

Los Gatos Shakespeare Festival needs help from community to stay afloat.” By Judy Peterson. Los Gatos Weekly-Times. July 29, 2009. The Los Gatos Shakespeare Festival welcomed a sellout crowd for its first 2009 season performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on July 18, an indication of the festival’s ongoing popularity. But all is not well in the land of the Bard. Several of the grants that the group normally gets weren’t funded this year.” Businesses that had sponsored the group in the past could not do it this year. It costs between $85,000 and $90,000 to put the festival on annually. The group makes about $35,000 to $40,000 in ticket sales; the balance must come from donations, grants, and sponsorships. The festival is debt-free and has a reserve fund, but the reserves are expected to be exhausted soon.

U.S. orchestras compensate for budget shortfalls.” By Konrad Marshall. Indianapolis Star. August 1, 2009. Orchestras all over the country have seen their bottom lines shrink in the past year. Many of them have compensated for the budgetary shortfalls with contract renegotiations and furloughs, as well as wage and hiring freezes. Most orchestras have found their revenue streams dropping not through lack of ticket sales or individual donations — which are holding firm — but by shrinking endowments and corporate contributions (which they expect to return eventually).

Venzago balked at 50 percent pay cut; Ousted maestro’s manager says talks with ISO broke down.” By Jay Harvey. Indianapolis Star. August 1, 2009.

EDUCATION

HIGHER EDUCATION

Colorado Endowment Follows Its Chief.” By Craig Karmin. Wall Street Journal. July 31, 2009. When the endowment chief of the University of Colorado joined boutique Wall Street firm Perella Weinberg Partners earlier this month, he didn’t show up empty-handed: The school’s entire $825 million endowment came with him. This is the latest example of deepening ties among endowment chiefs and private-sector money managers. A number of endowment chiefs have jumped to private firms, bringing endowment assets with them. Some have compared the practice to the “revolving door” of government and private business.

CHARTER SCHOLS

As Charter Schools Unionize, Many Debate Effect.” By Sam Dillon. New York Times. July 27, 2009. Dissatisfied working conditions and lower pay than instructors at public schools, an increasing number of teachers at charter schools are unionizing. Charter schools, which are publicly financed but managed by groups separate from school districts, have been a mainstay of the education reform movement and widely embraced by parents. Charter school advocates say that the nation’s 4,600 charter schools, most of which operate without unions, have been freer to innovate, allowing them to lengthen the class day, dismiss underperforming teachers, and experiment with merit pay and other changes that are often banned by work rules governing traditional public schools. Unionization raises questions about whether unions will strengthen the charter movement by stabilizing its young, often transient teaching force, or weaken it by preventing administrators from firing ineffective teachers and imposing changes they say help raise achievement, like an extended school year.

OTHER

Teach for America: Elite corps or costing older teachers jobs?” By Greg Toppo. USA Today. July 29, 2009. Critics of Teach for America say its growth is coming at the expense of experienced teachers who are losing their jobs — in some cases, they say, to make room for TFA, which brings in teachers at beginners’ salary levels and underwrites training.

GOVERNANCE

“In Tough Times, Conflicts Rise on Co-op Boards.” By Vivian S. Toy. New York Times. August 2, 2009. Many co-op and condominium boards recently held their annual meetings, which made it prime season for building intrigue. Most meetings are nonevents, with current members easily re-elected. But for those buildings where dissent has been brewing and is finally served up openly, the tension can be thick and vicious. The uncertainty of the real estate market and concerns about rising costs seem to have made buildings more prone to rumors and attempted revolts.

HEALTH CARE

Rural Medical Camp Tackles Health Care Gaps.” By Howard Berkes.
All Things Considered/National Public Radio. July 27, 2009. For the past 10 years, during late weekends in July, the fairgrounds in Wise, West Virginia have been transformed into a mobile and makeshift field hospital providing free care for those in need under the auspices of the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Expedition. The organizers paid about $250,000 out of pocket to run the event, and they provided an estimated $1.5 million worth of care to some 2,700 patients. About 1,800 volunteers provide the medical, dental and logistical help, including hundreds of doctors, dentists, nurses, assistants and technicians.

About That New Jersey Organ Scandal; It’s not surprising when 80,000 Americans are waiting for kidneys.” By Sally Satel. Wall Street Journal. July 26, 2009. The illicit organ trade is booming across the globe. It will only recede when the critical shortage of organs for transplants disappears. The best way to make that happen is to give legitimate incentives to people who might be willing to donate.

HUMAN SERVICES

Retiring the children’s shelter.” By Patty Fisher. San Jose Mercury-News. July 26, 2009. When the Santa Clara County Children’s Shelter opened in October 1995, it was a cause célèbre, the beneficiary of donations from leading Silicon Valley philanthropists. But as soon as it opened, the new shelter was becoming obsolete, as child welfare experts decided that vulnerable kids belonged with families — preferably their own — and not in institutional settings. After all that money, time and effort, all the outpouring of community support, the shelter had become a liability.

Stimulus Law Bolsters Food Bank Offerings.” By Michael Cooper. New York Times. July 30, 2009. Struggling to meet a demand for food that spiked with the unemployment rate, some food pantries have had to turn away people seeking help. Others are packing a little less food into each shopping bag they give out. But recently the nation’s food banks received a $100 million windfall of extra food, as part of the federal stimulus law. The extra food is being welcomed by food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens, which say they are seeing big increases in the number of people seeking food. A recent survey by Feeding America, a nonprofit organization whose network of more than 200 food banks helps 63,000 local charities distribute food, found that requests for emergency food assistance were up by 30 percent over the previous year.

IN MEMORIAM

George Weissman, Leader at Philip Morris and in the Arts in New York, Dies at 90.” By Douglas Martin. New York Times. July 28, 2009. George Weissman, who helped transform Philip Morris into to a diversified conglomerate known for contributions to the arts, and who then led Lincoln Center for nearly a decade, died on July 24. Mr. Weissman also pushed Philip Morris to become a major donor to arts groups, particularly experimental undertakings like the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He said in an interview with The New York Times in 1990 that the arts initiative began with a traveling exhibition of modern art in 1965. Giving to the arts also impressed customers. In 1983, Mr. Weissman installed a branch of the Whitney Museum of American Art on the ground floor of the company’s new Park Avenue headquarters. He was on the Whitney board from 1979 to 1990. In 1984, he was soon as busy as ever, became vice chairman of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1984, then served as chairman from 1986 to 1994.

Reverend Ike, Who Preached Riches, Dies at 74.” By Christopher Lehmqnn-Haupt. New York Times. July 30, 2009. The Rev. Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, the flamboyant minister better known as the Reverend Ike, who preached the blessings of material prosperity to a large congregation in New York and to television and radio audiences nationwide, died Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 74. Along with Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and Pat Robertson, he was one of the first evangelists to grasp the power of television. At the height of his success, in the 1970s, he reached an audience estimated at 2.5 million. His critics saw the donations as the entire point of his ministry, calling him a con man misleading his flock. His defenders, while acknowledging his love of luxury, argued that his church had roots both in the traditions of African-American evangelism and in the philosophies of mind over matter. Whether legitimately or not, the money flooded in, making him a multimillionaire. Though its fortunes have waxed and waned, the church continues to operate from the former Loew’s theater, which maintains tax-exempt status as a religious property.

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Charity stops at home for business.” By Ari Sharp. Sydney Morning Herald. July 31, 2009. After laws limiting attempts by commercial opportunists to take advantage of shareholder databases, company secretaries warn they are facing a looming threat from another source: charities. Chartered Secretaries Australia say they are facing a surge in requests from charities keen to get access to the names and addresses of shareholders in an effort to sign them up as benefactors.

CHINA

Hepatitis Group Is Harassed in China.” By Andrew Jacobs. New York Times. July 31, 2009. A raid on an organization that advocates on behalf of people infected with hepatitis B suggests that the permissible space in which civil society groups can operate was already small, but right now that circle is getting smaller and smaller.

INDIA

Spurt in student groups hits RU.” No by-line. Times of India. July 27, 2009. The promise by the Congress government to hold student union elections has led to the spurt in student groups recently. This has affected smooth functioning of academics and administrative work at the Rajasthan University (RU). Experts say these groups lack vision and policy. They were keen on those exercises that keep them in centre of attraction. Most of these groups are not registered and governed by politicians. They are continuously creating nuisance by raising illogical demands.

Dubious foreign univs won’t be let in.” No by-line. Times of India. July 29, 2009. Education minister Kapil Sibal said that while caution in letting foreign educational providers in India is well advised, the country should not miss the opportunity. He also said that through deliberations with the US government, he gathered that even that country wants to give high quality education to Indian students by exposing them to their institutions. In return for spiritual inspiration, he requested cash donations from his parishioners, from his television and radio audiences, and from the recipients of his extensive mailings.

IRELAND

Hammer-wielding pastor: why I smashed orphanage to pieces.” By Claire McNeilly. The Independent (UK). July 28, 2009. The founder of one of Northern Ireland’s best known churches has told how he smashed up a Romanian children’s home funded by his congregation to stop it falling into the wrong hands. Pastor McConnell said he acted after learning a paedophile ring he believed to be close to the Romanian government had designs on the home.

Irish court may censor next Catholic abuse report.” No by-line. USA Today. July 31, 2009. Ireland’s next report into the cover-up of child abuse in the Catholic Church might be censored or delayed because its publication could undermine prosecutors’ efforts to imprison pedophile priests.

JAPAN

Catholic clergy to opt out of lay judge system.” By Kentaro Isomura. Asahi Shimbum. July 28, 2009. Japan’s recently instituted jury system imposes fines of up to 200,000 yen on citizens who refuse jury duty. In a move which challenges the balance between the time-honored principles of religion and the rules of modern society, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan has recommended that the clergy abstain from such service. Canon Law forbids from serving in “public offices which entail participation in the exercise of civil power.”

PAKISTAN

Pakistan Philanthropist Cares For Karachi’s Forgotten.” By Julie McCarthy. Morning Edition. National Public Radio. July 29, 2009. Abdul Sattar Edhi and his wife, Bilquis, run the Edhi Foundation, a pioneering, 60-year-old social work network that includes Karachi’s only ambulance service, orphanages, a bakery to feed the poor, and a morgue and burial service. The 82-year-old Pakistani has devoted his life to the destitute of Karachi, burying the city’s forgotten and giving fresh life to its abandoned newborns. His pioneering social work has drawn comparisons to Mother Teresa’s.

UK

Lord Mandelson: universities must stop failing working class.” By Nicola Woolcock. London Times. July 28, 2009. The UK’s First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, who presides over the nation’s education system, declared that universities must recruit more working-class students to justify an increase in tuition fees. Universities’ efforts to attract students from poor backgrounds had not been good enough. Describing a university education as a ticket to the best-paid employment, he said that access to it would “inevitably define the degree of social mobility in Britain.” “Any institution that wants to use greater costs to the student to fund excellence must face an equal expectation to ensure its services remain accessible to more than just those with the ability to pay.”

Paedophile who worked for Save the Children jailed.” By Sandra Laville. Guardian (UK). July 28, 2009. Save the Children is carrying out an inquiry into the safeguards in place on hiring its staff after an employee who led a double life as a “predatory and devious” paedophile was jailed for four years.

How can I be a charity trustee?” By Alice Faure Walker Guardian (UK). July 30, 2009. In the first of a series of pieces giving legal advice to the voluntary sector, Alice Faure Walker answers questions of qualification, commitment and delegation.

Don’t leave the third sector out in the cold.” By Tim Ward. Guardian (UK). July 29, 2009. Third sector organizations involved in learning and skills are concerned that they will be disadvantaged by the new contracting frameworks being developed when the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is replaced by the Skills Funding Agency and the Young People’s Learning Agency next spring. This concern is based on the fact that, despite a stated commitment to “competitive neutrality” as part of open and competitive tendering processes, the third sector has found itself increasingly disadvantaged against private sector and public sector agencies when trying to access LSC funding.

Companies that get a buzz out of caring and sharing; From funding bee gardens to planting veg patches for locals, the food world is bucking budget cuts and giving a bit back.” By Hattie Ellis. London Times. July 30, 2009. Many businesses have long made a big noise about “giving a bit back”. But this trend is rather more altruistic. It is about the UK’s food companies sharing values with consumers with local agricultural and nutrition projects.

Chance for more favourable property terms for third sector.” By Yonni Abramson. Guardian (UK). July 31, 2009. How falling rents and real estate prices ease financial burdens on the UK’s charities.

Quakers back gay marriage and call for reform.” By Ruth Gledhill. London Times. August 1, 2009. The Quakers sanctioned gay marriages yesterday and called on the Government to give same-sex couples who marry in their ceremonies the same standing as heterosexual people. Other Christian churches and religious denominations have approved blessings for same-sex civil partnerships but the Quakers are Britain’s first mainstream religious group to approve marriages for homosexuals.
Related Stories:
Quakers to conduct gay weddings.” Independent (UK). August 1, 2009.
In praise of… the Quakers.” Editorial. Guardian (UK). August 1, 2009.

Cambridge college Trinity in talks to buy O2 arena.” No by-line. London Times. August 2, 2009. Trinity College, Cambridge, the UK’s, wealthiest college, has been in negotiations to buy the O2 entertainment complex, formerly the Millennium Dome, for more than £20m.
The O2, formerly the Millenium Dome, which is located in southeast London, is one of London’s most popular entertainment venues.

Church under pressure over revelations that Vedanta supplies nuclear programme; Sacred mountain bauxite will be used for missiles; Campaigners press for ethical rethink on share stake.” No by-line. London Times. August 2, 2009. The Church of England is under increasing pressure to give up its stake in a controversial mining group after it emerged that the firm supplies materials to India’s nuclear missile program. The church, which which has a policy of not investing in companies that supply or manufacture armaments has promised that its Ethical Investment Advisory Group [EIAG] will hold talks with the company’s management over the mining plans.

LAW & REGULATION

Endowments Trapped by Losses at NYU Expose Dated Laws.” By Oliver Staley.
Bloomberg.com. July 28, 2009. Millions of dollars for financial aid is out of reach at New York University, trapped in endowment accounts that can’t be touched because of a once-obscure state law thrust into prominence by historic investment losses. The university is freezing salaries and trimming office supply costs to help pay for financial aid after about half its scholarship endowments, worth $33 million in 2007, fell below the value of the gifts that originally created them. Under a 1978 law designed to protect the wishes of donors, New York prohibits spending from “underwater” endowments. At NYU, about a third of the endowed funds are underwater, locking up revenue the school relies upon for about 1.5 percent of the operating budget.

The IRS’s New Target: College Endowments.” By Robin Goldwyn Blumenthal. Barron’s. August 3, 2009. The IRS is canvassing 400 randomly selected colleges and universities about compensation practices for in-house and third-party endowment managers, as well as a series of related taxation issues.
Related Story: “IRS sets probe on college endowments.” No by-line. Reuters. August 2, 2009.

PHILANTHROPY

Homeless Donor. National Public Radio. July 27, 2009. For the past two years, National Public Radio has received support ” from the estate of Richard Leroy Walters, whose life was enriched by NPR, and whose bequest seeks to encourage others to discover public radio.” A retired engineer, Walters died homeless at the age of 76, leaving an estate of $4 million which was divided between NPR and a Catholic rescue mission in Phoenix.

Banks Turn Away From ‘Planned Giving’.” By Shelly Banjo. Wall Street Journal. July 28, 2009. While planned giving programs steadily gain popularity with charities and their donors, they’re becoming less popular with the banks that service them. Some key banks are retreating from this area of financial management, refusing to take on charities with less than $1 million or $5 million in assets. Some are dropping clients who don’t make the cut. That’s putting a squeeze on smaller organizations, many of which depend on planned-giving vehicles to bring in donations and rely on banks to manage the often-complex programs.

For the love of Pongo, Portland donor provides meals for pets.” By Abby Metty. Oregonian. July 29, 2009. Larry Chusid, a Portland entrepreneur, spends the bulk of his time handing out pet food to homeless and low-income people. In 2007, he spotted four men and two dogs at a homeless camp. Perhaps inspired by the holiday or a lifelong love of dogs, he pulled over to see if he could help. The men said they were fine but wished their dogs had something to eat. Chusid had recently lost his beloved pet, Pongo, and decided the best way to honor him would be to feed the pets of the needy. He bought food and supplies, and cruised through homeless camps. Then he started to give pet food to social service agencies, too, and became a regular at Potluck in the Park, where free meals are served each Sunday at downtown’s O’Bryant Square. This week, he launched a Web site — www.thepongofund.org — where he thanks suppliers and gives contact information for people who want to provide or receive help. Since he started, he figures he’s given out 100,000 meals

Bachelor bureaucrat from Portland gives surprising donation to Jewish foundation.” No by-line. Oregonian. July 29, 2009. Chuck Karsun formed a band called the Chuck Karsun Trio that played weddings, bar mitzvahs and fraternal lodges all over Portland. Even Karsun’s lawyer was astonished at the amount of money Karsun had saved. when Karsun’s estate was recently settled, the contents astonished even his friends. Karsun, a fraud investigator with the Oregon Employment Department, had left $3.1 million to the Portland-based Oregon Jewish Community Foundation. It’s one of the largest gifts in the foundation’s history and will be used to support Jewish life and culture through grants to community groups.

South Florida: University Donor Says He Can’t Fulfill Pledge.” No by-line. Associated Press. July 30, 2009. Barry Kaye, one of Florida Atlantic University’s largest donors says he cannot fulfill a $16 million pledge to the institution because of the tough economy. His promised pledge had been the largest donation in the university’s history.

Marin foundation will spend $15 million to end ‘cycle of poverty’.” By Richard Halstead. San Jose Mercury-News. July 30, 2009. The Marin Community Foundation this week announced a five-year, $15 million effort aimed at “breaking the cycle of poverty in Marin.” Foundation officials said Marin’s high cost of living makes it difficult for the working poor to move out of poverty. The initiative marks a turn away from the foundation’s decision in the wake of the bitter litigation to set aside at least 70 percent of its Buck Trust grants to help cover the operating costs of existing Marin nonprofits. Many Marin County nonprofits complain that their funding from the Community Foundation has been drastically cut.

The Great Philanthropy Takeover.” By David J. Sanders. Wall Street Journal. The Council on Foundations holds three-day a conference on addressing the problems facing rural America at which participants focused on economic development, education, energy/environment or building philanthropic capacity. Discussions were dominated by Obama-administration officials who pushed efforts to strengthen ties between the federal government, with its vast resources, and philanthropy, with its ability to find innovative solutions.

Metro Atlanta non-profits saw need rise, donations fall in 1Q.” By Christopher Quinn. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. July 30, 2009. Metro Atlanta nonprofits reported rising need and sinking donations through the first three months of 2009, tracking what is happening nationally as the economy torpedoes giving, while the same economy is pushing more people to reach out to nonprofits for help. Nine percent of nonprofits said their foundation grants went up in early 2009. Nonprofits are getting more creative and collaborative to fill the gaps.

Pizarro: Ron Gonzales to lead Hispanic Foundation.” By Sal Pizarro. San Jose Mercury-News. July 31, 2009. Former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales is diving back into the spotlight as the new president and CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. The foundation’s strategic plan emphasizes developing leadership and philanthropy within the valley’s Latino community.

RELIGION

Church’s radical act: Sell building, use money for outreach; Rolling Hills Baptist Church is part of national movement challenging traditional ideas.” By Christopher Quinn. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. July 28, 2009. The Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia has joined a national movement in deciding to sell its $1.4 million property and to use the proceeds for work in the community and foreign missions. “I’m afraid if we become a church of bricks and mortar, we’ll cease to be a church of flesh and blood,” said the pastor.

Restructuring, not schism, ahead for Anglicans.” By Cathy Lynn Grossman. USA Today. July 27, 2009. The head of the Anglican Communion said Monday that restructuring the world’s third-largest Christian denomination appears inevitable in the face of irreconcilable differences on sexuality and the Bible. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams forecast a “two-track” model that could leave the U.S. branch of the Communion, the Episcopal Church, out of decisive roles and without standing as a representative voice in the 77-million-member global Anglican church.
Related Stories:
Archbishop of Canterbury attempts to paper over Church schism.” London Times. July 28, 2009.
Archbishop Sees ‘Two-Track’ Anglican Church.” New York Times. July 29, 2009.

Priests must wait till age 75 to retire; Archdiocese faces staffing challenge.” By Michael Paulson. Boston Globe. July 28, 2009. The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, continuing to grapple with a shortage of clergy, is raising the retirement age for priests from 70 to 75. The change is part of a broad, ongoing effort by the archdiocese to find ways to staff its churches with fewer priests. The archdiocese has also closed nearly 20 percent of its parishes over the last five years and has increased the number of priests who are assigned to oversee more than one parish. The archdiocese has also been restricting its benefits for retired priests.

Churches push for $10 minimum wage by 2010.” By Lindsay Perna. USA Today. July 29, 2009. — Religious leaders and advocates, not satisfied with the 70-cent rise in the federal minimum wage that went into effect on Friday, are calling on congressional leaders to hike it up to $10 by 2010. Even after the increase to $7.25 an hour, more than 600 interfaith leaders across the nation have signed a letter sponsored by a non-profit coalition whose aim is to raise the federal and state minimum wage to a “living wage.” “We think this truly is a faith issue, a moral issue,” said the Rev. Steve Copley, board chairman of the Campaign. “People who’ve worked hard and played by the rules … don’t have enough to live on.”

Faith Complex: Secular Americans: Take Heed!Newsweek. July 31, 2009. By Jacques Berlinerblau. Interview of Katie Paris of Faith in Public Life, one of several progressive religious advocacy groups seeking to wrestle control of faith issues out of the hands of the Religious Right.

Harvey-based religious center helps turn lives around; Restoration Ministries opens new $5 million facility.” By Lolly Bowean. Chicago Tribune. July 31, 2009. Restoration Ministries was created in 1988 as a recovery program for men trying to overcome their addictions to drugs and alcohol. The idea was to give them a place they could start over without the pressures of their former lives. Since then, it has grown and now serves thousands of people, offering after-school programs and tutoring for children, chess clubs, boxing programs, a food pantry and thrift store. Its new facility was paid for partially by private donations, Vrdolyak said, and a bank loan covered about half the costs. Restoration Ministries pays for its outreach programs with fundraisers, private donors and some grant money.

Methodists defeat gay-related membership policy.” By Daniel Burke. USA Today. July 31, 2009. United Methodists have defeated amendments that would have made church membership open to all Christians regardless of sexual orientation and furthered the creation of a new, U.S.-only governing body. Twenty-seven of the 44 regional conferences that reported voting results rejected the amendment that would have made membership in local churches open to “all persons, upon taking vows declaring the Christian faith, and relationship in Jesus Christ.” The complicated amendments to church polity in the UMC, which counts 8 million members in the U.S. and about 3.5 million more in Asia, Africa and Europe, was seen by some as a way to make it easier for Americans to pass pro-gay resolutions.

Despite a Decade of Controversy, the ‘Faith-Based Initiative’ Endures.” By Peter Steinfels. New York Times. August 1, 2009. The Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy, a project of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York. Now the Roundtable has issued a report, “Taking Stock: The Bush Faith-Based Initiative and What Lies Ahead,” which critically assesses the successes and failures of faith-based programs initiated by the Bush administration.

SCANDAL

Son Limited Brooke Astor’s Donations to Charity, Trial Evidence Shows.” By A.G. Sulzberger. New York Times. July 28, 2009. Even as he began reining in his mother’s gifts to charity, Anthony D. Marshall tapped into her fortune to finance his business ventures, to pay for costs associated with the summer home he used and to donate to his own pet causes. Despite her $180 fortune, Marshall reneged on the $117,000 commitment to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and warned his mother that, because of the costs of her medical care, she would have to limit her donations to under $1,000.

Foundation to file amended ’07 IRS report.” By Milton J. Valencia. Boston Globe. July 28, 2009. The Inkwell Foundation, a charity run by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., plans to file an amendment to a 2007 Internal Revenue Service report, after questions were raised about grants to staff members. In its 2007 990, Inkwell “mischaracterized” $11,000 in compensation to staff members as research grants.

Sorority president sued for misuse of funds.” By Don Babwin. Associated Press.
July 29, 2009. Members of the country’s oldest black sorority are suing to remove their president, alleging that she spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of the group’s money on herself — some of it to pay for a wax statue in her own likeness. The suit filed in Washington, D.C. alleges that international President bought designer clothing, jewelry and lingerie with the sorority credit card. She then redeemed points the purchases earned on the card to buy a big-screen television and gym equipment. The lawsuit is a rare sign of discord within in the century-old sorority that boasts a worldwide membership of 250,000 women, including prominent black businesswomen and such luminaries as author Toni Morrison.

IRS Is Investigating Finances, Pastor of Sterling Church Says.” By Michelle Boorstein. Washington Post. July 31, 2009. The pastor of a Sterling (VA) church says the IRS is investigating his control of church finances, which include $8.5 million in church real estate and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of vehicles that he and his wife use in a “racing ministry.”

Rigged Privilege: An Investigation into Arizona’s Private School Tax Credit Program: A 3 Part Investigative Report.” By Ryan Gabrielson and Michelle Reese. East Valley Tribune. August 1, 2009. Arizon’s tuition tax credits law was supposed to revolutionize school choice for disadvantaged children. Instead it fostered a rigged system that keeps private education a privilege for the already privileged. The state has no way of ensuring that $55 million a year in tax credits really goes toward scholarships for private school students as the law intended. Many private schools teach parents how to skirt the law by lining up donors for their children. Twelve years ago, legislators envisioned a statewide system to enable poor kids to go to private schools. Most of the charities that formed as a result went in a different direction. The tale of Maricopa County Schoolhouse Foundation begins with criminal indictments and fraud, but ends as an example of tuition tax credits’ promise for serving the underprivileged. Executives at two of Arizona’s largest scholarship charities are using income tax donations to enrich themselves.

Besieged pastor of L.A.’s First AME Church touts his successes; Critics seeking to oust the Rev. John J. Hunter cite financial issues and what they view as a shift in priorities from his predecessor’s. Hunter’s backers cite progress they say the church has made.” By Teresa Watanabe. Los Angeles Times. August 2, 2009. The Pastor of LA’s First AME Church stands accused of misusing church credit cards for personal expenses. Hunter acknowledged using First AME’s credit card for $122,000 in personal expenditures on items including suits, jewelry, vacations and auto supplies. Hunter publicly apologized for embarrassing the church and says he is paying the money back. Members of his congregation have requested an outside independent audit of the church’s financial condition, alleging that Hunter of has misused church credit cards, mismanaged his personal finances by failing to pay his federal taxes, and practiced nepotism by hiring his wife to run FAME Assistance Corp., the church’s nonprofit economic development arm, and other affiliated social services corporations.

Promise and Peril in South L.A.: Trouble with a South L.A. gang-intervention agency; Unity T.W.O., a high-profile City Hall contractor, was supposed to be a central part of L.A.’s gang-reduction efforts. But documents portray a troubled, overwhelmed agency.” By Scott Gold. Los Angeles Times. August 2, 2009. Failure to submit required reports has landed Unity T.W.O., a high-profile South L.A. intervention agency and City Hall contractor that has received more than $350,000 in public money, has left gang-reduction supervisors, city officials and nonprofit executives frustrated with its operation. The agency’s documents paint a portrait of a troubled, overwhelmed agency — of overdrawn bank accounts, blown deadlines and missed payrolls.
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VOLUNTEERING

Volunteer Work Went Up in U.S. Last Year.” By Susan Kinzie. Washington Post. July 29, 2009. More Americans volunteered last year despite the worsening economy, according to a report released Tuesday by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Almost a million more people donated their time to causes in 2008 than in 2007, even though volunteer rates typically drop during economic downturns, according to the survey by CNCS, an independent federal agency that runs AmeriCorps and other programs. In all, 61.8 million people volunteered last year.
Related Story:
Economy low, ‘generosity high‘.” By Wendy Koch. USA Today. July 27, 2009.