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The Daily Tell

Good news in trying times.

November, 2009 Archive

Study: Nonprofits helped bring down NYC hunger rates this year

Posted by Kate Griwert On November - 20 - 2009

Government programs and nonprofit hunger relief organizations helped bring the percentage of New Yorkers who have trouble affording food down 8 percentage points this year to 40 percent, according to a report released Friday by the Food Bank for New York City.

The report found that the number of New York City residents who are having difficulty affording food fell from 3.9 million in 2008 to 3.3 million in 2009. Despite these developments, 11 percent of New York residents are still considered food insecure, meaning that they live in fear of hunger or starvation, while food poverty statistics are still 60 percent higher than they were in 2003.

"The past year has proven it is possible to address food poverty when government, individuals, and philanthropic and charitable organizations recognize and work together to respond," said Food Bank for New York City president and chief executive Lucy Cabrera.

The report noted that many of the government relief measures introduced earlier this year were meant to be temporary solutions. Emergency food dispersals, food stamp allotments, and increases to the Earned Income Tax Credit and unemployment insurance passed under February’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are all set to expire next year.

The Food Bank of New York City called for an extension of these programs, as well as renewed focused on unemployment and other root causes of hunger, in order to strengthen future hunger relief efforts.

"Now is not the time to pull back support – especially when we’ve seen it works. And only sustainable solutions will drive down food poverty," said Cabrera.

Food insecurity remains a persistent problem nationwide as unemployment continues to rise. The Department of Agriculture reported that 14.6 percent of U.S. households were food insecure in 2008, up from 11.1 percent in 2007. Unemployment increased to 10.2 percent this October, up from 9.8 percent in September.
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Extreme Generosity: 10 Years and Wheels of Love Still Inspires

Posted by Cathy Lanyard, Guest Writer On November - 20 - 2009

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As the world struggles to cope with the realities of a depressed economy, hundreds of people put their lives on hold to be a part of WHEELS OF LOVE – Israel’s largest charity sporting event. This was the tenth WHEELS OF LOVE international bike ride and it is almost impossible to comprehend the growth that resulted from this fortuitous accident. After all, how did nine Israelis cycling through Israel morph into more than 400 people from around the world gathering for five days to ride 400 miles – all to raise money for the children of ALYN Hospital?

The five days spent on the saddle are beyond breathtaking. But all riders would agree that the most remarkable part of the ride is seeing the hospital in action. For first time riders, this is their opportunity to finally see ALYN – the premiere comprehensive rehabilitation center for physically disabled children and adolescents – and to meet some of the courageous children for whom they ride. For returning riders, touring the hospital is a chance to see how ALYN spent the money they raised the previous year.

Taking the riders through ALYN is the highlight of the ride for me, as well. Seeing the hospital’s innovations and advancements constantly amaze me. This year at the end of each tour, I took everyone to the roof of ALYN’s Sports Center and showed them a pipe that was just installed. At first look, this 3-foot high pipe seemed useless. That is, until I explained that it was part of ALYN’s brand new ZIP LINE – at which point, everyone’s jaw dropped.

Being at the forefront of innovation is nothing new for ALYN, but really – a ZIP LINE? Just writing it sounds absurd. But where else in the world but at ALYN would a child with an extreme handicap be able to experience an extreme sport? The image of a child in a wheelchair flying down a zip line is pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Amazing is a great synonym for both ALYN and for the WHEELS OF LOVE ride – and this year’s ride proved to be just that. Each rider and volunteer had a chance to meet children and their parents whose lives have been forever changed because they were treated at ALYN. At a presentation one evening, we were introduced to a mother and her 6 year-old-son, Idan. Idan suffers from Brittle Bone Disease. In his short life, Idan has already had dozens of fractures. Yet, a stiff walk was the only indication that this little boy had special braces hidden beneath his jeans to protect his legs from fractures.

Knowing she was ill-equipped to face a lifetime of serious health issues for her son, Idan’s birth mother “discarded” him when he was only 2 months old. The remarkable woman who stood before us (and her husband who sat in the audience with their three other children) adopted Idan — knowing what difficulties the future might hold.

Idan’s mother presented us with a gift certificate to Toys R Us to buy toys for children who come to ALYN. Idan’s mother thanked us for helping her – both in the past and in the future – since there will be much help needed in Idan’s future because brittle bone disease is progressive. I have been humbled many times in my work with ALYN, but this gift really affected me. What sacrifices did this family
make to give us the certificate? They are struggling with not only the challenges of a disabled child, but with the same depressing economy the entire world is battling. Yet, they remain hopeful and they remain generous.

So when people tell me that fundraising is more difficult this year than it has been before – I am not as sympathetic as I was before meeting Idan and his mother. I understand the realities of this economy. But I also understand the realities of ALYN and the responsibilities we all have to help those less fortunate. The five days of the 2009 ride are over, but the work at ALYN continues. The need continues. So although times may be tough, I hope others will follow the lead of Idan’s mother and zip down the line of extreme generosity — the reward is priceless.

Cathy Lanyard is the Executive Director of the American Friends of ALYN Hospital and President of the Canadian Friends of ALYN Hospital (www.alynhospital.org)

Minnesotans donate $14 million to nonprofits in one day

Posted by Charlie Curnow On November - 20 - 2009

Minnesota residents gave more than $14 million to 3,434 nonprofit groups on Tuesday as part of an online fundraising effort organized by GiveMN, a philanthropic fundraising website.

More than 38,000 donors participated in the one-day fundraiser for Minnesota nonprofit groups. The fundraiser was held to promote giving to nonprofits throughout the state by raising as much money as possible in one day.

"We raised more than three times as much money for Minnesota nonprofits than any other previous online community fundraising event in the United States," said Carleen Rhodes, president and chief executive of the Minnesota Community Foundation and the Saint Paul Foundation, who co-sponsored the event.

Each donation received a portion of a $500,000 match, sponsored by the Minneapolis Foundation, the Bush Foundation and the Saint Paul Foundation. The three groups also covered transaction fees, in order to ensure that 100 percent of gifts went directly to nonprofits. Because transaction costs were higher than expected, the McKnight Foundation provided additional funding to make up the difference.

GiveMN promised to give grants to the three nonprofit groups with the largest number of participating donors. Because the tally was so close, the online fundraising group ended up giving grants to four organizations. Second Harvest Heartland, a hunger relief group, came in first, followed by the College of Saint Benedict, a Catholic women’s college, Twin Cities Public Television and the Animal Humane Society.

"In Minnesota, our legacy of giving is strong. The tremendous outpouring of support further demonstrates Minnesotans’ generosity and our commitment to helping others," said GiveMN executive director Dana Nelson.

GiveMN is an online nonprofit fundraising group based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is powered by Razoo, a web-based giving network that offers cost-free giving to 1.6 million U.S. nonprofit organizations. All nonprofit organizations listed by the GuideStar information service are eligible to receive funding through GiveMN and the Razoo network.ADNFCR-2191-ID-19469964-ADNFCR

The transition from classroom to exam room is sometimes not easy, and many biomedical students can get frustrated by a lack of clinical practice in their academic curriculum.

To address this, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute announced this week it would grant a total of $16 million to 23 graduate schools to help them integrate clinical practice into their biomedical Ph.D. programs. The grants, $700,000 each over a span of four years, can go toward developing new graduate programs or enhancing existing ones.

The aim is to foster the development of scientists who can translate research discoveries into new medical treatments and diagnostics to improve public health.

"We need to increase the number of scientists who can work at the transition between science and medicine by doing high quality, medically relevant research," said Peter J. Bruns, HHMI’s vice president for grants and special programs.

The $16-million commitment is part of the Med into Grad initiative, launched in 2005 as an "experiment" to figure out how graduate schools could provide doctoral students with the skills to investigate the scientific mechanisms of disease, and to translate their discoveries into clinically relevant treatments and diagnostics. The initial round of funding gave a total of $10 million to 13 schools.

Since its inception, Bruns has found that an added bonus for participating graduate schools is that they attract more high-quality candidates.

"We’ve found this is something students are really hungry for," he said of the Med into Grad curriculum.

HHMI, a nonprofit medical research organization, is considered one of the nation’s largest philanthropies. In the fiscal year 2009, it spent $730 million on research and disbursed $101 million in grant support for science education.ADNFCR-2191-ID-19469890-ADNFCR

Partnership with a big bank could pay off for small businesses

Posted by Katherine Griwert On November - 19 - 2009

Goldman Sachs has announced a $500 million initiative – called 10,000 Small Businesses – to spur growth and job creation potential for small businesses around the country. Billionaire Warren Buffett will partner with the bank on this project.

David Viniar, Goldman’s chief financial officer, recently told The New York Times the bank regrets mistakes made leading up to the financial crisis. He says the bank is now "very focused on the economic climate" and hopes their 10,000 Small Businesses plan demonstrates a commitment to financial responsibility.

Goldman Sachs and Buffett will invest $300 million in a combination of lending and charitable support. In addition, Goldman Sachs executives will partner with national and local business organizations to provide small businesses advice, technical assistance, and professional networking opportunities for small businesses in underserved communities.

Goldman Sachs believes this will fill a void that is essential for the success of small businesses and their communities. "Small business owners, particularly those operating in disadvantaged communities, often face challenges accessing mentoring, networking and expert advice. While support services in each of these areas exist, the field is highly fragmented."

Moreover, under 10,000 Small Businesses’ Practical Business and Management Curriculum plan, the bank will make a $200 million donation to community colleges to give grants to small business owners to further their education. They will also finance leading business schools’ contributions to national curriculum development, which can be tailored by community colleges to address the specific needs of local business owners.

The educative benefits of 10,000 Small Businesses will also be felt by blossoming entrepreneurs around the country. According to the Kauffman Foundation, many universities are currently trying to expand their entrepreneurship course offerings.

Whether through directly assisting existing small businesses of today or working towards the successful start of small businesses that could help with economic recovery tomorrow, Goldman Sachs and Buffett believe the initiative is a much needed investment.

"Our recovery is dependent on hard working small business owners across America who will create the jobs that America needs," Buffett said. "I’m proud to be a part of this innovative program."ADNFCR-2191-ID-19468688-ADNFCR

Oklahoma nonprofit Feed the Children announced Tuesday that it will deploy 14 tractor-trailer trucks throughout the state on Thursday, November 19 to deliver food and personal care items to 5,600 needy families.

Thursday’s deployment will be part of the nonprofit group’s "Americans Feeding Americans Emergency Caravan" campaign, and is funded through money raised by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services county offices and the Oklahoma County Administrators Association.

"The heart of Feed the Children‘s U.S. program is distributing food to families in need," says the group’s website.

Each relief recipient will receive one box of food and one box of personal care items designed to support a family for up to one week. Aid recipients will also receive bags filled with personal care products and gift items donated by beauty and cosmetics supplier Avon Products.

This Thursday’s operations in Oklahoma will be the emergency caravan’s 10th stop nationwide. This Feed The Children program has helped more than 25,000 needy U.S. families so far, according to event organizers. Other caravan stops included New York, Chicago and Nashville, as well as cities in Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, North Carolina and South Carolina.

"Now more than ever, it’s important to keep our Americans Feeding Americans Emergency Caravan on the road," the group said in a recent blog post.

Feed the Children was founded in 1979, and is based in Oklahoma City. Feed The Children is a nonprofit, Christian relief organization dedicated to delivering food, clothing, medicine and other necessities to people who lack daily essentials due to poverty, war, famine or natural disasters. Feed The Children has staged relief efforts in 118 countries and is the sixth-largest U.S. charity, according to Forbes Magazine. Its 2008 revenues totaled $944 million.

Feed the Children’s emergency caravan is heading to Oklahoma.
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Silicon Valley Community Foundation doubles 5-year grant challenge

Posted by John Agoglia On November - 18 - 2009

Five years ago, Silicon Valley Community Foundation was challenged by Skoll Foundation to match an initial gift of $5 million; a challenge they easily passed.

Since that day in 2004 when one of Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s parent foundations, Community Foundation Silicon Valley (CFSV), launched a five-year plan to create a charitable savings account for the community, the foundation has raised $11.7 million through gifts from more than 100 donors – more than doubling the initial goal of $5 million in matching donations.

"We are thankful for the Skoll Foundation’s leadership and the generous donors who helped us not just meet but exceed the challenge," said Emmett D. Carson, CEO and president. "They understand the value of having a flexible, unrestricted endowment to address critical local needs."

Prior to the creation of the account as much as 97 percent of CFSV’s assets were designated to specific recipients by the donors, but now the organization will have the ability to increase the number of unrestricted grant-making opportunities to local nonprofits e, according to CFSV.

While the driving force of the Skoll foundation is "large-scale change," Jeff Skoll, founder and chairman of the Skoll Foundation and the first president of eBay, said that helping the CVSF reach more stable financial footing was important to the region and continues the ties he has to it since it assisted with the formation of the eBay Foundation.

In fact, when the eBay Foundation became an independent, private foundation it continued its partnership with the community foundation by creating a corporate advised fund to conduct its grant-making.

Silicon Valley Community Foundation awards grants to nonprofit organizations that apply under five grant-making strategies: economic security, education, immigrant integration, regional planning and a community opportunity fund for safety-net services. It has $1.5 billion in assets under management and 1,500 philanthropic funds.ADNFCR-2191-ID-19467476-ADNFCR

Roni Lynn Deutch holiday parties are fun for the whole community

Posted by Katherine Griwert On November - 17 - 2009

As many companies are planning ahead for their end of the year parties, they may want to take a page out of Roni Lynn Deutch‘s book. The Roni Deutch, A Professional Tax Corporation hosts a Halloween holiday party each year that gives employees a chance to have fun while giving back to the community.

The trick or treating event is opened to dozens of kids from the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento. This past year, the law firm was decorated like a haunted house and employees dressed in costumes to hand out candy to kids from the home.

The Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento provides food, shelter, clothing, and medical attention to abused and neglected kids in the area, serving between 1200 and 1800 children a year.

“Every year I make it a priority to invite the children from the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento to participate in my law firm’s Halloween party,” said Roni Lynn Deutch. “We always set aside time for a trick or treating event so that the children can leave our law firm with their own overflowing bags of candy.”

“I just want to put a little happiness into their lives and I am so proud that my employees feel the same way,” Roni Lynn Deutch continued. “I am so grateful to my employees for getting dressed up and voluntarily bringing in candy to hand out to the children.”

The home is one of many shelters throughout the country that houses children in need. According to American Humane, neglect – of a physical, emotional, educational, and medical nature – is the most prevalent form of child abuse in the United States.

Roni Lynn Deutch is committed to showing the neglected children of Sacramento that they deserve attention, particularly during a time of year that was so important to her in her own childhood. She remembers, "Nothing brought me more joy than to come home with a bag overflowing with candy after a long Halloween night."

The holiday party is a tradition her employees have come to value as well. "[T]here is no greater feeling than seeing the children trick or treat in our law firm. While they are here, the children know they are safe and appreciated," explain Roni Lynn Deutch worker Scott Juceam.

Roni Lynn Deutch, more commonly known as "The Tax Lady," intends to continue the Halloween holiday party in years to come. ADNFCR-2191-ID-19465208-ADNFCR

Philanthropist Alex von Furstenberg announced last week he would donate $50,000 from the Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation to the Los Angeles Mission and the Anne Douglas Center for Women. The donation is an attempt to change lives for the better in the Angeleno community.

“It was immediately apparent what a true and powerful impact the Los Angeles Mission is having on people in need,” said Alex von Furstenberg. “I was particularly inspired by the stories of women who have regained their way through the rehabilitation and career development program at the Anne Douglas Center, and I am honored to support such a significant cause.

“I am in awe of what this organization is achieving,” Alex Von Furstenberg added.

The Los Angeles Mission is a charity that provides much-needed services to the homeless denizens of Los Angeles’ infamous Skid Row, a neighborhood in the eastern part of downtown and home to one of the largest stable homeless populations in the developed world. The mission is one of many volunteer organizations that works to better the lives of Skid Row’s less-fortunate residents, providing shelter, food and clothing to those in need. Additionally, the mission offers job training and placement services, opportunities for transitional housing, and substance abuse counseling for homeless Angelenos.

The Anne Douglas Center for Women is a specialized branch of the mission, formed in the 1990s, that offers rehabilitation and professional development services to homeless women who are desperately trying to improve their lives. The center’s year-long intensive rehabilitation program teaches its homeless charges how to live their lives without relying on drugs, alcohol, or the unhealthy relationships that have driven many of them to the brink.

The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation, a nonprofit group led by director and secretary Alex Von Furstenberg, is heavily involved in a wide range of community improvement efforts, from extracurricular activity programs for children to subsidies for social workers’ salaries, allowing them to maintain a better standard of living and be better equipped to deal with the problems of their clients.ADNFCR-2191-ID-19465194-ADNFCR

In the first time a private foundation has backed charter school facility bonds at such a large scale, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced that it will grant a $30 million credit support agreement to help fund high-quality public charter school expansion in the Houston, Texas area.

The grant will help Houston charter schools secure $300 million in tax-exempt bond insurance to support further expansion.

"While charter schools have proven to be extremely effective at improving access to quality education, they face unique challenges with respect to expansion," said Vicki L. Phillips, director of education for the Gates Foundation’s College Ready program. "Innovative approaches to financing are critical to addressing the funding gaps that result as successful programs like charter schools endeavor to scale."

The first grant from the $300 million agreement, a $67-million commitment issued on October 28, will enable the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Houston – a network of early childhood, elementary, middle school and high school programs targeted at underserved students – to get a bond at favorable terms in order to "meet surging parent demand for its academic programs."

KIPP and other Houston charter schools receiving Gates Foundation financing will be required to match the foundation’s support "with dedicated resources for the particular bond issues." Local Initiatives Support Corporation will also provide a $3 million guaranty, and will contribute to the required school match.

The KIPP commitment marks the first U.S. investment through the foundation’s initiative announced earlier this year, which aims to give a total of $400 million in program-related investments over a two-year period using non-traditional methods such as low-interest loans, loan guarantees and equity investment.

The Gates Foundation hopes that this kind of philanthropic financing will become a model for other states and private nonprofits focused on supporting charter school development and sustainability.ADNFCR-2191-ID-19465065-ADNFCR

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