A recent study compiled by Independent Sector-a group of more than 700 nonprofit organizations and philanthropic foundations-and the National Council of Churches found that people who donate money and volunteer time to religious institutions as well as secular causes give more than those who only engage in one or the other type of giving. According to a study the group commissioned, “Households that give to both religious congregations and secular organizations give over three times ($2,247) more than do households that give to only secular organizations ($623).” In addition, the survey showed that those who were dual givers volunteered an average of 23 hours a month, while those who only volunteered at church did so just 10 hours a month. And although the South is called the Bible Belt, “Over 92 percent of Midwest households give to religious congregations, followed by 88 percent of Southern households.” The survey consisted of telephone interviews with 4,200 adults. The report is available at http://www.independentsector.org/programs/
Rex and Ethel Clemens made a fortune in the timber industry. In 1959, they established the Clemens Foundation and began paying college tuition for the graduates of schools in Philomath, Crane, Alsea, and Eddyville, Oregon. Currently, “The foundation pays about $1 million a year in tuition fees for more than 500 students to attend in-state universities, community colleges, and vocational schools.” If students go to school outside the Beaver State, they receive the in-state amount to apply to their tuition. But The Oregonian reports that now the Clemens Foundation’s Steve Lowther wants to end the scholarship program because “he and other board members are disenchanted with the quality of Philomath High School and the students it’s graduating.” Further, “board members . . . say many in the current crop of students have little respect for the timber industry that made the scholarships possible.” They also think many people in Philomath take the program for granted, turning Philomath High School into a “welfare school where students can underachieve and still get their college tuition paid.” The families are fighting back. They’ve contacted the Department of Justice, which is making “inquiry into the charitable intentions.” Lowther says the board has nothing to hide, but it’s “putting off a decision on the scholarship program until the Department of Justice wraps up its inquiry.”
Too Close for Comfort?
In October, according to the Wall Street Journal, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation purchased 5.4 million shares of stock from Cox Holdings, a unit of Cox Entertainment. On the same day, Bill Gates’s personal investor purchased 8.1 million shares in Cox Communications for the Microsoft chairman’s personal portfolio. “The transactions took place just as Cox was putting together a bid on AT&T Corp.’s broadband unit . . . . Eager to keep such a plum out of the hands of archrival AOL Time Warner Inc., Microsoft offered financial support to the bids of both Cox and Comcast Corp. of Philadelphia. Comcast emerged as the winner in December.” The appearance of a close relationship between Microsoft and the foundation, of which Gates is the sole trustee, is raising eyebrows. Joe Cerrell, a spokesman for the Gates Foundation, says, “There’s no relation between Microsoft and the foundation.” Douglas Mancino, a Los Angeles based expert on tax-exempt organizations, says the investment “raises the question of whether this is an indirect act of self-dealing,” but the answer is probably “no.” The Gates Foundation will likely continue to walk a delicate line as it “diversifies its $23.8 billion portfolio by investing increasingly in individual stocks.” All transactions were disclosed with the SEC in January 2002 filings.
All-Girls, All Grads
The Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem boasts 34 graduating seniors this year. Founded in 1996 by philanthropist Ann Rubenstein Tisch of the Loews Corporation Tisch family, the single-sex public school remains the subject of criticism, according to the New York Daily News, even though 33 of this year’s graduates are attending top-tier schools, such as Columbia, Bates, and Smith. The remaining graduate has joined the Navy. Although critics of the school argue that by being single-sex it violates students’ constitutional rights of equal access to education (a complaint filed in 1996 against the school by the New York Civil Liberties Union is still pending), the graduates and families could not be more pleased with their education. They say, “the all-girl environment makes it easier to focus on school and the promise of college.” According to the Daily News, 22 graduates will be the first in their families to attend college. Alma Powell, wife of Secretary of State Colin Powell, delivered the commencement speech, “You are the promise of America. Go out there, try new things, and never stop growing and learning.”
Cool, Clear Water
While many hotels on the Atlantic coast are rationing water to guests because of the drought, the Los Angeles-based Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, funded by the legendary hotelier, is contributing millions to “provide safe drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people in West Africa.” The Hilton Foundation has long been a philanthropic leader in the fight to conquer two water-borne diseases afflicting Africa: trachoma and guinea worm. A joint safe-water project uniting Hilton and other philanthropists with the U.S. Agency for International Development recently attracted attention at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 5 million people die each year in developing countries from diseases associated with the lack of access to clean drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene. Says Steven M. Hilton, president of the Hilton Foundation: “Working together, new sources of water will be found, hundreds of water wells will be drilled, thousands of latrines built, and extensive health and sanitation education provided for the people of Ghana, Mali, and Niger, reaching more than one-half million people . . . . This type of collaborative partnership is an effective way to address many of the challenges confronting the developing world.”
Asian Americans Giving More
The San Jose Mercury News tells of Chong-Moon Lee, who was so poor growing up in Korea that his parents would not let him take a junior high entrance exam. So he went to work, and at 17 began a two-year self-study course to gain admission to Korea’s national college. Later he earned a scholarship to Vanderbilt University. The early hard lesson taught him never to quit. Returning to his native country after graduation, he helped his family start a successful pharmaceutical business, but he left again in 1970 to avoid political persecution. His first business venture back in the States bankrupted him. He went on, however, to found Diamond Multimedia and make millions from its sale. “I’ve struggled a lot in my life, and I know that money comes and goes,” Lee said, “Now I can’t complain about anything. I have to share.” And share he does. From medical facilities to the arts and education, Lee is among a growing number of Asian-American philanthropists. Philanthropic consultant Jessica Chao says that Asians traditionally have not favored donations to community groups and organizations, preferring instead to support family and friends. But that is changing, thanks to Lee and others like him. Last year Dominic Ng, a Los Angeles banker, raised $66 million for the United Way. This year, Andrew Cherng, chairman of Panda Restaurant Group, broke that giving record. Says Ng, “We want to show that we Asian-Americans are as American as anyone else. The best way to demonstrate that is by contributing to the community.”