Our cover story this issue describes the extraordinary philanthropic achievements of Julius Rosenwald, the Sears, Roebuck entrepreneur whose generosity helped to finance over 5,000 schools serving African-American children in the rural Jim Crow South. From the 1920s through the 1940s, one-third of all southern black children owed their education to schools constructed by Rosenwald challenge grants matched by contributions from local residents of both races.
Like Andrew Carnegie, Rosenwald was one of the great exemplars of philanthropy based on the principle of “helping people to help themselves.” Unlike so many of the philanthropic business leaders of his time, Rosenwald set up procedures—in his case, a sunset provision—that ensured that his foundation would not violate his principles in future generations.
Rosenwald’s standard of excellence is the model for The Philanthropy Roundtable’s 15th annual meeting, which will take place at the Charleston Place Hotel in historic Charleston, South Carolina, from Thursday, November 9, to Saturday, November 11. Our theme is “Raising the Bar: Achieving Excellence in Giving.” Our line-up of keynote speakers includes:
· Paul Gigot, editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal, will describe the great political and economic transformations of the past 15 years. Speaking three days after Election Day, he will discuss what the ballot results mean for America and philanthropy.
· Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will describe the great challenges of preparing for and responding to bioterrorism and pandemic diseases—and how philanthropists can improve the public health infrastructure.
· Micheal Flaherty, president of Phil Anschutz’s Walden Media, will describe his company’s strategy for making blockbuster movies out of great stories from history and literature, such as The Chronicles of Narnia—and how donors can work with schools and libraries to foster reading of such stories. Annual meeting attendees can opt to see a pre-release screening of Walden’s forthcoming Amazing Grace, the inspiring story of British parliamentary leader William Wilberforce and his crusade to abolish the slave trade.
· Tom Tierney, former CEO of the giant strategy-consulting firm Bain and Co. and now chairman of the Bridgespan Group, Bain’s nonprofit-consulting arm, will discuss how donors can address the leadership deficit in nonprofits.
We have a host of exciting breakout sessions, among them:
· Three ways to increase charitable giving
· Raising minority achievement on campus
· Strategies for supporting tort reform
· Health care for the uninsured
· Strategies for eradicating malaria
· The future of the business school
· Voluntary vs. paid: a debate on trustee compensation
· Evaluating philanthropic effectiveness
Stephanie Saroki, our senior director of K-12 education programs, puts together the best K-12 philanthropy sessions in the business, and this year’s annual meeting will be no exception. Sessions this year include: “The Uses and Abuses of Technology in K-12 Education,” “Achieving an Excellent Teacher in Every Classroom,” and “The Knowledge Deficit: A Conversation with E.D. Hirsch.”
The Philanthropy Roundtable will be continuing our legislative effort on Capitol Hill to protect philanthropic freedom. A session on this subject in Charleston will feature Steve Gunderson, the new president of the Council on Foundations (and subject of a thoughtful interview in this issue by Philanthropy editor Scott Walter); Sandra Swirski, the executive director of our Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR) ; and Heather Higgins, vice chair of the Roundtable and co-founder of ACR.
By popular demand, we are continuing our Saturday-morning breakfast tables of informal conversations hosted by conference participants. For instance, Peter Diamandis, chairman of the X-Prize Foundation and a keynote speaker at our 2005 meeting, will lead a discussion of opportunities to apply the X-Prize model to subjects such as medical research, energy, and K-12 education.
Also please contact Sharon if you would like to participate in a half-day special session on neighborhood funding—in which donors and foundations who support grassroots problem-solvers in low-income neighborhoods will compare ideas, strategies, and best practices.
I hope to see you in Charleston, and to thank each of you in person for joining us.
Adam Meyerson is president of The Philanthropy Roundtable.