Author Archives: Caroline Preston
February 23, 2010, 1:07 pm
The Supreme Court heard arguments this morning in a case challenging the constitutionality of a law that international human-rights and humanitarian-aid charities say stifles their speech and advocacy work.
The charities take issue with the U.S. government making it a crime to provide “material support” to groups deemed “foreign terrorist organizations.” In the case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the charities say the definition of material support — which includes services, training, expert advice, or personnel — is too broad and could criminalize their work to promote reconciliation among warring groups and provide aid in parts of the world controlled by terrorist organizations.
Under a law dating back to 1996 and revised under the Patriot Act, individuals face up to 15 years in prison for providing material support to terrorist groups, even if that work is legal and has…
December 30, 2009, 4:22 pm
Philanthropy’s top political story of 2009? If this blog is any indication, then the new White House Office of Social Innovation dominated the nonprofit world’s political chatter this year.
Even though Sonal Shah was thought to be a shoe-in to lead the fund months before her selection was confirmed by the Obama administration in April, an article about her appointment got more attention than any other article on The Chronicle‘s Government and Politics blog.
A January article discussing speculation about the then-amorphous office, which is devoted to identifying and supporting innovative nonprofit groups, and a July article in which the Obama administration finally revealed some details about when the Office of Social Innovation might provide grants were the second- and third-most popular posts.
November 23, 2009, 9:59 pm
The Carter Center, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and other top international charities are supporting a challenge to the constitutionality of a controversial “material support” law designed to cut down on the flow of money and aid to terrorist groups.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a “friend of the court” brief today in a case before the Supreme Court in behalf of the nine charities, which say the law is overly vague and could restrict even speech and advocacy done with the goal of combating terrorism. The law makes it a crime to provide “material support or resources” to any group that the U.S. government has designated a terrorist organization.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a one-hour oral argument in the case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, this winter. A decision is expected by June, according to the Charity and Security Network.
November 10, 2009, 5:19 pm
Rajiv J. Shah, a former official with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who currently works at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been nominated to head the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The nomination comes as a relief to some aid groups, which have assailed the Obama administration for leaving the post vacant for nearly a year.
Mr. Shah could face a relatively smooth vetting process, as he has already been confirmed once this year by the Senate for his current job as under secretary for research, education, and economics.
Before joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Mr. Shah served as director of agricultural development with the Gates Foundation. Previously, he was the foundation’s director of strategic opportunities and deputy director of policy and finance for global health. In these roles, he helped create an immunization program that raised more…
October 2, 2009, 11:13 am
Alan Khazei, co-founder of the nonprofit group City Year and a prominent advocate of national service, announced yesterday that he has raised more than $1-million in his bid to succeed the late Mass. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
Only one other candidate,Martha Coakley, the state’s attorney general, has raised more, according to The Boston Globe. Ms. Coakley has received more than $2-million.
Mr. Khazei raised the money in about two weeks thanks to a group of supporters who gave $5,000 each, says The Globe. He has also raised significant sums through house parties and online giving.
The fund-raising success establishes Mr. Khazei, less well-known than some of his rivals, as a competitive candidate, The Globe and other newspapers said.
The special election to replace Sen. Kennedy takes place on December. 8.
August 3, 2009, 11:53 am
International charities are calling for the prompt passage of a bill to revamp foreign aid that was introduced in the Senate last week.
The bill, the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009, was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators including John Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Richard Lugar, the ranking member.
It is aimed at improving how the U.S. Agency for International Development provides assistance abroad. The legislation is similar to a bill in the House introduced by Rep. Howard Berman, chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee.
“Revitalizing U.S. aid is crucial to the overall reform of U.S. foreign assistance,” said David Beckmann, president of the nonprofit Bread for the World, in a statement. “If the Obama administration and Congress improve the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance, our dollars will…
June 4, 2009, 12:43 pm
Overwhelmed by the growing humanitarian emergency in Pakistan, aid organizations are calling on Congress to allocate more money for the nearly 3 million people who’ve fled a military offensive against the Taliban.
In a letter to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Samuel A. Worthington, president of the umbrella organization InterAction, said aid workers are stretched thin trying to assist people who are arriving at a rate of nearly 126,000 per day. Money and supplies have been slow to arrive in the region, he said.
Mr. Worthington urged the government to spend an additional $150-million through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and approve a Senate provision providing $345-million to the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
In addition, he said, the State Department — not the Department …
May 27, 2009, 2:17 pm
Paul Farmer, co-founder of the nonprofit group Partners in Health, seems to be among a shrinking list of contenders to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development, Foreign Policy magazine reports on its blog.
A spokesman for Partners in Health confirmed to Foreign Policy‘s Laura Rozen that Mr. Farmer met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week.
Mr. Farmer, a medical doctor and winner of a a MacArthur Foundation “genuis” award, started Partners in Health over two decades ago. Best known for its projects in Haiti, the charity is credited with pioneering an approach to community health based on an understanding of the connections between poverty and disease.
Foreign Policy reports that the selection of Mr. Farmer could come with a reorganization of the U.S. Agency for International Development, with the goal of better integrating all non-military U.S. assistance. …
May 8, 2009, 1:30 pm
International programs would get a boost if President Obama’s proposed budget is approved by Congress.
The 2010 budget proposal requests roughly $2.73-billion for “development assistance” provided through the U.S. Agency for International Development, compared with $2-billion the previous year.
It also calls for increases for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a government program that seeks to reduce poverty abroad, and for aid after natural disasters.
Jim McDonald, vice president for policy and programs at the nonprofit group Bread for the World, said those and other increases would result in nearly $2.6-billion in additional money for efforts to fight poverty abroad. Of the total $51.7-billion included in the budget for all non-military efforts abroad, about $20.5-billion would go toward poverty-focused development assistance, he said.
“We’re encouraged,” said Mr….
May 7, 2009, 4:25 pm
President Obama’s proposal to spend $8.6-billion next year on what he dubbed a “new, comprehensive global-health strategy” has drawn ire from some global-health charities, which say he has requested far less to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria than he had previously pledged.
In a statement released this week and in the budget proposal released today, Mr. Obama described a new approach to global health that would support President Bush’s popular President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief while also putting greater emphasis on efforts to prevent deaths of mothers and children and improving health systems in poor countries.
Mr. Obama’s budget proposal calls for $63-billion to be spent over six years, approximately $51-billion of which would be spent to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The budget calls for increases of $366-million this year for AIDS, tuberculosis, and…