All posts by Caroline Preston


Supreme Court Hears Charities’ Challenge to Antiterrorism Law

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, expe…


Office of Social Innovation Is Focus of Nonprofit World’s Political Banter in 2009

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 specu…


Humanitarian Groups Mount Supreme Court Challenge

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 d…


Former Gates Official Named to Lead U.S. Agency for International Development

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 unde…


Nonprofit Leader Shows Early Fund-Raising Strength in Senate Bid

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 Th…


Senators Introduce Bill to Improve Foreign Aid

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 si…


Aid Groups Press Congress on Funds for Pakistan

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…


Nonprofit Leader Seen as Next Head of U.S. Foreign-Aid Unit

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. B…


International Antipoverty Groups Pleased With Budget

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 po…


Global-Health Groups Upset by President’s Budget Proposal

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 wh…