Monthly Archives: May 2012
May 30, 2012, 4:22 pm
Tony Elumelu, a Nigerian businessman, joined with five other colleagues to put up $5-million in 1997 to acquire a struggling Nigerian bank. Five years later, the bank merged with another to become the largest in West Africa, employing about 25,000 people.
Mr. Elumelu, who has become one of Africa’s most prominent philanthropists, likes to contrast the results of that $5-million investment—the jobs it helped create and the tax revenue it generated for governments—with what he sees as the disappointing track record of foreign-aid money showered on Africa each year.
The Nigerian businessman thinks it’s time for a new approach to Africa’s problems, and he has been pitching the idea in speeches to donors and businessmen and to the news media.
He calls his idea “Africacapitalism,” a …
May 16, 2012, 11:22 am
Competitions to spur scientific and technology developments have grown in popularity in recent years, but social causes have yet to get so much attention until now.
The Robin Hood Foundation and the X Prize Foundation this week announced a new competition designed to find the best solutions available to fighting poverty.
Robin Hood has raised $19-million to get the competition off the ground and plans soon to announce the specific goal of the first contest, which might focus on curbing homelessness or improving education or other issues that contribute to poverty.
[Editor's note: The following paragraph has been revised for accuracy.] The goal is to reward new ideas and programs that Robin Hood will test in New York. After a new program has been running for a certain amount of time, a review committee of officials from both foundations will evaluate it and award the prize if…
May 10, 2012, 4:33 pm
Calling efforts to extend school days “the beginnings of a national movement,” the Ford Foundation today announced it will put $50-million into efforts to push for additional learning time at schools in poor neighborhoods across the country.
In 2009, Ford pledged $100-million to improve high-school education; with today’s announcement, half that money will be narrowly focused on lengthening school time.
“Over the past few months, the idea of expanding and redesigning learning time for our kids, for America’s children, has been gaining the kind of momentum very few movements have gained in a short period of time,” said Luis Ubiñas, president of Ford, in making the announcement. “Every week there’s been news, commentary, and action on the ground,” including a Congressional hearing that discussed the idea.
Ford’s money will back a new coalition, Time to Succeed, which the…
May 2, 2012, 2:44 pm
Grant makers need to get a lot better at speaking out about social problems and telling their stories, said speakers at Tuesday’s closing session of the Council on Foundations annual meeting in Los Angeles.
In a session that was designed to resemble a form of speed dating—experts had just five minutes to sum up what was wrong with philanthropy—Andy Goodman, a marketing consultant to charities and foundations, criticized foundations for focusing too much on numbers and data. None of that matters if the people a foundation wants to reach are not open to what the data show, he said.
“All the data in the world is not going to change people’s minds,” said Mr. Goodman. “If you want to change what people think and if you want to create change, the first thing you need to do is change the story in their heads.”
Emmett Carson of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, chided…
May 2, 2012, 2:34 pm
Maybe you saw the episode of Fox TV’s “House” in which the curmudgeonly lead character realizes just before a patient’s death that she’s suffering from a tapeworm in her brain. Or a scene from the new Fox show “Touch,” in which a group of African women stand up to a man who is abusing his girlfriend.
Some of America’s biggest philanthropies are helping to shape those kinds of storylines in an effort to educate the public about global health and other causes they care about.
Through its Hollywood, Health & Society program, the University of Southern California’s Norman Lear Center takes Hollywood producers and writers to developing countries and introduces them to global-health experts to inform them a…
May 1, 2012, 9:22 am
Foundations have been slow to respond to the growing needs of the men and women who have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families, said speakers at a session Monday of the Council on Foundations.
One reason is that so few Americans—including those who work at foundations and charities—have a connection to service members.
But grant makers could find much to do to support military families, many of whom struggle under the crushing weight of problems that result from multiple deployments such as broken marriages, domestic abuse, unemployment, mental-health issues, and, increasingly, suicide.
Unlike service members in past wars, this generation’s veterans are less inclined to seek help through formal channels like the Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs and instead go online to seek information from other sources, said Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq …