Monthly Archives: May 2012


Nigerian Banker Urges Business Approach to Poverty in Africa

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 di…


X Prize Will Seek Solutions to Poverty

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 homeless…


Ford Foundation Gives $50-Million to Push for Longer School Days

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, …


Foundations Urged to Do Better at Influencing the Public

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 matt…


Foundations Use Hollywood to Promote Their Agendas

Actor Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House (FOX BROADCASTING COMPANY / LAVINE, MICHAEL / Album/Newscom)

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 effo…


How Foundations Can Help Today’s Military Families

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 …