Harvard Business School Grads Give Back to Their Alma Mater

Harvard Business School Grads Give Back to Their Alma Mater

Apr 21

The year was 2013, and it was time for the Harvard Business School Class of 2008’s five-year reunion. As usual, two alumni stepped up to chair the committee that planned the reunion, and as usual, there was a lot of discussion on how to make the event both a fun experience and a meaningful way to fundraise for their alma mater. Reunion committee co-chair Alex Crisses decided to take on the fundraising element. He had some ideas about what would appeal to his classmates, but he wanted help from a mentor who had a lot of experience in raising funds for Harvard Business School. He found that mentor in Alan “AJ” Jones, who had been involved in HBS fundraising since he received his MBA in 1987. Together, they formulated a plan that led to a great deal of support for Harvard Business School’s HBS Fund for Leadership and Innovation. “AJ did a phenomenal job of helping us see the connection between support of the HBS Fund and the priorities of the school,” said Crisses, now a managing director at global private equity firm General Atlantic. “He spoke at our class event in New York about why HBS is important to him. It resonated deeply with our class members.” As well it should. The HBS Fund for Leadership and Innovation supports four major areas: fellowships, educational innovation, global understanding, and research. Fellowships are need-based financial aid awards that enable Harvard Business School to attract the most talented students regardless of their financial circumstances. Through its educational innovation initiatives, the fund allows HBS to continue to develop its curricula, most recently adding more hands-on learning and online content. Gifts supporting the development of global cases and courses allow students and faculty to get firsthand experience in markets around the world. Support of research allows faculty to pursue their own ideas without the constraints of sponsored research. “AJ gave us the blueprint for talking about what the HBS Fund supports,” said Crisses. “Together, we developed a fundraising mantra—educate people about what’s going on HBS and tell them how we are raising money for change and transformation.” The HBS Fund allows the school to quickly and thoughtfully pursue innovative ideas because, unlike other funds, it is not restricted. “In business, venture capital or R&D budgets seed the most promising new ideas,” said HBS Dean Nitin Nohira. “In academia, where endowments are generally restricted...

California Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Horse Rescue/Veteran Charity

California Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Horse Rescue/Veteran Charity

Apr 19

The Central Coast Equine Rescue and Retirement (CCERR) and Wounded Warriors Support Group (WWSG) are facing a civil lawsuit brought on by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The two charities claim to rescue abused horses and provide therapeutic horseback riding to wounded military veterans. But according to Becerra, none of that is true. Becerra alleges that the two charities scammed the public out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. A press release from the attorney general’s office reads: “CCERR and WWSG run raffles purportedly to support veterans and horses, but instead spend the donated proceeds for personal use.” Matthew G. Gregory and his wife Danella Gregory run the two charities with the help of their two adult children, Matthew J. Gregory and Gina Gregory. According to court documents, the family used public donations to fund their own personal expenditures, which include a $10,000 shopping trip to the hunting store. “Veterans and their families sacrifice immensely for our country,” Becerra stated. “There is no place for sham charities that claim to support our veterans when in reality they’re lining their own pockets. It’s a breach of the public trust to deceive and exploit the goodwill of generous Americans. It’s worse when you do so at the expense of our veterans. I will vigorously investigate and prosecute any charity falsely claiming to help our veterans.” But Matthew Gregory maintains that he and his family haven’t done anything wrong. “We will prove ourselves to be innocent because they can’t prove that we are doing anything. Let them try and prove that we squandered donated dollars. It’s not there,” Gregory told news outlet KSBW. But when asked by a KSBW reporter where the horses were being boarded, Gregory declined to give an answer. Aside from misallocating funds, prosecutors also allege that the Gregory family plagiarized photos and quotes from the Washington Post and used them on their website. Court documents reveal that the two charities raised a total of $782,434 over the 2014-2015 year, but the prosecution claims that none of that money was ever put towards the intended...

Hundreds with No Place to Sleep when House of Charity Closes at the End of April

Hundreds with No Place to Sleep when House of Charity Closes at the End of April

Apr 14

Finding funding for charities is no easy feat. But the consequences of a lack of funding can be life-threatening for the people those charities help. For example, funding woes are causing the House of Charity in Spokane, WA to close at the end of April, putting about 200 homeless people out in the cold. According to Catholic Charities, the organization running the program, there just isn’t enough money to keep things going. Previously, the City of Spokane contributed about $1 million to the 24/7 shelter, which originally focused on homeless men but opened its doors to women and children in November. This year, however, the city isn’t able to contribute at all, which puts the House of Charity at a $500,000 gap in funding. “They’re doing a great job of maintaining and holding it together,” said current homeless resident Bob Auxier. “But it takes money to do these things.” House of Charity has been open since 1958, accepting any resident in need, including those suffering from mental health issues and addiction. In addition to basic shelter and food, House of Charity provides additional emergency services and case management for the underserved homeless population in Spokane. There are other options for the homeless in need: the Salvation Army and the Union Gospel Mission also provide shelter, and the Community Court at the downtown library has other information and resources readily available. But cutting down on available space for desperate homeless men, women, and children is likely to lead to a variety of problems. House of Charity director Rob McCann is making a last ditch effort to keep the program running, including appealing to the better natures of potential donors. “We’re currently giving more to animal shelters than we are to human shelters in the region,” McCann pointed out. He’s also written letters to every county commissioner and Spokane Valley City Council member, with little to show for it. Part of the problem is a shift in the city’s tactics for dealing with its homeless population. Within the past five years, the focus has shifted from shelters to more permanent housing projects like Father Bach Haven, also run by Catholic Charities. While McCann agrees that these housing projects are a good long term solution, in the meantime, diverted funds means fewer shelters to help people who are suffering right now. Furthermore, he argues, taxpayers would pay less to support charities like...

Rush’s Not-So-Secret Philanthropic Mission

Rush’s Not-So-Secret Philanthropic Mission

Apr 14

Canadian prog rock band Rush may have officially retired in 2015, but their philanthropic work is still going strong. On April 20, they will receive the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award for their social activism and humanitarian work in addition to their long musical career. The award will be presented during the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards dinner in Toronto, one of many events during Canadian Music Week. “They’re giving us an award for doing what everyone should do,” said band member Geddy Lee in an interview with Billboard. “It should be a part of everyone’s upbringing and routine of life: you share when you’ve been blessed with good fortune. The world needs a lot of work, and there are not enough workers. We try to help where we can.” The award comes with a $40,000 endowment, which Rush has decided to donate to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research at Sunnybrook. The Fund studies treatment for currently incurable brain cancer. It’s named for Rush’s fellow Canadian musician Gord Downie, frontman of the band Tragically Hip, who announced in 2016 that he has terminal brain cancer. “We are thrilled to learn Rush has made such a donation,” said Dr. James Perry, head of neurology at Sunnybrook. “The Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research will help give us the tools we need to find ways to treat the untreatable. Right now we are investigating new drugs, surgical techniques, and genetic therapies….The funds so generously donated by Rush will support us as we continue our pioneering work to the benefit of brain cancer patients not only across Canada but around the world.” Rush has made philanthropy an important part of their career since the beginning. With their first album, released in 1974, they’ve garnered a huge legion of fans, whose enthusiasm they’ve leveraged to make a real difference in the world. Rush’s concerts at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens were also food drives for the Toronto Food Bank. They’ve held benefit shows for United Way and amFAR. During the Alberta floods in 2013, they held a benefit show that raised $575,000 to help with repairs and support. And beginning with their 2010 Time Machine Tour, Rush has donated $1 from every concert ticket to a variety of charity organizations, including Doctors Without Borders. The band generally doesn’t broadcast much about their charity work, but according to Canadian Music...

Children Read to Cats in Adorable ‘Book Buddies’ Program

Children Read to Cats in Adorable ‘Book Buddies’ Program

Apr 13

An animal shelter in Pennsylvania came up with a creative way to benefit both children and animals. The Animal Rescue League located in Berks County has a Book Buddies program where school-aged children read to cats. Kristi Rodriguez, volunteer coordinator at Animal Rescue League, originally came up with the idea. She credits her son with providing the inspiration that she needed to implement the program. “I have a 10-year-old son at home who has struggled with reading for quite some time now,” Rodriquez told The Huffington Post. “It affects his self-esteem as well because he’s not comfortable reading in front of his classmates. Working at the shelter, you come to realize that the animals who interact with the children in the program don’t care what their reading level and what their skills are, they’re just happy to have that companionship with the children.” Soon after Book Buddies launched, Animal Rescue League posted photos of the program online. One of the photos went viral after an online user shared the photo on Reddit. The photo shows a school-aged boy reading a book with a cat under his arm. The cat appears to be smiling and reading right along with him. The photo became so popular that droves of people began visiting the Animal Rescue League website, causing it to crash. But workers and volunteers were more than okay with that. The shelter posted the following status to social media: “We are thrilled that a post from a friend of our Book Buddies program is going crazy on Reddit! We know lots of people are trying to access our website and the high traffic is slowing things down, but we hope you’ll be patient!” Rodriguez says that the program has increased her son’s comprehension, fluidity, and even his self-esteem. She also reports that her son enjoys reading now. He is also more compassionate than ever...