Trump Wants to Shut Down His Charity Foundation, But Can’t Due to Ongoing Investigation

Trump Wants to Shut Down His Charity Foundation, But Can’t Due to Ongoing Investigation

Nov 21

In December 2016, Donald Trump promised to terminate his charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, in order to avoid any possible conflicts of interest during his presidency. In an effort to make good on that promise, the Foundation announced its intent to shut down in a 2016 IRS document that was submitted this month. There’s just one problem: the Donald J. Trump Foundation is currently under investigation, and the New York Attorney General’s Office isn’t going to let the Foundation dissolve until that investigation concludes. “As the Foundation is still under investigation by this office, it cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete,” said Amy Spitalnick, the attorney general’s press secretary. In October 2016, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ordered the Donald J. Trump Foundation to stop soliciting donations following a report that it lacked the proper authorization to do so. An investigation was launched after the Foundation admitted to having violated federal laws on “self-dealing” in its 2015 tax filing. These laws forbid nonprofit leaders from diverting charity funds to themselves, their businesses, or families. A spokesperson for the Foundation confirmed that it is currently under investigation, but maintained that the organization is cooperating with officials: “The Foundation continues to cooperate with the New York Attorney General’s Charities Division, and as previously announced by the President, his advisers are working with the Charities Division to wind up the affairs of the Foundation. The Foundation looks forward to distributing its remaining assets at the earliest possible time to aid numerous worthy charitable organizations.” There is still no word on when the investigation is expected to conclude. When it does, the Donald J. Trump Foundation will distribute its remaining funds to other charitable organizations. The Foundation reported assets of about $970,000 at the end of 2016. Representatives from the Foundation have yet announce which charities will receive the...

Bill Gates is Putting $100 Million Towards Finding a Cure for Alzheimer’s

Bill Gates is Putting $100 Million Towards Finding a Cure for Alzheimer’s

Nov 15

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, with symptoms that range from mild short-term memory loss to being unable to manage basic self-care functions or remember one’s own life. It is incurable, and affects more than 1 in 20 people over the age of 65, worldwide. Bill Gates, billionaire and philanthropist, says that the disease is common in his family. As he turned 62 this year, thoughts of Alzheimer’s may be pressing in on him. But even if he weren’t personally at risk, medical research is a cause he’s supported before. Gates will be donating $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund, a fund to support industry and government research into treatments for the disease. This will be a personal donation, not made via Gates’ Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “It’s a huge problem, a growing problem, and the scale of the tragedy—even for the people who stay alive—is very high,” Gates said. It is arguably the most expensive disease in the developed world, with most affected needing round-the-clock care for years in their decline. The Dementia Discovery Fund includes drugmakers like GlaxoSmithKine, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Biogen Idec, and the government of the United Kingdom. In addition to the initial donation, Gates has pledged $50 million to medical startups that are pursuing “less mainstream” approaches to the disease. He has not yet identified any of these startups. He expects progress to be slow, predicting it to take 10 years or more before solid treatments are developed from his donations. He wants focus to be extended in five areas: disease progression, early diagnoses, multiple approach treatments, protocols around clinical trials involving those with dementia, and collaborating on medical research between for-profit companies. The effects of his generosity will likely outlive him, but rest assured, the impact of his donations will never be forgotten. *Photo courtesy of OnInnovation via Flickr Creative...

Billionaire Tom Steyer Gives $2.3 Million to Pro-Immigration Orgs

Billionaire Tom Steyer Gives $2.3 Million to Pro-Immigration Orgs

Nov 10

An individual arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is in a particularly vulnerable position in United States law. To begin with, they have no right to counsel. So while as many as 20% may have mitigating circumstances that make their case to remain valid, most have no access at all to legal advice on the matter. But that’s why organizations like University of California Immigrant Legal Service Center exist. The UC Center is the first and only university system to provide free legal advice to undocumented immigrants and their families. It’s not abstract to the University of California; approximately 4,000 UC students are undocumented immigrants, many of them residents of California since infancy. “From increased ICE raids to the repeal of DACA to the Muslim travel ban, Donald Trump and his administration are systematically attacking the immigrant community,” said billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer. “Many live in fear that at any moment they will be ripped away from their family with no one in their corner to defend them. Our partnership with the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center will allow more students and their families, in California and across the nation, to seek the legal guidance they not only need but have a fundamental right to receive.” Tom Steyer is a mega-donor with a history of environment and social wallet-activism, and the partnership to which he is referring is the $2.3 million donation his nonprofit, NextGen America, is making to the UC Center and seven other immigrant aid organizations. His gift will allow the UC Center to hire full-time immigration attorneys, reducing their reliance on donated time from lawyers working elsewhere. The other seven organizations to benefit from the massive donation are UC Davis School of Law’s Immigration Law Clinic, UC Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, Asian Americans Advancing Justice: Asian Law Caucus, the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, the Center for Community Change, the American Immigration Lawyers Assn. and the Council on American-Islamic...

Rivals GM and Ford Form Partnership in the Name of Charity

Rivals GM and Ford Form Partnership in the Name of Charity

Oct 18

General Motors Company and Ford Motor Company have a long, contentious history between them, a rivalry called “the hundred-year” war by some. Founded only 72 miles and five years apart in the Detroit area, the two have battled over profits, market-share, and the American image for over a century. It is this inextricably linked history that GM is honoring with their recent charitable maneuver. General Motors Co. is donating $5 million to The Henry Ford, a museum complex in Dearborn, Michigan founded by its namesake to commemorate not only his own business and industry, but his collection of American history as well. GM’s donation is earmarked to sponsor the museum’s rotating exhibit, a gallery devoted to promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The exhibit will now be known as “The Gallery” by General Motors. Henry Ford might roll over a bit in his grave at the idea, but his great-grandson, Edsel Ford II, was part of the decision-making process. It began with a 2013 lunch between him and Mark Reuss, the head of global product development for GM. The Henry Ford, as an independent nonprofit, is not officially affiliated with Ford Motor Co., and so it was not a conflict of interest when Reuss joined its board of trustees in 2016. “We know that Henry Ford and Ford Motor Co. have always been and will always be inextricably linked. There’s no getting around that,” Reuss said. “But the museum is a celebration of American innovation, particularly in the transportation space, and you can’t tell that story without General Motors and Ford together.” The first exhibit to be shown in the GM-sponsored gallery is going to be “The Science Behind Pixar.” The conjoined history of Disney and Pixar is as American as these auto companies, and a stellar example of the histories of innovation that the museum wants to...

Investor David Tepper Donates $3 Million to Feeding America

Investor David Tepper Donates $3 Million to Feeding America

Oct 10

Over 200 centralized food banks comprise the nationwide network of Feeding America, which supplements food to nearly 50 million people via 60,000 food pantries and meal delivery programs in the U.S. The entire network has been strained to the breaking point this autumn, by the hurricane disasters in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. In a glimpse of what the wealthy should be to America, hedge fund billionaire David Tepper pledged $3 million from his David Tepper Charitable Foundation and Appaloosa LP to support Feeding America’s hurricane relief efforts. Last week, Tepper told reporters that ensuring food banks have access to food, safe drinking water, and the other resources they need to remain open in times of crisis is “vital to helping these communities recover.” CEO of Feeding America Diana Aviv said that the Tepper Foundation pledge will reach thousands of those displaced and impacted by the hurricanes. On their website, Feeding America quips that every dollar of donation furnishes 11 meals to the hungry. By that rubric, this pledge could feed more than half of the network’s regular recipients. By comparison, in 2016, they reported taking in a total just under $2.5 million in public support and revenue. Tepper, son of an accountant and a school teacher, is currently worth nearly $12 billion, putting him among the 200 wealthiest people in the world. He’s known as a “philanthropist with a loose wallet.” Tepper’s $3 million pledge, while game-changing for Feeding America, is chump change for his foundation. In 2013, he donated a whopping $67 million to his alma mater of Carnegie Mellon University (the university named their school of business after him). As if that’s not cool enough, Tepper also regularly supports charities targeting Jewish communities and education. Another reason to love the guy? After Hurricane Sandy, he donated $200,000 in gift cards directly to families in affected cities to help them rebuild. The world needs more David...

Coca-Cola Pledges $6.3 Million in Hurricane Relief Funds

Coca-Cola Pledges $6.3 Million in Hurricane Relief Funds

Oct 03

Coca-Cola pledged in mid-September to donate $2 million to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief after Harvey and Irma, and further said that they would match all employee donations up to an additional $100,000. Now, in the wake of Maria’s crushing blow to the Caribbean and the two destructive earthquakes in Mexico, Coca-Cola has offered up another $4.3 million. $1 million of the new pledge will go to the Mexican Red Cross, for immediate aid to the stricken cities. The company is giving another million to the Salvation Army for food and shelter in the hardest hit Caribbean islands. $300,000 is for rebuilding on the islands of St. Kitts, Barbuda, and Turks and Caicos, and the $2 million balance is for long-term reconstruction in Mexico. On their own, none of those contributions will reach far. The need for disaster aid right now is a bottomless pit. But Coca-Cola’s pledges, $6.3 million in all, will join the flood of support from other companies which is rising above a quarter of a billion dollars in cash, support, and resources. While Coca-Cola’s efforts are certainly to be commended, one could wish that they had exercised more diligence in choosing their charities. Red Cross and Salvation Army are both very well-known names, which may make them the easy choices, but neither charity has a good reputation in disaster aid. Red Cross has a 75% score for financial responsibility on Charity Navigator, a watchdog organization that tracks the behavior of nonprofit organizations. As a religious charity, the Salvation Army doesn’t release its financial records and as a result, has no rating. It’s also worth noting that the Salvation Army has a history of applying its aid in a discriminatory fashion. Even so, money flowing into these affected communities is desperately vital right now, and anything is better than nothing. Hopefully, Coca-Cola will continue to push their pledges up as the damage toll rises. There is much they can do to help people get back on their...