Rapper Big Sean Donates Money to Help Homeless College Students

Rapper Big Sean Donates Money to Help Homeless College Students

Jul 05

Image: Via dailydetroit.com The difficulty of life growing up in a city like Detroit is one of the central themes that runs through hip-hop. For rapper “Big Sean” Anderson, bringing those difficulties to light isn’t enough, so he’s trying to help out. He recently donated $25,000 to a group called HIGH (Helping Individuals Go Higher), which helps students struggling with financial difficulties make it to graduation. HIGH is focused on Wayne State University in Detroit, but the problem of college homelessness isn’t limited to the Motor City. Students who can’t afford housing, food, books, or clothing while they attend classes can be found at schools around the country. HIGH has been working to address the problem at WSU, and they’ve gotten a nice boost from Big Sean, but it’s a problem that needs to be addressed elsewhere, both by non-profits and through political action. With a significant portion of local students, Wayne State University is home to some problems that other schools don’t see as often. Big 10 universities and Ivy League schools tend to have large endowments to help students with tuition, or mostly attract wealthy students in the first place. But as a working class state school, WSU has many students who live at or below the poverty line, and it is exactly those students that HIGH was founded to help. Big Sean donated the money through his Sean Anderson Foundation, which partners with other groups to raise money for a variety of causes. Foundations like this are pretty common, and they’re a good model for people, especially celebrities, who want to help out but maybe aren’t willing to dedicate themselves wholly to one kind of charitable work. Big Sean likes to keep the focus in Michigan, and his foundation recently helped raise $82,755 for the Community Foundation of Greater Flint to help children affected by lead poisoning in that...

Playing Zelda for Charity: Zeldathon

Playing Zelda for Charity: Zeldathon

Jun 23

Marathons are a common event in the charity world, with people signing up to run or pledging money to support friends and family who are running. But not everybody can, or wants, to run, and some people don’t really pay attention to charity marathons. For some of those people though, there are video game marathons. The basic principle is the same: people do a thing for an absurdly long time while others watch them. In these cases, they play a video game, or series of video games, for some length of time while others watch them. Social video services like Twitch.TV allow people to tune in from around the world. There are lots of events like this, and most of them use the platform to raise money for charity. A lot of different charities benefit, like Direct Relief, which is the recipient of funds raised at this year’s first Zeldathon. Zeldathon is held multiple times each year, and started back in 2009. It’s a pretty simple concept: players go through the entire Zelda franchise, periodically putting on silly costumes or eating weird foods because people donated a certain amount of money. Paying to embarrass players is pretty common in these kinds of marathons. But it’s effective. Since 2009, Zeldathon has donated 100% of the $875,000 they’ve raised to various charities, which is no small number. This time it’s Direct Relief, which works around the country and the world to help alleviate poverty, and has earned a perfect score from Charity Navigator, no small task. If you’re interested in watching the action, you can check out the Zeldathon website for more information. If you miss it, don’t worry, there’s probably another charity gaming marathon coming up any time...

The Billionaires to Donations Ratio in China is Skewed

The Billionaires to Donations Ratio in China is Skewed

Jun 07

The number of billionaires in the People’s Republic of China has increased significantly in the last decade or so, but their charitable giving has not kept pace. In 2015, China saw a rise in the billionaire population of 38%, with a net worth of $830 billion, meaning that country has the second largest number of billionaires after the United States. But the United States far outpaces China in charitable giving. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the most significant is a lack of transparency on the part of charitable organizations. In recent years, there have been a number of scandals involving charities in China, especially as pertains to the use of funds, which has made many people cautious. The government has stepped in to address the situation, but as is common in China, that has largely been to restrict who can claim charity status, and what they can focus their mission on. The result is that many charities are now beholden to the government. Some billionaires, a class that has only recently come into being in the nominally communist country, are reasonably cautious about how the government perceives them, and so they must choose their donations very carefully. But there also aren’t many tax incentives for donating in China. Here in the United States, although many people donate out of the kindness of their hearts, there are a number of tax benefits that companies can claim by donating to charity, and they make sure to do that. Regardless of why a person, or a company, donates to charity, the end result is still a donation. While the number of charitable organizations in China has increased in the last few years, up to 4,211 as of 2015, giving to those organizations is still slow. The Chinese government does seem to be interested in finding ways to get people to support select charitable causes though, so this may change over the next few...

New Bill Would Make Investigating Charity Fraud More Difficult

New Bill Would Make Investigating Charity Fraud More Difficult

Jun 01

A bill introduced to the House of Representatives and awaiting a vote would make “dark money” untraceable, which poses some risks to charity fraud investigations. “Dark money” refers to anonymous donations to nonprofits, usually politically active groups, that allow wealthy people to donate money without attracting attention to themselves. It’s become a huge issue in politics of late, especially since the Citizens United victory in 2010 that allowed for unlimited spending by corporations and other entities on political campaigns. This presidential election season is already gearing up to cost more than twice the 2012 race. The bill would eliminate an IRS mandated donor-disclosure requirement, meaning that groups wouldn’t have to say who gave them money. Supporters say this protects the First Amendment rights of donors and protects them from political pressure and the like. Meanwhile, opponents say that it would make it difficult for fraud investigations to determine who donated to charities and whether or not there are conflicts of interest there. It would also prevent them from determining if charities moved funds between one another. Charity fraud is a serious issue, and although it doesn’t happen all that often, only about 1% of annual giving is affected, it’s still something that needs to be investigated. Especially since when it does come to light, it tends to get a lot of press and damage the nonprofit sector’s image. Adding fuel to opponents’ arguments against the bill are the supporters themselves, most notable Citizens United and the Koch Brothers. If you’ve been following politics for the last decade, especially campaign finance, then you know that these groups have never had the best interest of American’s at heart, but only those of billionaires and corporations. This bill is simply another attempt to increase their own power, while denying the government the ability to keep them in check, and this time it’ll make fraud...

Marie-Josée Kravis and Henry R. Kravis Establish New Scholarships for Students

Marie-Josée Kravis and Henry R. Kravis Establish New Scholarships for Students

Apr 07

The Stern Undergraduate College at New York University has announced that it will use a generous donation of $1.8 million from the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation to create a new scholarship. The funds will support high-achieving, low-income students entering Stern for the fall 2016 semester. Students given the scholarship will be known as the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis scholars. The Kravis Foundation also supports NYU’s “Momentum Campaign,” which hopes to raise $1 billion in funding over the next six years for scholarships. With the addition of the Kravis’ donation, the school has now raised over $100 million to put toward scholarships, and it has reached the halfway point in its overall goal with $500 million raised. “Talent doesn’t correlate with zip code. This scholarship will help more talented men and women who lack resources pursue higher education,” said Henry Kravis, co-founder and co-CEO of global investment firm KKR. Andrew Hamilton, NYU’s president, agrees. “Addressing college costs and affordability are among my foremost priorities,” he said. “Next year, we will enact NYU’s smallest increase in undergraduate cost-of-attendance in more than 20 years. But even important steps such as that must be accompanied by improvements in scholarship aid.” “And so we are grateful to Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis for their generous gift, which will permit students filled with talent and ambition but lacking financial resources to obtain the NYU education of which they dream,” Hamilton said. This is not the first donation the Kravis Foundation has made to education. Last spring, the foundation pledged $100 million to Rockefeller University to create a new laboratory as a campus extension. That laboratory will be a two-floor centerpiece of the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation—David Rockefeller River Campus, consuming three city blocks on the shore. The new lab will provide plenty of space for the school’s science and research projects. The Kravis Foundation’s gifts ensure that new generations of intelligent, committed students will have the educational resources they need for years to...

Governor Christie Vetoes Bill to Tax For-Profit Functions in Non-Profit Hospitals

Governor Christie Vetoes Bill to Tax For-Profit Functions in Non-Profit Hospitals

Mar 31

Non-profit hospitals in New Jersey have been scrambling to “defend” themselves against the state government, after Morristown Medical Center as found to be operating for-profit in most of it’s center, and thus was subject to property taxes. Eventually, the two parties settled for $15.5 million, but a lot of other hospitals are worried that they’ll be next, and a number of appeals are in motion at the moment. The state legislature recently passed a bill to establish taxes for non-profit hospitals with have for-profit operations within their property, something that is apparently pretty common in the medical world. The problem is that, since the for-profit aspects operate under the same roof as the non-profit aspects of a given hospital, they aren’t’ subject to property taxes, and that’s simply not fair. They’re still making use of municipal services and therefore should be paying their fair share, even if that’s still less than a totally for-profit medical center. But Governor Chris Christie vetoed that bill, and said he’s pushing for a two-year “freeze” on litigation related to the tax exempt status of hospitals in the state. He wants the state assembly to establish a commission to investigate the issue ad develop a system that works for all parties, and said that the bill he vetoed was “rushed.” Response has been mixed. There are those, both in the legislature and among hospital administrators, who support the governor’s plan, with some of the latter arguing that the current handling of the situation has created an adversarial relationship between the state and the hospitals. Others in the legislature feel that the bill they presented was fair, and that the governor was mistaken in vetoing it. They argue that the problem needs to be addressed now, not later, and that all parties involved deserve clarity in developing a...