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...

For These Business Leaders, Philanthropy Is Personal

For These Business Leaders, Philanthropy Is Personal

Sep 29

There’s a lot of talk about high-profile philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg. But for every Bill Gates, there are a dozen other business leaders who are quietly doing the right thing and donating their time and money to organizations they find meaningful. Let’s meet a few high-level business leaders who aren’t in the spotlight but are making an impact through their own philanthropy. Alex Crisses, a managing director at private equity firm General Atlantic, comes to his philanthropy through a personal journey. When his wife was pregnant with their daughter, the couple discovered that she had a unilateral clubfoot and would require corrective surgery. They turned to the doctors at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Because HSS was so helpful to them in their journey to treat their daughter’s condition, there was no question that they wanted to be involved with the organization. “We decided we wanted to do whatever we could to repay, not only in that moment, but candidly, for the rest of our lives,” Crisses said in a video about their experience. Crisses serves on the board of HSS’s pediatric counsel and is co-chairman of the hospital’s annual pediatric fundraiser. Venture capitalist David Bohnett sold his company Geocities (remember that?) to Yahoo! in 1998 and made a cool $300 million in the process. Instead of hoarding the cash, he started his own foundation to give his money to causes that mattered to him. The David Bohnett Foundation focuses on LGBT issues, gun violence prevention, and enriching society through technology and innovation, among other things. “The future of philanthropy is asking those we’re closest to and that we come in contact [with] the most to join you in getting involved in the passions you both share in common,” Bohnett said in his remarks after receiving the CSQ Visionary Award in Philanthropy, Art, and Culture. “One person can indeed change the world, and for many of those people, they simply need to be asked and given a place to start.” Laure Sudreau, attorney and investment management professional, has given a total of $11 million to her alma matter, Pepperdine University School of Law. Her latest contribution of $8 million will be used to help advance the impact of the school’s Global Justice Program. Her donation will support and enhance the program’s current offerings and launching new and innovative initiatives that...

Oxfam Rents Trump’s Childhood Home to Refugees

Oxfam Rents Trump’s Childhood Home to Refugees

Sep 27

In a Tudor-style home in Queens, New York, Donald Trump spent his earliest years. Today, an anonymous owner rents it out through AirBnB for $750 a night. Apparently, that’s what people pay to stay in an awkwardly-decorated house with a picture of 45 on each wall. The owner, who bought it in March of this year, paid $2.14 million for it, even though the Trump family moved out in 1950 and the current president, who was 4 at the time, probably doesn’t even remember the house. Even so, it seemed like the right setting for charity Oxfam to make a point. They rented the house for a night, and donated the stay to four resettled refugees: Ghassan Shehadeh (Syria), Uyen Nguyen (Vietnam), Abdi Iftin (Somalia), and Eiman Ali (Somalia). Three of those four come from countries from which Donald Trump tried to ban refugees. In a statement, Oxfam said that by bringing the refugees to Trump’s own former home, they are sending a message. “In the coming weeks, President Trump will announce his decision on the number of refugees the US will resettle in 2018,” the organization said in a statement. “Congress will finalize spending bills, which determine the level of financial support the federal government will dedicate to aiding and resettling refugees. And the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the president’s unconstitutional refugee and Muslim ban.” According to the UN, this is the era of the highest levels of displacement ever known. There are more refugees worldwide than ever before, and Trump’s stated intentions are to shut our doors tighter than any time since the end of the Vietnam war. The arranged stay’s message is clear: these people are not abstract numbers. They are individuals, they are closer than we know, and we have a responsibility to open our...

As Houston Recovers from Harvey, Don’t Forget About Rockport

As Houston Recovers from Harvey, Don’t Forget About Rockport

Sep 18

The whole world is hearing about Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, but Rockport, Texas, the city where the eye of the storm actually struck shore, tends to be referred to as a footnote. And that has only intensified after Irma’s damaging sweep across Florida. But Rockport’s need is no less. A small city of about 10,000 people, Rockport lost its high school, several hotels, and whole neighborhoods, not to mention all of the local marinas. Recovery is expected to take years, and the town will never be the same. Bill Thomas isn’t a local. He describes himself as a “frequent visitor.” But he saw a need in Rockport, and traveled there immediately after the storm. Thomas is in distribution, and he put that career-gained knowledge to work immediately. A local business owner lent him an empty warehouse that was still standing, and he immediately launched a donation center. Many of the donations coming into Rockport from across the country had no place to go, and it broke his heart to see pallets of baby food and paper goods that had to be thrown out from being left out in the elements. His warehouse gave everybody a place to bring those donations, a place he called Aransas County Harvey Donaton Center. In less than a week, community members and strangers alike had donated nearly $10,000 to cover the center’s costs. A local business donated nearly 200 mattresses and pillows. Bayer Motor Company ran a fundraising drive among its employees. “That’s what Texas is about,” said Bayer’s CEO Lucy Larose. “You just come together and you put aside your differences and you put aside what might be bothering you and you feel in your heart just that need to help out.” Everything in Thomas’s Donation center is being given away free to anyone who needs it, and nearly everyone who has come for supplies has stopped a while to volunteer...

J.J. Watt Raises More Than $27 Million for Hurricane Harvey Victims

J.J. Watt Raises More Than $27 Million for Hurricane Harvey Victims

Sep 12

J.J. Watt is 28 years old and at the peak of his football career as the Houston Texan’s star defender. And he’s here to help. When he opened a Houston Flood Relief Fund on YouCaring on Sunday, August 27th, his initial goal of $200,000 was met and passed in a matter of hours, with donations coming from his teammates and fans. Soon enough, he raised $5 million, then $10 million, then $20 million. He rejoiced at hitting each new landmark. “Absolutely incredible. The most difficult times bring out the best in humanity,” Watt said on Twitter at the $10 million mark. By Wednesday, August 30, over 180,000 individual donors had raised that total to $27 million, which will go a long way to help the 50,000 people displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Most donations have been what individuals could afford, averaging around the $20 mark, but a growing handful of celebrities have written checks with a lot of zeros. Ellen Degeneres engineered a million dollar donation from Walmart. Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show donated another million, and promoted the drive on his show Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, Charles Butt, the CEO of Texas supermarket chain H-E-B donated a huge $5 million. YouCaring itself donated $50,000, and Amazon donated trucks and labor to transport more physical donations. Both money and tangible donations will focus on supplying food, water, and needed goods to those who have lost everything to the hurricane, and those still waiting to find out if they have homes to go back to. Watt says that he’s found a great deal of strength and inspiration in the response to his call for funds. “Every time we hit one of these landmarks I’m amazed. I think the worst times bring out the best in people and we’re seeing it in abundance right now,” he tweeted on Friday. And he’s right. Volunteers and donations have flocked to the stricken city and its surrounding towns. It will never be enough, but everything helps. *Photo credit: Disney | ABC Television Group via Flickr Creative...

Astronomers Without Borders Recycling Eclipse Glasses

Astronomers Without Borders Recycling Eclipse Glasses

Sep 04

Between libraries and NASA, over 3.5 million eclipse glasses were handed out for free in the United States in the months leading up to the August 21 total eclipse. Ten times as many were sold by retailers like Safeway, Walmart, and Amazon. And all for one three-hour event. Their use outside of an eclipse is limited. Wearing a pair, only the brightest lights can be seen at all, so they’re useless as sunglasses, and they aren’t strong or durable for welding glasses. So rather than put them in a scrapbook or losing them in a box somewhere, send yours on to be useful to someone else. Astronomers Without Borders is a nonprofit dedicated to bringing the study of the universe to underserved communities around the world. They give telescopes to schools, support science programs in developing countries, and award grants to small schools so they can introduce their student bodies to the intersection between art and astronomy. In the wake of the recent eclipse, they’re asking that you “don’t waste, donate” your eclipse glasses. With the help of corporate partners like Google and Celestron, they’re collecting used glasses to donate them to schools in Asia, which will see a total eclipse in January 2019 that crosses through central China, Mongolia, and Russia, and in South America, which will see totality in July 2019 on a path through Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. Do check to make certain that glasses you are donating are up to spec. With this recent eclipse crossing fourteen U.S. states, the market for eclipse glasses boomed and spawned a catastrophic proportion of counterfeiters. Substandard eclipse glasses may allow you to look at the sun without pain while still allowing enough light through to do irreversible damage to the center of vision. Sign up for AWB’s newsletter to get astronomy news from around the world, and to learn where you can donate your glasses. Photo: People view the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse in Bryant Park in Manhattan. Credit: James...

Tips for Helping Those Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Tips for Helping Those Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Sep 01

Every major crisis comes with a cacophony of calls for donations. And Hurricane Harvey is no exception. Tens of thousands of people are displaced, thousands of homes gone. The flooding is off the scale, even a week after it all began. For every person looking to help, it can feel like a thousand hands are outstretched in their direction. Here are a few tips to narrow down your own charity options. Look for organizations on the ground. People who are already there, who you can see helping on the news. A lot of the time, this means the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Both have had their problems, but both also have demonstrated expertise in disaster relief. Other good grounded organizations include the United Way of Greater Houston and the Greater Houston Community Foundation. They both have long histories in the area. This is the other half the same coin but it bears emphasis: avoid new groups. They may seem tailor-made to match your sympathies, but they could easily vanish as quickly as they appeared. High flight risk, in other words. Privately-run donation drives fall under this same umbrella. These are especially common in online communities. So is the organizer disappearing with the proceeds, or showing a faked-up receipt of donation. Donate money, not goods. There will be organizations offering to collect blankets and clothes and used toys and food. They come from a well-meaning place, but they aren’t helpful. A 100-pack of blankets can be bought on Amazon for less money and less time than it would cost to collect and ship hand-me-downs. Companies out for more than karma points will only be asking for money and maybe volunteers. And last but not least, consider the long-term. Hurricane Katrina was 12 years ago and NOLA’s last refugees are only just now moving back. Houston and the other washed-out parts of Texas will need donations in six months and in six years as much as they do...