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Donation

Elon Musk Helps Fix Flint Water Crisis

Back in July, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he would help fix the water quality issues in Flint, Michigan.

“Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels. No kidding,” he tweeted, in response to a follower saying it couldn’t be done.

A few days later, the office of Flint Mayor Karen Weaver confirmed that he had, in fact, reached out. On October 4, the Flint Community Schools district confirmed that the Musk Foundation would be giving every school in the city new water stations with building-wide filtration to ensure that Flint’s 4,500 students will have access to clean water.

“Thank you… for investing in the health/future well-being [of] FCS Students! Your generous donation will help us replace ALL water fountains w/ NEW WATER STATIONS & WATER FILTRATION at ALL SCHOOLS! Looking forward to our burgeoning partnership! More to come!” the school district tweeted.

Musk responded, “You’re most welcome. Hope to do more to help in the future.”

The Musk Foundation, which is based in California, is heavily focused on advocacy, STEM education, and pediatric research. Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk and his brother, the foundation has donated on average $800,000 per year in grants and disbursements to various causes. The plumbing renovations in Flint are estimated to cost nearly $500,000, which is why it was impossible for the bankrupt city to manage without aid.

Earlier this year, nearby Detroit shut off all drinking water to the city’s 106 schools, serving 50,000 students. Flint may be the flagship for water quality control, but the problem is much, much larger. Hopefully, Musk’s example will lead to more community involvement in solving this matter.

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Donation

Late Special Education Teacher Leaves $1 Million to Students

For 45 years, Genevieve Via Cava taught and helped students with learning disabilities in Dumont, New Jersey. It was her life.

In 2008, she told the superintendent of her school district, Emanuele Triggiano, that she would donate a million dollars to the Dumont School District. He assumed it was hyperbole, and laughed it off. When she passed away in 2011, he remembered her life of service and education, but not the off-hand promise.

This April, he was reminded of the “joke” in the best way possible—by a check for $1 million from Via Cava’s estate.

It may seem strange that a woman working in special education for a public school district could amass a million-dollar nest egg, but Via Cava lived a quiet, frugal life, and most of her needs were taken care of by her late husband’s pension. With no children or close family, her only thought of a legacy was towards the students to whom she dedicated her entire life.

James Kennedy, a friend of Via Cava, said that she would continue to help her special education students into their adult lives, as long as 20 years after they graduated her classes.

“She had an uncanny memory when it came to her students and could remember things that happened a long time ago,” said Kennedy. He met her as a student himself, and then proceeded to work with her as an adult, when he became director of special services and later principal of one of the schools in her district.

The money Via Cava donated will be invested, the interest to provide scholarships to special education students from Dumont School District seeking opportunities in secondary education, $25,000 at a time. An incredible legacy from a woman who no doubt has left many such legacies in the people she helped to shape.

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Resources

Moody’s Math Challenge Addresses Nutrition in Schools

The annual Moody’s Mega Math (M3) Challenge took place last weekend, and perhaps more than ever, culminated in an event that encouraged students to apply math to real-world situations. Since 2006, the M3 Challenge has been a prominent national contest that fosters student leadership, scholarship, problem solving, and teamwork. Created by the Moody’s Foundation as a way to inspire high school students to pursue careers in math and science, the M3 Challenge has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship prizes to contest winners annually.  This year’s M3 Challenge charged high school students with the task of determining whether school lunches can be nutritious, delicious, and affordable, and asked them to use math to find an answer. According to the M3 Challenge Media Center,  “This year’s competition topic stems from concerns surrounding childhood nutrition and obesity, which have been in the spotlight since First Lady Michelle Obama announced her health and wellness platform for children,” of the relevant topic. This past February, the White House and USDA announced school wellness standards in accordance with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, making the M3 Challenge topic more appropriate than ever.   It’s commendable that the Moody’s Foundation not only challenged high school students to apply math to a relevant, real-life situation, but that the M3 Challenge also raised awareness about health and nutrition in schools in the process. Says Moody’s CEO Raymond McDaniel, “I don’t think enough is being done,” of the importance of fostering a love of math and science in young people, and why the Moody’s Foundation continues to up the ante with the M3 Challenge.   Explains McDaniel, a strong proponent of corporate philanthropy, “The acknowledgement that we have challenges in the sciences and in math with our young people and with our educational system is really just the first step in the process. We have a lot to do to make sure that we are as competitively positioned in the global economy in the future as we have been in the past.”  Learn more about the annual M3 Challenge and this year’s topic by visiting the Moody’s Foundation M3 Challenge page.
IMG: via Shutterstock

The annual Moody’s Mega Math (M3) Challenge took place last weekend, and perhaps more than ever, culminated in an event that encouraged students to apply math to real-world situations. Since 2006, the M3 Challenge has been a prominent national contest that fosters student leadership, scholarship, problem solving, and teamwork. Created by the Moody’s Foundation as a way to inspire high school students to pursue careers in math and science, the M3 Challenge has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship prizes to contest winners annually.

This year’s M3 Challenge charged high school students with the task of determining whether school lunches can be nutritious, delicious, and affordable, and asked them to use math to find an answer. According to the M3 Challenge Media Center,  “This year’s competition topic stems from concerns surrounding childhood nutrition and obesity, which have been in the spotlight since First Lady Michelle Obama announced her health and wellness platform for children,” of the relevant topic. This past February, the White House and USDA announced school wellness standards in accordance with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, making the M3 Challenge topic more appropriate than ever.

Moody's Math ChallengeIt’s commendable that the Moody’s Foundation not only challenged high school students to apply math to a relevant, real-life situation, but that the M3 Challenge also raised awareness about health and nutrition in schools in the process. Says Moody’s CEO Raymond McDaniel, “I don’t think enough is being done,” of the importance of fostering a love of math and science in young people, and why the Moody’s Foundation continues to up the ante with the M3 Challenge.

Explains McDaniel, a strong proponent of corporate philanthropy, “The acknowledgement that we have challenges in the sciences and in math with our young people and with our educational system is really just the first step in the process. We have a lot to do to make sure that we are as competitively positioned in the global economy in the future as we have been in the past.”

Learn more about the annual M3 Challenge and this year’s topic by visiting the Moody’s Foundation M3 Challenge page.

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Organizations Resources

Prom Goes On for Sandy Victims

prom
IMG: via Shutterstock.com

For victims of Superstorm Sandy, which hit New York City and much of the east coast in October 2012, saving up money for a prom dress is likely an unrealistic goal. Many families had their homes and lives shattered when the brutal storm hit, leaving them with nothing but their lives and the clothes on their backs. Homes and possessions were not among those spared, and rebuilding from the ground up has made life hard for many.

But for teenagers trying to move forward, prom isn’t something that is likely to be forgotten. Though they may be struggling through a personal hardship at home, that doesn’t take away the fact that for many, attending prom is a rite of passage. Girls who are juniors or seniors may have dreamed for the past few years about getting the perfect dress and having the time of their lives before they head off to college or work. But for the tens of thousands of families who are just trying to get their lives back together, being able to afford a prom dress isn’t likely to be something they can do.

That’s what the nonprofit group Where to Turn has decided to do something about. The group collected over a thousand prom dresses this year—and they plan to pass them all out to teens who had homes and cars destroyed during the storm. The dresses were collected not just from generous givers (individuals and businesses) in the New York area, but were also sent in from around the country.

And now that prom season is here, the group has started getting the dresses to those who need them. They held a free dress expo on Saturday, April 6th at a Staten Island high school. About 125 teenagers came to the event, perusing the gowns and choosing one to take home. There were also about 250 pairs of donated shoes and $5,000 in donated hair items from Conair. The dresses (all 1,000) had all been dry cleaned for free by a Staten Island dry cleaning company.

“Right now, people are rebuilding and they don’t have enough money to take care of the normal day-to-day things… things that, you know, kids really shouldn’t miss out on,” said Dennis McKeon, who is the Executive Director at Where to Turn. With hundreds more dresses to give away, McKeon says the group is working on organizing other free dress expos in hard hit areas like Queens and the Rockaways.

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Organizations Resources

The Posse Foundation

posse foundation
IMG: via possefoundation.org

The Posse Foundation was founded in 1989 to identify high school students with “extraordinary academic and leadership potential” that may otherwise be overlooked by colleges and universities during the selection process. Posse is now one of the best youth leadership development programs in the nation. In the twenty years since it began, Posse partner colleges have awarded $486 million in leadership scholarships to young leaders.

Posse uses an alternative set of indicators to predict academic success in college. It identifies promising students and extends to them the opportunity to join a “posse” of 10 students to pursue personal and academic excellence in a multicultural environment. A select set of universities have partnered with the Posse Foundation and award Posse Scholars four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships.

The graduation rate for Posse Scholars is an astounding 90 percent—and to think these students may have once been overlooked. Last year, Moody’s CEO Ray McDaniel was awarded the Posse Star Award for Moody’s leadership, support of, and contributions to the Posse Foundation.

“Posse alumni that currently work at Moody’s are extremely competent,” said Executive Director Gus Harris. “I’m also impressed with their professionalism.” Since 2006, Moody’s has hired 18 Posse Scholar interns. CEO RayMcDaniel cites the similarities between the way Moody’s ratings committees work and the way posses work.

“Diversity is valuable because we are in the risk assessment business,” McDaniel says. “We want to make sure we have the widest spectrum of perspectives available in that assessment that we can.”

“The way that posse approaches diverse teams… it’s the same way that we work,” he says, continuing on to joke that, “We probably really should think about renaming our rating committees as rating posses.”

Posse CEO Matt Fasciano praised Ray McDaniel and Moody’s, saying “[they have] been an incredible partner through the Posse Foundation, really helping scholars think ahead to their transition from being leaders on campus to being leaders in the workforce.”

Read our entire profile on Moody’s CEO Ray McDaniel here.