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Charity flows in Valley – Tech wealth turns to philanthropy

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SAN JOSE, CA — Silicon Valley’s young high-tech entrepreneurs are tackling philanthropy with the same gusto they used to make their millions — and redeeming their reputations in the process, the Associated Press reports.

Inspired by recent high-profile donations from industry leaders — such as billions for education and health care from Microsoft’s Bill and Melinda Gates and $150 million to Stanford University from Netscape founder Jim Clark — young millionaires are giving their money away at an unprecedented rate.

“Many of these people are very idealistic, but until recently they’ve had few examples of how to give,” Peter Hero, executive director the Community Foundation Silicon Valley.

In the last six months of 1999, the foundation received over $75 million in cash and stock millions — an all time high.  The foundation expects donations to double this year.

Other Silicon Valley nonprofits are enjoying record waves of generosity.  The Santa Clara Valley YMCA, for example, recently eclipsed its capital campaign goal of $7 million by raising $10 million.

It’s no coincidence that technology stock prices are soaring along with charitable donations, AP reports.  Many Silicon Valley donations have come in the form of stocks, which increased an average of 130 percent last year.  As the stocks swell, so does the monetary value of the gift.

Silicon Valley’s recent giving boom is a welcome surprise.  The area, which has one of the highest per capita incomes in the country, falls well below national averages when it comes to sharing the wealth.

During a White house conference on philanthropy last October, President Clinton chided the region for its meager giving patterns.

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