Olympic committee trims board

Here are the week’s top news stories reported elsewhere:

* The U.S. Olympic Committee, which was criticized during a 2003 Senate committee hearing for dysfunctional management and questionable business decisions, has cut its board membership to 11 from 125 and its standing committees to four from 23, The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 15. The committee is also focused on saving money, say its leaders, who aim to impose that same self-discipline on the sports governing bodies it funds.

* Big technology companies, including Intel, Microsoft and Motorola, are implementing corporate initiatives to bring technology to poor, rural villages in developing countries, The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 3. The initiatives, part philanthropy and part corporate strategy, aim to attract what executives call “the next billion users” of consumer technologies, such as the Internet and cell phones.

* National Public Radio has digressed from playing classical, jazz and other less-popular forms of music and is instead focusing on news and talk shows, according to a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts, Marc Fisher reported in his Washington Post blog, “The Silence of Sunday Morning Classics,” Nov. 12.

* Following her desire to reinvent philanthropy, Jacqueline Novogratz’s Acumen Fund is both a nonprofit charity and a venture capital fund that invests in companies and groups that tackle global poverty, The New York Times reported Nov. 13. The organization, which received $5 million from Google.org, the online-search group’s largest single grant to date, raises charitable contributions but also has the flexibility of awarding grants, loans and equity investments to for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

* In the trend toward socially-responsible business, “philanthropreneurs,” including America Online co-founder Stephen Case, Virgin Group’s Richard Branson and eBay’s Jeffrey Skoll and Pierre Omidyar, are emphasizing hybrid organizations that aim to do good while earning a profit, The New York Times reported Nov. 13.

* The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is donating $15.5 million to low-performing schools in 15 California districts to help improve instruction, teacher training programs, business management and parental involvement, The Associated Press reported Nov. 13.

* Herbert Wertheim, who pledged $20 million to Florida International University’s planned medical school in return for naming rights, withdrew his gift after disagreements with the university’s president, Modesto Maidique, The Miami Herald reported Nov. 10. Wertheim wanted to defer some payments for tax purposes, despite having signed an agreement to deliver the total within 30 days, and withdrew his support when Maidique said Wertheim was getting the naming rights “on the cheap.” University officials say the school will open as scheduled in 2009.

Compiled by Laura Newman

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