Virginia punishes nonprofits serving illegals

* Virginia charities providing services to illegal immigrants now will be stripped of state and local government funding, the Washington Post reported Jan. 30. Though legislation aimed at stemming illegal immigration is gaining a following nationwide, advocates for stricter laws say the environment is particularly receptive in Virginia, where growing public angst and a Republican-controlled legislature have recently put nearly 50 immigration-related bills on the docket.

* British Petroleum has awarded an unprecedented $500 million grant for the development of new biofuels to a consortium headed by the University of California at Berkeley, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Feb. 1. Partnering with the University of Illinios, Berkeley will become home to the Energy Biosciences Institute, making the Berkeley hills the richest alternative energy research center in the world.

* U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and two other leading Democrats failed to disclose their positions as officers of family charities, USAToday reported Jan. 29. Though House ethics rules have been tightened since Pelosi and other Democrats made greater transparency among legislators a top priority in the 2006 elections, experts say prosecutions of those guilty of filing false financial reports are still rare.

* Since the early 1990s, French medical charity Doctors Without Borders has declined financial support from corporations whose activities conflict with its mission, the New York Times reported Jan. 28. Though its policy may be the most stringent, many nonprofits have long confronted such issues, even as increasing numbers of charities makes the fight for “clean” money more difficult.

* A report by the Centre on International Cooperation at New York University says aid groups have failed to consider the ethics of risks facing locally-hired staff, the Economist reported Jan. 18. Though some suggest growing death tolls among native workers, who make up four in five aid agency employees, is a product of growth in the sector, the NYU report points to increased precautions taken for expatriate workers that “cascade vulnerability” onto their local counterparts.

* Nonprofit groups are pushing for the permanent expansion of charitable IRA rollovers, the Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 27 [subscription only]. The current provision, which allows seniors to give up to $100,000 tax-free to charity from their IRAs, was an instant hit with donors, who, according to the National Committee on Planned Giving, have donated over $25 million through rollovers in the few months since its passage.

* Business Executives for National Security, a nonprofit group advising disaster-related industries, says those organizing post-Katrina disaster-relief work should make greater efforts to include private businesses in their planning, the Washington Post reported Jan. 30. The report, “Getting Down to Business,” outlines a plan for public-private disaster coordination.

* AARP, the nation’s largest retirement association, is expected to sign a deal with New York Life Insurance Company that will allow the insurer to market a new lifetime-income annuity directly to its membership, the Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 31 [subscription only].

* A Minnesota House Republican has called for a moratorium on state grants to nonprofit organizations after a report called the state’s approach to tracking grants “fragmented and inconsistent,” the Pioneer Press reported Jan. 26.

* Stanford University’s endowment increased 15 percent to reach $14 billion in 2006, confirming its place in the fundraising arms race as the third-wealthiest American university behind Harvard and Yale, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Jan. 22. While university endowments generally did well in 2006, and many of the richest universities have introduced steep tuition breaks for low-income students, some experts say the gap in economic diversity at elite private universities is not closing.

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