Nonprofit news roundup for May 7, 2008

Osher Foundation gives Calif. community colleges $50 million

The Bernard Osher Foundation is donating as much as $50 million to create a permanent scholarship endowment for California community colleges, The Mercury News reported May 6. Such big-time philanthropy is new for community colleges, which traditionally have left major fundraising to their four-year colleagues.

Legislation intended to mitigate student-loan crisis

President Bush is expected to sign new legislation that will allow the U.S. Department of Education to purchase student loans held by private lenders in an attempt to mitigate the looming student-loan crisis, though some say questions remain about the proposal’s effectiveness, The Bond Buyer reported May 7. In a tough credit market, students seeking loans should look to alternatives like state bargain-rate loans and be careful not to fill out too many applications with private lenders, as it will lower the applicant’s credit score, Anne Tergesen, associate editor at BusinessWeek, in a column in the magazine May 1.

Myanmar relief efforts face challenges

Bad roads, lack of government cooperation and a breakdown in telecommunications could hamper relief efforts in Myanmar’s remote reaches, which appear to have borne the brunt of Saturday’s cyclone, The New York Times reported May 7. A British umbrella group may decide against a coordinated national appeal for aid, fearing the country’s oppressive military regime will prevent aid deliveries, The Times of London reported May 6.

Nonprofits seen as having excessive influence in Africa

Humanitarian groups working in Africa have influence “way beyond their size” in formulating policies like healthcare in developing nations, Temba Nolutshungu said in an opinion column in The Daily Times of Malawi April 30. This new breed of “Western colonialist” often promotes “statist” solutions over market ones, though it is often the West’s economic dynamism, not its government bureaucracy, that has developed these solutions in the first place, Nolutshungu said.

In Brief:

* The Chicago Symphony Orchestra named Ricardo Muti as its next music director, The New York Times reported May 5.

* Long Island philanthropist and charity fundraiser Morris Talansky is at the center of a developing scandal around Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that appears to involve suspicions of bribery or campaign-finance irregularities, The New York Times reported May 7.

* David Rockefeller’s $100-million gift to Harvard University “is akin to pouring precious water in the ocean while parched drought victims look on enviously,” Dan Greenberg said in an opinion column in the Chronicle of Higher Education May 6.

* As the country comes to terms with future volunteer shortages, Canadians are debating whether to attach economic incentives to volunteer work, Ruth MacKenzie, president of Volunteer Canada, said in an opinion column in The Ottawa Citizen May 6.

* The Rhode Island Foundation named Neil D. Steinberg, vice president of development at Brown University, as its new president and CEO, effective August 15, the Providence Business News reported May 6.

* The Tampa Bay area’s Hispanic Leadership Council, though controversial to some, helps ease some of the negative impacts on society that result from the isolation of Hispanic immigrants, The St. Petersburg Times said in an editorial May 7.

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