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Nonprofit news roundup for May 28, 2008

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Hughes Institute gives $600 million for research

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is expanding its flagship investigators program for “risky but potentially lifesaving” research with a $600-million initiative to fund 56 top U.S. scientists, The Washington Post reported May 27. The expansion of the program, which endows scientists’ research over many years in the hopes that they will make major discoveries, comes a time when private philanthropies are attempting to fill a funding gap caused by a slump in federal grants.

Customer loyalty benefits nonprofits, small towns

Customer loyalty is benefitting both nonprofits and struggling “small-town America,” thanks to the new SmartTown Alliance spreading across Minnesota, The Associated Press reported May 27. A special card allows consumers to donate a portion of the price of their purchases at participating stores to a charity of their choice, while also putting a bit of money back on the card for future purchases within the same network.

University funding gets a makeover in Britain

British government ministers are eager to encourage endowment-building among the country’s universities and are offering a matching-gift program of up to 200 million pounds a year, or $396 million, for donations made between August 2008 and July 2011, The Guardian of London reported May 28. Yet many academics remain skeptical, fueled in part by the precipitous rise of fundraising professionals’ salaries and increasing recruitment from the U.S. and Canada, now that the rapid expansion of university development offices have outstripped the UK’s supply of professionals.

Pro-life advocates push Bush to stop subsidies

In the waning days of his presidency, conservative activists are pushing U.S. President George Bush to deny federal subsidies to clinics that provide abortions or counsel women about the option, Jacob Goldstein said in a Wall Street Journal blog  May 23. Federal funds for birth control and other reproductive and preventative health care for low-income patients total an annual $280 million, none of which can be used to pay for abortions, but which can go to clinics that provide the procedure through other funding sources.

In Brief:

* To date, U.S. businesses have given a total of $54 million to Chinese earthquake victims, the third-largest international aid package ever assembled by American companies, The Washington Post reported May 28.

* The Robin Hood Foundation says it raised more than $56.5 million for New York’s poor at its annual gala for Wall-Street executives, a drop of 27.4 percent from last year’s total, Bloomberg News reported May 28.

* Arizona State University has launched a master’s degree in social justice and human rights, ASUNews reported May 27.

* The Gates Foundation has awarded Indian nonprofit Aravind Eye Care System with the $1 million Gates Award for Global Health, the world’s largest prize for international health, The Associated Press reported May 21.

* Miami is employing a nonprofit with ties to the Nation of Islam to step up policing in a crime-ridden neighborhood without making residents feel “invaded,” The Miami Herald reported May 28; the “Peacemakers” program hopes its outreach workers will inspire black youth in need of role models.

* Part of a prestigious Israeli mathematics prize will go to advance the education of Palestinian students, thanks to a Brown university professor who is donating his share, The Associated Press reported May 26.

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