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Nonprofit news roundup for June 27, 2008

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Nonprofits battle Bush on home-loan aid

Nonprofits are battling the Bush administration to save programs that help homebuyers finance downpayments with funds that sellers channel through charities, The Associated Press reported June 26 (see home loan aid story). A housing bill in the Senate eliminates these nonprofit downpayment-assistance programs. Critics say defaults and foreclosures on this type of loan are rising exponentially, and some have questioned the charitable status of groups that issue them.

N.Y. City Council probe nears close

The federal investigation into the New York City Council’s appropriation of funds to fictitious charities should conclude within 90 days, according to a prosecutor involved in the case, The New York Times reported June 27 (see N.Y. City Council story). The prosecutor did not indicate whether anyone would be charged, and asked that a separate public inquiry take place only after the 90-day period ends.

D.C. education groups get coalition grants

A coalition of philanthropic foundations is awarding $725,000 in grants to five Washington, D.C., nonprofits dedicated to the city’s public education restructuring, The Washington Post reported June 27 (see D.C. education grants story). The Collaborative for Education Organizing, led by the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, includes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, World Bank and Fannie Mae.

Al-Arian indicted in Muslim charities case

Former Florida professor Sami al-Arian has been indicted on criminal charges for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating whether Islamic charities in Northern Virginia were financing terrorists, The Washington Post reported June 27 (see al-Arian story). Al-Arian has already pleaded guilty to aiding a terrorist organization, but Muslim groups have labeled the Virginia investigation a “fishing expedition.”

Rural Minn. nonprofits suffer more than usual

Rural nonprofits have always faced the costly challenge of servicing a wider geographic area, often with less funding than their urban counterparts, but charities in rural Minnesota are feeling more than the usual burn, Minnesota Public Radio reported June 26 (see rural nonprofits story). Higher demands for services and reduced grants from government and foundations may force many groups to close.

In Brief:

* The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has reached its $500-million fundraising goal, the largest sum for an arts institution in Boston history, The Boston Globe reported June 27.

* Salt Lake City cancer funding took a big financial hit after a buyer pullout reduced the value of Huntsman Corp. shares held by the Huntsman Foundation and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation by $175 million and $3.2 million. respectively, The Salt Lake Tribune reported June 20.

* The Smithsonian Institution has received $15 million for a new oceans exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History from the chair of its governing board, Roger Sants, The Washington Post reported June 27.

* An old painting left at a rural Maryland Goodwill turned out to be a work by French Impressionist Edouard-Leon Cortes and fetched $40,600 at a recent auction, The Associated Press reported June 26.

* Midwest flood victims could get tax relief under a measure pending in the U.S. Senate, USA Today reported June 25.

* Donors interested in the U.S. health care system should focus more of their energies on practical solutions to locally-encountered issues, Dana Variano said in the PhilanthroMedia blog June 26.

* The number of Saudi Arabian nonprofits has been growing, with many focusing on women’s issues, Arab News reported June 25.

* California charities that sell fireworks are unhappy with Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger’s suggestion that citizens forego polytechnics this July 4 in light of raging wildfires, The Sacramento Bee reported June 26.

* Malawi and Rwanda will get four new teacher-training facilities, thanks to a $9.3 million initiative by Bob Geldof’s Band Aid and The Hunter Foundation, an arm of the Clinton Foundation, Agence France-Presse reported¬† June 26.

* The NextStorm system planned by development agency USAID for East Africa based on a model already operating in Central America will warn cell-phone users when a storm is brewing, The Associated Press reported June 24.

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