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Nonprofit news roundup for July 14, 2008

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Gas bill would increase deduction for volunteers

Two Maryland senators have introduced legislation that would help volunteer groups cope with rising gas prices, The Baltimore Sun reported July 12 (see gas bill story). Volunteers currently receive a 14-cent tax deduction per mile, a rate that the new bill would allow to adjust along with the price of gas, likely raising the deduction to around 27 cents per mile based on current prices.

Engineering schools may drop donor’s name

Engineering schools at UCLA and UC Irvine are considering dropping the name of donor Henry Samueli after the high-tech billionaire plead guilty to a felony, The Los Angeles Times reported July 11 (see Samueli donor story). Samueli, the founder of Broadcom who plead guilty last month to making a false statement to federal authorities, earned his doctorate at UCLA and is a professor there; Samueli gave a total of $50 million to the two schools in 1999.

Obama arranged for faith-based grant to Jesse Jackson’s program

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama once arranged for a $200,000 grant to a religious nonprofit run by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has recently criticized Obama for his approach to a similar type of faith-based initiative, The Los Angeles Times reported July 12 (see Obama, Jesse Jackson story). The grant was to jump-start Jackson’s urban venture-capital fund, the Citizenship Education Fund, though the program never launched.

Grassley questions psychiatric group, reconsiders art donations

Senator Charles Grassley is demanding an account of the American Psychiatric Association’s financing, alleging the professional organization has become “too cozy” with drug makers, The New York Times reported July 12 (see American Psychiatric Association story). Grassley also backed down on provisions he authored that made partial gifts of donated artwork less advantageous for donors. As a result, members of the Senate Finance Committee have agreed in principle to loosening stringent limits on such gifts, through which collectors claim tax deductions for donating artwork in increments, The New York Times reported July 10 (see art donations story).

Silicon Valley teens are the ‘new philanthropists’

Silicon Valley teens with innate computer networking skills, affluent family connections and the one-click ability to bear witness to global poverty are “the new philanthropists,” The San Francisco Chronicle reported July 14 (see new philanthropists story). Thanks to 9/11 and required community service, as well as easier access to global travel and communications, the nature of Bay-Area youth activism is becoming increasingly global.

In Brief:

* Los Angeles may see a significant rise in philanthropic funds for health-care access, as surgeon Patrick Soon-Shiong, worth more than $5 billion after the sale of his generic drug company, looks to expand his family foundation, The Los Angeles Business Journal reported July 14.

* The recent sale of Anheuser-Busch to InBev has nonprofits in Saint Louis, Mo. worried that the brewery’s longstanding philanthropy may be jeopardized, The Saint
Louis Post-Dispatch reported July 14.

* Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may have double billed nonprofits that invited him as a speaker and used the extra money for personal vacations, The Washington Post reported July 12.

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