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Nonprofit news roundup for Dec. 9, 2008

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U.S. emergency rooms in critical condition

America’s uninsured population is taking a toll on already over-crowded emergency rooms, making it harder for medical professionals to treat illnesses and injuries, The New York Times reported Dec. 8 (see insurance story). Since emergency rooms are obligated to see every patient who comes through their doors, the economic crisis is prompting a growing number of unemployed patients to seek help from the struggling facilities. Denver Health, for example, expects the amount of medical care it delivers for which it will never be paid to grow to more than $300 million this year, compared with $276 million in 2007.

Gates Foundation boosts higher education

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced nearly $70 million in grants to double the number of low-income students earning college degrees or vocational credentials by age 26, The New York Times reported Dec. 8 (see degree story). Since many struggling students work full-time to pay for college, only about one in four low-income students earns a post-secondary degree, experts say. The number is one in five for African-American and Latino students.

Baylor in good shape despite economic slump

Unlike many beleaguered U.S. colleges and universities, Baylor University in Waco, Texas, is thriving, despite a drop in its endowment, The Waco Tribune-Herald reported Dec. 8. Citing diverse investments and responsible spending practices as reasons for its success, the university approved 21 capital improvement projects and the addition of nine staff positions at a cost of more than $4 million.

Teach for America sees surge in applicants

Because of dismal job prospects and a desire for meaningful work experiences, college seniors are flooding Teach for America with applications, The Washington Post reported Dec. 6 (see teaching story). The nonprofit service organization, which has seen a 36 percent increase in applicants since 2007, received 14,181 applications this year for fewer than 5,000 teaching spots in low-income communities throughout the U.S.

In Brief:

* Though the economic downturn will not pull the plug on corporate philanthropy, it will prompt more companies to align their charitable activities with their business models, says Alyson Warhurst in an opinion column in BusinessWeek Dec. 8.

* Kansas University is receiving an $8.1 million grant from the Kauffman Foundation to establish the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation, which will be devoted to researching new drugs and medical devices, The Lawrence Journal-World reported Dec. 9.

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