Nonprofit news roundup for Dec. 16, 2008

Charities close in wake of alleged Madoff scam

At least three charitable foundations have been forced to close their doors after charges that Bernard Madoff, owner of a New York-based investment firm, engineered a scheme costing investors $50 billion, The New York Times reported Dec. 15 (see scam story). The JEHT Foundation, an organization focused on criminal justice, plans to shut down at the end of January. Charities trying to weather the crisis include Yeshiva University, which lost as much as $110 million, and the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation, which lost $145 million, or 45 percent of its assets at the end of last year.

Consortium gets $1 million to boost graduation rate

The New England Secondary School Consortium has received a $1 million grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to support its efforts to boost the regional high-school graduation rate to 90 percent and college enrollment to 80 percent, The Boston Globe reported Dec. 16 (see education story). The grant, which includes a $500,000 partnership grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will go toward analyzing educational practices in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island.

Nonprofit theaters boom as audiences dwindle

Though the number of nonprofit theaters in the U.S. has more than doubled since 1990, their audiences have taken a downturn, says a study by the National Endowment for the Arts, The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported Dec. 15 (see theater story). Between 1990 and 2005, the number of nonprofit theaters increased to 1,982 from 991, with small and mid-sized states accounting for much of the growth.

In Brief:

* Private donations to international-aid groups, which total nearly $6 billion a year, could drop by as much as $1 billion as a result of the economic meltdown, says Samuel A. Worthington, president of InterAction, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported Dec. 15 [subscription only].

* In order to make real progress, the U.S. must ditch the double standard and allow nonprofits to try the same revenue-generating measures that garner praise among corporations, says Dan Pallotta in an opinion column in The Huffington Post Dec. 15.

* Jane Wu, an 18-year-old resident of Calgary, Alberta, was the first to win the title of “Canada’s Top Teen Philanthropist,” a new contest sponsored by Mackenzie Investments, The Exchange Post reported Dec. 16. The company will award $1,000 to Wu and make a $5,000 donation to Child and Youth Friendly Calgary, the charity Wu has supported for four years.

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