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Nonprofit news roundup for Jan. 9, 2009

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Princeton braces for endowment drop

Princeton University announced plans to slash its budget in preparation for an expected 25 percent, or $4.1 billion, endowment loss for the fiscal year ending June 30 of this year, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 9 (see budget story). The school plans to cap raises at $2,000 for even the most highly-compensated employees, and cut administrative budgets by 5 percent, says Shirley Tilghman, president of the university. Princeton expects to raise tuition for the next academic year by only 2.9 percent, the smallest increase in 43 years, to help students who are struggling financially. The school’s endowment, valued at $16.3 billion as of June 30, fell 11 percent by the end of October 2008.

General Motors Foundation pulls arts funding

The General Motors Foundation, crippled by the financial concerns of the ailing auto industry, is withdrawing its 2009 financial support for Detroit arts organizations, The Detroit Free Press reported Jan. 8 (see motor story). The decision means a combined loss of more than $1 million for organizations such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Michigan Opera Theatre and the Detroit Institute of Arts. None of the money General Motors received from the federal government’s multi-billion dollar bailout of the auto-industry will go toward the charitable foundation, says foundation chairman Rod Gillum.

Madoff scam nightmare for DreamWorks chief

Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of DreamWorks Animation, said his losses in Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion scam have done “extraordinary damage” to his charitable giving, The Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 9 (see scam story). Though Katzenberg did not disclose how much he invested with Madoff, two sources told the newspaper he lost at least $20 million.

Smith College cuts costs as endowment slides

Facing a plunging endowment, Northampton, Mass.-based Smith College is planning to cut up to $30 million from its budget, The Boston Globe reported Jan. 8. Among other measures, the college is considering freezing salaries, closing buildings and cutting academic programs, says Carol T. Christ, president of the college. The school’s endowment, valued at $1.3 billion in June, declined by more than 18 percent by November, she says.

Laptop program slashes staff

The One Laptop Per Child program, a spinoff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that provides laptops for schools in developing countries, is cutting half its staff in a move to cut costs, says founder Nicholas Negroponte, the Associated Press reported Jan. 8. The program will retain 32 employees at reduced salaries.

In Brief:

* The Carolina Panthers, the Charlotte, N.C.-based professional football team, supports more than 1,000 charitable projects in the Carolinas, The Charlotte Observer reported Jan. 9. The team also created the Challenger Flag Football League, which gives children and young adults with disabilities a chance to play.

* National History Day, a competition to test the history knowledge of more than 600,000 U.S. middle- and high-school participants, will continue with the help of a $1.9 million gift from Kenneth E. Behring, the Associated Press reported Jan. 8. Behring, a real-estate developer, already has pledged $100 million to the Smithsonian Institution for history education.

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