Nonprofit news roundup for Feb. 10, 2009

Drug start-ups get boost from charities

Frustrated by the slow development of disease treatments, health charities are investing in for-profit companies in hopes of faster results, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 10 (see cure story). The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, for example, recently gave $3.7 million to Princeton, N.J.-based Celator Pharmaceuticals to fund research on treatment for acute myeloid leukemia. Though the move could mean a windfall for small drug companies, it raises concerns as to whether charities will be able to continue providing unbiased medical advice.

Dartmouth cuts employees as endowment drops

Dartmouth College plans to fire 60 non-faculty employees to offset an 18 percent endowment loss, Bloomberg reported Feb. 9 (see layoff story). An additional 70 employees have accepted buyouts, and 28 others will cut back their hours. The Hanover, N.H.-based school also plans to hike undergraduate tuition 4.8 percent to $49,974 a year starting September 2009.

Community foundation lends hand to immigrants

The California Community Foundation is launching a $3.75 million, five-year initiative to help Los Angeles immigrants succeed in the U.S., The Los Angeles Times reported Feb. 10 (see immigrant story). The initiative aims to help immigrants master English, improve their job skills and get more involved in their communities. The foundation also plans to release a report on the vital economic role played by immigrants, who comprise nearly half the Los Angeles workforce and contribute nearly 40 percent of the county’s gross regional product.

Airlines prevent unused ticket donations

Airlines have repeatedly stymied attempts by would-be passengers to donate their non-refundable airline tickets to charity, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 10 (see airline story). In an effort to prevent fraud, most airlines do not allow name-changes on about $2 billion in non-refundable airline tickets that go unused each year. However, they give away millions of dollars in tickets to charities and allow customers to donate their frequent-flier miles.

Idaho land-grant endowments dry up

The nine land-grant endowment funds that support Idaho public schools have lost a total of $285 million, or 25 percent of their value, since June 2008, the Associated Press reported Feb. 6 (see land story). Despite the drop, the funds will distribute $3.3 million more in 2010 than the $42.4 million paid out this year. The funds, which allot 90 percent of their revenue to public schools, were established to manage the income from 3.6 million acres of land given by the federal government when Idaho became a state in 1890.

Fund created to aid Madoff victims

The Jewish Funders Network plans to give up to a total of $5 million in loans to nonprofits crippled by Bernard Madoff’s investment scam, says Jacob Berkman in a blog in JTA Feb. 9. The Crisis Loan Fund will provide loans of up to $300,000 to nonprofits for operating and program costs.

In Brief:

* The recent push to force foundations to give to minority-led nonprofits represents an assault on philanthropic freedom, says Heather Mac Donald, fellow at the Manhattan Institute, in an opinion column in The Dallas Morning News Feb. 6.

* Because of the recession, the Rasmuson Foundation, the largest private philanthropic organization in Alaska, does not plan to award grants of $25,000 or more this year, says Diane Kaplan, president of the foundation, the Associated Press reported Feb. 7.

* Despite a rash of layoffs across the U.S., Massachusetts nonprofits are scouting for new staff, The Boston Herald reported Feb. 9.

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