Nonprofit news roundup for April 1, 2009

House OKs big increase in community service

The U.S. House by a big margin approved expansion of national community service programs, a bill President Obama says he will sign, The New York Times reported April 1 (see community service story). The bill will expand to 250,000 from 75,000 the number of volunteer positions, boosting the AmeriCorps program and creating new troops of volunteers focused on health care, education, renewable energy and veterans.

Gates, China launch $33 million tuberculosis project

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chinese government are launching a $33 million effort to test new ways to diagnose drug-resistant tuberculosis, assess new treatments and better track patients, the Associated Press reported March 31. The foundation selected China because of the scale of the problem there and the Chinese government’s ability to set an example for the world, said Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Investor indicted in charity scam

A federal grand jury indicted Jon Min of Tacoma, Wash., on 10 counts of wire fraud, saying he stole about $6.4 million from investors and charitable contributors, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported March 31 (see charity scam story). In a civil action filed March 31 against Min, the Security and Exchanges Commission says Min’s investment scheme targeted local church members and senior citizens who thought their money would help aid groups in the developing world.

Drop in Jewish giving feared

With foundations losing 30 percent of their money, on average, during the recession, family foundations could reduce their grants by up to 60 percent, Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, said at the group’s annual meeting, JTA reported March 31 (see Jewish funding story) A recurring question at the conference was charitable giving has slowed because of a lack of fund or because, even though they are still wealthier than 99 percent of Americans, the biggest givers have seen their funds dwindle and now feel financially strapped, JTA said.

Nonprofits employ 10 percent of Michigan’s workforce

Michigan nonprofits employ about 10 percent of employees in the state and pay about $4 billion in wages each quarter in wages, says a new report, Crain’s Detroit Business reported April 1 (see Michigan nonprofit story). Nonprofit employees in the state grew 2.6 percent to 440,000 between 2006 and 2008, while total employment fell three percent, says the report by the Michigan Nonprofit Association, Council of Michigan Foundations and Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University.

Vassar makes cuts, dips into endowment

Vassar College is eliminating jobs, raising tuition and offering buyouts after its endowment fell 21 percent in the six months ended Dec. 31, Bloomberg reported March 31 (see college endowment story). To fund its 2009-10 operating budget, Vassar will spend 8.7 percent of the projected value of its endowment, valued at $848.7 million on June 30.

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