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Weekend Link Roundup (July 19-20, 2014)

July 20, 2014

Headshot_stritch_garnerOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the nonprofit sector....


In The Atlantic, Meredith Broussard, an assistant professor at Temple University, notes that asking poor school districts to give standardized tests inextricably tied to specific sets of books they can't afford to purchase is unfair to teachers, administrators, and students.

host of NPR's "Here & Now" program, Melinda Gates admitted that implementation of the Common Core, the national education guidelines in math and reading which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have strongly supported is the "tricky" part. "Let's be honest," Gates told Hobson.

The implementation of this is going to take some time. It has to be done carefully, it has to be done with teachers on board and they need to get some time before they can actually teach appropriately in the classroom. So you've got to make sure that the assessments and the consequences for teachers and students don’t happen immediately at the same time. And I think we got those two pieces overlapped and that’s why you got so much controversy....

Food Insecurity

A troubling article by Tracie McMillan in National Geographic finds that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2006 decision to track "food insecurity" instead of "hunger" -- "shifting the focus from whether people [are] literally starving to whether staying fed [is] a problem" -- has led to a startling new picture of America in which 1 in 6 Americans -- some 49 million people -- "can't count on not being hungry."


Is the primary role of charity to fight poverty? That's the question raised by Meredith Jones, president and CEO of the Maine Community Foundation, in a thought-provoking post on the MaineCF blog.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the "America Gives More Act" (H.R. 4719). As The Nonprofit Times reports, the package of five measures is designed to increase charitable giving by boosting the deductible limit of food donations from 10 percent to 15 percent and guaranteeing fair market value regardless of demand; allowing individuals age 70.5 or older to make gifts from their IRAs without incurring withdrawal penalties; allowing a deduction to be taken for a conservation land easement; allowing gifts made until the individual tax filing deadline (April 15) to be deducted from the prior year's taxes; and reducing the excise tax on the investments of large private foundations from a rate of 2 percent to 1 percent; the latter provision is not scheduled to take effect until 2015. No word as yet as to when the Senate plans to take up the bill.

Forbes reports that Warren Buffett had broken his personal giving record -- set last year -- with gifts of Berkshire Hathaway class B stock totaling $2.8 billion. The recipients of Buffett's generosity include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (16.59 million shares worth $2.1 billion), the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (shares worth $215 million), and the Howard G. Buffett, Sherwood, and NoVo foundations — run by his children Howard, Susan and Peter, respectively — each of which received shares of BH stock worth $150 million.


Writing in the Nonprofit Quarterly, Rick Cohen looks at the latest immigration crisis and concludes that while the "list of of nonprofits stepping up to the plate is long and admirable," what "the 52,000 or so unaccompanied children already here and the 140,000 more expected in the next fiscal year [really need is] comprehensive immigration reform — nothing more, nothing less."

International Development

In the Huffington Post, Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation, reports on a public-private initiative to help USAID better evaluate the outcomes of its programs and save the lives of more women and children around the globe.


Newly installed as president of the Boston-based Barr Foundation, Jim Canales argues in an op-ed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy that it's time for the field to rethink four of its stickiest "default settings" -- widely held assumptions that may be hindering its ability to make progress on key issues and problems:

  1. Obsessing over the new (and neglecting the tried and true);
  2. Too rigid a reliance on models and metrics;
  3. Going it alone; and
  4. Focusing inward.

In a post on the Rasmuson Foundation blog, Jeff Baird, a senior program associate at the foundation, explains why board giving matters.

Racial Equity

Amy Schiller argues in The Weekly Wonk that the current mania for "solutionism" -- Evgeny Morozov's term for the "intellectual pathology that recognizes problems based on just one criterion: whether they are 'solvable' with a nice and clean technological solution" -- ignores the most troubling aspects of the approach: its subversion of democracy and our collective responsibility for entrenched social problems.


And on the Fast Company site, Lydia Dishman looks at seven women who have become better leaders as they have gotten older.

That's it for now. What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org or via the comments box below....

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