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Jan 4 12

Small Companies Put Charity Into Their Business Plan

by Matthew Roszak

It’s not often that small businesses and entrepreneurs involve charity into their business plans, that is at least until the company is very successful, but the goodwill that a business generates via donating to charity can sometimes tip the scales in favor of a better bottom line. The article below details how this can be done through the Hook & Ladder Brewing Co. a small craft brewery working with local firefighters.

By Raymund Flandez

Can you do well as a business while doing good?

Hook & Ladder Brewing Co., a Silver Spring, Md., craft-beer brewery, has a business model built on the concept of “A Penny in Every Pint,” a program that donates a portion of all beer sales to local firefighting communities where the beer is sold. They also donate tens of thousands of dollars for burn treatment and awareness.

Brothers Matt and Rich Fleischer have donated more than $20,000 over the past year, even with the rising costs of hops making a dent in their bottom line.

“We are a for-profit business,” says Matt Fleischer, 32, “but that doesn’t mean that we can’t benefit our company as well as develop our community through cause branding and cause marketing.”

Giving From the Start

Large companies — and entrepreneurs — often make philanthropy part of the company once they have become successful. But it is rarer for owners of small businesses to build a company with a philanthropic bent right from the start — when resources are scant and each move made is supposed to assure that the bottom line grows.

While such a mission adds to the financial burden many start-ups often face, in the long run it may help the company’s bottom line more than it hurts.

Among other things, doing good can engender loyalty among consumers as well as employees who believe in a company’s mission, creating higher morale and higher productivity. And it can set a business apart from rivals who offer similar products without the charitable twist.

“If you’re selling a product and you’re viewed as corporate socially responsible or green,” says Dwight Burlingame, associate executive director at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, “you’re more likely to retain your customer and your customer will provide a certain degree of elasticity in the price they’re willing to pay.”

Hook & Ladder’s Rich Fleischer, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology and has worked in the biotech industry, was introduced to the burgeoning craft-beer industry in San Francisco in 1993 and began brewing his own. The biologist quickly discovered that brewing was largely organic chemistry and got hooked.

Mr. Fleischer, who also is a volunteer firefighter, says the “Penny in Every Pint” program is an extension of his community-service persona and integral to the firm’s identity and mission, which is giving back to the local firefighter community.

To gain entry to a new market, Hook & Ladder first develops relationships with burn units and local firefighters. Then, it approaches distributors — which will have to match the brewer’s donation — to sell them on the plan. Hook & Ladder currently has 43 distributors in 11 states and Washington, D.C. that are part of the program.

“No one has any problem because it’s their local community, their local firefighters that are benefiting,” says Matt Fleischer.

For every barrel of beer it sells — which runs about $200 — Hook & Ladder makes a $2 donation and distributors match that for a total of $4 per barrel. The brewer, which has 13 full-time employees and a full-time foundation manager, projects revenue of more than $1 million for 2007.

Product Giveaways

A company doesn’t have to donate money in order to make an impact on a community. Some provide in-kind donations, in which products are given instead of cash, or sponsor events.

Sweetriot Inc., an all-natural candy company based in New York, made in-kind donations and supporting the arts and other nonprofit groups part of its philosophy when it launched two years ago.

Among other things, Sweetriot has teamed up with the Reciprocity Foundation, a New York group that works with homeless youth in urban cities to start careers in creative industries such as fashion, design and marketing. For instance, the firm supplied products for gift baskets made by homeless youth, which the nonprofit then sold to corporations.

Founder Sarah Endline estimates that about 5% to 10% of her sales goes toward charitable efforts. She projects that sales this year will reach $1 million.

“Rather than [thinking] about it as a cost,” she says, a donation “is just a way to enhance your business.” Eventually, Ms. Endline would like to donate cash, but only after she feels that her company has some solid footing.

Coming Up Short

Honoring the commitment to donate isn’t always easy. Some small-business owners have even dipped into personal funds to cover donations.

Take Paul Marciano, the owner of ColorMe Co., a Flemington, N.J., company that produces a line of arts and crafts for children. Dr. Marciano says he “wanted to create a for-profit organization based on a simple principle that giving is good.”

His goal: 10% of each dollar the firm earns goes to children’s charities — including First Book, a nonprofit that gives new books to low-income children. He aims to raise a total of $1 million through the business in the next five to seven years.

But things haven’t exactly gone according to plan. Dr. Marciano, 41, needs to make about $10 million in sales over that period to reach his goal. Yet sales are hovering at about $40,000 so far this year. And contributions to the charities this year are $4,000.

Instead of scaling back the 10%, he decided to cover the balance with his own money. He declines to say how much he has put in personally.

“That really tests the mission,” says Dr. Marciano, who also works as a corporate consultant and is an adjunct professor at Princeton University’s department of psychology.

Read more here 

Nov 16 11

Detroit-area man is cancer patients’ coffee angel

by Matthew Roszak

He buys drinks for them every Thursday in honor of his dad, who died of cancer


At 10 a.m. every Thursday — the same day he usually took his dad for chemotherapy treatment — Dan Dewey is at the cancer unit of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland hospital in Pontiac, taking coffee orders.

By about 10:30 a.m., he’s at the Starbucks down the street.

Everyone knows to expect him: the staff and patients at the hospital, as well as the folks at Starbucks, where workers have come to fill Dewey’s orders so efficiently, they rarely get complaints from customers anymore.

But every now and then, someone wonders why that guy in white shorts and a gray sweatshirt is holding up the line buying so many cups of lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, strawberry smoothies, and, oh yeah, somebody wanted hot chocolate.

But the regulars know.

And when the complainers find out, well, they fall silent. And some of them put money down to help cover the costs.

Dewey buys the coffee for cancer patients every Thursday because his dad, Edgar Dewey, told him to.

Dan Dewey started his weekly runs when his dad was a patient in the center in 2007. And he continues even though his dad died at age 87 in 2008.

His dad had cancer, but the cancer didn’t kill him. He conquered cancer twice. Dewey swears he died of a broken heart, just a few months after the passing of his wife of 62 years, Mary Jane Dandison Dewey. He simply lost the will to fight a third bout with cancer after his high school sweetheart died.

But the sweet essence of his heart lives on in Dan’s Coffee Run.

Dan Dewey, 65, a retired educational broadcasting operator for Birmingham Public Schools, used to pay for the drinks — averaging about $50 a trip — out of his own pocket before a Starbucks staffer stepped in.

One of the baristas, Valerie Edgington, 46, of Waterford, decided last year to create a special debit-like card through which people can donate money for coffee runs. People can put money on the card in person at the Starbucks on Woodward at Square Lake Road in Bloomfield Hills or via or a Facebook page she set up. She also made T-shirts that sell for $20 and stickers ($5) to help spread the word and encourage contributions.

“He never asked for anything special,” Edgington said. “He just came in every Thursday ordering all these different drinks. Finally, I asked him what he was doing, and I wanted to help.”

Now there’s usually enough money on the card to cover the costs, but when there isn’t, Dewey goes back into his own pockets.

He has to.

See, when his dad was dying, he told him to keep getting drinks for the chemo patients. The coffee warmed his body and his soul.

He wanted that for others.

So does his son.

The doctors and nurses say there may be something therapeutic about Dewey’s visits.

“It’s definitely a mood-lifter, and a positive attitude is beneficial for any patient going through cancer treatment,” said Kathy Courtney, oncology nurse and unit manager.

Oncologist Rajan Krishnan, the doctor who treated Dewey’s dad, said the visits remind him of times gone by in his native India, when people stopped by simply to share a cup of tea or coffee. Doing so showed people they mattered.

Patients such as Mechelle Burdette, 45, of Eastpointe appreciate that.

Burdette was at the center on a recent Thursday with her aunt, Sharon Ralston, 68, who was in from Palm Coast, Fla., helping to care for her. She has Stage 4 cancer — five brain tumors and a spot on her lung. She was diagnosed in July.

Burdette had ordered a hazelnut cappuccino; her aunt ordered a plain latte.

Read more here

Nov 9 11

Donors pitch in to keep Santa on the job

by Matthew Roszak

Community raises $660 to pay for retiree’s salary to play St. Nick at St. James landmark

Santa’s gotten an early gift.

Donors have stepped forward to keep Santa Claus on the job at a Long Island landmark after he was given the pink slip.

A radio station and a local politician were among those Friday who said they would pay the $660 salary for the retiree to portray Santa at a county-supported general store in St. James.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy had said it wouldn’t be right to spend the money while trying to close an estimated $135 million budget gap. Up to 750 workers face layoffs. Levy says volunteers could play Santa.

Built in 1857, the St. James General Store is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was operated privately for decades, but is now supported with funding from the county government.

Read more here

Nov 2 11

Matthew Roszak Bloomberg Businessweek Profile

by Matthew Roszak

The business profile that can be found at the link found below may be of interest to my fellow venture capitalists and business partners.  This Bloomberg Businessweek profile details by professional background and current employment positions.  Please take a moment to look over my profile found here.

Matthew Roszak

Thank you!

Nov 2 11

Rachel’s legacy inspires other kids to give

by Matthew Roszak

9th Birthday campaign: Skip presents in favor of dona­tions to her char­ity

By James Eng

Rachel Beckwith wanted to raise money for a clean-water charity by ask­ing for dona­tions instead of presents for her ninth birthday. Now, her death is inspiring other kids to do the same.

A California man who was touched by Rachel’s story has started 9th Birthday, an online campaign to get at least 300 chil­dren to skip presents on their ninth birth­day and ask instead for dona­tions to Rachel’s favorite nonprofit, char­ity:water.

“This is a pow­er­ful way to help keep Rachel’s story alive and give her gift of giv­ing to the next generation,” David Hissami of San Clemente, Calif., explains on the 9th Birthday website.

Rachel had wanted to raise at least $300 for char­ity:water by the time she turned 9. Someone had told her that there are peo­ple in the world who die because they don’t have access to clean drink­ing water.

Rachel cre­ated a cam­paign on charity: water’s site to raise money, but she fell a little short of her goal by the time she turned 9 on June 12.

Just a few weeks later, on July 20, she was severely injured in a 14-vehicle chain-reaction crash on Interstate 90 in Belle­vue, Wash., not far from her home. She died three days later.

News of her charity wish spread after her death, and suddenly donations from across the world poured in to charity:water in her name. Rachel’s death also helped keep others alive: One of her donated kidneys was transplanted into a California man , who in turn donated to Rachel’s cause.

By the time Rachel’s charity birthday campaign came to a close on Sept. 30, friends and strangers had raised more than $1.26 million for clean water in her memory.

“Throughout each day I look forward to reading your comments and hearing how Rachel’s story has touched people all over the world. In this painful time, it has given me inspiration and comfort,” Rachel’s mother, Samantha Paul, wrote at the time. “Knowing that Rachel’s decision to give up her ninth birthday will now help save thousands of people brings me to tears.”

Rachel’s story also profoundly moved Hissami, a 27-year-old web analytics freelancer.

“I read about the story and it was just one of those things. It really affected me. It really stood out,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday with

“It just somehow occurred to me that so many people were giving to her thing and I wanted to do my part as well. I wanted to do something more long-term, to help people remember her.”

Hissami’s 9th Birthday isn’t affiliated with charity:water or Rachel’s mom and the website doesn’t solicit donations. Rather, it encourages people to get children to skip presents on his or her ninth birth­day and ask instead for dona­tions to char­ity: water. As of Tuesday, eight children had pledged.

Hissami said he’s never met Rachel’s family but was inspired by her legacy.

“I’ve seen so much cynicism out there and just seeing something a person so loving at such a young age, it just really stood out to me.”

Hissami hasn’t publicized the 9th Birthday campaign yet, but he expects that one day when he has children of his own, they — and perhaps millions of other kids — will also want to give up their ninth birthday presents.

“I hope we might be able to define ninth birthday as a time when kids can donate, think of charity,” he said.

Will McNae, a spokesman for Rachel’s family, said the family was “very excited and humbled” that strangers have felt compelled to do something in Rachel’s memory and spirit. “The idea of continuing to spread awareness and education around the lesson of generosity is a fantastic thing,” he said.

Rachel’s family has also started a nonprofit organization, Rachel’s Wishing Well Foundation, to carry on her dream of helping people understand the importance of giving.

Paul, Rachel’s mom, plans to travel with charity:water to Ethiopia in July 2012 — the one-year anniversary of Rachel’s death —  to visit some of the clean-water projects funded by her campaign.

Read more here

Oct 26 11

American companies that give back the most

by Matthew Roszak

Cincinnati supermarket operator Kroger tops the list

At a time when the Occupy Wall Street protests are shining a light on greed in America, some companies make a point of donating a significant chunk of their profits to charity. Example: In 2010 Kroger, the Cincinnati supermarket operator, gave away 10.9% of its $589 million in 2009 pre-tax profits, amounting to $64 million. Kroger tops an annual list put together by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The magazine tracks corporate giving through a survey it sends to 300 of the nation’s largest companies by revenues. This year the Chronicle compiled data on 180 companies, culled from survey results and tax forms. (For more on the survey’s methodology, click here.) In 2010, total cash donations by this group rose 13%, to $4.9 billion, a boon to nonprofits after the recession resulted in a 7.5% decline in giving in 2009.

The Chronicle helped Forbes put together two lists. The one we think is most meaningful: The companies that are most generous in their cash donations as a percentage of pre-tax profits. Kroger tops that list. According to the company’s vice president of corporate affairs, Lynn Marmer, $40 million of Kroger’s cash giving flows through a 15-year-old community rewards program, where shoppers who carry Kroger’s loyalty cards name a local charity they want to support. Kroger then gives 2%-5% (determined by local stores) of each shopper’s bill as a cash contribution to the school, church, or community group chosen by the customer.

Macy’s comes in second on that list; it gave away 8.1% of 2009 profits in 2010, or $41 million. The third most generous: Safeway, the Pleasanton, Calif. supermarket chain, which gave away 7.6% of 2009 profits, totaling $76.5 million.

The second list shows companies that gave away the most cash as a raw number. Wal-Mart Stores, which donated $319 million last year, tops that roster. Given that the Bentonville, Ark. retail colossus had pre-tax profits of $22 billion in 2009, its charitable cash donations came to just 1.45% of that sum. Wal-Mart maintains that it is also giving away products and expertise. Last year it announced a $2 billion five-year effort to fight hunger. But most of that donation will be in food and only $250 million, in cash. Food and other product donations are meaningful but tough to measure, since both corporations and the Chroniclesurvey measure product giving in terms of fair market value, while the cost to the company of such donations is far lower. For that reason, we focused our lists on cash giving.

Second on the list of companies who donated the most cash in 2010: Goldman Sachs, which increased its contributions by more than three-fold to $315 million, at a time when its pre-tax profits dropped 35%. Critics have voiced skepticism about Goldman’s generosity, suggesting it may be a way to fend off the criticism of its actions during the liquidity crisis. In April, a Senate panel issued a report accusing Goldman of betting against the mortgage assets it was pitching to clients.

But Goldman officials have said that planning for the three projects responsible for its giving surge was in the works before the financial meltdown. One, a donor-advised fund that takes contributions from firm partners who then recommend charity recipients, was announced in November 2007. Goldman also has a program to help female entrepreneurs in the developing world, called 10,000 Women, announced in March 2008, and another,10,000 Small Businesses, that aids small enterprises in the U.S., announced in December 2009.
Wells Fargo is third on the raw cash list, with $219 million in 2010 donations. A recipient of $25 billion in government bailout money in 2008 which it repaid in 2009, last year the company boosted its giving by 8.5% over 2009. However it didn’t restore donations to the $226 million it gave in 2008, the year it merged with Wachovia.

The Chronicle also asked survey respondents about their giving plans for 2011, and most said that donations would remain steady. Of the 103 companies that responded to this query, 71 said they would keep their cash giving at the same levels as 2010. Lynn Marmer of Kroger, which supports food banks through a hunger charity called Feeding America, says Kroger’s giving level has remained flat in 2011, though she says the company has seen a hike in demand by the food banks it supports. Kroger donates both cash and food that Marmer says is the equivalent of 125 million meals a year, to food banks. “Food stamps only provide about a half a month’s worth of food,” she points out. “Food pantries have seen their volume not just double but quadruple.”

Read more here

Oct 19 11

Billionaire philanthropist and financier Carl Lindner Jr. dead at 92

by Matthew Roszak

‘I don’t know of any positive thing that’s happened in Cincinnati that Carl has not been a part of’

Financier Carl Lindner Jr., who used his experience running the family dairy store to build a business empire whose reach included baseball, banks and bananas, died Monday night. He was 92.

A person close to Lindner’s family but not authorized to speak until a statement had been issued confirmed his death. Lindner had been taken to the hospital gravely ill on Monday morning.

Lindner became controlling partner and chief executive officer of the Cincinnati Reds in a 1999 deal that ended Marge Schott’s rocky 15-year reign as owner. In contrast to her grandstanding, Lindner stayed mostly in the background — save for a lasting memory in 2000 when he picked up Ken Griffey Jr. at the airport in his Rolls-Royce following the blockbuster trade.

Lindner was chairman of Cincinnati-based American Financial Group, a publicly traded financial holding company that had more than $17 billion in assets. In 2009, Forbes magazine estimated Lindner’s personal wealth at $1.75 billion, placing him among the 400 richest Americans.

Lindner ruled over a complex maze of corporations with nearly 70,000 employees worldwide.

American Financial Group owned, or held substantial investments in, Charter Co., marketer of fuel to electric utilities; Chiquita Brands International Inc., one of the world’s largest food producers, and Great American Insurance Co.

His financial support for the University of Cincinnati, which named its business administration building after him, and various charities earned him a reputation as a philanthropist.

Tributes from current and former business school students poured into Twitter early Tuesday. They thanked Lindner for championing the city and the university and sharing his wealth with them.

“He’s got to be one of the most generous guys in Cincinnati,” friend Richard Farmer, chairman of Cincinnati uniform maker Cintas Corp., said in 1993. “I don’t know of any positive thing that’s happened in Cincinnati that Carl has not been a part of.”

‘Shark in sheep’s clothing’
In the business world, some critics considered him a ruthless takeover artist. He made millions in the 1970s and 1980s by investing, then retreating, from companies.

An alleged attempt by Lindner to take over Gannett Co. prompted former chairman Al Neuharth to call him a “shark in sheep’s clothing.”

Lindner made a name for himself by becoming one of Michael Milken’s earliest and most prominent junk-bond players. But he also showed his investment smarts by predicting a decline in the junk-bond market in the late 1980s.

“Of course, Carl was always a couple years ahead of the pack,” said James Dahl, a former bond seller for Milken.

Lindner had a reputation for working long hours in pursuit of the next great deal.

“I’m working over 80 hours a week and have to keep on track,” he once told a reporter in explaining why he usually refused interview requests. Even in his later years, he showed no signs of slowing down.

Lavish parties
He was publicity shy, yet he held a fund-raiser for presidential candidate George H.W. Bush at his home in 1988. He also played host to Bush and then-President Francois Mitterrand of France at his vacation home in Ocean Reef, Florida, later that month.

Lindner paid his staff handsomely and threw lavish annual parties for them. At his own 70th birthday party, Frank Sinatra entertained.

Lindner’s fortunes began to slide in the late 1980s with the acquisition of Taft Broadcasting, a Cincinnati television and radio company.

The $1.5 billion takeover in 1987 left the new company, Great American Communications, mired in debt. The company was forced to sell several key assets in a short time, including cartoon creator Hanna-Barbera Productions.

In 1992, Lindner suffered losses of $560 million at Great American Communications and $284 million at Chiquita, leading to a $77 million loss at American Financial. In 1993, Lindner filed for “prepackaged” bankruptcy to restructure the debts of Great American Communications.

Carl Henry Lindner Jr. was born in Dayton in 1919 but spent much of his youth in Norwood, a blue-collar suburb of Cincinnati. As he made his wealth, he moved to Indian Hill, where most of Cincinnati’s rich and famous live.

Too busy to graduate
Lindner, along with brothers Robert and Richard and sister Dorothy, helped his parents in a succession of dairy businesses, first in Dayton, and then in Cincinnati. He never finished high school because he was so busy.

In 1940, Lindner’s father opened one of the nation’s first cash-and-carry milk and dairy stores, in Norwood. That launched what became the United Dairy Farmers convenience store chain.

During World War II, with his father’s health failing and his brothers being called into military service, Lindner began to direct UDF. By the mid-1960s, when Lindner left UDF to Robert’s direction, the chain had more than 100 stores. That number has since more than doubled.

Lindner founded the cornerstone of his financial empire, American Financial Corp. (later American Financial Group), in 1959. From 1961 until the company went private in 1980, American Financial’s portfolio made more than 60 times its original investment as Lindner diversified into banks, insurance and assorted industries.

Lindner’s three sons, by second wife Edyth Bailey, all followed him into the family business.

Carl H. Lindner III, 58, is president of Great American Insurance Co.

S. Craig Lindner, 56, is president of American Annuity Group and senior executive vice president of American Money Management.

Keith Lindner, 52, is vice chairman of Chiquita Brands International Inc.

Read more here

Oct 12 11

UK lottery winners to give millions to friends, family

by Matthew Roszak

‘We have drawn up a list of 15 to 20 people that we are going to make millionaires’

LONDON — A couple from eastern England who won Britain’s third-largest lottery jackpot want to make millionaires out of a select group of friends and family members.

Dave Dawes, 47, and his fiancee, Angela Dawes, 43, from Wisbech, close to the city of Cambridge, won 101 million pounds ($156 million) in Friday’s Euromillions lottery draw.

The couple plan to spend some money on their wedding, which was already planned for next year. The couple, who live in a modest one-bedroom apartment, also intend to buy properties in London and abroad.

But they also plan to give a million pounds ($1.56 million) each to up to 20 close friends and family.

“It’s an excessive amount of money, but we intend to look after our family and friends and do the best we can,” said Angela, who has a son from a previous marriage, according to The Telegraph.

“We have drawn up a list of 15 to 20 people that we are going to make millionaires,” added Dave, a factory supervisor who has been married twice before and has two sons.

The couple, who have been together for four years, discovered the win watching the Euromillions draw on television.

“We couldn’t believe it! It was too late to call (lottery operator) Camelot so I kept the ticket on me all night until the morning but we didn’t sleep a wink,” said Dave.

The windfall will help buy a new engagement ring for Angela, a volunteer for the British Heart Foundation, a charity that aims to prevent people dying from heart diseases.

The couple had only played the lottery twice before, having bought their first Euromillions ticket several weeks previously.

The winning line was made up of randomly chosen numbers and the ticket was purchased from WHSmith in Wisbech.

The prize pot had grown after a series of rollovers in which there was no winner in the main draw.

Scottish couple Colin and Chris Weir won a record European jackpot of almost 162 million pounds ($252 million) in July, while the second-largest winners scooped 113 million pounds ($176 million) last October but opted to remain anonymous.

Read more here

Oct 5 11

George Soros Donates $27.4 Million To African Village Project

by Matthew Roszak

Billionaire financier George Soros has donated $27.4 million to the Millennium Villages project with another $20 million in loans over the next 5 years to support business projects within those villages. The goals of the Millennium Villages project is to bring countries across Africa up to par with United Nations global development goals as outlined in 2000. These goals are to reduce child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters in 2015. Other goals include cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring universal primary education, promoting gender equality and halting and reversing the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Money to help development in 10 countries across Africa

By Anita Snow

George Soros has pledged $27.4 million to aid development in targeted villages across rural Africa, the billionaire financier said Monday.

Soros also pledged up to $20 million in loans to support business projects within those villages over the next five years.

The founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundations thanked his board of directors Monday for backing his pledge to the Millennium Villages project despite early misgivings.

Soros says that board members opposed his giving any donations to the project when it was first launched five years ago, considering it risky. But he said he gave money anyway, “because it was my money” and the idea seemed “worth a shot.” His $50 million pledge in 2006 was distributed over the next five years.

The project’s track record has proved its success, said Soros. “It has been a big challenge, but the project has come a long way,” he said.

The Millennium Villages project aims to help 500,000 people in 10 countries across Africa to reach U.N. development goals and offer a model for the remainder of the continent.

The global development goals, set by the United Nations in 2000, call on all member states to work to reduce child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters in 2015. Other goals include cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring universal primary education, promoting gender equality and halting and reversing the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

A report on the project’s first five years, released Monday, shows that the proportion of households in the targeted villages with access to improved drinking water soared to 68 percent from 17 percent, and students benefiting from school meal programs grew to 75 percent from 25 percent.

Average maize yields more than tripled during the same period, from 1.3 metric tons per hectare (2.5 acres) to 4.6 metric tons per hectare.

Directed by Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the Millennium Villages Project operates closely with U.N. agencies and with the support of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“We are thrilled by the rapid gains that the Millennium Village communities are making in the fight against poverty, hunger and disease,” said Sachs, Ban’s special adviser on the U.N. Millennium Development Goals project.

Read more here

Sep 28 11

US Holocaust Museum Receives $17 Million Donation

by Matthew Roszak

The estate of Eric and Lore Ross recently announced a $17.2 million gift to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Eric Ross, who experience Nazi anti-semitism first hand and was a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, has officially donated the largest gift to the museum in its history. Not only that, but over his lifetime Ross donated approximately $30 million in total. The museum intends to use the substantial gift for endowment programs.

Eric and Lore Ross experienced Nazi anti-Semitism firsthand

The estate of a Holocaust refugee who fled to the United States from Germany announced a $17.2 million gift to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Tuesday, the museum’s largest gift ever.

The gift from the estate of Eric F. Ross of Palm Beach, Fla., and West Orange, N.J., will help build the museum’s endowment fund. The museum, located on the National Mall in Washington, announced that it aims to raise $200 million more over the next eight years. It receives federal funding for its operations and raises private funds for programs.

Ross, who died in 2010, and his late wife Lore, previously donated more than $12 million to the museum. In total, they have given more than $30 million.

“Having experienced firsthand Nazi anti-Semitism and hatred, Eric and Lore Ross became determined and generous investors in Holocaust education,” museum director Sara Bloomfield said in announcing the gift. “Their loss and suffering inspired remarkable generosity.”

After fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938, Eric Ross returned to Europe in 1942 as a U.S. Army soldier with a group of German-speaking soldiers trained at Camp Ritchie in Maryland. They were known as the “Ritchie Boys.” Ross was awarded a Bronze Star for his service.

After the war, he founded Alpha Chemical and Plastics in Newark, N.J., and later Mercer Plastics Co. in Florida. Ross sold the companies in 1985.

In 2003, President George W. Bush appointed Eric Ross to serve on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.