George Soros Donates $27.4 Million To African Village Project

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.

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US Holocaust Museum Receives $17 Million Donation

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.


Camryn Manheim To Host Celebrity Charity Poker

While online poker took a huge disrupting hit this year when the federal government enacted laws to make the online gambling sites illegal, poker in casinos across the country are still legal and provide a great platform for charity events. Today, Camryn Manheim is hosting one such celebrity poker event which will benefit the Children’s Institute Inc. which is a foundation to help children affected by violence in their homes or communites. Along with the money raised from the events there is also an online auction with proceeds going to charity. Follow the links below if you are interested in participating.

Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress Camryn Manheim will return as host of the annual Children’s Institute, Inc celebrity charity poker tournament this weekend.

Expected to attend the event are Wedil David, Ken Davitian, Tony Denison, Willie Garson, Erik Pallidino, Mimi Rogers, Sara Rue, Grant Show and many others.

Children’s Institute, Inc. helps children who have been affected by violence in their homes or communities. Since 1906, CII has served at-risk children and families in some of Los Angeles’ most devastated neighborhoods. CII provides healing and support so that traumatized children can recover and lead healthy lives. They lead children away from tragic outcomes and on a path toward opportunity and achievement.

  • First Prize: $5,000, celebrity-signed event poker felt and a seat at the WPT Celebrity Invitational!
  • Second Prize: $2,500 and a celebrity-signed event poker felt
  • Third Prize: $2,000 and a celebrity-signed event poker felt
  • Plus cash and prizes for the next 7 finishers!

To celebrate the tournament, a special online auction is currently live, featuring items from Nancy Cartwright and the chance to host a private pre-release screening of Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1.

  • When:
    Check-in: 11:00 am
Tournament Play begins: 12:30 pm
  • Where:
    Commerce Casino | Commerce, California
    6131 East Telegraph Road, Commerce, CA 90040

For more information, click here
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Robert E. Lee Tintype Huge Success For Goodwill

A Goodwill worker added approximately $23,000 to the value of a Robert E. Lee tintype that was found in a donation box. The tintype was moments away from being shipped to an outlet store where it would have sold based on poundage, somewhere around $1-$2. A keen eyed worker rescued this hidden gem and decided to list it on the company’s online auction where it ended up selling for $23, 001. It just goes to show you that valuables can turn up just about anywhere.

A Goodwill worker who spotted a photograph of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee has helped the charity make $23,001 in an online auction.

The tintype photograph was in a bin, about to be shipped out to an outlet store, when a worker grabbed it and sent it to the charity’s local online department. The item was put up for auction. Bidding started at $4 and closed Wednesday night.

“It would have gone to our outlet store where everything is sold by the pound,” Goodwill spokeswoman Suzanne Kay-Pittman said Thursday. She estimated the tintype would have fetched a dollar and change based on its weight.

The sale was a record for Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee. The previous record was an early 1900s watercolor that sold for $7,500 in 2009 to a museum in New Orleans, The Tennessean reported.

The newspaper said that the tintype had some intriguing aspects: It wasn’t an original photograph but a tintype made of another picture, and it was a view of Lee that collectors had not seen.

Kay-Pittman said Thursday that the successful bidder lives in Virginia but officials didn’t immediately know his name.

“We’re doing a happy dance,” she said. “We’re beyond thrilled.”

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California Superintendent Donates Yearly Salary to School District

The plight of the public school system in the U.S. always seems to be in dire straits. In a complete act of charity, to help the school system he has worked his whole life for, Superintendent Larry Powell has decided to donate his entire $30,000 a year salary to California school districts. In a clever bit of bureaucratic paperwork Powell decided to take an early retirement to start collecting his pension while being rehired by the school district as superintendent to avoid paying a replacement’s  salary. Because he is already collecting a pension, Powell decided to donate the regular superintendent’s salary of approximately $30,000 a year to help the impoverished school district.

The school superintendent in California who is forgoing hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay and benefits to help offset budget cuts to his school district has decided to give away even more.

Fresno County Superintendent Larry Powell recently volunteered to return more than $288,000 in annual salary and benefits for the next three-and-a-half years of his term. He technically is retiring, allowing him to collect a six-figure annual pension, then will be rehired with a $31,000 salary.

In an interview with Ed Schultz on msnbc cable TV’s “The Ed Show” on Tuesday, Powell said that he would donate that $31,000 salary to charity.

“I want to make sure people understand that there are a lot of hurting people out there,” Powell said. “It’s time for us to step up and do something. America has always given. It’s a time to do that thing right now.”

In an arrangement worked out with the district, Powell will retire on Thursday and then be hired back to fill the remainder of his four-year term. Powell will collect his retirement of roughly $200,000 a year while working fulltime for the district. But the salary he would be earning as superintendent stays in the general fund budget and is now going toward at-risk educational programs.

By staying on the job, the 63-year-old Powell saves the district from having to pay another superintendent’s salary. He had to give up his $250,000 life insurance policy and will go on his wife’s health care plan.

Because he retired early, Powell said he’ll receive $28,000 a year less in pension payments for the rest of his life than he would have earned had he stayed on the district’s payroll until the end of his term.

Powell said that if he lives to be 87, the current age of his parents, the early retirement will cost him $900,000 in reduced pension benefits, including $200,000 less in earnings for the remainder of his term.

Until his term expires in 2015, Powell will run 325 schools and 35 school districts with 195,000 students, all for less than a starting California teacher earns.

Powell said that the decision on giving up the money was not reached lightly and came after long discussions with his wife.

“How much do we need to keep accumulating?” Powell said last week . “There’s no reason for me to keep stockpiling money.”

Fresno County School Superintendent Larry Powell is forgoing $800,000 in compensation over the next three years of his term.

After an AP story ran about his initial pay sacrifice, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan phoned Powell Monday to thank him for his generosity.

“Larry Powell’s leadership is an absolute inspiration,” Duncan said in a statement. “Through a lifetime of dedicated service in education and his generosity, he has made it clear that he is personally and professionally invested in the students, parents, teachers and principals in Fresno. They are very lucky to have him.”

Powell’s exploits also drew praise in an editorial Monday in the Contra Costa Times, which began: “Every once in a while a news story comes along that restores our faith in the basic goodness of humanity. The story of Fresno County School Superintendent Larry Powell is just such a case.”

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Volunteers Give Back Enormously to National Parks

There is a retired couple named Jim and Carol Miltimore that have decided to spend their retired years cleaning up 378 sq. miles of Mt. Rainier National Park. The couple who often spend 6 days and nights a week inside the park helping to clean it and make it accessible to the public. The couple, who describe themselves as avid hikers and nature enthusiasts, have logged over 12,000 volunteer hours inside the park. One can’t help but be inspired by their commitment to nature.

By Chris Rodell

When Jim and Carol Miltimore approached officials at Mount Rainier National Park about volunteering, they thought the retired couple might spend a sunny afternoon bagging trash.

They had no idea that six years later, the Enumclaw, Wash., couple would log more hours in the pristine park than many native bears.

In six years, Jim, 70, and Carol, 63, have logged more than 12,000 volunteer hours making the 378-square mile park cleaner, more accessible and ever-luscious.

“They are this sweet couple who upon retiring they didn’t want to golf, they wanted to give back to something they really believe in and that’s the national park system,” says Kevin Bacher, volunteer program coordinator for the National Park Service. “They’ll dig ditches, clean restrooms, clear trails and spend hours working in the park library system. There’s nothing they won’t do.”

Imagine the impact on the national deficit if every able-bodied man and women in America contributed on behalf of the federal government the way the Miltimores do for free.

And they consider it their privilege.

“We’re avid hikers and nature lovers and, really, I think we get more out of it than the park does,” says Carol, a retired data analyst. “The scenery is breathtaking. Just yesterday I was up working in a field of wildflowers at 6,400 feet with Mount Rainier in its full glory. It was magnificent.”

Those opportunities abound in our national parks, an institution referred to in a recent Ken Burns PBS documentary as “America’s Best Idea.”

Go to and scroll through the options that let would-be volunteers across the nation select where they want to work, how often they’re available and what level of exertion they’re prepared to dispense.

“We’re friends with a volunteer who saved the park service $500,000 by designing them a bridge,” says Jim, a retired chemist. “People volunteer video services, labor — you name it.”

Acting park superintendent Randy King says park volunteers enjoy a spiritual connection to the land that borders on the mystical.

“It’s just a great way for people to give back,” King says. “Volunteers form a deep connection to the land.”

The Miltimores spend as many as six days and nights a week at the park, sometimes sleeping in cabins they helped construct.

Such devotion is not without sacrifice.

“We can’t have pets and our garden is on its own,” Carol says. “But here at the park we get to see plenty of ground squirrels, marmots, mountain goats and bears. Just last week a big bear charged Jim.”

Jim says it was just a “bluff charge,” something a bear does half-heartedly to try and make itself look superior.

“He wasn’t serious,” he says. “If he was, I’d have been lunch.”

Or maybe the bear simply sensed that the Miltimores are part of Mount Rainier National Park.

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After 27 Years, Man Cuts Hair to Donate to Charity

‘Think about the little kid it’s gonna help out. It’s all good,’ he says

Dan McGuinness has decided to let go the rebel spirit he chose to let his hair symbolize in the early 80’s. After receiving a job offer that required the radio DJ to cut his hair, McGuinness decided to let his ponytail go and donate it to the Locks of Love charity, a charity that makes wigs for cancer victims. While cutting off his long beloved hair McGuinness said it made him feel good knowing that his donation will go towards making someone happy for his efforts.

STROUD TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A man who has been growing his hair for 27 years had it hacked off for a good cause Thursday morning. He’s donating his ponytail toLocks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for people battling cancer.

Dan McGuinness of Long Pond squirmed as scissors snipped more than a foot of his hair. He hasn’t had it cut since he left the service in 1984. At first he let it grow because he was rebelling against the military rule of cutting it often. Then he became a radio DJ and thought the look fit his rock and roll life style.

Dan had his locks chopped live on the “Gary in the Morning Internet Radio Show” at Major Hyundai in Stroud Township.

After the chopping McGuinness said,  “It was kind of painful going and getting it done taking it off but again think about the little kid it’s gonna help out. It’s all good.”

Radio show host Gary Smith reacted, “This was very difficult for him and we’re all really proud of him that he did it.”

McGuinness had to get the major trim for a new job. When he heard the position required short hair he was going to turn it down but when he realized that long mane could help someone else he decided to go for it.

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Florida Man Sets Record For Donating Blood

John Sheppard has been donating his blood religiously since 1957. To date, the altruistic 78 year old man has donated almost 40 gallons of blood in his lifetime, without ever earning a penny for it. Sheppard partially explains his donating fervor by saying donating blood makes him feel good and that when he walks out it is like a “natural high”. Without any goal in mind, Sheppard has officially far surpassed the threshold to be given the Guinness Book World Record for most blood donated.

New king of plasma has given 315 pints of blood

By Todd Wright

Call John Sheppard the anti-Count Dracula.

The Florida man takes as much joy in giving his blood as the famous vampire did while sucking hsi victims dry.

Sheppard, 78, has donated nearly 40 gallons of blood, with his last pint making him by far the Guinness Book of World Record’s new king of plasma.

“I had no idea I would get to this point,” said the Fort Myers resident who set the mark last month. “Setting records is not why I am doing it.”

Officially, Sheppard has given 315 pints of blood. But that only counts the hospital records that can be found.

There are another six years of religious donating that weren’t counted, Sheppard said.

And unlike some donors who get a few bucks after giving their blood, Sheppard has never made a dime from his plasma. He’s donated, for free, at Lee Memorial Hospital since 1957.

Sheppard said he actually started donating his blood in 1951 when he was 18. He was inspired by a former high school football teammate who had been injured in the Korean War.

Sheppard has kept up the pledge 60 years later.

Along for the bloody ride has been Lee Admire, who has drawn Sheppard’s blood for more than 40 years.

“He has wonderful veins. He’s a very easy stick,” she said. “He wasn’t just a donor. He was a friend.”

Sheppard, a retired attorney, still gives blood every 56 days and plans to keep going as long as he can. He said he hopes his world record inspires young people to carry the torch and maybe surpass him.

“When you donate blood, you come out of there feeling good. It’s a natural high,” Sheppard said. “There is still a blood shortage. It would be so easy if a few people just started giving blood fairly regularly. I hope someone breaks my record. Absolutely.”

The previous record of 231 pints was set in 2009 by Phillip Baird of Australia.

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Bloomberg gives $30 million to NYC men’s program

New York has budgeted over $100 million for programs to help young black and latino men. Recently Mayor Michael Bloomberg and hedge fund manager George Soros have donated $30 million each to take approximately half of the burden of these social programs off of the tax payer. Plans to help these young men include job placement, fatherhood classes, as well as training for probation officers and teachers who have direct contact with these kids to support and help them.

George Soros also donates $30 million; plan is to help 315,000 black and Latino men aged 16 to 24

New York City will spend $127 million in public and private funds on programs designed to help young black and Latino men.

Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg will kick in $30 million from his foundation and hedge fund manager George Soros will match that amount, according to the mayor’s office. The remaining $67.5 million will be paid by the city.

The Young Men’s Initiative was first reported by The New York Times on Wednesday.

The mayor’s office called it the nation’s “boldest and most comprehensive effort to tackle the broad disparities slowing the advancement of black and Latino young men” in a statement.

It will include job placement, fatherhood classes and training for probation officers and school staff on how to help the young men get ahead. More than a dozen city agencies will be involved.

The program will target about 315,000 black and Latino men between the ages of 16 and 24.

Bloomberg is set to announce the program at a community breakfast on Thursday.

One key component will be an overhaul of the Department of Probation, which supervises nearly 30,000 New Yorkers, most of whom are black and Latino males, according to the mayor’s office.

‘Transformative mentoring’
The department will open five satellite offices in neighborhoods with high populations of at-risk youth, with the aim of connecting men on probation to work and educational opportunities and reducing recidivism.

Of the funds, $18 million will go to “transformative mentoring and literacy services,” according to a news release, while $24 million will go to a school program called the Expanded Success Initiative.

The latter aims to close the so-called achievement gap between racial and ethnic groups in graduation rates.

The city will also announce new measures to “hold schools accountable” for the performance of black and Latino boys.

Another $25 million will expand Jobs-Plus, which works with residents of public housing projects.

The mayor will issue an executive order barring city agencies from creating unnecessary barriers to city jobs for applicants from criminal convictions.

Earlier Wednesday, the mayor said he raised $1.5 million from anonymous private donors to resume statewide January Regents testing, exams that are critical to thousands of college-bound students.

The tests were canceled after budget cuts and Bloomberg said 80 percent of the students hurt by the change were black or Latino. But critics said the lack of transparency raised questions about donors’ motives.

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Red Hot Chili Peppers Play Intimate Club To Benefit Charity

The Red Hot Chili Peppers will perform later this month at a small club in Los Angeles to benefit the Silverlake Conservatory of Music. The conservatory was co-founded by original Chili Peppers bassist Flea. Anthony Kiedis, Singer for the Chili Peppers, also sits on the conservatory’s board of directors. The conservatory itself is meant to spread the love of music and to teach kids how to play musical instruments with rooms full of different instruments available and teachers on staff to give lessons to students.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers will perform a rare and intimate club show on August 24 at LA Live’s Club Nokia to benefit the Silverlake Conservatory of Music.

Flea – bassist for the Chilis – co-founded the Silverlake Conservatory of Music in 2001 to facilitate music education by providing affordable or free lessons and instruments. The Conservatory’s eight classrooms are filled with instruments, teachers and students, with instruction, discussion, laughter and, of course, lots of music. Chilis singer Anthony Kiedis sits on the Board of Directors.

“To direct the energy of that work to help out the school which I believe in with intensity and have nurtured for the past ten years is a transcendent double doozy of greatness!” says Flea. “We are going to rock our balls off for the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, like a pack of wild animals!”

Tickets are available here

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