Good Giving

Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

1903: Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Ellen Browning Scripps, whose fortune derived from the Scripps family’s newspaper empire, generously supported a range of charitable causes across Southern California. She donated the land and first building for a Catholic college-prep school for girls, and supported it financially for years. She endowed what would become Scripps College, a part of the Claremont Colleges that she had helped to found. She commissioned a Women’s Club’s headquarters and community center, and the country’s first public playground, in La Jolla. She funded Egyptian explorations that resulted in the San Diego Museum’s Ancient Egyptian collection. She founded the Scripps Memorial Hospital and the Scripps Metabolic Clinic.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

2008: Cause-oriented Journalism

Take one scoop of donors looking for new ways to affect public opinion and government policy, mix with three scoops of mainstream journalism bleeding red ink in the face of new Internet-based competition, and you get a layer-cake of donor-funded reporting operations. The granddaddy of these creations is ProPublica, founded by hyperactive liberal donors Herb and Marion Sandler to be a twenty-first-century muckraker, with a special focus on topics like gun control, civil rights, health care, fracking, campaign finance limits, labor laws, the Gulf oil spill, Guantanamo, and other policy hot buttons.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

2014: New Orleans School District Goes All-charter

Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans public schools were the worst district in the second-lowest-performing state in the entire U.S. Fully 78 percent of NOLA students attended a school designated as “failing” by state standards. Then the storm wrecked 100 of the city’s 127 schools. Rather than rebuild the dysfunctional and corrupt school district, local leaders decided to instead create the nation’s most complete necklace of charter schools, then let them independently pursue a new set of higher common standards. Decision-making power was decentralized away from the old school-board bureaucracy and transferred to individual principals, teachers, and schoolhouses. Top charter operators from across the country were invited in to set up shop, and more than 40 different entities now operate charters in the city on a competitive basis. At the same time, school performance began to be monitored intensely, with the understanding that new schools given five-year operating charters would be shut down at the end of that period if their students were not succeeding.

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ACR News 02.06.15 - Hot, Warm, and Cold

>> Federal: Washington Roundup
>> Federal: Ways and Means Approves Charitable Bills
>> Federal: Charitable Proposals in Budget a ‘Mixed Bag’
>> Federal: Chairman Hatch Announces Working Groups and Timeline
>> Federal: ACR Summit
>> Consider This: Hot, Warm, and Cold
>> Top Reads: Obama Budget Again Calls for Limit to Charitable Deduction


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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

2007: Healing the Upper Midwest

The business triumphs of Denny Sanford allowed him to retire to Florida at age 45–but he was soon itchy and returned to the upper Midwest where he had spent his entire previous life. After further commercial successes, he started giving away money. He turned his attention to the Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System, beginning with a $16 million gift for a children’s hospital designed like a fairy castle. With his $400 million donation in 2007 (the largest single gift ever made to a U.S. health-care organization), the nonprofit was renamed Sanford Health. Sanford Health now includes nearly three dozen hospitals and more than 140 clinics, centered on South and North Dakota but spread across eight states, making it one of the largest rural, not-for-profit health systems in the nation.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

1853: Connecting Orphans to Families

Charles Loring Brace was emphatic that the thousands of miserable homeless children roaming the streets of nineteenth-century New York had the “same capacities” and the same importance “as the little ones in our own homes.” That was an essential part of his Christian creed. But Brace also believed that “habits of life and the inner forces which form character” ultimately drive success and happiness, so it is important for unformed children to be given both love and good examples. He didn’t like traditional orphanages, which he thought fostered passivity and dependence, so in 1853 Brace founded the Children’s Aid Society and began helping boys and girls leave the streets and enter lodging houses that required small payments from the children to remind them of their capacity to support themselves. The society offered workshops and industrial schools that taught trade skills.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

1938 The Cloisters

One of the most unusual museums in New York City, or anywhere in America, is The Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art located in far northern Manhattan. The structure is a unified assemblage of pieces of five separate medieval monasteries that were moved from France to the United States. The site is surrounded by elaborate gardens built precisely as described in medieval manuscripts, and housed inside are several thousand priceless objects created during the Middle Ages, including tapestries, manuscripts, stained glass, metalwork, liturgical objects, ivory sculptures, and furniture.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

2000: Paying for Lynx Habitat at Loomis Forest

The Canada lynx was added to the U.S. endangered species list in 2000. One of the five areas of “critical habitat” for the animal was Loomis State Forest in Washington, where up to half of the cats in that state were thought to live. Most of that forest was trust land managed by the state, with the proceeds from timber sales going to schools to pay for the education of local children. In 1998 the state of Washington offered to end timber sales on the land if conservationists could raise sufficient funds—within one year—to compensate the schools for loss of this lumbering revenue. A local campaign was launched to raise $13 million in donations from private individuals and foundations.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

1984: Hillsdale College Shifts to Private Funding


Founded in Michigan in 1844, Hillsdale College was built up in the early 1850s by hundreds of small private donations after professor and preacher Ransom Dunn rode more than 6,000 across the western frontier collecting funds to build a new hilltop campus. While eight out of ten American colleges founded before the Civil War would eventually close, this broad base of giving allowed Hillsdale to survive and prosper. Clear principles were central to Hillsdale’s appeal to donors. It was the first American college to prohibit in its charter any discrimination based on race, religion, or sex. It was the second college in the U.S. to grant four-year liberal arts degrees to women. It was a force for the abolition of slavery. During the Civil War, 400 Hillsdale students fought for the Union, a higher level of participation than from any other western college.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

2014: Rehabilitating Arlington


When Robert E. Lee sided with his state instead of his nation and took command of the Confederate army, the U.S. seized his family estate located on a hill overlooking the nation’s capital from the south bank of the Potomac. Lee’s home—Arlington House, which was built as a tribute to his relative George Washington and modeled on the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens—was turned into a military headquarters. The grounds became the residence of several thousand liberated slaves, and then, in the third year of the war, a cemetery for men killed in the fight to preserve the Union.

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