Wells Fargo Renews Ongoing Support of Habitat for Humanity

Wells Fargo Renews Ongoing Support of Habitat for Humanity

Jan 08

Wells Fargo is number 25 in a ranked list of the United States’ largest corporations. Their corporate social responsibility efforts extend from long before their notoriety, and include three priorities: economic contributions to disadvantaged communities, environmental husbandry, and progressive inclusion. Their recent and ongoing donations to Habitat for Humanity serves all three goals. Habitat for Humanity, founded in 1976 in Georgia and today a worldwide Christian nonprofit, is a well-established force towards making sure people have a place to live. “Through shelter, we empower” is their motto. Wells Fargo has donated over $40 million to Habitat for Humanity since the beginning of their relationship in 2010. Wells Fargo employees are also encouraged to volunteer on Habitat building projects, having contributed more than 355,000 hours in that same time, or the equivalent of six consecutive years of man-hours. On December 20th, 2017, Wells Fargo gifted an additional $18 million to the nonprofit to strengthen their U.S. operations, specifically in the realm of disaster aid. Habitat has learned much in the wake of the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, and has expanded its needs. “We have seen the positive impact made in local communities through our work with Habitat for Humanity and this donation will help to further advance our commitment to economic empowerment through affordable home-ownership,” said Jon Campbell, head of Community Relations and Corporate Responsibility at Wells Fargo. “The funding will also enable Wells Fargo to exceed our goal of building and improving 1,000 homes between 2016 and 2020.” “This generous donation from Wells Fargo will enable us to partner with more families in need of a decent place to call home,” said Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford. “These much-needed funds also will allow us to make critical improvements to our operations, and help us better address the growing need for affordable housing throughout the...

Texas Rangers Pitcher Cole Hamels Donates Mansion to Charity

Texas Rangers Pitcher Cole Hamels Donates Mansion to Charity

Jan 04

Camp Barnabas is an organization with a mission to provide camp and sporting experiences to people with many kinds of disabilities. They offer week-long camps, with scholarships available to those who can’t afford them. As a Christian ministry, they operate from a standpoint of affirming that every person, regardless of ability, is whole and worthy of their place in the world. “Utilizing the camp venue, our organization provides ministry and social experiences that increase spiritual knowledge, social learning, and human dignity,” reads the landing page of their website. They have served more than 75,000 campers in the past 24 years. Thanks to an incredibly generous donation from Texas Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels, Camp Barnabas will be able to massively increase the services they have to offer. Hamels and his wife have donated their brand new (in fact, as yet unfinished) mansion property at Table Rock Lake, near one of Barnabas’s two extant properties. The mansion, which Hamels first decided to sell in August (asking price: $10 million), includes 100 acres of land and a third of a mile of lake shoreline. It boasts 10 bedrooms, 19 bathrooms, two kitchens, and an elevator—meaning little renovation will need done to make it accessible for Camp Barnabas’s needs. The Hamels put their property on the market after Hamels decided that he would be staying full-time in Texas. Even though construction began in 2012, the castle-like mansion has never been inhabited. But he decided at some point that he would rather donate it. “There are tons of amazing charities in southwest Missouri,” said Hamels in a press conference, his wife at his side. “Out of all of these, Barnabas really pulled on our heartstrings. Seeing the faces, hearing the laughter, reading the stories of the kids they serve; there is truly nothing like it. Barnabas makes dreams come true, and we felt called to help them in a big way.” *Photo courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr Creative...

Student Who Barely Graduated Donates $50 Million to Alma Mater

Student Who Barely Graduated Donates $50 Million to Alma Mater

Dec 19

Austin McChord graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2009, a major in bioinformatics who took a few extra years to pin down his last few credits. By his own admission, he wasn’t a solid student. “I never did homework when I was at the university,” McChord said in an interview with CNN. “Frankly, I never did any homework in high school either. I was not exactly the most stellar student.” It took him six years, after all, to complete his four-year degree. But McChord’s ability to succeed wasn’t constrained by his grades, or his educational motivation. This year, he sold Datto, his data security startup to investment firm Vista Equity Partners for $1.5 billion, rocketing him into the one-percent. A few years ago, during his meteoric industry rise, Bill Destler, the president at the time of Rochester Institute approached McChord to open an office in Rochester. The reach out was part of a 2013 economic development initiative pushed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He opened that office, and also decided that if he were ever to sell his company, he would donate 10% of the proceeds, up to $50 million, to his alma matter. He never expected to reach that cap. Without it, the school’s share of the sale would be $225 million. But $50 million will fund new fellowships, a new facility, and an entrepreneurship programs at RIT. Some will also be set aside to attract talent in the fields of cybersecurity and A.I. Eight years is a short time to go from squeaking by at a university to donating tens of millions of dollars, but McChord’s grasp far exceeds others’ expectations of him. He admits that one of the reasons he turned to startups was to prove wrong an RIT academic adviser who dismissed his ideas for companies as “terrible.” It goes to show that with enough motivation and belief in one’s self, anything is...

Jaguars Coach Gives Massive Bologna Donation to Soup Kitchen

Jaguars Coach Gives Massive Bologna Donation to Soup Kitchen

Dec 13

Try to imagine 100 logs of bologna. That’s 350 pounds of the sandwich meat characterized by its smooth, undifferentiated texture, heavy salting, and unidentifiable blend of seasonings (hint: myrtle berries, of all things). It’s a food we tend to associate with childhood lunches, but it’s a good source of calories and protein, with less fat than many kinds of sausage. On Wednesday, December 6th, Doug Marrone, coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, received a gift of 100 logs of the sandwich meat from a beef industry representative. Marrone had mentioned in a recent interview that he likes it, so it wasn’t out of the blue, but the quantity was. That’s more than his own weight in sausage meat. So he decided to pass on the gift; he donated 95 of the 100 logs to Feeding Northeast Florida, a local pantry charity. Protein is one of the least-donated categories at most soup kitchens (canned vegetables account for most donations). Many people associate soup kitchens with donation drives, which specifically ask for non-perishables because that makes it easy for volunteers to collect and transport donations. But soup kitchens and pantries always need perishables as well—meats, milk, and fresh produce being vital. “This should be enough to feed about 300 people,” said Frank Castillo about Marrone’s donation. Castille is the current CEO of Feeding Northeast Florida, which serves eight counties around Dallas. The gift originally came from Eric Mittenthal, the current president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. It came in the form of a solid pallet of Boar’s Head brand beef bologna. By Thursday morning, it was available to nonprofits from the shelves of groceries at FNF. If you would like to join coach Marrone in supporting Feeding Northeast Florida, they accept donations via their webpage. If you live in the Dallas, FL area, please also consider...

Introducing Gene DeSantis: The Poor Man With a Heart of Gold

Introducing Gene DeSantis: The Poor Man With a Heart of Gold

Dec 07

Gene DeSantis is a private man. He has no phone or email, and even the friends in his life know little about his habits or past. He keeps to himself, a rarity in a time when social life is about expansion above all else. But that’s not to say he doesn’t make huge ripples. “I keep a busy schedule,” says DeSantis, and that schedule is almost entirely devoted to helping others. He runs errands and completes menial tasks for his elderly neighbors. He cooks, bakes, and packages food for the homeless. Basically, he volunteers wherever volunteers are called for in his corner of Baltimore, Maryland. Without a car, he walks miles a day to keep up his volunteer regimen, which includes donating blood as well. DeSantis isn’t a wealthy man, and can’t cut a check for these causes he obviously feels called to support. But he has time, and spends his hours freely on behalf of others. Atop of his work feeding the dispaced, on Saturdays DeSantis plants trees for the Flowering Tree Trails, a friend’s nonprofit reforesting project. “I’ve never gotten a penny for any tree I’ve ever planted,” he says proudly. “It’s all volunteer. But everywhere you look, you see my trees. I like to take walks and look at them. Some have died. But, most have thrived and matured.” “Gene comes in almost every afternoon and works through the evening serving food and washing up,” says Chuck Buettner, director of the Rescue Mission where DeSantis cooks, serves, and cleans for their soup kitchen service. “He’s forever going around asking people how he can help.” Hopefully, some of the lives he touches there thrive from his efforts as well. By DeSantis’s account, he’s donated over 300 pints of blood, planted over 15,000 trees, and fed countless hungry mouths. He’s hazy about his own age, but he knows those facts about himself. Gene DeSantis: the...

This Nonprofit Wants to Teach 20,000 Women to Code by 2020

This Nonprofit Wants to Teach 20,000 Women to Code by 2020

Dec 01

Fed up with how slow progress has been, a U.K.-based charity is going full throttle on closing the gender wage gap in tech. Code First: Girls, located in Britain, is an award-winning nonprofit dedicated to teaching free computer programming skills to women. The organization recently made headlines when it announced its 20:20 campaign—an initiative to train 20,000 women to code by the end of 2020. It’s bold, it’s revolutionary, and it’s inspiring. But most importantly, it’s possible thanks to myriad supporters both domestic and abroad. One such supporter is global investment firm KKR, which will provide financial backing for the campaign beginning December 2017. The firm’s generosity reflects a company culture that’s been cultivated by co-CEOS Henry Kravis and George Roberts, who have continually backed initiatives related to diversity and inclusion. “Coding is becoming an increasingly important skill that should be available equally to all, regardless of gender,” said Jean-Pierre Saad, Director of KKR’s TMT team in London. “We are hence [sic] delighted to partner with a pioneering organization like Code First: Girls and support them in tackling gender diversity in tech, which we believe will drive better outcomes for businesses and our communities.” “One of the biggest barriers to women entering the tech industry is education, and our 20:20 campaign is designed to address this by providing skills that are critical to the digital economy,” said Amali de Alwis, CEO of Code First: Girls. “Our partnership with a leading investment firm like KKR, which has such a deep and wide network with companies in the U.K. and worldwide, is a fantastic opportunity for our organization. Their support is key to us delivering our 20:20 campaign.” Since its initial founding in 2012, Code First: Girls has taught over 4,000 women how to program. If the organization is to meet its 20:20 campaign goal, they will need to teach approximately 16,000 women to code over the next three years. Challenging? Yes. Impossible?...

Trump Wants to Shut Down His Charity Foundation, But Can’t Due to Ongoing Investigation

Trump Wants to Shut Down His Charity Foundation, But Can’t Due to Ongoing Investigation

Nov 21

In December 2016, Donald Trump promised to terminate his charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, in order to avoid any possible conflicts of interest during his presidency. In an effort to make good on that promise, the Foundation announced its intent to shut down in a 2016 IRS document that was submitted this month. There’s just one problem: the Donald J. Trump Foundation is currently under investigation, and the New York Attorney General’s Office isn’t going to let the Foundation dissolve until that investigation concludes. “As the Foundation is still under investigation by this office, it cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete,” said Amy Spitalnick, the attorney general’s press secretary. In October 2016, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ordered the Donald J. Trump Foundation to stop soliciting donations following a report that it lacked the proper authorization to do so. An investigation was launched after the Foundation admitted to having violated federal laws on “self-dealing” in its 2015 tax filing. These laws forbid nonprofit leaders from diverting charity funds to themselves, their businesses, or families. A spokesperson for the Foundation confirmed that it is currently under investigation, but maintained that the organization is cooperating with officials: “The Foundation continues to cooperate with the New York Attorney General’s Charities Division, and as previously announced by the President, his advisers are working with the Charities Division to wind up the affairs of the Foundation. The Foundation looks forward to distributing its remaining assets at the earliest possible time to aid numerous worthy charitable organizations.” There is still no word on when the investigation is expected to conclude. When it does, the Donald J. Trump Foundation will distribute its remaining funds to other charitable organizations. The Foundation reported assets of about $970,000 at the end of 2016. Representatives from the Foundation have yet to announce which charities will receive the...

A Tribute to Eliza Hamilton, Whose Charitable Legacy Will Not Be Forgotten

A Tribute to Eliza Hamilton, Whose Charitable Legacy Will Not Be Forgotten

Nov 16

“And when my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell my story?” There were always tears in the audience when Phillipa Soo sang that line near the end of the Broadway musical Hamilton. Soo was playing the role of Eliza Hamilton, who spent a lifetime trying to fulfill her husband Alexander Hamilton’s curtailed legacy. Eliza, who barely gets a footnote in the history books compared to her founding father husband, was a force of philanthropy. The ripples of her work can still be felt today. Eliza Schuyler Hamilton founded Graham Windham as an orphanage in 1806, and the organization is still alive today, over a century later as a family and youth services organization. They serve over 4,000 children a year, providing foster care, counseling for at-risk families, and a therapeutic school. Soo, together with Hamilton‘s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, couldn’t resist linking their show to Eliza’s legacy. Soo initiated The Eliza Project, a scholarship program to provide Graham Windham students with workshops in acting, dancing, and rap. Hamilton‘s assistant dance captain, Morgan Marcell, recruited many cast members to participate in “Share Your Stories,” his pen-pal initiative between artists and Graham students. The goal is to encourage students to take “authorship over their own lives.” Members of the Hamilton cast and crew were also instrumental in connecting Graham Windham with Broadway Cares, a grant-making program which provides funding to projects for underserved communities. Broadway Cares was responsible for funding most of the above-mentioned projects. While Eliza Hamilton’s achievements were her own, it cannot be doubted that it is the flame Hamilton re-lit for her that is responsible for the Smithsonian placing her portrait in the collection of the National Museum of American History’s new philanthropy collection. Before it goes to its permanent home there, the portrait, which is in fact donated by Graham Windham, will be displayed beside Miranda’s green silk suit from his role as Hamilton in his own Broadway production. *Photo credit: EQRoy /...