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Donation News

Elon Musk, Once a COVID Skeptic, Donates $5M to Doctors Fighting Pandemic

Early in the pandemic, Elon Musk was no friend to those trying to keep the disease under control. A skeptic with a massive platform and one of the world’s most-followed twitter accounts, he publicly (wrongly) predicted that COVID-19 would vanish in a few weeks and called California’s shelter-in-place order “fascist” when it shut down his car plant. He also argued with an actual virologist that he knew better than she did how disease spreads, posting already-debunked graphs to prove his point, and filed a lawsuit against Alameda County to try to force them to exempt his company from lockdown closures. His twitter is the first place many people heard about the (false) theory that hospitals were mis-attributing deaths to COVID-19 for… well, some nebulous reason.

Even after being diagnosed himself in early December, 2020, Musk didn’t seem any less skeptical of reasonable precautions.

In the first week of January, Elon Musk passed up Jeff Bezos to become the world’s wealthiest person with a net worth of $209.3 billion. He asked twitter for philanthropic ideas. He signed the Giving Pledge several years ago – a pledge designed by Bill Gates for the superwealthy to promise to give more than half of their net worth away in their lifetime – but has done relatively little on that front. Musk has donated more than $257 million to his own Musk Foundation, but they’ve distributed relatively little of it. Only $65 million since 2016, to approximately 200 nonprofits. With the recent increase in his fortune, that $257 million is only just over 1 percent of his fortune. Far from the half of the Giving Pledge.

On Monday, January 18, despite all of his earlier behavior, the Musk Foundation announced that he would be donating $5 million to two Boston doctors who have and continue to work on COVID-19 vaccines and diagnostic tools. Doctor Dan Barouch and Doctor Galit Alter are both associated with the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard in Boston.

Editorial credit: vasilis asvestas / Shutterstock.com

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News The Power of Giving

Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical Raises Funds With Disney’s Blessing

With very little advertising, a new live musical was staged on Friday, January 1. Yes, right in the middle of the latest pandemic spike. But don’t worry, it didn’t pack any theatre halls. No, Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical was performed entirely on TikTok’s TodayTix live platform. Approximately 350,000 people bought tickets to the digital event, and all proceeds went to benefit the Actors Fund.

The Actors Fund, founded in 1882, is a human services organization targeted to support entertainers, providing emergency financial and housing assistance, health care, and career development. Never has it been more needed than now, with the entire entertainment industry derailed by rolling bans on in-person gathering.

Performed by actors, singers, musicians and TikTokers under the unusually permissive blessing of Disney Theatrics, the musical is an assemblage of dozens of short video clips based on the 2007 animated film under a fan-sung score and the performances of the Broadway Sinfonietta orchestra.

“When Greg Nobile first approached us with the idea to produce a benefit event surrounding Ratatouille, never did we imagine that it would blossom into such an amazing outpouring of love and support for The Actors Fund,” said Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions. “What we all saw New Year’s day was a celebration of art and craft that was as charming as it was moving. It’s thrilling to see how the theatre-makers on TikTok and the Broadway community came together to provide aid to so many in need during this unprecedented time.”

The Disney Corporation is not known for giving their permission to fan-run projects involving their intellectual property like this, even for fundraising purposes, so perhaps this is a new leaf for them. It’s certainly a good look. The Ratatouille: TikTok Musical took less than a month to put together, starred Tituss Burgess as Remy and André De Shields as Ego, and raised just over $2 million for the Actors Fund.

Source: Digital Music News

Editorial credit: XanderSt / Shutterstock.com

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Donation News Organizations The Power of Giving Uncategorized

Jack Dorsey Donates Another $15M to Mayors for a Guaranteed Income

“I’m now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” – Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

Inspired directly by the words of MLK, and by the struggles of his own youth and community, Mayor Michael D Tubbs of Stockton, California worked with the Economic Security Project to found Mayors for a Guaranteed Income in June, 2020. During the first crush of the pandemic, while 10 million Americans were suddenly without income or safety net, 30 mayors from all over the country began working together to establish guaranteed income programs in their cities.

“So many of our constituents were in food lines for Thanksgiving,” said Tubbs.

“Covid-19 has made it very, very clear to build back better we have to make sure everyone has an income floor,” he said. “We’re all taking considerable political risk in doing this, but we understand that the biggest risk is nothing changes.”

For Tubbs, the risk was almost certainly a factor in his defeat this November by Republican opponent Kevin Lincoln. However, leaving the mayoral office in January will not stop his participation in this program or his platform of guaranteed income.

At the debut of the program, Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square, donated $3 million to help launch its efforts. Now as the program gains structure and momentum, he has donated another $15 million, to be divided evenly among the 30 pilot cities ($500,000 each.) Each city will then decide how to allocate those funds. For instance, Stockton will be providing $500 per month to participants. Dorsey’s donation will cover a thousand of those payments.

“Thank you Mayor [Tubbs] and to all the Mayors of @mayorsforagi for these universal basic income pilots! I hope they inform federal policy in the future,” tweeted Dorsey on Tuesday.

Source: CNBC

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Donation News The Power of Giving

NFL Rookie’s Fans Donate to Hunger Relief After Torn ACL in First Game

Perhaps this year more than most, the NFL means something personal to a great many of its fans. They all have their own team that feels like a part of their community, maybe even a particular player who may as well be family. 

Joe Burrow, a rookie quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals became that player for a lot of people on Sunday November 22, when he went down on the field with a torn ACL. It’s his first pro season, and for him, it’s already over. You can’t help but have empathy for the young player.

In that spirit, Bengals fans started to show their solidarity almost instantly by donating $9 each (9, for his jersey number) to the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund, a fundraising effort he began last year to support the Athens County Pantry. The pantry, which is 40 years old this year, provides supplemental and emergency food provisions to people in need in Athens County, where Burrow is from. He began the fund with a $350,000 donation after putting out a call for generosity to his fans during his acceptance of the 2019 Heisman Trophy, and it was matched with another $350,000 from the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, a philanthropic group.

Burrow, who grew up in a food-insecure household, has made it a personal focus of his career in football to bring the true scale of American poverty to light and to help feed those growing up as he did. The support shown for his injury on Sunday raised nearly $30,000 more for the pantry in just a few hours. His Bengals teammates were outspoken on Twitter with gratitude for the donations on his behalf.

“Thanks for all the love,” Burrows tweeted himself, following his injury. “Can’t get rid of me that easy. See ya next year.”

Source: CBS Sports

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Donation

Dolly Donates $1M to COVID Research While Getting Some Laughs

Back in April, while the world was wondering if the COVID-19 pandemic might die down in time for kids to get back to school before summer vacation, Dolly Parton wasn’t going to sit back and not help. The philanthropist made an excited post to her Instagram at the time about research towards a “cure” happening at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

“I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations,” she wrote, signing it “Keep the faith, Dolly.”

She wrote cure – what she meant was a vaccine. The research happening at Vanderbilt was the early stage trials of the Moderna vaccine. And when the news broke in mid-November that the Moderna vaccine was showing an effectiveness in excess of 95 percent, suddenly the entire internet wanted to praise Dolly for ‘curing’ COVID-19.

It’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek response to some long-awaited good news, and while much, much more money than Dolly’s million (and not even all of that) went int Moderna’s trials, the woman deserves some thanks all the same.

Dolly Parton, 74, has never balked at giving back. For decades, the Dollywood Foundation she backs has supported childhood literacy, and she has held benefit concerts in all 50 states for wildlife and HIV/AIDS charities, as well as various disaster reliefs.

“[Dolly] cares so much-” said Vanderbilt CEO and president Jeff Balser after her donation in April. “-about helping others, and we are very grateful for her ongoing support. These funds will help us complete promising research that can benefit millions in their battle with the virus.” Words that seem perhaps prescient – it wasn’t until the end of April that the U.S. reached its first one million confirmed infections. Now in November we are seeing more than a million new cases every 10 days. 

If only we had more people like Dolly Parton.

Source: BBC

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The Power of Giving

Man Turns Vans into Living Spaces for Homeless

Jason Thorwegen was homeless for most of his life, since he was eight years old. 

“Having been homeless for so long,” he said in an interview with ABC News, “I know what people need, and I know how to provide that. It’s simple, you put a roof over a man’s head.”

His story isn’t one of classically inspiring success. He lives in a van himself in Bakersfield, California, and thinks his savings account once got as high as $8,000, but he put that the same place he puts all of his energy – into building vans into living spaces for homeless veterans and the disabled homeless.

Over the past three years, since before he was secure in somewhere to live, he has converted three vans with beds and storage so that people can have comfortable, safe places to live, where they can feel free and secure.

 Thorwegen heard a news story about a veteran who had his van stolen while his wife was in hospital, along with his dog and everything the couple owned. He contacted the news studio, and donated the van he himself was living in at the time. When the stolen van (and the dog!) was recovered, Thorwegen got his own back, but he realized he had something he could give his fellow man after all.

“One person can take care of every single need that one other individual has,” he said. “They just have to put in the time, and allow that person to grow.”

Some few people have donated to help Thorwegen in his cause, but only to the tune of about $400. If you wish to donate, a page has been set up for him on GoFundMe. More importantly, please vote against measures to criminalize homelessness, such as the 2019 law which passed in San Diego and made it illegal for people like Mister Thorwegen to live in their vans inside the city.

Source: ABC 23 Bakersfield

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Donation The Power of Giving

Charles Barkley Donates $1 Million to Tuskegee University

Charles Barkley was wildly successful as a basketball superstar through the eighties and nineties, setting records, winning the NBA All-Star award 11 times and MVP in every way one could be. He has arguably been more successful since his retirement, with a career as an Emmy-winning sports analyst and broadcaster, several books, and the occasional dipping of a toe into politics. Today, he’s worth an estimated $40 million.

And he’s looking to give back.

On Tuesday, November 3rd, Barkley told AL.com, an Alabama-based news-site, that he was pledging to donate $1 million to Tuskegee University, without any conditions. This is the fifth million-dollar-pledge he’s made in the past 5 years. The others have been to Alabama A&M, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College in Georgia, and Miles College, also in Alabama. All schools officially designated HBCU, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

Tuskegee University, founded in 1881 as the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers was founded due to a wager between a former Confederate general (W.F. Foster) and a black leader and former slave (Lewis Adams). It is steeped literally to the bricks in the history of people of color in America. Booker T. Washington was among the first teachers there, and owned some of the original campus.

“I’ve been there a million times,” said Barkley of the college – he played college basketball nearby, in Leeds Alabama. 

Without stipulations set by Barkley, the university is free to do what they will with the donation, but the athlete hopes that they will use it for academic scholarships, to help underserved kids get a better foothold in the world. That is the driving force behind his philanthropy, as he made clear in October, when he donated 200 computers to nearby Leeds High School and free wireless internet access for a year to students in need.

“We’ve got to find a way to help these kids compete,” Barkley said “I don’t want them to be left behind.”

Source: Henry Herald

Editorial credit: Bruce Yeung / Shutterstock.com

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Zuckerberg and Chan Offer $100 Million to Help Local Election Offices

So far two people have dedicated as much money as Congress has to help fund election offices as November 3rd races towards us. Mind you, those two people are Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. But still, it sends a clear message that Congress should be doing better.

On Monday, October 26, Zuckerberg and Chan announced a $100 million donation to help local election offices around the country. Along with money they have previously donated in September for the same purpose, that brings their contribution up to $400 million, which actually is just as much as Congress has allocated for the purpose.

Election experts have estimated that ensuring everyone has a right to safely vote this year should have cost on the order of $4 billion, but they’ll have to make do with less than a quarter of that, all the same.

The money will help pay for protective equipment at polling sites, equipment to process mail ballots, last-minute drive-through voting stations, and more. All indications show that, COVID-19 aside, this year will see a voter turnout unequaled in U.S. history.

“We’ve seen massive interest in the COVID-19 Response Grant program over the last month from over 2,100 election officials who are seeking funding to ensure safe, health election options for voters in every corner of the country,” said Tiana Epps-Johnson, executive director of the Center for Technology and Civic Life, which is the nonprofit directing most of the donations.

Because the nonprofit, which acts in a nonpartisan manner and is respected by election administrators on both sides of the aisle, was founded by Democrats, legal groups in 10 Republican and swing states have made legal obstacles against voting centers taking funds from these donations. 

Most election offices which have applied for grants are in rural districts with fewer than 25,000 registered voters, voters who may have to travel hours or even overnight to reach a polling station.

Source: ArkLaTex

Editorial credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Adorable, Amateur Pet Portraits Go Viral, Raising Thousands for Charity

It was a joke, when Phil Heckels, 38, posted a silly picture of his dog to Facebook with a £299 price tag in the caption. He’d only drawn it because he was trying to get his little boy to draw with him and make a thank you card.

It didn’t sell. “It was pretty crap,” Heckles says of it with self-deprecating humor. But it did make a bunch of his Facebook friends laugh. The marker-drawing of his black lab Narla was unpolished and cartoony, but expressive. By the end of the first day, he had seven commissions from friends wanting pet portraaits. And those requests kept coming in.

Heckels, who has a full time job in commercial real estate, soon gave in to peer pressure and set up a dedicated Facebook page as the artist “Hercule Van Wolfwinkle,” offering goofy pet portraits with googly eyes, giant heads, and Picasso’s grasp of where facial features go.

Then the internet did its strange thing, and his work went viral.

“I’m just having a laugh with it,” Heckels said. “People seem to be enjoying it and I’m certainly enjoying it.” He does his best to take each commission seriously, but not too seriously.

“I genuinely try quite hard to to try and draw them.”

As the commissions backed up and money kept coming in, Heckels decided to do something good with his strange flash of popularity – he set up a fundraiser for Turning Tides, a homelessness charity his family has always supported. With his art as backer’s gifts, the fundraiser has so far raised over £14,000 for the charity, or enough to provide over 280 nights of shelter.

If you want to get your own portrait, go ahead and contact his Facebook page, but there’s bound to be a wait. Acclaimed artist (his words) Hercule Van Wolfwinkle has more than 1000 pets in his queue already. But he’ll get to you as soon as he can.

Source: NBC 2

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Facebook Donates £1M to Save Historic Site of Turing’s First Computer

During WWII, the English country house known as Bletchley Park was a secret site housing the Government Code and Cypher School, keeping their fingers the pulse of Axis Powers intelligence. Most notably, it is the place where Alan Turing and his team of codebreakers (Gordon Welchman, Hugh Alexander, Bill Tutte, and Stuart Milner-Barry) broke the Enigma and Lorenz ciphers and built Colossus, the world’s first programmable digital electronic computer.

The original Colossus was destroyed in the 1960s to keep it a secret during the Cold War, but a working replica is still there in the same house, the house now known as the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.

In August, the Bletchley Park Trust, the charity which maintains the site and museum, reported that they were facing a revenue shortage of over £2 million ($2.6m) because of COVID-19 closures and falling visitor numbers once they were allowed to reopen. This amounts to almost 95 percent of their annual income. In light of the near total loss of 2020’s income, the charity was looking at laying off approximately a third of its few paid employees.

Facebook announced that they would be donating £1 million to the Bletchley Park Trust, recognizing the site’s “ongoing legacy as a birthplace of modern computing.”

“The historic achievements of Alan Turing and the Bletchley team have benefited all of us greatly, including Facebook, and we’re thrilled to help preserve this spiratual home of modern computng,” said Steve Hatch in a press statement. Hatch is Facebook’s vice president of Northern Europe, the largest hub of Facebook outside the U.S.

Iain Standen, the CEO of Bletchley Park Trust, made a statement in return, describing the charity as “very grateful to Facebook.” 

“With this significant support,” he said, “the Bletchley Park Trust will be better positioned to operate in the ‘new world’ and keep its doors open for future generations.” There is no comment yet about how many of the threatened jobs will be preserved by the donation.

Source: The Verge