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Donation News

Star-Studded Sing-a-Long Raises $5 Million for Historic Apollo Theatre

Since it first opened in 1934, the Apollo Theatre has been a hotspot for African American culture—particularly music. Its amateur night has been the starting point for many big names in music, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Bill Cosby, and Lauryn Hill. These days, the theater relies on generous donations to keep its legacy going. That’s why billionaire Ron Perelman’s seventh annual fundraiser is so important.

On August 20, Perelman’s “little barn in the Hamptons” was filled with big names from a variety of entertainment and business backgrounds, including comedian Chris Rock, singer/actress Jennifer Lopez, and private equity guru Henry Kravis.

Guests paid $10,000 to mingle among the stars and hear live music performances by Lionel Richie (who led sing-a-longs to his hits), The Roots, Gwen Stefani, and Joe Walsh. But there was a purpose beyond fun—to raise funds for the Apollo Theatre.

“We’ve got to break the divide between the haves and have-nots, the rich and the poor,” Perelman told his guests. “I think we can manage to do it with the arts….And the Apollo can do that better than any other institution I’ve been involved with.”

The theater that was to become the historic Apollo was built in Harlem, New York in 1913 by Jules Hurtig and Harry Seamon. The two burlesque operators ran it as Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. In 1928 Bill Minsky bought the building and renamed it the 125th Street Apollo Theatre. Even though Harlem was becoming the epicenter of African American culture by that time, audiences and entertainers at the theater were entirely white.

That all changed on January 26, 1934, when new owners Sydney S. Cohen and Morris Sussman reopened the Apollo as a theater specifically meant to showcase black performance. Its “amateur night” became a popular feature, creating space for the first performances for many who went on to become big names in the music industry.

The Apollo is now officially a landmark building, drawing an estimated 1.3 million visitors every year.

Perelman’s annual fundraiser provides the Apollo with regular funds—this year, about $5 million—to continue its support of the African American art scene in New York.

Photo: Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com

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Organizations

New Yorkers Celebrate The Possibilities For Education At the 2013 Pratham Gala

Pratham 2013 Gala in Seattle
Pratham hosted a Gala in Seattle at the Museum of History & Industry
IMG: Facebook

Earlier this month, nearly 600 of New York City’s leaders in finance, technology, and entertainment gathered at the 2013 Pratham Tristate Gala. It was a night of generous fundraising, a celebration of the world’s children and critical volunteer work, and to learn more about Pratham’s commitment to improving education.

Pratham’s mission is to ensure that every child in India is in school and learning well. The organization was founded ”on the firm belief that education is the fundamental right of every child and no child should be deprived of this basic right simply because they don’t have access to school or resources that would enable them to realize their dreams.” Since 1994, Pratham has raised funds to fund urban learning programs that include improving libraries, establishing preschool education, and remedial classes, among other things. Pratham also seeks to shape school policy in many districts, provide books and tools, and help with computer literacy and English learning. These are a handful of the many ways that Pratham is improving the lives of children in India through education.

Pratham is a past recipient of the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership, as well as the prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, among other honors. It is one of the most renowned nonprofit organizations with a focus on providing and improving education for under-served children. During nearly twenty years of commitment to advancing education opportunities in India, Pratham has garnered immense support from all around the world, and is a true leader in creating social change.

During the 2013 Pratham Tristate Gala in New York City, keynote speaker Chelsea Clinton said,

“One of the things we most respect about Pratham is not only its tireless focus on education, but that it very much tries to fill the gap between what the public sector can produce and the aspirations of families in India.”

This very sentiment was proven that evening, as the generosity of Gala attendees helped to raise close to $2 million for ongoing advancement of schools and school programs in India. One guest said that Pratham is “a global celebration of what people do for education.” Indeed, the organization inspires action in those who believe that education really is the most powerful tool to better the lives of underserved children around the world.

For more information about Pratham’s remarkable work, visit www.prathamusa.org.

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Organizations

Is Mount Sinai’s Merge with Continuum a Cause for Concern?

Mount_Sinai_hospital_logo
IMG: via Mount Sinai Hospital

Earlier this month, the official merger of Mount Sinai Medical Center and Continuum Health Partners was finalized, resulting in the newly formed Mount Sinai Health System. This medical network is now the largest in New York City; Continuum’s community-oriented hospitals include Beth Israel Medical Center, Roosevelt Hospital, St. Luke’s, as well as the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, which have all merged with Mount Sinai.

Kenneth Davis, President and CEO of the Mount Sinai Medical Center, explained, “If you live in Manhattan, there will almost always be a Health System doctor within walking distance of your residence, as well as a substantial presence of our physicians and facilities in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island,” in a recent statement about the impact of the merge. Now more than ever, the prestigious health services offered by Mount Sinai have the potential to be more accessible to many NYC residents.

Crain’s New York Business reports that the new system has 3,571 licensed beds, 138 operating rooms, 177,000 annual inpatient admissions, 2.6 million annual outpatient visits and about 35,000 employees. Despite its size, many are speculating that the layoff of employees is imminent, as consolidation is often a result of similar mergers. Mount Sinai Health System hasn’t released a statement yet about any layoffs, but unions are already expressing concern.

Mount Sinai is an institution that is renowned for its patient care, advanced medical services, and commitment to education and the future of medicine. The medical center has experienced immense generosity from trustees throughout its history, a list of passionate philanthropists including Ken Mehlman, Gail and Carl Icahn whose charitable donations made the Icahn School of Medicine possible, Glenn R. Dubin, Henry R. Kravis, and many, many others that have helped shape Mount Sinai into the prominent institution that it is. Many fear that the merger will effect services provided by the hospital, and displace many of the dedicated employees and trustees that have worked tirelessly to maintain Mount Sinai’s prestigious reputation.

Only time will tell if the merger will adversely impact the services provided by the newly formed Mount Sinai Health System, although its history of excellence is an indication of a strong future as a greater medical network.

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Organizations Profiles

The Partnership for New York City

Partners for New York
IMG: via Shutterstock

Partnership for New York City is an organization that works to advance the local economy by connecting like-minded leaders in business. NYC is known for being one of the most prolific hubs for world commerce, finance, and innovation, and it’s the group’s duty to maintain this reputation.

The goal of the organization is to help create jobs, improve economically troubled communities, and to help start new businesses. The Partnership for New York City is a “nonprofit membership organization comprised of a select group of two hundred CEOs” from the city’s most notable corporate, investment, and entrepreneurial firms.

Notable Partners from the Board of Directors include Lazard CEO and Chairman Kenneth Jacobs, Lisa S. Sanford of IBM Corporation, Henry Kravis, CEO of Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts &Co., Sherilyn McCoy, CEO of Avon Products Inc., and Founding Chairman David Rockefeller.

To read more about The Partnership for New York City and Lazard’s CEO, Kenneth Jacobs, check out our profiles!

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Organizations Resources

Queens’ Kings of Philanthropy and Business

Steve Lacey
Anchor at Fox 5 News, Steve Lacey will host the event.
IMG via Media Bistro

Queens, New York is home to many “kings.” To be more precise, this flourishing borough has many successful business owners who not only conduct lucrative endeavors, but who make a point to give back to their community. These men will be honored at the Kings of Queens Awards Ceremony, an annual event organized by the Queens Courier and Queens Business, that will recognize the top businessmen of the community.

The “2013 Kings of Queens: A Champion Breakfast Awards and Networking Event” will honor the business leaders of Queens for their “outstanding leadership and contributions to the community,” according to the Queens Courier. The event is predicted to attract 500 of the leading businessmen in the borough, and is designed to be a productive networking opportunity, in conjunction with the awards. The event will also serve as a benefit function, with proceeds from ticket sales and a raffle going towards the Queens Museum Education Program, something all attendees will be pleased to support.

This year’s event will be held at Terrace on the Park and emceed by Steve Lacey, Anchor at Fox 5 News, the Courier reports. Like Kings of Queens Awards of the past, the upcoming ceremony is sure to be one of the most important business networking opportunities of the year, with its inclusion of a business expo in addition to the honors. Some of the honorees of this year’s awards include Mihir B. Patel, President of the Society of Indo-American Engineers and Architects, and Musa Ali Shama, the Principal of Francis Lewis High School in Queens. Another is Joseph Mattone Jr., a partner of the Mattone Group, whose brother Carl Mattone, and their development company were also honored in 2010 and 2012, respectively.

Among the diverse but likeminded honorees of the past are Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who served as keynote speaker and received the “King of Kings” award two years ago. In 2011, the “Queen of Queens” award went to Borough President Helen Marshall.

The 2013 Kings of Queens: A Champion Breakfast Awards and Networking Event will be held on Thursday, September 26th, at 8:00am.

Edit note: A previous version of this article stated that Mayor Bloomberg and Helen Marshall would be receiving awards this year, when in fact they are past recipients. This error was corrected at at 11:22 AM Pacific Time on 9/13/13.

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Organizations Resources

One Percent for Culture

One Percent for Culture
IMG: via One Percent for Culture

The New York art scene is one of the liveliest and most thriving ones in the country.  However, many artists and performers never get the chance to be seen or heard from due to the cost of making a living there.  You’ve probably heard about all the starving artists.  Well, hello New York City! Don’t you care?

It turns out that some people do care – a lot, actually.  With more than “1,300 cultural organizations and thousands of artists spanning across all five boroughs, neighborhoods, and city council districts,” there is certainly a lot of creation going on.

Many people are now banding together in a non-partisan grassroots effort to get the city of commit to owning up to the demand for and value of culture.  This group, known as One Percent for Culture, is pushing the city to commit to giving one percent of the budget to the arts and cultural endeavors.  One percent is such a tiny amount considering what we get out of it.

There is the monetary aspect, under which 120,000 jobs and $8.1 billion are created by the non-profit culture.  Also, 24 million tourists visit cultural offerings in NYC each year.

Then there is the side of things which cannot be quantified in money.  It’s the part that feeds our psyches and souls.  Yet, public support for these organizations is less than one-fourth of one percent of the city’s budget.

The group argues that, “These organizations and individuals bring jobs to our families, customers to our merchants, revenue to our small businesses, and vitality to our city. They stimulate our minds and provide supplemental education to millions of New York City students.”

Some sponsors of One Percent for Culture are the Asian American Arts Alliance, the Broadway Association and the Center for Arts Education among others.

Getting involved in the spirit of giving is nothing new to many New York residents and organizations, including the Carl Mattone real estate group, yet another sponsor of the initiative.  Carl Mattone has donated to many other causes over the years including U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade fund, the Queens Library Foundation, and a number of Catholic charities throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

Only time will tell if the city gets on board with One Percent for Culture or ignores their efforts entirely.

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Profiles

Largest Medical School Donation Puts Carl Icahn in Top 10 Givers

Carl Icahn
IMG: via Jewish Journal

Number eight on the Philanthropy 50 for 2012 was Carl Icahn, a Wall Street Billionaire who claims that those who accumulate wealth have a responsibility to society to give back.  His major donation beneficiary this year goes to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, which is now renamed the Icahn School of Medicine.  The school also established the Icahn Genomics Institute for research on genetic testing, and created several scholarships in his name.  It is the largest donation to a medical school ever recorded.  To read more about Carl Icahn, head over to our profile.

To view Carl Icahn’s entire profile, click here.

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Organizations Resources

Prospect Park is one of Brooklyn’s Treasures

Prospect Park
IMG: via Shutterstock
Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY

Prospect Park, located in the heart of Brooklyn, NY, is a 585-acre sanctuary, the result of a collaboration between famed landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. The expansive park features a 60-acre lake, the Prospect Park Zoo, and Brooklyn’s only forest. It is home to many events and performing arts festivals, which brings the community of Brooklyn together to celebrate, as well as invites visitors to explore the beautiful urban oasis.

Prospect Park is a real treasure of Brooklyn, and is “safer, cleaner, more vibrant, and more popular today that it’s ever been,” thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Prospect Park Alliance, a group focused on maintaining the park’s breathtaking natural offerings. During the summer, Prospect Park comes alive for concerts, performances, parties, and events for locals, families, and visitors of all ages to delight in.

July marks the annual Summer Soiree at Prospect Park, an event made possible with the help from sponsors and organized by the Prospect Park Alliance. The Soiree is an annual cocktail gala that raises funds for Prospect Park, and features musical performances, an open bar, silent auction, hors d’oeuvres, and of course, a wonderfully fun and entertaining evening, held at the beautiful Prospect Park Boathouse.

Summer Soiree at Prospect Park is one of the most important fundraising nights of the year for the park, because ticket sales and support take up a huge chunk of the expenses needed to maintain the beauty of Prospect Park. The event receives support from community members and many local philanthropic organizations and individuals such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Jennifer Fisher, Warby Parker, and Brooklyn Brewery. Another advocate for the event is Brooklyn-based Mexican Summer Records, founded by local philanthropist Andres Santo Domingo, and whose recording artist Tamaryn will perform at the Soiree.

This year’s annual Summer Soiree to benefit Prospect Park will be held on July 24th, at 7pm. For more information about the event, and to purchase tickets, visit the official event page.

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Resources

Sequester Still Punishes the Poor

poor child
IMG: via Shutterstock

The failure of Congress to pass a budget is being felt by the poorest Americans, as cuts to subsidized housing groups continue.  The Budget Control Act, commonly known as the sequester, has slashed a trillion dollars in federal funding to public programs across the board.  The New York City Housing Authority, (NYCHA), the nation’s largest public housing authority, announced that over 200 million dollars in funding have been lost since the sequester took effect on March 1st.  Overall, as many as 150,000 households that rely on vouchers to pay rent could be affected by the cuts.  Most housing authorities are dealing with the cuts through canceling new vouchers that were due to be issued this summer.  Other units may have to raise rent or default on mortgages.

John Rhea said in a press release that the mandatory cuts “severely hinder” the work of the housing authority.  The NYCHA chairman continued by assuring residents the commitment to maintain their developments and meet the goals to eliminate the backlog of repair requests this year.  Other ways the organization is dealing with budget cuts have included lay-offs, a hiring freeze and possible furloughs.  The plan to issue 5,000 new vouchers had to be canceled.

The voucher program for subsidized housing began with programs created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development during President Nixon’s term.  This is the first time the program has experienced any significant cuts.  The vouchers make it possible for low income households, especially seniors or those who are disabled, to be able to afford private rental housing.  If the vouchers are lost, it is possible many will lose their apartments and become homeless or institutionalized.  Some building owners rely on the vouchers to keep their building running, and some landlords also worry about defaulting on their loans.  This could put thousands of people on the streets and threaten the safety and health of not only New York, but cities across the country.

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Organizations

Robin Hood Foundation Gala Raises Over $80M

jessica biel robin hood gala
IMG: Helga Esteb via Shutterstock

On Monday, May 13th, the Robin Hood Foundation hosted a gala to raise money to help fight poverty in New York City. Over the course of the evening, the foundation raised over $80 million. The event was chock-full of celebrities, business leaders, and other well-known faces, many of them donating significant amounts of money to the cause.

Mary J. Blige, Bono, Elton John, and Brian Williams were among the entertainment for the night, as were comedians Louis C.K. and Jerry Seinfeld. Newlyweds Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel also attended the event, stopping to chat with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Paul Simon and Sting performed together on stage.

In 2011 the event raised about $47 million. In 2012, that number was beat by an impressive haul of $59 million. This year’s $80 million knocks both those numbers out of the water. The event was co-chaired by Timberlake and Biel, as well as by Paul Tudor Jones II and his wife Sonia; Henry Kravis and his wife Marie-Josee; and Leslie Moonves and his wife Julie Chen.

This event certainly isn’t the first time the Robin Hood Foundation has brought in big names, though. Last December, the foundation put on a benefit concert entitled “12-12-12,” with proceeds going to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Musicians like Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones performed at the concert.

Funds raised and distributed by the Robin Hood Foundation have been used to install libraries at public schools in NYC, feed homeless and hungry New Yorkers, provide for victims of 9/11, and support victims of Superstorm Sandy—to name a few.

Read our profile of Henry Kravis here.