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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: February 2015

Independent Sector Launches New Edition of Ethics Principles for Charitable Organizations

First New Edition of the Principles since Initial Release in 2007

(WASHINGTON, February 25, 2015) — Independent Sector today announced the release of the 2015 edition of the seminal Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practices, a set of 33 principles broadly accepted by many nonprofit and philanthropic organizations as the foundational guide for charities’ and foundations’ self-governance. The release marks the first substantive changes to the guide document since the initial October 2007 publication of the Principles. The guide has been downloaded more than 250,000 times with thousands of printed copies in distribution.

The 2015 edition of the Principles contains legal background and principles on a broad range of topics including legal compliance, effective governance, financial oversight, and responsible fundraising. Changes in the 2015 edition include eight areas in which the ethics and governance landscape has transformed since the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector first convened to develop these standards nearly a decade ago. Updated content in the Principles include new implications for nonprofits and foundations:

  • How technology affects giving in a digital world and risk related to data security
  • New charitable business and social change models, such as donor-advised funds and social impact investing, and their opportunities and pitfalls
  • The need to balance organizational transparency and individual privacy
  • The evolving debate on overhead costs

More than 20 nonprofit leaders served on the advisory group last year to update the guide. Organizations supporting the new guide include groups such as Americans for the Arts, Camp Fire, GuideStar USA, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Lutheran Services in America, YMCA of the USA, and United Way Worldwide.

Independent Sector released the 2015 edition of the Principles for the first time to the public today in a bipartisan event on Capitol Hill, led by honorary co-chairs Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA), Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI). At the event, leaders in the nonprofit community from around the country will lead a discussion of the implications of these principles, highlighting the impact on issues such as executive compensation, earned income, fundraising, and whistleblowers.

All four honorary co-chairs from Congress offered statements in support of the new edition of the Principles.

“The sharing of best practices makes sense in any field,” Sen. Grassley said. “That’s especially true in philanthropy, where good governance makes it easier for charities to continue their work. Donors want to give to organizations that have transparency, strong financial management, and get the most value from every dollar donated. Independent Sector gives organizations a guidepost for doing things right.”

Rep. Kelly said the new guidelines can help charitable organizations achieve their critical missions.

“Nonprofits do incredibly important work for their communities that often changes lives and makes America better,” Kelly added. “I’ve been fortunate to witness this firsthand through my longtime work with Hyundai Hope on Wheels, an organization dedicated to the heroic cause of ending childhood cancer. It is my hope that the updated Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice from Independent Sector will help other charities and foundations across our country combine their passions for advancing the common good with solidly ethical, transparent, and effective practices.”

In a statement of support for the Principles update, Rep. Blumenauer also highlighted the importance of the charities that serve his community.

“Our communities are shaped by many people trying to make a difference,” Blumenauer commented. “The charities and nonprofit organizations in my district work very hard to build the type of inclusive community that we all want to live in. From protecting the vulnerable like the Oregon Food Bank, to building connections like Bike Portland, and to developing our community’s capital for the future like the Oregon Community Foundation, I’m proud to work with these organizations to build a stronger community.”

Rep. Dingell added her perspective from decades of coordinating with charities while serving in the private and government sectors.

“As a former President of the General Motors Foundation and as someone who has spent nearly 30 years serving on nonprofit boards and working with many charities, I know firsthand the real impact they make in people’s lives,” Dingell said. “Countless Americans benefit from the generosity of these organizations, which lend a helping hand to those in need, protect the health of our citizens and strengthen our communities. The Principles released today are critical as they reinforce transparency, support fiduciary responsibility and effective governance and guide responsible fundraising. They provide assurance to communities that the non-profit sector is operating with the utmost integrity and with total responsibility.”

Panelists at the Capitol Hill event included:

  • Diana Aviv, President and CEO, Independent Sector
  • Ron Kagan, Executive Director and CEO, Detroit Zoological Society
  • Bernard Milano, President, KPMG Foundation
  • Angela F. Williams, Executive Vice President, YMCA of the USA
  • H. Art Taylor, President and CEO, BBB Wise Giving Alliance
  • Andrew Watt, President and CEO, Association of Fundraising Professionals

Will Miller, president of The Wallace Foundation, who both signed on to the 2015 edition of the Principles and provided funding for their release, added a final comment on the importance of up-to-date ethical standards in an increasingly digital world:

“Independent Sector has done an important service in convening a group of sector leaders to develop a set of Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice in the nonprofit sector, updated to reflect the new challenges we face in a digital age. The effectiveness of the nonprofit sector, crucial to our national health, ultimately depends on public trust. These principles remind us of the importance of sustaining that trust – and offer useful guidance on what it means to be trustworthy.”

A standard edition and an extensive legal reference edition of the Principles are available for sale PrinciplesForGood.com, as well as access to an online Resource Center, a self-assessment tool for charitable leaders and board members, a database of governance resources, and much more. Both print and digital copies are available both at the Principles site and on Amazon. Digital resources are available for pre-order delivering March 1.

Polis, Ruiz Introduce Bill to Improve Wildfire Disaster Relief and Prevention

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) and Dr. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) announced the introduction of the Wildfire Prevention Act of 2015, a bipartisan bill that would update the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA) guidelines for releasing disaster relief funds to ensure that victims of wildfires have access to the same resources as victims of other natural disasters.

“As a Representative, nothing frustrates me more than when I tour the aftermath of a wildfire, see the ruins of houses in communities near Fort Collins and Boulder, and then find out that the federal government has refused to provide disaster relief because of a technicality,” said Rep. Polis. “This bill will ensure that those people or communities that have been devastated by wildfires will have access to the resources and relief that every other natural disaster victim can receive to rebuild their homes, towns, and lives.”

“As the drought in California continues, our forestlands and surrounding communities are at an even greater risk of wildfire destruction,” said Dr. Ruiz. “This bipartisan, pragmatic bill takes critical steps to proactively provide firefighters with the resources necessary to protect communities in the aftermath of a wildfire, and help stop the next fire before it starts to save lives, property, and resources.”

“I congratulate Representatives Ruiz, Polis, and the bill’s other cosponsors for introducing this bipartisan legislation,” said Fire Chief G. Keith Bryant, IAFC President and Chairman of the Board. “This bill will help communities that recently had to deal with the tragedy of a wildland fire to mitigate the effects of flooding, mudslides and other disasters that could result after the fire. I urge Congress to move quickly to pass this legislation.”

Under current law, victims of wildfires aren’t eligible for the “post-disaster” mitigation resources that victims of other natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, are. These resources can be used to mitigate the effects of wildfires, such as post-fire flooding and mudslides, and prevent future fires. The use of funds for these purposes has been shown to be particularly effective – it’s estimated that every dollar spent on mitigation saves four dollars in future disaster costs.

Under this bill, states, tribes, and local communities would be eligible to receive mitigation assistance grants for up to 15 percent of the total cost of fire suppression efforts. This extra amount for mitigation is cost-shared on a 75 percent federal, 25 percent state and local basis.

The Wildfire Prevention Act of 2015 is supported by International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Fire Fighters, National Association of Counties, and the National Fire Protection Association.

Rise Up Foundation Examines Transmedia Connections to Literacy

Foundation Publishes “A Question of Literacy: Engaging and Motivating the 21st Century Reader”

ORANGE, CA – February 25, 2015 – The Rise Up Foundation released a report on literacy today, synthesizing research by leading literacy scholars and examining the impact of emerging media on reader engagement. A Question of Literacy investigates how trends such as transmedia storytelling and participatory culture are being designed to improve reader engagement and motivation, not diminish them.

“Kids who are strong readers do better in school and are better prepared to live successful lives,” said Wendy Alane Adams, CEO and Founder of the Rise Up Foundation. “By delving deeper into the psyche of today’s digitally advanced adolescent, we can better understand how to deliver content that will trigger their imagination and convince them to sit long enough to read a book, cover to cover.”

The report, available for download at riseupfoundation.org/a-question-of-literacy, concludes that the tools of new media and transmedia storytelling present opportunities to meet young readers where they are, and to get them to a better level of literacy. As both media consumers and media producers, today’s digital youth have come to expect more immersive forms of engagement. Deepening their experience can both drive engagement and motivate them to take advantage of additional opportunities to read.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Youth today are experiencing notable declines in reading for pleasure, presenting a crisis given the correlation between the frequency of reading for pleasure and better test scores in reading and writing.
  • Research does not support the common assertion that “digital distraction” is the primary cause for the decline in reading. More notable factors include lack of access to books and an absence of encouragement to read for pleasure at home and/or in school.
  • Youth today are motivated by opportunities to participate in co-creation and by being co-constructors of meaning through reading, viewing, understanding, responding, and interacting through storytelling.
  • Transmedia storytelling can be used to create multimodal learning experiences that are designed to improve reflective thinking, reading engagement and literacy.
  • It is increasingly important to both broaden the definition of and approach to literacy, and begin to address how conventional measures fail to accurately recognize the reading activities that young people engage in when using digital media.
  • The Rise Up Foundation will use these findings to explore new ways to employ transmedia storytelling in the cause of literacy improvement.

About Rise Up Foundation

Founded by Wendy Alane Adams, the Rise Up Foundation strives to improve the lives of children and families living in poverty and difficult circumstances. Rise Up supports literacy projects as a path toward improving the future prospects of children in underserved communities by making book donations, providing classroom support, and grant-making. In addition to literacy efforts, Rise Up works with organizations committed to defining and solving the problems that chronic poverty brings to children and their communities. For more information, please visit www.riseupfoundation.org, facebook.com/Rise.Up.Foundation and twitter.com/RiseUpFdn

National Center President and CEO Gary Davis to Offer Perspective on Future of Indian Business at MBDA Stakeholder Summit

Summit takes place as the National Center prepares to host leading Native American business event and launch interactive new business development platform

WASHINGTON, DC – Joined by high level administration officials, business and civic leaders, academics, and others, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (National Center) President and CEO Gary Davis will participate in today’s Minority Business Development Agency’s stakeholder summit in Washington, DC. Entitled “Elevate the Narrative and Direction of Minority Businesses as a National Economic Priority,” the summit seeks to raise the level of awareness and discussion on issues related to minority business enterprises (MBE) and to drive growth and global competitiveness for the nation’s MBE community. Davis will be speaking on the future of minority business landscape and emerging opportunities. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker delivered opening remarks at the summit.

The summit is taking place less than two weeks from the National Center’s signature event – the National Reservation Economic Summit (National RES) in Las Vegas. From March 9th-12th, National RES will feature unparalleled access to respected tribal leaders, federal agency representatives, elected officials, and top CEOs. Attendees will benefit from high caliber networking opportunities, business development sessions, a business tradeshow and expo, American Indian Artisan Market, procurement sessions, business matchmaking, and much more.

National RES will also feature the official launch of the National Center’s Native Edge. The Native Edge is a 24/7 online business training, networking, employment, and development ecosystem designed to give Indian Country the edge in business. It will be a platform not only for Indian-owned businesses, but students, teachers, large corporations, and government procurement specialists as well.

“The goals of the Minority Business Development Agency align perfectly with those of the National Center,” said Davis. “For over 40 years, the National Center has sought to create more business opportunities for Indian County, and elevate Indian entrepreneurship at a national level. I’m proud to share our accomplishments with the distinguished guests at today’s summit. I’m excited about what the future holds for American Indian enterprise development and how the National Center can continue to play an important role in bettering the economic future of Indian Country through events like RES and interactive programs like the Native Edge.”

More information about National RES and the Native Edge can be found on the National Center’s website at www.ncaied.org.

About the National Center: The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. With over 40 years of assisting American Indian Tribes and their enterprises with business and economic development – we have evolved into the largest national Indian specific business organization in the nation. Our motto is: “We Mean Business For Indian Country” as we are actively engaged in helping Tribal Nations and Native business people realize their business goals and are dedicated to putting the whole of Indian Country to work to better the lives of American Indian people- both now… and for generations to come.

The Glenholme School Celebrates Heritage Day and Commemorates 50 Years of the Gift of Glenholme

The Glenholme School, a therapeutic boarding school for students with learning differences, honors Jean White Van Sinderen and commemorates 50 years of her gift of Glenholme.

WASHINGTON, CT – February 24, 2015 – The Glenholme School, a therapeutic boarding school for students with learning differences, celebrates Heritage Day on February 28 in honor of Jean White Van Sinderen and commemorates 50 years of her gift of Glenholme to Devereux. As genuine models of generosity, Mrs. Van Sinderen and her family understood the benefit of giving ardently to a worthy cause — one which suited the unanticipated reality of social change in an increasingly complex world.

Glenholme Van Sinderens 1932

Glenholme Van Sinderens 1932

The Glenholme School today

The Glenholme School today

The odyssey began nearly 125 years ago, when William Leslie Van Sinderen acquired property in Washington, Connecticut, on which to make his family home in the countryside. The property was named Glenholme for his dream of having a Scottish cottage at the edge of a glen. In the early 1900s, William’s son, Adrian, developed the property into an internationally recognized horse farm. Upon Adrian’s passing in 1964, his widow, Jean White Van Sinderen wished to extend the joy of Glenholme to a worthy cause. Through family and friends, Mrs. Van Sinderen was connected to The Devereux Foundation. Together with Helena Devereux, the special needs pioneer and founder of Devereux, and their mutual understanding of the power of education to inspire, provide hope, and build pathways to previously unseen opportunities, the gift of Glenholme to Devereux was formalized in 1965.

The Glenholme School phased in operations over the course of the next several years. The first phase, a boarding program for girls ages 9 to 14, opened in the late fall of 1967 on only 60 acres of the 110 acre property. With Mrs. Van Sinderen’s passing in 1968 and the gift of the remainder of the property to Devereux, the school expanded its official operations and became a coeducational therapeutic boarding program later that same year.

Glenholme and Devereux were blessed by the conviction of the Van Sinderen family for many years following the gift of the property. Alfred Van Sinderen, Jean’s youngest son, established and served on the Glenholme Advisory Board for many years. He also served on the Devereux Board of Trustees as a member and Chairman for many terms between 1972 and 1996. Alfred’s daughter, Sylvia Van Sinderen Abbate, continued the family tradition and served on the Devereux Board for two years and was Chair in 1999.

Mrs. Jean Van Sinderen’s daughter, Katherine Howe, reflected on the odyssey in a letter to Devereux in 1971. “It does take a few minutes to adjust to a whole school were there was only one family. It is, therefore, all the more amazing that I feel only happiness if I had to put it in one word. And I think the reason is that “love” is everywhere.”

In the 50 years following the Van Sinderen gift of Glenholme to Devereux, The Glenholme School has helped thousands of students with social, emotional and learning differences find success through a transformative educational program — one that honors the Van Sinderen family legacy and has integrated the character values of kindness, caring and civic responsibility that the family held in such high regard.

Known throughout the region for their incredible generosity, The Van Sinderen family is, and always will be, an enduring element of Glenholme—they are a part of its past, present… and future.

About The Glenholme School:

The Glenholme School, a center of the Devereux organization, is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) therapeutic boarding school for young people with high functioning autism spectrum disorders including Asperger’s; ADHD, OCD, Tourette’s, depression, anxiety, and various learning differences. The program provides a treatment milieu designed to build competence socially and academically. Our learning environment supports and enhances the ability for young people with special needs to succeed. Devereux is a leading nonprofit behavioral health organization that supports many of the most underserved and vulnerable members of our communities. For more information about The Glenholme School and its program, visit http://www.theglenholmeschool.org/home/.

Study Spotlights Gaps in Services for LGBTQ Victims of Human Trafficking, Youth

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 25, 2015) – Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery and restore freedom to survivors, today reiterated its call for more resources to be put towards serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) victims of human trafficking following the release of a study from the Urban Institute. In a first of its kind report, “Surviving the Streets of New York” explored the experiences of nearly 300 youth engaged in survival sex who identified as LGBTQ, young men who have sex with men (YMSM), and young women who have sex with women (YWSW). Over 14 percent of the youth faced force, fraud, or coercion by pimps or exploiters during at least one point in their experience.

Notably, the study found severe gaps in services for teens who traded sex in order to make money for basic needs like food, shelter, and medical care. Many of the LGBTQ, YMSM, and YWSW youth entered the commercial sex industry due to discrimination and forced homelessness by family members, or as the result of family poverty, abuse and exploitation, and emotional trauma. The study found that 72 percent of the youth wanted to stop trading sex at some point or immediately, while another 21 percent said they had already stopped trading sex.

“The Urban Institute’s landmark study sheds light on the severe gaps in services that exist for LGBTQ youth and the tremendous need for our country to strengthen their safety net. From operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline and direct victim service centers, we know that LGBTQ victims of human trafficking require comprehensive services,” said Sarah Jakiel, Polaris’s Chief Programs Officer. “Existing services for human trafficking victims must be made available for this population. LGBTQ victims and survivors who reach out for help should receive it without facing institutional barriers, discrimination, or violence on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. We call on law enforcement, service providers, lawmakers, and agencies at all levels, and advocates across the country to not only read this report, but work towards implementing its recommendations.”

The Urban Institute found that LGBTQ, YMSM, and YWSW youth lacked access to voluntary and low-threshold services, such as housing and shelter, employment, food security, and gender-affirming healthcare. The study also found that youth experienced institutional barriers, high rates of denial, violence from confidentiality breaches, and unsafe discriminatory treatment by staff on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and age.

To read the study, findings, and recommendations, click here.

UNICEF Launches New Kid Power Program, Empowering American Youth to Get Active and Save Lives around the World

Using the World’s First “Wearable-for-Good,” Elementary School Students in Boston, Dallas and New York will Embark on a 30-Day Challenge with the Help of their Mayors, UNICEF Ambassador Tyson Chandler, the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins

NEW YORK (February 25, 2015) – The U.S. Fund for UNICEF today announced the launch of UNICEF Kid Power, an innovative child health initiative that encourages elementary school-age kids in the United States to get physically active in order to help save the lives of their peers in developing countries. Kicking off in New York, Boston and Dallas in March 2015, the month-long initiative will leverage the power of technology together with movement-based curriculum and activities to promote fitness among American students. Kid Power will simultaneously help UNICEF—the world’s largest purchaser and distributor of Ready -to-Use Therapeutic Food—provide lifesaving nutrition to severely malnourished children around the world.

UNICEF Kid Power is sponsored by the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF and backed by Mayors Bill de Blasio (New York), Marty Walsh (Boston) and Mike Rawlings (Dallas), and supported by local sports teams and players including the Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks . Over the course of the 30-day program, sports teams will encourage kids to stay active by cheering them on with classroom visits, recognizing the young philanthropists at home games and more.

“Malnutrition is responsible for over a third of all deaths of children under the age of five globally. By putting children first, we believe we can reach a day when no child dies of a cause we know how to prevent,” said U.S. Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Caryl M. Stern. “I can’t think of a better motivator for kids to get active than the fact that they’re helping save lives. We’re grateful to the cities of New York, Boston and Dallas, their sports teams and all the teachers, students and parents who are getting involved in helping malnourished children get the treatment they need to survive.”

Beginning in March, some 10,000 participating elementary school students will monitor their physical activity with UNICEF Kid Power fitness bands that displays the number of steps taken and number of points earned. Program supporters will convert students’ points into monetary donations toward the purchase of therapeutic food. A full day of physical activity—12,000 steps—will translate into five Kid Power Points. Every five Kid Power Points earned will convert to one packet of Ready-to- Use Therapeutic Food, a specially- designed protein and vitamin-rich peanut paste that is used to save the lives of children with severe acute malnutrition, a deadly condition if left untreated. The UNICEF Kid Power program also includes in-classroom curriculum and educational activities focused on childhood malnutrition.

“Through UNICEF Kid Power, children are learning the importance of a healthy lifestyle and, at the same time, how good it can feel to give back to others,” said UNICEF Ambassador and Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler. “I’m excited to be part of a program that’s bringing positive change not only to kids in Dallas and other U.S. cities, but to children in need all around the world.”

The three-city launch follows a successful four-week pilot program this past October in Sacramento, where nearly 900 students, teachers and teaching assistants at six schools tested the potential of UNICEF Kid Power with the support of the Sacramento Kings and Mayor Kevin Johnson. According to an assessment by independent evaluators, school kids engaged in the program were 55 percent more active than those not participating in the initiative. UNICEF Kid Power participants in Sacramento also earned enough therapeutic food packets for 473 severely malnourished children to complete a full course of treatment.i The U.S. Fund for UNICEF aims to launch UNICEF Kid Power in additional cities in the Fall of 2015 and into 2016.

Severe acute malnutrition is a life-threatening condition that requires urgent treatment. Until recently, severely malnourished children had to receive medical care and a therapeutic diet in a hospital setting. With the recent advent of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food, large numbers of children who are severely malnourished can be treated successfully in their communities, which has the potential to transform the lives of millions of malnourished children.

In the tradition established by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar with the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF continues to fund innovative programs that support the rights of children worldwide, and now their generous support has allowed the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to pursue this 21st century approach to global citizenship.

For more information on UNICEF Kid Power, please visit www.unicefkidpower.org.

The Miracle Foundation Launches Campaign that Uniquely Honors Our Mothers & Supports Orphans

Non-Profit Hopes to raise $100k to Fund New Orphanage by Mother’s Day

AUSTIN, TX – There are millions of orphaned children in the developing world, many of whom languish in sub-standard institutions without access to basic food, clean water, clothing, schooling and medical care. That’s why The Miracle Foundation, a non-profit organization that empowers orphans to realize their full potential by turning orphanages into places where children thrive, is launching its unique Mother’s Day campaign. The 501(c)(3) charity, which revolutionizes the way orphanages are run, funded and managed, hopes to raise $100,000 with its campaign by May 10th to fund its next orphanage in India, thereby securing happy childhoods for a new group of orphans.

“This Mother’s Day, instead of giving her flowers, candy, or dinner at a nice restaurant, we invite you to honor your Mom by spending the same amount of money in a much more meaningful way, one that gives children without parents a real childhood,” said Caroline Boudreaux, Founder of The Miracle Foundation. “Participating in our campaign will engage both of you in the lives of less fortunate children in the developing world. What better way to pay tribute to your mother than by donating to those who don’t have one?”

To honor a Mom, gift givers simply visit www.miraclefoundation.org/mothers. There, for as little as $10, they can make a tax-deductible donation in the name of their mother or other special woman in their lives, which will go towards the $100,000 goal. The gift-giver will receive an email with a special message and certificate they can forward to their mother, along with “before” and “after” photos of one of the Miracle Foundation’s partner orphanages, demonstrating what a difference their donation will make.

“We believe in quality over quantity, in supporting the whole child and breaking the cycle of poverty. The new Mother’s Day campaign represents a meaningful new way that every person can get involved and honor a mother at the same time,” added Caroline Boudreaux, Founder of The Miracle Foundation. “Helping children go from hopeless and head-down, to empowered and standing-tall, with bright futures ahead of them, is one of the most fulfilling endeavors in the world.”

Launched on Mother’s Day in 2000, The Miracle Foundation turns struggling, institutional orphanages into stable, loving, nurturing homes where children can thrive and truly change the story of their lives. The Austin, TX-based organization partners with existing orphanages to implement its proven and systematic method for providing a home where the fundamental needs and rights of growing children are met, from the day they arrive until the day they graduate into adulthood.

The Miracle Foundation is unique in that its metric-driven method is measurable, scalable, and transparent, guarding against corruption and ensuring that all donations go directly into nurturing and transforming the lives of the children they serve.

“The Miracle Foundation proves that one person can make a difference,” said Shelley Seale, donor. “I have witnessed first-hand what my monthly donation can do to change the lives of many. I’ve traveled to India and visited the orphanages and have seen the difference my investment makes in orphans’ lives. We are empowering children to be the best that they can be.”

The Miracle Foundation has been honored with the highest possible rating of four stars by Charity Navigator, an independent organization that evaluates U.S. charities’ effectiveness and financial transparency:

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=11895#.UwPGOWJdU1I

For more information, please visit www.miraclefoundation.org.

About The Miracle Foundation

The Miracle Foundation is an Austin, TX-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that transforms the lives of orphan children and empowers them to reach their full potential by revolutionizing the way orphanages are run, funded and managed. Launched on Mother’s Day in 2000, The Miracle Foundation partners with existing orphanages to implement its proven and systematic method that turns struggling, institutional orphanages into stable, loving, nurturing homes where children can thrive and truly change the story of their lives. The organization is implementing a world-changing idea for orphans everywhere, centered on its “12 rights of an orphan child” philosophy. Currently, the Miracle Foundation supports eleven orphanages in rural India, with plans to be in more by the end of 2015

Madagascan Frogs At Risk From Killer Fungus

Devastating chytrid fungus responsible for massive declines of amphibian populations around the world is found on isolated Madagascar

New research, published today (26/02/2015) in Scientific Reports, by a team of international scientists including the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Imperial College London, document the presence of a potentially devastating amphibian pathogen in Madagascar, an island previously thought to be free of infection. Conservationists are concerned that in Madagascar, home to around four percent of the world’s amphibian species, the fungus could devastate worldwide amphibian diversity.

An international team of researchers screened more than 4,100 frogs across Madagascar and found Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a type of chytrid fungus that has been responsible for wiping out amphibian species in the wild, such as the Mountain Chicken frog from Dominica, in five remote areas of Madagascar.

With an estimated 500 species of frogs at risk, nearly all of them exclusive to Madagascar, ZSL scientists are researching the origin of the fungus in the island and how it affects its unique inhabitants.

Mantella expectata_(c)ZSL

Boophis luteus_(c)ZSL

Boophis tasymena_(c)ZSL

Gonçalo M. Rosa, co-author and researcher at ZSL, said: “For several years Madagascar was thought to be a chytrid-free area, but these findings may suggest that the fungus has been present for a while and not exclusively as a result of recent introduction, as we have seen in places such as Europe or Montserrat.

“We are still trying to figure out whether these findings could be as devastating to Madagascan amphibians as it has been in other regions, or if they have been living with the fungus for years. This would be a more optimistic scenario.”

Professor Matthew Fisher, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, is currently working on determining whether the fungus they have detected belongs to the same deadly lineage that is threatening to cause the loss of more than one third of the planet’s amphibians.

“Our initial results show that the type of Bd on Madagascar is very similar to the deadly lineage that has emerged worldwide, but more work needs to be done to confirm this finding,” said Professor Fisher, who co-authored the paper.

Rosa adds: “ZSL is actively researching how to mitigate the impact of Bd. It’s essential to take the lessons learned from other places that have been severely affected by this pathogen in order to help us safeguard the future of Madagascan amphibians.”

Chytrid fungus has already caused severe decline in amphibian populations across America, Australia, Europe and east Africa. Infection by Bd fungus causes the disease chytridiomycosis that affects keratin levels in amphibians’ outer skin layers, making them thick and unable to hydrate or absorb essential minerals, and results in death.

San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman Met With The Citizens Stadium Advisory Group On Tuesday, February 24

SDSU offers the following statement regarding that meeting:

“San Diego State University appreciates the opportunity to participate in the planning process for a new stadium. As we continue our efforts to become one of our nation’s top 50 public universities, the development of our athletic programs, including our football program, remains a critical priority. These co-curricular programs complement and support the strong academic programs that are the core of our university. Today, we expressed our eagerness to participate fully in a stadium partnership that will retain the Chargers in San Diego and advance our region. We look forward to continued discussions regarding this important initiative.”

About San Diego State University

San Diego State University is a major public research institution offering bachelor’s degrees in 91 areas, master’s degrees in 78 areas and doctorates in 22 areas. The university provides transformative experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom, for its 35,000 students. Students participate in research, international experiences, sustainability and entrepreneurship initiatives, and a broad range of student life and leadership opportunities. The university’s rich campus life features opportunities for students to participate in, and engage with, the creative and performing arts, a Division I athletics program and the vibrant cultural life of the San Diego region. For more information, visit www.sdsu.edu.

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