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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: January 2016

Amalgamated Bank Announces National Cares Mentoring Will Be The Latest Recipient Of Its “Donate The Change” Program

National CARES Mentoring Receives Percentage of Purchases Made on Amalgamated Bank Debit Cards This Winter

Monday, January 4 (NEW YORK) – Today, Amalgamated Bank, the leading national progressive bank, announced that National CARES Mentoring will be the recipient of its Q1 2016 “Donate the Change” program. Through the Bank’s Donate the Change program, National CARES will receive a donation from Amalgamated each time one of their clientele makes a purchase worth $10 or more on their eligible debit card.

“Donate the Change allows our customers to give back to important organizations like National CARES through their everyday banking transactions,” said Keith Mestrich, President & CEO of Amalgamated Bank. “Susan Taylor and National CARES Mentoring do great work supporting the nation’s most vulnerable children through mentoring, training and wellness programs. We are thrilled to able to support their focus on working with the special needs of children dealing with poverty.”

“We are thrilled to participate in Amalgamated’s Donate the Change program. Not only are we honored to partner with an institution with such strong community values, but we also are inspired to work side by side to for this front-line investment in our children’s lives. The time, energy and support we dedicate today to the nation’s struggling youngsters will dictate the tomorrow we create for all of our children, ourcommunities and country,” said Susan Taylor, National CARES Founder.

In addition, over the course of the next few months, Amalgamated Bank and National CARES Mentoring will work together to host a series of events, including a college readiness trainingevent and a course in financial literacy. Past recipients of the Donate the Change program include Rock the Vote, Habitat for Humanity and Jobs for Justice.

About Amalgamated Bank

For nearly a century, Amalgamated Bank has been a financial institution with a purpose: affordable and accessible banking for all. Offering customers nationwide the products and services of a major financial institution, Amalgamated is committed to the values on which it was founded. We proudly advocate for workers’ rights and promote the highest standards of environmental, social and corporate governance practices, which is why we are the first choice of progressive organizations and people ­ from presidential campaigns and labor unions to individuals who want a bank that believes everyone should be able to participate fully in our economy. We serve our communities with the core principle that the real currency of banking isn’t dollars ­ it’s trust.

Multimillion-Dollar Gifts Were Sluggish in 2015



The late Texas businessman John Santikos, hedge-fund mogul John Paulson, and industrialist David Koch gave some of the largest gifts to nonprofits in 2015.

By Maria Di Mento

The size of the biggest gifts from rich donors and their foundations fell significantly in 2015 compared with 2014, according to an analysis by The Chronicle.

The biggest gift of 2015 was a bequest from the Texas businessman John Santikos, who left property, assets, and cash worth about $605 million to the San Antonio Area Foundation. The money will create a fund that will support five causes: people in need, especially the elderly and victims of child abuse and disasters; youth and education; public libraries, parks, and museums; health care; and medical research. He was 87 when he died late in 2014.

The second-largest gift was $400 million, and the size of the largest gifts in 2015 fell substantially from there. Donors were particularly fond of the $100-million figure in 2015, with 13 gifts clocking in at that amount.

In comparison, the 2014 list was topped by a $1-billion bequest, followed by gifts of $650 million, $500 million, and $350 million.

Tweet: Multimillion-Dollar Gifts Were Sluggish in 2015 @philanthropy #donations #nonprofits

Chan-Zuckerberg’s Big Promise

While the donations from the wealthy were somewhat lackluster, 2015 could end up going in the philanthropic record books anyway. In December, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced they plan to dedicate 99 percent of their Facebook shares — currently worth about $45 billion — to making the world a better place. None of that pledge has been committed to specific nonprofits yet, so the announcement didn’t qualify for The Chronicle’s list.

Still, the odds are good that the couple will send significant sums to charitable organizations in coming years. (See how Dr. Chan says the couple plans to spend the money in questions she answered exclusively for The Chronicle.)

Meanwhile, Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan continued to give in 2015 through their donor-advised fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. One of their larger grants in 2015, $75 million to San Francisco General Hospital for a trauma center, appears on The Chronicle’s list.

Universities Win Big

The $400-million pledge on this year’s list was from the hedge-fund mogul John Paulson and his wife, Jenny, to Harvard University. The money will endow the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and will support faculty, financial aid, and research.

News of Mr. Paulson’s donation unleashed a torrent of criticism. Commentators objected to his decision to devote so much money to a wealthy university like Harvard — whose endowment stands at $36 billion — rather than to human services groups and others that help the needy. Both the university and the Paulsons remained silent in the face of such critiques.

The third-largest donation was the $177-million grant from Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies. That contribution established the Global Brain Health Institute, which will be run by the University of California at San Francisco and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

Of the 24 gifts on The Chronicle’s list, 16 went directly to universities to support scholarship on a range of topics, such as global conflict resolution and brain research, as well as financial aid for students and new buildings.

Another big bequest, $125 million from the Seattle businessman Donald Sirkin, went to LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Officials at the San Francisco group said they had never heard of Mr. Sirkin and were shocked when a lawyer from his estate contacted the charity to say it was the main beneficiary of Mr. Sirkin’s fortune.

The Chronicle’s annual ranking is based on the 10 biggest publicly announced single gifts; often more than 10 gifts appear on the list because of ties, as was the case this year.

The tally does not include donations of artwork or gifts from anonymous donors.

In February, The Chronicle will unveil its annual ranking of the 50 most-generous donors, a list based on total donations in 2015, not just single gifts, and not just those announced to the public.

Big Gifts From the Wealthy Weren’t Plentiful in 2015 The Chronicle of Philanthropy

This story was originally published here.

Braille Institute of America Observes World Braille Day January 4, 2016

Los Angeles – January 2, 2016Braille Institute of America is celebrating World Braille Day in honor of Louis Braille who developed the tactile alphabet system in 1824 at the age of 15. Like today’s blind or visually impaired youth, Louis wanted to read books and study just like sighted children.

“January. 4th, 2016 is also the day the United States members of Braille Authority of North America (BANA) chose to officially move from the ‘old’ English Braille American Edition braille to the ‘new’ Unified English Braille (UEB) Code,” said Nancy Niebrugge, Associate Vice President – Organizational Strategy at Braille Institute. “This is an important step to bring braille into the 21st century. Prior code did not take into account technology based software, such as bold, italic, fonts, colors and other punctuation that most of us who are sighted take for granted.” Niebrugge added that a new curriculum is available for students in UEB beginning this month. The Braille Institute will be providing limited training for adults on the new code.


“Braille reading proficiency provides an essential skill set that allows blind or low vision children and adults to use computer, iPhone and iPad technology,” said Peter Mindnich, President, Braille Institute. “It’s amazing to watch the skills that blind students develop when they learn to communicate in the world of the internet and social media just like most of us. At the Braille Institute, we offer free classes for children and adults that bring them up to speed on technology. This helps them feel less isolated and increases the chances of succeeding in the school environment, and also in the workforce.”

As of January 4, 2016, all new materials produced must be in the new UBE code. All textbooks and other reading material must be redone with the new code as well.

About Braille Institute of America

Braille Institute of America is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate barriers to a fulfilling life caused by blindness and severe sight loss. It serves tens of thousands of people of all ages each year through an array of integrated educational, social and recreational programs and services designed to help people with vision loss lead enriched and fulfilling lives. Funded entirely by private donations, all services are completely free-of-charge. Follow on Facebook at and on twitter @BrailleInst

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