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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
social entrepreneurship, impact investing, philanthropy
and corporate social responsibility.

Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: March 2014

Peer-to-Peer Lending Arrives in Real Estate

GROUNDFLOOR completes first-ever secured loan transactions funded by non-accredited investors in the United States; expands successful pilot.

Atlanta – March 26, 2014 – GROUNDFLOOR, a pioneering peer-to-peer real estate lending marketplace, announces the successful closing of its first two crowdfunded real estate transactions. Investors who backed the transactions are now accruing interest at annual rates of 10 to 20 times that of a comparable bank CD. Open to participation by all Georgians regardless of wealth or income, the financing is the first of its kind in Georgia and the United States.

With investments starting at $100, GROUNDFLOOR connects independent developers seeking alternative funding outside the traditional banking structure with mass-market investors who want the superior risk-adjusted returns unique to real estate lending. Displacing banks and black-box Wall Street financial intermediaries from the real estate financing equation allows borrowers to offer GROUNDFLOOR investors rates that far exceed those of comparable investments.

“Institutions and accredited investors have long had the world of direct real estate investing all to themselves,” says Brian Dally, co-founder and CEO of GROUNDFLOOR. “The rest of us have been left only with complex and expensive options for building personal wealth in this lucrative market. We’re opening up the opportunity for everyone to participate in it.”

The two projects funded by the loans provide an early indication of how the Web is poised to change the traditional worlds of real estate finance and household saving and investing:

  • The first property, 908 Tift Avenue, is an $82,000 single-family home fix-and-flip renovation in the Adair Park neighborhood of Atlanta that offered 8% secured interest to its investors. 
  • The second, River Park Townhomes, is a $440,000 new construction of four townhome units for sale in the Atlanta suburb of Woodstock that offered 11% secured interest to its investors. 
  • In both cases, local independent developers are directly managing the projects. 
  • The minimum investment required to participate as an investor in the loans was $100. 
  • Individual investments made ranged from $100 to $5,000. 
  • Additional facts and figures about the funding are available at

Following its initial success, GROUNDLOOR recently expanded its pilot offering under Georgia’s innovative Invest Georgia Exemption. Three new loans are now available for funding at Potential borrowers can submit candidate projects for automatic qualification and optional public listing to enter the funding process.

Developer John Mangham

“Working with GROUNDFLOOR has opened up opportunities to expand our renovation and resale business,” says John Mangham, an Atlanta-area independent developer and the borrower for the 908 Tift Avenue project. “Their cutting edge approach to financing our kind of construction projects is a refreshing change compared to conventional lenders. We’re excited to continue working with GROUNDFLOOR to finance many more projects to come.”

Your Money in the Bank vs. GROUNDFLOOR

For more information on GROUNDFLOOR, to see available investments, and to submit projects for qualification, please visit


Based in the North Carolina Triangle and launched in Atlanta, GROUNDFLOOR champions democracy, transparency, speed, efficiency and freedom as the path to building a new kind of finance. The company harnesses the breadth and scale of the Web to disrupt antiquated black-box models of financing asset-backed transactions. The innovative GROUNDFLOOR platform reduces dependence upon large financial institutions and accredited investors, while making direct real estate investing a viable addition to any savings and investment portfolio.

Brian Dally

NSA Invokes “National Defense” and the Espionage Act to Stonewall MIT Student’s FOIA Request on Nelson Mandela

Lawsuit filed against NSA, FBI, DIA, & CIA  for release of records ranging from Mandela’s 1962 arrest to his inclusion on U.S. Terror Watch List until 2008

[WASHINGTON, DC] Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate Ryan Shapiro filed a lawsuit this morning against the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Defense Intelligence Agency over the spy agencies’ failure to comply with his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for records on anti-apartheid activist and South African President, Nelson Mandela. Shapiro’s requests seek, among other records, documents pertaining to the U.S intelligence community’s role in Mandela’s 1962 arrest and Mandela’s placement on the U.S. terror watch list until 2008. Shapiro is already suing the Central Intelligence Agency over this same failure. Shapiro wants to know why the NSA, FBI, DIA, and CIA viewed Mandela as a threat to American security, and what actions the Agency took to thwart Mandela’s efforts to secure racial justice and democracy in South Africa.

A. PDF of Shapiro’s Lawsuit Filed This Morning is Available HERE

Notably, in addition to invoking the Espionage Act (Title 18 U.S. Code 798), the NSA’s denial of Shapiro’s FOIA request (see embedded document) invokes “national defense” to support the agency’s refusal to even acknowledge the existence of records about Mandela. Asserts the NSA, “the fact of the existence or non-existence of the materials you request is a currently and properly classified matter [….] to be kept secret in the interest of national defense[.]”

Shapiro, a FOIA specialist, is an historian of the political functioning of national security and the policing of dissent. His pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is represented by FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light.

Two Key Features of Shapiro’s Lawsuit & Broader Pro-Transparency Effort:

  1. Despite longstanding public knowledge of definite (if undefined) U.S. intelligence assistance to apartheid South Africa in general, and likely involvement in Mandela’s 1962 arrest in particular, much of the U.S. and world press has paid distressingly little attention to these issues. Even in the wake of Mandela’s death, these issues, including the fact that Mandela remained on the U.S. terror watch list until 2008, have for the most part remained ignored or discounted. In addition to beginning to fill these massive holes in public knowledge of U.S. intelligence operations, Shapiro’s FOIA efforts will bring much-needed attention to these vital topics, as well as to the U.S. intelligence community’s continued outrageous aversion to transparency.
  2. The Freedom of Information Act is broken. The Department of Justice and the CIA continue to prevent the FOIA release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA torture program, despite the Senate Committee’s call for the report’s release. And as the Associated Press reported last week, despite entering office promising to be “the most transparent administration in history,” the Obama administration cites “national security” to censor and deny FOIA releases “more than ever.” The failures of the NSA, FBI, DIA, and CIA to comply with Shapiro’s FOIA requests for records on Nelson Mandela are further glaring examples of this anti-transparency trend. For this reason, Shapiro is not only turning to the courts to force agency compliance with his FOIA requests, he is also turning to the American people to address the ongoing crisis of secrecy more broadly. To this end, Shapiro is urging all persons with access to unreleased records pertaining to illegal, unconstitutional, or immoral government activities to return those records to their rightful owners, the American people. As Shapiro is quoted below, “See something, leak something.”

According to Shapiro:

Regarding the Mandela lawsuit »
“Though the U.S. intelligence community is long believed to have been involved in Mandela’s arrest, little specific public information exists regarding this involvement. Similarly, though the U.S. intelligence community is long known to have routinely provided information to the South African regime regarding the anti-apartheid movement, little specific public information exists about these activities either. Further, despite now being universally hailed as a hero and freedom fighter against gross injustice, Mandela was designated a terrorist by the United States government and remained on the U.S. terror watch list until 2008.

In bringing suit against the NSA, FBI, DIA, and CIA to compel compliance with my Freedom of Information Act requests, I seek access to records that will begin answering the following questions:

What was the extent and purpose of the U.S. intelligence community’s surveillance of Nelson Mandela prior to his arrest? What role did the U.S. intelligence community play in Mandela’s arrest and prosecution? What role did the U.S. intelligence community play in the broader effort to surveil and subvert the South African anti-apartheid movement? To what extent, and for what objectives, did the U.S. intelligence community surveil Mandela following his release from prison? To what extent, if any, did the U.S. intelligence community continue providing information regarding Mandela to the apartheid regime following Mandela’s release from prison? What information did the U.S. intelligence community provide American policymakers regarding Mandela and the South African anti-apartheid movement? To what extent, and to what ends, did the U.S. intelligence community surveil the anti-apartheid movement in the United States? How did the United States government come to designate Nelson Mandela a terrorist threat to this country? How did this designation remain unchanged until 2008? And what was the role of the U.S. intelligence community in this designation and the maintenance thereof?”

Regarding the crisis of secrecy more broadly »
“Democracy cannot meaningfully exist without an informed citizenry, and such a citizenry is impossible without broad public access to information about the operations of government. Secrecy is a cancer on the body of democracy. The Bush administration initiated a disastrous welter of anti-transparency initiatives, yet the Obama administration has been, if anything, worse. Despite entering office promising unprecedented openness, the Obama administration has provided just the opposite, including bringing more Espionage Act prosecutions of whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined, and invoking “national security” to deny FOIA requests “more than ever.” FOIA is broken, and this sad reality is just one component among many of the ongoing crisis of secrecy we now face.

The records of government are the property of the people. Yet, unknown billions of pages are needlessly hidden from the American people behind closed doors and “classified” markings. Undefined “national security” concerns ostensibly legitimize this secrecy. Yet, as wrote Judge Murray Gurfein in his ruling against the Nixon administration’s infamous attempt to prevent the New York Times from publishing the leaked “Pentagon Papers,” “The security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions.”

Building upon the Pentagon Papers ruling, we as a nation need to foster a broader understanding of “national security.” In the interest of preserving the national security borne not of secrecy and state surveillance, but rather of the free exchange of ideas made possible by “our free institutions,” I call upon all persons with access to unreleased records pertaining to illegal, unconstitutional, or immoral government activities to return those records to their rightful owners, the American people.

It’s not surprising those in power wish to keep their actions secret. What’s surprising is how readily we tolerate it. We are all familiar with the security-oriented signage instructing us to “See something, Say something.” In the interest of promoting a fuller conception of national security, I add, “See something, Leak something.” The viability of our democracy may depend upon it.”




The James Beard Foundation Unveils 2014 Culinary Scholarships

Over $450,000 in Educational Scholarships and Professional Grants Available

New York, NY (March 25, 2014) – Beginning April 1, the James Beard Foundation, the world’s foremost culinary nonprofit organization, will begin accepting applications for its 2014 scholarship program, with over $450,000 in scholarships and grants available. Established in 1991, the James Beard Foundation Scholarship Program assists aspiring and established culinary professionals who plan to further their education at a licensed or accredited culinary school or hospitality institution.

“Our Foundation is proud to nurture and educate the next generation of great chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers and beverage experts through our prestigious scholarship program,” said Diane Harris Brown, director of educational and community programming for the James Beard Foundation. “As of this year, we will have awarded over $5 million in financial aid to 1,670 admirable recipients.”

The host of new scholarship and grant offerings for 2014 include:

  • Spencer’s Restaurant at the Mountain: the four-star American restaurant in Palm Springs, California is offering an unrestricted scholarship to a deserving student selected by the JBF Scholarship Selection Committee.
  • Andrew Zimmern’s “Second Chances” Scholarship: sponsored by Eyebobs, will offer a student faced with extreme challenges, a “second chance,” to overcome these hardships.
  • Green Door Gourmet Scholarship: sponsored by Sylvia Harrelson Ganier, will reward a student with an interest in sustainable farming and learning creative cooking using fresh, nutritious foods.
  • Miljenko “Mike” Grgich’s American Dream Scholarship: sponsored by Grgich Hills Estate offers a professional wine studies program.
  • Union Center National Bank Scholarship: will be presented to an individual from the state of New Jersey who possesses an entrepreneurial spirit and aspiration for excellence.

Additionally, JBF School Scholarships will include a $16,000 tuition waiver scholarship from the new Colorado Culinary Academy in Denver, and two scholarships of $15,000 each in Culinary Arts or Hospitality Management from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

The James Beard Foundation also offers work study grants for current working culinary professionals to expand their culinary experiences. As in previous years, the Jean-Louis Palladin Professional Work/Study Grant, in memory of one of the great culinary geniuses of the 20th century, will be offered, enabling a qualified professional to work with food producers at their source and to study varied specialized skills. Also granted again this year will be the Rhone Rangers Professional Study/Travel Grant for working chefs or sommeliers who wish to learn about American Rhône-varietal wines.

The James Beard Foundation Scholarship Program is administered by the Scholarship Management Services division of Scholarship America, a nonprofit organization that has helped award scholarships to over one million students. Applications for scholarships are received and evaluated by Scholarship America. The applications of the finalists are then submitted to the James Beard Foundation’s Scholarship Selection Committee for final review.

Application forms will be available at The submission period begins on April 1, 2014. All scholarship application materials, including transcript, must be postmarked by May 15, 2014. Professional grant applications must be postmarked by June 15, 2014. Scholarship winners will be notified in August 2014.

About the James Beard Foundation:

Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, James Beard, who died in 1985, was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts, instilling in them the value of wholesome, healthful and delicious food. Today the Beard Foundation continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships for culinary students, publications, chef advocacy training, and thought-leader convening. The Foundation also maintains the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a “performance space” for visiting chefs. In September of 2012, the Foundation launched the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Protocol and helped create the American Chef Corps as a way to champion American chefs abroad, promote American food products and foster an interest in American culinary culture and history through international programs and initiatives. For more information, please visit Find insights on food at the James Beard Foundation’s blog Delights & Prejudices. Join the James Beard Foundation on Facebook. Follow the James Beard Foundation on Twitter and Instagram.

Contact: Diane Stefani or Maggie Beaudouin
Twitter: @beardfoundation

IBM Awards Cities and Regions With Grants to Fund Collaborations With IBM Problem Solvers

Winning municipalities to work with top IBM experts funded by IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants

ARMONK, N.Y. – 25 March 2014: IBM (NYSE: IBM) will be helping at least 16 cities and counties around the world this year to address issues ranging from clean water, healthy food, and revenue generation, to job development, efficient transportation, and public safety.

To that end, IBM today named recipients of its Smarter Cities Challenge for 2014, a competitive grant program that sends teams of some of IBM’s most talented experts to select cities and regions worldwide to provide expertise on the most critical issues faced by communities today.

For these pro bono consultative engagements, IBM teams invest months studying a local issue chosen by a winning municipality. They then spend three weeks on the ground in the region gathering and analyzing all relevant data and reports, while meeting in person with dozens of members of the government, citizen, business, and not-for-profit communities. In doing so, they gather diverse perspectives about the factors involved and potential solutions to the opportunity at hand. At the conclusion of these studies, IBM presents comprehensive recommendations for addressing the issue in line with recognized “best practices.” This is followed weeks later by a more detailed, written plan for its implementation.

Smarter Cities Challenge was originally conceived in 2011 as a three-year grant program, but highly positive feedback and significant results have encouraged IBM to extend the initiative. In its first three years, IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge deployed 600 experts on six-person teams that provided strategic and practical advice to 100 municipalities. These highly prized three-week engagements, each currently valued at USD $500,000, have helped local government address key challenges.

Given that effective local governance today relies on the coordination of multiple municipalities, IBM made regional governments eligible for the grant program this year, not just cities. With the previous participation of 100 cities, the Smarter Cities Challenge program now also offers winning municipalities access to fellow leaders with whom to consult on similar issues, so as to share strategies that have been effective elsewhere.

IBM will work with municipalities this year that seek its input on projects such as the following:

  • Improving transportation options by connecting roads, bikepaths, sidewalks and rails
  • Protecting the environment with better water quality
  • Collecting revenue, lowering costs and managing budgets more efficiently 
  • Leveraging local industries and natural resources for tourism and economic development
  • Making more nutritious and affordable food available in urban neighborhoods
  • Harnessing the sun and converting waste products into electrical energy
  • Preserving public safety during dangerous weather and man made events 
  • Decreasing high crime impacts in blighted neighborhoods

Following are cities and regions that IBM is today announcing as winners of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants for 2014:

Abuja, Nigeria
Ballarat, Australia
Baton Rouge, United States
Birmingham, United States
Brussels, Belgium
Dallas, United States
Dublin, Ireland
Durban, South Africa
Jinan, China
Mombasa County, Kenya
Niigata, Japan
Perth, Australia
Suffolk County, United States
Tainan, Taiwan
Vilnius, Lithuania
Zapopan, Mexico

Many previous grant recipients have implemented IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge recommendations and tangibly improved the lives of their citizens. For example:

  • Da Nang, Vietnam and the Delhi-Mumbai, India Industrial Corridor are improving the coordination of municipal agencies as they manage complex projects.
  • Date, Japan now provides more and better information to consumers about the safety of its agriculture — key for a city perceived as near the site of a nuclear power plant disaster.
  • Eindhoven, Netherlands has reduced crime with strategies that include citizens’ use of social media. Meanwhile, St. Louis, USA provides better information about criminals to judges prior to sentencing.
  • Edmonton, Canada has improved road safety by analyzing accident data and improving education programs. Meanwhile, Boston, USA is using data to manage traffic more efficiently and reduce pollution.
  • Jacksonville, USA has hired an economic development officer and passed legislation that streamlines city council processes for economic development. 
  • Ottawa, Canada is developing the neighborhoods near its light rail system by giving incentives to developers and streamlining the permit process. Meanwhile, Providence, USA has streamlined and shortened the process for reviewing and approving construction plans and permits by putting more processes online and by creating a nimble agency. This will improve economic development and inspire the streamlining of other city services.
  • Syracuse, USA created one of New York State’s first land banks, enabling the city to reclaim and work with the private sector to transform vacant properties. This is revitalizing its neighborhoods and restoring its tax base. 
  • Townsville, Australia is reducing its water and energy costs. Its efforts have earned it that country’s prestigious National Smart Infrastructure Award. Meanwhile, Tshwane, South Africa conducted a successful crowdsourcing project to pinpoint and reduce water leaks.

Smarter Cities Challenge is an elite program, having picked only 116 municipalities out of more than 500 applicants over the last four application cycles. Strong applications propose projects designed to address high priority problems of critical importance to citizens. The city or region must be able to share detailed information to help the IBM team analyze the issue. Leaders must also guarantee face-to-face access to city, regional, civic and business stakeholders for interviews with IBM team members so that they may comprehensively assess a given problem and recommend solutions.

IBM dispatches IBMers on these engagements who hail from all over the world, and who offer diverse perspectives and skills in the areas of marketing, communications, technology, research and development, government, human resources, finance, business, legal matters and specific disciplines such as transportation, energy and health.

Jennifer Crozier, IBM’s vice president of Global Citizenship Initiatives, and whose team directs the Smarter Cities Challenge, said, “Congratulations to all of the cities and regional governments that have secured IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants for 2014. If history is any guide, these municipalities can look forward to tapping a treasure trove of skills and knowledge from some of IBM’s best and brightest. By collaborating with our experts, local governments will be receiving valuable counsel that could very well influence the success of issues that are foremost on the local agenda. We hope to be a useful resource to the winning cities and regions and be a catalyst for progress.”

A video summarizing the first three years of IBM Smarter Cities Challenge can be viewed here and more background about the program and its many successes can be found here.

Follow all of IBM’s citizenship initiatives by visiting the CitizenIBM blog at and on Twitter, at @citizenIBM. For more information about IBM citizenship, please visit

Contact(s) information

Ari Fishkind
IBM Media Relations

IPIHD Hosts 3rd Annual Global Forum Bringing Together Healthcare Leaders to Discuss Promising Innovations in Health Delivery

Whether delivering babies at ¼ the cost of the United States, creating a “one-stop-shop” for diabetes care, performing heart surgery for $2,000 (compared to $20 100K in the US) or building mobile platforms to help diagnose patients remotely, solutions to some of our most pressing health problems are already at hand: just not here in the US.

The innovations being delivered by the above organizations – LifeSpring Hospitals, Clinicas del Azucar, Narayana Health, and ClickMedix – represent only a handful of promising solutions developed to improve access, affordability, and quality of healthcare for patients around the world, including the US.

What happens when the founders and leaders of these disruptive and award-winning organizations convene all in one location to share their innovative models and stategize new ways forward, together with senior corporate and foundation leaders from companies including Baxter, Novartis, Medtronic, McKinsey, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Health Foundation?

It’s called the IPIHD Forum, held on April 6th just outside of Washington, DC.

IPIHD is an impact-driven non-profit launched in 2011 by the World Economic Forum, McKinsey & Company, and Duke Medicine to improve affordable access to high quality care globally. IPIHD identifies proven and potentially transformative health-focused innovators and connects them to senior healthcare leaders, investors/funders, and other partners and resources to help scale and replicate the impact of their work. IPIHD also leverages knowledge from this work to help transform health systems globally, and translate the lessons learned across borders.

Fittingly, the IPIHD Forum kicks off US National Public Health Week. As our world becomes increasingly connected, the notion of ideas and innovations crossing boundaries is exciting. It now seems possible that a bright idea catching hold in Vietnam could be applied with similar results in Brazil.

What makes an innovation ripe for adaptation to a new context? Are there common traits among innovations that succeed in multiple geographies?

At IPIHD, these questions are at the heart of what we do.

IPIHD encourages the media to attend this event – and is facilitating 1:1 meetings with select members of the press. To inquire, please contact Eleni Vlachos at 919.681.5411 or

Ballet Hispanico 2014 Spring Gala Honors The Ford Foundation

at The Plaza Hotel on Monday, April 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm

On Monday, April 7, 2014, Ballet Hispanico will proudly honor the Ford Foundation with the Civic Inspiration Award at its annual Spring Gala in The Plaza Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, 768 Fifth Avenue, NYC. Cocktails begin at 7:00 pm and dinner and dancing commence at 7:45 pm. Attire is black tie. To purchase tickets, a table, a journal advertisement, or for more information, please contact Emma Epstein, Events Manager, at (212) 362-6710 x43 or

The celebration this year is themed “Community Partnerships through the Arts” and features live music from the two-time GRAMMY® winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra along with performances by the Ballet Hispanico Company and students of the Ballet Hispanico School of Dance. The evening will include an exclusive sneak peek of original costumes created by Venezuelan fashion designer Angel Sanchez for choreographer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano’s stunning new work El Beso, to be premiered by Ballet Hispanico at the Company’s New York Season at the Joyce Theater on April 15-27.

The event is headed by Event Chairs Jody and John Arnhold, Kate Lear and Jonathan LaPook, David Pérez and Milena Alberti, and Randy and Susan Falco. The Gala Honorary Committee is co-chaired by designer Angel Sanchez and Telemundo COO Jacqueline Hernández. Proceeds, which last year totaled over $1 million, benefit the creation of new Company works, need-based financial aid and merit scholarships in the Ballet Hispanico School of Dance, and community arts education programs.

“We are thrilled to be honoring the Ford Foundation, a champion among our supporters and an organization truly committed to building vibrant communities through the arts,” said Kate Lear, Chair of Ballet Hispanico’s Board of Directors. “Our strong partnership is predicated on our mutual commitment to sparking innovation, encouraging civic dialogue, and reflecting the rich diversity of our nation’s changing demographics. We are inspired by the Ford Foundation’s work daily.”

“Ballet Hispanico illuminates the power of arts and creativity to make more vibrant and more just societies,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “We are proud to support the important voice of Ballet Hispanico to enhance and amplify the cultural dialogue on the expression of arts and culture by sharing the joy of dance worldwide.”


The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
For more information, visit


Celebrating 43 years of dance and culture, Ballet Hispanico is recognized as the nation’s premier Latino dance organization. Led by Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro, Ballet Hispanico explores, preserves and celebrates today’s Latino cultures through innovative artistic collaborations, world class dance training and national education and outreach programs. For more information, visit Follow Ballet Hispanico on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact: Michelle Tabnick, (646) 765-4773,

San Francisco Coin Auction Raises Nearly $9 Million for Bently Foundation

SAN FRANCSICO, CA. (March 24, 2014) – The legendary 1927-D double eagle led the way with a sale price of $1,292,500, as Heritage’s March 20 auction of Gold Rush-era coins from The Collection of Donald E. Bently in San Francisco raised nearly $8.9 million for Bently Foundation, which launched last week. Proceeds from this auction go directly to the Bently Foundation, established by Christopher Bently, the son of the late Donald Bently, to support the communities served by Christopher’s diverse suite of companies with the belief that with corporate success comes the responsibility to engage with the community and inspire positive change. Bently Foundation is 100% dedicated to fostering support for organizations that cultivate the arts, advance environmental sustainability and aid animal welfare.

“The coin auction exceeded our expectations,” said Christopher Bently, Founder of Bently Foundation. “We were able to raise nearly 9 million that will directly benefit organizations that align with Bently Foundations core values of cultivating the arts, advancing environmental sustainability and aiding animal welfare.”

“We are thrilled with the overall success of the coin auction, which not only raised a significant amount of funding for Bently Foundation, but awareness of the organization and the communities it serves,” stated Camille Crowder, Development Director of Bently Foundation. “Through the launch of Bently Foundation, we’ve received interest from non-profit organizations based in the Bay Area, Nevada and beyond, who are in need of grants to continue the valuable work they do throughout the year.

The 1927-D double eagle is both the rarest regular issue 20th century coin and the rarest coin minted at the Denver Mint. Only seven times has an example crossed Heritage’s auction block, and only seven examples are known to be available to collectors. Given the rarity of the coin and the popularity of the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series, we expected high demand for this coin, and it did not disappoint.

The Bently Foundation’s emphasis on Northern California and Nevada covers an area that encompasses two present and past US mints along with far more than its share of numismatic history. The fabled Carson City Mint has produced more than its share of rarities, such as the 1870-CC double eagle, considered the fifth rarest issue in the Liberty double eagle series behind the ultra-low mintage 1882 and 1886 circulation issues, the 1856-O, and the nearly uncollectible 1861 Paquet reverse coin struck in Philadelphia. No 1870-CC double eagles have ever been certified in Mint State grades by any major grading service, making high quality AU examples that much more desirable, with the Carson City mintmark only adding to the coin’s allure. The Bently specimen is graded AU53 by PCGS, and is likely one of the five finest specimens known. It sold for $411,250. Another 1870-CC issue, an eagle graded AU53 by NGC, realized $135,125.

Christopher Bently, Founder of Bently Foundation, holding the legendary 1927-D double eagle which sold for $1,292,500

San Francisco, the site of the auction, was represented in this collection not only by issues from the San Francisco Mint, but also by gold pieces, technically ingots, struck during the California Gold Rush before the mint was established. Chief among the territorial issues represented in this auction was an octagonal $50 piece with lettered edge struck by US Assayer Augustus Humbert in 1851. Seldom seen in Mint State, the finest example from the Bently Collection was graded MS60 by PCGS and sold for $282,000, while a similar piece graded AU53 by PCGS brought $164,500.

Rarities from the San Francisco Mint were also well-represented in this auction, including a 1930-S double eagle MS65 PCGS which sold for $176,381, an 1854-S quarter eagle Good 6 PCGS selling for $193,875, an 1878-S half dollar MS63 PCGS at $129,250, and an 1864-S eagle AU53 NGC which brought $146,875.

Chicago Area Mompreneur Creates Venomous New Fashion Accessory Designed To Stop Violent Offenders In Their Tracks

CHICAGOLAND (March 24, 2014) By the time you finish reading this press release, another American will have been sexually assaulted. In fact, every two minutes a sexual assault occurs totaling a staggering 237,868 victims each year. On average there is an aggravated assault every 37 seconds and a robbery occurs every 1.2 minutes. Alarming statistics like these are what inspired Indiana Entrepreneur, Caroline Olah to create the Little Viper, an unassuming fashion accessory that packs a crime stopping punch.

The Little Viper is the World’s first and only pepper spray self-defense bracelet. Weighing in at only one ounce, the Little Viper has an impressive three foot range and inhibits assailants with 3-6 bursts of 10% OC pepper spray. The adjustable silicone bracelet is 8.5” in length and is available in black or pink. “The Little Viper has a fashionable, low profile design and was created with discretion in mind. We incorporated the world’s smallest pepper spray canister so whether you’re wearing it while jogging in the park, or for a night out on the town it’s the perfect pint-sized defense system”, says Caroline.

Although the Little Viper presents a seemingly harmless first impression, the maximum strength formula will cause a pretty severe bout of coughing, choking, and an intense burning sensation while forcing the attacker’s eyes shut. With the immediate effects of pepper spray which last anywhere from 15 – 45 minutes, the Little Viper provides plenty of time to escape an attacker, render him/her helpless, and call the police.

With the installation of President Obama’s new Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, the White House just reported that 1 in 5 female college students will experience sexual assault on campus. Although the numbers are astounding, products like the Little Viper are helping to empower everyone from college students to elderly citizens and ensuring less Americans fall victim to criminal attacks.

To learn more about the Little Viper, please visit

See the Little Viper in action:

Healthy Home Winners Announced In “People & Planet” Green Small Business Contest

$5,000 Prize Awarded to Three Companies in California, Maryland and Ohio for Their Dedication to Building Healthy Homes

WASHINGTON, DC — March 24, 2014 — Three winners were announced today for Green America’s quarterly “People & Planet Award,” which recognizes innovative entrepreneurial U.S. businesses that deeply integrate environmental and social considerations into their strategies and operations. Each of three winners will receive $5,000. The winners are: Green Broom Brigade, Lompoc, CA; Community Forklift, Edmonston, MD; and Ecohouse, Galloway, OH. Winners were selected by the public during a month-long open voting period online at Green America’s website.

This round of the Awards focused on green businesses that have taken superior steps to improve sustainability and healthy living in the home.

Alisa Gravitz, president, Green America, said: “For most Americans, the home is their biggest investment. Therefore, it’s also their chance to make the greenest possible statement about who they are and the world in which they want to live. This quarter’s winners of the People & Planet Award demonstrate everyday how green home building and products can make a huge and positive difference in our world.”

The winning companies are:

  • Green Broom Brigade, Lompoc, CA, The Green Broom Brigade is a professional cleaning company and cooperative that sources exclusively environmentally friendly cleaning products and methods. The Brigade also employs an all-female workforce, composed of company co-owners. Green living and financial empowerment are thus joint tenets of the Green Broom Brigade.
  • Community Forklift, Edmonston, MD, Community Forklift is a reuse center for home improvement supplies. The company collects unwanted and salvaged building materials during building demolition, then provides them to the public at very low prices, and donates them to individuals in need. Discarded building materials make up 40% of our nation’s solid waste. Community Forklift is on the frontlines of finding better ways to recycle and reuse these products – whether for the arts, for job training, or for strict recycling.
  • Ecohouse, Galloway, OH, Ecohouse is a leading solar electric systems installer and comprehensive energy auditor in central Ohio, helping more than 3,000 home owners and small businesses reduce their energy use and environmental impact since 2008.

Nancy Vasquez Louth, manager of the Green Broom Brigade cooperative said: “Thank you to Green America and to all our supporters and voters in Southern California and the rest of the world for casting a winning vote for us. Now with this award we want to help continue the wave of growth and creating new green cleaning enterprises, especially cooperatives. Winning this prize money will definitely give us the opportunity to purchase needed equipment so that we could expand into commercial cleaning using our same green friendly products!”

Nancy J. Meyer, CEO of Community Forklift said: “At Community Forklift’s reuse center, we collect unwanted and salvaged building materials, then provide these supplies to the public at very low prices, and donate them to nonprofits and folks in need. By turning our region’s waste stream into a resource stream, we’re demonstrating that reuse can create green jobs and build local economies. We’re thrilled that Green America members support this work!”

Kevin Eigel, president of Ecohouse said: “Ecohouse would like to thank everyone who voted for us. We are happy to be recognized for our work of helping central Ohio homeowners and businesses to go solar and reduce the impact of climate change. We thank Green America for the gift of $5000. We will use this money to help put up a solar electric system for Third Hand Bike Co-op (a nonprofit that makes cycling accessible for everyone in central Ohio), and to expand solar in central Ohio.”

Future rounds of Green America’s quarterly award for green businesses with 50 or fewer employees, will focus on community banking projects and companies that make “green” products for kids.

The businesses that the public vote on are determined by public nominations and an expert panel of judges: Katie Galloway and Gigi Abbadie, Aveda; Justin Conway, Calvert Foundation; Reed Doyle, Seventh Generation; Jonathan Reinbold, Organic Valley; Jenny Burns, Honest Tea; Bena Burda, Maggie’s Organics; Lindsay Dahl, Safer Chemicals/Healthy Families; Alline Anderson, Milkweed Mercantile; Andrew Korfhage and Fran Teplitz, Green America.


Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems.

MEDIA CONTACT: Will Harwood, (703) 276-3255 or

Love UT Give UT Raises Over $1 Million In Donations

Utahns step up for 460 local nonprofits over 24-hours on March 20th

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – On the second annual Love UT Give UT day of giving, 10,562 unique donors and businesses raised $1,058,839 for hundreds of Utah nonprofits.

“Love UT Give UT is truly a statewide event, celebrated from Brigham City to St. George, and every where in between,” said Fraser Nelson, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Utah. “Utahns have again proven that they are the most generous people in the nation, eager to show their love for the organizations that give us so much. Nothing feels better than to give where you live.”

Three organizations that had the most number of donors during Love UT Give UT in their respective categories, received additional grants from the Community Foundation of Utah. First place received $5,000, second place received $2500 and third place received $1,000:

Small nonprofits: 1. Utah FACES 2. Plan-B Theater Company 3. Noble Horse Sanctuary

Medium nonprofits: 1. The Sharing Place 2. Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah 3. Wasatch Community Gardens

Large nonprofits: 1. Girl Scouts of Utah 2. Humane Society of Utah 3. TURN Community Services

Schools, colleges and universities: 1. Salt Lake Arts Academy 2. Ogden School Foundation 3. Westminster College is powered by Razoo, a venture funded social enterprise committed to transforming people’s lives through meaningful giving. Its secure online platform facilitates crowd-sourced fundraising, streamlines the donation process and offers a suite of free and easy-to-use fundraising tools that inspire individuals and nonprofits to give and fundraise online.

About the Community Foundation of Utah:

The Community Foundation of Utah is a catalyst for philanthropy that is visionary, diverse, and inclusive. For more information, go to, call 801.559.3005, or email Community Foundation of Utah Executive Director, Fraser Nelson at


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