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Charitable Profile of Bill Oberndorf ’75

oberndorfA recent profile in “Inside Philanthropy” takes a look at Oberndorf Philanthropy, the charitable vehicle of hedge fund investor William Oberndorf ’75. Remembered by his Williams College classmates as a track star, Oberndorf is best known to Ephs these days as a former trustee of the College as well as for the retirement party he hosted (along with Tom Krens ’69) last year for legendary Art History professor Eva Grudin.

With his wife, Oberndorf has created the Bill and Susan Oberndorf Foundation, which Inside Philanthropy reports has about $80 million in assets and gave away approximately $8 million in the most recently reported tax year:

The couple has a big interest in education reform and the Oberndorfs are deep into school choice. In the early 1990s, Oberndorf helped found American Education Reform Foundation. The outfit has worked to “bring about systemic and sustainable reform by promoting broad-based parental choice that aids low-income families.” Oberndorf also serves as chairman emeritus and board member of the Alliance for School Choice, an organization he co-founded. At a 2011 panel in Washington D.C., according to Education Week, Oberndorf was credited as having financed school choice with “tens of millions” of dollars. Oberndorf also said that charter schools and voucher programs inject “competition into the equation.”

Recent education philanthropy by the couple has involved quite a number of outfits including Foundation for Excellence in Education (a $100,000 grant in 2013), Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, “an American education reform organization headquartered in Indianapolis,” and SF School Choice Alliance. Support has also gone to charters such as KIPP Bay Area Schools, which received a $10,000 grant in 2013 and Gateway Public Schools. The couple tends to make a lot of grants in the Bay Area, but their education philanthropy is especially national.

Apart from K-12 education, funds have also gone to colleges and universities. Recent funds have gone to schools such as Marquette University, Williams College, and various outfits associated with the University of San Francisco including the UCSF Foundation, which received around $3.3 million in 2013, and around $4.3 million in 2012. Oberndorf is chairman of the University of California San Francisco Foundation. A steady stream of money has also gone to Stanford, from where both Oberndorf and Susan both graduated. In 2010, more than $2 million went to Stanford.

A recent Marquette giving report lists the Oberndorf Foundation at the relatively modest giving level of $10,000 to $25,000. Not sure what the Oberndorf’s connection to the school is, but it may relate to Milwaukee’s status as the home of one of the largest school voucher programs in the United States.

Another interest of the couple is health and the forces are at least in part personal. One of Oberndorf’s late business partners William J. Patterson passed away from a brain tumor a few years ago. The couple has recently supported outfits such as Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Gladstone Institutes, “an independent and nonprofit biomedical research organization whose focus is to better understand, prevent, treat and cure cardiovascular, viral and neurological conditions,” UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Stanford School of Medicine, and Cancer Prevention Institute of California.

Liberals will find some philanthropy to like as well:

Recent grantmaking has also involved the environment, with funds going to Environmental Defense Fund (more than $250,000 in 2013), California Trout, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the Lange Foundation, “a nonprofit organization in Southern California dedicated to saving impounded companion animals.”

The couple’s arts and culture grantmaking has a Bay Area focus and millions have streamed to California Academy of Sciences. Again Oberndorf’s late business partner William J. Patterson may play a role and Patterson once chaired California Academy of Sciences. In 2013, Oberndorfs gave California Academy of Sciences around $1.3 million. In 2012, the outfit received $1.75 million. Other recent support includes grants to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Oberndorf’s interest in school choice and education reform is longstanding. He was a leading supporter of California’s (failed) Proposition 32, an effort to reform the political influence of teacher’s unions, and Oberndorf features in the 1999 book, The Politics of School Choice. In 2003, he explained his views to the Philanthropy Roundtable:

It seems a great injustice to me that only certain members of society–determined primarily by their economic status–are able to choose schools of quality for their children, while others–primarily the urban poor–are forced to send their children to schools that all too frequently destine them to lives of failure. And so in 1993 I helped establish the American Education Reform Foundation, which I chair. Its purpose is to promote, through legislative action, the granting of publicly funded scholarships that will allow primarily low-income parents to opt out of the public school system if it is not working for their children.

America is now behind virtually every developed country in science, math, and other core competencies. During the last two decades, all sorts of well-intentioned people like you and me have spent literally hundreds of millions of our philanthropic dollars to address this problem. And despite all our good intentions, we have not been able to improve educational outcomes in any meaningful, measurable way.

A survey of recent high school graduation rates across the country found only 51 percent of high school students graduated in Newark, 47 percent in Chicago, 43 percent in Milwaukee and Oakland, and 28 percent in Cleveland. While some are quick to claim the culprits are large class sizes and a lack of financial resources, in reality we are spending, on a per pupil basis, amounts in these cities ranging from $7,600 in Oakland to an astounding $14,900 in Newark.

By the time I became involved in the education reform movement, a growing group of individuals, including myself, had become convinced that unless a truly competitive alternative was established to traditional public schools, the educational establishment was simply incapable of systemic and sustainable reform from within. I focus upon the words systemic and sustainable because, unless we spend our philanthropic dollars in a way that is systemic—i.e., having broad impact—and in a way that is sustainable—i.e., not requiring our continuing financial and political support—we are not going to move the needle of education reform in any significant way.

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Williams College women set to play 24 hours of rugby fundraiser for cancer research

The Williams College women’s rugby team will pull the ultimate all-nighter… (Courtesy photo)

Stephen Dravis writes in the  Berk shire Advocate on April 6:

Most college students pull an all-nighter at some point during their career.

Few will do anything like this.

On Easter weekend, the Williams College women’s rugby team will play a 24-hour match against Keene State that the teams hope will land them a place in Guinness World Records history and — more importantly — help in the fight against cancer.

The inaugural Scrum for a Cure will get under way at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 23, at Cole Field and end, if all goes according to plan, sometime after 8 a.m. on Easter Sunday.

Twenty-four hours of running and bone-jarring tackles may not be the easiest way to raise awareness of breast and colorectal cancer research, but Williams captain Leah Lansdowne said her team is up to the challenge.

“I think rugby is a unique sport for women to play,” Lansdowne said. “It involves some strong women. I think there’s a solidarity to raising money for a cancer that affects primarily women.”

That’s why the Williams players immediately got on board when their friends at Keene State suggested a breast cancer fundraiser of some kind — possibly involving pink uniforms.

Lansdowne said it was Williams coach Gina Coleman who suggested the teams take their efforts to another level.

“Somebody in the group said, ‘How about something like the March of Dimes does where people would pledge for every minute played? If we go the distance, we can raise a lot of money,'” recalled Coleman, who also is the college’s associate dean of students. “I said, if it’s of Guinness proportions, you could raise a lot. That’s when the idea came about.”

Read the entire story! As EphBlog Prexy Whitney Wilson suggests, donations may be made here


Williams coach Gina Coleman ’90 adds this about the logistics:
“The event will happen on the rugby pitch. Sunbelt Rentals out of Latham, NY will be providing us with temporary lights for the event.

“Thanks for the support!”

 

 

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Team Pinsky completes Pan-Mass Challenge

The Pan-Mass Challenge was the weekend of August 7-8, and 10 Team Pinsky riders participated in the event in memory of Aaron Pinsky ’06. On day 1, all 10 riders completed the 111 miles from Sturbridge to Bourne, where a pack of Team Pinsky supporters waited with a banner cheering the team on.

On day 2, 6 riders proudly wore Team Pinsky jerseys – masterfully created by Galen Glaze ’06 – and rode 81 miles across Cape Cod, from Bourne to Provincetown. It was a special weekend, with perfect weather and an incredible atmosphere.

Thank you to everyone who donated to the Pan-Mass Challenge through Team Pinsky. To date, Team Pinsky has raised $69,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, almost double our minimum fundraising requirements. We remain in awe that we will be able to donate so much to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Aaron Pinsky’s memory. Thank you to everyone for your support and contributions.

Thank you,

Team Pinsky

Ellie Schmidt ’06, Adam Ain ’06, Geoff O’Donoghue ’06, Alex Smith ’06, Mary Singer ’06, Gillian McBride ’06, Adrienne Boardman, Andrew Boardman, Eoin Byrne, Will Schmidt, and Mary Ridge

[Posted by Ronit Bhattacharyya ’07]

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Team Pinsky Update

Thank you to everyone who has donated to the Pan-Mass Challenge through Team Pinsky. We’ve been incredibly touched by everyone’s support over the past couple months, and we’ve already raised $50,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the memory of Aaron Pinsky ’06.

As we approach the ride this weekend, we’re also nearing our goal of $55,000. If you have not yet donated and would like to, you can donate to Team Pinsky at http://www.pmc.org/profile/TP0126. Click on the “Donate to my Ride” link to contribute.

Thank you,

Team Pinsky

_______________________________________________________

Team Pinsky
Ellie Schmidt ’06, Adam Ain ’06, Geoff O’Donoghue ’06, Alex Smith ’06, Mary Singer ’06, Gillian McBride ’06, Adrienne Boardman, Andrew Boardman, Eoin Byrne, and Will Schmidt
http://www.pmc.org/profile/TP0126

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Riding for Aaron Pinsky ’06

This August, 7 Williams alums will be riding across Massachusetts in the Pan-Mass Challenge in honor of fellow alum Aaron Pinsky ’06, who passed away from brain cancer on February 13, 2010. Aaron was diagnosed with the condition in January, 2008, and in the following 2 years he inspired his friends, family, and doctors as he faced his condition with incredible poise, courage, and self-awareness.

Last fall, when his prognosis became clear, a collection of his college and high school friends decided to form “Team Pinsky” and complete this 2 day, 192 mile bike ride across Massachusetts in his honor. We chose the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) because 100% of all rider-raised dollars goes to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where Pinsky received his treatment. Since its 1980 inception, the PMC has contributed $270 million to Dana-Farber through the Jimmy Fund. This year, Team Pinsky will be raising at least $36,000 of the PMC’s $31 million target in his name.

Please help us achieve our goal. To donate, go to http://www.pmc.org/profile/TP0126 and click on the “Donate to my Ride” link.

Please also pass this on to friends and family members who Pinsky touched during his lifetime or who may be touched by this story and would want to support this cause.

Thank you,

Team Pinsky

_______________________________________________________

Team Pinsky
Ellie Schmidt ’06, Adam Ain ’06, Geoff O’Donoghue ’06, Alex Smith ’06, Mary Singer ’06, Gillian McBride ’06, Adrienne Boardman, Andrew Boardman, Eoin Byrne, and Will Schmidt

Posted by Ronit Bhattacharyya ’07

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Williams-Mystic and the Gulf Coast

I’d like to pass along a letter from a fellow Williams and Williams-Mystic alum about the program’s work to help those hurt by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A fundraising effort is underway (see below for more information), but even if you’re not in a position to donate, you can help Williams-Mystic spread the word about the human impact of the spill. Read this piece (written by a Williams-Mystic alum) that considers the terrifying mix of a busy hurricane season and a toxic oil spill. And please, don’t forget the people of Gulf Coast.

Dear Williams Community,

For the past five years, Williams-Mystic students have been going down to the Gulf Coast as one of the semester field seminars. During the field seminar, students study the entire Mississippi River delta region from a historical, ecological, and literary perspective. They spend a full day on Grand Isle, a barrier island that stands between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a beautiful, shifting pile of sand inhabited by about 1,800 year-round residents. The economy is based on fishing and beach tourism. By all accounts, the people there are incredible and it’s one of the highlights of the trip.

Enter the oil spill. Williams-Mystic teaches from an interdisciplinary perspective, so students learn that nothing happens in isolation and the impact of an environmental disaster isn’t just on the environment. In this case, the people of Grand Isle, people with whom the Williams-Mystic program has a very strong relationship, are suffering. Not just physically–though by all accounts the fumes are pretty awful–but mentally as they face the loss of their unique way of life.

In May, when oil first began washing up on the shores of Grand Isle, Chris Hernandez (the island’s highway superintendent and a friend of the Mystic program) called Williams-Mystic to ask for help. Consider that for a minute–local organizations and BP weren’t helping, so he called a college study-abroad semester based in New England to help save his island.

Read more

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Dim Sum and Then Some

I was just checking out the Williams Schedule of Events and I can’t believe how many interesting choices there are, just for today.

Starting with Environmental Studies Lunch at The Log, to Math and Physics events, then a choice of a free film in the afternoon or French horn recital, on to dinner, another film or the Planetarium, the Theater, or dance performance. And from there one can wrap up the evening dancing to Latin music at Fiesta Dance Night. Who says there’s nothing to do in Williamstown?

Anyway, they all sound great, but I happen to love Dim Sum, so the dinner caught my eye. A little late to be posting about it, but nonetheless I thought I’d mention it as it’s put on by CASO, and will benefit Wokai, both of which I know next to nothing about, so I’m hoping some students will drop by and give us more information.

And, any Dim Sum lovers out there? My favorites are the little curry chicken empanada type tarts, chicken and rice wrapped in leaves of some sort, and those little gummy sesame plum balls. I don’t know the names for any of these tasty treats, so please someone, feel free to fill me in me.

Mmmm, might have to book a trek for Dim Sum very soon.

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$18,024.08

Results of the weeklong Haiti fundraising contest, announced last night: Williams raised $10,524. Amherst came in at $7500.08. Thanks to all who participated!

(thanks to Lizzy Brickley ’10 for the info)

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Beat the ‘Herst

Here’s how much Ephs for Haiti Relief has raised so far for Partners in Health (CharityNavigator profile):

We’re in a contest with Amherst to outraise them. Can you help? DONATE NOW. More information here and here. Some on-campus events this week:

Thursday, February 11: NEIL ROBERTS LECTURE 5pm, NAB 241  «Existentia Caribbeana : Why the Haitian Revolution Still Matters »

Friday, February 12: HAITI RELIEF DINNER, Congregational Church, First Seating 5-6:30pm, Second Seating 6:45-8:30pm. Tickets to the dinner are being sold in Paresky.

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Haiti Relief Week Calendar

DONATE ONLINE HERE

Friday, February 5

  • COFFEEHOUSE FOR HAITI 7-9:30pm, Paresky
  • WILLIAMS AFTER DARK: HYGIENE KITS FOR HAITI 9-12am, Paresky

Monday, February 8

  • JRC PASTA DINNER 6pm, JRC

Wednesday, February 10

  • HAITI RELIEF STRESSBUSTERS: HAITIAN COOKBOOKS 8-10pm, Paresky
  • CONCERT FOR HAITI 9-11pm, Paresky  feat. Eddie Mazurek and Empire Polo Club

Thursday, February 11

  • NEIL ROBERTS LECTURE 5pm, NAB 241  «Existentia Caribbeana : Why the Haitian Revolution Still Matters »

Friday, February 12

  • HAITI RELIEF DINNER, Congregational Church, First Seating 5-6:30pm, Second Seating 6:45-8:30pm
  • BUS TO MEN’S BASKETBALL GAME AT AMHERST 6pm, Chapin Drive
  • WOMEN’S HOCKEY HOME GAME 7pm, Hockey Rink
  • MEN’S BASKETBALL AWAY GAME 8pm, Amherst,  Half-time event announcing competition winner.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday:

  • 5CEE CLOTHING SALE 10-10pm, Paresky,  Half of proceeds to Haiti

For Sale All Week in Paresky and Dining Halls

  • VALENTINE’S DAY TRUFFLE SALE FOR HAITI
  • HAITI RELIEF DINNER TICKETS
  • BUS TO AMHERST BASKETBALL GAME TICKETS
  • EPHS FOR RELIEF T-SHIRTS

DONATE ONLINE HERE

Also, look for donation tin cans around campus.

(information courtesy of Lizzy Brickley ’10 and the Haiti Relief website)

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Ephs for Haiti Relief

Ephs for Relief is planning several fundraising and awareness raising events throughout the next week, and the group wants to alert alumni about two things.

First, there is a fundraising competition going on between Williams and Amherst from today (February 5) through next Friday (February 12). Donations from students, faculty, staff, and alumni can help Williams beat Amherst and, more importantly, help Haiti.

Second, this fundraising is made easy through a partnership with Partners in Health. Anyone can donate to Partners in Health (and be affiliated with Williams) by going to this page:

Donate here

Would it be possible to share this information with any alumni that you might know?

Please let me know if you have any questions (Rachel.A.Hudson at williams dot edu) – and thank you in advance for your help.

Best,
Rachel Hudson

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M4W on Craigslist

Unfortunately, the listing has been flagged for removal, but last night Jimi Morales, ’10, discovered something both hilarious and horrifying on Craigslist and lovingly decided to share on WSO in a post adeptly titled, “alumni.”

A “Boston exec” in his thirties offered $1000 for a female “friend with benefits” for his frequent (monthly? I can’t quite remember the listing.) two- to three-day visits to Williamstown.

Any guesses as to whom this generous alumnus might be?

UPDATE from dk: Here is the original Craig’s List post. (Click for larger version.)

alumni

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Reclaim Childhood

Check out this great article on Reclaim Childhood, an organization dedicated to helping Iraqi refugee children that was founded by four recent Eph alums with the help of Professor Magnus Bernhardsson.  Kudos to all who are involved.   It’s wonderful to see so many Ephs in the news recently for their philanthropic efforts.

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Poll on Alumni Giving

See previous discussion of the “EphsChoose” concept, whereby alumni would be able to direct their donations to specific organizations.

If you could direct your donations to Williams student organizations, would you be most likely to…
Give more to orgs, less to the Alumni Fund
Give more to orgs, and about the same to the Alumni Fund
Give more to both student orgs and the Alumni Fund
Give only to student orgs
Continue giving only to the Alumni Fund
Continue to give nothing
Who has money these days, anyway?
  
pollcode.com free polls
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Alternate Spring Break

Bloomberg reports on students using Spring Break to do community service:

Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, has seven public service field trips this year, involving about 65 students, said Rick Spalding, the college’s chaplain and community service coordinator. The ranks of student volunteers swelled after Katrina, and the numbers have remained high because of students’ awareness of their own impact on issues such as climate change, he said.

“This is not a selfish generation,” Spalding said. “If their parents — people in my generation — had been as conscious, we might not be in the mess we’re in.”

I was drawn into my first such trip during freshman year because I was told that dorms would be closed over spring break, and I needed an inexpensive way to spend two weeks 8000 miles from home. Cabo was not an option, but going on a service trip was free. It turned out to be one of the most worthwhile things I did during my time at Williams.

I would be extremely wary of for-profit companies such as STA Travel who “market community-service themed trips”. Given the generosity of existing institutions at Williams, you really shouldn’t have to pay much out of pocket in order to do community service; our trip was funded entirely by a combination of an alumni gift and the Chaplain’s Office.

I also found a tremendous amount of help from Rick Spalding in getting funding to spend a summer working for SOME in Washington, DC. As this was a mostly-unpaid position with a small charity, I remain grateful to Rev. Spalding for his support. Students interested in doing similar projects, whether over spring break or summer or during the academic year, need only approach the Chaplain’s Office with their idea.

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What I’d Really Like to See: Improving the give2williams Website

So I just got poked by my good friend, cribbage nemesis, and class agent/secretary Zach who reminded me I hadn’t given to Williams this year yet. To get my attention, he actually joked that I earmark my donation for everything David Kane decries, and furthermore said he’d specified his go towards restoring the Odd Quad to its pre-Neighborhoods glory. Unconventional as it may seem, he got my donation . . . but when I popped over to give2.williams.edu I got to thinking . . .

As I sat there for an inordinate amount of time wondering which digit to put in the ones column, I came up with an idea that I’d really like to see implemented on the giving site: live-updated, humorous, cleverly chosen giving levels based on my intended gift. If you’re into fundraising, web development, or just (self-proclaimed) cool ideas, read on!

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Not Stopping at $400 Million

Williams, via Ephnotes, just sent out an e-mail saying that even though The Williams Campaign has raised its stated goal of $400 million (18 months ahead of schedule), it’s going to keep raising money for the capital fund for the next 18 months.

For those of you who figure the college said, “Hey, we’re on a roll, let’s keep going”–which it did, of course–I can tell you that this was a considered decision. Over a year ago it started to become clear that the fundraising was taking a hockey stick trajectory that was not in the plan. At one of the Vice Chair meetings of the Alumni Fund, Steve Birrell described how well the fundraising was going. Since it was clear that the Campaign would hit its goal at least a year ahead of schedule, I asked the question, “So what’s the college going to do? Declare victory early or keep going?”

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Reaching Out To Alums

NYC teacher Danielle Lerro ’05 is looking for ways to contact alumni
who might be interested in adopting her 6th grade classroom in the
Bronx:

The school year is going great. My students have already made over a year of progress in reading (some have made over 2 years), which is a good thing, considering many of them came in reading at a first or second grade level. I’m having trouble finding books and supplies for my classroom–I’ve already spent over 1,000 dollars of my own money on things and it’s still not enough. We need books and other materials. It’s frustrating because my students want to learn, and we live in one of the richest cities in the world, and there still aren’t enough resources to go around. Even though they’ve made a lot of progress, my students are still hovering around a 4th grade reading level and it’s a constant battle to keep their literacy skills up, given the shoddy education most of them have received in the past. Many of them don’t have a lot of books at home, and unfortunately the local public library isn’t the safest place in the world (a kid was shot in front of it last week). I’m trying to make our classroom library a friendly, inviting place to encourage good literacy skills. I’m specifically trying to set up a “book corner” in my room. I want to stock the library with lots of good books and a few beanbag chairs to encourage students to want to read. I set up a request at adoptaclassroom.org. Any ideas on how to reach out to other Williams alums who might be looking to support urban education?

I suggested contacting the Alumni Review to see if they’d be interested in a story on inner-city teaching, and also the tried-and-true Record op-ed/letter. Any other ideas from EphBlog readers?

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EphsChoose

Hey Gargoyles! Have I got a project for you . . . (or anyone else who wants to fundamentally alter the relationship between Williams and its always-loyal alums).

Upon reading that Matt Furlong ’10 lacked funding to participate in an unpaid internship this summer working for a “NYC-based NGO, uNight, which advocates and runs programs for the victims of Northern Uganda’s 20-year-long civil war,” Brent Yorgey ’04 offered

to support his cost of living while doing the internship with uNight. If other readers of EphBlog were willing to do the same, we could probably raise a good amount of money. Do others think this is a good idea?

I think that it is an amazing idea but one which applies much more broadly than just to Matt and Brent. Consider the work of Donors Choose, “the future of American philanthropy.”

DonorsChoose has won several awards as the most innovative nonprofit in the United States. Best’s brainchild was to create a market in teacher proposals, which are posted on donorschoose.org in informal, non-grants-proposal language by the teachers themselves. So for example, this week a teacher in Richton, Mo., posted a request for a $392 camcorder for her kids to act out stories they’re reading; a teacher in New York City asked for a rug on which to read stories to kindergarteners ($474); and a teacher in a 100 percent low-income school in Los Angeles wants a $414 telescope to teach astronomy to her students. Donors scroll through the hundreds of proposals (searchable by region, subject, level of school poverty, etc.) and fund them in whole or in part with a couple of clicks. If there’s no market for the proposal, it doesn’t get funded, though most eventually do. DonorsChoose handles all of the discounted purchasing from vendors, so no money goes directly to the teacher.

Genius. If there had been a way for Matt to post his proposal (quick — someone check the domain status of www.ephschoose.org), Brent would have already donated him the money, and gotten a tax deduction. But, without a mechanism to easily coordinate the transaction, this is tough to pull off. More comments below:

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Channel for Charity Diary (the home stretch)

It’s June 21st and we’re smack dab in the middle of our swim window. Our safety boat captain tells us that Thursday will be too windy, which is a dissapointment, but Friday and Saturday apparently both look very encouraging.

To take a step back, our group’s set…aching even…to do the swim. We’ve been training hard (I never thought I’d be able to swim a mile, let alone three), and are optimistic about our chances. At the same time, however, we realize that there are no guarantees when you’re talking about this sort of event. All we know is that we’re in about as good as shape as we could hope for.

I don’t know if it really hit me that I was about to swim the Channel until I picked up our wetsuits and flippers (the flippers were generously donated by SBR-Sports)…I thought I’d be terrified (I hate deep water), but I’m actually pretty excited now. I think the excitement among some of our swimmers helps–we kind of bounce it off each other.

With the swim so fast approaching, I haven’t had much time to put into the charity side of the swim over the past couple of weeks, but things seem to be rolling along fine now without my active involvement. One of the nice things about events like this is that they spread quickly through word-of-mouth. Many of the people who hear about what we’re doing tell their friends who tell their friends…which has led to some donations from people who we don’t know who aren’t affiliated with Williams or Oxford in any way, which is quite exciting. The Williams European alumni association has been particularly wonderful about spreading word of our swim and supporting us, and I hope that word spreads through other alumni associations as well. We hope to continue fundraising even after the swim is over.

So, it’s 2am and early in the morning of the 22nd now which means that there’s a very good chance that I’ll be swimming in about 30 hours time. I guess I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little nervous, but knowing that what you’re doing will make a huge difference for so many people really helps calms the nerves…I can’t wait until we can officially present our donation to the Mothers Programmes and the Williams in Africa Program.

On that note, it’s definitely not too late to donate. In fact, it won’t be too late to donate next week, next month, or even next year. While we will formally “present” our donation to our charities sometime in the early fall–a donation that will go far in helping prevent the spread of HIV from mothers to their children–so much more is needed before this is no longer a problem in Africa. Please do donate–you can donate directly and US tax deductibly to the Mothers Programmes at www.mothersprogrammes.org (please specify that your donation was inspired by our swim–it’s necessary to help us keep track of the numbers), or securely online via our website www.channelforcharity.org. 100% of your donation will go to the charities.

Cross your fingers for us–hopefully next time I post on here will be with good news and maybe even some pictures!

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Channel for Charity Diary (fundraising help)

I was wondering if anybody has any ideas about other ways that we might be able to connect with alumns and get alumni involved in our swim. With all of the levels of involvement between students, alumns, faculty, all working to help provide future educational opportunities for ephs and to support an alumn-founded charity, this swim seems like the exact sort of thing that alumni would be interested in being involved in (and in supporting through their donations). Now obviously few of you will actually be able to swim with us, but I think that this can be a project that extends beyond simply the swim–and I was wondering if any of you might be interested in helping me with this.

I think that Channel for Charity can be one in a series of events in which alumns and students work together to raise money for the Mothers Programmes and Williams in Africa. Regarding future events…well, I think that’s something to think about after we’ve made our way through this one. For this one, I can see other alumns being involved helping with publicity or fundraising. I could also see alumns helping to sell Mothers Creations (read about them at www.mothersprogrammes.org), organizing small charity dinners for this swim, corresponding with the swimmers and with the Mothers in Africa…there are so many different ways alumns can be more involved in this.

One of the things we’re hoping to accomplish with this channel swim is to get more people more involved in these sorts of things. Do you have any ideas how to better get people more involved? Also, if you have any ideas about how best to get alumns to donate, we’d appreciate help there too ;)

Some alumni are already involved, and many of our donations have come from Williams alumni in Europe (which we have been able to connect to with the help of Rob Swann, Elizabeth Goldring, and Karen Bowen). Given the positive reception we’re getting from these alumns, I think that it would be wonderful to spread word of what we’re doing among other alumni communities.

Anyways, as always you can read more about our swim or donate online at www.channelforcharity.org.

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Channel for Charity Diary

12 May 2006

Our new website is up! You can see it at www.channelforcharity.org. It’s still not finished, but it’s far closer to the eventual final version than it was previously.

What do you guys think about it? We’ve edited a lot of the text and added more now…and obviously redone the design.

We also had an article about us in the Record last week (http://www.williamsrecord.com/wr/?view=article&section=features&id=7924). While we’re certainly hoping for more publicity, the Record’s piece is an exciting start. One of the many challenging things with this swim is knowing exactly where or how to get publicity (and to fundraise for that matter).

Anyways, I’ll post when the website’s done–we still need to get our About Us section up, which I’m sure will be interesting to a lot of alumns (many of you are probably wondering who are these students crazy enough to swim the Channel haha).

I’d write more now but, well, I’m pretty beat from the training we’re doing. More later!

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Channel for Charity Diary (first entry)

30 April, 2006

I’m back from Oxford spring break and that means it’s time to start training. For everyone who missed Dave’s first post on what I’m training for, I’m getting ready to swim the English Channel. So why am I undertaking such an insane feat? Well to begin, I’m not doing it by myself. In fact, I will only be swimming 1/10 of the English Channel and 9 of my fellow Ephs (well, 8 and a professor) will be helping me finish the rest; we’re doing the swim as a relay. By swimming the English Channel we’re trying to raise $18,000 for the Mothers Programmes and Williams in Africa. In one sentence: money given to sponsor our swim will go to help prevent the transmission of AIDs from mothers with AIDs to their children, as well as helping to sponsor a student fellowship to work with the Mothers Programmes in Africa (read more about the Mothers Programmes at www.mothersprogrammes.org).

So as of this week, we’re now within two months of the actual swim, and we still have a lot of work left to do. We have a rough website up, which allows donations through paypal, but it’s not finished yet. Having just begun training, it’s a little overwhelming to think about the amount we still have left to do. However, people have been incredibly supportive and encouraging, and despite the series of enormous tasks still ahead of us, things have gone fantastically so far and we’re all very optimistic.

If you’re interested in learning more about this or donating, you can visit our still-under-development website www.channelforcharity.org

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