Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bill Gates gives $300 million to help end poverty

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would commit over $300 million towards efforts to help reduce hunger and poverty in Africa and South Asia.

Details from the LA Times:

The $306-million commitment over four years included $164.5 million to the Nairobi, Kenya-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, for efforts to improve soils and help small farmers boost crop yields. The Rockefeller Foundation contributed an additional $15 million to the effort.

Smaller Gates Foundation grants will assist research on hardier rice strains, provide better irrigation methods to small farmers and help develop superior coffee beans for export.

Grants totaling $48 million, to Little Rock, Ark.-based Heifer International and CARE, in Atlanta, are meant to help dairy farmers and landless peasants in East Africa and Bangladesh improve milk quality and build access to markets.

"If we are serious about ending extreme hunger and poverty around the world, we must be serious about transforming agriculture for small farmers," Bill Gates, co-chairman of the foundation, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

I wish I knew more details about how the money gets to the individual farmers and how this will change agricultural practices for the better, but I'm glad to see them giving to where there is a need.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

On MLK day, make peace

Found this on Ten Ways to Bring Peace to the World.

Try them. Serve. Be the change.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

$500 for every newborn. Yes, please.

Harold Alfond founded Dexter Shoe Co. in Maine in 1958 and shared millions of dollars to promote health and education in the state. After giving many scholarships to college-age students, "he wanted to help build aspirations for college at the front end of life," says Greg Powell, chairman of the board of the Harold Alfond Foundation. Mr. Alfond laid the groundwork for this legacy before he died in November.

How much will this cost the foundation?

The Harold Alfond Foundation expects to spend $7 million to $9 million a year, if everyone participates.

How much will the money be worth if the family continues to contribute to the account?

If a family adds $50 a month to the account and it grows at a rate of 8 percent, it would be worth $25,000 when the child turns 18, according to the Finance Authority of Maine, which administers the NextGen plans. Without additional deposits, the $500 could grow to $2,000. Tax-free withdrawals can be used for any accredited postsecondary schooling, including vocational training or occasional classes.

Other benefits?

Researchers also found in interviews that having a college savings plan encourages students to earn better grades and make more educational plans.

I think this is an awesome, very generous idea. Hats off.

"It's a great testimony to Mr. Alfond's generosity – I just wish he could have lived long enough to see the program itself started," says Scott Bullock, CEO of MaineGeneral Health.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Holy Simon Cowell in a tutu!

This is how much American Idol special last year raised for charity from the Associated Press... $129 million. Awesome! I love American Idol because of it's simple American Dream reality dumbness but I love more that they were able to do this and raise so much. I wonder if they'll be able to pull this off again:

The American public donated more than $54 million to ''Idol Gives Back,'' and corporate and matched funding brought it to $75 million, according to organizers. The money was being distributed roughly equally among the following projects in the United States and Africa.


Malaria No More. Will support bed net distribution, education, and monitoring to fight malaria in Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Uganda, and Zambia.

Nothing But Nets. Will purchase and deliver long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to children and their mothers, provide education on malaria prevention, and train local community health workers to carry out the programs on their own.

Save the Children. Will address major killers of children, including diarrhea and pneumonia. Serving approximately 400,000 children and more than 500,000 people in Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique, Sudan and Uganda.

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Will provide support for its program focused on strengthening and expanding HIV prevention, treatment and care in South Africa's Western Cape Province.

U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Will allow UNICEF to provide over 800,000 children with health care services. Additionally, nearly 500,000 students will receive an education along with school supplies.


Save The Children Federation. To expand programs in poor areas of Appalachia, the Southwest and the Gulf Coast, helping more than 11,000 children in 25 educational sites in four states.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Will help fund Power Hour, an after-school homework assistance program.

America's Second Harvest. Serves 9 million hungry children each year. Funds will be used to distribute 250 million servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and provide grants to support more than 200 community food banks.

Children's Health Fund. Will, among other projects, fund three new mobile medical units, including in New Orleans and have a special focus on the youngest victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Shimon Peres: A Peaceful New Year

It's now 4:31am on the first day of 2008. I wish you all the best this year. May our strengths be made stronger and our weaknesses weaker. May our leaders answer the call for peace and may we be there to help.

Happy 2008!

I found this message for peace on

Christian leaders attend reception at presidential residence

Aviram Zino

President Shimon Peres met Monday with the leaders of the Christian factions in Israel, in honor of the Christmas and the New Year celebrations.

"The Palestinians are not our enemy and neither is Islam," said Peres. "Terror, violence and the alliance between religious fanaticism and nuclear weapons are our – and the world's – enemies."

A merry Christmas and a happy new year (Photo: Reuters)

The religious leaders were Peres' guests for an official ceremony held at the presidential residence. "The human spirit declares science and religion to be noncontradictory, but one must separate between religion, faith and violence," added Peres.

"We all have one God, and enriched uranium wasn't one of his commandments," said the president.

Israel, promised Peres, would continue to ensure freedom of religion: "Israel will protect all its churches and will allow total freedom of religion.

"Let's make Israel the land from which a message of tolerance and love goes out to the world," added Peres. "I wish all of you a happy, peaceful, new year."