Net Present Value

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Gates Foundation to spend $30M on hybrid schools

According to this New York Times story (registration required):

In an effort to improve high school graduation rates and encourage more low-income students to finish college, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will spend an additional $30 million to create hybrid high schools in which students spend significant time in college classes, the foundation announced yesterday.

The grants will create 42 such schools, known as early-college high schools, which will serve about 17,000 students around the nation, the foundation said. The schools, most situated on college campuses, will place their students directly in college classes for much of their academic careers, so that upon graduation they will have earned either an associate's degree or as much as two years' college credits toward a bachelor's degree.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

High-tech toy brings health education to Afghanistan

Could this Administration be doing some good, too? The US Divide is so big that my first inclination was to suspect this story and its premise that they're doing this good work in Afghanistan. Maybe LeapFrog is actually owned by Halliburton, I thought?! ;-) In a country where 80% of the women are illiterate, the US cannot rely on pamphlets for propaganda or information according to this Wall Street Journal story (subscription required):

So Mr. Thompson turned to an unlikely solution: the educational toy LeapPad, a product of LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. of Emeryville, Calif. The electronic book sells for around $40 and is a mainstay in suburban U.S. homes; it is designed to teach reading, and recites out loud to kids when they touch the words on the page.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to announce today that it is purchasing 20,000 LeapPads. Rather than featuring the likes of Dr. Seuss, these modified LeapPads will educate rural Afghan women about the benefits of immunization, the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and the perils of some homespun remedies, such as rubbing dirt into cuts to heal them. The special LeapPads talk in either Pashto or Dari, Afghanistan's two most common languages.

Mr. Thompson says such education is sorely needed in a country where diarrhea or acute respiratory infections kills nearly 40% of all children, and where 1,600 out of every 100,000 women die in childbirth. (The U.S. rate is 7.5.) "If this works, we can make this a tool across the world," says Mr. Thompson. "We can use it for AIDS in Africa and for health care in Iraq."

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Over 1600 people waiting for HIV medication in the US

One of the boards I serve on, Project Inform, has been instrumental in lobbying the California state government to fund the California version of the AIDS Drugs Assistance Program (ADAP) that helps those without insurance to pay for life-saving HIV medication.

But the numbers are growing across the country while this White House gives lip service to helping people with HIV abroad. We need to help Americans first and then make sure we help others around the world. Right now it seems like we're doing neither as we fight a costly war instead. According to this Advocate story:

The number of people on waiting lists nationwide for AIDS Drug Assistance Programs has jumped by nearly 400 people since April, up to 1,629 as of the beginning of June, according to the latest "ADAP Watch" released Monday by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors. "We are alarmed to see the number of people on waiting lists for medications through ADAPs rise in such a short period of time," NASTAD executive director Julie Scofield said in a press statement.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Charitable giving stays steady at $240B in 2003

While charitable donation have remained steady between 2002 and 2003, the number of charties continues to grow rapidly. And I'm wondering whether this number includes the money given by wealthy individuals to their foundations but not necessarily passed on to nonprofits in need. According to this New York Times story (registration required):

Americans gave an estimated $240.72 billion in 2003, a slight increase from the previous year, according to Giving U.S.A., an annual survey of charitable contributions published by the A.A.F.R.C. Trust for Philanthropy, a unit of the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, and compiled by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Estimated giving in 2003 equaled roughly 2.2 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, the fifth year since 1971 that charitable contributions exceeded 2 percent of the total output of goods and services.

...The sector continues to struggle in part because the number of charities continues to rise at a faster pace than charitable giving. The Internal Revenue Service grants tax exemption to an average of 83 nonprofit groups a day.

Friday, April 2, 2004

South Africa sees new HIV drugs

While more widely available in the Western world (although the US is seeing problems for those needing these drugs without health insurance as the Bush administration cuts funding for such treatment and the California governor balances his budget at the expense of ADAP etc), South Africa is finally seeing the benefits of antiretroviral drugs according to this New York Times story (registration required):

Although South Africa is said to have more than five million H.I.V.-positive residents, more than any other nation, government handouts of antiretrovirals have been waylaid for years, first by high-level objections, then by bureaucratic difficulties. President Thabo Mbeki and his health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, persistently questioned whether the virus causes AIDS and whether antiretroviral drugs help.

Under enormous political and diplomatic pressure, Mr. Mbeki's government promised in November to provide the drugs free to as many as 53,000 South Africans by April, and to 1.4 million within five years. But the national rollout has been delayed while the government organizes the purchase of drugs, trains doctors and readies clinics.

Monday, March 1, 2004

Poor parents won't have to pay for kids' Harvard education

About time. According to this New York Times story (registration required). I believe in contrast Princeton has already waived tuition for all undergraduates. [Correction: Princeton has removed all loans from its financial aid packages so that students/parents are not unnecessarily burdened with having to pay them back]. This came up as an important issue when twenty of us younger graduates met with President Larry Summers in San Francisco right as he was taking charge. Glad he's finally acting on it in some form.

Parents who earn less than $40,000 are now asked to contribute an average of $2,300. That figure will drop to zero under the new plan, which begins in the fall. Parents with incomes of $40,000 to $60,000 will have their contributions cut to an average of $2,250, from an average of $3,500.

...Only 7 percent of Harvard undergraduates are from families with earnings in the lowest quarter of American household incomes, and 16 percent are from the bottom half. Nearly three-quarters are from families with earnings in the top quarter.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Words Without Borders

An interesting online publication that brings you voices from around the world according to this New York Times story (registration required):

First the statistics that helped inspire Ms. Mason: a widely cited 1999 report from the National Endowment for the Arts calculated that about 3 percent of the books published in the United States were translations, compared with 40 to 50 percent in Western European countries.

..."Words Without Borders" (, supported by two grants totaling $65,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, went online in July by presenting what the editors call "literature from the Axis of Evil." The first three issues had essays, reporting and book excerpts from writers in North Korea, Iraq and Iran who might be famous in their own countries and regions but are almost unknown in the United States.

Bill Gates donates $83M for TB vaccine

The richest man in the world is putting his money to good use. According to this Independent story:

Bill Gates, the world's richest man, is to donate $83m (£44m) to help scientists develop a new vaccine against tuberculosis, a disease that kills nearly two million people each year.

The grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest ever for the development of TB vaccines - doubling the amount currently spent on such research - and is designed to combat the growing threat posed by the lung disease in developing countries. Some 2 billion people - one in three of the global population - are infected with the TB bacterium although 90 per cent of them never get sick.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Microsoft's $1B Joint UNDP Program

The Scobleizer reports that a Microsoft press release has announced Bill Gates/Microsoft's $1B donation at Davos in collaboration with UNDP:

Under the agreement, announced at the Annual Meeting 2004 of the World Economic Forum in Davos by UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown and Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates, Microsoft and the UNDP will work together to build capacity in developing countries around the world, by providing technology-enabled training for youth and adults in community education centers. By providing skills training, content, curricula and other new resources, this partnership will help expand UNDP's ongoing development efforts and will encourage the exploration of creative, technology-based solutions to the world's most pressing development challenges. The alliance will draw on the resources of Microsoft's Unlimited Potential program, the company's global initiative to deliver computer literacy and job skills training to underserved communities.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Harvard breaks new ground

In an attempt to attract new dollars to the already enormous Harvard endowment (the largest of all university endowments), Harvard has broken new ground according to a New York Times story (registration required) that details how it now allows trusts to be invested in a new fund that mirrors its high-performing endowment:

Harvard has been marketing the new strategy in letters to existing donors and in its alumni e-mail newsletter. A large ad in Harvard's alumni magazine proclaims: "New Investment Opportunity. Qualifying charitable trusts at Harvard can now be invested in Harvard's endowment." Since the beginning of the year, about $225 million in trust assets have been invested in this new endowment fund, says David Scudder, vice president of trusts at Harvard Management Co., which oversees the endowment and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Harvard. Harvard is offering the new fund in part because of requests from alumni who have long wanted to invest in the endowment, Mr. Scudder adds.

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