October 12, 2016

Daily News Roundup: Obama Foundation Names 'Inclusion Council'

Obama Foundation Moves to Promote Diversity in Its Work: The nonprofit overseeing Barack Obama’s presidential library has appointed 17 Chicago-area civic and business leaders to a panel that will execute and monitor diversity and inclusion efforts, the Chicago Tribune reports. Several nonprofit officials will serve on what the Barack Obama Foundation called an “inclusion council,” which will be co-chaired by a trio of business executives and will work to ensure a broad range of opinions go into the group’s work. The Obama Presidential Center, now in the planning stage, is slated to open in 2021 in Jackson Park on Chicago’s South Side. Read Chronicle stories on President Obama's and Michelle Obama's potential post-White House advocacy work.

State Dept. Aide Coordinated With Clinton Charity After Haiti Quake: An official in the Hillary Clinton-led State Department worked with the Clinton Foundation as it coordinated the U.S. response to Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and appeared to prioritize Bill Clinton associates in weighing offers of help, according to ABC News. Emails between Caitlin Klevorick, then a senior State aide, and Amitabh Desai, the foundation’s foreign-policy director, show the charity funneling aid offers to the agency and Ms. Klevorick flagging those involving an “FOB” (Friend of Bill) or “WJC VIPs” (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs). Bruce Lindsey, the foundation’s chairman, said that in the aftermath of the quake the charity “mobilized our network … to make sure that any help offered was put to good use” and that its supporters did not expect or receive special treatment.

Naming Plan Stokes Controversy Over Houston School Gift: A proposal to rename a Houston public school in recognition of a $7.5 million donation is fueling a fiery debate on the local school board, the Houston Chronicle writes. The body is slated to vote Thursday on adding the surname of donors Richard and Nancy Kinder to the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, which is building a new downtown campus. Mr. Kinder is the co-founder of energy-infrastructure firm Kinder Morgan and a major donor to education, parks, and the arts in Houston. The naming plan, typical for collegiate buildings but unusual for a public school, prompted an intense discussion at a recent school board meeting.

Sprint Launches Connectivity Project for Low-Income Students: The telecommunications company will provide a laptop or mobile device and free high-speed internet access to 1 million students in an effort to close the “homework gap” as schoolwork increasingly moves online, reports The New York Times. Sprint’s 1 Million Project will be rolled out in seven to 10 cities early next year with help from the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, which was established last year in association with President Obama’s program to help boys and young men of color, and other nonprofits. Telecom and internet companies are increasingly working to expand broadband access to low-income and rural communities via programs that combine philanthropy with the potential to draw future paying customers, the Times writes.

U. of Louisville Foundation Obtained Okla. Factory at Donor’s Behest: The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting dissects the university-affiliated nonprofit’s 2014 deal to take over a vacant industrial plant hundreds of miles from campus from Henry Vogt Heuser Jr., a multimillion-dollar donor then going through bankruptcy. The complex transaction, involving a $3.47 million promissory note and plans for the foundation to reap proceeds from the building’s sale, was termed an investment by the foundation but characterized by some university officials as a gift. Experts in tax law and nonprofit management said the deal raises ethical red flags if it was designed to provide the donor with a tax or financial benefit. The foundation, already facing scrutiny over other financial dealings, said it is in the process of canceling the Heuser transaction because the Oklahoma building did not sell in two years on the market.

Airline Magnate Pledges $24 Million to U. of Montana: The gift from Bill Franke and his family will support the university’s College of Forestry and Conservation and its Global Leadership Initiative, Montana Public Radio reports. Mr. Franke is the co-founder of Indigo Partners, an investor in America West, Frontier Airlines, and other carriers. He has previously made large gifts to Stanford and Northern Arizona University. The recipient Montana programs will be renamed for the Franke family pending approval by the university’s Faculty Senate and the state Board of Regents.