Members of the Constitutional Convention officially adopted the Constitution as our nation’s supreme law on this day in 1787. As such, September 17 has officially been designated as a day of observance to commemorate this pivotal moment in American history.
The Constitution has endured for nearly 230 years and preserves the rights the citizens of our country hold dear. They are the very rights that have helped establish a vibrant and generous tradition of American philanthropy. In the Fall 2013 issue of Philanthropy magazine, Adam Meyerson, president of The Philanthropy Roundtable, wrote about the Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of association and the critical role of anonymous giving in a thriving civil society. To commemorate Constitution Day, we re-publish Meyerson’s letter as a reminder of the importance of philanthropic freedom.
2012- Rolling Restoration of Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum
The Smithsonian Institution was a product of philanthropy (a bequest from James Smithson), and about 30 percent of its budget continues to come from private donations (which play a particularly large role in expansions and new initiatives). A major refresh of its National Museum of Natural History began in the late 1990s, sparking the largest gift to the museum to that point from Ken Behring, who rose from harsh poverty to riches by selling cars and then developing real estate. He donated $20 million to spearhead a massive renovation of Natural History’s ground floor, resulting in, among other things, a new Hall of Mammals which opened in 2003. (Behring later donated $80 million to revitalize the National Museum of American History, making him the Smithsonian’s largest private donor.)
Today we reflect upon the events that shook our nation 13 years ago and honor the fallen. With that in mind, we share an article from the New York Times about the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, which provides full scholarships to family members of the victims of the September 11 attacks.
“The organization initially enlisted President Bill Clinton and Senator Bob Dole to raise more than $100 million so that children with so much on their minds would not have to worry about money for college. In a fitting coincidence, the last $4.8 million of those initial contributions will be handed out this fall semester,” wrote the New York Times.
Click here to read the full article.
1721 Endowed College Chairs
The endowed professorship—an educational post funded over a long period of time by the earnings from an initial gift—is among the signal accomplishments of U.S. educational philanthropy. The pervasiveness of the endowed chair in the U.S. today makes it easy to assume that the practice must be common everywhere. Actually the institution is rare outside of America, where it took root long before we were even a country.
1945 - Sloan-Kettering Institute
General Motors vice president Charles Kettering is most famously known for his automotive inventions, such as the first electrical starter motor and leaded gasoline, and the 185 patents he held. Less known are his contributions to medicine and science. An extraordinarily broad tinkerer, Kettering also developed several medical innovations, such as an incubator for premature infants, treatments for venereal disease, and magnetic diagnostic devices.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is widely expected to take over as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, discussed several charity-related issues in this interview with CNBC last week. In this interview, Chairman Ryan expressed his belief in the critical role of our civil society, support for avoiding a cap of the charitable deduction, and extending the deadline to claim a charitable deduction until April 15.
The discussion was part of a broader conversation of the popular “Ice Bucket Challenge” for ALS. Chairman Ryan’s comments begin at 1:20.
1954 Columbus Discovers Modern Architecture
Columbus, Indiana, a town of 44,000 people about an hour south of Indianapolis, is one of the world’s greatest troves of contemporary architecture. It is ranked by the American Institute of Architects as the sixth most architecturally innovative American city—behind only Chicago, New York, Washington, Boston, and San Francisco. The city is home to dozens of notable buildings, sculptures, and landmarks, including a public library by I. M. Pei; Eliel Saarinen’s First Christian Church; North Christian Church and Irwin Union Bank designed by Eliel’s son Eero; a downtown shopping center by Cesar Pelli; Harry Weese’s First Baptist Church; and a firehouse by Robert Venturi. Other architects and artists who have designed projects in Columbus include Henry Moore, Richard Meier, Kevin Roche, and Gunnar Birkets.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is widely expected to take over as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, recently expressed his support for not implementing a cap on the charitable deduction, according to a report from Politico. Ryan stated that the charitable deduction is “the one area where I believe we should not have a top cap.”