Foundation Friday: using “foundation” in the broadest sense

Foundation for the future: The best thing about the $100 million gift just announced by the University of Chicago isn’t that it’s the largest gift in history to an Illinois college, though that’s nice; nor that it’s anonymous, though that’s classy.  It’s that every penny is to be spent in the next 15 years to eliminate tuition debts for 10% of the college student body and halve those debts for another 15%.  The University is seeking $300 million to endow this so-called Odyssey Scholarship program in the long term, but this gift isn’t for the long term–except insofar as it will make the lives of these students vastly better and more productive in the long term.  The gift is for right now. 

Which reminds the Nonprofiteer to ask: why do most donors (with the huge, and terrific, exception of this donor to the U of C) treat the needs of people in the future as superior to those of people right now?  What moral principle is served by the deferral of doing good?

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Foundation for the future, Wayback Machine edition: We note with sorrow the death of Parren J. Mitchell, who for many years represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Elected in 1970, Mitchell was Maryland’s first black Congressman since the Reconstruction 100 years before.  He defeated his opponent in the Democratic primary (then tantamount to election) by 38 votes, in a campaign in which the teenaged Nonprofiteer stuffed envelopes and answered the phone and learned that every single vote really does count.  She also learned what an adult who devoted his life to public service looked like, and to this day aspires to encounter that when she looks in the mirror.  "He was a man, take him for all in all; we shall not see his like again."   

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