Philanthropy Notes: January 2016

For donors interested in education reform, the Philanthropy Roundtable has a new “Wise Giver’s Guide” that focuses on how donors of all religions and none can best support Catholic schools. Those schools, especially in the inner city, often serve mostly poor, non-Catholic students, and they help make the case for school choice: the idea that all students and parents should have the freedom to choose the best schools for their situation, and therefore that all schools should be forced to compete for private and government funds. This guidebook, available at, has lots of practical advice for donors who want to join in the innovative progress that has been achieved in recent years by cutting-edge funders like equity-capital pioneer Russ Carson of Partnership for Inner-city Education and Rob Birdsell, B.J. Cassin, and John Eriksen of the Drexel Fund. As the book’s editor Karl Zinsmeister observes, a sector of schooling that not long ago looked in danger of going extinct has been saved by “entrepreneurs who know that competition is the best route to success,” and “donors who are willing to share their wealth with schools that improve lives.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) bid for the Democrats’ presidential nomination has boosted interest in the Marxist group known as Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose full name is Democratic Socialists of America Fund Inc. The Wall Street Journal reports that around 10,000 people visited the group’s website the day of the Democratic debate in Las Vegas in October—which is more than six times the normal level of visitors. Since Sanders jumped into the fray in May, new membership applications have jumped by 100 to 200 percent on a monthly basis. “This is a gift from the socialist gods,” said Joseph Schwartz, a DSA vice chairman and Temple University professor. Around 120 people attended DSA’s biennial meeting in Pennsylvania in November, a third more than the previous meeting.



Goldman Sachs is being sued because it allegedly failed to notice and then covered up a mathematical error that shortchanged investors in Tibco Software Inc. by $100 million when the company was sold in 2014. “It comes as scrutiny of bankers’ advice, one of the top sources of Wall Street fees and bragging rights in a record year for [mergers and acquisitions] is on the rise,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The lawsuit claims Goldman didn’t let Tibco know once it realized a bid for the company was underpriced and that this omission tied the board’s hands at a key moment. Directors are required under the law to seek the best price they can for investors.

In another lawsuit against Goldman Sachs reported by the newspaper, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is alleging that former Goldman employee Yue Han used stolen inside information to trade before client mergers, reaping a $450,000-plus profit. The SEC obtained an emergency order freezing Han’s assets and accounts he used to conduct the transactions. “If the allegations are true, Han violated our trust and ignored extensive training that he received, so we are pleased that the authorities are pursuing action against him,” a Goldman representative stated.


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