GOOD

Warren Buffet's Family Has Pledged $90 Million—And Devised An Innovative Way Of Sharing It

The foundation’s revolutionary approach lets those in need determine how the funds are spent

One year ago, the NoVo Foundation, a charity established by Peter and Jennifer Buffett, announced it would soon deploy an “investment” of $90 million to aid young women of color—big news in itself. But in the shadow of that eye-popping figure was another story. The foundation, having pledged the funds, would spend the next 12 months meeting with the demographic and its advocates to determine the most productive way to spend that money over the next seven years.

This “listen, don’t tell” approach has been a hallmark of the NoVo Foundation, which prides itself on heeding the requests of the needy, rather than presuming to know their concerns.


The conclusion after a year of discovery?

The money will be deployed via three streams to tackle the different issues facing women of color in distinct ways.

One stream will fund community-based organizations that work directly with the people they’re helping. That money won’t be placed in trusts or earmarked for later use, but rather directly fund budget line items on continuing operations.

Another stream of funds from NoVo will focus exclusively on organizations and efforts in the southeastern United States in concert with a yet-undetermined regional partner. The foundation learned during its year-long study that, despite being home to 40 percent of its target demographic, the area has been historically overlooked by philanthropy in the past. This money will also be used to form new organizations necessary to affect change and to fund individual efforts that may exist outside of established organizations.

The third stream will fund broader concerns on a national level, including research organizations and policy change measures.

Such a structure was reached upon the realization that there was no “magic bullet” to solve the array of issues facing women of color in the United States. Says foundation executive director Pamela Shifman, “One size fits all was never going to work in terms of the kind of support we offer. We wanted to let girls of color and their advocates really determine their most important needs because they are the experts on their own lives.”

With structure established and announced, the NoVo Foundation is currently accepting applications from efforts targeted by all three streams for the next few weeks. It’s expected that the first money will be deployed in the fall, working toward a goal of placing $13 million by the end of the year.

With such a big bankroll at stake, the Buffett family was able to invest early in the structure of the gift(s) so that the beneficiaries themselves could determine the best use of the funds. The seven-year lifespan of this pledge ensures that as lessons are learned and strategy changes, money can be allocated based on both success and need.

Says Peter Buffet of the foundation’s unorthodox approach, “I’d rather see organizational capacity get built so they can decide.”

Money
NASA

Four black women, Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan, worked as "human computers" at NASA during the Space Race, making space travel possible through their complex calculations. Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughn all played a vital role in helping John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth.

They worked behind the scenes, but now they're getting the credit they deserve as their accomplishments are brought to the forefront. Their amazing stories were detailed in the book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race" by Margot Lee Shetterly, which was later turned into a movie. (Darden was not featured in the movie, but was in the book). Johnson has a building at NASA named after her, and a street in front of NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters was renamed "Hidden Figures Way."

Keep Reading Show less
Science

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News
Courtesy of John S. Hutton, MD

A report from Common Sense Media found the average child between the ages of 0 and 8 has 2 hours and 19 minutes of screen time a day, and 35% of their screen time is on a mobile device. A new study conducted by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics, found exactly what all that screen time is doing to your kid, or more specifically, your kid's developing brain. It turns out, more screen time contributes to slower brain development.

First, researchers gave the kids a test to determine how much and what kind of screen time they were getting. Were they watching fighting or educational content? Were they using it alone or with parents? Then, researchers examined the brains of children aged 3 to 5 year olds by using MRI scans. Forty seven brain-healthy children who hadn't started kindergarten yet were used for the study.

They found that kids who had more than one hour of screen time a day without parental supervision had lower levels of development in their brain's white matter, which is important when it comes to developing cognitive skills, language, and literacy.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via KTVU / YouTube

The 63-year-old Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, currently branded the RingCentral Coliseum, is one of the most decrepit sports venues in America.

The home to the the NFL's Oakland Raiders (until they move to Las Vegas next season) and MLB's A's, is notoriously known as the Black Hole and has made headlines for its frequent flooding and sewage issues.

One of the stadium's few positive aspects is its connection to public transportation.

Keep Reading Show less
Hero Video
via Anadirc / Flickr

We spend roughly one-third of our life asleep, another third at work and the final third trying our best to have a little fun.

But is that the correct balance? Should we spend as much time at the office as we do with our friends and family? One of the greatest regrets people have on their deathbeds is that they spent too much of their time instead of enjoying quality time with friends and family.

Lawmakers in the United Kingdom have made a significant pledge to reevaluate the work-life balance in their country.

Keep Reading Show less
Lifestyle