“I want every girl, every child, to be educated,” said Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in Pakistan for her advocacy of girls’ education. Recovering from surgery in Britain, the 15-year-old girl has started a charity to support schooling for girls.
“The vast majority of America’s charitable dollars are donated to local religious and educational institutions” or to worthy causes, writes Dana Goldstein. But the most effective way to help the poor is to give them money to do with as they see fit, she writes in The Atlantic. In other words, don’t buy a Christmas goose for the Cratchits. Give them cash. (Was Bob Cratchit a spendthrift?)
In the Third World, at least half of government aid for the poor is lost to corruption and private philanthropy is “heavily skimmed” as well. Micro-credit efforts don’t the very poor and “many recipients default on their loans, leaving them further in debt,” Goldstein writes.
Mexico and Brazil give “conditional cash transfers” to poor families who enroll their children in school or take them to the doctor, but that’s hard to do in very poor countries where there aren’t enough schools or doctors.
(Four economists gave) poor families in rural Kenya $1,000 over the course of 10 months, and let them do whatever they wanted with the money. They hoped the recipients would spend it on nutrition, health care, and education. But, theoretically, they could use it to purchase alcohol or drugs. The families would decide on their own.
Three years later, the four economists expanded their private effort into GiveDirectly, a charity that accepts online donations from the public, as well. Ninety-two cents of every dollar donated to GiveDirectly is transferred to poor households through M-PESA, a cell phone banking service with 11,000 agents working in Kenya.
. . . GiveDirectly recipients are spending their payments mostly on food and home improvements that can vastly improve quality of life, such as installing a weatherproof tin roof. Some families have invested in profit-bearing businesses, such as chicken-rearing, agriculture, or the vending of clothes, shoes, or charcoal.
Unconditional cash transfers aren’t popular with non-governmental organization staffers, says Paul Niehaus, one of GiveDirectly’s founders. ”If this works, what are we all here for? Why do we have jobs? There’s an industry that exists that tries to make decisions for poor people and determine what’s best for them.”
The very poor in rural Kenya are poor “because they were born in Africa,” says Niehaus. Abject poverty in the U.S. is correlated with irresponsibility, addiction and illness. Most giving assumes there are deserving poor and undeserving poor, Goldstein writes on her blog.
Deserving poor people work, even if the wages they earn are less than the costs of child or health care. They endure cumbersome bureaucratic processes to seek child support from the absent fathers of their children, even if those fathers are in jail, drug addicted, or otherwise unable to provide for their kids. They open college savings accounts, even if they need 100 percent of their monthly income just to cover the costs of housing and food. They attend classes on why it’s important to get married.
Social welfare systems favor mothers of young children. There’s little help for childless adults without disabilities. Taxpayers aren’t willing to give no-strings cash to the poor.
. . . most of us assume poor people need to learn how to best help themselves. The radical premise of GiveDirectly is that poor people already know, much better than their governments or a charity director, what they need.
Even poor Americans think aid should go only to those who do their best to support themselves, reports Reuters in a look at poverty in Indiana.
The New York City Marathon was cancelled, but runners were on the move to help storm victims, reports AP.
Hundreds of runners wearing marathon shirts and backpacks full of supplies took the ferry to hard-hit Staten Island and ran to stricken neighborhoods to help.
. . . Instead of running his first marathon, Akil Defour of Brooklyn climbed 20 flights of stairs in a building without power or heat in Far Rockaway, Queens, to deliver water, blankets and peanut butter sandwiches.
“I knew I wanted to volunteer after they canceled the marathon,” said Defour, 30, who put in five hours of work with his running team. “We decided it would be easier for us athletes to go up and down the buildings.”
On Staten Island, the runners headed for distribution sites, but some handed out supplies along the way.
Near the water, there were no traffic lights and far more sirens. Houses looked like they had been sacked. Furniture was in front yards, washing machines, TVs.
But one man came out of his home and asked if the runners had flashlights, and they did. At another house, a family wearing face masks asked for batteries and sweatshirts. They said, “God bless you.” The man said, “Let me take your picture.”
A World with No Math is a promo for Save the Children’s CrowdRise fundraising campaign to fund math education in Africa and Asia. Quite a few Americans also are living in a world without math.
It’s the first day of school in Joplin, Missouri, which was devastated by a killer tornado in May. Despite the destruction — six schools destroyed, three badly damaged — the district is ready, reports the Tulsa World.
The high school is a heap of rubble: Freshmen and sophomore will have classes at a middle school, while juniors and seniors go to Shopko, an empty department store that got a $5.5 million makeover in 12 weeks.
Donors have helped teachers replaced lost school supplies.
Over 260 classrooms in Joplin, Missouri were destroyed by the May 22 tornado that devastated the city. Teachers are working to restock classrooms and create a warm, familiar atmosphere. Through Donors Choose, you can help fund Joplin teachers’ classroom projects.
Calculate the cost of your schooling at Building Tomorrow. According to the calculator, Illinois public schools in the ’50s and ’60s spent $21,029 to educate me from first through seventh grade. (I assume that’s adjusted for inflation.) A generation later, my daughter’s California schooling cost more than $50,000 through seventh grade.
Building Tomorrow is raising money for primary schools in Uganda, where it costs $350 to get a student through seventh grade.
Donors Choose lets public school teachers put their wish lists on the web for donors to find. This year, a caller asked Charles Best, the founder, how much it would cost to fund every California teacher’s project, reports the SF Chronicle. Best said, “Something over $1 million.”
Twelve hours later, the woman, Hilda Yao, executive director of the Claire Giannini Fund, sent Best an e-mail.
It said, in short, OK.
A day later, Yao mailed a check of more than $1.3 million to cover the entire California wish list, 2,233 projects in all, with an extra $100,000 tossed in to help pay for other teacher needs across the country.
The projects funded by the donation range from $100 for pencil sharpeners or paper to thousands of dollars for technology, Best said.
Pershing Square Foundation is funding public school teacher’s history, government or civics projects on DonorsChoose — if private donors get together to fund the final $98. You can give any amount. There are four days left to give.
For example, an American history teacher in a high-poverty Louisiana school hopes to buy a CD player, junction box, history books on CD and some beanbag chairs for a listening center. She also wants a class set of Grace’s Letter to Lincoln books.
By cutting off new students from aid, Congress has condemned Washington, D.C.’s school voucher program to a “slow death,” say leaders of D.C. Parents for School Choice. There was no Christmas miracle for the program, despite evidence that scholarship students do better in reading than similar students who lose the lottery.
Instapundit suggests that private donors step in to fund scholarships to enable low-income children to escape unsafe, chaotic, low-performing schools.
Update: Save DC Kids is trying to keep the scholarships alive with private funding.