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America's Top Young Philanthropists

America's Top Young PhilanthropistsThree Tufts graduates were named to Worth Magazine’s list of the “25 Most Generous Young Americans.” Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.29.03] Tufts graduates like Alison Goldberg and Pierre and Pamela Omidyar are changing the face of philanthropy in the United States. Goldberg, 28, and the Omidyars, 35, have each generously helped a host of programs and causes through their foundations, earning them top spots on Worth Magazine's list of the "Top 25 Most Generous Young Americans."

"The 25 people who make our list are all 45 or younger, and that is especially meaningful," wrote Worth Magazine's editors in their introduction to the list. "In the world of philanthropy, significant giving often doesn't begin until the best days of a person's career are past. Not so here."

For Goldberg, her work in philanthropy began in her early twenties. She had just graduated from Tufts with a degree in anthropology and art history.

"Goldberg, straight out of Tufts, was spending a year as an AmeriCorps worker on a Montana Native American reservation," reported Worth. "Earning a poverty-level salary, she received a message from her mother: The family had endowed a multimillion-dollar foundation, and Goldberg was a trustee."

The Tufts graduate saw an opportunity to make a change - both to social issues and to the world of philanthropy itself.

"Forgoing a salary, she rented space in a Cambridge office and started Foundations for Change, which offers resources to instruct young philanthropists in how to be effective," reported Worth. "The focus is social change, and Goldberg emphasizes personal involvement."

At the heart of Foundations for Change -- which has since merged with Resource Generation, providing its donor education program -- is a concept called "social change philanthropy."

"What distinguishes social change philanthropy from other forms of grantmaking is the central tenet that philanthropy's success is measured not only by where money is given, but also the process by which it is given," Goldberg wrote in Foundation News and Commentary magazine. "Social change philanthropy strives to incorporate democratic giving principles that provide access to those who are generally left out of grantmaking in order to support their campaigns for social and economic justice."

Because the means matters as much as the ends, Goldberg and others like her are focused on providing an avenue for engaging a broad collection of communities - ranging from low income populations to immigrants to disabled people - in the process of pairing philanthropy and social causes.

"Philanthropy is really for everybody," Goldberg told Foundation. "Sometimes that gets lost with the older generation."

The concept of community plays an equally important role in the philanthropic efforts of Tufts graduates Pierre and Pamela Omidyar.

The billionaire founder of eBay, Omidyar announced that he would eventually give away 99 percent of his wealth. The pair - both 35 years old - set up the Omidyar Foundation in 2000.

"[The Omidyars] decided that the same idea that powered eBay - community building - would power their foundation," reported Worth. "To that end, the foundation focuses on helping nonprofits access technology, financing, and leadership training."

The pair has also generously supported causes including hunger and education, as well as the establishment of the University College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts, which prepares Tufts students to become committed public citizens and leaders who take an active role in building stronger communities and societies.

Having already given more than $150 million, the Omidyars are ranked third on Worth's list of the Top 10 givers by donors under 45 years old.

But Goldberg and the Omidyars generosity, wrote Worth's editors, is about more than just money.

"If we were simply looking for those who gave the most money, the task would have been easy," the editors wrote. "But generosity also means giving time, having compassion, and being willing to devote creative energy to endeavors that don't bring personal fame or fortune."

 

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