philanthropy

Ray Kroc was peddling franchises around the country for a fledgling hamburger stand in the 1950s - McDonald’s, it was called - when he entered a St. Paul supper club and encountered a beautiful young piano player named Joan who would change his life forever.

Just as their relationship twisted and turned dramatically, the fortunes of Ray’s new business came perilously close to failure.  Ultimately Ray wrested control of McDonald’s from the original founders; in short order the successful burger stand in the desert of California would be transformed into a stock market sensation and international brand.

To the outside world, Ray and Joan were happy, enormously rich, and giving. But privately, Joan was growing troubled over Ray’s temper and dark secret, something she was reluctant to publicly reveal. And yet, this volatility paved the way for Joan’s transformation into one of the greatest philanthropists of our time.

Journalist Lisa Napoli’s new book is: Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald's Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away. 

  At a time when colleagues were hitting their mid-career strides, Steve Lobel was mired in failure. On the brink of bankruptcy, Lobel had no income, no savings, no job, no career-and, it seemed, no future. The business he had purchased twenty months earlier had collapsed, a misfortune he had brought largely on himself by breaking every rule of sound business.

This was the same man who a few years before had opened the gourmet market Cowan & Lobel in Albany, New York, only to lose the store at the height of its success.

Peter Singer is often described as the world’s most influential living philosopher. His forty books have appeared in more than twenty-five languages, the most popular being Animal Liberation, written in 1975. Since 1999, he’s been the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. His new book is The Most Good You Can Do , where he explains what effective altruism is, how it is practiced, and how its followers determine which causes to support. In the book he continues his critique of traditional philanthropy and emphasizes the importance of mindful contribution.

Dan Callister

Acclaimed filmmaker and activist Mira Nair is this year's honorary recipient of the Woodstock Film Festival’s 3rd annual Meera Gandhi Giving Back Award. The award honors a director, producer or actor who best delivers a message of social change and exhibits a strong compassion for philanthropy.

In addition to accepting the award, Nair will participate in the annual BMI-sponsored Music For Film chat at the festival along with Mychael Danna, the Academy-Award winning film composer who recently won Best Original Score for his work on Life of Pi.

After several years of making documentary films, Mira Nair made a stunning entry on the world stage with her first feature, Salaam Bombay! in 1988, the first Indian film to win the Camera D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Nair used the profits from the film's debut to create the Salaam Baalak Trust for India's street children. Her other films include Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair, The Namesake, and most recently The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

A statewide competition in Massachusetts hopes to help up to 20 small cities find ways to solve major problems through collaborations.

The Working Cities Challenge, which will launch on Friday, intends to revitalize small and medium sized post-industrial cities in the commonwealth by bringing together leadership from the public and private sectors to brainstorm and initiate their own solutions. Eligible cities in Western Massachusetts include Pittsfield, Westfield, Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee. 

An endowment of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation , the Robert and James Hardman Fund, awarded grants to 18 separate non-profits in Northern Berkshire County. The money supports a variety of community initiatives including non-profits in the arts & culture, health, human and social services, environmental advocacy, and others.