Clinton Summit Adds Gender Issues, Lures Obama, Lloyd Blankfein
Author: Patrick Cole
Source: Bloomberg.com, September 22nd, 2009, Clinton Summit Adds Gender Issues, Lures Obama, Lloyd Blankfein, Retrieved September 23rd, 2009 from http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ax3VTW2Ykpt0
Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) — Even before former President Bill Clinton secured the release of two U.S. journalists from North Korea this summer, his Clinton Global Initiative had put him back on the world stage as a major player in philanthropy.
The initiative brings together people with clout and money to develop solutions for world problems. Since 2005, its four- day annual summits have helped create $46 billion in funding commitments for causes ranging from education and environmental assistance to climate change and health care.
This year’s meeting, which begins today at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, has drawn political and business leaders such as Goldman, Sachs & Co. Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein and World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick. President Barack Obama will address the opening session. The new theme added to the 2009 meeting is investing in women and girls to narrow the gender gap.
“In all the world there is only one strategy which clearly slows population growth, raises income and promotes more social stability that is supported across all religious and cultural lines,” Clinton, 63, said in an interview at Bloomberg News headquarters. “And that is putting all the girls in school and giving all the young women access to the labor market.”
The summit attracts an eclectic mix of world leaders, public-policy experts and artists. Participants this year will include more than 60 former and current heads of state; former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan; JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chairman Jamie Dimon; Grameen Bank founder and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus; musicians Alicia Keys and Quincy Jones; and actors Brad Pitt, Demi Moore and Julia Ormond.
‘Attention and Pizzazz’
“The most important thing the initiative has done is get a lot of attention and pizzazz to raise a lot of money for causes,” Leslie Lenkowsky, professor of philanthropic studies at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, said in a phone interview. “It’s like a fundraising dinner you go to at your alma mater but on a much grander scale.”
Started in 2005 by the former president’s Little Rock, Arkansas-based William J. Clinton Foundation, the Global Initiative is geared to showing results. This year’s participants are expected to discuss topics such as improving infrastructure, harnessing innovation, global health, climate change and the added theme of the gender gap.
‘The Whole Family’
“When you’re looking at the issue of women and girls, you’re using that as a way to talk about the whole family,” Melissa Berman, president and chief executive officer of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in New York, said in a phone interview. “You’re talking about the way they help with livelihood, health and education and you’re also talking about human rights.”
Clinton demands that discussion leads to results, and some commitments are worked out in advance. The Global Initiative plans to announce Wednesday, for instance, that Visa Inc., which promised last year to reach 10 million parents and children with a financial literacy program, will double that number worldwide by 2013.
Visa is partnering with Europe’s International Federation of Association Football (known as FIFA), the National Football League in the U.S., NYSE Euronext and other groups to create Financial Football, a Web-based game that teaches personal finance using football and soccer as teaching tools.
“Its fundamental character is minimum speeches, maximum conversation results in a commitment from everyone,” Clinton said about the meeting. “If you don’t make a commitment or you make one and don’t keep it, you don’t get to come back. That’s what started it, that’s what makes it run.”
$17 Million Lost
To boost financial support for his foundation, Clinton’s staff is seeking a wider range of donors including smaller ones. Clinton has agreed not to solicit funds for his Global Initiative and to disclose donations to his nonprofit to the Obama administration yearly. At least $41 million in donations have come from foreign governments such as Saudi Arabia and Norway.
Clinton said his foundation lost $17 million in committed contributions from the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. last September through the end of 2008. The foundation covered the loss with its cash reserves, he said.
“The rest of us have been killing ourselves since then trying to make sure we could continue running the show,” said Clinton, whose foundation has received gifts of $150 or less from 200,000 donors. “It’s been a very rigorous year, but we’ve changed our donor base. A lot of people get it that this work needs to be done.”