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The Endowment Project Expands Funding Opportunities for Public High Schools

Endowment funds, common in private colleges and schools, are now making their way into the public school system. Entrepreneurs Michael Bor and Chris Bossola have launched The Endowment Project, aiming to create a $65 million endowment for every public high school in the U.S.

Starting with a pilot program in Richmond, Virginia, The Endowment Project has already seen success. Douglas S. Freeman High School raised nearly $100,000, funding scholarships, facility upgrades, and innovative learning spaces.

Inspired by rare success stories like Boston Latin School's $75 million endowment, The Endowment Project seeks to engage alumni and philanthropists to support public education. The project's infrastructure allows schools to easily set up funds, engage donors, and manage contributions transparently.

While traditional educational foundations focus on broader programs, The Endowment Project aims to supplement these efforts by targeting individual schools. It has already gained traction in Richmond, with plans to expand across Virginia and eventually nationwide.

The project's success hinges on its ability to engage alumni and philanthropists effectively. By leveraging technology and focusing on individual schools, The Endowment Project hopes to create sustainable funding streams that benefit public high schools across the country.

The Endowment Project: A Novel Approach to Public School Funding

The Endowment Project is a purpose-driven for-profit education technology company. It is building the philanthropic infrastructure for public schools, aiming to ensure that public high school students, faculty, and staff have a more robust high school experience.

Public and private colleges, universities, and private high schools have dedicated alumni development organizations that nurture strong community and allegiance and then harvest donations from these communities that further the school's mission. Public high schools do not have this. The Endowment Project is bridging this gap by building the infrastructure to enable public high schools to create strong and loyal communities and steward the generosity of those communities.

How The Endowment Project Works

The Endowment Project is a technology- and human resource-enabled platform designed to help public high schools build communities from which capital is raised, managed, and deployed to enhance the educational experience for millions of students, faculty, and staff at public high schools across the U.S.

The project uses its proprietary technology and human-capital-driven processes combined with best-in-class alumni development strategies to build philanthropic infrastructure, establish and build strong and loyal school communities, raise capital from those communities, and appropriately manage the raised assets to benefit the students, teachers, and administrators of U.S. public high schools.

Partnerships and Fundraising

The Endowment Project partners with existing education foundations to serve as their development and administrative back-office function. It creates a database of donors, expands the school community, and provides fundraising services for each of its partner foundations. The project also pools and manages the capital from each foundation, with the advantage of scale leading to higher returns.

The company also manages grant requests, funding, and reporting, ensuring that the raised funds are used effectively to benefit public high schools. It has launched several fundraising programs for local high schools as a proof-of-concept, with plans to expand its efforts nationwide.

Impact and Future Plans

The Endowment Project estimates that 200 million people in the United States went to public high schools, and the country has 25,000 such high schools. Its goal is to create greater equality in the education experience between public and private high schools by providing public high schools with the same opportunities for fundraising and community engagement.

As it rolls out its fundraising programs and expands its reach, The Endowment Project aims to change the face of public education in America, ensuring that all public high school students have access to a more robust and enriched educational experience.

City-Owned Vacant Homes in Baltimore to Be Sold for $1

The Baltimore Board of Estimates approved a program to sell city-owned vacant homes for $1. The decision was made despite objections from City Council President Nick Mosby, who expressed deep concern about the policy. The new pricing structure, approved by a 4-1 vote, will apply to a small group of city-owned homes listed on the Buy Into Bmore website, with rates starting at $1. Mosby, a Democrat, voted against the item, noting that he had proposed a similar program in 2021, which stalled in committee in 2022.

Mosby had previously pushed for a deferral of the new policy, arguing that Mayor Brandon Scott’s administration had not provided sufficient written guidelines to ensure that city residents are given first rights to buy properties and are not displaced when neighborhoods improve. He emphasized the importance of ensuring that sales fit into a broader approach to development that addresses vacancy for entire areas, rather than individual properties.

City housing officials, however, have insisted that guardrails are in place to protect residents. These include a 90-day window during which city residents will have priority to buy properties for renovation and use as their primary residence. The Department of Housing and Community Development also plans to offer a form for residents to indicate interest in buying any vacant property, whether city-owned or otherwise.

Alice Kennedy, the city’s housing commissioner, explained that the pricing policy is part of the city’s property disposition strategy and that there are other programs to help residents and developers financially when they buy properties to rehab.

The $1 price point will be available only for individual buyers and community land trusts. Developers will have to pay $3,000, as will large nonprofits with 51 or more employees, while nonprofits with fewer employees could pay $1,000. The policy also covers vacant lots, which will range in price from $1 to $1,000, based on a similar structure.

The new pricing structure will apply to vacant homes and lots in city neighborhoods with the most stressed housing markets, primarily in East and West Baltimore. However, it will apply to very few of the city's total vacant properties, as fewer than 1,000 of the city's total vacant properties are city-owned, and not all of those are listed on the Buy Into Bmore website.

The program is reminiscent of the city’s “dollar house” program of the 1970s, which offered homes for $1 to residents willing to fix them up and live in them. However, unlike the previous program, the current approach does not include low-interest rate renovation loans for buyers.

The pricing policy is part of a larger plan to address the thousands of vacant homes and lots in the city. Last year, Mayor Scott unveiled a $3 billion plan that calls for a mix of public and private funding to be spent over 15 years to address 35,000 homes, including down payment and closing cost assistance.

Nneka N’namdi, a Baltimore housing advocate, expressed support for the fixed pricing policy but emphasized the need for conditions that prioritize existing residents and prevent slumlords and land speculators from participating. She also stressed the importance of offering financial assistance to buyers to help them rehabilitate properties.

In response, Mayor Scott committed to developing an anti-displacement and equity policy and creating a public-facing tracking tool for “whole block” development. He also pledged quarterly reports to the city council on the demographics of buyers and an annual review of the program’s effectiveness.

Mosby, however, argued that N’namdi’s demands were not being met by the city’s current policies governing the $1 sales, emphasizing the need to ensure that the policy is in place to protect residents.


Frankfort Avenue: Louisville's New Hub for Korean Food and Culture

In recent years, Frankfort Avenue in Louisville has seen a surge in Korean-owned businesses, sparking discussions about the possibility of it becoming a Koreatown. This area, particularly in the Clifton and Crescent Hill neighborhoods, has seen a blossoming of Korean food and culture, thanks in part to new residents and the success of establishments like Chef Edward Lee's Korean Steakhouse Nami.

Miki's Karaoke Bar & Korean Restaurant, opened by Miki Miller in 2023, offers karaoke and Korean cuisine. Miller, who moved to Louisville over 30 years ago, saw an opportunity to create a space for both fun and affordable dining, filling a gap in the neighborhood's offerings.

Similarly, Soo Young Cho, who lived in Seoul for nearly 30 years, opened KIWA in December 2023. Cho, with a background in architecture and a brief foray into real estate, found her passion in culinary arts. KIWA aims to showcase the nuanced diversity of Korean cuisine and culture, offering not just food but also art and craft workshops.

CM Chicken, a franchise established in South Korea, is another addition to Frankfort Avenue. Founded by husband and wife Viet Tran and Soyoung Chon, along with Tran's childhood friend San Luu and brother-in-law Quyen Pham, CM Chicken brings authentic Korean street food to Louisville, including Korean fried chicken, tteokbokki, and patbingsu.

Beyond Frankfort Avenue, Korean food has made a mark in Louisville, with establishments like Nami in Nulu and Top 1 Korean BBQ and Hotpot in the Highlands gaining popularity. Residents, including Marlie, a student at the Korean School of Louisville, have welcomed these new additions, appreciating the diverse culinary experiences they offer.

The growth of Korean businesses along Frankfort Avenue has not only enriched the neighborhood's culinary scene but also fostered a sense of community and cultural exchange. Whether it's through food, karaoke, or art, the Korean corridor is bringing a taste of Korea to Louisville, creating a vibrant and inclusive environment for all to enjoy.


Tragedy Strikes in Colorado as Man Dies from Pet Gila Monster Bite

A 34-year-old man, Christopher Ward, from Lakewood, Colorado, tragically passed away after being bitten by his pet Gila monster lizard. The incident occurred on the night of February 12th at Ward's residence on Holland Street. Ward's girlfriend called 911 after finding him with the venomous lizard latched onto his hand. She had heard Ward say something that sounded concerning from another room.

Following the bite, Ward quickly began experiencing symptoms, including vomiting, loss of consciousness, and cessation of breathing. He was rushed to St. Anthony Hospital, where he was placed on life support. Despite efforts to save him, Ward later succumbed to the effects of the bite.

The Gila monster that bit Ward was named Winston, purchased by Ward at a Denver reptile exhibition in October when the lizard was approximately one year old. Ward also owned a second Gila monster, named Potato, acquired as a hatchling from a breeder in Arizona in November.

Ownership of Gila monsters is illegal in Lakewood, as Ward's girlfriend was informed by animal control officers. Following the incident, authorities, including representatives from Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources, removed the lizards from Ward's home and planned to relocate them to Reptile Gardens in South Dakota.

Gila monsters are the largest lizards in the United States, capable of reaching lengths of up to 22 inches. Their venom is potent, similar in toxicity to that of a western diamondback rattlesnake. Although Gila monster bites are typically not fatal, their venom lacks an antidote, making it challenging to treat.

The Jefferson County Coroner's Office is conducting an investigation into Ward's death. Officials have not disclosed whether Ward's death was directly caused by the venom or if other medical factors contributed.

This tragic incident serves as a reminder of the importance of understanding and respecting the potential dangers posed by exotic pets, particularly those with venomous capabilities.


MSU Students Rally Against Gun Violence at State Capitol

Michigan State University students, along with activists and speakers, gathered at the state Capitol to rally against gun violence, marking the one-year anniversary of a campus shooting that claimed three lives and injured five others.

Speaker Maya Manuel, once a student and now active in student activism groups, including Sit Down MSU, Students Demand Action at MSU, and End Gun Violence Now, delivered an emotional address, urging legislators to prioritize safer gun laws. She criticized those who opposed recent gun sense legislation, stating they "do not deserve a seat."

Saylor Reinders, a junior at MSU and co-leader of the campus chapter of Students Demand Action, praised Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and supportive legislators for enacting four gun violence prevention laws last year. However, she emphasized the ongoing need for more action, citing the daily toll of approximately 120 Americans dying from gun violence.

Reinders called for continued advocacy to prevent future tragedies, highlighting the pervasive nature of gun violence and its impact on daily life. She urged Michigan legislators to push for further regulation, emphasizing the need to address the root causes of violence in communities.

Former MSU student body President Jo Kovach, joined by current President Emily Hoyumpa, emphasized the work that remains to be done, noting that an average of 1,382 Michiganders are killed by firearms each year. Kovach highlighted the need for stricter laws and increased funding for social services to prevent violence.

Throughout the rally, speakers reflected on the lives lost in the campus shooting and expressed their determination to push for change. Despite the ongoing grief, there were moments of hope for the future and gratitude for those supporting the cause.

In closing, Manuel expressed gratitude for the support and emphasized the importance of continuing the fight against gun violence. She noted that while progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to ensure a safer future for all.


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Dog-Friendly Bars Win Legal Battle Against Florida Department of Health

In a victory for dog lovers, Judge Lynne Quimby-Pennock has ruled in favor of two dog-friendly bars in Tampa and Orlando. These establishments can now keep welcoming four-legged patrons after the Florida Department of Health's attempt to block dogs was overruled. The judge's 29-page order highlighted that the Department had failed to properly revise a rule to enforce the ban.

The case revolved around sanitation certificates issued by county health departments, overseen by the state Department of Health. Pups Pub Tampa and Pups Pub Orlando had received sanitation certificates with the condition that they wouldn't serve food. The bars had also implemented measures, like installing gates, to keep dogs away from drink-service areas.

Despite complying with the guidelines, Pups Pub Tampa received a violation citation in June 2022 for allowing dogs on the premises. Similarly, Pups Pub Orlando, which got its sanitation certificate in July 2022, faced a violation citation less than a month later.

Judge Quimby-Pennock noted that the Department had allowed dog bars to operate in other counties previously, such as Duval and Palm Beach. She underscored that the Department didn't properly follow the process to adopt a rule prohibiting dogs in bars.

The judge's order stated that the Department must stop relying on the revised interpretation of the rule. It revealed that evidence clearly showed the Department had previously interpreted the rule to allow dogs in bars, with specific restrictions. However, in mid-2022, the Department changed its stance to ban dogs in bars.

The Department of Health, in a document dated May 22, argued it hadn't altered its interpretation, claiming actions against the bars were based on the existing rule's plain language, not on a new rule.

The ruling is a significant win for the dog-friendly bars and their customers who enjoy spending time with their furry companions while sipping on a drink. With Judge Quimby-Pennock's decision, these bars can continue operating with their dog-friendly policies intact.

Alaska's Agriculture: Entrepreneur Tarn Coffey's Unique Bet on Corn and Beyond

Tarn Coffey, an Alaskan businessman with a deep love for Nenana, a small community in Alaska, is embarking on a farming venture that could change the face of agriculture in the region. Coffey, who owns an automobile service business in Anchorage, commutes from Nenana and has now set his sights on cultivating corn in the Nenana-Totchaket Agriculture Project.

The Nenana-Totchaket Project has been in the works for decades, and Coffey secured five parcels of land, totaling about 225 acres, in a recent state agricultural land sale. Nenana has long been recognized for its agricultural potential, and Coffey's innovative approach could open up new possibilities for the region.

To achieve this, Coffey is experimenting with Gaspe corn, a hardy northern variety known for its resilience and nutrition. Unlike traditional sweet corn, Gaspe corn is not for human consumption but serves as excellent animal feed, an essential factor in Alaska's farming ventures.

With the state's next Nenana-Totchaket land sale planned in 2024, other farmers have an opportunity to explore the possibilities of agricultural growth in the region. By learning from past projects, the state is taking a phased approach to ensure the success of future farming endeavors.

Coffey is eager to share knowledge with Canadian farmers, who have extensive experience in northern agriculture. He believes that Alaskans can draw inspiration from Canada's success in producing protein-rich food plants like lentils, which have the potential to thrive in the northern climate.

Alaska's farming potential is often underestimated, according to Coffey, who is confident that with the right approach, the region can become a significant player in the agricultural landscape. As he continues his experiments with corn and other vegetables, Coffey's vision is to demonstrate the untapped potential of Alaskan agriculture and pave the way for future generations of farmers.

Illinois Farmers Seek Solutions after Deadly Dust Storm Hits Interstate 55

HARVEL, Ill. — A massive cloud of soil, carried by winds exceeding 40 mph, blanketed a busy stretch of Interstate 55 south of Springfield on May 1, causing an 84-car pileup that killed eight people, injuring at least three dozen others. The incident has brought the state's farming practices under scrutiny, raising concerns about soil conservation and its impact on public safety.

At Richard Lyons' 300-acre family farm, the techniques developed over his half-century of experience, including cover crops and minimal-till practices, have kept his soil fertile and crop yields high. While some farmers have adopted such methods, Illinois lags behind other states in implementing soil conservation practices, exposing farmland to erosion risks.

Farmers face challenges in adopting conservation practices, given thin profit margins and volatile weather patterns due to climate change. Reluctance to invest in expensive changes stems from the fear of potential yield dips that could threaten livelihoods. Additionally, state and federal agencies tasked with supporting farmers have struggled with limited resources.

The tragic event in May has sparked renewed calls for farmers to reevaluate planting practices. Farm fields regularly tilled and left bare are more susceptible to soil erosion. Methods like no-till and cover crops can reduce erosion risks and boost soil health. However, only 24% of Illinois fields used no-till in 2018, and cover crops were planted on just 2% of surveyed farms.

Farmers and conservationists agree that greater investment in programs and incentives is crucial to drive change. The federal Environmental Quality Incentive Program aims to support farmers adopting conservation practices, but Illinois ranked 37th in program funding from 2009 to 2019. Organizations like the American Farmland Trust advocate for increased funding and technical assistance to help farmers adopt soil conservation methods.

The road to adopting such practices won't be without challenges. Farmers might resist change due to cultural pressures or financial concerns. However, there are efforts to incentivize change, like the incentive program that offers farmers a $5-per-acre discount on insurance premiums for planting cover crops. Still, any move towards regulating farming practices may face resistance.

Illinois must strike a balance between preserving its farmland and implementing conservation practices that protect both the environment and public safety. As debates continue, farmers like Richard Lyons strive to preserve their land's legacy and promote sustainable practices for future generations.Source

Big Boy's New Fast-Food Spin-Off Aims to Revive Iconic Brand

The iconic Big Boy restaurant chain, deeply rooted in U.S. history, is adapting to changing dining preferences with the introduction of a fast-food spin-off named Bob's Big Boy. The nearly 90-year-old company, headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, has seen a significant reduction in its presence from almost 1,000 establishments nationwide to only 60, primarily in Michigan.

Bob's Big Boy is an experimental venture aimed at cost reduction, according to franchisee Ali Baydoun. The inaugural location is set to open at 32704 Grand River Ave. in Farmington, Michigan. The site, previously occupied by Burger King and Detroit Eatz, will retain a drive-thru and offer indoor seating for approximately 60 patrons.

Differing from traditional Big Boy locations, Bob's Big Boy will forego table service, breakfast, and salad buffets. Instead, customers will place orders at a counter. The menu will feature a scaled-down selection, including signature items like the Classic Big Boy double-decker burger, Slim Jim Sandwiches, fish and chips, shakes, and hot fudge cake.

Ali Baydoun, owner of a traditional Big Boy restaurant in Garden City, acknowledges the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on his business, citing a substantial decrease in sales. The new format, requiring fewer workers, aims to enhance competitiveness in the challenging economic landscape.

The name "Bob's Big Boy" pays homage to the chain's first restaurant, Bob's Pantry, established in 1936 in Glendale, California. Over the years, the brand has undergone various iterations, including Bob's, Bob's Big Boy, and Bob's — Home of the Big Boy Hamburger. Corporate transitions, bankruptcy, and changes in ownership characterize the company's recent history.

Ali Baydoun, an immigrant from Lebanon, traces his connection to Big Boy back to his teenage years when he started working at a local establishment. His journey within the company led him to become a manager by age 17. Expressing gratitude for the "land of opportunity," Baydoun fulfilled a personal goal by acquiring a closed-down Big Boy in Garden City in 2018.

Despite recent challenges, Baydoun is optimistic about the fast-food concept's potential to revitalize the brand. The experimental model, if successful, could lead to widespread adoption, he suggests, emphasizing the brand's familiarity to those over 50 or 60 who grew up with Big Boy as a ubiquitous presence.

Amid reports of Big Boy facing financial difficulties and a potential bankruptcy risk, franchisees like Baydoun remain focused on the new venture's prospects. The fast-food format, with its potential for reduced labor costs and overhead, presents an opportunity for adaptation and growth in an evolving market. Baydoun envisions a future where successful models like Bob's Big Boy could proliferate, bringing a fresh perspective to an established brand.

Plenty Unveils State-of-the-Art Indoor Farm in Compton

In a significant stride in the realm of sustainable agriculture, Plenty has officially opened the Plenty Compton Farm, positioned as the West Coast's sole commercial-scale vertical farm. Situated in Compton, California, this state-of-the-art indoor vertical farm boasts a cutting-edge design facilitating the annual production of up to 4.5 million pounds of leafy greens within a single city block.

Plenty, a pioneer in indoor farming, utilizes a unique 3D vertical architecture that stands as a key factor behind its impressive yield, reaching up to 350 times the output per acre compared to traditional farms. The farm's establishment marks the fruition of nearly a decade of research and development by Plenty, culminating in what CEO Arama Kukutai describes as a scalable platform for indoor farming. Kukutai highlights the farm's potential to provide a consistent, year-round supply of fresh produce with economically favorable unit dynamics, emphasizing the significance of this advancement for the global food supply.

Distinguishing itself from conventional greenhouses and "vertical" farms operating on flat planes, Plenty's innovation resides in its 3D growth approach, employing vertical towers that extend almost two stories high. This distinctive architecture enhances efficiency, enabling increased produce yields in less space while facilitating full automation throughout the growth cycle—from planting to harvest. Such advancements contribute to the reduction of production costs, aligning with Plenty's commitment to making affordable produce accessible across diverse communities.

Mayor Emma Sharif of Compton lauds the project, citing its role in reintroducing field-scale farming to the community. Over 30% of the farm's workforce hails from Compton, presenting job opportunities and cultivating interest in agriculture careers. Sharif sees the Plenty Compton Farm as a model for enhancing access to fresh, locally grown food in urban settings and supporting economic development in cities.

Plenty's approach to indoor farming addresses future challenges in the agricultural landscape. With an anticipated 50% surge in food demand by 2050 and a concurrent threat of soil degradation, Plenty's method proves resilient. By utilizing minimal land and water compared to conventional farming, the Plenty Compton Farm aims to save millions of gallons of water annually. Secretary Karen Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture applauds this innovative farming model, emphasizing its role in building climate-resilient food systems.

The initial produce offerings from the farm include four varieties of leafy greens: Baby Arugula, Baby Kale, Crispy Lettuce, and Curly Baby Spinach. Notably, the spinach, released as Plenty's newest product, is among the world's few vertically grown, pesticide-free spinach varieties. The meticulous development process involved designing a new filtration system and analyzing vast data inputs to create a spinach environment with a distinct sweet flavor and unique crunch.

Plenty's pesticide-free leafy greens are currently available at Bristol Farms, select Whole Foods Market stores in Northern California, local grocers in Compton, and as a featured ingredient on Singapore Airlines flights departing from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Additionally, a collaboration with Walmart has introduced a new brand for indoor-grown, pesticide-free produce supplied by Plenty in Southern California Walmart stores. Plans for expanding Plenty's retail presence throughout California and beyond are set to unfold in the coming summer months. For updated availability, interested consumers can refer to the store locator on Plenty's official website.

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