CSB president pledges 5 percent of personal income to fight poverty
April 30, 2012
College of Saint Benedict President MaryAnn Baenninger is one of 28 leaders in higher education who have formed The Presidents' Pledge Against Global Poverty, a new initiative to help end poverty and focus attention on the positive impact of personal philanthropy.
The charter members of the pledge have signed a public commitment to contribute 5 percent or more of their personal income each year to organizations that fight the causes or effects of extreme poverty. Baenninger is the only Minnesota college president to sign the pledge.
"As a college president I've been asked to sign several pledges on behalf of my institution. My decision to sign is always predicated on the match between the pledge and the mission of my institution. This is my first and perhaps only personal pledge of this sort," Baenninger said.
"I saw, first hand, extreme poverty on two extended trips to Ethiopia. I promised myself then that I would give to causes where I could most make a difference, at home and abroad. The Presidents' Pledge makes my contributions more mindful, considered and focused. I am pleased and proud to have made this personal commitment to make my own contributions sustainable."
At least half of each president's contributions fund international projects; up to half may be designated for anti-poverty efforts in the U.S. The charitable contributions of participating presidents are made individually and directly to organizations of their choosing that work to alleviate poverty.
The project aims to enlist presidents, chancellors, past presidents and presidents emeriti in an effort to help reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and further engage the next generation of global citizens in poverty solutions. The charter members represent a cross-section of leadership at public and private universities nationwide.
The Rev. Ann M. Svennungsen, past president of Texas Lutheran University, initiated conversations with other higher education leaders about creating The Presidents' Pledge Against Global Poverty.
"We are just getting started. University presidents hold a distinctive platform as moral leaders. Acting together, their commitment can help galvanize the collective will needed to address complex issues like extreme poverty. We look forward to growing momentum," Svennungsen said.
The Presidents' Pledge Against Global Poverty is aligned with Bolder Giving, a 501(c)(3) organization. It received support from a private donor and a special grant from The Henry Luce Foundation to develop the project.