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America’s “Give While You Live” Philanthropist

“I can testify that it is nearly always easier to make $1,000,000 honestly than it is to dispose of it wisely.” Julius Rosenwald, 1929 Listen to a National Public Radio broadcast and chances are you’ll hear programs supported by the Ford Foundation or Carnegie Corporation or Pew Charitable Trusts. Pick up a newspaper and read about millions of dollars in “genius grants” awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Take in a music or dance performance and notice sponsors like the Andrew W. Mellon or Doris Duke foundations. One old-money name that won’t pop up among today’s donors is Julius Rosenwald’s. Although not quite in the league of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie and oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, who began the “business of benevolence” 100 years ago, Rosenwald was also a celebrated American philanthropist at the beginning of the 20th century. Unlike most of his peers, however, Rosenwald did not believe in perpetual endowments. Instead, the man who amassed his fortune as president of Sears, Roebuck & Co. argued that a foundation

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