Published on December 30, 2018 |
by Carolyn Fortuna
December 30, 2018 by Carolyn Fortuna
A very short and simple website for Musk Foundation targeting 4 fields for grant support: research and advocacy for renewable energy, research and advocacy for human space exploration, pediatric research, and science and engineering education. Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO, is the Musk Foundation's sole funder, with at least $ 257 million donated to date. He is an altruist whose generosity reaches clean water, disaster relief, and various sustainability innovations. Giving grants for progressive social reform is just one of many ways Musk philanthropy is a symbol of what government assistance programs can do if the right resources are directed methodically and deliberately.
But he is not waiting for institutional intervention – like a handful of others, Musk has chosen to give most of his wealth to charity rather than to his offspring. Joining Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and others, Musk is a member of The Giving Pledge, a promise made by the majority of rich people to donate a large portion of their wealth for justice purposes that are urgent and feasible to develop.
Musk Business Achievement Tied to Altruism
"This is not the strongest species of survivors … nor is it the smartest to survive. This is the most adaptable to change."
– Charles Darwin –
We know from climate scientists that this century must be a time when temperatures are kept far below 2 degrees Celsius (compared to pre-industrial levels). The Paris climate agreement aims to make it happen. More importantly, and fortunately, financially profitable business decisions and sustainable energy initiatives are now very compatible.
Elon Musk has brought a vision of what a sustainable future can look like through the various companies he has founded and led, showing it might be better than anyone's potential to take strong environmental actions and make money there.
In an ideal configuration, Tesla electric cars can utilize SolarCity solar panels or Tesla solar roofs and store energy in residential Tesla Powerwall. The combination will likely fulfill all household energy and transportation needs. No, this is not an example of philanthropy. Instead, they are an effort towards a common good, because these Tesla products help accelerate the mass adoption of sustainable energy.
Another Musk company, SpaceX, designs, manufactures and launches rockets and sophisticated spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. Neuralink is developing a very high bandwidth brain machine interface to connect humans and computers. This company aims to create a brain-computer interface. (In 2015, Musk donated $ 10 million to Future of Life Institute to run a global research program aimed at keeping AI beneficial to humanity.) The Boring company is looking for the most efficient and fastest way to dig low-cost tunnels that allow rapid transit across densely populated areas .
However, in business and in giving, Musk continues to return to the need to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy choices such as wind and sun. "We play with fire on coal and oil," he said. Indeed, never before in human civilization was the stakes so high. The future of the planet is at stake, and many solutions will come from incentives offered by billionaires like Elon Musk.
Philanthropy for Social and Environmental Justice
"Philanthropic work and social change are the best when they are driven by your values and connected to what you care about the most."
– Charles Bronfman –
Foundations, investors, charities, and several public bodies around the world have increasingly funded and supported innovative forms of business that deal with clear social or environmental missions. It seems that Musk is one such person and prefers efforts that address social justice and justice in an ecological context. Successfully overcoming these challenges can have a positive impact on other challenges, creating a proverbial domino effect. An example is utilizing technological advances to provide better education for poor children.
As someone who is often on the top 5 list of benefactors, Musk has donated $ 15 million in donations to the XPRIZE program called Global Learning. The contest challenges teams from all over the world to develop open-source and scalable software that will enable children in developing countries to teach themselves reading, writing, and basic numeracy within 15 months. The project recognizes that around 250 million children around the world cannot read, write, or show basic arithmetic skills.
When prizes were launched in 2014, 700 teams from 55 countries around the world signed up to compete. In 2017, the top 5 concepts were placed in the hands of more than 2,500 children in 141 remote villages in Eastern Tanzania to test the applications of each team.
Teams carrying their groups of about 500 children to the highest literacy level will win XPRIZE.
Flint, Michigan Water Contamination
"Philanthropy is praiseworthy, but it does not have to cause benefactors to ignore the economic injustice that makes philanthropy necessary."
– Martin Luther King, Jr. –
In philanthropy, there is also an important interconnectivity of the 3 main agents of change in our society – government, business, and people.
Four years ago, lead and other poisons were found to contaminate water supplies in Flint, Michigan. The community has been struggling since with the problem of water contamination. In October 2018, Musk and the Musk Foundation donated $ 480,350 to install a new fountain with a screening system in all of its schools. "The method of UV water purification in a water filtration system will sterilize all lead and bacteria from water pipes to allow students to drink and fill bottles of water from school fountains," the city of Flint said in a press release.
Flint School School Inspector Derrick Lopez added, "The new water filtration system will play a role in helping our students return to normal as what should be a fundamental right: having access to safe clean water from water fountains in their schools."
Musk is also in the process of fulfilling the promise he made earlier in 2018 to fund repairs to the contaminated Flint home water filtration system above FDA level.
Puerto Rico Energy Infrastructure
"Philanthropic results are always beyond calculation."
– Mary Ritter Beard –
– Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) October 6, 2017
Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello spoke to Elon Musk via Twitter social media at the end of 2017 about the possibility of Tesla's intervention to restore energy to the island after destroying Hurricane Maria. Reporter Maria Galluci described the island later as a place where water treatment facilities cannot provide drinking water, markets and restaurants cannot cool food, banks cannot make transactions, and people cannot communicate with cellphones or the internet. Street lights and traffic lights stopped working. Schools and hospitals close their doors.
Musk offers Tesla services to help restore power to Puerto Rico. After its initial contribution of $ 250,000, came the shipment of hundreds of rechargeable Powerwall battery packs to the island. At the end of October, Musk and Tesla managed to restore the island's largest children's hospital to full power through a combination of Powerwall packages and solar power technology. This is possible because Tesla technology is able to cut off the damaged network infrastructure.
The company began working on 6 more battery projects in Puerto Rico to help key community areas such as Susan Centeno Hospital, Boys and Girls Club of Vieques, Arcadia water pumping station, sanitation sewer processing plant, and the Ciudad Dorada elderly community.
Each package, which is connected to an existing solar array, has a power of 550 kilowatt-hours. In April, Tesla shared that the company sent more than 1,000 batteries, which currently provide power in 662 locations.
Perform one calculation to determine how much Tesla MWh has been deployed. Yowza!
Tesla batteries currently live & power in 662 locations in Puerto Rico. The team works 24/7 to activate several hundred others. https://t.co/OMu8qKJvLy
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 18, 2018
Tesla's contribution is part of a larger initiative for Puerto Rico to move from dependence on fossil fuels to a new green agreement. The Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, offered a vision of clean energy independence during the recent Sanders Institute meeting, describing the island's dependence on renewable energy as part of the need "to live, develop, not just to survive."
Politics & Intersect Altruism
"Politics has nothing to do with morals."
– Niccolo Machiavelli –
The Musk Foundation has contributed to at least one center-right nonprofit, Cato Institute that is in line with libertarians, according to Influence Watch research conducted through Foundation Search.
The Musk Foundation also funds politically active organizations that support the progressive agenda and include the National Wildlife Federation; Sierra Club Foundation; New Venture Fund granting; Global Green USA; Energy Foundation; The Clinton Foundation; People for the American Way Foundation; Oxfam America; Oceana; BlueGreen Alliance Foundation; Center Tides; and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
"If you wake up in the morning and think the future will be better, it's a sunny day. If not, no. "
– Elon Musk –
Lore said that the Greek playwright Aeschylus coined the term "philanthropy" in the 5th century BC to mean "love of humanity." It is rare in our society that someone like Elon Musk who has such influence and power is also a role model around moral, scientific and environmental altruism. He contributed time, money, experience, ingenuity, skills, and talents to help create a better world.
Many benefactors are driven by a deep desire to solve social problems and help others. And, yes, the US federal tax code includes incentives to give in various ways (so far, at least – just wait for the April 2019 return for renewal). It gives donors a discount on income, capital gains and land taxes for the charitable contributions they have made. Of course, Elon Musk and other billionaires are well aware of the financial benefits of charitable giving.
However, Musk himself was so attached to his generosity that the benefits of the tax seemed to be only one part of a much greater whole. Indeed, through the focus of his environmental philanthropism, Musk has included values, knowledge, political orientation, and various sociodemographic variables into the current US wealth equation. He has shown how people in the highest social strata can do the right thing when called in ways that produce ethical and productive goals.
At an important moment in history where we need to engage in cross-sectoral discourse, be honest about the fate of our planet and the response we must have as a global community, good environmental management can arise, at least in part, from models such as Musk philanthropy. The success and failure of philanthropy can have an impact on remote villages or the oil industry, farmers who are threatened by deforestation or small towns whose water is contaminated by fracking. Musk Philanthropy deserves our attention and appreciation.