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The US is growing more unequal. Some say philanthropy isn’t the solution.

Follow our interview with Raj Shah, the head of the Rockefeller Foundation, at Code.

Rockefeller Foundation President Raj Shah.
Rockefeller Foundation President Raj Shah.
Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Raj Shah is a spokesman for the power of philanthropy to change the world as the head of the Rockefeller Foundation, the 100-year-old charity giant that oversees $3.7 billion in assets.

But never before has Shah’s job been so difficult. That’s because the conversation around big-money philanthropy has changed drastically in even just the last two years, with a new conversation taking hold about whether the rich are actually doing good in the world with their supposedly magnanimous commitments to charity. At a time of gross income inequality around the world, is private-sector philanthropy really the best leveler of economic fortunes?

So I’m excited to be interviewing Shah on Tuesday at 2:50 pm PT at the Code Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. We’ll talk about what philanthropy has done right, where it is falling short, and what responsibilities Silicon Valley specifically retains in an era of widening gaps between the rich and the poor.

Shah is new at the Rockefeller Foundation — he started just about two years ago — but he’s an old hand in the world of social work. (The Rockefeller Foundation funds Vox’s Future Perfect project.) Most prominently, Shah was the head of the United States Agency for International Development under President Obama. So yeah, we’ll dish on some politics, too.

Before then, though, take a moment to catch up on the latest about philanthropy: Here’s a piece of mine about the rise of Opportunity Zone investing, something the Rockefeller Foundation has been exploring; here’s another story I wrote about the challenges faced by The Giving Pledge, the most famous commitment by billionaires who are trying to donate their life savings to good causes; and here’s a podcast recorded recently between Kara Swisher and Anand Giridharadas, one of the most outspoken critics of rich philanthropists coming to save the world.


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