When President Bill Clinton left office in 2001, he made it clear that he wanted to continue working to help improve lives here in the United States, and around the world. It was from that desire that the Clinton Foundation was born, which has created opportunities worldwide, and worked to empower more people to build better futures for themselves, their families, and their communities.
The results speak for themselves. Worldwide, thanks to the Clinton Foundation and our partners over the past 15 years, more than 11.5 million people in over 70 countries have access to lifesaving HIV/AIDS treatment. Over 450,000 people in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia have been helped by enterprises that provide job training and improved access to markets. And more than 105,000 farmers in East Africa can better provide for their families through more advanced training and tools.
Here at home, the Foundation has had just as dramatic an impact.
Thanks to the work of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, 18 million students in the U.S. enjoy healthier food options in schools. The Clinton Health Matters Initiative works specifically in Central Arkansas, engaging with community leaders and key stakeholders to improve health outcomes and close gaps in health disparities. Our climate-change projects have reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 33,500 tons annually across the U.S., through a program pioneered here in Arkansas to provide energy-upgrade credits to employers and workers.
The Clinton Presidential Center has had a tremendous impact on the Central Arkansas community. Since opening, the center has welcomed more than 4 million visitors. According to an independent study commissioned by the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Presidential Center has helped catalyze over $3.3 billion in economic development to downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock.
More than 574,000 service hours, which total over $13.5 million of labor, have been carried out by Clinton Presidential Center volunteers. More than 315,000 pre-K through 12th-grade students have toured the Presidential Center. And every student who has visited the Clinton Center with a school group has done so at no cost. Additionally, the center's partnership with three other presidential foundations to establish the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program is inspiring the next generation of leaders.
The Presidential Center also houses the Clinton Presidential Library, which contains 78 million pages of official records and over 91,000 artifacts in the collection.
Recently, many have called for the Clinton Foundation to be shut down completely, including the editorial page of this newspaper. These calls are short-sighted and irresponsible. Doing so would hurt millions of people--from those around the world who rely on the foundation's international work, as well as people right here in Arkansas--and these suggestions ignore the reality of how philanthropy and running a presidential center works.
Experts in philanthropy and independent watchdogs have noted the value of the foundation's work, and the impact we have around the world. The Clinton Foundation has an "A" rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy's Charity Watch. GuideStar has given the foundation a Platinum rating, and has lauded the foundation for its "commitment to transparency." The New York Times took a thorough look at our work in Rwanda and concluded: "In Rwanda, a review of the foundation's history shows that it has done vital, often pathbreaking work, particularly in health and rural development."
We have announced steps that are responsible and would eliminate any perception or conflict-of-interest issues.
This year will be the last meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, and if Secretary Hillary Clinton wins the election, effective immediately, we would stop taking new corporate and foreign donations. A significant portion of the foundation's work would be transitioned to new independent organizations or existing partners.
We would continue the work of the Presidential Center, which is an important educational and cultural resource for our community, as well as CGI University, our meeting that brings university students together to develop innovative solutions to important challenges in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, the foundation will also continue those domestic programs that can be maintained with the funding restrictions we announced earlier this month.
This is the right course--taking steps to remove potential conflicts, while maintaining our obligation to ensure that life-changing work continues around the world, through partner organizations, and here in the U.S. and Arkansas, through a refocused Clinton Foundation.
Stephanie Streett is the executive director of the Clinton Foundation. During the Clinton administration, Streett served as assistant to the president and director of scheduling. She and her husband Don Erbach reside in Little Rock and have three daughters.
Editorial on 08/29/2016
Print Headline: Dramatic impact