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Foundations Sponsor Pre-Inaugural Service Ball

Resource type: News

Chronicle of Philanthropy |

Atlantic Philanthropies and the Musk Foundation for the first time sponsored a pre-inaugural ball last night to celebrate “change in Washington, the rise of new media, and a renewed commitment to service and the environment.”

The Huffington Post Pre-Inaugural Ball, held Monday night at the Newseum in Washington, had as its theme a “countdown to a new day.”

Gara LaMarche, president of Atlantic Philanthropies, says his group was encouraged to see the mass outpouring of citizen action that took place during the recent presidential campaigns, particularly in the Obama campaign, and the way it drew a connection between service and advocacy.

“The idea of celebrating that and lifting that up in all the inaugural events appealed to us,” he says. “I thought it would be a good thing to do.” Atlantic Philanthropies contributed $135,000 toward the event.

Mr. LaMarche says his organization, which supports groups working for immigration reform, national health and restoration of civil liberties, is very optimistic about some policy changes that could occur under the Obama administration.

“In many, many areas of concern to us there are opportunities for progressive policy action, as a foundation that is very engaged in advocacy, we are anxious to push the ball forward,” he says.

The evening had a strong focus on service. Attendees were encouraged to go to kiosks around the event and make a personal commitment to service.

The event also focused a great deal on new media and the impact it has had on how people get their information and interact with one another.

Large screens around the venue flashed facts about new news media, as well as a live blog from the event. Guests seemed to be texting on blackberries and iphones as much as they spoke to one another, as people were encouraged to Twitter about the event, update their Facebook statuses, upload photos from their phones, and blog through the Huffington Post.

There was also plenty of celebrity watching. Ben Affleck, Larry David, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Guest, Sharon Stone, Ron Howard, and Richard Schiff were just a few of the well-known performers at the event.

The end of the evening featured performances by Sheryl Crow, Will-I-am and Sting, as Arianna Huffington led the filled-to-capacity crowd in a countdown to midnight.

— Sue Hoye

Full coverage of the event is available on the Huffington Post site.

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