A recent vote by the Nebraska State Liquor Control Board has put the future of Whiteclay, Nebraska in serious doubt. The town’s sole industry consists of its four liquor stores, which sell beer almost exclusively to the residents of the neighboring Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux reservation.


Since its founding in the 1880s, Whiteclay has been a one-industry town. The neighboring Indian reservation, which was established by the Laramie Treaty at a time when the Sioux were still viewed as a serious military threat by the United States government, has been dry since its first day of operation. This means that liquor sales are strictly prohibited, punishable by serious fines and prison time.


But the town of Whiteclay sprang up, just a few hundred feet over the state line, as a means to bypass the ban on alcohol sales that reign on the reservation. This has led to a sordid 130-year history of street brawls, public drunkenness, gambling and other vice and general lawlessness that has made the town a sort of living vestige of the Wild West. Politicians, activists and assorted do-gooders have long sought to terminate the licenses of the liquor stores doing business in Whiteclay.


But the historic vote by the Liquor Board marks the first time in 130 years that any real steps have been taken to shut the town’s liquor stores down. However, critics warn that shuttering the stores will just result in Natives drunk driving to much further towns and will create opportunities for bootleggers and other criminals to provide alcohol to the reservation.

Running a charity can be one of the most rewarding and important things a person does with their career. Andrew Rolfe and Jacob Lief know first hand how rewarding the work can be with their own charity, the Ubuntu Education Fund. The Ubuntu Education Fund is focused on providing education to impoverished and at-risk youth in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The fund has gained worldwide acclaim for its ability to make a difference in specific lives and for people to see those differences in person. Now Andrew Rolfe and Jacob Lief are making a change to their non profit in order to enhance even further their ability to give back.


The Ubuntu Education Fund suffered from something most non profits do: inefficiency of funds. We aren’t saying that the Ubuntu Fund didn’t get enough money, we are saying that the donations that came end would end up caught in red tape. Benefactors like to ear mark their donations to specific causes. This means that the guys and girls at the Ubuntu Fund were always struggling to make ends meet while donations sat in a bank that they couldn’t touch. Jacob Lief realized that they weren’t changing lives to a satisfactory degree. This was when he brought the Ubuntu Model to his board, including Andrew Rolfe.


The Ubuntu Model sought to eliminate all of the cross sections between a donation and getting it to the right people. The Ubuntu Model made the non profit focus purely on high net worth benefactors as well as trusted family run foundations. The reason that the Ubuntu Model focused on these two styles of benefactors was simple: they were the most likely style of benefactor to allow the team at Ubuntu to run a hands-free campaign. The Ubuntu Model sought to put more control back into the hands of the non profit.


While many were skeptical of this approach, and it certainly has led to a decrease in funding, the Ubuntu Model is proving to be a hit. There are more high quality donations coming in that are making their way to the guys and girls that need it.