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Dwight Burlingame

Dwight Burlingame

IU Center on Philanthropy
December 2008

If you need to know more about the impact of philanthropy on 21st century America, it's worth a visit with the man who - quite literally - wrote the book: Dwight Burlingame.

Burlingame is the associate executive director and director of academic programs at the world-renowned Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, an academic and research organization headquartered at IUPUI and celebrating its 20th anniversary this fall.

He is widely known for his work as editor of Philanthropy in America: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia, a three-volume overview of one of modern society's most compelling stories: the rise of nonprofits and philanthropy as a major force in shaping our world.

Burlingame doesn't spend all his time buried in academic pursuit of learning more about his chosen field. He is also passionate about the opera, and is a master gardener, as well, stemming from his childhood growing up on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.

But it is his ability to bring to life such notable figures as Jane Addams, Andrew Carnegie, Robert Brookings, Henry Ford and Bill Gates through the Encyclopedia that has lifted the nonprofit expert into the spotlight within the field of philanthropy.

Burlingame spends most of his work time in the company of other experts, or with college-age students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in philanthropy. But he enjoys introducing younger students - from kindergarten through high school, such as those in elementary schools like St. Richard's School in downtown Indianapolis - to philanthropy. It's called "Learning to Give" and helps the students understand more about a field which plays a pivotal, though often overlooked, role in the day-to-day life of their neighborhoods and their communities.

Burlingame practices what he preaches, too. He is a regular volunteer with Secondhand Prose, an Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library group that makes used books available to the public at low cost; the proceeds in turn support other library programs and services.

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