September 28, 2011; Source: Washington Post | On September 23 Robert McCartney, a columnist at the Washington Post, announced through his column that billionaire philanthropist Bill Conway will give away $1 billion before he dies to be spent on creating jobs for the long-term unemployed. Five days later, McCartney reported that Conway, a co-founder of the investment firm the Carlyle Group, has gotten 700 responses to his announcement. They range from the serious to the self-serving to the not completely intelligible and extend from one or two lines to many pages.

The idea to concentrate on developing self-sustaining jobs for people in poverty came from Conway’s wife Joanne and immediately sparked his imagination. “More effective than giving away half my fortune before I die is finding a way to help people have a good-paying job,” says Conway. That would help not only the newly employed, but also their families and the rest of the community…If I’m going to create 1,000 jobs, or 10,000 jobs, or whatever the number is, wouldn’t we all be better off?” With jobs, he said, people “have a home; they go out to eat; they have a life.” There is still time to weigh in with your ideas. You can e-mail Conway at [email protected], and copy columnist Robert McCartney at [email protected].

Conway is still looking for the “big ideas,” because he intends to give away most of his wealth. “I wake up a lot of mornings and I think, ‘Well, what I am supposed to do with this?’” I figure some of you might have ideas.—Ruth McCambridge