From Homelessness to Giving Back – A Student’s Journey

On August 12, 2020, Gordon Wayne began a 16 day, 550-mile trek from Virginia to Boston College, all on foot. At first glance, Gordon may appear to be an average, middle-class college student. However, last year, Gordon was facing very different circumstances. Despite working extremely long hours and attending community college, Gordon was experiencing homelessness. With his car as his only means of shelter, Gordon applied to Boston College and was accepted with a full financial aid package which included housing. Months after, during a pandemic that caused a rise in foreclosure and evictions, Gordon took to the streets – literally – to create awareness and raise money for homelessness.

Gordon is far from alone in his experience of homeless – in Virginia alone, there are almost 6,000 people experiencing homelessness every night. Throughout the United States, the number increases to over 550,000, with about 68,000 of those individuals being college students. In fact, a recent study showed that 60% of college students had experienced food insecurity or housing insecurity within the last 30 days. The current COVID-19 pandemic has put an increased strain on the available resources for students who were already struggling. The time spent residing on campus during the semester was often a safe space for these students, who may now have to find alternate arrangements.

With many colleges now going remote, some students are left with no place to go to finish their semester. Some schools regularly have programs to address homelessness among students; for example, Kennesaw State University’s Campus Awareness, Resource & Empowerment (CARE) Services is a program that offers assistance with housing, food insecurity, and supportive services. A growing number of schools host campus food pantries, which have grown in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. While other schools may not have ongoing dedicated programs like KSU, many are able to provide guidance to students about local resources.

Depending on the area they live in, people experiencing homelessness can face harsh weather conditions if they are unsheltered and struggle to access basic necessities like food, water, and bathrooms. Without access to bathrooms or similar facilities, it can be near-impossible to maintain a socially acceptable presence, making it even harder to find a job. On top of all of this, many people experiencing homelessness encounter high levels of violence and do not have access to adequate healthcare. The inability to access healthcare can leave many physical and mental problems untreated.

One of the most effective programs to reduce homelessness is the federal housing assistance program. While it can take time to access due to waiting lists, this is a stable solution to housing insecurity. Recent years have seen a push for a new approach using the Housing First model. Housing First means that while housing is the top priority, services are available to help in other aspects of life as well, while taking the whole person into account. Housing First takes away many of the traditional barriers to accessing housing and offers it to those who want it, not just those who have proven they are “ready” for housing by maintaining sobriety or meeting other prerequisites.

Gordon’s journey was an incredible display of both human resilience and generosity. A few strangers brought Gordon supplies during his walk and even more donated to his fundraising site. Since starting his walk, Gordon has raised over $160,000 to benefit the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

https://twitter.com/Time4Homes/status/1325801599793500167

This year, the week of November 15-22 was National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Every year the National Coalition for the Homeless works with the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness to raise money and awareness for individuals struggling with food and housing insecurity. To make a contribution to National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, click here. For those in need of assistance with food, here is a list of food pantries.

With winter approaching and many unknowns still surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the stressors each individual is facing are constantly changing. Until December 31, 2020, there is a national eviction moratorium, meaning you cannot be evicted from your apartment due to the nonpayment of rent or fees. In order to be protected under this moratorium, you must submit a form to your landlord. If you are in need of help with rent, there are COVID-19 rental assistance programs throughout the country. You can also find local resources by calling 211 or visiting the 211 website here.

National Coalition to Support COVID-19 Frontline Responders

Companies Join Forces to Positively Impact 300,000 National Guard, First Responders and Healthcare Heroes

Today, Operation Gratitude announced the launch of one of the largest coordinated efforts in the country to support the brave men and women on the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic. Companies across all industries are joining together to form the Coalition to Support COVID-19 Frontline Responders to leverage their collective resources and capabilities and provide direct support to hundreds of thousands of Frontline Responders nationwide. 

Over the past two weeks, Operation Gratitude has delivered 60,000 individual items to Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments and 450 National Guardsmen in southern California, as well as 30,000 individual items and 1,000+ handwritten letters to the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington D.C. Bulk deliveries are scheduled this week at dozens of hospitals in NYC and Seattle and metropolitan police and fire departments in areas particularly impacted by the pandemic.

Operations will scale up exponentially with generous support from CSX, Liquid IV, Mars Wrigley, Prudential Financial, Starbucks and The Starbucks Foundation and Veterans United Home Loans.

The Coalition will be co-chaired by retired Lieutenant General Kathleen Gainey, who served as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Transportation Command and brings over 35-years of extensive logistics and transportation experience in the military and in collaboration with the private sector; and Robert Lackman, the former COO of The Gorilla Glue Company and a Navy veteran, who brings 25-years of supply chain and distribution expertise.

Together the Coalition has pledged to support COVID-19 Frontline Responders by:

  • Raising $1.5 million in financial donations to fund bulk deliveries of 5 million items to 400 hospitals, police and fire departments, National Guard units and other Military response forces that are currently deployed or about to deploy.
  • Making in-kind donations of essential items, valued at $5 million, to support 300,000 frontline responders at hospitals, major metropolitan police and fire departments and deployed National Guard units over the next 10 weeks.
  • Mobilizing dedicated and grateful employees and their families through #VirtualVolunteerism with a focus on writing letters of gratitude to military, first responders and healthcare heroes.
  • Providing in-kind resources, to include critical transportation and logistics support and other professional services to ensure an agile and responsive operation

“As we have all seen recently, the world can turn upside down in a matter of days. One thing that we can always count on during a crisis is our military and first responders on the frontlines,” said the CEO of Operation Gratitude, retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Schmiegel. “While they continue to serve, we will continue to support them with the help of this coalition. Together, we will deliver millions of critically needed items and letters of appreciation globally to the Frontline First Responders who need it most.”

Officers from Los Angeles Police Department unloading supplies

In addition to engaging their employee’s enterprise-wide to write letters of appreciation for Frontline Responders, the founding members of the Coalition to Support COVID-19 Frontline Responders have also committed the following resources:

  • CSX – Financial support to enable bulk deliveries to 100,000 Frontline Responders allocated as part of their existing Pride In Service initiative and in direct support of tens of thousands of Military and First Responders in states and cities that the initiative has impacted since its launch in 2018.
  • Starbucks and The Starbucks FoundationFinancial support from The Starbucks Foundation to enable bulk deliveries to 50,000 Frontline Responders; in-kind product support from Starbucks including 50,000 lbs of Starbucks Coffee and a letter-writing campaign for Frontline Responders.
  • Veterans United Home Loans – Financial support to enable deliveries to 50,000 National Guardsmen, Deployed Troops and other Frontline Responders; in-kind product and services support including 50,000 drawstring bags for Frontline Responders; creation of a virtual letter writing platform, allowing others to show their support through #VirtualVolunteerism.
  • Prudential Financial – Financial support to enable bulk deliveries to 20,000 Frontline Responders and enterprise wide letter-writing. 
  • Liquid IV – Financial support to enable bulk deliveries to 5,000 Frontline Responders, and an in-kind donation of 312,000 hydration drink servings for every Frontline Responder impacted by the Coalition. 
  • Mars Wrigley – In-kind product donation of up to 1 million individual items, cause marketing campaigns, virtual letter-writing and funded drop shipments to locations most in need.

Since 2003, millions of Americans have volunteered in a tangible way with Operation Gratitude, both in their communities and from their own homes, helping us to fill and deliver 2.6 million care packages. 17 years after the invasion of Iraq started and Operation Gratitude was born, our nation is again under attack on the homeland – this time by an invisible enemy. The grassroots movement that started with the first four care packages will grow at a time of great challenge for our nation and lead to a groundswell of appreciation for those serving on the frontlines of this pandemic.

Global Social Welfare Digital Summit Call for Proposals: Interdisciplinary Approach to Global Social Change

SWHELPER will host its four day annual virtual Global Social Welfare Digital Summit beginning on February 25th through February 28th, 2020. The Summit’s primary goal is to enhance practice for helping professionals by using technology to eliminate geographical borders for training, networking, and collaboration. 

Our goal is to use an interdisciplinary approach for helping professionals to provide news, information, and resources critical to global knowledge sharing,says Deona Hooper, SWHELPER Founder and Editor-in-Chief, and host of the Global Social Welfare Digital Summit. 

The virtual format transcends geographic locations and expands learning to a global classroom. Most importantly, it allows us to provide the same great content as an in person conference yet at a more affordable rate. Our four-day conference will focus on Activism, Health Care, Trauma Informed Care, Prevention and Solutions,Deona concludes.

Call for Proposals 

We are looking for speakers who are interested in giving presentations from micro to macro perspectives on topics of ethics, technology, research, policy and other related themes. All speakers are exempted from paying the participation fee and will have free access to all four days of the conference.  Additionally, each speaker will get a dedicated page where he/she can promote their work and products as well as free marketing and promotion leading up to the Summit. 

  • There are no fees for speakers. All presenters will be given a four-day pass to the live conference along with 1-year access to view all recorded presentation if they can not attend the other presentations live.
  • We will create graphics and posts for each presenter to promote on SWHELPER social media.
  • SWHELPER will publish articles recognizing all speakers chosen to present at the 2020 Summit.

The call for proposals is open, and it will end on September 15th, 2019. Visit https://on.swhelper.org/2LyU54D for more information. Global Welfare Digital Summit will work with other media outlets to arrange interviews for speakers who want to discuss their work and presentations for the Summit. 

About SWHELPER is a woman-owned, award-winning, mission-driven, and progressive news website dedicated to providing information, resources, and entertainment for the social good. Our audience is comprised of academics, policymakers, social workers, students, mental health practitioners, helping professionals, caregivers, and people looking for information to help themselves or a loved one in crisis. Visit us at www.swhelper.org

Corporate Social Responsibility Is More Than a Marketing Ploy

For-profit companies traditionally operated within a set of rules dictated by the government, such as collecting and paying taxes or meeting state and federal regulations. Everyone accepted profit maximization as the goal, and it didn’t really matter how companies managed to achieve that mission.

Today, many judge companies based on their broader impacts and whether they contribute to beneficial change. It’s definitely a positive shift, but new businesses must strike a delicate balance: Too much of a focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) for a new brand over the effectiveness of the product or service can actually damage brand appeal. Researchers at North Carolina State University found that consumers view new brands as less enticing when their key messages focus on CSR more than the benefits of their products, even if they donate money to good causes.

While consumers want to support brands that give back to the world, they are more concerned about the efficacy of new products. And who can blame them? Nobody wants to spend hard-earned money on a subpar product. When product quality is equal but one item comes from a company with a social mission, customers are more likely to choose the company with a focus on CSR, though.

Patagonia stands out as an excellent example of effective CSR. The company aggressively incorporates environmental causes into its corporate DNA — and its customer base is just as aggressively loyal. Volkswagen, on the other hand, went out of its way to greenwash its corporate image by promoting “clean diesel” while flagrantly violating federal emissions laws with nitrogen-oxide emissions (a smog-forming pollutant linked to lung cancer). The disparity between VW’s mission and its actions had steep consequences.

Finding the Right Fit

CSR should be authentic to the soul of an organization — it should not be an add-on or a marketing ploy. Before committing to CSR, brands need to survey potential customers and brand ambassadors to ensure they focus on the right initiative.

For smaller companies and startups, this could constitute a more informal process of casual interviews with a few dozen people coupled with the founders’ personal goals. Established companies will want to undergo more extensive research that includes surveys and in-depth focus groups with employees, customers, and potential customers. In both cases, companies must confirm that the CSR initiative resonates with potential customers while identifying any concerns that could alienate critical groups. Without genuine authenticity, it’s only a matter of time before an initiative fails — it’s imperative that the CSR mission resonates with the company, its staff, and its executives.

Patagonia earned plenty of attention in 2016 for donating 100 percent of its profits from Black Friday sales to environmental groups. By literally putting its money — more than $10 million, in fact — where its mouth is, Patagonia proved its dedication to protecting natural resources. Considering a large swath of Patagonia’s clientele is environmentally conscious, that single day of sales truly resonated with brand loyalists.

Once a company pinpoints the CSR initiative that meshes with its identity, its leaders must articulate the CSR mission internally and externally. That mission will likely evolve, but it should be authentic to ensure long-term success. A genuine effort at CSR initiatives can be a great way to motivate and empower employees.

Internal CSR messaging focuses on culture and creating a universal message across the company. Everyone should understand the overlap between the CSR initiative and the company’s mission, as well as how the initiative affects every employee’s role. Externally, brands must simplify this messaging into an easy-to-understand version for consumers.

I’ve had to tackle this challenge with my own company, 2920 Sleep. We have boiled down our CSR focus to three elements: a commitment to product quality, excellent customer service, and 1% for the Planet. We aspire to make high-quality, long-lasting products that will have a reduced environmental impact with lower return rates; take care of our customers with great service; and stay financially successful so we can channel one percent of our revenue to support organizations that protect the environment. Our commitment to product quality and customer service enables us to support our CSR initiative. This mission is driven by everyone at the company — from our leadership and marketing teams to our customer service department and our brand ambassadors.

More than anything else, brands should ensure the CSR narrative is a part of the corporate culture. Think again of the difference between Patagonia and VW. Patagonia’s founder, management team, and employees all actively support its mission. VW, meanwhile, has lost brand integrity and market share, and its executives face significant fines and possible jail time.

Consumers can spot the difference between pretenders and companies that are committed to a mission. CSR offers an opportunity to pivot a business from a purely financial operation to an organization that recognizes its ability to help a wider community in addition to meeting financial goals. With a balanced approach to CSR and business goals, companies can truly shine.

How the Internet and Social Media Is Impacting Social Work

Social media and the Internet, in general, have had an immense effect on social work. It enables communication between people from different corners of the world and makes access to information fast and easy. On the flipside, social media has brought about evils like fake news and Cyber Bullying whose effects can be fatal. But how exactly has what is possibly the most significant invention of the 21st century affected the field of social work? Below is a look at both the positive and negative impacts of social media.

Positive impacts

Enhanced Communication

Social media has significantly improved the communication experience between social workers and their clients. Social networks such as Facebook and WhatsApp make it easier, cheaper and faster for social workers to get in touch with clients without necessarily spending money on transport. In addition to this, most social workers have social media pages where interested clients can contact them and book appointments without breaking a sweat.

Globalization of social work

Decades ago, social workers could only deal with issues affecting their neighboring communities. Now, with social sites like Skype and Facebook Messenger, it is possible for a counselor in the USA to offer their services to a client in Europe or Africa without either of them incurring massive expenditure.

Easier solicitation of clients

As mentioned earlier, social workers can attract more clients by opening social media pages and regularly updating content. As it were, there are numerous resources available to social workers who want to establish and grow their online presence such as using video to increase engagement on social media. On their part, clients can search for available social workers and be able to receive services such as spiritual, psychiatrist and anxiety counseling online even without revealing their identities.

Negative Impacts

Ethical dilemmas

Social workers who have direct contact with their clients on social media face a lot of moral issues in their work. For one, being friends on Facebook may result in both consensual and unwanted flirting which may lead to a sexual relationship. This often leads to conflicts of interest which might affect the social worker’s efficiency.

Privacy and confidentiality

In the past, social workers relied on the personal information provided by their clients when designing interventions. With social media, social workers like counselors and psychiatrists may be tempted to spy on their clients’ social media pages to fish for information. This amounts to an invasion of privacy, which is not only an ethical issue but a legal issue as well.

Social workers may also find themselves in awkward situations when, for instance, clients send them friend requests on Facebook and start chatting them up. There is also the risk of clients stalking social workers and using the information and pictures on their pages for unprofessional purposes.

Regulatory challenges

Social work remains mostly an unregulated field, and the increasing social media usage doesn’t make it any better. On one side, regulatory bodies may find it difficult to regulate online social workers who may not have a physical office or address for that matter.

This is made even worse by the fact that there is no existing regulatory framework for online social work. Clients, on the other hand, may also not be in a position to verify the registration and regulatory status of their social workers especially if they’re not from the same country.

Dealing with unregulated social workers exposes one to dangers such as sexual harassment and even fraud.

Way forward

Social work has a lot of challenges as it is and social media, despite being a significant opportunity, happens to be one of them. As government agencies find ways to regulate online social work, both the public and social workers must look out for themselves and find ways to protect their confidentiality.

When Business and Social Good Intersects Communities Benefit

Photo Credit: @ArupAccessible

Annually, London Borough hosts the Camden’s Business Awards where a range of local companies, large and small, were up for recognition for their contribution to innovation, the local economy, design and the creation of new job opportunities.

I was there to support the Accessible Environments team of the design and engineering company Arup who over several years have worked tirelessly to support our work as a small local charity – we were initially approached by this team because they were interested in doing some fundraising for a local charity that supported disabled people.

We soon found further common ground, and the relationship has since led to Arup training service users and staff to carry out access audits and providing placements for young people with a learning disability in their high-tech, high performance and yet awesomely inclusive work environment.

Our relationship with Arup really exemplifies a voluntary sector organisation and a business working together at its best. What I’ve learned is that when the corporate world engages with charities and voluntary sector organisations, some key elements determine the long-term value achieved. Below I identify 3 of them:

Shared values

One is around the importance of shared values, in this case focusing on a genuine commitment to pursuing inclusion and community participation.  The most effective outcomes come from working with businesses like Arup that embrace the same outcomes we care about and approach them with the same respect, rigour and commitment.

That attitude is also demonstrated by the staff of John Lewis, Oxford Street, when they take our students on work placements throughout the store. They have a genuine personal commitment to helping young people with a learning disability succeed. That’s shown wonderfully when we have events at the store to mark student achievements and staff from all departments flock to take part in the celebrations – not because they are told to or have to but because, like our supporters at Arup, they care about the lives and progress of the young people their company hosts.

Last year, I also spent an evening at the 15th birthday celebrations of The Front Yard Company a small social enterprise who share their beautifully designed building with a community of other makers and designers across the road from our offices. My invitation came about because, over the last few years, due to some wonderfully supportive and collaborative interactions with the Front Yard Company. They designed and supplied the plant lockers which decorate the road outside our building and provide places for cyclists to securely lock their bikes. Most importantly, they also worked with our students with a learning disability to place and fill them with bulbs and bushes.

The celebrations were a wonderfully warm and vibrant evening with the diverse guests and speakers showing how deeply embedded this little company is in their part of North London. The company chose to mark their place and story in the community by highlighting organisations nearby, including Elfrida Rathbone Camden (ERC). The company is so physically close to our location they see our young people, families, and staff coming in and out every single day. They value all our stakeholders as neighbours and contributors to the local community too.

Respect

Secondly, it is vital to have respect for the skills that exist on both sides of the relationship – the partnership has been about mutual learning and especially a recognition that we all learn from the experiences of service users. It’s important to state that this is a learning process that flows both ways too. Arup’s Accessible Environments team tell me that working with our service users have improved their understanding of some of the day-to-day barriers that the built environment presents.

Apparently, there is little in today’s building codes and standards which directly addresses the requirements of people with neuro-diverse needs. An added benefit of working with charities, it can help sharpen professional insights and skills on the side of the business partner too. Much as with the relationship with local authorities, it’s important that voluntary organisations and their service users are not just seen as absorbing resources. We want businesses to see their interactions with us as beneficialal opportunity as well.

Pragmatic support

Lastly, it has been really important for ERC that our corporate partners whose resources are so much greater understand the limitations and pressures on our side (such as having to prioritise the demands of service delivery over fundraising) to make sure the support offered is pragmatic and enables real change. Ongoing access to work placements like those described above has helped our learners build their self-esteem, and overcome barriers around access to academic qualifications, role models and confidence in the workplace.

Practical support can come in other ways too like that given to us by Bikes for Good Causes (BGC) a Wood Green social enterprise that sells good quality, donated bikes and also provides a full bicycle repair and maintenance service.

When I and 3 ERC colleagues committed to do the London to Brighton Bike Ride in 2016 the manager of BGC, Sue Wade kindly agreed to support ERC by making sure our bikes were in good condition ahead of the ride. What struck me when I contacted Sue was how quickly she had said yes (which is not to say that BGC can always do this – they have to raise income and be sustainable to meet their own objectives).

Before my good fortune in coming across BGC I had been in contact with a national cycling chain with a Camden branch which two of us had actually bought our bikes from. That big company didn’t feel able to help us with our request which is, of course, their prerogative but I did think at the time that it was a slightly short-sighted decision on their part, bearing in mind all the local recognition and publicity we would have given them. But for BGC it was an automatic decision based on their community spirit and ethos regardless of whether it held any possible benefit for them.

I think there is something in our experiences about how voluntary organisations and businesses, whether either is big or small, that can create meaning and sustained relationships based simply on retaining a sense of generosity and respect in giving support and in working with each other. When that happens we all become community workers no matter who pays our wages.

The One Question That Fuels My Approach to Life: What Can I Do For You

Through my three battles with cancer, I can’t even count how many times I received this question. And with three young children at home, what was I going to say? “Sure. Can you make sure my kids get fed? Can you do a load of laundry for me?”

I was blessed to have such giving, selfless people in my life, but the truth was that my priorities had changed. Cooking, cleaning and chores like them weren’t at the top of my to-do list anymore; I was in survival mode. So when people asked what they could do for me, I usually responded with, “I don’t know.”

One of the human spirit’s most enduring traits is a desire to be useful during times of crisis. The people around me needed to do something, and so did I. Even as I fought to maintain my own health, finding even the smallest way to help someone in need filled me with strength and purpose.

I want every step I take and every move I make to count, for myself and others who are in need. That mantra informs everything I do, be it personal or professional, and is all a product of receiving the kindness I didn’t know I needed when I needed it most.

Putting gratitude into all we do.

It amazes me, the strength we gain from the smallest things. During one of my cancer stints, I bought my then-husband glass-blowing lessons for his birthday, and one night, he brought home a votive he’d made.

After I dropped a tea light inside, the combination of light and color draped me in this feeling of warmth and comfort that I’d never experienced before or even realized I wanted. And I immediately knew I wanted to give others the same solace I felt at that time.

That was the impetus for glassybaby, where we sell glass votives and drinking glasses. We made these pieces in specific colors and attached origin stories to them to help buyers feel more connected with the glass vessels and with our story. While we hope to recreate that same feeling I felt the first time I dropped that light in, we don’t want the glow to end there.

Ten percent of our pretax revenue goes to charitable organizations focused on healing people, the planet and animals. Before we had any kind of business objective, we had the simple desire to help people, to give them comfort. That’s how sustainable giving has worked so well in our company. It’s not an add-on; it’s 100 percent part of our mission, our core and our bottom line. It’s the embodiment of success to me.

When giving actions come from everyday personal interactions rather than some sense of obligation, they can become authentic gestures that transcend the professional, personal and recreational silos we put up in our lives. We compartmentalize our lives so rigorously, but if we take down some of those walls, that’s where we find the opportunities to reach out and help — because it’s the things we care about that inspire the most passion.

Building generosity into those passions is the best way to ensure we’re giving to worthwhile causes. I didn’t come from a traditional business background. Instead, my vision for glassybaby was inspired by my time in the chemo room. It gave me an insight into what people needed and wanted during that critical time. I came to understand their unique problems — the mother who missed a chemo session because she couldn’t find childcare, the woman who was late because she couldn’t afford the bus.

Once we start understanding the problems and basic needs around us, we’ll be able to put that insight into your business plans and personal endeavors. Let our own personal structure and value sets organically tie to people’s needs, and a model of sustainable giving will follow.

“What can I do for you?” is one of the most fundamental human questions in times of need and has helped mold my personal and professional life approaches. Where will it take you?

Social Good Doesn’t Require a Non-Profit

You want your business to be a force for social good. Most importantly, you want to meet the needs of some target population with the warmth and care reminiscent of the most nurturing presence as opposed to a cold, heartless corporation. You believe your only option to be registration of your business as a non-profit. Chrystalyn Reid of non-profit Queen Esther Ministry states that she didn’t consider anything other than a non-profit, “Because I wanted to help people without worrying about a profit-making business.”

Social Good Dreams

Other options exist, but I want to first challenge your start-up launch with several organizing questions:

Are you under the impression that non-profits always have low budgets and low pay for employees? The average non-profit CEO makes between $97,000 and $123,462. Seventy-six of 4,587 charities pay their CEOs more than $500,000 per year in compensation. Seventy of those have an annual budget above $13.5 million.

Have you created an Outcome Logic Model for your social good business identifying the revenue streams that are possible within the business operations? The typical non-profit today makes only 21% of its revenue from donations. Over 72% comes from program service revenues which include government contracts. Many of those contracts are open to non-profits and for-profits alike.

Have you considered how your board and funding structure will impact the mission of your social good business? You may have heard recent public broadcasting stories about mission drift or mission creep. You will want to ensure that your business bylaws are written to guard the mission.

Another Option: B Corp

A B Corp is an organization founded for social good. According to the B-Corp website, B Corps “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.” Over 2,221 B Corporations are now certified from over 50 countries and 130 industries.

The choice of a B Corp structure over a non-profit structure for many is a question of funding. They choose non-profit proposing to fund the business through grants. A non-profit is the choice for those who want to provide a tax write-off to their donors and want to be eligible for grants that specify that only 501c3 corporations may apply. Yet, that explanation is a premature determination about how your corporation can make money. More specifically, if you conclude that your social good company can ONLY make money through donations from donors who require a tax write-off,

More specifically, if you conclude that your social good company can ONLY make money through donations from donors who require a tax write-off, non-profit is your only option. On the other hand, you can create value beyond the tax write-off. You may develop revenue streams other than grants. You could have a non-profit partner organization. In these cases, you may consider starting a for-profit with B Corp certification instead.

Mission Creep & Creepy Mission

Many launch non-profits because they believe that the money is not as important as the difference they can make. They focus on the people that they will help, the social good proposition, and the lives that will be changed rather than the bottom line. “My mission was never to make money. It was something that God called me to, to make a difference for women aging out of the foster care system,” Reid says about her non-profit.

This often means that these social entrepreneurs also neglect to focus on sustainability. Therefore, Marvin Olasky can tell the story in Renewing American Compassion of the multi-million-dollar social welfare building with few visitors. He compared this to a beloved, yet poorly funded child services non-profit. The non-profit operated with client numbers above its capacity.

Social workers and others working for social good are coming to grips with the fallacy of money as a dirty word (or after thought). They are also redefining their business models to avoid mission creep. They diversify offerings to access additional revenue streams without overextending the mission. The innovative method involves building programs for sustainability as well as mission achievement. They couple a profit mechanism within the service provision mix as the social good business model. The result are programs that support themselves.

Mental health agencies have been doing a version of this at the insistence of managed care organizations—billing for specific services. The difference in more recent innovations is to go beyond the billable scope of practice. Include a more holistic service cadre for clients. Those extended services, formerly out of scope, are funded through private donations, fundraisers, and now sales of manuals, merchandising, or sponsorship agreements.

The take away is that profits are not the enemy of social good. Failure to meet the mission is. As Reid of Queen Esther Ministry confirms, “As I’ve learned more about my business, I know the value of diversifying my revenue streams in addition to honoring my mission. I’m now exploring other revenue ventures through my business like holding a Summer camp.”

Sharing is Caring: 4 Ways How Helping Others Can Improve Your Own Life

To this day many people prefer taking, rather than giving. They are always asking life for more, wondering what more they can achieve, get and experience.

But turns out that giving is not just more important than taking, not just what we – as humans – should naturally be inclined to, but also the thing that gives us true satisfaction and can improve own life.

Without having tried it, however, there’s no chance you can know what the real benefits are.

There are many ways in which helping others, sharing, caring, giving what you can, doing good deeds, etc. can make you a better person and help other people too, while making the world more peaceful.

In case you want to live better and also contribute beyond yourself, here’s how helping others can turn your whole life around:

1. A sense of purpose

Let’s admit it. We’re all looking for meaning in life.

Often, focused only on ourselves and living the daily life, we forget there’s more behind all this.

There’s purpose beyond materialistic possessions, reaching our goals in life, getting a new job, finding the right partner, or else.

When you start doing more for others, and less for yourself, you receive more than you can imagine.

You find meaning in your life if you decide to volunteer, or to just be a better person and always help when you can.

So if you still haven’t found true meaning in your life, ask yourself what you can do today to help someone in need, or to show somebody that you care.

2. Volunteer, and you’ll be happy and healthy

According to a report by Harvard Health Publications, volunteering and the level of happiness and health in people’s lives are closely related. Let’s break this down.

For a start, when you join a volunteering organization, you’re part of a community, you feel like you belong. You’re taking part in something bigger than you, and it makes you smile and be truly grateful.

You start feeling good about yourself, and often can’t even describe it to others in your life. There’s nothing selfish about it, and you don’t even need to talk about it. It’s this feeling of contentment, where you don’t need to change anything, or to ask life for more, you just help others and feel happier day after day. What’s more, it’s great for the mind, body and soul too.

It’s one of the most natural stress, depression, loneliness and anxiety relievers. No need for medicine, spiritual practices, special programs, or else. You just need to go out there and start helping people.

It’s a therapy for the soul to see those in need smiling because of what you’re doing. And that makes you sleep better at night, feel good about yourself, and your other problems you thought you had in life don’t seem like a big deal now.

3. Doing good can help your professional life

You won’t be helping others with the goal of exceeding in your career, of course, but it will increase your chances of landing a job a lot, as a government study suggests.

How does this happen?

Well, turns out the skills you build while volunteering make you a better candidate for employers. It lets you explore new fields too, and you acquire knowledge at the same time. Then, you can easily put these into practice in whatever career you pursue.

What’s more, if you’re determined to excel at this, there are plenty of volunteering programs that offer further training. Things like that look good on your CV too, show that you care about the community, are open to side projects, and know how to work with other people.

Once you give it a try, you’ll end up becoming a better communicator, understand the real meaning of teamwork, will somehow start brainstorming ideas and solve problems more creatively, will be managing your time better and thus become more organized.

When all these are first experienced at an unpaid position, where no one expects you to do your best and there’s no pressure from superiors, you learn the skills necessary to move to the top of your career in the future, even before you’ve started a job in the field.

4. You build relationships

You know networking is crucial for your success in life and in business. Well, helping others can help you with that too. First of all, you’re connecting with people in a more meaningful way than usual when you’re doing good for the sake of making their life better. That’s the social aspect and it also gives you fulfillment and makes you feel great.

But you also meet other people doing the same, potential employers, influencers, and more. This expands your network and you can never know what opportunity will come out of this.

At the same time, you’re feeling more confident and comfortable around new people and let go of social anxiety. That lets you make friends too, which will stay in your life even when you’re not doing this anymore.

Once you land a new job, or open a new chapter in your life, socializing and putting yourself out there won’t scare you. You’ll be free to approach new people, and will effortlessly communicate without fear of rejection or wondering what to say.

In a nutshell, helping others is one of the most profitable, practical and satisfying things you can do with your life. And it doesn’t need to be big. You can complete smalls tasks or join a community that cares for a cause you’re passionate about.

5 Ways to Turn a Crazy Idea Into an Awesome Reality

Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, John Lennon, Martin Luther King, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, what do they all have in common? Every one of them had crazy ideas they trusted, believed in and took proper actions to turn those into an awesome reality. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. This famous quote was the genius of Rob Siltanen.

We live in a time where you have more opportunities to turn your crazy ideas into an awesome reality. Just think about it; jet-setting the world, making music or starting a new business were never as attainable as they are now. Nothing is off limits when you have opportunity drivers such as social media, crowdfunding, business incubators nowadays.

Everybody gets great ideas, it’s turning them into a reality that makes all the difference. Think about Google X projects like the driverless car or Google Glass. How about the innovative genius of Apple products when they first came into the market? iPods and iPhones and Apple computers all have revolutionized digital products. Can you even imagine your life without these devices?

These were all crazy ideas once. That was before someone took great efforts into making them come alive. So what did they do? You know you’ve got to do something about that brilliant idea you have before it fizzles out of your mind. Here are five ways to turn them into reality:

1.      Stop Talking and Start Doing

When people have crazy ideas, they get excited and go tell their friends or share it with their family. If you don’t have the proper foundation to defend your idea, then you are ridiculed, shamed or even forced to give it up before you did anything about it. So before you declare your crazy idea to your inner world, consider writing your idea down on paper first. This is to make sure you don’t forget it. Once you’ve written it down, do a SWOT analysis and begin a market research to see if your crazy idea is crazy enough to take off the ground. Do a survey or give out samples to know your potential audience. All this work will help you know if your crazy idea has any potential to turn into a reality.

2. Know How to Sell Your Idea

With the perfect market research, numbers and answers in check, prepare yourself to defend your crazy idea. Your crazy idea is your important product and who’s to say it won’t turn into profitable venture someday? So how can you sell this message across to venture capitalists or people who can back up your crazy idea? If you’ve ever watched the popular TV reality series “Shark Tank” you know pitching your idea has to be done in the simplest way. Easy does it. Can you explain, in under two minutes, how your crazy idea solves a problem? Because if your idea doesn’t improve anybody’s life then you may not have any takers for it. For example, you have this crazy idea for a script or a book, then get assistance on it before you pitch it. If your idea can turn into an app, make a great pitch about it so vendors buy your idea and make the app the way they want later.

3. Break It into Milestones

According to Harvard Business Review, there is a stark difference between planning for new venture and planning for an existing company.  Breaking your crazy idea into milestones will help you see how it will evolve and knowing this helps planning better. Each stage tells you what the drawbacks were and you can then come up with solutions, change plans and deal with the next stage. Milestones help you test previous performance and is key for decision making because it won’t be based on estimates. Estimates are more often away from reality. Performance-based reviews are more likely to help you project future behavior. Every milestone will further work on deadlines which helps build a momentum to turn your crazy idea into a reality!

4. Build Momentum

If you want to achieve what you’ve set out to turn into reality, you need to infuse your plans with great momentum. If you see obstacles in your path, people may ask you to wait until they pass. While sometimes this could be true, other times it could just mean you are procrastinating. The more you wait to get something done, the harder it will be, to get done later. Prioritize to take the most necessary actions first. Take consistent steps to stay on course.

5. Don’t Focus on Results

.. too early. Let’s say you’ve started a blog and you’ve posted articles, but you don’t see those 100,000 daily visitors you planned to see in the first six months. See if you’ve done everything in your power such as SEO, posting articles that improve people’s lives, used social media or guest posted to attract traffic. What else can you do to make it better? If you’ve done everything, there will be results. If these results are not what you expected at first, then chances are you will be discouraged. If you shift your focus, you are guaranteed to not see those results anyway.

So what you need is a meticulous plan, motivation to see it through, stay on your course and remain focused to turn your crazy idea into an awesome reality.

SKIP: A Holistic Approach to Promoting Education for Disadvantaged Children

Supporting Kids in Peru (SKIP) is a UK, US, and Peruvian NGO charity, working with impoverished families in El Porvenir and Alto Trujillo, in Peru. The primary aim is to enable children to utilise their right to an education, however by taking a holistic approach, SKIP works with the entire familial unit to do this. This means focusing on key aspects such as education, economic stability, emotional well-being, and healthy and safe living environments. SKIP promotes empowerment and believes that by working in partnership within communities, people can be empowered to make change.

SKIP is comprised of volunteers from these communities as well as volunteers from overseas. When SKIP formed in 2003, local professionals were motivated by the need for education support and joined in on the mission. Many children had never studied and were too old to attend primary school, however, with the help of volunteers 85 children who had been selected were able to commence school after passing placement exams.

The need for a holistic approach soon followed and as the project grew training was provided to parents so that they could create their own businesses and obtain an income to prevent their children from having to work. It wasn’t until 2012 that SKIP gained registration as an international NGO which meant that volunteering visas could be granted to long term volunteers the following year.

SKIP has a variety of programmes available for the communities they serve. The primary education system in Peru is disadvantaged and involves little emphasis on understanding, analytical skills, or problem solving. When SKIP first tested the student’s academic performance, most of the students were performing years below their grade level.

Therefore, SKIP aims to fully finance education, and support the development of emotional intelligence alongside therapeutic treatment for children by using individual therapy or group sessions.  In 2014, SKIP was able to improve Math scores by 29% with reading comprehension scores improving by nearly 50% showing the determination and motivation of the staff.

Additionally, SKIP also trains and supports parents and carers so that they are more aware of their child’s educational needs which maximises parental involvement and allow parents to acquire behaviour management techniques that will impact the family dynamics. Feedback found that the parents or carers felt valued and empowered with a commitment to continuous learning.

Also, SKIP promotes daily access to a library so that children can get help with their homework. This also encourages children to source information for themselves using the reading materials available. SKIP values the importance of this because some parents may not be literate, and so help may not be readily available at home. The library also provides a safe place where children can be intellectually challenged. Once homework is completed, there are educational games available for children to explore other interests.

Children are unlikely to have similar reading materials at home due to poverty and disadvantage which means they are not able to practice reading and so cannot develop skills. SKIP also offers a library that has at least two volunteer tutors to attend each three hour library session so that support can be offered.

There are also family support programmes available which include a dental campaign that not only checks children’s teeth and provides fillings when necessary. There is also preventative care and children are taught to properly brush their teeth. There are also sight tests in which glasses are provided to children if they are required.

The social work team focuses on empowering parents to expand their skills and abilities and can access advice daily with home visits being carried out twice a year at a minimum. By doing this, 14% of the people who were living in poverty in 2010, by 2014 had crossed the poverty line.

SKIP also have an economic development programme that stresses the importance of saving. There are also business workshops aimed at those who may want to develop a business, attendance in these workshops was over 85% with 36 women participating showing the emphasis on promoting equality.

Liz Wilson, the director of SKIP believes that by using a holistic and evidence-based approach, families are empowered and work can be done to help stabilise the entire unit. By working with families and witnessing their commitment and aspiring nature, it is hard to not find it motivating and inspiring. SKIP promote the availability of the services, but Liz Wilson believes it is the families that put the hard work into these interventions.

Whilst volunteering is extremely rewarding, it is not without its challenges. Liz Wilson stresses the importance of stepping back from fulfilling the volunteers’ own needs and looking at those of the project and how some tasks may be necessary and beneficial overall. Individually, we cannot change the world, but there is enormous value in shared contribution.

The Six Steps for Registering A Trademark

If you are in business, then you understand the need to have a brand identity. A unique identifying feature in your business name, the logo, or the service is essential to stand out in the market. To achieve this, you have to sell differentiated products and use a name that hasn’t been used by others or rather, a name that won’t bring confusion or ownership infringement feuds.

Though your business name is unique, a trademark to your products or services will ensure that your brand name is upheld. To register a trademark, follow the following steps:

1. Pre-registration

Here, you do not have to sign anything. Before making any important business step, you must ask if there is a critical need for the business trademark. Products and services, only, are eligible for trademarks. Inventions and literally arts cannot be trademarked.

You should also evaluate the need for the trademark. If the business name is enough to identify your company, the products and services you trade in, then you do not need to trademark them urgently.

2. Selection of the mark to trade in

This is among the toughest choices to make once you have ascertained the need for trademarking. The mark chosen should be unique and means to use in business. Descriptive, fancy, generic, and suggestive names will have to be deliberated.

When selecting the mark, you should also consider the graphical strength it possessed. As aforementioned, the trademark is your brand identity. To sell your brand, the format, availability, and the products to which the mark will be applied should be considered.

3. Name search

As you select the trademark, the ones chosen should be run through the US Patent and Trademark Offices database. A name search helps in preventing registration of an already registered trademark that can cost you more in revenue and legal fees later. This also helps to know if your name is desirable or not.

4. Application

After the selected mark is found to be available, you can fill in the application for trademark registration. The registration can be either on the ‘use in commerce’ or the ‘intent to use’ basis. This can be done online or on paper. You should note that there are various trademark attorneys in San Diego who will help in processing your trademark application. The best offer flat fees for registration and at reasonable values that will not cost your business as much.

5. Application evaluation

Once you have presented everything to the US. Patent and Trademark offices, you will be required to wait. This can be a long process, but with an attorney at hand, the process will be smooth. The status of the application can be monitored every 3 or 4 months. An examining attorney completes the review and approves the application. This takes at least 12 months.

6. Rejection or approval

If a registration goes through, then you will be within the legal bounds to use the trademark on your products or services. You should also note that the trademark goes through the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board even after its approval by the attorney and it is only certified if this board doesn’t oppose the trademark.

Rejection of the trademark registration can be appealed if the name isn’t immoral, a primary surname, slanders a person, resembles another, etc.

In conclusion, though the registration process can be lengthy, it is your first step to improving your brand image and this can result in an increased return on investment (ROI). To ensure success of the registration process, do not leave blank spaces on the application form, use a valid and active email address, and work with an attorney registered to work in the US.

R U There? How Crisis Text Line is Using Technology To Its Advantage

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Nancy Lublin giving a TedTalk on the creation of CrisisTextLine.org

Crisis Text Line was launched quietly with no marketing initiative in late 2013. Within a few months, they were operating in all area codes in the United States which is a faster growth than when Facebook was launched.

Crisis Text Line received more than 6.5 million texts in less than two years, from the date the algorithms were developed. For instance, if a text uses the words ‘rubber band’ and ‘MG’ there is a 99% match for substance abuse. This prompts the counsellor to ask specific questions or highlights the nearest drug centres to the texter.

Data and evidence can make research, policy, policing and school boards better and more effective to helping young people who are being bullied, suffering from eating disorders or being abused. Crisis Text Line believe in open collaboration and sharing the information they have learnt on social media and at conferences in an effort to help inform others’ practice. This data has been made public and available on www.crisistrends.org.

Crisis Text Line serves anyone, and it is free and available to use 24/7. Texters just need to text ‘START’ to 741741 from anywhere in the USA about any type of crisis, and a trained counsellor will receive and respond quickly. Counsellors are volunteers, and they aim to help move the texter from a hot moment to a cool moment. Texts to Crisis Text Line are free from all major phone networks including, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile which was announced in July 2015. These networks also announced texts to Crisis Text Line would not appear on billing statements allowing texters privacy and confidentiality in moments of crisis.

Whilst Crisis Text Line believes that science and technology make them better able to respond faster and more accurately, they do not think robots make great Crisis Counsellors. This means that every text you send will be viewed by a human.

Crisis Text Line aim to respond to texts within 5 minutes. However, if the service is extremely busy the waiting time may increase. Currently, the system is only able to process 140 characters in one text message. The service can also be reached through Facebook Messenger which is located through Facebook’s Safety checkpoint. Anonymity still applies and Crisis Text Line will not have access to your profile information. If you would like your data deleted via Facebook messenger you should message Crisis Text Line back with the word ‘LOOFAH’, they will scrub your data from the system and ask Facebook to do this too! Although Crisis Text Line provides a free resource for people to access in times of crisis, it is not a replacement for long-term counselling, therapy and/or a friend.

Crisis Text Line was founded by Nancy Lublin, Founder of Do Something, who saw a need for a service to help people in crisis. In her TED Talk, Lublin cites the text of one young person  who stated that, “he won’t stop raping her, it’s her dad, R U there?”. From this, Nancy knew she had to create a crisis text line because young people communicate primarily through texts.

Text messaging is private, no one can hear you, the messages given are just the facts and not communicated through ‘ums’ ‘ahs’, or hysterical crying. This meant that counsellors could act quickly and in some cases trigger active rescues which can save a young person’s life. Crisis Text Line initiate 2.41 active rescues each day. Crisis Text Line does not respond to texts chronologically, and they triage texts based on crisis level. Their goal is to provide a service that will help people in crisis get the best support they can give when experiencing a crisis.

If you are interested in becoming a Crisis Counsellor, you must pass a background check, have a US Social Security number, be at least 18 years old, have computer access with a secure internet connection and be able to commit to volunteering 4 hours per week for one year. The application process is rigorous, and it involves a lot of training that will prepare you for what you might experience.

If volunteering is not something you could commit to, you could also donate. Crisis Text Line is a non-for-profit organisation and any donation would help them to develop their service so that they can reach more people experiencing crisis.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOtFDsC8JC0

Government, Businesses and Organizations Announce $50 Million in Commitments to Support Women And Girls

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WASHINGTON,DC – Ahead of the first-ever United State of Women Summit, the Obama administration, private-sector companies, foundations and organizations are announcing $50 million in commitments, along with new policies, tools and partnerships that will continue to expand opportunity for women and girls. These announcements include a pledge by more than two dozen leading companies to take actions to continue to close the gender pay gap, new resources to empower community college students to negotiate their first salaries, new campaigns to change how our country values caregiving and improve portrayals of women in media, and enhanced global efforts to promote gender quality worldwide.

Each of these new efforts build on the work that President Obama and his administration have done since the day he took office ensure that women and girls have equal rights, treatment and protections.  He’s signed major pieces of legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – the first major bill he signed into law in January of 2009 – and the Affordable Care Act. He’s dramatically expanded fair pay and paid leave protections. And his administration has systematically encouraged cities and states to embrace policies like higher minimum wage and paid leave.

Underpinning these actions, the President has spoken out and driven a conversation‎ about treating women fairly. He convened the first-ever White House Summit focused on working families to help build 21st century workplaces that better support the needs of families and companies. He has pushed for cultural change that gives women the respect they deserve in schools and in workplaces, and joined advocates in dramatically changing our country’s approach to sexual assault on campus and elsewhere. That conversation has spurred changes in cities and states, businesses big and small, and schools from pre-K to college.

To continue this conversation, tomorrow the President and Vice President will participate in the United State of Women Summit to highlight the progress that has been made over the course of this Administration, and discuss public and private sector solutions to the challenges that still lie ahead. The First Lady will join Oprah Winfrey for a conversation aimed to inspire the next generation of women, shedding light on the progress the First Lady and Ms. Winfrey has seen women achieve and to encourage young women to take action so that progress continues for generations to come.

The primary goal of the Summit is to build a roadmap for future policymakers, stakeholders and advocates to continue to expand opportunities for women and girls. The Summit is being convened by the White House Council on Women and Girls, hosted in partnership with the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Aspen Institute, and Civic Nation, and will bring together leaders across a wide array of public and private sector industries, along with students, advocates, entertainers, and athletes, to explore six issue areas that are critical for women and girls: economic empowerment, violence against women, health and wellness, civic engagement, education and entrepreneurship.

The new commitments, resources and initiatives being unveiled tomorrow will build on the progress we have made over the past seven and a half years – both domestically and internationally – on behalf of women and girls. They include:

Commitments from leading companies to join new White House equal pay pledge

Highlighting the critical role that businesses must play in reducing the national gender pay gap, the White House will announce a new private sector engagement, called the White House Equal Pay Pledge, for companies who share this commitment – many of which are already taking steps on their own. Each company signing this pledge commits to take action within their organizations by conducting an annual company-wide gender pay analysis across occupations, reviewing their hiring and promotion processes, embedding equal pay efforts into broader enterprise-wide equity initiatives, and identifying and promoting other best practices that will help ensure wage fairness for all workers.

As part of this announcement, 28 companies have signed on to the pledge, including Accenture, Airbnb, Amazon, American Airlines, BCG, Buffer, Care.com, CEB, Cisco, Deloitte, the Dow Chemical Company, Expedia, Inc., Gap Inc., Glassdoor, GoDaddy, Jet.com, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal USA, PepsiCo, Pinterest, Popcorn Heaven, PwC, Rebecca Minkoff, Salesforce, Slack , Spotify, Staples, and Stella McCartney. Additional companies are invited to join this effort in the coming months.

Modernized protections against gender-based discrimination in the workplace

The Department of Labor will publish a final rule comprehensively updating its sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors (including subcontractors) for the first time since the 1970s.  The rule newly addresses a variety of sex-based barriers to equal opportunity and fair pay in the workplace, including pay discrimination; sexual harassment; pregnancy-related accommodations; family caregiving discrimination; and discrimination on the basis of gender identity or transgender status.

New collaboration with Harvard Negotiating & Mediation Clinic to expand career readiness resources through making available negotiation training for community college students nationwide

Negotiation training can be critical in helping workers of any age secure a good job, salary and benefits – but many workers, especially women and those newly entering the job market, can face distinct barriers. Tomorrow, the Department of Education and Harvard Law School’s Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program – as part of their program in negotiation training – are announcing the development of a new toolkit for community college students around the country to equip them with the knowledge and tools that will better prepare them for starting a career and successfully negotiating their first salary. In addition to being available for community college students, the toolkit will be made publicly available later this year – so will be an important readiness resource for all those newly entering the job market.

The Department of Labor will award more than $54 million in grants to give working parents the ability to train for higher wage jobs while addressing barriers faced by those with child care responsibilities.  This will help working parents address key barriers to participating in and successfully completing training for middle-and high-skilled jobs in in-demand fields, as well as help bridge the gap between the workforce development and child care systems.

By leveraging additional public and/or private funding, the grants promote activities that address barriers to accessing training and employment including co-location of training and child care services; increased access through unconventional training delivery times or locations; flexibilities related to scheduling and child care exigencies; and improved access to child care and other related participant supportive services.  This more than doubles the grant awards previously announced as part of the Department’s Strengthening Working Families Initiative grant program.

A New Coalition to Change How We Value Care in the 21st Century

Child and elder care are key to the economic growth of our country and the wellbeing of our families, but too often, we overlook the needs – and vital economic and social contributions – of paid and unpaid caregivers. Today Care.com, Caring Across Generations, and New America are launching the “Who Cares Coalition,” a unique partnership bringing together a corporation, advocacy campaign, and think tank to spearhead a broad-based social change movement redefining the cultural norms, behaviors, business practices, and policies around caregiving in the US.

The “Who Cares Coalition” will reach millions of families and caregivers by uniting the world’s largest online marketplace for family care; the nation’s top advocate for families, caregivers and aging Americans; and the leading, nonpartisan civic enterprise focused on creating new data and policy analysis on caregivers and changing the narrative around care.

New advertiser-led campaign to improve portrayals of women and girls across advertising and media

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Alliance for Family Entertainment (AFE) will announce a new initiative called “#SeeHer” to incentivize advertisers, content creators and the media to develop and showcase content that portrays diverse women and girls authentically. The ANA is the largest representative body for the marketing community in the United States, including over 650 member companies with 10,000 brands who collectively spend more than $250 billion in marketing and advertising each year. The AFE is a coalition of ANA members with family-driven brands. With the launch of #SeeHer, the ANA will share toolkits to support the campaign and lay out the roles of partner organizations to ensure success.

New foundation-backed initiative to invest in young women of color

Seven women’s foundations are announcing their commitment to launch a Young Women’s Initiative in 2016, which will invest and catalyze resources to improve equal opportunity and the prosperity of young women, with a focus on young women of color and those experiencing the greatest disparities in outcomes in our communities. The Young Women’s Initiative will be built on cross-sector partnerships, including: government; philanthropies; nonprofits; corporations; and, most importantly, the young women themselves. The foundations announcing this commitment include the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, California Women’s Foundation, Washington Area Women’s Foundation, Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis and The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. The New York Women’s Foundation previously launched a Young Women’s Initiative in 2015.

Academics and Advocacy Groups Launch a Policy Platform to support Marginalized Girls

The Girls at the Margin Alliance, a group of  more than 150 alliance members, steered by The National Crittenton Foundation, Rights4Girls, the National Women’s Law Center, Georgetown Center on Policy and Inequality and Girls Inc, will launch a policy platform that will propose concrete, actionable recommendations to ensure that marginalized girls and young women are met with system responses that honor their experiences and voices, provide opportunities for them to heal, develop their strengths, overcome challenges, ensure their safety, and support them in building thriving lives. This platform will provide a framework for change for all organizations and individuals dedicated to the potential of girls and young women. The Alliance was created to advance the best interest of girls who are marginalized by their communities, and often by their families and by the systems charged with their care. 

New report and convening on early educator compensation

The Departments of Health and Human Services and Education are releasing a new report on the compensation of the early care and education workforce. The report examines the low – and often poverty level – wages that child care providers and early educators receive, the vast majority of whom are women, the growing demand for high-quality early education to both support working families and foster children’s early brain development, and the key role that early educators and child care providers play in preparing the next generation of girls, and all young children, for success. To organize around solutions that address this issue, the Obama Administration will co-host a convening on June 15th with early childhood stakeholders, in partnership with the National Head Start Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Women’s Law Center, and the Service International Employees Union.

Enhanced global efforts to empower women and promote gender equality worldwide

The U.S. Department of State will release a new strategy for women’s economic empowerment across the globe. The strategy will outline four broad policy objectives: promoting women’s equal access to resources and services, promoting women’s equal access to decent work, promoting women’s entrepreneurship, and addressing overarching issues that impede women’s economic participation, such as gender-based violence.  The State Department’s overseas missions and domestic offices and bureaus will use the strategy to guide their efforts to support women’s economic participation and pursue gender integration across their portfolios.

The White House will announce updates to two global strategy cornerstones of the U.S. Government’s commitment to advancing human rights and promoting gender equality worldwide. The updated U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally, jointly led by USAID and the State Department, reflects our growing understanding of gender-based violence, including historic provisions for vulnerable populations, such as lesbian and transgender women. Established in a 2012 Executive Order in order to prioritize U.S. foreign policy and programs to combat gender-based violence worldwide using a whole-of-government, interagency approach, it lays out the tools the U.S. Government is employing to prevent and combat this scourge.  Annually, the State Department and USAID contribute approximately $150 million to support projects all over the world that support women’s and community groups broadly. USAID alone has reached more than five million survivors of GBV with vital, sometimes life-saving services in more than 40 countries worldwide, and has awarded more than $17 million in dedicated incentive funds to support innovative pilot programs, research, and scaled best practices to address GBV in 15 countries. 

Likewise, the newly updated National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security will provide the framework for U.S. efforts to increase participation of women in peace processes, prevent sexual violence in conflict, empower women to prevent violence, and ensure that women and girls have equal access to relief and recovery resources.

More than $20 million in new commitments to the Let Girls Learn Initiative to support the 62 million girls around the world who are out of school with the opportunity to attain an education: 

CARE is committing to reach three million adolescent girls, by investing $15 million dollars in six countries through its Udaan “Second Chances” school program. Through this new commitment, Second Chances will broaden from India into Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, and Malawi to double its reach. This program provides an intensive, nine month curriculum to help girls who were unable to finish primary school, catch up to their peers. Through Second Chances, some of the world’s most marginalized girls have returned to school and some have even gone on to college. With a 95 percent success rate, CARE plans to broaden this program with the support of ministries of education, corporations, foundations, and local organizations.

Oracle is committing to invest more than $3 million in direct and in-kind funds over the next 12 months to promote and support educational opportunities for adolescent girls around the world. Under this Let Girls Learn commitment, Oracle Academy, Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL) communities, Oracle’s Diversity & Inclusion program, and Oracle Volunteers will offer more than 65 direct educational events and support conferences, summer computing camps, and codefests for girls, reaching more than 55,000 students around the globe and inspiring them to explore and pursue opportunities in STEM fields.  The Oracle Education Foundation and Oracle Volunteers will teach girls coding, electrical engineering, and project management through four immersive girls-only workshops. Oracle also plans to expand the work of its Oracle Academy program in Egypt by making an additional investment of nearly $1 million in resources and services over the next four years as part of a new partnership with the Ministry of Education in Egypt to expand computer science education for girls in nine newly developed STEM schools. These schools, also supported by USAID, will provide three years of paid secondary education for each girl.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is committing to deliver new programs worth $1 million to adolescent girls in the most conflict-affected states in Africa and the Middle East, including programming that addresses how violence impacts girls’ learning and their ability to access education services. Through its education and GIRL SHINE programs, IRC will target the hardest-to-reach adolescent girls with an in-school and out-of-school enhanced package of services, including girl-only safe spaces and discussion groups, life skills and social and emotional skill development curricula, remedial support in math and reading, parent and caregiver support groups, and an interactive visioning program that breaks down barriers, reduces violence, and ensures increased access to education.

The Hershey Company is committing to support projects that will empower and educate adolescent girls through a $250,000 three-year commitment to the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund. The Hershey Company has a long history of giving underserved children the resources they need to be successful. Tomorrow, the company will advance this shared social purpose through this new commitment to Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund.

PayPal is featuring Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund in its Back to School charitable giving campaign this August as part of an effort to raise awareness and encourage millions of PayPal U.S. users to support Let Girls Learn projects around the world. In addition to encouraging customers in the U.S. to support the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund, PayPal will add 1 percent to each donation, ensuring that 101 percent of every gift made by PayPal U.S. users reaches Let Girls Learn projects.

American Airlines, through its Change for Good partnership with UNICEF, commits to expanding support for adolescent girls’ education by working with UNICEF’s “Let Us Learn” initiative. American commits to build upon Let Us Learn’s successes to-date, including awarding more than 4,000 scholarships to girls in Madagascar to help them enroll and stay in school through the lower secondary level, and helping over 8,000 out-of-school adolescent girls enroll in non-formal classes that provide flexible learning opportunities in Nepal.

Just Like My Child Foundation (JLMC) is committing to reach an additional 10,000 vulnerable adolescent girls with their Girl Power Project® in Central Uganda, thereby doubling their current program reach by 2020. An initial investment from the Toni Ko Foundation will launch the JLMC’s $250,000 commitment. The Girl Power Project® was created to empower adolescent girls and to reduce barriers that prevent adolescent girls from completing secondary school. The Girl Power Project® (GPP) “System in a Box” is an evidence¬-based, innovative, targeted, and scalable mentoring program totaling more than 60 hours of training over two years. It addresses the complex needs of vulnerable adolescent girls’ aged 10¬-15, by ensuring that they stay in school and avoid obstacles in the transition to secondary school. The GPP® empowers girls to live healthy lives by avoiding forced child marriage, HIV transmission, early pregnancy, rape and disease.

AOL, a media technology company with a mission to connect consumers and creators, is taking action in support of Let Girls Learn by announcing the Let Girls Build Challenge. The Challenge, powered by Citizen AOL and AOL’s #BUILTBYGIRLS platform, calls for young women to use the power of technology to conceptualize tech-enabled solutions to the problems facing the #62million girls without access to education. The Challenge will conclude with a final “pitch off” to a live audience, as part of the #BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge, which young women with a background in entrepreneurship to fund tech projects built by other girls. Through the Let Girls Build Challenge, AOL and Let Girls Learn will provide the resources, funding, and mentorship needed to empower the leaders of tomorrow to help open the doors to education globally. For more details please go to builtbygirls.com/letgirlsbuild.

New resources to support efforts to combat and prevent violence against women

The Department of Justice, through its Elder Justice Initiative and its Office for Victims of Crime with support from the Office for Access to Justice, and the Corporation for National and Community Service, will announce Elder Justice AmeriCorps, a $2 million grant program to provide legal assistance and support services to victims of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation – the majority of whom are women – and to promote pro bono capacity building in the field. This grant to Equal Justice Works will be the first ever army of new lawyers and paralegals to help victims of those who prey on our nation’s elders.

The Department of Justice, through its Office on Violence on Women (OVW), is investing $3.2 million in new initiatives to prevent domestic violence homicides. This includes $700,000 for the establishment of a new National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms to improve the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence homicides involving firearms, as well as a new $900,000 technical assistance grant award to a consortium of organizations that will work closely with OVW to provide enhanced training and technical assistance to implement an effective firearms response at the local, state, and tribal levels. OVW has also entered into a partnership with the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to launch the new $1.6 million National Intimate Partner Violence Intervention Initiative (NIPVII). NIPVII will work with three cities, to be selected as part of the demonstration pilot, to replicate a successful strategy for reducing intimate partner violence and homicides. The National Institute of Justice will oversee an evaluation of the initiative through a grant to Yale University. Additionally, OVW will announce the addition of two new cities, Miami, FL and Winnebago County, IL, as replication sites for the Lethality Assessment Program model. This model was included as part of OVW’s Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative, established in 2012

The Department of Justice, through its Office on Violence Against Women, will award nearly $1.2 million to two organizations to help jurisdictions implement the Department of Justice Guidance on Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, which was released by the Attorney General in December 2015. Through training and technical assistance, these grants will develop resources and build the capacity of law enforcement and advocacy organizations to improve responses to domestic and sexual violence victims

Today, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) will release a special report, Down the Road: Testing Evidence in Sexual Assaults. It highlights findings from NIJ-supported action research projects in Houston and Detroit, where two multidisciplinary teams of criminal justice professionals developed effective strategies to address the large numbers of sexual assault kits that had not been submitted for DNA testing. The report offers key lessons for improving responses to sexual assault based on research findings from Houston and Detroit and discusses NIJ’s forensic and social science research portfolios as they relate to using biological evidence to solve sexual assaults.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families Office on Trafficking in Persons has partnered with the Office on Women’s Health to create a training for healthcare and social service providers offering trauma-informed services to survivors of human trafficking. This will be complemented by a new initiative to collect data to improve understanding of how trafficking survivors interact with the health system and with social service providers, and will begin in August 2016.

The Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) will invest $1.35 million in holistic services for American Indian and Alaska Native victims of sex trafficking in urban settings. Organizations awarded funds through this investment will be supported by Project Beacon, a training and technical assistance project that will help service providers’ work to promote the healing of sex trafficking victims. OVC will support Project Beacon through an additional investment of $450,000.

The Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, through its National Girls Initiative, will provide an additional $700,000 in funds to support eleven community programs in Iowa, Hawaii, New York, California, Texas, Connecticut, Washington state, and the District of Columbia, that are working with young women and girls at-risk of entering the juvenile justice system. These programs are culturally-responsive, and build on girls’ strengths to empower them to build brighter futures.

The Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women will release a report summarizing the sustained impact of the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) throughout communities across the country, drawing from conversations with domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking service providers from over twenty states and tribes.

Social Work for a New Generation

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Social work is at a crossroads. As a new generation of social workers move towards graduation and entrance into the profession, we face a unique conundrum. Millennials overall are earning less despite being the best educated generation in history. We are struggling to pay student loans and are widely expected to be the first generation to fare worse than our parents. We know from our own struggles this is not for lack of effort.

Injustices have been allowed to fester and grow unchecked. The social work profession must choose how to address the concerns of this new generation–dedicated to meeting the needs of others, but who are also struggling to meet their own.

For millennials, there is little choice. We will lead for a better tomorrow.

Millennial social workers are recognizing the importance of clinical, community, and political practitioners working in tandem for change at all levels, and the foundations to support this philosophy are being laid down at this moment. Recognizing the unique perspectives of our generation, YSocialWork is launching as a millennial-driven organization that will apply social work methods to the profession itself.

YSocialWork, originally launched as a hashtag for the inaugural Student Advocacy Day platform for social work students in the United States,  is a socially conscious, grassroots start-up based in Washington, DC.  It seeks to provide training and education to youth and young professionals in the areas of innovation, leadership development, and political engagement.  Since its inception in 2014, as the driving force behind creating new opportunities for students in policy-entrepreneurial engagement, YSocialWork continues to empower its members to transform ideas into sustainable solutions in the classroom, community , and government.

Examples of policy-entrepreneurial activities led by YSocialWork will include (but not be limited to): idea generation activities, problem framing activities, dissemination activities, strategic activities, demonstration project activities, activities cultivating bureaucratic insiders and advocates, activities enlisting support from elected officials, lobbying activities, and administrative and evaluative activities (Roberts & King, 1991).

I’m a millennial who became politically conscious under the second Bush Administration–tainted as it was with an air of corruption and illegitimacy. My entire adult life, the United States has been at war. I’ve only experienced an economic recession, despite the alleged recovery. My political reality has been shaped by seeing advocates who stood against the conservative Bush agenda all but disappear as a new Democratic administration came to power–but the injustices remain.

I saw a political system change but go unchanged.

I changed. What might have been the making of partisan loyalty eroded. The belief that good politicians could change the system from the inside dissipated. Because every good politician must confront a system fueled by money and seniority–two things that have a way of influencing political thought and behavior.

I cheered the Arab Spring, the occupation of the Wisconsin capitol, and of course Occupy Wall Street.

In the midst of it all, I became a social worker, drawn by its values–so simple yet essential–a belief in the inherent value and worth of all people and the pursuit of social justice. It is the only profession that carries such a mandate. Social work seemed like the obvious answer to our fragmented systems for social good with micro, mezzo, and macro practice united by a common mission to enhance human well-being.

Unfortunately, our profession has become unbalanced, with an emphasis on clinical practice that comes at the expense of organizing and political work. This is not unlike my own generation. No matter how idealistic we may once have been, we have disengaged from the political in favor of individual impact. We are a generation undeniably invested in social good, but we have not yet mastered how to maximize our impact.

To be sure, this is changing. The vestiges of Occupy–once apolitical–have found a candidate in Bernie Sanders. The historic Black Lives Matter movement has grown to engage not only in street protests, but the political sphere through its strategic confrontations with presidential candidates and the launch of a policy agenda–Campaign Zero. We are learning quickly how to use all the tools at our disposal and to attack the ills of our world from multiple angles.

We must recommit to our core values. We need social workers helping communities to stand up and force systemic change. We need social workers to be political leaders who will listen and take action with the interests of society’s most vulnerable at heart. We need front-line social workers to help individuals overcome their personal struggles and navigate existing systems. We need a united front of social workers for social justice.

Global Citizen Encourages You to Help Eradicate Extreme Poverty by 2030

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With poverty and inequality being extremely prominent in the media recently, the Global Citizen’s Festival is well timed to advocate on behalf of their goal to end extreme poverty by 2030. So what is Global Citizen and how does it aim to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030? It’s a mission that can not be achieved without your help.

Global Citizen is a community of people committed to tackling societal challenges in the world and encouraging other people to do the same. Global Citizen believes courageous actions taken by those who believe in a better world will shape history and change society. Extreme poverty is one of the greatest injustices at the present time and it strips people of their basic rights as well as access to opportunities.

Whilst extreme poverty has halved in the last 30 years, there is still more work to do. Poverty can be a vicious cycle but if we come together to learn and take action we can change the rules trapping people in these cycles. Global Citizen does not ask for charity, it asks for help in fighting injustice. Global citizen wants people to advocate and use their passion to take action on issues that will help eradicate extreme poverty.

Global Citizen have several themes that we all can become involved in:

The first theme is food and hunger, and it is thought that people who are well fed will perform better in education and create more stable communities which will allow them to take advantage of the opportunities to end extreme poverty. The world has enough food to feed everyone, and we need to ensure this is spread more equally! The second theme is education, and by focusing on education for all children, it will encourage more leaders to lead society out of poverty and build communities that will thrive.

There are still millions of children without a good standard of education. Education is a basic right that we all deserve. The third theme focuses on health because everyone must be healthy in order to end extreme poverty. Healthy people can live fuller lives and take more opportunities to develop themselves. Health is vital for pregnant mothers, new-borns and children who require vaccines and access to healthcare that many are not receiving.

It is estimated that over a billion people suffer the indignity of having to defecate in open areas which is why water and sanitation is a top priority of Global Citizen. Waste systems and clean water are not a luxury, and it is a necessity that could save millions of lives each year and help eliminate diseases. Finance and innovation is also highly important. By funding development, it will help the global community to empower people to make changes and innovate in order to help themselves break the poverty cycle.

Women and girls are often subjected to some of the harshest aspects of poverty.  Global Citizen believes promoting better education for women and girls will also them become powerful leaders. A great example of the power of education for women and girls is Malala Yousafazi who was shot by the Taliban for speaking publicly about the importance of girl’s education. I received an email that Malala has now started a petition to encourage support to stand up for over 60 million girls around the world who do not receive the opportunity of education, which you can also sign here. This shows we can all make change, but we need to take the steps to do it like Malala Yousafazi.

Most importantly, we should not forget about the environment. Working towards these goals will mean more healthy people who can help take care of the earth and protect those who live on it. To participate and work on these themes Global Citizen have recommended actions such as tweeting, writing, making phone calls and/or email. These can all be found by clicking on each theme on the Global Citizen website. By completing these simple actions, we can make the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 happen a lot sooner!

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Anthony Quintano via Flikr

On September 26th, Global Citizen will host its annual Global Citizen Festival on the Great Lawn of New York’s Central Park which also coincides with the launch of the United Nation’s global goals. To date more than 150,000 people have attended the festival with more than 30 million watching the festival.

The festival channels the power of thousands of global citizens to achieve policy and financial commitments that shape success. The Global Citizen Festival is supported by many brands from YouTube, to H&M to Unilever and many more. YouTube will feature a special livestream and a live simulcast of the full concert will be available on MSNBC and msnbc.com.

Screenwriter Richard Curtis will also produce a one-hour special to air on NBC on Sunday, September 27th. For all those in the UK, don’t worry. It will also air on BBC One on Monday, September 28th. The festival also involves artists such as Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay to name a few. The Global Poverty Project is a registered non-profit organisation who works in partnership with business leaders, world leaders and global citizens to call on governments to support policies that would impact the poor.

So far, Global Citizens have taken a massive 2.3 million actions to fight against extreme poverty in the last four years which have resulted in 87 commitments and policy announcements including cash commitments which are valued at around $18.3 billion.

With your help, extreme poverty can be ended and Global Citizen encourages us all to help in that journey. We tweet and email every day, let’s do it today to create change! Global Citizen has taken on an amazing goal which encourages everyone to participate, and we can eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.

What Do You Stand4: Interview with Andy Hill Founder of Social Good Startup Stand4

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Stand4 helps you make your mark on the world. They’ve made it extremely easy, through their app, to support whatever causes you want, whenever you want, and however you want. Whether it be through donations in which they don’t take a percentage, to petitions that can be signed with a swipe of your finger, to (my personal favorite) sponsoring stands that actually donate for you every time you perform a challenge. Any time you do easy things like drinking a beer or checking-in, they’ll donate to whatever cause you care about. Simple as that.

What’s really exciting is their ability to track and show your impact. So if you drew a 4 on the App to give a child a cup of clean water, they’ll actually send in-the-moment project updates of the filters being made, filters being delivered, and the exact school you gave water to. It’s legit. Here is my interview with Andy Hill founder of the social good startup Stand4.

Stand4 is a social impact app that empowers people to change the world without donating a dime. 

Let’s first talk about how this idea came about and when was the ah-ha moment, when you said ok I want to really launch this?

screen1136x1136Andy: About 9 months ago, my partners and I started studying the social and economic philosophies on why people give and what we found very interesting is that when an individual gives, they’re doing it because giving carries with it a sense of fulfillment; a sentiment, unlike any other, that is fostered in the belief that their contributions lead to a better, more desirable world. But we, as individual givers, never get to see our impact on the world, whether it be with a single event or as a collective sum. And therefore our fulfillment is minimized by an outdated charitable system.

At Stand4 we were founded in a belief that the way we change the world hasn’t changed in 150 years. We believed (and still do) that there are causes and stories that resonate with each of us, and we are intrinsically motivated to help. So Stand4 set out to create a new system. One where we could support what we care about further than our wallets would allow and even more importantly, then be able to see the exact impact our support helped accomplish.

Can you explain how users can make a real impact without actually having to donate money?

Andy: Stand4 actively partners with corporate sponsors who set aside a pool of funds for donation through our app. Our users choose where this money is allocated by ‘taking stands’ for their favorite causes. Every time a stand is taken, a monetary donation is made. This empowers people to make a significant impact in the world, without worrying about their wallet. Everything that comes as a result of their stand is collected and showcased on their profile, giving them the ability to immediately see all the lives they’ve touched, problems they’ve helped solve, and overall impact they’ve made on the world. Nowhere does this exist today.

How many organizations can users choose from when wanting to take a stand? Is an organization teamed with a particular stand?

Andy: Stand4 has initially partnered with some of the world’s most innovative non-profits including Kiva, Invisible Children, The Adventure Project, and Watsi. We’ve also partnered with several smaller non-profits we believe are making a big difference. In total, users can stand for 7 different organizations right now. We’re rapidly expanding tho and expect to bring on another 20 partners in the next month.

When we bring on a non-profit partner we work with them to determine what a particular stand will equal. Below are what each stand goes towards.

Kiva: 1 oz of food
Watsi: 1 medical treatment
Invisible Children: 1 come home message
The Adventure Project: .1% raise in income for a Kenyan farmer
May We Help: 1 part of a custom medical device
TruWater: 1 cup of clean water
Miami Children’s Initiative: 1 minute of education

Did you have a certain idea of what corporate sponsors you wanted to work with? How did the process go in terms of choosing sponsors you wanted to team up with?

Andy: Our corporate sponsors say a lot about what we as a company stand for – so it’s very important to us to partner with companies who share our innovative vision for change. Some of our beta sponsors include Pasta Chips (www.pastachips.com) and KIND Snacks (www.kindsnacks.com). We’re on-boarding more sponsors as we speak.

At the core level is the app intended to be a social network of like minded individuals collaborating for causes?

Andy: Stand4 is the social network for social impact. It’s a place where users can discover the causes they care about, support them in multiple ways, and see their entire footprint on the world in one place. Our app empowers users to showcase what it is they stand for in life and interact and collaborate with individuals who stand for similar causes.

ST4ND is currently available for download. You can download the app, sign in, and start making stands, but what type of features are available in the Stand4 app? 

You can now tag anyone if you want to comment on a Stand, comment on an interesting story you saw, or on fun challenges you saw friends take. Users can now challenge anyone to take a stand with you. Take a pic of a sunset post it and challenge you friend to take pic of the sunset wherever they are at. Once the challenge is completed your friends will have 24 hours to vote on the winner. When a challenge is completed it triggers a 2x donation to that particular stands cause for double the impact. Also, you can now search your entire home feed for specific stands, stories, or challenges. You can also search the Stand4 community to find other people on the app.

Explore all of the available Stands and uncover how effortless it is to impact the world. Make your mark by snapping pictures, answering fun questions, and a whole lot more – for every Stand you take, we donate.

Download the Stand4 app and start making an impact – iOS –  Android

We bring your entire charitable footprint to the digital world. Share the impact that you’re making with your friends and see the impact that they’re sharing with you. Watch your collective footprints pave the way to a better and brighter future.

Brad Pitt Rebuilds Homes After Hurricane Katrina With Community Support

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Deemed the power couple in Hollywood, Brad and Angelina have not failed to be noticed for their humanitarian efforts and this is no exception. A decade after the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Brad Pitt and his foundation Make It Right has been a blessing to 109 families devastated by the hurricane. Famous for his acting ability, Brad is no stranger to our screens and has been propelled into fame for his roles in Thelma & Louise, Ocean’s Eleven and on the other side of the camera produced and starred in the Academy Award winning film 12 Years a Slave.

Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in August 2005 killing at least 986 Louisiana residents in its path. New Orleans saw 70% of its occupied units damaged which is a huge amount of people left without a home. I cannot imagine the detrimental effect it would have to see your home and belongings displaced, ruined and lost in such a short space of time.

With winds of up to 140 miles per hour stretching across 400 miles of land it cannot be denied the catastrophe this caused. Whilst levees for the Mississippi River were reliable, the same cannot be claimed for Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Borgne and the marshes on the east and west of the city which inevitably flooded the area.

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Determined to help, Brad Pitt decided he would rebuild homes, but he also was under no impression it would be an easy task. It quickly became crystal clear how hard this undertaking would actually be. Through his foundation and with the determination of local residents, Brad began to encourage prestigious architects to lend a helping hand. The help of Shigeru Ban, Thom Mayne, and Frank Gehry was enlisted to tackle this mammoth project with the added challenge of designing and building eco-friendly homes.

Photographs by Alexei Lebedev/Momenta for Make It Right. These images are to be credited "Alexei Levedev/Momenta."
Photographs by Alexei Lebedev/Momenta for Make It Right. These images are to be credited “Alexei Levedev/Momenta.”

The goal was to develop hurricane-resistant homes that were cheap to build and live in. Around 30% of the population was thought to be in poverty which highlighted the importance of building homes that were affordable and would not put the vulnerable at more financial risk. It was hoped the homes would help residents escape the poverty trap, and it was equally important to also allow community members to make most of the decisions regarding the designs. As a result of the collaboration, the Make it Right foundation built aesthetically pleasing houses that catapulted the area into being a tourist attraction, and I can see why!

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Equipped with the best architects and the local community what could go wrong? Bureaucracy of course with forgivable loan structures, family financial counseling, lot rights, and HUD grants to name. However, these hurdles did not stop the celeb, his team and the community from meeting their goals. Rebuilding the neighborhood cost around $26.8 million which is thought to have been funded through federal loans and donations.

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Although it is unclear whether this sum dented Brad’s bank account, it definitely showed his devotion to humanitarianism because he was very hands on with this project. Not one to shy away from his efforts, Brad has admitted he enjoys seeing the residents making use of their homes and converses with them often. Brad Pitt definitely met his goal considering a resident claimed their utility bill was around $24, jealous?

Currently shooting for a war film, Brad is excited to return to New Orleans for filming, claiming the area is so great for filming that it’s never a fight with studios as they love it and clearly he also loves the city very dearly!

How a Social Worker Can Become an Entrepreneur and Still be Social

Since Evelyn started thinking of becoming an entrepreneur and starting her own business, her head was full of questions. Sure, not knowing all the answers made her anxious. But nevertheless, this energy felt much better than being unemployed and feeling no energy at all.

She knew she needed some firm answers. How can a social worker transform into an entrepreneur? How do they get clients? Who will pay for that?

IMG_2325My name is Anneke, and I am a social worker  just like you and Evelyn. Since 2006, I  have been running my own business. I teach and coach social workers how to become a successful entrepreneur and still be social. This is where I met Evelyn.

Like Evelyn, many other social workers fear deep down that you will loose your social spirit once you become an entrepreneur. It’s always on our mind’s all the time to avoid becoming the pushy salesmen or greedy snatchers. Who wants to be like this? Not Evelyn, nor you or me.

Let me promise you there is a solution to address your fears. It’s my proven system of 7 easy steps called Sweet Social Marketing. More on that in a next episode of Evelyn’s journey. Now let me first tell you how Evelyn made her next step.

Evelyn needed answers. I gave her examples of social workers who became an entrepreneur.

  • Saskia and Evelien are two young dutch social workers and their business is called “Samen Wille”. They organize speeddates for the elderly to find one more time true love in their life.
  • Dagmar grew up with disordered parents. She became a social worker and is now helping other women who grew up in the same situation, to get a balanced life.
  • Marjolein is a social worker who is helping women who experienced a deep loss in their life and who reached the point that nobody else can help them. She helps these women to learn to live with this.
  • Rick started a practice for men with problems in their marriage. He helps them to take three major decisions to get their lives back on track.

I also coach social workers who have a business in helping other social workers, like I do.

  • Hans is a community worker who now is successful in helping social workers with their social media.
  • Wies, an expert in child abuse prevention, is helping social workers to take better care of abused children.

All these social worker entrepreneurs have in common that they followed their passion. They choose to work with specific clients with specific problems that match perfect with their own passion and talents.

Evelyn learned a couple of things:

  • She was not alone: many social workers become an entrepreneur or have plans to do so
  • It is possible to be successful: to have paying clients and get an income
  • You have to be specific: choose specific clients with specific problems
  • It works best if you make these choices with your heart: just follow your passion

If you stay loyal to your passion, you can become a social worker entrepreneur and still feel aligned with your higher purpose to serve people in need. Now, how can you turn your passion into a business?

Individual vs Collective Impact

At a meeting with one of my regular clients, I was reminded of an important tension and interesting phenomenon in organisational dynamics, and it is blogged about ad infinitum.

The tension is the value of meetings over that of individual productivity, and the phenomenon is the power of “collective influence” (Alex Smith).

meetingMeetings get a bad rap these days. Particularly online businesses favour virtual teams, online collaboration, etc. Alex reckoned 90% of meeting content is irrelevant, people are busy, and time is precious.

On one hand, I agree that meetings can be wasteful. Personally, I avoid them if I can. But, what can we learn when we look deeper at individual impact versus collective impact?

There is a difference between a meeting and an intentional gathering or conversation. As I said at the meeting today, I have been in several of the latter with another regular client. Everyone is pressed for time, the gathering is delayed…

However, every time when we finally meet either during or afterwards, something magical happens. An opportunity, a breakthrough, and/or a request for what we offer.

I describe this as a dynamic or energetic outcome, and I’m waiting for what will emerge from this week’s meeting.

If you’re arguing about whether individual productivity or meetings are more important, please stop. It’s a useless conversation.

The conversation should be about how to harness the benefit of both individual and collective impact. The questions are, what is a good balance, how are they organised, and what are the intentions?

The answers? Well, you tell me.

Cover Photo Courtesy of Collaboration for Impact

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