My Boxing Day blog post was about a poll conducted by the teen-centric organisation Do Something, and this took my mind back to the Do Something Awards made earlier in 2012. Although the 12 young world-changing finalists and semi-finalists were all from the North American continent they were so amazing that I thought it would be worthwhile featuring them and their charitable programmes in today’s post.
WINNER of the award was Katia Gomez, 24 (San Leandro, CA).
Katia grew up in a single parent home where her mother always found time and money for Katia’s education. While on a volunteer trip to Honduras, the third poorest country in Latin America, Katia saw the effects of a young population in extreme poverty, where almost half of the population is 16 years and younger and over half of all Hondurans survive on only $2 a day. Katia took her own passion for education and created Educate2Envision to provide education for youth of Honduras, and show the opportunities that education can bring. Educate2Envision is working in three remote communities in Honduras where she has brought secondary education to over 450 students.
The other FINALISTS were:
Manyang Reath Kher, 23 (Richmond, VA).
Manyang’s earliest memories are of war, dead bodies, and of his own uncle trying to save his life. At age 3 Manyang became a refugee of the Sudanese civil war. He is one of The Lost Boys, a group of 20,000 boys who were displaced and orphaned. Manyang’s father was one of the two-and-a-half million people killed and he was separated from his mother and sister. For 13 years he lived in refugee camps along the Sudanese and Ethiopian border, where homelessness, hunger, fear, and abuse were part of his everyday life. At age 17 Manyang was brought to America where he learned English and eventually enrolled in college. He started Humanity Helping Sudan to improve the lives of Sudanese refugees and attempt to battle the problems of an entire displaced population. Humanity Helping Sudan runs on-the-ground programmes at refugee camps where they provide fishing nets, agricultural programmes, and community gardens, reaching 40,000 displaced people.
Meg Bourne, 22 (Joplin, MO).
At age 19, Meg created Art Feeds to promote creative healing and encourage development in children who were disabled or had experienced trauma. On May 22nd of 2011 Meg’s life changed forever, when at 5:41 pm one of the largest tornadoes in America’s history ripped through Meg’s hometown of Joplin, Missouri. The EF-4 tornado left a six-mile path of devastation with 162 people dead and 7,500 homes destroyed. Two children from Meg’s art classes were killed and Meg lost her own home, as well as the Art Feeds van from where she worked. The Art Feeds programmes were needed in Joplin more than ever before and Meg has now worked with over 800 volunteers and 8,000 children.
Danny Mendoza, 23 (Chino, CA).
While in college, Danny learned that his 9 year old cousin, Roger, was living in a car. After lots of manoeuvring Danny helped him move from the Honda to a house, but was deeply disturbed by the little control Roger had over his own situation. Danny took action and created Together We Rise, a youth led organization dedicated to running programmes that not only bring a sense of normalcy and stability to children in foster care, but also allow foster children to make their own choices. Through programmes like music lessons, mentoring, sports and athletics, resume building, and job-readiness, Together We Rise provides the resources for foster kids to prepare for success at age 18 when they are kicked out of the foster care system, and left to fend for themselves. Danny and Together We Rise have helped reach 3,000 foster care youth through these programmes, providing a better opportunity for long-term success.
Seth Maxwell, 24 (Los Angeles, CA).
Seth was a 19-year-old acting student in Los Angeles when a brief meeting with a friend who’d just returned from Africa changed the course of his life forever. Upon learning that almost one billion people lack access to clean water and that water-borne illnesses account for more than 80% of all global disease, he gave up acting to focus on water education. The Thirst Project is a movement of young people who are raising awareness of and bringing solutions to the global water crisis. Combining outreach and water well implementation, The Thirst Project has completed 788 freshwater development projects across the globe and reached 250,000 American students with its eye-opening educational programmes.
And the SEMI-FINALISTS were:
Aime Sider, 25 (Kitchener, Ontario).
Amie was born in a remote fishing village in rural Guatemala to a mother of 18 children who turned to a life of drugs, crime, and prostitution in order to survive. At 6 months, Amie was saved from a life of extreme poverty when she was adopted by a Canadian family. Overwhelmed with her own luck, Amie started Nationwares, to provide employment opportunities to populations who had previously been deemed unemployable because of physical or mental disabilities, HIV/AIDS, and extreme poverty. Amie not only provides opportunities to artisans and craftsmen, but ensures they use local resources to create sustainable products. Nationwares currently has operations in 10 countries and employs over 850 local artisans, many of whom were previously social outcasts and have now become respected leaders in their communities.
Sasha Fisher, 24 (New York, NY).
In 2008 Sasha was in South Sudan helping to build a specialized secondary school for girls, when she witnessed refugees repatriated from refugee camps. She was frustrated with aid-organizations creating a situation of dependency rather than focusing on self-sustaining community improvement. Sasha started Spark MicroGrants to pioneer a new approach to aid through proactive community organizing and granting. Spark MicroGrants works with and in impoverished rural villages to assist community members in the design, implementation and management of their own social impact projects such as schools and water wells. In only a year and a half, Spark MicroGrants has partnered with 21 communities in Rwanda and Uganda impacting over 11,000 people.
Mark Arnoldy, 25 (South Boston, MA).
While visiting Nepal, Mark had a near death experience due to his severe peanut allergy. This gave him a personal look into a common situation for all too many Nepali people who lack sufficient healthcare. Mark joined Nyaya Health with the goal of providing adequate healthcare to the people of far-west Nepal. Nyaya Health partnered with the Nepali government and community and hire, train, and support an all-Nepali hospital and health centre staff to create a new standard of health care delivery in Nepal through innovative tools of transparency. Nyaya has treated over 85,000 patients to date through their 25 bed hospital, while employing 125 local Nepali people.
Jaclyn Murphy, 17 (Hopewell Jct, NY).
Jaclyn was an active lacrosse-loving 9-year-old when she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. During intensive treatment for her tumour, Jaclyn was exhausted, and she missed playing lacrosse and her connection with her team. Her coach contacted the Northwestern Women’s Lacrosse Team, asking them to mail Jaclyn a package to brighten her day. The team not only sent Jaclyn a video and package, but also started texting with her during her long days of treatment. The team began dedicating their games to Jaclyn, which lead to their first NCAA championship in 64 years. Jaclyn went on to create Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, with the goal of pairing collegiate sports teams with children who have brain tumours. Friends of Jaclyn has paired 300 children with teams and has a waiting list over 1,000 teams waiting to be paired with a child.
Tyree Dumas, 23 (Philadelphia, PA).
Growing up in a low-income at-risk community in Philadelphia, Tyree saw most of his peers incarcerated or killed at a young age. Tyree was at risk of becoming a statistic as well when he dropped out of high school in 11th grade because he was bored, wasn’t being challenged, and felt he was capable of so much more beyond school. Tyree started the Y-NOT (Youth Now On Top) Foundation to teach dance classes to kids to keep them safe and off the streets. This grew into the DollarBoyz Dance Crew (and its DollarBoyz Academy Learning Center), creating a new type of local celebrity for other young people to aspire to and admire. Tyree is taking young kids off the streets and helping them realize the importance of using their talents to make a difference in their communities. With the support of local officials, Tyree created a programme where at risk youth continue their education while receiving mentoring and job-training. Tyree has worked with over 7,000 young people from Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware.
Scott Warren, 25 (Boston, MA).
Scott was a 10th grader living in Kenya when he witnessed lines of hundreds of people waiting to vote, participating in the democratic system for the country’s first democratic elections. Scott wanted to bring back this desire to participate and be involved in the government to the US, where two-thirds of the population can’t name the three branches of the US government. Scott created Generation Citizen to make civics the most interesting part of a child’s school day by focusing on action, and sharing ideas to help their own community’s most pressing problems. Generation Citizen currently works in Boston, Providence, and New York City working with 3,750 students per year.
Ryland King, 22 (Goleta, CA).
Growing up, Ryland spent most of his time outdoors, passionate about the environment. As he matured he saw natural sanctuaries threatened by pollution and over-development. Ryland was the first in his family to enrol in college, and determined to make the most of this opportunity he founded Environmental Education for the Next Generation (EENG). EENG links teams of college student-instructors with 1st and 2nd grade classrooms for weekly activities, experiments and discussions that provide real world examples of how to help the environment now. EENG not only provides positive role models but also provides the environmental education that budget cuts often eliminate. In the past year, EENG programmes were in 95 classrooms working with over 2,300 students.
World-changers like these – wherever they may come from – are great role models for our own young people, who I hope will be inspired to produce similar outcomes. With our Chreda Prize planned for the end of this year, we (the Chreda Foundation) look forward to seeing lots more of this kind of thing, particularly here in the UK.
Young people are increasingly taking a leading role in non-profits. Take Charitable Innovations, a micro-finance corporation based in Greater Cincinnati, for example. Like many such organisations it has a board of directors with considerable experience in finance, marketing, events-management, IT, and a myriad of other topics. The big difference is that they are all teenagers. This new non-profit – which started earlier this year – makes small loans to needy entrepreneurs in developing countries, through Kiva: so far, these loans run to just a few thousand dollars, but already they are helping people support their families through small businesses. Currently around 70 loans are being repaid. The way Charitable Innovations works is by partnering with student charitable fundraisers and investing the proceeds of their events into the micro-loans – when these are repaid (which is usually in a matter of just a few months) the target charity then receives 100% of the original sum that was destined for it. The charity therefore benefits, as intended, but in the meantime the capital has been used to help fledgling overseas businesses get underway. A very neat solution. And this new USA-based venture is already attracting support from other countries, including the UK and China.
Born This Way
Photo Credit: Louie Angelo, WENN.com
Another, slightly different example concerns Lady GaGa’s charity, the Born This Way Foundation, which was set up last year to “foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated”. Run by Lady GaGa and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, the non-profit aims to empower young people, and to “build a kinder, braver world” where they can feel safe. The Foundation, which recently launched its Born Brave Nation movement, to help young people deal with challenges such as bullying and homosexuality, has now set up a Youth Advisory Board, consisting of 24 young people between the ages of 17 and 23, to represent the opinions and views of the modern generation, and “provide insight on the issues that are most important to them”. Cynthia Germanotta says she hopes that it will “reflect and magnify the strength, determination, creativity, and capacity” of today’s youth.
And in the business world, too, young people are taking a strong lead. In an inspiring article on “Young Social Entrepreneurs Making a Difference” the website Under 30 CEO recently featured 13 young people (technically 14, as SaveUP consists of two entrepreneurs) who are already successfully managing their own social enterprises:
Santiago Halty – Senda Athletics
Jenny Buccos – ProjectExplorer
Slava Rubin – IndieGoGo
Tammy Tibbetts – She’s the First
John Simon – GreenLight Fund
Cynthia Koenig – Wello
Priya Haji and Sammy Shreibati – SaveUp
Blake Mycoskie – TOMS Shoes
Alex Budak – StartSomeGood
Shanley Knox – Nakate Project
Neil Blumenthal – Warby Parker
Rachael Chong – Catchafire
Dale Stephenes – UnCollege
With a new generation like this, our future seems in pretty safe hands!
Three interlinked threads to today’s post:
- Recognition of a grandfather’s excellent blog;
- Information on a very worthy microfinance initiative;
- News of a young graduate’s selfless overseas service.
1. Peter Lewis
Councillor Peter Lewis was recently elected as Chairman of Leicestershire County Council, and I was drawn today to his blog, which is current and entertaining. As a retired lecturer (English and drama) he brings a professional, very readable approach to his website, which is regularly updated. A few days ago he produced an excellent piece on ‘Inspiring young people’ – which was what particularly caught my attention. And that article led me to the other two threads, via the link he gave to a Press Release on the University of Leicester website… http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2012/june/university-of-leicester-graduate-helps-poor-entrepreneurs-in-benin-to-develop-businesses. This spoke of a microfinance scheme, and of a young graduate who has been working with it.
Lendwithcare.org is a new and innovative way of helping those living in poverty overseas. Individuals in the UK can visit the website – www.lendwithcare.org – to view the profiles of entrepreneurs from across the developing world and choose which business they would like to support.
Lenders can invest towards the total needed, from £15 up to the full amount, and will be able to follow the progress of the entrepreneur’s growing business, to see how their new source of income is helping to improve many aspects of their lives. The loan is repaid to the lender over an agreed repayment schedule (usually a period of six to twelve months) and when the repaid loan is credited to the lender’s account, they can choose to withdraw the money, donate it to CARE, or recycle it into another loan. Thousands of loans have already been made to entrepreneurs via the website and The Co-operative and CARE have set a joint target to leverage £1.5m of loans by the end of 2012.
The Co-operative’s support for lendwithcare.org builds upon its existing Tackling Global Poverty programme, which benefits over a million people each year including through its leadership on Fairtrade, support for overseas co-operatives and large-scale clean water, sanitation and green energy projects.
Lendwithcare.org is an initiative from CARE International UK – one of the world’s leading aid and development organisations. CARE International UK believes in realising everyone’s potential to work their way out of poverty. CARE has decades of experience in breaking down barriers to opportunity and giving people the chance to make a decent, dignified living.
For more information, or high res images of lendwithcare.org entrepreneurs please contact: Kathryn Richards, Senior Press Officer at CARE International UK on 02070916047 or email Richards@careinternational.org
3. Emma Howard
Photo Credit: CARE/Emma Howard
Which finally brings us to the young person who inspired the original blog – 24-year-old University of Leicester graduate Emma Howard.
Emma, who plans to become a journalist, has just returned to her home in Derby, after a CARE internship in Benin, West Africa. While there she helped local people pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, with the aid of microfinance loans, and she has now invested some of her own money through the charity.
Here’s what she had to say about the experience:
“It was a truly humbling experience meeting entrepreneurs in Benin. The people I met have experienced poverty that we cannot imagine, but they now have hopes and plans for the future that they can believe in. With access to just a small amount of money they are able to develop small businesses and save money to create a better future for their children. Their determination to lift themselves and their families out of poverty was awe inspiring…Lendwithcare is a truly different way to help those living in poverty. Not only can you choose exactly who you want to help, you can follow the progress of their business and get your money back at the end – everyone is a winner! It shows how we are connected to people all around the world and gives us a way to help them to help themselves and become financially independent.”
Microfinance, which we have considered previously, is an excellent way in which we can all be a part of the solution to the problems faced by aspiring but poverty-stricken entrepreneurs. For the price of a takeaway meal, here in the West, we can make all the difference to someone else’s world, allowing them to lift themselves out of poverty and dependence on hand-outs, giving them self-respect and the opportunity to themselves make a difference in the world. Truly a case, once again, of paying it forward.
Today has been the third annual Social Business Day. With its showcase event taking place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, this celebration of social business – the brainchild of Professor Muhammad Yunus – was attended this year by many key figures from around the world, including NASA astronaut Ron Garan and the Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh, Shiro Sadoshima. The theme for the day was ‘Transforming Societies through Social Business’, and panel discussion topics included health, the environment, disabled people and youth. The day ended with a cultural performance. Tomorrow there will be a follow-up forum on ‘Evaluating Impacts’. Virtual events have also taken place simultaneously in various other parts of the world, and there have previously been actual, physical events of a similar kind in Vietnam and Austria (a few months ago), to mention just two. June the 28th was chosen specifically for today’s celebrations, as it is Professor Yunus’ birthday. The Professor currently runs the Yunus Centre, which has a “poverty-free world” as its ultimate goal. ‘Social business’ (in common with the related business model of ‘social enterprise’) is generally recognised as being a commercial activity undertaken with a social goal in mind: it also aims to be self-sufficient.
How many bicycles are there in Africa? No one knows for certain, but it is estimated that there may be around 10 million of them. They are an essential mode of transport for many of the continent’s 1 billion inhabitants – although many millions still have to walk everywhere, frequently for days at a time, and covering many miles. One of Africa’s biggest obstacles to development is its lack of transport systems and a decent infrastructure, and access to a sturdy bicycle can make a huge difference to the lifestyle of many Africans. So it’s good to hear of a social enterprise involving the local production of cycles, started by an American charity called World Bicycle Relief.
In 2004 an offshoot of the American SRAM Corporation sent 24,000 cycles to Sri Lanka, in the wake of a tsunami, and out of this grew a charitable effort subsequently directed at Africa (initially Zambia), providing bikes to health workers and others. The design selected was called the Buffalo, and it was based on British touring cycles from the 1950s, but using modern technology. Around 70,000 are now in use, and 25,000 more are being produced each year. Assembly takes place in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa, and although the machines cost from $130-$150 (£83-£96) each, many are bought up by charities and then donated to the needy.
Although parts are sourced elsewhere, at the moment, World Bicycle Relief plans to eventually have them all made locally, creating what has been described as “the first truly African mass market”. Importantly, this is not just a generous philanthropic exercise, but a commercially sustainable business – bringing to mind the old proverb about ‘teaching a man to fish’.