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Featured Nonprofit Archives


July 2, 2007

Career Gear

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

Career GearThey say the clothes make the man. While that's not necessarily true, the clothes can make a big difference when you're trying to get a job. Especially if you need that job to put clothes on your back and are lacking the expected business attire.

That's where the nonprofit Career Gear comes in, providing men with business clothes for interviews and helping bridge the gap between career training programs and gainful employment. Disadvantaged men coming from the streets, jail or whatever the circumstance already have the deck stacked against them. Walking into an interview in yesterday's T-shirt doesn't help. So Career Gear helps them suit up, land that all-important job, and then keep that job with further training and advancement skills.

They give men the confidence to re-enter the workforce and stay there.

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May 8, 2007

Memory Project

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

Memory ProjectStarted by a college student in 2004, the Memory Project offers orphans hope by connecting them with high school art students who paint their portraits. The project gives art teachers pictures of the orphans and teachers then assign their students to paint portraits. The finished works of art are then delivered to the orphans, giving them something to cherish and remind them of their childhood.

"They share everything, so they don't have much they can call their very own," Jayden Kirn, a director of an orphanage in Nicaragua, told CBS News in the midst of the excitement of the portraits being delivered. "I think it will touch them profoundly once they get down and get a private moment to sit and look at that picture."

Ben Schumaker founded Memory Project after a trip to a Guatemalan orphanage when he felt compelled to do something but didn't know what.

"Then a Guatemalan man who had grown up in an orphanage stopped by and told me how much he wished he had something to help him remember his earliest years," Schumaker told the Duluth News Tribune. "He didn't have any photographs of himself as a child or any parents to tell him what he was like. I've always enjoyed making portraits of people, so the idea came naturally."

So far Memory Project has handed out more than 4,000 portraits to orphans around the world and started a book project for students of all ages. (links via Foursquare NextGen Summit '07)

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April 30, 2007

First Book

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

First BookWhen it comes to helping kids learn to read and improving reading scores, one thing helps: Access to books. And that means children from low-income families are in trouble. In middle income neighborhoods there are 13 books for every kid, but in low-income neighborhoods it's one age-appropriate book for 300 children. Ouch. So it's no wonder the gap in reading scores between low-income and high-income families is 40 points (check out the source for the stats, plus even more eye-opening facts).

Enter First Book. They're a non-profit working to provide kids in low-income families with books. They want every kid to read and own their own book.

And it works. First Book has distributed more than 46 million new books and the children with the books are showing an increased interest in reading.

First Book is also no stranger to new strategies. They've embraced cause marketing, teaming up with Random House and Dr. Seuss, Cheerios and Eric Carle and Borders, among others. They've also embraced technology, using Flickr to share photos and they recently celebrated their one-year blogging anniversary.

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April 18, 2007

DATA

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

DATA: Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa"Money is not a good enough reason to die," U2 frontman Bono told Larry King in 2002. The rock star crisscrossed the country appearing everywhere from Oprah to churches to the Whitehouse making his case to stop the AIDS crisis in Africa.

That year Bono founded DATA along with Bobby Shriver and others from the Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt campaign. DATA is a non-profit organization dedicated to solving the problems plaguing Africa. The name is a double acronym for stopping the crisis of Debt, AIDS and unfair Trade in Africa and in the process bring Democracy, Accountability and Transparency to Africa. The goal is to bring lasting change to Africa as an equality and justice issue, not simply throwing charity at the problem.

"We don’t argue compassion," Bono told Time magazine in 2002. "We put it in the most crass terms possible; we argue it as a financial and security issue for America."

DATA makes their case by partnering with other organizations and lobbying governments to address these issues. DATA doesn't specifically fund projects, but is instead focused on advocacy and awareness, hoping to divert money and resources toward what projects that work.

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February 13, 2007

The Amazing Change

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

The Amazing ChangeThe slave trade ended in Britain in 1807 thanks to the efforts of William Wilberforce and other abolitionists. But 200 years later slavery is alive and well. In fact, more people are enslaved today than throughout the entire 400 years of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

An estimated 27 million people—half of them children—are enslaved in some type of bondage or forced labor where they are tricked or coerced into slavery. Human trafficking is second only to drug trafficking as the world's largest criminal industry.

The Amazing Change is reigniting the abolitionist movement started by William Wilberforce more than 200 years ago. Started by Bristol Bay Productions, the film company behind the movie Amazing Grace, The Amazing Change is effectively a massive cause marketing campaign, pairing the movie's powerful anti-slavery message with organizations that can help like the International Justice Mission, Child Voice International, Free the Slaves and Rugmark.

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December 1, 2006

Blood:Water Mission

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

Blood:Water Mission"I don't think anyone has had a bigger voice than the activists in Jars of Clay," said U2's Bono, the man behind DATA, One and (Product) Red. The activists in the band Jars of Clay started Blood:Water Mission after lead singer Dan Haseltine visited Africa in 2002 and felt the need to respond to the suffering he saw there.

Blood:Water Mission focuses on two of Africa's greatest problems: blood tainted with HIV and unsafe water that spreads infectious disease. Clean blood and clean water for Africa is the goal of Blood:Water Mission.

Currently Blood:Water Mission is working on the 1,000 Wells Project, an attempt to build 1,000 clean water projects in 1,000 African communities.

"It is difficult to argue whether or not a person should have clean water," said Haseltine. "It is also difficult to deny the equation: $1= clean water for 1 person for 1 year."

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November 21, 2006

World Vision

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

World Vision"Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."

That simple prayer was scrawled on the inside of World Vision founder Bob Pierce's Bible more than 50 years ago and it has fueled their mission since. That mission is to care for children and the communities they live in by tackling the roots of poverty.

World Vision started its first child sponsorship program in 1953, sponsoring children orphaned by the Korean War. They provide food, clothing and medical supplies in the face of disaster. They offer vocational training and micro-loans to help families break out of poverty. World Vision's work against HIV/AIDS began in 1990 helping AIDS orphans in Uganda and has continued across the globe since then.

World Vision is one of the largest Christian relief and development organizations in the world, working on six continents and in more than 100 countries.

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November 9, 2006

Paint the Pavement

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

Paint the Pavement: Corner of Englewood & Syndicate in St. Paul, Minn. Photo by Kevin D. HendricksSometimes all the attention goes to causes that happen around the world, such as poverty in Africa or illiteracy in Asia. But sometimes worthwhile causes can happen down the street.

Paint the Pavement is a local project in St. Paul, Minn. that wants to create community by painting the pavement. So far two intersections have been painted in the Midway neighborhood west of downtown St. Paul. But more than a colorful art project, the initiatives are uniting neighbors and slowing traffic to make for safer communities. The idea is to reclaim public spaces and give people a reason and a place to gather.

The painting projects must be approved by the city, which requires all four corner-property owners and 80% of neighbors in the area to sign off on the project. The result is broad community support. The idea originated in Portland, Ore. with The City Repair Project which has worked on a number of intersection repairs.

"It sounds kind of hippie and goofy, but there really is a strong sense of human connection there," founder Andrea Erickson told the Pioneer Press. "One person's going to love it. One person's going to hate it. That's not as important as the fact that these neighbors came together."

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October 28, 2006

Teach for America

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

Teach for AmericaTapping into the idealism of college graudates, Teach for America puts recent grads on the front line of education. Teach for American recruits graduates from any field--teaching experience not required--and trains them to teach in a low-income classroom for two years.

The goal is to overcome the education gap. On average, half the students from low-income neighborhoods won't even graduate high school. Those who do manage to graduate have the same reading and math levels as eighth-grade students from high-income neighborhoods.

17,000 people have worked with Teach for America to change these troubling stats for more than 2.5 million students since it all began in 1988, thanks to another idealistic student--Princeton senior Wendy Kopp--who started Teach for America. She tells her story in the book One Day, All Children.

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October 19, 2006

American Cancer Society

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

American Cancer SocietyIn 1913 75,000 people died from cancer in the U.S. alone. It was a disease rarely talked about, clouded by fear and denial (much like AIDS in the 1980s). A group of 15 doctors and business leaders in New York came together to found the American Society for the Control of Cancer in an effort to spread awareness, boost research efforts and support those fighing the disease.

Today cancer kills over half a million people in the U.S. every year and is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. One in four deaths in the U.S. are due to cancer. But today enormous strides are being made. The American Cancer Society has invested $3 billion in research, and funded 39 Nobel Prize winners. The five-year survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 1996-2001 is 65%, up from 50% in 1974-1976.

Perhaps the best news in the fight against cancer is that many forms of it are preventable. All cancer caused by cigarette smoking could be prevented, saving 170,000 lives per year. A full-third of cancer deaths are related to poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and obesity, and could be prevented. The more than one million cases of skin cancer that are diagnosed each year could also be prevented. While cancer does shatter so many lives, it also a disease that can be treated, prevented and someday cured, thanks to the efforts of organizations like the American Cancer Society.

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October 16, 2006

Acumen Fund

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

Acumen FundWhat's the best way to heal the world?

"Entrepreneurial solutions to solve global poverty," answered Acumen CEO Jacqueline Novogratz. "We need to build companies that know how to deliver things people need at prices they can afford."

The Acumen Fund invests in business ideas that can help the poor. It's venture capital for the four billion people living on less than $4 per day, as opposed to venture capital for well-to-do techies. They approach poverty with a business mindset, trying to find projects that are sustainable as well as scalable and that provide affordable goods and services to the world's poor.

Manufacturing malaria nets in Africa, offering affordable home loans in Pakistan and making clean water in India. They're projects that can change the lives of the poor, not through simple handouts, but through business initiatives.

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October 2, 2006

Ten Thousand Villages

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

Ten Thousand VillagesIn 1946 Edna Ruth Byler visited volunteers in Puerto Rico who were teaching locals how to sew in order to earn a better living. Impressed by the work of the locals, Byler brought some of their handmade products back to the U.S. to sell to family and friends, realizing a larger market would earn more for the artisans who lived in poverty. Soon Byler was selling Puerto Rican sewing, cross-stitch from Palestinian refugees and hand-carved Haitian woodenware from the trunk of her car.

Today her effort has transformed into Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit organization that buys handmade products from artisans in developing countries and markets them online and through more than 160 retail outlets across North America. They are one of the largest fair trade organizations and helped start the fair trade movement, including being a founding member of the International Fair Trade Organization.

Their name comes from a quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: "India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages ... we have hardly ever paused to inquire if these folks get sufficient to eat and clothe themselves with." Ten Thousand Villages exists to embrace people in every village in the world and ensure that craftspeople everywhere can make a decent living from their work.

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September 30, 2006

Heifer International

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

Heifer InternationalYou can buy a goat and rescue a family from poverty. Or you can buy a cow, a sheep, some chickens--pick your favorite farm animal. It's all in the gift catalog of Heifer International and part of a creative effort to engage people in helping to end hunger and poverty.

Heifer International sets up communties with an animal or agricultural project that can help provide food and extra income. The projects always include education and training, sustainable principles, and the requirement that participants pass on one of their animal's offspring and their training to another family. It creates a chain of self-reliance and enables families and communities to break away from poverty.

Since the first shipment of Heifer animals went to Puerto Rico in 1944 the organization has been making sustainability possible.

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September 29, 2006

Room to Read

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

Room to ReadA three week vacation from Microsoft changed John Wood's life--and impacted nearly one million children. In 1998 Wood planned a three-week trip to Nepal trekking across the Himalayas. But on the first day he struck up a conversation with a local who was in charge of resources for 17 schools and had nothing to work with. Nepal had a 70% illiteracy rate. Wood shot an e-mail back to the U.S. asking for books and his vacation turned into something else.

In 2000 Wood left Microsoft and founded Room to Read, a nonprofit organization that wants to break the poverty cycle by bringing education and literacy to the world's poorest children. They open libraries and schools, publish local language books, donate English language books, and offer long-term scholarships to girls--all with an entrepreneurial approach that requires locals to put forth half the effort for a project. So far Room to Read has impacted the lives of nearly one million children, constructed almost 200 schools and founded nearly 3,000 libraries.

Wood has contributed his own story to his crusade to help children read, the book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children.

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September 22, 2006

One: Making Poverty History

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

One: The Campaign to Make Poverty History"We want you to become a pest," U2 frontman Bono told MTV. "Sign here." The One campaign is a cause like no other. They don't want your cash, they don't want your donations--they just want your voice. One voice, united in an ambitious drive to make poverty history.

One brings together every major relief agency--religious, humanitarian, governmental or otherwise--with the mindset that there's enough organizations and money out there, they just need to be pushed in the same direction. And it is pulling from every demographic, from Republicans and Democrats, punk-rockers and NASCAR moms.

"It's not just a bunch of wiggy liberals, rock stars, hip-hop people, actors," says Bono. "This is not the usual suspects. This is different."

One hopes to push the U.S. government to put 1% of the federal budget towards eradicating poverty. They want to see basic needs--heath, education, clean water and food--be met in the world's poorest countries. They're calling for debt cancellation, trade reform and anti-corruption measures.

And they hope to make it happen with One voice. All they're asking is for people to sign up and let their voice be heard. It takes One voice to make poverty history.

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September 20, 2006

International Justice Mission

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

International Justice MissionRelief workers and missionaries overseas often witness injustice beyond the poverty or tragedy that may have brought them to the field. They see those in power abusing that power and resulting in violence, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression. This sentiment was unanimously expressed by more than 40,000 overseas workers from 65 different organizations in a survey conducted by human rights professionals, lawyers and public officials. The results prompted them to form the International Justice Mission (IJM) in 1997.

"Nothing compares to the deadness in the eyes of a kid in a brothel," Gary Haugen, IJM president, told Forbes magazine. "In Rwanda, the dead were already gone. In the brothels of Cambodia, they are the living dead."

While relief workers and missionaries don't have the resources to address systemic oppression, the IJM does, stepping in to offer legal aid, advocacy and international awareness. And awareness is what they're getting with a steady stream of media attention, including Oprah and Dateline NBC--which partnered in an undercover raid. IJM even landed a $5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2006. The result is that slaves and the victims of sex trafficking are going free and justice is being done.

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September 18, 2006

Invisible Children

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

Invisible ChildrenIn 2003 three college students from California traveled to Uganda and saw firsthand the invisible children. For the past 20 years a rebel group trying to overthrow the Ugandan government has kidnapped children and forced them to fight in their war. So every night thousands of children travel miles on foot in order to spend the night in the sanctuary of towns and villages, safe from the rebel army.

The three college students, Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole and Jason Russell, founded the non-profit Invisible Children and have been trying to create awareness and support the children of Uganda. Their efforts have included the documentary Invisible Children, the Global Night Commute in April 2006 when thousands all over the U.S. spent the night in cities in solidarity with the children of Uganda, and education programs for Ugandan children that they help pay for by selling Ugandan bracelets. It's a media-savvy organization that has tapped into America's youth with online videos, a MySpace page and a compelling cause that where you live shouldn't determine whether you live.

"There's nothing I want to do more than give them the same opportunity that I've had all my life," Bailey told Relevant magazine. "The idea of equality pushes me forward--the idea that we're on the brink of something extraordinary. That coupled with the opportunity that we have the chance to inspire the kids of America. Maybe life has another layer of fullness from giving it away."

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September 11, 2006

Ethos Water

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

Ethos WaterMore than one billion people don't have access to clean drinking water. The result is that water-related diseases are the leading cause of death among children. Water is a big deal. Which is why Ethos Water is not your average bottled water. Five cents of each bottle goes towards funding clean sources of drinking water. It's water with a purpose.

Peter Thume saw children suffering from lack of safe drinking water firsthand while working in Africa. He came up with the idea to sell bottled water to help give kids clean drinking water and started Ethos in 2002. His college classmate Jonathan Greenblatt joined the team and together they started working to make Ethos work. In 2005 Starbucks Coffee bought Ethos and committed to continuing their vision while offering vast resources to make it happen. And it all started with two guys and a dream.

Check out the Business Week interview with Ethos' founders.

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