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Monthly Archives: March 2016

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Living Cities Launches New $31 Million Blended Catalyst Fund For Social Impact Investment In US Cities

NEW YORK (March 30, 2016)Living Cities today launched the Blended Catalyst Fund, a $31 million impact investing debt fund that will test innovative approaches to solving urban problems. The Blended Catalyst Fund combines philanthropic and commercial debt under the premise that both types of capital are needed to support initiatives that achieve better results for low-income people in US cities. The Fund currently includes ten philanthropic and commercial investors that are committed to increasing the flow of available capital to meet growing demand for social services across the country.

“The Blended Catalyst Fund highlights an important and exciting milestone for Living Cities, our members and our partners, who have come together to collaborate on better ways to invest in low-income communities,” said Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities. “Capital innovation has always been a key component of our work, underpinned by the knowledge that we cannot ‘grant’ our way out of poverty. We need to find and experiment with new ways to pool and deploy capital to address the most pressing problems facing society today.”

Unlike a traditional grantmaking fund, the Blended Catalyst Fund invests repayable capital in urban initiatives that deliver measurable impact. The Fund will provide term loans, lines of credit and equity investments at below-market rates to organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, and local governments that are focused on economic development, income inequality, small business development, homelessness and similar social issues. Current fund investors are Annie E. Casey Foundation, Deutsche Bank, Ford Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, MetLife Inc., Prudential Financial, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The San Francisco Foundation and Surdna Foundation.

“The genesis of the Blended Catalyst Fund came from our learnings about the need for more efficient ways to attract, blend and deploy capital,” said Eileen Neely, Director of Capital Innovation at Living Cities. “We set up the Blended Catalyst Fund to advance our goals beyond the dollars that grants can supply, because repayable capital unlocks significantly more resources available to accelerate, scale or replicate investment efforts.”

Current and anticipated loans or investments include:

  • Denver Pay for Success: The Blended Catalyst Fund made a $500,000 loan to Denver PFS LLC, which provides funding for permanent housing and supportive services to chronically homeless individuals across Denver. For more information, see press release.
  • Detroit New Economy Initiative Fund: The Blended Catalyst Fund will make a $1 million loan to the New Economy Initiative Fund, a Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan program, which will make loans to entrepreneurs and small businesses in and around Detroit who are currently shutout from the mainstream market.
  • Impact Ventures III: The Blended Catalyst Fund made a $2 million equity investment in City Light’s Impact Ventures III fund, which invests in mission-based entrepreneurs focused on education, safety and the environment.
  • Regional Equitable Development Initiative Fund: The Blended Catalyst Fund plans to make a $3.5 million loan to the Regional Equitable Development Initiative Fund which will provide early stage financing to create quality, affordable housing near transit to connect low-income residents with jobs, schools and services in the greater Seattle region.
  • Urban Innovation Fund: The Blended Catalyst Fund expects to make a $500,000 equity investment in the Urban Innovation Fund, which provides capital and guidance to early-stage social entrepreneurs solving critical urban challenges.

Through its loans and equity investments to organizations, the Blended Catalyst Fund provides investors with a platform to innovate, collaborate and share learnings to achieve the greatest impact for low-income communities. By pooling their resources, investors unlock capital to test innovative solutions to urban challenges.

“As a 25-year member of Living Cities, we believe that the private sector has an important role to play in finding solutions to cities’ greatest problems,” said Dennis White, President & CEO of MetLife Foundation. “By investing in the Blended Catalyst Fund, we can explore new and better approaches to direct commercial capital to low-income communities.”

“The issues facing cities today have many touch points and cannot be solved by one sector or organization alone. The Blended Catalyst Fund enables us to collaborate and share learnings with other investors to find sustainable solutions,” said Phillip Henderson, President, Surdna Foundation.

By investing in the Blended Catalyst Fund, institutions amplify their impact and share the risk of testing innovative financial structures.

“Our grant helps protect Fund investors from financial risk and encourages other institutions to join the Blended Catalyst Fund. Collectively, we can multiply our impact, scale successful models and drive more capital to improve health where there is greatest need,” said Donald Schwarz, Vice President of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which provided a $2 million grant for loss protection for the Fund’s investors.

Living Cities has prioritized impact investing as a model for social change in America for 25 years, and has made $44 million in impact investments to support low-income communities across the country since 2008. Living Cities invested in the nation’s largest Pay for Success (PFS) deal and continues to explore new ways to direct capital toward social impact needs. In October 2015, Living Cities and Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. announced the Pay for Success Construction Loan, a first-of-its kind loan product that covers the upfront costs of constructing PFS projects. Since 2011, ImpactAssets 50 has recognized Living Cities as an outstanding impact investing fund manager.

Investor commitments to the Blended Catalyst Fund are expected to grow to $40 million by fund close.

About Living Cities

For 25 years, Living Cities has harnessed the collective power of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions to develop and scale new approaches for creating opportunities for low-income people and improving the cities where they live. Its investments, research, networks, and convenings catalyze fresh thinking and combine support for innovative, local approaches with real-time sharing of learning to accelerate adoption in more places. Living Cities Capital Innovation team blends public, private, and philanthropic financial resources in new ways to better meet the needs of cities and improve the lives of low-income people. Additional information can be found at www.livingcities.org.

DISH Employees Feed Families across America

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., March 31, 2016 — Last month, DISH employees nationwide joined together to help Americans facing food insecurity. More than 130 DISH office locations in 35 states collected food donations to support hungry families in their communities. In total, DISH employees donated close to 30,000 pounds of food, or 25,000 meals, to people in need.

“Hunger knows no season and one in seven Coloradans struggle with food insecurity. Coordinated drives at companies like DISH help us to feed our hungry neighbors year-round,” said Kevin Seggelke, President and CEO of Food Bank of the Rockies in Denver. “We’ve also received tremendous support from DISH employees who regularly volunteer at our warehouse to sort and pack donations.”

DISH sites, ranging in size from just a few employees to a few thousand, filled bins with soup, pasta, baby food, cereal and other non-perishable goods to donate to their local food banks. A site in Bremerton, WA with only 19 technicians donated almost 50 pounds per employee. A call center in Thornton, CO collected 3,410 pounds of food. In Michigan, DISH employees donated more than 5,000 bottles of water to support communities affected by the water crisis.

“This effort demonstrated the collective power of employees supporting a common cause, and I am impressed by the level of participation in every area of the business,” said Mike McClaskey, executive vice president and chief human resources officer. “It is inspiring to see that so many offices contributed to their communities, and that the impact we made together extended across the United States.”

This initiative is part of our corporate citizenship program, DISH Cares.

About DISH Cares

DISH Cares, the corporate citizenship program of DISH Network, is designed to serve the communities where DISH operates. Launched in 2014, DISH Cares aims to promote community development through employee engagement and protect the environment through sustainable business practices.

About DISH

DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH), through its subsidiaries, provides approximately 13.897 million pay-TV subscribers, as of Dec. 31, 2015, with the highest-quality programming and technology with the most choices at the best value. DISH offers a high definition line-up with more than 200 national HD channels, the most international channels and award-winning HD and DVR technology. DISH Network Corporation is a Fortune 250 company. Visit www.dish.com.

Warriors Heart Starts Operation Warriors Heart Foundation to Heal More US Protectors

To heal more US protectors, Warriors Heart starts Operation Warriors Heart Foundation that is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization based just outside San Antonio, Texas.

Warriors Heart Co-Founder and Former Special Forces Tom Spooner

Warriors Heart Co-Founder and Former Special Forces Tom Spooner

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (PRWEB) MARCH 24, 2016: Warriors Heart announces a new Operation Warriors Heart Foundation has been set up to supplement healing costs for their “Warriors Only” (veterans, military, police officers and first responders) private addiction treatment programs for those that don’t have private funding or if insurance does not cover their costs. While insurance will cover the Warriors Heart program costs in many cases, this foundation will ensure more protectors can heal with dignity and respect.

Currently the Veterans Administration (VA) only covers a small portion of private treatment and this care is primarily done in psychiatric hospitals. In comparison, Warriors Heart treats the “whole body”, including chemical dependencies, PTSD and other mild co-occurring disorders.

Warriors Heart Co-Founder and Former Special Forces Operator, Tom Spooner (who served for 20 years, including in Iraq and Afghanistan) knows first-hand the pain of war. Tom is also a founder for Mission 22 that raises awareness of the unacceptable veteran suicide rate of 22 veterans per day in the US – and Warriors Heart is the solution-side to Mission 22 for chemical dependency.

Operation Warriors Heart Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established to provide the men and women who protect us with a unique peer-to-peer healing program for “Warriors Only” just outside San Antonio, Texas. No warrior, whether military, law enforcement, fire fighter, or first responder should ever have to walk through the struggles of addiction and mental health alone.

Chris DeMeo, LE (Ret) and Warriors Heart Admissions Advocate shared the profound impact of being part of this team, “To wake up everyday with a sense of self-being has completely changed my life.”

Operation Warriors Heart Foundations mission includes:

  1. Subsidize the cost of healing programs for the 13.3 million veterans suffering from addiction and PTSD so they can heal with dignity and respect.
  2. Assist in reducing the 22 veteran suicides per day in the US and the 1 law enforcement officer suicide per day with a “War Against Suicide” by providing chemical dependency and mental health solutions.
  3. Provide warriors with new tools to be stronger when they go home to build solid relationships and contribute to their communities.
  4. Give warriors the option of taking a Service Dog home with them as an “extra battle buddy.”
  5. Provide educational and community events.

Anyone can support Operations Warriors Heart Foundation and get involved in these ways:

  1. Make a tax-deductible donation to Operation Warriors Heart Foundation with a one-time or recurring donation.
  2. Purchase Warriors Heart products (hats, jackets, t-shirts) in their online store https://warriors-heart.myshopify.com/
  3. Contact Warriors Heart to suggest/provide another way to support their mission.
  4. Join the National Awareness Campaign, Mission 22, to unite against veteran suicide.

Tom Spooner believes the VA is overwhelmed with the backlog of 15 years of war, and is proud to be part of the Warriors Heart team. According to The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 25 percent of military personnel returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been diagnosed with PTSD, depression, anxiety or chemical dependency. Over half of these service men and women had more than one mental health or substance use disorder, and the rate of PTSD among these veterans was 3.5 percent higher than the civilian population.

Many have voiced a desire to assist veterans, and Operations Warriors Heart Foundation is a great way to support our Warriors by assisting them with financial support. So much goes into training our Warriors for battle, and there’s not enough resources to assist them after.

About Operation Warriors Heart Foundation

Operation Warriors Heart Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization established to provide insurance supplements for “Warriors” seeking healing for chemical dependency and PTSD at Warriors Heart unique peer-to-peer program for “Warriors Only” (veterans, military, police officers and first responders) just outside San Antonio, Texas. http://www.operationwarriorsheart.org/

About the Warriors Heart:

Warriors Heart provides a peer-to peer based solution to help the over 13.3 million American Military, Veterans, Law Enforcement and First Responders faced with the self-medicating struggles of alcohol addiction, prescription and drug addiction, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and mild TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) in a private, 40-bed facility. Along with a 28-day peer-to-peer residential treatment program, Warriors Heart will give “Warriors” the option of Day Treatment, Outpatient, and Sober Living (60 Day Minimum). With decades of experience in addiction healing, military service and law enforcement, the 3 Warriors Heart Founders are dedicated to serving warriors. Successful Private Treatment Facility Providers, Josh and Lisa Lannon and former Special Forces Tom Spooner (Former Special Forces and Mission 22 Co-Founder) are leading the team on this special mission of warriors healing warriors. Warriors Heart has also partnered with Mission 22. Warriors Heart Founders’ work has been featured in Forbes, KENS5 CBS News San Antonio, FOX 10 News Phoenix and Addiction Pro magazine. There is a 24-hour Warriors Heart hotline open now being answer by warriors, and the center will open by the end of March 2016 just outside San Antonio, Texas. http://warriorsheart.com

Tom Spooner Warriors Heart Mission To Stop Veteran Suicide KCJE 1370AM

Former Special Forces and Warriors Heart Co-Founder Tom Spooner spoke candidly about how he dealt with prescription drug abuse and suicide thoughts after coming home from war during a moving KCJE 1370 AM Talk Radio interview on March 28, 2016 on the Let’s Get Healthy show. Tom’s new mission is to stop the 22 veteran suicides per day in the US, which is why he co-founded Warriors Heart (a private peer-to-peer healing program for our protectors) and Mission 22.

Host Bill Swail and Dr. Marianne Calvanese asked Tom questions about his military experience, mission and recovery. After over 20 years of deployments, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tom shared his first-hand struggles with addiction, PTSD and reconnecting with his family that many veterans face in their War at Home.

Tom expanded that because many doctors are way too quick to use prescription drugs as band-aids versus address the real issues, the result is often painkiller addiction. Veterans are actually twice as likely to die from accidental opioid overdoses than non-veterans, according to a 2011 study of the VA system. In comparison, Warriors Heart focuses on healing the whole body, including chemical dependencies, PTSD and other mild co-occurring disorders.

Host Bill Swail added that when these prescriptions run out, many veterans sadly turn to heroin, and then fall into a more dangerous spiral of lost jobs and homelessness. Tom Spooner responded to this comment by adding, “We want people to know that is not ok.”

When asked to expand on this new program, Tom explained that Warriors Heart is the first private healing center for “Warriors Only” (veterans, military, law enforcement and first responders) that will provide peer-to-peer healing for those dealing with addiction, PTSD and mild TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Along with a 28-day residential treatment program, Warriors Heart will give “Warriors” the option of Day Treatment, Outpatient, and Sober Living (60 Day Minimum).

As part of a dedicated team of warriors opening Warriors Heart, Spooner invites everyone to join the “ War Against Suicide.”

Warriors Heart is located on a ranch in Bandera, Texas (just outside San Antonio), and is the Mission 22 solution-side to chemical dependency. For more information, visit http://warriorsheart.com

BOBS from Skechers Unveils Limited Edition, Pet-Themed Collection to Celebrate $3 Million Commitment to Best Friends Animal Society

Each BOBS from Skechers Purchase Supports Best Friends Animal Society to Help Save the Lives of Shelter Pets Across the U.S.

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MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (March 30, 2016) — BOBS from Skechers, a division of leading lifestyle footwear company, Skechers USA, Inc. (NYSE:SKX), today unveiled a limited edition collection to benefit Best Friends Animal Society, the only national animal welfare organization dedicated exclusively to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. The collection – featuring fun prints of dogs, cats and the Best Friends logo – commemorates Skechers multi-year partnership with the organization. Each pair of BOBS from Skechers – including these limited edition styles – contributes to Skechers’ $3 million commitment to further Best Friends’ lifesaving initiatives. The collection will be available for purchase starting today at Skechers retail stores nationwide and online at Skechers.com.

“We’re thrilled to bring our charitable partnership with Best Friends Animal Society to life with the launch of the limited edition BOBS from Skechers collection,” said Robert Greenberg, Chairman and CEO, Skechers. “We hope our partnership with Best Friends will inspire our customers to consider adoption when looking for a pet, in order to reduce the number of shelter pets killed each year. We’re excited to continue to offer new ways in which we’re able to empower our customers to give back.”

The BOBS from Skechers Best Friends collection debuts with five styles, all featuring the classic canvas alpargata silhouette and Skechers Memory Foam cushioned insole for added comfort. To promote the collaboration, Skechers will launch a national marketing campaign this spring, which includes a new TV commercial as well as print advertising, social media and in-store marketing.

“Every shoe purchased directly supports our mission – that one day, no dog or cat will be killed due to not having a permanent place to call home,” said Gregory Castle, co-founder and CEO, Best Friends Animal Society. “With companies like Skechers we’re able to reach an entirely new audience; we see this as a fun way to educate people about a very serious issue. We truly believe that together we will Save Them All.”

The Skechers and Best Friends partnership was announced in November 2015 and includes this limited edition collection, co-branded shoe box packaging for all BOBS from Skechers, national TV, print and digital marketing, PR, POP and other in-store collateral at domestic Skechers retail locations and participating retail partners. As part of the partnership, BOBS from Skechers will serve as the presenting sponsor for the animal welfare organization’s major national events including Strut Your Mutt and Super Adoptions, and participate in additional year-round awareness initiatives.

The limited edition collection in partnership with Best Friends is part of BOBS from Skechers’ ongoing charitable initiatives, which includes donating shoes to children in need around the globe.

To learn more about the partnerships follow BOBS from Skechers on Facebook (facebook.com/BOBSfromSkechers), Twitter (twitter.com/BOBS_Skechers, Instagram (Instagram.com/BOBS_Skechers) and Pinterest (pinterest.com/BOBSSkechers), or visit www.skechers.com/en-us/bobs-for-dogs.

ABOUT SKECHERS USA, INC.

SKECHERS USA, Inc., based in Manhattan Beach, California, designs, develops and markets a diverse range of lifestyle footwear for men, women and children, as well as performance footwear for men and women. SKECHERS footwear is available in the United States and over 160 countries and territories worldwide via department and specialty stores, more than 1,340 SKECHERS retail stores, and the Company’s e-commerce website. The Company manages its international business through a network of global distributors, joint venture partners in Asia, and 13 wholly-owned subsidiaries in Brazil, Canada, Chile, Japan, Latin America and throughout Europe. For more information, please visit skechers.com and follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/SKECHERS) and Twitter (twitter.com/SKECHERSUSA).

This announcement contains forward-looking statements that are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, the Company’s future domestic and international growth, financial results and operations including expected net sales and earnings, its development of new products, future demand for its products, its planned domestic and international expansion and opening of new stores, the completion of the expansion and upgrade of the Company’s European distribution center, and advertising and marketing initiatives. Forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward looking language such as “believe,” “anticipate,” “expect,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “project,” “will be,” “will continue,” “will result,” “could,” “may,” “might,” or any variations of such words with similar meanings. Any such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in forward-looking statements. Factors that might cause or contribute to such differences include international economic, political and market conditions including the uncertainty of sustained recovery in Europe; entry into the highly competitive performance footwear market; sustaining, managing and forecasting costs and proper inventory levels; losing any significant customers; decreased demand by industry retailers and cancellation of order commitments due to the lack of popularity of particular designs and/or categories of products; maintaining brand image and intense competition among sellers of footwear for consumers; anticipating, identifying, interpreting or forecasting changes in fashion trends, consumer demand for the products and the various market factors described above; sales levels during the spring, back-to-school and holiday selling seasons; and other factors referenced or incorporated by reference in the Company’s annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2015. The risks included here are not exhaustive. The Company operates in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks emerge from time to time and the companies cannot predict all such risk factors, nor can the companies assess the impact of all such risk factors on their respective businesses or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. Given these risks and uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as a prediction of actual results. Moreover, reported results should not be considered an indication of future performance.

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization dedicated exclusively to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. A leader in the no-kill movement, Best Friends runs the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, adoption centers and spay and neuter facilities in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City as well as lifesaving programs in partnership with more than 1,300 rescue groups and shelters across the country. Since its founding in 1984, Best Friends has helped reduce the number of animals killed in American shelters from 17 million per year to an estimated 4 million. By continuing to build effective initiatives that reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes, Best Friends and its nationwide network of members and partners are working to Save Them All®.

To become a fan of Best Friends Animal Society on Facebook go to: Facebook.com/bestfriendsanimalsociety.

Follow Best Friends on Twitter (twitter.com/bestfriends) and Instagram (Instagram.com/bestfriendsanimalsociety).

Greenberg Traurig Partners with FireSpring Fund to Nurture Early-Stage Tech Companies in Central Florida

-Expertise in Finance and Intellectual Property to Aid Region’s Emerging Tech Community-

ORLANDO, Fla. – March 30, 2016 – International law firm Greenberg Traurig today announced a partnership with FireSpring Fund, an evergreen seed fund in Orlando, Florida, that invests in early-stage technology companies.

The firm features robust Corporate & Securities, Emerging Technology and Intellectual Property practices that provide the services such companies need to navigate the often confusing terrain of protecting intellectual property and obtaining funding while refining their products and growing their businesses.

Founded in 2015, FireSpring Fund is organized as a non-profit 501(c)3 that provides investment funding and advanced mentoring to early-stage technology companies in the Central Florida region. Selected companies complete the Fund’s advanced accelerator program, reach strict milestones of customer and revenue growth and garner additional capital from outside investors. All earnings are reinvested in the Fund allowing additional rounds of investment.

The Fund, lead by executive director Donna Mackenzie, has already received support from City, County, and university leaders. Orlando City Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs both blessed financial contributions from their budgets and the University of Central Florida and Rollins College have committed substantial resources to the Fund.

FireSpring Fund, Canvs, and Starter Studio are all non-profits that are part of a burgeoning eco-system for technology entrepreneurs in the Central Florida region. Their ultimate aim is to make Central Florida a locus for entrepreneurs, technologists and the creative class that will want to start, grow and keep their business in Central Florida.

Greenberg is already a Founding Partner of Canvs, the downtown Orlando co-working space where the FireSpring Fund and its accelerator program are located. “Greenberg Traurig is proud to support local technology companies, the growth of which will coincide with the growth of Central Florida’s economy,” said Orlando Evora, co-managing shareholder of the Orlando office of Greenberg Traurig. “The FireSpring Fund directly addresses the gap in seed funding, which is currently the largest barrier facing Central Florida’s technology entrepreneurs,” Evora noted. “Providing access to seed funding will allow technology companies to start and stay here in Central Florida.”

At present, Florida—the third largest state in the country—receives only 1.8 percent of venture funding in the United States and only 0.5 percent of total seed funding. “Unfortunately, seed funding has not grown organically, so the FireSpring Fund was formed by local community leaders to help fill this gap,” said Mackenzie.

Based on successful funds in Cleveland, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, FireSpring Fund will hold equity shares in its portfolio companies, growing its funding base as these companies make successful exits via acquisition, merger or public offering. As an evergreen fund, these earnings will be returned to the Fund making it self-sustaining. FireSpring Fund has a five-year funding goal of $5 million.

About Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Greenberg Traurig, LLP is an international, multi-practice law firm with approximately 1,900 attorneys serving clients from 38 offices in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The firm is No. 1 on the 2015 Law360 Most Charitable Firms list, third largest in the U.S. on the 2015 Law360 400, on the 2015 Am Law Global 100, and among the 2015 BTI Brand Elite. More information at: www.gtlaw.com.

About FireSpring Fund

FireSpring Fund was founded in 2015 and organized as a 501(c)3 to provide seed capital to early-stage technology companies that show significant growth potential and a broad national or international reach of customers. It is led by experienced local business people and community leaders. It is housed within Canvs, the downtown Orlando coworking space. For more information, visit FireSpring Fund’s website, Facebook page or follow @FireSpringFund on Twitter.

FireSpring Fund is not affiliated with or officially connected with Firespring. The Firespring trademark remains the exclusive property of Firespring. For Firespring information, visit http://www.firespring.org/.

Being The Best In Business – 6 Pivotal Tips From A 40-Year Business Veteran

– CEO/Owner of New York’s Largest Family-Owned Parking Structure System, Bill Lerner, Discusses Key Pieces of Advice for Success –

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NEW YORK CITY (March 15, 2016) – Everyday, ambitious and optimistic individuals of all ages are catapulting into the business world. Whether it’s entrepreneurship or hoping to flourish in an already established setting, there can never be enough advice and motivation when it comes to succeeding. Bill Lerner, CEO of iPark, New York’s largest family and privately owned parking facilities, and founder of the philanthropy Billy4Kids, has worked tirelessly to take his family business from a small side of a gas station for parked vehicles to nearly 150 impressive locations all across New York. Through his diligence and dedication to his craft, as well as his active involvement in non-profit work, he also created a charity focused on giving back to those in need, specifically children in underprivileged regions without basic necessities.

As a 40-year veteran in a thriving profession, Lerner looks back at his past experiences and offers six crucial tips for those with an insatiable hunger for success.

  1. Be perceptive to the always changing landscape of the industry. Before making any decisions, financial or otherwise, make sure you are aware of the fluctuations that can and will be happening in your industry. There should be a strong sense and vision for what might transpire as a result of that decision. Especially when it comes to purchasing garages or land here at iPark, call it intuition, but using perceptiveness has been an invaluable tool when it comes to making big choices.
  2. Commit to your mission. Without commitment and confidence in your company’s mission, it can prove to be difficult down the road due to lack of passion. If there’s something missing from your business, work to edit or alter it until you are satisfied with your idea and prepared to share it with the rest of your team.
  3. Choose solid people as your team members. Speaking of your team, having a strong group of people working with and behind you is vital when it comes to an effective business. Choosing key players who are hardworking, creative and trustworthy can make an immense difference. Specifically at our iPark facilities, we focus on hiring the right individuals to get the job done. From garage attendants to corporate executives, it is essential to have a well-oiled machine for optimal results.
  4. Be willing to work harder than everyone else. It is no surprise hard work is on this list. To avoid sounding cliché, working diligently, digging deeper and exhausting all your efforts into your business is crucial. Your devotion coupled with perseverance will undoubtedly shine through thick and thin.
  5. Make every experience, even the negative ones, count. All too often it is easy to get discouraged when a plan does not yield desired results, but instead of regretting your mistakes, take the most valuable aspects and learn from them. Doing so will benefit you both professionally and personally.
  6. Get involved with your community. If and when you can, it never hurts to take a step back and be a part of the community by volunteering or charitable acts. Making an impact can strengthen not only yourself, but those around you. Billy4Kids has especially brought an incredible amount of joy, perspective and humility that have proved to be beneficial in and outside of the business world.

Through these six tips, Lerner has successfully navigated through the business world and has lead his family’s 60-year-old enterprise towards constant achievement. Proudly continuing to operate iPark privately with major focuses in customer satisfaction and technological advancements, not to mention his future plans for Billy4Kids, Lerner is proud and humbled by his accomplishments and hopes to encourage others to follow suit.

About iPark

Founded by Jack Lerner, Imperial Parking Systems, now iPark, has been in the parking business for over 60 years, and is currently New York’s largest family-owned parking garage. Imperial Parking Systems began with a single 25-car lot and Lerner’s commitment to service and attention to detail. Decades later, iPark stands as a growing monument to the vision of its founder. With over 100 parking facilities throughout metro New York – and still growing – iPark is a pinnacle of service in the parking industry. www.ipark.com.

About Billy4Kids

Founded in 2013 by Bill Lerner, also known as Billy Lerner, and Alexson Roy, Billy4Kids is a nonprofit organization established to provide shoes for underprivileged children around the world. Parasitic diseases affect 740 million people worldwide, with chronic hookworm in children leading to impaired physical and intellectual development. With the main emphasis on prevention, Billy4Kids provides thousands of kids per year across the globe the proper shoes to help reduce the potential of debilitating injuries and incurable diseases. www.billy4kids.org.

Exploring The Power of Volunteers To Help Protect The Planet

With Projects Abroad, volunteers can contribute to vital conservation efforts at Conservation & Environment Projects around the world

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Projects Abroad volunteers help build a waterhole at a wildlife reserve in Southern Africa

NEW YORK – March 30, 2016 – Earlier this month, environmental issues involving the earth, wildlife, and forests took center stage on Earth Day, World Wildlife Day, and International Day of Forests. For Projects Abroad, addressing these concerns is at the forefront of each Conservation & Environment Project year-round and inspires the work that volunteers do every day in rainforests, mountains, oceans, caves, and national parks across the globe.

The debilitated state of the planet is something that everyone should concern themselves with, says Tom Pastorius, Head of Global Recruitment for Projects Abroad. “The human population increases daily, natural habitats and resources are on the decline, and thousands of species face extinction. Immediate action is crucial, which is what motivated us to launch our first Conservation & Environment Project in 2001 and continues to inspire us and our volunteers today.”

Although each project has different aims depending on the surrounding environment and needs of the community, Projects Abroad also works towards three major global conservation goals: monitoring habitats, tackling mass pollution, and restoring natural ecosystems. Monitoring habitats is an important primary goal – to protect, we must first understand. Volunteers and Projects Abroad staff monitor thousands of plant and animal species, noting movements, interactions, and threats. With this knowledge, the organization is better equipped to identify areas of need and formulate long-term action plans.

Pollution is a huge problem world-wide, and one that the organization is taking head-on in multiple countries. In 2015 alone, volunteers helped collect more than 8 tons of waste during community clean-ups, the majority of which was some form of plastic – one of the most notorious threats to wildlife. Projects Abroad volunteers also run awareness campaigns in communities about the dangers of excessive waste. In Cambodia and Fiji last year, volunteers had enormous success with their awareness programs, educating local people and distributing reusable cotton bags as an alternative to plastic, as well as building recycling stations in schools.

Restoring natural ecosystems is a significant aspect of every Conservation & Environment Project. From removing invasive species in bird nesting sites in Ecuador, to reintroducing spider monkeys to a reserve where they had previously been extinct in Peru, volunteers are working hard to restore the balance and bring ecosystems closer to their natural state.

For most volunteers, working on a Conservation & Environment Project is a profound and eye-opening experience. Katherine, who volunteered on the Diving & Marine Conservation Project in Thailand, says “I learnt a great deal about marine life and just how precarious its existence is. These southern areas of Thailand have such a lot of beauty but the fishing and tourist industries along with careless waste and garbage management is leading to fairly catastrophic consequences that need urgent attention before it’s too late.” She added “I gained a newfound respect and love for the entire coastal eco-system.”

Since 2001, thousands of Projects Abroad volunteers have recognized the need to get actively involved in twelve developing countries. For more information on how to get involved, please visit www.projects-abroad.org/volunteer-projects/conservation-and-environment.

About Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students were given the chance to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.

Projects Abroad is a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs with projects in 30 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and the United States.

For details on volunteering abroad, visit Projects Abroad’s web site at www.projects-abroad.org.

Amida Care and ASCNYC Members Celebrate Graduation From Workforce Initiative Network Program in Peer Education and Health Outreach

New York, NY (March 30, 2016) – Members of the latest class of Amida Care’s Workforce Initiative Network and the AIDS Service Center of New York City’s Peer Training Institute’s collaborative program gathered at the AIDS Service Center of New York City in midtown on March 21 to celebrate their graduation from the program. Amida Care—New York’s largest special needs health plan (SNP) for people with chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS—launched the Workforce Initiative Network (WIN) program in collaboration with Housing Works and the AIDS Service Center of New York City to empower people living with HIV/AIDS to position themselves as successful job candidates, and ultimately take ownership of their health as well as to inspire others to make healthy choices. Fifteen graduates, including nine Amida Care members, completed the latest WIN training program.

“Being perinatally diagnosed as HIV-positive, adopted, and transgender, I could not find acceptance around me,” said Monique Mackey, a graduate of the WIN program and an Amida Care member. “Today I can say that I am a better person because of this program, and I can pursue my life’s mission to help others until they’re able to help themselves.”

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The six-week class, which is offered four times a year, is designed to help Amida Care members develop marketable skills that they can use to get a job. Members of the WIN program are trained to use their life experience for jobs in health navigation and outreach. These trained peer educators deliver community education and health coaching to hundreds of New Yorkers every year, helping those who are HIV-positive engage in treatment, those who have not been tested and do not yet know their status get tested for HIV, or those who may be at greater risk of becoming infected learn about prevention tools like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

“I’m fiercely proud of and often awed by our graduates,” said Sharen Duke, Executive Director of the AIDS Service Center of New York City. “By working with Amida Care to develop knowledge and create a health force through programs like this, we will end the AIDS epidemic in New York State.”

“I’m beyond proud of our graduates,” said Halli Olsen, Manager of Outreach Programs at Amida Care. “Through our program with the AIDS Center of New York City, every graduate has expressed above all how much they’ve grown personally, and that is beautiful.”

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Employment is one of the most important social determinants of health, because without a job—and the financial security and health insurance that comes with it—access and attention to health care is severely limited. Governor Cuomo’s Blueprint to End the AIDS Epidemic in New York State by 2020 singles out employment as a critical factor to maintaining health and provides extensive recommendations on how job creation can help minimize new HIV infections. By fostering openness and encouraging dialogue around HIV prevention and treatment while creating living-wage jobs, programs like this could have a tremendous positive effect on health and ultimately help to prevent new HIV infections.

Scholly Helps Lower Student Loan Payments

Developer of scholarship-matching app partners with CommonBond

The creators of Scholly — a web and mobile app that has helped students win over $35 million in college scholarships – have announced a new partnership with CommonBond, a technology-enabled lender specializing in making student loans more affordable. The program builds upon Scholly’s mission of helping students not only afford college, but also achieve their potential after graduation.

By using a special Scholly link, students can easily and quickly apply for refinancing with CommonBond that will lower their overall and monthly loan payments. On average, they will save $14,581 over the life of their loan, and enjoy lower monthly payments with interest rates starting at just 2.14% APR. As Scholly members, they will also receive an exclusive $100 bonus to be applied toward their first payment.

“CommonBond is a like-minded partner that shares our vision of helping students achieve their dreams,” said founder, Christopher Gray. “While our core strength remains in helping students pay for college by matching them with scholarships, we also recognize that loans are often necessary. We are proud to support the work that CommonBond is doing to lessen the burden.”

Headquartered in New York City, CommonBond believes that student lending should be more transparent, more affordable and more accessible online or via phone without excessive paperwork. The company uses its technology and data to help people refinance their student loans at a lower interest rate. The savings enable them to achieve goals such as saving for retirement, purchasing a home, starting a business or taking a dream vacation. As a leading values driven financial services firm, CommonBond offers the first “1 for 1” model in finance and education. As part of a “social promise,” for every loan funded, CommonBond also funds the education of a child in need.

Scholly is a seamlessly integrated mobile and desktop platform that helps students easily and quickly access scholarships that are often time consuming to access and find. In just minutes, it allows students to obtain their best individual scholarship matches by using a set of 8 parameters. Based in Philadelphia, Scholly is the brainchild of entrepreneur Christopher Gray, who created the app while still a student at Drexel University.

Gray, who grew up in an underserved community in Alabama, experienced first-hand the difficulty of finding funding for the education he desperately sought. Left to his own devices, Gray doggedly pursued scholarships (often applying on his phone since he had no computer at home – a tedious process). Ultimately, he won $1.3 million in scholarships.

Scholly, whose extensive database comprises both need-based and merit scholarships, also includes helpful tips for the application process, examples of successful essays, and a dashboard for saved dates and deadlines to track the application process

For further information, please visit www.myscholly.com.

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