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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
social entrepreneurship, impact investing, philanthropy
and corporate social responsibility.

Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: November 2016

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MiiR Joins Splash in Bringing Health Solutions to Schools in Nepal

Seattle-based companies partner to provide clean water and sanitation services

Press Release – Seattle, November 29, 2016 – Seattle-based companies MiiR and Splash have launched a partnership to continue the effort to bring critical water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH) services to 100 percent of public schools in Kathmandu, Nepal by 2021, which will impact 175,000 of the poorest children in the city.

MiiR is the pioneer of the Product to Project™ movement where every product sold funds a trackable giving project. The company gives 5% of revenue to giving areas aligned with its product lines. Splash is a non-profit that aims to improve the health and development of children in dense, urban areas by ensuring they have clean water, clean hands and clean toilets. The two Seattle-based companies will fund the first batch of projects in this partnership immediately, which will benefit 1,200 kids at nine schools by January 1, 2017.

“Splash is an ideal partner to bring clean water to those without access. They have a proven model to deliver WaSH projects and they understand the power of using social enterprise as an engine for long-term project sustainability,” said Nick MacPhee, Chief Impact Officer at MiiR. “We are proud to support an organization so committed to providing kids with healthy learning environments.”

With 2.5 million people, Kathmandu Valley is the country’s single largest urban economy and is critical to Nepal’s economic growth. Current water services are inadequate and the poor often have little choice but to drink contaminated water. A citywide baseline survey of schools conducted before the devastating 2015 earthquake showed that the vast majority of non-Splash partner schools tested positive for E. coli and high presence of total coliform bacteria. Unclean water, particularly when coupled with unhygienic conditions and practices, is a fundamental threat to Nepali children’s health, education and opportunity. Splash’s goal is to reach all 650 public schools in urban Kathmandu, benefiting 175,000 children, by 2021.

“We’ve been impressed by MiiR’s innovative business approach and inspired by their strong commitment to social justice,” said Eric Stowe, founder and CEO of Splash. “Combine that with their fun and smart team, great products and design, and a solid track record supporting global organizations, and they quickly become an ideal partner for Splash. This is a tremendous opportunity to leverage each other’s work toward larger social gains.”

MiiR is one of the leading companies offering consumers the chance to help Splash reach one million children by supporting:

The MiiR Flagship store in Fremont (3400 Stone Way N) is now showcasing the partnership with a new, stunning visual display that draws consumers deeper into Splash’s projects on the ground. Splash’s original made-for-children WaSH products are making their first-ever public appearance at the MiiR Flagship store between now and the end of the year.

About Splash

Splash is an innovative, social enterprise dedicated to fighting waterborne illness for children globally. With its unique focus on kids living in urban poverty and collaborative partnerships with local schools, orphanages and hospitals, Splash solves critical problems with water, hygiene, and sanitation. Today Splash serves clean water daily to more than 300,000 kids across Asia and Africa – with a goal of 1,000,000 by 2020. www.splash.org

About MiiR

Founded in 2010 by entrepreneur Bryan Papé, MiiR is the pioneer of the Product to Project™ movement, a business model where every product sold funds trackable giving projects through the MiiR Give. MiiR designs and offers intuitively functional and sleek products including bicycles, bags and bottles. Its giving projects provide transportation, education and clean water to those lacking access in the U.S. and around the world. Each product sold comes with a Give Code™ that the customer may register to connect with a project and community ultimately empowered by the MiiR Give. To date, MiiR has funded more than 55 water projects and helped provide more than 4,500 bikes in 18 countries, including the US. The Seattle-based company is a certified B Corp and leader in the social enterprise movement. www.miir.com

The DigitalAgenda Impact Awards Are Open For Entries

  • Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading social tech funder, backs awards celebrating technology for change
  • Impact Awards recognise digital innovation across UK economy- categories cover people, places and business
  • Impact Awards are free to enter to all UK-based organisations – business, non-profit or public sector – with a tech product or service that aims to makes the world a better place and are open until 20th January 2017
  • Advisors add credibility and reflect industry support
  • Tickets now on sale to attend both awards and after-party

Press Release – A new awards initiative celebrating the digital innovations making a positive impact on the way the UK lives, learns and does business is open for entries from today. The 2017 DigitalAgenda Impact Awards, sponsored by Nominet Trust, take place at London’s Barbican Centre on Thursday March 2, 2017. Twelve Impact Awards are grouped under three broad headings:

People

  • Education – technologies that are transforming teaching and learning.
  • Employment & skills – technology that is changing ways into work, and work itself.
  • Health – technology improving healthcare and making us healthier and happier.
  • Money – technologies that make it easier for people to save and spend.

Places

  • Cities – digital initiatives that improve urban places, spaces and living.
  • Climate – technology that helps us manage environmental change.
  • Food – technologies changing how food is produced, supplied and consumed.
  • Smart – connected devices and more that are improving how we live.

Business

  • Business transformation – digital change that makes organisations more effective.
  • Social and economic transformation – technology changing the wider world for the better.
  • Investment – the best in impact funding, through traditional or alternative routes.
  • Sharing & partnership – initiatives that help us share resources better.

The DigitalAgenda Impact Awards are open to all UK-based organisations – business, non-profit or public sector – with a tech product or service that aims to makes the world a better place.

Entering the DigitalAgenda Impact Awards is free using the online form at bit.ly/2gx8Kvh. The awards are open for entries until January 20, 2017.

DigitalAgenda director and editor Julian Blake said: “Many people work in digital because they want to change the world for the better. They see the potential of technology to deliver positive change fast, and at scale. Digital is changing the way children learn. It is making people healthier. It is improving public services. It helps us respond to refugee movements and floods. And it helps us understand global trends.

“Our awards celebrate technology that is used for impact, not just for profit. That means looking beyond the bottom line at the impact that technology makes on places and people, as well as business.”

Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading social tech funder, is the headline sponsor for the DigitalAgenda Impact Awards. Commenting, Vicki Hearn, director of Nominet Trust, said: “Digital innovations are driving social change with greater vigour than ever before. At Nominet Trust, through our grant funding, partnerships and annual NT100, we see many inspiring examples of impact through social tech. We’re delighted to be the headline sponsor of this exciting new initiative with DigitalAgenda, which is sure to inspire the next generation of tech for good leaders.

Other sponsors include Digital Catapult and Knowledge Transfer Network.

The judging panel will include expertise from across the digital business economy. Entries will be judged on the basis of idea, product, team, ability to scale and impact.

DigitalAgenda has also assembled a panel of advisors to guide the awards, drawing on their experience in startups, investment and technology that makes an impact. The advisors include Mike Butcher (TechCrunch), Jon Kingsbury (Knowledge Transfer Network), Pete Trainor (Nexus CX) and Jess Tyrrell (Ustwo). You can see the full list of our advisors at www.digital-agenda.co.uk/awards.

Tickets to attend the DigitalAgenda Impact Awards on March 2, 2017 are now on sale at bit.ly/2g1CEab.

An afternoon awards ceremony, recognising digital innovation that makes a positive change, will be followed by an evening after-party, offering winners and nominees a chance to celebrate their achievements. Guests will join 250 senior-level entrepreneurs, investors and more on a mission to change the world through technology.

Individual combined ticket (awards and party): £49

Individual (party only): £35

Prices exclude VAT. Nominated organisations will receive one complimentary ticket for the event.

Sponsorship packages for the awards are still available.

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation, Champagne Taittinger and the Screen Actors Guild Awards® Announce New Initiative to Raise Vital Emergency Assistance Funds

Highlights include a Red Carpet bottle signing at the 23rd Annual SAG Awards®

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Press Release – LOS ANGELES (November 29, 2016) – The SAG-AFTRA Foundation and the Screen Actors Guild Awards® today announced Champagne Taittinger is sponsoring a new initiative that will raise additional funds for the Foundation’s critical Emergency Assistance program, which supports actors and their families in times of urgent need.

This initiative is an expansion of the support Champagne Taittinger provides to the Foundation to fund all of its programs, a partnership which celebrates its 17th year in 2017.

As part of this commitment, Champagne Taittinger and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation will ask every nominee for the 23rd Annual SAG Awards to autograph a Methuselah bottle of Champagne Taittinger they will pass as they enter the Showroom to attend the ceremony on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. For every signature, Champagne Taittinger will make a further donation to the Foundation’s Emergency Assistance program. In addition, the unique celebrity-signed bottle will be made available as an item in the online SAG Awards Ceremony Auction, with those proceeds also benefiting the Foundation’s Emergency Assistance program.

In what is now a long-standing tradition, that famous SAG Awards red carpet will officially open with a toast from Vitalie Taittinger, daughter of the current champagne house’s president Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger.

“Champagne Taittinger is thrilled to continue to build and strengthen our partnership with the SAG Awards and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation by supporting such an important cause,” says Vitalie Taittinger, who serves as Vice President of marketing and communication for the brand. “We are honored to give back to the talented and growing community of actors that the Foundation advocates for.”

During times of crisis, the Foundation’s Emergency Assistance program provides financial assistance to eligible SAG-AFTRA members and their families for basic expenses, including but not limited to rent, utilities and car insurance. This program is 100 percent confidential and made possible through gifts, grants and sponsorships. In 2016, the Foundation granted $400,000 in emergency assistance to SAG-AFTRA members and families in need.

“Not only does Champagne Taittinger care about the arts, it also cares about the artists and the families who make up this industry,” says JoBeth Williams, President of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. “It’s extremely difficult to make a steady living as a working actor, and this new initiative and support from Champagne Taittinger exemplifies their deep commitment to actors and performers, not just in the good times, but also during times of real struggle. We could not be more grateful for their support and look forward to continuing our 17-year partnership for many years to come.”

Since 1985, the Foundation has granted more than $18 million in financial and medical assistance to SAG-AFTRA members and their families.

The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® will be simulcast live nationwide on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017 at 8 p.m. (ET) / 5 p.m. (PT).

About the SAG-AFTRA Foundation

In 2017, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation celebrates 32 years of giving back to the professionals of SAG-AFTRA, their families and communities. The Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides vital assistance and free educational programming to the professionals of SAG-AFTRA while serving the public at large through its signature children’s literacy programs. The SAG-AFTRA Foundation relies solely on support from gifts, grants and sponsorships to maintain its free programs. Visit sagaftra.foundation.

Connect with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation

Snapchat: sagaftraFOUND

Twitter: @sagaftraFOUND

Instagram: @sagaftraFOUND

Facebook: facebook.com/sagaftrafoundation

YouTube: youtube.com/sagaftrafoundation

Hashtag: #SAGAFTRAfound

About Champagne Taittinger

Champagne Taittinger is one of one of the few remaining family owned and operated Champagne houses, both owned and actively managed by the family named on the label. Champagne Taittinger is the second largest vineyard or domaine owner in the region giving them ultimate control of quality from vine to bottle. The Champagnes are Chardonnay dominant, which gives them their signature elegance, delicacy and finesse. Champagne Taittinger is widely distributed around the world in 140 countries. To learn more about Champagne Taittinger visit: http://www.taittinger.com/.

About the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®

The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® presented by SAG-AFTRA with Screen Actors Guild Awards, LLC will be produced by Avalon Harbor Entertainment, Inc. and will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017 at 8 p.m. (ET) / 5 p.m. (PT). TBS and TNT subscribers can also watch the SAG Awards live through the networks’ websites and mobile apps. In addition, TNT will present a primetime encore of the ceremony immediately following the live presentation.

Actor® Nominations will be announced on Wednesday, Dec. 14 2016 at 10 a.m. (ET) / 7 a.m. (PT), carried live on TNT, TBS, truTV, sagawards.tntdrama.com and truTV.com, preceded by the announcement of the stunt ensemble nominations at 9:50 a.m. (ET) / 6:50 a.m. (PT) carried live on sagawards.tntdrama.com.

One of the awards season’s premier events, the SAG Awards® annually celebrates the outstanding motion pictures and television performances from the previous calendar year. Of the top industry honors presented to actors, only the SAG Awards are selected entirely performers’ peers in SAG-AFTRA, which last year numbered 116,741. The SAG Awards was the first televised awards show to acknowledge the work of union members and the first to present awards to motion picture casts and television ensembles. For more information about the SAG Awards®, SAG-AFTRA, TNT and TBS, visit sagawards.org/about.

Connect with the SAG Awards®

Hashtag: #sagawards

Facebook: facebook.com/sagawardsofficialpage/

Twitter: twitter.com/sagawards/ 

Instagram: instagram.com/sagawards/

Tumblr: sagawards.tumblr.com

United Cerebral Palsy of New York City Joins Five Downstate ARCs in Partners Health Plan – a First-of-Its-Kind Managed Care Model for New York Families with Disabilities

New York’s leading disabilities nonprofits to offer broad range of healthcare services to individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Press Release – New York, NY, November 29, 2016United Cerebral Palsy of New York City (UCP of NYC) has now joined the five Downstate ARCs in Partners Health Plan (PHP) – a first-of-its-kind Fully Integrated Duals Advantage Plan (FIDA) to provide integrated health and long term care for dually eligible adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) in New York.

The adults must have Medicare or Medicaid, be eligible for OPWDD services, and live in either one of the five boroughs of New York City, or Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland or Westchester counties. The managed healthcare model integrates a wide range of services to be provided in conjunction with UCP of NYC’s and ARCS’s full range of disabilities services, education, technology and living supports for thousands of New York individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (FIDA-IDD).

“We are proud to be a governing partner of Partners Health Plan – a first FIDA model for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in THE United States. UCP of NYC has always been on the forefront of change and as our organization continues to expand its care, we want to ensure that the delivery of quality services for individuals with disabilities will continue,” said Edward R. Matthews, CEO of UCP of NYC. “The timing for the roll out of this model is ideal as managed care will soon become mandated in New York State for all Medicaid recipients.”

The agencies have also set up a Parent Board to include representation by UCP of NYC’s CEO and Board. The FIDA model is designed to make healthcare more accessible and provide care plans that meet the unique needs of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the agencies that they are already working with, such as UCP of NYC.

“We are thrilled and honored that UCP of NYC has decided to join Partners Health Plan (PHP) as a governing member,” said Michael Mascari, Director and Chairperson of PHP. “The ARCs of Metropolitan New York couldn’t have a better partner than UCP of NYC in demonstrating that family-led organizations serving individuals with developmental disabilities can create a person-centered approach to managed care that is marked both by the quality of services provided as well as by its cost effectiveness. With its long history of leadership in the field of developmental disabilities, UCP of NYC will be an invaluable asset in furthering the mission of PHP.”

About United Cerebral Palsy of New York City

United Cerebral Palsy of New York City, Inc. (UCP of NYC) is the leading nonprofit agency in New York City providing direct services, technology and advocacy to children and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. UCP of NYC offers a breadth of more than 85 comprehensive programs including medical, clinical, educational, technological, residential and rehabilitative services to over 18,000 New York City residents and families annually. Our services are delivered by a staff of more than 3,000 trained and dedicated individuals, including a number of employees who have disabilities themselves. www.ucpnyc.org

About Partners Health Plan

Partners Health Plan (PHP), a not-for-profit managed care organization, is dedicated solely to providing supports and services for persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities (IDD). It was founded by AHRC Nassau and is now governed by UCP of NYC and all five Downstate ARCs. PHP was developed by the same providers who have effectively served individuals with IDD in the community for decades and we are committed to employing a person-centered approach to care planning and service delivery that addresses the needs of the whole person. Planning and developing this model has taken several years, and PHP is the culmination of a rich and robust collaboration among a diverse group of providers and other stakeholders dedicated to serving this population. www.phpcares.org.

World-Renowned Landscape Photographer Peter Lik Announces Non-Profit Foundation to Provide Charity Through Art

Press Release – November 29, 2016 (Las Vegas, Nevada) – World-renown landscape photographer Peter Lik today announced the formation and launch of The LIK Foundation, focused on preserving and protecting the raw beauty of our planet while offering vital aid to disadvantaged and underfunded communities globally. Led by Lik and a seven-member council of dedicated enthusiasts, the foundation formalizes and expands Lik’s charitable contributions [spanning decades]. Lik is one of the world’s preeminent landscape photographers. With 13 galleries around the United States, he counts presidents and celebrities among his collectors.

Charity Through Art has long been at the forefront of Lik’s mission to care for the earth and its inhabitants through his photography. Over the last few years, he has donated proceeds from sales of his award-winning images to non-profit organizations including Make-a-Wish Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Oceana and Habitat for Humanity.

The formalization of these contributions through The Lik Foundation represents Lik’s next big step in giving back to a planet that he has been in awe of and capturing via his photography for decades. “Experiencing the raw beauty of our world has inspired me to do whatever I can to help keep it a magical place, where anyone and everyone has a chance to thrive,” says Peter. “I am eagerly looking forward to the many opportunities ahead.”

The foundation’s first formal endeavors began this summer, when Lik partnered with international non-profit organization, ONE DROP™ – which turns “water into action.” As a result, a portion of all sales from the Artist’s popular summer release, A Sky Full of Stars, is currently helping to create clean and sustainable water sources for our precious planet. Founder of Cirque du Soleil and ONE DROP, Guy Laliberté said of the alliance, “What Peter is doing to help our planet and our global community is exceptional. Knowing his lifelong passion for nature and involvement with philanthropy, it doesn’t surprise me that he has chosen to take it to the next level by creating his own foundation and I am very happy that One Drop gets to continue this relationship as a beneficiary.”

The foundation will continue its already-in-progress mission by working with communities across the United States, and in particular, markets in which LIK Galleries are located. “Outreach has always been a huge part of what we do,” Peter adds. “I could not be more grateful to all the cities – from New York to Los Angeles – that have warmly welcomed our galleries. It is my aim to give back the same generosity and support I have been fortunate to receive.”

About Peter Lik

Peter Lik began capturing the wonders of nature as a young boy in his native Australia and never stopped. In 1984, Lik migrated to the U.S. and discovered his passion for panoramic photography. One of Lik’s most notable projects, Spirit of America, is a 50-state landscape exploration of perilous deserts, ethereal mountain peaks, lush fields and glimmering cityscapes. Peter Lik’s love for America and its landscapes led him to become a naturalized citizen in 2013. Over the years, Lik’s career has been marked with award wins as a Master Photographer from the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and Master Photographers International (MPIO). He has also been awarded fellowships from the British Institute of Professional Photographers (BIPP), The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) and most recently the American Society of Photography (ASP). In 2011, Peter jumped into mainstream culture by starring in the NBC-produced TV series, From the Edge with Peter Lik. With 13 galleries around the United States, Peter Lik counts presidents and celebrities among his collectors. Lik’s masterworks Ghost and Inner Peace have been included in an exhibition of Nature’s Best Photography at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. In 2015, Peter was honored at PPA’s Imaging USA with a Lifetime Achievement Award becoming only the 13th recipient in history to receive this honor.

About The LIK Foundation

Founded in 2016, The LIK Foundation is the non-profit, philanthropic arm of the internationally renowned landscape photographer Peter Lik, designed to bring comfort and assistance to a world in need. After decades of exploring and capturing the natural wonders of Mother Nature, Peter – along with his seven-member council – have made it their mission to preserve and protect the raw beauty of our planet, while offering vital aid to disadvantaged and underfunded communities on every continent. With a strong focus on Charity Through Art, the foundation is endlessly devoted to using the power of the almighty lens to spark positive change and a better life for all.

The Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) Launches Fourth Year of Their Accentuate the Positive Songwriting Program in Underserved Schools in Los Angeles

1,600 Elementary School Students Will Learn How to Write Songs Like the Musical Greats in the 2017 School Year

Press Release – LOS ANGELES – The Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) launches the fourth year of their Accentuate the Positive, a songwriting program in numerous Title 1 schools in Southern California. This year Accentuate the Positive has started with three schools in the Los Angeles area and will touch the lives’ of over 1,600 elementary school students in 55 classrooms by the end of the 2017 school year.

Children from underserved schools will have the opportunity to write original lyrics. The program is composed of four workshops and provides students the opportunity to explore their creativity centered on various Johnny Mercer songs like Accentuate the Positive, Blues in the Night, Hooray for Hollywood, and Moon River. With a strong language arts foundation, the program reflects national standards for music and language arts. Accentuate the Positive is adapted to meet the needs of the students, schools and communities served.

Current schools involved with the program include:

  • Garfield Elementary–Santa Ana Unified School District – 850 Brown St, Santa Ana, CA 92701
  • Dyer Elementary–LAUSD – 14500 Dyer Street Sylmar, CA 91342-5114
  • Laurel Span Elementary–LAUSD.  Starting Tues 10/18. 25 N Hayworth Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

“We are very proud of our Accentuate the Positive program which exposes elementary school students to the Great American Songbook and the wonderful songs of Johnny Mercer; while giving them basic songwriting tools and an opportunity to express themselves through lyric writing, said John Marshall, Chairman of the Board & President of The Johnny Mercer Foundation.

Accentuate the Positive Los Angeles is supervised by Sari Rose Barron, who serves as the Program’s Director. She develops, oversees and implements the Accentuate the Positive program.

“I have continue to be involved with The Johnny Mercer Foundation for more than 12 years because I see the profound impact it has on students and educators,” said Sari Rose Barron.

“The program offers a great fusion between educational learning, while introducing students to the Great American Songbook, and offering a means of self-expression. I’m able to watch the magic of students creating their own personal lyrics inspired by various Johnny Mercer songs, feeling proud of their creations, and having fun all the while learning common core standards.”

About The Johnny Mercer Foundation:

The mission of the Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) is to support the discipline of songwriting in the tradition of the Great American Songbook as exemplified by the life and work of the legendary Johnny Mercer: lyricist, composer, performer, collaborator and producer. The Foundation continues Johnny’s legacy by partnering with individuals and organizations dedicated to celebrating and nourishing the disciplines he mastered and the causes he and his wife Ginger Mercer championed.

JMF has created a number of dynamic creative joint ventures with several prestigious institutions to facilitate our goals including; the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, Accentuate The Positive Programs (New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Miami), The Musical Theater Program at NJPAC, Georgia State University Fellowship Program, Florida International University Fellowship Program, the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project with Northwestern University and the Johnny Mercer Archives at Georgia State University, In addition, JMF also supports various charitable causes including UCLA’s Art of The Brain, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (Mark Taper and Johnny Mercer Artists Program), Braille Institute (Johnny Mercer Children and Adult Choirs) and KCET TVs Cinema Series.

For more information please visit www.johnnymercer.org.

About Accentuate the Positive

In 2002, The Johnny Mercer Foundation launched a lyric writing program to teach elementary students about the art of songwriting and to introduce them to the songs of the Great American Songbook.

At the center of this program is Accentuate the Positive, a student activity guide that explains how a song is born, how music and lyrics are conceived and written and how these songs reflect our passions and ideals. Accentuate the Positive is currently being used in Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta and Miami schools.

For more information on this press release visit: http://www.abnewswire.com/pressreleases/the-johnny-mercer-foundation-jmf-launches-fourth-year-of-their-accentuate-the-positive-songwriting-program-in-underserved-schools-in-los-angeles_89978.html

Joyful Heart Foundation Applauds New York Law to Increase Accountability, Transparency for Sexual Assault Survivors

Gov. Cuomo Signed Much-Needed Bill Today

Press Release – NEW YORK – The Joyful Heart Foundation, a leader in the effort to provide cities and states with the resources they need to address their backlog of rape kits, today applauded New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s signing of New York Senate Bill 8117, which takes meaningful steps to address the backlog of untested rape kits in the state. With this bill, New York has joined the growing number of states that have enacted rape kit reform laws.

DNA evidence is an invaluable investigative tool. When tested, rape kit evidence can identify an unknown assailant, connect the suspect to other crime scenes, and exonerate the wrongly convicted. Yet too often, the decision is made not to test these kits. Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sitting in police and crime lab storage facilities across the country.

The extent of the untested rape kit backlog in New York State is unknown, however, the new law requires a statewide audit of all untested rape kits in law enforcement custody to be conducted by March 1, 2017. The new law mandates New York law enforcement agencies to submit every rape kit to the crime lab for testing within 10 days of receipt and requires the lab to test the kit within 90 days. In addition, all previously untested rape kits found in the state audit must be sent to the lab for analysis. The law increases accountability and transparency by requiring quarterly reports from the crime labs and law enforcement on the sexual assault kits in their possession and their status.

Below is a statement from Ilse Knecht, Director of Policy & Advocacy for the Joyful Heart Foundation:

“The Joyful Heart Foundation is proud to stand with sponsors State Senator J. Kemp Hannon and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and our advocacy partners who fought for the passage of this important legislation to provide survivors of sexual assault with the justice they deserve.

“There is no excuse for complacency on the processing of rape kit evidence. We believe strongly in the value of the mandatory submission and testing of every rape kit booked into evidence and connected to a reported sexual assault.

“Every untested kit represents a missed opportunity to bring justice and healing to a survivor and increased safety to a community.

“We stand with every survivor who has taken the courageous step of reporting the crime to the police and endured an invasive examination in search of DNA evidence left behind by the attacker.

“This law – and laws like it across the country – will expand what we know about the true extent of the number of untested rape kits and will result in thousands of cases for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute. Joyful Heart will continue to advocate for state and federal funds to help jurisdictions implement comprehensive reform, and stands ready to provide assistance to any community working to address its untested kit backlog.”

For background and further information on the rape kit backlog, go to: ENDTHEBACKLOG.org.

Students Nationwide Celebrate The 2nd National Night of Conversation, Have Frank Conversation About Drugs

Press Release – NEW YORK, NY (November 28, 2016) –This month hundreds of students around the country celebrated the 2nd National Night of Conversation through various HealthCorps programs. Facing Addiction Over Dinner: The National Night of Conversation, was developed by The Dr. Oz Show, Facing Addiction, HealthCorps, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to encourage parents to have an open conversation with their children about alcohol and drugs over dinner.

On November 16, HealthCorps hosted a panel on addiction at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, CA. HealthCorps board member Pedram Salimpour moderated a panel of doctors: Dr. Damon Raskin, an expert on addiction, Dr. Dana Myers, a general surgeon and medical consultant and Dr. Jon Spiers, a cardio thoracic surgeon and medical consultant. Students, parents and teachers from Long Beach Polytechnic High School participated in the panel, asking questions of the panelists.

The panel took place behind a backdrop of sticky notes with anonymous stories gathered from Long Beach Polytechnic High School students about how addiction has affected their lives. HealthCorps coordinators throughout the country participated in the sticky note exercise allowing students a safe place to share their thoughts and experiences with drugs and addiction.

At Memorial High School in West New York, NJ on November 17, HealthCorps Coordinator Kyle Ross led a presentation on prescription drug abuse and its danger to athletes, student council members, student club leaders and their parents. Following the presentation which stressed the importance of family conversation, students and parents were able to ask questions of two substance awareness coordinators.

“A Night of Conversation is a great opportunity for the school and the community to come together to help battle drug addiction. Communication between parents and students is key to preventing students from getting involved with drugs and alcohol,” said Scott Wohlrab, Principal of Memorial High School.

The 2nd National Night of Conversation comes shortly after a HealthCorps poll found that 39% of high school students are influenced the most by their friends when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

The survey of 376 high school students was conducted from October 31 to November 11 as part of HealthCorps’ ongoing assessment of teens’ attitudes and habits towards physical and mental health and wellness. Research shows that children who have dinner with their families have a lower risk of drug use. The HealthCorps poll found that 35% of students are less likely to consume drugs or alcohol after speaking with a parent.

Since 2003, HealthCorps has reached 1,840,000 teens. HealthCorps polls its current students on a biweekly basis.

Renovation Angel Donates $100,000 To Nonprofit FOCUS North America

Recycling luxury kitchens for charitable outreach

Press Release – LOS ANGELES, CA – On November 1st, 2016 luxury kitchen recycler Renovation Angel presented nonprofit charity FOCUS North America with a $100,000 dollar donation to support their work with underserviced communities nationwide.

“The support from Renovation Angel has helped us strengthen our workforce development programs in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis,” said FOCUS Executive Director Nicholas Chakos. He continued, “Now thanks to the generous donation from Steve and his team we will also be able to grow these programs in Columbus and beyond.”

Though FOCUS has a number of worthy programs, the Renovation Angel donation will go specifically towards supporting their Summer Feeding and Workplace Development programs. In 2016, FOCUS distributed 46,000 meals in eight cities across seven states through their Summer Feeding program. By the end of the year they will have fed over 300,000 people suffering from food insecurity.

FOCUS addresses joblessness through varied means: employment counseling, job creation, job readiness training, and even ensuring that job seekers have appropriate workplace attire. They hold true to the belief that preparing people to secure and maintain employment is fundamental to helping them have stable and self-sufficient lives.

“We recycle kitchens and repurpose them for the greater good. Not only because it’s an eco-friendly and savvy way to renovate, saving homeowners thousands of dollars on their renovation projects, but because contributing to the vital work of charities like FOCUS is one of the most worthwhile endeavors an individual or organization can aspire to,” said Steve Feldman, President of Renovation Angel.

To learn more about FOCUS’ accomplishments and specific program goals, please visit the Renovation Angel blog HERE. High resolution images available.

About Renovation Angel

Renovation Angel is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to charitable outreach through the recycling and reclamation of luxury residential products. Luxury Donors receive: a full tax deduction, free professional white-glove removal/pack/transport services, reduced disposal costs, and the opportunity to support a number of worthwhile charities. Since 2005, Renovation Angel has created over $14 million in jobs, diverted over 25 million pounds from landfills, and distributed over $2 million to non-profit outreach programs. To learn more about Renovation Angel please visit, www.RenovationAngel.org.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Highlights its Contribution to Growth of Scientific Lyme Community in 2016

Foundation demonstrates recruitment of new scientific talent through innovative programs

Press Release – SILICON VALLEY, Calif., Nov. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading public nonprofit funder of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced that the organization granted $1.75 million in 2016 for Lyme research and education. Over the year, the Foundation continued to demonstrate success in bringing new scientific talent to the fight against tick-borne diseases. The organization highlights the recipients of the 2016 grant cycle, outlines the benefits of the Foundation’s contributions to Lyme Innovation, and announces their national Lyme Disease BioBank.

Exciting New Research

Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s grant cycle runs throughout the year and draws applicants from leading university, hospital, and independent research entities all over the United States. Awardees are evaluated on their concepts, ideas, methods, resourcefulness and willingness to collaborate with others in bringing new vision to the field of Lyme disease research.

“It is very rewarding to see esteemed researchers turning their attention to Lyme disease as they realize the great need that exists and the challenge this disease presents,” said Linda Giampa, Executive Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “We are honored to continue to bring new talent to understanding this evasive and insidious disease.”

The Bay Area Lyme Foundation 2016 grant recipients include:

  • Chase Beisel, PhD, North Carolina State University
  • Nichola Garbett, PhD, University of Louisville
  • Britton Grasperge, PhD, Louisiana State University
  • Emir Hodzic, DVM, PhD, University of California, Davis
  • Lee Hood, MD, PhD and Nathan Price, PhD, Institute for Systems Biology
  • Liz Horn, PhD, MBI, Lyme Disease BioBank
  • Richard Horowitz, MD, Hudson Valley Healing Arts Center
  • Nate Nieto, PhD, Northern Arizona University
  • Lise Nigrovic, MD, MPH, Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD, Stanford University
  • Nevena Zubcevik, DO, The Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness

Several of these researchers, while respected in their scientific areas of focus, had never previously leveraged their knowledge and abilities for research related to Lyme disease. Their foray into the field of Lyme was wholly (or in part) made possible because of the commitment of Bay Area Lyme Foundation to attract new talent to accelerate the development of new diagnostics and treatments for Lyme disease.

Chase Beisel, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, is integrating molecular biology, chemical engineering, and mathematical modeling to conduct novel work exploring CRISPR technology as a potential treatment for Lyme infections. Dr. Beisel turned his attention to Lyme disease as a result of a Bay Area Lyme Foundation grant he received as a recipient of the Foundation’s prestigious Emerging Leader Award. Dr. Beisel’s work has also been acknowledged with awards from National Science Foundation (NSF), and National Institute for Health (NIH), among others.

2016 Alexandra Cohen Emerging Leader Award Recipient Britton J. Grasperge, PhD, Assistant Professor, Clinical Pathology, Louisiana State University, is tapping his expertise as a veterinary pathologist to improve diagnostics and potentially therapeutics for the treatment of Lyme disease. Based on a grant from the Foundation, his research is currently focused on gaining a better understanding of how substances within tick saliva may have properties that attract the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

With a strong foundation in basic science, cancer biology, informatics, registry questionnaire design, and biobank planning and operations, Liz Horn, PhD, MBI is now tasked, by Bay Area Lyme Foundation, to use her talents to develop Lyme Disease BioBank, the first and only biobank to provide Lyme disease researchers with blood and urine samples of people living with Lyme disease in multiple regions across the country.

Expanding Advisory Board

Bay Area Lyme Foundation continues to expand its advisory board to bring additional perspectives to help increase the understanding and awareness of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases across the United States. This year’s additions to the advisory board include:

Dana Parish, a NYC-based SonyATV singer/songwriter whose debut album Uncrushed hit the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, is also a strong advocate for those suffering with Lyme disease, based on her personal experience fighting tick-borne infections. In May 2016, she performed “Pull You Through” at LymeAid, Bay Area Lyme’s annual fundraiser, helping to raise more than $815,000 to fund research for Lyme disease.

Sunjya K. Schweig, MD of the California Center for Functional Medicine (CCFM) is an expert in complex chronic illnesses, and spouse of a chronic Lyme patient. Dr. Schweig utilizes cutting edge diagnostic and treatment modalities, and has been studying, teaching, and practicing integrative and functional medicine for over 20 years.

Mason Tenaglia, an expert in Managed Care strategy development, has been at the forefront of understanding the impact of the Medicare Modernization Act and is a frequent author and speaker on the topic. He is also a member of the Pharmaceutical Executive Editorial Advisory Board.

“It is shocking how many unanswered clinical questions there are, and how much research needs to be done,” said Mason Tenaglia. “I am excited about the work that Bay Area Lyme Foundation is doing to draw attention to Lyme and help focus research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.”

Valuable Programs

Among the numerous innovative programs that Bay Area Lyme Foundation has launched and/or continued to support are:

  • Lyme Disease BioBank, a Bay Area Lyme project initiated to dramatically increase the volume of quality blood and urine samples of Lyme patients to enable research efforts to accelerate medical breakthroughs in the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease as well as co-infections.
  • Lyme Innovation, which the Foundation sponsored, and helped conceive and develop, was the first ever Hackathon for Lyme disease, providing a forum for more than 100 scientists, clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors from a variety of disciplines to brainstorm solutions for Lyme disease.
  • Emerging Leader Awards, which recognize researchers from other fields of practice, bringing new approaches and creative thinking to the field of Lyme disease. These grants support new and innovative projects and aim to attract aspiring new scientific talent to the field of Lyme.
  • In 2016 Bay Area Lyme Foundation hosted more than 40 educational awareness events related to Lyme disease across the country. Among the programs are the quarterly Speaker Series, which bring together researchers and patients in casual settings to discuss the latest findings in Lyme disease, as well as the Educational Outreach program aimed at building awareness among high risk demographic of outdoor educators and state park professionals, such as those involved with the National Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education.

Support

Bay Area Lyme Foundation has received grants and support from the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, as well as numerous generous donations from individuals and organizations across the United States. A pivotal donation from The Laurel Foundation covers all overhead costs through 2020, and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research and prevention programs.

About Lyme disease

One of the most common infectious diseases in the country, Lyme disease is a potentially debilitating infection caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected tick to people and pets. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated, but it is commonly misdiagnosed due to lack of awareness and unreliable diagnostic tests. There are about 329,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to statistics released in 2015 by the CDC. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, as many as one million Americans may be suffering from the impact of its debilitating long-term symptoms and complications, according to Bay Area Lyme Foundation estimates.

About Bay Area Lyme Foundation

Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a national nonprofit organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is a leading private sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US. A national 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Silicon Valley, the Foundation collaborates with world-class scientists and institutions to accelerate medical breakthroughs for Lyme disease. It is also dedicated to providing reliable, fact-based information so that prevention and the importance of early treatment are common knowledge. For more information about Lyme disease or to get involved, visit www.bayarealyme.org or call us at 650-530-2439.

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