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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
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Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: August 2017

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Giving Circle Members Distribute $15,000 in Grants

Hearts for Homeless, Bellefonte Art Museum, and Discovery Space to Benefit

Press Release – State College, PA – After members’ votes were tallied, the $10,000 Giving Circle grant was awarded to Hearts for Homeless, which will use the money for its day shelter.

“With this grant from the Giving Circle members, Hearts for Homeless will be able to reopen our daytime shelter for another year,” explained Ginny Poorman, Founder & Executive Director. “The shelter provides protection from the harsh winter, as well as meals, essential items, support for finding a job, and connecting with other resources that one may require.”

Nearly 100 people gathered at Above the Valley in Centre Hall on August 30th for the annual reception of Centre Foundation’s Giving Circle. Established in 2006 as part of Centre Foundation’s 25th anniversary celebration, the members have distributed $124,000 so far, supporting important projects and organizations that serve Centre County. This year, another successful membership drive ensured that the runner-up organizations also received grants.

“I’m happy to announce that Discovery Space and Bellefonte Art Museum will each receive a $2,500 grant due to the expanded membership and generosity of our Giving Circle members,” announced Molly Kunkel, Executive Director of Centre Foundation.

In June, there was an open call for grant applications. Members then ranked over 30 applications; the top three organizations were asked to attend the reception to present their unique grant ideas before the full membership.

The Bellefonte Art Museum will use the grant money toward their tenth anniversary celebration next summer. Entitled “Co-Creating: An Imagination Celebration,” it will feature free events at the museum and throughout the community in conjunction with numerous partners who work in a multitude of artistic mediums.

Patricia House, Executive Director, presented the idea to the Giving Circle members – replete with visions of Lego walls, community murals, and artistic takes on food and nature. Amy Koll, Member & Visitor Relations Manager, and Lori Fisher, Gallery Manager, were on hand to answer Giving Circle members’ questions and show them a few samples of artists’ work that are featured in the gallery.

As Discovery Space moves into their new, expanded facility on North Atherton Street, they plan to use their grant money for a new Pollinator Exhibit. Executive Director Michele Crowl and PSU Center for Pollinator Research partner, Christina Grozinger, presented the educational idea to the Giving Circle members.

Grozinger challenged the attendees to think what food and drink options would be left to enjoy without our winged pollinator friends (hint: not many). The exhibit will similarly encourage children to consider the world around them, exploring the lives of bees through cooperative play and engagement in science practices.

There was also a brief presentation by last year’s $10,000 grant recipient, Interfaith Human Services (IHS), about the impact this grant had in the community. Wendy Vinhage, Executive Director of IHS, updated the Giving Circle members about the Financial Care Program, which has enjoyed an expansion into the Philipsburg area – thanks to last year’s grant.

“This grant allowed us to expand our financial care program, helping more low-income families budget their finances through one-on-one money management counseling,” explained Vinhage. “By helping more people with money management, we are putting them on their way to self-sufficiency.”

Previous recipients of Giving Circle grant include Park Forest Preschool, House of Care, Discovery Space, Housing Transitions, Strawberry Fields, and the Community Help Centre.

More information about the Giving Circle program is available at centre-foundation.org.

Centre Foundation’s mission is to inspire and facilitate a culture of giving to create a vibrant community.


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Boudreaux’s Butt Paste® Salutes Military Charity Operation Shower®

Trusted Diaper Rash Brand Lends Support to Expecting Military Families and Launches Call for Military Baby Photos

Press Release – Tarrytown, NY (August 31, 2017)Boudreaux’s Butt Paste® joined forces with Operation Shower® yesterday, hosting a baby shower for nearly 50 expecting military moms and dads in Foxborough, MA. The diaper rash brand trusted and loved by millions of parents, honored brave military members who protect our country, by protecting their little ones, through a year-long partnership with Operation Shower. This non-profit military organization celebrates military families across the country by hosting baby showers for expecting military parents. In addition to celebrating the service members at the event, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste® also announced a call for Military Baby photos, in return for a free sample of one of its popular diaper rash products – a nursery staple across the U.S.

The shower, which was held at the site of the PGA Tour’s Dell Technologies Golf Championship with support from Birdies for the Brave®, was hosted by parenting lifestyle expert, Rosie Pope, a longtime supporter of the Operation Shower cause. Pope, a notable entrepreneur, TV personality and tastemaker in the maternity and parenting space, engaged the guests through baby shower games, while also answering questions and giving advice to the military moms. The “Over The Moon” themed shower feted deserving military members and their spouses by providing must-haves for their babies and a chance to come together and celebrate with each other. As presenting sponsor of the shower, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste® not only provided the “protection” these families will surely need for their babies’ bottoms, but also an interactive Diaper Changing Game that saw attendees going head to head to see who could change the diaper of the brand’s stuffed mascot the fastest!

To take its commitment to the military one-step further, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste® launched a social media promotion at the event to reach military parents across the country. From now until September 17, 2017, the brand encourages military parents to share a fun photo of their military baby using the hashtag #ButtPasteSalutesOffers to win a full-size sample of the Boudreaux’s brand popular Butt Paste tube, along with a special branded item.

“In the military, the families of service members serve too. That’s why Boudreaux’s Butt Paste® was thrilled to partner with Operation Shower® to show our gratitude to these courageous men and women for everything they do,” said Carol Bishop, Director of Pediatrics, Cough, Cold and Household at Prestige Brands. “These amazing families deserve to be recognized, and getting to meet them and share in the excitement surrounding the birth of their babies through this special shower was an honor for our brand.”

The winner of the Diaper Changing Game and a gift card prize package, an expecting mom whose husband serves in the Army, bested the competition with a blazing time of 9.5 seconds, proving she is ready to take on diaper “duty.” Boudreaux’s Butt Paste® products were also included in Operation Shower’s signature “Showers In A Box” – a specially-curated kit featuring an array of unique, high-quality products and gift items for mothers and babies that have been donated by generous companies. In addition to their presenting sponsorship of this shower, the brand has and will continue to contribute their premium Maximum Strength Jar in every Operation Shower box of 2017.

“For military moms who are expecting a baby and whose spouses are deployed or soon to be deployed, the impending arrival of a child can be both exciting and stressful,” said Operation Shower Founder and Chief Shower Officer LeAnn Morrissey. “Operation Shower was created specifically to show thanks and celebrate these deserving families during this time, and it’s with the support from amazing brands like Boudreaux’s Butt Paste® that we’re able to do so.”

For more information on Boudreaux’s Butt Paste®, visit www.ButtPaste.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Boudreaux’s Butt Paste®

Created by pharmacist and father of four, George Boudreaux, in 1978, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste® was born from the need for an effective and safe solution to eliminate diaper rash. Created specifically for parents who don’t want to settle for anything less than the best, it uses a combination of efficacious ingredients to be fast acting without being harsh on a baby’s skin. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste® is formulated without harmful ingredients and free-from dyes, parabens, preservatives, phthalates and talc. Parents rely on this trusted and pediatrician-recommend diaper rash line to help soothe and relieve rash discomfort from the first use and beyond. Boudreaux’s® is part of C.B. Fleet Company, Incorporated, a Prestige Brands Company.

About Operation Shower®

Operation Shower® is a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and honoring military families by providing joyful baby showers for military moms-to-be to ease the stress of deployment. Since its inception in 2007, Operation Shower® has showered more than 3,800 military moms from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard on military bases and at other locations. For more information, visit www.operationshower.org.


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Think Globally, Act Locally! Meatpacking BID’s “Sweat Sessions for Good” Fundraiser to Support Nonprofit Yoga Foster

Event partners include Lululemon and Samsung for an afternoon of fitness and fundraising

Press Release – NEW YORK (Aug. 31, 2017) – The Meatpacking Business Improvement District (BID) is proud to host Sweat Sessions for Good, an afternoon event of fitness and fundraising to raise money for Yoga Foster, a nonprofit organization that trains and empowers school teachers to share the benefits of yoga in the classroom. Through a partnership with Lululemon and Samsung, Sweat Sessions for Good will offer New Yorkers branded workout classes led by top fitness instructors to raise money for the nonprofit. Building on the success of the popular annual summer Sweat Sessions program, the Meatpacking BID is committed to expanding its support to communities all around the US by donating all proceeds from Sweat Sessions for Good to Yoga Foster.

With only a few weeks left of summer sunshine, Sweat Sessions for Good will be held at Hudson River Park’s 14th Street Park on Tuesday, September 12. Open to the public, the fundraising event will offer four 45-minute studio fitness classes of different modalities to improve inner and outer strength, while offering an enjoyable event experience. Please see the below for schedule of classes:

On site, Samsung will create a virtual reality experience, where attendees can try out the VR technology and experience firsthand a series of different VR content. For every attendee that tests the new equipment, Samsung will donate $5 to Yoga Foster.

To encourage charitable goodwill, Lifeway Foods will be offering complimentary sips, treats and swag for participants after each class to enjoy. Additionally, lifestyle and wellness platform Bloom will be one of the event’s media partners, sharing the event with their audience through social media posts and videos.

Meatpacking BID Executive Director Lauren Danziger states, “I’m incredibly excited to be working with Lululemon and Samsung to raise money for Yoga Foster.” Danziger continues, “As a leader of a nonprofit community organization, as well as a Lululemon ambassador, I’m thrilled to be part of an effort to bring mindfulness and movement to give back to a charity that does so much to help the school age children get access to and build a practice of exercising both the mind and the body. These are things that help empower kids, building independent and confident youth and I’m honored to be a part of this initiative.”

“Yoga Foster is powered by our community of wellness enthusiasts giving back,” states Yoga Foster Founder and Executive Director Nicole Cardoza. “Through working with Meatpacking BID and our partners, we’re honored to provide this practice to students in the surrounding community, so they can kick off the school year with peace and balance.”

Lululemon’s Meatpacking location is also supporting the cause with their community-based social impact program, Here to Be, which makes the healing benefits of yoga and meditation accessible through best-in-class nonprofit partnerships. Learn more about Here to Be at: lululemon.com/HeretoBe.

Tickets for each class are $20 and can be purchased here or on site, and 100% of the profits go to Yoga Foster. The event’s rain date is scheduled for September 19.

For additional information, please visit: http://www.meatpacking-district.com/

About the Meatpacking District:

The Meatpacking Business Improvement District (BID) is the not-for-profit business alliance of the area whose mission is to support the business community and to keep the area clean, safe and beautiful. The BID runs a robust array of hyper-local marketing initiatives, programming and a public relations campaign to support the economic health of the neighborhood. As the Meatpacking District community continues to reinvent itself year-in and year-out, the Meatpacking BID seeks to revitalize and reinvigorate right alongside all the innovators that call the Meatpacking District home. For more information, please visit, meatpacking-district.com and @MeatpackingNY.

About Yoga Foster

Yoga Foster is a nonprofit that empowers school teachers with yoga and mindfulness for the classroom. Through training, curriculum and resources, they support educators with accessible tools to create sustainable change in their schools. Over the past three years, they’ve supported over 1,000 teachers across the U.S., and 40 schools in NYC. For more information please visit yogafoster.org and @yogafoster.


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#HeroForHouston – HERO Launches One-For-One Backpack Campaign For Houston

Press Release – NEW YORK, NEW YORK – August 31, 2017: HERO backpacks, a New York-based social enterprise, partnered with Houston-based nonprofit The Rick Anthony Athletic Foundation to provide backpacks and school supplies to families displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

For each HERO backpack purchased, a HERO backpack will be filled with supplies and given to a Houston child in need. The campaign can be followed via #HeroForHouston.

Designed to empower the wearer with courage, each HERO backpack carries a card that shares the story of an inspiring hero.

“In addition to supplies, the 12,000 children displaced by the storm need hope. Strong role models move us to stay strong. Stories are a powerful way to spread hope,” says HERO’s founder, Alissa Lentz. “We want to give a hero to each child who needs one.”

“Being downtown Houston, Harvey literally hit home for us. The chaos of a national disaster puts children at a high risk for anxiety and depression. Partnering with HERO gives us the opportunity to uplift these children in their time of greatest need, while providing a product of dire need,” said Taylor Darnell, Founder & President of RAAF.

With two sizes and 14 unisex colors/patterns, the backpacks fit both kids and adults.

Already have a backpack? You can purchase one directly for a child in Houston, just leave a note at checkout and two HEROs will be sent on your behalf.

Forty percent of the 30,000 people displaced by the storm are children. More than 160 Texas school districts have closed, putting the nation’s second-largest K-12 student population in an educational crisis.

To be a #HeroForHarvey, buy a backpack at www.herobackpacks.com and join the journey on Instagram @HeroBackpacks.


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International Myeloma Foundation Announces Star-Studded Lineup For The 11th Annual Comedy Celebration, Hosted By Ray Romano, On November 4 At The Wilshire Ebell Theatre

Scheduled Performers Include Hannibal Buress, Rachel Feinstein, Nikki Glaser, Robert Klein, Marc Maron, Kumail Nanjiani, Iliza Shlesinger, And Fred Willard

Celebration Benefits the Peter Boyle Research Fund and Supports the Black Swan Research Initiative

Press Release – August 30, 2017 (Los Angeles, CA) – The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF), the first and widely respected myeloma-specific foundation in the world, announced today the star-studded lineup for the IMF 11th Annual Comedy Celebration on Saturday, November 4 at The Wilshire Ebell Theatre. Actor and comedian Ray Romano returns to host an unforgettable evening of comedy that will feature performers including Hannibal Buress, Rachel Feinstein, Nikki Glaser, Robert Klein, Marc Maron, Kumail Nanjiani, Iliza Shlesinger, and Fred Willard. All performers are subject to availability.

Proceeds from event benefit the Peter Boyle Research Fund, named for the beloved actor who died in 2006 after a four-year battle with myeloma – an incurable cancer of the bone marrow plasma cells and one of the fastest growing blood cancers in the world. Since the first event in 2007, the annual IMF Comedy Celebration has featured over 50 celebrity comedians and musical performers, and raised more than $6 million. Through laughter, the event honors Boyle and raises money for research to find a cure for myeloma. The Peter Boyle Research Fund has supported the IMF’s innovative research programs since the fund’s inception in 2007.

For the fifth year, the event also supports the International Myeloma Foundation’s signature Black Swan Research Initiative® (BSRI), a groundbreaking and collaborative global project aimed at developing the first definitive cure for myeloma. Through the Black Swan Research Initiative, the IMF is conducting 30 concurrent studies to find the cure, and is supporting studies around the world including in Iceland, Hungary, and India. Recently, the IMF achieved the unprecedented ability to launch two targeted myeloma “cure” trials — CESAR and ASCENT.

The evening will include a pre-show cocktail reception and silent auction, two-hour comedy show, and a post-show party for VIP ticket holders. Tickets are on-sale now at comedy.myeloma.org. The International Myeloma Foundation 11th Annual Comedy Celebration is presented by Amgen, Celgene, Janssen, and Takeda Oncology.

About the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF)

For 27 years, the International Myeloma Foundation has remained dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients through its four founding principles: Research, Education, Support, and Advocacy. The IMF is a world-recognized leader in myeloma with a global reach of over 450,000 members in 140 countries worldwide – including patients, caregivers, family members, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Through their signature research program, the Black Swan Research Initiative® (BSRI), the IMF is on the cusp of finding a cure for a subset of myeloma patients. The IMF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to improving lives and finding a cure. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE (2873). The global website is myeloma.org. Follow the IMF on Twitter @IMFmyeloma.


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Alan Jackson’s AJ’s Good Time Bar Launches #HonkyTonks4Texas Weekend-Long Drive to Help Flood Victims

Initiative hopes to spark movement for Music City businesses to aid Houston and surrounding areas

Press Release – Alan Jackson’s AJ’s Good Time Bar launches a weekend-long #HonkyTonks4Texas initiative to aid in flood relief for Houston, TX, and its surrounding cities. Beginning Thursday, August 31, and running through the bar’s close on Labor Day, Monday, September 4, AJ’s Good Time Bar will donate $1 for every item sold to the Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund administered through The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

“I’ve toured a lot over the years in east Texas, played the Houston Rodeo 23 times and I hate to see what’s happening down there. It’s tough to watch…and I can’t imagine what my fans and all the people of Texas are goin’ through…and I hope this allows folks in Nashville to feel like they can do a little something to help,” says Jackson.

“Just seven short years ago, we were all impacted by a crippling flood in Nashville, and we couldn’t have made it through it without the overwhelming amount of support we received nationwide,” says Matt Harville, General Manager at AJ’s Good Time Bar who was working in downtown Music City during the city’s 2010 floods. “Finding a way to give back is an easy choice, and we hope other bars and honky tonks on Broadway will join us in this effort.”

For more on AJ’s Good Time Bar, please visit ajsgoodtimebar.com.

AJ’s Good Time Bar on the web:
Facebook: facebook.com/AJsgoodtimebar
Instagram: instagram.com/AJsgoodtimebar
Twitter: twitter.com/AJsgoodtimebar

About AJ’s Good Time Bar:

The four-story entertainment mecca officially opened all four floors in May 2017 and sits proudly near the corner of 4th Avenue and lower Broadway as the only 100% artist-owned bar in the heart of Nashville – a stretch of road commonly called the “Honky Tonk Highway,” just like Jackson’s 2017 tour. Following the Honky Tonk Highway Tour’s sold-out stop at the city’s Ascend Amphitheater in May, Jackson and his eight-piece band made a surprise appearance on the first floor’s “AJ’s Honky Tonk” stage … and, as sole owner and visionary behind the venue, he’s known to make appearances at AJ’s during the week and when not on the road. Jackson is also a majority owner in ACME Feed & Seed, located just blocks away at 1st Avenue and Broadway.

About Alan Jackson:

Just announced as an inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Alan Jackson’s membership among country music’s all-time greats is the latest in a long line of career-defining accolades that include three CMA Entertainer of the Year honors, more than 25 years of membership in the Grand Ole Opry, a 2016 Billboard ranking as one of the Top 10 Country Artists of All-Time, induction to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Heritage Award as the most-performed country songwriter-artist of ASCAP’s first 100 years. The man from rural Newnan, Ga. has sold nearly 60-million albums worldwide, ranks as one of the 10 best-selling male vocalists of all-time in all genres. He has released more than 60 singles – registering 50 Top Ten hits and 35 #1s (including 26 Billboard chart-toppers). He has earned more than 150 music industry awards – including 18 Academy of Country Music Awards, 16 Country Music Association Awards, a pair of GRAMMYs and ASCAP’s Founders and Golden Note Awards. Jackson is one of the most successful and respected singer-songwriters in music. He is in the elite company of Paul McCartney and John Lennon among songwriters who’ve written more than 20 songs that they’ve recorded and taken to the top of the charts. Jackson is one of the best-selling artists since the inception of SoundScan, ranking alongside the likes of Eminem and Metallica.


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Architects & Celebrities Accept Challenge to Help Homeless Cats

Architects for Animals “Giving Shelter” Event October 19 at Herman Miller Showroom to Benefit Local Nonprofit FixNation

Press Release – LOS ANGELES, CA. AUGUST 29, 2017 – One of this year’s most innovative design events, Architects for Animals® “Giving Shelter” exhibit, returns to the Herman Miller Showroom in Culver City on October 19th 2017. The event is expected to be a sold-out fundraiser for LA-based non-profit FixNation, which provides free spay and neuter services for the city’s skyrocketing population of homeless cats.

LA’s top architecture and design firms as well as individual architects and designers have been invited to design, build and donate one-of-a-kind and functional outdoor dwellings for cats. Shelters will be displayed at a cocktail reception attended by the public, VIPs and media representatives. Also on display: cat food bowls decorated by feline-loving celebrities such as Jay Leno, Beau Bridges, Morgan Fairchild, Tricia Helfer, Jackson Galaxy and Elvira; all bowls will be available for purchase via an online auction.

“These cat shelters are absolutely remarkable,” says FixNation’s Co-Founder and Executive Director Karn Myers. “They will help raise awareness about homeless cats and provide practical solutions that can be implemented throughout our community.”

This year’s event has added significance as the organization honors Myer’s late husband, Mark Dodge. The couple co-founded FixNation 10 years ago.

Los Angeles is home to one of the nation’s largest populations of homeless felines, an estimated one to three million cats. FixNation is a model for successful Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and humane colony management programs across the country and around the world.

“Many communities use lethal methods in an attempt to control the population of stray, abandoned and feral cats. Such methods are not only horribly cruel, they simply don’t work,” explains Myers. “TNR is a much more effective and compassionate alternative. Our mission is to manage colonies of homeless ‘community cats’ and gradually reduce their number through sterilization.”

Participating firms include Abramson Teiger Architects; ES-EN-EM; HLW; HOK; Knowhow Shop; Kollin Altomare Architects; Pfeiffer Partners Architects; RNL; and Standard Architecture | Design.

The “Giving Shelter” event is open to the public from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm at the HermanMiller Showroom. Tickets are $50 and may be purchased online or at the door.

Photos of the 2016 “Giving Shelter” creative designs can be found here.

About FixNation

FixNation is an award-winning Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that supports Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs for homeless cats. The organization provides a free full-time spay/neuter clinic for homeless cats as well as affordable spay/neuter services for pet cats. FixNation’s programs have successfully sterilized nearly 150,000 cats to date. For more information, please visit fixnation.org.

About Architects for Animals®

Architects for Animals® by Feral Design Group LLC is an awareness raising initiative that plans one-night events benefiting select animal welfare organizations. Participating architecture and design firms as well as individual architects and designers design, build and donate creative outdoor shelters to provide animals with refuge from the elements. Additional details can be found at architectsforanimals.com.


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U.S. Department of Labor Issues Compliance Guidance For Employee Benefit Plans Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

Press Release – WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor has announced an update on employee benefit plan compliance for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

“Our deepest and most immediate concern is for those who are in harm’s way, and for the first responders who will work tirelessly to help those affected,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “We also realize that employers and employees impacted by Hurricane Harvey will need assistance in dealing with employee benefits issues arising from disruptions in banking and payroll processing.”

The Department understands that plan fiduciaries, employers, labor organizations, service providers, and participants and beneficiaries may encounter issues complying with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in the foreseeable future as the effects of Hurricane Harvey become apparent. The guidance provided in this statement applies generally to employee benefit plans, plan sponsors, employers and employees, and service providers to such employers who are located in a county identified for individual assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey.

This relief is in addition to Form 5500 Annual Return/Report filing relief already provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in accordance with the Hurricane Harvey news release listed on the IRS disaster relief website page at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-for-victims-of-hurricane-harvey-in-texas. See the Treasury regulations under Internal Revenue Code § 7508A and Section 8 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56, 2007-34 I.R.B. 388.

Verification Procedures for Plan Loans and Distributions

The Department is working with the IRS to provide relief regarding certain verification procedures that may be required under retirement plans with respect to plan loans to participants and beneficiaries, hardship distributions and other pension benefit distributions. Additional information will be made available in the near future at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/employers-and-advisers/plan-administration-and-compliance/disaster-relief.

Participant Contributions and Loan Repayments

Under 29 CFR § 2510.3-102, amounts that a participant or beneficiary pays to an employer, or amounts that a participant has withheld from his or her wages by an employer, for contribution or repayment of a participant loan to an employee pension benefit plan constitute plan assets. These amounts must be forwarded to the plan on the earliest date on which such amounts can reasonably be segregated from the employer’s general assets, but in no event later than the 15th business day of the month following the month in which the amounts were paid to or withheld by the employer.

The Department recognizes that some employers and service providers acting on employers’ behalf, such as payroll processing services, located in identified covered disaster areas will not be able to forward participant payments and withholdings to employee pension benefit plans within the prescribed timeframe. In such instances, the Department will not – solely on the basis of a failure attributable to Hurricane Harvey – seek to enforce the provisions of Title I with respect to a temporary delay in the forwarding of such payments or contributions to an employee pension benefit plan to the extent that affected employers, and service providers, act reasonably, prudently and in the interest of employees to comply as soon as practical under the circumstances.

Blackout Notices

In general, Section 101(i) of ERISA and the regulations issued thereunder, at 29 CFR § 2520.101-3, provide that the administrator of an individual account plan is required to provide 30 days advance notice to participants and beneficiaries whose rights under the plan will be temporarily suspended, limited or restricted by a blackout period (i.e., a period of suspension, limitation or restriction of more than three consecutive business days on a participant’s ability to direct investments, obtain loans or obtain other distributions from the plan). The regulations provide an exception to the advance notice requirement when the inability to provide the notice is due to events beyond the reasonable control of the plan administrator and a fiduciary so determines in writing.

Natural disasters, by definition, are beyond the control of a plan administrator. With respect to blackout periods related to Hurricane Harvey, the Department will not allege a violation of the blackout notice requirements solely on the basis that a fiduciary did not make the required written determination.

ERISA Group Health Plan Compliance Guidance

The Department recognizes that plan participants and beneficiaries may encounter an array of problems due to the hurricane, such as difficulties meeting certain deadlines for filing benefit claims and COBRA elections. The guiding principle for plans must be to act reasonably, prudently and in the interest of the workers and their families who rely on their health plans for their physical and economic well-being. Plan fiduciaries should make reasonable accommodations to prevent the loss of benefits in such cases and should take steps to minimize the possibility of individuals losing benefits because of a failure to comply with pre-established timeframes.

In addition, the Department acknowledges that there may be instances when full and timely compliance by group health plans and issuers may not be possible. Our approach to enforcement will be marked by an emphasis on compliance assistance and include grace periods and other relief where appropriate, including when physical disruption to a plan or service provider’s principal place of business makes compliance with pre-established timeframes for certain claims’ decisions or disclosures impossible.

Contact Information

The Department and IRS will continue to monitor the situation to address those issues that are most important in helping individuals, employers and plan sponsors recover from this hurricane. For more information on Hurricane Harvey relief under ERISA, see “FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricane Harvey” at https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/faqs/for-participants-and-beneficiaries-following-hurricane-harvey.pdf or contact the Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration online at www.askebsa.dol.gov or by calling 1-866-444-3272. Questions about IRS guidance should be directed to the IRS at 1-877-829-5900.


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Uncovering The Lost World Of Wallacea

Indonesian fossil discovery reveals Wallacean islands were once home to an array of fantastic beasts

Press Release – A world of dragons, pygmy elephants and giant rodents may sound like something straight out of the pages of fantasy, but a recent fossil discovery led by scientists from ZSL (Zoological Society of London) indicates this world may have been reality for the islands of the Indonesian archipelago until a few thousand years ago.

Published today (Wednesday 30 August) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the study describes the first extensive set of fossils of Pleistocene and Holocene age to be excavated from the Indonesian island of Sumba, which forms part of “Wallacea”, a group of islands that boast unique natural history due to being isolated from the continental shelves of both Asia and Australia.

As well as finding two extinct species of giant rodents – rats the size of cats – the team discovered a tooth from the world’s largest living lizard species, the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), which is not found on Sumba today.

Other exciting fossil finds included the jaw bones of a tiny elephant-like creature – a pygmy stegodon – which may represent the smallest of this group ever discovered.

Similar extinct species have previously been found on the nearby island of Flores, 50 km to the north, suggesting that this strange array of weird and wonderful creatures may have once been widespread across the islands of Wallacea. The fossil record of Flores also contains the famous “hobbit”, an extinct species of tiny human (Homo floresiensis) described in 2004, and the team suspects that Sumba might have also been home to a species of extinct human that is yet to be discovered.

Lead author Dr Samuel Turvey of ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, said: “These discoveries offer a fascinating and poignant glimpse at a lost world, as many of the animals that evolved in isolation on islands in Wallacea were lost following the prehistoric arrival of modern humans.

“Understanding the past diversity of these islands can give a unique insight into the processes of evolution, explaining why some species were lost while others survived, and shedding new light on how many island ecosystems may have been shaped by human activity.

“It’s unknown at present exactly how the extinct species we’ve found on Sumba are related to similar fossils found on Flores and other islands. It’s possible that some species dispersed over the narrow sea barriers between islands, but they may also have evolved independently into similar forms, due to the similarity of the islands’ ecology and terrain.

“In either case, it’s highly likely that similarly extraordinary species also once existed across the other islands in this region, and we strongly encourage further study on Sumba, as there may be more secrets lurking undiscovered in its fossil history.”

The islands of Wallacea were named in honour of naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who first noted the unusual distributions of animal species across the region in the 19th century. His conclusions led to the naming of Wallace’s Line, the biogeographic “boundary” between Asian and Australian wildlife species.

To find out more about the work of the ZSL Institute of Zoology, visit www.zsl.org/science


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Tentree Celebrates 15 Million Trees Planted Globally in First Five Years of Business

VANCOUVER, Canada, August 29, 2017 (Newswire.com)tentree, one of the fastest growing apparel brands in North America, has reached a milestone of 15 million trees planted around the world. Since 2012, tentree has grown from a small local brand to a global movement, inspiring environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and community education worldwide.

For each product sold, tentree plants 10 trees in regions with critical need for reforestation, such as Madagascar and Haiti. Planting 15 million trees is just the beginning of tentree’s goal to help reforest and revitalize the world. By the end of 2017 tentree expects to plant over 20 million trees, and hopes to reach one billion trees by 2030.

“15 million trees is a major milestone for tentree, but ultimately, it is just the beginning,” says Derrick Emsley, tentree CEO. “As tentree grows, so does the impact. Our goal is to become the most environmentally progressive brand on the planet and we are targeting over 1 billion trees by 2030. These trees are going to change lives.”

The trees planted by tentree enrich impoverished communities by providing them with economic empowerment, environmental preservation, and community education. tentree is committed to ethically responsible manufacturing and uses eco-conscious materials in all products.

After purchasing a tentree product the customer receives a unique tree code. With this tree code, the customer decides how they want to make their impact and the type of trees they want planted — these choices determine where the trees are planted. Once the trees are planted, the tree registry program allows customers to track, monitor and learn more about the social and environmental impact their trees are making.

“It has always been our goal to bring the customer closer to their impact,” added Emsley. “Their purchase is what allows us to plant trees, provide jobs, and help an incredible number of people. We want every customer to feel emotionally connected to their impact. The tree registry program allows us to do this by highlighting where the trees will be planted, the type of tree, and then allows us to provide updates on the progress.”

Currently, tentree’s planting is focused in Madagascar, Nepal, Senegal, Haiti, Canada, and the United States. tentree partners with not-for-profits such as Canadian Wildlife Federation, WeForest, American Forests, and Eden Reforestation to ensure they have a targeted, lasting impact.

tentree products are available at over 1,000 retail locations in North America, and ships internationally. To shop or find a store near you, please visit www.tentree.com.

About tentree:

tentree is a lifestyle apparel company based out of Vancouver, Canada, that plants ten trees for every item purchased. By combining social and environmental consciousness with lifestyle apparel, tentree allows consumers to have a direct impact on the environment and communities worldwide. For more information on tentree please visit www.tentree.com.


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