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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: December 2017

SolarNow Raises $9M From Novastar And Shell

Leading off-grid solar company SolarNow today announces its $9 million series-B equity round. This capital allows the Dutch company to scale its distribution in Uganda and Kenya and expand into new markets. Investors include Novastar and Shell.

Press Release – SolarNow sells and installs high quality customized solar energy solutions capable of supporting income-generating activities, as well as the widest range of electrical appliances available in East African markets, including televisions, fridges and water pumps. The firm’s 55 branches (850 FTE) support an installed base of 25,000 households, schools, clinics and entrepreneurs in Uganda and Kenya. With sales of 1,400 new systems generating revenues in excess of $1M per month, SolarNow is one of the first solar companies in Africa to achieve operational profitability.

“This investment allows us to strengthen our market share in existing markets, and continue our organic growth path into new markets in East and West Africa” says Willem Nolens, SolarNow’s founder and CEO. He adds that “the investment will allow us to design and market more productive appliances, thereby enabling farmers to increase their income”.

Novastar Ventures, based in Nairobi Kenya increased its shareholding during this round. Novastar’s Managing Director Andrew Carruthers explains: “Since we invested three years ago, SolarNow’s management have proven their ability to successfully scale a business model with strong unit economics. We are delighted to see that the company’s rigorous focus on quality and customer satisfaction is proving successful, with over 40% of all new clients being referred by existing clients.”

“We are impressed by SolarNow’s talented and experienced team. They have built a proven business and an exciting modular product offering”, said Brian Davis, Vice President, Integrated Energy Solutions for New Energies at Shell. “We believe that decentralised solutions will play an important role in providing productive energy to customers who currently lack reliable power. This investment is an important step for our Energy Access portfolio and we look forward to helping the business reach its potential.”

About SolarNow

SolarNow was established in 2011 to answer the pressing demand for affordable, high-quality solar home systems amongst millions of off-grid households and entrepreneurs in East Africa. The company developed an innovative, modular product range (50Wp – 10KWp) that is sold through branches in rural areas. Products include appliances such as radios, TVs, refrigerators and water pumps amongst others, and come with a 24-month credit facility and 5 years of free service. The operations follow a simple, highly-standardized and low-cost design. Client repayment rate exceeds 98%, reflecting the company’s extraordinary level of client satisfaction.

www.solarnow.eu

About Novastar Ventures

Novastar is a venture catalyst firm assisting the next generation of exceptional entrepreneurs who are designing and executing innovative business models to profitably serve East Africa’s aspiring mass market. These ‘New Stars’ are the catalysts for innovation, accountability, efficiency and the accumulation of wealth for the common good. Novastar partners with entrepreneurs to help bring ideas to life and multiply their impact.

www.novastarventures.com

About Shell Technology Ventures

Shell Technology Ventures B.V. is the corporate venture capital arm of Royal Dutch Shell plc (“Shell”). It supports Shell’s New Energies business which was created in 2016. New Energies focuses on two main areas: new fuels for transport, such as advanced biofuels and hydrogen; and power, which includes low-carbon sources such as wind and solar, as well as natural gas. Within the power portfolio, Shell is also actively pursuing investments in scalable commercial businesses that expand energy access to communities who currently have no energy at all or unreliable supply.

www.shell.com/about-us/what-we-do/new-energies.html

Background

There are 1.2 billion people in developing countries with no access to electricity, while another billion only have unreliable access. Solar power now offers an economic solution for people living off-grid in rural areas, providing lighting, mobile phone charging and even highly-efficient televisions and fridges. A new generation of solar companies has emerged to deploy these systems commercially, but many have struggled to access mainstream financing to fuel their growth.


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LiveBeyond Christmas Catalog Encourages People to Give Beyond

Press Release – DALLAS, December 4, 2017 – As Christmas gift-giving time approaches, a faith-based non-profit working to improve conditions in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, has some unique gift suggestions in its annual Christmas catalog. Each year, LiveBeyond determines the greatest needs among the people it serves and invites Americans who really have no need of another thing to gift something desperately needed on behalf of their loved ones. This year’s list features a unique set of gifts that will provide great meaning to those who give it and those who receive it in Haiti, improving their way of life and expanding the Kingdom of God.

“Our mission has always been to help Haitians live beyond oppression, poverty and illness,” said Dr. David Vanderpool, the founder and CEO of LiveBeyond. “This year we are challenging people to give beyond the traditional gifts to leave a lasting impression on a person’s life and make a real, physical difference. Christmas is not just about giving and receiving, it is about those who need it most and sharing the love of God.”

Some of the gifts featured in the catalog include an opportunity to sponsor a special needs child in the Johnny’s Kids program, an academic sponsorship and chickens that are used to teach locals how to raise them sustainably while providing expectant mothers with a source of necessary protein. Other gift opportunities include a clean delivery kit that prevents infection during childbirth, hygiene kits and the chance to provide school supplies such as paper, pencils, desks and books.

“A chicken or school supplies may not seem like something that makes a big difference but they truly are a blessing and help a lot of families and children who otherwise may not get the care or education they need. In some instances, it is lifesaving,” said Dr. Vanderpool. “Unlike most Christmas gifts which typically end up sitting on a shelf or inside a closet after the holiday, these gifts will be put to good use and have a lasting effect, that helps Haitian people today and sets the tone for a better future.”

In addition to the Christmas catalog, the LiveBeyond store features t-shirts and other items that make great Christmas gifts and help people in Haiti. All of the profits from the online store go toward the organization’s efforts to transform the heart of Thomazeau, Haiti.

A full list and details about each of the Christmas gifts can be found at http://livebeyond.org/givebeyond.

LiveBeyond is a faith-based, humanitarian organization improving lives of the poor in Thomazeau, Haiti, with sustainable solutions in medical and maternal health care, clean water, education, and agricultural and economic development. It was founded by Dr. David Vanderpool, a trauma surgeon who has worked for more than 20 years responding to humanitarian disasters around the world. For more information, visit www.livebeyond.org.


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Rooms That Rock 4 Chemo Founder Nancy Ballard Publishes New Book Detailing Organization’s Origin And Methods

Press Release – SAN FRANCISCO (December 15, 2017) — Nancy Ballard, the founder of Rooms that Rock 4 Chemo (RTR4C), a nonprofit organization devoted to redesigning cancer treatment rooms to create inspiring environments for those touched by cancer, announced today the release of her new book Rooms That Rock 4 Chemo – A Story. A Toolbox. The book details the work done by RTR4C to transform cancer treatment facilities, specifically chemotherapy rooms, into hopeful environments to assist in the healing process, and acts as a toolbox for others to follow in the organization’s path.

“My hope is that this book inspires individuals of all backgrounds to utilize the mechanics of RTR4C in their own communities and to bring more beauty and comfort into cancer treatment centers across the globe,” said RTR4C founder Nancy Ballard. “I believe that environments matter when it comes to cancer sufferers. I’ve seen it firsthand: the beautification of treatment rooms helps to promote hope and happiness in the darkest of times. I want the world to know that art heals.”

RTR4C believes simple solutions are the key to success in creating beautiful and inspiring treatment centers. The organization partners with interior designers, volunteers, local vendors, and sponsors to create updated treatment rooms in hospitals and outpatient facilities. Since its inception in 2011, RTR4C has transformed more than 177 rooms in 20 facilities across the US and El Salvador – impacting the experiences of over 550,620 cancer patients per year.

Recently, RTR4C partnered with Home Depot, Cutting Edge Stencils, and Rxhibition to transform seven rooms at The Global Cancer Research Institute in Gilroy, California. Previous projects include the transformation of 17 rooms at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar, Calif., 14 rooms at Saint Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco, 27 rooms at Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg, W.Va., seven rooms at the Cancer Institute of San Salvador in San Salvador, El Salvador, four rooms at The Cancer Center at Aria Health in Philadelphia, and 13 rooms at the UC Barrett Hospital in Cincinnati.

The book, published independently by Ballard, can be purchased on Amazon or on Ballard’s website.

About Rooms that Rock 4 Chemo

Rooms that Rock 4 Chemo (RTR4C) is a nonprofit organization devoted to creating positive, healing and uplifting spaces that spiritually, emotionally and physically support those dealing with chemotherapy. In collaboration with interior designers, volunteers and local vendors, RTR4C transforms physical spaces in facilities providing chemotherapy. As the hospital environment changes from sterile and drab to healing, lovely and soothing, the positive impact of emotional well-being, comfort and hope in patients’ lives is monumental. The rooms provided by RTR4C are accomplished by working together with facility operators, volunteer professional designers, the local community and sponsors to create new physical surroundings for patients and their families. For more information, visit www.roomsthatrock4chemo.org.


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Nonprofits and Foundations Stand United in Opposition to the Tax Bill

Press Release – (WASHINGTON, December 15, 2017) — Independent Sector, the National Council of Nonprofits, and the Council on Foundations, collectively representing tens of thousands of charitable and philanthropic organizations, are unified in opposition to the final tax legislation.

This is the most consequential tax legislation for the charitable community since the charitable deduction was introduced 100 years ago, and likely the most damaging to the future of charitable giving. The changes proposed in the tax code would fundamentally weaken the ability of charitable organizations to raise money, provide services, and benefit our communities.

The final tax bill will decrease charitable giving by up to $20 billion per year by effectively limiting the charitable deduction to fewer than 10 percent of taxpayers. It increases the tax burden on charitable organizations, as well as the most vulnerable people in our country, in order to give tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest among us. These and other provisions in the bill undermine the work of the nonprofit sector while increasing the need for the good work that we do.

We strongly urge Members of Congress to vote “no” on this tax bill. The nonprofit community plays a critical role in providing health, safety, food, housing, cultural and spiritual guidance, and other vital services to all of our communities, but we cannot do this work alone and seek a healthier partnership with government leaders.

It is not too late to take the time and thoughtfulness to provide the American people the tax relief they need without compromising the very role of civil society in the United States. Congress needs to scrap this bill and start over.

Daniel J. Cardinali
President and CEO
Independent Sector

Tim Delaney
President and CEO
National Council of Nonprofits

Vikki Spruill
President and CEO
Council on Foundations


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Industry Leaders Announce Breakthrough In Eco-Friendly Inks

EcoEnclose partners with Living Ink to test the world’s first algae-based printing ink, Algae Ink

Press Release – DENVER, CO – 12/14/2017 (PRESS RELEASE JET) — Louisville, CO: EcoEnclose and Living Ink Technologies have announced the world’s first commercial printing press using Algae InkTM. The commercial print job was performed for Alluvian, a client of EcoEnclose and niche manufacturer of small-batch aquatic botanical soap and sustainable grooming products.

Algae Ink is the world’s first modern, commercial black ink made with 100% renewable pigments. As the first fully renewable, toxin-free, and fully compostable ink available, the black ink formulation includes 16% algae cells (pigment) and 63% water; current industry practices use Carbon Black as pigment. Living Ink Technologies is a bioscience research and product company developing the first environmentally safe and sustainable printing inks grown from algae. Living Ink was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to develop the technology, Algae InkTM.

Saloni Doshi, Co-Owner of EcoEnclose, says, “By introducing eco-friendly packaging and commercial printing with fully renewable, safe and biodegradable inks, EcoEnclose and Living Ink are challenging the entire ink industry to be more transparent, innovative and eco-minded when it comes to their formulations. Our quest to educate consumers and companies to demand more information and accountability from their packaging and ink suppliers is marked as official by the world’s first commercial printing press involving the use of EcoEnclose eco-friendly packaging with Algae InkTM.”

Scott Fulbright, PHD; Co-Founder & CEO of Living Ink, offers expert insight as to why algae outshines veggie ink alternatives: “Few people understand that soy and water-based inks are largely made with petroleum-derived pigments. Unlike other plant-based alternatives to petroleum, algae grows with just water, sunlight and CO2. It absorbs CO2 in its production, and it grows at a rapid rate. Soy, on the other hand, is completely reliant on gas, diesel and electricity from production, all the way through harvesting and processing. Algae inks are completely biodegradable, making for better compost, more effective removal of printing ink from paper fibers in the recycling process, and purer waste streams.”

EcoEnclose (https://www.ecoenclose.com/) is the leader in environmentally friendly packaging and shipping supplies. EcoEnclose is committed to bringing eco innovation and transparency to the world of ecommerce packaging, and to helping ecommerce companies improve the environmental footprint of their products and operations.


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Bayat Foundation Receives Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice

Afghanistan’s Leading Private Philanthropy Received Honor At December 10th Ceremony

Press Release – KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 14, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Bayat Foundation (www.bayatfoundation.org), Afghanistan’s largest private, non-profit Health, Education and Social Development Organization, announced today that The Bayat Foundation has been selected by The Harmony Foundation as a recipient of the 2017 Mother Teresa Memorial International Award For Social Justice.

Dr. Ehsan Bayat – Co-Founder of The Bayat Foundation, and Chairman of The Bayat Group (www.bayat-group.com) – and his wife, Mrs. Fatema Bayat – Executive Director of The Bayat Foundation – jointly accepted the award from Mr. Shri Tushar Arun Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi; Dr. Abraham Mathai, President of Harmony Foundation; and Mr. Jerry Jose, Head of Human Resources at ICICI Lombard.

The ceremony was attended by a number of dignitaries such as Mr. Mohammad Sarwar Danish, Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; Ms. Yasuko Shimizu, Chief of Mission for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; and Mr. Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. Other 2017 honorees included Ms. Priyanka Chopra – Indian actress, singer, film producer, and philanthropist – and prolific Japanese architect and Pritzker Prize recipient, Mr. Shigeru Ban for his dedication to creating humanitarian designs that combine the needs of refugees with sustainability.

Established in 2005 by The Harmony Foundation to honor Mother (Saint) Teresa’s lifetime of service to the ‘Poorest of the Poor,’ The Mother Teresa Memorial International Award For Social Justice has been bestowed on Dr. Bayat and The Bayat Foundation, in recognition of The Bayat Foundation’s leading, exceptional and successful efforts to provide the neediest Afghans with food, clothing, health care, education, clean water and other critical and basic building blocks of life, that every human being requires for their protection, preservation and progress.

The Harmony Foundation was established in 2005 by Dr. Abraham Matai. The mission of The Harmony Foundation is to establish peaceful relations and social harmony between communities throughout the world. Prior recipients of Mother Teresa Memorial International Award For Social Justice, include His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, Nana Akufo-Addo, the Former President of Ghana, Doctors Without Borders, and H.E. Bin Zayed Al Nayan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, The United Arab Emirates.

“Saint Teresa of Calcutta embraced the commandment to love, and serve, and improve the lives of the poorest of the poor, as the sacred work, and the sole mission of her life, and we accept the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award For Social Justice with tremendous humility and gratitude,” said Dr. Ehsan Bayat, the Co-Founder and Chairman of The Bayat Foundation.

“In 2006, when my wife Mrs. Fatema Bayat and I started The Bayat Foundation, we had a simple, but powerful wish—we wanted to help provide Afghans with healthcare, education, clean water—the basic necessities of life,” Dr. Bayat said.

“Today, I am proud to note that The Bayat Foundation has sponsored over 300 projects in Afghanistan, including the construction of thirteen hospitals, which have cared for 2,000,000 Afghan mothers and their children” Dr. Bayat said. “We have been blessed by this opportunity to serve Afghans, and every day we try our best to live out the wisdom that Mother Teresa gave to the world, when she said ‘The Greatest Good is what we do for one another.'”

About the Bayat Foundation:

Since 2005, the US-based Bayat Foundation, a 501 c (3) charitable organization, has promoted the well-being of the Afghan people. Founded and directed by Ehsanollah Bayat and Fatema Bayat, the Foundation has contributed to more than 300 projects dedicated to improving the quality of life for the youth, women, poor, and elderly of Afghanistan; including construction of 13 maternity hospitals that have now treated over 2,000,000 mothers and babies.

Projects have included the construction of new facilities and sustainable infrastructure in needy regions, and the promotion of health, education, economic, and cultural programs. In addition to his charitable initiatives, Ehsanollah Bayat founded Afghan Wireless (AWCC) in 2002, which was the first GSM wireless and Internet Service Provider in Afghanistan, and later established Ariana Radio and Television Network (ATN), which includes Ariana Radio (FM 93.5). For more information, please email info@bayatfoundation.org.


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Year-End Giving Means A Lifetime Of Impact With World Of Children

Holiday Giving is a Lifelong Gift for the World’s Most Vulnerable Children

Press Release – LAGUNA HILLS, CA – December 14, 2017 – World of Children, a global recognition and funding organization for nonprofit leaders managing programs that exclusively serve the needs of vulnerable children, is going beyond the holiday season to show that end-of-year donations are more than just a tax write off—they’re a lifetime investment in a child’s life. World of Children, celebrating its 20th anniversary, has dedicated more than $11.5 million in grants to Honorees working in over 50 countries. The long-term relationships with each of the Honorees, and the children who have been impacted by their work, show that a giving a year-end gift today will change the course of a child’s life forever.

“Especially during the holiday season, donors are searching for a nonprofit organization that will make the greatest impact and ensure their generous gift is being used for exactly what it was intended for,” said World of Children Co-Founder Harry Leibowitz. “We are proud to say that 100% of every single dollar donated our organization is used to fund high-impact programs, but the greatest gift is that we can change the course of a child’s life who is at risk of abuse, illness, homelessness, illiteracy or hunger.”

The impact of World of Children’s 100% funding model and long-term commitment to the programs they serve was seen first-hand at the recent 2017 World of Children Awards Ceremony held in New York City on November 2, 2018. Humanitarian Award Recipient Winnie Barron, founder of Makindu Children’s Centre in rural Kenya, was the recipient of nearly $90,000 in funding. But the biggest gift of the night was a surprise appearance by Babu Juma—one of the first children brought in to the program after its inception—who was flown in from Kenya by World of Children to present Winnie with her award.

Juma was orphaned and living on the streets 20 years ago when a handful of generous donations helped Barron open the doors to Makindu Children’s Centre in 1998. He went on to graduate from high school and college, and this past summer, he graduated from law school and passed his board exams to become a lawyer. A husband and father of three healthy boys, Juma aims to focus his law practice on child advocacy, while still making time to visit the Centre frequently to play with and mentor children.

“Winnie and Makindu Children’s Program redirected my future. They afforded me, and many other children, the opportunity to dream, achieve our goals, and most of all, they gave us hope,” said Juma. “I am where I am because someone cared enough to donate their hard-earned money to give hope to a hopeless situation, and because someone dared to believe I could be something and someone.”

World of Children receives thousands of nominations every year and uses a uniquely rigorous vetting process to select Honorees like Barron, including an on-site investigation and independent audit of each Honoree. They assume the hard work of finding the bravest heroes who protect, nurture, educate and heal the world’s most vulnerable children so that the decision for donors looking to make an end-of-year gift isn’t about finding the right organization—it’s about deciding how big of an impact they can make. Donors can be confident that a donation today to an organization like World of Children could change a child’s life for the next 20 years, and beyond.

About World of Children

World of Children unlocks the future for vulnerable children by funding, elevating and educating the most effective changemakers for children worldwide. Since 1998, the Foundation has dedicated more than $11.5 million in grants to high-impact programs for children, led by more than 100 Honorees working in over 50 countries. World of Children is recognized as the “Nobel Prize for Child Advocates,” and is the only global recognition and funding program that exclusively focuses on a broad range of children’s issues including health, education, safety and human rights. Nominations the 2018 Awards will be open from January 8 – April 1, 2018. Learn more at worldofchildren.org/nominate.

World of Children has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, People, Town & Country, and Harper’s Bazaar. World of Children Honorees have also been featured by CNN, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Fast Company, Glamour, TEEN Vogue, TIME for Kids, and USA Today, among other national and international media. The Huffington Post named Co-Founders Harry Leibowitz and Kay Isaacson-Leibowitz one of the most inspiring “power couples” in the country for their lifetime commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable children around the world.

For more information, visit worldofchildren.org, or join the community on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Groundswell Announces Liberation Fund Grants: $1.35 million to Boost Grassroots Organizing Led by Women of Color and Transgender People of Color

Fifteen prominent women of color movement leaders team with Groundswell to recommend thirty organizations for Liberation Fund grants.

Press Release – Groundswell is proud to announce $1,350,000 in grants for 30 organizations in its inaugural round of grantmaking through the Liberation Fund, a joint project of Groundswell Fund (a 501c3) and Groundswell Action Fund (a 501c4). Grantees were recommended for funding by 15 leading women of color movement leaders who serve as advisors to the Liberation Fund, including Alicia Garza, Linda Sarsour, Mary Hooks, Isa Noyola and Ai-jen Poo, among others.

In today’s political environment, it is more vital than ever that we organize to hold public officials accountable in their home districts to defend and advance the rights of vulnerable communities. Grassroots organizing efforts led by women of color and transgender people of color are at the forefront of these efforts, leading smart and effective multi-issue campaigns that build a vibrant grassroots base of support and leave no one behind.

Statement from Vanessa Daniel, Groundswell Executive Director:

“Groundswell has teamed up with 15 of the most prominent women of color leaders in the country to bridge a longstanding gap that exists between the funders in this country and the grassroots organizing work that is offering the boldest and most effective solutions to white supremacy and misogyny. Since the election, billions of dollars have flowed into progressive movements, and nearly all of it is going to large national organizations. While many of these organizations play an important role in the social change ecosystem, they cannot protect communities or advance bold change on their own. Most of us don’t believe in trickle-down economics, so why do we fund trickle-down social justice? The Liberation Fund gives funders and donors an easy way to support powerful change that is surging up from the grassroots.”

The Liberation Fund uplifts and supports the strongest of these organizations across the country with a demonstrated track record and commitment to racial and gender justice on issues ranging from: economic and environmental justice; to LGBTQ, immigrant and Native sovereignty rights; to halting gender-based violence, climate change, mass incarceration, immigration detention and deportation, and anti-Black and anti-Muslim forces, among other key issues.

501c3 grantees on the inaugural docket include:

Black Mesa Water Coalition; BreakOut!; CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities; Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM); The Marsha P. Johnson Institute; Mujeres Unidas Y Activas (MUA); Racial Justice Action Center; Southerners On New Ground (SONG); Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP); and TransLatin@ Coalition.

501c4 grantees on the inaugural docket include:

Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) Action; Black Progressive Action Coalition (BPAC); BYP100 (Black Youth Project Not for Profit); Californians for Human and Immigrant Rights Leadership Action Fund (CHIRLA Action Fund); Domestic Worker Legacy Fund; Jobs With Justice; Montana Native Vote; Mpower Change Action; ROC (Restaurant Opportunities Centers) Action; Southwest Workers Union; and Texas Organizing Project.

The path to large-scale progressive change in this country is one of bold, multi-issue, solidarity-based organizing represented by these organizations who are lighting the path that social movements writ large must travel in order to win. The Liberation Fund encourages more donors and foundations to help leading organizations turn that light up even brighter by donating to the fund or directly to its grantees.

Statement from Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter:

“The Liberation Fund will make it easier for donors and funders to identify and resource some of the most effective and innovative organizing at the grassroots led by women of color and transgender people of color. To elevate women of color and trans people of color at a time when our communities are under extreme duress is not only smart but essential for our survival. There’s never been a better time for donors and funders to put their money directly where change is happening.”

Liberation Fund grants have been awarded at the recommendation of the fund’s advisors by 15 prominent women of color leaders from various U.S. social justice movements from environmental, racial and economic justice, to immigrant, Native and transgender rights: Ai-jen Poo, National Domestic Workers Alliance; Alicia Garza, National Domestic Workers Alliance & Black Lives Matter; Angelica Salas, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA); Bamby Salcedo, The TransLatin@ Coalition; Dr. Charlene Sinclair, Center for Community Change; Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance; Chrissie Castro, Native Voice Network; Denise Perry, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD); Elle Hearns, Marsha P. Johnson Institute; Isa Noyola, Transgender Law Center; Linda Sarsour, Mpower Change; Mary Hooks, Southerners On New Ground; Miya Yoshitani, Asian Pacific Environmental Network; Sarita Gupta, Jobs With Justice; and Saru Jayaraman, Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC) United.

To find out more, please visit: www.groundswellfund.org and www.groundswellaction.org


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Direct Relief Reaches $1 Billion in Donations, Ranked 7th Largest U.S. Charity by Forbes

Press Release – SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Dec. 14, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Direct Relief grew into the seventh largest charity in the United States in 2017, according to Forbes Magazine’s newly released annual ranking of the 100 largest U.S. charities. The medical aid group received $1.1 billion in donations in its 2017 fiscal year, surpassing $1 billion for the first time since the organization was founded in 1948.

The growing support from donors came in a year when Direct Relief extended more help to more people in need than ever before in its 69-year history, furnishing essential medications, vaccines, instruments and supplies through 13,554 deliveries to all 50 U.S. states and 86 countries. Direct Relief is supported only by private, charitable contributions, and accepts no government funding.

In the Forbes ranking, Direct Relief earned a perfect score of 100 percent in fundraising efficiency (percent of private donations remaining after fundraising expenses) and a 99 percent rating for its charitable commitment (charitable services as a percent of total expenses).

Direct Relief has also earned a place on the Perfect 100 list published by Charity Navigator, one of only 65 charities to achieve 100 percent scores out of the nearly 8,000 organizations rated by the charity watchdog for accountability, transparency and financial health.

From July 2016 through June 2017, Direct Relief’s activities included the following:

  • Provided $129 million in lifesaving medicines and other medical aid to more than 1,300 health centers and clinics throughout the United States, helping patients face challenges including chronic diabetes and opioid addiction.
  • Responded to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and prepositioned emergency medical supplies along the Gulf Coast of the U.S. and the Caribbean in advance of the devastating 2017 hurricane season.
  • Supported doctors in Syria with urgently needed medical items, including a chemical weapons antidote, after a deadly series of attacks on Syrian medical facilities.
  • Bolstered Yemeni hospitals with medications and supplies to combat a rapidly expanding outbreak of cholera.

Since 2009, Direct Relief has provided more than $4.4 billion in lifesaving medicines and medical resources to help low-income people in 115 countries and all 50 U.S. states. The only organization to obtain VAWD accreditation to distribute pharmaceuticals in all 50 U.S. states, Direct Relief operates the country’s largest charitable medicines program.

The full list of Forbes’s ratings and methodology for The 100 Largest U.S. Charities of 2017 is available at https://www.forbes.com/sites/williampbarrett/2017/12/13/the-largest-u-s-charities-for-2017/#5131dd8358e1.

About Direct Relief

Established in 1948 with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies, Direct Relief delivers lifesaving medical resources throughout the world – without regard to politics, religion, ethnic identities, or ability to pay. With operations spanning more than 70 countries and all 50 states in the U.S., Direct Relief is the only charitable nonprofit to obtain Verified Accredited Wholesale Distributor (VAWD) accreditation by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Among other distinctions, Direct Relief earns a perfect score of 100 from independent evaluator Charity Navigator, was listed among the world’s most innovative nonprofits by Fast Company, and has received the CECP Directors’ Award, the Drucker Prize for Nonprofit Innovation, and the President’s Award from Esri for excellence in GIS mapping. For more information, please visit https://www.DirectRelief.org.

SOURCE Direct Relief


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Minneapolis Institute of Art Receives Two Major Grants in Support of Empathy and Diversity Initiatives

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation Grants Total More than $1.25M

Press Release – Minneapolis, MN, December 15, 2017 — The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) announced today that it has received two major grants: a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of the museum’s Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts; and a $520,000 grant from the Ford Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation supporting Mia’s ongoing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) initiative.

Center for Empathy and Visual Arts /Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding will enable Mia to establish the first-ever Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts (CEVA) within an art museum. Mia is spearheading the project, collaborating with researchers, scholars, philosophers, content experts, artists, thought leaders, and colleagues at other museums to explore and research best practices to foster compassion and enhance related emotional skills. This ambitious initiative will span nearly five years, providing Miaa and other art museums ample opportunities to purposefully build empathy into their learning practices as a strategy for impacting positive social change.

Kaywin Feldman, Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President of Mia, said, “A visitor to our museum has the opportunity to experience works of art made over the course of some 5,000 years, from every corner of the globe. One of the most meaningful aspects of this encounter is the awareness it can awaken of a common humanity—an immediate sense of connection between the viewer and someone who may have lived in a very different time and place. Thanks to the Mellon Foundation, we’re proud to take the lead with partners across the country, in studying how to spark and nurture empathy through the visual arts, so that Mia and all art museums can contribute even more toward building a just and harmonious society.”

The first phase of this initiative kicked off in October, when Mia invited experts from fields as diverse as the social sciences, empathy research, virtual reality, and neuroscience fields, as well as museum curators and directors, artists, and educators, to discuss empathy and the art museum at the University of California, Berkeley—a partner in this research project. The ideas generated by the think tank will be developed and tested with the aim of fostering greater awareness and understanding, wonder, and/or global awareness among visitors.

“To be human is to express our emotions in art,” said Dacher Keltner, Ph. D.​, Professor of Psychology at University of California, Berkeley, Director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab and Co-Director of the Greater Good Science Center. “Aesthetic experiences—in viewing a painting, sculpture, photograph, or dance, or in music—are sources of awe and wonder. They enable us to solve a complex mystery—to understand what our fellow humans think and feel. For these reasons, the museum may be one of the great catalysts of human empathy and compassion. That possibility is the focus of Mia’s new scientific initiative with UC Berkeley and the Greater Good Science Center.”

During the initiative’s second phase, the Center will disseminate easy-to-use tools that guide museum educators and curators in using their collections to foster empathy among their own visitors. The initiative’s leaders at Mia hope that museums across the country and abroad will be inspired to build upon this work by incorporating the key learnings into their own practices, resulting in far-reaching impact inside the field and beyond.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility/Ford Foundation and Walton Family Foundation

The Ford Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation will provide resources for Mia’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) efforts, which strengthen the pipeline of art museum leadership positions for those who have been historically underrepresented: people of color and indigenous people.

With the funding, the museum will hire a Diversity & Inclusion Manager, who will research, develop, and launch a robust fellowship program for college students of diverse cultural backgrounds. The IDEA program expands upon Mia’s current Native American Fellowship Program, which has been active for more than 10 years through financial support from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

“At Mia, we believe that embracing diversity as a core value, not just as a program, will bring more voices, perspectives, and experiences to the field and its practice,” Feldman said. “Within the next decade, we hope to see a significant impact on young leadership in the museum field.

Mia will collaborate with Twin Cities’ colleges and other organizations to develop networks to recruit candidates for fellowships, full-time openings, unpaid internships, and volunteer opportunities. To do so, it will work with other institutions’ H.R. and diversity inclusion departments, college career advisors, and campus student groups.

“We are delighted to partner with Mia on this important initiative,” said Patricia Pratt-Cook, Senior Vice President for Human Resources, Equity and Inclusion at St. Catherine University. “St. Kate’s, home to one of the nation’s largest colleges for women and a student population that is 37.7% diverse, serves diverse students with an innovative approach to learning and a faculty that has been recognized nationally for their commitment to teaching. We look forward to supporting Mia’s success through this grant by sharing our experiences with the museum and connecting our students to opportunities available through Mia’s IDEA project.”

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. Additional information is available at mellon.org.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

The Walton Family Foundation

For three decades, the Walton Family Foundation has continued the philanthropic vision begun by Sam and Helen Walton. Their legacy is more important than ever as the foundation accelerates efforts to improve K-12 education for all students in America, to protect rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and to give back to the region that first gave Sam and Helen Walton opportunity. In 2016, the Walton Family Foundation awarded grants totaling more than $454 million. Learn more at waltonfamilyfoundation.org.

About The Minneapolis Institute Of Art

Home to more than 89,000 works of art representing 5,000 years of world history, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) inspires wonder, spurs creativity, and nourishes the imagination. With extraordinary exhibitions and one of the finest wide-ranging art collections in the country—Rembrandt to van Gogh, Monet to Matisse, Asian to African—Mia links the past to the present, enables global conversations, and offers an exceptional setting for inspiration.

General admission to Mia is always free. Some special exhibitions have a nominal admission fee.


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