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City Accelerator Expands To Five More U.S. Cities With A Focus On Strengthening Local Procurement Practices To Promote Economic Opportunity

With Support by the Citi Foundation and Living Cities, $500,000 Distributed to Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Milwaukee

Press Release – NEW YORK, JUNE 22, 2017 – The Citi Foundation and Living Cities today announced the expansion of the City Accelerator program to five additional U.S. cities – Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Milwaukee. The five cities will work together over the next year to refine their approach to procurement spending, pursuing at least one new strategy to increase the diversity of municipal vendors and contractors and direct more spend to local minority-owned businesses. This collaboration supports the goal of City Accelerator, to support innovative local government projects within and across cities that have a significant impact on the lives of residents, especially those with low incomes.

“These cities are taking a hard look at how they purchase goods and services for their communities,” said Ed Skyler, Citi’s Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs and Chairman of the Citi Foundation. “They recognize that there is an opportunity to strengthen their procurement practices–and cities overall—by connecting directly with the diverse businesses and ideas within their communities. We are excited to see the ideas and approaches that come from this year’s City Accelerator.”

To date, City Accelerator has worked with 12 municipalities in the U.S. to test new ways to drive sustainable growth while increasing opportunity for lower-income residents. For example, the city of Philadelphia tested the use of various messages and attention-grabbing mailings to ensure that low-income seniors were signing up for subsidies offering a 25 percent reduction in their water bills. As a result of financial and technical assistance provided by City Accelerator, participation in the program doubled, and hundreds of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable seniors are now receiving a discount that will make managing their household bills easier. Philadelphia’s success with City Accelerator led to the launch of GovLabPHL, a multi-agency team headed by the Mayor’s Policy Office focused on developing innovative and evidence-based practice in city government.

The city of San Francisco is using its City Accelerator support to develop a financing plan to reinforce the city’s coastal seawall, which protects vital public transportation assets and land designated for affordable housing on a parcel adjacent to the Port of San Francisco.

“By opening up the procurement process to small and diverse businesses owned by people of color, cities have an incredible opportunity to realize the publics’ vision of a thriving, vital economy,” said Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities. “These five cities were asked to lead the way, and we are excited to lift up their work as examples of how we can create a new urban practice dedicated to getting dramatically better results for low income people faster.”

“The City of Charlotte is committed to providing equal access and opportunities for all businesses to grow, especially businesses owned by people of color,” said Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts. “Through the City’s Charlotte Business INClusion Policy, we have made significant strides, achieving $41 million in spending with local Minority, Women, Small Business Enterprises in Fiscal Year 2016. I am proud of our accomplishments to date, and I look forward to working with the Citi Foundation and Living Cities to accelerate our work in this area. The expertise and funding from City Accelerator will help us grow our small, women- and minority-owned businesses.”

“My administration has made it a priority to create opportunities for businesses of all sizes to grow and thrive while strengthening our procurement processes,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Our selection by the Citi Foundation and Living Cities as one of five cities to participate in this program reflects the fact that Chicago is a national leader in procurement reform, and I commend our Chief Procurement Officer and her team for pursuing new opportunities and partnerships that will continue to strengthen our procurement practices and ensure those who do business with the City reflect Chicago’s rich diversity.”

“Los Angeles is a city of opportunity, and we are committed to connecting Angelenos to the good-paying jobs being created every day in our resurgent economy,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “City Accelerator will help us explore ways to increase equity among City contractors, and support our small business community. I thank Citi Foundation and Living Cities for engaging us in this partnership.”

“We know that for our economy to work, it must work for all,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. “That’s why improving the City of Memphis’ performance with minority and women-owned businesses has been a priority of mine since becoming mayor. Citi Foundation and Living Cities’ inclusion of Memphis in this cohort of City Accelerator shows that we’re turning heads nationally with what we’re doing. This program will only make our efforts stronger.”

“I’m pleased Milwaukee has been selected by Citi Foundation and Living Cities to be part of City Accelerator as we continue to advance our goals of creating opportunities for local businesses and residents. Our downtown is the heart of the city, and it’s going strong. I want our downtown to pump that energy and vitality into every one of our neighborhoods,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “We have long emphasized connecting our work on the city with jobs and businesses in the city. Working with the City Accelerator on our procurement strategies will help connect us to more city businesses, and support business growth throughout Milwaukee.”

In addition to a $100,000 grant, the cities will receive a combination of coaching, technical assistance and implementation resources in the coming year. Cities may consider local policy reform, changes in standard procurement practice, staff training, leadership and accountability structures, communications, outreach and relationship building with local vendors, and capacity building for diverse local suppliers.

“Addressing disparities in the local economy has always been at the heart of our work,” said Rodney Strong, founder and CEO of Griffin and Strong P.C., a law and public policy consulting firm providing coaching and expertise to participating cities. “We are excited to help bring our expertise from decades of national public policy research and implementation to these five leading cities as we ensure that opportunity and economic growth go hand-in-hand as part of a comprehensive strategy that benefits all residents.”

To track the progress and work of these City Accelerator cities in the coming year, visit Governing Magazine, Citi’s blog and follow #CityAccelerator on Twitter.


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Scot Chisholm, Classy CEO And Co-Founder, Named A Glassdoor Highest Rated CEO In 2017

Press Release – SAN DIEGO, CA (June 21, 2017) — Classy CEO and co-founder Scot Chisholm has won a Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award recognizing the Highest Rated CEOs for 2017 in the U.S. SMB category.

Based in San Diego, California, Classy aims to accelerate social impact by providing world-class online fundraising tools that fuel modern nonprofits. Recognized by Fast Company as a Top Innovative Company in Social Good, Classy is trusted by thousands of organizations that are solving the world’s toughest problems.

Glassdoor released its annual report honoring the Highest Rated CEOs, which highlights top leaders employees love working for at Small & Medium Companies in the U.S.

Among chief executives recognized by employees in the U.S., Chisholm received an impressive approval rating based on the anonymous and voluntary reviews Classy employees shared on Glassdoor throughout the past year. Out of the 700,000 companies reviewed on Glassdoor, the average CEO approval rating is 67 percent; Chisholm has a current approval rating of 97 percent.

“It’s truly an honor to be recognized by Glassdoor and the Classy team, and to appear on this list alongside so many other inspiring leaders,” said Chisholm. “We believe a healthy and thriving culture is paramount to growth, so it’s incredibly rewarding to see our Glassdoor reviews continuously reflect the transparent and inclusive environment we’re striving to create for every team member.”

“CEOs tell us the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award is one of the highest honors they can receive because it truly reflects employee opinion about the job they do every day. I congratulate all of the winners on this significant honor,” said Robert Hohman, Glassdoor co-founder and CEO. “We know that CEO approval ratings correlate to overall employee satisfaction and trust in senior leadership, which contributes to long-term employee engagement, ultimately helping an employer’s recruiting and retention efforts.”

When employees submit reviews about their company on Glassdoor, they are asked to rate various factors about their employment experience, including their overall satisfaction and other workplace attributes like senior management. As part of these ratings, employees are also asked to rate whether they approve, disapprove, or are neutral about the job their CEO is doing.

Earlier this year, Classy signed Glassdoor’s Equal Pay Pledge and was also recognized by Glassdoor as one of the Best Places to Work.

See the complete list of all Highest Rated CEOs in 2017 in the U.S. SMB category: https://www.glassdoor.com/Award/Highest-Rated-CEOs-at-SMBs-LST_KQ0,26.htm


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Prestigious Awards Honour The Stars Of Conservation Science

ZSL (Zoological Society of London) reveals annual prize winners

Press Release – Some of the brightest minds in conservation science were recognised last night (Tuesday 20 June) as international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) hosted its prestigious annual awards ceremony at its ZSL London Zoo headquarters.

ZSL’s scientific awards, established in 1837, recognise outstanding contributions to zoological research and conservation, rewarding individuals whose pioneering work helps us better understand and conserve animals and their habitats worldwide.

This year’s awards celebrated a diverse line-up of world class science, from a study of the mechanisms caterpillars use to attach themselves to plants, to the recognition of a distinguished career running international conservation partnerships designed to save the planet’s amphibians.

The Frink Award, ZSL’s highest award for zoologists, was this year presented to Professor Sarah Cleaveland from the University of Glasgow, whose major contributions to the study of infectious disease in wild ecosystems have led directly to reducing human deaths. Her work on rabies in northern Tanzania led to the creation of a rabies vaccination programme for domestic dogs in the Serengeti, which has not only protected humans but also local wildlife species such as the Endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus).

The ZSL Silver Medal, awarded for contributions to the understanding and appreciation of science, was presented to palaeontologist, natural historian, writer and television presenter Professor Richard Fortey for his seminal contributions to our understanding of the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ and the origin of animals and, in more recent years, to science communication and public engagement.

The evening also saw three notable winners of the highly-coveted ZSL Scientific Medal, which is awarded in recognition of 15 years of distinguished post-doctoral work in zoology.

Professor Ashleigh Griffin from the University of Oxford was recognised for her innovative research in the fields of both bacteriology and the social evolution of vertebrates, alongside her work promoting women in science. From the University of Edinburgh, Professor Sarah Reece was honoured for her internationally-recognised work on malaria parasites, and Dr Claire Spottiswoode from the University of Cambridge was recognised for her prolific work focusing on the co-evolutionary ‘arms race’ between brood-parasitic birds, such as cuckoos, and their host species.

This year’s Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Conservation went to Professor Richard Thompson from the University of Plymouth, for his significant research over the last decade into the impacts of plastic pollution in the oceans, which directly informed both the introduction of the UK’s five-pence plastic bag charge and more recent legislation on the use of microplastics in cosmetics.

The Stamford Raffles Award, named after ZSL’s founder and presented to an individual from outside the scientific community who has nevertheless made an exceptional contribution to zoology or conservation science, was this year presented posthumously to editor Malcolm Tait. A renowned figure in the world of wildlife publishing, having published his own books and worked across titles ranging from The Ecologist to ZSL’s own members’ magazine WildAbout, Malcolm’s contribution to the understanding and appreciation of zoology, before his unexpected death last year, was prolific.

ZSL Director General Ralph Armond said: “I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to all of this year’s winners. As an international conservation charity, ZSL strives to celebrate and encourage work that broadens our understanding of the natural world and helps us to conserve it.

“Our annual awards are a great opportunity to honour many of the most influential and innovative individuals in this field, who through their work are really living our values of working for wildlife worldwide.”

To learn more about ZSL’s international conservation work, visit www.zsl.org


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Dream Foundation & Headspace Announce Partnership

Meditation app teams with national dream-granting organization for terminally-ill adults to introduce an essential element of palliative care

Press Release – Santa Barbara, Calif., June 21, 2017 — Today, Dream Foundation, the only national dream-granting organization for terminally-ill adults, announced its partnership with Headspace as a part of their Get Some / Give Some™ program, which donates free subscriptions of the meditation and mindfulness app to nonprofit partners. Headspace has generously provided 13,000 annual subscriptions to Dream Foundation Dreamers, their families, nurses, doctors, caretakers, and social workers as well as the organization’s staff and volunteers. The partnership will provide guided meditation thoughtfully curated by Headspace co-founder, Andy Puddicombe, to assist Dreamers at the end of their lives, becoming an essential element of their palliative care while also providing a supportive resource for their communities of caregivers and loved ones.

A variety of meditation content currently available on Headspace, including a Health category which includes themed meditation packs to assist people of Health-related issues. Dreamers, whose life expectancies are 12 months or less, can benefit from these specialized packs including pain management, cancer, depression, self-esteem, stress, anxiety, and sleep. Dream Foundation Dreamers struggle with these realities on any given day.

“I believe this partnership to be groundbreaking as an additional element to palliative care treatment,” says Dream Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer, Kisa Heyer. “Together, we are offering another platform for our Dreamers to help manage pain management, loss of self, and quality of life. I look forward to witnessing the positive effects that mindful meditation has on bringing inspiration, comfort and closure to those we serve.”

Nearly 30 percent of Dreamers have young children living at home that can also benefit from the partnership. Headspace for Kids, a category of the app which is designed specifically for children, not only introduces them to the process of meditation but can offer support and stability through calm, focus, kindness, sleep, and wake up packages. The app even allows the user to program the meditation for three different age groups beginning with toddler up through pre-teen.

Consistent meditation has revealed a stronger personal foundation, thoughtfulness, and compassion for oneself and others, key elements of palliative care mindfulness. This extra layer of support will improve quality of life for Dreamers and those around them.

“We’re privileged to be partnering with Dream Foundation as part of our Get Some / Give Some program, which donates free subscriptions to support a wide range of human needs,” said Rich Pierson, Co-Founder and CEO of Headspace. “This is the first time we’ve partnered with such inspiring end-of-life experts and it’s an absolute honor to offer meditation and mindfulness to their community of Dreamers, families and phenomenal network of caregivers.”

The families, caretakers, social workers, and medical professionals who support Dreamers, as well as Dream Foundation employees and volunteers who work with those at the end of life, will also benefit from the Relationship category that offers meditation packs for patience, kindness, generosity, relationships, change, appreciation, and acceptance that can assist with personal nourishment and growth.

About Dream Foundation:

Dream Foundation, the only national dream-granting organization for terminally-ill adults, fulfills final Dreams that provide inspiration, comfort and closure at the end of life. With the support of a nationwide network of volunteers, hospices, health care organizations and committed donors, Dream Foundation has given life to more than 27,000 final Dreams over the past two decades and has never turned down a qualified applicant. The Foundation is proud to maintain Charity Navigator’s four-star rating—its highest—for sound fiscal management ensuring its donors and partners that their investment will be used wisely. Dream Foundation receives no state of federal funding—we rely solely on private donations. To support our mission please visit DreamFoundation.org/donate.

About Headspace, Get Some / Give Some™:

Founded in 2010 by Andy Puddicombe and Rich Pierson, Headspace was created with one mission in mind: to improve the health and happiness of the world. With 16 million users in more than 190 countries, the Headspace app offers hundreds of guided meditations designed to help with everything from stress and anxiety to relationships and sleep. To learn more, go to https://www.headspace.com or download the Headspace app on the App Store or Google Play.

To help fulfill our mission of improving the health and happiness of the world, Headspace’s Get Some / Give Some program makes a free Headspace subscription available to our nonprofit partners for every subscription we sell.

So far, Get Some / Give Some recipients have included those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, long-term unemployment and mental health problems. We’re also working with people recovering from serious illness and abuse, families of cancer patients, frontline charity workers, trauma counsellors, human rights organizations and communities facing economic and social hardship. We’re even trialing getting Headspace to the elderly and to people in prison.


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New Inhibitor Drug Shows Promise in Relapsed Leukemia

Penn researchers used gilteritinib to target a common mutation

Press Release – PHILADELPHIA – A new drug shows promise in its ability to target one of the most common and sinister mutations of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), according to researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center. The Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) gene mutation is a known predictor of AML relapse and is associated with short survival. In a first-in-human study, researchers treated relapsed patients with gilteritinib, an FLT3 inhibitor, and found it was a well-tolerated drug that led to frequent and more-sustained-than-expected clinical responses, almost exclusively in patients with this mutation. They published their findings today in The Lancet Oncology.

FLT3 is one of the most commonly mutated genes in AML patients. FLT3 mutations are found in about 30 percent of patients’ leukemia cells. Clinically, these mutations are associated with aggressive disease that often leads to rapid relapse, after which the overall survival is an average of about four months with current therapies. To avoid relapse, oncologists often recommend the most aggressive chemotherapy approaches for patients with FLT3 internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD), including marrow transplantation. But even that cannot always stave off the disease.

The FLT3 gene is present in normal bone marrow cells and regulates the orderly growth of blood cells in response to daily demands. When the gene is mutated in a leukemia cell, however, the mutated cells grow in an uncontrolled manner unless the function of FLT3 is turned off.

“Other drugs have tried to target these mutations, and while the approach works very well in the laboratory, it has proven very challenging to develop FLT3 inhibitors in the clinic for several reasons,” said Alexander Perl, MD, MS, an assistant professor of Hematology Oncology in Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center and the study’s lead author. “First, we’ve learned it takes unusually potent inhibition of the FLT3 target to generate clinical responses. Second, many of these drugs are not selective in their activity against FLT3. When they target multiple kinases, it can lead to more side-effects. That limits whether you can treat a patient with enough drug to inhibit FLT3 at all. Finally, with some FLT3 inhibitors, the leukemia adapts quickly after response and cells can develop new mutations in FLT3 that don’t respond to the drugs at all. So ideally, you want a very potent, very selective, and very smartly designed drug. That’s hard to do.”

For this phase 1/2 clinical trial, Perl and his team evaluated the drug gilteritinib – also known as ASP2215 – at increasing doses in patients whose AML had relapsed or was no longer responding to chemotherapy. The team focused on dose levels at 80mg and above, which were associated with more potent inhibition of the FLT3 mutation and higher response rates. They found these doses were also associated with longer survival. Of the 252 patients on this study, 67 were on a 120mg dose and 100 were on a 200mg dose. Seventy-six percent (191) of the patients on the trial had a FLT3 mutation. Overall, 49 percent of patients with FLT3 mutations showed a response. Just 12 percent of patients who didn’t have the mutation responded to the drug.

“The fact that the response rate tracked with the degree of FLT3 inhibition and was so much lower among patients who did not have an FLT3 mutation gives us confidence that this drug is hitting its target,” Perl said.

In leukemia cells, FLT3 itself can mutate again to a form called a D835 mutation that is resistant to several FLT3 inhibitors treatments. Gilteritinib, however, remains active against D835 mutations in laboratory models of leukemia. Clinical response rates from the trial appeared to be the same, whether patients had a FLT3-ITD alone or both a FLT3-ITD and a D835 mutation. The response rates also were similar in patients in whom gilteritinib was their first FLT3 inhibitor and those who previously were treated with other FLT3 inhibitors.

The drug was also generally well-tolerated. The three most common side effects attributed to the drug were diarrhea in 41 patients (16 percent), fatigue in 37 (15 percent), and abnormal liver enzyme tests in 33 (13 percent). These generally were mild in severity and discontinuation of gilteritinib for side effects was uncommon (25 patients, 10 percent).

“These look like data you want to see for a drug to eventually become a standard therapy,” Perl said, though he noted more research will be necessary.

A new multicenter trial, which compares gilteritinib to standard chemotherapy in patients with FLT3 mutations who relapsed or did not respond to initial therapy, is now underway, and Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center is one of the sites.

There are also studies underway that give the drug in combination with frontline chemotherapy and as an adjunct to bone marrow transplantation in hopes of preventing relapse altogether.

Astellas Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which manufactures gilteritinib, provided funding for this study and performed statistical analysis of the data gathered by the investigators. Additional funding was provided by a National Cancer Institute Leukemia Specialized Program of Research Excellence Grant (CA100632) and by an Associazione Italiana Ricerca sul Cancro award.


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AIDS Services Foundation Launches Social Media Campaign To Fight HIV/AIDS Stigma

#ImPositive Gives Faces to the Epidemic and Highlights ASF’s Transformational Work

Press Release – IRVINE, Calif. (June 2017) – In an effort to raise awareness, eliminate stigma and end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, AIDS Services Foundation Orange County (ASF) is putting a face to its transformational work through its new #ImPositive social media campaign. Social media posts tagged with #ImPositive will feature ASF staff, volunteers, donors and general community members, who see themselves as allies to people living with HIV/AIDS in Orange County. Holding pre-made white board signs that say “#ImPositive…” participants can either identify themselves as being HIV-positive or simply write down something that makes them a positive ally to those effected by HIV/AIDS. Photos are then tagged and shared across ASF’s social media channels as well as with personal networks to show how an entire community is rallying around ending the epidemic in Orange County.

“We’re working to ensure this campaign promotes awareness and helps demonstrate that you can’t tell someone’s status just by looking at them,” said Philip Yaeger, ASF’s executive director and CEO. “That is why it is imperative that everyone get tested and that the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS needs to be eliminated.”

Having launched a soft introduction last month in tandem with ASF’s 31st Annual AIDS Walk Orange County, several ASF staff and volunteers, including Yaeger, have already been featured holding #ImPositive signs on ASF social media posts. Yaeger, with a huge smile, holds a white board that reads: #ImPositive … we can end the HIV epidemic in Orange County. ASF board member and 2017 AIDS Walk chair Wesley Sasser-Brandt, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2004, displays his board that says: #ImPositive…ASF cares and shows me I’m not alone.

Everyone that participates in #ImPositive will receive an invitation to ASF’s Triumph Tuesday (a monthly informational event at ASF’s headquarters that includes wine and hors d’oeuvres) as well as more information on how to become involved with ASF, and its many services, which include food, transportation, housing, emergency financial assistance, kids and family programs, mental health counseling, support groups and HIV education and prevention services.

For more information about the #ImPositive campaign, please visit ASF’s social media channels: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also visit http://www.ocasf.org/triumphtuesday.html.

To learn more about ASF, please contact Leslie Licano at 949.733.8679 ext. 101, or visit the ASF website at www.ocasf.org.

AIDS Services Foundation Orange County (ASF) is a nonprofit AIDS service organization that has helped more than 8,000 people living with HIV disease in Orange County since 1985. ASF serves the local community impacted by HIV and AIDS by providing food, transportation, housing, emergency financial assistance, counseling, education and preventative services. You can learn more about the organization by visiting www.ocasf.org.


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In Celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month, Amida Care and NYC Community Organizations Publish “Sexual Health + Pleasure” Magazine

Special Community Publication Aims to Drive Conversation
Around Combatting Stigma, HIV and STI Prevention, and Other Sexual Health Issues

Press Release – New York, NY (June 20, 2017) — In honor of Pride Month 2017, Amida Care has published a special community publication called “Let’s Start a Conversation: Sexual Health and Pleasure,” produced in partnership with The Ali Forney Center, Callen-Lorde, Housing Works, Iris House, The LGBT Center, and SAGE. The magazine takes an open, honest, affirming approach to exploring sexuality and sexual health. Community members, health care providers, and other contributors share everything from intimate details about sexual preferences to practical knowledge about safer sex. Topics include boosting sexual self-confidence, transgender sex, sex after 50, sexual health exams and screenings, and HIV and STI prevention methods.

“Sexuality is such an important part of physical and emotional health. Our goal for this magazine is to celebrate and honor the variety and authenticity of sexual experience in our communities,” said Doug Wirth, president and CEO of Amida Care. “This is a forum that gives diverse voices the opportunity to freely express themselves in a sex-positive way. We’re delighted that so many community members and partners participated and shared their views and knowledge.”

The magazine also explores strategies to end the HIV/AIDS Epidemic, including the use of PrEP and PEP to prevent HIV transmission, substance use harm reduction that supports safer sex, and combatting HIV stigma. Also featured is the campaign launched by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, “Undetectable = Untransmittable,” to raise awareness that people living with HIV and taking treatment that keeps the virus suppressed to an undetectable level cannot transmit HIV to sexual partners.

Read the Sexual Health + Pleasure magazine.


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Common Threads Launches Summer Health Initiatives to Fight Childhood Food Insecurity

Programs throughout the country will fight for the 16 million children left without nutritious food over summer break

Press Release – AUSTIN (JUNE 20, 2017) — Summer is anything but a vacation for children in underserved communities who lose access to nutritious meals when the school year ends. The USDA’s National School Lunch Program provides free and reduced priced meals for more than 30 million low-income children during the school year. However, only one in seven of those same children receives healthy food over the summer, even before proposed budget cuts to education are put into motion.

The lack of access to healthy school meals, as well as healthy snacks and nutrition education provided by after-school programs, makes summer a dangerous time for these students. It often results in negative health and development outcomes for children, including weight gain and a “summer slide” in academic learning.

This summer, nonprofit Common Threads is fighting the summer slide by implementing its Small Bites nutrition education program in partnership with community organizations, schools, summer camps, youth clubs, educational and recreational programs in Austin, Jacksonville, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C.

Small Bites teaches children about nutrition and healthy cooking through a series of lessons combining math, language arts and science concepts with knife-free cooking. The lessons are aligned to National Health Education Standards and support Common Core State Standards Next Generation Science Standards. Throughout the summer, Common Threads will serve over 212,000 healthy snacks to more than 26,000 children.

“Our Summer Health partnerships provide a joyful, nurturing environment for kids to learn the knowledge and skills they need to live healthier lives in a safe space they might not otherwise have over the summer. Our goal is to ensure that healthy cooking, healthy eating and healthy living are both a life choice and a human right for every child,” says Common Threads co-founder and CEO Linda Novick O’Keefe.

Common Threads’ nutrition education programs empower children with the nutrition knowledge they need to make healthy eating choices, succeed in the classroom and prevent diet-related diseases. In addition to improving their own personal health, they can then become change agents in their families, schools and communities.

“Supporting organizations like Common Threads helps keep students well-nourished, safe and active throughout the summer. In Miami we have seen firsthand the power of these programs in helping our students try more new foods and make healthier eating choices.” says Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent and Common Threads national board member, Alberto Carvalho.

Common Threads continues to scale and grow its summer program with the support of generous contributors who share their passion for making America’s children healthier. For every $25 donation, one child can participate in the Common Threads Small Bites summer program. To learn more, visit www.commonthreads.org.

About Common Threads

Founded in 2003 in Chicago, Common Threads was created to bring health and wellness to children, families and communities through cooking and nutrition education. By integrating preventative health programs into school districts and community organizations, Common Threads not only helps combat the rising number of diet-related diseases, but also cultivates a culture that embraces a healthier lifestyle and celebrates diversity through food. The organization envisions a community of learners that embraces healthy cooking, healthy eating and healthy living as both a life choice and a human right.

Common Threads currently operates in nine major cities including Austin, TX; Chicago, IL; Jacksonville, FL; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; New Orleans, LA; New York City, NY; Pittsburgh, PA and Washington D.C. During the 2015-16 school year and summer, it provided hands-on cooking skills to more than 70,000 students, worked with over 500 schools and partner sites and served 498,000 healthy meals and snacks.

The non-profit is committed to reaching 1 million children by 2020 and hopes to eventually make its programs an integral part of childhood education for all.


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Mastercard and Western Union Explore Digital Model for Refugee Camps

Research indicates need to integrate access to goods, services and finances in digital format

Press Release – Purchase, NY and Englewood, CO – June 20, 2017 – With more than 65 million people around the world currently displaced from their homes due to political conflict and natural disasters, there is a growing need to find better ways for refugees to achieve self-sufficiency and become economic engines in their host countries.

On World Refugee Day, Mastercard and Western Union announced a collaboration to explore the development of a digital model to help refugees more easily access basic human goods, services and finances within refugee settlements. The aim is to enable refugees, their host communities and donors to send and receive funds digitally, allowing for more transparency and long-term empowerment of refugees.

Over the last year, Mastercard and Western Union examined the needs, challenges and opportunities for refugees and their host communities at two settlement camps in northwestern Kenya. The findings have led to the development of Smart Communities: Using Digital Technology to Create Sustainable Refugee Economies, a blueprint that would combine digital access to remittances, banking, education, healthcare and other basic needs in way that is unified and trackable.

“Today’s camps were not built to sustain a global refugee crisis of this magnitude,” said Tara Nathan, executive vice president of public-private partnerships at Mastercard. “Our plans to reinvent the existing model can help the world’s refugee populations achieve self-sufficiency faster, while also contributing to the economic growth of their host communities.”

“Refugees across the world want to be empowered to break the chains of dependence and to rebuild their lives in meaningful ways, while also contributing positively to their host communities,” said Maureen Sigliano, head of customer relationship management at Western Union. “The new digital infrastructure model would focus on solutions that might include the delivery of mobile money, digital vouchers, prepaid cards, and track other goods and services. The goal is to drive personal empowerment, stimulate growth and promote social cohesion among the world’s refugee populations, while driving better governance and transparency.”

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that the average length of a refugee settlement dependency is approximately 26 years. Many of today’s refugee camps founded in the 1960s and 70s, were built as a temporary solution and are unable to sustain today’s systemic long-term dependence.

The qualitative research conducted at the Kakuma and Kalobeyei camps in Kenya uncovered the complexity of needs in the camps and the surrounding community. The Mastercard and Western Union blueprint would address these various needs by:

  • Laying the groundwork for a set of multipurpose transactional tools that refugees and residents can access, which are optimized to work in low infrastructure areas.
  • Giving residents greater control over their livelihoods, well-being, and dignity, while providing agencies access to data that informs community planning and development.
  • Providing a digital platform which would serve as a unique identifier for both local and refugee populations, advancing the critical goals of social cohesion and cooperation across the settlement.
  • Encouraging adoption of digital payments as an entry point to the formal financial system and can be extended to incorporate a wider set of use cases.

Both Mastercard and Western Union are founding members of the Tent Partnership for Refugees, a coalition of more than 70 companies committed to addressing the global refugee crisis.

“The private sector is uniquely positioned to bring greater innovation and ingenuity to this crisis,” said Gideon Maltz, executive director of Tent. “Today’s announcement offers an exciting new approach to helping refugees, and reflects the contributions that companies can make when they identify problems, collaborate with each other, and work tirelessly to find and fund scalable solutions to fix them. It’s our hope that initiatives such as these encourage even more companies and entrepreneurs to step up.”

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of March 31, 2017, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of over 550,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories and over 150,000 ATMs and kiosks, and included the capability to send money to billions of accounts. For more information, visit www.westernunion.com.

Source: https://newsroom.mastercard.com


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CARE Announces Letter-Writing, Social Media Campaign in Support of Refugees around the World

Letters of Hope initiative connects American youth with refugee children, invites others to express solidarity using #LettersOfHope

Forced from her home in Somalia in 2010, 11-year-old Safiyo lives with her family in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, one of the largest refugee camps in the world. On World Refugee Day, June 20, the UN announced a record number of displaced people worldwide: 65.6 million. CARE works with families in Dadaab and refugees in other parts of the world to deliver clean water, food, heath care, critical financial assistance and other support. Carey Wagner/CARE.

Press Release – ATLANTA (June 20, 2017) — To mark World Refugee Day, the global poverty-fighting organization CARE today announced its Letters of Hope campaign, which connects American youth with young refugees around the world and invites the public to share expressions of solidarity using #LettersOfHope. The campaign comes as the UN announces that the number of refugees worldwide has swelled to another record: 65.6 million.

Through the Letters of Hope campaign: fifth-graders in Boulder, Colo., exchanged letters with children in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp; Stanford University students wrote Syrian refugees in Jordan; middle school students in New York City sent letters to Afghan refugees in Greece and displaced families in Yemen; and fourth-graders outside Atlanta traded letters with South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Now CARE is asking individuals of all ages to show their support for refugees by sharing their expressions of hope and solidarity through their favorite social media channels using #LettersOfHope.

“In providing lifesaving food, water and shelter around the world, CARE staff often see another tremendous need: Refugees want to know if the rest of world sees their struggle and cares about their fate,” said Michelle Nunn, CARE president and CEO. “Amid increasing anti-refugee rhetoric and fewer open doors for displaced people, a simple message of solidarity and hope can boost the spirits of people living in limbo — giving them real hope.”

In one exchange between grade-schoolers in Boulder and Dadaab, several students used personal drawings in their letters. From her Dadaab school, Safiyo drew a beautiful blue-and-pink flower and wrote: “One day we will meet and I will draw a flower on your hands and legs. This is the flower I will draw on you.” CARE converted her artwork into temporary tattoos that the kids in Boulder affixed to their arms and legs. Two weeks later, Safiyo smiled with pride as she flipped through photos of these children, from thousands of miles away, with her flower all over them. One of the Boulder students even responded with his own drawing — of a giant yellow sun — at the end of his letter. “Everyone sees the sun,” he wrote underneath. “The sun brings us all together.”

Letters of Hope stems from a similar CARE letter-writing initiative in 2016 called Special Delivery, in which original CARE Package recipients in America — themselves former child refugees after WWII — wrote to Syrian refugee children. Though separated by seven decades and thousands of miles, the connections between child refugees of yesterday and those of today inspired people around the world to send their own heartfelt messages.

When CARE launched its original Letters of Hope campaign last year, requests to write letters poured in from schools and children. “Now we’re channeling that energy to raise the world’s collective voice in support of refugees,” Nunn said. Learn more at care.org/lettersofhope.

About CARE

Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. That’s why women and girls are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education and health, create economic opportunity, respond to emergencies and confront hunger. Last year CARE worked in 94 countries and reached 80 million people around the world. Learn more at care.org.

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