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This category includes articles that apply to social good in general and may include policy, practice and other stories relevant to everyone.

FOUNTAIN HOUSE PREPARES AND SERVES THANKSGIVING DINNER IN HELL’S KITCHEN TO MORE THAN 350 INDIVIDUALS LIVING WITH SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS AND THEIR FAMILIES

Men and women living with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and serious depression prepare and enjoy a Thanksgiving feast at Fountain House’s Clubhouse in Hell’s Kitchen.

New York, NY (November 27th, 2013) – Fountain House gets ready for a larger than expected turnout for this year’s Thanksgiving Feast. Thanksgiving is Fountain House’s largest celebration. Members living with serious mental illness come together with staff at the clubhouse in Hell’s Kitchen to prepare a spectacular feast including roasted turkey or stuffed squash, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, braised carrots, green beans, and peas.  A delicious assortment of pies, including homemade pies baked with apples grown at Fountain House’s 500 acre High Point Farm are a sweet end to the meal.  Members participate in preparing, decorating the house, and serving the meal. Floral decorations are produced by members working in Fountain House’s Horticulture Unit.

Who:                    Fountain House www.fountainhouse.org
What:                   Thanksgiving preparations by/for individuals living with serious mental illness
Where:                 425 West 47th Street NY, NY 10036
When:                  Prep:  Wednesday, November 27th 9 am – 5 pm
Why:                    Mental illness disrupts people’s lives and relationships, leaving them alone and isolated in the community. Fountain House offers a sense of belonging, meaningful activity, and the opportunity to form relationships with their peers and with dedicated professional staff.  All members and staff are invited to celebrate Holidays together.

ABOUT FOUNTAIN HOUSE
Serious mental illness affects 23 million people in the United States each year. The stigma, rejection, and isolation that accompany mental illness are often as damaging and debilitating as the illness itself.  Fountain House reduces the devastating social impact of mental illness. Every day, over 300 members choose to come to Fountain House to learn new skills, access opportunities, and forge meaningful relationships. Members and staff operate successful employment, education, wellness, and housing programs. They work as partners to perform all the functions that keep the community going.  The Fountain House model has been replicated in more than 300 locations in 30 countries and 32 states and currently serves more than 100,000 people with mental illness worldwide.

Fountain Gallery Will Auction 100 Works by Artists with Mental Illness

MAD ABOUT ART Benefit is “A Black and White Affair”

NEW YORK CITY – November 14th, 2013 – MAD ABOUT ART, Fountain Gallery’s Annual Art Auction and Benefit, will take place on Thursday, November 21, 2013, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, at Cedar Lake, located at 547 West 26th Street in Manhattan. This year’s event is “A Black and White Affair,” featuring striking black and white décor; the 500 guests expected to attend are requested to wear black and white cocktail attire. One hundred original artworks will be presented at auction to benefit the member-artists of Fountain Gallery, New York City’s premier venue representing artists living with mental illness. Singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega is the special musical guest.

MAD ABOUT ART will honor two recipients of the Esther Montanez Award: Bart McDade – Vice President, Director of Operations, NY, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank; and Faith Ringgold – artist, author and activist. The Esther Montanez Award was established to honor the memory of Fountain Gallery’s founding director, Esther Montanez, who was a tireless advocate for people with mental illness throughout her many years of service as Director of Special Projects for Fountain House, Fountain Gallery’s parent organization, until her death in 2006. The Award is presented in recognition of outstanding service to Fountain Gallery.

Honoree Faith Ringgold has donated an art piece to the auction, as have artist William Wegman (a past Fountain Gallery honoree) and artist M.J. Levy Dickson.

The auction is curated by Sasha Nicholas, an independent curator and art historian who is a longtime member of the Fountain Gallery steering committee. Among the art mediums represented in the auction are: acrylic, oil and watercolor painting; collage and mixed media; woodcut; and digital photography.

Event Chairs are:John P. Casaly, Rick Froio, Carmel and Brett Fromson, Dario Gristina, Leslie Harwood, Rich Hiler, Louis J. Mantia, Bonnie and Frank Pratt, Jerry Schumm, Gabriel Stefania. Ms. Harwood and Messrs. Froio, Gristina and Schumm are past Fountain Gallery honorees.

Individual ticket price is $250. Sponsorship levels range from $500 to $25,000. For tickets and information, contact Robyn Marks at 212.582.0341,ext. 1288, or rmarks@fountainhouse.org.

About Fountain Gallery

Founded by Fountain House in 2000 as a not-for-profit exhibition space for its member-artists living with mental illness, Fountain Gallery sells original artworks and collaborates with a wide network of artists, curators and cultural institutions. Embracing artists who are emerging or established, trained or self-taught, Fountain Gallery cultivates artistic growth and makes a vital contribution to the New York arts community. Agnes Gund, President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), has commended the Gallery as “a place where you can view fine works of art made by a group of excellent artists.”

About Fountain House

Fountain House is a global leader in creating an approach that responds concretely to the social impact of living with mental illness. It offers a place where, every day, hundreds of members – people living with serious mental illness – choose to come to contribute their talents, learn new skills, access opportunities, and forge friendships. The “therapy” of Fountain House is its working community.

Artworks by Gallery artists can be viewed at: www.fountaingallerynyc.com.

For information about Fountain House: www.fountainhouse.org.

Fountain Gallery
                702 Ninth Avenue at 48th Street
                New York City 10019
                212.262.2756
                Hours: Tues-Sat 11-7; Sun 1-5
                More than a gallery. A movement.

Morgan Stanley Establishes Institute for Sustainable Investing

Institute to Drive Capital Toward Investments Supporting Global Sustainability and Advance Innovation and Scholarship to Broaden Market-Based Approach

Nov 1 2013 | New York

Morgan Stanley Chairman and CEO James Gorman today announced the establishment of the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing.  The Institute will build on Morgan Stanley’s ongoing work to advance market-based solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges, operating from the foundational principle that sustainable investment can only achieve significant scale by attracting a broad range of private sector capital.  Through product innovation, thought leadership and scholarship aimed at expanding opportunities for sustainable investing, the Institute will seek to drive capital toward investments promoting sustainable economic growth. 

The Institute for Sustainable Investing will pursue three focus areas: financial products and solutions that enable clients to invest in sustainability-focused strategies seeking risk-adjusted financial returns; groundbreaking thought leadership that will help mobilize capital toward sustainable investing opportunities; and strategic partnerships with the public, private and nonprofit sectors designed to build capacity and best practices within the field of scalable sustainable investing.

The Institute’s first major commitments include:

  • Setting a goal of $10 billion in total client assets through Morgan Stanley’s Investing with Impact Platform in the next five years.  By developing new products, innovative thematic portfolios and sustainable investing thought leadership, this platform will meet rapidly increasing client demand for opportunities to invest for positive environmental and social impact in addition to the goal of achieving risk-adjusted financial returns.
  • Creating new products − in coordination with Morgan Stanley Investment Management’s Long-Only and Alternative Investment Partners businesses − in which positive social and/or environmental impact is a core part of the underlying investment strategy.
  • Establishing an annual Sustainable Investing Fellowship program at Columbia Business School that will enable a select group of graduate students to pursue thought leadership in sustainable investing, coupled with an internship at Morgan Stanley to gain hands-on experience in product innovation, thought leadership and investment strategy.
  • Investing $1 billion in a sustainable communities initiative to provide rapid access to capital for the preservation and enhancement of quality affordable housing units that are at risk of deteriorating into uninhabitable conditions or becoming unaffordable to low- and moderate-income households.  The initiative will also seek to drive the integration of affordable housing with access to health care, healthy foods and other vital services.  Morgan Stanley is partnering with leading community groups, including the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and NCB Capital Impact, on the sustainable communities initiative.

    “This program takes our long partnership with Morgan Stanley to a new level,” said Michael Rubinger, LISC President and CEO.  “It doesn’t just finance buildings; it fuels opportunity and focuses on quality of life.  Together, we will be able to help low-income families live better and make their communities stronger and healthier.”  

    Terry Simonette, President and CEO of NCB Capital Impact, said, “The sustainable communities initiative is the type of transformative investment that will help ensure the financing so desperately needed to provide access to healthy foods and other critical resources in our poorest communities.   We are proud to partner with Morgan Stanley on this effort.”

Through these and future initiatives, the Institute for Sustainable Investing will further Morgan Stanley’s commitment to providing individual and institutional investors with products and strategies that address sustainability challenges at scale.

Morgan Stanley Chairman and CEO James Gorman launched the Institute in a speech at Columbia Business Schooltoday.  Mr. Gorman said: “Morgan Stanley is in a unique position to harness the capital markets to help address the most pressing challenges facing society today, connecting governments, investors and businesses with the capital to execute at scale.  Our philosophy is clear – the most effective solutions to sustainability challenges are those that can be brought to scale.  Our clients are increasingly turning their attention to what it takes to secure the lasting and safe supplies of food, energy, water and shelter necessary for sustainable prosperity.”

Mr. Gorman will chair the Institute’s Advisory Board, which will include individuals from the private and nonprofit sectors with expertise in various aspects of sustainable investing including finance, policy and management (for a list of members, see the note to editors below).

Audrey Choi, who leads Morgan Stanley’s Global Sustainable Finance group, will be CEO of the Institute for Sustainable Investing.  “As the world’s population grows toward 9 billion and beyond, meeting the exponentially growing needs for quality education, healthcare, housing and security will far outstrip current models of business, government or philanthropy,” said Ms. Choi.  “The Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing is committed to playing a catalytic role in forging innovative cross-sector partnerships that develop solutions to mobilize capital efficiently and effectively to meet these challenges at scale.”

Learn more about the Institute at www.morganstanley.com/sustainableinvesting.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing a wide range of investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services.  The Firm’s employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals from more than 1,200 offices in 43 countries.  Since 2006, Morgan Stanley has committed more than $7.8 billion to strengthen underserved communities.  For further information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com.

City Of Philadelphia Launches Fastfwd; Challenges Entrepreneurs To Address Public Safety Issues

Philadelphia, October 30, 2013–  Mayor Michael A. Nutter officially launched FastFWD, an Urban Innovation Refinery, a partnership between the City of Philadelphia, GoodCompany Group, a social enterprise accelerator, and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  FastFWD, formerly known as the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership, is an initiative that seeks to recruit and support entrepreneurs in developing solutions to urban challenges.  In its inaugural year, FastFWD will focus on public safety.

“Our Administration is committed to public safety, spending $1.8 billion last year on behalf of our citizens,” said Mayor Nutter.  “FastFWD is a unique approach to engage and utilize public-private partnerships and to encourage private sector to work with government in the public interest.  In FastFWD’s first cycle, our goal is to harness entrepreneurial talents, resources and innovative ideas to create solutions to the most pressing public safety challenges that our city, and other cities, face every day.”

FastFWD invites entrepreneurs to offer their most innovative public safety solutions, services and products for consideration.   Entrepreneurs that submit the most promising ideas will be given capital, development support and access to experts to help refine and implement their ideas.

“As cities face greater challenges with increasingly fewer resources, the need for entrepreneurial innovation has never been greater,” said Story Bellows, Co-Director, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. “With the launch of FastFWD, we are calling on entrepreneurs to submit their brightest and boldest ideas for consideration.  We look forward to seeing the depth of talent and creativity they have to offer.”

Applications are due by December 20, 2013.

Ten finalists will be selected in spring 2014 to participate in an intensive, twelve-week accelerator program.  During the program, finalists will refine their proposal under the guidance of legal counsel, investors, industry experts and fellow entrepreneurs.  Finalists who enter the accelerator program will receive $10,000 stipends provided by FastFWD.

Upon completion of the accelerator program, the finalists’ proposals will be eligible for implementation as a fast-track funded pilot.

Professor Katherine Klein, Vice Dean for the Wharton Social Impact Initiative added, “Wharton Social Impact Initiative is thrilled to be helping the city in spurring entrepreneurial solutions to urban challenges. The FastFWD process represents a cutting-edge approach, linking business, city government and the University to create sustainable solutions.  There’s a palpable sense of excitement and optimism among all who are participating in this process, including the Mayor – a Wharton alum – and his team.” 

“Above all, FastFWD will offer entrepreneurs access. The program will provide access to the core problems, prioritizing and presenting them as target of entrepreneurial opportunity, said Garrett Melby, Founder and Managing Director, GoodCompany Group. “FastFWD will also provide access to expertise for entrepreneurs to refine their ideas with subject-matter experts, and hone their business model with finance experts from The Wharton School.”

In addition, the City announced that FastFWD will partner with Impact Hub on entrepreneur engagement and Code for America on procurement reform.

For more information on FastFWD, including applications, log onto http://fast-fwd.org

TRUVIA® BRAND LAUNCHES NEW SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT ITS “SHARING A SWEET FUTURE” INITIATIVE TO FIGHT CHILDHOOD HUNGER IN BOLIVIA

In the First Year of Program, the Truvia® Business, through the United Nations World Food Programme, Has Provided 34,705 Bolivian School Children With Nutritionally-Balanced School Meals

WAYZATA, Minnesota, October 16, 2013 – Today, the Truvia® brand announced a new social media campaign to support its “Sharing a Sweet Future” $1 million charitable initiative, launched in 2012 to help reduce childhood hunger in Bolivia. With 66 percent of the Bolivian population living in poverty, the Truvia® team has created a series of video stories on www.sharingasweetfuture.com to shine the spotlight on the everyday hardships experienced by many Bolivian communities. The brand is encouraging consumers to view and share these videos with friends and family on Facebook or Twitter using #SweetFuture in an effort to help grow support behind the initiative and raise awareness for the need to help combat childhood hunger. Every dollar donated by the Truvia® business feeds four kids.

“I had the privilege of spending time with families in Bolivia and seeing firsthand the daily obstacles some endure to feed their families.  As a result, the Truvia® team feels even more proud of our program, and wants to share these stories with our consumers,” said Matthew Jacobs, international business development manager of the Truvia® brand. “Through our videos, consumers will be able to share Bolivian stories, while also helping to support the children and families of Bolivia.”  

In the first year of its three-year partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme, the Truvia® business has helped feed 34,705 Bolivian school children twice daily with nutritionally-balanced school meals through its funding of vitamin-fortified vegetable oil. Truvia®donations were also used to build 68 fuel efficient stoves in rural schools.

Many of Bolivia’s children are consistently falling under the minimum daily caloric intake and suffering from nutritional deficiencies. “Sharing a Sweet Future” is helping to improve their lives and communities, through enhancing nutrition with micronutrient packets and decreasing health risks for familiesby establishing safer cooking conditions with clean stoves. The program will also continue to help build a sweeter future for Bolivian children in more ways than one, as enhanced nutrition motivates families to keep their children in school. By September of 2014, the Truvia® business will have provided school meals for 40,000 students, and an additional 70 fuel efficient stoves. 

“We are proud of and humbled by our participation in helping provide school meals to children in Bolivia—a region adjacent to where stevia originated,” said Mark Brooks, global business director of the Truvia® brand.  “With the impact we have already achieved in our first year, we look forward to continuing our relationship with WFP to establish sustainable, well-nourished communities in Bolivia.”

The “Sharing a Sweet Future” campaign is one element of the Truvia® brand’s comprehensive corporate responsibility program. As the leading stevia brand, the business is committed to sourcing responsibly, stewarding natural resources and working to improve communities.

About the Truvia® business

Truvia® natural sweetener is a great tasting, zero-calorie sweetener made with the best tasting part of the stevia leaf. Truvia® natural sweetener is #1 in its category of zero-calorie natural sweeteners in the U.S. and is also available to consumers in Europe and Latin America. Truvia® stevia leaf extract is also a versatile sweetening ingredient used to reduce calories and sugar in foods and beverages. The Truvia® business uniquely manages its stevia supply chain from Field to Table having established a global agricultural standard for stevia. For more information, visit www.truvia.com.

About Cargill

Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, the privately held company employs 142,000 people in 65 countries. Cargill helps customers succeed through collaboration and innovation, and is committed to applying its global knowledge and experience to help meet economic, environmental and social challenges wherever it does business. Through its longtime, $14 million partnership with World Food Programme, Cargill is working to improve the health and nutrition of people in need around the world.  For more information, visit http://www.cargill.com/corporate-responsibility/food-security/index.jsp 

About World Food Programme

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, reaching more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance last year. World Food Program USA builds support for WFP through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Learn more at: www.wfpusa.org.

U. of Utah James Lee Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center Partners with Sorenson Impact Foundation to Facilitate Five Program-Related Investments

SALT LAKE CITY (September 3, 2013) – The James Lee Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center (SGII Center) at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business today announced results from their partnership with the Sorenson Impact Foundation (SIF) to facilitate five early-stage program-related investments totaling approximately $2 million. Completed in the first half of the year, the targeted impact investments will help early-stage entrepreneurs grow their social enterprises in industries ranging from solar energy and SME financing to affordable housing and fair trade clothing manufacturing.

“We are pleased with the progress the foundation has made in making program-related investments,” said Jim Sorenson, founder and chairman of the board of directors of the SIF. “For a variety of reasons, there are limited amounts of risk capital going to support companies of social impact to bridge the gap between purely philanthropic and commercially oriented capital. The SGII Center has played a catalytic role in helping to address such issues and facilitate these program-related investments.”

Created in January 2013, the SGII Center helps facilitate participation in the growing field of impact investing by training students through experiential learning to work directly with clients that include social enterprises, corporations, family offices, impact funds and private family foundations. The recent impact investments selected by SIF were sourced, screened, vetted and structured by teams of students focusing on each of the companies’ potential to produce sustainable and scalable social impact.

“These investments will serve to close funding gaps, helping social enterprises to prove out their businesses, with the additional benefit of cultivating impact investing expertise in students,” Sorenson said.  “I hope that our efforts will accelerate the growth of the sector at-large and help lead to improved societal change on a global scale.”

SGII Center students work to address both the supply and demand barriers to impact investing through a broad range of services offered. Students often travel to locations around the world to help prime businesses for capital infusion by providing early-stage services, as well as continued post investment support and assistance in measurement and monitoring of social impact. The SGII Center is focused on providing early stage resources to the sector at a time when there is growing demand yet very few options available to help early stage social enterprises.

“With these investments, we have shown the ability to provide the infrastructure support for investors and enterprises to help lower hurdles and allow for engagement from foundations and impact investors across a range of sectors. We were in a unique position to help SIF reach a broader investment base and execute investments at a pace that most others in the space are not able to achieve,” said Lewis Hower, director of the SGII Center. “Our key focus as a center is to increase the engagement of foundations and early stage impact investors to facilitate scalable and sustainable impact investments in promising social enterprises while providing students a unique and rewarding experiential education and career path.”

The following companies received investments from the Sorenson Impact Foundation:

Copia – Kenya-basedconsumer catalog and rural distribution company

Kinara Capital – India-based financing company for micro and small enterprises

Liberty & Justice – Fair-trade apparel manufacturing company with offices in Liberia and Ghana

Simpa Networks – India-based pay-as-you-go solar financing company

World Haus – India-based affordable housing construction company

“These funds will prove instrumental in advancing our mission to transform the apparel supply chain in Africa from worker exploitation and environmental degradation to partnership and sustainability,” said Chid Liberty, CEO and co-founder of Liberty & Justice. “With this show of faith by SIF, we can train and employ more women in the garment industry and help them become truly self-sufficient in these poverty-stricken nations.”

“The opportunity to play an active role in combating these crucial societal issues is very rewarding,” said Brandon Koch, a student studying finance and computer science at the David Eccles School of Business who spent three months in India working for Kinara Capital. “The hands-on experience I gained at the SGII Center has been invaluable, and I look forward to continuing to apply these skills in the real world to create sustainable change.”

Global Citizens Demand Company Involvement In Natural Disaster Relief

BOSTON (August 21, 2013) – As communities around the world continue to recover from natural disasters on epic scales, citizens look to companies – not just governments or aid organizations – to provide critical relief assistance. According to the 2013 Cone Communications Disaster Relief Trend Tracker, nearly nine-in-10 (87%) global consumers believe companies must play a role in natural disaster response – in part because the majority (69%) thinks corporations are better able to effectively respond.

Providing Aid Beyond the Check

Surveying more than 10,000 citizens in 10 countries, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, China, India and Japan, the 2013 Cone Communications Disaster Relief Trend Tracker reveals a near-universal demand for meaningful corporate aid beyond providing funds:

  • 89% of global citizens think companies should leverage their unique assets to lend support to affected communities (such as mobile response units, in-kind donations and employee volunteers)
  • 87% wants companies to play a long-term role in relief efforts, not just immediate recovery

“It can’t be a case of ‘if’ companies contribute to natural disaster recovery efforts; it must be a question of ‘how,’” says Craig Bida, executive vice president – Social Impact,Cone Communications. “Regardless of geography, citizens are looking to companies – even more so than government agencies – to create and implement real, on-the-ground solutions to acute and urgent needs. Consumers in communities have been burned by slow reaction times or inadequate resources in past relief efforts. What our research has documented is a citizen call for help that corporations simply cannot ignore.”

Consumers Ready to Lend Hands and Hearts

Consumers stand ready to work alongside companies toward relief efforts and will reward those caring companies with a strong brand halo. More than half (54%) of global citizens say they have already joined corporate disaster relief efforts, while nine-in-10 global citizens have a more favorable impression of a company after learning that it supports disaster recovery.

Country-Specific Insights

Corporate participation in disaster relief efforts is particularly critical in China, one of the most disaster-plagued areas in the world[1]. Citizens here express a near-unanimous desire for company involvement in relief efforts (96% vs. 87% global average). They are also exceptionally primed for participation efforts, with more than three-quarters reporting they have already contributed to corporate disaster relief activities (78% vs. 54% global average).

Similarly, citizens in both India and Japan are still recovering from recent natural disasters, such as flooding in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand and the massive Fukushima earthquake in Japan. Citizens in these countries were significantly more likely to perceive companies as better equipped than government to respond to disasters (85% and 80%, respectively, vs. 69% global average).

“As natural disasters seem to increase in intensity and frequency, company involvement in relief and recovery becomes even more crucial,” Bida says. “But companies must think strategically about how to leverage their resources for the greatest impact through taking stock of resources and vetting potential partners. When lives are at stake, every dollar counts.”

As companies work to develop both immediate and long-term relief programs, Cone Communications offers the following five tips to best support efforts:

1.     Look beyond the check: Although cash donations can give disaster nonprofits a much needed monetary injection to meet urgent needs, the most effective relief efforts don’t always come in the form of dollar contributions. Companies that leverage unique assets – such as products, technology or networks – can often make significant impact when it comes to recovery and restoration efforts. Companies can also work to secure an enduring NGO partnership to ensure relief supplies can be quickly delivered across the globe.

2.     Do your due diligence: In the age of crowdsourced donations and online giving, it’s even more vital to choose nonprofit partners wisely. When initially selecting a partner, make sure the nonprofit can also make a long-term commitment to relief and rebuilding efforts and that the organization is prepared to report and communicate on the progress and impact of programs.

3.     Engage your stakeholders: Company stakeholders, including employees and consumers, often want to take part in corporate relief efforts. Companies should not only provide channels for stakeholders to donate to relief efforts, but also make short- and long-term volunteer and giving opportunities available as appropriate.

4.     Communicate efforts externally and appropriately – and don’t forget about social:No company wants to appear exploitative during a disaster. At the same time, companies that fail to communicate may be criticized for neglecting to contribute. To ensure transparency, companies should issue brief, facts-only news releases and leverage social media as a way to disperse critical fundraising and relief information during disasters.

5.     Don’t give and run: Just because a disaster is no longer in the headlines, doesn’t mean recovery is over. Although immediate relief needs are real and pressing, long-term rebuilding is a critical component of disaster efforts. Companies should be prepared to be involved for the long-haul, offering essential support for reconstruction.

BigLeap Launches First Crowd-Funding Challenge Platform for Social Good

San Francisco, CA – August 20, 2013 – BigLeap, the world’s first crowd-funding prize and reward network that allows passionate advocates to drive social change via competition-based challenges, today launched its first challenge: to make education more accessible.

BigLeap’s first challenge is championed by Professor Silvia Bunge, a neuroscience and childhood learning expert at U.C. Berkeley, and Bill Ritchie, the CEO of ThinkFun games. The challenge will give children everywhere access to free games designed to improve their brain power by helping to develop their reasoning and logic skills via simple, interactive gameplay.

“There are millions of underprivileged students out there who don’t have access to the best learning environments or tools in their schools today, and because of this gap these children are at a significant disadvantage: their reasoning and logic skills are lacking, they test lower on IQ and standardized tests and they don’t master STEM basics – all of which are key to future job success,” says Bunge. “Several years ago my team at Berkeley ran a small study that incorporated ThinkFun games into a training program for a set group of students. The study showed that playing fun, off-the-shelf reasoning and logic games in a social group for 2-3 hours a week boosted these critical skills by over 30% and even boosted IQ scores by 10 or more points. That’s huge!”

As exciting as the results of the study were, Bunge and Ritchie knew that in order to duplicate this type of after-school game program, schools would incur significant costs. Country-wide budget cuts eliminated programs like this as a viable option.

“We were fortunate to be introduced to Charlie and Victor’s new platform, BigLeap. For a school to duplicate the gameplay from the study, the cost would have been prohibitive at $200 to $300 or more for a couple of sets of games,” says Ritchie. “BigLeap will help us make these games accessible to kids across the U.S., no matter what their financial situation is. Silvia and I plan to raise $25,000 to fund a competition that will bring innovators from across the country together to develop the best game-based learning programs that can be made for free, using common household items and art supplies. We’re excited to have a platform that can help us champion this challenge.”

Challenges Create Change

“When Victor asked me to start BigLeap with him, I immediately said yes—it’s a clear opportunity to help people change the world. Incentive challenges and competitions with significant rewards or prizes have historically proven to inspire people to solve a problem and effect change,” said Charlie Crystle, Co-Founder and CEO of BigLeap. “Unfortunately raising the money for rewards has been an obstacle, so only large organizations have used incentive challenges. But by crowd-funding the prize, change-makers don’t need major sponsors anymore, just friends, family, and their social networks. Our platform will give them a powerful set of tools to get the brightest minds around the world solving important problems.”

Each challenge posted on the BigLeap platform goes through five stages:

  • Set The Target: Anyone with a passion for solving a problem (the “Champion”) kicks off a Challenge to solve the problem.
  • Raise Money: The Champion appeals to his or her network and BigLeap community members to crowd-fund a prize or reward for the Challenge.
  • Mobilize Teams: Teams from around the world or around the corner come together to solve the problem.
  • Compete: Many different teams working on a problem means increased innovation, creativity, and resources decked against it.
  • Celebrate: Breakthrough! The problem is solved, the winning team(s) are rewarded, and the world is a better place.

“We’re excited to help people around the world improve the lives of others,” said Victor Cho, co-founder, BigLeap. “Whether it’s bettering the lives of one person or one billion, we’re confident that the BigLeap platform will significantly improve the way we as a society work to improve social issues.”

Challenges of all sizes will be accepted as long as they bring meaningful improvement to someone’s life. For more information on BigLeap please visit: www.bigleap.org.

About BigLeap

BigLeap is the world’s first crowd-funding prize and reward network that allows anyone with a passion to drive social change do so through competition-based challenges. The BigLeap platform connects passionate advocates of social issues with the funding and resources needed to solve them in innovative new ways. Unlike other crowd-funding sites or traditional charities, BigLeap only distributes a reward or prize when a challenge has been successfully solved. Because contributors can opt to get their money back if a challenge isn’t solve they are effectively guaranteed that their support dollars will have an impact.

Nielsen: 50 Percent Of Global Consumers Surveyed Willing To Pay More For Goods, Services From Socially-Responsible Companies, Up From 2011

NEW YORK – Embargoed Until Aug. 6, 12:01 a.m. ET – Fifty percent of global consumers surveyed are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society, an increase of five points (45%) from 2011, according to a new study from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.Willingness to spend more with socially-responsible companies increased in 74 percent of the countries Nielsen measured.

Consumers Increasingly Care about Social Impact

The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility surveyed more than 29,000 Internet respondents[1] in 58 countries. The percentage of consumers willing to pay more increased among both males and females and across all age groups, with respondents under age 30 most likely to say they would spend more for goods and services from companies that give back. Among consumers ages 40-44, 50 percent agree they would pay more, up from 38 percent two years ago.

“While cause-marketing programs seem to resonate most strongly among younger respondents, the rapid change in sentiment among middle-aged consumers expands the cause opportunity for brands,” said Nic Covey, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Nielsen. “Today, brands can confidently focus purpose messaging on both younger and older consumers.” 

Geography Makes a Difference

According to Nielsen’s survey, more than two-thirds of respondents in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia – and three-quarters of respondents in India – say they would pay more for goods and services from socially-responsible companies, whereas European respondents are least likely to pay extra (36%).

“In countries where skepticism toward corporate social responsibility runs high, cause-marketers face an uphill battle,” said Covey. “In these markets, especially, social impact programs must be incontestably authentic to a company’s business objectives, vision and values.” 

Consumers’ Willingness to Pay Versus What They Actually Pay

Nielsen’s information reveals that 43 percent of global respondents claim to have actually spent more on products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society (just seven percent fewer than those who say they would simply be willing to pay). Consumers in Asia-Pacific are most likely to say they had spent more on products and services from socially-responsible companies (Thailand, 66%; the Philippines, 64%; Indonesia, 56%).

Several markets indicated a high willingness to pay more for products and services from companies that give back, but lower rates of experience in actually paying more – potentially indicating, according to Covey, “markets that are uniquely ripe for cause-marketing programs.” In Slovakia, for instance, 50 percent of respondents say they would be willing to spend more, but just 22 percent say they had actually done so. Similar spreads existed in Bulgaria (53 percent willing, but 31 percent who had), Peru (62 percent willing, and 42 percent who had), and Hong Kong (52 percent willing but 32 percent who had).

“Today, the question is not whether consumers care about social impact, but which ones, how much and how to appeal to them,” said Covey. “The answer isn’t necessarily a traditional cause-marketing campaign – general responsibility, sustainable innovation and purpose messaging might also engage these consumers. No matter the approach, savvy brands are figuring out how to hit this nerve.” 

About the Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility was conducted between February 18 and March 8, 2013, and polled more than 29,000 online consumers in 58 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or 10M online population for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.


[1] While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration has not reached majority potential, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population of that country. Additionally, survey responses are based on claimed behavior, rather than actual metered data.

One Prosper International Launches Impact Challenge

News from OneProsper International – To raise awareness of World Food Day on October 16, 2013, OneProsper International is challenging people to act to end world hunger. Starting October 16th, visit OneProsper.org to sign up for OneProsper’s Social Challenge and donate to support small farmers in India.

Water scarcity is the key challenge for cultivating food crops in the Thar Desert region of Rajastha, India. Innovative drip irrigation systems address water scarcity problems and significantly increase crop yields and incomes within a single harvest. Increased crops yields help farmers feed their children more nutritious food and provides more time for education. The Founder and Executive Director of OneProsper, Raju Agarwal, points out that “a child with an empty stomach will not be receptive to learning.” Unfortunately, drip irrigation kits ($500 per acre) are too expensive for small farmers earning only $3 per day.

OneProsper’s social challenge enables people to combat hunger and create opportunities for education by subsidizing the cost of a drip irrigation system for small farmers. When you sign up for the social challenge at OneProsper.org, you’ll be able to select a farmer, make a contribution for that farmer to buy a drip irrigation kit and view updates about the real impact your donations are having on the ground.

About OneProsper

OneProsper International is a new, Canada-based not-for-profit organization that provides agricultural innovations to smallholder farmers in Southern India. Founded in 2010, OneProsper supplies drip irrigation systems to help create a continuous and reliable food supply that also fuels the local economy. President of Coca-Cola Canada, Mr. John Guarino has called OneProsper “a shining example of how people can make a positive difference in the lives of so many if they are just willing to take action and commit to change.”

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