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

Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Nonprofit

This category includes articles about nonprofit organizations and NGOs that are actively working to accomplish a social mission. The work of foundations that primarily work as grantors to other nonprofits is covered in Philanthropy.

ZERO Grants More than $1M for Prostate Cancer Research

Washington, D.C. – ZERO – In the past year the ZERO Cancer Research Fund, charged with supporting innovative, high-reward research that offers the best return on investment for patients and families fighting prostate cancer, has awarded nearly $400,000 toward promising prostate cancer research, bringing ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer’s total research contributions to more than $1M.

“The critical research ZERO is funding addresses key challenges in the fight to end prostate cancer,” said ZERO’s CEO Jamie Bearse. “By providing early detection methods that can distinguish aggressive from non-aggressive disease, and exploring gene targeting, we can broaden and improve testing and treatment options for men and families.”

In 2014, ZERO funded the following research:

  • $234,000 to the American Urological Association for research scholar programs and grants
  • $61,000 to UC San Francisco for new and improved methods for early detection of prostate cancer
  • $60,000 to the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University for gene targeting research
  • $20,000 to Beaumont Cancer Institute for clinical trial opportunities
  • $14,000 to the Prostate Cancer Research Institute for clinical research

At UC San Francisco, Dr. Peter Carroll is researching new and improved methods for early detection of prostate cancer, including developing a low cost mechanism to ensure men diagnosed with low risk disease that immediate treatment is not necessary. The grant was made possible through a partnership between ZERO and Shining Down, a nonprofit founded by Jennifer Lafferty and Tamara Wyman in memory and honor of Jim Lafferty, who lost his battle with prostate cancer in 2010 at the young age of 40.

At the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, Dr. Joshi Alumkal’s research focuses on targeting gene activation in late stage prostate cancer that has not responded to currently available therapies. This research specifically targets a new type of androgen receptor (AR), the engine of prostate cancer cells, called AR-V7, for which there are currently no available treatments.

“Funding from the ZERO Cancer Research Fund will enable us to better understand the role of AR-V7 cells in prostate cancer and accelerate the work we need to do to develop drugs for patients with this form of prostate cancer who currently have no viable treatment options,” said Dr. Alumkal.

To learn more and support the ZERO Cancer Research Fund, visit www.zerocancer.org/zero-research-fund.

About ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer

ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer is a national nonprofit organization with the mission to end prostate cancer. As a leader in the fight against prostate cancer, ZERO advances research, encourages action, and provides education and support to men and their families. ZERO’s premier programs include the ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk, the largest men’s health event series in America. We are a 501c3 charity recognized with four stars by Charity Navigator, a Better Business Bureau member, and 98 cents of every dollar donated goes to research and programs. For more information, visit www.zerocancer.org.

Smitten Ice Cream Partners with Five Local Charities to Celebrate Volunteerism

Rewarding 2,500 Bay Area Volunteers with Ice Cream for their Commitment to Service During National Volunteer Month

San Francisco, CA (March 12, 2015) – National Volunteer Month just got a bit sweeter in the Bay Area. Smitten Ice Cream, the beloved San Francisco –based company that churns made-to-order scoops of the freshest, purest, creamiest ice cream has partnered with five local charities; San Francisco Baykeeper, Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, Headstand, SF-Marin Food Bank, and the San Francisco SPCA, to sprinkle joy and decadent ice cream into the lives of 2,500 Bay Area volunteers during the month of April 2015, National Volunteer Month. The campaign, called Smitten Community Rockstars, was created to thank the many volunteers that give their time and love to non-profit organizations that make their Bay Area communities so much better.

“The volunteers are giving their time and energy to help make the community a better place. We are super grateful to them for making an impact on the world, and we think they deserve the best. A scoop of Smitten Ice Cream is our small way to say thank you, ” shares Robyn Sue Fisher, Founder, Smitten Ice Cream.

The selected Smitten Community Rockstars will each be given a “scoop badge” of honor (a specially-designed sticker) by the charity partners redeemable during the month of April for a small ice cream at any of the four Bay Area Smitten Ice Cream locations.

volunteer_sticker Final

Each charity partner participating relies on volunteers to be able to fulfill their mission and make an impact in Bay Area communities. Volunteers can be the silent heroes that make much of the work possible. In today’s very busy world, Smitten Ice Cream hopes to bring scoops of joy to those who commit time to giving back through volunteering.

“Volunteers play a key role in our mission. They work tirelessly — every day of the year — to help animals in need. We couldn’t do it without them! We’re thankful to Smitten Ice Cream for recognizing our volunteers’ dedication and commitment to the San Francisco community,” adds Jason Walthall, Co-President, San Francisco SPCA.

Founded in 2009 by Robyn Sue Fisher, Smitten Ice Cream takes great pride in crafting decadent churned-to–order ice cream for each of their guests by using only the freshest and purest, locally sourced and organic ingredients. Smitten makes everything right down to their proprietary Brrr ™ machine which churns the utmost perfect scoop right before your eyes using liquid nitrogen (at -321˚!). Thanks to the company’s obsessively high standard for quality and chef-driven menu, Smitten Ice Cream is supremely smooth in texture with unparalleled seasonal and traditional flavors – all made-to-order just for you. With four locations across the Bay Area and expanding, Smitten has become a favorite to many who have a passion for the best ice cream in town.

Smitten Community Rockstars will be celebrated and recognized for the entire month of April. To follow the campaign, go to @SmittenIceCream Twitter/Instagram and LIKE www.facebook.com/SmittenIceCream on Facebook.
#SmittenCommunityRockstars #volunteers #BayArea #icecream #NationalVolunteerMonth

More about the Smitten Community Rockstars Charity Partners:

About San Francisco Baykeeper

For more than 25 years, San Francisco Baykeeper has worked to protect San Francisco Bay from pollution. Baykeeper uses legal action, science, advocacy, and on-the-water patrols in the Baykeeper boat to secure strong clean water laws and rein in polluters. Our vision is a San Francisco Bay where the ecosystem is healthy, recreation is safe, and wildlife thrives. www.baykeeper.org @SFBaykeeper

About Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco

Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco builds homes and community in partnership with thousands of annual volunteers, hard-working families, donors, civic leaders and other engaged community members in Marin, San Francisco and on the Peninsula. The work supporters help us do provides a critical path to financial security for families who live and work here and strengthens neighborhoods across the Bay Area. Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco has built more than 200 affordable homes in the Bay Area and is currently building Habitat Terrace, a development of 28 single-family homes in San Francisco’s Ocean View neighborhood, and Mt. Burdell Place, a 10-home development in Novato. We are doing ongoing critical home repairs and park cleanups in San Francisco’s Bayview. Those interested in supporting our work or volunteering with us can find more information at our website: www.habitatgsf.org or can follow us on facebook at facebook.com/habitatgsf or twitter @habitatgsf.

About Headstand

Founded in San Francisco in 2008, Headstand is the leading innovative non-profit working in underserved communities to combat toxic stress in K-12 students through yoga, mindfulness and character education. www.headstand.org

About SF-Marin Food Bank

The Food Bank plays a central role in the food assistance network in San Francisco and Marin, where one in four residents is at risk of hunger. Set up farmer’s market-style, the Food Bank’s pantries enable households to select groceries that can be used to create home-cooked meals. Nearly 60 percent of what is distributed is fresh fruits and vegetables. The Food Bank will distribute more than 47 million pounds of food to the community this year alone – enough for more than 107,000 meals every day. www.sfmfoodbank.org

About San Francisco SPCA

The San Francisco SPCA is an independent, community-supported, non-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to saving, protecting and providing immediate care for cats and dogs who are homeless, ill or in need of an advocate. The SF SPCA also works long-term to educate the community, reduce the number of unwanted kittens and puppies through spaying and neutering, and improve the quality of life for animals and their human companions. The organization does not receive government funding and is not affiliated with any national organization. Support the SF SPCA by adopting, donating, volunteering and becoming a client of our state-of-the-art veterinary hospitals. In addition to our campus in the Mission neighborhood, as a result of our recent merger with Pets Unlimited we now have a second campus in Pacific Heights. The SF SPCA offers volunteer opportunities to care for shelter dogs and cats, conduct adoption counseling, assist clients and veterinary staff, provide foster care, help with the Community Cats Program, and enrich the lives of people in the community through animal-assisted therapy. For more information about San Francisco pet adoption, call the San Francisco SPCA at (415) 522-3500 or visit sfspca.org.

To learn more about Smitten Ice Cream to go www.smittenicecream.com

Fraud Risk Is on the Rise for Nonprofits — and the Impact Can Be Fatal

Nonprofit Leaders Need to Know the Danger, Probe for Weaknesses and Improve Controls, Says Marks Paneth LLP

NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – April 14, 2015) – Nonprofit fraud is on the rise, according to a number of sources, and may account for 10% of all fraud in the U.S.(1) The implication is that many nonprofits are at risk, probably due to a deficit in financial controls.

“Financial control failures are common at nonprofits and can sometimes be fatal. Leaders of nonprofits would be well served to take steps to assess their risk, tighten controls and detect fraud as early as possible,” said Eric Kreuter, Ph.D., CPA, Partner in the Litigation and Financial Advisory Services Group at New York accounting firm Marks Paneth LLP.

Dr. Kreuter and Hope Goldstein, CPA, Partner in Marks Paneth’s Nonprofit and Government Service Practice make the following points about the risk of fraud at nonprofits and the best ways to address it:

  • The rising rate and growing impact of nonprofit fraud: Nonprofit fraud is happening more often and costing more money. According to the 2014 Report to the Nations by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, nonprofit fraud accounted for 10.8% of total frauds in 2013, up from 9.6% reported in 2010. Nonprofit organizations lost a median $108,000 per fraud in 2013, up from $90,000 reported in 2010. “Since many nonprofits are small, the financial impact is even greater than the dollar amount might make it seem,” Ms. Goldstein says.
  • Why nonprofits are at risk: “All organizations are at risk for fraud,” Dr. Kreuter says. “There are always fraudsters at work, and when the economy is difficult — as this one is, in spite of employment numbers — then there are more frustrated, underemployed people. That means there may be an increase in the number of people willing to commit fraud.

    “The problem for nonprofits is that their finances are often fragile to begin with, so that the impact of fraud and mishandling of finances can be severe. In addition, they are often short-staffed, with people doing multiple and sometimes conflicting jobs — for example, one person issues the checks, does the receivables and handles the bank reconciliation. This means that controls are sometimes not tight and that opens the door to fraud.”

  • Why fraud and control failures can kill a nonprofit organization while a for-profit business might survive: “While fraud is always harmful, nonprofits have to worry about the risk to their reputation. A perception that they’re mishandling funds can have a severe impact on donations,” Ms. Goldstein says. “Especially in the current economy, contributions are difficult to come by, and the fundraising environment is competitive. If donors lose confidence in the organization, they’re likely to move their contributions elsewhere. These effects can be long-lasting. For-profit organizations can clean house, replace the Board, and customers seem to forgive them. In the nonprofit world that’s not always the case. If you were to survey heads of nonprofits where fraud occurred, they probably would not deny that they are still feeling the aftereffects to their organizations’ reputations many years later. A smaller nonprofit can be badly hurt or lose donations, be forced to merge, or worse, find themselves having to shut its doors.

    “Of course, some nonprofits address this by failing to report fraud — trying to handle it quietly without going public. The result is that the fraudster leaves — and goes on to work and commit fraud at some other organization. Nondisclosure is not an answer.”

  • The new risk of cybercrime: “While much of fraud is still simple theft, that’s not the whole story,” Dr. Kreuter says. “Cybercrime is a new danger. Fraudsters break into a system, steal data and sell it. The risk environment is complex and there are many dangers.” 
  • Why safeguards probably won’t work — why it’s better to tighten controls and catch fraud early: “Everyone likes to talk about fraud prevention, but in practice it’s hard to prevent fraud — fraudsters will often find new ways around safeguards,” Dr. Kreuter says. “What’s much more effective is deterrence. A combination of tighter controls, strong whistleblower policies and early detection is the best anti-fraud formula.”
  • What organizations should do to improve controls and stop fraud: “There are several steps that nonprofit organizations can and should take,” Dr. Kreuter says. “Some are mandatory — whistleblower policies are required by law. Some are strongly advisable even if difficult — budgets may be constrained, but it’s important to staff appropriately, so that jobs are separated in a way that supports fiscal controls, and to pay a competitive wage that reduces the odds of dissatisfaction.

“The most important single step is to audit current controls, identify weak points and make changes as needed to both policies and staffing levels. Many of these changers are simple — in one case we recommended mailing bank statements to the leader’s home so he could examine the signatures on the backs of checks. Fraud deterrence can be that simple.”

“Stealing is not going out of vogue,” Ms. Goldstein said. “The answer is to be proactive, not passive. Being proactive can carry a price tag, but so does insurance. When fraud hits, organizations are likely to find it faster and come through better if they’ve taken the right steps and set up the right controls ahead of time.”

About Marks Paneth

Marks Paneth LLP is an accounting firm with more than 550 people, including over 70 partners and principals. The firm provides public and private businesses with a full range of auditing, accounting, tax, consulting, trade remediation and valuation services as well as litigation and corporate financial advisory services to domestic and international clients. The firm also specializes in providing tax advisory and consulting for high-net-worth individuals and their families, as well as a wide range of services for international, real estate, media, entertainment, nonprofit and medical practice clients. The firm has a strong track record supporting emerging growth companies, entrepreneurs, business owners and investors as they navigate the business life cycle.

The firm’s subsidiary, Tailored Technologies, LLC, provides information technology consulting services. In addition, its membership in Morison International, a leading international association for independent business advisers, financial consulting and accounting firms, facilitates service delivery to clients throughout the United States and around the world. Marks Paneth, whose origins date back to 1907, is the 35th largest accounting firm in the nation and the 9th largest in the mid-Atlantic region. In addition, readers of the New York Law Journal rank Marks Paneth as one of the area’s top three forensic accounting firms for the fifth year in a row.

Its headquarters are in New York City. Additional offices are in Washington, DC, New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester and the Cayman Islands. For more information, please visit www.markspaneth.com.

(1) Report to the Nations. Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. 2014.

Wyeast Laboratories, Inc. commits $100,000 to The Next Door Through Matching Funds Program

Odell, Ore. (April 14, 2015)Wyeast Laboratories Founder and President Jeannette (Jenny) Kreft-Logsdon has announced that the Oregon-based yeast producer will provide a matching fund donation of $100,000 to The Next Door, Inc. (NDI), an organization that is dedicated to opening doors to new possibilities by strengthening children and families and improving communities in Oregon’s Columbia Gorge.

Jenny is the founder of Wyeast Laboratories, a leading supplier of Pure Liquid Yeast cultures and fermentation products, headquartered in the Columbia River Gorge since 1986. Today, Wyeast is a worldwide leader in the fermentation industry and the foremost craft yeast manufacturer and laboratory serving craft brewers everywhere. But in 1985, Jenny moved to Hood River with $2,000 in the bank and the idea of starting a small business while raising a family. Wyeast Laboratories formed in 1986, and two years later, Jenny was blessed with three daughters.

“I did not have much at the time my daughters were born, and I will always remember Family Services visiting my home in the woods on a regular basis and providing coupons for formula,” Jenny recalled. “My most embarrassing moment was to ask how to fold a cloth diaper, I had never changed a diaper before and did not have a clue how to fold them. The Next Door’s Family Services was there to help.”

The Wyeast Laboratories’ Matching Fund Program benefiting The Next Door, Inc. will match dollar for dollar donations up to $100,000 by the deadline of December 31, 2015. Donated funds will support The Next Door programs including the Klahre House Alternative School, Families First, New Parent Services, Youth & Family Services, Nuestra Comunidad Sana and Treatment Services.

“The Next Door provides critical assistance to families in six Oregon and Washington counties. We see how our efforts can change lives and create success,” said Janet L. Hamada, MSW, Executive Director, The Next Door, Inc. (NDI). “Knowing about Jenny’s success story is amazing, but having her give back to the organization that played a role in supporting her family is incredible. We look forward to fundraising over the year to make the most of this generous donation.”

The Next Door, Inc., (NDI) is a 501(c)(3) Tax ID# 93-0600421 Non-Profit organization. To donate to The Next Door, please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/TheNextDoor and select “Wyeast Laboratories Matching Fund” under the donation designation field.

About Wyeast Laboratories, Inc.

Since 1986, Wyeast Laboratories, Inc. has been producing Pure Liquid Yeast cultures and fermentations products crafted with skill and integrity. Our continuing devotion to providing superior products, insightful technical expertise and helpful customer service has earned Wyeast Laboratories the reputation as a worldwide industry leader. Wyeast Laboratories, Inc. Pure Liquid Yeast cultures are shipped directly to breweries, wineries, and cideries, with purity, viability, and freshness guaranteed. Follow us on Twitter at @WyeastLab; Friend us on Facebook.

About The Next Door

The Next Door is a Columbia Gorge nonprofit whose mission is opening doors to new possibilities by strengthening children and families and improving communities. Staff members in over two dozen programs work with thousands of children and families in the Columbia Gorge who are struggling; to grow up strong, to stay out of trouble, to learn parenting skills, and even to learn a sustainable way to have enough food.

For Equal Pay Day, New Analysis Reveals the Real Costs of the Wage Gap for Utah’s Women, Families and Economy

If Paid Equally, Utah Women Could Afford More Than Two More Years of Food, 17+ Months of Rent

An analysis released for Equal Pay Day tomorrow shows just how much damage the gender-based wage gap is doing to Utah’s families and economy. Women employed full time in Utah are paid just 70 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $15,144. This means that, collectively, Utah women lose nearly $4.8 billion every year that could pay for basic goods and services that strengthen the state’s economy and are essential for the more than 86,000 Utah households headed by women.

The analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families when the U.S. Census Bureau released its most recent data. It is being released for the first time today. The full set of findings for Utah, which has the fourth largest cents-on-the-dollar gap among the states, can be found here.

These state-based findings are included in a new national report also released today, An Unlevel Playing Field: America’s Gender-Based Wage Gap, Binds of Discrimination, And A Path Forward. The report features original analysis, never released before, about the country’s wage gap across states, among women of color, and by parental and marital status. It identifies a punishing and pervasive gap that disproportionately harms mothers, single mothers and mothers of color, who can suffer from double and triple binds of discrimination.

“At a time when women’s wages are essential to families and our economy, the persistence of the gender-based wage gap is doing real and lasting damage to women, families, communities and to our nation. It defies common sense that lawmakers are not doing more to stop gender discrimination in wages,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “This analysis shows that women and families are losing thousands of dollars in critical income each year that could pay for significant amounts of food, rent, gas and other basic necessities. The effects ripple throughout our economy.”

According to the analysis of Utah, if the gap between men’s and women’s wages were eliminated, a full-time working woman in Utah could afford food for more than two more years, mortgage and utilities for 11 more months, rent for more than 17 more months, or 4,200+ more gallons of gas. These basic necessities would be especially important for the 28 percent of Utah’s women-headed households currently living below the poverty level.

Nationally, women working full time, year round are paid 78 cents for every dollar paid to men, with significant disparities for women of color. African American women and Latinas are paid 64 cents and Latinas are paid 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. The country’s wage gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. At that rate, experts say America’s women will not be paid equally to men for another 43 years.

“It has been well documented that the wage gap spans geography, race, industry, education level and other factors, and that it is closing at a glacial pace,” Ness continued. “America’s women and families simply cannot afford to wait another four decades for fair pay. It is past time for fair and family friendly workplace policies that will level the playing field and give all women the fair shot they need to support themselves and their families while fully contributing to our economy.”

An Unlevel Playing Field outlines several measures that would help close the wage gap, including fair and family friendly workplace policies. Members of Congress have reintroduced three of the proposals so far this year: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women; the Healthy Families Act, which would establish a national paid sick days standard; and the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. Other measures discussed in the report include an increase in the minimum wage and protections for pregnant workers.

The National Partnership’s analysis of the wage gap was released the day before Equal Pay Day, which is April 14 this year. The day marks how far into the year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before. The state-by-state analysis uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The findings for each state, state rankings, analyses specific to women of color and An Unlevel Playing Field are all available at www.NationalPartnership.org/Gap.

A Commitment to Sustainability

SDSU is the first university to require all of its food service to meet certified Green Restaurant standards.

Aztec Shops at San Diego State University is committed to making the Mesa a greener place.

Over the past few years, individuals across campus have worked toward making the university dining options more sustainable. Recently, two significant distinctions in the world of sustainable foodservice were achieved.

SDSU was recognized by the Green Restaurant Association both as the first campus to require all of its tenants to meet the Certified Green Restaurant environmental standards and as the campus with the world’s most certified stadiums/arenas.”

“From the Starbucks and Faculty Staff Club to the Open Air Theatre and Sports Arena, SDSU has demonstrated real leadership in integrating Green Restaurant practices throughout the campus”, said Michael Oshman, CEO and Founder of the Green Restaurant Association. “We commend the team at SDSU’s Aztec Shops for making this commitment two years ago and following through with lots of real action that collectively will help SDSU’s foodservice operate with a lower environmental impact.”

SDSU is also the first university in the country to require that all dining locations follow standards and guidelines set by the Green Restaurant Association.

“It’s absolutely the right thing to do — it’s the right thing to do for the university, it’s the right thing to do for San Diego and it carries over outside the boundaries of San Diego as well,” said Duane Buske, senior general manager of purchasing and distribution for Aztec Shops. ”

Getting to green

SDSU also has the most restaurants and facilities that meet the guidelines set by the association.

In order to meet the requirements, restaurants must:

  • Use recyclable materials
  • Monitor water usage
  • Install compliant pre-rinse nozzles
  • Buy sustainable, local food
  • Engage in pre-consumer composting
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency-certified cleaning materials
  • Purchase Energy Star compliant appliances
  • Use green certified pest control services
  • Recycle cooking oil for biofuel

“Sustainability is a big part of the campus mission, and Aztec Shops takes on sustainability initiatives to support that mission,” said Ben Eisenstein, associate director of marketing for Aztec Shops.

For a full list of Green Restaurant Association certified locations at SDSU, visit the SDSU Dining website. Compliant restaurants are labeled with a “Green Restaurant Certified” logo.

Moving forward

While SDSU is a leader in sustainable campus foodservice, the university is constantly improving.

“We want to improve every year,” Buske said. “We’re always looking at ways to be more efficient.”

Plans include working to decrease water consumption levels, purchasing energy efficient appliances and continue to increase sourcing of local and sustainable foods.

“We want other campuses to follow our lead,” Eisenstein said. “Part of the Aztec Shops mission statement is to be innovative and responsive, and all these things perfectly align with our mission.”

About Aztec Shops

Aztec Shops is a not-for-profit corporation that functions primarily as an auxiliary of SDSU. The corporation provides a diverse portfolio of commercial services including SDSU Dining, which has provided quality foodservice the SDSU campus community since 1959.

About San Diego State University

San Diego State University is a major public research institution offering bachelor’s degrees in 89 areas, master’s degrees in 78 areas and doctorates in 21 areas. The university provides transformative experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom, for its 34,000 students. Students participate in research, international experiences, sustainability and entrepreneurship initiatives, and a broad range of student life and leadership opportunities. The university’s rich campus life features opportunities for students to participate in, and engage with, the creative and performing arts, a Division I athletics program and the vibrant cultural life of the San Diego region. For more information, visit www.sdsu.edu.

Common Threads to Host Miami’s First-Ever Cooking For Life Festival

A weekend-long, star-studded, gourmet gathering celebrating healthy cooking

Miami, FL (April 2015) – Common Threads, the national non-profit organization fighting childhood obesity by teaching healthy cooking skills, has gathered some of the country’s top culinary superstars for the debut of Cooking For Life Festival, April 17 – 19, 2015 in Miami.

Hosted by celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein and Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho, the three-day festival will provide unique opportunities to celebrate healthy cooking. Attendees can expect a line-up of chef megastars supporting the organization’s mission.

Cooking_for_Life_Festival

A ‘Tasting’ of the Weekend Includes:

  • Kick-off Dinner at Mignonette: Make a reservation Friday, April 17 at Mignonette and support Common Threads while indulging in an evening of fabulous seafood fare. 10 % of the evening’s proceed will benefit Common Threads.
  • Culinary Boot Camp: An intimate and interactive experience giving foodies the opportunity to rub elbows with some of Miami’s most renowned chefs. On Saturday, April 18, a limited number of participants can enjoy a full day of hands-on cooking classes at FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. Tickets cost $45 – $250.
  • Morimoto Dinner: A remarkable tasting event hosted by Chef Masaharu Morimoto at the beautiful Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach on Saturday, April 18. Mingle with Miami’s finest and enjoy Chef Morimoto favorites and specialties from some of Miami’s most popular chefs. Tickets start at $75 and VIP tickets are $125.
  • Sunrise Beach Yoga: Escape for a serene and beautiful morning Sunday, April 19, 8AM on the private beach at the Thompson Miami Beach for an hour-long yoga experience. All participants walk away with hand-selected goodies. A $20 donation is suggested.
  • 5-Star Fundraising Brunch: A hand-picked group of chefs will join Common Threads at Chef Michelle Bernstein’s newest restaurant, Seagrape at the Thompson Miami Beach. Guests can enjoy a special afternoon featuring amazing food and exciting auction. An exclusive VIP event offers select guests the chance to personally meet the A-List chefs. General admission tickets are $150 and VIP costs $250.

Common Threads has brought together a selection of acclaimed chefs and personalities for the not-to-be-missed weekend: Timon Balloo of Sugarcane; Author, Chef & Restaurateur John Besh; Aaron Brooks of EDGE Steak & Bar; Jamie DeRosa of Tounge & Cheek; Angelo Elia of Casa D’Angelo; Todd Erickson of Haven; Lorena Garcia of Lorena Garcia Cocina; Linda Gassenheimer of WLRN Topical Current’s Food News & Views; Misha Gomez of Misha’s Cupcakes; Sam Gorenstein of My Ceviche; Ingrid Hoffman of Simply Delicioso; Richard Ingraham, Private Chef for Dwyane Wade, Chef RLI, LLC; Stephanie Izzard of Girl and the Goat & Little Goat; Craig Koketsu of Quality Meats Miami Beach; Alek Kuk & Diego Ng of Temple Street Eatery; Dena Marino of MC Kitchen; Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef, Iron Chef America & Morimoto Restaurants; Diego Oka of La Mar; Jason Pringle of db Bistro Moderne; Danny Serfer of Mignonette; Fabio Viviani of Siena Tavern & Siena Tavern Miami; and Cesar Zapata of Phuc Yea!

The Cooking for Life Festival will create awareness of the important work being done in schools and will raise funds to further strengthen programming in Miami and nationally.

“I feel honored to be part of such an essential foundation not only for our community in South Florida, but for the health and well being of children in this country. The knowledge of healthy cooking and eating is a powerful asset and one that should not be taken lightly,” said Michelle Bernstein. “Alberto M. Carvalho, Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, has given us the incredible gift of allowing Common Threads and its curriculum into 33 of our schools. I feel so proud to have played a small part in bringing Common Threads to our hometown.”

Supporting sponsors for the event include Badia Spices, Quaker Oats, Lifeway Foods, Thrive Market, Athleta and United Airlines.

To purchase tickets and for a full schedule of events, please visit:

http://www.commonthreads.org/events/Cooking-for-Life-Festival

Domestic Violence Is the New Face of Mobile Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding Technology Empowers Domestic Abuse Survivors to Raise Funds to Obtain Reconstructive Surgery with New Partnership Between MobileCause and Face Forward Foundation

(LOS ANGELES, CA) – MobileCause has partnered with Face Forward Foundation to launch a series of fundraising and communication campaigns to empower women who have been victims of domestic abuse or a violent crime. Face Forward Foundation helps victims of violent and disfiguring crimes put their FACE FORWARD leaving their physical scars behind. This campaign allows victims to increase awareness to domestic violence and help raise funds for themselves and other victims for the accompanying costs of reconstructive surgery. While the reconstructive surgery is pro-bono, the supplementary items surrounding their reconstructive surgery are expensive and many women require multiple operations. Unfortunately, there are also many women on the waiting list while the foundation raises funds with goals of helping an additional 10-20 survivors per year.

In an extraordinary act of technological empowerment, MobileCause, a leader in cloud based technology solutions for nonprofits, has partnered with Face Forward to assist victims of domestic violence to utilize their personal networks of friends and social networks to raise awareness and donations for themselves and other victims, in the process helping other women like them. The first three women to participate in these crowdfunding and communication campaigns are pre-approved by Face Forward and have treatment plans in place by renowned plastic surgeon Dr. David Alessi. Face Forward Foundation, founded by Dr. David Alessi and his wife Deborah Alsessi (a survivor of DV) provides pro-bono plastic surgery to victims of abuse and violent crimes and depends on donated funds for the costs and care surrounding the donated surgeries such as anesthesiologist, after care, travel and accommodations. Face Forward Founder Deborah Alessi says of the partnership, “We are so excited to partner with MobileCause on this exciting crowdfunding campaign which is empowering our survivors and enabling them to fund their own campaign while helping other victims, which facilitates them in feeling in control again of their life!”

MobileCause, a leading provider of cloud based fundraising and communication solutions for nonprofit organizations, makes it easy for donors to give and for nonprofits to raise more donations at a lower cost. The company provides a suite of products for a new generation of giving to strengthen an organizations brand by integrating mobile everywhere and increasing the speed and effectiveness of donor communication. MobileCause has developed an original campaign with the domestic abuse charity Face Forward, enabling the charity as a whole and its beneficiaries the power to raise more awareness of domestic violence and fundraise from the convenience of their mobile phones. The US now has 74% smartphone adoption changing donor expectations and new solutions are needed for nonprofit organizations to address the challenges and opportunities associated with a mobile first society. Many supporters research websites, watch videos, and make credit/debit donations directly from their mobile phone. MobileCause’s fundraising platform makes it easy for donors to give from any device and focuses on helping nonprofit organizations gain donors, increase recurring gifts and engage supporters. The MobileCause Crowdfunding solution empowers nonprofit organizations to conveniently raise donations through their networks of volunteers, donors and staff. This solution is unique for Face Forward in that the survivors can take control of their future and assist others in the same situation, and anyone can become a fundraiser for this great cause and customize their page with photo, donation goal and personal message. When someone donates they can receive exclusive content and text messages to follow along with the progress of each Face Forward patient. The patients provide updates on their progress thereby keeping donors connected to the growth and success of the survivors. Each patient knows their personal surgery plan and what finances are needed to cover those needs and any additional money they raise will roll over to the next group of patients on the waiting list empowering these victims to help both themselves and others. The nonprofit itself is continuously fundraising for its patients but thought this was an incredible way to reach more people who can donate whatever they can or volunteer to fundraise for patients and capitalize on the theory that there is power in numbers. All the money raised will be tracked by the MobileCause software and available to be seen on the Face Forward website. Supporters can see these victims of abuse reach their goals as well they can see other victims rise up on the wait list. Updates and surgery reveals will be provided on each victim showing their progress to leaving both the physical and emotional scars behind them as they Face Forward to their future.

MobileCause CEO, Sean MacNeill commented on the extraordinary campaign, “We are thrilled to provide our mobile software fundraising solutions to an amazing cause such as Face Forward and are confident that this campaign will connect the world to these woman and many others like them while allowing crowdfunding to do what it does best with a personal connection to these brave survivors and worthwhile cause.”

The campaign will soft launch the week of March 30th and go throughout October which is Domestic Violence Awareness month and can be viewed at www.faceforwardla.org.

About Face Forward Foundation

Face Forward’s mission is to provide physical and emotional reconstruction for women and children who have been victimized by Domestic Violence or any Cruel Act of Crime. Face Forward vows that all individuals who cannot afford the fees associated with proper internal and external care will be treated Pro-Bono. Our team of skilled surgeons and specialists has been fortunate enough to impact the lives of many with truly life-changing results, but this is just the beginning. We work with community leaders and organizations around the nation and throughout the world, in order to identify victims of violence who are legitimately working toward recovery and who carry the physical evidence of past abuse. We are able to provide our services to individuals who are committed to their recovery by partnering with local community centers, which offer complementary relief, housing, counseling, job searches and legal assistance. We are one humble part of the recovery puzzle; however, the immediate results of our healing efforts provide individuals with the confidence to literally put their best Face Forward once again. Face Forward is a non-profit organization, a 501(c)(3) registered in the State of California. Better than 90% of all donations are directed toward victim treatment and recovery. Since an average patient’s treatment costs approximately $5,000, every penny helps.

About MobileCause:

MobileCause provides cloud based online fundraising and communication software for nonprofit organizations enabling them to raise more money at a lower cost. Each solution is designed to mobilize networks of volunteers, donors and staff while making it easy for people to give and stay connected from any device. Our suite of products including: crowdfunding for nonprofits, comprehensive online giving, dynamic event fundraising, text to donate keywords, mobile marketing and smart data records, is designed for a new generation of giving for mobile, online and social. Customers can be up and running in hours with no technical skills required. MobileCause provides turnkey merchant and payment services at a simple flat rate that includes a specialized mobile payment app for nonprofits. Each plan includes dedicated strategy support from fundraising experts. Featured clients include United Way, The Salvation Army, American Heart Association, University of Southern.

BECU Celebrating 80th Anniversary by “Closing for Good”

BECU locations to open late on October 20th as 1,300 employees lead financial literacy workshops

Tukwila, April 9, 2015 – BECU announced today that it is closing its doors for part of the day on Tuesday, October 20, sending its 1,300 employees to lead Financial Reality Fairs in high schools across Washington state. “Closing for Good” will reach at least 2,500 students. The initiative is part of BECU’s 80th anniversary celebration as a not-for-profit credit union dedicated to community involvement. The event is also part of an internal BECU initiative giving employees paid volunteer time off. BECU’s financial centers will reopen at 1 p.m.

“As a credit union, our primary motivation is making a difference for our members and our community,” said BECU CEO Benson Porter. “Through ‘Closing for Good,’ we want to make sure the teens in our community have a high level of financial literacy as they embark on their adult lives.”

During the workshops, students will participate in a hands-on financial role play simulation. Students are assigned a career and starting salary, then must make decisions about housing, utilities, food, transportation and other expenses.

“’Closing for Good’ is all about experiencing the real-life budgeting decisions people face every day,” added Porter. “We want to give teens a chance to think about their financial choices analytically, so that when the time comes, they can make educated decisions.”

Recent studies indicate that American teens lag behind in financial literacy. A 2014 survey of 40,000 college students by EverFi showed 31 percent of students surveyed believe it’s better to have something now and pay for it later and 50 percent think it’s okay to incur a bank overdraft fee if they plan to have funds to make up for it.

BECU call centers, ATMs and other supporting services will remain online during the event, but all of BECU’s 42 locations will open at 1 p.m.

“It is BECU’s mission to make investments that help our community thrive,” said BECU vice president of co-op affairs Sara Moorehead. “BECU’s motto is more than just money – we’re confident our members will see Closing for Good as a representation of that commitment, not as an inconvenience.”

Schools interested in participating in “Closing for Good” can visit www.becu.org/ClosingForGood for more details. BECU will provide additional information to members as the event approaches.

About BECU

BECU is a not-for-profit credit union owned by the members. Earnings are returned to the members in the form of better rates and fewer fees. With more than 900,000 members and more than $13.0 billion in assets, BECU is the largest credit union in Washington and one of the top five financial cooperatives in the country. BECU currently operates over 40 locations in the Puget Sound region. All Washington state residents and students attending Washington colleges and universities are eligible to join. For more information, visit www.becu.org.

Gold Coast International Film Festival Announces the 2015 Young Filmmakers Program

Winning films will be screened in November 2015 during the 5th Anniversary of the Festival

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Great Neck, NY (April 8, 2015) – Attention all young filmmakers (grades K-12)!  Do you want your film to appear on the big screen in a movie theatre in front of a live film festival audience? This Fall, on our Fifth Anniversary, The 2015 Gold Coast International Film Festival Young Filmmakers Program will give you that chance! We will showcase the best in youth filmmaking from our region.  There is no fee to submit your film. Here are the submission guidelines:

  • All films (incl. credits) must be no more than five (5) minutes in length and be PG in content.
  • When submitting your film, you will have to fill out the Young Filmmaker Submission Form, which requires such information as a SUMMARY of the film and the NAMES and AGES of the filmmakers and the schools they attend.
  • Films can be shot on any format (smart phone, video, digital video etc., but production values should be as high as possible, including sound and picture; video must be high resolution format, 1920×1080.
  • All films will be judged by a panel of filmmaking professionals that will include Directors, Screenwriters, Producers, Film Professors from Long Island University, Film Critics and/or Film Festival Programmers.

Judges will accept films of all genres including, but not limited to:

  • Documentary
  • Narrative (must tell a story or have some narrative structure)
  • PSA or TV Commercial (maximum length – 2 minutes)
  • Animation
  • Music Videos (of original music only)

Films will be judged in 3 categories:

  1. Students in grades K-6;
  2. Students in grades 7-9 and
  3. Students in grades 10-12. Multiple awards will be given.

Winners will be announced on the GCIFF website in mid-October. Awards Ceremony will be held during the 2015 Gold Coast International Film Festival, day and time TBD

When you are ready to submit your film:

  • Visit http://www.goldcoastfilmfestival.org/submissions
  • Fill out our Young Filmmaker Submission Form
  • Follow the instructions for how to send us your film (uploading it to our FilmFreeway account, sending us a vimeo link, or delivering us a playable DVD, with sound)

The deadline for film submissions is October 1, 2015

ABOUT THE GOLD COAST INTL FILM FESTIVAL

Produced by the Gold Coast Arts Center, the festival has built a reputation for bringing the latest Hollywood hits and Indie favorites to the fabled Gold Coast of Long Island. Add A-list celebrities and unforgettable events to the mix and it’s easy to see why GCIFF has become the “go to” Festival for film buffs in the area and beyond (it is also the last major film festival on the East Coast before Awards season).

The 2014 Festival included 25 feature length films and 35 shorts from around the world, and showcased over 40 filmmakers and special guests, including 4-time Oscar winner Catherine Martin who accepted our Artist of Distinction Award and screenwriter and director Marc Lawrence (Miss Congeniality) and award-winning actor Hugh Grant, both of whom participated in a Q&A after a pre-release screening of their new film The Rewrite. Among the other notables who attended: Len Berman from NBC Sports, David Paterson (Screenwriter, Bridge to Teribithia), Jim Serpico Lee Ielpi, Kristin Thorne of ABC 7, Tony Award-winning actors Phylicia Rashad and Ruben Santiago Hudson, and NY Times sportswriter Harvey Araton.

The year before, the Festival honored legendary actor, Paul Sorvino (GoodFellas, Bulworth, The Cooler) with a Lifetime Achievement Award during their Annual Benefit Gala. The Gala also honored Susie Essman, (co-star of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm) with the Artist of Distinction Award for Comedy. Melanie Lynsky (2 ½ Men, Ever After), Emmy Nominated Actor, Jason Ritter (Parenthood), Sean Young and Robert Clohessy were among others who attended the festivities.

GCIFF presents sensational events to SRO audiences year-round. Some other past highlights include: an exclusive pre-release screening of The Great Gatsby with Baz Luhrmann, plus screenings and events with notable filmmakers and artists Edward Burns, Brian Dennehy, Phil Donahue, Isabella Rossellini, Bill Plympton, Bruce Dern, Joan Allen, Gabriel Byrne, Celeste Holm, Eli Wallach, Robert Klein, Nelson DeMille, Francis Ford Coppola, Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Alan King and Kelli O’Hara to name a few.

Past and current Sponsors of the Festival included long-standing partners, the Town of North Hempstead; as well as Nassau County, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, AMC Networks, deluxe, A.L. Sarroff Fund, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and J.M. Kaplan Fund, as well as The Katz Center of North Shore –LIJ Health Systems, AAA, Samar Hospitality, The Andrew Hotel, LIU Post, The Amsterdam at Harborside, Parker Jewish Institute, LVR, Star Industries, DE Capital Mortgage, Whole Foods, Stella Artois, Limousines Worldwide, WLIW21, New York Women in Film & Television and many others.

For more information please visit www.goldcoastfilmfestival.org

About the Gold Coast Arts Center:

The Gold Coast Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the arts through education, exhibition, performance and outreach. For over 20 years we have brought the arts and arts in education experiences to tens of thousands of people throughout our region through our 1) School for the Arts, which offers year-round classes in all visual and performing arts to students of all ages and abilities, (2) Free public art gallery, (3) Concert and lecture series, (4) Outreach programs, which each year bring artist residencies, after-school programs, school assemblies, teacher training workshops and parent-child workshops to students, senior citizens, teachers and others in underserved communities throughout our region, (5) Year round film screening and discussion series and (6) Gold Coast International Film Festival, now in its 4th year. The Arts Center is an affiliate of the John F Kennedy Center for the for the Performing Arts: Partners in Education Program and National Gallery of Art, both located in Washington DC.

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