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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


This category includes stories about philanthropy, typically covering the generosity of individuals, families, groups of individuals and foundations (nonprofits primarily in the business of funding other nonprofits.

Joyful Heart Foundation Applauds President’s Investment in Rape Kit Reform

NEW YORK – The Joyful Heart Foundation, one of the nation’s leading advocacy organizations working toward nationwide rape kit reform, applauded the release of President Obama’s FY16 budget today, which includes $41 million in funding for the Justice Department’s community-based sexual assault response initiative.

DNA evidence contained in a rape kit can identify unknown assailants, confirm the presence of a known suspect, affirm the survivor’s account of the attack, connect the suspect to other unsolved crimes, and exonerate innocent suspects. And yet, there are thousands upon thousands of rape kits sitting untested in police storage facilities across the country representing thousands of leads to investigate, survivors to re-engage with compassion and care, and cases to prosecute.

“The White House’s investment in rape kit reform continues to send the message to survivors that they – and their experience – matter,” said Maile M. Zambuto, President & CEO of Joyful Heart. “We are so grateful to President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Attorney General Holder for their leadership on this issue, which will create a lasting legacy for years to come. We look forward to working with congressional leaders to ensure this funding is included in the spending bill for the coming year.”

The Department of Justice’s grant program, created last year, will provide local communities resources through the Bureau of Justice Assistance to: test backlogged kits in their police storage facilities; create multi-disciplinary teams to investigate and prosecute cases connected to the backlog; and address the need for victim notification and re-engagement with the criminal justice system.

The President’s budget also includes $20 million for research on reducing the backlog of sexual assault kits at Justice’s National Institute of Justice. The goal of this initiative is to improve the quality and practice of forensic science through innovative solutions that support research and development, testing and evaluation, and technology for the criminal justice community.

Over the past few years, news has poured in about thousands of untested rape kits found in police evidence facilities in cities and states across the country. Because historically, most law enforcement agencies have not been required to report the number of untested kits in their custody, it’s likely that the largest numbers have yet to be discovered.

Rape kit reform isn’t just essential to provide justice to survivors – it is also a path a more effective criminal justice system. In Cleveland, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office researched the criminal convictions of the first 229 defendants they indicted and discovered they had cost county taxpayers $122 million in economic harm. The Office estimates that they will have more than $500 million in economic loss to the County for not investigating and prosecuting these rapists when the victims first made their complaint to the police.

For background and further information on the rape kit backlog, go to:

Discovery Toys Offers Work-At-Home Opportunities for Women Seeking Flexibility To Raise Families While Earning

For Educational Consultants, Selling the Power of Play is a Profitable Passion Project 

Livermore, CA, January 20, 2015 – How did a nervous Girl Scout selling cookies door-to-door grow up to be a star salesperson, grossing nearly $400,000 in combined team sales? Jacki Delaney, a mother of three from New York, credits the home-based educational toy selling company Discovery Toys with providing a meaningful and profitable career.

“I joined Discovery Toys so I could have all the products for my three boys at a discount,” said Jacki Delaney, an Educational Consultant whose career with Discovery Toys now spans 21 years. “I stayed for many other reasons, but here are my positive results: three awesome young men who were honor students, scholarship earners and who are successful in so many ways.”

The award-winning Discovery Toys, is the only direct selling company in North America that specializes in quality educational toys and products. Founded in 1978, the company was built on the core belief that it is far more important to teach children “how to learn” than “what to learn.”A dynamic new management team is looking to reinvent the traditional direct marketing structure and recruit a new generation of women who crave the flexibility to rear their families, while maintaining the independence of their own career.

“We are looking for people who are passionate about a career with purpose to join our growing North American team of Educational Consultants,” said Discovery Toys CEO Jerry Salerno, a former music executive who is leading the company’s North American expansion. “Discovery Toys offers an excellent, flexible income opportunity for moms looking to make a difference in the lives of children.”

Unlike other direct sales opportunities that only nurture the bottom line, such as nutritional supplements and beauty products, a career as an Educational Consultant with Discovery Toys allows moms to nurture children’s lives while working when and where they want. Discovery Toys deliver a hands-on, multi-sensory, child-directed play experience designed to stimulate multiple centers in the brain simultaneously, while promoting critical and independent thinking and open-ended imaginary play. Discovery Toys also offers fun, safe developmentally appropriate toys for children with special needs or autism.

Thousands of women have built successful entrepreneurial careers with Discovery Toys over the years. Two options are available to launch a career with Discovery Toys: the Business Launch kit for the more casual seller, and the Business Builder kit, comprising all the essentials to launch a successful career. Full rebates on starter kits are available through the Success Starts Rewards program. The Discovery Toys support system includes professional training at the DT Boot Camp. Incentives for Educational Consultants include vacations to great destinations and other rewards. Discovery Toys is kicking off 2015 with January Jumpstarts, which offers existing consultants the chance to actively promote the career opportunity to interested parents with incentives such as Caribbean trips and free products.

About Discovery Toys

Discovery Toys ( is the foremost direct selling company in the toy category, specializing in premium learning products for newborns through school-aged children. Each Discovery Toys product incorporates layers of learning and a unique play experience designed to promote critical thinking and open-ended imaginary play. With safety and quality standards that exceed U.S. and Canadian national standards, Discovery Toys backs every product with a satisfaction guarantee. Headquartered in Livermore, California, Discovery Toys products are sold through Educational Consultants in the U.S. and Canada.

SDSU Business of Wine Program Goes Abroad

The course will debut Wine Education Abroad, an exclusive wine and cuisine immersion program in Spain.

SAN DIEGO (February 2, 2015) — San Diego State University is offering a Professional Wine and Cuisine Immersion in the Catalonia, Rioja and Basque regions of Spain. The trip is the first in the new Wine Education Abroad division of SDSU’s College of Extended Studies professional certificate program in the Business of Wine. The program will take place Oct. 9 through 17.

“If you ever wanted to explore the wine and food of Spain, have someone take you to places you cannot get to on your own, and experience the essence and heart of three Spanish areas, this trip is for you,” said Deborah Lazear, CSW, a certified Spanish wine educator who will provide 12 hours of instruction during the excursion.
Trip highlights include:

  • Eating lunch at an old-century wine cave
  • A Cava tasting course along with lunch and guided tour at a small, private winery
  • Crushing grapes underfoot, tasting wine straight from a barrel and walking through vineyards by the sea
  • Discovering the best-kept Basque secrets of producing and serving cider

The tour is led by Spanish guide Ana Gabriela Serra, who specializes in providing tailored itineraries in this region.

“This trip is very exclusive,” Lazear said. “Our tour guide has relationships with wineries that are not open to the public but will be open to us.”

Students will travel by private transportation, enjoy private sommelier-level tours, experience private tours of vineyards and museums, and have private daily wine classes. Their instruction time will count toward one elective or intensive course in the Business of Wine program.

“Spain is not new world; it’s old world,” Lazear said. “Students will get a first-hand experience of how history has molded wine in Spain and influenced the world.”

The experience is limited to 16 participants but anyone can apply to attend. The cost per person is $4,227 (double occupancy) or $5,117 (single occupancy). This price is based on 12 participants and will decrease if more than 12 register. Airfare is not included. The first trip deposit is due March 2.

For more information, visit

SDSU’s College of Extended Studies

SDSU’s College of Extended Studies reaches out to San Diego, the nation, and the world with a wide variety of lifelong learning opportunities, and more than 50 certificate programs for career advancement. Topics range from contract management, construction, and craft beer, to grant writing, marketing, and human resources. And many programs are available online. The CES also offers one of the largest ESL programs in the U.S. through the American Language Institute; and university-quality courses to students age 50 and better through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Other opportunities include seminars, study abroad, corporate education and access to regular SDSU classes through Open University. For more information or to register, visit or call (619) 265-7378 (SDSU).

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

Mongram Foods Debuts Impact10 To Benefit 10 Local Charities

Company Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary with $100,000 Charitable Giving Program

MEMPHIS, TN – (February 2, 2015) – In keeping with its mission to support and give back to its home community, Memphis-based Monogram Foods will celebrate its tenth anniversary through its creation of IMPACT10, a philanthropic campaign that will give away $100,000 to 10 charities in Memphis and the Mid-South.

IMPACT10 recipients will be randomly selected to receive $1,000 a year for the next 10 years. As part of the IMPACT10 charitable effort, Monogram also pledges to perform 10 acts of kindness in Memphis and the Mid-South area, and encourages participants to do the same. Nominations of deserving charities can be submitted through the IMPACT10 website at

Since its inception 10 years ago, Monogram Foods has become a leader in the nation’s meat snack industry and has created a proud tradition of investing in the communities where its employees live.

About Monogram Foods

Founded in 2004 with the purchase of King Cotton and Circle B Brand meats from Sara Lee Corporation, Monogram Foods manufactures and distributes top-quality food products. Monogram Foods brands include: Wild Bill’s, O’Brien’s, Trail’s Best, Hannah’s, Bull’s and licensed brands Bass Pro Shop’s Uncle Buck’s, Johnsonville and Butterball. Monogram Foods also produces a wide variety of private-label brand meat snacks, smoked meats, corn dogs and pre-cooked bacon for strategic partners throughout the nation. Monogram Foods operates facilities in Virginia, Minnesota, Indiana, Texas and Iowa.

Follow Monogram Foods and the IMPACT10 campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @MonogramFoods with #IMPACT10.

Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation For Cancer Research Partners With Cotton Jelly For #BeFearless Campaign

Campaign features T-shirts with a design inspired by musician Tallia Storm

New York, NY (February 2, 2015) – In conjunction with World Cancer Day on February 4, 2015, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research has partnered with UK-based clothing brand Cotton Jelly for the #BeFearless campaign to help raise funds for cancer research in a fashionable way.

The campaign features a limited-edition personalized T-shirt collection inspired by international teen singing sensation Tallia Storm. Featuring several colors and two distinct designs – “Love Defies All” and “Be Fearless” – the T-shirts sell for £35 ($53.00) and are available in men’s and women’s sizes. £10 ($15.00) from each sale will directly support the research initiatives of Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation. Those who purchase these bespoke T-shirts are encouraged to share a selfie via social media in support of those living with cancer by using the hashtags #BeFearless, #CureCancerNow and #CottonJelly.

“Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation and Cotton Jelly have created a unique way for people to support cancer research through their #BeFearless campaign. Purchasing a T-shirt not only supports cancer research, but also spreads a universal message of support and strength that is lasting and impactful. Since my mother knew Gabrielle very well, it makes it even more special so I feel honored to be a part of this partnership,” Tallia said.

“As we head into World Cancer Day to support the global fight against cancer, we are honored to have Cotton Jelly and Tallia Storm joining us in this campaign. With their help and the support of those who purchase a T-shirt, we get closer and closer to finding a cure,” expressed Denise Rich, Co-Founder of Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation.

“Cancer is a disease that personally affects almost everyone on the planet at some point in their life. By partnering with Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation and Tallia Storm we are proudly joining the fight against this terrible illness,” said Wes Henstock, Head Creative at Cotton Jelly.

In addition to Tallia Storm, celebrity fans of the Cotton Jelly and Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation T-shirt include E! News’ Alicia Quarles and Bravo’s “Made in Chelsea” star Billie Carroll. Shirts can be purchased at

Human Slavery at the Super Bowl? The US is #1 Consumer of Human Trafficking in the World

“There are 20 million trafficking victims this year. That is equivalent to one out of every five of the 111 million people who will watch the Super Bowl on Sunday Feb 1. We have to do something about it right now.”

According to Nita Belles, human trafficking expert and author of the book In Our Backyard, there’s data that shows that between dollars spent in the US and overseas, U.S. citizens buy more human slaves, many of them children, than any other country.

“People think human trafficking is carried out primarily in foreign countries, but it’s right here on U.S. soil,” Ms. Belles says. “Thousands of children and adults in every state of the union are lured by predatory traffickers and forced into prostitution, pornography, farm labor, domestic labor, manufacturing, hotel services, restaurants, and other activities.”

“There are more slaves today than any time in history. This happens not just at Super Bowl and other high population events, or in big cities, but in every town, in suburbs, and in the country-side all across this country. The human trafficking problem cuts across all racial lines, age brackets, and socio-economic levels.”

It’s not just at big events like the Super Bowl and other major events that attract huge crowds. This is happening 365 days a year and in every nook and cranny in the United States.

Here’s a summary of the problem.

  • There are over 20 million trafficking victims this year.
  • Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing crime in the world
  • 1 in 3 Children who runaway will be lured towards human trafficking by seemingly caring people within 48 hours of running away.
  • 1 in 7 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2013 were likely human trafficking victims.(National Center For Missing and Exploited Children)
  • Human traffickers entice children to run away via social media and while playing video games in the “safety” of our living rooms.
  • Although runaways and at risk children are a high percentage of the victims, this crime is happening to children from middle class and upper middle class homes.
  • Traffickers are recruiting children right out of their bedrooms via smart phones/gaming systems and computers
  • Young people are increasingly being coerced or forced into human exploitation
  • According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 100,000 children are at risk every year
  • This doesn’t just happen to girls, boys are trafficked as well

In Our Backyard describes real life stories of human trafficking victims, survivors, perpetrators and people who are fighting this enormous problem. Belles describes numerous examples of the situations in which girls, boys, women, and men relate their traumatic experiences after being conned or charmed with promises of security and high income, or lured to the U.S. by phony employment agencies. Among them:

  • A 16 year old girl from a nice upper middle class home met a new friend at school who introduced her to an exciting 20-something man. They “fell in love” and within three months she went missing and he forced her into prostitution.
  • An attractive master chef in Manila answered an ad for a restaurant position in America. She was chosen, but upon arrival in the U.S., she had to sign a binding multi-year contract.  She was forced to work 12 to 15 hours a day for an abusive boss, unable to find a way out, right here in the United States.
  • A girl who could not afford college was offered a modeling career earning thousands of dollars a month. She was flown to Los Angeles and housed in a mansion. Her caretaker surprised her with a bill for travel, housing, and photo shoots. She could help pay the huge debts by posing nude, and later in films that turned out to be hardcore pornography, as well as forced prostitution.

“Escape is difficult.” says Ms. Belles, “Victims are closely watched and are often traumatically bonded to their captors. We can all assist in rescuing victims by learning how to recognize human trafficking in our midst and knowing how to get them help when we see it.”

Questions and Answers for Nita Belles

How big is the human trafficking problem?

This happens not just in the big cities, but in every town, every countryside in this great country. There are more slaves today than any time in history. The problem cuts across all racial lines, age brackets, and socioeconomic levels.

Another myth is that it involves only the poor, the foster kids, or youth who have been in trouble. The first chapter In Our Backyard is about a 16 year old, straight A student from a nice Christian home whose parents marriage was intact. She was lured in to human trafficking by another student at her school.

People think it can’t happen to them, to their kids, but it can.

Tips For Parents To Keep Their Children Safe:

  1. Educate your children about human trafficking. That it is here, what it looks like and to talk to you or another responsible adult if they think they see it. If they are able, have them read In Our Backyard. It will help them recognize it.
  2. Communicate with your children, and let them talk to you without judgment. They need to know they are safer with you than anywhere else. One rule we had with our children was that if they did something wrong and they told us before we found out, they might have some consequences but their punishment would be less than if we found out another way.
  3. Technology is a big part of how human trafficking happens with youth. Know your children’s passwords, know what is on their phone. A good rule is “as long as you live under our roof, we have access to passwords, emails, texts, etc.” Your child’s privacy is important but so is their safety. If you talk to parents whose children have been human trafficked, without exception, they will all tell you they wish they had monitored their computers, cell phone and activities on social media.
  4. Technological devices now exist which include :
    • GPS tracking devices which can be placed on phones, clothes, and in backpacks which help parents and authorities track your child and find them when they first go missing.
    • DNA scent kits which can be used to help authorities and dogs track a scent trail.
  5. Know your children’s friends. Have them over to your home. Feed them a pan of brownies, a batch of cookies and sit down and talk with them. Know where they hang out and what they are like.
  6. Get youth involved in positive things, community groups, sports, music, community service, and church youth groups. Surround them with positive peer pressure.

How to Identify a Human Trafficking Danger — What to Look For

Ordinary citizens can be trained to recognize the signs and what they can do to stop it, particularly at crowded events like the Super Bowl. Possible situations to look for include:

  • A young girl who is with someone who is older, partying and/or romantically involved and that person seems to be in charge of where she goes, what she does and who she talks to
  • Someone who appears to be soliciting for prostitution (majority are human trafficked, even though they may claim to be on their own.)
  • Those dressed in a provocative way, are exceptionally flirty and repeatedly check in with someone else on a cell phone or in person.
  • Someone who seems to have a bodyguard, or friends watching from a distance.
  • Someone who is avoiding normal eye contact with others, unless soliciting
  • Someone who acts a bit skittish, fearful, or appears drugged or drunk
  • Many people coming and going from a single hotel room at all hours
  • Teens who are trying to appear as adults and carry and present fake ID
  • Physical appearance shows signs of injuries, abuse or torture.
  • Hotel housekeeping staff notices unusual amount of condoms, lubricants, etc. in hotel rooms.

What are the most important red flags people should look for?

There are several red flags people should look for and if present pay very close attention. You should pay heightened attention to people you see who:

  • are not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • are under 18 and are providing commercial human acts
  • work long hours with no breaks or unusual restrictions
  • avoid eye contact and show signs of physical abuse or restraint, confinement or torture
  • are unable to clearly explain where they live
  • are fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, or paranoid

Indicators of human trafficking in the lives of those around you:

Situation: Teen receives an offer that sounds too good to be true — a dream life, fancy cars, fancy clothes, fast living for seemingly nothing
Solution: keep in good communication with your children, do things with them to build relationship.

Situation: Teens whose circle of friends change completely and their new friends may have a gangster or provocative look
Solution: Know your children’s friends, don’t be afraid to be the parent and say no.

Situation: Children are bringing home new cell phones – gifts from a new friend.
Solution: Find out where the cell phones came from, confiscate them, and contact authorities if necessary

Situation: Children have increased and unexplained absences from school
Solution: Work with school to ascertain what is happening and cooperate to find your child immediately in an unexpected absence.

Situation: Children/teens come home with unexplained money or gifts.
Solution: Find out where they came from. Bring in outside help from counselors, relatives or others who can help. Don’t ignore or hide this to save reputation. Get help!

Situation: New tattoos
Solution: Find out who did the tattoo, find out who was with them for the tattoo and what does it mean? Who else has the same tattoo?

Situation: Girls, especially teens with a new boyfriend who may be several years older
Solution: Restrict contact with him. If that doesn’t work consider relocating your child to protect them.

How can people help the victims?

Victims that have been rescued … are hoping that they can get the help needed to find a new, safe, happy life. Human trafficking victims, particularly minors, have a tough road in front of them even under the best circumstances. They need trauma-based treatment, kindness, understanding, a stable and non-threating environment and lots of time. Many will need professional counseling and medical or mental health services to recover from the atrocities that happened to them.

There are several professional organizations who provide support and help people in the throes of domestic minor human trafficking, adult human trafficking and labor trafficking. Belles can help with those referrals.

What you should do if you find a trafficking situation

Belles advises anyone who suspects human trafficking to call local authorities or the toll-free 24-hour hotline for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center: 888-3737-888, or text BeFree (233733). Its website is

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In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do To Stop It

Nita Belles

New edition coming out June 2, 2015 Trade soft cover, Baker Books

Available in bookstores online and nationwide wherever books are sold.

For more information visit

About the Author:

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Nita Belles, is the Central Oregon Regional Director for Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans (OATH). A former Associate Pastor, she holds a Master’s Degree in Theology with a concentration in Women’s Concerns.

Belles leads a team of professionals who volunteer with In Our Backyard by fighting human trafficking during the celebrations surrounding the Super Bowl each year. She works with each states Office of the Attorney General, other government agencies and law enforcement to help prevent human trafficking and rescue victims who have been trafficked.

Belles has worked in the business arena as well as with victims/survivors of domestic violence, specializing in working with churches on related faith issues.

What People Are Saying

“Nita Belles has done us a great favor. She not only addresses the sensational aspects of the problem in a clearly documented manner — she has the chutzpah to point out the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. “

——Dr. Ted Roberts, CSAT CMAT, Best selling author, pastor and clinical counselor, Founder, Pure Desire Ministries International

“Nita Belles uses stories, statistics and history to illustrate the scourge of human trafficking that exists in America today.  That this crime against humanity targets our children in such great numbers is an outrage that should not be tolerated. In Our Backyard is a call to action…”

——MARC KLAAS, President and founder of KlaasKids and Beyond Missing, frequent guest on CNN’s Nancy Grace and other news networks

“Belles shows how trafficking victims aren’t “illegal aliens”; they are ensnared migrants and, often, pimped U.S. citizens…This book does as much as any to shed light on how economic forces—greed and demand, and even advertising—propel trafficking.”

—— MARK LAGON, former U.S. Ambassador, and Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP), former Executive Director and CEO of the Polaris Project, and Chair, International Relations and Security, and Visiting Professor, Georgetown University, MSFS Program

“This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about issues of justice and compassion in this generation. Though clear in exposing evil, there is no harshness in her tone. Her words are always marked by hope.”

——DAVID JOEL HAMILTON, Vice President for Strategic Innovation, University of the Nations, Youth with a Mission (YWAM)

“The reality is that trafficking is taking place right on our doorstep! Belles gives a compelling, comprehensive account of the veracity of trafficking in the United States. The narratives are an eye opener—revealing the hardships and hopelessness of countless thousands of victims who are the commodity of this multi-million dollar industry. Shame on us!”

—— GABRIELLA VAN BREDA, Executive Director of World Impact Network, Board of Directors of Foursquare Foundation

“I have had the opportunity to see first-had the passion Ms. Belles has for the victims of human trafficking all across our country, not just in her home state of Oregon. I’m very pleased to have had the honor to work alongside Nita. It is somewhat overwhelming to work in the presence of someone who has truly made a difference in so many lives.”

____HEATHER P. Wagner, Special Assistant Attorney General, Mississippi

Leading the Way to Zero Waste Solutions For Businesses

Avangard Innovative Partnership Adds More Options to Revolutionary Natura Zero™ Program

HOUSTON – January 28, 2015 – Avangard Innovative (AI), the largest recycler in the Americas with operations in 12 countries, has announced the newest addition to its Natura Zero™ worldwide network. Asset Value Management Services (AVM) will add another level to AI’s passionate mission of zero waste to landfills by now being able to offer Natura Zero™ clients the safe and secure disposal of out-of-date IT assets and e-waste.

“We continue to provide and maximize the value of Natura Zero™ to deliver total solutions to zero waste and this joint venture with AVM helps us achieve and enhance our goals while ensuring our customers meet theirs,” said Avangard Innovative CEO, Rick Perez. “Through partnering with like-minded businesses, we are ensuring our customers are able to efficiently recycle, reduce, and reclaim spent resources in everyday operations,” Perez added.

The Natura Zero™ program launched in 2013 to focus on zero waste to landfill initiatives and enables customers to reach their zero waste goals while minimizing waste and maximizing the volume to drive value and profitability of their recyclables. Proprietary Natura Zero™ software management system with remote tracking and reporting also generates unparalleled analysis and statistics on material type, weight, trees saved, oil barrels equivalent, etc.

AVM is a leader in technical asset management and specializes in the safe and secure disposal of out-of-date IT assets, technology value recovery and recycling management. Annually AVM processes a large volume of retired IT assets from Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies, performing full-service for end-of-life IT assets with cost-effective pricing while providing strict compliance with environmental rules and regulations.

“As technology continues to advance at phenomenal speeds, so will e-waste,” Eddie Davis, President of AVM, explained, “we are excited to partner with Avangard Innovative and expand our reach to make an even larger impact.” “Forming trusted partnerships allow us to be a convenient, ‘one stop shop’ for our customers. Together we can have a dramatic, positive impact on the environment for this and future generations,” Perez added.

As businesses continue to seek customized solutions for their waste needs that are responsible and profitable, having the resources, such as those provided through Natura Zero™ and its partnerships, will continue to be pivotal as we strive for zero waste solutions. For a complete list of service offerings and to learn more about Avangard Innovative and Natura Zero™, please visit

Fresno State Program Receives $1 Million Gift To Aid Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Community

(January 30, 2015) – A $1 million dollar gift from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous will address the growing need to train Valley educators to work with deaf and hard of hearing students who also have other special needs.

The gift will go toward the endowment of Scarlett’s Park, a program within Fresno State’s Silent Garden. The Silent Garden program was founded in 2008 by Dr. Paul W. Ogden, deaf studies professor emeritus, to foster opportunity, understanding and awareness for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Scarlett’s Park will provide resources to families of deaf and hard of hearing children with other special needs. The program will bring nationally recognized experts to Fresno State to share knowledge with parents, educators and professionals. All services will be offered free of charge.

The donor whose gift made Scarlett’s Park possible said in a letter to the University, “I have chosen Fresno State as a place to endow Scarlett’s Park in the Silent Garden because I see this unique garden as a fruitful place to create a lasting and much-needed resource for parents, teachers and professionals. My dream is that Scarlett’s Park will be a cornerstone of the deaf education program. I am joining Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro and his charge to be bold and to boldly serve this much-needed community.”

Once established, Scarlett’s Park will be the only program in California designed specifically for families with deaf or hard of hearing children with other special needs.

According to the Gallaudet Research Institute, about 40 percent of children identified as deaf or hard of hearing also have additional special needs, such as vision impairment, autism, cerebral palsy and learning disabilities.

“Teachers in the field of deaf education do not have the training and knowledge to teach any children with other special needs,” Ogden said. “The same is true for teachers in special needs programs. Special needs is a huge area and it is not possible for one teacher to become an expert. For example, working with a deaf, autistic child is an entirely different field from working with a deaf, blind child.”

Andrea DaSilva-Perez, a Fresno State deaf studies lecturer, said, in her experience working with middle school students, it was necessary to bring in an American Sign Language interpreter and a certified behavior analyst to properly care for the student.

“It is a challenge to find professionals who have specialized in working with deaf students with special needs,” DaSilva-Perez said. “They simply do the best they can with the skills they possess.”

Rosa Cruz of Fresno said services provided by Scarlett’s Park will be very beneficial for her and other parents of deaf and hard of hearing children with special needs.

She said she has seen her daughter, 17-year-old Joanna, thrive in the classroom and beyond because of services provided by teachers, psychologists and school administration. Cruz said a program like Scarlett’s Park is important for parents.

“I would advise parents to look for programs like Scarlett’s Park,” Cruz said. “It is very important that we help our children with special needs. We need our children to have that support so they can get the tools to be independent in life.”

Ogden hopes Scarlett’s Park will serve as a model for similar programs in other regions that might need more resources.

The California Department of Education reports more than 14,000 children list deaf or hard of hearing as a primary or secondary disability.

Dr. Bryan Berrett, chair of Fresno State’s Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies Department, said this number will continue to grow. “There are countless children who are unaccounted for and not receiving assistance,” Berrett said. “Through education, we can help the next generation of deaf and hard of hearing individuals with special needs realize their potential and flourish in our community.”

GOQii Launches Exclusive U.S. Beta Will Open To 500 Participants

January 22, 2015 – San Francisco, CA – GOQii Inc., the digital health platform that is dedicated to enabling a permanent shift to a healthier lifestyle, announced today that its exclusive U.S. Beta trial will launch in February. GOQii (“GO-KEY”) is the only company built on the foundation of human-centric, one-on-one health coaching combined with wearables, health apps, big data, and Karma.

The GOQii Beta will be limited to 500 participants. Those selected to join the Beta will receive 12 months of personalized health coaching to help them with goal setting, habit change, accountability and motivation. GOQii coaching features unlimited daily chats and monthly video calls through the mobile app.

Included in the Beta’s subscription is the GOQii Band activity tracker and app to measure and track sleep, activities, nutrition and Karma Points, GOQii’s exclusive gamification system that converts daily goal achievement into real monetary donations for worthy causes. The exclusive price for the 12 month Beta is $99. Participants will be asked to provide regular feedback on the product as they use it. People can apply to join the Beta beginning on January 22 at

Research has shown that fitness trackers alone do not make people healthier. GOQii’s integration of actual health coaches differentiates it from existing fitness applications, trackers and online services. Often unrealistic or unattainable goals are set to change bad habits, leading to a vicious cycle of disappointment and personal failure. Wearable devices that do more to effect behavior than simply present data can directly address the elements of habit change and trigger the sequences that lead to the establishment of new, positive habits.

With an inherent focus on personalized mentoring, GOQii coaches will interact individually with every user on a one-on-one basis as they endeavor to attain positive, long-term results through habit changes. GOQii Beta participants will communicate with their coaches via unlimited daily text messages and scheduled video chat sessions.

The U.S. GOQii Beta will include feature and service enhancements to the first version of GOQii released last year in India including: in-app video chats; integration with other popular health and fitness tracking apps, including Apple’s HealthKit; and an expanded global coaching network with U.S. based coaches.

“GOQii’s philosophy is driven by our passion for healthy and meaningful living,” explains GOQii Founder and CEO Vishal Gondal. “After using a number wearables, I felt that something was missing. They were just data-collecting gadgets and apps all of which lacked sustained engagement, motivation, customized advice and a human connection. I was looking for the complete solution for a more fulfilling way of life. With GOQii we have created that solution.”

The program takes a triple-pronged approach that focuses on the body, mind and soul. Coaches inspire users to maintain proper nutrition, activity levels and exercise, while monitoring the user’s sleep and health habit changes. And GOQii rewards users with Karma Points that translate into funds for reaching fitness goals by donating to global causes, fostering positive energy within the community. GOQii is currently partnered with Oxfam International—the global confederation of 17 organizations in 94 countries whose aim is to end poverty throughout the world.

Along with a team of internationally-renowned health experts, GOQii is expanding its network of certified health coaches to the U.S. Participants in the Beta will have the opportunity to select the coach who best suits their personal health and fitness goals.

“GOQii enhances and influences affirmative goal-oriented choices in building a better lifestyle. The best way to reach your potential and achieve your wellness goals is with a coach,” says Gondal. “Quality one-on-one health coaching has been prohibitively expensive for the average consumer. GOQii’s scalable platform allows us to deliver the same quality service at a fraction of the traditional price.”


GOQii Inc. is a digital health platform dedicated to enabling a permanent shift to a healthier lifestyle through a combination of one-on-one health coaching, activity tracking technology and Karma Points, GOQii’s exclusive points system that results in donations to worthy causes. At the heart of the system are the GOQii coaches who are driven by a passion for healthy sustainable living and believe in the boundless potential of their users.

Founded by one of India’s leading tech entrepreneurs, Vishal Gondal, GOQii has generated an overwhelming response during its trial launch in India and resulted in strong customer validation as well as partnerships with Microsoft, Oxfam International and Reebok.

GOQii is funded by leading angel investors, such as Amit Singhal (Google), Anil Godhwani (Habitera), Bharat Vasan (MyBasis), Marco Argenti (Amazon), Deepak Shahdadpuri (DSGCP), Dr. Shriram Nene, Esther Dyson (EFF), Gautam Godhwani (Simply Hired), Kanwaljit Bombra (Dell), Madhuri Dixit-Nene (Bollywood Actress), Mahesh Samat (Epic), Mike McNamara (Flextronics), Prashant Gulati (TiE), Sanjay Parthasarthy (Indix), Sanjay Vaswani, Steve Luczo (Seagate), Taher Khorakiwala, Vijay Vashee (Microsoft), Rajan Anandan (Google) and S. Somasegar (Microsoft) .

For more information, visit

Camp Kids Are Kids Chicago Gears Up For Successful Second Year

Exciting updates unveiled at recent camper reunion

On January 25, 2015, Camp Kids are Kids Chicago (CKAKC) – the only urban camp for kids living with cancer – hosted a reunion at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (A Four Seasons Hotel) for children who attended the Camp’s inaugural session in August 2014. Campers and their families gathered in the Hotel’s Pearson Room, from 1-3pm. They reconnected with one another, enjoyed an array of sweet and savory treats, viewed a montage of 2014’s festivities, and learned exciting news about this year’s Camp.

“It was incredible to have everyone back together, as though we never parted ways,” said Blaine J. Blanchard, Founder, Camp Kids are Kids Chicago. “Watching the kids reunite and seeing a sea of smiles across the room was truly heartwarming. It made me even more excited for ‘Roughin’ it at The Ritz’ year two!”

Among the announcements were this year’s theme and dates. The 2015 Camp Kids are Kids will take place, from August 9-13, and “Game On” is the theme for the fun-filled five days. The Ritz-Carlton Chicago will, once again, act as the campground, transforming luxurious guest suites into bunk cabins, for a more ordinary camp experience.


Furthermore, this year’s Camp Director was unveiled, Rich Brundige, who joined the group last year as Activities Coordinator. Rich has been involved with pediatric oncology camps for 18 years, holding a variety of leadership positions. He serves on the Children’s Oncology Camping Association- International (COCA-I) Board, expanding his involvement nationwide.

Last year’s Camp featured traditional activities, such as campfires and cookouts, arts and crafts, and swimming, while also taking advantage of the urban setting with a dinner cruise, visit to the Museum of Science and Industry, ice cream atop the famed John Hancock Center, and much more. Campers anxiously await August’s itinerary – sure to be another epic week – and, at the reunion, documented their vision for how “Game On” might unfold.

CKAKC is thrilled to host 32 children this year, an increase from last year’s 26, with absolutely no financial obligation from their families. Campers will be from the Chicagoland area, ages 8-16. Leading up to August, a number of local fundraisers will take place to help fund this year’s programming. For more information, visit

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