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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

Philanthropy

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.

Resqme, Inc. Saves Lives in Honor of Car Crash Victim Ashley Neufeld

Los Angeles, CA – Four years ago today, college athlete Ashley Neufeld, 21, and two of her softball teammates, Kyrstin Gemar and Afton Williamson, went out on a stargazing trip to a local field when their SUV crashed into a farm pond in Stark County, North Dakota. Tragically, Ashley and her friends, unable to escape when the car became submerged in water, never returned from their adventure.

An accomplished softball player, valued teammate and aspiring softball coach, Ashley grew up in Brandon, Manitoba, where she competed in several Canadian and Western Canadian Championships and as part of the Manitoba Team at the 2005 Canada Summer Games.  As a result of her fruitful early career, she attended Dickinson State College in North Dakota on a scholarship, where she met the two young women who were with her on November 1, 2009, the day her life was tragically cut short.

In the wake of Ashley’s fatal accident, friends and family created the Ashley Neufeld Memorial Fund to honor Ashley’s life and raise funds with a customized resqme tool with her name on it. The foundation came up with two primary goals: do whatever possible to prevent a similar incident from happening again and honor Ashley’s life by supporting local softball leagues.

It was then that a partnership with car safety device company resqme, Inc., was forged. Originally designed for emergency personnel, the resqme device is an easy to use, lightweight and extremely powerful tool equipped with a protected sharp blade to cut jammed seatbelts and a spring-loaded spike to shatter car windows in the event of vehicle entrapment.

“My niece and I were friends of the Neufeld family and after the event had several conversations about what we might be able to do for the family and to honor Ashley. We came up with the idea to find a device that might save someone in similar circumstances,” said Ashley Neufeld Memorial Fund co-founder Brett Turner, “The girls were not killed in a collision, they died because they couldn’t escape the car.  We found the resqme tool though online searches and contacted the company. A group of softball coaches in Brandon formed the Ashley Neufeld Memorial Fund and we began selling the resqme tool in Ashley’s name.”

The Ashley Neufeld Memorial Fund thought the resqme tool was a perfect fit for fundraising efforts because of its reliability and commitment to saving lives. Thus, the “Ashley tool” was born—a resqme device bearing Ashley Neufeld’s name.

Since resqme and the Ashley Neufeld Fund began their partnership, over 7,000 resqme tools have been sold and over $520,000 has been raised in Ashley’s memory. Most importantly, the Ashley Neufeld resqme tool is saving lives.

In Ashley’s home of Province of Manitoba, several incidents of vehicle entrapment have come to the foundation’s attention in which the “Ashley tool” was used to save lives.

First, a young man used his “Ashley tool” to escape his submerged vehicle after he lost control and rolled his truck into a ditch. Another young man was trapped in his vehicle after rolling into a ditch, this time dry, and was able to escape his locked seatbelt using the sharp blade on his resqme keychain.

In a separate incident, the Ashley resqme tool helped save the life of a baby girl who was accidentally locked inside a vehicle on a hot day. Her mother, in a panic, tried to break into her car with no success until a good citizen with an “Ashley tool” was able to break the window and free the baby.

In honor of the fourth anniversary of Ashley’s fatal accident, the Ashley Neufeld Memorial Fund and resqme hope to continue to raise awareness about car safety and funds for local softball leagues through resqme sales. Despite having raised enough money to begin construction on two new softball diamonds expected to be completed this coming spring, the foundation is looking to raise $680,000 more to complete their project.

Amazon Launches AmazonSmile – A Simple, Automatic Way For Customers To Support Their Favorite Charitable Organizations

Amazon will donate a percentage of the purchase price for millions of products each time 
customers shop at 
smile.amazon.com

Customers can choose from nearly a million charitable organizations

SEATTLE – Oct. 30, 2013 – Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today launched AmazonSmile, a new program that makes it easy for customers to support their favorite charitable organizations every time they shop. Customers who visit AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com) will find the exact same Amazon they know and love. They’ll enjoy the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience – with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to their favorite charitable organization. There is no cap on the total donation amount and customers can choose from nearly one million organizations around the country.

“We’re offering customers a way to support charitable organizations around the country that’s simple and automatic,” said Ian McAllister, General Manager, AmazonSmile. “We think customers will love the opportunity to support their favorite organizations without changing how they shop, and there’s no cap on how much Amazon will donate.”

“AmazonSmile allows us to reach millions of existing and new supporters who can help us find cures for cancer and save children,” said Richard Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “At St. Jude, we’re leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer while ensuring no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food. Working with AmazonSmile gives us a new way to support our mission that’s simple for both us and our supporters.”

“Amazon and charity: water are both known for disrupting the status quo and this program is the kind of innovation that could change the way our supporters help us bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations,” said charity: water founder and CEO, Scott Harrison. “AmazonSmile will make charitable giving easier, which is a big win for our supporters, and, most importantly, the 800 million people on the planet who don’t have clean and safe drinking water.”

When customers first go to AmazonSmile they’ll be asked to select their favorite charitable organization from almost a million eligible organizations – and that’s it. Once a customer has selected an organization on their first visit, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from any eligible purchases through AmazonSmile from that point forward, whether a customer shops just once or once a day. Customers can select a new charitable organization at any time, but don’t need to add any additional information or change the way they shop. All they need to do is remember to type smile.amazon.com into the browser on their PC, tablet or phone.

Donations to charitable organizations will be made by the AmazonSmile Foundation. Customers can learn more and begin supporting their favorite organization at smile.amazon.com, and charitable organizations can learn more and register to accept donations at org.amazon.com.

About Amazon.com

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth’s Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of unique new, refurbished and used items in categories such as Books; Movies, Music & Games; Digital Downloads; Electronics & Computers; Home & Garden; Toys, Kids & Baby; Grocery; Apparel, Shoes & Jewelry; Health & Beauty; Sports & Outdoors; and Tools, Auto & Industrial. Amazon Web Services provides Amazon’s developer customers with access to in-the-cloud infrastructure services based on Amazon’s own back-end technology platform, which developers can use to enable virtually any type of business. Kindle Paperwhite is the world’s best-selling and most advanced e-reader. It features new display technology with higher contrast, the next generation built-in light, a faster processor, the latest touch technology, and exclusive new features designed from the ground up for readers. Kindle, the lightest and smallest Kindle, features improved fonts and faster page turns. The new Kindle Fire HDX features a stunning exclusive 7” or 8.9” HDX display, a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, 2x more memory, and 11 hours of battery life, as well as exclusive new features of Fire OS 3.0 including X-Ray for Music, Second Screen, Prime Instant Video downloads, and the revolutionary new Mayday button. The all-new Kindle Fire HD includes an HD display, high-performance processor and dual speakers at a breakthrough price 

Amazon and its affiliates operate websites, including www.amazon.comwww.amazon.co.ukwww.amazon.dewww.amazon.co.jp,www.amazon.frwww.amazon.cawww.amazon.cnwww.amazon.itwww.amazon.eswww.amazon.com.brwww.amazon.in, andwww.amazon.com.mx. As used herein, “Amazon.com,” “we,” “our” and similar terms include Amazon.com, Inc., and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise.

Forward-Looking Statements

This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management’s expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment and data center optimization, seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, inventory, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com’s financial results is included in Amazon.com’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings.

More than 3,700 Insurance Professionals Volunteer 10,800 Hours During Insurance Industry’s Annual Week of Giving

Walnut Creek, CA  – October 29, 2013 – Morethan  3,700 insurance professionals, representing more than 125 agencies across 21 states, volunteered their time to help local communities across the country during the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) annual Week of Giving, held from October 12-19. Durring this year’s Week of Giving, volunteers from insurance companies across America contributed over 10,800 hours with community and non-profit organizations across the country. Below are a few highlights of the work conducted by IICF volunteers.

  • Swiss Re volunteers prepared home-cooked meals for families with children undergoing medical treatment as part of the Meals from the Heart  program at four Ronald McDonald Houses across Chicagoland and Northern Indiana.
  • In Texas, 230 volunteers 13 companies came together to clean up the Trinity River Forest in efforts to reduce flooding and provide ecosystem restoration.
  • Volunteers in California from The Sullivan Group and AIG worked together to plant a vegetable garden at Canyon Acres Ranch, serving abused, neglected and emotionally troubled children and their families.
  • Volunteers from ACE Group,  Beneficial Insurance Services , RIMS, and Willis teamed up with the American Red Cross to assemble and deliver fire safety kits throughout the city of Philadelphia.

In addition to organizing community service projects, the IICF launched a personal giving campaign benefitting Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street.  The IICF and Sesame Workshop’s new early literacy program, Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day, was launched on October 11 as a part of the IICF Early Literacy Initiative.

The campaign will continue through the end of October. Individuals can donate $5 by texting INSURANCE to 50555 or visiting www.weekofgiving.iicf.org. 100 percent of donations designated to Week of Giving will go to support Sesame Workshop and  the IICF early literacy program.

For more information about the IICF Week of Giving and personal giving campaign, please visit www.weekofgiving.iicf.org. If you’re interested in learning more about Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day, please visit www.sesamestreet.org/literacyYou can also contact the Foundation office at (925) 280-8009.

About the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation was established in 1994 and is directed and funded by the insurance industry. The Industry Foundation helps communities and enriches lives by uniting the collective strengths of the industry to provide grants, volunteer service and leadership. The Industry Foundation has contributed over $20 million and 176,800 volunteer hours to community nonprofits. IICF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.

PenFed Foundation Receives Prestigious 2013 AUSA National Service Award

Nonprofit honored for its work supporting both active-duty and retired soldiers of U.S. Army

October 24, 2013, Washington, D.C. — The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation (PenFed Foundation), a nationally recognized nonprofit organization working to meet the unmet financial needs of military members and their families, announced today it received the prestigious Association of the Unites States Army (AUSA) National Service Award earlier this week at the 2013 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C. This is the first year this award has been presented.

“We are honored to be recognized for our continued support helping military families including both active-duty and retired soldiers from the U.S. Army,” said Christopher Flynn, president and CEO of the PenFed Foundation.“This award is a testament to the mission of the foundation.”

Each year, the AUSA presents different awards to groups and individuals who have served the Army and the Association with distinction. The PenFed Foundation was selected to receive the National Service Award because of its long commitment to the Army through its programs. The AUSA presented the PenFed Foundation with the award during the opening ceremony of the annual meeting at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Monday, October 21. http://ausameetings.org/annual.

From its inception in 2001, the PenFed Foundation has served more than 6,500 service members and has granted over $6 million in financial support through its three main programs: The Dream Makers, the Military Heroes Fund, and Asset Recovery Kit (ARK) program. As part of a public-private partnership, the foundation also recently gifted to the Department of Veterans Affairs a new $11 million free hotel for veterans undergoing medical care called the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge. The lodge is near completion and is scheduled to open doors in January 2014.

“Receiving this award speaks to our commitment to both service members and veterans along with their families,” added Flynn. “And it shows the work we do on a daily basis is valued by community leadership organizations like AUSA.”

About the Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation (the PenFed Foundation) 

The PenFed Foundation is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization working to meet the unmet financial needs of military members and their families through supporting wounded warriors and providing financial management assistance and home ownership aid. As part of a public-private partnership, the foundation also recently gifted to the Department of Veterans Affairs a new $11 million free hotel for veterans undergoing medical care called the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge. PenFed (Pentagon Federal Credit Union) covers all labor expenses for the foundation so every dollar donated goes directly to supporting its programs. 

To make a donation or learn more about the PenFed Foundation visit: http://www.penfedfoundation.org.

STARKEY HEARING FOUNDATION RECEIVES ROYAL HELP IN LESOTHO

Sentebale, founded by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, joins fight for better hearing.

MINNEAPOLIS (October 17, 2013) – Starkey Hearing Foundation conducted a two-day hearing mission in Maseru, Lesotho last week, providing more than 1,000 customized hearing devices to people in need. The foundation partnered with Sentebale, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Prince Seeiso of Lesotho and Prince Harry.  

Prince Seeiso joined the foundation team to help fit hearing aids and open up the world of sound to many living in silence and isolation. “I have seen children wanting to talk to each other, and their eyes tell a thousand stories,” Prince Seeiso said. “On behalf of myself, Prince Harry and Sentebale, a big thanks goes to Starkey Hearing Foundation.” 

Patients, ranging from 4 to 101 years old, traveled from all parts of the small, landlocked country to have their hearing assessed and be fitted for hearing aids. For many it was an opportunity to hear for the very first time. 

Hearing loss is a global epidemic, with disabling hearing loss impacting more than 360 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Yet with the help of a hearing device, hearing loss can often be corrected in many cases, giving an individual the opportunity to better connect with family, the community and the world around them. 

“Hearing brings meaning and purpose to our lives, and we never stop wanting to connect with our loved ones,” Bill Austin, founder of Starkey Hearing Foundation, said. “With our inaugural mission in Lesotho, Sentebale, Prince Seeiso and Prince Harry, and the government of Lesotho have helped us open up the doors to the world of sound for thousands.” 

Starkey Hearing Foundation uses hearing as a vehicle to improve the lives of individuals around the world. Its work in Lesotho is part of the dozens of domestic and international hearing missions conducted each year. The foundation has fit more than 165,000 hearing aids to people in need in the last year and has pledged to fit one million hearing aids this decade. 

More information about the foundation’s work can be found on Starkey Hearing Foundation’s websiteFacebook and Twitter pages. 

About Starkey Hearing Foundation

Starkey Hearing Foundation uses hearing as a vehicle to reflect caring and improve the lives of individuals, families and communities around the world, by helping them reach their full potential. Hearing loss affects one in 10 Americans, and 63 million children worldwide, yet many do not have access to the hearing devices that can help them. Starkey Hearing Foundation fits and gives more than 100,000 hearing aids annually, and as a member of President Clinton’s Global Initiative, it has pledged to fit one million hearing aids this decade. In addition to giving the gift of hearing through worldwide hearing missions, Starkey Hearing Foundation promotes hearing health awareness and education through the Listen Carefully initiative and provides hearing instruments to low-income Americans through the Hear Now program. For more information on Starkey Hearing Foundation, visit www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org.

About Sentebale
Sentebale was founded by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso from the Lesotho Royal family in response to the plight of the neediest and most vulnerable children of Lesotho – many victims of extreme poverty and Lesotho’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Lesotho’s main operations are based in Lesotho with fundraising and management team based in London, headed up by Chief Executive Cathy Ferrier. Both Princes remain active patrons of Sentebale. For further information please visit www.sentebale.org.

Wender Weis Foundation for Children Announces Fourth Annual Holiday Heroes at AT&T Park

Families to Experience Memorable Moments at Holiday Spectacular Benefitting Five Bay Area Children’s Charities

WWFC to Honor Joe and Jennifer Montana with Inspiration Award

SAN FRANCISCO (October 15, 2013)  – Wender Weis Foundation for Children (WWFC) has announced its fourth annual Holiday Heroes event, an exciting evening of holiday joy and fun for San Francisco Bay Area families and children.  Holiday Heroes’ attendees will enjoy an exclusive opportunity to meet local athletes while experiencing a holiday celebration featuring children’s games, activities, a silent auction, and behind-the-scenes access to AT&T Park, home of the World Champion San Francisco Giants.  Current and former Bay Area athletes scheduled to attend Holiday Heroes include San Francisco Giants’ relief pitcher George Kontos; NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana; U.S. figure skater and Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi; U.S. hockey player, Olympian, and Stanley Cup Champion Bret Hedican; and U.S. skier and Olympic Gold medalist  Jonny Mosely.  Holiday Heroes, one of WWFC’s most highly-anticipated events to raise funds for children in need, will kick off the holiday season on Monday, December 9, with festivities from 5:45 to 8:30 p.m.

“Holiday Heroes is as much a grand party with everyone’s favorite, caring athletes as it is an event that is dedicated to raising funds for the ultimate holiday gift – access to resources that help children grow their confidence and self-esteem so they can ultimately realize all their dreams,” said Amy Wender-Hoch, WWFC founder.  “This year, we are thrilled to introduce the Wender Weis Foundation for Children’s first-ever Inspiration Award as a way to recognize how important positive contributions are in helping to build up our community’s kids.”

WWFC is honoring Joe and Jennifer Montana with its first Inspiration Award for the couple’s philanthropic efforts and positive impact on the community through their Four Rings Family Foundation.  This special recognition also celebrates the launch of Jennifer Montana Design’s Chain Reaction Key Necklaces, casual yet elegant handmade jewelry that inspires people to be positive while providing economic opportunity and support for individuals in need. 

In addition to raising funds and awareness for children’s charities, Holiday Heroes is an extraordinary experience for children, enabling them to create wonderful holiday memories that last a lifetime.  WWFC will invite over 600 children to attend the event, including 300 children from the foundation’s benefitting organizations.  They, their families, and donors will enjoy rare access to the San Francisco Giants’ dugout and batting tunnels, ballpark fare, beverages, plus activities such as holiday cookie decorating, teddy bear stuffing, face painting, photo/video booths, and a silent auction.  Holiday Heroes is a one-of-a-kind, magical evening where children will meet local sports heroes while celebrating the season, and where parents may enjoy mingling with friends and/or sipping a glass of wine knowing their kids are having a wonderful holiday experience in a safe, fun environment. 

The evening kicks off at 4:30 p.m. with a special reception for Sponsor Hero and Major Sponsor ticket holders in the Giants’ Clubhouse.  These guests will have a chance to view the World Series Trophies, get early access to the batting tunnels and dugout, as well as enjoy beverages and appetizers.  Doors open for the main event at 5:45 p.m. on the Club Level.

The cost to attend Holiday Heroes is $195 to $385 for individual tickets; $425 to $775 for tickets at the Sponsor Hero level; and $1,750 to $50,000 for Major Sponsor level.  A $75 donation sponsors one child from one of WWFC’s benefitting children’s organizations.  Proceeds for this year’s Holiday Heroes will benefit the Junior Giants Baseball Program, 49ers Foundation, Holy Family Day Home, Raphael House, San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, Always Dream Foundation, Fit Kids, and Four Rings Family Foundation.  Tickets are available for purchase at www.wenderweis.org or by calling (650) 321-4142.

Holiday Heroes Event Chairpersons are Meg and Craige Bertero along with Christine and Kevin Considine.  WWFC is thrilled to have Shannon and Dan Cronan; Trish and Charlie Loucks; Susan Solinsky and Paul Duryea; and Lori Puccinelli Stern and Peter Stern as Honorary Chairpersons for the event.

About Wender Weis Foundation for Children

Bay Area-based Wender Weis Foundation for Children (WWFC) is a nonprofit organization committed to encouraging underserved and low-income children throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in order to help them develop their confidence and self-esteem.  WWFC raises funds for and awareness about charitable organizations that provide assistance to children in need.  WWFC donates proceeds from fundraising efforts, including its annual Holiday Heroes event, to sponsor various outreach programs.  Amy Wender-Hoch founded WWFC in 1994 in honor of her family.  More information is available at www.wenderweis.org.

Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation Kicks Off Annual Week of Giving

Insurance Industry Demonstrates Commitment to Early Literacy Through Annual Volunteerism and Philanthropy Campaign

Walnut Creek, CA  –  October 14, 2013 – The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF), a non-profit organization funded by the insurance industry, has officially begun its annual Week of Giving. Held October 12-19, 2013, the Week of Giving is an eight-day, industry-wide volunteer and personal giving event where teams of insurance industry volunteers provide three or more hours of volunteer service at neighborhood and community nonprofit organizations across the country.

During the week, teams of volunteers from the insurance industry head out into communities to donate their time for service projects at local non-profit organizations. More than 125 agencies, 141 volunteer teams and 2,637 volunteers have already signed up to participate in this year’s volunteer activities.

Volunteer teams can sign up to participate in various activities at www.weekofgiving.iicf.org.

2013 Personal Giving Campaign to Support Sesame Workshop

In addition to volunteerism, the Week of Giving also includes a personal giving campaign. The IICF Week of Giving provides an opportunity for insurance professionals to join together to make financial contributions that collectively make a significant impact on a national, social cause.

This year, the IICF selected Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, as the beneficiary of the campaign. IICF has partnered with Sesame Workshop on a new early literacy program called “Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day” as a part of the IICF Early Literacy Initiative. This three year  partnership with Sesame Workshop will support the IICF’s goal to develop a united industry strategy to impact early literacy for the most vulnerable children ages 0-5.

Thoughout the month of October, individuals can donate $5 by texting INSURANCE to 50555. Alternatively, contributions of all sizes and company matching  can be made online at www.weekofgiving.iicf.org. 100 percent of donations designated to Week of Giving will go to support Sesame Workshop and  the IICF early literacy program.

“We’re proud to  represent an industry that is focused on philanthropy and committed to dedicating its resources and efforts towards volunteerism, service and leadership,” said Bill Ross, CEO of the IICF. “This year’s Week of Giving marks a milestone for IICF as we continue to build awareness and support for our first national program . Through our Week of Giving and  early literacy initiative we will  continue to grow a meaningful discussion regarding the importance of early childhood literacy.”

For more information about the IICF Week of Giving, to register a volunteer team or to make a donation, please visitwww.weekofgiving.iicf.org. If you’re interested in learning more about Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day, please visitwww.sesamestreet.org/literacyYou can also contact the Foundation office at (925) 280-8009.

About the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation was established in 1994 and is directed and funded by the insurance industry. The Industry Foundation helps communities and enriches lives by uniting the collective strengths of the industry to provide grants, volunteer service and leadership. The Industry Foundation has contributed over $20 million and 166,000 volunteer hours to community nonprofits. IICF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.

Sesame Street Partners With The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation To Promote Early Childhood Literacy

Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day Continues  Sesame Street’s Mission Helping Every Child Reach their Highest Potential…

October 11, 2013. Research shows that prior to starting school, children from high-income families benefit from 400 hours more literacy-related activities than children from low-income families[1].  Furthermore, by age four, a high-income child is exposed to 35 million more words than a low-income child[2].  In response to the wide gap in literacy rates that prevails between children of high and low-income families, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, has partnered with the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF), a non-profit organization funded by the insurance industry and focused on community development across the United States, to launch Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day.

This new bilingual, digital resource includes tips, games, and activities that parents, caregivers, and volunteers can engage children with to improve their reading and writing capabilities from an early age. The resources were unveiled today at the New York City Public Library and are available, for free, to parents across the country atwww.sesamestreet.org/literacy.

In concert with the united insurance community, theIICF and Sesame Workshop will be promoting Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day at events nationwide and will be working to reach as many families and volunteers as possible through both local and national programming.

The project aims to:

  • Help parents and caregivers realize the important role they play in creating the foundation for literacy in their children.
  • Provide volunteers with engaging, fun-filled, and educational resources that they can use to positively impact the literacy development of undeserved children across the United States.
  • Present children with games and activities that will stimulate their interest in talking, reading, and writing from an early age.

“From the very beginning, Sesame Street has promoted the importance of early-childhood education. However, children from low-income families do not have access to the same educational opportunities as children from high-income families,” says Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President for Community and Family Engagement at Sesame Workshop at Sesame Workshop. “With support from IICF, we are excited to bring Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day to young children. Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day will provide families, parents, caregivers, and volunteers with materials that draw from everyday life, thus giving adults an easy way to implement literacy into their daily interactions with children.”

The program includes:

  • Video segments that draw from everyday life and model ways for parents to easily engage their children in activities around vocabulary, reading, and writing.
  • Materials volunteers can use to plan fun-filled literacy-based experiences for children and families.
  • A Parent/ Caregiver guide bursting with information and activities to encourage literacy development for children ages two to five. The guide also includes additional material that parents can use to help form the building blocks for literacy in children ages zero to two.
  • A new mobile site with videos, games, and activities for parents and volunteers to enjoy with children on-the-go, as well as an online section dedicated to Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day on sesamestreet.org.

“Together with our insurance industry partners we are proud to collaborate with Sesame Workshop on such an important initiative that will positively impact thousands of children in the communities where we live, work and serve,” said Bill Ross, chief executive officer for IICF. “The IICF and insurance industry are committed to improving early childhood literacy rates across America, but we know change will not happen overnight. This is why we felt it was so important to make a long-term, active, commitment to Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day, where we support and sponsor Sesame Workshop, but more importantly, engage the nationwide network of insurance professionals across the country to serve as advocates, stewards and volunteers for this wonderful program.”

All materials are free to download at www.sesamestreet.org/literacy.

About Sesame Workshop: Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the landmark television program that reaches millions of children every day in more than 150 countries. The Workshop’smission is to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere reach their highest potential. Delivered through a variety of platforms, Sesame Workshop develops research-based content – including television programs, books, games, mobile apps and community engagement initiatives – that supports early childhood learning, helps prepare children for school, and addresses developmental needs. The Workshop’s programs are tailored to the needs of specific regions and focus on topics that help young children and families develop critical skills for lifelong learning. For more information, visit us at www.sesameworkshop.org.

About the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF): The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation was established in 1994 and is completely directed and funded by the insurance industry. The foundation helps communities and enriches lives by uniting the collective strengths of the industry to provide grants, volunteer service and leadership. Since its inception in 1994, IICF has contributed more than $20 million in grants to charities and 166,000 volunteer hours to hundreds of community nonprofit organizations. IICF is a registered not-for-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Learn more at about the IICF at www.iicf.org.

Visit Sesame Street at:

http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/

www.facebook.com/SesameStreetInCommunities

Sesame Street on Facebook

Sesame Street on Twitter

Sesame Street on Youtube

http://www.sesameworkshop.org/press-room/literacy/

On International Day of the Girl Child, Women Gather Together, Share Strength and Change Lives through Fashion Advocacy, Engagement, Education

SEATTLE, Oct. 11, 2013 — In honor of the third annual U.N.-sanctioned International Day of the Girl Child, World Vision encourages individuals to talk with sisters, mothers, daughters and other influential women in their lives about how strong women make a strong world. 

The Numbers 

  • An estimated 5.5 million children are trafficked annually for forced child labor and sexual exploitation. While trafficked children are often teenagers, many are even younger.
  • 67 percent of the illiterate people in the world are women and girls; many are denied access to education because of early marriage and other cultural practices. Even gathering water is often a burden that prevents girls from going to school.
  • Every 90 seconds a woman dies from complications of pregnancy or childbirth – most could be prevented with access to proper nutrition and medical care.

The Fight 

  • World Vision programs for child protection, gender-based violence survivors and peace building & gender equality work to educate communities about women and girls’ rights. In 2012, awareness and outreach initiatives reached 75,000 people vulnerable to sexual exploitation in Bangladesh, and helped 385 survivors of sexual exploitation in Cambodia.
  • Increasing the number of educated girls by 10 percent in a developing nation can increase GNP by 3 percent. Through the World Vision Gift Catalog, donating as little as $35 – the cost of your average blouse – can help provide a young woman with job training or school supplies for a year.
  • The Gates Foundation-funded World Vision Alive & Thrive project in Ethiopia is just one avenue of women’s health education. After just one year, the program has seen success rates as high as 80 percent.

The Tools 

  • Explore donation options for girls & women through the World Vision Gift Catalog.
  • Engage in fashion advocacy by gifting jewelry, scarves, T-shirts and other handcrafted accessories that fund women’s programs for birthdays or holidays.
  • Visit StrongWomenStrongWorld.org to sign up to receive e-mailed news and updates and explore the projects strengthening women right now, all over the world.
  • Get involved with a Women of Vision group in your area for upcoming events, film screenings, service projects and book studies.
  • Listen to girls around the world share their stories of hardship, bravery and strength on the Women of Vision YouTube channel.
  • Attend a screening of documentary, “Girl Rising” in your local area.

By engaging in International Day of the Girl Child, the world’s millions of vulnerable girls are empowered and equipped to become the strong women we know in our lives. 

About World Vision 

World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at@WorldVisionNews.

Uruut Named a Top 10 Atlanta Startup as the Crowdfunding Platform’s First Project Surpasses $100K Goal

Nonprofit fundraising startup gets national media attention, announces new board member and wraps up successful opening raise

October 8, 2013 (ATLANTA) – Today, UruutTM, a collaborative nonprofit online fundraising platform, announces that by all indications it has completed the largest opening raise of any donation-based crowdfunding site. This achievement comes with the announcement of new high-profile board member, Doug Shipman, and shortly after being named one of Atlanta’s top 10 startups by tech media outlet, The Next Web.

Uruut’s first project, the Ashford Park Education Foundation’s (APSEF) campaign to build a new outdoor classroom, launched on July 10 with 90 days to reach its goal of $100,000. With a platinum sponsorship of $35,000 from Ed Voyles Automotive Group, an additional 40 business and foundation sponsors and hundreds of individual donations, the school reached its goal on October 3 with five days left in the campaign.

Uruut is the only online fundraising platform built specifically for nonprofits that supports contributions from individuals, businesses and foundations.  As a result, close to 60 percent of APSEF’s donations came from businesses and foundations – making this crowdfunding project an industry first, and setting Uruut apart.

“We are thrilled with the success we’ve seen as Uruut’s first project owner and excited to turn our dream for an outdoor classroom into a reality,” said Shawn Keefe, president of APSEF and parent of first and fourth graders.  “Uruut enabled us to execute a campaign of this size by providing the platform and tools necessary to run an effective campaign.  As a result, we are on our way to delivering a major project that will be core to Ashford Park School’s curriculum, our students and the vitality of our community.”

With the initial success of its beta launch, Uruut got the attention of new board member, Doug Shipman, a leader in the effort to build the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, serving as its CEO since 2007.

“We are thrilled to have Doug join our list of very talented board members,” said Mark Feinberg, Uruut’s co-founder and CEO.  “His experience in a range of industries, as well as knowledge of both the nonprofit and private sectors bring rich connections and expertise in corporate social responsibility.”

“I am excited to be a part of Uruut’s mission to strengthen communities,” said Shipman. “There are countless local projects that simply do not receive the funding necessary to reach their goals.  The recent rise of crowdfunding has proven very successful in helping with underfunded projects, but until now we haven’t seen a platform built specifically for nonprofits with the capability to accept donations from all three funding

sources.  For this reason, I truly believe Uruut will transform the traditional fundraising model and empower communities across America.”

Shipman’s role on the Uruut board of directors will focus on providing the team added expertise in the area of nonprofit management, fundraising and strategy.

Since launching its public beta period on July 10, Uruut has continued to gain momentum – successfully funding two projects and attracting dozens more to its platform.  Nonprofits and civic organizations interested in receiving funding through Uruut’s platform can click here to apply for public beta consideration. 

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