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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
social entrepreneurship, impact investing, philanthropy
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Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: September 2013

How a little girl with brain cancer inspired ‘citizen science’

‘Project Violet’ aims to speed drug discovery using scaffolds from nature and crowdfunding
Dr. Jim Olson

Dr. Jim Olson, a pediatric brain cancer specialist whose laboratory is based in the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutch

Photo by Susie Fitzhugh

SEATTLE – Aug. 12, 2013 – A spirited, red-headed girl named Violet who died at age 11 from an inoperable brainstem tumor is the inspiration behind “Project Violet,” a “citizen science” drug-discovery project being launched by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The project is using crowdfunding to enlist the help of the community to develop a fundamentally new class of anti-cancer compounds derived from scaffolds of nature – chemical templates from organisms such as violets, scorpions and sunflowers – to attack cancer cells while leaving healthy cells untouched. The ultimate goal is to develop highly targeted treatments that kill the cancer while sparing patients from the toxic side effects of chemotherapy such as hair loss and nausea.

The visionary behind the project is Violet’s doctor, Jim Olson, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric brain cancer specialist whose laboratory is based in the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutch and who also practices at Seattle Children’s.

Before Violet died last year, she and her family requested a rapid autopsy to enable the creation of important research tools from her brain tumor. She wanted those tools to be shared with scientists worldwide to help kids who are diagnosed in the future.

‘The most exciting project I’ve worked on in my life’


“That spirit of generosity led to the most exciting scientific project I’ve worked on in my life. It was only fitting that it be named after Violet,” Olson said.

“That spirit of generosity led to the most exciting scientific project I’ve worked on in my life. It was only fitting that it be named after Violet,” Olson said. “I knew that we were going to do this in her spirit, memory and honor.”

Project Violet was built on the success of Olson’s initial invention of Tumor Paint, a molecule derived from scorpion venom that safely travels through the body and causes cancer cells to light up to help surgeons visually distinguish cancer from normal tissue.

“We were impressed that scorpions have evolved amazing drugs, which led us to begin looking deeply into the drugs produced by other plants and animals. For example, sunflower petals are not eaten by bugs because they make a compound that protects them from hungry insects,” Olson said. “Likewise, we found exquisite examples of drugs made by potatoes, spiders, cone snails, sea slugs and, yes, violets.”

Optides: Creating precision therapies that spare healthy cells

flower image

Inspired by nature’s medicine chest, Olson and colleagues created an entirely new class of drugs: “optimized peptides” or “optides” for short. These tiny molecules can be instructed to bind to particular kinds of cancer cells, disabling only those cells. They also can be attached to chemotherapy drugs, transforming them into precision therapies that spare healthy cells. Optides are also potentially less expensive and more powerful than other next-generation therapies.

Olson and colleagues are developing optides that target some of the most treatment-resistant malignancies: brain cancer, melanoma, breast cancer and tumors of the neck and throat.

While developing new cancer treatments is the primary focus of optides research at Fred Hutch, this new class of drugs also offers the potential to develop new treatments for epilepsy, depression, anxiety and other disorders of the central nervous system, Olson said.

“Optides offer unprecedented accuracy – an entirely new class of drugs that are far less toxic, far more effective and flexible enough to be used in a wide range of applications,” he said.

Using scaffolds from nature to develop drugs is not a new concept; other researchers and drug companies have been interested in creating new drugs using molecules derived from plants and animals. However, most efforts have failed because there have been huge barriers to making thousands of optide variants inexpensively, rapidly and in quantities large enough to conduct scientifically rigorous experiments.

“Our team at the Hutch has overcome six major barriers,” Olson said. He and his collaborators have developed a new optide production system to quickly synthesize thousands of optide variants that can then be evaluated for therapeutic potential.

“Whereas it takes some companies a decade to make hundreds of peptide drug candidates, we can make 12,000 a month and are ramping up beyond that.

“Nature provides the raw materials and we provide the expertise to turn them into lifesaving therapies,” Olson said.

How the public can get involved

  • Citizen scientists all over the world can help build Project Violet’s candidate drug libraries by adopting a drug candidate for $100. By choosing from one of six organisms – violet, scorpion, locust, sunflower, spider or human – they’ll also receive an image of their drug molecule.
  • The drug candidates will be tested by Fred Hutch scientists for lifesaving properties. If the drug candidate fails at any point, it can be replaced with a new one so the citizen scientist always has a “horse in the race.”
  • A drug that shows promise will advance to additional testing with the goal of being evaluated in human clinical trials.
  • For more information, visit, email or visit Project Violet’sFacebook page.
  • To view Olson’s recent TEDxSeattle talk about Project Violet, click here.

Note for media only: Photos of Violet, Olson and images of specific drug candidates are available upon request. To arrange an interview with Olson, please contact Kristen Woodward in Fred Hutch media relations, or 206-667-2210.

Six charities will receive donations from Game It Forward’s first-release ‘Quingo,’ which combines trivia questions and bingo

Projects from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Kiva, PAWS, Seattle Children’s, Splash and The Martinez Foundation will benefit from the new iPad game

SEATTLE – Six charities, including five based in Seattle, will receive funds from a new iPad game created by local startup Game It Forward. “Quingo” combines the fun of bingo with the challenge of trivia questions and is now available for free on iTunes. Game It Forward will share a portion of revenue generated by Quingo through advertising and in-app purchases to specific projects managed by each charity.

Projects from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Kiva, PAWS, Seattle Children’s, Splash and The Martinez Foundation will benefit from the new game.

“Players worldwide spend 3 billion hours a week playing games. If those games donated just one penny an hour, we’d raise $30 million a week for people in need,” said Game It Forward founder and industry veteran Brandon Bozzi. “Game It Forward will help make that happen by producing free-to-play games where money generated from ad and in-game purchases is donated to charities.”

Quingo players can select one of six charities to play for and are given information on the project their game will support. The game presents players with a trivia question that has five correct answers hidden among 20 wrong answers laid across a bingo-style grid. Correct responses range from easy to very difficult, making it engaging for players of all knowledge levels. Players are awarded points for correct answers and scores can be shared through social channels.

“Quingo is a really innovative way to connect people with the lifesaving work that our scientists do every day,” said Fred Hutch’s Vice President of  Development, Susan Dolbert, Ph.D. “We are delighted to partner with Game It Forward and work together to have fun and save lives.”

Game donations will support one of five projects at Fred Hutch. These include: Project Violet, benefitting drug discovery; one day of breast cancer research; hot lunches for Hutch School students; teacher training through the Science Education Partnership; and patient housing at Pete Gross House.

“Most charities are used to working with third-party fundraisers, but integration into a game was new territory,” said Game It Forward founder and game industry veteran Brandon Bozzi. “As the game took shape, our partners became more and more excited about participating. We are very excited to enable people to help causes they believe in just by playing a game they enjoy”  

Quingo is free to download from the Apple App Store and is available for the iPad on the iTunes Store. Game It Forward plans to develop Quingo for additional platforms in the coming year.

One Month. One Cause. One Million Miles.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to host Million Mile Run to raise awareness and funds during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, September ‘13

Philadelphia, PA (July 2013) – In an effort to raise the profile of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation will go the distance this September introducing the Million Mile Run. With firsthand knowledge of just how far parents of children with cancer would go to find a cure for their child, the Foundation will challenge supporters across the country to do just that,  collectively walk or run one million miles during the month of September to work toward better treatments and ultimately cures. 

The brainchild of Foundation Co-Executive Director, Jay Scott, a running enthusiast, the Million Mile Run will invite ambitious individuals, as well as teams, to pledge to walk/run and contribute to the one million mile goal during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Drawing from the inspiration of Foundation creator Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who set out to raise $1 million through lemonade stands in 2004, Jay Scott feels that through combined efforts, reaching one million miles in just thirty days is attainable. 

“The Million Mile Run will act as an easy way for walkers and runners of all abilities to contribute to the fight against childhood cancer and raise the profile of the awareness month,” says Scott. “Though some people have commented that one million miles might be a crazy goal, and maybe they are right, my daughter Alex taught me that when you set your mind to something and garner the help of others, anything is possible. She reached her million, and I think we can too.” 

The Million Mile Run will utilize both the MapMyRun application and the ability for participants to manually enter the miles they log daily. Individuals who participate will average 3-4 miles a day, while teams can split up the 100 miles. For instance, a group of 4 employees can walk a mile at lunch every day and easily reach their goal. Additionally, participants are urged to recruit friends and family members to pledge dollar amounts for each mile, or provide a straight donation. 

“September has become highly recognizable within the childhood cancer community as an important time of year,” says Liz Scott, Alex’s mom and Co-Executive Director of the Foundation. “However, for the general public, it still flies highly under the radar. We think the Million Mile Run has the ability and mass appeal to change that, one mile at a time.”

Individuals and teams who are interested in participating or learning more about the Million Mile Run can visit where they will find a video detailing the effort.

About Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) emerged from the front yard lemonade stand of cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996-2004). In 2000, 4-year-old Alex announced that she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer. Since Alex held that first stand, the Foundation bearing her name has evolved into a national fundraising movement, complete with thousands of supporters across the country carrying on her legacy of hope. To date, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a registered 501(c)3 charity, has raised more than $60 million toward fulfilling Alex’s dream of finding a cure, funding over 300 pediatric cancer research projects nationally. For more information on Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, visit

How far is 1 Million Miles?

  • A trip to the moon and back, twice.
  • More than 40 times around the earth.
  • More than 3,000 trips from NYC to Los Angeles.
  • More than 38,000 Marathons.

Miracle Flights for Kids Receives Gift of More Than $40 Million

Organization has coordinated more than 80,000 flights for ailing children, covering 44 million air miles to date

GREEN VALLEY, NEVADA – Miracle Flights for Kids, the nation’s leading charitable flight organization, announced today that it will use a new and unexpected contribution of more than $40 million to significantly expand its programs and services. The new money represents proceeds from a 2008 class action legal settlement in which British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airlines agreed to donate unclaimed funds to the charitable organization under the legal doctrine of cy pres. Miracle Flights was not a party to the suit.

Thousands of children are born each year with a rare or genetic disease, and many thousands more are stricken with severe, life-altering or life-threatening illnesses, many of which require the attention of medical specialists in other parts of the United States. For many families struggling with medical bills, an airline ticket to allow a sick child to see a much-needed specialist is beyond their means. Since 1985, Miracle Flights has provided the financial assistance needed to fly children struggling with serious illnesses, and their parents, to and from specialized treatment centers and hospitals.

“This is the kind of gift that small charities dream about. Our organization, which began on the floor of my living room, now has the resources to help more children than we ever could have envisioned,” said Ann McGee, President and Founder of Miracle Flights. “I have always believed that money should never stand in the way of children getting to the best possible medical treatment – no matter how far away the right doctors and the right treatments might be. On behalf of the children we will now be able to assist, we are so thankful to have been selected to receive this invaluable contribution.”

Miracle Flights is currently developing plans to significantly expand its programs and services, including:

* Pawfect Connections™, a travel assistance program for families in need of service animals;

MFFK CaRes™, a travel assistance program for families attending medical camps and retreats; and

* A robust international program, which will improve upon a prior model that has provided children from 38 countries with travel assistance to come to the United States for care. 

In consultation with financial advisors, the organization has also made a number of investment decisions to best position the organization to provide much needed assistance for years to come.

“Our Board of Directors is keenly aware of this unprecedented opportunity afforded to Miracle Flights and the children we are determined to help,” McGee stated. “Any changes to our programs, services and fundraising strategies will come after each is analyzed to ensure that we continue to be good stewards of all contributions we receive. Our singular focus is to continue to help these kids.”

Any child needing medical treatment that is not available in their immediate area or a second medical opinion from a faraway, qualified specialist is eligible to apply for assistance. For more information, go to:

“Each year globally, 12.7 million people learn they have cancer, and 7.6 million people die from the disease.” – Centers For Disease Control And Prevention

This is a guest post by Mentor Mob.

In my lifetime, I have not met one person who has not been affected by cancer, whether it be on their own or by supporting a loved one in their own battle. There are many success stories, some which I have been lucky enough to be a part of, but still a paralyzing number of people lose their fight every year, every day, every minute.

I am no scientist, and while the strides in the treatment of and eradication of this disease have been tremendous, there is no prescription to relieve feeling helpless in a fight that is so very important to win. At least, I once thought, until I witnessed first hand the power and inspiration that can be ignited with knowledge and community.

Every time it starts, it starts the same way, with an array of questions that no one pretends to know the answers to.

  • What do you mean I have cancer?
  • What do I do next?
  • What type of treatment?
  • Will I survive?
  • What about my kids?
  • Will I lose my job?
  • What is my survival rate?
  • How do I tell my friends?
  • ….
  • WHY ME?!

But then what? There are no easy answers, even though we scrounge search engines and forums for them. To find what you need to know in the order you need them takes time, diligence, and leads to frustration. You need to put the effort and time in because you need to plan, prepare and start treatment in the most effective manner to have the best chance at survival.

After recently joining a startup team that helps educate people through curation of the best online content, I knew our platform could make the necessary information to answer these questions more readily available to those who needed it. With my company on my side, we started researching and digging deep into which organizations help patients, family and friends navigate throughout the world of cancer,  just one of the causes we hope to help make a little less painful to navigate through.

One organization clearly matched what we were looking to do was LIVESTRONG – who has helped millions cope with and conquer the disease.

“The LIVESTRONG Foundation unites, inspires and empowers people affected by cancer. We provide free support services to anyone fighting cancer today.”

After a few conversations with their team and ours, we knew that it was a great opportunity to collaborate on bringing the LIVESTRONG We Can Help content to the public in another format on MentorMob. This collaboration brings together the content of LIVESTRONG into a seamless navigation experience on MentorMob – LIVESTRONG Mob.

By giving people a reliable place to collaborate and digest information on cancer, we have already created a community that is growing. A community of people who want to learn, to fight and to help anyone they can in their own battle. Join us with a simple share that can save a life.

Conversations are happening daily on Twitter @LIVESTRONG @MentorMob and on Facebook LIVESTRONG MentorMob. Come join us! You never know when you or someone you know will need the support.

Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network Welcomes New Executive Director to Increase Awareness and Funding for Bladder Cancer

Monica Smith joins the BCAN team, ready to make a difference in the future of bladder cancer

Bethesda, MD – September 17, 2013 – The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) is pleased to announce that Monica Smith has been named the new Executive Director, effective immediately. In her role, Smith will lead BCAN’s efforts to increase visibility of the organization and advocate for additional funding for bladder cancer research, a disease that is known as the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, but is only 22nd on the list of cancers provided funding for research by the government.

Smith comes to BCAN with nearly 20 years of experience working in the non-profit sector, which includes more than 13 years working with oncology organizations. In addition, BCAN’s mission is of great personal importance to Smith in that bladder cancer has directly impacted her family.

“As a seasoned non-profit professional, we are delighted to have Monica on board at BCAN,” says Diane Zipursky-Quale, president and co-founder of BCAN. “There is no doubt that she will be an effective leader for the bladder cancer community and a passionate advocate for those that are impacted by this disease.”

Before joining BCAN, Smith served as Director of Development for Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey, where she was responsible for the organization’s fundraising and community relations. Previously, Smith spent six years at CancerCare of New Jersey, as the Assistant Director of Development.

“I am looking forward to advancing BCAN’s mission and to being on the front-lines advocating for greater public awareness and research funding for bladder cancer,” says Smith. “Advocacy is a strong force for improving the lives of patients and I am eager to begin influencing the landscape alongside BCAN.”

Smith graduated from the University at Albany with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She began her career in the non-profit community providing direct patient services for several mental health organizations in the New York and New Jersey areas.    

For more information about Monica Smith and her new role as Executive Director or for more information on bladder cancer or how you can become involved with BCAN, please visit

# # #

About the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network

Founded in 2005, the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) is the only national organization devoted to advancing bladder cancer research and supporting those touched by the disease. Through a comprehensive program of research, education and advocacy, BCAN is the leading voice for bladder cancer. For more information, visit

Fairfield Inn & Suites Builds On History Of Giving Back With Habitat For Humanity

Hundreds of Hotels, Associates and New App Support the Nonprofit in 2013 and Beyond


Bethesda, Maryland – September 17, 2013 – This Fall, more than 350 Fairfield Inn & Suiteshotels across North America are preparing to extend their hospitality and “Spirit To Serve” to families in need of affordable housing through Habitat for Humanity. To celebrate the brand’s 18-year relationship with the non-profit organization, Fairfield Inn & Suites has also launched its Design for Habitat Facebook application, which will culminate in a brand donation of up to $50,000.

“For nearly two decades, we have worked with Habitat for Humanity affiliates to give back to the hundreds of communities that have supported the Fairfield brand over the years,” saidShruti Buckley, vice president and global brand manager, Fairfield Inn & Suites. “This year, we are proudly carrying on our tradition of hospitality and service through our new Facebook application, which is designed to engage even more people in supporting this great cause.”

Aiming to nearly double participation from last year, the brand will support local Habitat for Humanity affiliates through volunteering and fundraising activities. Beginning October 1, Fairfield Inn & Suites associates, owners, franchisees, and guests will volunteer throughout the month to support Fairfield’s Rally to ServeTM program by participating in local Habitat for Humanity builds and other various volunteer activities to create safe and affordable housing in partnership with low-income families.

Fairfield Inn & Suites’ Design for Habitat Facebook app allows people to creatively build virtual homes and customize them with elements, such as landscaping and house colors. From now until November 30, 2013, Fairfield Inn & Suites will donate $10 for each virtual house built, per consumer per day, with a minimum donation of $25,000 and a maximum donation of $50,000 guaranteed. The application includes a “heat map” that indicates which regions across North America are recording the most donations.

In addition to sponsoring and building homes, Fairfield Inn & Suites associates will continue to participate in fundraising activities that support Habitat for Humanity’s home-building efforts, including volunteering at Habitat ReStores, providing meals for volunteers and hosting events that provide opportunities for donations to local Habitat affiliates.

About Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott

Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott is designed for today’s traveler who is looking to be productive on the road, whether for business or leisure. In addition to complimentary Wi-Fi and hot breakfast, Fairfield Inn & Suites offers thoughtfully designed rooms and suites that provide separate living, working and sleeping areas. With more than 700 propertiesthroughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, Fairfield Inn & Suites hotels participate in the award-winning Marriott Rewards® frequent travel program that allows members to earn hotel points or airline miles for every dollar spent during each stay. For more information or reservations, call the Fairfield Inn & Suites toll-free number at 800-228-2800,, become a fan at or follow Fairfield at


Visit Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) for company information. For more information or reservations, please visit our website at, and for the latest company newsvisit

 About Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity International’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Anchored by the conviction that safe and affordable housing provides a critical foundation for breaking the cycle of poverty, Habitat has helped more than 3 million people construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes since 1976. Habitat also advocates for fair and just housing policies and provides training and access to resources to help more families improve their shelter conditions. As a nonprofit Christian housing organization, Habitat works in more than 70 countries and welcomes people of all races, religions and nationalities to partner in its mission. To get more information, to donate or to volunteer, please visit


Giving Closet Surprises Single Mom With Designer Wardrobe Valued At Over $10,000

Our Mission: To prove that ‘Fashion Does Have A Heart’

September 2013 (Washington DC) On Saturday, September 14, 2013, Hollywood image-maker & wardrobe stylist Sam Russell surprised a single mom in need with a wardrobe upgrade valued at over $10,000. Sam created The Giving Closet in 2011 after observing the over-gifting afforded to celebrities in the all-consuming entertainment industry. Traveling with Stevie Wonder in 2009 for the Presidential Inauguration was Sam’s first trip to the DC metropolitan area, and now it’s the 7th stop of his goodwill mission.

Identifying his mission, Russell shares, “Our society adores the rich and looks down at the poor. But if she had a new handbag and the same shoes as you, would you know the difference?  I now travel the US and find unique stories of women in need and convince my favorite designers to help re-route just a small portion of what they set aside for celebrities and recognizable athletes. With the help of various non-profits and social workers, I learn the sizes and needs of these selected women and surprise them with a boost to their image.”

The 7th recipient of his traveling mission is Ivana Willis, a single mom with a son in dental school.  Ivana has struggled with clinical depression her entire life. Despite having an extensive work history, she found herself unemployed for over 3 years when the economy shifted. After approaching Suited for Change in DC, she nailed her next interview with a donated suit and is now employed part-time by the American Psychological Society.

Sam exclaims, “As she is getting back on her feet, all the while setting an example of perseverance and hope for her son in college, I wanted her to have a boost to her look. The Giving Closet is not a handout, but a hand up. Ivana will do the rest on her own; I have no doubt!”

Each Giving Closet surprise is unique. This give-away included over 60 outfits ranging from weekend to weekday attire from popular artisans like Sue Wong, Adrianna Papell, Sienna Rose, and Single Dress by Galina Sobolev.  Ivana’s “hand up” also included designer handbags from Koret New York and Meridian 110, shoes from Sole Society and New Balance, jewelry and accessories from BCharming and Vilaiwan Fine Jewelry, skincare products from OWN Products, and even a pair of designer eyewear valued at $1,000 by Gold & Wood of Paris.

As an example of how The Giving Closet is asking bigger brands to re-route some of their PR goods & budgets to benefit real people with touching stories, Sam shares the account of Gold and Wood’s generous contribution—“Gold and Wood was thrilled that Stevie Wonder wore their eyewear at a concert in Glastonbury a few years back. So I called them up and asked for a favor. In response, Gold and Wood sent a pair of designer shades from Paris for this surprise by overnight mail.  This ‘pay it forward’ agenda in the cut throat arena of fashion is rarely seen.”

About Sam Russell:

A native Texan, Sam Russell has been a TV wardrobe and editorial stylist for over ten years in the Los Angeles market. Discovered as a model by power agent Page Parkes in Houston, his natural eye for wardrobe did not go unnoticed by local clients. After freelancing as an in-house stylist with the May Company, Sam ventured to southern California in May 1999. A regular on-camera style expert for NBC San Diego, Sam has worked with many notable TV personalities including producer and creator Chuck Lorre and actors Jon Hamm, Sophia Bush and Melora Hardin.

Sam wrapped up his fourth TV show in December 2008 as the supervising stylist for TLC’s “Ten Years Younger” Season 4. In January 2009 he personally accompanied Motown legend Stevie Wonder as his supervising stylist for all his Washington DC appearances including the Presidential Inauguration, White House Correspondents Dinner, and Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song ceremony. He now splits his time between Los Angeles and Washington DC.

Childcare and Medical Volunteering Most Popular This Summer

Volunteers from 44 states participated in international volunteer programs with the volunteer organization Projects Abroad this summer

NEW YORK – September 12, 2013 – As summer vacations enter the past and students and teachers return to school, Projects Abroad is pleased to report a successful summer of international volunteering by participants from all over the United States.

In total, volunteers came from 44 states, plus Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

The most popular types of volunteer work were in the medical and childcare fields. A third of all volunteers participated in medical projects, in areas including general medicine, dentistry, nursing, physical therapy, and public health. Another third volunteered with children in some capacity on Care projects, including orphanage work and helping in special needs centers.

Other popular projects include teaching English, environmental conservation, law and human rights internships, and international development and microfinance programs.

The states with the most volunteers were California, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Illinois, and Colorado. Ten other states also had double digit numbers, and include Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Michigan, Connecticut, Maryland, Ohio, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Vermont had the most volunteers per capita, with one for roughly every 150,000 people. New Hampshire, Hawaii, and Rhode Island are other notable small states with relatively high numbers.

Volunteers traveled to all 28 of Projects Abroad’s destinations spread throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the South Pacific, except the Philippines, the newest destination.

“It is great to see that our volunteers are so widespread both in where they come from and where they go,” said Projects Abroad Vice President Thomas Pastorius Jr. “This summer was great progress toward our mission to encourage people from all over to volunteer doing worthwhile work in the developing world, and for this to become the norm. We hope to soon regularly receive volunteers from all 50 states, traveling to experience and help in 50 or more countries.”

About Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students were given the chance to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.

Projects Abroad is a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs with projects in 28 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and the United States.

For details on volunteering overseas, visit Projects Abroad’s web site at

2 Billion Under 20


There are 2 billion people in the world who are currently under 20 years old. Each and every one of them has the potential to realize their biggest dreams, most ambitious passions, and most innovative ideas.

However, in a world where meaningful job opportunities are increasingly scarce, student debt is crippling the hopes and plans of college graduates, and political and social unrest is globally connected and concerning, young people across the world are losing a clear vision of what their future entails and how they can take action to be successful in their chosen walk of life.

2 Billion Under 20 wants to change the way young people think about their future and empower them to act fully on their passions no matter how old they. We do this by building a community of the world’s most inspirational, intelligent and talented young people and providing them with the resources and know-how to realize their full potential in any worthwhile endeavor. The first catalyst in this revolution is an eye-opening book that captures the potential of the Millennial generation.

The Book

2 Billion Under 20 is a compilation of first-person anecdotes from some of the world’s smartest and most talented people at or under 20. Including people from over 20 different countries and 30 different states in the U.S., young people from all walks of life have dedicated their words and experiences of inspiration and advice to empower and inspire the 2 billion people in the world who are currently under 20.

The list of contributors includes Olympians, top Silicon Valley influencers, successful teenage entrepreneurs, Disney Channel actors, nationally-recognized singers, successful non-profit starters, widely-acclaimed speakers, highly decorated scientists, and many other impressive young people from around the world.

The Community

Through the 2 Billion Under 20 community, an ever-growing number of young talents, students, and innovators from across the globe will be able to connect, collaborate, and support one another in various projects and goals.

This community will take shape in many forms. We are currently beginning local meetups in San Francisco, New York, and South Florida to bring young people together in person to foster important support systems and relationships with one another. Awareness that there are other people acting on their passions at young ages is a huge piece of our greater mission, and community meetups are a great start.

We plan to use the best practices we find from these three markets to roll out national and international communities in various cities, campuses, and places of impact to exponentially increase the reach of 2 Billion Under 20 and make our resources and community base accessible to as many young people in the world as possible.

This will be a starting point for us to implement global summits, licensed books to various networks, companies, and schools as well as local ambassador-led chapters across the world to spread the movement among other initiatives. As this community grows and their needs change, we will also create “3 Billion Under 30” and have a complementary set of resources and initiatives for that age group, and so forth.

The Platform

Given the vast number of passions, markets, interests, issues, and organizations represented by our contributors and community members, the 2 Billion Under 20 mission is one that can truly have an impact and voice across the board. So far, we’ve been able to secure many partnerships – such as ones with TEDxYouthSanDiego, IdeaMensch, Under30CEO, Outta the Box TV to name a few – in order to give the 2 Billion Under 20 contributors and community members an outlet to spread their dreams to the world through various credible platforms. Each community member associated with 2 Billion Under 20 (regardless of if they are featured in the book) has and will continue to have access to being featured on numerous publications and participating in world renown speaking events.

This not only gives our contributors and community members a larger audience and perpetuating impact, but it also naturally gives us more chances to show off the various works and goals of our sponsors, partners, and supporters. Further, it allows for a constant stream of new business opportunities and expansion potential for 2 Billion Under 20 as a brand, company, and face of young people’s empowerment.

The Opportunity

People are slowly realizing the full potential of young people as more and more are spotlighted in the media each day. However, we want to shatter the spotlight and instead turn on all the lights above what young people are capable of and are already doing.

Over the past three years, co-founders Stacey Ferreira and Jared Kleinert have built up their personal and professional networks of inspiring young people and influential people in business and media by becoming heavily involved with groups like the Thiel Foundation, Young Entrepreneurs Council, UnCollege,TEDx, Tech Cocktail, and Seventeen Magazine to name a few.

Given their unique abilities and situation age-wise in bringing this type of community and talent pool together, they are bridging the gap between motivated youth and experienced adults that is necessary to fill for this movement to take full force and truly change the world.

As successful tech entrepreneurs building a bigger brand, initiative, and organization on top of an inspiring book, they see the impact an organized and dedicated movement like this could have on the global marketplace for countless young people and the “other 5 billion” who will be affected by the innovations, decisions, offerings, solutions, and inspiration these young people will provide over time.


Stacey FerreiraAt 18, Stacey co-founded, a technology startup that stores usernames and passwords for automatic login to any website. One year later, she and the MySocialCloud team raised just under $1 million from Sir Richard Branson, Jerry Murdock and Alex Welch. MySocialCloud recently announced its acquisition by Now she is co-creating a book and community called 2 Billion Under 20 that brings together some of the world’s most inspirational teens under 20 and shares their stories. She is also a member of Young Entrepreneurship Council, Young Female Entrepreneurs, A Small World, and the Thiel Fellowship Summit Programs. Stacey is 20 years old.

Jared Kleinert – At 15, Jared started, an edtech startup that gave students access to tutors across the globe via webchat for affordable prices. At 16, he founded another company called Synergist, a crowdsourcing site for social entrepreneurs to create, collaborate, and share ideas for social movements and enterprises, earning him the title of the “Definition of a Social Entrepreneur” by Forbes. Jared has also worked at two high growth startups, helping to create a product called Learnist that raised $20 million and was used by over 1 million people in its first year, and helping CEOs keep a pulse on their companies at another start-up called 15Five. Jared initiated the idea for 2 Billion Under 20 after hearing an inspirational speech at the 2012 Under 20 Summit in New York last November (which is where he also met Stacey). Jared is 17 years old.

Sponsorship Openings

We’re currently seeking support from companies, organizations, and individuals who align with our mission and want to empower young people to truly act on their passions. As a growing brand and force for young people’s empowerment, we are looking for support from those individuals or groups of individuals who want to mutually benefit from being at the forefront of the Millennial generation and all the markets that this book touches upon given its vast diversity.

Sponsorships will be used to pay for editing, publishing, marketing, and distribution costs (including topping the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best Sellers Lists) as well as one centralized Summit for all of the kids in the community once the book is launched. The book is a non-profit venture with profits going to establish meetups and local chapters on an international level, which creates ongoing outreach opportunities for sponsors and partners.

We’re also open to any potential long-term partnerships that provide value for our community as well as your community or business.

Sponsors can expect to receive:

  • recognition and inclusion in the various, wide-reaching PR campaigns we run (including features in major online outlets, national television shows, and international media outlets),
  • recognition and inclusion in outreach and promotion to the millions of people that follow and are connected to our contributors and community members,
  • access to the 75 contributors to 2 Billion Under 20 and various community members, as well as potential VIP network members and other sponsors or partners
  • the option to host various book launch parties, speakers, or other related events at their offices or headquarters,
  • future opportunities to partner with us and accompanying businesses as we grow and establish the 2 Billion Under 20 brand,
  •  exposure in dozens of new and potentially untapped networks and markets that may contribute to the success of your core business
  • the goodwill of people who buy the book, receivers of our massive marketing efforts, the Millennial generation, and the “other 5 billion” people in the world (i.e parents, executives, politicians, etc.) that support initiatives for young people.
  • And more. We are constantly working to provide our community, contributors, and partners more opportunities to gain even more value for their buy-in with this extremely important initiative. 

Interested? Want more information? Please let us know at:

Jared Kleinert

(561) 886-8012

Stacey Ferreira                                                                  

(213) 458-6414                             

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