amazon facebook_32 gplus_32 linkedin_32 pinterest_32 tumblr_32 twitter_32 website_32 youtube_32 email_32 rss_32

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

Monthly Archives: December 2016

1 2 3 14

Megagifts Rise in 2016, With 12 Topping $100 Million

By Maria Di Mento

Wealthy donors doubled up on gifts of more than $100 million to American nonprofits this year, according to a Chronicle analysis. Last year only six donations topped that figure, compared with 12 in 2016. There were also six gifts of exactly $100 million.

Tied for the largest gift of 2016 were investor and art collector Nicolas Berggruen and Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny. Both Mr. Berggruen and the Knights donated $500 million in support of big-idea efforts.

Mr. Berggruen gave the money through a charitable trust to endow his Berggruen Institute, a public-policy think tank he started in 2010 to address some of the world’s most important societal and political issues. The money will also go toward building the organization’s headquarters in Los Angeles.

The Knights’ pledge to the University of Oregon establishes the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. The money will help the university build a cluster of research centers aimed at speeding up discoveries and the development of medical treatments that could grow out of those findings.

The next-largest gifts were also an equal pair. The Knights gave $400 million to Stanford University to launch the Knight-Hennessy Scholars, a program for graduate students from varying backgrounds and countries who are focused on solving pressing global problems. That tied with a $400 million bequest from Lottie and Howard Marcus — representing the bulk of their estate — to American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev for an endowment and to back the Israeli university’s water research.

Ms. Marcus died last year, and her husband died in 2014. He was a physician, but the couple’s wealth came primarily from their investment in Berkshire Hathaway, the result of a friendship they formed in the early 1960s with Warren Buffett.

Public Health

The fifth- and sixth-biggest donations came from media mogul and ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and were both focused on public-health programs.

The foundation gave $360 million to six organizations for anti-tobacco efforts in the United States and abroad: the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the CDC Foundation, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the World Health Organization, and Vital Strategies.

Mr. Bloomberg also directed a $300 million grant to Johns Hopkins to launch the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. The program aims to address five public-health issues: adolescent health, drug addiction, environmental threats, gun violence, and obesity.

This year’s Chronicle list also features a relatively rare entry: a self-made female donor. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg gave $107.2 million to her donor-advised fund at Fidelity Charitable.

Ms. Sandberg hasn’t said where the money will go, but in the past she has supported nonprofits that help women and girls.

Science and Medical Research

Of the 18 nine-figure donations, half went to universities to support a variety of causes. Four such gifts primarily backed scientific and medical research, two went toward scholarships, and the others supported student housing; science, technology, engineering, and math efforts; and health programs.

The Chronicle’s annual rankings are based on the 10 biggest publicly announced gifts. Often more than 10 gifts appear on the list because of ties, as was the case this year.

The tally does not include donations of artwork or gifts from anonymous donors.

In February, The Chronicle will unveil its annual ranking of the 50 most generous donors, a list based on total contributions in 2016, not just single gifts.

Biggest Gifts Announced by Individuals and Their Foundations in 2016



Purpose or beneficiary
$500 millionNicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust; Nicolas Berggruen, an art collector and investorBerggruen Institute, to endow the public-policy think tank
$500 million (pledge)Phil Knight, a co-founder of Nike, and his wife, PennyUniversity of Oregon, to establish a new center for scientific research
$400 million (pledge)Phil and Penny KnightStanford University, to establish the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program
$400 million (bequest)Howard Marcus, a physician, and his wife Lottie, an investorAmerican Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev for endowment and water research
$360 millionBloomberg Philanthropies; Michael Bloomberg, a former mayor of New York and founder of the Bloomberg financial-news empireCampaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, CDC Foundation, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, World Health Organization, and Vital Strategies, for global anti-tobacco efforts
$300 millionBloomberg Philanthropies; Michael BloombergThe Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, to establish the Bloomberg American Health Initiative
$275 million (pledge)Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation; Steven Cohen, founder of Point72 Asset Management, and his wife, AlexandraTo start the Cohen Veterans Network to provide mental-health services to former service members and their families
$250 millionParker Foundation; Sean Parker, the founding president of FacebookTo establish the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
$200 million (pledge)Larry Ellison, founder of the Oracle software companyUniversity of Southern California, to establish the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine
$200 million (pledge)Charles Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire HathawayUniversity of California at Santa Barbara, for new student housing
$185 millionWeill Family Foundation; Sanford Weill, chairman emeritus of Citigroup, and his wife, JoanUniversity of California at San Francisco, to start the Weill Institute for Neurosciences
$107.2 millionSheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of FacebookFidelity Charitable, for the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Fund
$100 million (pledge)Paul Allen, a co-founder of MicrosoftTo establish the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a new bioscience effort
$100 million (pledge)Phillip Frost, a physician and pharmaceutical company executive, and his wife, PatriciaUniversity of Miami, to support applied sciences and engineering
$100 million (pledge)David Geffen, a co-founder of DreamWorks Studios SKG and founder of Geffen RecordsMuseum of Modern Art in New York, to renovate and expand the museum
$100 millionReed Hastings, founder of NetflixSilicon Valley Community Foundation, to establish the Hastings Fund
$100 million (pledge)Robert King, founder of Peninsula Capital, and his wife, DorothyStanford University, for scholarships for students from underdeveloped countries
$100 millionMortimer B. Zuckerman Foundation; Mortimer Zuckerman, a co-founder of Boston Properties, a real-estate investment trustTo create the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Scholars Program in STEM Leadership to bolster collaboration between top U.S. and Israeli researchers

Meadowlands Area YMCA Showroom Opens to the Public

Area residents invited to get an insider’s view of the new facility, Founding member offer, and a free wellness screening

Press Release – EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ, December 28, 2016 — As the Meadowlands Area YMCA prepares to open an expansive community center — the first centralized location in its 96-year history — the YMCA is giving area residents an insiders’ view of what awaits members in early 2017.

The Meadowlands Area YMCA has opened the Y Experience Showroom at 368 Paterson Ave., where visitors can learn about the more than 400 programs that will be offered at the former Nets basketball center. The 83,200-square-foot facility includes a state-of-the-art wellness center, the Mara Family Day Care Center, a technology center, a Welcome Center, a cooking studio, Teen and Senior Centers, two NBA basketball courts among many other unique spaces.

At the showroom, visitors are greeted with fresh fruit and images of the experiences that await them when the $10 million facility opens. A slideshow features the new Y’s amenities, including a cooking studio where instructors will teach healthy cooking techniques, SportsCare Institute’s physical therapy space, and an indoor rock-climbing wall along with the many other features and programs slated for the new building. Adult guests can test their skills on a medicine ball and lift weights, while little ones can visit the Legos and campsite areas.

Healthy living is a pillar of the Y’s mission, and the Y is offering a free wellness evaluation to everyone who visits the showroom on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. That includes blood pressure screening, body mass index (BMI) measurement, strength tests, balance assessment and a brief health consultation.

“We are so excited to, at long last, bring people together under one roof and provide a vast array of opportunities to improve and maintain their health, and build a vibrant and diverse community,” said Ron Simoncini, chairman of the Meadowlands Area YMCA board of trustees.

The new Meadowlands Area YMCA, located behind Staples and BJ’s off Route 17, will welcome residents of Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Lyndhurst, Hasbrouck Heights, Rutherford, Secaucus, Wallington, Wood-Ridge, Moonachie, North Arlington and surrounding communities. It can serve the 127,000 household in our service area, and will add more than 100 jobs, both full- and part-time, to the local economy.

“Families and individuals will benefit from having a full-service YMCA available seven days a week,” said Meadowlands Area YMCA President and CEO Jane A. Egan. The Y currently runs programs out of 50 locations and will keep most of those off-sites even after the new building opens. “We are creating a true community center, where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to working alongside each other towards a common goal of health and wellness.” Egan said.

The Y is making membership incredibly affordable for founding members. Residents may join for $1 and lock in a monthly rate for two years, without making any monthly payment until the facility opens. Rates range from $20 a month for children under age 12 to $70 a month for an entire family. The full schedule is on the website Founding members also get a $250 credit toward programs such as swimming lessons and sports instruction.

Through the Buy a Brick Campaign, families, individuals and organizations can make a lasting mark on the new Meadowlands YMCA by donating as little as $100 and more significant naming opportunities are still available. To learn more, go to

The Meadowlands YMCA is committed to supporting people of all ages and all circumstances, and offers financial assistance to those most in need.

Aqua-Spark, First-Ever Sustainable Aquaculture Fund, Invests in Sustainable Sea Cucumber Farming Operation, Indian Ocean Trepang

Both food and deposit-feeders, IOT’s sea cucumber farms are alleviating over-fishing and creating jobs

Press Release – Utrecht, Holland (December 28, 2016)Aqua-Spark, the first investment fund focused exclusively on sustainable aquaculture, today announced an investment in the sea cucumber farming operation, Indian Ocean Trepang. The Madagascar-based company is the exclusive global licensee for an innovative patent on in-vitro fertilization of the Holothuriascabrasea cucumber species.

Sea cucumbers are in high demand in Asian markets, where they’re considered a delicacy. They are also deposit-feeders that clean the environment without requiring feed, and can even be used in land-based marine farms to mitigate effluent. For Aqua-Spark, which has invested in select land-based fish farms like Sogn Aqua and Matorka, this application and potential to scale is of particular interest.

Native to Madagascar, the Holothuriascabrasea cucumber species has fallen victim to over-fishing and has been listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation and is on its Red List. Indian Ocean Trepang’s breeding program is growing, and Aqua-Spark’s investment of $2.75 million will be put towards a new site – positioning the company to become the world’s leader in growing sea cucumbers. The plan is for multiple locations and countries, which could create hundreds of jobs and help alleviate poverty in remote communities. The company currently has 168 employees, with community projects in place that impact approximately 180 families.

“An investment in Indian Ocean Trepang is an investment in the future of sustainable fish farming and the survival of this species,” explains Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, co-founders of Aqua-Spark. “They are at once helping to revive an endangered marine animal and providing a sustainable filtering method for fish farms, while also creating jobs in key markets.We’re thrilled to working with such an impactful company, and connect them with our network of farms and technologies.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Aqua-Spark, with whom — from the first moment we started an exchange — we found a team of experts and professionals who have a long-term view and understanding of aquaculture,” explains Thibault Giulioli, CEO of Indian Ocean Trepang. “With support from Aqua-Spark, we look forward to implementing our vision and rolling out our business model throughout the Indian Ocean.”

About Aqua-Spark

Aqua-Spark is an investment fund with a focus on sustainable aquaculture businesses around the world. The small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in which they invest are working toward the production of safe, accessible aquatic life, such as fish, shellfish and plants. Aqua-Spark believes that committing to a long-term vision is the way to realize effective and lasting results.

Aqua-Spark launched in December 2013. Since that time, the fund has made 9 investments in 7 complementary SMEs including: Calysta, Chicoa, eFishery, Indian Ocean Trepang, Love The Wild, Matorka, and Sogn Aqua.

Thus far, Aqua-Spark has $27.25 million under management, dedicated to investments in elements of the aquaculture industry that will make fish farming sustainable. The goal of the fund is to grow to $400 million by 2025.

About Indian Ocean Trepang (“IOT”)

Established in 2011, Indian Ocean Trepang is an industrial aquaculture SME focused on sea cucumbers. Their operations provide fishermen in villages with a diversified and increased income while reducing pressure on wild fisheries.

It is a four-party system comprised of:

  • Fishermen villages, to which IOT subcontracts part of its production for maturing at sea. This generates a recurring income in addition to their traditional fishing activity.
  • NGOs, to supervise and train fishermen villages.
  • Universities, to help analyse the biological and environmental parameters so IOT can maintain and develop holothuriculture and its farms.

The final product — the dried skin of the sea cucumber –isa delicacy appreciated by the worldwide Chinese community.

Aqua-Spark, Sustainable Aquaculture Fund, Invests in LoveTheWild Seafood

The Fund’s First Consumer Product Offers Sustainable Ready to Prepare Fish in the Freezer Section

Press Release – Utrecht, Holland (December 28, 2016)Aqua-Spark, the first investment fund focused exclusively on sustainable aquaculture, today announced an investment in LoveTheWild, a US-based company which presents sustainable, delicious ready to prepare seafood kits which go from freezer to plate in less than 30 minutes.

LoveTheWild is currently sold in almost 600 stores nationwide, and you can find where to buy products here.

The plan is to reach over 6,000 stores in the next five years, and make sustainable seafood available to everyone. In addition to investing $2.5 million, Aqua-Spark will work with the company to strengthen the criteria and systems through which LoveTheWild selects and monitors farms, thereby ensuring the most sustainable seafood possible.

LoveTheWild’s product is presently 60% farmed fish and 40% wild fish, and the objective – with guidance from Aqua-Spark – is to quickly move towards 100% sustainable farmed fish. This means farms that do not harm the environment, are not using antibiotics or chemicals, and ultimately prioritize the health of the fish, and thus the health of the consumer.

Changing the market starts with changing palates. LoveTheWild is doing that with a delicious selection of 6 easy-to-prepare sustainable fish and sauce combinations, including “Mango Sriracha Chutney” and “Roasted Red Pepper Almond,” that take the intimidation away from preparing fish at home. They encourage consumers to think beyond traditional fish, such as salmon, and try a range of environmentally-friendly options, like barramundi or striped bass.

“This is our first foray into the consumer market, and LoveTheWild is the ideal partner,” explained Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, co-founders of Aqua-Spark. “We share the same values when it comes to protecting ocean species and giving people access to delicious, healthy, and sustainable fish so they can eat more fish and reap the benefits from doing so without compromising our planet. In addition, with their dedication to transparency, LoveTheWild takes the guessing out of sustainability and showcases well-farmed fish.”

“Responsible aquaculture has the potential to fight some of the most serious challenges we face as a planet, and will be made or broken by consumer perceptions about seafood,” explained Jacqueline Claudia and Christy Brouker, co-founders of LoveTheWild. “Our goal isn’t just to offer sustainable seafood, butto make it the most exciting and in demand consumer protein. In addition to a strategic investment, Aqua-Spark brings industry expertise, which when combined with our product, puts us one step closer to changing the way Americans think about farmed seafood.”

“It’s rare in the early stage fundraising space for entrepreneurs to actually get a deal done with the firm they wanted all along and at terms that are a win-win for both sides, and that’s what happened here,” said Bill Mark, CFO of LoveTheWild. “We are very excited about the partnership with Aqua-Spark and look forward to building an exciting brand with them in the coming years.”

About Aqua-Spark

Aqua-Spark is an investment fund with a focus on sustainable aquaculture businesses around the world. The small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in which they invest are working toward the production of safe, accessible aquatic life, such as fish, shellfish and plants. Aqua-Spark believes that committing to a long-term vision is the way to realize effective and lasting results.

Aqua-Spark launched in December 2013. Since that time, the fund has made 9 investments in 7 complementary SMEs including: Calysta, Chicoa, eFishery, Indian Ocean Trepang, LoveTheWild, Matorka and Sogn Aqua.

Thus far, Aqua-Spark has $ 27.25 million under management, dedicated to investments in elements of the aquaculture industry that will make fish farming sustainable. The goal of the fund is to grow to $400 million by 2025.

About LoveTheWild

Founded in Boulder, Colo., by Jacqueline Claudia and Christy Brouker in 2014, LoveTheWild’s mission is to “save the world, one delicious fish at a time.” LoveTheWild pairs sustainable fish with bold sauces for a restaurant quality meal with less effort. Committed to corporate sustainability, the company was named a Fish 2.0 award winner in 2015. LoveTheWild’s founders actively promote the benefits of sustainable fish and healthy diets.

Sprinting Towards Extinction: Global Crash In Cheetah Numbers

  • Scientists confirm 91% loss of historic range for iconic cat
  • Estimates indicate just 7,100 cheetahs remain in wild
  • Authors call for up-listing to ‘Endangered’ status on IUCN Red List

Press Release – The world’s fastest land animal, the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), is sprinting towards the edge of extinction and could soon be lost forever unless urgent, landscape-wide conservation action is taken, according to a study published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Led by ZSL (Zoological Society of London), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Panthera, the study estimates that just 7,100 cheetahs remain globally, inhabiting a mere nine per cent of the species’ historic range. Asiatic cheetah populations have been hit hardest, with fewer than 50 individuals remaining in one isolated pocket in Iran.

Due to the species’ dramatic and ongoing decline, the study’s authors are calling for the cheetah to be up-listed from ‘Vulnerable’ to ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In recognition of the threats it faces, wildlife in this category is given greater international conservation support, in efforts to stave off impending extinction.

Dr Sarah Durant, ZSL/WCS lead author and Project Leader for the Rangewide Conservation Program for Cheetah and African Wild Dog, said: “This study represents the most comprehensive analysis of cheetah status to date. Given the secretive nature of this elusive cat, it has been difficult to gather hard information on the species, leading to its plight being overlooked. Our findings show that the large space requirements for cheetah, coupled with the complex range of threats faced by the species in the wild, mean that it is likely to be much more vulnerable to extinction than was previously thought.

“We have worked with range state governments and the cheetah conservation community to put in place comprehensive frameworks for action to save the species, but funds and resources are needed to implement them. The recent decisions made at the CITES CoP17 meeting in Johannesburg represent a significant breakthrough, particularly in terms of stemming the illegal flow of live cats trafficked out of the Horn of Africa region. However, concerted action is needed to reverse ongoing declines in the face of accelerating land use changes across the continent.”

While renowned for its speed and spots, the degree of persecution cheetahs face both inside and outside of protected areas is largely unrecognised. Even within well-managed parks and reserves, cheetahs rarely escape the pervasive threats of human-wildlife conflict; prey loss due to overhunting by people; habitat loss; and the illegal trafficking of cheetah parts and trade as exotic pets.

To make matters worse, as one of the world’s most wide-ranging carnivores, 77 per cent of remaining cheetah habitat falls outside of protected areas. Unrestricted by boundaries, the species’ wide-ranging movements makes enforcement of protection particularly challenging and greatly amplifies its vulnerability to human impacts. In Zimbabwe, for example, these pressures have seen the cheetah population plummet from 1,200 to a maximum of 170 animals in just 16 years – representing an astonishing loss of 85 per cent of the country’s cheetahs.

Scientists are now calling for an urgent revolution in how we approach cheetah conservation, focused towards landscape-level efforts that transcend national borders and are coordinated by existing regional conservation strategies for the species. A holistic conservation approach, which incentivises protection of cheetahs by local communities and trans-national governments, alongside sustainable human-wildlife coexistence, is paramount to the survival of the species.

Panthera’s Cheetah Programme Director, Dr Kim Young-Overton, shared: “We’ve just hit the reset button in our understanding of how close cheetahs are to extinction. The take-away from this pinnacle study is that securing protected areas alone is not enough. We must think bigger, conserving across the mosaic of protected and unprotected landscapes that these far-reaching cats inhabit, If we are to avert the otherwise certain loss of the cheetah forever.”

The methodology used for this study will also be relevant to other species, such as African wild dogs, which also require large areas of land to prosper and are therefore similarly vulnerable to increasing threats outside designated protected areas.

Learn more here about the Rangewide Conservation Programme for Cheetah and African Wild Dogs.

An Easy Way For Donors To Have The Biggest Impact In Support Of Reproductive Justice

Groundswell Fund targets support to grassroots activists running effective campaigns across the country

Press Release – OAKLAND, Calif. — In the days and weeks following the election, many women’s rights supporters are making donations to big national organizations, like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Since large national organizations and their affiliates will play an important role in service provision and advocacy in the days and months ahead, that is a good thing — but it will not be enough to secure reproductive freedom.

“What most people don’t know is that national reproductive rights organizations cannot protect reproductive freedom on their own,” said Groundswell Executive Director Vanessa Daniel. “It is also critically important to give to the grass-rooted organizations that make up the reproductive justice movement – the leading force engaging women of color, young women, low income women and LGBTQ people as activists on reproductive issues.”

For decades, reproductive justice organizations have been instrumental in advancing reproductive freedom at the state and local level – now the number one battleground for protecting and advancing reproductive freedom in the current political context. Yet, these organizations often fall under the radar of donors. Moreover, 85 percent of reproductive justice organizations are led by women of color, who are working in the communities most vulnerable to attack under the Trump administration and without adequate resources to challenge those attacks.

Groundswell Fund’s core mission is supporting the reproductive justice movement. The organization provides grants as well as in depth capacity building support for reproductive justice groups seeking to deepen their grassroots organizing and voter engagement skills.

Amid a seemingly endless array of organizations deserving of year-end donations, Groundswell stands out as a one-stop shop for donors to give to this movement. At seven percent, Groundswell’s overhead is one of the lowest in the field, which means more of what people give to Groundswell reaches organizations working on the ground. Groundswell also offers an interactive map and listing of organizations for donors who want to give directly to grassroots groups.

This year, Groundswell is providing $7 million to more than 50 grassroots groups working in 30 states. Current grantees include National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Black Women for Wellness, and Young Women United, who mobilize constituencies in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, California, New York, Georgia and beyond.

Among Groundswell’s capabilities is a Rapid Response Fund, able to deploy resources quickly to the field. In the past month, Groundswell was able to mobilize dollars through its Rapid Response Fund to support activists at Standing Rock, North Dakota.

“What we saw when we visited Standing Rock is that women are fueling that movement, but getting little public attention,” said Program Officer Naa Hammond. “We learned that there is a critical need for health care — especially for women.”

At the urging of leaders on the ground, Groundswell Fund was able to provide rapid response grants to both the Mni Wiconi Midwifery Clinic and the Mni Wiconi Health Clinic.

It’s investments like these, supporting WOC leadership in the communities most impacted by injustice, where donors can make a big difference.

To make a tax-deductible, end-of-year donation to the Groundswell Fund, please visit

Broad Foundation and Broad Center Employees Fill Stockings for Homeless Students Served by LAUSD Homeless Education Program

Press Release – LOS ANGELES — For homeless students in Los Angeles, the holidays will be a little brighter, thanks to the gift of 250 stockings filled with toys, school supplies, toiletries and personalized notes, provided by employees of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and The Broad Center. The stockings will be distributed to students in the Los Angeles Unified School District Homeless Education Program.

Established 10 years ago by the LAUSD Board of Education, the Homeless Education Program works with educators and community organizations to ensure that homeless students have access to public schools and academic programs. The program also provides students with essentials such as backpacks, school supplies, clothing and transportation.

“The challenges homeless students face are daunting, from getting to school every morning to finding a safe place to do their homework each night,” said Gerun Riley, president of The Broad Foundation. “The holidays can be an especially difficult time for these children, and we wanted to do something special for them during this season of giving. We are grateful for the essential work that the Homeless Education Program does every day to make academic success possible for all students.”

Currently, 11,481 students benefit from the Homeless Education Program. Employees of The Broad Foundation and The Broad Center recently spent an afternoon stuffing stockings and writing notes to the students who will receive the gifts and supplies. The stockings will be distributed by the LAUSD program to the highest-need students.

Every year, thousands of students in Los Angeles experience homelessness, which often comes with increased exposure to violence, trauma, health issues and transiency. Homeless students are more likely than their housed peers to struggle academically, repeat a grade and drop out of school. The Homeless Education Program helps students cope with those challenges and removes barriers to their success. The program facilitates school enrollment for students, supports educators who work with them, and provides assistance with medical, dental and mental health support, among other services.

“Each year, thousands of Los Angeles students face homelessness, and all the academic challenges that come with it,” said Angela Chandler, interim coordinator of LAUSD’s Homeless Education Program. “Our students need not only academic support but also school supplies, toiletries and clothing to excel in the classroom each day. We are grateful to The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and The Broad Center, as well as other organizations and donors like them, who help our students reach their potential.”

Earlier this year, The Broad Foundation gave $1 million to endow after-school homework centers for homeless and low-income students at nearly three dozen branches of the Los Angeles Public Library, ensuring students have school supplies, access to computers and printers and a quiet, safe place to study.

For the past two years, the foundation and the center have held school supply drives before the start of classes each fall, with employees donating scores of backpacks, notebooks, pencils and other materials each year.

To learn more about LAUSD’s Homeless Education Program, click here. To learn how to donate funds or items from the program’s Donation Wish List, click here.

Founded by entrepreneur Eli Broad and his wife Edythe, both graduates of Detroit Public Schools, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a philanthropy that seeks to ensure that every student in an urban public school has the opportunity to succeed. Bringing together top education experts and practitioners, the foundation funds system-wide programs and policies that strengthen public schools by creating environments that allow good teachers to do great work and enable students of all backgrounds to learn and thrive. For more information, visit

The Children at Light for Orphans Ministry Needs Our Help

There is an orphan crisis in Uganda. Currently the country is home to nearly 3.4 million children who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS, extreme poverty and civil conflict. In fact, Uganda has the largest orphan population per capita of any country in the world.

Light for Orphans Ministry is looking for those special people that God has laid on their heart the ministry of giving.

Even though the Light for Orphans Ministry (LFOM) must be registered and licensed with the government of Uganda, they receive no support because they are a Christian ministry. LFOM is home to 50 children and a tiny staff of four.

The staff has nothing of value, they receive no salary. At one point, Kirunda Moses, the director of LFOM even sold his computer to get money to buy some rice for the children to eat.

All of these children have lost parents to the AIDS epidemic. Some have critical health issues themselves.

Like all children, they need regular immunizations, dental care, have injury causing accidents, need shoes and clothing. None of these services are free to the LFOM family.
Their daily needs – food, shelter, medical, clothing and education – are provided by a small group of dedicated supporters (about twelve), here in the US and one in Australia. But the cost of these basic needs increases monthly. There has been about a 30% rise in the cost of food, both dry staples and fresh food items over the last couple of months. School fees are $3,000 per semester, at 3 per year, for the 50 children.

If you would like to become a regular, or even an occasional, supporter for the monthly needs of this beautiful family, you can make donations to Light for Orphans Ministry (LFOM) c/o Helen Cook, 2628 Hwy. 36 South #127, Brenham, TX 77833.

No amount is too small.
1 John 3:17: “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”

Helen Cook
Light for Orphans Ministry

EPIcenter Leadership Tapped to Launch $74 Million Center

Seasoned Talent Brought on Board to ‘Flip the Switch’ on Development and Fundraising Efforts for New Energy Innovation Center

Press Release – San Antonio, TX, December 22, 2016EPIcenter, the $74 million energy innovation center planned for just south of downtown, on the banks of the San Antonio River and along the Mission Reach, formally announces the appointment of Kimberly M. Britton as Chief Executive Officer and Jill H. Vassar as Director of Development and Partnerships.

This powerhouse team is leading the effort in transforming the historic, century-old Mission Road Power plant, which exemplifies the rich history of energy generation in San Antonio, into a world-class center that will serve as a cradle for invention and a catalyst for clean energy innovation.

Britton, in addition to heading the organization, has laid the groundwork for the brand-new nonprofit, and will oversee the construction of the EPIcenter facility. Vassar is establishing, leading and conducting EPIcenter’s development operations and fundraising programs.

“Jill and I are thrilled to be a part of this extraordinary, history-making project and are already hard at work ‘flipping the switch,’” said Britton. “EPIcenter will cement San Antonio’s worldwide role in the new energy economy and reflects the culmination of our collective experience.”

Britton’s career in executive leadership, community relations, and fundraising has spanned the energy, government, fine arts, and health care industries. Prior to EPIcenter, Britton most recently served as the Director of Development for the San Antonio Museum of Art where she headed its fund development and membership operations resulting in doubled membership and more than $31 million raised. As the Director of Community Relations for the Barnett division of Chesapeake Energy, Britton led the company’s outreach activities in North Texas. Prior to Chesapeake she headed a hospital foundation in Fort Worth that she co-founded.

Britton is a founder of the Leadership San Antonio Alumni Association, a graduate of LSA Class 39, a former board member of the Cliburn Foundation and the City of Fort Worth Employee Retirement Fund. Ms. Britton graduated from Texas Christian University.

Vassar has almost 25 years’ experience in economic development, strategic planning, governance, marketing, and development. She served as a Vice President of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation and the first Director of Advancement at Good Samaritan Community Services. She has served on many nonprofit boards such as the Witte Museum, the Charity Ball Association, and St. Luke’s Episcopal School and is President-elect of the National Charity League San Antonio Rose Chapter. Ms. Vassar graduated cum laude with a B.A. in economics from Wellesley College and is an alumna of Leadership San Antonio Class 25.

The capital campaign for EPIcenter is already underway and has an estimated $74 million goal. Britton says, “Support for the project will come from foundations, corporations, and individuals both within and outside of San Antonio.”

To date, EPIcenter has received $22 million in cash and in-kind donations, including the property, from founding sponsors CPS Energy, OCI Solar Power, Silver Spring Networks and Landis+Gyr.

Construction is slated to begin as soon as a critical mass of funding is secured. Officials project to complete the project in 2020-2021.

Fathom Receives Approval for Six Additional Voyages to Cuba

In response to strong consumer demand for its Cuba experiences and programming – the only cruises currently sailing from U.S. to one of world’s most in-demand destinations – Fathom adds Santiago de Cuba to Six Sailings Set for the Dominican Republic

Press Release – MIAMI, Dec. 22, 2016Fathom, one of Carnival Corporation’s (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) 10 global cruise brands, announced it has received Cuba approval to add stops to Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city in Cuba, on six of its upcoming cruises to the Dominican Republic.

Travelers will enjoy two distinct experiences during one journey. They can immerse themselves in the arts, history, culture and everyday lives of Cuban people while in Santiago de Cuba, as well as participate in social impact experiences to make a meaningful difference in the Dominican Republic.

These seven-day voyages start at $599 and will take place during the weeks of February 26, March 12 and 26, April 9 and 23, and May 7.

“We are delighted for our travelers to have the chance to visit such a unique and breathtaking Cuban city during such a historic time,” said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation. “Both Santiago de Cuba and the Dominican Republic are magnificent, lush and full of beauty. While in Santiago de Cuba, travelers can dive deep into its rich and colorful history. The city served as the capital of the Spanish colony of Cuba from 1522 to 1589, and the watchtowers and cannons used in the Spanish-American War still protect and guard this port city.”

Added Russell: “Then, we will sail to the Dominican Republic and experience a place we love so dearly, all during one trip. Our travelers are hungry for ways to travel deep, connect richly and enter into the heart of our local partner community in the Dominican, as we explore meaningful people-to-people experiences that are tied to the local culture for them to playfully engage during unique life-changing adventures.”

This unique journey includes a full day exploring Santiago de Cuba. Travelers will enjoy discovering the sights unique to the eastern side of the island. As Cuba’s second largest city, it is home to the popular festivals of Carnaval and the Fiesta del Fuego, as well as to many of the country’s most famed musicians and artists and some of its most-visited historic sites. Travelers can tour the UNESCO World Heritage site of San Pedro de la Roca del Morro Castle, explore well-known areas such as San Juan Hill, Antonio Maceo Revolution Square, and the Plaza de Marte and enjoy lunch in a local Paladar.

One popular shore excursion available for purchase is a visit to Cuba’s most revered Catholic shrines, Our Lady of Charity El Cobre Church. There, travelers learn the story of the boys who claimed to see the Blessed Virgin Mary and then spread the word of special favors being granted through the intercession of Our Lady of Charity.

After arriving in the early evening in the Dominican, travelers will have one and a half days to address the areas of economic, educational and environmental opportunities by participating alongside locals in meaningful activities like planting trees, helping a women’s cooperative produce artisan chocolates and building water filters for Dominican homes. Their playful and engaging impact adventure will create new possibilities, while finding meaning, hope, grounded perspective and new ways to engage within communities and enrich their daily lives back home.

The new itinerary includes:

  • Sunday – Depart from Port Miami at 4:30 p.m. ET
  • Monday – At sea
  • Tuesday – In Santiago de Cuba from 9 a.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET
  • Wednesday – Arrive in the Dominican Republic at 7 p.m. ET
  • Thursday – In the Dominican Republic
  • Friday – Depart the Dominican Republic at 1 p.m. ET
  • Saturday – At sea
  • Sunday – Arrive in Port Miami at 7:30 a.m. ET

Onboard the intimate, premium and well-appointed Adonia, travelers are accommodated with amenities of a modern hotel and convenience of unpacking their suitcases just once, with dining, localized entertainment and specially designed programs about Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Prices for seven-day itineraries to the Dominican Republic and Santiago de Cuba start at $599, excluding taxes, fees, port expenses and gratuities, Cuban visa, and include all meals on the ship and lunch in Santiago de Cuba, lunch during Dominican Republic impact activities, onboard experiences and select on-the-ground activities. The required Cuban travel visa is $75 per person and gratuities are estimated at $80.50 per person. To secure a spot on future sailings, a fully refundable $300 per person deposit is required for all cabin categories and occupancy levels. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure.

To reserve a spot on future sailings, travelers may call Fathom toll-free at ‪1-855-932-8466 or work with a travel professional. Learn more at

1 2 3 14
Don't miss any Good News!
Subscribe to news from!
* = required field
Content I want:

Find Us On

amazon facebook_32 gplus_32 linkedin_32 pinterest_32 tumblr_32 twitter_32 website_32 youtube_32 email_32 rss_32