In 2013, I began giving a seed grant every single day of the year to a social change visionary with a practical plan to make their community and the world a better place. Now others have joined me, each of them giving $1 or more a day to inspiring projects led by extraordinary individuals all over the world. The Pollination Project facilitates this practice of daily giving and continues to make daily grants of up to $1000 every day of 2014 and beyond. Please join us as a daily giver, or simply create your own giving practice. It will change your life!
Here are the extraordinary people and projects that we are honored to support this week.
Mentoring Girls in Atlanta, Georgia. Do it Like a Girl is an Atlanta-based startup non-profit founded by India Brown. Their Solemates Running and Mentoring Program is an initiative that prepares young women to run 5k races, while also raising awareness about issues related to women and health. "I believe that when we help children to realize their true potential and capabilities from an early age, we are helping to possibly eliminate or lessen future self esteem issues," says India. "I am passionate about helping little girls realize that they are capable of anything that they set their minds and hearts to." Mentors and mentees who are a part of the program participate in group runs, train for 5K races, volunteer with charitable organizations and organize projects that bring awareness to local, national, and international issues affecting women.
Women and the Environment in Uganda. Facing rapid deforestation due to logging for firewood, Uganda is facing an energy crisis. The Ikongo Gender and Development Agency (IGADA) is a community-based organization aimed at empowering women and youth with appropriate knowledge and skills in order to improve their standard of living. Having learned the skill of briquette making from communities in Tanzania, IGADA is prepared to bring this new skill to Uganda in an effort to stop the unnecessary cutting of new growth forests for firewood. Made from agro-residues like sawdust, rice husks, coffee husks, and maize leaves, a "briquette" is a an environmentally-friendly replacement for wood. IGADA will be teaching twenty women the skill of briquette making, and encouraging each woman to pass the information on to another hundred women. By empowering the women and children of the community, they are hoping to slow the deforestation of the area, as well as to grant the women of the area the ability to create a renewable resource for cooking from what might otherwise be agricultural waste.
Homeless Backpack Project in Detroit, Michigan. Burners Without Borders shines a light on the humanity of those who live on the streets of Detroit. Launched by Danielle ("Doxie") Kaltz, the Detroit chapter of Burners without Borders (and its many volunteers) assemble backpacks with toiletries, gift cards and other supplies, and gives them out to people who are without homes. With their permission, Doxie photographs the recipient and blogs about their personal story. This grant was identified by Jennie Kay, who launched the Detroit Sanctuary Project and received one of our first grants in 2013 and is also now a grant advisor to the Pollination Project.
Women and Farming in Kenya. Beatrice Opiyo created the Eco-Garden project to educate people in Kenya about natural resource conservation, and mobilize communities to sustainably use and manage the resources in their area. The Eco-Garden project is targeted primarily at farmers, women and youth groups. They aim to preserve natural habitats, enhance environmental education in schools, promote agro-ecology among farmers, and improve environmental sanitation. In its first year, the Eco-Garden trained 100 farmers in organic farming techniques, supplied over 1000 farmers with indigenous tree seedlings, and began educational efforts in schools.
Empowering Women in India. Mangala Daithankar is looking to empower women to become farmers and marketers of their crops in Maharashtra, India. "The target group of the women with whom we work is socially excluded- women who beg, temple dancers, and women who are Schedule Caste and Schedule tribe," Mangala said. "They are illiterate and absolutely poor and are out of any social security measures." With help from Mangala's organization, Social Action for Association and Development or SAAD, the women will start a vegetable nursery, and tend and sell their produce as a collective. The women will also receive training on bookkeeping and marketing.
Hearing Aid in California. Fred McClory is helping others hear again through a free program called Ears4Me. After suffering from 30 years of progressive hearing loss, Fred received a Cochlear Implant three years ago, at the age of 77. "From having a profound hearing loss which leads to all kinds of mental and physical health problems; to be able to hear again, is simply a life changing experience," Fred says. "At times I still cry tears of happiness." Ears4Me partners with existing medical and dental clinics to provide people in more remote areas of the Coachella Valley in California with free hearing screenings, examinations and amplifiers. Fred knows what it can mean to hear again, and he tells us that "Our passion is to give those less fortunate this same opportunity."
Open Sourcing Sustainability in Florida. Blair Butterfield is looking to bring her vision of sustainability to life in Miami, Florida. Located in an area lacking fresh fruit and vegetables, her free education center, called Colony1, will feature gardens, solar power and rain harvesting. All of the permits and plans that will go into the building of Colony1 will also be available to the public, so others can construct similar structures. "Colony1 is all about sustainability. We believe in creating a culture where everyone can have a more symbiotic relationship with the earth," Blair said. "We believe that most people are willing to make changes for their environment, but they just do not have access to the knowledge on how to do so. The whole point of Colony1 is to demonstrate that sustainability is possible and allow others to learn and replicate any piece of the facility they would like to."
Saving Seeds in Indonesia. For much of its history, Indonesia has been home to an ecosystem rich in biodiversity. Today however, that biodiversity is being threatened, and deforestation and malnutrition are on the rise. With the help of the non-profit organization Mantasa, Hayu Patria and Adam Breasley are launching Our Seeds, Our Future, a series of events in Indonesia's largest cities meant to raise awareness about food sovereignty and to celebrate the recent victory of small farmers over a restrictive seed law. "Our Seeds, Our Future is a project that invites all farmers, local food producers, peasants, women, students and the public to celebrate their victory alongside the world's foremost promoter of seed freedom against unjust seed laws," Hayu says, "Seed freedom means freedom of life as seed, which is the beginning of every life."
Helping Homeless Pets all over the US. There are many organizations in the world dedicated to caring for homeless and abandoned pets, but often these organizations lack the funds to continue providing care for animals in need. Each year in the US, 3.5 million homeless, healthy pets are killed unnecessarily (that's close to 10,000 a day!). Kim Lechner's organization, PETBUCKs, is looking to change that terrible statistic. PETBUCKs leverages social media to create a sponsorship system for animals currently in shelters and with foster families. "We fill the void of raising much-needed resources in a new and unique business model format, for the thousands of animal welfare organizations already in existence," Kim explains. "PETBUCKs' member organizations will post their adoptable pets' profiles with periodic updates to sponsoring individuals, including news of the pet's adoption info safe, loving homes made possible by donor support." Sponsors are notified when a pet they have supported finds a permanent home, at which point they are emailed an introduction to a new pet in need of sponsorship.
Vegan Eggs! Pennsylvanian Rocky Shepheard has created The Vegg, a cruelty-free, cage-free vegan egg replacement and he's looking to get the word out. "The Vegg's vision is a world without factory farming," he said. "I focus on chickens by creating egg replacements that simulate the taste, texture and functionality of real eggs, all at about the same cost as real eggs." The Vegg has two products, a vegan egg yolk and a baking mix. Both are completely plant-based and soy-free. "The way we treat animals and our planet in general will parallel how we treat each other," Rocky said. The Vegg received an interest-free "Pay it Forward loan" from the Pollination Project.
Cool Literature to Help Save Animals in North Carolina. Lenore Braford is committed to ending factory farming and the cruelty that comes with this barbaric system. The founder of North Carolina's Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge will be producing and distributing very unique educational materials on factory farming. "What is done to animals in factory farms is very far from being just, and we will help to open people's eyes to the realities of the industry," Lenore said. "Not only is factory farming harmful for the animals, it has a devastating effect on the environment and to human health." Lenore and her team polled vegans and non-vegans alike about the design of the literature and its impact. They will hand out the brochures during events at the refuge, including their vegan cooking demonstrations, and wherever else an opportunity to educate might present itself.
Positive After School Programs in Florida. In South St. Petersburg, Florida, where many elementary students live below the poverty line, David Ambush and his brother, Harris, envision a safe haven for youth to visit after school. "There is absolutely no better way to progress this planet than with the love, support, and education of the youth," David said. "Our program will nurture, love and support children while allowing them to focus on areas of interest that may one day lead to their career." Their organization, Hands 4 Hope helps support education in distressed areas including communities affected by natural disasters. The organization's after-school center will help offset the effects of a different kind of impact -- budget cuts. They expect to offer classes in the arts, nutrition, yoga, agriculture and other areas that are not being funded or addressed within the local school system.
Congratulations to our grantees this week for their outstanding work to bring justice, peace, health and compassion to their communities. These are just a few examples of what a little seed money can do when put in the hands of someone with a vision and a plan to change the world.
Are you our next grantee? Please go to our website at www.thepollinationproject.org for funding guidelines and application.