Celebrities are Donating
The Amazon rainforest fires of late 2019 are some of the worst to occur since 2010 with an increase in deforestation rates as a primary cause. Celebrities are donating to the Amazon, pledging money to organizations like the Rainforest Alliance, Amazon Watch and Rainforest trust. Many celebrities are donating to help the Amazon so that the indigenous peoples that live there can continue to do so. Other celebrities are raising awareness about the role politics is playing in the Amazon fires.

The Situation

The Amazon rainforest covers much of northwestern Brazil and extends into Colombia, Peru and other South American countries. It is the world’s largest tropical rainforest and is notable for its extensive biodiversity. It is also home to nearly one million indigenous peoples consisting of over 400 tribes, each with their own language, culture and territory. These people rely on their land for everything, from food to shelter to medicine, which is why the fires are so devastating to them.

 The anti-indigenous government of Jair Bolsonaro is a root cause of the fires. Bolsonaro normalizes, incites and empowers violence against the environment of the Amazon rainforest and against the tribes who live there. Bolsonaro pledged to increase agricultural activity in the Amazon by opening it to logging, industrial-scale agriculture, ranching and mining.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron tweeted “Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produce 20 percent of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days!” Along with urging other world leaders to help on social media, Macron threatened to scrap a huge trade deal between the European Union and South America, putting pressure on Bolsonaro to take action.

Alongside the destruction and devastation, celebrities have begun to raise funds and awareness to help put a stop to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

Celebrities Donating to the Amazon

Many celebrities are donating monetarily to provide aid. Vanessa Hudgens donated to the Amazon Conservation Team to try to proactively help and Violette Beane gave to multiple organizations while urging her fans to donate if they could and share information if they could not.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s environmental initiative, Earth Alliance, pledged $5 million to Amazon relief. People widely know DiCaprio for his work as an actor, but also for his work to end climate change. Earth Alliance created an emergency fund specifically for the preservation of the Amazon. The money pledged will be going to five local organizations.

In addition to donating, many celebrities are then nominating other celebrities to do the same. Lana Condor of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” donated and then nominated co-stars Janel Parris and Noah Centineo to do so as well. Zoey Deutch donated to the Rainforest Alliance and called on Camila Mendes to do the same. After donating, Mendes nominated “Riverdale” co-star, Charles Melton to give.

“Umbrella Academy” star, Robert Sheehan, went one step further with his donation to the Rainforest Alliance by making it a monthly donation. He also plans to follow the Rainforest Alliance’s 30-day sustainability challenge.

One does not have to be a celebrity to provide aid to the Amazon fires, though. Donating is something anyone can do. The Rainforest Alliance is redirecting 100 percent of its donations to the frontline organizations in Brazil that work to protect the indigenous people. Rainforest Action Network works in Brazil’s Sawré Muybu Indigenous Territory supporting the Munduruku people’s campaign to create a recognized territory and monitor the area for illegal logging and mining activity. Other organizations include, but are not limited to Rainforest Foundation U.S., Amazon Watch, Earth Alliance, Amazon Conservation Team and World Wildlife Fund for Nature.

– Darci Flatley
Photo: Flickr

How Goats Fight PovertyGoats are the animals of choice for many humanitarian groups across the world looking to provide life-saving, sustainable aid. From East Asia to Haiti, these animals have saved the lives of countless families suffering from poverty and starvation. Goats are particularly sought after in countries where agriculture is prominent. Nearly 85 percent of the world’s farmers are smallholder farmers, meaning that they limited resources. Smallholder farmers typically earn income through the cultivation of one or two crops planted on a tiny plot of land. Many humanitarian groups are highlighting how goats fight poverty through various campaigns.

How Goats Fight Poverty

Goats are the animal of choice for humanitarian groups for a plethora of reasons. From their behavior to their eating patterns, goats are easy to raise and supply marketable produce. For small farmers, goats are much less expensive to raise than cows or buffalo. Their diet mainly consists of grasses and shrubs, allowing them to survive even through inclement conditions such as droughts and crop failure.

Furthermore, goats reach sexual maturity at an early age and reproduce rather quickly. A female goat can give birth up to two times a year. In many impoverished areas, baby goats benefit the entire community as opposed to just one family – instead of being kept on the same farm as its mother, a baby goat is often gifted to an impoverished neighbor.

Goats and Children

Many children living in impoverished conditions do not have adequate access to a nutritious diet. Goats can provide the milk, cheese and protein needed to balance a child’s nutritional needs thus reducing dependency on protein from plant-based sources. This is particularly beneficial for children living in countries like Haiti where crops are often destroyed by natural disasters.

Rearing goats helps families living in poverty to support their children’s educational needs in more than one way. Goats offer a means to break the cycle of generational poverty, providing households with a source of income to send their children to school. Furthermore, with healthful meal options from goats, children will have full stomachs during the day allowing them to focus on their studies.

Recent Programs Involving Goats

One organization, in particular, has recently participated in the effort to alleviate poverty with goats. SIDA, short for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, launched a program in western Mali following a 2014 drought. To help, SIDA provided families suffering from food shortage with two assets: goats and seeds. With these two resources, the organization was able to successfully stabilize Malinese livestock herds to combat the lack of flourishing greens.

SIDA was not only able to alleviate poverty with goats in western Mali, but the organization took things a step further by sharing best practices such as care techniques to ensure sustainability. To date, SIDA’s record in western Mali proves to be exemplary. About 2,610 households in the country received goats to combat food insecurity and provide hope for future generations.

The Future for Goat Farmers

Countless personal stories from smallholder farmers have shown the lifechanging effects a goat can have on a community. These creatures seem to be the perfect solution for rural penury, however, there is one problem that stands in the way: goats are not immune to diseases. Organizations like the African Union Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources have been readily responding to this issue, but it demands much more attention as goats have become an integral part of farming life for poor families around the world.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

Technology and PhilanthropyThe ongoing technological revolution is redefining how global political, social and economic development happens. Currently, around 50 percent of the world is online. According to “Digital Spillover” research conducted by Huawei and Oxford Economics, the digital economy was worth $11.5 trillion in 2016, or 15.5 percent of global gross domestic product. This could grow to nearly 25 percent of global GDP by 2025. This not only transforms today’s business landscape but also the business of doing good deeds. Here are three ways that the relationship between technology and philanthropy is already evolving.

  1. Direct Access to Donors Through Social Media
    Technology can be used to nurture closer links between donors and nonprofits. According to Giving USA, individuals, corporations, foundations and estates donated $410 billion to charities in 2017. This represents less than 3 percent of the United States’ GDP. Working to change this number through fundraising technology is social media platform Facebook. In November 2018, three years of launching its fundraising technology, Facebook reported that donations have broken $1 billion. No Kid Hungry, a U.S.-based child-hunger charity, reported raising $5 million from over 200,000 donors through Facebook fundraisers. Other social media platforms, like GoFundMe, have also made it easier for individuals to connect with causes they feel passionate about. Houses for Refugees is a notable beneficiary of such advancements, receiving over $2 million in donations through crowdfunding and online campaigning.
  2. Unmediated Engagement With People in Need
    Although many people in the world are not yet able to access the necessary technology, the internet is helping connect NGOs and their clientele more efficiently. This will change how NGOs are able to operate in cases of natural or financial disasters, as well as create new and innovative ways in which organizations can make a difference. Mobile cash transfers are becoming a popular way of transferring money to those in remote areas of the world. For example, in 2017, because of difficulties in establishing cash liquidity in Zimbabwe, the U.K. government partnered with CARE International, a major humanitarian organization that is fighting poverty in 92 countries worldwide. This partnership provided small monthly cash payments by mobile phone or SIM cards to over 72,000 families, enabling them to continue buying basic foodstuffs and utilities. Technology can also be used to develop help build communities from the inside, by reducing long-standing tensions between communities. One example of a technology company hoping to change lives by connecting people is Tech2Peace, a joint Palestinian-Israeli startup designed to train youth in technical skills such as website building, while also encouraging intercultural dialogue and conflict resolution sessions.
  3. Better Analytics to Improve Efficiency
    Technology companies are helping nonprofits streamline their systems of data collection and analytics. New technological developments are changing how companies can exercise “Corporate Social Responsibility,” or CSR, an ethical business strategy designed to maximize a company’s positive social influence. For example, Microsoft is currently partnered with the Virginia-based charity Operation Smile, which provides children with the free surgical repair for cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. Operation Smile has a number of programs including operating international medical missions, running care facilities, conducting research on the causes of cleft lip and providing education to improve community treatment worldwide. One area where Microsoft assists Operation Smile is by developing customized solutions that allow the organization to analyze real-time patient outcomes and feedback, sharing simultaneously this data with volunteers around the globe. This cuts downtime spent by individual surgeons for patient evaluations and allows Operation Smile to perform more operations.

Technology and philanthropy are intricately connected. Advancement in technology has improved the relationship between donors and charities, charities and beneficiaries, and streamlined all the processes that define these relationships. As the technological revolution finds new ways to change the world, it will also find new ways to help those in need.

Holly Barsham
Photo: Google Images

Fighting Poverty
Bettering the world seems like a broad concept to discuss or even think about, and that’s because it is. There are many ways to improve the way people live, whether it’s picking up trash or volunteering at a local food kitchen. The opportunities appear limitless, but narrowing them down is a great place to start the journey. Specifically, fighting poverty can be one goal to set in mind which has plenty of jumping-off points. Below are just a few ideas, organizations and nonprofits anyone can participate in if they want to lend a hand to the greater good.

Donating

When imagining charity or volunteer work, the very first thought is often donation. It can be a simple and easy way of fighting poverty. The best part is the donor gets to pick the charity, and thus, the effect they wish to make. For instance, if someone wants to improve access to water in underdeveloped nations, they could donate to The Thirst Project. This nonprofit is an organization that aims to provide water to impoverished nations.

While this is one example of providing aid, there are plenty of other companies with different focuses that could always use the aid. Additionally, the donation doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary; other companies accept food, clothes, toys, household items—anything that might be useful to a family or person in need.

Volunteering Locally

Donating is easy, but volunteering is fun. Volunteer work is available in nearly every part of the globe in some shape or form. As a result, these opportunities can vary depending on the season, location and amount of time one would like to spend. For instance, local foods banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and other meal programs pop up all over the world. They allow the volunteer to get involved directly by providing food to those who can’t afford it otherwise. These projects can provide nourishment in various ways, from full and hot meals to canned goods or groceries.

Volunteers usually find work as laborers within the location, often in the form of food servers. The most popular name associated with food banks is Feeding America, a nationwide nonprofit which is a direct purveyor to these food banks. The company also helps to organize the volunteers by guiding them toward local locations through the Feeding America website. The work is a well-appreciated way of fighting poverty, as one full belly is a step closer to improving an underprivileged life.

Volunteering Globally

While volunteering locally is wonderful, it’s often more rewarding if it’s taken out of the locale and put into the global frame of work. It might require more time and effort, but it can have an even greater impact. By sending volunteers to countries in need, nonprofit organizations improve community development through infrastructure construction, meal programs and health centers. Common names of the industry include UNICEF, the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders—just to name a few. These organizations run on donations and governmental funding, which allows them to have a larger global stance and allows volunteers to have the bigger role of direct involvement and assistance. This is seen with Doctors Without Borders, which sends medical professionals to areas in need.

From a single dollar to a single brick, every ounce of effort helps a cause. While these are just a few ideas to launch a career of good deeds, there are plenty more out there. Searching the internet, local communities and simply listening to the concerns of others can lead anyone to a great opportunity. Anyone and everyone can—and should—take a moment to explore their place in bettering the world and find a way to fight poverty.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Pixabay

Secondhand Clothing
Prior to 1980, the domestic clothing and textile industry within the East African Community (EAC) was booming and employed thousands of people. Certain liberalization policies caused the industry to fail, creating a reliance on imported products. Used clothing imports reached $151 billion in East Africa during 2015. Secondhand clothing offers a cheap and quality source of garments for the people within the EAC.

Imports of used clothing are estimated at around 540 million pieces per year versus the 20 million pieces of clothing created domestically each year in East Africa.  Primarily, the United States and Europe, places where people discard large sums of used clothing, sent these imports. These areas donate 70 percent of donated garments to Africa. The EAC initiated the start of a secondhand clothing import ban in 2016 with the goal of accomplishing a complete ban by 2019. The hope is to create a self-sustaining and reliable textile industry that provides jobs for many people.

Taxation in the EAC

The plan was to expand local textile industries prior to the ban, however certain countries within the EAC, such as Rwanda, have already begun raising taxes on imported secondhand clothing. Taxes went from $0.2 to $2.5 from 2016 to 2017, at a 12 percent increase. People who oppose the ban fear that this will disproportionately affect people with lower incomes, rather than support positive industrialization. The opposition also fears that seeing the ban to completion will violate portions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) where many African countries agreed to lift barriers restricting trade and investment with the United States.

However, the East African Community seems concerned with positive domestic growth and industrialization with the hopes of sustaining its economy. Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda plan to continue to raise taxes on clothing imports, while Kenya has said it cannot economically support the 2019 ban deadline because it is unable to meet domestic demands with local markets.

Creating a Textile Industry

Supporters of the ban have recognized that wearers of secondhand clothing might have a risk of obtaining skin candidiasis, scabies, ringworm, body lice and other health risks. To avoid added health risks and to maximize use of domestic commodities, the East African Business Council (EABC) has expressed the need to use the large production of cotton in the EAC domestically to create textiles, rather than exporting it for low costs. The countries within East Africa continue to work towards an improved domestic clothing and textile industry by creating facilities and advancing technology available towards textile production. Tanzania’s Minister of State, Jenista Mhagama, announced a training program in 2016 that would encourage and assist young people to become tailors.

Despite push back from European countries and the United States, the EAC continues its push towards growing its domestic textile industry and implementing the secondhand clothing import ban. As the EAC fulfills the ban, the impact of this on its economy will become clear.

– Claire Bryan
Photo: Flickr

Donate by SavingThere are countless efforts around the globe working to improve living conditions for those in extreme poverty. While per capita, Americans are the biggest charitable givers on Earth, charitable contributions can be increased. By cutting back on everyday living expenses, it is possible to donate by saving money.

Alternatives to Buying Bottled Water

Drinking water is a healthy habit, but bottled water is costly and creates single-use plastic waste.

One way to donate by saving is buying a reusable water bottle. For instance, the reusable Dopper bottle donates 5 percent of every purchase to the Dopper Foundation, an organization working to improve water resources in Nepal.

Upon saving money on single-use bottles, the amount saved can be diverted to a charitable cause. The average American spends around $266 on disposable water bottles, which can add up to over $17,000 in a lifetime. Those savings could be donated to support the work of organizations like Water is Life which pledges to provide clean drinking water to a billion people by 2020.

Water is Life helps communities around the world gain access to clean water through many means, including filters and wells. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the organization sent filtration straws and portable filtration systems to the hardest-hit parts of the island. Currently, it is working on installing 40 solar-and-wind-powered water filtrations stations in the northwest part of the country. The stations are capable of providing 20,000 liters of drinking water a day.

Credit Card Fee Avoidance

A recent survey of 200 U.S. credit cards found that credit cards average 4.35 fees per card. Furthermore, every card in the survey charged at least one fee.

No-fee cash-back cards are available. Card issuers will also offer a cost break to customers with a long series of on-time payments by lowering their interest rates, waiving the very occasional late fee, or both.

Trading in a big-annual-fee card, asking for late waivers and lowering interest rates can save cardholders $100 – 200 per year. The amount saved is almost enough to fund a grant to a Kenyan or Ugandan entrepreneur through Village Enterprise, which can transform the lives of a family living in poverty.

Since its founding in 1987, Village Enterprise has trained more than 154,000 owners who have gone on to create 39,000 businesses. One such success story is Angela Adeke, a Ugandan woman who was denied the opportunity to attend school due to her family’s extreme poverty. After her own children were denied entry to school because they could not afford uniforms, Adeke took action. With the help of a $150 grant, she invested in fabric and sewing machines for her tailoring business. Adeke sewed her own children’s uniforms and made uniforms for more than 4,000 Ugandan children. She now trains disenfranchised young women to become tailors.

Household Maintenance

The average family spends $6,649 on home maintenance. From major repairs to even the price of lawn mowing, it all adds up. A recent survey from Homeadvisor shows that 72 percent of new home buyers are learning how to do their own repairs. Video tutorials are now available online for most projects, enabling families to save on expenses.

The savings can be donated to a charity like Heifer International, an organization that helps families help themselves. The organization has been active in 25 countries, helping more than 32 million families to overcome poverty and hunger. In Nepal, projects targeting women have contributed to improved gender equality. Nine out of 10 of the families in Nepal interviewed say they had increased their income as a result of Heifer International projects, and it is possible to donate by saving on expenses as manageable household maintenance.

Trimming the Food Bill

Most Americans spend nearly half of their monthly food budget on eating out. By preparing more meals at home and packing a lunch more often, these funds can be diverted to donations. A conservative estimate is that preparing one meal per week instead of eating out will save more than $800 per year. These savings can fight worldwide hunger when diverted to an organization like The Hunger Project (THP).

The Hunger Project works to end hunger through strategies that are sustainable, grassroots and women-centered. Mozambican citizen Moises Fenias Malhaule is an example of a THP success story: Malhaule joined THP education and microfinance programs, and in ten years, he has expanded his farm and paid for his children’s education. Malhaule has also taken many courses in development and construction and shared his knowledge with his community. Donations to organizations like this not only help individuals but often have ripple effects, making entire villages more resilient and self-sufficient.

Organizations like Water is Life, Village Enterprise, Heifer International and The Hunger Project are making a considerable impact in global poverty reduction, but their work relies on financial contributions.  While finding the extra money to donate can be challenging, with a few lifestyle tweaks, it is entirely possible to donate by saving money.

– Francesca Singer 
Photo: U.S. Air Force

Generous Billionaires
The most generous billionaires prefer to start charitable institutes or foundations with experts to distribute their money to worthy causes. Some accept applications for grants; others prefer to seek out organizations. Keep reading to learn more about the top seven most generous billionaires.

Top 7 Most Generous Billionaires

  1. Bill Gates
    The co-founder of Microsoft is now the co-chairman and trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, currently the wealthiest foundation in the world. Since 2000, the foundation has spent $36 billion on global health, disaster relief, poverty relief and more. It offers grants to a variety of nonprofits for-profits, and government agencies to carry out data-driven programs. The organization focuses on issues such as global health, such as vaccinations, malaria eradication and safe disposal of human waste.
  2. Chuck Feeney
    This entrepreneur and real estate mogul has earned the nickname “James Bond of Philanthropy.” He is an Irish-American who became a billionaire in the 60s and 70s. But in 1984, he agreed to sign away everything to his foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies. In 2003, he decided to spend his entire fortune in his lifetime, or, as he puts it, “giving while living.” Atlantic Philanthropies is currently in eight countries and has given away $8 billion to “promote fairness and equity for all.” Chuck Feeney’s generosity index (amount given versus current net worth) is 420,000 percent. The foundation is expected to close its doors in 2020 when he achieves his goal of giving everything away.
  3. Warren Buffett
    Warren Buffett is the most charitable billionaire in America, outranking even Bill Gates. He has given away $46 billion since 2000, about 71 percent of his fortune. The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named in honor of his late wife, pledged $150 million a year in grants to help disadvantaged women by making reproductive healthcare accessible, in addition to other social causes. He has created the now-famous Giving Pledge, in which he calls on generous billionaires to donate half their wealth.
  4. Azim Premji
    The chairman of information technology company Wipro, Azim Premji, dedicates his wealth to improving India’s primary education. Rather than distributing grants, Premji’s foundation, the Azim Premji Foundation, chooses to work with state and local governments to build schools, write curriculum, buy supplies and many other tasks.  He has given away $21 billion and reached 3.5 billion schools. When the foundation could not find enough teachers, Premji created the Azim Premji University to focus on education and development. His donations make him the most generous man in Indian history.
  5. Michael Bloomberg
    The founder and CEO of Bloomberg Media, Michael Bloomberg has given $6 billion through his foundation Bloomberg Philanthropies and has promised half his wealth to the Giving Pledge. His philanthropy is focused on five areas he is passionate about: the environment, public health, the arts, government innovation and education. He is particularly drawn to global warming and other issues, where others might refuse to act due to controversy.
  6. Sheikh Sulaiman bin Abdulaziz bin Saleh Al Rajhi
    Al Rajhi began his career in 1939 at age 10 as a kerosene seller. In 1957, he and his three brothers co-founded the Al Rajhi Bank. The bank saw great success during the oil boom of the 1970s. The family is currently Saudi Arabia’s richest non-royal family. His charitable institution currently funds 1,200 projects across the kingdom. He has given approximately $5.7 billion toward educational, health and religious causes.
  7. George Soros
    After nine years as a successful hedge fund manager, George Soros created his charitable Open Source Foundations. “Open society is based on the recognition that our understanding of the world is inherently imperfect…what is imperfect can be improved,” says Soros on the name of his foundation. His first venture started by offering scholarships to black South Africans and Eastern European dissidents at the University of Cape Town to study abroad. It is now the second-largest American charity, behind the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Soros has given $8 billion to Open Source Foundations.

According to Forbes, there are more than 2,000 billionaires in the world. Many only donate a nominal amount to charity. The generous billionaires on this list have been chosen not by the dollar amounts of their donations, but the percentage of their fortune they have given away.

In 2010, the Gates partnered with Warren Buffett to create the Giving Pledge, a commitment by wealthy individuals to give over half of their wealth away. The Pledge started with 40 individuals but has since grown to 190. Buffet stated, “More than 99 percent of my wealth will go to philanthropy during my lifetime or at death. Measured by dollars, this commitment is large. In a comparative sense, though, many individuals give more to others every day.”

Jackie Mead
Photo: Google Images

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg is most commonly known as the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Facebook. He is also one of the wealthiest people in the world. Zuckerberg is an American technology entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is using his fame a fortune to help donate and raise awareness to put an end to global issues. With a net worth of $69.5 billion, Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable donations are a way in which this famous young man is using his own wealth in making the world a better place.

The Beginning of the Donations

Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable donations are based on his pledge to donate 99 percent of his wealth to charities over the course of his life. He vowed himself to this by signing the Giving Pledge. The Giving Pledge is a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals to dedicate the majority of their wealth into charities and for good causes. Within this pledge, Zuckerberg also wants to promote equality and advance the human potential for future generations.

In September 2016, Mark and his wife Priscilla Chan sold $95 million in Facebook stocks so that they could give the proceeds to charity. They plan to sell the stocks in the amount to at least $1 billion each year. So far, Zuckerberg has donated $45 billion to charitable purposes. He and his wife firstly pledged to give donations to charity by writing an open letter to their daughter who was born in late 2015. The birth of their daughter inspired them to change the world and environment and make it a better place for their daughter to live in.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable donations also include the joint work with his wife, Doctor Priscilla Chan, in creating and working in their own organization called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. This organization aims to create education reform, biomedical advancements, immigration reform and housing affordability. In addition, it focuses on improving the education system, global development, health and criminal justice systems policy.

All money that is donated and raised to this organization goes into helping these global issues. Zuckerberg’s goal through this initiative is to focus on areas of personal learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities. Through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Mark Zuckerberg and wife pledged to donate $3 billion over the course of 10 years.

Donations Toward Education

In 2010, Zuckerberg and his wife donated $100 million to improve the public schools in Newmark. Lack of education is one of the leading causes of poverty, and Zuckerberg and his wife’s donations in support of this issue help children get the right education they need to be successful in life. By getting a child the proper necessities they need in education overall gives them a better education. If a child is falling behind in first grade and then moves on to third grade and is still falling behind they will likely stay behind later on due to not having the right necessities for their work.

Donations in Africa and India

Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable donations also include donating $25 million towards a start-up that trains African developers as well as donating $50 million that creates an app designed to be a learning tool in India to help less fortunate gain access to education for a better future. Zuckerberg is a big advocate of learning and education.

With that being said, he has donated $30 million with his organization the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to help kids learn to read by technology. Zuckerberg uses technology to tailor the learning materials with kids’ interests, abilities and pace of work. Zuckerberg launched “Reach Every Reader”, a five-year initiative to build a web-based screening tool that is used to diagnose reading problems before kids can even read. This program is based at home as well as in schools to personalize literacy support or kids, teachers and parents.

Mark Zuckerberg uses his fame and fortune to help people in need all over the world. He has teamed up with his wife Doctor Priscilla Chan to create the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable donations’ overall goals are to focus on areas in all over the world to generate positive impacts in places of great need.

– Ariel Deahl
Photo: Flickr

International Book Donation Programs
A new book can mean everything. It can transport you to a new world, untouched by your reality; it can comfort you; it can teach you. From novels to textbooks, international book donation programs help to shape our world and educate those who its words touch.

International Book Donation Programs

International book donation programs are a beautiful thing. They are run by some of the most powerful organizations in the world, for example the World Bank, or by grassroots movements. According to the World Bank, the world literacy rate is at 86 percent, the highest it has ever been. This means it is the best time to donate books and that every book donated can make a significant impact.

Over 30 years ago, the World Bank started the International Book Bank (IBB). Its slogan, “Books save lives,” was once one of the world’s largest international book donation programs and supported smaller international book donation programs. Since its inception in 1987, the IBB has shipped over 30 million new books around the world.

Many of these books were donated by the publishers themselves and sent on to individual schools and charities to be utilized by local institutions. However, in 2016 the IBB had to change with the world. According to their website, the spread of terrorism in many of their areas of operation, coupled with rising shipping cost and publishers moving to electronic texts, meant a strategy restructure.

International Book Bank and The International Book Project

Instead of en-mass shipping, the IBB shifted its focus to smaller and more precise projects, such as Liberia 20/20. Liberia 20/20 was started in mid-2016 and is intended to strengthen the Liberian education and library system through modern times. The IBB helps to develop electronic indigenous material for children and young adults and encourage indigenous authors to share their work by teaching them about property rights and translation. 

In Kentucky, there exists a grassroots, NGO international book donation program called The International Book Project (IBP). The IBP was founded in 1966 by Harriet Van Meter and since its inception, the IBP has sent over 6 million books worldwide. By sending books around the world, the IBP sees its efforts as a way to teach Americans about their world neighbors.

With a valid mailing address, a single person or organization can have anywhere from a 100 books in separate boxes or an entire shipping container with 10,000 to 40,000 books. The IBP provides books from all different genres and types, and works closely with Habitat for Humanity and Kentucky Refugee Ministries. The Kentucky Refugee Ministries is an organization which provides assistance to refugees resettling in the United States.

Books for Africa and E-Readers

One of the largest international book donation programs in the world, and the largest one dedicated to the African continent, is Books For Africa. Over 41 million books have been shipped by Books for Africa. According to their website, they have donated three million books and 93 computers and e-readers in the last year.

Utilizing computers for reading is a practice quickly growing and vastly important. Not only are publishers focusing more and more on electronic text, but computer programs and games are also being used to learn to read. Although the feeling of a book in your hand cannot be replicated, research becomes much easier when one deals with large texts on a computer rather than in sixteen pounds of books. This reality is why many of these computers and e-readers came with books already installed.

A Book or Two

The World Bank completed many studies since the mid-1980s in African countries, and findings showed that each time students received donated books, they had a higher chance to retain what they learn and retain fluency in the language. The good news is that these are not the only programs donating and shipping books.

It is easy to donate a book or two yourself to one of these charities. The University of Buffalo has an easily navigable list of international book donation programs for you to choose from. So as you read this and think about all those extra books stuffed in your basement, remember they have the potential to do better elsewhere.

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

How to Fight for Social JusticeAn important thing to keep in mind when learning how to fight for social justice is what social justice really is. Fighting for social justice is a way of solving social inequalities. Social inequalities can come in different forms, but they revolve around two major categories: inter-social treatment and unequal government regulation.

Inter-social treatment describes the treatment of groups of people on a local and regional scale and deals with issues such as racism, sexism, ageism and heterosexism. These social inequalities are commonly based on personal beliefs.

Unequal government regulation describes the laws and regulations in place which discriminate against minorities. These often relate to poverty, the death penalty, civil rights and access to healthcare and education.

Health, education, social mobility, crime and wellbeing are directly correlated to social inequalities due to inter-social treatment and unequal government regulation. It is important to remember that these two categories of inequality are often linked to each other. These social inequalities can be experienced directly and indirectly, and it is important to keep that in mind when learning how to fight for social justice.

Direct social inequality is the deliberate mistreatment of minorities or groups of people. This can come in the form of actions that take away resources and opportunities from select groups of people based on prejudices and personal beliefs. This type of inequality can include, but is not limited to, physical and/or verbal assault on a person or group of people and laws created based on established prejudices.

Indirect social inequality is enforcing unfair treatment of people unintentionally. Many people are guilty of this form of oppression because they are simply unaware of it. Consumerism is a large factor in this form of social inequality, because often the products being purchased are made by sweatshop workers, produce waste and chemicals which pollute the areas where impoverished people live and even support political candidates who promote social inequalities.

Taking action on a social issue is a major step in learning how to fight for social justice. Activism, by definition, is using consistent campaigning to bring social and/or political change. With the technology available today, even the busiest of people can become activists for social issues through a variety of means:

  • Using social media
    One of the easiest ways to fight for social justice is to use a social media platform. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all great starting points to grow an active voice for social justice. In today’s age of technology, something as small as a hashtag can be the start of a worldwide social justice movement, such as the “Black Lives Matter”, “Love Wins” and the “Me Too” movements.
  • Donating
    Organizations are always in need of donations to their cause, because to fight for social justice, organizations need funding. For some, it is not always practical to donate money, so an alternative is to consider donating your time. Holding fundraisers, hosting rallies and participating in sponsored walks are all great ways to fight for social justice through activism.
  • Contacting Congress
    A critical part of fighting for social justice is starting from the ground up in local government. Big movements take small steps towards greatness, and one way to help move forward for social justice is making a change in government. Contacting Congress about issues and concerns is a pivotal part of creating change. Voting in leadership who support important causes is another important step in fighting for social justice.
  • Joining local groups
    Connecting with local activist groups can help you stay up to date on events, fundraisers, news and information on social issues.

Whether we are fighting against global poverty, racism, sexism, ageism or the many other social issues that face us, the answer to “how to fight for social justice” is understanding what social justice is, finding a voice and using it through activism.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Flickr