How to Become a Representative for Congress
How does one become a representative for Congress? The journey to becoming a Member can be difficult and demanding. However, the privilege to represent one’s country can be very rewarding.

The U.S. Congress is divided into two chambers. The requirements vary by chamber, as do the roles they serve. To become a member of Congress one must first decide whether one wants to serve in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. Once having made this decision, one must meet certain specifications to qualify for office.

How to Become a Representative

  1. Meet the Qualifications
    The U.S. Constitution requires Members of the House be at least 25 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and live in the state–though not necessarily the same district–they represent. Article VI, clause 3 requires that all Members take an oath to support the Constitution before they exercise the duties of their office.The Constitution was deliberately written to make becoming a Member of the House more accessible, to making this chamber closest to the people. Founders wanted it to be possible for ordinary citizens to obtain office and for elections to be frequent.To be eligible for the Senate, candidates must be at least 30 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least nine years and reside in the state they plan to represent at the time of election.
  2. Identify Key Issues 
    Members of Congress are representatives of their constituents. To become a representative for Congress, potential candidates need to determine and articulate issues that are relevant and important to voters. One must have strong knowledge of current political affairs and one’s stance on current and future policies.
  3. Build a Network
    Connections and relationships are key to running a successful campaign. According to Business Insider, this factor is causing many hopeful millennials to lose congressional races. In a blog post by hopeful House Member Erin Schrode, a 24-year-old activist from Northern California who hoped to be the youngest woman elected to the House, told readers a man told her after voting he would have voted for her instead of the incumbent–had he known who she was. Name recognition is an essential component of a successful campaign.
  4. Fundraise
    Money matters in elections. Funds pay for advertisement, media exposure, branding, letters to potential voters and commercials. While there is no minimum amount required to run for office, more funds equate to better efficiency and exposure.
    Wendy Carillo, a thirty-six-year-old who arrived in America as an undocumented immigrant recently launched a race for Congress. In an interview with Medium, she suggested a candidate should raise at least $100,000 to pay for the “mini enterprise” one creates when running for office.
  5. File Paperwork
    According to BallotPedia, federal law requires all candidates to file a statement of candidacy within 15 days of receiving donations or funding costs for their campaign that exceed $5,000. This is the only part of ballot access that is mandated by federal law. To have one’s name printed on an election ballot, a congressional candidate must do one or both of the following: collect and file petition signatures and/or pay registration fees. Once this is satisfied, requirements vary from state to state.
  6. Campaign
    The final and most crucial task is to campaign. Talk to voters. Learn what matters to them. Appeal to their desires in your language and actions. Congressional candidates can spend up to 18 hours a day campaigning. A successful candidate must know and act on what matters to voters.

Still want to become a representative for Congress after having read up on how to? Stay grounded in the fact that campaigning does not have to be difficult or tiresome. Listening to the needs of constituents and turning them into policies make the work rewarding and gratifying. Our country truly becomes a nation for the people, run by the people when members of Congress remember this principle.

Jeanine Thomas

Photo: Flickr

RihannaRobyn Fenty, popularly known as Rihanna, hosted the Diamond Ball with the help of Dave Chappelle on September 14th, 2017. The event occurred at Cipriani Wall Street, and this was her first time hosting the ball in New York City. The charity event raised over five million dollars for the health and education initiatives of the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) for the Caribbean Islands and Malawi. The CLF promotes innovative education, health and emergency response programs around the world.

The CLF actively participates in global advocacy with the goal of improving the quality of life for young people everywhere. The CLF’s current agendas are involved with the Clara Lionel Foundation Global Scholarship Program, the Clara Braithwaite Center for Oncology and Nuclear Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados and the Barbados Micro Grants Program.

The director of the Clara Lionel Foundation, Justine Lucas, mentioned at the event that they were one of the first few organizations to aid Hurricane Harvey victims. They are also planning to invest in Irma recovery.

While the charity event was by invitation only, Rihanna’s family and many notable celebrities attended in support of the pop singer’s philanthropic efforts. Young Thug, Beyoncé, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx supported Rihanna’s cause. Even President Barack Obama sent in a video message where he thanked Rihanna for her work with her foundation. “You’ve become a powerful force in helping people find hope and dignity,” said a delighted Obama.

Through Dave Chappelle’s charisma and Rihanna’s ploy to get her guests influenced by alcohol (and their own compassion), the Diamond Ball raised over $5 million for health and education initiatives. “I hope that as you hear about what we are doing and what we plan to do, you too will be inspired to join our mission. The more you drink, the more inspired you’ll be to donate money … and help kids around the world,” Rihanna slyly encouraged her guests.

Jalil Perry

Photo: Flickr

Help People in Mexico
In 2014, the Mexican government reported that poverty within the country rose to 46.2 percent —  nearly half the population living below the poverty line. For the country with a population of just over 123 million, the startling percentage is equivalent to over 55 million people living in poverty. These people are defined as living on less than 2,542 pesos or $157.70 per month.

Despite nearly 80 percent of the population living in urban areas, mainly in or around the capital Mexico City, four percent of the population has unimproved drinking water and 15 percent has unimproved sanitation facilities.

Here are four nonprofits advocating, fundraising and working on the ground to help people in Mexico.

1. Children International

Working in ten countries around the world including Mexico, Children International is a nonprofit focused on helping kids living in poverty. With over 70 community centers and over 9,000 volunteers worldwide, Children International provides children living in poverty with assistance in health, education and employment through empowering programs and resources.

The long-term impacts aim to help break the cycle of poverty. Their website offers a number of ways to get involved including sponsoring a child by donating $32 a month, making a single donation or volunteering at one of their community centers.

2. Feed the Hungry

Relying on almost entirely private donations, Feed the Hungry delivers meals and nutrition education to children throughout San Miguel, Mexico. Through school meals, family education programs and community events, the nonprofit aims to alleviate poverty in the poorest communities. Feed the Hungry operates kitchens partnered with schools in 33 communities.

Most recently in 2017, they opened new kitchens in Moral de Puerto de Nieto, Los González, Puerto de Sosa and Nuevo Pantoja, feeding more than 400 additional children every day. You can help people in Mexico with Feed the Children by sponsoring a school kitchen, advocating throughout your community or volunteering on the ground.

3. PEACE

PEACE (Protection and Education: Animals, Culture, and Environment) is a nonprofit working in the Bay of Banderas, Mexico, to increase educational and economic opportunities in developing areas. To support improved quality of life, the nonprofit runs programs consisting of topics ranging from community education to Mexican culture preservation to environmental protection.

You can get involved by donating to the organization or volunteering for the company remotely or on the ground.

4. PVAngels

Focused on uplifting the communities in Puerto Vallarta, PVAngels combines activity-driven events with fundraising to create community awareness. The money raised goes to charities focusing on a variety of issues including environmental issues, health care, education, family assistance and recreation services.

You can help people in Mexico by donating to any one of PVAngels’ charities or volunteering as a “partner for change” assisting directly the communities in Puerto Vallarta.

By utilizing nonprofits as well as individual volunteers to help people in Mexico, Mexico’s future will hopefully be a flourishing one.

Riley Bunch

Photo: Flickr

How to Run for Office
If you feel like you want to make more of an impact in the political sphere outside of advocacy and voting, you may want to consider running for office. There are around 520,000 elective offices in the United States, meaning that more than one out of every thousand people in the U.S. are an elected official.

All citizens of the U.S. have the right to run for political office. If eligible, any average citizen can play a role in the government. However, not many Americans are taking advantage of this right. In 2012, about a third of the candidates running for a state legislative positions ran unopposed.

Many people do not run because they are not sure how to do so. To begin, you can use Run For Office’s website to search for public positions available near you. After you find the right fit, the next step is to run a campaign.

Here are some tips on how to run for office in the United States:

  1. Do plenty of research beforehand. Find out the requirements for the office such as age and residency. Understand how long the term is and what time commitment is required. Find out how much money is generally spent on successful campaigns. Once you understand the position and you feel comfortable that you can fulfill the requirements, you can begin planning your campaign.
  2. Running a campaign is a great deal of work, so you will need a good team behind you. Decide whether you want to be volunteer-based or whether you can hire professional help. Unless you plan on paying for everything, you’ll need to rely on others for fundraising as well. Start with family and friends and build a database of donors and supporters.
  3. In order to make your campaign official, you will need to file for office. You can figure out what the requirements are by filing a seat through your town clerk or Secretary of State. Make a comprehensive list of all the paperwork that needs to be completed, as well as all the deadlines so you stay on track. Look into the financing laws as well.
  4. Decide what you are running for – pick three issues your campaign is going to focus on and what you would want to work towards if you become elected. Then look at your own background and skill set and see how they will assist you in accomplishing your goals. Issue a profile for your campaign, then create an identifiable branding and message that will help people remember you and your views.
  5. Once you feel prepared, announce your intention to run. Preferably, do so with much press. Then you can begin to actively campaign. Go door to door. Print lawn signs. Keep up-to-date social media accounts. Go to events and get your name out there. Prepare a short 30-second appeal and a three-minute speech regarding your campaign and why you are running. Do what you can to publicize yourself and gain support.

Even if you have never held a political position, once you know how to run for office you have the power to do so. If you want to see changes made, if you want to do more for those who don’t have a voice, don’t stand around waiting – run for office.

Hannah Kaiser

Photo: Unsplash

Red Nose Day
Jack Black checked up on a Ugandan teen that he met during last year’s Red Nose Day.

Red Nose Day, a fundraising campaign run by the non-profit organization Comic Relief Inc., was held this year on May 26. The campaign works to free children around the world from poverty.

The Red Nose Day Special is a live two-hour primetime television event that brings celebrities together to use the power of comedy to raise money. This year, the organization partnered with NBC, Walgreens, M&Ms and the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation.

Jack Black, an American actor, comedian, musician and producer, was one of the 2016 participants of Red Nose Day’s inaugural telethon. He took a look back on his experience last year, when he traveled to a Ugandan slum and met an impactful young man.

Black was brought to tears when he visited the slums of Kampala, Uganda, where he met the orphaned teen named Felix. Black spent two days with Felix, learning how the teen made his living selling plastic bottles and slept on the dangerous streets at night.

The experience stuck with Black. The telethon covered an update on Felix, showing viewers how the teen benefitted from the organization’s efforts and giving Black some peace of mind.

When Black visited the slums, he was shocked at how much it emotionally affected him. He found it unfathomable that teenagers were sleeping on the streets and had little to no access to basic necessities.

During Black’s trip, the teen asked if he could go home with Black, saying, “I want to go with you.” While holding back tears, the actor replied, “I don’t think I can take you home. I don’t think it’s allowed.”

After the emotional experience, Black now feels better knowing that Red Nose Day has helped teens like Felix. In the video clip update, Felix describes his life now, saying: “I’m not scared anymore. There is no scary place. I would like to do well at school and complete my bright future. Now I have a dream.”

Felix additionally thanked Black for sharing his story with the world. With the funds raised by Red Nose Day, Felix was placed in a counseling program and then with a foster family. He is also now receiving an education.

This year, Black took a comedic spin on tackling child poverty. He said the best way to donate is simply by buying a little red nose, noting that they are great stocking stuffers.

The little red noses must have been a hit, as Red Nose Day raised $31.5 million this year. This money goes a long way in aiding the global poor. According to the Red Nose Day organization, $4 buys anti-malaria to protect mothers and children against mosquitos, $5 buys antibiotics to prevent pneumonia in children, and $15 can keep a child safe and sheltered for a week.

Globally, Red Nose Day has raised $1 billion in the last 25 years. While half of the money is given domestically, the other half goes to the poorest communities in places like Africa, Latin America and Asia. The funds are directly given to children in need of safety, education and healthcare.

In 2015, $170,000 was given to provide vaccines to children under the age of five living in the poorest communities in Africa. $30,000 was given to children and families in Africa that do not have access to clean water and sanitation.

Some of the 2016 charity partners included the Children’s Health Fund, The Global Fund, OXFAM, Save the Children and Gavi.

Kimber Kraus

Photo: Flickr

Musicians
Can you name at least three musicians who fight poverty in unorthodox ways? In a recently announced project, major hitters in the music industry will be joining together to produce a new album aimed at reducing poverty around the world. Some of the musicians already attached to the project include stars like Kanye West, Ellie Goulding and Mumford & Sons.

The album, entitled Metamorphoses, will be sponsored by Global Citizen, a nonprofit that brings people together to fight global poverty. This project is a logical extension of the organization’s previous work, which often includes organizing major concerts to raise funds and build awareness for poverty-fighting efforts.

What makes Metamorphoses unique is the fact that fans have been called upon to submit lyrics, poems, and even short stories for the musicians to incorporate into the 12 tracks. According to Global Citizen’s CEO, Hugh Evans, this highly interactive process will include material from people all over the world, making the project “a truly global tribute to our collective responsibility” to fight poverty.

How will the album ultimately help alleviate poverty? Producers are planning to employ slightly unorthodox methods that sidestep traditional fundraising techniques. Instead of buying the album with actual currency, fans can “purchase” Metamorphoses by making commitments to take action to fight poverty.

This kind of outreach has the potential to build lifelong warriors against poverty, as opposed to one-time donors. Those who “buy” the album are offering to engage with the anti-poverty movement through direct action, such as educating their elected officials about the issue and petitioning those with law-making power.

The project itself was dreamed up by Global Citizen in partnership with Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons. According to Lovett, the “crowd-sourcing” of material makes the project especially exciting. “Metamorphoses has the potential to break down our preconceptions of the voices of creativity, what different people around the world are thinking and who has the right to be heard,” Lovett claims.

Set to be released in the Fall of 2016, Metamorphoses is destined to be an exciting and unique album with the potential to do a lot of good and foster activism through the power and process of creating music, according to Global Citizen.

Jennifer Diamond

Photo: Flickr