How an Individual's Impact on Poverty Reduction Can Make a Difference
The Borgen Project was started with one person who wanted to make a difference. Clint Borgen started his endeavor to create The Borgen Project after seeing the poverty and conflict during the genocide in Kosovo. When he returned, he moved to Alaska to join a fishing expedition in order to make money to start his organization. The Borgen Project started with one person’s bold ideas and passionate heart setting to eradicate global poverty. There are many other ambitious individuals, like Clint Borgen, that have started organizations focusing on reducing poverty. The following organizations show how an individual’s impact on poverty reduction can generate a movement leading to organizations that work toward a world with less poverty.

  1. ONE is an international organization that focuses on action and campaigning to end extreme poverty and prevent diseases. The co-founders for ONE are Bono, the lead singer of U2 and Bobby Shriver, son of the founder of The Peace Corps. These two passionate men came together to start ONE, an international campaign and advocacy organization of more than nine million people around the world. This organization prioritizes social justice and equality in the world. ONE utilizes its advocacy power to encourage government programs to make lives better around the world. It is funded almost entirely through foundations and corporations.
  2. Concern Worldwide has focused on working with the world’s most vulnerable people for 50 years. This organization was founded by John and Kay O’Loughlin-Kennedy in response to the famine that occurred when the province of Biafra tried to secede from Nigeria. In 1968, this organization, then called Africa Concern, focused in Africa sending supplies to the people affected in Biafra. In 1970, Africa Concern turned into Concern Worldwide with volunteers encouraged to respond to natural disasters causing poverty in other communities as well. Today, Concern Worldwide focuses on emergencies, health, nutrition, education and livelihoods to reduce poverty. This organization operates on donations and utilizes 90 percent of its funds for relief and development.
  3. Trickle Up envisions a world where no one lives in extreme poverty or vulnerability. In 1979, Mildred Robbins Leet founded this organization with the goal to help people out of poverty. The group’s work aims to help women, people with disabilities, refugees and other economically and socially excluded people. Its goal is to continue lifting millions of people out of extreme poverty and to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Instead of giving individuals money, Trickle Up provides people with seed capital grants, skills training and the support to create small businesses in order to help individuals reach economic self-sufficiency. Trickle Up’s approach starts with stabilizing one’s family, planning and building a livelihood, connecting and saving in groups, investing and growing businesses and finding an individual voice to advocate when people need to speak up in their communities. This organization tracks its individual impact on poverty reduction by focusing on the changes people experience in their quality of life. They keep track of data on how the organization helps others combat hunger, build livelihoods, gain access to savings and credit and empower individuals for social involvement.

These organizations, founded by only one or two people, represent how an individual’s impact on poverty reduction by ordinary people can generate change in the world. Clint Borgen, Bono, Bobby Shriver, John and Kay O’Loughlin-Kennedy and Mildred Robbins Leet exemplify the possibility of how one person can make a huge impact. These individuals are a testament to grassroots movements and why each person should feel empowered to make a difference.

– Jenna Walmer
Photo: Flickr

Music and Poverty
Robert Browning once said, “Who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once.” For those living in poverty around the world, being surrounded by others in the same predicament often manifests in a collective loneliness. While the cadence of the day-to-day drones on, music’s tempo sets the pulse of nations. Music and poverty may dance in the shadows at times, but their connection lives beyond subtleties — it is a real and often necessary connection.

Medicine for the Soul

Just how powerful is music? According to eMedExpert, an online informational Web site dedicated to health and medicine, music can:

  • Boost immunity to disease
  • Benefit emotional intelligence, and turn negative thoughts to positive
  • Create stronger literacy skills
  • Increase productivity

The Fajara Cancer Centre in Nairobi, Kenya bears witness to the healing power of music. When Berklee College of Music graduate Cara Smith did research in East Africa for her degree in music therapy, cancer patient Aisha hadn’t spoken all week while undergoing treatments. The two sat down together and wrote a song, creating an avenue for Aisha to express herself despite the verbal challenges from personal trauma.

Inspired, Smith went on to create Umoja Community Music Therapy which now operates in more than 50 schools, hospitals and community centers in Uganda and Kenya.

Smith, along with fellow graduates Brooke Hatfield and Kristina Casale, have also seen former child soldiers climb out of depression and trauma to find joy, and young women become empowered through music. Smith points out the connection of music to East African culture and sees it as an open door ready to be pushed.

“El Sistema”

Passing away earlier this year, Jose Antonio Abreu left a legacy of the profound impact of music. As founder of a music program for Venezuelan children, Abreu understood the relationship between music and poverty. His program, known widely as “El Sistema” (the system), trained musicians across all social classes.

According to Abreu, the system fought poverty at its roots. He explained to 60 Minutes’ Bob Simon, “A child’s physical poverty is overcome by the spiritual richness that comes from music.”

El Sistema helped to create other musical movements in developing countries, such as those implemented by Children International (CI), an organization devoted to breaking the cycle of poverty on the world stage. With programs in the Dominican Republic since 2014 and Columbia since 2015, CI sees first-hand how the method puts an emphasis on peer-to-peer instruction, cultivating leadership and selflessness, and  keeps youth away from gangs and other destructive environments at the same time.

Then, there are the nonquantifiable effects of music. Juan David, a participant in the Columbian program, says “when I’m playing, I feel very peaceful and calm, because I leave my world behind.”

Power and Purpose

While a temporary escape from reality might be welcome, song may wield the power to affect real change in health and development outcomes through their musical passions. Case studies in Africa have shown the utility of songs in networking, fundraising and advocacy.

In 2008, U2’s lead singer and humanitarian, Bono, led his One Campaign, which united over 100 international artists, and put major pressure on G8 summit leaders to create change. More recently, in 2014, One’s Do Agric Campaign sent a message to African leaders to invest in agriculture.

The cornerstone song for that campaign, Cocoa na Chocolate, plainly stated: “like the seeds of light forever, let the Earth provide for her children.” The track, one of the biggest collaborations in Africa’s history, inspired a nation to take initiative and provide for itself.

Music, Poverty and Change

In Africa, songs have been written for political mobilization, as a tool for therapy, as a cry against social injustices and as a show of cultural solidarity.

Music and poverty seem to provide limited evidence of a direct cause/effect correlation (i.e., music decreasing levels of poverty), but music’s inherent emotional value strikes a subliminal chord almost universally. With iconic international musicians like U2 writing charity songs that encourage action, music disseminates information and raises awareness, while encouraging those in poverty that they are not alone.

In every song, there are notes of struggle, relatable and comforting; there are notes of dignity, reminding of a need for hope; there are notes of resistance, pressing people to find relief from stress and the motivation to change their condition.

-Daniel Staesser
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Africa Is Key to the Future of the ContinentA recent report published by the ONE Campaign entitled ‘The African Century‘ shows the urgent necessity of the international community to pay attention to development on the African continent. With Africa’s population set to double by 2050, the authors of the report have stated that taking action on poverty in Africa is key to future of the continent and of the globe.

Although population growth is rapid and expansive on the continent, the flow of international aid into Africa has been stagnating and decreasing in recent years. Since 2012, the three most significant forms of financing for African countries—official development assistance, domestic revenue and direct foreign investment—have been steadily decreasing; they are now at their lowest aggregate level since 2009. Since 2012, although its population has increased by 15 percent, the combined resources available for development in Africa have nominally decreased by 22 percent.

The authors of the report emphatically underline that the international community must start taking action on poverty in Africa as soon as possible. Alleviating poverty in Africa is key to the future of the continent, one which is uncertain right now and might present very serious challenges. With the population increasing to an estimated 2.5b billion by 2050, and 50 percent of them being 25 years or younger, there is a great risk of further destabilization of the region and massive waves of migration. According to estimates, by 2020 Africa’s unemployed population will equal that of Germany’s entire population, and 50 years from now that number might increase to 310 million, or half the employed population of continental Europe.

Donors who used to largely finance aid and development on the continent have been largely using aid budgets in the pursuit of short-term foreign policy interests rather than in fighting poverty. This shortsightedness might prove catastrophic. As a young population grows up in conditions of extreme poverty, conflict that resonates around the globe might be unavoidable. This is why the authors of the ONE report so emphatically claim that taking action on poverty in Africa is key to the future of the continent and the world. In its conclusion, the report calls for a renewed partnership with African countries, which include the doubling of investments in education, employment and empowerment “to support a programme of economic and policy reform across the continent”. Hopefully, the international community will heed this call and think in the long term in order to avoid catastrophe before it manifests.

Alan Garcia-Ramos

Photo: Flickr

Canada and its Strong Stance on Sexism in Poverty
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently condemned sexism in poverty in response to a letter by the ONE Campaign. The open letter was released by Bono and the ONE Campaign on International Women’s Day in March. It was signed by some of the most influential women in the world, including Charlize Theron, Cheryl Sandberg and Angelique Kidjo.

Trudeau is the first world leader to formally respond, addressing the campaign thus: “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am writing back to let you know that I wholeheartedly agree: Poverty is Sexist. Women and girls are less likely to get an education, more likely to be impoverished, and face a greater risk of disease and poor health.”

According to Melinda Gates, one reason poverty is sexist is time. It takes time to finish an education, learn a new life skill or start a business. Men in developing countries are more likely to have access to this time because women are responsible for the vast majority of unpaid housework. There are also more tangible barriers restricting women’s ability to work, whether in the form of laws barring women’s employment or a lack of access to child care for working mothers.

Trudeau had the opportunity to lead by example when Canada hosted the Fifth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund in Montréal on Sept. 16. The conference brought global health leaders together to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. According to Trudeau, such collaboration is an important step to ending sexism in poverty because young women account for 74 percent of all HIV infections among adolescents in Africa.

Canada has increased its contribution to the Global Fund by 20 percent to $785 million CDN, all of which will go toward providing mosquito nets, medication and therapy. The Global Fund aims to save millions of lives and prevent hundreds of millions of new infections by 2019.

According to the ONE Campaign, nowhere in the world do women have the same opportunities as men do, a fact due in part to the sexism inherent in poverty. Trudeau’s response is one of many steps needed to rectify this major inequality.

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Flickr

Celebrity Advocates in the Fight Against Poverty
Celebrities, whether they earn their status through talent, wealth or other characteristics, have many opportunities to use their power for the greater good. The following five celebrities frequently impress with both their commitment to and passion for serving the world’s poor in the fight against poverty.

  1. Bono: No list of superstar advocates, activists and charity workers is complete without his name. The U2 frontman has worked diligently for years to reduce global poverty as well as educate the public on the subject. In a 2013 TedTalk, Bono identified himself as an “evidence-based activist” or “factivist.” His advocacy work is well known and has earned him three Nobel Peace Prize nominations as well as a spot on Forbes’ Most Generous list. In addition, his wide-reaching impact has helped in the creation of charity endeavors such as the ONE Campaign and the RED Global Fund Campaign.
  2. Brad Pitt: He is a big name in both Hollywood as well as the world of celebrity advocates. Pitt joined Bono in 2004 when he teamed up with the ONE Campaign. He acted as a spokesperson, pushing for an additional one percent of the U.S. budget to go toward poverty alleviation in Africa. In a 2005 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Pitt spoke with passion about the poverty and disease he saw while traveling: “I feel it is our responsibility to make those [life-saving medicines] available.”
  3. Angelina Jolie: Known primarily for her outstanding performances in films like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Tourist, her generosity may outweigh even her acting talent. Jolie has donated millions of dollars, through the Jolie-Pitt foundation, to organizations such as Doctors Without Borders that help the world’s poorest people. She was recognized and named as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and was the recipient of the U.N. Citizen of the World award in 2003. Together, she and Pitt have been incredibly influential voices in the fight against global poverty.
  4. Annie Lennox: This talented singer-songwriter has long been using her talents to contribute to her causes. She released her single, Sing, in 2007, raising funds for the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). She has been appointed a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for her incredible commitment to the cause and is a firm supporter of numerous charities including the TAC and Mothers2Mothers.
  5. George Clooney: He is well known among celebrity advocates for famously founding Not On Our Watch, an organization that deals with human rights violations in the global community. In addition, the star is a supporter of the ONE Campaign and has done much work in the area of poverty alleviation and advocacy.

While celebrity news often seems irrelevant to serious matters such as the fight against poverty, many celebrities use their position as a public figure to raise awareness and funds for vulnerable populations.

These five celebrities have set an example for the ways in which other influential members of society can use their talents, fame or funds to contribute to their global community.

Jordan Little

Photo: Flickr

Yaya Touré, who plays midfielder for the UK club football team Manchester City, is used to scoring goals on the pitch. Now he is instead talking about scoring big goals for humanity by working to end extreme poverty.

Touré, who has partnered with the One Campaign, an international non-profit agency which works to fight extreme poverty and preventable diseases in Africa, recently stated in a self-written article regarding development efforts in Africa, “If we work together and play by the rules, humanity can score the great global goals of ending hunger and extreme poverty and building sustainable communities. “

He has also expressed his hopes that Africa can one day become, “The young, dynamic and driving continent it should be, no longer relegated to the subs bench – and help make a better world for us all,” and that he believes, “There has never been more to play for.”

Tourè, who is a citizen of the Ivory Coast and was raised in this sub-Saharan nation, recalls how he channeled all of his energy into education and sport as a young child. His knowledge and personal experiences within a developing region has provided him with a unique perspective about which methods of development will prove most effective within Africa.

He argues that for example, governments within Africa must give women who are smallholder farmers the ability to receive bank loans and property rights. This advancement would not only further promote gender equality, but would also help over 100 million people out of extreme poverty and hunger. Touré also believes that both boys and girls must have equal access to primary and secondary education facilities, which must provide opportunities to learn numeracy, literacy, and IT skills.

With 70% of African workers earning a living from agricultural practices, he argues that the governments of Africa must invest within the agriculture industry in order to both produce larger quantities of food resources and encourage sustainable practices. Touré, who also serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Environmental Protection Agency, has joined many other African celebrities in calling upon African leaders and the international community to invest more resources across the continent to smallholder farmers.

He explains in his article that a youth football team requires potential and resources; even if you have the best talent available, they will not develop without the necessary support, training, and resources. Touré compares this situation to the youth of Africa; there is a capacity to build a team with unlimited capacity. He wishes, “For all the young men and women of Africa to have a decent chance of meeting their potential in life. But, for them to be the engine of global progress, they themselves need fuel: for their stomachs, and for their minds.

Touré argues that the rapid growth of Africa’s population, which is estimated to reach two billion people by 2040, must be met with strong efforts by the international community to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty. He has expressed his faith in the potential of the youth of Africa, and believes that, “Unleashed and supported in the right way, these young people could act like rocket fuel to turbocharge African and global prosperity.

James Thornton

Sources: The Guardian, Malawi Nyasa Times, Think Eat Save
Photo: Flickr


International advocacy organizations are at the heart of improving the lives of millions all over the world. But what exactly are they? How do they function? How do they differ from other “charity” organizations? How effective are they?

A simple Google search provides a basic definition of an advocacy organization: “an ‘advocacy group’ is an organized collection of people who seek to influence political decisions and policy, without seeking election to public office.” Apply this to an organization working on a global scale and voila, an international advocacy organization.

However, things get sticky when the distinction is made between an international advocacy organization and other global nongovernment organizations (NGOs). But, there is a difference between an advocacy organization and a charity or other global NGO. For example, The Borgen Project is strictly an international advocacy organization. It advocates for the world’s poor.

However, another popular NGO named UNICEF is different. It provides aid, as well as a bit of advocacy as well. This is the difference. International advocacy organizations usually focus more on advocacy and not providing physical aid to those in poverty.

ONE Campaign is a perfect example of an international advocacy organization. ONE advocates for the world’s poor, with particular focus on those in Africa. Their mission fits the definition of an advocacy organization perfectly: “we raise public awareness and work with political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency so governments are accountable to their citizens.”

ONE does not focus on raising the funds to build hospitals and schools. Instead, ONE does its work by educating and mobilizing thousands of volunteers who advocate and campaign to keep programs related to key issues regarding poverty funded by governments.

Global Citizen is another international advocacy organization, with a focus on advocacy and campaigning instead of direct aid. Global Citizen focuses on a broader group of issues and global challenges including health, education, water, sanitation and food security. Just like the ONE Campaign, Global Citizen mobilizes volunteers to campaign for awareness of these issues.

What do international advocacy organizations do to ensure efficiency and impact? The World Health Organization (WHO) suggest seven points to make sure that advocacy efforts are effective:

  1. Define the situation – identify the issue. For example, global poverty.
  2. Establish goals and objectives – specific, targeted, measurable long-term goals that can be met.
  3. Identify target audience – usually decision-makers (Congress) and people who influence decision-makers.
  4. Develop key messages – a clear, compelling, and structured message to deliver to target audiences.
  5. Develop and implement advocacy plan – plan by which messages are delivered to audience.
  6. Engage media interest – social media, advertising, and opinion pieces.
  7. Monitoring and evaluation – important to assess and monitor the impact of advocacy efforts in order to make improvements.

Global advocacy organizations are generally effective at what they do. In 2014, Global Citizen along with 18 partners successfully saw the passage of the Water for the World Act in the United States and $639 million secured for the provision of quality education to kids in impoverished countries. The ONE Campaign has a long list of successful accomplishments, including seeing the United Kingdom become the first country to meet the 0.7% as a share of national income international aid target set 43 years ago, as well as successful advocacy for the African Growth and Opportunities Act which mutually improved trade ties between the United States and Africa.

These are only a few of the many successes of Global Citizen and the ONE campaign, and only a minute number when the multitude of other international advocacy organizations around the world are taken into account. Global advocacy organizations are key to fighting poverty and with more successes they will continue to improve the lives of millions around the world.

– Greg Baker

Sources: ONE 1, ONE 2 Global Citizen, WHO
Photo: Unicef

Top 10 Global Poverty Nonprofits
Let’s begin with the obvious, all of us at The Borgen Project… are big fans of The Borgen Project. Our bias aside, below is a list of 10 of the top global poverty nonprofits and their commendable work.


Top Global Poverty Nonprofits


1. The Borgen Project – The Borgen Project has taken the plight of the world’s poor to the political level. With access to most members of Congress and an advocacy network of volunteers in every state, The Borgen Project is considered one of the most politically influential organizations fighting for the world’s poor.

2. ONE Campaign – ONE Campaign uses grassroots and advocacy to raise awareness and money to help put a stop to global poverty. They mainly focus their attention on those living in impoverished conditions in Africa.

3. Global Giving – Global Giving is a charity fundraising web site that gives nonprofits from anywhere in the world a chance to raise the money that they need to improve their communities. Since 2002, the project has raised $114,889,647 from 392,257 donors and has supported 10,252 projects.

4. UNICEF – UNICEF is one of the largest nonprofit organizations and it is dedicated to helping children in need. UNICEF does so much for children around the globe, all while promoting education for girls and better health for pregnant women.

5. Partners in Health – Partners in Health is another nonprofit much like [email protected], which is geared towards providing a better quality of living and preventing disease. Partners in Health partners with doctors and health institutions across the globe to provide much needed relief for people who would otherwise be unable to afford health care.

6. GiveWell – GiveWell is a combination of several top rated charities all over the world. Most, if not all, of these charities provide relief for impoverished people in every nation.

7. CARE – CARE wants to cut poverty off at its roots. This nonprofit provide tools for people who are at a higher risk of falling into poverty and they help them to be successful and rise above the poverty within their nations.

8. Life in Abundance – Life in Abundance is a Christian-run organization that mobilizes churches and missionaries alike to provide relief for those who are suffering. This nonprofit wants to provide a healthier lifestyle to those who are living in poverty.

9. International Rescue Committee – The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives to prevent global poverty. The nonprofit was founded in 1933 due to a request from Albert Einstein himself. The IRC has since offered lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster.

10. [email protected] – [email protected], while not primarily putting an end to global poverty, is trying to eradicate one facet of it. [email protected] is a nonprofit that provides vaccinations for those less fortunate so they will not be plagued by preventable diseases.



Sources:, CARE, GiveWell, Global Giving, International Rescue Committee, Life in Abundance, Partners in Health, Philanthropedia, The Borgen Project, UNICEF
Photo: The Guardian

The month of March, along with the end of winter, is a time to reflect and appreciate all the women in our lives and throughout the world. Women’s History Month began in 1987 after the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress and it has been reauthorized or designated every year since.

It is critical to recognize the importance of women throughout the world. They are the keystone to every healthy family, often taking on both the roles of mother and caregiver while also contributing to the household income base. They are teachers, CEOs, mothers, sisters, aunts, military personnel, athletes and just about every other job under the sun.

March 8 was International Women’s Day and people from all over the globe took to Twitter to voice their support and raise awareness for women’s issues. Here are some of the top tweets:

@OneCampaign: Happy International Women’s Day! Find out why women are the secret weapon in ending poverty

@Oxfam: Women perform 66 (percent) of the work, produce 50 (percent) of the food, but earn only 10 (percent) of the income & own 1 (percent) of the property #IWD

@stephRWolf: International Women’s Day 2014: What kind of world do YOU want to build? via @cnni #CNNwomen

@JuxDotCom: Happy International Women’s Day from Jux. Because without women who would we be, what would we become, when would we eat, why would we live?

@PREVNet: Happy International Women’s Day! Let’s reflect on how we treat the girls & women in our lives. Are we acting with kindness? We can do better

@YWCA_Canada: Happy International Women’s Day! Let’s celebrate how far we’ve come, but advocate for women’s rights every day. #IWD

@NadhieraYoung: Happy International Women’s Day! Be yourself, bcs you are already beautiful just the way you are :)

@AJLucaci: “There is only one known cure for poverty, known colloquially as ‘The Empowerment of Women'” Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

@kassiehernandez: Happy International Women’s Day, Ladies! Let’s continue empowering women and eliminate gender inequality #IWD

@ECA_AS: Meet the 10 extraordinary recipients of the 2014 Int’l Women of Courage Awards: #IWOC #IWD

Studies have shown that women are vital to the health of a society. Increases in women’s education help the entire family make better choices and lead healthier lives. We cannot thank them enough for all that they give and we as a society must stay vigilant of the continued struggle women face throughout the world.

– Sunny Bhatt

Sources: Twitter, Women History Month
Photo: Presse Box

Poverty Advocacy
With a staggering amount of global poverty, was established as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization striving  to help lend a strong hand in the battle against destitution. Co-founded by U2 front-man Bono in May 16, 2004, the ONE Campaign strives to end extreme poverty and reduce the prevalence of preventable diseases, especially in Africa.

The roots of the ONE campaign lie in a previous organization created by Bono called DATA (Debt, Aids, Trade, Africa), which also strove to raise awareness about AIDS and other social issues in Africa. However, in 2008, DATA and ONE united simply as the ONE Campaign. Since its engenderment, ONE has already garnered the support of 3.5 million advocates.

The methods that ONE employs to fulfill its mission of eradicating global poverty and disease involve educating the public about such issues, raising awareness among politicians to push global poverty to the top of political agendas and collaborating with African policymakers rather than simply directing them. By raising awareness about global poverty among the general public and among politicians and policymakers, ONE makes global poverty more relevant and urgent in the eyes of individuals who may not have previously been concerned with such global issues.

Although ONE headquarters are currently located in Washington, D.C., London, Johannesburg, Brussels, Berlin and Paris, the message of the campaign permeates through any global boundaries, bringing the organization closer and closer to fulfilling their goal of assuaging poverty. Due to support of volunteers, ONE has been able to help reduce extreme poverty and preventable diseases.

For instance, over 7.5 million African residents today are able to gain access to AIDS medication whereas in 2005, only a paltry 50,000 Africans were able to access such life-saving treatments. Additionally, malaria has also been reduced by a staggering 75% within the past decade – no doubt with lobbying and contributions from the ONE Campaign.

Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: ONE, Look to the Stars