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5 NGOs Going Above and Beyond
There are many NGOs doing good for the world’s poor, but here are five that go above and beyond the rest.

1. The Garden of Hope Foundation

The Garden of Hope foundation was founded in Taiwan and acts to aid girls who were victims of the sex trade. This NGO provides psychiatric counseling and safe half-way houses for many girls while they recover from their abuse. The Garden of Hope foundation also works closely with the government to promote policymaking and discussions about the sex trade. Their main focus is to empower girls and women to stand up for themselves and realize that they, too, can have an impact on this world.

2. Save The Children

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world what every child deserves: A healthy start, the opportunity to learn and care when disaster strikes. Save the Children acts on all fronts of poverty, ranging from education needs throughout the world to health and humanitarian issues, such as helping children with HIV and AIDS. Save the Children can be found worldwide after any major disaster attempting to rebuild communities and make them stronger. This NGO is wholeheartedly dedicated to improving the lives of the next generation and is a huge part of the bright future that we have to look forward to.

3. Water.org

According to their website, Water.org provides innovative, market-based solutions that change lives every day through safe water and sanitation. This NGO is supporting countless projects that will hopefully provide sanitary water to everyone around the world. There is a basic human need for clean water, but this instead seems like a luxury for every 1 in 9 individuals worldwide. Water.org has become so well organized that for every $1 donated there is a $4 economic return; this comes from the countless lives that are bettered when clean drinking water is available. Water.org has been very successful in involving high-profile celebrities with its cause and has gained international recognition as one of the strongest players in sanitation.

4. Acumen Fund

Acumen raises charitable donations to invest in companies, leaders and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty. This group seems to be searching out the best of the best and providing them with the funding they need to change the world for good. Acumen states that their main goal is “dignity” rather than the usual goal of profitability. They want to help people believe that dreams do come true and to provide them with an arena in which to do this. By funding leaders and innovators in developing communities, the Acumen Fund is able to build rural communities from the bottom up, allowing them to compete in the global market and, in turn, become more developed. This is one great idea that has clearly allowed people all over the world to realize that dreams really do come true.

5. The Borgen Project

The Borgen Project was founded by one man with one computer and one very big dream. Founder Clint Borgen and his team are seeking to make a mark on global poverty by going right to the source: the lawmakers. The Borgen Project seeks to educate individuals on worldwide poverty and what is being done to make an impact. They also communicate one-on-one with lawmakers to gain support for bills that will better the global community. The Borgen team has met with almost every member of Congress and the House and is continuing to inform lawmakers and the public about changes that could be made to make this world a better place to live in.

– Sumita Tellakat

Sources: The Global Journal, The Garden of Hope Foundation, Save the Children, Water.org, Acumen
Photo: Western University

advocacy_groups
Advocacy takes on a broad range of meanings and connotations in our society. Advocacy and advocacy groups are terms that generally conjure up images of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement or the numerous groups today, which advocate for a whirlwind of causes like environmental protection, expanded access to healthcare or even poverty reduction. The Oxford English Dictionary defines an advocacy group as “a group of people who work together to achieve something, especially by putting pressure on the government…usually on behalf of people who are unable to speak for themselves.”

What the Oxford definition illuminates is the difference between an advocacy group and, say, a non-governmental organization (NGO). While advocacy groups and NGOs share several similarities and may even have the same objective, advocacy groups have a special emphasis on altering public policy, while an NGO or grassroots organization might try to work around or outside of the public sphere. Sometimes, organizations pursue advocacy as well as field work.

Advocacy groups have a variety of ways to affect public policy as well as public opinion. These ways include disseminating relevant information about the issue which they raise, engaging local communities to become involved in an issue and, perhaps most importantly, directly lobbying government leaders to create policies that will help address the issue.

In the case of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, many demonstrations, local campaigns, publications and direct lobbying of U.S. leaders led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Outreach and education of the general public was, and is, highly important to any successful advocacy venture because the primary way that public policy is shaped is through the demands of the constituency and the pressure they put on their representatives to support or create legislation that reflects their interests.

One example of a well-known advocacy group is Oxfam International. Founded in 1995, their name derives from an early predecessor to their organization, the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, a group which advocated for the delivery of emergency aid to people caught in the midst of World War II. Today, Oxfam supports a wide variety of poverty reduction and economic development ventures, pursuing issues which constitute a fulfillment of basic human rights.

Oxfam International is a combination advocacy group and grassroots non-governmental organization, working both on the policy level and directly coordinating and delivering services to people internationally. The organization has 17 chapters in different countries, as well as advocacy offices in high-impact government centers such as Brussels and Washington, D.C.

The Sierra Club is another famous, long-standing advocacy group, which was founded in the U.S. by conservationist John Muir in 1892. Originally, the group was formed to lobby for the conservation of vast tracts of U.S. land, which resulted in the establishment of Yosemite National Park and other wilderness areas.

The Sierra Club, because its mission is environmental conservation, is naturally more predisposed to pure advocacy; that is, lobbying U.S. leaders and organizing demonstrations. They have influenced the passage of several pieces of legislation including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

The Borgen Project also operates as a classic advocacy group. This is because the greatest potential for poverty reduction comes through U.S. policies and institutions, rather than private or public donations funding fieldwork outside the policy sphere. The Borgen Project’s aim is to help people become aware of the need to fight poverty internationally, help them become civically engaged and, therefore, directly influence government leaders to adopt policies that strengthen poverty reduction efforts.

– Derek Marion

Sources: Oxfam, Sierra Club Oxford English Dictionary
Photo: Oxfam

nonprofit
Funds are critical in advancing the fight for poverty, and for nonprofits addressing these issues sponsorship in the form of charitable donations allows them to engage in various development, humanitarian and policy-related initiatives. Sponsorship of an organization can take place at any level, from individual to corporate, depending on who is donating and how much they are willing to give. While any amount no matter the size may be considered a sponsorship, nonprofits sometimes add in benefits for supporters who give larger donations.

The Borgen Project defines four specific categories in which donors may fall should an individual give large contributions: bronze partner, silver partner, gold partner and benefactor. Starting at $2,000, each offers benefits ranging from acknowledgements with the donor company’s link and logo on the borgenproject.org to an opportunity to join The Borgen Project’s National Council and be the subject of a news feature in BORGEN. Donations go toward the operation of this nonprofit and its efforts to bring about poverty and hunger alleviation through advocacy centered in Washington.

The U.N.’s World Food Programme is another example of an organization for which donations are critical, as it is completely funded by donors. Aid organizations will typically have a webpage for donors where they may select an amount and pay immediately through the site, making contributions quick and easy.

At a time when the WFP is seeing a record number of hunger crises, it is in significant need of people willing to make contributions to better the nutrition of malnourished and starving people around the globe. Ninety percent of every donation made goes toward anti-hunger operations.

Organizations usually have a couple options for the frequency of the donation. Those interested may make a one time donation or, if they have the capability and willingness to continue their donation throughout the year, a monthly option is available.

It is especially important to note that sponsorship of any amount is meaningful and necessary for the operation of a nonprofit. Individuals, rather than corporations, foundations and other nonprofits, accounted for most of The Borgen Project’s revenue in 2014. Whether it’s $25,000 or $25, every amount counts and is valuable to the initiatives being carried out by an organization.

– Amy Russo

Sources: The Borgen Project, WFP 1, WFP 2
Photo: Don’t Shoot the Costumer

political internships
Internships are an important way to determine what fields interest a student or recent graduate, and they are helpful for finding employment after graduation. Finding an internship can be overwhelming, especially when a student or recent graduate needs to decide his or her interests and match it to an internship. For political interests, this could mean searching for an internship that matches political inclinations or goals. The following are a few resources to use to learn where to find political internships.

Use School Resources

Colleges and universities are motivated to ensure job success for their students. Many universities offer career services or a search tool on their website to narrow the job search to particular fields, such as politics. More importantly, faculty at universities may have connections for internships that suit a students needs and interdisciplinary interests.

Some universities offer class credit for internship programs. Completing a number of hours or assignments for an internship can allow a student to earn credit for their unpaid work. For instance, Georgetown University offers a Semester in Washington D.C. program. A student can attend academic classes, complete a research project and an internship during the week. Potentially, a student can earn 15 credits for the semester.

Contact Local or State Representatives

Several internship opportunities are in the offices of House representatives or senators of a student’s state on both the state and national level. In most cases, a representative will have opportunities listed on their website and an email to contact or send an application. Otherwise, on the national level, interns will work in the personal office of a House or Senate member. The intern will have the opportunity to attend committee meetings and make valuable connections with policymakers in Washington, D.C. or within the state.

Check with Nonprofits

In many cases, a nonprofit will have a particular goal in which is has to participate in political action in order to achieve. Although not directly affiliated with the creation of legislation, a nonprofit can be a great way to get involved with politics from a different perspective.

The Borgen Project offers internships from Seattle and telecommuting internships that involve political action. The Political Recruiter internship in Seattle helps to expand The Borgen Project nationally by targeting several congressional districts. As a telecommuting internship, the political affairs internship requires interns to meet with congressional representatives, attend politically related events and advocate for The Borgen Project.

Ask Friends or Family

Using personal connections can be the most important way to find an internship. Friends, family, professors or co-workers can have connections in fields of interests in a particular geographic region. It can be extremely helpful to have a mutual connection introduce a student to a representative from the internship of choice. A personal connection may also be able to provide insight into the environment and expectations of the internship site.

Knowing where to find political internships can be challenging and intimidating. However, many people looking for political internships will have the resources to find the internships right in front of them. Utilizing these resources, interns will gain valuable experience they need for future professional success.

– Tara Wilson

Sources: Georgetown University, About Travel, Borgen Project, Forbes

global-poverty-and-the-economy
Humanitarian work is intuitively selfless; it is an opportunity to positively impact a stranger’s life without any expectations that he will return the favor. Although this makes a certain amount of sense, the sentiment is not entirely true.

In fact, when federal government agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development invest to eliminate global poverty, they see huge economic returns. Global markets expand and jobs are created. Financial gain should not necessary be the sole motivation for aid, but humaneness and generosity are not always the federal government’s prime movers. Boosting the economy makes for a good supplement.

The process, from foreign aid to market expansion, works like an investment. The investor, the one providing the aid, is essentially buying consumers who will then in turn spend money on foreign goods.

“From an economic perspective, what happens in one country has ripple effects throughout the world,” says Christopher Policinski, the CEO of Land O’Lakes.

The ripple effects starts like this: a small investment is made in a poor overseas community. Maybe this money provides clean and accessible water, maybe it champions education, or maybe it funds electricity and energy projects. In every possibility, it begins to raise the community out of poverty, making consumerism more viable.

The working poor, for example, may have money for apples, soaps, toothpastes and wheat. Middle to upper classes may now have money for plane tickets, clothing, technologies and cars. These goods are purchased from the United States and from other industrialized countries, boosting their economies.

Current data backs this theory. Here are some statistics you will find on the Borgen Project website:

1.

One out of five U.S. jobs is export-based. This means that one out of five U.S. jobs relies on global markets to succeed. Investments in foreign, impoverished communities expand these markets by creating new buyers of U.S. products, bolstering U.S. export-based business.

2.

Developing nations receive 45 percent of our country’s exports. This is important because it shows how much the U.S. really does rely on foreign communities that are still “developing.” Aiding those people in those markets will likely produce strong economic benefits in the U.S.

3.

The list of the countries with the fastest growing gross domestic products (GDP,) according to their annual average GDP increase percentage, may be surprising. The list goes: Angola (11.1,) China (10.5,) Myanmar (10.3,) Nigeria (8.9,) Ethiopia (8.4,) Kazakhstan (8.2,) Chad (7.9,) Mozambique (7.9,) Cambodia (7.7) and Rwanda (7.6.) In comparison, the U.S. GDP growth rate in 2013 was 1.9 percent. Investing in countries like Angola is smart business.

History backs this theory as well.

“From Germany to South Korea, nearly all of the United States’ top trading partners were once recipients of U.S. foreign aid,” reads the Borgen Project’s “Global Poverty & U.S. Jobs” page.

There is a lot of reason to promote foreign aid for its economic benefits, but it is important not to forget that at its core it is a humanitarian act. People are not only consumers. If Congress needs to think otherwise to secure bipartisan support and increase generosity in development projects, which it could stand to do, then so be it. It could be for the best.

– Adam Kaminski 

Sources: The Borgen Project, Bloomberg Businessweek
Photo: Bloomberg Businessweek


The Borgen Project has recently gifted 60 T-shirts from The Adair Group, an Atlanta-based, family-owned clothing wholesaler. A gift like this will mean 60 walking, talking billboards for The Borgen Project.

An infographic informed me that it only takes a few trendy people to start wearing an article of clothing for it to take to the streets like wildfire (this is good for hipsters but also great for a small nonprofit trying to raise awareness about global poverty.) So not only has The Adair Group made possible a potentially amazing fashion trend, they have donated a most important ally in the fight against global poverty.

It turns out that it takes nearly 2,700 liters of water to make one T-shirt. That doesn’t even begin to measure how many liters of water it then takes to clean it every other week for the rest of its life.

Once you have this Borgen Project T-shirt, you simply don’t need any others and therefore you will be saving liters and liters of water. Not only will you be the trendiest fellow around, you’ll also be raising awareness about poverty-reducing programs and legislation all while saving water. You will have succeeded in life.

I want to say thank you to The Adair Group for initiating this Borgen revolution of sorts. Without great companies like it that buy truckloads of clothing that can be offered at the lowest prices imaginable, organizations like The Borgen Project would have to resort solely to word of mouth and face to face communicating to get our message out there and that is so not hip. So please, check out The Adair Group and buy your entire family matching hoodies or your hypothetical future offspring cute tie-dye onesies. It’s the right thing to do.

Whitney Garrett

Sources: The Adair Group, National Geographic, Flavorwire
Photo: Flickr

The Borgen Project begrudgingly gave up a great International Affairs intern, Karen Lee, in January. After her internship, Karen moved to Peru to work at a nonprofit. She was a wonderful addition to our Seattle team and her enthusiasm is missed here everyday. Karen stays in touch, however, and she sent us these photos to show that The Borgen Project is still on her mind even as she travels the globe. It’s great to see The Borgen Project in Peru!

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Whitney Garrett

David_Cicilline_congressman_Borgen_Project
On January 7, 2014 I was fortunate enough to have a meeting with the office of Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island to discuss the work of The Borgen Project.

Despite the fact Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States, Cicilline still has a full load of work and engagements; his office made time to sit down and hear about the incredible work The Borgen Project is doing. Having been born in Rhode Island’s capital, Cicilline is very passionate about supporting his state and the needs of the U.S before reaching out to other areas of the world.  But through our meeting it was brought to their attention that helping others can help Rhode Island more than originally thought.

Cicilline is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and has stated, “David believes that the United States cannot continue to spend $8 billion a month in Afghanistan while so many urgent needs go unaddressed in Rhode Island and America.  Rather than continuing to spend those funds building schools, bridges, and roads halfway around the world, we should be investing that money in our own country.”

In rebuttal to this it was discussed that these are not competing interests. The Borgen Project knows and wants others to know that our foreign policy should be focused on international poverty because it is in the project’s strategic interest.

The world’s poor are currently being viewed as the largest untapped market on earth. Through the eradication of poverty, people are able to transition from barely surviving into becoming consumers of goods and products. This process allows U.S. companies to gain new populations to which they can market their products.

Currently, Cicilline is making headlines in global news with the immigration rally he held along with U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL,) chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, on January 17 in Providence, Rhode Island. They acted together to push congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Though actions like this was the main reason I wanted to raise awareness of The Borgen Project to David Cicilline. He had Gutierrez travel to Rhode Island at his request because he knew that Gutierrez has visited states across the country building support for immigration reform legislation in congress.

These actions may seem relatively small, but every action matters when dealing with the eradication of global poverty. Now that The Borgen Project has been brought into the light, more work will be done in fighting this good fight against global poverty.

– Lindsey Lerner

Sources: House of Representatives, The Borgen Project, Providence Journal
Photo: The Washington Post

International_Affairs_Internship

View Telecommuting and Seattle Internships at The Borgen Project.

 

Looking for a little bit of extra motivation for finishing that college degree? Need a little more incentive to pursue graduate study? The perks of a well-rounded academic background in foreign policy are many.

However, lectures and papers can only inspire so much excitement. If you are interested in a dynamic and interactive experience to set you on the path of being a global advocate, here are five of the top organizations that offer International Affairs internships.

1. Council on Foreign Relations

Take your pick between a yearlong experience in New York or a semester’s worth of study in Washington, D.C. In the Big Apple, the Council on Foreign Relations offers an editorial internship for those interested in pursuing advocacy-based journalism as a potential field. In the capital, students have the opportunity to help with the council’s board and development strategies. Also in Washington, students interested in Middle Eastern Affairs have two unique internship opportunities to further develop policy and advocacy in that area.

2. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

What better way to influence United States global policy than by interning with Congress? This intern will have the ability to attend meetings both on and off Capitol Hill, follow and influence congressional legislation and cultivate research projects for the committee.

3. USAID

USAID is the government agency responsible for executing U.S. policy concerning global development. An internship with USAID entails working at USAID headquarters in Washington and supporting international agriculture programs, immunization initiatives, hunger programs, and much more. Internships with the USAID vary between paid and unpaid as well.

4. United Nations, Social Policy and Development Division

Not only does an internship with the U.N. offer all of the prestige and influence of the world’s most collaborative decision-making body, it also gives students a wonderful opportunity to intern abroad. Whether you are interested in working on development programs from the New York office or promoting HIV/AIDS research in Geneva or Humanitarian Affairs in Nairobi, Kenya, the U.N.’s vastness is a resource waiting to be used.

5. The Borgen Project

Interested in writing for a broad readership? Fascinated by the idea of working for a true non-profit? Are you a self-motivated and independent worker? Then the Borgen Project could be the internship for you! Borgen allows you the creative freedom to find your own niche within the advocacy world and express it to a diverse audience through either writing and/or editing internships as well as front line regional advocates.

– Taylor Diamond

Sources: UN Social Policy and Development Division, Council on Foreign Affairs
Photo:

Telecommuting
Are you seeking real world experience working as part of a news content team? Looking to build skills working as a journalist, writer, editor, or public relations/visual editor? Are you an independent self-starter? Does working from your personal computer appeal to you? Would you like to research, advocate, and produce content for a cause that is aiming to end global poverty?

If you said yes to the questions above, you may be a good fit for an telecommute internship with The Borgen Project. The Borgen Project is an innovative humanitarian organization downsizing global poverty located in Seattle, Washington. The Borgen Project volunteer network extends to 190 cities, and includes celebrities, political leaders, and a growing number of passionate individuals.

Currently, there are four open telecommute internship positions for The Borgen Project: Journalist, Writer, Editor, and PR/Visual Editor.

The time commitments for the internships vary depending on internship type. While The Borgen Project requires a 12-week program for journalists and writers, editors and PR/visual editors are required to spend 260 hours in total, and 15 hours each week.

Access to a computer is vital, as you will be communicating back and forth with supervisors at Seattle Headquarters, and fellow team members across the nation. Attendance to The Borgen Project national conference call from 5pm-6pm PST every Monday is also required.

Content workload varies depending on the internship type. Writers must complete 4 blog posts/magazine articles each week, journalist write 3 in-depth articles each week, PR/visual editors find, tint, and resize images to meet website criteria, and editors edit and approve articles submitted by content team writers. While each internship fills a certain role for The Borgen Project, all interns must spend 2-3 days assisting with fundraising, share Borgen Project articles and news via social media, meet deadlines, and effectively communicate with supervisors.

Interns are given the freedom to choose their own schedule within the required time commitment guidelines. The first week of the internship entails an online training curriculum that clearly lays out your role, what is expected of you, and eliminates any ambiguity about what you should be doing. Supervisors are supportive and can respond to any questions you have regarding fundraising, article content, article style, deadlines etc.

Additionally, interns have the opportunity to meet each other (people from all walks of life), network, and work within a community that extends across the nation. Internet and social media allow us to extend the values and mission of The Borgen Project across many networks.

View telecommute internship openings.

– Laura Reinacher

Sources: The Borgen Project
Photo: Smallbiz Technology