I'm giving a thousand dollars to charity every month, for a year, and my friends are helping me. It's a pretty simple deal: they advocate for causes and I provide the money.
Urban ArtWorks is a non-profit organization which helps connect at-risk youth in Seattle with opportunities to create positive and legal public art.
I found out about Urban ArtWorks last summer when I was planning to paint a mural based on a grant from the Awesome Foundation. I knew nothing about murals but the staff at Urban helped me to get in touch with an artist and estimate the supplies that I would need to complete the project. They were there every step of the way during the project. After working with Urban first hand, I was able to see the difference that they make in the community as well as in the lives of many teens through the use of public art. They truly care about the lives of their students and are able to help them get on the right track with an outstanding success rate. And, as a result, everyone in Seattle gets some pretty great art to look at all over the city!
I promised to fly to Seattle (from Brooklyn) and volunteer my time to participate in the project that the grant will help support. Hopefully in November or early next year.
Anyone interested can donate online or mail a check:URBAN ARTWORKS
Seattle Young People's Project is a youth-led organization that aims to empower young people in the political process and teach life-long advocacy skills. They focus on social justice issues with a particular emphasis on issues that impact youth. Their programs include an introduction to organizing for youth, anti-oppression workshops, and support for queer youth.
SYPP excites me because there is nothing like harnessing the enthusiasm of young people to make change. As a person who has worked in the education field both in a teaching role and in an advocacy role, I have had the privilege of experiencing the passionate thinking of young people from a range of backgrounds. SYPP offers a unique outlet for that passion. Unlike many programs for young people, SYPP is youth-led, which means youth-aged members get to make decisions, receive support from allied adults, and learn about the consequences of their advocacy in a powerful way. It's a level of trust that young people crave and that they deserve. It's also very rare.
I also love SYPP because it reminds me of how important advocacy was to me as a high school student. Being part of a social justice club in my high school taught me so much about the way people work together to create change. The lessons I learned then gave me confidence to speak out about issues that I cared about and gave me courage to speak up at key moments in my life. It was an experience that shaped me. SYPP's programs offer the opportunity for that kind of experience to hundreds of youth in the Seattle area.
SYPP excites me because it trusts youth with their power. It lets young people speak up for themselves and others so that they can make change now, and so that they can grow into adults who speak up. SYPP is part of building an engaged society, and I think that's an exciting thing to support.
In addition to having talked your ear off about them before, I intended to win you over to the SYPP side with a homemade meal and further discussion of their awesomeness. While these events are still pending, I think the promise of delicious food and swaying conversation may have just made the deal.
Anyone interested can donate online or mail a check:Seattle Young People's Project
The Humane Society is a group that works to protect and advocate for the animal members of the community through rescue, public policy, and their well-known shelter programs. The society's efforts impact thousands of animals directly each year, and many many more indirectly with policy reform and support for pet owners and adopters.
Animals make people happy. And people can make animals happy, so that they can keep making more people happy. I think it's awesome that there are people working to keep infrastructure in place to ensure that animals are happy and that people can easily and safely adopt them to optimize happiness all around. The efforts of the Humane Society help thousands of animals each year to stay happy and healthy, but there are still thousands more pets in abusive conditions or abandoned and unloved. Without donations the Society will be unable to continue to expand rescue and shelter operations which can help these animals. I'm excited about what they already do to pair up loving families and homeless pets, and I think it would be great to see more of this happen (for people whose landlords allow pets).
Bread! An assortment of styles, baked randomly but not less than once per week for a month, and delivered to your doorstep (warm if practical).
Anyone interested can donate online or mail a check made out to “The HSUS” to:The Humane Society of the United States
Women's Enterprises International is a nonprofit that works with women in developing countries to address the systemic challenges of poverty, such as the lack of education and business capital.
My favorite WEI project is Catch the Rain, which helps to provide water tanks to women in an extremely arid region of Kenya. WEI matches funds raised by these women so they can collect clean rainwater in a tank instead of walking five hours each day to carry water—which may be dirty and non-potable—to their families. Not only is the matching aspect of the project empowering for the women, they can then use the time they save to start businesses and send their children to school, healthier for having clean water to drink.
I matched your donation twice: once with my own money and once through my employer's charitable matching program!
Anyone interested can donate online or mail a check:Women's Enterprises International
826CHI is a nonprofit creative writing center in Chicago that provides totally free programs to under-resourced students throughout the city. Classes are designed to make writing personal and spark the imagination, breaking down the intimidation factors and getting the kids excited about all the things they can do with language and all the ways they can express themselves.
It sounds like circular logic here, but I'm excited about 826CHI because it's a very exciting place to be. Weekly we see over one hundred and fifty students in our space, writing everything from stories about robot-unicorns on a quest for the best hamburger to college applications essays, from poetry to memoirs to food criticism to book reports.
The space is alive with creativity, and it's contagious. In my role as the Boring Store Manager (not a value judgment—the actual store name), I get to imagineer a whole fictional world around the idea of spies in order to build the exciting entryway into our tutoring lab: the spy store. That means I deal in grappling hooks, invisible ink pens, and carrier pigeons. There are footprints on my ceiling and a hundred different legends about secret passageways into the building. And kids light up when they come into this place of learning, and that is a magical transformation to see.
I've transformed, too, along with hundreds of volunteers, into a teacher—and fallen in love with that experience. Despite being a full-time employee in the store, I've continued to volunteer in various areas of programming, tutoring one on one in the classrooms and building new curricula and teaching my own classes in-house.
It's a place full of possibility and that is very, very exciting.
To win you over, I tried to talk you into visiting our space to see the transformation that comes over the kids through our field trips program. But, to literally sweeten the deal, I've got a really good chocolate coconut macaroon recipe I'd like to whip up.
Anyone interested can donate online or mail a check:826CHI
Haiti Babi in an innovative non-profit that gives moms in Haiti jobs knitting and crocheting high-quality artisan baby goods, empowering them to earn a living while caring for their family.
Haiti Babi is a sustainable solution. The mission is to help keep families together.
A person who lives in abject poverty is defined as: lacking more than a person who is lacking basics, he/she is barely surviving.
More than half of people in Haiti live in abject poverty. Yes, half. Children in this economic state become very vulnerable. 1 in 10 children in Haiti live in an orphanage, most often because their families are unable to financially provide for them.
With compensation and benefits, a Haiti Babi Mom earns 2.2 times the minimum wage. This income allows her to cover the basic needs of her family and save more than half of her income for the future.
To cover the basic needs of a Haiti Babi Mom and her family, humanitarian organizations would need to spend more than three times a Haiti Babi salary and the recipient would have nothing to save for the future, therefore remaining dependent. At the core of the Haiti Babi model is the understanding that, if you give a woman a job, the need for humanitarian services will decrease exponentially as she invests in her family and the local economy. The costs of funding other poverty interventions will dissipate as that woman and her family no longer live in poverty.
I promised to wear bright orange socks to work for a whole MONTH! (I am going orange sock shopping this weekend)
Anyone interested can donate online or mail a check:220 2nd Avenue South
Olin College is an Engineering-oriented undergraduate college focused on transforming engineering education.
As our alma mater, Olin is an important institution to both of us. Olin's goal is to transform engineering education, and its focus on project and team-based learning has served me well while working in industry. As part of its mission, all Olin students receive a half-tuition scholarship (down from a full tuition scholarship previously). Improving engineering education will only become more important as the demand for engineers continues to grow.
I will be matching your donation. I will be donating to one of the scholarship funds, in the hope that eventually the full tuition scholarship will be restored.
Anyone interested can donate online.
Purgatory Pie Press is a fine arts letterpress that collaborates with other artists and writers to make fantastic limited edition prints and artist books.
As some of the only letterpress printers handsetting antique metal and wood type, Purgatory Pie Press is keeping typography alive. They make incredible limited edition artist books using letterpress as an experimental relief printmaking medium and have collaborated with more than 100 emerging artists and writers. Purgatory Pie Press' artist books, prints and custom design ephemera is all printed by Purgatory's master printer on a 1930s Vandercook press featuring handset type from a world class antique metal and wood type collection. Supporting this press is preserving art in the historic artist neighborhood of TriBeCa and combating the increasing soullessness of Manhattan.
Purgatory has exhibited their art at institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Victoria & Albert Museum (London), Harvard University, Rhode Island School of Design and University of Puget Sound. MoMA, Whitney, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Tate (London), University of Washington, and University of Chicago all have collections of Purgatory's work.
I offered you an extremely sketch bribe. Same offer goes to anyone else interested in supporting the press: talk to the man in the dark sunglasses waiting on the corner reading a Russian newspaper. You will not be disappointed.
The Against Malaria Foundation is a 10 year old non-profit that helps protect at-risk populations from malaria by providing them with long-lasting, insecticidal (mosquito) nets and education about malaria. As with most health issues, it is responsible for many deaths every year (particularly children) and contributes to people being unable to break free from the cycle of poverty.
I originally heard about the organization through this TED talk on “effective altruism.” After watching it, I realized that, while I don't care much about money, I'm in a position to make much more than I need and that this extra money could support a lot of great causes.
Before this, being fortunate to grow up where it's not an issue, I was unaware of the large global impact that malaria has, so supporting this cause is one way to educate myself about it. These nets provide a simple and proven method of keeping adults and children (who are more likely to contract fatal infections) healthier, which allows them to focus on other aspects of their lives (e.g., education, work).
I also looked into Against Malaria and really liked the way they operate. 100% of your donations go towards the purchase of more nets (other costs are covered by partners/private donors). They are very transparent and tell you exactly where your money is being put to use (DR Congo for me). Another part of this is that they also release reports and photos that show how your nets are impacting the community (e.g., a decrease in cases of malaria, happiness on people's faces after receiving them) and do several follow-up check-ups to see how many people continue to use the nets and the condition of their nets. An example can be found here.
Already doing volunteer work every week, occasionally donating small portions of my graduate stipend (e.g., $100 to Against Malaria), and spending most of my rational thought on school/research, I was left with few options. Fortunately, one of the hobbies (started at Olin) is baking, with an emphasis on healthier treats (that still taste great!). Thus, I resorted to bribery by one thing few people can resist: food. :)
Anyone interested can donate online or mail a check:Against Malaria Foundation
FRIENDS of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is the non-profit organization that funds the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, in San Pedro CA. The aquarium&s stated mission is to “engage all visitors in education, recreation and research to promote knowledge, appreciation and conservation of the marine life of Southern California.”
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium uses its exhibits to help show children and adults alike the problems caused by over-fishing and pollution, explain what can be done, and encourage learning about the world in general, when most aquariums would just plop pretty fish in tanks and call it a day. They excite visitors with amazing (and local!) animals, ignite a passion for learning, and create a desire to help keep the oceans healthy.
Custom, handmade ceramics on demand! Cookies! Anything (up to, and including, a pirate cat) you want...or, at least, anything within my capabilities.
Anyone interested can donate online.
At a traditional and basic level, libraries are big rooms full of books. Public libraries are big rooms full of books that eligible members of the public are allowed to borrow, often supported by public funds. The Seattle Public Library is 27 buildings plus bookmobiles holding about 2.5 million borrowable physical items, .2 million downloadable items, and serving about 2 million people.
I love libraries. I love cozy school libraries, I love sprawling public libraries, I love the one-room library in my parents' house (which also contains a ping pong table and a dress-up chest). I love the possibilities they contain. I love the questions they make me ask. Most of all, I love the way they connect me to other people. Reading a novel connects me to not only the fictional characters it contains, but also its author, as well as every other person who has ever read it–even those who feel differently about it than I do.
I used to work at the library of Olin College, our alma mater and one of your previous recipients. I now work at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. I have frequented both of these, as well as seven different city libraries and six different public school libraries. I have fond memories of all of them, and all of them have both worth and need beyond my fondness.
However, I'm not asking you to give the money to my library. My library needs me, but your library needs you. If you give to your library, you build a relationship with your community. You support your neighbors, you support your local businesses, you support your local civic organizations and families. The Seattle Public Library has the stated mission of “bring[ing] people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community.”
First, I am providing you several themed lists of things to read, all of which can be found at the Seattle Public Library.
Second, I am sending you a batch of homemade brownies, specialized to your tastes. I have eighteen years' experience making brownies, and have used them successfully in the past to buy love and support.
Third, I am submitting a post about this project for my library's blog Eleventh Stack, which won an award as the best public institution library blog. This will spread awareness of causes you and your friends think are worth money as well as the idea of young adult philanthropy.
Anyone interested can donate online or mail a check:The Seattle Public Library Foundation
They also accept donations of books, cds, dvds, and audiobooks through their friends of the library organization, and have many volunteer opportunities.
Citizens for Conservation is a nature conservancy group—they help protect and restore the prairie and wetlands in the greater Chicago area. (Not all of the midwest is corn!) They run a lot of workshops and general educational outreach, mostly within the suburban community.
I spend far too much of my own time both indoors and in completely urban environments—it's nice to have these guys around to remind us what our modern lives were built over. I had a lot of good experiences with seed collection and weeding with them back as a wee young'un, and I've always had a soft spot for the prairie landscapes. They're excellent at getting kids engaged in their seed collection and other restoration type events—can't be easy to drag elementary schoolers away from their iPads these days, so hey, mad props to anyone that tries :)
I promised a hand-knit meerkat plushie, which was as close to a prairie dog pattern as I could find.
Anyone interested can donate online or mail a check:Citizens for Conservation, Inc.
My parents have given money to charity as long as I can remember. I've been donating money to causes I believe in since I became financially independent after college. Since graduate school is not exactly a lucrative endeavor, my giving has previously been limited to The Awesome Foundation and my alma mater. Now that I am gainfully employed, I can easily afford to give a lot more than that. My original idea was to create a list of charities and pledge a monthly sum to each one – simple and effective philanthropy.
One day I had an idea: what if I got my friends involved? While I assume that many of my friends give to charity, I don't actually know if that's true because they don't talk about their giving. In fact, I have no idea what causes most of them care about! And of the few friends who are vocal about their giving, I have no idea how much they donate. I am pretty passionate about philanthropy (I do run a foundation, after all) and I believe that we need a lot more public dialogue about giving.
So, I'm putting my money where my mouth is: I'll donate a thousand dollars of my own money every month for a year if the people around me will tell me what causes they care about and why. In addition to letting them tell me where I should give, I also want to know how much my friends are willing to do to win me over. Will they bribe me? Try to persuade me with rational conversation? Offer to match my donation (with money or volunteer hours)? Find some other way to pay it forward?
On top of giving people a platform to show exactly how much they care about these causes, it also makes the process a lot more fun. And I firmly believe that philanthropy should be fun for everyone involved.