Penn in the Gulf

•February 3, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Who: Penn Students
Age: 18-28
What: Traveled to Mississippi to educate residents on post-Katrina health dangers

Mardi Gras is around the corner, a celebration like no other, and we thought it necessary to remind everyone there is still a long way to go in post-Katrina recovery. Although it may not be a hot topic on the front page of newspapers, many victims of Katrina have still not recovered. This is a story from The Daily Pennsylvanian about a group of college students making a difference in the lives of those victims.

Students bring relief from the classroom to the Gulf Coast
Quakers travel to Mississippi to educate residents on post-Katrina health dangers
By: Cecily Wu
Posted: 2/1/08

A home in Pearlington, Miss. was sinking and Engineering graduate student Kyle Sirianno was determined to find out why.

He encountered the home – which had sunk by two inches because the septic tank underneath it was broken – while testing the quality of well water in Pearlington, an area still suffering from the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina.

These conditions prompted Sirianno and 31 other students from four of Penn’s schools to participate in the Penn in the Gulf: SP2 Feldman Initiative, led by the School of Social Policy and Practice, to provide dental, water, health and mental health relief for Pearlington residents.

These health services are in great demand as many of the companies who initially came to provide aid have since left, said coordinator Connie Hoe, a recent graduate of SP2.

“This [kind of assistance] needs to continue,” said Joseph Keys, president of the Pearlington Impact Association, a local aid organization with which the Penn students worked. “The storm has been a hit for us; it’s still a nightmare.”

The program also allowed graduate and undergraduate students to utilize the lessons they’ve learned in the classroom in real-life situations.

Sirianno and fellow Engineering students worked to repair the septic tank of the sinking home and sampled over 50 wells for water contamination.

Dental students provided free checkups and nursing and SP2 students interviewed residents to assess the local health concerns.

Although the students traveled to Pearlington to gain hands-on experience, Nursing senior Stephanie Ng explained that many of them were also attracted by the humanitarian purposes.

After cleaning a yard and planting flowers for an 82-year-old woman, Ng said that the “the expression on her face when it was all done was totally worth getting our hands dirty. That was why I went down – to make an impact on someone’s life.”

Dental student Amit Rajani was also moved by the tenacity of the victims.

“They also had unbelievable stories of how they have recovered and overcome so many obstacles since the storm,” Rajani said.

Hoe explained that this second Penn in the Gulf trip has expanded since the first trip last September, with only three Social Policy students, to a University-wide collective effort to rebuild the region.

“The project has evolved and reached wider audiences,” said Hoe.

The students from the trip will present their findings on Feb. 18 to the public on the dental, water, health and mental health needs in the area.

Once a role player, Patriots’ Wes Welker now a budding star

•January 29, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Who: Wes Welker
Age: 26
What: Against all odds Wes made the NFL

This Wednesday’s post is a True Underdog Story, not one you see in a movie but one that is happening right now. It is about New England Patriots Superstar Wes Welker who chased his dreams even when all odds were against him. Despite being told he was too small and too slow growing up, Wes never gave up on what he wanted to accomplish–to be an NFL player. We can all learn a lot from this story, no matter what we are trying to accomplish in life. Never give up! This article was published by ESPN.

Once a role player, Patriots’ Wes Welker now a budding star
By Elizabeth Merrill, espn.com

OKLAHOMA CITY — She went to her bedroom and cried that night, not because of what the man said but because she knew the whole world was wrong. One hundred and five faxes, 104 “no”s, and it was about to end there, on a harsh winter day, when Wes Welker sat at a long table at the University of Tulsa. All he wanted was a scholarship.

If you sign Wes, his mama said, you won’t be sorry. If you sign Wes, he’ll change your program. The coach turned to Shelley Welker and sized up her 5-foot-9 son.
“Well, my mother would like me to be head coach of the Dallas Cowboys,” Keith Burns told her. “But that isn’t going to happen.”
This is not a story about a little man playing on the world’s biggest stage. That’s too cliché. It is about doors. The glass front door at the Welker home is open late Wednesday afternoon, and Wes’ chocolate Lab, Nash, is lounging in the backyard. It is not a coincidence that he named the dog after Suns point guard Steve Nash, who also happens to knock around in a 180-pound body.
It is not a surprise that everyone in the Welker home has a problem sitting still. Every five minutes or so, Leland, Wes’ dad, stands up and asks his guests whether they need anything to drink. He’s got Coke, Coke Zero, diet, milk, water. Are you sure you don’t want to try the Coke Zero?
He finally sits back down and eyes a magazine on the table that has Welker’s stubbled, GQ face on the cover. It’s almost too East Coast for Wes.
“It’s been hard for us to talk,” Leland says in a soft Oklahoma twang. “I feel like we’re bragging about our kids. I hope I’m not coming across as overbearing.”

Shelley and Leland Welker, at home with a portrait of Wes.
They’d prefer to be low-key because that’s the way Welker has been throughout his career. It’s impossible now. Nine years after college football shunned him, four years after the Chargers cut him, Welker is a mega star headed for the Super Bowl with New England.
He is a perfect fit, finally, in a world that measures itself with tapes, scales and 40-yard dashes. He is a big reason the Patriots are 18-0 and flirting with NFL history.
And none of it would have happened if Welker had accepted one no.
“We tried to teach that, to run after your dreams, don’t let people tell you no,” Shelley says.
“That’s why it’s such a great story. When one door would close, another one would open.”
A car door opened, and Wes Welker eyeballed his first challenge. He was 2, maybe 3 days old and meeting his big brother, Lee, for the first time. Lee raised his 4-year-old fingers and pinched Wes in the nose. Hard.
“You can’t do that!” Shelley said.

Welker, at the age of 4, had a bunny named “Thumper.”
Lee was just tweaking him, which became sort of a childhood hobby. Big boy kicks little boy’s butt in soccer. Little boy gets clobbered in football. Big boy’s mom asks him to go easy.
“Are you kidding me?” Lee says. “I would never, never let him win. And he had to get used to it. Either he was going to have to quit playing the sport of football or soccer or whatever he happened to be playing that day, or he had to get better and tougher.”
Lee was actually the tame one in the family. Wes was 2½ when he climbed his first tree and sat on the roof until Leland pulled in from work. Incredible balance, unlimited energy. “Hell on wheels from the get-go,” Leland says.
When Welker reached high school at Heritage Hall, a private college prep school that oozes manners, he was both exasperating and entertaining. He’d play offense, defense and special teams in practice, then dive to the line on wind sprints because no sir, he was not going to be beat.

He’d vomit at least every other week during a game. Coach Rod Warner still has it on film. See Wes run 50 yards for a touchdown, charge back onto the field to kick the extra point, then turn and ask for a minute so he can throw up on the 10-yard line.

“It wasn’t nerves,” Warner says. “He just pushed his body so hard.

“The people in the stands would just start applauding. He gave it all every single drill, every sprint, every play.”

He became a legend in the red Oklahoma clay. Before Welker, Heritage Hall had just one 10-win season in 30 years. It has averaged 11 wins a year since. Welker led them to a state championship as a junior and scored 24 points a game as a senior … in football.

And when he was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, his followers assumed he was headed for the big time. They didn’t know prototypes. Being 5-9 was one thing. Being 5-9 with a 4.55 40-yard dash is enough to make you recruiting repellent.

Rod Warner, Welker’s high school coach in Oklahoma City, still calls or texts him at least once a week.
The weekend before letter-of-intent day, Warner sent out 105 faxes. “This kid is still available,” he said, “if anyone is interested.”

He called Tommy McVay, an old friend who was working at Texas Tech.

“Tommy, he’s the best player I’ve ever coached.”

Everybody says that, McVay said.

But Tech coach Mike Leach, a spread-offense guru known around Big 12 circles as the mad scientist, tried to open his mind as he popped in the video.

“You go through the internal debate the whole time,” Leach says. “Wow, he’s just a little too small, ooh, he’s a little too slow … oh, he plays both sides of the ball?”

Welker flew to Lubbock after signing day while Leland and Shelley followed by car. Something felt right, she’d say. Like Wes was meant to be there.

Within weeks after school started, the Tech coaches were calling Welker “The Natural.”

“Everybody,” Leach says, “seemed to feel like he could do anything.”

As Welker’s numbers exploded and the legend grew, people outside of Lubbock, Texas, wanted to know more about his will. He didn’t get his tenacity as the son of an oil-rig worker whose family ate when it could. His dad was an engineer for Southwestern Bell.

He never was one for much introspection. Wasn’t much time for it. But he could flip from game-day serious to prankster, leaving fake dog poo at shopping malls just to watch people laugh.

“I remember when they brought him in, he was 5-7 and very unassuming,” says former Red Raiders quarterback Kliff Kingsbury. “I thought he looked like a frat guy. We’re offering this kid a scholarship? Definitely on looks, he didn’t pass the test. But on the field, he was an unbelievable kid.”

Welker, with his brother Lee and parents Leland and Shelley in 2001, was a last-minute signee for Texas Tech.
Within a few months, Welker was in the starting lineup as a true freshman. In four years, he caught 259 passes for 3,019 yards and 21 touchdowns. His eight career punt-return touchdowns still tie an NCAA record. He played most of his senior year with turf toe, an injury so painful Welker hobbled around campus in a protective boot on the off days.

Nobody, it seemed, could get a hard shot on him. Part of it had to do with his size and a low center of gravity. Much of it had to do with his shiftiness. Although Leach considers hailing the merits of soccer as sacrilege, he figures Welker got his coordination, horizontal movement and vision from the round version of football.

Welker figured heavily into every opponents’ scouting report, and when he graduated from Texas Tech in 3½ years with a business degree, he was certain he was headed to the NFL.

The NFL combine came, and Welker wasn’t invited. In hindsight, his supporters say, maybe that was better. They couldn’t put a tape and a stopwatch to him. Forty freaking yard dashes? In football, who runs in a straight line, anyway?

But the Welkers held two days of draft parties in 2004, and the house grew silent when the final pick was named.

If this doesn’t work out, Warner told him, there are other …

“Don’t even go there, Coach,” Welker told Warner. “I’m going to make it in the NFL. There’s no other option.”

The Chargers kept him through training camp, and Welker thought that meant he was safe. They cut him after the first game. One friend says Welker is “massively pissed off” at San Diego to this day, although Welker has never publicly suggested that.

The Dolphins gave Welker a chance after the Chargers cut him.
He quickly moved on to Miami, and a month later, Welker became just the second player in NFL history to return a kickoff and a punt, kick a field goal and an extra point, and make a tackle in one game. He did it against the Patriots and a coach who just happens to love that kind of throwback versatility. The Patriots churned on; the Dolphins continued their stumble.

Few people noticed that Welker was evolving into a go-to receiver. He led the Dolphins with 67 catches in 2006. The Super Bowl was held in Miami a few months later, and Warner went to South Beach that week to hang with Welker.

They sat at breakfast, the Monday after the Colts beat Chicago, and Welker asked whether his coach ever wanted to go to another Super Bowl.

“Wes, the next Super Bowl I’ll go to is the one you’re playing in,” Warner said.

That might be a while in Miami, Welker said.

Two months later, Warner’s cell phone rang at 1 a.m. Welker had just been traded to the Patriots.

“You know that conversation we had at the Super Bowl?” Welker asked Warner.

“Did you ever think it might be this year?”

He is so perfect here, in the land of no-nonsense. Men with stern faces walk around with purpose, as if they’re headed to the bank to open an IRA … minutes after they’ve won a playoff game. Welker quickly dresses after New England beats San Diego, the team that never gave him a chance, and heads for the door without talking to the media.

By Week 6, when the Patriots prepared for a superhyped game against Dallas, it was obvious that Welker, 26, was immersed in his surroundings. He’d gotten a text message from his brother, Lee. Big game coming up, huh? Wes texted back: They’re all big.

Wes, the family joked, was turning into Bill Belichick.

A sampling of some recent Welker “sound bites”:

When you did you feel you belonged in the NFL, Wes?

“I guess once I made the team.”

What do you say about the Giants calling you guys a dirty team?

Welker is one of the smallest players on the roster, but his size is no limitation.
“It’s their opinion about it, and we can only control what we can control.”

But it’s not so odd that an undersized frat boy from Oklahoma and a man who is viewed as one of the stuffiest coaches in the NFL could be kindred spirits. Belichick wants a team full of role players. Welker fought half his life just for a role.

And while defenses keyed on stopping Randy Moss, the 6-foot-4 superstar receiver whose offseason signing overshadowed all other arrivals, Welker had a franchise-record 112 catches.

“Perfect place, the perfect situation for him,” says veteran running back Kevin Faulk. “I told him when he first got here that he couldn’t have come to an offense that was better for him, that fits his ability and what he does as a receiver.”

A whiff of hamburger grease fills the aisles at the Nichols Hills pharmacy just before closing time, and Jay Black is about to cut the lights. His dad started the business in 1963, and it seems time, in this patch of a strip mall, has frozen there. Past the miniature metal stools and the retro napkin holders is a soda fountain and a rack of Groucho Marx DVDs for $2.99.
Welker used to ride his bike here as a kid, load up on hamburgers and chili, and charge the food to his parents. All the little kids did it. When big Wes comes back now, he’ll order his $3.50 hamburger and have the same ladies behind the same counter bill it to his dad. The Welkers get a kick out of that.
“It wasn’t really a big deal when he was coming in here,” Black says. “We knew he was a good ballplayer. But he didn’t necessarily stick out over the rest of the kids.”
In this suddenly perfect world, he doesn’t need to. They pray for him a few blocks up the road, in the Welker home, that he’ll be safe among 300-pounders and 6-foot-3 burners who belong in the league.
Here, they always believed Wes belonged, too.
“It was all part of God’s plan, and we know that,” Shelley says. “It worked out just like it was supposed to.”

Female Genital Mutilation

•January 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Who: Ebie Cyral
Age: Teenager
What: Winner of BBC Outlook Stand-Up-For-Your-Rights Competition

This Sunday’s post is from Unicef’s Voices of Youth section. “BBC Outlook, inspired by Wu Ping who defended her building against developers in the Chinese city of Chongqing, organized Stand-Up-For-Your-Rights competition. British journalist and campaigner George Monbiot judged the competition and selected the entry by Cyril Ebie from Cameroon as the overall winner… Ebie described how he defended his sister and prevented her from undertaking female genital mutilation – an act that forced him to leave the family home with his sister for 9 months.” This is an inspiring story of courage.

Introduction

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for cultural or other reasons that are not medical necessities. FGM/C reinforces the inequality suffered by girls and women and is a violation of universally recognized human rights – including the rights to bodily integrity and to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

While health consequences vary, they commonly include failure to heal, inflammatory diseases and urinary infections. Gynecological complications that result from female genital mutilation/cutting can become particularly serious during and after childbirth, and include fistula. increased susceptibility to hiV infection is a concern. the pain of the procedure is known to cause shock and long-lasting trauma, and severe bleeding and infection can lead to death. the reasons for FGM/C are many and complex, but the most significant seems to be the belief that a girl who has not undergone the procedure will not be considered suitable for marriage. traditionally, FGM/C is performed by local practitioners, most of whom are women. in some countries, efforts have been made to ‘medicalize’ the procedure by having medical staff perform it in or outside of hospitals. this does not, however, make it less a violation of human rights, and communities should be helped to abandon the practice.

Building a Protective environment for Children

Government commitment and capacity: ratifying relevant international conventions, developing appropriate legislation prohibiting FGM/C and supporting budget allocations are effective steps governments can take to encourage the abandonment of the practice. these efforts can be reinforced in national development plans, poverty-reduction programmes and other state-led interventions.

Legislation and enforcement: laws that ban FGM/C and penalize the practitioners should be passed and enforced. this will be most effective in the context of a comprehensive awareness- raising campaign, including in schools and communities.

Attitudes, customs and practices: Support for FGM/C may be rapidly reversed and abandoned if attitudes and customs are collectively addressed by the practising communities. involvement of religious or moral leaders who can explain that there is no religious justification for the practice can help in accelerating the abandonment of female genital mutilation.

Open discussion: this is particularly important for many child protection issues, including harmful traditional practices. Communities, parents, teachers and children all need to feel able to discuss FGM/C.

Children’s life skills, knowledge and participation: Young girls at risk are rarely in a position to avoid or refuse the procedure. however, education and understanding of alternatives can help them to address the issue more openly with their parents, resist societal pressures, and protect themselves, their sisters and daughters.

Capacity of families and communities: As FGM/C prevalence follows ethnic lines and is perpetuated among intra-marrying communities, it is essential to coordinate the work done among communities with such ties. Grass-roots nongovernmental and community-based organizations concerned with the protection of human rights and human dignity need to be strengthened and supported, as they play an important role in FGM/C abandonment.

Essential services, including prevention, recovery and reintegration: Support for women who oppose genital mutilation/ cutting and help for those who have undergone the procedure include medical services to deal with the health consequences of FGM/C – which tend to be chronic and life-long – as well as educational and awareness-raising activities that contribute to the abandonment of the practice.

Monitoring, reporting and oversight: Analysis of data collected through the demographic and health Survey, for example, should be widely disseminated and utilized. Agreed indicators should become a common monitoring tool. Main interventions should include baseline participatory assessments and local ethnographic studies.

by Cyril Ebie from Camerron

It is a small settlement bounded by loads of superstition and barbarism, especially female genital mutilation.

I recently heard a debate on the national radio condemning this practice as bad.

Before I watched this program, I’d been made to believe from childhood that it was an act of virtue to a woman, thus obligatory to every girl child.

I mourned and grieved after that show because my two elder sisters had been mutilated out of ignorance.

I therefore informed my parents with a long cue of reasons, I gathered from the show.

I convinced them to decease from the practice.

They cursed my approach and refused my every word.

I was desperate and restless because my Dad assured me they would soon mutilate my kid sister for she’s come of age.

So I decided to let my kid sister know about it even If it meant educating her on the disadvantages.

I was stunned when I approached her and discovered she was dying softly of the same pain. She had listened to that same program but never knew who to confide in.

I promised I would fight for her. I allied with my sisters and we confronted our parents.

I told my father we were going to run away if they insisted on mutilating her, but they never took us serious.

So at night, I escaped with my kid sister.

We made our elder sisters promise not to tell our father where we’ve gone. We stayed with a friend of mine in the city for nine whole months.

One day, one of my sisters visited us and talked us to come home. We resisted, and then she told us everything.

My father had visited the council of elders to complain about the practice and how he lost his only son because he was trying to free the sister.

Tongue-tight elders could now speak-out. The youths protested and demonstrated at the palace.

When our Fon saw that it was inevitable, he put a stop to it. Everyone was relieved especially the girls.

When we returned home, my Dad was delighted.

He told me I deserved the honour given to him. The truth is; they paid tribute to him for having spearheaded the uprising.

He poured palm wine on my head, and then blessed me.

I was pleased because by standing for my sister’s right, I saved the lives of all the girls living in our small farm settlement of Mbemi.

Fact Sheet

FGM/C occurs mainly in countries along a belt stretching from Senegal in West Africa to Somalia in east Africa and to Yemen in the Middle east, but it is also practised in some parts of south-east Asia. reports from europe, north America and Australia indicate that it is practised among immigrant communities as well.

It is estimated that more than 130 million women and girls alive today have been subjected to female genital mutilation/cutting.

FGM/C is generally carried out on girls between the ages of 4 and 14; it is also performed on infants, women who are about to get married and, sometimes, women who are pregnant with their first child or who have just given birth.

Most recent demographic health Survey data for egypt indicate that the prevalence rate among ever-married women aged 15–49 has shown a slight decline from 97 per cent to 96 per cent.

Top 10 Youth Activism Victories in 2007

•January 23, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Who: American Youth
Ages: 13-30
What: Top 10 Youth Activism Victories in 2007

The following is a series of stories of American youth across the country making a difference through action–not just words–throughout 2007. This is an inspirational article that provides details of what the youth of America are doing to make a positive difference in the world. We hope to hear what you the readers thoughts are on this article. This article was published by WireTap.

Top 10 Youth Activism Victories in 2007
By Nicole McClelland and Kristina Rizga, WireTap
Posted on January 4, 2008, Printed on January 23, 2008

Anyone who laments that American young people are apathetic, uninvolved or not sufficiently outraged clearly isn’t up on the news.

Luckily, though, we are. The past 12 months have been filled with many great youth organizing successes; some were covered extensively by mainstream media, and some went — sadly — unnoticed. From these extraordinary stories, Wiretap has culled a list of our favorite 10 youth victories of the year. They’re not just the events you’ve heard about, like the hunger strikes at Harvard and Stanford, because the less-attended actions of low-income, low-profile youth groups can be equally triumphant. And they’re not just acts of campus activism, either — because half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 are not enrolled in college. And though there are countless other examples of protest, cooperation, and informed dissent that went on and are still continuing around the country, here are 10 especially inspirational stories that went down this year. Congratulations to these and all other young people who took responsibility and took charge in 2007 to work hard both with their peers and with other groups, who put their energies into action for their communities, and for the world.

Environmental Activism: Stepping It Up

It’s time to go way beyond just switching light bulbs to fight global warming, and this year young people from all over the country proved their commitment to the planet. In February, nearly 600 student groups staged events during the Campus Climate Challenge Week of Action. But activists were just getting started, and college campuses were barely the starting point. On April 14, Step It Up — the brainchild of a group of young people and environmentalist and author Bill McKibben — brought people together at 1,400 locations nationwide demanding that Congress cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. It was such a success that organizers kicked off Step It Up 2 just seven months later and got 14,000 messages sent to Congress and presidential candidates, 80 of whom sent statements or representatives or showed up at events. That same month, at Power Shift 2007, 5,500 young activists from across the country got together at the University of Maryland College Park to make Congress change its colors. Over four days in November, participants staged a rally on the Capitol and held more than 300 lobbying meetings to pressure congresspeople to provide more green jobs and greener policies for a greener, brighter, more sustainable future.

Shutting Toxic Things Down

In a more local, but just as important, triumph for the environment, the members of Youth United for Community Action, an organization created and run by youths of color ages 13-30 in the Bay Area, became heroes of their neighborhood and role models for grassroots organizers nationwide when California granted their wish to shut down a hazardous-waste-handling company that had been plaguing the vicinity for more than four decades. YUCA worked to rid its community of Romic Environmental Technologies Corporation, which had been fined (pdf) for multiple hazardous-waste violations by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, for 16 years. Now that the state issued the order that Romic close most of its East Palo Alto operations, YUCA and its constituents can breathe a little easier — and much more safely.

Preserving Community Land and Culture

In another major local victory for the environment, Save the Peaks, a coalition formed to protect the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona, won a court order that defended the sacred site. For years, the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort has operated on this traditionally holy ground, and in 2004 the U.S. Forest Service approved the company’s plans to expand — which included cutting down 74 acres of trees and using treated sewage water to make artificial snow. The plans posed a threat to the ecosystem, the health of surrounding communities, and the religious freedom of the 13 Native American Nations that hold the mountains hallowed. The Youth of the Peaks worked together with the coalition, protesting at the foot of the resort to let tourists know the issues surrounding the grounds they’re playing on. In March, the 9th Circuit Court ruled that the expansion plans be stopped.

On October 17th, the court granted Arizona Snowbowl and the U.S. Forest Service an appeal, which was heard on December 11th. Far from giving up, tribes and young activists in the coalition attended the case, and are encouraging others to take action as well while the community waits for a decision.

Elementary Education Nation

American schools are in deep trouble. More than half of black students in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania attend high schools in which the majority of students do not graduate. Nearly 40 percent of Latino students and 11 percent of white students drop out of high school (pdf).

Tired of waiting for politicians and philanthropists, who have pledged for decades to reform education, high school students worked diligently to improve their own schools in 2007. From Urban Youth Collaborative and DRUM in New York, to Rethinkers in New Orleans, to Youth for Justice in Los Angeles, youths across the country organized around everything from violence prevention to building eco-friendly, clean bathrooms. The Detroit Summer Collective is an especially innovative, all-volunteer-run program. In addition to making a documentary in 2007 that looks at the root causes and student-driven solutions to the high drop-out rates, the Collective is transforming the entire city of Detroit by teaching young people how to maintain organic gardens and sell produce to their communities, as well as organizing monthly city pot lucks that act as interracial and intergenerational town halls. A democracy can’t thrive without informed citizens, and if the world’s wealthiest and most powerful one won’t provide a decent K-12 education, these students will bring their communities together to do it.

Higher Education for the Masses, for Real

Another crucial tool for social mobility in the United States, is access to college. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 42 percent of Asians and 40 percent of whites think that the vast majority of people who are qualified to go to college have the opportunity to do so. Why did 82 percent of Latinos and 75 percent of blacks say no? Probably in part because college tuition has been ever increasing and throwing more students into debt. Which is why the passing of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, the most significant tuition reform bill in 15 years, was an incredible achievement. Students nationwide brought the issue to the attention of both the media and their peers, and worked closely with politicians in swing districts. For two years, PIRG and United States Student Association have been mobilizing to get college affordability on the congressional agenda. PIRG’s Raid on Student Aid campaign generated more than 10,000 phone calls, in addition to lobbying meetings and emails. The very fact that students were vital to getting the legislation passed shows how important they are for change, and now the Act will help generate even more students. Says PIRG’s Luke Swarthout, “Without the work of students over the past two years, Congress probably wouldn’t prioritize legislation like the College Affordability and Access Act.”

Students in Maine scored two victories this year, when their state legislators voted unanimously to approve a citizen ballot initiative that will provide a tax credit to all graduates to offset their student loan repayment as long as they stay in Maine. The League of Young Voters worked with hundreds of volunteers to gather 73,000 signatures that helped get this unprecedented measure passed.

Freeing the Jena 6

The day after a few courageous black students at Jena High School in Louisiana sat under a campus tree traditionally claimed by white students, two nooses were dangling from it. When white youths assaulted black students later that year, they were tried as juveniles and got away with a slap on the wrist. But when black students retaliated, the district attorney tried the six 15- to 17-year-olds as adults and charged them with attempted second-degree murder, for which each potentially faced more than 20 years in prison.

A year later, despite mainstream media silence, this story burst into national prominence thanks to the most massive civil-rights-movement mobilization since the ’60s when over 10,000 college students, activists, and hip-hop artists converged on Jena. Thousands of youths in Jena and students on campuses nationwide protested a case that epitomized a long-standing history of unfair sentencing of people of color in America. The U.S. has the highest absolute, per-capita, and juvenile rate of incarceration in the world, with a tenth of all black men between ages 20 and 35 in jail or prison. The Jena 6 defense campaign mobilized millions of socially conscious youth, who represent the future leaders in the fight against the persistence of subtle and not-so-subtle racism in America. This massive, grassroots-driven campaign helped overturn the original sentences of the Jena 6, momentum that could be used to help thousands of other youths of color in America who were tried in the same, broken system to attain justice and re-enter their communities.

Filling Health Care Needs, Post-Katrina

In 2005, Shana Griffin and the other members of the New Orleans Women’s Health and Justice Initiative thought it would be easy to raise money for a women’s health clinic post-Katrina. The devastated city — with few cops, lots of strangers, staggering crime, and limited care — was far from an ideally safe environment for women. “But we got a reality check,” she says; donations were far from pouring in. So the Initiative worked together with INCITE, a national activist organization of women of color against violence, many of whose members are under 30, meeting up four times a week. The women, who had no experience running a clinic, pooled and applied their applicable respective skills and secured and renovated a space, learned everything they could about the logistics of providing health care, put out calls for and coordinated volunteers, and raised funds. Just a year and a half after the idea was conceived, and “through hard work and sweat,” on May 1, 2007, the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic opened. A group of paid staff and volunteers provides everything from prenatal care to reproductive health, sex health, and routine preventative health services four days a week. And the women who labored to provide the much-needed assistance to their peers are working hard to keep it that way.

Fairer Immigrant Wages? Lovin’ It.

Two years of organizing and protesting finally paid off in April for the Student/Farmworker Alliance, which, in partnership with the immigrant-laborer-led Coalition of Immokalee Workers, finally achieved results from its long-standing boycott against McDonald’s. The company agreed to pay an extra penny per pound to its tomato suppliers, nearly doubling the wages of the impoverished pickers in Florida. A month later, the parent company of Taco Bell, which struck a similar deal with the activists in 2005 after four years of their perseverance, announced that it would expand the agreement to its four other chains, including Pizza Hut and A&W.

Thanks to some long, tireless efforts, some of the country’s biggest fast-food chains have improved their wage standards. But despite an amazingly successful year, the SFA and CIW aren’t about to take a break now: They’re still hard at work on getting Burger King to join the much-needed movement.

Anti-War Mobilization: Just Say “Hell No”

First, the 29-year-old Army Lt. Ehren Watada — who was willing to serve in Afghanistan or any other conflict he didn’t consider so morally and politically unconscionable — refused to deploy to Iraq; his actions subsequently inspired increasing numbers of soldiers to mobilize for an end of the war in Iraq. Then, on Friday, November 16th, the Youth Against War and Racism called for a high school walkout. More than 1,000 students from the Puget Sound area alone left their classes that morning to protest the war and a problem even closer to the students: military recruiters in schools. Participating in the walkout were more than 125 students from Foster High School in Tukwila district, Washington, where military recruiters prey on students, 71 percent of whom are from low-income families. When several Foster teachers who supported the protest were threatened with disciplinary action, students rallied to their support; ultimately, teachers weren’t punished. Though many expect youths, especially low-income, to support and even fight in the war, they proved this year, once again, that they are not going to take it sitting down.

Don’t Forget Darfur

Three years after the United States classified the situation in Darfur, Sudan, as a genocide, students are still organizing to make sure the crucial cause doesn’t get ignored. In April, two thousand white-clad activists played dead in Boston Commons for five minutes of silence. In December, thousands of students worldwide fasted to raise money to fight rape in the African region. STAND, a student anti-genocide coalition, helped organize those events and hundreds of others this year. Students have been signing petitions, lobbying representatives, staging events — anything to keep Darfur in the news. And the coverage has paid off. Companies have started divesting in ventures that support the government that allows the genocide to continue, and awareness is at an all-time high. As long as the violence rages, so will the activism. “The world has been slow to act to protect the people of Darfur,” said STAND student director Scott Warren, “so students across the globe will be taking protection into their own hands.”

Here’s to anticipation for what a new generation of young activists will accomplish in 2008.

Nicole McClelland is the founding editor of the online literary magazine The Extrovert and an editor of Mother Jones. Kristina Rizga is an editor and publisher of the online Wiretap magazine.

Charities v. Businesses

•January 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

This week’s post is central to the Believe In Youth mission statement. The focus is not about actual stories of youth making a difference, but rather what some of our elders are doing. This is a long post, but a very worthy read.

We are reporting two stories polar opposite in nature. The first is a Washington Post article concerning the misallocation of funds by veterans charities with an accompanying video. We are in no way condemning the charities or casting them guilty before being proven so. Rather, we are trying to make our audience readily aware of the operations of some charities. We urge everyone to research before giving. With so many productive charities and worthy causes, it would be a shame to give funds to a charity misallocating.

The second is a Wall Street Journal article about Google.org, “a massive philanthropic endeavor that erases the usual boundaries between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds” (WSJ). About four years ago, Google announced it was “devoting 1% of its equity, 1% of annual profit and an unspecified amount of employee time to Google.org,” and “yesterday’s announcement gives much-awaited shape and focus to its activities.”

Both articles come with videos, and we would love to see some commenting and discussion on this topic. BIY is also pleased to announce we will begin posting Wednesday articles this week in addition to Sunday articles, courtesy of Thabet Marzuq. We will also begin sending weekly news to our Facebook group (join here).

Scrutiny Of Veterans Charities Continues
Calif. Businessman Sees ‘Witch Hunt’
By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 17, 2008; A01

With scores of U.S. soldiers returning home from Vietnam, California businessman and Army veteran Roger Chapin founded a charity in 1971 dedicated to those troops recuperating in hospitals.

Over the next three decades, Help Hospitalized Veterans would distribute millions of therapeutic craft kits to make moccasins, wooden wind chimes and other trinkets and would win accolades from presidents and Hollywood celebrities alike.

Yet, as the nonprofit enterprise has ballooned into one of the country’s largest veterans charities, reporting $71.3 million in donations during the past fiscal year, its spending practices have drawn sharp criticism from charity watchdogs.

Between 1997 and 2005, the charity paid $3.8 million in salary and benefits to Chapin and his wife and spent more than $200 million on fundraising and public education campaigns, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal tax filings. The public records also show that the charity awarded at least $19 million in contracts during that period to companies owned by Richard A. Viguerie, a prominent conservative political commentator and advertising consultant based in Virginia.

Help Hospitalized Veterans is one of several military-oriented charities whose spending practices are the subject of a congressional investigation. Chapin evaded U.S. marshals trying to serve him with a subpoena last month, said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Chapin, who has since been served, is expected to testify today before the committee.

Chapin, who has founded more than 20 nonprofit organizations over three decades, also is president and founder of the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, a smaller charity that provides emergency financial assistance to veterans and their families. That group is also under investigation by Congress, according to committee staff members, and is expected to be a subject of today’s hearing.

“We’re talking about an individual that has tried to duck the committee; he refused to testify voluntarily. It appears he has something to hide, and if you look at his past operations, there are very good reasons to be suspicious about his activities,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a committee member, said in an interview.

Van Hollen said the committee wants to find a way to distinguish between charities that truly serve veterans and those “committing fraud against the public.”

Chapin, reached at his San Diego home last month, said watchdogs and members of Congress are misrepresenting his charities.

“You don’t know me, but these guys have got this thing so wrong, it’s unbelievable,” the 75-year-old said. “It’s a witch hunt. They’re totally misrepresenting what the facts are.”

No laws at the federal or state level regulate the amount of money charities spend on overhead, fundraising or charitable causes. The American Institute of Philanthropy, a leading charity watchdog, issued a report last month suggesting that Help Hospitalized Veterans and 19 other veterans charities manage their resources poorly, paying high overhead costs and direct-mail fundraising fees.

Critics have not contended that all veterans charities manage their funds poorly. Some charities, including the Fisher House Foundation and the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust, consistently have received high marks from watchdogs.

But Help Hospitalized Veterans spends 31 percent of its funds on charitable causes, said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy. The institute recommends that charities spend at least 60 percent of their funds on charitable programs.

“They’re raising tens of millions of dollars for the craft kits, which is a nice treat for the veterans, but there’s a tsunami of need out there, and giving them a craft kit is not helping them that much,” Borochoff said.

Some recipients of Help Hospitalized Veterans’ direct-mail solicitations said they were surprised by the frequency and heft of the mailings.

“Those guys are relentless,” said James Lynch, a veteran from Merced, Calif. “These guys seem to hit me from twice a year to every four months. Anytime they’re spending money on postage and things like that, I wonder what the return is on it.”

High overhead costs can be expected for start-up charities, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) said in an interview. But he said it is important to determine whether some veterans charities have been “a serial swindler in terms of taking people’s money and not spending it.”

Help Hospitalized Veterans paid Chapin $426,434 in salary and benefits in the past fiscal year, The Post’s review of a tax filing showed. His wife, Elizabeth, received $113,623 in salary and benefits as “newsletter editor,” the filing shows.

In the filing, the charity reports that the Chapins each worked 40 hours per week. In a separate tax filing, the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes reported that Roger Chapin worked another 40 hours per week for his job there but did not collect pay.

Mike Lynch, executive director of Help Hospitalized Veterans, said the charity’s board considers Chapin’s wages “proper compensation.”

“He’s a dynamo,” said Thomas Palma, the coalition’s general manager. “You might find it hard to believe, but we do an awful lot of good things as a result of his efforts and his ideas.”

Some donors to Chapin’s charities said they were disappointed to discover his high compensation.

“I just got irritated as hell,” said Michael J. Feeko Sr., 77, a Korean War veteran who lives in Port Crane, N.Y., and volunteers with veterans groups. “The part that galls me is the fact that he’ll sit back and draw this money and other people are giving their time.”

Help Hospitalized Veterans has spent some of its donations in the real estate market. The charity purchased a condominium unit in Fairfax County in May 2006 for $444,600, according to property records reviewed by The Post. Chapin said the charity purchased the Falls Church apartment because of his frequent travel to Washington.

The charity also purchased at least nine properties in the past decade in California, where the group has its headquarters, records reviewed by The Post show.

The office of California Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) investigates charities that mismanage their assets, spokesman Gareth Lacy said. Lacy would not say whether Brown’s office is investigating Help Hospitalized Veterans, but he said the head of the charities division would testify at today’s congressional hearing.

The charity has long had ties to Viguerie. In the past fiscal year, Viguerie’s companies received $3.9 million from the charity, according to its filings with the Internal Revenue Service.

Viguerie has been asked to testify at the hearing. Reached at his office in Manassas this week, an assistant said Viguerie would not answer questions from a Post reporter, citing a policy against commenting on clients.

Mike Lynch said Viguerie adds “tremendous value” to the charity’s ability to raise money. Lynch added that the charity’s finances have met the fundraising standards of the Better Business Bureau, among others.

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

See google.org video hereGoogle: From ‘Don’t Be Evil’ to How to Do Good

By KEVIN J. DELANEY
January 18, 2008; Page B1

In one of the most widely watched efforts in corporate giving in years, Google Inc. unveiled yesterday nearly $30 million in new grants and investments, outlining how it will focus a massive philanthropic endeavor that erases the usual boundaries between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.

The first set of major five- to eight-year initiatives it will pursue includes efforts to create systems to help predict and prevent disease pandemics, to empower the poor with information about public services and to create jobs by investing in small- and mid-size businesses in the developing world. They join previously announced initiatives to accelerate the commercialization of plug-in cars and make renewable energy cheaper than coal. The grants and investments announced yesterday are an early wave of Google’s planned efforts in the five focus areas.

Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google.org, talks with Stacey Delo about running the Internet giant’s philanthropic arm.
Valued at about $2 billion, the assets currently set aside for the company’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, make it larger than any in-house corporate foundation in the U.S., according to the Foundation Center, a nonprofit research firm. (Private foundations set up by tycoons such as Microsoft Corp.’s Bill Gates have more assets.)

Just as important, the Mountain View, Calif., Internet company is marshaling both company and foundation resources around the initiatives, which it hopes will provide more impact in tackling some of the world’s biggest problems. Philanthropy experts consider Google to be among the leading edge of donors experimenting with this hybrid for-profit/nonprofit model. Others include eBay Inc. founder Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, which invests in businesses and makes grants to nonprofits.

Google, which has found enormous success with an unconventional business style and a corporate motto of “Don’t Be Evil,” says it isn’t looking to make money on its philanthropic efforts. But, as a division of the for-profit company rather than a nonprofit offshoot,
Google.org has freedom to invest in and operate businesses, lobby for political causes and issue certain grants that a traditional corporate foundation wouldn’t. Its announcement yesterday includes a $10 million investment in closely held eSolar Inc., which is working on utility-scale solar power.
Google.org also expects to invest directly in businesses in places such as Africa to spur job creation. “We can start new industries,” says Executive Director Larry Brilliant. “I hope we will.”

The money Google.org has awarded to date (http://google.org/projects.html1) remains modest, and its progress so far has been slow compared with its parent company’s breakneck growth in staff and business reach. Some philanthropy experts warn Google that successful businesspeople with high hopes for solving the world’s problems have underestimated those problems’ complexity and have fallen short.

Selected from more than 800 suggestions, the final initiatives show Google’s special interest in projects where it can bring its engineering and information-management prowess to bear. Google staff, many of whom spend 20% of their work time on independent projects, are expected to contribute significantly to
Google.org efforts. The initiatives also exhibit Google’s characteristic penchant for audacious moves to reshape markets — from advertising to small-business financing — others are often more timid in approaching.

Google.org’s big ambitions suggest it could potentially transform the business mix of Google itself — leading the company to become a player in sectors such as energy and finance.

“They’re business and technology people saying we want to find business and technology solutions to problems,” says Mark Kramer, managing director of FSG Social Impact Advisors, a nonprofit philanthropic consulting group.”That hasn’t been done much before.”

The roots of the effort trace to Google’s April 2004 regulatory filing for an initial public offering. In it, company co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page announced plans for a corporate foundation with the goal that “someday this institution may eclipse Google itself in terms of overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world’s problems.”

To start, the company created a nonprofit corporate foundation with about $90 million in funding. It announced plans to focus on issues related to energy and the environment and global poverty. After discovering in 2005 that its foundation couldn’t easily donate to One Laptop Per Child, a nonprofit initiative to sell low-cost laptops to developing countries, Google began pursuing the hybrid approach with the for-profit structure. Laws prevent corporate foundations from making gifts that might financially benefit their businesses, and the laptop project aimed at increasing Internet access arguably could boost Google’s online advertising revenue.

In February 2006, Google hired as Google.org’s executive director Dr. Brilliant, a former physician who helped direct efforts to eradicate smallpox from India in the 1970s. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he served as a bioterrorism consultant to the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With Dr. Brilliant’s arrival, Google.org added global health as a third focus area. He and colleagues sought advice from Google staff and leaders in the philanthropy field and made small “learning grants” to nonprofits. But by spring 2007, Dr. Brilliant and his team realized they needed to focus and launched an internal process to select limited initiatives in the environment, poverty and global health areas.

While some Google.org executives championed efforts to toughen energy-efficiency standards, the company’s co-founders urged them to look instead at making renewable energy cheaper. In late November, Google announced that it expected to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in efforts to make renewable electricity cheaper than power from coal-fired plants. In an unusual move, Google said it would spend millions of dollars on research and development and would create a renewable-energy research-and-development group within the company, in addition to grants and investments by
Google.org.

The other major initiatives Google.org will focus on include the program to predict and prevent disease outbreaks and other global threats. That is anchored by a $5 million grant to InSTEDD, a nonprofit created by
Google.org that is applying technology to improve the flow of information between organizations fighting such problems. Google says it believes that better data and systems for analyzing it are critical to identifying disease hot spots. Possible eventual projects for Google include creating simple tests doctors in the developing world could use to diagnose infectious diseases.

As part of the “Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services” initiative, Google is supporting efforts to provide parties in the developing world with information about public services such as education. One beneficiary of a $2 million grant from
Google.org is Pratham (www.pratham.org13), a nonprofit in India that gives reading tests to schoolchildren and publicly releases the data with the goal of improving education standards.

Google.org also aims to “Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises” in the developing world. It will try to reduce the transaction costs for outsiders to invest in such businesses, help create funds that buy stakes in the businesses and provide investors with an “exit,” and invest directly and indirectly in such businesses.

Some warn that Google’s unconventional approach risks altering the landscape of industries, putting it in competition with other businesses. Its investment in renewable-energy research and companies, for example, makes Google a potential rival to some oil and coal concerns. Google “is becoming a catalyst for energy innovation, which makes them an invader to the traditional energy industry,” says R. Paul Herman, CEO of HIP Investor, which consults on socially responsible investing, and former strategy director at Omidyar Network.

Such philanthropic activities potentially have repercussions for Google’s core online advertising business, if energy companies cut back on buying Google ads because they viewed it as a rival. Similarly, any government officials unhappy with
Google.org’s efforts could potentially use regulatory or lawmaking powers to take it out on the company.

Dr. Brilliant says the company has considered such risks. “It’s an experiment to have a philanthropically oriented organization that’s part of the [profit and loss] of Google,” he says.

But, coming nearly four years after Google first announced it was devoting 1% of its equity, 1% of annual profit and an unspecified amount of employee time to Google.org, yesterday’s announcement gives much-awaited shape and focus to its activities.

GOOGLE.ORG’S CHOSEN INITIATIVES

The below list includes select grants and investments, including some previously announced. (See a full list.2)
Predict and Prevent
Goal: Fight disease pandemics and other disasters by using technology and bolstering data collection and analysis to identify “hot spots” and enable a rapid response.
Select Grants:
• $5 million to InSTEDD3 nonprofit to improve early detection, preparedness, and response capabilities for global health threats and humanitarian crises.
• $2.5 million to the Global Health and Security Initiative4, established by the Nuclear Threat Initiative to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats.
* * *
Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services
Goal: Fight poverty and health problems by providing information about public services such as education, health, water and sanitation to empower citizens and communities, providers and policy makers.
Select Grants:
• $2 million to Pratham5, a nonprofit in India which gives reading tests to schoolchildren and publicly releases the data with the goal of improving education standards.
• $765,000 to the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies6, a Bangalore-based analysis group, to create a Budget Information Service for local governments to facilitate better district- and municipal-level level planning in India.
• $660,000 to the Center for Policy Research7 in India to increase the debate and discourse on issues of urban local governance and urban service delivery.
* * *
Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
Goal: Stimulate investment in small- and mid-sized businesses in the developing world in order to create jobs and fight poverty.
Select Grants:
• $4.7 million grant to the nonprofit TechnoServe8, which works to support enterprises, spur job creation, and alleviate poverty.
* * *
Develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal (RE<C)
Goal: Make renewable electricity cheaper than power from coal-fired plants
Select Investments:
• $10 million investment in closely held eSolar9 Inc., which is working on utility-scale solar power
• $10 million investment in closely held Makani Power10 Inc., which is working on high altitude wind-power systems.
Comment: Google separately is creating an internal research and development group staffed with engineers working on the problem.
* * *
Accelerate the Commercialization of Plug-In Vehicles (RechargeIT)
Goal: Fight climate change by accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid technology.
Select Grants:
• $200,000 to the nonprofit Brookings Institution11 to support a conference in spring 2008 on federal policy to promote plug-in hybrids.
• $200,000 to nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute12 to support plug-in vehicle research and development.
Comment: Google.org launched a $10 million request for investment proposals last year, and will invest amounts ranging from $500,000 to $2 million in selected for-profit companies tackling this area.

Source: Google, WSJ research

RelightNY

•January 12, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Who: Avery Hairston and RelightNY team
Age: 15
What: Founded RelightNY

Avery Hairston, a Freshman at Collegiate School in New York, founded RelightNY and leads a team of 9 high school students on a mission to make a difference. Check out their website, www.relightny.com (full of videos, press releases, information, and more) after you read about the group:

From the Founder:
Many people feel powerless to stop climate change. They wonder, “What can I possibly do to help?” The short answer: Change a light bulb. One thing everyone can do is switch from incandescent bulbs to energy-efficient CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs. CFLs last up to 10 times longer than regular bulbs and use less energy to produce the same amount of light. Less energy used means less fossil fuel burned and, subsequently, less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, slowing the rate of climate change. More practically, less energy used means a lower electricity bill each month—so your wallet benefits too. I, along with a growing Teen Advisory Board, formed the environmental awareness group RelightNY with the hope that we can educate and encourage people to take action and live in ways that protect the earth’s environment by simply switching a light bulb.

What is the mission of RelightNY?
RelightNY’s mission is to educate and inspire people to take action and live in ways that protect the earth’s environment for current and future generations.

How does RelightNY hope to inspire social change?
Supplying low-income housing units with energy-saving CFL bulbs, both helping families to save on utility costs and fighting global warming. Spreading awareness of the benefits of CFL bulbs. Encouraging all New Yorkers to switch to CFL bulbs in their homes.

How does RelightNY benefit the community and the environment?
Education
Through distribution of CFL bulbs to low-income families, awareness of environmental issues spreads and more people understand the intrinsic benefits of using less energy.
Environment
Switching to CFL bulbs reduces the amount of energy we use and the carbon emissions we produce.
Economy
CFL bulbs last up to 10 times longer than standard light bulbs and reduce electric costs.
Empowerment
Everyone can feel proud that they’re contributing to the fight against global warming!

What difference can a CFL make?
If every American swapped in just one bulb for an Energy Star-labeled CFL:
We would collectively save more than $8 billion in energy costs.
We would burn 30 billion fewer pounds of coal.
We would remove 2 million cars worth of greenhouse gas emissions from our atmosphere.

How does RelightNY work?
1. RelightNY raises donations from corporate and individual sponsors.
2. Open Space Institute handles financial responsibilities, including distributing donor receipts for tax deductions.
3. RelightNY buys CFL bulbs at a discounted price.
4. RelightNY works with HELP USA to distribute CFLs to low-income families.
5. CFLs create a brighter tomorrow for families and the environment for years to come.

How do I donate?
Donations can be made out to: OSI/RelightNY, c/o Avery Hairston, 165 East 72nd Street, New York, NY 10021.

Utah Young Humanitarian Award

•January 6, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Who: Chelsea Gould
Age: 18
What: President of Operation Smile Chapter and More…

After working with the HUGS Foundation this past summer in Rochester, NY, we at Believe In Youth have a soft spot for those working toward a similar cause. Not only was Chelsea Gould the President of her local chapter in a similar organization, but she has done much more, earning Utah’s Young Humanitarian Award along the way.

Orem girl named Utah’s Young Humanitarian
BROOKE BARKER – Daily Herald

Chelsea Gould has traveled as far as Kenya and Mexico on humanitarian projects, but she hasn’t forgotten about the children in her own neighborhood.

Gould, an Orem High senior, was recently named as Utah’s Young Humanitarian for 2007 by YouthLINC, a Utah based non-profit organization hoping to instill life-long service in young people.

“I think it was just her dedication to constantly doing service and her motivation,” said Terry Palmer, a local service coordinator for YouthLINC. “She seems to just simply want to serve her community and her world.”

The award includes a $5,000 scholarship, which Gould plans to use this fall at Dixie State College in St. George. One day she hopes to graduate from UVSC in nursing and start her own foundation in Kenya.

“She’s had a dream ever since she was a little girl to go to Africa to help children in orphanages,” said Michelle Gould, her mother.

In 2005, Chelsea traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, with her grandmother, where they spent five weeks working in orphanages, donating clothing, shoes and school supplies, and planting gardens, according to her mother.

“One of the biggest problems I saw when I went there was the orphanages didn’t test the kids for AIDS,” Gould said. “I want to get a nursing degree with that as my focus.”

She hopes to start an organization with her father, Ben Gould, aimed at providing AIDS/HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy to inhibit the spread of HIV for children in orphanages.

She is currently the president of her school’s Operation Smile chapter. The organization provides surgeries for children with cleft palettes, cleft lips, tumors and burns in Third World countries. Last summer, she traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico, to volunteer with the program.

Chelsea Gould has also volunteered for more than a year with Kids on the Move, a nonprofit organization that works with children with disabilities up to age 3.