City Year

What is City Year? Is it like Teach for America? How is it AmeriCorps?

There are honestly so many questions you could ask about this particular nonprofit.

City Year, despite the vague nature of its moniker, is a very wonderful and focused moniker.

City Year is an education focused nonprofit that helps kids at risk of not graduating high school. It partners with schools in 28 cities in the United States to help kids grades 3 through 10 on their ABCs. No, not those ABCs. Their Attendance, Behavior, and Class Performance (in English and Math).

So wait, how then exactly does City Year differentiate itself from Teach for America? It sounds like you're teaching kids when you join. 

While City Year is education focused, we do not connect schools with teachers. When you are a City Years Corps member you help teachers and school kids by tutoring, mentoring, and being their role model. It's a truly unique role. This also does not mean that you can't want a future in education and do a gap year with City Year. City Year looks for and strives to have a diverse community of corps members: in major, life experiences, and backgrounds.

So, how does City Year work with AmeriCorps?

Well, City Year is a member of the AmeriCorps network. This means that the nonprofit is too funded in part by the CNCS. Essentially City Year is one of the lovely organizations in a wide network of full-time community service opportunities for US citizens who want to help improve or communities, our nation, and our future. 

Further questions about how City Year functions: try the following link!

http://www.cityyear.org

Lumos!

Lumos! Lumos Maxima! Lumos Solem!

Lumos is a wondrous and magical nonprofit focusing on the international aid and deinstitutionalization of children. 

Co-founded by queen of childhood wonder herself, Rowling, Lumos focuses on the eight million children worldwide that are institutionalized or orphaned. It hopes to help these children by helping the development of community structures and familial substitutes for these children.

What is the institutionalization of children?

Children whose families are often times too poor or disadvantaged to take care of their children place them within institutions or "orphanages". These institutions can oftentimes be overcrowded, under-nourishing, and otherwise for the children involved.

Statistically it has been found that these institutions are detrimental to the mental, emotional, and physical health of the children within. Research in child psychology has arrived on the theory that children need emotional support and loving interactions in order to truly thrive (logical right?). 

The institutionalization of these children is also statistically damaging to the children's futures and prospects. In a statistic cited on the Lumos website, the institutionalization of children makes these children in the future " 10 times more likely to be involved in prostitution than their peers, 40 times more likely to have a criminal and 500 times more likely to take their own lives" (link here!).

Accio Mission and Vision

The direct goal or mission of Lumos is to end childhood institutionalization by 2050. 

The vision is essentially this: a world where children can grow to their full potential in safety and care of a familial and nurturing setting.

How does it plan to do that? Via the deinstitutionalization of children and the promotion of inclusive education. Lumos defines inclusive education as supporting these children via integration into mainstream communities, families, and schools.

Expecto Patronum: The Successes

The advocacy of Lumos and its partner organizations have forced many nations in the European Union to create de-institutionalization agreements (with a focus on funding regulations).

Thanks directly to the influence and work of Lumos in Moldova, Moldova's institutions have been on the decrease. In fact as of 2014, there are no child institutions in the counties of Floresti and Laloveni with Lumos making significant headway in Chisinau and Orhei. Moreover, Lumos's work in Moldova has been focusing on redirecting the purpose of institutionalization to inclusive education. The projects in Moldova are hoping to join forces with the World Bank and the Global Alliance for Children and the United States, creating a 5 year timeline to completely eliminating institutionalization in the nation.

Lumos also has work in the Czech Republic, despite a seemingly constant lack of will for change. Despite this, the quantity of institutions has significantly decreased.

Lumos has with the help of Unicef in Bulgaria reduced institutionalization by more than 50%.

Lumos has also done significant work in Ukraine and has started work in Haiti as of the beginning of 2015 (their first nation outside of greater Europe).

The nonprofit is also strengthening ties with the US government and US humanitarian agencies in hopes of creating international growth plans for de-institutionalization.

Women For Women Forum

Since my time in Nepal is almost up, I think this as prime a time as any to talk about the nonprofit that I have been working with for three months now: Women For Women Forum, Nepal.

Women for Women Forum, which I from now shall lovingly call WFWF, is a Nepalese nonprofit focusing on the political and economic education, empowerment and advocacy of less privileged women in the greater Kathmandu Valley. 

WFWF Philosophy

Through its work, WFWF's mission is to empower women and girls by enhancing their political, economic, legal, and social status through mainstreaming gender in policies, plans, and programs. The vision is simple: to create a gender-equal society wherein women and men actively pursue the goal of gender equality and a life free from violence. 

Women For Women Forum focuses on ensuring that Nepalese human rights work is not discriminatory and actively goes against the patriarchal norms of Nepal. In order to advocate female participation and empowerment while going against culture, WFWF focuses on creating women’s groups within the villages it works with and supports. Moreover, WFWF ensures that their families, husbands, and towns either are or grow to be accepting of the women’s secured rights and political and economic freedoms.

The priority of economic and political empowerment is close to the heart of WFWF as an integral part to our organization’s mission, holding strong that one of the crucial ways a woman is going to be able to keep her rights is through economic and political stability. Without these rights, women will find themselves, simply put, without a say. Because of this, the women’s groups that have formed as cells of WFWF have the facet of economic cooperation, enabling the women to join an economic cooperative that provides both monetary and political freedoms and rights.

Women’s rights is also a key part of WFWF’s campaign for feminist equality. Women For Women Forum often holds training events and field visits so as to ensure that the women’s groups come together, not only with the WFWF but also other women’s groups, in order to facilitate cooperative learning. These meetings, newsletters, and field visits serve as a mode to further woman’s rights education by the WFWF.

In this sense, WFWF's use of education via training programs is an integral role in how it advances our organization’s work with women’s empowerment. Moreover, in a region like Nepal, it is important to note that traditional technologies and platforms prove to be successful in connecting and cooperating with villages, something that WFWF finds necessary to address issues and further rural economic and political empowerment of women.

With regards to leadership, Women For Women remains a primarily woman-organized and woman-run institution. In fact, our woman’s groups are just that, women whose cell report to WFWF in Kathmandu, a headquarters of primarily female employees that was actually founded by 9 Nepalese women in 1994.

Here is a brief overview of Women For Women's objectives and process:

Organizational Objectives:

  1.  To establish gender equality.
  2. To make women economically self-reliant and independent
  3. To advocate for women’s rights
  4. To integrate development programs focused on children and family
  5. Ensuring healthy and happy families
  6. To assist marginalized women and children with literacy and education programs
  7. To organize awareness programs on the issues of female trafficking, abortion, and reproduction rights
  8. To provide information about women’s rights as acknowledged by the Beijing Platform for Action and The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  9. To provide scholarship assistance to marginalized children
  10. To provide facilities of saving and credit

The Process:

  1. 3-month computer training courses
  2. Foods training in: noodle making, candle making, potato chip processing, and paapad making
  3. Handicraft training in: knitting, sewing, doll making, and painting
  4. Saving and Credit program
  5. Microloans and Savings Assistance
  6. Large Animals Farm Training: cattle, buffalo, pigs, goats, poultry
  7. Building of community center
  8. Self-help group management training
  9. Gender and Justice Training
  10. Micro-enterprise training
  11. Value Based Cornerstone Training
  12. Account Training
  13. Kitchen Garden Training
  14. Reproductive Health Training
  15. Nutrition Education
  16. Farming practices (animal management, milk quality management, ginger cultivation)

More information here: womenforwomenforumnepal.org 

For the sake of full transparency, I have used some of these paragraphs from a proposal I wrote for the nonprofit and have paraphrased other parts from the same self-written grant report.

KAT Centre

Living as essentially an expatriate in Nepal has made my point of view a little more Kathmandu-centric than I previously thought.

In the streets of Kathmandu, on any given corner, you can find stray dogs living their lives. Their growth seems almost exponential. Moreover, the likelihood of these dogs getting starved, injured, or sick is also extremely high.

Because of this, there is the KAT Centre, the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre. While, it is a Nepal specific nonprofit organization, the dogs it helps span all across the world. In fact, a friend of mine here is actually bringing one of the pups home with her to the United States.

"Creating a Healthy Street Dog Population in Kathmandu Nepal"

The Kat Centre actively tries to improve the welfare of animals, dogs and cats alike, in Nepal's capital. It hopes to do so by birth control methods, vaccination, and rehabilitation. 

Meet Weirdo, a fully grown dog that weighs at least 40 pounds and likes to cuddle and sit on you.

In Kathmandu alone, there are upwards of twenty-two thousand street dogs. And more often than not, these dogs find themselves in quite the predicament: car accidents, starvation, mange, kennel cough, allergies, rabies, mauling, etc. 

The KAT Centre is Kathmandu's humanitarian fix. It is well known throughout Kathmandu that if you injure or see a stray dog injured or in need of help, driving them to the KAT Centre is a more than viable option. KAT is an option that will not only help increase the dog's survival rate and safety but also his or her overall happiness.

How KAT Does It

The KAT Centre was opened in 2004 as a way of helping the animals of Kathmandu. It was done so around the time that the government was still poisoning animals with strychnine. Moreover, KAT opened to fill the void. Prior to KAT, there was no real organization dedicated to helping the animal populations in the area.

KAT's day-to-day operations vary but all involve animal treatment.

A couple times a week, the KAT workers will drive to regions of Kathmandu to pick up stray dogs. They will take them to the center in Budanilkantha, where the dogs will spend one to three days there. Taking these uninjured dogs to the center is not without reason though. These dogs are taken in for the sole reason of spaying and neutering. This will help curb the exorbitant population growth in Kathmandu alone.

KAT also keeps dogs with more harsh issues and stray puppies for a more semi-permanent period of time. This is to ensure that they have constant wound care, constant treatment, safety, and play all in one lovely and safe environment. These animals will be fed twice daily and will receive thorough treatment procedures on an as needed basis. As for the puppies, they are simply kept when found for no other reason than they have extremely low chances of survival on the streets when that small.

It is also important to note that the work KAT does helps the humans of Kathmandu too. There are thousands of dog bites and hundreds of diagnosed cases of rabies in the Kathmandu Valley alone. Because of this, the treatment of street dogs for rabies is crucial in prevention of rabies transmission.

After meeting the people who work at the KAT Centre, I have come to the conclusion that if they could, they would keep all the stray dogs in Kathmandu. Unfortunately that simply is not possible. The work KAT does is not funded by the government. They appear to be primarily funded by donations. Because of this every cent counts. If you want to help, the volunteering and donation link is right here

KAT's Success

Check their facts!

KAT has since 2004 treated 27,550 dogs (as of April 2016), a feat not easily achieved. These dogs have either gone through their Animal Birth Control Programme or their Rescue and Treatment Programme. ABC involves spaying, vaccination and release. R&T involves rescuing, treatment, and sterilization.

Moreover, the KAT Centre has made great strides in population control. The percentage of female dogs spayed is now 40 percent (much higher than its previous 15% in 2010). 

KAT is hoping, thanks to its great success in Kathmandu, that it will be able to grow its facilities and expand its grasp to encompass the entire Kathmandu Valley and eventually Nepal.

Acumen

Today on our lovely nonprofit stage is Acumen, a nonprofit that focuses on sustainable financial growth to solve poverty. For the next little period of time, let us explore the Acumen philosophy and impact on the international community.

(taken from Acumen's Home Page)

The Beginning of a Vision

Acumen, as founded in 2001 via help from some of the worlds greatest philanthropic names (Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco Systems Foundation, among others), joined its many fellow nonprofits with the idealistic foundation of treating the betterment of the world as the growth of a global community of global citizens. By focusing not on the distinctions between humans but the collective power and hope we as a group share, Acumen hoped and still hopes to do strong work in whittling away poverty.

The Concept

Acumen's mode of choice to successfully help global poverty is through a venture capital fund, where their partners (a loving term for their donors) aid the process. The best way I could think of explaining this model is through an info graphic created by the Acumen team themselves (taken from their About page and copied below).

Now the mathematics behind this is most definitely more complicated than this graphic. And while I would love to break it down, I don't think doing so would keep this nonprofit spotlight brief.

It is important to note that their model does take into account that entrepreneurial finance cannot solve all the problems of poverty. In fact, Acumen tries to create another bridge between market efficiency and social impact via patient capital, a way to use equity to help nurture healthcare and sustainable lifestyles.

Regions Loved and Cared For

Seeing as Acumen is a global nonprofit, it's global expanse is super important to its vision of sustainable global development. From looking at its website and news articles regarding Acumen, it looks like Acumen as a whole focuses on Southwestern Asia and Central Africa. Prominent areas affected by Acumen include but appear to not be limited to India and Pakistan in Asia and Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ghana in Africa.

How Acumen Measures Success

Acumen appears to have this wonderful way of looking at their track record (from their Social Performance page)

In order to accurately measure their social performance and further improve, Acumen works with a three-prong target. Via focusing on the poor, breadth, and depth, Acumen as a nonprofit plans to create a holistic and grant impact with their investment and humanitarian portfolio. The focus on the poor involves a grounds operation focusing on building small business as well as delivering and carrying through urgent products and services. Breadth implies that Acumen actively tries to not narrow their scope, instead trying to reach all across the globe to as many low-income communities as possible. Depth entails that Acumen is not focused on a bottom line but a quantitative and qualitative growth from its social movement.

How's Acumen Doing?

Acumen had a rough start in its beginnings in part due to its small size and unfortunate failed investments. However, now (as described in the Stanford Social Innovation Review) Acumen is recognized as a SVC pioneer with its chief Novogratz as one of Foreign Policy's Top Global Thinkers. Acumen has found a niche fund of powerful advisors and investors, people who prove to be the celebrities of the philanthropic world. Acumen is happy to call  people/organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IDEO's Tim Brown, and Salvatore Ferragamo its partners.

Acumen is proving to be an organization that is capable of working in many regions. It has become a wonderful organization, especially with its work in health sector investment. In fact, its work with A to Z, Beez, and Insta Products has proven to be invaluable for the global community. Unfortunately, Acumen also finds struggles in profitability and helping alleviate poverty due to the corruption politically in these globally underprivileged areas (as seen in the Dial 1298 case).

(Above taken from Acumen's Home Page)

Acumen's outlook is beautiful and growing. While it found success in health investment, Acumen is willing to move and persevere in commercial financing, social impact and philanthropy. In fact, Acumen is already a heavyweight, but will only continue grow and be a heavyweight in the nonprofit sector for the foreseeable future. After all, it's not every day that Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, hails a nonprofit as "an innovative approach [to] philanthropy and capitalism".

Nonprofit Spotlight

As I continue to grow up and explore the world around me, I've come to realize that when you're young, you are just not exposed to the sheer beauty of humanity. Everybody learns and understands their tiny little microcosms of hometowns. Everyone has their skewed perspectives of the grand perspective. But can we ever really understand what it truly means to be a global citizen?

In Nonprofit Spotlight, I plan on showcasing one to two nonprofit organizations, ones that do absolutely wonderful and fulfilling work. There will be a brief description of the organization as a whole, what is cool about what their mission and vision, and how their impact on their communities is priceless. This will be about all the good that can come from global citizenship, from human helping human.

I will also try to consciously not pinhole this segment as to be regional. Humanitarianism is not simply domestic and international. Humanitarianism is (at least to me) growing the world, maturing the world into the place where every person can thrive. 

As a US citizen, I will also admit my bias and larger knowledge of western nonprofits. But, I will also strive for a broader knowledge of the nonprofits around the world.

Those who do good, no matter how large or small and no matter what sector, are superheroes and should be treated and applauded as such.