Super Bowl Scores with Community Service

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 @ 09:00 AM


jersey caresSuper Bowl XLVIII
is less than a week away. Approximately 108 million people are expected to watch. Not only will it be an economic boom for the New York/New Jersey area, but for
thousands and thousands of take-out and delivery restaurants, establishments with big screen televisions, as well as snack, liquor and beverage distributors throughout the country.

Apparently Super Bowl Sunday is considered the second biggest eating day of the year after Thanksgiving. A few statistics show why. According to the National Chicken Council’s 2014 Wing Report, an estimated 1.25 billion wings will be devoured during the Super Bowl. Domino’s Pizza will sell more than 11 million slices of pizza this Sunday. And, according to the Nielson Company, nine out of ten people will watch the game at their home or a friend’s house. It’s one of the biggest events for friends and family to come together.

This got me thinking. Why can’t we enjoy this event and use it to spark a movement to help others? With this being the National Football League’s first cold-weather, outdoor Super Bowl, it could be the highest-profile game in the event’s history. Fortunately, I’m not the only one who thinks we can use this opportunity do social good as well!

The NFL and the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee are harnessing the excitement of Super Bowl XLVIII to organize a number of community events and donation drives to provide support to those in need. The Snowflake Youth Foundation, a charity initiative of the Host Committee, was created to raise money and support for a number of local community projects, including the rehabilitation of after-school centers, support for the Super Community Blood Drives, and various environmental works. The foundation and its partner organizations have raised more than $11 million to support 50 projects to improve after-school facilities in New York and New Jersey communities.

“As this work illustrates, when the power of the world’s greatest sporting event is combined with the generosity of the New York and New Jersey region, an indisputable difference can be made in the lives of our youth.” Said Jonathan Tisch, Host Committee Co-Chairman in a recent statement issued by the foundation. 

Kickoff to Rebuild is also an annual NFL sanctioned event. Hosted by Rebuilding Together, the organization partners with the NFL in Super Bowl cities across the country, rebuilding houses and bringing together neighborhoods, home by home, block by block. This month, they mobilized hundreds of volunteers, including past and present NFL players, community leaders, celebrities, and local and national sponsors to complete critical home repairs for thirteen local low-income homeowners. The repairs will improve the safety and health of homes for local residents in Bergen County, New Jersey, including seniors and families who were devastated by flooding from Superstorm Sandy.

Another event to capitalize on the excitement of the Super Bowl is the Super Community Coat Drive, which runs through February 7. Organized by the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, along with New York Cares, Jersey Cares, and other local organizations, individuals can donate gently used and freshly laundered coats at hundreds of locations throughout New York and New Jersey.

“The Super Community Coat Drive is an initiative that fits perfectly into the Host Committee’s mission to give back to the communities of New Jersey and New York,” said NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee President and CEO Al Kelly.

Throughout the 2013-14 season, the National Football League’s Taste of NFL asked fans to raise money online through their Kick Hunger Challenge. Fans from all 32 NFL teams and Brooklyn competed against each other all season by raising money online for food banks in NFL communities around the country. The funds raised will directly impact the donation of thousands of meals to food banks in each team’s community. Fans can go online till January 31, 2014, to make donations in the name of their favorite NFL team. The winning team gets an additional $10,000.

Dr. Melony Samuels is executive director and founder of Bed-Stuy Campaign Againstsuper pantry3 Hunger, one of the designated food banks to receive funds. “They (NFL) created a team for us to raise money.  It’s called Brooklyn, New York. We want to get everyone in New York to back us. We are fighting hunger for a good cause. We are one of the largest, if not the largest, emergency feeding program in New York City. We served 2.9 million meals to 338,951 individuals last year. We will continue to meet that need.”

In addition to the Kick Hunger Campaign, the NFL hosts Party with a Purpose®, a food and wine event in the host city on the eve of the Super Bowl. Chefs from each NFL city, provide food and wine pairings for guests to sample. Proceeds from the event also benefit food banks in each of the NFL cities.

So, why let the NFL have all the fun? People all over the country are planning Super Bowl parties this weekend. Samuels encourages everyone to have their own canned food drives. “Tell their guests to bring a can or two to donate to an emergency feeding program.”

She also encourages schools and colleges to start a buzz in their different communities; to have clubs and organizations compete against each other and raise money for their local food banks. Samuels said one of the easiest ways to find your nearest emergency feeding program is to call 311 or the Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3Hungry. She also suggests contacting your local city hall or city council. “Local people know what is going on in the community,” said Samuels. “They can easily tell you where the programs are.  When families are hungry, it’s not a secret.”

According to figures from the Department of Agriculture, approximately 48 million people in the U.S., including 17 million children, lack access to adequate food. “If every group just donated $20, it could help many families,” said Samuels. “We could purchase at least 15 meals with $20. Sometimes if we get good prices, we can get $1 a meal.”

While 48 million may seem insurmountable, just imagine if everyone of the over 100 million viewers donated $10 to their local food bank or donated a can of food or a gently used coat, hat or set of gloves to their Super Bowl party. Or, imagine if we decided that the following Sunday, we would get together with friends and family and volunteer our time to a local community organization. It might not be an economic boom, but it would be a positive one. How will you watch the Super Bowl this Sunday? Join in the excitement and support your community!

Topics: service, volunteering, volunteering nonprofit, community, community engagement, opportunities, economy, engagement, community service, fundraising, Food Banks, Food Pantries, Food Drives.

A Student's Guide to Social Entrepreneurship

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Sep 19, 2013 @ 10:10 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

In beginning this post about social entrepreneurship, I was very excited because it is such an exciting and inspiring focus.  However after tapping mindlessly on my keyboard and coming up short, I was faced the ultimate test of blogging in taking what social entrepreneurship means to me and translating it into what it means to the world.  As a writer I realized I was stuck on words to use, and as a learner I saw that my stuckness meant I had much to learn, so I began researching.  I proceeded to answer the question: What is social entrepreneurship?

Ashoka India

It was not too long until I found Ashoka, the largest global network of social entrepreneurs, had answers to my question.  Ashoka, with years of experiences building social entrepreneurship, explains that, “Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems . . . a role model proving that citizens who channel their passion into action can do almost anything . . . the citizen sector has discovered what the business sector learned long ago: There is nothing as powerful as a new idea in the hands of a first-class entrepreneur.”  Ashoka helps social entrepreneurs change the world by providing start-up funds, advice, and access to a worldwide network of support systems and volunteers.  They encourage individuals to innovate society by applying entrepreneurial skills to real-world problems.  I knew the topic of social entrepreneurship was exciting and inspiring, but I felt that as an explanation was too abstract, and I went on to find real world examples of social entrepreneurship changing the world. 

Reading about some of the world's greatest social entrepreneurs on PBS' “Meet the New Heroes”, I was touched.  Take Moses Zulu, who started Children's Town, an orphanage created to help children in Zambia whose "basic needs are unaffordable luxuries."  Taking in children who've lost their parents to AIDS, Children's Town cares for and educates these children to better their future with skills they'll use to find better jobs.  Meet Kailash Satyarthi in South Asia, who started his social entrepreneurship by leading raids into factories to liberate workers, particularly children, from a life of servitude.  Then there’s Mimi Silbert who started Delany Street Foundation to help house and rehabilitate people stuck in a life of crime.  In conjunction with education and counselling to help clients find jobs and lead successful lives free of crime, the residents work in the organization’s many businesses to generate revenue for the program, linking their success to the success of the organization.  The list of social enterprises goes on, and I found it extremely difficult to find just one—one that was the most impactful, most interesting, or most striking—to write about. Robert Redford speaks about "The New Heroes", a documentary about social entrepreneurs.

I wanted to know all of them.  To write about their causes and analyze their successes to help you see where your social enterprise might start, but I realized that I also have an English presentation to write today so there was not time to write a novel. The story of social entrepreneurship is innovative, inspiring, and incredibly heart wrenching.  Each opened my eyes to a world of suffering I hadn't known before, but also a world of hope. Social entrepreneurs take the downtrodden and use business concepts to empower the world.  Social entrepreneurship is rooted in the idea that filling tonight's hungry bellies and bandaging the day's wounds only leaves for more hungry bellies and broken bones tomorrow.  Aid and handouts are helpful in the present but also temporary and easily used up. Sustainable and innovative solutions tackle tomorrow's problems today. 

The education sector is realizing the mark social entrepreneurship is making.  A recent article “Social Entrepreneurship Is Bringing Purpose To Higher Education” explains how this process is unfolding.  With today’s academic inflations (see a great explanation of this process here)—and high tuition costs—, “students, parents and employers are all expressing doubt about the value of an undergraduate degree.”  To get the best value out of their education, students are increasingly drawn to social entrepreneur programs.  Programs that reconcile learning with passion and innovation: “ . . . teaching social entrepreneurship is a key part of solving this problem . . . Entrepreneurs are defined by their sense of drive and determination, their willingness to fail and then try again, and their vision for applying their learning in productive ways. Those also happen to be the characteristics of great learners.”  The article details some programs and fellowships that encourage university students to pursue their social enterprise goals.  These include Uncollege’s Gap Year program that encourages students to take a year off college in the name of social enterprise, ThinkImpact’s summer institutes, Brown University’s Swearer Center, and Middlebury’s Center for Social Enterprise.  In addition to knowledge, successful graduates will also need motivation and initiative to take what they have learned and use it to solve world problems.  The purpose of education is not just to make grades and past tests; it’s also for young people to develop the intellect and skills needed for lifelong success.  In the case of social entrepreneurship, success lies in synthesizing these skills with social responsibility, and embedding one’s success and passion in empowering others. 

Social entrepreneurs invest their talents in the world and the output is the happiness for both producer and consumer.  One of my favourite social entrepreneur teams is Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy and David Green. They started eye hospitals in Madurai, India, Nepal and United States to treat cataracts.  Green uses a term I love, “compassionate capitalism,” to explain social entrepreneurship: “Green is convinced that western capitalism has failed to grasp opportunities in the developing world . . . He says "compassionate capitalism" extracts a small amount of profit from each item sold, but generates a very high sales volume. In the process, it is possible to make available critical goods and services — like eye care — to billions of people” (“Meet the New Heroes”). 

In writing this post about social entrepreneurship I discovered that my understanding and mere awareness of the process was not enough.  I’ve found people who recognize the potential in the afflicted and find a way to pull success out of them.  In discovering the stories of the world’s change makers and learning from their determination and success, I’ve come to appreciate people not only for their talents, but how they impose their kindness on the cruel world to make it better.

“Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must be the joy of doing something beautiful.” -Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy
 

Images via Steve Jurvetson and Wil Kristin 

Topics: service, education, millenials, highered, community, community engagement, technology, economy, socent, social

Empowering Youth to Face the Challenges of Tomorrow

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 @ 12:06 PM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

Young people aged 10-24 make up 25 percent of the world’s population (The Worlds Youth 2013 Data Sheet) —that’s just fewer than two billion people.  Now, given that middle-aged people are not appearing out of thin air, increased numbers of young people signify a trend of exponential population growth worldwide.  “Youth and the State of the World, a report generated by Advocates for Youth, found that counting everyone 24 and under (including children under ten), youth make up around 40 percent of the world.   Increased population growth and a large proportion of young people is associated with developing economies where birth rates are increasing, making for larger family sizes, and death rates are decreasing.  Of course, “the world” is a little vague, and upon breaking down the geographic distribution of young people, “Youth and the State of the World” finds that “60 percent of youth live in Asia; 15 percent, in Africa; 10 percent, in Latin America and the Caribbean; and the remaining 15 percent, in developed countries and regions.”  These numbers demonstrate that though the overwhelming global trend is that of a growing youth demographic, the uneven distribution of youth over the globe makes for a number of challenges to overcome in ensuring countries’ future prosperity and livelihood held in the hands of young people. 

Indian School Childre (Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yorickr/4511065370)

Young people means potential, but potential is fragile.  For countries with a large proportion of young people the future could hold success.  Take, for example India, one of the fastest largest and fastest growing populations and growing economies with 362.0 million people aged 10-24—more than all of Africa’s 344.4 million.  Danielle Rajendram’s article “The Promise and Peril of India’s Youth Bulge” in The Diplomat describes such a fragile state in India: “Provided India can act quickly on health, education and employment, this demographic dividend has the potential to inject new dynamism into its flagging economy.”  As the history of many post-industrial countries can attest, economically, a growing population means there is a surplus in labor force as well as more people for the economy to support.  To keep this balance, countries need proper investment in their youth in order to industrialize and prosper in a globalized economy.  Investment in education is vital.  Young people who are educated can get better, higher-paying jobs, live healthier lives, have a higher standard of living, and make more informed decisions.  In addition to education, young people need opportunities so countries don’t suffer from brain drain—the process where educated people go abroad for better work, thus depleting the economy of qualified workers.  For India and countries like it, the proper amount of investment in infrastructure and industry is essential to fully benefiting from changes in population demographics. 

As the title of Rajendram’s article suggests, with the potential for success comes the possibility for failure.  Improper investment in education, healthcare programs, and job-creating could mean that countries with high numbers of impoverished youth could remain impoverished.  Rather than empowering youth to advance their financial situation, a country could simply end up with more people in deeper poverty.  It’s a matter of an opportunity being present and creating opportunity for those present.  As Rajendram explains, “The failure of a number of Latin American countries with the same demographic profile as Southeast Asia to achieve similarly impressive economic outcomes is a cautionary tale for India [. . .] The relationship here is mutually reinforcing; India must harness the advantage of its youth to fulfill its economic potential, and in turn must generate growth in order to continue to support its growing population. As noted by India's former Minister of Human Resource Development, Kapil Sibal, ‘it will be a dividend if we empower our young. It will be a disaster if we fail to put in place a policy and framework where they can be empowered.’”  The growing youth population is a constant factor in the equation, but the resources put into taking advantage of such an opportunity will determine young people’s future. 

A surplus of young people is like a young sapling.  Watered and cared for it will grow and with it raise a country’s wealth and standard of living.  However, neglect will result in a powerful storm that will knock the frail tree down and bring a country to a situation of poverty lower than that of the roots. 

Young people are not in a surplus everywhere though.  The before mentioned small “remaining 15 percent [aged 10-24], in developed countries and regions” live in the developed world where population is not growing, but declining.  Rather than raising large families like those of the developing world, people of post-industrial economies are having less and less children resulting in a small proportion of young people and a towering number of older people.  On the shoulders of this declining number of young people is ensuring successful enterprise to support the overwhelming retired generation.  Government programs created to curve the collapse of these economies include incentives for having children, and education reform to help students attain university education so they can later contribute more to the economy and the livelihood of older generations.  The situation is reversed from the developing world but its fragility is the same as the young sapling. 

In this brief overview of the situation of young people, it is evident that there is no simple solution to the many challenges presented.  Today there are more young people than ever, and with young people comes and immense amount of potential and responsibility for that potential.  Perhaps there is little one can do to change policy on opposite sides of the globe, but global awareness is still important everywhere, as well as understanding the significance of young people’s contribution.  In just a few paragraphs I can only touch the tip of the iceberg, but a few things seem clear.  Enriching education, infrastructure, global awareness, and investments is key to empowering youth and enabling them to face the challenges of tomorrow.  With more youth today than ever before, these are unchartered waters.  


image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yorickr/4511065370

Topics: education, youth impact, millennials, technology, economy, global

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