Devin Thorpe, founder of the Your Mark on the World Center, calls himself a champion of social good. He writes about, advocates for and advises those who are doing good. He travels extensively to share his message as a keynote speaker, emcee and trainer. As a Forbes Contributor he covers social entrepreneurship and impact investing. His books on personal finance and crowdfunding draw on his entrepreneurial finance experience as an investment banker, CFO, treasurer, and mortgage broker helping people use financial resources to do good. Previously he worked on the U.S. Senate Banking committee staff and earned an MBA at Cornell.


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New Impact Investment Fund At Columbia Launched To Solve Big Social Problems

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

A team of young social entrepreneurs has created an impact investing fund at Columbia University called 118 Capital that will operate as a nonprofit. The founders all have recent degrees from Columbia.

118 Capital will invest in the U.S. and Latin America, focusing on serving underprivileged groups there. The fund will engage students in the process, providing an excellent educational experience for them while providing low cost labor for the fund. The team is fundraising presently on the crowdfunding site Razoo, where the tally shows just over $50,000 donated.

On April 23, 2014 at 7:00 PM Eastern, three of the leaders of the new fund will me for a live discussion about their efforts to solve big world problems by funding social entrepreneurs. Tune in live here to watch the interview.

[Note that I will insert the video player right here at the time of the interview, so bookmark this page and come back at the scheduled time to watch the interview. Replays will be available here, too.]

About 118 Capital:

118 Capital is an impact investing organization and fellowship program that believes innovative entrepreneurs can solve society’s most important economic, social and environmental challenges. It exists to find, finance and support social enterprises and entrepreneurs working towards measurably improving conditions for underprivileged groups in the United States and Latin America while contributing to the development of future leaders that are changing the way we value businesses today.

Goodman’s bio:

Alex holds an MPA in Economics and Energy from Columbia University and a BA in Economics from Bucknell University. Prior to 118 Capital, Alex spent five years with the advisory practice of Grant Thornton, where he advised a range of public and private clients in Washington D.C., Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay on corporate and project finance and performance management. He also was responsible for business development to support Grant Thornton International’s global growth initiatives.

Bertie’s bio:

Tanita is a Colombian industrial engineer and operations specialist with over six years of experience in customer acquisition, negotiation, transportation logistics and process optimization. She holds an MPA fom Columbia University’s School of International Affairs. Tanita helped certify the First Fair trade rose grower in Colombia and had valuable experience working within a sustained coordination of public & private sectors initiatives through Alianzas Productivas Para la Paz program.

Price’s bio:

Mr. Price has over eights years of experience in the social impact sector. He holds a masters degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and bachelors degree in Economics from Boston College. Mr. Price has worked with the Peace Corps, GOOD/Corps, the Global Impact Investing Network and Columbia’s Impact Investing Initiative where he served clients such as Echoing Green, IGNIA, and TONIIC. Mr. Price has raised millions in philanthropic funding for the national headquarters of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The Woman Who Is Trying To Prevent 4 Million Deaths Each Year

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Nancy Hughes, a widow who might have been expected to enjoy a quiet retirement with an occasional cruise on a calendar, has instead joined the effort to address one of the world’s single biggest problems: poor people in the developing world are killing themselves and their children cooking over open fires while deforesting the planet in the bargain.

Working with her Rotary club, Nancy has established a nonprofit organization called Stove Team International that built seven factories in five countries to manufacture clean burning wood stoves that require less than half as much wood and produce no visible smoke, 68 percent less particulate matter and 85 percent less carbon emission. Because the stoves are locally produced, they create quality jobs in communities that desperately need them. Almost 45,000 stoves have been produced so far, but that is a drop in the bucket compared with the estimated need of six million stoves in Guatemala alone.

Stove Team TISI +0.81% International was recognized for its work by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Stove Team notes that, “The most dangerous activity a woman can undertake in the developing world is cooking for her family.” The indoor air pollution is believed to cause 4 million deaths per year. Not only is the indoor air pollution resulting from the stoves devastating to the health of mother and children, but the some estimates suggest that 4 million burns occur each year associated with cooking fires. The scale of indoor cooking fires generates one billion tons of greenhouse gases each year and contributes dramatically to deforestation.

“I was very lucky,” Hughes says. “I was left with enough money to do what I want. This is what I want to do.”

On Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 2:00 Eastern, Hughes will join me here for a live discussion about her work. Tune in here then and listen while you work.


Nancy Hughes

Nancy’s bio:

In 2002, Nancy Sanford Hughes’ life changed forever. During a medical mission to Guatemala, Nancy met a girl whose hands had been burned shut after falling into an open fire at the age of two. Nancy soon learned that burns were only part of the problem of open cooking fires.

Throughout the world, mothers tend smoky indoor cookstoves with babies strapped to their backs – babies who breathe in the equivalent of three packs of cigarettes per day. Respiratory infections are the leading cause of death among children under five, and Nancy was advised there was a need for six million stoves in Guatemala alone to protect people from these dire health problems.

For Nancy, the only solution was to find a way to distribute safe fuel-efficient stoves that would save lives.

Within a year, with the help of her Rotary club and other supporters, Nancy worked with volunteers and engineers to help develop a safe, portable and affordable fuel-efficient stove, and also helped a local entrepreneur in El Salvador start a factory to produce them.

StoveTeam International has now helped establish seven factories in four countries with more in development.

To date, StoveTeam has worked with entrepreneurs who have created their own businesses and produced and sold more than 44,600 stoves, improving the lives of more than 334,000 people in Mexico and Central America.


Social Entrepreneur Launches Kuli Kuli Bars Into NorCal Grocery Stores

On April 23, 2014 at 5:00 Eastern, Lisa Curtis, the CEO and Founder of Kuli Kuli will join me for a live discussion about her social venture.


More about Kuli Kuli:

Kuli Kuli is the first company to introduce moringa, a unique superfood, to the U.S. food market. Moringa was featured on the Dr. Oz show last year and Kuli Kuli was recently on the homepage of Yahoo! in an article entitled “The Next Superfood is Here and It’s Called Moringa.” Kuli Kuli’s first product is a gluten-free nutrition bar full of simple, wholesome ingredients and a nutritious burst of moringa. Kuli Kuli supports women-owned farming cooperatives in West Africa to grow moringa and use it to improve the health of their communities. Kuli Kuli recently raised $53,000 through a crowdfunding campaign, making us one of the most popular food campaigns in Indiegogo’s history. Kuli Kuli is now selling in Northern California Whole Foods stores and other natural foods grocery stores in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tune in here to watch the interview live!

If you have any difficulty viewing the video here, try viewing on YouTube.

Lisa’s bio:

Lisa Curtis began working on Kuli Kuli while in the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. As a volunteer in her village’s health center, she gained a first-hand understanding of the common nutritional challenges faced in West African villages and how moringa can play a role in helping to address a few of those challenges. Prior to Kuli Kuli, Lisa served as the Communications Director at Mosaic where she managed a team of six to grow the company from zero to over $5M invested in solar through Mosaic’s online marketplace. Previously, Lisa wrote political briefings for President Obama in the White House, served as a United Nations Environment Programme Youth Advisor and worked at an impact investment firm in India. She writes for a variety of outlets including Forbes, The Huffington Post and Grist. Lisa has been recognized as a StartingBloc Fellow, a Wild Gift Better World Entrepreneur, an Ashoka Emerging Innovator and a Udall Scholar.

Changing the World with Data & Technology

This is a guest post from Tamarah Black, CEO, Phoenix Cosmopolitan Group

When the family foundation I was working with wanted to know how its donations could make a bigger impact on the nonprofit organizations receiving them, the quest to find an answer morphed into a three-year research project. I managed the grant administration and made recommendations to our board about funding, but there were very few tools that helped me make those recommendations. Mostly, I relied on meetings with the nonprofit’s executives and their annual reports, which was incredibly time-consuming and expensive. There were hundreds of nonprofits programs with projects and by my calculations, it would have taken more than three years to meet with each of them just once.

With the direction and support of the foundation’s president, I was able to use those three years in a more productive pursuit – creating a database that would allow me to see performance data, analyze it and compare it. To my surprise and dismay, there was a lack of available data; very few of the nonprofits knew if they had the data we needed, or if they did, it was not compatible to compare it to the others; everyone was tracking results differently and it was difficult to learn much about the organization outside of the tax records.

As we began building the database, we learned how to code various pieces of data so they could be compared, pulled up in reports, tracked and matched with our mission. The results of that project not only changed the way that foundation makes funding decisions today, but it spawned the idea behind the development of Phoenix Impact Exchange, a cloud-based social networking platform that reimagines the logistics of philanthropy by uniting data, analytics, performance measurement, grant management and storytelling to connect every stakeholder in the nonprofit sector.

From that research, we understood that there are subtleties and nuances that can skew straight data, making a nonprofit look less effective than it actually is, and vice versa. Looking beyond the language of numbers, Impact Exchange makes room for the subtlety and storytelling that funders need to be aware of, and nonprofits wish for, when facing evaluation.

For Impact Exchange, we used the intelligence and experience gained from our previous research and development to initiate a dialogue with experts across many fields that led to conceptualizing a new scalable platform that can bring together vast amounts of data from nonprofits across the U.S. and provide funders with “nonprofit intelligence” in a way that previously was simply impossible.

We introduced the Impact Exchange prototype at SXSW in March to a very enthusiastic audience. Nonprofit executives were eager to offset the cost of entering their organizations’ data using Impact Exchange’s gamification technology, so they can finally reap rewards parallel to the data and effort they provide. They also were happy with the opportunity to get to tell their story to an interested audience, build new relationships with funders, raise more money, articulate their impact, reduce administration fatigue and become “investment ready.” Funders – foundations, philanthropists, institutions –areinterested in the ability to use the cloud data platform and nonprofit intelligence dashboard to access the information, receive secure direct, immediate exposure to the results of grants and investments, monitor and evaluate grants, manage a strategic portfolio, measure portfolio performance against third-party sector benchmarks, obtain sector insights, trends and reports and obtain criteria based “opportunity “alerts for joint ventures and projects. Providing Standard & Poor’s-like reports on social benefit organizations and their impact, Impact Exchange has the potential to become the standard-bearer of the $316 billion US philanthropic industry.

As we prepare for its second round of funding, we believe Impact Exchange is a national surveying apparatus that will forever change the philanthropic industry….and ultimately, the world.

To learn more about Impact Exchange, visit our website: Follow us on Twitter: @pcgimpact; and Facebook:

New Podcast Series Gives Easy Access To Inspiring Content

For the past year, I have been using Google Hangouts on Air to interview CEOs, celebrities, impact investors and social entrepreneurs to learn what they are doing to make the world a better place—and how we can help. Now I’ve created a podcast to share some of the best content in a format that many find easier to use for long-format interviews.

It is been a wonderful to get to know so many remarkable people. In March, I interviewed John Taft, the CEO of RBC Wealth Management-US, about the company’s $50 million commitment to improving access to clean water.

Last fall, I interviewed Archie Panjabi, who plays the smart, seductive and tough-as-nails Kalinda on “The Good Wife,” talking about Rotary’s effort to eradicate polio.

In January, I visited with 16-year-old Jack Andraka about his invention of a diagnostic device for detecting pancreatic cancer while he was still in middle school. We discuss the reality that we can rid the world of cancer within thirty years.

Each week I do a new set of interviews, so every day at 7:00 Eastern a new episode is posted and will be available on iTunes. Even if you don’t live in an Apple world, you can subscribe to the podcast here. To scroll through the available episodes, click here or simply see below.

All of the interviews I do will continue to be available on the websites for which they were created, Forbes, CrowdFundBeat, Crowdcast and right here on Your Mark on the World. You can also find them on my YouTube channel.

New Technology for Growing Food Spurs Movement

This is a guest post from Richard Nelson, Founder of lifePOD.

Food is a very difficult subject, since agriculture is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The problem is more than the challenge of “closing the hunger gap” - we have an even bigger problem with global agribusiness, because our food, in the form of grain, has become a weapon that destroys health and is bring the ecosystems of the earth to the point of collapse. And the truth is, we cannot win when we battle with nature. The dogma that we are in a “struggle for life” is framed in a system of untruths we all have learned in an education that is designed for our oppression and and is then imprinted upon our emotions by the constant shocks and trauma of living in a system with extremes of scarcity and excessive accumulation - and we become so conditioned by this life experience that we start building our own walls of isolation that immobilize our possibilities for change.

We think it cannot be true that a few powerful corporations and the privileged people who control them can be so unjust as to exhaust the earth and undermine the health and manipulate the freedom of the vast majority of people; but our eyes must open to see that: “Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings… Recognise that the world is hungry for action, not words. Act with courage and vision.” - Nelson Mandella (from “Make Poverty History” day speech, London 2005).

Even with global population peaking above 9 billion, we can succeed in our mission to intensively localize food abundance with a common sense solution, lifePOD, that we are co-creating in a global Creative Commons collaboration. However, while the “livingry” innovations are essential, it is equally challenging to birth the new social enterprise relationships of collaboration & cooperation that will empower a local-to-global movement for food security for everyone, everywhere. Together, we can build a viral movement with the power to disrupt the entrenched and powerful agribusiness system and the old world of scarcity, hunger and poverty will be “made history”.

HIPGive: Leveraging Investments in a New Age

This is a guest post from Diana Campoamor, the CEO of Hispanics in Philanthropy.

Most people don’t associate Hispanics with “typical” philanthropy; however Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) is working to change that perspective through the power of personal storytelling and impact investing. Examples of Latino generosity are everywhere, although sometimes unseen to the public eye. There’s the humble family who won the lottery and started a foundation in San Jose, California. Or employee number 500 at Facebook who grew up a campesino farm worker and now runs his own foundation. Or the beltway bandit who a decade ago made good on her promise to never ignore another’s suffering, and turned her energies to human rights activism.

These important stories of Latino generosity inspire HIP’s work towards strengthening Latino leaders, diversifying the field of philanthropy, and increasing investments in Latino communities. Building upon its past work and the culture of Latino giving, HIP recently entered the exciting world of crowdfunding with the launch of HIPGive, an innovative online giving platform specifically focused on Latino issues and capacity building of Latino community organizations in the U.S. and across the Americas.

Cutting edge technology has been at the center of great discussion regarding its potential for wide-scale social impact. It would be impossible to ignore these conversations or the impact that so many have made thus far in utilizing these new tools—they’ve shaken up the world, the potential for communication, and, to a great extent, the potential within the world of philanthropy.

What makes this foray so unique for HIP is how it incorporates a key tenet of HIP’s philosophy on social impact: the potential for leveraging investments.

In the early years, HIP launched as a member organization – a way to network, promote diversity within the world of philanthropy and identify gaps in knowledge about the needs of the Latino civil sector. In 2000, however, a meeting of minds conceived of a bold and innovative way to achieve a much greater social impact through the power of leverage, which earned HIP the Scrivner Award for Creative Grant making and led to the disbursement of over $45million over the subsequent 13 years.

The HIP Funders’ Collaborative for Strong Latino Communities was a groundbreaking model wherein large grants, solicited by HIP, were matched and distributed by HIP and mid-level funders to carefully-vetted grassroots non-profits within these funder’s own communities. Specifically, the model highlighted leverage as an incentive for impact investing, and incorporated capacity building tools and convenings into the grant making process.

HIPGive is not a blind stumble into the world of crowdfunding and online social impact. With incentivizing leverage prizes from big funders, and capacity building tools for grantees to build out their online projects, it’s a carefully crafted tool based on the lessons learned and the approach honed through the Funders’ Collaborative. It’s a translation of a successful model to modern-day standards, bringing funders of all sizes to a new table – one in the online world, and equipping Latino community organizations with the tools they need to share their stories within the field of philanthropy.

Hidden Casualties of War: Supporting the Children of Wounded Veterans

This is a guest post from Margaret B. Davis, President of Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation


Margaret B. Davis

“My friends deal with planning a party Friday or Saturday night, and I deal with whether I should drive my dad to the hospital or my mom should.”

This isn’t your typical teenager’s weekend plan, but it’s the stark reality for many of the 52,000 children living with a parent who has been wounded in action—particularly the severely wounded.This jolting perspective was shared by a 15-year-old daughter of a wounded Marine a recent study.

The groundbreaking Study on Children of Seriously Wounded Service Members: Hidden Casualties of War, commissioned by the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, zeroed in on the roadblocks that prevent children of wounded veterans from thriving—and the ways that we, as a Nation, are falling short in our support of them.

As the President and CEO of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, the country’s oldest and largest provider of need-based scholarships to military children, I’ve seen the ways military kids struggle and sacrifice. The children of wounded veterans grow up fast—they have to. They take on caretaking duties and often experience stress and uncertainty at home.

Seeing this every day inspired us to commission this study.

For a year, we worked closely with researchers at the University of San Diego, along with our partners at more than a dozen organizations—including the USO, the Wounded Warrior Project, Fisher House, and the Marine Corps’ Wounded Warrior Regiment. Researchers interviewed the wounded and their families, took stock of available resources, and spoke to dozens of organizations that support the wounded.

The full study, which is available on our website, is a clarion call from the families of the wounded to the organizations that support them. Resources available to these children quite often miss the mark. They’re lacking, and the resources that are available often don’t address long-term needs.

It’s essential that veteran service organizations work together towards collective impact that children and spouses of severely wounded service members desperately need.

In 2011, the Scholarship Foundation established the Heroes Tribute Scholarship Program for Children of the Wounded: We provide up to $40,000 in post-high school scholarship support to children of injured Marines and Navy Corpsmen—ensuing an education is not one more thing these families must sacrifice.

While we’ve supported many children’s pursuit of an education, there’s much more to be done—and as 12 years of war wind down, our job is just beginning.

A critical component of the study is its recommendations, pulled directly from interviews with families of the wounded. These families are asking us for:

  • Long-term family resiliency programs that prepare families for the future
  • Online communities for children to connect with one another
  • Mentoring and “healthy parenting” programs for parents
  • A central database of available support in local areas across the country

It’s not possible for one organization to do it all, and we have a long road ahead of us as we, as a nation, support these families as they heal. But together, we can continue to strive toward collective impact—by sharing a common agenda, keeping consistent and open communication, and reinforcing and supporting each other’s activities.

Our hope is that this study will help us all rise to the challenge: ensuring there are no more hidden casualties.

Read more at the Scholarship Foundation at Join the dialogue on Twitter and Facebook.


Kaplan: Why Treating Nonprofits Like Tech Startups Works

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Robert S. Kaplan, co-chair of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, the largest venture philanthropy firm in the U.S. will join me for a live discussion of the strategies and impact of their approach: treating nonprofits like tech startups.

Draper Richards Kaplan (DRK) is the product of venture capitalists William H. Draper and Robin Richards Donohoe, along with Kaplan, a Harvard Business School professor and former Vice Chair of Goldman Sachs.

DRK begins by selecting a dozen high-impact startup nonprofits each year, typically giving them $200,000 to develop a model and prove their potential. Upon “graduation” the nonprofits typically begin to scale rapidly, jumping up to an annual budget of $2.5 million thereafter. In addition to startup funding, DRK provides training to help each nonprofit learn best practices in governance, strategy and management.


Robert S. Kaplan

Kaplan will join me on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 6:00 PM Eastern time. This will be our second visit; he and I visited nearly a year ago about his book, What You’re Really Meant To Do.

Come back to this post then and watch the interview live.

Kaplan’s bio:

Robert S. Kaplan is the Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean for External Relations. He is also co-chairman of Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm, as well as chairman and a founding partner of Indaba Capital Management LLC. He is the author of several case studies, articles and two recently published books: What You’re Really Meant To Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential, (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013) and What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011)

Prior to joining Harvard Business School in September 2005, Rob served as vice chairman of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. with oversight responsibility for the Investment Banking and Investment Management Divisions. He was also a member of the firm’s Management Committee and served as co-chairman of the firm’s Partnership Committee and chairman of the Goldman Sachs Pine Street Leadership Program. During his career at the firm, he also served in various other capacities including Global Co-Head of the Investment Banking Division (1999 to 2002), Head of the Corporate Finance Department (1994 to 1999) and Head of Asia-Pacific Investment Banking (1990 to 1994). He became a partner in 1990. Rob is a Senior Director of the firm.

He is co-chairman of the Board of Project A.L.S., co-chair of the Executive Committee for Harvard University Office of Sustainability, and is a member of the Boards of the Harvard Medical School, Harvard Management Company (previously serving as Acting President and Chief Executive Officer) and the Ford Foundation. Previously, Rob was appointed by the Governor of Kansas as a member of the Kansas Healthcare Policy Authority Board (2006-2010) and also served as a member of the Investors Advisory Committee on Financial Markets of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Rob is a member of the Board of the State Street Corporation. He is chairman of the Investment Advisory Committee of Google, Inc. Previously he was a member of the Board of Bed, Bath & Beyond, Inc. (1994-2009). He also serves in an advisory capacity for a number of companies.

Rob received an M.B.A. from Harvard in 1983 and a B.S. from the University of Kansas in 1979.

Prior to attending business school, Rob was a certified public accountant at Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co in Kansas City.


Nuix’s Proof Finder Raises $150,000 for Global Non Profit, Room to Read

This is a guest post from Eddie Sheehy, the CEO of Nuix since 2006, who has overseen commercializing and growing Nuix on a global scale across more than 45 countries.


When Nuix’s Head of Development David Sitsky and Room to Read Founder John Wood met at a pub three years ago, a simple chat over a pint morphed into the creation of a philanthropic phenomenon.

The result was the creation of Proof Finder, a sophisticated eDiscovery and investigation software. The catch? One hundred percent of the proceeds from all sales would goto Room to Read, a global non-profit organization transforming the lives of children across Asia and Africa by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education.

Proof Finder customers are charged $100 for a fully featured but size-limited version of the core product offered by Nuix, a technology company that frees the intelligence trapped inside unstructured big data. In April, Nuix reached an impressive milestone, raising $150,000 for Room to Read.

Since 2000, Proof Finder sales have helped nearly nine million children in Asia and Africa. Room to Read and local communities established two school libraries in India, built schools in Nepal and Sri Lanka, published 9,000 local-language children’s books and provided support for 30 girls to complete a year of secondary education in India. Room to Read will also soon allocate funds towards constructing a new primary school building in Laos. By 2015, Room to Read aims to reach 10 million children.With more than 250 million illiterate children around the world and 61 million primary school-aged children not in school, there is clearly more work to be done.

“Looking ahead, we now have our sights set on raising even more money through the generosity of Proof Finder customers worldwide,” said Eddie Sheehy, CEO of Nuix.

In addition to Room to Read, Nuix also supports a range of non-profit organizations and initiatives worldwide. It has donated software licenses to Matla A Bana to assist in its work with the child protection unit of South African Police Services, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to aid its investigation of elaborate offshore tax evasion systems. Nuix also provides free software and training to university staff teaching eDiscovery and electronic investigation courses.

“We are so proud that Nuix has sustained support of Room to Read projects through the popularity of Proof Finder and itsinnovative fundraising model,” said Wood. “If we could get every software company in the world to do something similar to what Nuix is doing, the multiplier effect would be unprecedented and we could turn the tide on illiteracy.”

For more information about Proof Finder, visit

For more information on Room to Read, visit


Crowdsourcing for Tigers: Geo-activism with MapHook and World Wildlife Fund

This is a guest post from Matt Link, Vice President of MapHook, a location-based social networking app dedicated to helping users explore their surroundings

For the past few years, MapHook has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on several social-good initiatives through the use of “geo-activism.” The opportunity to use our mapping app to bring about legitimate change –in this case helping to reduce the amount of harsh and often dangerous activities that can hurt animals or destroy their natural habitats –is something that MapHook is passionate about; we know our efforts have great potential to have a valuable impact. Together, MapHook and WWF created two crowd sourced maps to help bring attention to the thousands of people around the world advocating for two very specific causes – the destruction of the Sumatran tiger’s habitat and the threat that certain fishing methods posed to the survival of the vaquita porpoise. Both campaigns are great examples of the power of “geo-activism” and something we will continue to do in the near future.

Our first joint-cause was the “Tigers or Toilet Paper” project. The Sumatran tiger’s habitat was at risk of being destroyed because two paper supply companies were selling products that were made from the pulp of timber extracted from that area. Together, WWF and MapHook sought to spread awareness of the deforestation and ruin of the Sumatran tiger’s habitat through a visual representation of where these products ended up, and then urging the public not to purchase them. Our passionate advocates and user base took photos of the stores and businesses that were selling or purchasing these products, along with their location, and then turned them into pins on a custom map to help raise public awareness (in MapHook language – they created “hooks”). More than 100 “hooks” of grocery stores, hotels and other commercial establishments were created as a result of the campaign. Within a very short period of time after the hooks began to appear on our map, one of the two suppliers agreed to stop selling the products; the second agreed to phase out these products. You can read even more about the project here:

In our second joint effort with WWF, we teamed up with them to help save the vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise, in Mexico. Just last year, MapHook assisted WWF in their efforts to petition the Mexican government to pass regulations that would help reduce the threat of “bycatch” to the vaquita (bycatch is the unwanted fish caught during a commercial fishing operation). We developed a custom map that geographically depicted the many people, not just in Mexico but all around the world as well, who signed petitions advocating for the change. Using our mapping engine, we created and displayed over 60,000 “petition” pins showing the widespread support across the globe. In June, the Mexican government officially announced that it would begin phasing out the fishing gear currently used in the Gulf of California and replace it with more vaquita-friendly options. You can see a screen shot of the map below and experience the interactive one here:


The potential for further geo-activism, similar to that undertaken on behalf of the Sumatran tigers and the vaquita, is something that MapHook looks forward to participating in. We’ve learned that our users all around the world are passionate about preserving the environment and the various creatures that inhabit it. If we can act as method of making their voices heard and influencing change, we certainly won’t shy away from it. 


Dr. Nischal Pandey’s Contribution To Ending Polio In India

Dr. Nishcal Pandey, a member of Rotary International in India, recently shared the following presentation with me that describes his club’s work to end polio in India.

Dr. Nischal Pandey’s contribution to polio eradication from Devin Thorpe

Live With Lifetime Achievement Heroes

The Mountain Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross in Provo, Utah recognizes local heroes in the community each year. 

On April 10, 2014 at 4:00 Mountain Time, Rachel Solomon of Provo’s American Red Cross office along with local Board Chair Dr. Jessica Egbert will join me for a live discussion with Lifetime Achievement Heroes David Dominguez and Lakshmi Johal-Dominguez.


Tune in here then and watch:

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross exists to provide compassionate care to those in need. Our network of generous donors, volunteers and employees share a mission of preventing and relieving suffering, here at home and around the world, through five key service areas:

  • Disaster Relief
  • Supporting America’s Military Families
  • Lifesaving Blood
  • Health and Safety Services
  • International Services

About Rachael Solomon:

Rachael Solomon is the Development and Community Relations Director for the Mountain Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross in Provo Utah. Rachael grew up in Salem Oregon, the oldest of eight. Early on she craved adventure. As she set out in life she was drawn to the sea, working her way through many levels in the world of commercial fishing. After nine amazing years she concluded her career, the pinnacle being her contract as a consulting Chief Steward aboard a Russian vessel.
As one door shut another opened and she started her trek through the many layers of higher education, first studying hospitality and event management. Her interest in business continually grew and her focus became clearer. She continued in school and graduated with her bachelor of science in business administration from Eastern Oregon University focusing in leadership, organization and management. As she graduated her interests solidified in nonprofit work and she continued her education at Marylhurst University in Oregon, near Lake Oswego. She graduated with an MBA in 2012 with an emphasis in nonprofit management. She joined the Red Cross in June of 2013.

About Dr. Jessica Egbert:

Dr. Jessica Egbert is the Associate Vice President of Institutional Planning and Strategic Initiatives at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, where her expertise is in assessment, informatics, and project management. She holds a BS in Psychology, a MEd in Educational Technology, and a PhD in Educational Leadership. Her research interests are non-cognitive factors of the hybrid doctoral student experience and she has presented nationally on data-driven assessment and institutional effectiveness. She is a community advocate and serves on the Board of Directors of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce and as Board of Directors Chair for the American Red Cross - Mountain Valley Chapter. Dr. Egbert was recently featured as one of Utah Valley Magazine’s “Fab 40” and she enjoys SCUBA diving, her amazing husband, laughter, and excessive amounts of ice cream.

About David Dominguez and Lakshmi Johal-Dominguez:

David and Lakshmi have been volunteering for community projects and service for the past 23 years. David has been recognized for his service and innovative approach to teaching his BYU Law students how important it is to serve in their community. They helped start and served as originating board members for the Utah County branch of Habitat for Humanity. Lakshmi serves on school boards, supports the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, the Hale Theater Board of Directors, and supports community service in her neighborhood. They have both made serving others a priority in their lives and even more importantly have taught their children the importance of service to others.

Keepod Seeks To Bring Computing To Developing World Poor

Recently, a startup called Keepod launched a new product, a simple flashdrive with a bootable Linux operating system incorporated, allowing everyone to have proprietary access to computing resources.

Keepod recently raised over $40,000 against a goal of just $38,000 on Indiegogo.

According to the company, “Globally there are 5 billion people who still do not have access to personal computing. There are many great initiatives that try to bridge the digital divide, but with little success thus far. By separating the Software from the Hardware, Keepod manages to overcome most of the traditional constraints that were preventing personal computing from many.”

On Thursday, April 10 at 11:00 Eastern, Keepod co-founder and CEO Nissan Bahar will join me for a live chat about his innovative new product.

Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

About Keepod:

Our secure and lightweight operating system, Keepod OS, is designed for users to have their own portable OS, using any PC as nothing more than an empty shell.

Keepod OS runs from any USB drive, eliminating the dependency on one computer, and was developed emphasizing privacy protection, user choice and digital freedom.

We believe that computing should be accessible to everyone as well as being more secure and fun.

Keepod Ltd is registered in the UK and employs staff around the world. Our team is located in: London, Tel Aviv, Milan, Paris, Frankfurt and St. Petersburg.

Backed By 22 Foundations, Living Cities Makes Impact

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Living Cities, a financing vehicle for social impact backed by 22 Foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, is investing in projects that serve communities in the U.S.

By investing in infrastructure and services that serve or benefit the poor and under-served communities, Living Cities aims to make a difference. Living Cities reports having made $15 million in below-market rate loans to “finance innovative efforts in the areas of neighborhood stabilization, energy efficiency retrofits, public education and access to fresh foods and health care.” They also report having made $600 million of investments over 18 years, catalyzing $16 billion of tangible community assets from homes to schools.


Ben Hecht, Living Cities, with India Lee, Cleveland Foundation

On April 10, 2014 at noon Eastern, Ben Hecht, the President and CEO of Living Cities will join me for a live discussion about the Living Cities impact investing programs.

Tune in here then and listen while you work.

Hecht’s bio:

Mr. Hecht was appointed President & CEO of Living Cities in July, 2007. Since that time, the organization has adopted a broad, integrative agenda that harnesses the collective knowledge of its 22 member foundations and financial institutions to benefit low income people and the cities where they live. Living Cities deploys a unique blend of more than $140 million in grants, loans and influence to re-engineer obsolete public systems and connect low-income people and underinvested places to opportunity.

Prior to joining Living Cities, Mr. Hecht co-founded One Economy Corporation, a non-profit organization focused on connecting low-income people to the economic mainstream through innovative, online content and increased broadband access. As President, from 2000-2007, Mr. Hecht led the growth of the organization from 4 employees to a $12 million organization with 50+ staff, online media properties serving more than 150,000 low-income people a month, and programs in 40 states, the Middle East and Africa.

Immediately before One Economy, Mr. Hecht was Senior Vice President at the Enterprise Foundation. There, he led the organization’s efforts beyond housing – into childcare, workforce development and economic development and oversaw the expansion of the organization’s revolving loan fund from $30 million to $200 million.

Mr. Hecht received his JD from Georgetown University Law Center and his CPA from the State of Maryland. For 10 years, he taught at Georgetown University Law Center and built the premier housing and community development clinical program in the country. In 1997, he was awarded Georgetown’s Charles Fahy Distinguished Adjunct Professor Award.

Mr. Hecht has written three books, Managing (2001) with Rey Ramsey, Developing Affordable Housing: A Practical Guide for Nonprofit Organizations (3rd Edition, 2006) and Managing Affordable Housing: A Practical Guide for Building Stable Communities (1996) with James Stockard, all published by John Wiley & Sons.

Over the years, Mr. Hecht has served on numerous boards of nonprofit organizations. He is currently Chairman of EveryoneOn, an national initiative founded by the Federal Communications Commission to connect low-income Americans to digital opportunity. Most recently, he served as Finance Committee chair and Treasurer for the Georgetown Day School (GDS) board of trustees.


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