Six Free Ways to Help Make the World a Better Place Right Now
If you want to do something right now to make the world a better place, help me connect with more people like you who want to leave a mark on the world. Today, you can do any or all of the following almost instantly and for free:
Together, we can create a create something that is more than a cause and bigger than a community; we can create a movement that will change the world!
Where is your mark on the world?
Yesterday I met 16-year-old Akbar Khan outside of the Goldman Sachs offices trying to raise money for his new nonprofit BagsToRiches which collects conference bags from around the country and donates them to refugees and the homeless, keeping them out of landfills and preventing the use of countless plastic bags.
Akbar and I followed up today and he told me how he launched the organization a year ago, just after his 15th birthday. He’d been visiting his uncle in the Bay Area to visit universities there (he hopes to attend Stanford). He’d collected a bunch of material and asked his uncle if he had a bag. His uncle produced a large garbage bag full of conference bags and told him to take his pick. The discovery inspired his effort to collect bags for the use by the needy.
Akbar is raising money using Indigogo (see my article about crowdfuding in Forbes). You can donate as little as $2 to the campaign to cover the cost of collecting and distributing one bag. The homeless and refugees who receive the bags would appreciate it!
This is Akbar’s first real mark on the world. I imagine there will be more. Where’s your mark on the world?
Pamela Atkinson, advisor to Utah Governor Herbert, Presbyterian Elder, and tireless advocate for the homeless and refugees in Utah, kicked off the Social Good Summit Global Conversation event in Salt Lake City with an inspiring challenge for us to all get involved, reminding us that her favorite acronym is “Together Everyone Achieves More.”
Paul Christenson, representing The Road Home, explained the mission and purpose of the Salt Lake City homeless shelter, commending them for their efficiency and their effectiveness in returning people to permanent housing.
Ted McAleer, Executive Director of USTAR, explained his agency’s capabilities in providing support to entrepreneurs, offering to engage with Utah’s nonprofits as well.
Maxine Margaritis of the Utah Chapter of the American Red Cross talked about the various roles of the Red Cross, emphasizing disaster preparedness for businesses, including the nonprofits in the community, offering to be of assistance to those in the room.
Kurt Micka, Executive Director of Utah Partners for Health, talked about the opportunities for his organization to serve the community created by gaps in the existing health insurance programs, noting that his organization can provide the same care for $20, that a doctor charges $150 for in her office and that the emergency room charges $1300 to do.
Zach Bale, Communications Director of the Utah Chapter of the Volunteers of America, talked about the organization’s dual role in providing help for Utah’s homeless population and those struggling with substance abuse; Utah’s VOA shares roots with Pamela Atkinson’s homeless outreach program.
Darryl Alder of the National Parks Council of the Boy Scouts of America noted that boy scouts completing the requirements for the Eagle Scout rank are donating millions of hours each year–just in his Council. The scouts represent an untapped resource of organized volunteer labor for all sorts of projects; just ask a boy scout that you know.
Christian Harrison, a partner in the Kentlands Initiative, discussed his vision for developing the Granary District of Salt Lake City, until recently, a decaying part of the urban landscape. The Kentlands Initiative hopes to create a vibrant new version of the community that preserves its historic and neighborhood essence.
Jason Watson, a Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank and volunteer President of the MountainWest Capital Network reviewed the multiple roles played by the organization, all seeking to foster entrepreneurship and economic growth in Utah, including their annual Utah 100 Event to be held next month.
Brad Bertoch, President of the Wayne Brown Institute, a venture accelerator that has been facilitating successful capital placements for early stages businesses for several decades that now targets the creation of 50,000 new jobs within five years in Utah.
Eric Glustrom was an ordinary kid with a typical penchant for “testing the limits,” he says. In order to convince his parents to let him go to Uganda for over the summer before his senior year of high school, he had to be on his best behavior for an entire year.
Just before his trip, he got the permission he craved, and went to Uganda to film a documentary that he now modestly calls “more of a home movie.”
While there, he met and filmed the story of Benson Olivier, who was a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Benson and his friends became an inspiration for Eric. At one point, he asked them, what can I do for your country? Benson’s response was simple and clear: educate me, and I will help my country.
Even before leaving Uganda, 17-year-old Eric Glustrom launched what has become Educate! Educate! is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to do four things:
Now ten years old, the program led by a seasoned social entrepreneur of just 27 years is having a huge impact in a country that desperately needs it. Already 3,600 students have completed their program and the Ugandan government recently adopted the open-source curriculum for 25,000 additional students in public schools.
Benson Wereje, another one of the early students, has now graduated from the university and is among the best educated people in in the DRC. He and other friends who completed Educate! training in the first class have launched a program the called Coburwas (Congo Burundi Uganda Rwanda and Sudan) that enables “young leaders to transform their communities by starting social innovative ventures to solve problems of tribalism, unemployment, poverty, lack of access to education, violence to women, corruption and environment degradation.”
Last week, I told you about Nathaniel Houghton, the founder of the Congo Leadership Initiative. He built his program in the poorest country on earth, inspired by and modeled on the Educate! model. Both have made their curricula open source, allowing anyone who chooses to use it to educate youth as leaders–and tens of thousands of kids in the developing world are now being educated with their materials.
As the ripples of success expand from the stone that Eric dropped in Uganda ten years ago, it is clear that what he’s created are tidal waves that will wear away at and eventually topple “poverty, disease, violence, and environmental degradation” not only in Uganda but throughout the region.
I don’t know about you, but I’d call that a “mark on the world.” Where’s yours?