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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Author Writes Novel On Behalf Of the Poor and Homeless

This is a guest post from Ms. Jessie Jones. (http://www.jessieljones.com/)

Paraphrasing the HEARTH1/ Act of 2009, “homelessness is a condition in which an individual lacks resources or support networks needed to obtain permanent housing.”  

Homelessness is rampant across our cities; our country; and the entire world. There are many reasons why people become homeless. Some are homeless because of circumstances that they’ve created, such as committing crimes or using drugs. Others are homeless due to circumstances that happened to them that are beyond their control such as losing a job due to budget cuts, illness, or a host of other reasons.  

Regardless of the circumstances, the condition of homelessness exists and something needs to be done to eliminate it. During my time as a Federal Government worker in D.C., I became more aware of homelessness within my city. I am an average citizen who has a burden on her heart.

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Ms. Jessie Jones

I wrote a fictional book with hopes that it will change the hearts and minds of people so that they will become more sensitive to the plight of the homelessness population. The goal is to move people within so that they can take action without. The book is about a well-educated middle-aged, middle-class man, who lost his job, his home, and everything that he owned.  

Eventually this man became homeless, living out on the streets, eating out of trash cans trying to survive day-by-day. This books talks about the lifestyle that this man endured while living as a homeless man. He tried to get a job, but over and over again he was told that someone else was selected for the position.  

I chose to profile this man this way, because I want to let people know that to some extent all of us, or at least most of us are only one paycheck away from being homeless. Homelessness can happen to any one of us at any time within our life. Homelessness is not just an individual problem; it ultimately impacts an entire community; an entire society if you will. 

“Who Turned The Lights Off?” is a spiritually focused and dramatic look at an all too common problem, declaring a message of reconciliation and revitalization between citizens of a broken city.

There are three main characters in the book. The first main character is Dr. Dan Johnson, a psychologist. Dan lost his job after being gainfully employed, for over twenty years. He becomes homeless. The second main character in the book is Attorney and Councilman Marc Parker.The third main character in the book is Reverend Stephen Young. Stephen is an engineer who became a minister after having a personal encounter with God.

Unlike Attorney Marc Parker, Reverend Stephen Young uses the Word of God to prick the hearts and minds of people so that they will become sensitive the plight of homelessness.  

A riveting encounter between Dr. Dan Johnson, Attorney Marc Parker, and Reverend Stephen Young, changes the hearts and minds of an entire city.Could this message also change the hearts and mind of an entire nation; or an entire world?

About the author

During her time as a Federal Government worker, Jessie Jones became more aware of homelessness within her city. After prayerful consideration she wrote, “Who Turned the Lights Off,”with hopes of stirring the hearts of others.

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2nd Annual ‘Give Local America’ Hopes To Beat 2014’s $53 Million In One Day

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The current record for a single day crowdfunding event was set on May 6, 2014 at $53 million. On May 5th, 2015, nonprofit organizations across the country will work to break that record using the online platform Kimbia for the second annual Give Local America event.

The remarkable program will involve thousands of nonprofits, each promoting its own cause. Some community foundations organized nonprofits in their respective communities for a collaborative effort, like the Seattle Foundation, which raised over $12 million with the nonprofits in its community.

On Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 3:00 Eastern, Kimbia’s Managing Director for the Give Local America initiative Lori Finch will join me for a live discussion about the prospect’s for this year’s effort to set a new record for a single day crowdfunding event. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Tweet questions beforehand to @devindthorpe.

More about Kimbia:

Kimbia is a flexible, best-of-breed, online fundraising and crowdfunding platform that enables nonprofits to create deeper and more valuable donor relationships. It does this by helping nonprofits to engage more omni-channel supporters, who give to and share the mission across many channels. In other words, it’s a fundraising platform and campaigns optimized for the Internet and the age of mobile, putting donors at the center of all development activities. Ultimately this approach results in greater brand awareness, giving and lifelong loyalty.

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Lori Finch

Finch’s bio:

With an extensive background working with nonprofit organizations, Lori is uniquely suited in her role of managing relationships with Kimbia’s community partners, helping to ensure their success. Lori serves as the Managing Director of Give Local America coordinating the strategy behind the largest single day, online crowdfunding event in history, raising $53 million in 2014. Prior to Kimbia, Lori spent six years at The San Diego Foundation where she served as Director of Nonprofit Programs, developing education resources and tools for hundreds of local nonprofits. She holds an MBA from The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, and a B.S.B.A in Finance from Georgetown University.

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Building the Next Generation of American Cities

By: Brian D’Arcy, Co-Chair of Working Californians and Business Manager for IBEW Local 18, and Marvin Kropke, Co-Chair of Working Californians and Business Manager for IBEW Local 11

Leaders from across California and across the country are coming together to share ideas about how to build the next generation of American cities.

Today’s urban revitalization projects are driven by a new spirit driven by a new generational consciousness and complex new realities. We live in a world where poverty and income inequality threaten American upward mobility. We are more ethnically diverse than ever, and it is important to ensure that the core American value of opportunity remains open to our future generations.

We also face challenges from climate change. Sustainability and environmental awareness and sensitivity must be incorporated into our planning and urban design.

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Left to right: Brian D’Arcy, Marvin Kropke

We have seen past generations of urban construction and design lead to unintended consequences in our past – inadvertently exacerbating problems of poverty, crime and other urban ills. Equipped with that knowledge and through sharing ideas from leaders from diverse backgrounds, we believe we can build and plan for a better urban future for all.

That is the goal of the 2nd Annual Social Innovation Summit.

Hosted by Working Californians, the conference will host leaders from government, business, technology and academia, and work toward a shared vision to jump-start small business creation in South Los Angeles and Los Angeles’ urban corridors. The event will feature some of the state’s most prominent elected leaders, including Secretary of State Alex Padilla and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, as well as CEOs, academic leaders and members of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration.

The one-day summit begins Saturday, April 11 at Los Angeles Trade Technical College in Downtown Los Angeles.

The challenge of revitalizing America’s cities is taking on new dimensions in the 21st Century. Today’s cities must cater to growing and increasingly diverse populations.

With good jobs still at a premium, even amidst a broad economic recovery, public and private investment in our cities will be key to putting California and America back to work.

But it will take more than just brawn to get our cities back on track. Unprecedented partnerships between the public and private sectors, and new types of innovation in everything from urban planning to structural engineering will be needed to set us on a prosperous and sustainable course for the 21st Century. The government, technology and business sectors must work together to create a long-term plan for the future of our urban centers.

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The Summit will feature the Innovations Director of Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation, leaders from New Orleans and Detroit’s top entrepreneurial incubation hubs and regional academic experts in the fields of entrepreneurship with the goal of building the entrepreneurial and start-up spirit seen in LA’s Silicon Beach and bringing that spirit and the necessary tools to LA’s urban corridors.

More than ever, we need to come together to share ideas across many different sectors about how to rebuild our state and our country to ensure vibrant and dynamic cities for our future.

Working Californian’s social innovation is kicking-off that conversation in Los Angeles, and we invite you to join in to better not only Los Angeles, but cities across the country.

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Crowdfunding Experts Address New Regulation A+ Rules Live

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The SEC recently issued new rules for offerings under Regulations A, creating a two tier system that allows issuers to raise up to $50 million without facing all of the requirements of a public offering but potentially providing some of the benefits.

To help readers understand the nuances of the new regulations, I’ve assembled three experts to explain the issues and implications of the new regulations.

Sara Hanks, CEO of CrowdCheck, says, “Regulation A is going to be an effective way for early-stage companies to raise funds from a wide variety of investors.”

“Reg A can’t be done without experienced lawyers, but they don’t have to be expensive,” she adds.

Highlighting the complexities of the law, Hanks notes, “The issuer’s ability to ‘test the waters’ and find out whether there will be any interest in its offering before it spends money on advisors is one of the most helpful aspects of Tier 2 of Reg A. Too bad it doesn’t work for Tier 1.”

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“Issuers have to understand the audit requirements for Tier 2. It’s not just the need for audited financials, but they have to be in the format required by Regulation S-X. And the SEC only accepts ‘clean’ audit reports,” she concludes.

On Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 11:00 Eastern, Hanks, along with UC Berkeley crowdfunding expert Richard Swart and attorney Samuel Guzik will join me for a live discussion about the new rules.

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Richard Swart

Swart’s bio:

Richard has emerged as the global expert in developments in crowdfunding. As a research scholar in the Institute for Business & Social Innovation in the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, he is the University’s resident expert on crowdfunding and evolving models of alternative finance. He also organizes the Annual Academic Symposium on Crowdfunding Research. He currently advises the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and works with several other prominent foundations, think tanks, funds and corporations. He is co-author of the forthcoming book Crowdfunding: The Corporate Era, being published in June 2015.

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Samuel Guzik

Guzik’s bio:

Samuel S. Guzik has more than 35 years of experience as a corporate and securities attorney and business advisor in private practice in New York and Los Angeles, including as an associate at Willkie Farr and Gallagher, a major New York based international law firm, a partner at the law firm of Ervin, Cohen and Jessup, in Los Angeles, and in the firm he founded in 1993, Guzik & Associates. Mr. Guzik has represented public and privately held companies and entrepreneurs on a broad range of business and financing transactions, both public and private. Guzik has represented businesses in a diverse range of industries, including digital media, apparel, health care and numerous high technology based businesses. He is a recognized authority and thought leader on matters relating to the JOBS Act of 2012 and the ongoing SEC rulemaking, including Regulation D Rule 506 private placements, Regulation A+, and investment crowdfinance. He has been consulted by Congressional members, state legislators and the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy on matters relating to the JOBS Act and state securities matters. He has also been cited by SEC Commissioner Daniel M. Gallagher on two occasions in public statements, both for his advocacy on behalf of SME’s and his thought leadership on SEC rulemaking and post-JOBS Act reforms.
Mr. Guzik is also a prolific writer on JOBS Act issues affecting entrepreneurs, small and emerging companies, investors and Internet-based funding portals. He is a frequent blogger on his blog, The Corporate Securities Lawyer Blog, addressing developing corporate and securities laws issues. In 2014 he published two major commentaries on JOBS Act rulemaking in The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation: the first article, entitled “Regulation A+ Offerings – a New Era at the SEC,” discussing the SEC’s proposed regulations implementing JOBS Act Title IV Regulation A+; the second article entitled “SEC Crowdfunding Rulemaking under the JOBS Act – An Opportunity Lost?” addressing deficiencies in the SEC’s proposed Title III investment crowdfunding regulations. His articles have also been cited in national business publications on issues relating to federal securities regulation, including, The Economist, Forbes, Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek, Compliance Weekly and Equities.com. Mr. Guzik is also a regular speaker on federal securities matters.
Mr. Guzik is also a founding member of The Heritage Foundation Securities Regulation Working Group, focusing on federal regulatory issues affecting small businesses and emerging growth companies, including ongoing JOBS Act and Dodd-Frank SEC rulemaking. He also served as a member of the Advisory Council of the Crowdfunding Professional Association before being appointed to their Board of Directors in March 2015. He received a B.S. degree in Industrial and Labor relations from Cornell University and is a graduate of Stanford University Law School, and is admitted to practice in both New York and California.

Sara Hanks

Hanks’ bio:

Sara Hanks, co-founder and CEO of CrowdCheck, is an attorney with over 30 years of experience in the corporate and securities field. CrowdCheck provides due diligence and compliance services for online alternative securities offerings. Its services help entrepreneurs and project sponsors through the disclosure and due diligence process, give investors the information they need to make an informed investment decision and avoid fraud and help intermediaries avoid liability.
Sara’s prior position was General Counsel of the bipartisan Congressional Oversight Panel, the overseer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Prior to that, Sara spent many years as a partner of Clifford Chance, one of the world’s largest law firms. While at Clifford Chance, she advised on capital markets transactions and corporate matters for companies throughout the world. Sara began her career with the London law firm Norton Rose. She later joined the Securities and Exchange Commission and as Chief of the Office of International Corporate Finance led the team drafting regulations that put into place a new generation of rules governing the capital-raising process.
Sara received her law degree from Oxford University and is a member of the New York and DC bars and a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. She serves on the SEC’s Advisory Council on Small and Emerging Companies. She holds a Series 65 securities license as a registered investment advisor. Sara is an aunt, Army wife, skier, cyclist, gardener and animal lover.

More about UC Berkeley:

We at CrowdBerkeley believe that fundamental changes in the finance landscape are just beginning to take root. Our goal as an interdisciplinary partnership between the Fung Institute of Engineering, the Center for Social Sector Leadership at Haas, the Finance Group at the Haas School of Business, and the Kauffman Foundation are to deepen the thought leadership, education, and outreach around all things crowdfunding. Our agenda is simple: to learn, educate, and inform in a way that reflects the long-standing tradition of the University of California at Berkeley as a university of innovation.
With the support of the Kauffman Foundation, we are building an extensive repository of crowdfunding data to support research and to inform innovation and policy. Each year, we host the leading academic symposium on the latest research in crowdfunding. And the symposium is just the beginning. Across campus, leaders in business, law, development, innovation and policy are constantly on campus, furthering our education and outreach.

More about Guzik & Associates:

Guzik & Associates, founded by Samuel S. Guzik in 1993 and located in Los Angeles, is a law firm providing a broad spectrum of legal representation in the areas of business, corporate, and securities law. We provide representation to a variety of businesses and individuals in the U.S. and abroad, including start-ups, emerging and established companies, and publicly held NYSE, Nasdaq and OTC listed companies. We also serve as legal counsel to other law firms from time to time on a project or “of counsel” basis.

More about CrowdCheck:

CrowdCheck provides disclosure, due diligence and compliance services for companies and intermediaries making online alternative investment offerings.

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Five Steps to Increasing Diversity in Nonprofits

This is a guest post from Steve Scheier who is the CEO and Founder of Scheier+Group and author of Do More Good. Better. Using the Power of Decision Clarity™ to Mobilize the Power of Your Nonprofit Team.

In the aggregate, nonprofit organizations are staffed by people from diverse backgrounds. But if we take a closer look at who runs and makes the key decisions in these nonprofits we see patterns that are reflective of the larger society: the leaders of many nonprofits are white and the people implementing the decisions of these leaders are diverse.

This realization caused the respected NPQ to assert in its December, 2014 edition that “The Nonprofit Sector Has a Ferguson Problem.”

Why did the NPQ come to this conclusion? Because a number of studies have shown that whites lead 9.5 out of 10 philanthropic organizations. Only 7 percent of nonprofit chief executives and 18 percent of nonprofit employees are people of color.

So even though most nonprofit advocacy is targeted at diverse communities the people leading these efforts are usually white. They are likely very committed and well intentioned and committed to advancing the social needs they’ve vowed to take on but the preponderance of white leaders means that there is comparatively little opportunity for more diverse leaders to emerge.

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Steve Scheier

That’s because whether we know it or not and whether we like it or not, we are all affected at some level by inherent biases that impact our choices. This extends to our choices of colleagues, and to our choice of who among us has the potential to lead and who among us will be allowed to make substantive decisions.  

At every step of the way, people’s ability or inability to make the decisions that affect their job will drive their job performance and their ability to advance.  But in most nonprofits it’s often unclear which decisions it’s acceptable – or not – for a particular individual to make, and which decisions he or she is unable to make.  The result?  Reticence, a reluctance to make even small decisions, a tendency to defer to existing leaders and therefore a general lack of decision-making skills at all but the highest echelons of power.  

If we don’t take steps to actively build a more diverse base of talent prepared to move into leadership positions, nothing will change.  The nonprofit world’s so-called  “Ferguson problem” will perpetuate and we’ll not only let opportunities to tap valuable talent slip by, but we’ll also miss out on the potential for a badly-needed diversification of the sector’s leadership.

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Over time, organizations will find it harder than ever to live up to their full potential and create the social impact they envision.

There is a way forward, though. Quite simply, organizations need to start at the bottom and give individuals of all backgrounds the tools to become decision-makers within their jobs.  

There are five steps that can make this a reality:

  • Make a commitment to drive decision-making down in your organization so it can produce better and more focused decision-making.  There are people on your team who can make decisions if you’ll only trust them to do so. If you let them make decisions and hold them accountable, your organization will benefit and you’ll have greater focus on the decisions that matter.
  • Examine your biases about who should be making which decisions in your organizations and think about how these biases affect the way decisions currently get made. Do you only give decision-making to those that went to elite schools? Do you want to give decision-making to those that act, look and sound like you or can you broaden your viewpoint?
  • Next, examine who has power and who doesn’t in your organization, and why.
  • Encourage people to speak up and advocate for the decisions they want to make.  
  • Finally, support and reinforce a culture that makes it a priority to proactively resolve conflict and confusion surrounding how decisions are made. 

By taking these steps you’ll build an organization with increased leadership and decision-making capabilities and you’ll be far better off.

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Child Entrepreneur Partners With and Supports Nonprofits

This is a guest post from Max Ash, 10-year old Creator of MAX’IS Creations with help from his Mom, Jennifer.

Hi, my name is Max Ash and I am an inventor and entrepreneur. I am in 4th grade and I go to The Carroll School in Waltham, Massachusetts. I have dyslexia, a language-based learning disability, and so do a lot of people at my school.  Dyslexia makes it hard for me to understand what I read and to find the words in my head when I am talking.  

But dyslexia is also a gift that got me to think of putting a basketball hoop on a mug for throwing marshmallows into hot chocolate.  I like sports and hot chocolate and that’s why I did it.

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I was invited to present my idea at The Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College.

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And then my parents helped me submit my idea to The Product Pitch at Fenway product innovation contest. I was one of ten finalists and winner of the community vote. And it wasn’t even a contest for kids!

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They wrote about me and my mugs in places like the Boston Business Journal and the Boston Herald. 

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As a follow-up to the contest I got to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.  My Indiegogo campaign helped raise over $900 for dyslexia research at my school as well as about $5000 to start my business, MAX’IS Creations (spelling is mine).

With help from my mom and dad and a team of 3D designers and manufacturers in the US and Thailand, I was able to bring The Mug With A HoopTM to market.

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My first container arrived in September of 2014 and I sold 18,000 mugs (over $400,000 in retail sales) before New Years!  My mugs are sold at places like UncommonGoods, Nordstrom, The Grommet and Hammacher Schlemmer. Even the Basketball Hall of Fame contacted me to sell my mugs!

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I just got a patent for my basketball mug and I have a full line of patent pending sports mugs coming to market.  My mugs are not just for throwing marshmallows into hot chocolate. You can toss cereal into milk, pitch crackers into soup, or flick toppings onto ice cream! My vision is that the world would be better if we could play with our food!

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There is a banner at my school that says:  Kids with dyslexia see the world differently.  Isn’t the world lucky that they do? My parents say that my idea to put a basketball hoop on a mug shows the world the upside of dyslexia and the importance of celebrating neurodiversity the same way we celebrate other kinds of diversity.  

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Photo Credit: Cindy Ord, Getty Images for Reimagine Learning

Five percent of the profits from the sale of my mugs go to charities that support dyslexia and other learning differences. I am proud to support organizations such as The Reimagine Learning Initiative, Understood.org and The National Center for Learning Disabilities who are helping to raise awareness and support for the 1 in 5 kids with learning and attention issues.  

I recently got to share the stage at the WME/IMG New Profit Reimagine Learning Initiative launch with another successful entrepreneur who happens to have dyslexia: Shark Tank star and Understood.org Board of Advocates member Daymond John.  

This is an excerpt from my speech at the event:

My parents and teachers understand how my brain learns. I am understood.
Every kid deserves to be understood.  
I dare you to imagine what other good ideas our world will have when ALL kids who think and learn differently are understood?

If you want to buy one of my mugs or learn more about my story you can go on my website www.maxiscreations.com.  If you are a mom or dad of a child who is struggling with learning and attention issues check out www.understood.org.  You’ll find personalized recommendations, daily access to experts, a safe community of parents, and more.  And it’s completely free!

Twitter @maxiscreations
Twitter @understoodorg

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