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 The mission of the "Your Mark on the World Center" is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.
Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

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Life Led James Hagen To Deliver Better Health By Mouth

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

James Hagen admits his health wasn’t great while working as a hedge fund analyst. The stress and a chronic disease diagnosed as a kid left him looking for answers.

When his parents decided to retire from their catalog dental supply business, he recognized the old catalog business needed to be converted to an e-commerce model and hoped to find a lower-stress environment. He decided it was time to head for home in Minnesota.

His research into better health, not surprisingly led him to focus on diet, exercise and sleep. Then, attuned to the dental industry, he began finding evidence that better oral care can improve whole-body health.

He decided to launch Boka, an oral care business that would focus on overall health.

Having helped found the nonprofit Surge, Hagen wanted to do more than make a profit. He wanted to make a difference. Not only is he hoping to improve the health of his customers, he has already started supporting Surge’s efforts to improve access to clean water for the 800 million global citizens who lack it.

James Hagen

“When I started Boka it was really important to me that a modern brand or company was addressing some of these global issues,” Hagen says. “I think it’s becoming more and more important for the private sector to step up and have an impact.”

The business is already profitable, has five employees and generates a gross margin of 55%.

“Oral care is the most important problem in preventive health that isn’t being considered as such,” Hagen says.

Dr. Vladana Babcic Tal, endodontist and partner at Cameo Dental Specialists in Chicago, advises Boka. She says, “We haven’t seen much innovation in toothpastes or oral health products. The same toothpastes that were on the shelves when I was a kid are still there now… but our needs are changing. I notice my patients becoming more and more involved in their overall health. They want to know what they are using, they want to be involved in the decision making. Most importantly, patients are finally focused on preventative health. Boka is a product that understands the strong connection between oral and systemic health. Patient’s want to avoid cavities as well as periodontal disease, which has shown a connection to heart health.”

Boka’s mouthwash product, Cocorinse, typifies Hagen’s approach to product development. He eschews alcohol-based products as both harsh on the mouth and gums and for unnecessarily killing the good bacteria in the mouth along with the bad. He’s trying to debunk the old industry mantra, “If it’s burning it’s working.”

Cocorinse is made of coconut oil, mint and a nano-technology developed by NASA called nano-hydroxyapatite that remineralizes teeth better, he says, than fluoride. The use of coconut oil as a mouthwash may go back thousands of years as an Ayurvedic practice in India. “It’s really nature and traditional medicine coming together with contemporary medicine,” Hagen adds.

Boka has used a similar philosophy to create a natural toothpaste with “science-backed” ingredients.

Like alcohol in mouthwash, Boka rejects fluoride in toothpaste. Hagen is careful not to take sides in what has become more of moral debate than a scientific one about the effectiveness versus the risks of the classic toothpaste ingredient. He says Boka omits fluoride simply because the nano-hydroxyapatite works better.

Babcic Tal says, “Boka’s toothpaste is a great alternative to fluoride toothpastes as it is able to remineralize the enamel without risking potential toxicity connected to fluoride products.”

Hagen says he’s learned some important lessons along the way. Chief among them is this: “Smile at everything that comes your way.”

Hundreds of nonprofits learned to successfully use online fundraising to reach–or surpass–their goals with my crowdfunding training. Get my free guide to attracting media attention.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

This Company Makes Halal Investing Easy

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

Halal investing forbids investing in debt, making many traditional investment vehicles off-limits to Muslims seeking to follow Sharia guidance. As a result, many in the Muslim community have limited their investments to cash savings and real estate, leaving them poorly diversified. Junaid Wahedna decided to fix that.

Wahedna, who graduated from Columbia University and spent years working in finance in New York City, was in a good position to launch Wahed Invest, making Halal investing easy.

“I’ve been very, very fortunate to have a good education, the resources and wherewithal to be able to do something and so I felt quite personally responsible to give back,” Wahenda says. “What right do I have not to actually go in there and fix this problem?”

Wahenda reports raising $7 million from venture capitalists and angel investors.

Halal investing has not been especially difficult for wealthy investors. A variety of products and advisors have been available to the high-net-worth individuals for generations. The challenge has long been finding compliant investments for small investors.

Halal investment standards are fundamentally ethical investment standards. In addition to proscribing investments in debt and traditional fixed-income securities, the standards require investments to be in ethical companies.

“What we do is run an ethical filter over all our investments. So, what that means is we screen for excessive debt, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, pornographic material and a few other you know minor unethical things,” Wahedna explains.

One key to building a successful platform for ordinary investors to conform to Islamic investing standards was to give them access to sukuks, a Halal fixed income product traditionally sold in $200,000 minimum increments. “Sukuks are in essence Islamic bonds,” Wahedna explains. Yields closely parallel traditional fixed-income investments along the yield curve.

Wahed Invest allows ordinary investors to open an account with just $100 and to participate in Sukuk investments along with carefully screened equity investments.

Wahedna hopes to prove that ethical or religious investing needn’t come with a cost by efficient use of technology.

This is all enabled by technology commonly called robo advisors. Virtually all broker-dealers are employing some level of technology to facilitate investing today. By dropping the cost of managing an account to near zero, minimum account sizes drop even while allowing people to participate in more sophisticated investment strategies.

Wahed Invest has automated processes that calculate debt ratios, cash balances, and other keys to identify companies that meet ethical and Halal screens, the company also has a full-time Sharia review board and ethical review board that ensure Halal investment standards are followed.

Junaid Wahenda

But it isn’t all technology driven. Wahedna is proud of the firm’s annual “purification report,” which calculates earnings from “impermissible” sources, like excessive interest income from one of the companies in the portfolio. This gives investors an opportunity to purge those funds by donating to charity.

“This is just something we feel is necessary that people should have at the end of the year to see exactly what has happened,” he said.

The ethical standards of Halal investing are appealing not only to Muslims but to other investors with a similar ethical view. Still, the service solves a big problem for ordinary investors wishing to comply with Halal investment standards who haven’t had the option in the past.

“Clients tell us that ‘We are so happy we don’t have to just keep our money in cash!’” Wahedna says, noting that many customers are first-time investors.

Hundreds of nonprofits learned to successfully use online fundraising to reach–or surpass–their goals with my crowdfunding training. Get my free guide to attracting media attention.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Their Plan to End the Deforestation of Haiti Is Gaining Traction

Kevin Adair and Franz “Franky Fanfan started working on the Island of Hispañola in 2005, hoping to bring solar cooking to the Dominican Republic. Slowly, over the years, their focus has shifted to Haiti, where they are working to eliminate charcoal in favor of briquettes made from recycled paper, cardboard and sawdust.

Up to 90 percent of the energy present in wood is lost when it is turned into charcoal. When you light a piece of charcoal, you are left with only 10 percent of the energy present in the wood used to make it.

Adair and Fanfan are using a process for making briquettes that doesn’t start with burning away most of the energy. Instead, the briquettes are made in a slurry, formed and dried and can then be burned efficiently in special, highly efficient wood-burning stoves.

Their approach is to convert institutional kitchens from charcoal stoves to their briquettes and high-efficiency stoves. Once done, a kitchen can cook more quickly and efficiently at lower cost, with fewer health effects on those cooking and far superior outcomes for the environment.

Interview with Franz “Franky” Fanfan, the General Manager / Co-Founder of El Fuego del Sol (FdS Haiti) and Kevin Adair, the President / Founder of Fuego del Sol Haiti / FdS Haiti SA.

The following is the pre-interview with Franz “Franky” Fanfan and Kevin Adair. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

Haitians cook with 400,000 tons of charcoal annually, destroying 4M tons of trees, (with as much as 70% smuggled illegally from the Dominican Republic); Haiti is the world’s 11th least developed country.  Haiti has bountiful biomass waste, agricultural potential, recyclables, and a 70% under-employed workforce. Haiti has millions of tons of underutilized recyclable materials that are currently either being dumped and burned, washed out to sea, or collected and sent to countries such as China, which are more developmentally advanced than Haiti. Haiti’s resources should be utilized in Haiti, creating jobs in Haiti. Charcoal cooking also destroys the health and lungs of Haiti’s cooks. Charcoal cooking is the number-one killer of children under 5 in Haiti. Propane has been suggested as a solution to Haiti’s charcoal dependence, but Haiti is already over-dependent on international petroleum, and the charcoal industry provides a huge percentage of Haiti’s household incomes. The only advantage of the charcoal industry is that Haiti’s cooking fuel is over 90% produced on the island of Hispaniola. To replace charcoal, Haiti needs a domestic cooking fuel which can utilize the country’s available materials, and replace charcoal jobs with better-paying, safer jobs. Other materials such as plastic, glass and aluminum are similarly underutilized in Haiti. Thus, FdS works on three main fronts: ecological protection by substituting charcoal with recycled briquettes, jobs creation by replacing charcoal industry jobs 1:1, and improving the health and lives of Haiti’s cooks.

More about El Fuego del Sol (FdS Haiti):

Twitter: @ElFuegoDelSol

Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/fdshaiti/

Website: www.fdshaiti.com

El Fuego del Sol (FdS Haiti) is a social-eco enterprise based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We are a full-service waste management, recycling and clean cooking enterprise working to improve environmental, economic and health conditions in Haiti.

Fuego del Sol Haiti SA / FdS Haiti SA is a Haitian Social-Eco Enterprise dedicated to introducing innovative international technologies to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. FdS selects these technologies to directly meet the needs and challenges that Haitian families have rated as their highest priority. FdS technologies are designed, developed, implemented and adapted in a co-creation model with Haitian and Dominican citizens to maximize adoption and cultural acceptance of the technologies, as well as long-term job creation. As the world’s 11th most fragile state, Haiti’s need for jobs and ecological development is critical. FdS has created a sustainable model for the implementation of ecological products and services throughout Haiti with the additional benefit of creating quality full-time and part-time jobs. FdS is sustainable at its current scale, and numerous developments in the waste / recycling / renewable energy / ecological cooking sectors continue to provide FdS the opportunity to expand. FdS is initiating strategic partnerships, structured development plans, and equipment acquisitions that will allow it to grow from its current Port-au-Prince site into more key Haitian locations specifically selected for compatibility and escalation of the FdS 100% reuse and recycling model. FdS is the first large-scale paper-products recycler in Haiti and has now recycled over 130 tons of paper, cardboard and sawdust into FdS ecological fuel briquettes, which are used in schools, orphanages and homes to alleviate Haiti’s deadly charcoal dependence. FdS develops and produces efficient briquette stoves for homes and schools in Haiti. FdS provides full waste collection, sorting, separation, and recycling services to embassies, NGOs and other environmentally conscious clients in Haiti. FdS also ecologically reprocesses waste motor oil into efficient diesel fuel. FdS is on target to be Haiti’s highest-volume reprocessed eco-fuel producer.

For-profit/Nonprofit: Mixed-model: for-profit enterprise with 501c3 fiscal sponsorship

Revenue model:

FdS Haiti is a Social-Eco Enterprise. We are a legally registered corporation in Haiti with IRS tax-exempt status in the US through our fiscal sponsor, Omprakash, making our fiscal model a hybrid for-profit/non-profit structure. The donations we receive are designated toward the start-up and scale-up of FdS. All operational expenses are generated through FdS local program-based income. The financial structure is best demonstrated by the FdS ecological business cycle: FdS provides complete fee-based waste collection services to clients in Port-au-Prince who choose FdS, as we recycle more materials than any other local waste collector. Paper, cardboard and wood waste materials are pulverized, mixed with water and formed into FdS biomass briquettes. FdS produces ultra-efficient wood-gas cookstoves, which also include recycled components. Clients then purchase the stoves from FdS along with an ongoing contract to purchase the FdS briquettes. FdS trucks deliver the briquettes, and return with the waste materials described above, and the cycle begins again. FdS earns Program Based Income on both legs of the trips by our truck.

Scale:

Since relocating to Haiti in 2012, FdS has participated in the production / delivery / deployment / operations of over 780 institutional biomass cookstoves in Haiti. FdS has also delivered over 1.5 million of our briquettes and recycled over 130 tons of waste. The briquettes have cooked over 600,000 meals, mostly in schools, orphanages and community centers, and we are now expanding into industrial parks and factories. FdS has offset over 13,000 trees that otherwise would have been used to cook these meals. FdS has 20 full-time employees and 8 part-time. The FdS annual operating budget has grown from $24,000 in 2012 to over $120,000 in 2017 with further expansion indicated for 2018. Orders are confirmed for 25 stoves in one factory by the end of March and 25 additional stoves for an industrial park by the end of May 2018. Each FdS institutional briquette stove cooks an average of 30 servings of food.

Franz “Franky Fanfan

Franz “Franky” Fanfan’s bio:

Frantz is a true Haitian migration success story. Born in Haiti, he started out working during his high school years, milking 100 cows every day, then going to school in the afternoon. Frantz later worked in the tourism sector of Bavaro – Punta Cana starting in 2001 for prominent companies such as VIP Tours, Tourinter, Club Caribe, and Nexus. Frantz speaks Spanish, English, Haitian Creole and French and has been a solid member of the Fuego del Sol corporate team since the company’s inception in 2005. Frantz has worked as Tourism and Outreach Manager for the FdS project and Recycling Director for the waste management project. Currently Frantz oversees all aspects of Fuego del Sol operations including employee relations, training, briquette production, program development, and delivery coordination.

Kevin Adair
(Photo credit: Jack Powers)

Kevin Adair’s bio:

Twitter: @kevadair

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-adair-fds/

Kevin Adair believes that each human life is a century-long interactive creative performance. He has always combined creative expression with social and ecological activism with focus on building community. International audiences may recognize Kevin as a touring juggler, magician, hypnotist, fire dancer, and motivator. Then, after decades performing and over 10,000 shows, Kevin’s trade-winds led him to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where for the past 13 years he has worked in international social, ecological and community development.

It is Kevin’s quest to co-create, introduce, evaluate, foster, promote, facilitate, encourage and verify social / ecological development technologies in his adopted Caribbean island countries. Kevin founded the social-eco enterprise, FdS Haiti, and now works with local communities to address the issues that people find most daunting in their lives. Through the FdS developmental model, local people are consulted and empowered throughout the R & D and implementation process in a Co-Creation process. Each additional FdS project / program is designed to be financially sustainable and to build on existing FdS activities growing an infrastructure / eco-system of mutually beneficial developmental activities in conjunction with community, international, and local partners. Kevin is also the primary author of the Sun Oven System, the scholarly white-paper that documents one of the most successful ecological solar-stove introduction programs in the history of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Kevin holds a Double BA with Honors from Illinois Wesleyan University, with continuing education credits from the National Geographic Society Geotourism Ambassador Training, Los Fondos de Capital, un Mecanismo de Financiamiento de Empresas presented by the INCAE, and the UN Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment Fund Training of Trainers, where Kevin was awarded the Accolade of ‘Most Engaging.’ Kevin is a featured Social Entrepreneur from SOCAP 14. FdS Haiti is a 2014 Buckminster Fulller Award Semi-finalist and a 2015 Echoing Green Semi-Finalist. The FdS Haiti Team is thrilled to be the only 2015 – 2017 IADB IDEAS competition winner based in the Caribbean region.

Most international development efforts have either attempted to enforce their will on potential beneficiaries, or they have worked to provide resources for solutions already locally available. Kevin has developed the: Listen. Lead. Listen Again. implementation strategy which combines learning the needs and wants of local community members, introducing new technologies and solutions that would not otherwise be available in remote locations, and then following up with a successive feedback-loop to gradually adapt the new solutions to best fit the local people’s needs. Kevn is also writing a book and article series: Listen. Lead. Listen Again. at medium.com/@kevinadair

In the Des Moines Register, columnist Rekha Basu, sums up the nature of Kevin’s quest, “His project should inspire all of us to see that with imagination and enterprise, anyone can help find creative solutions to intractable world problems.”


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

This Organization Works To Help Community College Students Finish 4-Year Degrees

With most community college students hoping to transfer to a four-year college, statistics show that most don’t transfer and only half of those who do, finish. The Kaplan Educational Foundation, headed by Nancy Lee Sanchez, is working to help community college students transfer successfully to universities and earn bachelor’s degrees.

Interview with Nancy Lee Sánchez, the Executive Director of Kaplan Educational Foundation.

The following is the pre-interview with Nancy Lee Sánchez. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

Problem:
81% of first-time beginning community college students from the bottom income quartile aspire to complete a bachelor’s degree, but only 21% transfer to four year institutions within 5 years, and only 10% attain a bachelor’s degree. (Horn & Skomsvold (2011); Shapiro et al. (2013)). Bachelor’s degree holders earn 31% more than those with an associate’s degree and 84% more than those with just a high school diploma. (Carnevale, Rose, and Cheah, 2011).

Solution 1: Kaplan Leadership Program:
The Foundation’s support begins early in a student’s associate’s degree studies and continues through the completion of a bachelor’s degree.  Financial assistance includes scholarships and additional funding to assist with other educational and living expenses.  All Kaplan Leadership Scholars are provided with academic advising, transfer admissions, career counseling and job placement support, and admissions guidance for graduate and professional programs. The KLP’s curriculum was developed to target the academic, financial and personal/social development of its participants reflecting our belief that the whole student must be addressed to effect long-term success.

Solution 2: Transfer Initiative Program:
In 2017, KEF launched the Transfer Initiative Program (TIP) to increase the number of students reached. In addition to the 7 KLP Scholars accepted each year, all KLP finalists (up to 15 students) are invited to become TIP Scholars and receive transfer admissions advisement, and application support through individualized writing support and financial support to cover the following costs: transcript fees, financial aid application fees and testing fees.

Solution 3: Your 2018 Guide to College Transfer:
Also in 2017, KEF expanded its mission by publishing Your 2018 Guide to College Transfer, A comprehensive handbook profiling top schools for transfer across the United States, serving as a resource for students, parents, and advisors to navigate the entire transfer process, from application to enrollment.

Additional Resources:  yourguidetocollegetransfer.org

More about Kaplan Educational Foundation:

Twitter: @kaplanedfdn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KaplanScholars/

Website: www.kaplanedfoundation.org

The Kaplan Educational Foundation (KEF), an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit public charity, seeks to eliminate barriers to education for overlooked and underserved students and develop them as leaders for the American workforce and their communities. KEF launched the Kaplan Leadership Program (KLP) in 2006 to do just that. KLP is a unique and trailblazing model that addresses the needs of the ‘whole’ student, successfully transferring low-income Black, Latino and Native American students of exceptional academic merit from New York City’s community colleges to top four-year universities throughout the country, while preparing them to succeed academically and assume leadership roles in their professions and communities. Our Kaplan Scholars receive a comprehensive array of financial and academic support, transfer admissions advising and leadership skills development.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model: The Kaplan Educational Foundation (KEF) is a 501(c)(3) public charity. In addition to receiving donations, KEF recently published a book, “Your 2018 Guide to College Transfer,” and 100% of the proceeds go to KEF.

Scale: KEF has a full-time staff of three employees who focus on changing the lives of a small number of students in a big way. Through the Kaplan Leadership Program, we have accepted 69 students. 24 students are active within the program (currently enrolled in either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program) and 38 alumni have successfully earned their bachelor’s degrees. Results from the program include: 87% of all Kaplan Scholars earn a bachelor’s degree. 100% of our Alumni are employed full-time at jobs in their fields of study or in graduate school. Over 30% of alumni are in or have completed graduate school.

Nancy Lee Sánchez

Nancy Lee Sánchez’s bio:

Twitter: @nleesanchez

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/2744968/

Nancy Lee Sánchez, M.A. is the Executive Director for the Kaplan Educational Foundation. As the founding Director for Academic Advisement and Student Development, Nancy was responsible for the design and implementation of the Kaplan Leadership Program model.

Sánchez has over 18 years of expertise providing greater access to higher education, improving the college experience, and supporting leadership among low-income, underrepresented, and nontraditional students through collaborative partnerships and services that directly target factors affecting degree-attainment gaps.

Sánchez’s own educational journey started at Kingsborough Community College, where she earned her associate’s degree in early childhood education. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education from Long Island University and a master’s in sociology from Brooklyn College. As a 2014 National Hispanic Executive Leadership Fellow, Nancy completed an Executive Leadership Program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Leadership Development Program at the Center for Creative Leadership. Born in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, Sánchez currently resides in Brooklyn.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Founder Hopes This Will Be the Best Deodorant for the World

After a health crisis in her family, Margaux Khoury began working to create a healthy, environmentally friendly deodorant for herself and her family. After developing one that worked, she decided to share it with the world. She calls it The Best Deodorant In The World and hopes it really is the best deodorant for the world.

Interview with Margaux Khoury, the CEO of The Best Deodorant In The World.

The following is the pre-interview with Margaux Khoury. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

Two problems in the natural deodorant industry:  

Problem 1:  Natural deodorants don’t work or they irritate pits  

Problem 2:  packaging is plastic or glass (not eco)

We solve both these problems:  

Solution 1:  our natural deodorant works even in hot weather (really effective)

Solution 2: we custom created a 100% biodegradable packaging that you could literally throw right in your compost.

See also:  www.UltimateGroceryGuide.com

More about The Best Deodorant In The World:

Twitter: @ecodeodorant (will be active after campaign)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BestNaturalDeodorant/

Website: www.TheBestDeodorantInTheWorld.com

“The Best Deodorant In The World” is a popular, organic, vegan deodorant that sells in stores and online world-wide.  

Our goal is to eliminate 7.5 million plastic water bottles by gifting school water machines that count the number of plastic bottles saved. Plastic affects our body, our health, the earth and the animals (plastic is found inside their bellies, and animals get caught in it all the time). Our mission is to share with the world how we can all create large, conscious companies without harming our bodies, the earth and other animals here.

New clean water mission: One deodorant purchased provides one year of clean water for a child in a developing nation. We all know this is wrong, tragic and unnecessary.  4000 children die each day from unclean drinking water. Our goal is to save 4000 children a day from drinking dirty water, and dying.  That’s 4000 deodorants a day sold.

Our company also donates 100% of sales to a sanctuary, one day each and every month.   That’s 12 days of donating to sanctuaries.

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: Our company sells an all organic, vegan deodorant

Scale: ~ used on over 200,000 armpits 🙂  ~ 10 employees  

Margaux Khoury

Margaux Khoury’s bio:

Twitter: @margauxkhoury

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaux-khoury-bab548144/

Margaux is the CEO of one of the most popular organic, natural, cruelty-free deodorants, “The Best Deodorant In The World”, a company she started out of her kitchen. It can now be found in stores and online world-wide. Her passion is helping families understand the importance of, living sustainably, free schooling as an option for children, as well as using amazing, natural products that don’t harm our bodies, animals or planet.

Her company donates water machines to high schools, allowing them to save plastic water bottles from contaminating the earth. One jar of deodorant sold saves 7.5 plastic bottles.

She consults with others on how to start a company like hers from scratch, to help them grow a thriving business while staying home with their children.

Operating by two very simple philosophies: “Humans and other Animals over profit” and “Profit With a Purpose”, she has been able to follow her heart and create a thriving company that truly makes an impact. When she is not with her husband and 3 children, much of her time is spent fostering her close friendships with many of the world’s most accomplished and respected practitioners, doctors, midwives, authors, speakers, medical professionals, natural living celebrities and other conscious, ethical entrepreneurs like her.

She just completed a book “Ultimate Guide To Organic Groceries” with Joanne Young, who is personal chef to Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Her Reality Is Different, More Fulfilling Than Her Vision

Ann Webb envisioned herself on stage, making a fortune and changing the world. She set out to do just that. Then an “impression” inspired her to head in another direction.

Unsure if it would work, Webb decided to take her life skills training that had been helping people in the US to be more successful and apply the same techniques to helping people in Africa to envision and live more abundant lives. It worked.

Over the past five years, she’s taken hundreds of people to Africa in a dual mission to help the people in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Ghana to become more prosperous. At the same time, she focuses on helping the people she takes to become real humanitarians, capable of changing even more lives.

Interview with Ann Webb, the Founder of Global LifeVision.

The following is the pre-interview with Ann Webb. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

1) We shift the poverty mindset to abundance, the negative to the positive (specifically in Africa) through LifeCoaches we train and certify that then hold weekly workshops to set goals and visions.  We train about 3,000 people per month.  2). We host expeditions to create humanitarians in both African and 1st world countries.  We do 5 self-sustaining humanitarian projects per expedition and raise the funds to empower African women with businesses, clean water, hygiene and menstruation kits.

More about Global LifeVision:

Facebook: facebook.com/GlobalLifeVision

Website: http://globallifevision.com

Global LifeVision’s mission is to empower those in developing countries by helping them to recognize their worth and magnify their influence, to explore and clearly identify goals, instill a healthy mindset, learn valuable life skills and live the passion of their dreams.  We also create humanitarians by hosting quarterly expeditions to Africa to do self-sustaining projects, empower leaders, & do trainings that involve skills, goal-setting and mindset.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model:

Global LifeVision uses multiple models.  We generate money for 2 of our key projects.  1). Self-sustaining humanitarian projects and 2) Upleveling the mindsets of African through Ideal LifeVision workshops and supporting the life coaches that train these workshops.  Models include a) having expedition participants raise money for the expedition projects (donations)  b) expedition fees to help support humanitarian projects. c) Online goal setting programs and books that are given given for a donation.  d). Monthly & consistent donations from founders of organization.  

Scale:

Here are a few of the things we completed in  the last 13 months!  55 cows to widows, 76 goats to villages, 4 expeditions to 4 African countries, Certified 60 Ideal LifeVision coaches, brought in $60,000 through Ideal LifeVision and $106,000 through Global LifeVision

Ann Webb

Ann Webb’s bio:

Website:  http://createalifevision.com

Ann Webb is best known as “The LifeVision Expert” and has coached thousands of successful entrepreneurs and network marketers in getting crystal clear in both their business and personal visions resulting in more money, better relationships, and improved health & fitness.  

Ann is the author of the book “More Than Money: How to Manifest a Meaningful Life”  and creator of the revolutionary Home Study Course – “Creating Your Ideal LifeVision” that has helped thousands of people start living their Ideal Life.

She also certifies Life and Business coaches to use Ideal LifeVision as a tool and process in their own businesses. Ann is also the Founder of Global LifeVision, a humanitarian outreach program that involves facilitating adventures for those that want to serve and make a different in developing countries.  She regularly takes expeditions to teach, train and serve in many African countries.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Successful African-American Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Feels ‘Like A Black Unicorn’

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

Originally from inner-city Baltimore, Maryland, successful tech entrepreneur Clarence Wooten, 46, got into tech and computers through video games as a kid. He played on the old Atari, ColecoVision and Commodore platforms.

From those modest beginnings, a career blossomed. As a youth, Wooten looked up to people like Bill Gates and Reginald Lewis as role models. Lewis, the richest African American in the 1980s was born and raised in Baltimore. He died in 1993 after taking control of and subsequently growing Beatrice—the first African American-owned billion-dollar company. The power of role models would stay with Wooten throughout his career.

Clarence Wooten, STEAM Role

Still in Baltimore in the late 90s, Wooten founded ImageCafe, a startup that provided website templates for small businesses, something like what Wix and Squarespace do today.

“We were getting ready to raise a big venture round when Network Solutions, who was the GoDaddy of that time, swooped in and acquired us,” Wooten says. The deal was concluded for $23 million at the end of 1999, near the top of the dot com boom. “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”

While the deal price didn’t start with a “B,” the success and capital launched Wooten’s career. He moved to Silicon Valley and has started several companies since.

“I’m this guy who takes wacky ideas and turns them into things,” Wooten quips.

African American in Silicon Valley

To ignore race in the context of Wooten’s success would be to ignore one of the glaring issues facing Silicon Valley today. The treatment of women and minorities became the hot-button topic of 2017.

Wooten moved around a lot as a kid. Starting out in the inner city, virtually all his friends were black. Later he moved to a virtually all-white school. “I felt like I had a pretty diverse social upbringing and as a result you know I was never uncomfortable around anyone.”

Wooten’s personal philosophy doesn’t allow him to blame others for the challenges in his life. “You know you really can’t think about how you may be being held back for reasons that are beyond your control because if that enters your mind and stays in your mind you will not be successful because it will weigh you down.”

He has no apparent resentment toward the Silicon Valley culture—why should he? He’s been successful there. He says he’s treated about the same there as elsewhere. Still, he acknowledges the challenges. “I mean, being based in Palo Alto as an African-American entrepreneur who has had some success in tech and in Silicon Valley, you know, to some degree is like a black unicorn, which is unfortunate.”

“So, my dream is to see more success for African-Americans in tech.”

What is STEAM Role?

Wooten’s latest startup, STEAM Role, is his effort to fulfill that dream.

The name is first a reference to Silicon Valley’s areas of focus—science, technology, engineering, arts and math. He points out that Apple proved the value of adding the arts to STEM. The name also provides a clue to the secret sauce: role models.

“We aim to provide companies with a platform to inspire, track and hire diverse STEAM talent by leveraging their existing employees as role models to attract future hires,” he says.

Flipping the lens, he adds, “We aim to provide a roadmap for anyone to acquire their dream career by following and learning from role models that they can relate to.”

Ryan Scott, CEO of Causecast and an advisor to STEAM Role, says, “STEAM Role solves a gigantic issue for corporations. How to attract and retain a STEAM educated, diverse talent pool. As a corporate tool it allows employees to be role models and clearly helps steamers to get the exact skills the employee has to get the position they are in.”

To build an audience for the enterprise clients, STEAM Role is partnering with middle through high school guidance counselors and the startup has created a brand ambassador program across colleges and universities.

“You can learn anything you want to know on-line and virtually for free. Information is widely available; however, inspiration is not,” Wooten says.

How STEAM Role Works

“Think Tinder,” Wooten says of how the mobile app works. “But instead of swiping through your potential dates we’re showcasing role models that you can relate to. We show you their company, their job title, a one sentence description of what they do and we pull from Glassdoor their salary range.”

Don’t confuse role models with mentors. “Mentorship doesn’t really scale because it’s one to one,” he says. One role model can influence thousands of aspiring professionals on STEAM Role.

“So, if there’s an African-American, teenage female in Baltimore, we will try to show her African-American women who are STEAM professionals—successful.” Ultimately, the app will show her role models based on her interests, regardless of gender and ethnicity.

When she clicks on a role model, she can see all the skills that person acquired to get that position. She can also see where she can learn those skills and ultimately get someone to endorse her for having the skill.

Wooten says the design was inspired by watching his daughters use SnapChat and Instagram. The idea is to create a sense of intimacy and authenticity that today’s young people—who grew up with super computers in their pockets connected to all the world’s information—crave.

Scott, believes STEAM Role will create wins for everyone involved, from the sponsoring enterprises, to the role models and ultimately for the “steamers,” the aspiring professionals.

Wooten hopes that the startup will allow him to fulfill a mission.

A Purpose-Driven Life

“In the last ten years, I came to the realization that the first third of your life you learn, the second third you earn and in the last third you return.” This philosophy guided his thinking, allowing him to focus on giving back in the future. More recently, however, he concluded that “that the ultimate startup is when you can learn, earn and return all in the same company.”

“And so, we built a mission driven company. My entire team they’re here because they believe in the mission. They think the world needs this,” Wooten says. “It’s a calling to me as much as it is a company.”

Hundreds of nonprofits learned to successfully use online fundraising to reach–or surpass–their goals with my crowdfunding training. Get my free guide to attracting media attention.


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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

How Will You Increase Your Impact In 2018?

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Frankly, I put this question, “How will you increase your impact in 2018?” to dozens of social entrepreneurs and others in the impact space to help me figure out how to increase my own. I hope you’ll read their answers with the same idea in mind.

The responses came in two general varieties. The first are statements and goals that could be replicated by virtually any social entrepreneur regardless of their specific mission or operating plan. The second variety included objectives that are somewhat more specific to their particular situation. You can read about the inspiring work from the second list here. The first set of responses follow below.

As I reviewed the responses, a few themes developed. Half a dozen people highlighted the importance of teamwork in one way or another. That was clearly a key takeaway from the list. Note that some people hit on several topics; I’ve tried to include their full remarks where possible.

For instance, Lisa Curtis, CEO and founder of Kuli Kuli said, “In 2018, we’re going to also be looking inward and seeing what we can do for our employees and the sustainability of our internal operations. We’re measuring this using the B Corp assessment.”

Lisa Curtis

Celeste Mergens, CEO and founder of Days for Girls International, said her goal was to have “weekly team sprint goals to help each team member focus on completing one achievable primary goal a week, keep other objectives moving forward and still have more personal life balance.”

Celeste Mergens in Kisii 2010

Similarly, Kenton Lee, founder of Because International which sells “The Shoe that Grows,” said his goal was “Investing in our team, measuring our impact with the kids more accurately, and hustling in more creative ways. Staying in start-up mode will keep things fresh and inventive. It’s all about the kids!”

Kenton Lee,, Because International

“Impact is about growth in 2018. We’re focusing on only 1 goal every 90 days and the team is all aligned towards that one thing. Then I’m showing the team how that one goal serves our mission,” said Andrea Shillington, the CEO and business soul architect at Brands for the Heart.

“It’s really quite simple–you have to invest in your people. We need to constantly create learning opportunities and develop new talents. Meaningful impact comes from a committed, yet challenged team,” said Jacob Lief, CEO and founder of Ubuntu Pathways.

Katherine Fife, Principal Consultant founder at Philanthropy Matters, LLC, said, “Engaging in more activities that utilize my strengths, and offloading activities to better utilize the strengths of others, will lead to increased impact and better efficiencies in 2018.”

Katherine Fife, Philanthropy Matters

A second idea that popped up several times in the responses from social entrepreneurs was surprising to me. Three of our responses de-emphasized growth and scale.

For example, Michael Lowe, President of Kidoodle.tv, said he would ” focus on quality of impact over scale of impact. Scale happens when quality is obvious.”

Michael Lowe, Kidoodle.TV

Similarly, Aaron Hurst, CEO and co-founder of Imperative, said, “I have spent a lot of time trying to increase my impact by thinking big. This year is the year of thinking small. How can I do one thing each day that matters to someone else? “

Aaron Hurst, Imperative

With a slightly different take, Ross Baird, President of Village Capital, said he would shift to “focusing more on how we innovate (how do we find, support, select ideas) than what the next big thing is.”

Ross Baird

Another theme that developed was the importance of introspection and personal time for having maximum impact.

Angela Parker, CEO and co-founder of Realized Worth, who shared a goal in that vein, saying her goal was a to “Alert, Orient, Act. My impact will increase when I challenge implicit bias by alerting to new ideas, orienting to what those ideas mean for me, and taking action toward new attitudes and behaviors.”

Steve Grizzell, managing director of InnoVentures, sounded thoroughly introspective with his goal, “I have begun to realize that Impact Investing is just part of a process of living a life of purpose. Why am I doing it? Is it just enough to do it because it feels good? How do I measure impact?”

Self-reflection was one of two objectives that Priyanka Bakaya, CEO and founder of Renewlogy set for 2018. “My two themes are i) find more ways to give back through community engagement, and ii) find more me time through meditating and journaling each day (I recommend 2 apps for this: Inscape & Grid Diary).”

Priyanka Bakaya, Renewlogy

Two of the responses received focused on the importance of connecting with other like-minded people.

Karim Abouelnaga, CEO of Practice Makes Perfect, said, “I’m committed to starting or joining a mastermind group in 2018 to increase my impact, surrounding myself with other entrepreneurs who are ready to push each other to take our impact to the next level.”

Karim Abouelnaga with student

Similarly, Amy Cortese, author of Locavesting, made this part of her plan by “tuning out the noise and focusing on what’s important—limiting social media and mobile news. I do my best thinking on long walks, so I’ll build that in. Also more face time with people who inspire me.”

Amy Cortese

The importance of reviewing past results to optimize future results came up a few times. Liz Baker, executive director of GreaterGood.org, said, “January is a great time to review last year’s programs. Look at outcomes, and work backwards: If you didn’t meet goals, why? Start with desired impact, and refine program tactics to do more this year.”

Liz Baker, GreaterGood.org

Echoing that idea, Thane Kreiner, PhD, executive director of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, said he would “test playbooks to replicate proven social enterprise impact models.”

A couple of the respondents focused on personal productivity.

Kathleen Minogue, CEO and founder of Crowdfund Better, (with whom I have a business relationship) said, “Make a commitment to take action every week and keep a list to keep yourself honest. Even when life gets busy, you’ll have that commitment (and a written list) to keep you focused throughout the year.”

Nell Derick Debevoise, CEO and founder of Inspiring Capital, shared her take on productivity: “I’ve committed to blocking 7-10 am every morning on my calendar to get ONE important thing done toward my weekly and annual priorities, in an effort to be proactive and strategic rather than reactive.”

Nell Derick Debevois, courtesy of Inspiring Capital

The other insights received were similarly valuable but didn’t fall into themes or ideas.

Impact investor Morgan Simon said she would add political giving to her 2018 activities to increase her impact. “Markets won’t solve everything—philanthropic support for organizing and advocacy, and political giving, are essential complements to impact investing. In 2018 I will donate more systemically to organizing and politics.”

Morgan Simon

Judith Joan Walker, Director of Operations for African Clean Energy, said upgrading systems would be her strategy. “We will be pulling our extensive customer database into our newly upgraded CRM on Salesforce in order to accurately analyze the affordability and adoption barriers of our high tech energy products.”

Judith Walker

Nancy Pfund, Managing Partner and founder of DBL Partners, an early investor in Tesla, suggested something that almost everyone could do: “This year I’m reducing my food waste; 40% of our food is wasted, as is all of the water and energy required to make it. No shopping until leftovers are finished!”

Nancy Pfund, courtesy of DBL Partners

As you contemplate the ideas above, let us know in the comments below or on social media, what you’ll be doing to increase your impact in 2018.

Hundreds of nonprofits learned to successfully use online fundraising to reach–or surpass–their goals with my crowdfunding training. Get my free guide to attracting media attention.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

He Built An Organization From Trash To Restore Human Dignity

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

At 29, Brett Durbin went to Tegucigalpa, Honduras to find a cause for his church to support. He’d never imagined how this would change his life. The organization he ultimately founded, Trash Mountain Project, serves the people who make their living—such as it is—by scavenging in the developing world’s trash dumps.

With fires constantly smoldering, burning a mix of toxic and noxious materials, these are literally hellish places, Durbin, now 37, explains. Toddlers, adults and the aged—entire multi-generational families—hunt for food to eat and anything of value to sell crawling and clawing through everything from animal to industrial waste.

After visiting Honduras, Durbin looked for an organization focused on serving the trash dump communities he’d seen. A professor counseled him, “The last thing we need is another nonprofit organization.”

After months of searching, however, he’d found no organization focused on serving them—though some had activities and provided services there—so, with the support of his professor and his wife, he decided to launch Trash Mountain Project.

Today, the 501(c)(3) is working at nine locations in five countries with eight full-time staff members in Kansas and 44 people receiving full-time support from the organization working at one of the sites.

Brett Durbin, Trash Mountain Project

Living in an Actual Dump

“These are individuals rummaging through trash and waste to find plastic or other recoverable waste. They are the poorest of the poor in many cities. Their living conditions, their health, and their future is some of the most precarious you will find on the globe,” echoes James Copple, President of Servant Forge, which is exploring a partnership with Durbin’s organization.

The challenges facing residents of trash dump communities are hard to comprehend for most of living in the developed world. Every year, hundreds of people are killed by trash avalanches. The residents face constant exposure to heavy metals as well as other poisons. The food they eat, picked from the pile, is contaminated. The animals they eat, whether they are fish, chickens or rodents are similarly contaminated.

“We see kids as young as you know two and three years old picking through the trash with their families,” Durbin says.

While Durbin has focused most of his energy on the humanitarian implications of trash dump communities, he is quick to point out that it is also an environmental disaster. The same lack of regulation and waste control that allows a two-year-old to scavenge for dinner in a toxic, burning pile of garbage, also allows for the waste to contaminate the environment. Virtually any contaminant that enters the water system ends up in the oceans we all share.

Simply closing dumps isn’t an optimal solution. It neither addresses the environmental nor the humanitarian crises. The trash dump creates an ecosystem; when you close it, the livelihoods of every person in the community is threatened but the toxic leaching continues.

“I’ve seen one police officer in 54 trash dump communities over nine years. This is it’s not a place where things are safe. Even police don’t really feel safe there in most scenarios,” Durbin explains.

Incremental Actions Bring Long-term Progress

Kevin Conard, owner of Blue Jazz Coffee Roasters, has become a supporter of Trash Mountain Project. For every bag of coffee sold, his company donates enough to buy a meal for a child living in a trash dump community in the Dominican Republic. He reports donating 57,000 meals to date.

Conard explains, “To me, Trash Mountain Project ultimately is in the business of infusing hope where there is none. They go into places where there is corruption, gang violence, social injustices galore, hatred, etc., and in very tangible ways, plant seeds of love, hope, future, systems, education, spiritual health… and over time, those seeds grow and spread through the community, slowly replacing the bad. It’s wonderful to see these growing pockets of good in places so dark.”

Trash Mountain Project is directly providing or partnering with other organizations to provide technical job training, food and nutrition, health care, and elder care. The organization, after eight years of service at the grassroots level, is now seeking to become more of a political force, advocating on behalf of these communities and the environmental devastation.

Durbin points to families who leave the trash dump communities as success stories. The work is, however, tricky. You can’t tell people they should leave. “So that’s something we’re not telling them to do. The last thing you want to do is minimize what they’re doing. I mean this is their livelihood.”

As their kids start to get better nutrition through Trash Mountain Project efforts to get them fed and educated, the families begin to appreciate the value of nutrition and seek out healthier food. When such families reach a point that their dignity is restored to the point that they both want to function and can function outside of the trash dump community, Durbin says that’s a win for him.

Hundreds of nonprofits learned to successfully use online fundraising to reach–or surpass–their goals with my crowdfunding training. Get my free guide to attracting media attention.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

This Social Entrepreneur Built An Organization To Serve The Youth Others Reject

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

Fresh out of college, Rob Gitin took a job working in homeless services along with one of his classmates, Mumtaz Mustapha. One day, she said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one day someone started a program that was specifically focused on the kids who either got kicked out of our program or who tell us that they’ve known about it for five years before they ever set foot in it?”

Over the months that followed, the conversation turned from someone else doing it to the two of them. One day, twenty years ago, with an Echoing Green Foundation grant deadline coming the next day, the two decided to apply for the funds to launch At The Crossroads, serving the youth no one else could or would in San Francisco.

Twenty years later, Gitin, now 43, is still at it. Mustapha left after four years to go to medical school and has become a financial supporter. Today, the organization has an annual budget of $1.7 million.

According to Gitin, there are about 4,000 homeless youth in San Francisco. At The Crossroads serves about 1,200 of them—the most difficult ones. They are the more likely to be targeted by law enforcement than by service providers. They struggle with substance use and mental health issues. Many are unstably housed and don’t identify as homeless and so may not seek out programs that serve the homeless. Some don’t trust service providers. Some simply don’t know services are available. Some have given up all hope.

The Power of Unconditional Support to Change Lives

“We believe that unconditional relationships can transform the lives of the people that we work with,” says Gitin.

“Our goal with these young people is to help them build outstanding lives as they define them and the basic model is about eliminating all barriers to access,” Gitin says. Building relationships of trust is key. “They have to know that you’re there for them through thick and thin and that you’re not just saying that but that you will actually live up to that.”

Rashad, Maxine and daughter Serenity (last name withheld) with Rob Gitin

Building trust requires time. “We are out there night after night after night. If it takes 50 times of seeing you before you want to take a pair of socks from me that’s fine.”

As in any other circle of influence, from venture capitalists in Silicon Valley to the inner circles of power in Washington, introductions from trusted members of the community can accelerate progress.

“If your best friend is next to you and that person gives me a hug and says, ‘Hey, this is Rob from At The Crossroads. He’s the one who helped me when I was in a real jam with my housing. You should talk to him about what’s going on.’ You may have just saved us years of trust building through the way that you kind of validated our relationship.”

Gitin’s work is complicated by the clients’ drug use. “I would say [drugs] are a very serious problem for about 30 or 40% of our clients. And substance use is a part of almost every client’s life that we work with,” he explains.

Still, asked about his biggest win, Gitin boasts: “ We’ve never kicked a young person out of our program. We can truly say that our support is unconditional. ”

“When you bring that into someone’s lives it can be as if like they have blinders that start to come off and they start to see this much more broad vision of who they can be in the world and what the world can bring to their lives.”

Housing Challenges in San Francisco

With the city sitting near the top of the list of most expensive places in the country, finding a permanent place to live is a challenge for almost anyone in San Francisco. It has become almost impossible for young people without a proper support network. And Gitin says the problem is getting worse.

“They are rarely able to just get a room and a roommate situation in the way that they may have been able to 10 years ago and having that option off the table has made it a lot harder for kids to succeed even when they’re working incredibly hard,” Gitin explains.

Problems with housing don’t just apply to the unemployed youth. “A shockingly high percentage of our clients are already working when we first encountered them. Somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of our clients are working and in many cases have full time jobs. But that is not nearly enough to prevent them from being homeless.”

Gitin says that to afford a studio apartment in San Francisco “you need to be working three or four minimum wage jobs—full time.”

Supportive housing options are extremely limited, too. At The Crossroads has relationships with four providers where they can place young people living on the streets but it can take months to get them moved in. “We’ve had clients wait for five months for a slot that was already theirs just because the process was so bureaucratic and challenging,” Gitin says with exasperation.

The Challenge Continues

Once a client is in housing, the problems don’t end. Conditioned by adults who abandoned or abuse them—or at least failed them as they perceive it—the youth have a difficult time in some of the supportive situations they are placed.

Youth on the street have a short-term planning horizon, Gitin says. “I think often the culture of what it takes to be young and survive on the streets can be actually antithetical to the typical structure of a nonprofit program–in particular a housing program. So, when you’re on the streets you are fiercely independent and you’re constantly having to prioritize yourself, your own safety and your own needs above everything else, you don’t think about or at least you don’t prioritize what happens 24 hours from now or 48 hours from now. You prioritize what will help me get through these next 24 minutes.”

This creates a huge gap between a young person’s experience and requirements for moving forward. “If all a young person has experienced with the adults in their life is that they hurt me more than they help me and that I am better off trusting myself. It’s a really tough transition to then be in a program where you’re told if you don’t blindly trust these adults and follow what they want you can’t be here anymore,” Gitin says.

At The Crossroads seeks to keep up with all of their clients forever, to be a resource and a help throughout their lives, in part so they can help them when they stumble.

“Although the process can take many years, ATC sticks with their clients and never gives up on them. What a gift to these young people who have been abandoned again and again during their lives,” says Mary Gregory, senior program officer for five family foundations at Pacific Foundation Services, and one of the founding members of the At The Crossroads board of directors.

Success Stories

The program, at least anecdotally, works. Gitin is proud of the impact the organization has on the individuals it serves. A few examples he mentions, include:

  • A client who now owns his own restaurant in Hayward
  • A client who just bought a home in Marin County by selling artwork, supporting his wife and three kids
  • A client who started his own merchandising business and now employs 20 people most would see as unemployable: formerly homeless, recently incarcerated, and those that have had substance abuse problems.

Wins may not be as frequent as Gitin would hope but he has chosen only to serve those who have been rejected by everyone else. He counts every win.

Hundreds of nonprofits learned to successfully use online fundraising to reach–or surpass–their goals with my crowdfunding training. Get my free guide to attracting media attention.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

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