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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


This category includes articles about nonprofit organizations and NGOs that are actively working to accomplish a social mission. The work of foundations that primarily work as grantors to other nonprofits is covered in Philanthropy.

To Optimize Impact, Follow Mother Teresa and ‘Start with the Person Nearest You’

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you. ~Mother Teresa

As I sit on the plane reflecting on my trip to Haiti, one key lesson comes to mind. Yesterday, I visited St. Damien’s hospital in Port-au-Prince and met the founder of Haiti Cardiac Alliance, Owen Robinson, a truly incredible individual and also met Rob Raylman, the CEO of Gift of Life International.

The interesting thing about both organizations was the the parallel in their founding stories. Each began by helping one person, presented to someone for help. In the case of Owen, he was working in Haiti and was presented with a girl who needed a heart surgery. It would have been reasonable for him to say that it wasn’t his job to arrange for kids to travel to the U.S. for heart surgery, principally because it wasn’t his job. But he did. Having done it once, he did it again and before he knew it, he was doing it a lot. And Haiti Cardiac Alliance was born.

Samantha Cadet, Haiti Cardiac Alliance patient number one. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Samantha Cadet, Haiti Cardiac Alliance patient number one. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Gift of Life was born of a similar situation. Back in 1975, a Rotarian in Uganda reached out to Robby Donno, a Rotarian in New York asking for help treating a child who had been mauled by a hyena. When Robby called back, the girl was already on her way to Australia for treatment, but the Ugandan said he had another child, this one needing a heart surgery. Robby and his Rotary Club agreed to help that one and did. Then they helped several more. Before long, Gift of Life was formed. Today, they report having helped almost 20,000 kids from the developing world get life-saving surgeries.

The stories are so similar you probably got bored reading the second one thinking you’d heard the story before.

On Monday, I met the guys at Carbon Roots and wrote about their work, which finally began to take shape when they actually did what their customers asked for. While obviously not the same story, actually doing what is requested does seem like a close parallel to helping the one nearest you. They stopped pursuing their big plan (use charcoal as fertilizer) and started doing what locals had been asking them to do for a long time (make eco-friendly charcoal for cooking).

On Tuesday, I met with a young man, Jude Tranquille, who had launched an entrepreneurship camp for his peers in Haiti. He was helping some of those nearest to him.

On Wednesday, I met the folks at HELP. Their founding story is almost identical to Haiti Cardiac Care and Gift of Life. Conor Bohan, the founder of HELP, was teaching at a Catholic school in Haiti and was asked by one of the girls about to graduate for $30 to go to secretarial school. When he probed, he learned she really wanted to go to medical school but couldn’t afford it. He arranged for the money for her to go to Medical School and HELP was born.

On Thursday, I met the folks at EGI. Their founder, Steve Keppel, was trying to find a way to help the students at the same Catholic school mentioned  above and launched an training program for young entrepreneurs. Again, he started with the people right in front of him.

The lesson I learned in Haiti is that Mother Teresa was right. Starting with the nearest person doesn’t limit your potential for impact, it simply proves your model. Once you prove the model, rinse and repeat endlessly and there will be no end to your impact.

Recap Of My Week In Haiti: In a Word, Amazing

My week in Haiti is coming to an end, tomorrow I hope to share a few concluding thoughts here at Tonight, let me review quickly some of what we’ve covered this week.

On Monday, I visited the Cap Haitien on the northern coast of Haiti, giving me some literal perspective on the country as I flew over the largely deforested countryside. Once there, I visited with the folks at Carbon Roots who now have the largest charcoal production in Haiti (a big deal since most Haitians use charcoal to cook) using an eco-friendly process using agricultural waste. Read my Forbes piece here.

Charcoal production at Carbon Roots. (Note that the material being burned to produce charcoal would be burned in any event.) Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Charcoal production at Carbon Roots. (Note that the material being burned to produce charcoal would be burned in any event.) Photo by Devin Thorpe.

On Tuesday, I spent the day with a group of Rotarians who were working to help young entrepreneurs here in Haiti. It was exciting to see the impact that the young organizers of the events had and how it all started at a young Rotarian/Rotoractor conference in Washington, DC–just what you’d hope would be happening at an international gathering of service-minded young leaders. Read my Forbes piece here.

Peterson Figaro, Smiff Lormier and Napoleon Rodolpho. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Peterson Figaro, Smiff Lormier and Napoleon Rodolpho. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

On Wednesday, I spent the day at HELP, an organization that provides amazing scholarships to underprivileged and overqualified college applicants in Haiti. The program is training a generation of leaders who will lead Haiti into a brighter future. Read my Forbes piece here.

Classroom addition at the HELP center. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Classroom addition at the HELP center. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

On Thursday, I spent the day with Isabelle Clerie who lead EGI, a venture accelerator that rejects that moniker but does the work anyway. She also introduced me to a couple of other amazing social entrepreneurs, Edouard Carrie and Fracois Benoit, the Haitian king of plastic recycling and the former ambassador to the U.S., respectively. The latter also has a farm on the roof of his house. Really. Read my Forbes piece here.

Francois Benoit, photo by Devin Thorpe.

Francois Benoit, photo by Devin Thorpe.

Today, I spent the day with Owen Robinson, the founder of Haiti Cardiac Alliance. He just flat out saves lives. He’s working to find every child in Haiti that needs heart surgery and to then make sure that every single one gets that surgery. With help from Rotary’s Gift of Life Foundation, I saw them in action today. It was difficult not to weep from joy or sadness at almost every turn. I’ll post my report on Forbes tomorrow if all goes well.

Medical team screens a child for a heart condition and possible surgery. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Medical team screens a child for a heart condition and possible surgery. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Let’s do some good!


Report From Haiti: Change Enough Lives And You May Change A Country

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

This is the third in a series of articles from Haiti.

Wilkins Jeangilles was raised in Port-au-Prince by parents who didn’t have the luxury of feeding him every morning before school. That didn’t stop Jeangilles from finishing at the top of his high school class. College, as it is for most Haitians, regardless of their talent and intellect, was virtually out of the question for Jeangilles. Even if he had started, he would likely have been like the majority of Haitians who start at one of the local universities but never graduate. Then along came an organization called HELP.

“With HELP, it was like I was studying in another country with computers, internet, books—everything!”

After graduation, he went to work as the finance officer for Trocaire, an Irish NGO here in the “Republic of NGOs.” About a year later, HELP itself came calling. Having lost their finance director, they asked him to apply for the position. Despite knowing him well, HELP put him through a thorough screening process.

Wilkins Jeangilles, photo by Devin Thorpe.

Deputy Country Director, Amber Walsh, says Wilkins is among the very best students to ever complete the program.

Jeangilles, who confidently describes himself as “humble,” believes he’d have entered and finished college even without the HELP scholarship. HELP provides housing, tuition, books, and a cash stipend for food and incidentals make sure the students can focus on learning. HELP also provides supplemental curricula in leadership, English and computer literacy. While the question of whether he’d have entered and finished college without HELP is actually impossible to answer, the odds are clear. With only 1 percent of high school students entering college and only a fraction of those graduating, it is highly unlikely that Jeangilles would be where he is today without HELP.

In the 1990s, Garry Delice, the Country Director for HELP, was the headmaster at the Louverture Cleary School, a remarkable Catholic boarding school for underprivileged kids that will figure in tomorrow’s report from Haiti, as well, when the founding story for HELP begins.

HELP Founder, Conor Bohan, was working as a volunteer instructor there at the school, when one of the most remarkable students, Isemonde Joseph, famously asked Bohan for about $30 so she could apply to secretarial school. He enquired to learn if that was really what she wanted, only to learn that she really wanted to go to medical school but didn’t have the money. Bohan raised the money to help her cover the relatively modest school fees.

Amber Walsh and Garry Delice. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Amber Walsh and Garry Delice. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Delice says he remembers Joseph well. She was a natural leader. He met her in 1993, a few years before she was to graduate and ask Bohan for help. She came to Delice, he says, complaining about the quality of the food at the school, which he agrees was substandard. She organized all of the students to individually approach the cook to ask for better food. It worked, he says, and he never forgot her leadership.

At the same time Jospeh approached Bohan, Delice was approached by another student with a similar request. Delice says he and Bohan split the responsibilities. From that early generosity, Bohan built HELP. He lived and worked in Haiti running the nonprofit until about 2008, when he returned to live in the states and focus on fundraising there. Delice joined full time in 2006, giving Bohan the ability to return.

Jeangilles, the young HELP graduate and HELP finance manager, success story isn’t just prospering. He’s recently married, noting that because of his Christian faith, “we didn’t even kiss before getting married.” He credits his self-discipline for his success, explaining that everyone in his high school was focused on sex and that he was focused on his studies instead. This year, he father passed away. He now supports his mother and younger siblings. HELP’s impact is far reaching.

Snaicah Sainval, photo by Devin Thorpe.

Snaicah Sainval, photo by Devin Thorpe.

Snaicah Sainval, a current student in the HELP program working on a degree in agronomy at Quisqueya University who is shy and reserved, is the first in her family to go to college; her parents didn’t graduate from high school. She is unequivocal; without HELP, she would not be in college, there simply wouldn’t be money.

She appreciated the selection process. A group of students about two- or three-fold the size of those to be admitted into the program, are invited to “orientation.” A misnomer, really, the three-week summer camp is focused on selection over orientation. The residential program is designed to see which students have the temperament for success in the program.

In a foreshadowing of their first year experience, students at the orientation are required to do some community service, always include some street cleaning. Because cleaning streets is relegated customarily to the least educated in Haiti it is a key test of wills to see who will enthusiastically pick up a broom and go to work at the menial task in order to gain admission to college that would normally mean never having to do that again. During orientation, the staff and students are monitoring the candidates to see which are ready for the HELP program.

During the first year of the program, students like Sainval, are required to organize a year-long service learning project. Typically these require some sort of physical work, like cleaning the streets. The goal however, is not just to develop a community spirit, but to give the students an opportunity manage and plan resources in an easy to understand context. Most have never had the opportunity to develop real leadership skills before.

Walsh, a Yale MBA who says she believe she is the only Yale MBA in Haiti, is focused on impact measurement, a discipline she appears to have brought to the organization. They’ve just begun a careful study comparing life and career outcomes for HELP graduates and similarly situated—bright, capable and underprivileged—high school graduates to see how the cohorts compare.

She notes that their graduates have near 100 percent employment, among those not currently pursuing graduate education. The average income is about $15,000 per year, more than seven times the $2,000 average income for high school graduates. Of the 30 HELP employees, 15 percent are HELP graduates.

Haiti’s brain drain is among the worst in the world, with most college graduates leaving the country; only 16 percent stay in Haiti. Walsh boasts that a remarkable 86 percent of HELP program graduates are in Haiti today; most of those who are not are studying abroad and intend to return.

The success of the program is clearly tied to the screening process. This year, they received 291 applications for 25 spots. The cut the field in half looking only at grades and national test scores. The essays from the balance became the primary criteria for determining which applications would be invited to the three-week orientation that Sainval so enjoyed. This gives them an opportunity to get to know the most well qualified applicants well, including who has family resources that would allow them to go to college without HELP’s scholarship.

Classroom addition at the HELP center. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Classroom addition at the HELP center. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Delice, still an instructor at heart, described his focus on leadership. Standing at the white board in his small office in the HELP central office, an old home that seems to have survived the earthquake well, with classrooms made of bamboo in front and behind, he writes down the five leadership pillars they teach the students so I can’t possibly fail to include them in my little notebook: courage, sacrifice, service, rigor and respect. Everything I see about the program, even the gentle chiding I receive from Jeangilles for returning later than anticipated from my dash to find lunch down the street, confirms that they live the principles as much as they teach them.

“I’m dreaming of having more HELP students working in government, in Congress. Why not have one become president?” Delice figures that creating this future isn’t wishful thinking, they simply need to create bigger classes with 100 to 200 students, a big, but reasonable jump from the 25 that just entered the program. He believes that restoring ethics and integrity to the Haitian government is the key to Haiti’s future prosperity.

Young Social Entrepreneurs May Want To Check Here For Impact Opportunities

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

This is the first of a series of reports from Haiti.

This is the second in a series of articles from Haiti.

Jude V.P. Tranquille, age 29, and living in Port-au-Prince visited Washington, DC for RYLA North America Conference, a meeting for members of Rotaract, a youth group associated with Rotary International. While there, he made a connection that would not only change his life but that has the potential to help infinitely more.

Tranquille met Jan Holz, a young man who splits time between the U.S. and Germany, something that is relatively easy when you work for Lufthansa. Tranquille expressed his desire to create some sustainable progress in Haiti, having been frustrated by the futility of much of the earthquake relief that focused on handouts that needed to be repeated in order to work. When he gave people food following the quake, he noted, they were hungry the very next day.

Jude Tranquille. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Jude Tranquille. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Holz got the picture and quickly they came up with the idea of hosting an entrepreneurship camp for young entrepreneurs. Jann solicited support from Lufthansa and HelpAlliance a nonprofit created by Lufthansa employees. Tanquille brought Devoted Servants, his own nonprofit. Together, they recruited help from the Rotary Club of Wall Street and the Rotary Club de Delmas-Aeroporte, among other supporters and sponsors.

In the summer of 2014, they held their first two-week camp for 28 young entrepreneurs. For 2015, they found 34 entrepreneurs, many of whom had heard about the camp from people who attended the first one. The second camp ran for three weeks rather than two and attracted a crop of somewhat more serious entrepreneurs, many of whom already had small businesses they were working to launch.

During my visit, I caught up with three of the founders of Novac, an ambitious group of young people planning to conquer the world, starting with backbacks. The three are Smiff Lormier, Peterson Figaro and Napoleon Rodolpho.

Peterson Figaro, Smiff Lormier and Napoleon Rodolpho. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Peterson Figaro, Smiff Lormier and Napoleon Rodolpho. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

They credited the camp with helping them to find key partners, including an embroiderer to sew their logo onto the backpacks and a workshop with dozens of sewing machines where they can produce their orders renting the shop by the day, radically reducing their capital requirements.

Prior to the camp, the three had done a round of fundraising, selling shares in their nascent business founded in March. After describing their round in basic terms and doing some quick calculations they reported that they had raised $2,000. They’ve already produced hundreds of backpacks and are negotiating an order to produce special backpacks for drones that could yield a gross profit of $5,000. In Haiti, their business is starting to get real.

Another pair of entrepreneurs that participated in the conference, was Diego Desulme and Jenny JeanJacque, founders of A-Tech (and newly engaged to be married). A-Tech is a social enterprise, focusing on helping young Haitians explore the opportunities available in the 21st Century by increasing computer literacy.

The A-Tech strategy is to publish booklets that provide training on how to use computers, so students can affordably prepare for their limited time in front of computers, which few can afford. Even in schools, access to computers is limited.

The books include some advertising that covered the printing costs. The books were then sold to other young entrepreneurs in bundles all around Haiti and were then resold to students eager to learn how to use computers.

The first year program was so successful that Lufthansa not only signed up to support the second year, but funded the production of a documentary film of the second year camp. The film was screened by the Rotary Club of Wall Street for visiting Rotarians and dignitaries from around the world last week at the Rotary UN Day and was apparently a hit with the audience.

Rotarians from around the world were involved in the Entrepreneurship Camp. Dominique Bazin, a Rotary Assistant Governor, provided local support in Port-au-Prince. Jack Guy Lafontant, President-elect for the Rotary Club de Petion-ville was also engaged. Susanne Gellert worked on the project on behalf of the Rotary Club of Wall Street.

Young social entrepreneurs may wish to check out the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards or RYLA, where they may make international connections that may help them find exciting opportunities for impact.

Reporting from Haiti

Today, I arrived in Haiti. This week, I’ll be reporting from here on my observations about the country.

Let’s be clear, I don’t expect to understand, much less figure out how to solve, the country’s many woes, but I do hope to identify people, entrepreneurs, and organizations that are making a difference here.

Haiti is widely recognized to be the poorest country  in the Western Hemisphere. That abstraction didn’t prepare me for my arrival in Port-au-Prince. My ride from the airport, which struck me as adequate, but inferior to many I’ve visited in the developing world, to the guest house I booked on Airbnb, allowed me to see that this may be the poorest country I’ve every visited. (My past visits in the developing world include struggling countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America over the last four decades.)

The people I’ve encountered here in my first few hours, are all delightful. In all my travels, I’ve never encountered such a friendly passport control officer. I greeted him in bad French and he responded in French asking me if I spoke French. I couldn’t even answer that simply question. He switched to English, which was flawless, and was quite forgiving.

Damage from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

The country of just over 10 million people was, of course, devastated by the earthquake centered here in Port-au-Prince.  Some 200,000 people died as a result of the quake–an almost unfathomable number. To put it into perspective, it would be as if every person in Salt Lake City suddenly died. My home town is the political center of a large metropolitan area with about 2 million people living in it, much as there are about 2 million people living in Port-au-Prince.

Stay tuned here this week for reports on the social entrepreneurs and nonprofits that I’ll profile. I hope that seeing their work will give me hope for the future of the country and provide models for this work elsewhere. After the quake, the mantra here was “build back better.” Lacking the perspective of a pre-quake visit, I nonetheless hope to get some sense of whether that is in fact happening six years on.


Toyo Tires Presents Meals on Wheels America with Donations and Tires To Help Reach Seniors During Harsh Winter Conditions

This is a guest post from Julie Sediq, senior manager of marketing communications at Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.

Last year the Boston area set a record for the most snow in a year. One storm in Detroit meanwhile was the third worst on record with over 16 inches of snow and at points during the winter, snow covered more than half the nation. As a company that makes tires, safe and effective travel in this weather is important to us and it’s even more important if your job is to deliver meals to the home bound elderly.

That’s why we are proud to partner with Meals on Wheels America to help deliver meals to local communities around the nation. We have committed to help the programs be successful in showing up and assisting with the safe and reliable delivery of critical meals and safety checks on homebound seniors across the nation.

Meals on Wheels America is a community-based service that provides fresh, nutritious meals delivered directly to the homes of seniors and individuals with disabilities. In addition to regularly providing healthy foods, caring staff and volunteers provide social connections that helps meal recipients remain living independently in their own homes. In some communities Meals on Wheels is expected to deliver as many as 90,000 meals in the upcoming year.

In October, Toyo Tires started making $5,000 cash grants and equipping 14 local programs with a new set of tires so drivers can safely make those important deliveries this winter. Most of the vehicles will be equipped with a set of Toyo Celsius variable-conditions tires–a just introduced tire that has better ice and snow traction than the all-season tires that are found on so many cars. They are especially helpful in communities where drivers face tough winter conditions. The grants will help the local programs prepare and deliver more meals, offset equipment costs and expand programs.

Here’s what some of the programs have said:

“Funding from Toyo Tires would allow Metro Meals on Wheels and member programs to continue to serve our mission to assure every senior in the Twin Cities who needs a meal receives one. Specifically, this funding would help to fund the food, assembly and delivery of 10,000 Blizzard Box’s for 5,000 seniors in the Twin Cities. This opportunity also opens up 80 volunteer spots to assemble boxes and make deliveries to those in need. Often times the daily delivery over lunch hour is hard for working professionals to commit to, this opportunity gives those who want to give back a one-time opportunity to do so.”

– Metro Meals on Wheels–Minneapolis, MN

“Being able to keep a vehicle on the road meals that 80 seniors will receive their MOW delivery each day.”

– Kit Clark Senior Services–Dorchester/Boston, MA

“By using this gift to offset the equipment repair costs outlined above, we will not need to pull out that money away from our food funding. For the $5,000 that will continue be available to us for food expense, we will be able to provide food delivery for four days of approximately 225 meals for seniors, per day.”

– Burlington Meals on Wheels–Burlington, VT

So far Toyo Tires has made donations and delivered tires to Meals on Wheels America affiliates in Detroit MI, Boulder CO, Kansas City MO, Salt Lake City UT, Green Bay WI,  Waukegan IL, Philadelphia PA, Burlington VT, Hartford CT, Dorchester MA, Providence RI, Scarborough ME, Holyoke MA, and Minneapolis MN. We hope to expand the program next year.

About Julie Sediq:

Julie Sediq is senior manager of marketing communications at Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. She manages public relations, advertising, promotions and social media for the company.


A Tragedy The World Will Celebrate

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

One day soon, perhaps in the next 90 to 180 days, a toddler in Pakistan or Afghanistan, let’s call her Aisha, will be stricken with a fever and will develop a permanent paralysis, probably in the legs; before long Aisha will be diagnosed with polio. What will make her case different from the millions of polio cases before it, will be that it will never happen again.

Friday, Rotary and UNICEF, held their annual World Polio Day to celebrate the progress being made in the global effort to eradicate the disease that once killed 2,400 people in a single year in New York City alone.

While this disease could not be eradicated without an effective vaccine and much credit is appropriately due Jonas Salk, credit must also be given to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the team of organizations that has been working to end polio since the mid-1980s. Their goal has been to deliver the vaccine to every child on the planet, ensuring that the poorest of the poor in the most remote villages on the planet are provided with the life- and limb-protecting vaccine.

Anthony Lake, UNICEF CEO; John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Anthony Lake, UNICEF CEO; John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

The partners in this effort, Rotary, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have worked since Rotary and UNICEF launched the effort back in 1988. At the time, approximately 350,000 people were diagnosed with polio every year.

So far in 2015, only 51 children have been diagnosed with polio, just a bit more than one case per week. This is almost 7 times fewer than we saw just last year when 356 cases were observed, about seven per week.

As the weather cools, the virus struggles to infect more children. So, it is hoped that this winter, inoculation efforts can snuff the virus out. With the world focused intently on the eradication of polio, every case is scrutinized.

Dr. John Sever, Vice Chair of Rotary’s International Polio Plus Committee and a former colleague of Dr. Salk, explained to me at the event that the genetic tracking of the disease suggest that despite the low numbers, a few strains of the virus continue to circulate independently in Pakistan and Afghanistan. A focused effort will be required this winter to bring an end to polio.

The battle is expensive, tallying over $10 billion since the 1980s. Rotary has, according to General Secretary John Hewko, contributed $1.5 billion to fight against polio. The Gates Foundation has become the primary private funder of the fight, but Rotary continues to raise money for the effort with a two-for-one match from the Gates Foundation. Rotary’s International Polio Plus Chair Mike McGovern made a plea for more donations to end the event.

Mia Farrow, a polio survivor herself and mother of an adopted son with polio, delivered a video message at the event. She was the first of the evening to note that eradicating polio will yield a $50 billion dividend.

The infrastructure put in place to fight polio has already been deployed in the cause of other diseases, most notably the Ebola epidemic. In addition, the work has improved access to routine immunizations for other diseases as well.

The effort has not been without opposition. In fact, as Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s CEO reminded the global, live-streamed audience, polio warriors are “risking—and sometimes losing—their own lives in the effort” to save other lives. Dozens of health workers have been murdered in recent years, mostly in Pakistan, specifically because they were providing polio vaccines. Lake called the workers “heroes.”

Noting how close we now are to eradicating polio, invoking a football metaphor, Lake said, “When the goal line is this close, we cross it.”

Jeffery Kluger of Time Magazine, who acted as the moderator for the evening’s event, reminded the audience of the 1916 polio epidemic in New York that cost 2,400 children their lives. The live audience sitting in New York was particularly struck by this statistic.

Kluger then asked the CDC’s John Vertefeuille to explain the roles played by the two polio vaccines over the years. Salk’s vaccine, an inactivated virus, is injected and is now used throughout the developed world. It provides immunity to all three types of polio virus (1, 2 and 3, as they are unimaginatively known). The Sabin vaccine, developed a few years later, is a live, attenuated virus that is delivered orally. The Sabin vaccine is also a trivalent version, but in recent years a bivalent version (omitting the type 2 virus) has been developed and used with great success. The type 2 wild polio virus was eradicated in 1999.

Vertefeuille explained that the developing world is now incorporating the Salk vaccine, commonly referred to as the IPV, which is injected, into their routine immunization programs. This is a critical step in the final eradication of the disease as the bivalent oral vaccine, on rare occasion leads to children becoming ill and spreading the disease. This less virulent form of the disease does leave some patients paralyzed. Hence, the need to switch to the IPV, which cannot lead to a circulating virus.

Jeffrey Kluger, Editor at Large, TIME; Dr. Jennifer Bremer, The Doctors. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Jeffrey Kluger, Editor at Large, TIME; Dr. Jennifer Bremer, The Doctors. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Dr. Jennifer Bremer of the television show The Doctors, took a few moments on stage to plead with parents in the United States to continue to have their children vaccinated. She explained the principle of herd immunity that comes from having a threshold proportion of a population immunized. For polio, she said, the threshold is about 80 to 85 percent. When the threshold isn’t met, the risk of an outbreak grows, she explained. She suggested that the reasons people don’t have their children vaccinated is due to misinformation or a lack of information. She concluded by saying, “Everyone who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated.”

Jeffrey Kluger, TIME, with actor Archie Panjabi, Rotary Polio Ambassador. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Jeffrey Kluger, TIME, with actor Archie Panjabi, Rotary Polio Ambassador. Photo by Devin Thorpe.

Near the end of the program, Kluger shared the story of being approached by his then nine-year-old daughter as he was doing research on polio. She saw the image of a young girl suffering from the paralyzing effects of polio and asked him if she could catch the disease. Knowing she had been properly immunized, he was grateful, he says, to be able to say in four simple words, “No, honey, you can’t.”

Tragically, our “Aisha” will contract polio within the next unknown number of months. At first, no one will take particular note of her case as the global surveillance teams monitor weekly data coming in from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the rest of the world, but no other cases will come. It will take years to certify the world as truly polio free. As time without polio increases, Aisha will, ironically, become a celebrated symbol of the eradication of this disease.

Soon, if not this winter then next, every parent on the planet will be able to answer their children’s inquiries about contracting polio just as Kluger did his, with the simple four-word response, “No, honey, you can’t.”

This Solution To Poverty In Slums Needs To Be Rapidly Replicated

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The townships in South Africa are some of the largest slums in the world.

“The odds are stacked against children growing up in Port Elizabeth’s townships. Abject poverty, particularly amongst the country’s black population, is pervasive,” explains Jacob Lief, Co-founder and CEO of Ubuntu Education Fund, which works to solve problems associated with poverty in Port Elizabeth’s townships.

Lief sees the extreme gap between rich and poor in South Africa as a root of the problem, noting that South Africa is the 2nd most unequal country in the world–without noting which country is worse. “This widening gap between the haves and the have-nots permeates society. While the elite receive quality private healthcare, South Africa’s poor are forced to rely on public clinics. Plagued by shortfalls of doctors, service interruptions, and infrastructure backlogs, these facilities cannot fully address the country’s HIV/AIDS and TB crises,” Lief says.

Education isn’t a panacea, he says. “Facing these economic and medical barriers, many South Africans believe that education has the potential to act as a great equalizer. Yet the education system is equally fraught with challenges. Children growing up in Port Elizabeth’s townships lack access to quality healthcare and education, and face unstable homes everyday.”

So Ubuntu has developed a unique cradle to career program to support 2,000 children in the townships that Lief calls the Ubuntu Model, “a strategy that has received international acclaim from Bill Clinton to the World Economic Forum.”

The model has four tenets, he says:

  • A comprehensive, cradle to career pathway out of poverty that encompasses sustained household stability services (home assessments, child protection services, and psychosocial counseling), life-saving healthcare (HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis programs, sexual and reproductive support, primary and preventative medicine, and nutritional consultations), as well as dynamic educational programs (from early childhood education to university scholarships and job readiness training)
  • Depth rather than breadth of impact by continuously improving program quality to meet the ever-changing needs of clients
  • Localized, grassroots development contextualized to mitigate the specific challenges that Port Elizabeth’s townships face
  • Sustainable investments in community leadership, capacity, and infrastructure

The results of the program are impressive.

Lief exults, “Ubuntu’s impact is transformative– from HIV-positive mothers giving birth to healthy, HIV-negative babies, to vocational-tracked youth in our Ubuntu Pathways (UP) program securing employment. Within just four years of joining Ubuntu, 82% of clients are on-track towards stable health and employment.”

“An independent study conducted by McKinsey & Company found that every $1 invested in an Ubuntu child will yield $8.70 in real lifetime earnings for that individual. Ubuntu graduates will contribute $195,000 to society, while their peers will cost society $9,000. Ubuntu graduates attain successes that few in their community ever realize and, in doing so, they are redefining what the world believes to be possible in disadvantaged communities,” he enthusiastically continues.

It seems daunting to consider expanding such an intensive program to other communities, but this is exactly what Lief hopes to see. “The Ubuntu Model is a blueprint for sustainable grassroots development– one that should be replicated and contextualized for communities across the world.”

On Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 2:00 Eastern, Lief will join me for a live discussion about the program and its impact in Port Elizabeth. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Ubuntu Education Fund:

Twitter: @ubuntufund

Founded in 1999, Ubuntu Education Fund ( is guided by a simple, all-encompassing, yet radical mission: to help raise Port Elizabeth’s orphaned and vulnerable children by giving them what all children deserve—everything. Ignoring traditional development models, Ubuntu redefined the theory of “going to scale”, choosing to focus on the depth rather than breadth of our impact. Our holistic cradle to career model provides children with comprehensive household stability, health, and educational services, enabling them to break cycles of disenfranchisement and inequality. The success of our model is unprecedented, and we are currently transforming the lives of 2,000 children and their families.

Lief’s bio:

Twitter: @ubuntujakes

Jacob Lief is Co-Founder and CEO of Ubuntu Education Fund, a non-profit organization that takes vulnerable children in Port Elizabeth, South Africa from cradle to career. Nuancing traditional development models, Ubuntu redefined the theory of “going to scale”; rather than expanding geographically, they focus on the depth rather than breadth of their programs within a community of 400,000 people. Ubuntu’s programs form an integrated system of medical, health, educational and social services, ensuring that a child who is either orphaned or vulnerable could succeed in the world of higher education and employment. Ubuntu’s child-centred approach highlights the difference between merely touching a child’s life versus fundamentally changing it. In 2009, Jacob was selected as an Aspen Institute Global Fellow and, in 2010, he was recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader. In 2012, he joined the Clinton Global Initiative Advisory Committee. He is currently a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. Jacob has authored a book, I Am Because You Are, focused on his journey in South Africa and the creation of Ubuntu Education Fund, published by Rodale Inc. in May 2015.

Author: To Do More Good, ‘Focus On Impact’

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Wendy Lipton-Dibner, the bestselling author who has just seen her latest book, Focus on Impact, published has focused her career on helping people put results and outcomes ahead of financial returns with the reassurance that by focusing on impact, the money will come.

When Lipton-Dibner talks about “impact,” she’s using the word in a more traditional sense, meaning non-financial outcomes and results rather than its use in social enterprise circles with a focus on social good.

That said, her focus on traditional impact is highly relevant for the socially conscious–and her message is good news for social entrepreneurs. As we focus on impact, she says, success will come.

In preparing for this piece, I asked Lipton-Dibner for three tips to help social entrepreneurs have more impact. Here’s what she shared:

  1. Best practice isn’t always smart practice. If your business goal is to make a lasting and profitable impact, traditional business models won’t get you there. Research of over 1000 multi-national enterprises, hospitals, private practices, non-profit organizations and small businesses has shown the more people focus on increasing profitability, the more money they end up spending to make up for problems they caused by focusing on money. The answer:  Focus On Impact in every area of business from visualization to execution, internally and externally.
  2. Capitalize on the social shift. Gone are the days when we trust the words of the CEO who reassures us his/her products and services are best in class. Consumers have learned the hard way that just because we say we can help them, doesn’t mean we will. They’ve learned to trust shoppers more than sellers. They’ve become cynical, skeptical and cautious. The traditional “voice of authority” has shifted from business to consumer and this social shift has created the “Era of Sampling” – a try-before-you-buy economy in which impact is the new global currency. Now is the time to take control over the shape of your impact, the size of your impact and the rewards you reap as a result of your impact.
  3. Maximize your unique impact. You’ve been impacting people since the first moment you kicked inside your mother’s womb. Every since that moment you’ve impacted hundreds – perhaps thousands of lives – simply by interacting with people and bringing your unique combination of DNA, social experiences, education, skills, perspective and personality to the world. In business, your unique impact carries an extraordinary opportunity. Every email, every post, every tweet, the simple act of answering your phone, leading a meeting or talking to a stranger – everything you do and everything you don’t do has an impact on someone else. The secret is to define your unique impact and strategically infuse it into your marketing, products and services to create the one-of-a-kind, measurable impact that will set you apart as the go-to in your industry.

On Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 6:00 PM Eastern, Lipton-Dibner will join me here for a live discussion about her insights for having more impact. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Professional Impact:

Professional Impact, Inc. is an international training and consulting firm, specializing in helping experts, executives and entrepreneurs maximize and capitalize on the unique impact they bring to people’s lives through one-of-a-kind messaging, products and services. Since 1983 we’ve had the privilege of serving hundreds of thousands of people in corporate, healthcare, small business, non-profit and entrepreneurial industries through in-house training and consulting, international bestselling books, live events, online training programs, world-class speaking engagements and media interviews. Our mission is to make an impact on people’s lives so they, in turn, can make an impact on every life they touch.

Lipton-Dibner’s bio:

Twitter: @impactexpert

Wendy Lipton-Dibner, M.A. is the world’s leading authority on business development through impact strategy. President of Professional Impact, Inc. and founder of The Action Movement™, Wendy is internationally-recognized for her unparalleled ability to help clients grow profitable businesses by maximizing and capitalizing on the impact they bring to people’s lives through their message, products and services.

Christian Organization Works To Restore Peace In Violent Honduras

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Honduras may have the highest murder rate in the world. The Christian organization called the Association for a More Just Society (AJS) is working there exclusively to help restore peace to a traumatized population.

Co-founder Dr. Kurt Alan Ver Beek explains the situation, “Honduras’s violence is widely reported on. It’s been listed as having the highest or one of the highest homicide rates in the world for the last several years. Honduras’s systems of laws and justice are very weak, they are applied unfairly (the poor are neglected), and they suffer from endemic corruption. As an example, an AJS study in 2014 found that 96 percent of homicides in Honduras never result in a guilty conviction. With such an ineffective system, what’s to stop the violence?”

“As a result, drug traffickers have flocked to Honduras as a haven for their illicit activities and have aggravated the situation,” he adds.

And these issues are just the tip of the iceberg Ver Beek describes. “At the same time, public services offered by the Honduran government have been hemorrhaging resources to corruption.”

AJS has programs to address peace and public security on one hand and corruption on the other.

Ver Beek describes three of the peace and public security initiatives:

  1. Violence prevention programs in dangerous neighborhoods that work with 350 especially at-risk youth and their families
  2. Teams of investigators, lawyers, and psychologists who solve homicides (84 arrests in 2014) and sexual abuse cases (17 arrests in 2014) in poor neighborhoods — helping to amend the broken bonds of trust that perpetuate violence
  3. Investigations and data-driven advocacy that inform public policy — helping to reduce the national homicide rate by more than 20 percent in the last three years

Similarly, he lists five anti-corruption initiatives:

  1. A watchdog journalism team
  2. Social auditing of the public health and education systems (brought accountability that kept public schools open for more than the government-mandated 200 days, instead of the 125 days of class they had been averaging)
  3. A legal team that helps investigate and report cases of corruption (helped bring 13 government officials to trial related to corruption in the public medication warehouse)
  4. Land rights reform (125 corruption cases reported)
  5. In-depth investigations into five government divisions (part of an agreement between the Honduran government, Transparency International, and AJS)

Ver Beek reports that real progress is being made. “Based on our experience uncovering and working to reform the medication purchasing system, in March of 2014, an independent trust became responsible for the buying and distribution of pharmaceuticals to state-run hospitals. Purchases made by the trust are handled by the United Nations Office for Project Services with technical assistance from the Pan American Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund. AJS and other civil society groups are providing independent oversight of the trust, plus the delivery of medications. AJS is now seen as a Honduran civil society leader in reforming the public health system and dislodging corruption from it.”

On Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 4:00 Eastern, Ver Beek will join me here for a live discussion about the dangerous and important work of AJS in Honduras. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about the Association for a More Just Society:

Twitter: @ajs_us

AJS is a Honduran NGO that is focused on issues of anti-corruption and anti-violence in Honduras. Honduras continuously has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, and the police/justice system is broken to the extent that there is a 96% probability that a murder will never reach a guilty conviction. This is the reality that AJS is working to change — and the dangerous context in which the organization is operating. The range of AJS’s projects is significant, however the efforts that have received the most international attention involve teams of AJS investigators, lawyers, and psychologists who help to ensure convictions in homicide and child sexual abuse cases. As an example of these efforts, AJS has faithfully worked in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa — and has witnessed a drop of more than 75% in the neighborhood’s homicide rate. AJS also operates an investigative journalism website, runs a corruption report hotline, performs extensive corruption investigations, does policy advocacy, and organizes social audits of the public health and education systems. AJS is a Christian organization, and its staff is made up of about 100 brave Hondurans dedicated to making Honduras’s system of laws and government work properly to do justice for the poor. This work involves certain risk, and in 2006 an AJS lawyer was assassinated on his way to court. It should also be noted that AJS is the Honduran chapter of Transparency International.

Dr. Ver Beek’s bio:

Dr. Kurt Alan Ver Beek has lived and worked on development and justice issues in Central America for more than 25 years. Kurt directs Calvin College’s Justice Studies semester in Honduras and has conducted research on the role of faith in development, the effects of short-term missions, and the impact of the maquila industry on Honduras. He is also a co-founder and board member of the Association for a More Just Society (AJS), a Christian justice organization with a specific focus on Honduras. By standing up for victims of violence, labor and land rights abuse, and government corruption in Honduras, organizations around the world, including Transparency International and the United Nations, are increasingly recognizing AJS as a pioneer in achieving justice for the poor. In addition to fighting against drastic crime in Honduran neighborhoods, AJS works towards peace and public security reforms on a national level.

Kurt received his B.A. in sociology from Calvin College, his M.A. in human resource development from Azusa Pacific University, and his Ph.D. in development sociology from Cornell University. Kurt and his wife, JoAnn Van Engen, are originally from the Midwest, but have made Honduras their home since 1988. In 2001, they moved to one of the poorest communities in the capital city of Honduras. Living there has greatly influenced their understanding of how corruption and violence affect the most vulnerable.


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