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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

Philanthropy

This category includes stories about philanthropy, typically covering the generosity of individuals, families, groups of individuals and foundations (nonprofits primarily in the business of funding other nonprofits.

Matchbook Learning Claims Solution To Struggling Public Schools

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

K-12 education in the United States just ain’t what it used to be. (Please pardon my use of the vernacular to emphasize the point.)

Sajan George, Founder and CEO of Matchbook Learning, explains, “Our nation’s K-12 public education system is in need of a turnaround. Children born in the bottom 25% income zip code have just a 9% chance of graduating from college. Our nation’s schools continue to slide against international peers. We once ranked at the top of the world in how we educated our next generation and now we are in the middle. We are failing both as a country and particularly our children of poverty. Our country needs a sustainable, scalable turnaround solution.”

George is leading revolution in education that he hopes will turn this disturbing trend around.

George describes the effort, “Matchbook combines the best in both public school turnaround expertise and blended learning expertise. Our principals are some of the country’s leading practitioners in engagements involving ‘lead turnaround partners,’ blended school design and implementation and coaching of master teachers.”

He emphasizes the use of technology and customization. “We have brought this tri-fold experience together to target school turnarounds with a customized blended model that blends face-to-face and virtual instruction in brick-and-mortar schools via a 1:1 computing environment, while coaching teachers to personalize instruction for the benefits of each and every child in their classroom.”

The focus is to enhance education at schools with most poverty, George says, noting, “Our unique and innovative blended turnaround school model is the first of its kind in the nation to be offered to schools with the highest poverty rates and needs.”

George hopes to expand the program, asking that we “encourage parents, funders and government officials to allow conditions for these kinds of 21st century models of school to proliferate based on results with the conditions necessary for rapid, sustainable scale.”

On Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at 4:00 PM Eastern, George will join me for a live discussion about the problems facing K-12 education in the U.S. today and the Matchbook Learning solution. 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 Matchbook Learning:

Twitter: @matchbooklearn

Matchbook Learning is a national non-profit school turnaround management organizaiton. We courageously seek to turnaround some of our nation’s chronically failing K-12 public schools via our technology-enabled, personalized learning model of school. When we do, we believe that we will create powerful proof points that can transform the country.

George’s bio:

Sajan founded and leads Matchbook Learning, a national nonprofit school management organization launched in 2011 to turnaround our nation’s bottom 5% of under performing public schools with a unique blended model of school that leverages both online technology and turnaround management skills. Matchbook Learning has launched three successful school turnarounds in Detroit, MI, one in Newark, NJ and has plans to continue to expand nationally. Prior to founding Matchbook Learning, CEO Sajan George was a Managing Director with Alvarez & Marsal (“A&M”) where he led the Firm’s Education Practice. In that role, he led a diverse group of talented turnaround professionals across the U.S. in running entire K-12 public school districts. Sajan and his team at A&M employed turnaround strategies across major urban cities with precedent setting reform efforts in St Louis (2004 – first ever district to contract out its entire management to a private management firm), to New Orleans (successful post-Katrina success in designing the reopening of several schools within days after the levees historically broke – 2005 & 2006) to New York City (well chronicled turnaround and Broad Prize winner for in 2007 under Joel Klein) to Detroit (2009 & 2010 – historic State takeover and appointment of Emergency Fiscal Manager) with numerous mid-tier cities in between. Prior to A&M, Sajan was a Senior Director in Arthur Andersen’s Corporate Restructuring Group wherein he led turnarounds of companies in crisis across a range of industries in Canada, Australia and the United States.

Hat tip to Tara Russell at Fathom for the introduction to George.

Women With Disabilities Face Avoidable Challenges, This Nonprofit Seeks To Help

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

“It’s a tough fact of life that women with disabilities face challenges many of us cannot even imagine. But the tragedy is that many of their most difficult challenges could be avoided,” says Richard Ellenson, CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

Ellenson elaborates, “Women with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities receive basic healthcare services that are widely and persistently inadequate, inconsistent, and substandard. In fact, many physically disabled women experience life-threatening crises, and endure life-draining experiences, directly related to deficient medical care. All women deserve recognition and delivery of optimal healthcare; for women with disabilities, efforts aimed at improving their particular requirements for optimal healthcare delivery is urgently needed, deserved, and long overdue.”

To address this crisis, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation has launched its “Transforming Healthcare for Women with Disabilities” initiative.

Ellenson explains, “CPF, with the extraordinary support of 100 Women in Hedge Funds, has put together an innovative collaboration with four leading medical institutions – Columbia, UCLA, Harvard, and Northwestern – to create an organic team approach to addressing this issue.”

“We will spend our first year developing a model, and our second putting that model in place in a beta test. We will then spend that second year refining and evolving our approaches. Eventually, all the institutions will implement these new protocols and begin to share the work nationwide,” he adds.

Ellenson shared his vision for the future that will result from the current effort, “The success of this project will empower women with cerebral palsy to expect the same standard of healthcare received by us all. And give physicians the knowledge to finally deliver it. While women with cerebral palsy are the focus of this project, the outcomes will benefit many more women with physical disabilities including stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis.”

On Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at noon Eastern, Ellenson will join me for a live discussion about the new initiative, including further discussion of the problems facing women with disabilities and what he hopes CPF can do to alleviate those problems. 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 Cerebral Palsy Foundation:

Twitter: @yourcpf

The Cerebral Palsy Foundation is a 60 year old organization whose Chairman Emeritus is Paul A. Volcker. Our mission is to transform lives for people with cerebral palsy today – through research innovation and collaboration.

Our collaborative networks bring together great thinkers in science, research, and technology who work actively with us developing solutions to the most pressing problems faced by people with cerebral palsy and related disabilities.

CPF plays an instrumental role in a wide variety of initiatives – from improving basic healthcare to adapting new technologies which provide advanced access for gaming and therapies, to funding translational research and clinical application which allow individuals to leverages the enormous advances being made in the sciences.

The Cerebral Palsy Foundation is guided by a deep commitment to delivering innovations that can change lives today. We are driven not only by vision, but by experience. More than half of our Board members have children or family members with CP, or have the condition.

Richard Ellenson with his son Tom

Richard Ellenson with his son Tom

Ellenson’s bio:

Richard Ellenson brings enormous vision and energy to his role as CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. In his first year there, he has launched major initiatives that have helped evolve the Foundation and ready it for significant growth in its work and profile.

Prior to leading CPF, Richard was founder and CEO of two assistive technology companies (Blink Twice and Panther Technologies) which helped transform and reimagine the field of assistive technology. Said Alan Brightman, Founder of Apple AAPL +0.86% Computer’s Worldwide Disability Solutions Group and now Vice President for Global Accessibility at Yahoo YHOO +3.23%, “The mass market mentality Richard Ellenson brought to this market was unprecedented in the history of assistive technology.”

Prior to this work, he was an advertising executive who created memorable campaigns for brands such as American Express AXP +1.32% and Remy Martin, and who penned the classic line, “It’s Not TV. It’s HBO.”

Richard has worked tirelessly to create awareness about people with disabilities and to share stories about their vibrant lives. He and his son have been featured as ABC World News People of the Year, on CNBC’s Squawk Box , in a New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story, and as a feature on ESPN’s E:60.

Richard has been honored with many awards in the field, has served on several Advisory Councils and has also been the recipient of two NIH grants. Richard is a graduate of Cornell and holds an MBA from The Wharton School. He lives in New York City with his wife Lora, Director of Gynecologic Pathology at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell, and with his two very special children, Thomas and Taite.

Improving Your Nonprofit Through Skills-Based Volunteers

This is a guest post from Marjorie Ringrose, Director of Social Impact at Social Venture Partners Boston.

While it uncomfortably discounts the tremendous joy and value that comes with volunteering, there’s a volunteer-to-fundraising calculus that nonprofit and philanthropic leaders intuitively understand. People who volunteer for an organization are more likely to donate to it. They give larger contributions and donate more often and for longer periods of time than those who don’t volunteer.

One-in-four American adults volunteer with nonprofits, but few nonprofits use skilled volunteers as well as they could. Only 15% report volunteering their professional and management expertise. Most serve food, tutor children and provide transportation. These are certainly vitally important, but there is clearly more room for skilled volunteering. Why isn’t there more?

Is it because volunteers don’t want to offer their professional skills? No. The longevity of engaged philanthropy, the growth of corporate voluntarism, and LinkedIn’s more than four million members wanting do skills-based volunteering and/or join a board demonstrate professionals’ desire to volunteer their skills.

Marjorie Ringrose

Marjorie Ringrose

Is it because nonprofits don’t need people to volunteer their professional skills? Not generally. According to Taproot, two-thirds of nonprofits say they need pro bono help in areas requiring skill, such as marketing, human resources, and information technology.

Rather, it’s because many nonprofits don’t use their skills-based volunteers efficiently or effectively.

What a lost opportunity. Nonprofits miss out on valuable skills that could help strengthen and grow their organizations. And they miss out on engaging a population of volunteers that is not only sizable, but can also be significant and lasting donors.

Yes, identifying and engaging skills-based volunteers with the right professional experience and personality is hard. Finding and managing complex, lengthy skills-based projects is time consuming.

Organizations operating with an engaged (or venture) philanthropy model, which focus on donations of time as well as money, have practices in place to address this. Groups such as Social Venture Partners, New Profit Inc., Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, among others, have mobilized countless hours of skills-based volunteering for their beneficiaries and have, in many cases, secured those very volunteers as their own reliable donor base.

How do these organizations do it? They bring carefully vetted skilled volunteers to a small number of carefully selected nonprofits. They put the volunteers to work in carefully designed and managed projects that often get at the nonprofits’ most critical business challenges. They seek nonprofits who devote resources to stewarding these volunteers and with leaders who bravely expose their stress points and welcome volunteer involvement.

Effective use of skilled volunteers creates a virtuous cycle. Nonprofits get precious resources focused on their most pressing needs, volunteers feel like they are making a meaningful difference because they are being asked to do important work, in turn creating the deep commitment that can lead to even more (and more effective) volunteering and to significant, lasting contributions. Ultimately, it’s an authentic partnership that creates great value for everyone.

Marjorie Ringrose, Director of Social Impact at Social Venture Partners Boston, brings nearly 100 skilled volunteers and 3,500 hours of pro bono counsel annually to some of Boston’s best nonprofits @SVPBoston

Polio Outbreak In Ukraine Is Grim Reminder Of Need For Continued Vigilance

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Two cases of polio were reported in Ukraine this week, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, known commonly as the GPEI, weekly surveillance report. Both cases were a result of circulating vaccine derived polio virus. At the same time, the partnership of global organizations fighting to eradicate polio from the planet this year reported no new cases of the wild polio virus were identified anywhere in the world in the past week, despite the fact that it is now the high season for polio–a reason for cautious optimism.

The outbreak in Ukraine arose from vaccinations in country, World Health Organization spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer explained by email, “This strain arose in Ukraine, due to significant vaccination coverage gaps in the country. As many as 50% of children are under- or unimmunized, so there are many susceptible children, and this increases the risk of polio re-emerging or being re-introduced. This further underscores the danger of polio until it is eradicated completely. The best thing countries can do to protect themselves is to maintain high vaccination coverage.”

Rotary volunteer John Salyers immunizes a child in Ethiopia in 2014

Rotary volunteer John Salyers immunizes a child in Ethiopia in 2014

Europe has been polio free for five years, according to the BBC. Rosenbauer notes, however, that there is relatively little threat of contagion to nearby bordering countries, including Romania, “Countries bordering south-western Ukraine have relatively high vaccination coverage and good disease surveillance. But as mentioned, the possibility cannot be ruled out. The much greater threat is for further spread of this outbreak within Ukraine. Fifty percent of children are underimmunized, this gives the virus a lot of susceptible children to find and the chance to spread further. That’s the real danger at the moment, and that is why it is critical that an urgent outbreak response is implemented as rapidly as possible.”

One of the reasons that this outbreak doesn’t represent a major threat to public health because the circulating vaccine derived polio virus is typically less virulent, Rosenbauer said, “It’s true that this strain is comparatively ‘weaker’ than wild poliovirus. Ie it tends not to spread as easily, it tends not to cause as many cases. Nevertheless, we know that it is strong enough to cause paralysis, and two children are now paralysed by this strain. But in theory it should be easier to stop than a wild poliovirus outbreak.”

Ultimately, however, the threat is dependent on the response, Rosenbauer added, noting that “it all depends on how rapidly and urgently an outbreak response will now be implemented. A full and rapid outbreak response will stop this strain in a matter of a few months. But if the outbreak response is delayed or not fully implemented, then the virus will be allowed to continue to circulate and to continue to cause cases. So all depends on the quality and timeliness of the response. We’ve been very encouraged by the urgent measures the government of Ukraine has been putting in place this week, since finding out about the outbreak. Within 12 hours of receiving news of the outbreak, for example, the Minister of Health went on national TV and announced that the country was affected by a dangerous polio outbreak and of the need to implement urgent outbreak response. This commitment needs to now translate into a high-quality outbreak response.”

The outbreak is also a reminder for Americans opting out of immunizations that until polio is completely eradicated from the globe. Rosenbauer explains, “Diseases such as polio are only a plane-ride away. Polio can easily come back, and it is a virus that is extremely efficient at finding susceptible children. In the mid 1990s, poliovirus travelled all the way from India to find a community in the Netherlands, who had refused vaccinations. More than 70 children were paralysed for life. This is a dangerous disease, it is a painful disease, it causes lifelong paralysis. And there is no reason why any child should be affected by this disease any more. Safe and effective vaccines can easily prevent it.”

Notwithstanding the outbreak in Ukraine, there is reason for optimism in the global fight against polio. In the mid-80s, there were on the order of 350,000 to 400,000 cases per year. In 2014, according to the GPEI, there were 359 cases of polio caused by the wild polio virus, representing a 99.9 percent reduction in the number of cases. On average last year there were about 7 cases per week. So far in 2015, the number of cases is just 37, a pace of barely more than one per week. In Pakistan, the country with the greatest number of cases this year, there have been no confirmed cases since June 30. The most recent case in Afghanistan, where only eight cases have been reported all year, was on August 1, more than a month before yesterday’s data was published.

It is certainly premature to suggest that the August 1 case is the last case of polio from the wild virus, it is clear that the wild polio virus is on the ropes. There is good reason to hope that 2015 will feature the last case of wild polio in history. It will take some years of subsequent vigilance to be certain that the disease is truly eradicated, but 2015 could be a historic year.

Rosenbauer adds, “The job is not nearly finished, that is for sure. And if Ukraine shows us anything, it’s how unforgiving polio is to any area with significant vaccination coverage gaps. So efforts must be redoubled everywhere.”

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is led by Rotary International and includes the US Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dutch Social Entrepreneur Works To Save Lives In Africa With High Tech Stove

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

“ It is a little known fact that cooking is the fourth biggest killer in the world ,” explains Judith Joan Walker, Director and COO of African Clean Energy.

“It’s this huge invisible elephant in the room because, in the western world, we are so used to being able to waltz into the kitchen and whip up a healthy meal. In fact, cooking indoors kills more people than Aids, Malaria and TB combined; over 4.3 million people,” she continues.

Last month, I had the opportunity to meet Walker, along with a dozen other social entrepreneurs, at Santa Clara University, as I reported here.

Walker seems to take this personally, “This fact is sickening enough without considering that the majority of these people are women and children, and that their health is not the only cost. A third of the world cooks in a way that it is slowly killing them and the fact that its very expensive to do so is mind-boggling. For me that’s the real problem, and I haven’t even gotten into the environmental cost.”

So, Walker got after it, creating a radical new cookstove, “We have started manufacturing and distributing a multifunctional cookstove, that doubles as an energy source.”

Anyone in the international development world has been hearing about cookstoves for years now, but many stoves have failed to deliver on their intended results once deployed in the field. For instance, in Sheryl WuDunnand Nicholas Kristoff’s book, A Path Appears, they note that some studies have shown that reducing indoor smoke by 80 percent doesn’t yield an 80% improvement in health. Apparently, even a little smoke is enough to create the health problems stoves are intended to prevent.

Walker’s African Clean Energy stove burns a variety of fuels, including wood and charcoal, but with no emissions. The stove also features a small solar panel that can be placed out a nearby window or on the roof, powering a small fan in the stove as well as a USB device charger and an LED light.

“The price isn’t even a problem when you include micro-financing as an option, especially as the vast majority of our customers are able to save so significantly on their fuel costs due to the significant reduction in fuel consumption of such an efficient stove,” she notes.

“Our main mission now is to scale up our sales teams in a replicable way in order to ensure the success of our future markets,” she adds. “Sharing our story and helping us access a network of new potential partners is really the best way to help, and of course we appreciate advice and stories from those that have experience in these markets.”

While ACE , as Walker calls her African Clean Energy in conversation, is operating as a for-profit business, the company has a genuine social purpose in mind. “We have also started a small project within our home market, in Lesotho, where we try to donate as many stoves as we can to orphaned children and their elderly carers. This is such a huge problem there that we could not turn a blind eye to their need and so far we have been able to donate to almost 200 families! I am very proud that we are able to help those most in need and if anyone wants to help they are able to donate through our website.”

On Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 1:00 Eastern, Walker will join me for a live discussion about her efforts. 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 African Clean Energy:

Twitter: @acelesotho

African Clean Energy manufactures and distributes the ACE 1 Solar Biomass Cookstove, a cookstove that has the power to save millions of lives, halt deforestation and help people break the cycle of poverty. All of this can be achieved with one multifunctional and aspirational tool, paid for through microfinancing; allowing all those who need it most to easily afford it. ACE is a family company manufacturing in Lesotho, a LDC, and is an equal opportunities hirer with a 50% gender split.

Walker’s bio:

Twitter: @JudithJoanACE

Judith Joan is no stranger to travel and had lived in an extensive list of major cities before joining ACE full time in Amsterdam in 2014. Her background in film and television gives her a unique perspective on working in teams, and her multi-cultural childhood gives her the distinct advantage of understanding cultural differences and how to best achieve success in a foreign environment. Recently, she has taken the lead on strategy and operations, aiming to prove the ACE distribution and impact models in Lesotho and South Africa in order to secure funding for an East African roll out.

Proof That Good Deeds Can Lead: “Good News Network” Turns 18

This is a guest post from Geri Weis-Corbley, Founder and Editor in Chief of Good News Network.

Who says no news is good news?

There’s plenty of good news in the world—and yes, it “sells.”

I knew that long before other news media outlets had a clue, and created a positive news website, before even the first blog was invented in 1997.

It all started with a single nagging thought I kept hearing in my head while working in TV news in Washington, DC in 1982, two months out of college.

“Where is all the good news?”

Journalism colleagues at companies like CNN kept telling me, “Good news doesn’t sell,” but I refused to believe it. I often cited successful media personalities or properties that made a name for themselves with an optimistic slant: Oprah’s Angel Network, Charles Kuralt, Readers Digest and Parade magazine.

Maybe because of their goading, I eventually made it my #1 goal to PROVE that good news sells.

Geri Weis-Corbley

Geri Weis-Corbley

You see, the idea gnawed at me for years, like sand in an oyster, after I left the media business to raise a family. I remember the moment when our 5-year-old son was sitting in the kitchen while a gruesome Bosnia War expose started running on NPR radio. It was like a light switch flipped on for me.

It was early 1997 and the Internet was blossoming. I thought, ‘I can make a good news program on the Web,’ so I taught myself to code with html and launched a simple yellow website on August 31. Good News Network was born.

During the sad days of 9/11, the scary Wall Street Crash of ’08, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our traffic skyrocketed. People were looking for hope, for good in the world, and I was at home in Virginia delivering it to them.

This week, Good News Network celebrates its 18th anniversary– and the pioneering site for “good news” media aggregation has definitely come of age. In 2015, with hundreds of original stories being filed each month and the means to hire a staff for the first time, we have hit our stride.

Traffic has grown organically, with friends telling friends, and we are now serving more than 2.4 million pages of good news every month.

Although our website is completely free, our loyal and appreciative fans have been contributing financially as Members – some even giving voluntary pledges up to $500, when they get nothing more than a few small gifts in return. This is the Public Broadcasting model at work, which shows, above all else, the brand loyalty of an engaged readership that values our Daily Dose of News to Enthuse.

It is the proof that good news sells.

I feel so much satisfaction when I read the emails describing how my newsfeed has changed people’s lives, eased depression, and provided hope to the near-hopeless.

With more than 16,000 good news stories cataloged so far, we are branching out to podcasting and radio soon, with video on the horizon.

We are always looking for success stories and sweet tales of humanity—so go on, tell us something good!

About Geri Weis-Corbley:

Geri is the founder and Editor in Chief of Good News Network, the # 1 ranked site on Google for Good News. 

Carnival’s Fathom Sailing Toward Cuba ‘To Make A Social Impact’

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Carnival newest cruise line is sailing in a new direction; Fathom’s destination is social impact. Initially sailing with one vessel, the Adonia, Fathom passengers will visit the Dominican Republic and Cuba to work alongside locals as volunteers on water and other projects.

The brains behind Fathom, its President, Tara Russell, explained, “We didn’t want Fathom to be a ‘voluntourism’ company. We wanted Fathom to be so much more than that. So we found a way to leverage the resources of the world’s largest travel and leisure company (Carnival Corporation) to create a new kind of cruise that combines the love of travel with the desire to make a difference. Truly nothing like this exists today.”

“We created Fathom to give people an easy, safe and convenient way to make a social impact that is both meaningful to society and personally rewarding, ” she adds.

Russell describes the projects passengers will undertake, “In the Dominican Republic, for example, more than two million Dominicans do not have access to piped water. Fathom travelers will work with a local organization there to build water filters using clay and other natural resources to make healthy drinking water available to Dominican families.”

“Fathom will send thousands of travelers a year – more than 700 travelers on every trip – to Caribbean communities in need to work with our local partners and directly alongside local citizens on ongoing social impact programs in each community. This sustained and large-scale impact is what makes Fathom truly unique. Travelers will have the opportunity to make transformative societal contributions that will extend far beyond their individual involvement. It will be incredibly rewarding,” she concluded.

Fathom’s seven-day cruises to the Dominican Republic will start at $974 and those to Cuba will start at $1,800.

On Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 1:00 Eastern, Russell will join me for a live discussion about Fathom’s 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 Fathom:

Twitter: @fathomtravel

Fathom is a new kind of cruise that combines your love of travel with your desire to make a difference. Part of the Carnival Corporation (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) family, Fathom is the pioneer of impact travel, a new category of travel that will offer consumers authentic, meaningful travel experiences to enrich the life of the traveler and work alongside locals as they tackle community needs. Fathom is unique in that it leverages Carnival Corporation’s expertise and scale for a one-of-a-kind business model to create long-term collaboration with its partner countries, allowing for sustained social impact and lasting development. Fathom will serve the sizable and growing market of potential social impact travel consumers – approximately one million North Americans – in addition to global travelers already pursuing service-oriented travel experiences worldwide.

Russell’s bio:

Twitter: @taravrussell

Tara Russell is the president of fathom, a social impact company that offers a new category of travel, and global impact lead of Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest travel and leisure company. Russell generated the idea for fathom in 2013, and led research, design and development of the brand, business model and experience from January 2014 to launch in June 2015. She now leads the fathom team as it offers a unique experience to purpose-driven travelers who desire authentic, meaningful social impact opportunities. fathom provides the opportunity to immerse in another culture and community, and systematically work alongside that community to make relevant contributions that endure. fathom is the newest addition to Carnival Corporation, which is also the world’s largest cruise company with nine global cruise lines providing extraordinary vacations at exceptional value for nearly 11 million people around the world every year. Russell has responsibility for fathom and the corporation’s global impact programs and reports to Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation.

Prior to Carnival Corporation, Russell was Founder and CEO of Create Common Good (CCG, www.createcommongood.org), a non-profit social enterprise that provides training and employment to refugees and a wide variety of other populations with barriers to employment. Russell created CCG in 2008 in order to use food to change lives by empowering for self-sufficiency through a creative food-production social enterprise production model. CCG has delivered more than 100,000 job training hours, with an average employment success outcome of more than 90 percent, and returned more than $18 million back into the community via graduate earned wages. The organization’s noteworthy work to promote healthy eating habits through snack and grab & go production recently earned grants from Newman’s Own Foundation and the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. Russell is currently Chairman of the Board for CCG.

In 2007, Russell was part of the founding team of Jitasa, a for-profit social venture that provides affordable financial services to the non-profit industry and has become a profitable, global enterprise serving hundreds of global social sector enterprises, including Boy Scouts of America and many other large, scalable impact entities. Jitasa is a certified B-Corporation with offices in the US, Thailand and Bosnia.

Prior to this, Russell spent four years in Thailand, where she offered pro bono small business development training to nongovernmental organizations. Russell also co-founded NightLight, an international organization that addresses the complex issues surrounding trafficking and prostitution by offering alternative employment, vocational opportunities, life-skills training and physical, emotional and spiritual development to women seeking freedom from human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Russell started her career with a number of Fortune 500 companies, including roles in product development with Nike; technical sales and marketing at Intel; and engineering and manufacturing with General Motors. While at Intel, she was selected for the Emerging Leaders program and had the opportunity to work with the executive team. During her four years with GM, she was chosen to represent Saturn Corporation in the Shanghai GM New Vehicle Build & Launch Project in 1999 in China. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with Highest Honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

JDRF Is All About The Cure

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

This one is personal. I apologize now, but understand that I simply can’t be entirely objective about type 1 diabetes or T1D. My wife has had diabetes for over fifty years and my son has had it for nearly two decades.

Improved treatments have largely spared my son the sorts of debilitating consequences my wife has experienced, but hasn’t spared him from multiple daily injections, finger pricks, and the cumbersome tethers of insulin pumps and glucose monitors.

Derek Rapp, the CEO of JDRF, says that the organization dedicated to finding a cure for T1D is making progress.

Like me, he says, “JDRF was created—and is still led—by people with a personal connection to type 1 diabetes.”

Rapp adds, “It’s an exciting time for type 1 diabetes research, JDRF is on the verge of life changing breakthroughs that will fundamentally improve the way people live with type 1 diabetes. This progress isn’t by accident and, in fact, it directly reflects the vision, focus and investments of JDRF over the last decade.”

“Our work has led to new treatments for diabetic eye disease, the creation of first-generation artificial pancreas systems, and the first human clinical trial of encapsulated cell-replacement therapies that have the potential to replace insulin treatment,” he continues.

“Every dollar we direct toward our mission comes from our supporters and donors, who enable us to make real progress and propel us toward our goal of a world without type 1 diabetes,” he concludes.

On Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 11:00 Eastern, Rapp will join me for a live discussion about the JDRF’s progress toward finding a cure for T1D. 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 JDRF:

Twitter: @JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested nearly $2 billion in research funding since our inception. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers in more than 100 locations throughout the United States and our six international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D.

Rapp’s bio:

Twitter: @JDRFceo

Derek Rapp is President and Chief Executive Officer of JDRF. Prior to his appointment in 2014, Derek served as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors for JDRF International and was formally JDRF Research Chair. He has been involved in the research funding and oversight activities of JDRF since 2005.

From early 2001 until February 2011, Derek was Chief Executive Officer of Divergence, Inc., a science-based company finding solutions in the prevention and control of pest infections. He led the successful sale of the company in February 2011. As CEO of Divergence, Derek’s main responsibilities included developing and implementing the company’s strategy, ensuring suitable financing of the company, implementing relationships with licensees and collaborators, and overseeing operations.

Derek has also been an active volunteer with numerous leadership roles in different organizations, including JDRF International.

Derek holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University with concentrations in Economics and German and a Master in Business Administration from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Derek is married to Emily Rapp, and they have three children (Helen – 23, Turner – 21, who was diagnosed with T1D in 2004, and William – 18).

Social Entrepreneur Straddles Two Cultures, Ultimately Succeeds In Both

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Ajaita Shah, founder of Frontier Markets, a retail distributor of solar powered products in rural India, was born in the United States to Indian immigrants; a part of who she is has always remained connected to her roots. Last year, she was recognized by Forbes as one of the 30 Under 30. Recently, she was recently recognized by Acumen as a world-class social entrepreneur, having been invited to join the SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship.

Shah explained the challenges she faced trying to live in two communities at once. A member of the Jain Marawi religious community in New York City, Shah felt the extreme juxtaposition of her life. She lived in a close-knit religious community and at the same time in the larger, increasingly secular world.

“I realized I was meant to be an entrepreneur from college: my senior year of college (2005) was all about working on creating projects which brought me back to India regularly,” Shah said.

She goes on to explain the realities she faced when she started working on her business in earnest in 2009, “Initially, I did not understand what being a social entrepreneur was going to entail – I was merely focused on writing a business plan and then testing a pilot, and determining whether I was correct in my assumptions. I was lucky to have early mentors ready to help in the process and help me understand that in order to make FM work, I will need to invest my own money into the idea– and eventually Frontier Markets becomes my baby, my story, my future.”

The 2009 launch proved, however, to be a false start. In 2010 and 2011, she completely reinvented the business, moving from Andhra Pradesh to Rajasthan, a state with more sunlight and poverty–perfect for her solar power business.

About the same time, Shah’s cultural duality became a central part of her life. Agreeing to a traditional arranged marriage with a member of her Jain community, she began the next chapter of her life as a married woman.

Things improved and she made progress beginning in 2011. “Spending everyday in the field; trying to crack this model,” she says of 2011. “By 2012, I feel like I have achieved something. I grow the company, get more investors, [and] suddenly FM is on the radar of many social impact investors–what we’re doing works. Our philosophy of building last mile retail for solar is working. We start growing, and suddenly, I am no longer an entrepreneur, but a CEO.”

But the cultural duality of her life proved in some ways to be unsustainable. She explained, “2013-2014 was the toughest year for me as social entrepreneur, as a woman leader; managing a company in India is hard. Rules and regulations I do not understand; whom to hire, whom to trust? There are a lot of cultural barriers–though I am Indian, I can speak, read and write in Hindi–I am still very aware of not being a local. I make many mistakes, hire the wrong people, try things and fail – but with a supporting investor group, amazing advisors, and strong partners, I come on top.”

But success with Frontier Markets was balanced by the end of her marriage. She said her mother-in-law come “soap opera enemy” laid down the law. “At the end of the day, the message was clear: if I wanted to be married to him and his family, I would have to give up my dreams and stay at home with them; work as a hobby, not as a career. Speak when spoken to. Live the way you are expected to live, not desire.”

Last year, she notes, was a year of achievements, including the Forbes recognition and more recently the Acumen-SAP fellowship.

“Today, I am free. Today, I am empowered. Today, I have control. Frontier Markets is doing well; we have 225 retail points, have sold 50,000 solar solutions in Rajasthan, [and] I am leading a team of 40 people. FM and I have gotten a lot of recognition for our work. I have a loving and supportive family both in India and the US. I have set up a foundation in the US that allows me to share my experiences from the field, continue to bridge gaps in the energy access space, and also now think even bigger – global,” she concluded.

Frontier Markets received an investment from Acumen and Shah was named an entrepreneur in the SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship.

On Thursday, August 20, 2015 at 11:00 Eastern, Shah will join me from India for a live discussion about her work of bringing solar power to the masses in rural India. 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 Frontier Markets:

Frontier Markets is a sales, marketing and after-sales service distribution company in Rajasthan. Founded in 2011, Frontier Markets works with local channel partners and field staff to educate, relate, and reach households providing them access to high quality and affordable clean energy solutions. We create solar retail points in the last mile and support them with service centers and after-sales. We work with manufacturers to get the right products to our rural customers. We create women entrepreneurs which is the solar saheli campaign; as well as working with local rural villagers to build presence of solar in Rajasthan. To date, we have sold over 90,000 solar solutions and have created 800 retail points and 500 solar sahelis. Frontier Markets has expanded access to clean energy products including solar and clean cook stoves to its partners on the ground in Rajasthan, primarily, Centre for Microfinance and their NGO partners. We have worked on creating a program to empower women through energy access called Solar Saheli.

More about the SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship in collaboration with Acumen:

Twitter: @Frontiermkts

Acumen and SAP, global business software leader, have collaborated to create the SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship to accelerate the growth of social enterprises serving the poor in East Africa and India. Leveraging Acumen’s 14 years of investing in early-stage social enterprises and SAP’s global business and innovation expertise, this unique collaboration will bring together emerging and established CEOs committed to building sustainable, socially driven businesses, creating a more inclusive global economy, and expanding opportunities for the poor to lead lives of dignity and possibility.

Shah’s bio:

Twitter: @Ajaita_Shah

Ajaita is the Founder/CEO of Frontier Markets and the President of Frontier Innovations Foundation. Frontier Markets is a rural marketing, sales, and service distribution company providing access to affordable and quality solar solutions to low-income households in India. She has been working in India for 10 years in microfinance and clean energy distribution. She is a 2006 Clinton Service Corp Fellow, 2012 Echoing Green Fellow, 2013 Cordes Fellow, has been awarded the most influential award in Microfinance for people under 30, and Business Week’s 30 under 30 award, and most recently, Forbes Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year. Recently, she has been recognized as the #3 of top 40 women entrepreneurs of India in 2014, and Nasscom Foundation identified her as Women 2.0 of 2015. She actively speaks at conferences for the US Green Business Council, Universities, global forums. She has been an active educator, collaborator, and catalyst in helping scale clean energy access globally. Ajaita serves on the board of Frontier Innovations Foundation, a non-profit focused on last-mile distribution support for clean energy companies. As well as NASE, the National Association for Social Enterprises in India, a network for social enterprises. She is also an advisor to various social enterprises in India focusing on product development for the poor. She is an active member of the UN Practitioner’s Network, Asian Development Bank’s Energy For All Partnership. Ajaita Shah holds her B.A. in International Relations from Tufts University.

Proven Leader, Harvard Professor Explains How To Learn Leadership

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Robert Steven Kaplan , the former Vice Chair of Goldman Sachs, Harvard professor, venture philanthropist, author and regular guest on my show here on Forbes, will see his new book, What Your Really Need to Lead, published on September 15.

In anticipation of a return to the show, Kaplan shared some thoughts with me about his new book.

Kaplan said, “Leadership is one of the most important aspects of our society, yet there is enormous disagreement and confusion about what leadership means, and whether it can really be learned. I argue that leadership qualities are not something you either have or you don’t. Leadership is about what you do, rather than who you are, and it starts with an ownership mind-set.”

Kaplan says, learning to lead involves three key elements:

  1. Thinking like an owner
  2. A willingness to act on your beliefs
  3. A relentless focus on adding value to others

“Leadership is accessible to each of us, but it requires a process of hard work, willingness to ask questions, and openness to learning,” he adds.

“In the book I really try to demystify leadership and outline a specific regimen that will empower the reader to build his or her leadership skills. You need to ask yourself probing questions, and then take follow-up steps that will help you develop your skills, create new habits, and move toward reaching your unique leadership potential,” he concludes.

On Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 2:00 Eastern, Kaplan will join me for a live discussion about leadership. 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 What You Really Need to Lead:

Kaplan is the author of the new book What You Really Need to Lead. In the book, he writes that leaders in business, politics, and life are not naturally gifted: leadership is something that must be learned. The most powerful question anyone can ask in their daily lives is “what would an owner do right now?” If we look at the challenges and opportunities that confront us through this ownership lens, then we become leaders, and act in a way that benefits many people beyond just ourselves. Being a leader isn’t what you are—it’s what you do.

Robert Steven Kaplan

Robert Steven Kaplan

Kaplan’s bio:

Twitter: @RobSKaplan

Robert Steven Kaplan is Senior Associate Dean and the Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is also cochairman of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm, as well as chairman and a founding partner of Indaba Capital Management. Before joining Harvard in 2005, Kaplan was vice chairman of the Goldman Sachs Group. He divides his time between Boston and New York City.

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