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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

Monthly Archives: March 2014

John Hewko, Head Of Rotary, Explains Polio’s Legacy

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

If you ask someone crippled by polio about the legacy of polio, you would likely hear about the life-altering implications of the horrid disease. When you ask the partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative–Rotary International, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation–you will get another answer altogether.

Polio’s real legacy, they say, is in the infrastructure established to eradicate the disease, which can be used to battle all infectious diseases. Add to that, the clear implication that mankind can radically shape the environment in which we live for the better within time scales that individuals–not just humanity–can appreciate and you begin to see a different picture.

On March 31, 2014 at noon Eastern, John Hewko, the General Secretary of Rotary International–the senior-most paid executive in the organization–will join me to discuss the end game strategy for completing the eradication of polio and the legacy the effort leaves behind.


John Hewko, General Secretary, Rotary International

Tune in then and listen while you work.

Hewko’s bio:

John Hewko is the general secretary of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.

From 2004 to 2009, Hewko was vice president for operations and compact development for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government agency established in 2004 to deliver foreign assistance to the world’s poorest countries. At MCC, he was the principal United States negotiator for foreign assistance agreements to 26 countries in Africa, Asia, South America, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union. During his tenure, he completed the negotiation of assistance agreements totaling $6.3 billion to 18 countries for infrastructure, agriculture, water and sanitation, health, and education projects.

Prior to joining MCC, Hewko was an international partner with the law firm Baker & McKenzie, specializing in international corporate transactions in emerging markets. He helped establish the firm’s Moscow office and was the managing partner of its offices in Kyiv and Prague.

While working in Ukraine in the early 1990s, Hewko assisted the working group that prepared the initial draft of the new Ukrainian post-Soviet constitution and was a charter member of the first Rotary club in Kyiv.

Hewko has been a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has published papers and articles in leading U.S. and international publications, and he has spoken extensively on political and business issues dealing with the former Soviet Union, Central Europe, Africa, and Latin America. He is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.

Hewko holds a law degree from Harvard University, a master’s in modern history from Oxford University (where he studied as a Marshall Scholar), and a bachelor’s in government and Soviet studies from Hamilton College in New York.

As general secretary, Hewko leads a diverse staff of 800 at Rotary International’s World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, and seven international offices. Hewko is a Paul Harris Fellow. He and his wife, Margarita, live in Evanston.


Jesuit Colleges Jump Into Social Entrepreneurship

Dr. Thane Kreiner of Santa Clara University, Center for Science, Technology, and Society leads the program to establish social entrepreneurship programs at Jesuit colleges across the country.


According to a publicist, Santa Clara U’s Global Social Benefit Incubator, which taps into Silicon Valley expertise to help social entrepreneurs in third world countries, has spawned 202 enterprises, impacted nearly 100 million people. Forty percent of the social enterprises they have worked with are scaling and financially stable and 90 percent are still in business. They have helped Social Enterprises raised $89 million. Now, the GSBI® Network, a growing group of Jesuit universities and other mission-aligned institutions with a common focus on leveraging social enterprise for social benefit, is multiplying the incubator’s impact by sharing curriculum, methods, best practices and other resources for launching and operating social enterprise incubators and accelerators.

On March 31, 2014 at 5:00 Eastern, Dr. Kreiner will join me for a live discussion about the growing social entrepreneurship program.

Tune in here then to listen while you work.

Dr. Kreiner’s bio:

Howard and Alida Charney University Professor of Science and Technology for Social Benefit
Thane Kreiner, PhD, is Executive Director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University. Thane was previously Founder, President, and CEO of PhyloTech, Inc. (now Second Genome), which conducts comprehensive microbial community analysis for human health applications. He was Founder, President, and CEO of Presage Biosciences, Inc., a Seattle-based company dedicated to bringing better cancer drugs to market. Thane was the start-up President and CEO for iZumi Bio, Inc. (now iPierian), a regenerative medicine venture based on the break-through iPSc (induced pluripotent stem cell) technology. Prior to his efforts as a “parallel entrepreneur”, Thane spent 14 years in various senior leadership roles at Affymetrix, Inc., which pioneered the DNA chip industry. Thane currently serves on the Board of Directors for the BioBricks Foundation and as a Board member for Didimi, Inc.. Thane earned his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business; his Ph.D. in Neurosciences from Stanford University School of Medicine; and his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Texas, Austin.

Sam Renick And The Kids He Teaches Are Having Fun Learning To Save Money

Sam Renick’s, founder of It’s a Habit, is striving to teach young people to save money by using catchy tunes that are fun to sing. The remarkable thing is, according to Sam, it’s really working!

The following video will help you understand quickly just what Sam is up to:

Sam is working with schools and parents to help teach young people how to manage money wisely before it’s too late.


On March 31, 2014 at 2:00 Eastern, Sam will join me for a live discussion about his program.

Tune in here then to listen while you work.

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

Sam’s bio:

Sam X Renick is an award winning author, songwriter, financial educator, and social entrepreneur. Sam founded the social enterprise “It’s a Habit!” and co-created children’s character, Sammy Rabbit, to help parents and teachers more effectively share lessons with children on great money, reading, and writing habits. Sam and Sammy have read their stories and sang their songs directly promoting financial education to over a quarter million children in 8 countries. The tools Sam and It’s a Habit have developed have had the unique distinction of being used by others to win national and regional awards on three different levels: University, Corporate, and High School Teen Trainer. Team Sammy is now in the process of launching the world’s first, music driven, “early age” financial education program titled “Dream Big Set Goals!” The online program is FREE of charge and can be accessed at

Devin D. Thorpe

My World Water Day Promise: No More Showers for Me

This is a guest post from Sarah Evans, Founder and Executive Director of Well Aware.

March 22 was United Nations World Water Day, and many people took time to recognize global water issues. Some attended events and possibly even thought about water conservation and the importance of water in their own daily lives. But there is a group of people in Austin, Texas who recognized World Water Day by forgoing showers for a week to bring attention to, and raise funds for, clean water for people who have none.

We are inundated with statistics about lack of clean in places like Africa, and the saturation of “water charity” work in the philanthropic media space has become a continual buzz that many have started to tune out. Moreover, what we’re told about water charity and how it impacts the people it’s supposed to serve is confusing and, at times, insincere.

The sobering reality is that almost one billion people in the world still suffer from lack of access to clean water. What’s worse is that more than 60 percent of “water aid”, albeit well-intentioned, is tragically ineffective.

I started an organization to get water to people who have none. Then, I grew it to address all of the issues that challenge the success of water aid, so that all of our water systems work and are sustainable. All of the communities we have worked with are thriving. (You can see how we operate and the projects we’ve completed at our website:

Our successful model and hard work alone aren’t enough to achieve our goals. We still have to come up with the resources that the communities lack to kick-start their prosperity. So, we invented the Shower Strike.

Before we broke ground on our first water well, our small, scrappy team sat on the floor in my living room (likely killing a bottle of wine), brainstorming about how we could raise enough money to pull off our first project. One of our very creative members said something like, “Hey, Sarah, you don’t shower anyway. Let’s all go on Shower Strike.” My personal hygiene wasn’t that compromised by most standards, but I worked from home at the time, and, well, why bother if no one is going to see you that day, right? We all had a belly laugh about it, but then we thought we might be onto something. What better way to bring attention to this crucial cause? And, our friends and family will likely be motivated to fund our campaign if it meant we would resume our regular washing.

So, in August of 2009, in the scorching heat of a Texas summer, we launched our first Shower Strike awareness campaign and fundraiser. We talked 12 of our friends into joining us, and we all vowed to eschew the shower until we raised our goal amount toward our first water well.

Back then, on a shoestring budget, I winged it and created our own “crowdfunding” campaign. I spent time coding PayPal buttons for all of our unwashed warriors, and I updated everyone’s pages individually every hour. I blasted poorly-written press releases to all the local media, and sent determined pleas to all of our contacts manually (and repeatedly).

My parents thought I had gone off the deep end. My boyfriend told me I was nuts (but he still helped out). We received some pretty nasty comments on local media blogs. Our modern day hate mail ranged from “get out of Texas, you filthy hippies” to “if I see you funky weirdos out, I’m going to douse you with my beer.”

But, the negative attention ended up furthering our crusade, and it was thrilling! I got a notice every few minutes that someone donated to our Shower Strike, and by the end of the week, we had raised a little more than $25,000. We almost couldn’t believe it. We had enough for the water well we had been working toward for three years in just one week. Then, we knew we were onto something. So, I trademarked Shower Strike and started making plans for years to come.

Shower Strike has been evolving every year since. We raised $110,000 in 2013 for our projects in Kenya, and we have provided clean water to more than 15,000 people with this initiative.

This year, our fundraising goal for Shower Strike is $150,000, and, with that, we will transform the lives of more than 10,000 people in three communities. Our proven sustainability model and efficiency allow us to provide water to an individual for only $15 for 20- 30 years.

Going without a nice, hot shower for a few days can be a bit of an imposition. But, when I see my young daughter get a big glass of water from the kitchen sink, I think of all the children who have to spend their days walking in the heat to carry forty pounds of water back to their families- because that’s all they have. And, then my sacrifice doesn’t seem so rough.

So, that’s what I’m doing today, and I want you to join me and be part of our movement at But, if you’re unable to skip a shower or two (it’s really not that bad!), a contribution toward our clean water work this year, in any amount, will make an impact. The water systems supported by Shower Strike this year will serve schools, medical clinics, disabled childrens’ centers, agricultural initiatives and entire communities. (To read more about these projects, visit

Thank you for taking the time to read about the unique way we’re tackling the water crisis. I hope you’ll take the plunge with us for next year’s Shower Strike!

Well Aware provides the most cost effective way to save and impact lives with clean water. We are not just a water charity. Well Aware is redefining water aid delivery and management in Africa and our methods of efficiency and sustainability are setting the standard.

We are honored that you are joining our revolution.

I Talk To Strangers

This is a guest post from Robbie Stokes, Jr., a global social movement founder and executive director of global nonprofit I Talk to Strangers Foundation.

What is the world? Well that question is very hard to answer because there are so many opinions of what things are. But what if the question could be answered with 4 words? I TALK TO STRANGERS.

We are all people of this world made from the same genetic makeup. We breathe, eat, feel emotions, and live in a balanced daily life. But what if there was a variant. Something that really turn signals from together to separate. So enters what is different.

Different is what makes us afraid. Different is what makes as cautious. We don’t like change and we are creatures of habit. When you make subtle changes like, gender, race, language, background. Things now get scary. We don’t know how to react, we don’t know how adjust so we group.


We group into what is familiar, and what is comfortable. And you defend and protect the group through emotional or physical means. So now you create these circles within circles of people protecting, defending, and feeling comfort within these groups, but forgetting the biggest factor of all. We are all the same. So we rarely venture out.

When I discovered this truth in 2009 I met a retired military Lt. Colonel name Ken Baskett at a fraternity convention in New Orleans. He was 69 and I was 23 and after a conversation at a bar he invited me to his home in Atlanta if I was ever in town. Crazy thing is that I went spur of the moment and changed my flight back to college and had a great time. Basically, I started an idea of what if we crossed into each other circles through kindness. What if I could walk up to someone not like me and say hello. Yes, I may scare them or make them guarded but if my next reaction is a smile or a friendly gesture then maybe we can possibly become friends. I naturally understand the critics of parents not feeling comfortable, but again, why do we have to take things to the extreme. Why can’t kids talk to each other in the classroom. They do it anyway. But something happened when we were up. The world became scary and unfair and we lost interest and hope in making genuine new friends.

Maybe, We can possibly talk past ones social, physical, or emotional barriers and really open up about who someone truly is. Once I started doing this more consciously and making real friends I knew I could change the world. Because I saw that everyone in the world just needed a good conversation from someone new.

So I sold everything and backpacked around the world with nothing more than hope, that I could travel around the world and meet total strangers and have a great time. And I did. And I created a social stir about how did a Young African American male leave a prominent job in DC to backpack around the world and talk to strangers and make it back to the US in 4 months?

So, that is how the movement was started. Now we are a social movement and alliance that is banding with like-minded individuals to create some real change in the world. As a not-for-profit, we work with corporations, organizations, and governments to bring this new social norm that the world is not scary and we can learn to talk to each other again.

Check out the free release of Part I of the ITTS Documentary and look out for the full release touring the world starting this summer.

This is our time, this is our world. Let’s bring the world together, one stranger at a time.


Physicians for Peace: Teach One, Heal Many

This is a guest post from Ron Sconyers: CEO and President, Physicians for Peace

Nearly 10 years ago, I was given the opportunity to join Physicians for Peace, an international nonprofit located in Norfolk, Virginia that transforms lives by training local healthcare professionals in developing regions to serve quality care in their communities. It wasn’t too long after starting my new post that I found myself in Nigeria with a team of Physicians for Peace International Medical Educators (IME’s) teaching a group of nearly 50 health practitioners the basic skills in neonatal resuscitation. At the end of our first training day, a pediatrician with 20 years of experience walked up to me with tears in her eyes and said, “If I had known what you taught me today, my own baby would still be alive.”


Ron Sconyers

This was as powerful a moment as I’ve had as the president and CEO of Physicians for Peace. This woman wasn’t a bad mother or an incompetent doctor. Rather, a victim of a growing public health issue in developing countries: the lack of relevant training and education for health care providers. This issue affects millions across the world. It kills mothers and leaves their children with an ever-shrinking chance of survival. The cruel reality is, however, that it’s largely preventable.

At Physicians for Peace, we believe education is the most effective solution to some of the world’s most serious global health challenges and envision a world where no one struggles with illness, disability or death due to the lack of quality local healthcare.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than one billion people lack access to basic healthcare services, simply because their communities don’t have enough trained health workers. Limited access to healthcare debilitates communities, and creates dramatic differences in health that are morally unacceptable. If people aren’t healthy, they can’t pull themselves, or their families, out of poverty. This can leave people vulnerable to social and economic conditions that are beyond their control.

In desperate places around the world, every minute of every day, a woman dies giving birth . The situation is aggravated by the fact that only 66 percent of women in developing countries have access to a midwife, doctor, or nurse during childbirth and more than eight million children die annually pre/post-delivery or during their first week of life. A trained midwife could easily save these lives.

Physicians for Peace mobilizes teams of committed healthcare providers who want to share knowledge and make a difference in the world. We are leaders in healthcare education, with a reputation for delivering thoughtful approaches to patient-centered care. In practice, that means we teach our colleagues how to care for all of a patient’s needs.

By leading with education, Physicians for Peace creates a path to better health for entire communities. One doctor. One nurse. One physical therapist. Think how many people they can train and heal. That’s the power of education. Rather than healing one person, we teach others to heal, so they in turn can heal many.

For more information, please visit: and follow us @Physician4Peace


Women Investing In Women

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Just today, Forbes ran a piece documenting the abysmal share of venture capital allocated to women. The Calvert Foundation is working actively to change that dynamic with its “WIN-WIN” or Women Investing in Women Initiatives program, which has invested over $20 million in women.

The investments vary from micro loans to women entrepreneurs to million dollar loans to nonprofits that support women and families. Most of the money, about 80 percent, has been invested here in the U.S., with the balance being scattered around the world.


Jennifer Pryce

On March 26, 2014 at 4:00 Eastern, Jennifer Pryce, the President and CEO of the Calvert Foundation will join me to talk about this innovative program and the impact it is having.

Tune in then and listen while you work.

Pryce’s bio:

Jennifer Pryce is President and CEO of Calvert Foundation. Ms. Pryce brings nearly 20 years of finance and community development experience to her role. She previously served as Calvert Foundation’s U.S. Portfolio Manager and VP of Strategic Initiatives before being appointed Chief Strategy Officer. In that role Ms. Pryce led the launch of the WIN-WIN, the only gender-lens impact investment available to U.S. retail investors. Prior to Calvert Foundation, she worked with Nonprofit Finance Fund, Neuberger & Berman, and Morgan Stanley MS +0.22%’s London office in the Investment Banking division. Ms. Pryce received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Union College and a MBA from Columbia University.


YouNoodle Powers The Tech Awards For 2014

The Tech Museum in Silicon Valley recognizes innovators who are making an impact in the world at its annual , now in its 14th year.

For 2014, YouNoodle is helping to drive the program to get more nominations. YouNoodle is mentoring a pool of early applicants already, but it’s not too late to apply. Applications are now open through May 6, 2014.


Torsten Kolind, CEO of YouNoodle

On March 26, 2014 at 7:00 Eastern, I’ll be joined by David Whitman, Vice President and Executive Producer of the Tech Awards, and Torsten Kolind, Co-Founder and CEO of YouNoodle, to talk about The Tech Awards and the application process.

Tune in and listen while you work:

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

David’s bio:

Often called a “modern Renaissance man,” David Whitman oversees The Tech Awards: Technology Benefiting Humanity—the global signature program of The Tech Museum of Innovation in Silicon Valley. He came to The Tech in 2008, from the East Coast, to coordinate its mega-exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci in collaboration with the Uffizi Gallery and other cultural institutions in Florence. For many years, he managed Hertz Concert Hall at his alma mater, U.C. Berkeley, working with some of the greatest performing artists of our time. Outside The Tech, he is an art collector, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in more than 100 publications and exhibitions. Whitman has traveled adventurously, most often in the tropics, and has called many diverse places home, including California, Florida, Belgium, Brazil, and the West Indies. He enjoys reading fiction, studying foreign languages and, most of all, exploring the coastal wildlands of California with his basenji.

Torsten’s bio:

Former CEO of Venture Cup in Denmark, Torsten has built web products since he started his first company at age 16. Has judged competitions at Stanford, MIT and Imperial. Loves algorithmic challenges and is an avid musician.

Devin D. Thorpe

KriticalMass Seeks To Reinvent Crowdfunding For Good

KriticalMass is more than a platform for raising money; it is a platform for gathering support in the form of money, volunteers and promotion.

On March 26, 2014 at 2:00 Eastern, Bartolomeo “Barto” Guarienti will join me for a live discussion about the innovative new site.

Tune in then and listen while you work.

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

Barto’s bio:

Having piqued his entrepreneurial interest early on at a personalisation startup, Barto honed his skills through venture capital in digital media and cleantech. Not satisfied with the current paths to entrepreneurship, the idea for kriticalmass came to him late one night. Pursuing his goal to set up a startup at the intersection of social media and social responsibility – his two big passions – a new take on crowdfunding was born. Barto now shares his drive to excel with the kriticalmass community, constantly reiterating his dictum “If you want to do well, you need to do good.”

Barto enjoys complaining about food in London, often confuses himself with his own wild ideas and firmly believes that had he gone to university in the States, he would now be an MLS superstar.

Change through Conversation

This is a guest post from Blake Ian, the CEO & Co-Founder of Tawkers, a new app for public text conversation.


I’ve been to countless panels, summits, fundraisers and conventions around the country and they all share more or less the same mission statement: create change through conversation. Their formulas are fairly consistent as well: get a bunch of important people in a room and put a couple really important people on the stage to have an inspired discussion that raises awareness about a cause and spurs donation, action and eventually, change.


The most recent of these conferences was here in New York and featured entrepreneurs, philanthropists and heads of state from all over the world. The theme? Global warming. I couldn’t help but note the irony as I looked around and realized half the attendees had flown into town on jets and were driven in cars to the venue. Not to mention, we were greeted every morning with tables full of plastic water bottles.

Creating change through conversation is an exciting concept, but the current execution can fall a bit short of its potential. It’s time to open up these conversations to the world and invite the input of the 99.9% of people who will never attend one of these events. It’s time for a platform that digitizes this experience and globalizes its participation.


Tawkers is my latest experiment towards this end, and we’re already starting to see the many ripples caused by its conversational current. Tawkers is an app that lets people broadcast their text conversations. Anyone in the world can tune in to read or ask questions. These “Tawks” are free, they’re open to the public, and they’re making a difference. Instead of two people getting up on stage in a Marriott meeting room, they’re texting each other from their couches, sometimes on different continents. Instead of an audience of one hundred, they’re reaching people in the hundreds of thousands.


Our goal has been to build a digital venue, a home for conversation, a platform for change. Imagine Richard Branson & Al Gore tawking about climate change, or George Clooney & Angelina Jolie tawking about the African refugee crisis. Might those be text conversations you’d tune in for? These conversations do happen, but they’re happening privately over email and text, or in person at great expense and effort to the host organization. Tawkers is helping to lift the limitations off that experience in order to educate and inspire the masses and spur action on a global scale.


Tawkers is already being used to raise awareness around a range of issues:

NGO leaders are raising funds for Ugandan orphanages:

Activists are educating us about toxic spills:

Inmates are discussing entrepreneurship programs in prison:

On Tawkers, anyone can lead one of these discussions, the privilege isn’t limited to the one percent. Do you have something to say? A cause to champion? A movement to start? Grab a co-conspirator and step up to the digital stage, because the world is eager to hear what you have to say!

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