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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: August 2018

This Pioneer In Social Enterprise Still Leading Innovation After 3 Decades

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Echoing Green has been investing in social entrepreneurs and innovation for nearly three decades. One lesson stands out, says President Cheryl Dorsey: “The leader is the secret sauce of any great social enterprise.”

Throughout its history, Echoing Green has been granting fellowships to innovators who had little more than an idea to change the world. Its accumulated data suggests it’s working.

The nonprofit organization approaches its grantmaking with the mentality of a venture fund, seeking to invest in leaders who will have a big impact. Since 1987, the organization has backed 798 “fellows” who have done work in 85 countries and 39 US states. Those fellows and their organizations have gone on to raise over $5 billion.

Echoing Green reports that 70 percent of the organizations launched by their fellows between 1990 and 2015 are still in operation today. Additionally, 80 percent of the fellows still work in the social sector—and many of the rest work in academia, government and health care.

Among Echoing Green’s alumni are the founders of successful organizations like Teach For America, City Year, One Acre Fund, SKS Microfinance and Public Allies.

Dorsey is an extraordinary example herself. She won an Echoing Green fellowship in 1992—a decade before joining the organization’s staff. A Harvard-trained medical doctor, she applied for the grant to help launch The Family Van, to serve Boston area residents in the African American community, who at the time had the third highest infant mortality rate in the country.

Today, Dorsey’s co-founder, Nancy Oriol continues the work, now having made about 108,000 visits, preventing illness for an estimated 5,648 people.

Dorsey explains what it meant for her to receive the fellowship. First, she points to the “cachet and the imprimatur of receiving the accolade” as “a signal to the world that you were an up and coming leader worth paying attention to.”

She is also grateful for the guidance she received that helped her “fail fast in many ways” while mentors were “providing pearls of wisdom that they had learned before.”

Cheryl Dorsey, Echoing Green CREDIT: ECHOING GREEN

“The entrepreneurial journey is a tremendously lonely and hard one,” she says, highlighting a third aspect of winning the fellowship that proved to be valuable to her. “Feeling a little less alone made a world of difference.”

Others have had existential experiences with their Echoing Green fellowships.

Kathleen Kelly Janus, a lecturer on social entrepreneurship for Stanford and author of Social Startup Success, says, “I interviewed dozens of successful social entrepreneurs for my book, who told me that they literally would not have been able to start their organizations were it not for the early support of Echoing Green.”

Sonal Shah, professor of practice, executive director, Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University, sees the influence of Echoing Green in its willingness to consider candidates early on.

“Echoing Green invests in people and their ideas before they are sexy or popular or trendy,” Shah says. “They are many times the only organization that invests in ideas before they are completely formed. They help fellows improve their ideas and refine them. They create a community of support, which is so critical when starting as a social entrepreneur — fellows around the world are taking on issues in their communities that sometimes no one is doing.”

Shah, remarkably applied for a fellowship not once but twice without winning and still became an active supporter, serving as a judge and mentor. She has even hired some Echoing Green fellows at the Beeck Center. Of her application experience, she says, “The lessons we learned from the application gave us great insight. It taught us to be clear about our message. It taught us to write proposals. It taught us for our own application process. We were always grateful for our Echoing Green experience.”

Shah’s experience highlights the competitive nature of the fellowships.

Dorsey took a few minutes during our visit (you can watch the entire 23-minute interview in the video player at the top of the article) to describe what Echoing Green looks for. It goes beyond, “We know it when we see it.”

First, is passion. “You know, if you can look across a table and ask this person why do you do what you do and the answer literally jumps off the page or across the table from you and it’s almost palpable–you can feel the heat in the room as the person is talking about why they cannot not do the work.”

Second, is the potential for transformative change. She notes, “There are lots of different leadership approaches we’re looking for a particular type of social change leader–transformational leader–someone who is disrupting for good, who has a fundamentally new way of thinking about a problem.”

Third, intriguingly, is “stickiness.” She explains, “We have a term that we call ‘resource magnetism’ that is different than charisma or how we typically think about charisma but it’s the ability of the leader to mobilize others, other people, other resources, cash, volunteers, media attention, maybe other evangelists for your cause.”

Another lesson: “After 30 years of supporting leaders around the globe, it’s clear that those closest to the problem are often closest to the solution.”

Dorsey says, “we are fiercely proud of being a fellowship program, meaning that we will always back the leader.” Echoing Green is now gathering applications for 2019 fellows.

After three decades, Echoing Green’s relentless focus on finding the three key ingredients for the secret sauce–passion, transformational leadership and resource magnetism–drives its continued relevance in social innovation.

Click here to get my free webinar showing the three myths that hamper and the two keys for nonprofit crowdfunding success.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

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

This Young Haitian Journalist Is Out To Change The World


Daniella Jacques has recognized from her earliest memories that women face challenges in the world that men don’t face, don’t understand and seem not to care about. Women are often not even in the room when men do talk about their issues.

She says it is time that women were part of the discussion. She launched Women’s Dophen News to be a platform for news relevant to women, not only in Haiti but around the world. She is already publishing in four languages, Haitian Creole, French, Spanish and English.

My take: Daniella Jacques will change the world and her name will become very familiar.

Interview with Daniella Jacques, the CEO-Founder  of Women’s Dofen News .

The following is the pre-interview with Daniella Jacques. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

Traditional media offer no space for women to flourish, be heard and participate. Even the most competent women are not consulted in times of great decisions for the country. Before Dofen News, there was no online media dealing with all issues in any relationship with women. With this platform we have and put women in front of the stage. The problem of marginalizing women is taking a step back. Female figures are prominent in the media. We impose their voices and bring other media to do the same.

Daniella’s Website:  daniellajacques.online

More about Women’s Dofen News :

Twitter: @DofenNews

Facebook: facebook.com/dofennews

Website: dofen.news

Dofen News is the first and unique digital platform media, dedicated to women in Haiti. It’s driving change by empowering women. Through this platform we highlight all women’s achievements, their daily lives, the challenges they face and we are also a force of proposals to move things forward in the direction of full autonomy for women. We have a small full time staff but many contributors around the world. And still looking for more contributors

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: Dofen News is essentially advertising for the moment. We also offer an online survey service on all topics but with an emphasis on women and girls. However, we are engaged in social campaigns and projects related to the gender situation in the country and we are counting on the involvement of national and international actors to support us in these processes. For information, we are partners of the forum of women entrepreneurs Haiti.

Scale: We have a small full time team (three employees), some contributors around the world (still looking for more). As a digital media we are selling advertising spaces to stay on the track of existence.

Daniella Jacques
Photo Credit: Ralphden Laurent

Daniella Jacques’s bio:

Twitter: @DanJacPenn

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/daniella-jacques-b3026128/

Instagram: @danejak

Daniella Jacques was born in Haïti on May 12th 1982. She is a serial entrepreneur and change maker of the feminism’s ecosystem. Engaged from a teen age, she has always taken initiatives aimed at improving the living conditions of citizens, specially girls and women. Her latest initiative is the creation of the first and only digital media platform dedicated to women “Dofen News”. Two years ago she co-founded the Haiti Women’s Chamber of Commerce, which she also serves as President. She’s a political consultant with more than ten years of experience in the political advisory service at the highest level. Daniella is co-owner of PoliticoTech a political firm specialized in campaign management and digital strategy.

Presentation of Daniella Jacques

Daniella Jacques was born in Haiti, she has a bachelor degree in Political Science and Master in Electoral Policy and Administration. Then several seminars on business administration and development of small and medium enterprises.

Daniella is TEDx motivational speaker

Politics.- Political consultant and member of the International Association of Political Science, She is a trainer in political leadership, political communication and fundraising. Co-founder of the Coalition of the Political Women in Haiti, Daniella is the Executive Secretary of the Presidential Commission of the National Palace reconstruction, also member of the Presidential commission for youth and innovation.

Entrepreneurship.- Daniella is a serial entrepreneur / investor. She co-founded with Roudy Stanley Penn, PoliticoTech, a pioneer company in the political consultation in Haiti specialized in campaign management and digital strategy. She is co-founder and board member of Mapou Investment Group SA. Daniella owns Kouleur Images a strategic communications firm and SERMILO, a logistic firm organizer of public and private events. Recently she created a new startup “Dofen News”, a digital platform media dedicated to women. In September Daniella will launch her trademark brand Dofen the way it is… a clothing line. Mrs Jacques is co-founder and/or investor of several companies in Haiti and abroad.

Social.- Always engaged for the most disadvantaged people, kids and women in particular. After the earthquake in 2010, Daniella was in the States looking for support/help for victims, many people friends and family members pressed her to stay but she had a purpose, she came back and created a special program called *Ti Lekol-Small school* with her community association AGIRAD (Act Today for Tomorrow) where over 400 kids had access to free class. In 2015 she started a campaign to attract attention of the Haitian State on the cause of the Madan Sara (women vendors traveling in subhuman conditions), the conditions of existence of these women who are raped, stolen and murdered (look at the TEDx conference on youtube), the creation of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce is one of the tools created to support women entrepreneurs.

Daniella is behind some major initiatives aimed at the emancipation of women :

* The only community library dedicated to children in her hometown, 2013
* The first and unique Women’s Chamber of Commerce / 2016
* FEFHA – Economic Forum of Haitian Women October 2017
* The largest women’s tech conference in Americas – SIFNUH (International Summit of Tech Women), the 2nd edition brought together fifteen countries from 15 to 17 May 2018
* The unique female digital media platform Dofen News / 2018

Honors :

* Winners of first competition of US Embassy in Haiti December 2004;
* IVLP (International Visitor Leadership Program) a US Department of States Initiative 2006 / 2014 (USA)

Awards :

* JC Magazines, March 2018
* CONATEL (National Council of Communication) April 2018;
* MCFDF (Ministry of women’s conditions and rights) April 2018;

Accomplishments :

* Participation in the movie WOMEN;
* Participation as speaker the Conference des femmes francophones (Bucarest) – Women speaking french conference November 2017;
* Participation as a young leader at the GLOBAL UNITE Youth Forum May 2012 (Bangkok, Thailande);
* Participation at Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) twice 2009 / 2010 (USA)


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

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

So, An Impact Investor, A Social Entrepreneur And A Sea Turtle Walk Into A Bar…

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Okay, an impact investor, a social entrepreneur and a sea turtle didn’t literally walk into a bar, but the way their lives intersected is no joke.

Three years ago this week, a Texas A&M marine biologist, Christine Figgener, uploaded a video of her team removing a four-inch plastic straw from the nostril of a sea turtle. The evocative video immediately went viral and now has 32.6 million views on YouTube.

The video not only inspired the current activism around plastic straws that has me carrying around paper straws and a law banning plastic straws in Seattle, but it has people thinking about all single-use plastic more critically. That movement has provided a catalyst for impact investors and social entrepreneurs who have solutions to ocean plastic.

Priyanka Bakaya, the CEO and founder of Renewlogy, a company that uses a chemical process to convert even the worst plastics into fuel and Rob Kaplan, the CEO and founder of Circulate Capital, which launched in July with the specific mission to invest in companies that will reduce the flow of plastic into the world’s oceans, joined me for a wide-ranging conversation about ocean plastic. You can watch the 27-minute interview in the video player at the top of this article.

The Ocean Plastic Problem

The problem of plastic in the ocean isn’t limited to an occasional straw up a turtle’s nose. On its website, Clean Water Action reports:

In the ocean, plastic debris injures and kills fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Marine plastic pollution has impacted at least 267 species worldwide, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species and 43% of all marine mammal species. The impacts include fatalities as a result of ingestion, starvation, suffocation, infection, drowning, and entanglement.

In 2010, a California grey whale washed up dead on the shores of the Puget Sound. Autopsies indicated that its stomach contained a pair of pants and a golf ball, more than 20 plastic bags, small towels, duct tape and surgical gloves.

Seabirds that feed on the ocean surface are especially prone to ingesting plastic debris that floats. Adults feed these items to their chicks resulting in detrimental effects on chick growth and survival.8 One study found that approximately 98% of chicks sampled contained plastic and the quantity of plastic being ingested was increasing over time.

The problem is getting worse. Fast. The plastic debris in the Central Pacific Gyre increased five-fold in the ten years ending 2007.

Kaplan notes that this is largely a result of the rapidly growing economies in south and southeast Asia “exponentially” increasing their consumption of plastics without correspondingly increasing their waste and recycling infrastructure.

McKinnley Workman, chief operating officer and co-founder of Lakay Vet, S.A. in Haiti, works to improve waste handling in the Western Hemisphere’s most challenged economy. She says there is a lot of work to do. She explains anecdotally:

Yesterday, I was driving through the city as rain started to fall. It quickly began gushing through the streets and I watched as people made their way into the streets under the rain to dump their buckets or bags of waste. As a poor person, where daily life is a struggle, they gladly watch it wash away with a smile on their face as it’s one less thing they have to worry about. In their minds, they found a free solution to dealing with their waste. Ultimately, all of that water goes straight to the Port-au-Prince bay and eventually makes its way into the worlds global ocean plastic repository.

Workman is cooperating with Bakaya at Renewlogy to deploy the technology there, where all transportation fuel is imported and expensive and single-use plastic that can’t otherwise be recycled for quality reasons is ubiquitous.

Priyanka Bakaya CREDIT: RENEWLOGY

Bakaya points to a study that suggests that at current rates by 2050, there will be “more plastic than fish in our oceans.”

“Ocean plastic presents one of the most urgent and fast-growing ecological and health challenges of our time. Our objective is nothing less than to become the leading force behind solving the capital gaps of companies and infrastructure that prevent ocean plastic,” confirms Kaplan.

The China Ban

Last year, China implemented new restrictions on imported waste plastic for recycling. Previously, 40% of plastic from the United States—and much of the plastic elsewhere—was shipped to China for recycling. The new restrictions constitute an effective ban, Kaplan and Bakaya confirmed. The rules require the plastic to be cleaned at a cost that exceeds the value of the plastic.

“It’s really opening up a lot of local opportunities to find domestic solutions to handle this material,” Bakaya says. One of those solutions is the Renewlogy solution that converts plastic to fuel or the feedstock for virgin plastic.

“There’s no question that China’s ban has is revolutionizing the recycling market globally in many parts of the Western world,” Kaplan says. He notes that any time a company or industry loses 40% of its market, a gaping hole is created.

Demand Side

One of the recycling problems that has developed is a lack of consumer demand for recycled products.

“If there were more consumers interested in using recycled content and choosing those products as part of their shopping experience that would build the market and that would increase the demand,” Kaplan says. “There’s a huge opportunity for consumers to incentivize brands and companies and parts of the supply chain to use more recycled material.”

He adds, “I work with many of the world’s largest brands consumer brands and when we ask them to use more recycled content their initial feedback is, ‘No, our customers aren’t interested in it.’”

“Even if you put all of your plastic in a recycling bin or in a recycling system if there isn’t an end market for it then it will not be reused it will end up either in the environment or in a landfill somewhere,” he says, reiterating his point.

Traditionally, recycled plastics are effectively downcycled. Much of the use of plastic is for food containers. Governments regulate what plastics can come in contact with our food and many recycled products aren’t considered safe. That means that recycled products are typically used in less valuable functions than the source plastics.

Although more expensive and energy intensive than other forms of recycling, by converting plastic into the naphtha to make virgin plastic using the Renewlogy process, consumers don’t have to choose recycled products. Better still, the resulting products aren’t technically recycled and can be used for food and medical purposes, allowing even the worst plastics to be upcycled into the highest value ones.

Kaplan points out that contamination of high-quality plastics is also a problem. After good plastics spend time exposed to the environment on land or in the ocean, they can no longer be recycled into top quality products.

The Renewlogy process, and other similar ones, can convert even contaminated plastics into fuel or plastic feedstock, creating an economic value for low-quality and/or contaminated plastic.

Workman says, “In Haiti, most of the plastic that we see every day in rivers, canals, and streets is this dirty plastic that is difficult to recycle and therefore sticks around to eventually be washed into the oceans.”

“Renewlogy has a great solution that makes sense particularly for Haiti because of the type of plastics found and also because fuel is an extremely expensive and unstable imported resource,” Workman says. She adds that implementation of the Renewlogy technology just in Port-au-Prince could prevent 60,000 metric tons of plastic from flowing into the ocean annually.

One of the reasons the Renewlogy technology holds such appeal for Workman is that it allows for the value-adding process to occur in Haiti, which should reduce imports of fuel and keep more profits in the country.

Technology Is Not the Problem

Both Kaplan and Bakaya point out the technology is not the problem.

Kaplan says:

You know one of the biggest challenges we see is less on the technology side but more on like who’s going to operate this on the ground in Indonesia. Here in the U.S., you’ve got companies that have been operating recycling businesses and waste businesses for decades. We don’t have that in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand and India. There isn’t the local expertise and talent that are ready to put that to work in a way that you know is going to be successful. So that’s a big part of our focus is how can we match our financing and capital with technology like Priyanka’s but also with operators on the ground who can execute it.

Workman is trying to address that problem in Haiti. “we have been working with Renewlogy in conjunction with the Plastic Ocean Project to get a pilot system setup at Lakay Vèt.” By partnering with a local recycling company to source plastic that can’t otherwise be recycled, the technology fills an important gap in keeping plastic out of the ocean. The key is to find a responsible recycling partner.

“I will be the first to say that it’s foolish to rely on just a handful of solutions for such a gigantic and multi-faceted problem like this,” she says. She recognizes the need to implement many different solutions to both clean up the mess “we’ve already made” and to prevent further damage to the environment.

Bakaya, for her part, says, “The technology is actually the easy part, and the real challenge is the logistics of both collecting the plastic and getting the end product to the right place.” She adds that with a ready waste plastic supply, Renewlogy’s technology can produce fuels for $30 per barrel.

Getting investors—like Circulate Capital and The Closed Loop Fund—to invest is another constraint she faces.

Partnerships

Circulate Capital could be described as a spinout of Kaplan’s last company, Closed Loop Partners, which does impact investing in recycling domestically. The Ocean Conservancy is also a partner in the new company, along with backing from 3M, American Chemistry Council, The Coca-Cola Company, Kimberly-Clark, Dow, PepsiCo, Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia, Procter & Gamble and the World Plastics Council.

Diego Donoso, president of Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics, says, “Circulate Capital is the type of active engagement we need to accelerate the implementation of waste management systems with effective recycling processes that keep plastics waste out of the ocean.”

Ron Gonen, Kaplan’s former partner at the Closed Loop Fund, which the latter previously ran, says, “Circulate Capital is the realization of many months of research and planning on the part of Closed Loop Partners and Ocean Conservancy to design a structure that can dedicate the time and resources necessary to tackle the complexity of the ocean plastic problem at scale.”

Steve Sikra, associate director of corporate R&D and global product stewardship at Procter & Gamble, says, “P&G is proud to be part of the Circulate Capital. Just like the Closed Loop Fund, this will address the root cause and help develop the right infrastructure to drive positive change. Working together, we believe we can halt the flow of plastics into the world’s oceans.”

Ben Jordan, the senior director of global environmental policy at The Coca-Cola Company, says, “We are excited to support Circulate Capital and their aim to prevent the flow of ocean plastic. We aim to be a driver of the circular economy as we continue toward our vision of a world without waste.”

Kaplan says, “Our goal is to remove capital as a barrier.” Bakaya sees capital as a constraint for her business. Perhaps there’s a sea turtle out there that could buy them a drink and help them see how they could solve both their problems.

Click here to get my free webinar showing the three myths that hamper and the two keys for nonprofit crowdfunding success.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

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

This Genius Solution To PayDay Lending Deserves Your Attention

Many people living paycheck to paycheck fall into a financial tailspin for lack of $500 or $1,000. A desperately needed but unanticipated car repair is enough to start a family on a collision course with financial ruin.

PayDay loans are so expensive that customers often end up simply revolving the balance for months, paying weekly or bi-weekly fees to renew the loan and over the course of a year end up paying multiples of the original loan principal–sometimes without ever paying off the loan.

Ennie Lim at HoneyBee developed an alternative. Let people borrow against their accrued paid time off–PTO. This virtually eliminates the risk for the lender and allows the loan to be made for a single 5 percent origination fee.

Interview with Ennie Lim, the President of HoneyBee.

The following is the pre-interview with Ennie Lim. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

7 out of 10 employees live paycheck to paycheck.
56 million Americans have no emergency savings.
75 million Americans have subprime or no credit.
20-25% of employees take 401K loans to help cover for emergency expense

What is the solution?

We allow your employees to borrow with paid time off and vacation days to get an extra week’s pay anytime, with no monthly interest, regardless of credit history, resulting in extra funds for your employees when they need it most.

Since PTO is an existing asset that belongs to your employees, this creates a unique win-win solution for your company and the employees you value.

More about HoneyBee:

Twitter: @MeetHoneyBee

Facebook: facebook.com/meethoneybee/

Website: www.meethoneybee.com

HoneyBee is the provider of the HoneyBee PTO Loan℠. We allow employees with paid and vacation to get an extra week’s pay anytime, with no monthly interest, regardless of credit history.

For-profit/Nonprofit: Certified Benefit Corporation

Revenue model: 5% flat fee (max $50)

Scale: Partnered with over 30 companies since we launched the program in Q4 2017

Ennie Lim
Photo Credit: Photographer: Duy Ho Hair/Makeup: Urban Beauty Loft

Ennie Lim’s bio:

Twitter: @ennielim

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ennielim/

Instagram: @ennielim

Ennie Lim is the President and co-founder of HoneyBee, a San Francisco based Certified Benefit Corporation® with the mission to provide affordable credit alternative and protect millions of working Americans from predatory lenders. Prior to HoneyBee, Ennie was the founder of an environmental impact company that benefited underserved children and a Board Member of an early childhood literacy non-profit based in Silicon Valley. Ennie graduated from McGill University and she’s passionate about building businesses for a better tomorrow and believes all of us has the potential to become powerful change makers.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

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

Accelerating Progress Toward Global Solutions Requires Collaboration, Says Nonprofit Founder


Rick Ulfik, the founder and board chair of We, The World, says the impact of organizations acting independently is limited. He argues for active collaboration among the world’s leading NGOs so they can have greater impact.

He says organizations working alone have “horizontal impact” but when they work together they have “vertical impact.” He observes too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

Coming up in September, We, the World is leading an event it calls 11 Days of Global Unity, part of an ongoing series, focused on bringing organizations together to tackle the world’s big problems collaboratively and strategically.

Interview with Rick Ulfik, the Founder and Board Chairman of We, The World.

The following is the pre-interview with Rick Ulfik. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

We, The World has identified a major gap in global organizing efforts that are attempting to address  the core issues facing humanity: Poverty, Rising Inequality, Militarism, Intolerance, Environmental Pollution, and Climate Disruption.

While there are thousands of groups and millions of people committed to creating a better world, most of them generally don’t work together on a regular organized basis.

We call this Horizontal Impact – meaning that their impact is spread thin. The environmental people are working over here, the human rights people are over there, the economic justice people are in another place, and the peace and spiritual people are often reaching to the choir!

Their impact is reduced and up till now it hasn’t been sufficient to address systemic obstacles, and end the preventable crises that cause millions of people and other forms of life to die prematurely each year.

We believe that humanity will continue to only see incremental progress (at best) until a majority of these groups begin to intentionally work together with what we call Vertical Impact: synchronizing calls to action on a large scale, issuing joint Press Releases, collectively supporting solutions that benefit all members of society, not just those with the most wealth and power.

We, The World has already started to make this happen through our WE Strategy!

We, The World is creating the WE Change Agent Network (WE CAN) that has begun to do two things that are crucial for a sustainable future:

#1) Build the mass public support and political will needed to implement social, political, economic and environmental solutions (like making the transition to Renewable Non-Polluting Energy Systems as the primary energy source in the USA and around the world) benefiting all of society and the whole web of life on Earth.
#2) Consciously make a shift in our culture to value and prioritize the idea of “WE” and the Common Good, so that the basic health and well-being of all comes first – for people and the planet.

It’s All About WE: WE is a Consciousness, a Collaboration and a Campaign.

11 Days of Global Unity:  11DaysOfGlobalUnity.org

More about We, The World:

Twitter: @TheWeCampaign

Facebook: facebook.com/TheWeCampaign

Website: WE.net

We, The World (at WE.net) is a global coalition-building non-profit organization founded by Rick Ulfik. Our mission is to maximize social change globally – until we have a world that works for all. We, The World annually connects and promotes thousands of socially conscious organizations and businesses, representing millions of people, to amplify their efforts and generate public awareness and action.

In 2004 We, The World brought together global partners to launch 11 Days of Global Unity September 11 -21 linking local awareness and action campaigns into an inspiring international movement for the promotion of peace, justice, sustainability and transformation. Annually 11 Days includes as many as 700 associated events in over 60 countries around the world. It culminates on September 21st, the U.N. International Day of Peace.

Participants in 11 Days of Global Unity have included: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, Deepak Chopra, Daniel Ellsberg, Amy Goodman, Bill McKibben, Eve Ensler, Ralph Nader, Arun Gandhi, Marianne Williamson, Patch Adams, Neale Donald Walsch, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Robert Thurman, Hazel Henderson, and many other visionary leaders from around the world.

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

Revenue model: We, The World generates revenue mostly through individual contributions. We also have a “Project Incubator” through which changemakers with inspiring and important programs aligned with our Mission can receive funding as part of We, The World. We, The World has received many foundation grants over the years as well.

Scale: We, The World has touched the lives of more than 6 million people through our Programs, Events, Websites, TV Shows, Newsletters, Video Festivals, Partner Collaborations, Tele-Summits, Broadcasts and Webcasts. We are reaching more than 850,000 people each year and our network of more than 40,000 leaders and members of socially conscious organizations and businesses represents millions of constituents. Our most recent Non-Profit Tax Filing shows our total revenue to be about $170,000.

Rick Ulfik
Photo Credit: Andrew Kaen

Rick Ulfik’s bio:

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/rick-ulfik-1755aa2a

Rick Ulfik is the Founder and Board Chair of We, The World, Founder and a Principal Coordinator of the WE Campaign, and Co-Founder and Principal Organizer of 11 Days of Global Unity September 11-21, a worldwide platform for the promotion of peace, justice, sustainability and transformation that annually includes as many as 700 associated events in over 60 countries around the world. Rick also co-produces Visual Voices a TV Series Sponsored by We, The World which was featured on the Dish Network and available in 15 million homes.

Rick has been a Nonviolent Communication (NVC) workshop facilitator and leader working with the New York Center for Nonviolent Communication, and has participated in many workshops led by internationally acclaimed mediator and creator of NVC Marshall Rosenberg who joined the Advisory Board of We, The World.

Rick Ulfik is also an award-winning composer, musician (keyboards), songwriter and sound design specialist who, over the last 30 years, has written, produced, arranged and performed music for ABC TV, NBC, CBS, the Olympics, feature films, commercials, and records. Rick has performed with major recording artists including Queen Latifah, Phoebe Snow, Carlos Santana, Judy Collins, and Bernadette Peters.

Rick serves each year as a judge for the Emmy Awards in the areas of News, Documentaries, and Music.


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

Successful Social Entrepreneur Launches New Venture Selling Toys With A Purpose

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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After creating the top-selling organic baby food company, Happy Family, and selling it to Groupe Danone in 2013, Jessica Rolph, 43, is ready to go big again.

Joined by Rod Morris, 46, co-founder and President, Rolph, who serves as CEO, has launched Lovevery, a toy company employing scientific research about early childhood development to create toys that help babies learn.

Lauren Loktev, a partner at Collaborative Fund, which invested in Lovery through its partnership with Sesame Workshop, Collab+Sesame, says she was impressed by the products.

“Lovevery makes beautiful products that parents and children love, backed by rigorous scientific research. We and Sesame were impressed by Jessica and Roderick’s depth of research and thoughtfulness about early child development, and by their ability to translate this into great products,” she says.

She explains that the toys are paired with books for the parents to read to the children to create a parent-child connection. “Lovevery has done all the work such that parents can just enjoy time with their kids!”

Jennifer Carolan, general partner for Reach Capital, which also invested in Lovevery, shares Loktev’s enthusiasm for connecting parents with their children.

“Our firm focuses on education technology investing but for us, in the early years, that means using technology to distribute access to resources, tools and products that enable connection. In a world increasingly overtaken by screens, we loved Jessica and Rod’s vision to build connection between parents or caregivers and children,” she says.

Carolan adds that her firm has invested in Tinkergarten based on a similar thesis.

Jessica Rolph and Rod Morris, Lovevery CREDIT: AMPERSAND STUDIOS 2017

The products are not based simply on a mother’s intuition—though Rolph is a parent to three children, all under the age of eight. Morris, who helped lead the growth at Opower through a successful IPO, says, “There’s a lot of science that went into every single product that we design, and we try to make the science as approachable as possible.”

Carolan explains how the science drives the product development. “The Lovevery team has distilled the body of research on children’s cognitive development and presents it in a digestible way for parents. It’s similar to what Malcolm Gladwell does with PhD theses (makes them accessible) but Jessica and team do this with childhood development research – they make it accessible to parents. And they do this with toys and other learning materials so that parents understand how to use the physical world to connect and inspire their babies.”

One example of the products and what they teach is the “Magic Tissue Box” that is intended for children five to six months old. The washable, organic “tissues” can be pulled out of the box and the baby can then push them back in and take them out—over and over—without wasting a box of tissues. This helps the child learn “what goes in what,” Rolph says. The box also has a removable bottom to allow parents to quickly reload.

The products are primarily sold by subscription. Over the course of a baby’s first year, six packages of toys and books arrive, corresponding strategically to the child’s stage of development.

“But the fact is that there are all kinds of benefits around children being able to learn faster or learn more,” Morris says.

The company also conducted some market tests with 25 families across the country and across the socio-economic spectrum. “Every parent was looking to give their baby the very best,” Rolph says.

The parents also appreciated that the toys were paired with developmental information. “There was something actionable for them to do, like they could read this book, they could play with this toy and they knew what it was doing for their child’s development,” She says.

With investors and parents quickly buying in, it will be interesting to see if the babies do, too.

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

This VC Aligns Her Investing With Her ‘Liberal Hippie Roots’

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Cody Nystrom, 35, is a venture capitalist who makes healthcare investments for SJF Ventures where she is a Managing Director. For her, it was important for her work to align with her values.

“I was raised by two hippie parents in a remote area of Alaska about 45 minutes from Fairbanks. They would have probably died at the time if they had been told I would end up in a career in finance,” Nystrom says.

She graduated at the top of her high school class and then from her engineering class at the University of Virginia. Still, she says, “I was a first-generation college student with no idea about professional jobs in the real world.”

Modestly, she says, “I certainly had not been groomed for a career in the financial industry and was pretty rough around the edges, probably still am. Walking and talking a certain way to please others has never been a strong suit and I have a visceral negative reaction to authority, rules and bureaucracy. So by default, I had to become an entrepreneur.”

She did join Ewing Bemiss & Co., an investment bank based in Richmond, Virginia.

“I realized after two years of working in investment banking that if I was going to put in 70 hours a week of work, I better be able to sleep at night knowing that I was making meaningful contributions to society. But instead, I felt unfilled and almost a traitor to my liberal hippie roots.”

She decided to go back to school to earn a master’s in public health. She still remembers growing bacteria in her apartment fridge for a microbiology class. “I have always had a deep personal passion for improving our health care system through a focus on wellness, and particularly through food and nutrition,” she adds.

In her own words:

I joined SJF as an Analyst in 2007, when the firm looked a lot different than it does today. We had just closed our second fund which was only $28 million and had an allied non-profit, where we spent part of our time providing technical assistance to underserved entrepreneurs. Everyone at SJF had to be a scrappy and resourceful back then because we were still proving our returns and impact investing thesis in the market.

When I joined SJF, I thought I would only stay for 2-3 years and then go back to public health grad school. Fortunately, I realized that I could scale my passion for health through the venture capital platform and now lead our Health & Wellness investment practice.

When the firm was founded in 1999, it was a pioneer in the impact space. In fact, the phrase “impact investing” was not yet in wide use. Still, she notes, that despite the growth in the space over the past two decades, “the amount of capital allocated to impact investing is still a drop in the bucket compared to traditional investment vehicles.”

Cody Nystrom, SJF Ventures CREDIT: SJF VENTURES

She doesn’t subscribe to the notion that impact investments should yield lower returns. “SJF Ventures, together with other peer impact managers, is working to prove that one does not need to sacrifice returns in order to feel good about where one is allocating their wealth.”

In fact, she says, “We believe that those companies that are building sustainable products and services that drive positive environmental and social change will actually be among the strongest performers in the current and future economy.”

Chris Nicholson, CEO and co-founder of mPulse Mobile, one of SJF’s portfolio companies, agrees.

“During the investment process we were very impressed with not only their business and market knowledge but their focus on purpose-driven investments – I believe they refer to them as ‘impact investments,’” he says.

Mission compatibility made the investment a good fit, he says. “Our strategies aligned very well because one of our key focus areas is providing access to health care services and information to underserved populations as well as a focus on improving healthcare outcomes through improved dialogue between healthcare entities and consumers.”

SJF makes series A investments in three primary areas:

  1. Energy, environment and sustainability
  2. Health and wellness
  3. Education and employment

While they invest in these areas, she says they look for managers who are truly aligned with the firm’s mission. The firm also looks for companies that have hit an inflection point for growth and typically have over $1 million in annual sales already.

She sees competition for good investments. “There’s no doubt there is a lot of capital out there right now. So, it is a good time to be an entrepreneur. It’s a good time to raise capital.”

Nystrom serves on the board of Solera Heath, one of the firm’s portfolio companies. She excitedly effuses over the potential the company has to stem the epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the United States by providing preventative treatments before patients who are at risk receive a diagnosis and also to help those who do receive a diagnosis to make lifestyle changes to treat the disease.

She notes, “It’s been well documented–many studies, evidence-based medicine–that if someone can lose five to seven percent of their body weight they can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by 60 percent or more.”

That passion to make people’s lives better may have found a surprising home, but 4,000 miles and 20 years from home, she’s still true to the values she learned in Alaska.

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The Bigger the Problem, the More Creative We Must Be! Learn How!


Monica Kang is an expert on creativity and passionate about solving the world’s big problems. She shares how to be more creative in her new book, Rethink Creativity.

Interview with Monica Kang, the Founder & CEO of InnovatorsBox.

The following is the pre-interview with Monica Kang. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

Making creative thinking accessible and relatable for all. 87% of the global workforce believes that they cannot be creative and feel stuck at work. We want to change this narrative and show how you can live your full potential.

Monica’s new book:  rethinkcreativity.co

More about InnovatorsBox:

Twitter: @InnovatorsBox

Facebook: facebook.com/innovatorsbox

Website: Innovatorsbox.com

InnovatorsBox® is a creative education firm that catalyzes sustainable change at the level where it matters the most: your mindset. We believe that everyone is innately creative, and that creativity has the power to solve every organization’s challenges, no matter the industry. Whether you’re addressing company culture, professional development, or any other organizational challenge, our customizable approach targets your specific pain point through creativity. Our educational programs, products, and interactive exercises help develop and grow professionals’ creative mindsets to catalyze both personal and organizational change.

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: We offer workshops, speaking, facilitation and curriculum development services to corporations and individuals through our B2B and B2C offerings.

Scale: We have done programs for over 6,000 individuals in the past 2.5 years in over 20 cities.

Monica Kang
Photo Credit: District Dodger

Monica Kang’s bio:

Twitter: @InnovatorsBox

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/monicakang

Monica H. Kang, Founder & CEO of InnovatorsBox® , helps companies and leaders transform with the power of creativity. When she is not traveling around the world to speak at conferences or work with clients, she teaches entrepreneurship and leadership as an Adjunct Professor at BAU International. Prior to InnovatorsBox®, Monica was a nuclear nonproliferation security expert. She completed her M.A. at Johns Hopkins University, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. She is also the author of Rethink Creativity: How to Innovate, Inspire, and Thrive at Work. She lives in Washington, DC and spends her days developing new projects on creativity over a chai latte and chocolate croissant.


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

They Say To ‘Follow Your Passion’ But How Exactly Do You Do That?

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The advice to “follow your passion” is so common as to be considered by thoughtful writers of original prose to be a cliché. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is bad advice, but it does leave audiences wanting more. Experienced, successful social entrepreneurs model the procedure.

For purposes of this article, I will presume that your passion is something that matters, that someone’s life other than your own is dependent upon your success. If your passion is rounded corners on rectangles, I wish you well but have nothing for you. If your passion is ending the impoverishing bias against pygmy populations in the Congo or fighting echinococcosis or other neglected tropical diseases or implementing age-old agricultural techniques that increase yields while sequestering carbon, please stick around.

Here is my guide for following your passion.

CHOICE co-founder and octogenarian James Mayfield joined the expedition, sleeping on the floor and helping with stoves. CREDIT: CHOICE HUMANITARIAN

Step 1. Find your passion. Regardless of your age, you know you’ve found your passion when making a physical sacrifice—sleeping on the floor, walking long distance, traveling constantly, or going without good food for days at a time—seems a small price to pay for the opportunity to make a difference. James Mayfield, founder of CHOICE Humanitarian, is in his 80s and still finds himself working in remote villages in Nepal, sleeping on the floor, in his quest to end extreme poverty in that country. He found his passion. Find a big problem you’re willing to make physical sacrifices to solve.

Step 2. Develop and deploy a relevant skill. The greater and more relevant your skills to addressing the problem you’ve chosen, the more likely you are to solve the problem. Yes, Médecins Sans Frontières does need lawyers, travel agents, logicians and a variety of other trained and skilled people, but if you really want to play in this arena, you’ll want to develop mad medical skills as a doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse.

Step 3. Spot your spot. At some point in your career—early or late—you’re likely to see a problem, probably a subset of the problem you’ve been working to solve, that is being entirely neglected. For example, Owen Robinson, founder of Haiti Cardiac Alliance, was working for the large international NGO Partners in Health when he noted that no one was tracking the children who needed cardiac care in Haiti. He launched his organization to do just that and has since saved hundreds of children by not only matching them to capable caregivers but also by assiduously tracking their progress over time. His organization is effective—radically so by my analysis—because he knew what he was doing when he spotted his spot and went to work.

Rotary volunteer, George Solomon with Owen Robinson, founder of Haiti Cardiac Alliance. Photo by Devin Thorpe. CREDIT: DEVIN THORPE

Step 4. Scale your good. There are nearly a billion people who are living in extreme poverty, seldom having enough food to eat, often lacking access to clean water and certainly having no sanitary place to defecate. As noble as it is to help the one, you cannot allow yourself to be satisfied by small things. The scale of problems is so vast, you must constantly be thinking about how to increase your impact not 10% but tenfold. The magnitude of the problems the world faces, including climate change, demands a relentless focus on growth. When Ann Cotton helped the first 32 girls in Zimbabwe attend school, she likely didn’t imagine that one day the organization she founded, CAMFED, would have educated 10,000 times that number—but it is quickly approaching that milestone. Having grown its impact by four orders of magnitude, she and the organization must continue to think about growing by yet another order of magnitude to reach millions of girls.

It is easy to conclude that only remarkable people can have great impact. That notion turns reality entirely on its head. The people who have made the greatest change for good in the world are remarkable precisely because of what they did. No one knew Mother Teresa was remarkable when she took her vow of poverty and began her ministry in Calcutta in 1932. The fact is, she wasn’t so remarkable then. She is admired for her work because of what she accomplished not for who she was.

One of the people I have come to admire most, is Susanna Rea Oam, an ordinary woman from Australia. She is a polio survivor, but unlike many others who were paralyzed by the crippling disease, she suffers little apparent harm from the childhood disease. After her first husband passed away, she organized a campaign within Rotary (I, too, am a member) to raise money for the international service organization’s global campaign to eradicate polio. Over the years since, she has helped raise over $3 million by flying around the world to Rotary Clubs and personally asking club members to donate to her “World’s Greatest Meal to End Polio” campaign. With a match from the Gates Foundation, the $3 million has become $9 million, enough to vaccinate 15 million children. This is how ordinary becomes extraordinary.

You can follow your passion. You can do more than round the corners on rectangles. You can change the world.

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With First-Ever Tie, Congratulate Our Changemakers of the Month

In a first, Your Mark on the World readers tied in their voting, in effect choosing a pair of Changemakers of the Month for August 2018: John Patterson, the person behind SightBox and Doug Heske and Alex Meek, the founders of Newday Investing.

Headshot of John Patterson

Dr. John Adam Patterson

John Patterson is the principal at St. Vincent’s School for the Blind; there he and the students have created a collection of tools that engage visually impaired students and are making it available–with the support of Rotary–to students who could benefit from it in the developing world.

Watch my full interview with John Patterson in the player below.

Doug Heske and Alex Meek founded Newday Investing, a platform where you can start investing with purpose and mission for just $5. Newday allows you to choose to participate in one or more of six different mission-aligned portfolios. You can even invest in all six portfolios with just one investment of $5. Now you can start investing as an impact investor.

Headshots of Doug Heske and Alexander Meek

Doug Heske and Alexander Meek, courtesy of Newday Investing

Watch my interview with Doug and Alex below.

As the winners, John, Doug and Alex will receive an autographed copy of my book, Your Mark on the World and both teams will receive 10 all-access passes to GoodCrowd.school.

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