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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

Api Podder

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Our Solutions Are Greater Than Our Problems

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

To many of us, the world feels like it is spiraling out of control, that enormous problems like climate change, poverty and global health are inherent, miserable parts of the human condition that are bound to overwhelm us.

Poverty seems intransigent. In the wealthiest cities of the world, you will find homeless populations camping in public parks, living under bridges and viaducts, often interacting with people outside their circles only to ask for money. More than 2.5 billion people have no access to a toilet. About ten percent of the world’s population will not have access to enough food today and doesn’t know where, when or if they will.

Global health statistics are also staggering. About 400,000 people will die of malaria this year, despite the disease having been eradicated from the developed world for decades. HIV/AIDS continues to spread and nearly 1 million people died last year from it. It gets worse. Tuberculosis also killed 1.6 million people. (About 300,000 people who died last year had both AIDS and tuberculosis.)

The Great East Japan Earthquake in Iwate CREDIT: DEPOSITPHOTOS

Climate change is an enormous problem. Despite clear evidence of the problem going back to the 1970s, we have failed to curb our consumption of fossil fuels. Scientists fear that it is too late to limit global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius, suggesting that potentially cataclysmic impacts could be coming.

When we look at the situation before us, it is easy to believe that the future is bleak. With a growing global population, it feels like there is no possibility of this ending well.

There is a possibility. In fact, I believe there is a great likelihood that things will work out well.

Let’s look at this another way.

Poverty only seems intransigent. When I was born, more than half of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Today, that population has roughly halved in absolute terms from about 1.5 billion to about 700 million and from more than 50% to representing fewer than 10% of the world’s population. That doesn’t just happen. It is the result of the work of governments, large NGOs, globalization, small faith-based charities, social entrepreneurs, impact investors and even consumers choosing to buy products from coffee to cars that improve the economic lot of people living below the poverty line. Ending extreme poverty by 2030 in accordance with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is achievable.

As we consider global health concerns, we need also to remember that no one on the planet has had smallpox in a generation. Only 22 people in the entire world were paralyzed by polio last year and it could be eradicated entirely soon. What we’ve learned from eradicating smallpox and polio is being applied to fighting malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Here again, social entrepreneurs are playing a role in getting solutions implemented around the world, some using innovative approaches with nonprofits and others using for-profit models to scale solutions quickly.

Climate change remains a huge threat, but there is reason to hope. In 2016, the world produced less carbon than the year before despite a growing global economy. That is a big deal. We may not have turned the corner, but we have turned a corner. At this moment, wind energy is the cheapest source of power on the planet. This wasn’t true until recently. Utility-scale solar can, in some places, produce power at lower cost than operating an existing coal-fired power plant. The entrepreneurs I talk to are working to lower the cost of renewables at every stage of the process, from making solar panels 30% cheaper and more efficient to reducing the cost of installing them. The economics of energy are shifting quickly in favor of fuel-free power. Paired with the electrification of transportation, meaningful progress is possible.

Please don’t read this as meaning that we can all sit back and relax, relying on others to solve the enormous challenges we face as a human family. That simply isn’t true. We must all contribute our own efforts to the process. Some actions that are required will be painful, but many will not be.

Solutions require that we build successful, purpose-driven enterprises that don’t extract value from low-income countries or communities but instead create value and opportunity.

We must fund organizations that educate children, including girls who are too often excluded, so that every single child has an opportunity to grow and prosper.

As consumers we should demand that the companies we support with our purchases are behaving responsibly toward the planet, their employees, contractors, customers and the communities where they operate–and don’t just operate for the benefit of senior management and shareholders.

As investors, we should purge our portfolios of investments in companies that harm the planet or extract value from vulnerable populations. Then we need to fill our portfolios with investments in companies that are improving global health and prosperity while actively protecting the environment.

There is more we must do but sleep well tonight knowing our solutions are greater than our problems. Then get up in the morning—no, get up every morning—and take action for good.

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Proven Business Leader Launches The Period Project To Serve Young Women

Lakisha Simmons holds a PhD in Management Information Systems, seeming to make her an unlikely candidate to tackle a distinctly non-business, non-technological social issues. But that didn’t stop her.

Simmons recognized that too many young women here in America struggle to afford feminine hygiene products. To address the issue, Simmons launched the Period Project, to ensure that every young woman has access to period products.

Interview with Lakisha L. Simmons, Ph.D., the Executive Director of The Achiever Academy; Founder Homework Suite App; Associate Professor of MIS at the Jack C. Massey College of Business at Belmont University of The Achiever Academy.

The following is the pre-interview with Lakisha L. Simmons, Ph.D.. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

We tackle issues that are obstacles for girls and young women when striving for success. We found that college women, especially minorities, had difficulties with climbing the corporate ladder and achieving personal and professional success. So we provide networking opportunities and soft skills workshops to bridge those gaps. We also know that period poverty is an issue that prevents economically disadvantaged girls from attending school and therefore host a number of product drives each year.

More about The Achiever Academy:

Twitter: @TheAchieverMe


Website: ;

The Achiever Academy (501(c)3) (, is a mentoring and leadership academy to develop poised, persistent, and prosperous college-educated women. The Achiever Academy targets high school, collegiate, and professional women to participate in its events and workshops.

Our Vision is that young adult women are highly achieved, poised, persistent, and prosperous in their personal and professional lives.

Our mission is to support, mentor and teach girls and young adult women to be poised, persistent, and prosperous through sophisticated and inspiring fine dining, service, and networking experiences.  The Academy hosts fine dining, networking and service experiences (Period Projects) that include leadership events and soft skills workshops focused on three outcomes: career success, community impact, and a prosperous life.

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

Revenue model: The Achiever Academy is supported by generous sponsors and donors.

Scale: The Achiever Academy has served over 400 girls, college women, and professional women in 2018. We have three board members and a small group of volunteers that work to make our event-based model successful.

Dr. Lakisha L. Simmons

Lakisha L. Simmons, Ph.D.’s bio:

Twitter: @drkishasimmons


Instagram: @drkishasimmons

Dr. Lakisha L. Simmons (Dr. Kisha) is a Six Sigma Black Belt (Caterpillar, Inc), and associate professor of management information systems at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.  She is the founder of Homework Suite App and The Achiever Academy nonprofit. Her expertise in business intelligence and her research in data science and edtech have resulted in over 40 peer-reviewed scholarly works and countless awards. Dr. Kisha was awarded the 2018 Nashville Emerging Leader in Education by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and 2018 Susan Short Jones Emerging Leaders Award by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc Metro Nashville Chapter.

Dr. Kisha earned her undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems from Tennessee State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems with a minor in Marketing from the University of Mississippi. Prior to receiving her doctorate, Dr. Simmons held several positions with Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation, including Six Sigma Black Belt and IT Business Analyst.

Dr. Kisha’s platform centers on keeping girls in school and successful (through Period Project initiatives and college-women networking events) and developing them into poised, persisted and prosperous women (through workshops). She spends a great deal of her time mentoring, training and speaking to young women about tech careers, adulting and academic success strategies.

She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Faculty Member of The PhD Project, and the Honor Societies of Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Gamma Sigma International.

More about Lakisha Simmons:

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Friends of Karen Celebrates Four Decades of Hope

This is a guest post from Judith Factor, Executive Director of Friends of Karen

No parent is prepared to hear the words “your child has cancer.” One of the most daunting challenges parents must grapple with when their child has a life-threatening illness is the prospect of dealing with it alone. What would you do if it were you? Who would you turn to?

Families should not face their child’s life-threatening illness alone, and with Friends of Karen’s help, they don’t have to. Friends of Karen provides families with day-to-day necessities so that they can focus on what really matters: their children.

Friends of Karen is effective, efficient and impact in helping families. As Executive Director Judy Factor puts it: “we do what we say we are going to do, and we’re good at it.” While Friends of Karen cannot cure childhood illness, it can help save impacted families by keeping them together, stable and coping throughout the often rigorous and exhausting schedule of treating a child with a critical illness. Friends of Karen takes on the costs of whatever a family needs, ranging from saving homes from foreclosure to covering steep food and medical expenses.But it’s our collective experience, developed over the past 40 years and embodied in our dedicated team of social workers, that really sets us apart and has helped guide families through their illness journey.

We have been honored, humbled and inspired to see the impact of our work progress beyond our own Friends of Karen families. Many families who received support from Friends of Karen at one point in time end up giving back to the organization. Take, for instance, Paula Berkowitz, who tragically lost her husband and two children in less than a year in 2010. Paula, who had been supported by Friends of Karen throughout her daughter Adina’s battle against Leukemia, refused to lose hope after facing such adversity. She founded the Adina’s Angels Fund to give back to Friends of Karen. The fund has raised over $400,000 so far to support Friends of Karen families.

This year, we are celebrating 40 years of bringing help, hope and support to over 15,000 children in the Tri-State area with an Anniversary Celebration event. Friends of Karen will be joined by corporate sponsors and donors this November to honor their commitment to supporting our organization’s mission. Proceeds from our anniversary celebration will help relieve struggling families of the financial hardship of huge medical bills, enormous travel costs for daily hospital visits and mounting expenses for food, housing, childcare, sibling support and other necessities.

In the last 40 years, we have been continually motivated by the tangible impact our support services have had on the families we work with. And while we look forward to celebrating the past four decades, we are set on supporting our current and future families and look forward to the years to come. We hope that there will come a day when Friends of Karen is no longer needed – but until then, we’ll be here.

Judith Factor

About Judith Factor:

Judith Factor is the Executive Director of Friends of Karen, a non-profit organization that provides emotional, financial and advocacy support for children with a life-threatening illness and their families in order to help keep them stable, functioning, and able to cope. She joined friends of Karen in 2008, prior to which she served as Senior Vice President for External Affairs at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic for nine years.

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Jobs for Youth – Gear for You.

This is a guest post from Jessica Elkan, the Director of Development and Communications at New Avenues for Youth.

Screen-printing equipment stored in a closet at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon was dusted off, given to our alternative school and became the inspiration for New Avenues INK, a social enterprise screen-printing business that trains and employees youth experiencing or on the cusp of homelessness. Fast forward five years and this brick and mortar screen printing shop in Portland’s trendy Pearl District has trained and employed 63 youth.

New Avenues for Youth, an organization that just hit the two decade milestone, has impacted the lives of more than 20,000 youth and INK is one of three businesses in our social enterprise portfolio. At-risk youth employed by INK can anchor to wrap around supports provided by New Avenues ranging from basic relief and safety services, mental health counseling, housing, education and career training – all aimed at preventing and ending youth homelessness.

Since our founding, it was evident that the youth we serve needed a combination of education and career training to reach self-sufficiency. The strategy of offering job readiness classes with a real-world work opportunity for youth to practice their newly honed skills while earning a paycheck began when New Avenues launched its first social enterprise in 2005, a Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop in downtown Portland. With the support of philanthropic investments, today we are operating two Ben & Jerry’s Partner Shops, a cart at the Oregon Zoo, an ice cream catering business and INK.

It isn’t a coincidence that in an apparel hub like Portland the community has embraced our efforts. Orders for screen printing come in from local schools, banks, construction companies, our NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers and recently one of our first out of state clients the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Sterile Processing Department at Stanford.

Collectively the enterprises train and employee over 100 youth annually and bring in $1M in revenue. For the youth working at INK, the enterprise builds a resume, skills and for some a career path.

Jamie (whose last name is withheld for privacy) is one of those success stories. She started out in an entry-level job at INK and found she had an aptitude for sales and problem solving. She was promoted and worked with the business manager. One year later, she was running the sales department, bringing on a new database and coordinating social media and marketing. Eventually she left New Avenues Ink for a position as an office manager at a larger screen-printing shop. She says her experience with the program “was nothing short of absolutely wonderful. It was supposed to be a temporary thing. I wasn’t really going anywhere as far as a career or in a field, and INK gave that to me. I gained that sense of purpose and what I wanted to do for my career.”

Growing up in a small family business is where I learned the hands on skills necessary to pursue my career goals. Witnessing youth have these same exposures, and the pride they feel in being a member of the INK team is inspiring. At New Avenues we know that INK is far more than screen-printing and a paycheck… it’s a launching pad for opportunity and possibility.

About Jessica Elkan:

Jessica Elkan is the Director of Development and Communications at New Avenues for Youth and during her ten year tenure has been a part of the team leading the growth of the New Avenues Social Purpose Enterprise Portfolio.

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Social Entrepreneur Challenges All To See Opportunity In Place Of Risk

Sly Young sees communities commonly called “at risk” differently. He sees “opportunity communities,” places where positive change saves lives and creates new possibilities for people in that place.

Interview with S. L. “Sly” Young, the Founder and President of Saving Our Communities at Risk Through Educational Services (SOCARTES) and Beyond SPRH, LLC.

The following is the pre-interview with S. L. “Sly” Young. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

SOCARTES is committed to providing individuals access to personal development opportunities, which can lead to these individuals reaching their career potential and goals.

Beyond SPRH’s goal is to deliver quality services with minimal time, effort, and cost with an objective of highly satisfied customers and measurable performance outcomes.

Sly Young Speaker:

More about Saving Our Communities at Risk Through Educational Services (SOCARTES) and Beyond SPRH, LLC:

Twitter: @socartes_org  @beyondsprh


Website: /

SOCARTES is an educational nonprofit founded in December 2012; its focus is to help individuals overcome personal challenges and barriers to achieve educational goals within their communities.

Beyond SPRH, LLC provides solution-oriented services to help individuals and organizations maximize output potential.

For-profit/Nonprofit: SOCARTES is a nonprofit organization, which isn’t a 501(c)3.  Beyond SPRH, LLC is a for-profit company.

Revenue model: SOCARTES is primarily self-funded, but also receives occasional donations from the community to support program delivery within the community.

Beyond SPRH’s revenue is generated from consulting work, speaking engagements, and book sales.

Scale: SOCARTES is operated by S. L. Young with oversight by a Board of Directors.  There isn’t a need for staff as the founder (who is an educator with over ten years of teaching in higher education) teaches inmates at a local jail using books written by the founder.  Also, under this model overhead costs are minimal. Beyond SPRH is a sole proprietorship with under $100K annual revenue.

S. L. “Sly” Young

S. L. “Sly” Young’s bio:

Twitter: @slyoungva


Instagram: @slyoungva

S. L. Young is a multi-award winning educator, mental health advocate, author/writer, program leader, professor, inspirational speaker, and radio host. Mr. Young’s materials provide solution-oriented guidance to address life and business challenges.  During his professional career, Mr. Young managed multi-million dollar projects in various Fortune 500 companies for over 15 years in the areas of billing, engineering, network security, operations, product development, and more.

Mr. Young is also the founder of the non-profit organization – Saving Our Communities at Risk Through Educational Services (SOCARTES), which teaches individuals in opportunity “at-risk” communities about life, business, and soft skills. Mr. Young’s for-profit company, Beyond SPRH, LLC, provides solution-oriented services to help individuals and organizations maximize output potential.

Mr. Young graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.) in International Business with a marketing concentration. He also graduated from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. with a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) in Finance and Investments with a human resources concentration and a Master of Science (M.S.) in Project Management.

In 2018, Mr. Young received special recognition for his work to educate inmates.  The first is the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Innovative Service Award” from the U.S. Department of Education for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, in collaboration with the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for African Americans.  The second is the “Distinguished County Service Award” from Volunteer Arlington (a program of the Leadership Center for Excellence).

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2 Guys Talk #MeToo–Can This End Well?

Mike Domitrz began training audiences on safe and respectful behavior in the workplace and elsewhere long before #MeToo was a hashtag–long before there were hashtags.

On the eve of the Senate vote on the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, following the hearing with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford last week, Mike and I connected for a perilous discussion about #MeToo–perilous because the #MeToo discussion should include women.

(For the record, I have spoken to women about these issues and have written about their perspectives here.)

Mike says we need to work together to create safer, most respectful spaces for the people in our lives, both at home and at the office. He draws a close parallel, suggesting that developing a safe, respectful environment at work requires drawing on some of the lessons we learn about having safe, respectful relationships at home.

Be sure to watch the full discussion in the video player above.

Interview with Mike Domitrz, the Author and Speaker of The DATE SAFE Project.

The following is the pre-interview with Mike Domitrz. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

Reducing sexual violence by creating a Culture of Respect


More about The DATE SAFE Project:

Twitter: @DateSafeProject



Help organizations, communities, educational institutions, and the US Military create a Culture of Respect

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: Fee for educational programs and presentations along with educational materials and online training programs we provide.

Scale: We present 150 – 250 trainings and presentations each  year.

Mike Domitrz

Mike Domitrz’s bio:

Twitter: @MikeDomitrz


As the brother of a survivor, Mike Domitrz has been traveling the world sharing with audiences for almost 3 decades. As an author, speaker and host of “The RESPECT Podcast,” Mike loves sharing skill sets for creating a world founded in respect.

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Tragedy Inspires Service To Children Of Cancer Patients

Nick Arquette was still a kid when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. The experience tore him apart, at once wanting to help his mom and still wanting to be with and like all the other kids who weren’t worried about their parents.

Ultimately, his mother succumbed to the cancer. As the years went by and her memory faded, Nick increasingly wanted to do something in her honor. Reflecting on his childhood, he launched Walk With Sally in her name to mentor children of cancer patients so they can enjoy more normal lives.

Interview with Nick Arquette, the Founder & CEO of Walk With Sally.

The following is the pre-interview with Nick Arquette. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

At Walk With Sally, I believe we are really filling a crucial support gap in the cancer community by offering hope and mentorship to the children who are often left by the wayside in the wake of a parent’s cancer journey.


More about Walk With Sally:

Twitter: @walkwithsally



Walk With Sally believes no child should walk alone in the face of a loved one’s cancer journey. Because we don’t want cancer to define or limit children for the rest of their lives, we create hope, healing and a supportive community through individualized mentoring, which transforms the lives not only of the children but also of the families impacted by cancer.

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

Revenue model: The majority of our annual revenue comes from our special events and fundraising efforts. Rallying the support of the community in order to really grow our fundraising model has had the biggest impact on our growth. This makes up for 50-55% of revenue generated each year. The remaining revenue is generated from either grants or private and corporate donors.

Scale: When Walk With Sally first started back in 2006, it was just a vision, and it all began by testing out the idea of a mentor friendship with one child, thanks to a partnership with the Lawndale school system. From that point until 2014, we were completely volunteer based. In 2014, Nick stepped in as CEO to oversee the nonprofit full time. From 2014 to current day, we have been able to grow the program from all volunteer based support, to now having 7 full-time employees. Our impact has also grown by 300%, from supporting only a few families at a time, to now having helped hundreds of families throughout 35 cities across greater Los Angeles. Since 2014, when Walk With Sally really implemented a solid business model and moved away from being volunteer-based, the annual revenue has increased by 200% between 2014 and current day.  

Photo Credit: Walk With Sally

Nick Arquette’s bio:


Instagram: @walkwithsally

Nick Arquette founded Walk With Sally in 2005, naming it for his mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer and after many years of treatment, died when Nick was sixteen. With an entrepreneurial spirit, Nick never forgot how challenging and isolating the years of his mother’s illness and loss had been for him as a child. Wanting to keep the legacy of his Mother alive while seeking to serve youth facing similar circumstances, Nick searched for mentoring opportunities in the community only to discover that NO organization was filling this critical support gap.  After careful research, he launched Walk With Sally and began mentoring a youth who had recently lost his mother to cancer.  From that first successful friendship, Walk With Sally’s core Mentoring Program has expanded, having served hundreds of families throughout the South Bay over the past 10+ years. Today Walk With Sally has helped countless families along the way and the program currently supports over 100 active children; boys and girls ages 7-17, with trained volunteer mentors throughout Los Angeles County.  With all his work throughout the community, in 2011 Nick was awarded Citizen of the Year by MB Chamber Women in Business and was a finalist for the Daily Breeze Most Philanthropic in 2012. Walk With Sally was awarded the distinction of Nonprofit of the Year in 2017 by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.

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Ending Malaria Will Require Eliminating Fake And Substandard Meds

Ending malaria will require making high-quality medication available universally in the most remote and isolated villages around the malaria-infected world. It will also require eliminating fake and substandard meds, Dr. Benjamin Rolfe, the Chief Executive Officer of Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance, says.

Though malaria has been eliminated from virtually all of the developed world, it remains a scourge in much of the developing world, killing 445,000 in 2016 and infecting millions every year.

Interview with Dr. Benjamin Rolfe, the Chief Executive Officer of Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance.

The following is the pre-interview with Dr. Benjamin Rolfe. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

The campaign against malaria is a global health success story. The Asia Pacific region achieved the World Health Assembly Goal reducing the number of cases and deaths between 2000 and 2015 by 75%. Despite remarkable progress, over two billion living in the region are still at risk to the disease.

The nature of malaria means even the most impressive gains are fragile.  Previous success against the disease has been reversed by explosive malaria resurgence threatening decades of progress. One important problem is the rising drug-resistant malaria emerging in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Without urgent action, the most important first-line treatment for malaria could become ineffective within years that would trigger a devastating rise in malaria prevalence and mortality.

A key contributor to the problem is the circulation of fake and substandard antimalarial drugs, although this is not the sole reason for this emergence. Suboptimal doses of artemisinin – a drug used to treat malaria — in a given substandard medicine allow the parasite to develop resistance to the drug. Globally, poor-quality antimalarial drugs caused an estimated 200,000 preventable deaths each year.

Experts agree the best strategy to tackle malaria – and rising drug resistance – is to end it for good, and by strengthening health systems so they are better able to manage the disease – along with other health threats.

APLMA is supporting countries to implement priority actions and accelerate malaria elimination by 2030. APLMA drives the implementation of the APLMA Leaders Malaria Elimination Roadmap by benchmarking progress against priorities, coordinating regional action, brokering policy, providing technical and financing solutions to regional and national challenges and encouraging effective country leadership to expedite elimination of malaria throughout the region.

APLMA is bringing together key players to tackle relevant malaria-related problems. Recently, we convened important stakeholders from Governments, Academia and Pharmaceutical industry that led to the launch of “Regional Regulatory Partnership” seeking to address the growing problem of proliferation of fake and substandard antimalarial drugs and strengthen health regulatory systems in the region.

More about Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance:

Twitter: @APLMA_Malaria



Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance (APLMA) is an affiliation of Asian and Pacific heads of government formed to accelerate progress against malaria and to eliminate it in the region by 2030. The APLMA secretariat was established to ensure the region will be able to deliver the services and financing required to see malaria elimination through. APLMA Secretariat is based in Singapore.

For-profit/Nonprofit: The Secretariat is a registered charity in Singapore (Nonprofit).

Revenue model: APLMA Secretariat receives funding from the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign and Trade (DFAT) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Scale: Starting from 18 Leaders in 2015, the Alliance now has 23 Heads of Government committed to the 2030 malaria elimination goal and endorsed the APLMA Roadmap as a framework to achieve it. The APLMA secretariat employs 15 staff from diverse expertise and background.

Dr. Benjamin Rolfe

Dr Benjamin Rolfe’s bio:

Twitter: @ben_rolfe


Dr. Benjamin Rolfe is the Chief Executive Officer of the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance. Formerly Pacific Lead Health Advisor at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ben has more than twenty years’ experience in supporting health initiatives across 30 countries. His expertise focuses on health policy, systems strengthening and financing. Ben is currently based in Singapore, having previously lived and worked for long periods in Cambodia, Nepal, India, Tanzania, Australia, Nigeria and Eritrea. Dr. Rolfe holds a PhD from the University of Wales and is a Fellow of the UK Faculty of Public Health Medicine.

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Give Brain Candy at Halloween

By Rebecca Morgan

Halloween is one of the most joyous times for children in the US and some other countries. They dress up as a favorite character or fantasy and run from house to house to be given candy! What a delight!

Unfortunately, the sugary treats can have immediate and lasting negative impact for not only the children but their parents. Some kids eat so much Halloween night and succeeding days they get tummy aches and become hyperactive. They have trouble sleeping or concentrating. They may gain weight and have difficulty getting back to their normal weight. There may be fights at home between their parents trying to limit the goodie intake and the kids wanting to consume more.

Parents can find it hard to resist indulging in their kids’ loot. Some take the excess to work, where it becomes a burden on their co-workers who have trouble resisting the abundant sugary temptations.

While Halloween candy is not the cause, it can contribute to childhood diabetes and obesity, now at epidemic levels in the US.

What if we were to keep the fun parts of Halloween—dressing in fun costumes, visiting neighbors for a treat, having an evening out with your friends—but shifted the troublesome part—candy? What if we provided an equally delectable treat, but this one is for kids’ minds, not their tummies?

Why not give kids brain candy?

Books For Treats was begun in 2001 with just this premise. Give children books as Halloween treats.

Why give children books instead of candy at Halloween?

Books feed children’s minds, while candy only feeds their cavities. Books encourage children to read, and parents to read with them and/or ask them about their books. Many children rarely receive books as gifts, so even gently read books are special treats.

The National Endowment for the Arts recently released a report revealing that the average 15- to 24-year-old spends seven minutes daily on “voluntary” reading. If we kindle children’s excitement about reading before they are teenagers, they will continue the habit into adulthood.

Why would I want to go to the trouble of giving books? Candy is much easier to buy.

Do you recycle? If so, do you think it is a lot of work? No. You believe in supporting the planet by recycling materials so they don’t go into the landfill. Books For Treats takes a little more time than buying a giant bag of candy, but if you believe that you can help turn Halloween from a cavity-, obesity-, diabetes-contributing holiday into one that shows that society cares about our children, then it’s worth the extra effort.

Giving books instead of candy shows kids you care about them and are encouraging them to read. This not only helps raise their interest in reading, but raises their feeling that the community cares about their future. Literacy is key to success in today’s society. Book reading encourages curiosity, imagination and life-long learning.

“This is such an amazingly generous idea.” — Lynsey Georgiades

Why is candy a problem?

According to Nielsen Research, approximately $9.1 billion of candy was sold during the 2017 Halloween season—a new record. The average person spends nearly $16.45 on the Halloween candy—much of it being consumed before Halloween by the adults or their kids.

The average Jack-O-Lantern bucket holds about 250 pieces of candy amounting to about 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar, according to the California Milk Processors Board.

Childhood diabetes is increasing alarmingly. Couple that with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which show that today at least one in four children are 20% or more heavier than their ideal weight. It is clear that we do not need to be giving children more candy. We need a healthy alternative—one that “feeds kids’ minds, not their cavities!”

Parents complain that their kids are hyper before and after Halloween as they eat so many more sweets than usual. Parents have to limit the amount of candy their kids eat, which creates fights, crying and problems. Many parents either throw away unwanted candy or bring it to work for their coworkers to eat! Not a good solution.

Many adults find Halloween candy is a problem for them, as some eat it before Halloween, eat candy from their kids’ bags, or eat leftover candy brought to work by coworkers. Just think of the favor you’ll be doing for your waistline by not having Halloween candy to contend with!

How would I get inexpensive books? Kids’ books are expensive!

“I have done Books for Treats at our home for the last 2 years. This will be my third year. Each year I obtain a wider selection of books. I collect them year round from garage sales, thrift stores, and library book sales. Kids LOVE it.” — Christine Tyler, San Jose resident

Many libraries hold regular book sales. Call your nearest branch to see when the next sale is. A common library-sale price is $1/inch (stack up the books and measure along the spines). You can get 2 to 5 books for $1, depending on their thickness, so for the price of a candy bar you can give “brain candy” instead.

If you need to supplement your own book stash, take inventory of how many you already have in each grade category, so you’ll know how many more you’ll need for your trick-or-treaters. For guidance on how to tell the grade levels of the books you have, download our kit, as guidelines are in it.

“I culled our personal books last year and gave them out at the door with some candy. The books were a HUGE hit!” — Cathy W., Schenectady, NY

Why give gently read books instead of new books? Won’t kids think that is cheesy?

Kids appreciate books, even gently read books, as long as they are in good shape. You’ll need to screen the books to make sure the books aren’t ripped or marked up, although they may have the previous owner’s name in the front and/or a library stamp.

“I escorted five fourth grade boys trick-or-treating and they were thrilled the most about receiving a Books For Treats book. When the boys saw their friends they exclaimed ‘Look at the cool book from the lady across the street!’ When we arrived home, I quickly hid the bag of candy. My son Jeremy didn’t even ask for the candy; he begged for the book that he received from Books For Treats!” — Catherine Edwards

“They were leaving here, waving their books and running to their mothers, saying, ‘I got a book. I got a book!’ It’s not a trick. It’s a treat….We enjoy seeing the kids get excited about getting a book.” — Ann Reeves, Kennewick, Oregon

What will the kids think about getting books instead of candy?

Our experience is that kids, as well as their parents, are thrilled by receiving books for treats. They are much more enthusiastic than we have ever seen them when we gave candy. We have witnessed many children running to the sidewalk waiving a new treasure yelling, “Mom, look! I got a book!” We also see a group of kids standing on the sidewalk showing each other their books. We heard one girl greet a friend coming from the other direction “Hey, this house gives books! Cool!”

When asked what she thought of Books For Treats, seven-year-old Alana said, “I like books better than candy. A book lasts a long time and candy is gone in a bite! And I can sit on my daddy’s lap and read the book over and over with him.”

“I offered books this Halloween. Two children were so excited they left their sacks of candy at the door and took off with the books—they had to come back later and retrieve their candy (and they thanked me again for the books). Some of the older kids wanted to know if they could have more than one book.

“Next year I am going to do again. The kids were excited to get something other than candy and books were the treat. I just loved their looks of surprise when the ‘book basket’ came out and they could pick the one they wanted.” — Joan Nettesheim

“Kids were squealing with joy and delight….I think I got more joy than they did. They didn’t want the candy. They kept yelling to each other, ‘Hey, this is the house with all the books.'” — County Commissioner Lisa Weik, in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

How do I get involved?

  • Like our Facebook page
  • Gather gently read children’s books to give to your trick-or-treaters.
  • Download our free kit at to help sort your books by grade level.
  • Volunteer to help (fill out the form at
  • Have your company become a sponsor
  • Make a tax-deductible donation of any amount through PayPal to We appreciate any funds, as they help us purchase books, provide PR to get the word out, and keep our website up to date.
  • Talk to your friends, co-workers and neighbors about participating in Books for Treats. Send them a link to

“Thanks for getting me involved in Books for Treats. This has turned into one of the premier events in downtown Campbell. The community has really embraced Books for Treats.” — Bob Carlson, Campbell Rotary Books For Treats Chair

“I’m so glad I did this! Your downloadable kit made it so easy! This was so fun!!! We are off the main trick or treating route in a well-to-do suburb of Birmingham, AL called Mountain Brook. Kids here can absolutely afford books and are well educated, so I was afraid they’d think it was goofy but they loved it!! A pack of 6th grade boys said it was “awesome and cool” with genuine excitement. A few little girls ran back to their parents screaming happily, “Look mama, I got a book!” I’ve been telling everyone I know about it yesterday and today! Thanks for your organization! “ — Laura McLester

How do I give gently read children’s books at Halloween?

Collect books. Then download our kit to help you sort your books by grade level. It has a full set of instructions on how to sort the books, how to make it easy to give books to your trick-or-treaters, and even signs for your door so kids—and parents—know you’re a book-giving house.

“I distributed 697 books to trick-or-treaters at my house in Southbridge, MA last night. Your kit was a huge help in terms of getting things organized and sorting the books by reading level.

“It was very easy to collect donations of books for younger kids from parent friends whose kids had outgrown them. I ended up calling Friends of Library organizations and negotiating bulk sales for about $10 per box.” — Amelia

About Rebecca Morgan:

Rebecca Morgan founded Books For Treats in 2001. Communities and residents all over No. America have joined the Books For Treats movement. For more info, go to

Help us share the stories of those who are doing the most good in the world. Get an autographed book from Devin when you pledge just $2 per month. Visit

Airplane Crash Kills 11 Volunteers; Their Legacy Lives On In Guatemala

John Porter will never forget the call ten years ago. With some of the key members of his team on a service mission with CHOICE Humanitarian to Guatemala, a survivor called to say the plane had crashed killing ten people, most John’s employees.

Chris Johnson and his wife Liz had devoted themselves to helping those living in extreme poverty to successfully build a path to a brighter future through CHOICE. Liz had taken time off to focus on their small children before getting back into the field on that fateful trip. She survived the crash but succumbed to her injuries while being treated in Guatemala city.

Faced with excruciating decisions about how to move forward, Chris remained at CHOICE. John rebuilt his team and grew his company while continuing to support service. CHOICE continued its work in Guatemala. Ten years on, the community has been dramatically reshaped, with improved literacy and job training, including IT training in the Central American jungle.

Everyone involved committed to making the work and its impact on the people Liz and the others served the living memorial to those who died.

Interview with Christopher Johnson, the Director of Economic Development of CHOICE Humanitarian.

The following is the pre-interview with Christopher Johnson. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

We work with rural communities around the globe ending extreme poverty. We do this through an applied approach to local leadership skill building in problem-solving, consensus building, gender equality, results-based management, networking and sustainability. The end result is a community capable of eliminating it’s own extreme poverty and creating a quality of life for its citizens that celebrates its unique culture, values and dreams while offering improved access to health, education, sanitation and economic growth.

More about CHOICE Humanitarian:

Twitter: @CHOICEorg



CHOICE Humanitarian is a non-government organization working with rural communities of developing countries to develop sustainable strategies for eliminating extreme poverty in their own communities and in the surrounding area.

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

Revenue model:

CHOICE generates resources in the following ways:

  • Individual donors
  • Foundation Grants
  • Revenue from expeditions
  • Social business investments

Scale: $4M/annual operating budget, 75 employees worldwide, approx 185,000 people directly impacted on an annual basis from leadership development, economic programs and access to basic services

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson’s bio:


Instagram: @tzuku68

For the past twenty-five years Christopher has been involved in sustainable development work. He has been employed full-time with CHOICE Humanitarian for the past 20 years and has held positions at CHOICE Humanitarian as director of field operations for 12 years where he worked extensively to build and strengthen the Self-Developing Village Model together with Dr. James B. Mayfield and nine Country directors as it was piloted, tested and perfected in seven countries around the world. This model trains local leaders and their communities in developing and implementing sustainable strategies for accessing adequate education, healthcare, economic development and healthy environment in order to achieve a self-defined high quality of life.

Christopher worked as executive director for two years as Program Director for 5 years developing additional organization-wide initiatives. Christopher now focus his time on economic development connecting products from small-scale farmers and artisans to US markets establishing best-practices, protocols and profitable international trade ventures using a responsible sourcing and sustainable methodology.

In other non-profit work, Christopher worked as assistant executive director of the Humanitarian Resource Center of North America. He has led over 30 humanitarian expeditions for CHOICE as a volunteer as well as served an internship with them for one year working with the Huichol Indigenous tribe in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. He also spent two years on a service mission in Paraguay.

Christopher has a Bachelors of Science degree in Recreational Management from Brigham Young University and has completed the coarse work of a masters degree in Recreation Administration at California State University Chico.

Christopher is the author of Revitalizing Glendale: People, Resources and Strategies for Community Building. Sits on two other non-profit boards of directors, has been instrumental in starting three non-profit organizations and acts as an advisor to many more. He is father to three beautiful children, enjoys camping, traveling, cycling, mountain biking, snow boarding and just about anything that releases adrenaline into the bloodstream.

Interview with John Porter, the CEO of Focus Services, LLC.

The following is the pre-interview with John Porter. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

With the profits and personal of our organizations, we provide resources; financial, professional and labor to elevate abject poverty and fight human trafficking.

More about Focus Services, LLC:

Twitter: @FocusServices1





Focus is a multinational BPO (business processing outsourcer).  

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: Our entities are all for profit.  We utilize these funds to support worthy groups.  

Scale: We have thousands of employees working in several countries in the world.  

John Porter’s bio:

Twitter: @jpfsi


Instagram: @johnporter2228

John is the founder and CEO of Focus Services, LLC and Clearview Technology, LLC and has been a founding member of other businesses.  John loves to build businesses by driving technology, process and developing people. “The fun is in the growth.”

John and the businesses that he operates are very engaged in improving the lives of people in many regions in the world.  He currently sits as a board member for Choice Humanitarian and is also involved in other charities and NGOs.

John has been married to Connie W. Porter for over 30 years.  They have four children and will soon have six grandchildren.

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