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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

Social Entrepreneurship

This category includes articles about social entrepreneurs, typically about businesses with a for-profit model with a social mission embedded into the fabric of the business.

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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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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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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

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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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Cancer Survivor Launches A Movement With A Twist

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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Still weak from her cancer treatment, 29-year-old Jenna Benn Shersher, now 36, asked her family, friends and followers to help her fight cancer. Wanting to dance but unable to do much on the dance floor, she made a quick video of herself doing the twist and challenged others to do the same. Thousands did.

That launched a movement that became a nonprofit organization she calls Twist Out Cancer.

The 501(c)(3) now has programs in Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Ann Arbor, Philadelphia and Tel Aviv.

While cancer-free for nearly seven years, Shersher describes her experience with cancer as “horrible.” Despite having the best medical care and a strong network of family and friends, she felt “this sort of overwhelming sense of isolation and loneliness even though I had everything in my favor.”

Jenna Benn Shersher CREDIT: AVI LOREN FOX

She found blogging to be therapeutic. That’s where she posted her Twist Out Cancer challenge and found a ready audience of eager supporters.

She built the nonprofit with a goal of helping cancer survivors—including those who have just learned of their diagnosis—to feel the same connection that Shersher found with her supporters.

One survivor, Anna Swarthout (now Moschner) had the same, rare cancer that Shersher had—grey zone lymphoma. Just a few years younger than Shersher, the two shared some of the same feelings of loss and frustration having cancer while still in their prime.

With the help of Twist Out Cancer, Moschner grew a global support group with people painting works of art and baking cookies to support her.

A new program emerged from the experience: “Brushes With Cancer.” Twist Out Cancer now pairs a cancer survivor with an artist, someone they wouldn’t otherwise know. They provide space and time for them to get to know one another well. In that time, the artist creates a unique work that reflects the survivor’s journey.

“Essentially it allows for the person touched by cancer to articulate their story, come to terms with what they want to share. And then it also gives them an opportunity to see their story through someone else’s eyes. And for the artist it gives them an opportunity to use their talent and their skills to be able to help support someone that needed it,” Shersher says.

Grace Lombardo, a cancer survivor who blogs at Grancer, describes her primary role on her blog as “STAY-AT-HOME-PARENT– Zero consistency, no days off (including sick days), lots of human excrement, emotional garbage disposal, complete loss of sense of self. Managed by tiny dictators. Payment in leftover Goldfish crackers.”

Lombardo participated in Brushes with Cancer. “I was an ‘Inspiration’ at 2017’s Brushes with Cancer event which means that I was paired with an artist who made a beautiful painting of his depiction of my cancer odyssey. Now that painting hangs on the wall in my dining room which reminds me of the struggle and subsequent joy of what I went through during diagnosis, treatment and beyond.”

“TOC finds people at many different stages of their cancer odyssey. For me, I was just out of treatment when it all began so I was raw and in need of some initial healing. Telling my story to my artist and seeing what evolved out of his creative mind was a way to look back through the looking glass at my own story. Every piece of art has meaning, but this particular piece is an actual piece of me and the tapestry of my life,” she concludes.

The artwork is displayed and sold at a fundraising gala that helps keep the program running for the next beneficiary. Shersher says the organization is funded by a combination of crowdfunding, private donations, foundation grants and these galas.

As Shersher reflects on her experience, and the twisting videos people—even strangers—made to support her, she says, “There was something really powerful about video about being brought into other people’s homes and workplaces and celebrations. These are all things that I felt disconnected from and couldn’t be a part of. And so, I saw the power of video; I saw the power of connection, and I saw the power of using creativity in order to educate and advocate for what I needed.” The legacy of her cancer is her work to support other survivors in their journeys.

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Is It Time To Stop Disrupting And Start Solving And Building Again?

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Perhaps I’m showing my age, but with the years I’ve spent working as an entrepreneur and working with and for entrepreneurs—especially social entrepreneurs in recent years—I’ve noticed a disturbing trend: focus has shifted to disruption away from solving problems and building businesses.

First, let me say, that I understand the meaning, and buried within an entrepreneur’s desire to disrupt an industry is a goal to solve a problem and build a business. Here’s the thing, increasingly entrepreneurs aren’t talking about the problems they solve and the businesses they’ll build but instead are focused on the industry they’ll disrupt.

Did Thomas Edison set out to disrupt the gas lamp industry when he decided to invent the electric light bulb? I suspect not. He wanted to create a better, safer, more reliable source of light.

Let’s be clear, disruption is a problem. When entrepreneurs say they hope to disrupt an industry, they are really saying, we hope to bankrupt some businesses, put lots of people out of work, perhaps inspire a suicide or two and with any luck leave some children without reliable sources of food or health insurance.

Personally, I can’t help but wonder if that entrepreneurial elitism hasn’t contributed in some way to the rise of President Donald Trump by in fact ignoring the impact of disruption.

It is certainly true that the invention of the light bulb did disrupt the gas lamp industry. Perhaps some businesses failed; certainly, some people lost their jobs and all the downstream effects of unemployment were realized.

At the same time, tremendous social benefits were also realized as the world moved away from gas lamps. The shift, almost 140 years after the invention of the lightbulb continues. In the developing world, kerosene lamps are still used. Increasingly, they are being replaced by solar lamps that require only free fuel to use. (Of course, solar lamps don’t use Edison-style incandescent bulbs, they use LEDs, but it is hard to imagine LEDs without first having had incandescent bulbs.)

As this happens, kerosene is no longer needed in many of those homes and so is not there to risk an accidental burn of a child or to be used as a convenient and horrific weapon in a domestic dispute—almost always with a woman as the victim.


Neglecting disruption may not be much better than seeking for it as a primary objective, but we can at least observe a difference in intent. A bank robber may ignore the risk that carrying a gun into a bank may put the robber in the uncomfortable position of murdering someone, but it seems preferable to the serial killer who takes lives for sport.

Your success does not depend on another’s failure. There are problems to be solved in this world that should require no disruption—or only disruption of bad actors. Let’s consider a few examples.

When organizations like Days for Girls and enterprises like Bana, create free or affordable ways for girls to access feminine hygiene products they’ve never had, the only things they disrupt are missed days of school and the piles of leaves girls were forced to sit on before.

Operation Underground Railroad actively works to rescue child victims of sex slavery around the world. Every time they are successful in that objective, they disrupt a group of traffickers and pedophiles. Well done, I say!

Forward progress will, I acknowledge, often require disruption. Sometimes, as with sex traffickers, that disruption should be considered an unqualified social benefit. Generally, however, I want to challenge entrepreneurs to refocus on problem-solving and business building. Disruption as a goal is like a football team focusing on hurting the other team’s quarterback rather than scoring points and defending the end zone.

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2nd Annual 24-Hour Solo Live Stream Will Celebrate and Track Results on #GivingTuesday

Press Release – SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – SEPTEMBER 24, 2018 – Devin Thorpe, a journalist and podcaster who covers the nonprofit arena, will again live stream #GivingTuesday. The global giving day was created by the United Nations Foundation and 92nd Street Y in 2012 and has been growing ever since.

Thorpe dubbed his video live stream hosted on YouTube the #GTstreamathon. It will include over 100 interviews with nonprofit leaders, celebrities and crowdfunding platform operators participating in the global fundraising event. Beginning at midnight Pacific Time on November 27, 2018 and ending 24 hours later, the show will be produced and hosted entirely alone by one person.

“I’ve never had so much fun at work,” Thorpe said of the first annual #GTstreamathon. “It was as exhausting as you can imagine, but also exhilarating. I was thrilled to connect that day with so many people doing so much good for the world while at the same time see the global fundraising tally top both all prior records and $100 million dollars.”

“Participating in the #GTstreamathon last year was fun and easy,” says Carrie Romano, CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Intermountain Area. “This simple step added to our overall fundraising strategy that day, helping us to maximize the funds we raised. Devin is a great host who shares our passion for doing good.”

“Joining Devin for the #GTstreamathon in 2017 was so impactful, we jumped at the chance not only to participate again this year but to sponsor,” says Daryl Hatton, CEO of FundRazr. “At FundRazr, we want to help nonprofits raise more money by easily connecting donors with the impact of their contributions. #GivingTuesday aligns perfectly with our goals and the livestream is an exciting way to engage with it.”

Thorpe is accepting applications from nonprofit leaders who would like to participate at There is no cost for nonprofits to participate. For-profit businesses interested in sponsoring the event are invited to apply at the same website. All media outlets are invited to broadcast or host the YouTube livestream on their websites without charge and are encouraged to express interest at

More about the #GTstreamathon:

The #GTstreamathon is a 24-hour video livestream hosted by Devin Thorpe, a journalist and podcaster, whose guests include nonprofit leaders, celebrities and crowdfunding professionals. Watch the live stream on November 27, 2018 at

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

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