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Conrad Prebys Gives Massive Donation to SDSU

Conrad Prebys Gives Massive Donation to SDSU
Local philanthropist Conrad Prebys recently gave $2.5 million to San Diego State University. / Image: via Instagram.

Last month Conrad Prebys, a generous philanthropist who is known for supporting the arts, as well as health and education sectors, gave a massive donation to San Diego State University (SDSU), his second donation to the institution in 2014. According to SDSU, “When Conrad Prebys gave San Diego State University a $20 million gift earlier this year to support student scholarships, it was only the beginning. Just 10 months later, Prebys and the university have announced a $2.5 million endowment to support a new faculty position in Bio-Medical research,” of where the funds will go.

One of SDSU’s areas of excellence is in viromics, which focuses on the genetics of viruses. Reportedly, the new faculty position will be filled by an expert in this field. “The Conrad Prebys Chair in Bio-Medical Research will be a newly created faculty position that will join SDSU’s world-class faculty researchers in the area of viromics, which takes a cross-disciplinary approach to learning more about bacteriophages and exploring their potential for medical usage,” explains Greg Block of the SDSU News Center.

The $20 million gift that Prebys bestowed upon SDSU back in February was the single largest donation that the university has ever received. The gift will make it possible to provide scholarships for 150 students annually. Although he is not a SDSU alumna, Prebys has often remarked that he feels very connected to the institution.

Conrad Presby
Conrad Prebys. / Image: via

“As one of our most distinguished community leaders, Conrad Prebys has, literally and figuratively, helped build San Diego from the ground up through his real estate development and his philanthropic support of our cultural, educational, and medical institutions,” said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman after Prebys presented the university with his first donation of 2014. “We are deeply grateful for this gift and Conrad’s profound commitment to our students and their futures,” he said.

The new position made possible by Prebys’s most recent donation is the largest endowed Chair in the history of SDSU. It is the university’s hope that this momentum will help SDSU become a top national public research university.


Why it Feels So Good to Give

Giving Tuesday
You know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get after doing something kind for someone else? Science says that giving to others actually gives people a boost of happiness, not unlike a runner’s high! / IMG: via Shutterstock

Tis the season of gift giving! Sure, Christmas may be over, but many people still find themselves heading to a few holiday parties scattered throughout the month. It’s always fun to open presents, but it turns out that being generous and giving gifts to others can actually give you a boost of happiness too. One study that was published in 2009 suggested that being on the receiving end of generosity can trigger a release of oxytocin, which is a hormone commonly associated with feelings of love and trust.

While many of us believe that spending money on ourselves will make us happier, we actually get happier when we spend that money on others. When you spend money on others there is a physiological response that causes your brain’s pleasure and reward centers to light up as if you were the recipient of the good deed. You get an instant boost of feel-good endorphins, just like a runner’s high. In fact, when you do a single act of kindness, this can inspire others to do several more acts of generosity, because recipients of kindness are more likely to pass it forward.

Even if you can’t physically give a lot, start with a domino effect for the warm and fuzzy feelings. For example, maybe offer your seat to someone else on a crowded train or bus, pick up some trash on your walk home or try inviting a neighbor over for dinner. Before you run out and spend too much (more) money this season, try to be thoughtful and unique in your giving. For example, create an experience like a vacation or day trip for a loved one. Or maybe buy someone a cooking or music lesson, or tickets to a sporting event or concert.

Don’t be stingy this season (or ever!), as giving will give you a happy high.


Student Raises Thousands for Homeless Man Who Paid It Forward

Dominique Harrison-Bentzen
Dominique Harrison-Bentzen and other volunteers raise awareness about homelessness and raise funds for their local homeless community. / Image: via Facebook.

The holiday season is a time of giving, and perhaps no two people demonstrated what true selflessness means than Dominique Harrison-Bentzen and the homeless man that tried to give her his last £3 so she could get home safely in a taxi. Harrison-Bentzen was so touched by this kind gesture that she later set out to raise funds to help the man get back on his feet again.

According to The Guardian,

Dominique Harrison-Bentzen, who studies at the University of Central Lancashire, says she had lost her bank card and needed to get home after a night out when the homeless man, known only as Robbie, offered money to help.

The 22-year-old says she declined the offer, but was so moved by his gesture that she started a campaign to raise enough money to help him get a flat. She set up a donation page and asked people to each donate £3 for her fundraiser, which involved spending the night on the street, along with supporters who had heard about her story through social media.

“I was touched by such a kind gesture from a man who faces ignorance every day, so I set on a mission to find this man,” said Harrison-Bentzen. “The more I spoke about him the more kind gestures I learned about him, such as him returning wallets untouched to pedestrians and offering his scarf to keep people warm,” of how his kindness affected more people in her community than she even realized.

As of Wednesday, Harrison-Bentzen had raised £21,000 (close to $40,000 US dollars) for Robbie and other members of the local homeless community. “With Robbie’s blessing, we want to help as many people as we can,” says Harrison-Bentzen. “Robbie has already suggested some local charities within Preston who have helped not only him but others through hardship.”


John Legend and Chrissy Teigan Hire Food Trucks to Feed NYC Protestors

john legend chrissy teigen
There’s no stopping this philanthropic power couple! Image: via Instagram.

Grammy-winning soul singer John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigan are no strangers to philanthropy. This past weekend, the creative power couple decided to support protestors in Lincoln Square by purchasing food trucks that would keep them nourished out in the NYC chill.

According to Vanity Fair, “Despite New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s prediction that public demonstrations over the Eric Garner and Ferguson Grand Jury decisions would ‘peter out,’ the protests are still going strong thanks, in part, to a generous contribution from musician John Legend and his wife model and food blogger Chrissy Teigen.” Reportedly, the couple purchased a fleet of food trucks to serve free food to protesters in Lincoln Square on Sunday.

Although neither Legend or Teigan are overly involved with the protests that have happened in response to the grand jury decisions in the cases of Eric Garner and Darren Wilson, they have made comments on social media, and this most recent effort to support protesters speaks to their desire to do what’s right. The couple has been involved with many other philanthropic and humanitarian endeavors in the past. From supporting music and the arts to aiding poverty initiatives, both are model humanitarians who remain incredibly humble despite their deep generosity.

In 2007, Legend launched the Show Me Campaign, a foundation that works to break the cycle of poverty through education on a global level. According to the initiative, “In the United States, the Show Me Campaign works to give every child access to a quality education through the promotion of scalable, proven solutions and programs. In Africa, Show Me has supported holistic developmental projects in the past and currently sponsors secondary school scholarships for girls,” of the work the campaign does.

John Legend has also taken part in arts initiatives such as the Turnaround for Children Annual Impact Awards Dinner, and the Sound of Change Live Charity concern. The singer has also supported The Gentleman’s Fund, is a spokesperson for Tide Loads of Hope, and has partnered with the Millennium Promise Alliance.

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Helen Keller International Launches Holiday Campaign

helen keller international logo

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” – Helen Keller

Helen Keller International, winner of the 2014 Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership and one of the highest ranked international charities in the world, recently announced plans to launch a holiday campaign to encourage donors to support programs that empower the most vulnerable communities.

Founded in 1915 by Helen Keller and George Kessler, Helen Keller International is one of the oldest nonprofit organizations devoted to preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition globally. The organization already works in 22 countries, but hopes to increase its efforts and donor support this holiday season in honor of its upcoming Centennial.

“In the new year, we will be kicking off our Centennial – and Helen Keller International is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago,” said Kathy Spahn, President and CEO of the organization. She continues, “In 1915, American philanthropist George Kessler and humanitarian crusader Helen Keller found what would become Helen Keller International. Though our programs have grown and evolved throughout the years, from the beginning, our mission has been to provide opportunity and hope where there is hardship and despair.”

According to a press release on Digital Journal, “Women and children under five remain among the world’s most vulnerable groups,” of why Helen Keller International has directed its focus to women and young children as part of its holiday campaign. The press release continues, “Using proven, cost-effective interventions in combatting the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition, Helen Keller International currently has more than 180 programs that reach 100 million people each year in 21 African and Asian countries, as well as in the United States,” of the organization’s incredible efforts to eradicate blindness and malnutrition globally.

For nearly 100 years, Helen Keller International has demonstrated the power of humanitarianism and philanthropy. By focusing its efforts on those most at risk for malnutrition and blindness, the organization will continue to exist as a true philanthropic leader, and will make a greater impact than ever as it enters its Centennial year.

Learn more by visiting


Mark Bustos Cuts Hair for the Homeless

haircuts for the homeless Mark Bustos

Mark Bustos is not your average hairstylist. His clientele is high-end, his services start at $150, and in his free time, he cuts hair for the homeless.

According to The Philippine Star, “In open spaces where most people can see, Mark approaches homeless folk in a friendly way, sitting down at their level and speaking face to face with this opening line: ‘I want to do something nice for you today.’” Even though the New York-based stylist does most of his pro bono hair cutting in the Big Apple, Bustos and his girlfriend LaLa Javier actually started the project in the Philippines where his parents are from. Back in 2012, Bustos and Javier rented a chair in a local Pampanga barbershop and began giving away haircuts to children who couldn’t afford one.

Fast forward to 2014 in New York City, where Bustos has been restoring dignity and happiness in people who are down on their luck and living on the streets, one haircut at a time. “The experience is always different, yet very similar,” says Bustos of what it’s like cutting hair in different cities. “No matter what part of the world you are in, everybody loves the feeling of having a haircut. It is a universally known luxury that every demographic and walk of life can appreciate.”

haircuts for the homeless Mark Bustos

In addition to cutting the hair of homeless people in New York, Bustos also gives them a homemade care package put together by Javier. These packages typically consist of hygiene products like toothbrushes and facial wipes, simple snacks like granola bars, and a small first aid kid.

Although the do-gooding couple knows they probably won’t irrevocably change anyone’s lives through their kindhearted efforts, they do hope to put a smile on someone’s face for even just a moment. Bustos also hopes that his project will inspire others to do good and reach out to those in need. “I hope that people will follow my lead and gain inspiration to help those who are less fortunate,” he says.

For updates on Bustos’ project, follow him on Instagram @markbustos.

Images: via Instagram.

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Giving Tuesday: Two Great Organizations, Thousands of Participants, One Day to Give

Giving Tuesday 2014

Today is Giving Tuesday, a chance to donate vital funds to worthy nonprofit organizations across the country. Now in its third year, the charitable social media event is bigger than ever, drawing in thousands of participants and raising millions for nonprofits.

Giving Tuesday in and of itself is a fantastic campaign and social media event. It challenges consumerist culture and invites people to give back rather than take during a time of year when storefronts and countless ads are telling us all to thoughtlessly consume. By now you’ve likely seen the trending hashtag #GivingTuesday on social media, but have you put any thought into who sparked this charitable campaign?

Giving Tuesday was founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. According to the Giving Tuesday website, “Together with a team of influencers and founding partners, we launched a global movement that has engaged over 10,000 organizations worldwide.” In addition to the dozens of individual influencers, Giving Tuesday is made possible with help from Giving Institute, Lodestar Foundation, Giving USA Foundation, The Case Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CECP, and others.

92nd Street Y is a “world-class cultural community center where people all over the world connect through culture, arts, entertainment and conversation,” explains the organization of its more than 140 years as a leader in community building through the arts. “92Y enthusiastically welcomes and reaches out to people of all ages, races, faiths and backgrounds while embracing Jewish values like learning and self-improvement, the importance of family, the joy of life, and giving back to our wonderfully diverse and growing community, both locally and around the world,” says the organization.

The United Nations Foundation “links the UN’s work with others around the world, mobilizing the energy and expertise of business and non-governmental organizations to help the UN tackle issues including climate change, global health, peace and security, women’s empowerment, poverty eradication, energy access, and U.S.-UN relations,” explains the organization. It’s the Foundation’s mission to fosters a more peaceful and just world, and works towards this goal by supporting programs like Giving Tuesday.

Interested in learning even more about the partners and founders of Giving Tuesday? Be sure to visit the campaign’s official website!

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Sid Lee and the Movember Foundation Cohabitate in LA

movember no shave november mustache
Image: via Movember.

Two years after it’s first American opening in New York, advertising agency Sid Lee is arriving in Southern California with a new office named Sid Lee L.A. In a somewhat surprising move, the company has now embedded its employees in the office of the Movember Foundation.

As the New York Times remarks, “If, as the saying goes, advertising is a relationship business, an agency, Sid Lee, and one of its clients, the men’s health charity known as the Movember Foundation, have entered the cohabitation stage,” of the recent office merger. Reportedly, the agreement between the two companies calls not only for Sid Lee to share space with the foundation but also to consider the foundation’s office its home.

“We will be joining the Movember Foundation in the Culver City location as a partner, fully integrated in the space,” said Will Travis, chief executive of the Sid Lee USA division of Sid Lee. “We will be located there until further growth demands otherwise, and then the expansion may be together.”

Sid Lee is an international ad agency, with offices in New York, along with Amsterdam, Paris, Toronto and its Montreal headquarters. The office will work for the foundation pro bono, but has paying clients like Adidas, Facebook, Intel and 99 Cents Only Stores. Mr. Travis says the office will have a total of about 16-20 employees once it’s up and running.

“Part of the reason we’re doing what we’re doing now,” said Mark Fewell, senior vice president and head of market development for the foundation, who is based in Culver City, is that Sid Lee “offered to be a strategic resource for us not just in the U.S. but globally.” This collaboration is great for an organization like Movember that began in Australia and this year took place in more than 20 countries.

The Movember Foundation is one of the premier organiztions that addresses men’s health issues in a positive, groundbreaking way. Movember is part of a larger, charitable “moustache movement,” that has raised vital funds and awareness of health risks on behalf of men globally. Learn more here.


German town Tricks neo-Nazis into Raising Thousands for Anti-Extremist Charity

Sometimes, even the most outlandish pranks can have a tremendously positive outcome. Neo-Nazis were pranked this week as they found themselves gathered in a small German town raising over 10,000 euro for an anti-extremist organization. For many decades, the far-right extremists have marched through the town of Wunsiedel in Bavaria. But the organizers Rechts gegen Rechts (Right against Right) took a different approach, for charity.

Local residents and businesses sponsored the 250 participants of the march on November 15th in what they dubbed Germany’s “most involuntary walkathon.” For each meter the participants walked, ten euro went to a program called EXIT Deutschland, which helps people escape these extremist groups.

A statement released from Exit Deutschland after the event explained:

Under the motto “Right-wing extremists against right-wing extremists,” the most unwillingly entered charity walk in Germany took place today. […] This year, Wunsiedel decided to take a different approach and turn the funeral march of the neo-Nazis into the most unwillingly entered charity walk in Germany.

Campaigners hung humorous posters to make the march look more like a sporting event with slogans such as “If only the Fuhrer knew!” and laid out bananas with a pun-tastic sign, “Mein Mampf” which translates to “My munch” for the participants like snacks that might be at a normal charity walk. At the end, there was even a sign thanking the marchers for their “donations.”

The reason the neo-Nazis come to this particular town is because Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess was once buried there. Although his remains were later exhumed in 2011 and his grave destroyed, the extremists still flock to this particular town. Residents of Wunsiedel have staged protests and filed numerous legal complaints in the past but to no avail.

“We want to show what else you can do, what other courses of action you have,” said Fabian Wichmann, a Rechts gegen Rechts organizer and education researcher for EXIT. “You can do more than just block the street or close the shutters.”

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The Mustache Movement for Charity is Going Strong

movember no shave november mustache
Image: via Movember.

If you’ve noticed your male coworkers or pals sporting mustaches or big beards this month, they might just be growing out their facial hair for charity. Last year, we discussed the growing popularity of the Movember Foundation, an organization “committed to changing the face of men’s health.” Since its 2003 beginnings in Australia, the Movember Foundation has encouraged giving, promoted men’s health awareness, and has invited millions of people around the world to participate in a month long mustache-growing event for charity.

During “Movember,” which takes place annually in November, thousands of men around the world don freshly grown mustaches to raise awareness about illnesses such as prostate and testicular cancer that affect men in particular. According to the organization, 2.3 billion conversations were had as a result of Movember 2013, and $136 million was raised globally by participants.

Although Movember is arguably the largest and most popular charity foundation for men’s health, it isn’t the only one. No-Shave November is another charitable initiative to raise awareness about men’s health that involves facial hair. “No-Shave November is a unique way to raise cancer awareness,” explains the organization. “What better way to grow awareness than with some hair?” it asks.

no shave november mustache
Image: via No-Shave November.

According to the campaign, which is partners with The American Cancer Society, “The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free. Donate the money you usually spend on shaving and grooming for a month to educate about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle.” Both initiatives celebrate facial hair and mustaches as a fun way to tackle the difficult topic of cancer and men’s health awareness, and have been instrumental in getting more men to consider and talk about their health.

For more information about the impact of Movember, be sure to check out the organization’s 2013 report.