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New Initiative Could Help Thousands of Poor Farmers

clinton global initiative

Smallholder farmers in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and the Caribbean will soon benefit from a huge initiative to help poor rural communities. The Enhanced Livelihoods Investment Initiative (ELII) is a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action that will improve the livelihoods of as many as 300,000 smallholder farmers and their communities.

Earlier this month, Unilever announced: “President Bill Clinton and Frank Giustra, Co-Founders of the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen, announced the collaboration on a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative’s 2015 Winter Meeting in New York City,” of the collaborative effort to support small farmers in impoverished regions around the world. The overall mission of this initiative is to catalyze economic growth in low-income communities.

“I’m excited about this partnership between the Clinton Guistra Enterprise Partnership, Acumen, and Unilever, which will improve the lives of smallholder farmers by bringing them into global markets and distribution networks, empowering hundreds of thousands of people to expand their skills and lift themselves from poverty,” former President Bill Clinton commented. Clinton and the other philanthropic collaborators that are part of the ELII are hopeful that empowering smallholder farmers in developing areas will in turn allow them to support the communities they are a part of.

“We believe that in the long term, successful businesses can only be sustainable ones,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. He also explains that “This partnership has the potential to dramatically increase the scale of what we can do to support smallholder farmers, empower women across our supply chains and in turn help build sustainable, viable businesses that alleviate poverty,” of the goals set forth by the ELII.

If the ELII proves to be successful, hundreds of thousands of farmers and their communities will soon be equipped with the tools necessary to overcome poverty. This philanthropic effort is one that involves a large level of commitment from the Clinton Global Initiative, and could pave the way for similar initiatives if successful.

Learn more about how the ELII will be carried out by reading this press release from Unilever.

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How to Improve Your Life in 2015

Giving Benefits
You can make 2015 your best year yet. Image: via Shutterstock.

We are over a month into 2015 and those big plans and resolutions you created in January might now be feeling just a little too big. That gym membership you’ve used once, the veggies you left uneaten and the bed you never got around to making on a daily basis are all adding up and becoming quite overwhelming.

Instead of giving up completely on your resolutions and waiting until next year to start fresh, let’s make a plan to achieve these goals rather than waiting. Here are some ways to better your life (and the lives of others) in 2015, starting today:

Up your salary and donate more. If you haven’t seen a salary increase in around a year, it’s time to start chatting with mentors and find out how they successfully negotiate salary increases. Identify your accomplishments and quantify them in way that’s easy to understand. Once you are well armed, you can go into the negotiation prepared and maybe even use some of that raise and donate to a cause that means a lot to you. Getting a raise will provide you with professional validation, while donating to an important charity will give you instant gratification.

The biggest reason people can’t reach their goals is that they make them way too big and unrealistic. Try and break down your goals for 2015 and you will be much more likely to achieve then. Write the first page of the novel and research causes that resonate with you. Schedule time to actually accomplish those tasks. Celebrate your progress and remember how good it feels to make those small steps.

Set up a support system that can hold you accountable along the way. Keep someone around who will make sure you meet those goals. Remember to plan for the roadblocks you might hit along the way; if there is a kink in something you’ve done, you should always have a plan b. Give yourself options! For example, if you don’t have the funds to donate to a local organization, find places where you can volunteer your time instead.

With these things in mind, there’s no doubt that 2015 will be your best year yet!

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Ways to Give Back while you Travel

Giving Tuesday
Love to travel? Love to give back? Why not combine them? IMG: via Shutterstock

Having the funds and resources to travel abroad is a huge privilege. Every continent holds different adventures, experiences, and different landscapes and cultures that are just waiting to be explored. But how can you give back to the communities that are so gracious to have you along the way? Here are some ways to give back while you travel:

Provide a Microloan – There are organizations all over the world where you can contribute small amounts of money and make an immeasurable change in someone else’s life. These microloans help entrepreneurs in these developing countries start or expand their current small business. If you’re interested in providing microloans, we suggest looking into organizations like Kiva or Investours.

Try a different way of travel – There are certain companies that allow you to travel differently so while you take a nice trip you can still make a difference. There are organizations like Epic Road that will take you to Africa and while you safari you can go with a team and implant a microchip in an endangered black rhinoceros. You can also help with anti-poaching efforts or the adoption of baby elephants if their mom has been taken to poaching.

India has Reality Tours where you can visit the slums in Bombay and the profits they make are reinvested into that community. These activities will not only enrich your understanding of other cultures, but provide support to the places you visit.

Volunteer while you travel – There are more than enough opportunities to volunteer while abroad, including long-term and short-term options. Some places will encourage you to volunteer for free, others will charge a fee for volunteers. Do your homework so you can be sure to make a real difference.

Support local business – When you travel to a new place, it can sometimes feel more comfortable to stick with what you know. However, giving back while traveling sometimes means stepping outside of your comfort zone! Instead of relying on hotel restaurants and chain stores for your needs, pay a visit to the local eateries and shops. Eating and shopping locally will greatly help family-run stores and restaurants who rely on tourism for their well-being. Besides, you may stumble upon some real local gems that the concierge overlooked!

How do you give back when you travel?

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Woodruff Arts Center Receives $6.6 million Grant

woodruff arts center

Earlier this month, the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta announced that it was awarded a $6.6 million grant from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation. According to Philanthropy News Digest, the grant is part of a three-year initiative to “provide families and students with greater access to its core art and arts education offerings.”

The Woodruff Arts Center, founded in 1962, has a rich history and is considered “the heartbeat of Atlanta’s arts community.” It’s been a vital part of promoting arts and culture in Atlanta for 45 years, and has enriched many communities with help from the generosity of donors. According to the Center, the funding from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation “will allow expanded family-oriented programming and greater activation of the Arts Center’s campus, including family festivals, art-making activities, drop-in acting classes and more on a weekly basis beginning later in 2015.”

woodruff arts centerThe Lettie Pate Evans Foundation has been instrumental in helping museums and arts organizations like the Woodruff Arts Center flourish and expand their programming. “The Lettie Pate Evans Foundation recognizes the importance of arts and cultural institutions to creating a vibrant community and attracting economic development,” explains the Foundation. “Mrs. Evans was a patron of the arts and made generous gifts to organizations like the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where she was a trustee,” explains the Foundation of its beneficiaries. The Foundation funds historical societies and preservation projects, museums, performing arts organizations, and other arts and cultural organizations that Mrs. Evans supported during her life.

“This gift from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation will allow us to make our art available to a much broader base of the community and will build upon our commitment to arts education,” said Virginia Hepner, president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center of the generous contribution. “We are extraordinarily grateful for the generosity of the Foundation and for their belief in the value of the Arts Center as a community asset,” she said.

Learn more about what this donation means for the Woodruff Arts Center in this recent press release from the organization.

Images: via Facebook.

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Philadelphia is Paying it Forward…with Pizza!

rosas fresh pizza philadelphia
Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia is paying it forward one slice at a time. Image: via Facebook.

Like most northeast city dwellers, Philadelphians are serious about their pizza. And at Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, the owners and patrons are just as serious about paying it forward as they are about noshing on a delicious slice of pie.

According to NPR, “At Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia the shop is adorned with post-it notes and letters. The messages are from customers who gave $1 so homeless members in the community could get a slice, which cost $1,” of the unique, colorful notes that adorn the walls of Rosa’s.

Rosa’s Fresh Pizza owner Mason Wartman explains that the “pay-it-forward pizza program” started about a year ago, after a paying customer asked if he could buy a slice for a homeless person. “I said, ‘Sure.’ I took his dollar and ran out and got some post-it notes and put one up to signify that a slice was purchased,” Wartman explained to The Salt. And thus, the philanthropic pizza program was born.

rosas fresh pizza philadelphia
The wall of pay-it-forward sticky notes at Rosa’s. Image: via Facebook.

According to Wartman, customers have purchased 8,400 slices of pizza for their homeless neighbors in Philadelphia to date, and that the program has inspired some of the beneficiaries to get back on their feet. Apparently, the word is out, and now Wartman sees between 30 to 40 members of Philadelphia’s homeless population each day. “This is a super-easy way, a super-efficient way and a super-transparent way to help the homeless,” he says.

NPR’s Elizabeth Fielder points out that this kind of pay-it-forward system is not exclusive to individuals and small businesses, and that even chain companies participate in similar programs. She mentions Starbucks and Panera’s “Panera Cares” program as examples of more corporate leaders of pay-it-forward initiatives.

What do you think of Rosa’s Fresh Pizza and its pay-it-forward pizza program? Have you paid it forward lately?

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Orange Sky Laundry Helps Those In Need

Orange Sky Laundry
Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi, friends and founders of Orange Sky Laundry in Australia.

When you’re down on your luck, sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most. At Philanthropic People, we’ve discussed inspiring services that restore dignity to those in need, featuring individuals who know that just the simple act of reaching out in a small way can mean so much. Mark Bustos took his skills as a stylist to the streets of New York to cut hair for the homeless, for example; similarly, Cathy O’Grady’s everyday acts of kindness impact her community and inspire a pay-it-forward mentality.

In Australia, two young men decided that giving back meant reaching out to the local homeless community and empowering these people one load of laundry at a time. Friends Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi founded Orange Sky Laundry in July, 2014 to improve the hygiene standards and restore dignity to the homeless population in their area. In just a few months, their compassionate idea has really grown, and shaped a culture of giving in their community.

“Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi wanted to help the homeless in Brisbane, Australia, so they bought an old van, installed two washing machines and two dryers, and rode around the city offering a mobile laundry service,” reports Fast Company of the duo’s efforts to help their community. “Four months later, they have 120 volunteers, sponsorship from major corporations, and a lot of publicity.”

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“We are run by volunteers,” explains Orange Sky Laundry. “We want to harness the energy of 18-30 year olds who are keen but struggle to find simple ways to help people in need.” The greater mission of Orange Sky Laundry is to raise health standards, restore respect, and reduce the strain on resources locally, and the organization is a testament to the creativity and philanthropic vision that young people possess. Patchett and Marchesi took a thoughtful idea and turned it into a charitable organization that many people are drawn to and want to participate in.

Patchett and Marchesi hope to expand Orange Sky Laundry services across Australia by the end of 2015. Learn more about their project and how to get involved by visiting

Images: via Instagram.

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The Greatest Philanthropic Contributions of 2014

Image: via Shutterstock

2014 was a great year in the world of philanthropy. Organizations and individual philanthropists gave generously over the last 12 months, and it was inspiring to see such bigheartedness. Here, we highlight some of the greatest philanthropic contributions of 2014 in the areas of education, health, the arts, and other charitable foundations.

Health – One of the biggest charitable donations within the health sector in 2014 came from Henry R. Kravis and his wife Marie-Josée, whose contribution of $100 million to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center allowed for the formation of a new, cutting edge molecular oncology center. Another significant philanthropic contribution came from Gert Boyle, who donated $100 million to the Oregon Health and Science University, a nationally prominent research university.

Education – In 2014, Hong Kong real estate developer Ronnie Chan donated $175 million to Harvard University in what became one of the largest philanthropic donations from a single donor of the year. Additionally, Chan’s brother Gerald matched Ronnie’s donation, generously offering another $175 million to the Ivy League institution. San Diego-based philanthropist Conrad Prebys gave not once but twice to San Diego State University in 2014, in another showing of generosity towards higher education.

Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett gave the largest donation of 2014.   Image: Flickr CC via Fortune Live Media

The Arts – In early 2014 news broke that the Denver Art Museum would receive 22 impressionist landscapes from collector and philanthropist Frederic C. Hamilton. The generous donation is estimated by art experts to be worth as much as $100 million, and was one of the largest philanthropic contributions to the arts this year. Another major donation to the arts in 2014 came from Jerry Perenchio, who pledged an astounding $500,000,000 worth of artworks to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Charitable Foundations – According to Market Watch, the single largest charitable donation from one person in 2014 came from none other than Warren Buffett. Buffett reportedly donated $2.1 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which supports initiatives in education, world health, and community giving in the Pacific Northwest.

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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.

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What to Learn from Buddy the Elf this Holiday

Buddy the Elf

Gimbel’s Manager: “Why are you smiling like that?”

Buddy the Elf: “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite.”

It’s that time of year where everyone starts to watch one of the best movies of the holiday season, Elf. Seriously, I could watch it all year round, but then I may risk getting tired of it. Watching the film for enjoyment is one thing, but there are actually many things you can learn from Buddy the Elf.

Buddy definitely demonstrates the importance of living in the moment. Clear your mind so there is no chatter, and be present. Don’t worry about the future, regretting the past, wondering what others think of you. It doesn’t have to be hard, just take your day moment by moment. You savor more when you notice more. It will also help reduce stress and get rid of all the noise in your head.

Outside of just experiencing each moment, Buddy teaches us that we can be kind to all. Buddy is curious about everyone and everything and engages with all people, rather than getting caught up in his own world. Buddy gives selflessly, like when he decorates his dad’s entire house for Christmas and he does the same for a department store when he thinks Santa is coming. It’s something we all need to work on, giving selflessly.

Be positive. Buddy is incredibly positive with his time in New York and willing to try everything. Most of us are jaded and forget that everything can be an adventure still. We need to learn how to embrace any opportunity that comes our way and enjoy it, regardless of the situation or what may be happening.