Ellen DeGeneres Secures $50k Donation to School in Need

McKinley School, in North Bergen, New Jersey, worked all February on their “Read Across America” campaign, which included a social media blitz and a number of YouTube videos. The school put in a good effort to get talk show celebrity Ellen DeGeneres to contribute to the campaign by reading aloud on video.

Unfortunately, DeGeneres declined to visit the school and participate. But she didn’t simply ignore their pleas—far from it.

In April, two McKinley teachers were flown from New Jersey to Los Angeles to be on the Ellen Show. During the April 20th taping, DeGeneres announced she had a surprise, and brought the teachers on stage. Joined by a livestream of their entire student body on the big screen, she announced that she had arranged a $25,000 donation from Walmart and the charity Feeding America.

Though the students only asked her to participate in their literary event, DeGeneres did enough research into the school to learn that many students struggled with food insecurity. According to a report by a NJ children’s advocacy group, approximately two-thirds of all students in North Bergen are eligible for subsidized lunch and breakfast, but fewer than a third of those students take those benefits. The generous donation will help ensure that even students who don’t receive assistance will get breakfast every morning.

In New Jersey, more than half a million students live in low-income households, qualifying for at-school free or reduced-price meals. In recent years, a number of new bills and measures have expanded the programs offered to them, following a series of studies in 2011 that indicated that eating breakfast regularly was linked to higher attendance and graduation rates. Since implementing the new programs, New Jersey has seen their graduation rate for low-income students climb from 71 to 82 percent, a very impressive rise.


$20 a Month Funds a Girl’s Education for a Year

On Tuesday, we spotlighted Let Girls Learn—an organization launched by the Obamas to increase access to education for disadvantaged girls. Today, we’re showcasing Camfed, an organization supported by Emma Watson and Gloria Steinem. Camfed also supports marginalized girls in their educational pursuits, but perhaps most impressive is the breakdown of what a single donation can fund.

$15 can provide a girl with essential school supplies
$40 can purchase a girl’s school uniform
$240 ($20 a month) can fund a girl’s education for an entire year

Poverty is the number one barrier that prevents young girls from obtaining an education. With over 90% of every dollar donated going directly towards supporting female education, it’s no wonder that Camfed has received numerous recognitions and awards. Past awards include: the Ahimsa Award (2015), the WISE Prize for Education Award (2014), Goldman Sachs-Fortune Global Women Leaders Award (2009), and the Order of the British Empire Award (2006). Camfed was also named the Cambridge University Charity of the Year in 2009.

219,156. That’s the number of girls that Camfed has supported through scholarships. But the impact of their cause extends far beyond that. For example, Camfed reports that an educated girl is three times less likely to become HIV-positive. Statistically, an educated girl will also marry later in life and have fewer children, resulting in a smaller, healthier family. Additionally, an educated girl on averages earns 25% more per year in secondary school. She’ll also reinvest 90% of her total earnings into her family.

In sub-Saharan Africa alone, an estimated 28 million girls are not in school. This makes up over a quarter of the estimated 62 million girls worldwide who aren’t in school. Camfed is tackling the issue head-on by supporting girls who reside in some of sub-Saharan Africa’s poorest, most rural regions. The organization supports 5,306 government partner schools in Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

To donate to Camfed, click here.


Real Housewives Stars Pledge $40,000 to Local Charity

The Real Housewives of Atlanta
The Real Housewives of Atlanta. IMG: via Bravo TV.

On the Sunday, May 4th, episode of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” two housewives pledged $20,000 each to the Detroit Public Schools Foundation. The episode was filmed March 27, so it would be assumed the funds had been paid by now—however, that’s not the case, according to Foundation president Glenda Price.

“The Detroit Public Schools Foundation is gratified to learn that two members of the cast of ‘(The) Real Housewives of Atlanta’ have pledged support to us for the benefit of DPS students,” Price said Monday. “We look forward to official notification of this gift.” The donation was initiated when NeNe Leakes challenged fellow cast member Kenya Moore, the former Miss USA, who is from Detroit, to donate $20,000 to charity on part three of the sixth-season reunion of the show on Bravo.

The move by NeNe was designed to showcase that Moore is actually broke. But, on air Moore agreed, picking the Detroit education nonprofit, which supports value-added programs and activities for the benefit of the city’s bankrupt schools.

“I will write a $20,000 check, and I’d like to see you match me,” Leakes responded.

“All right,” Moore said.

Price expressed her gratitude at learning of the pledge to the Detroit Free Press newspaper, providing a bit of pressure to the stars to follow through with their pledge. As of late Monday afternoon, however, Moore, Leakes, their representatives, nor anyone else from the show had contacted the foundation about the donation. This is according Yesenia Roman-Murphy, the foundation’s administrative coordinator.

Will the two housewives follow through? It sure would be nice to see these two privileged women getting into the philanthropic spirit and giving back to the local community.


Dumpster Project: College Professor to Live and Teacher Classes From a Dumpster for a Year

The Dumpster Project
IMG: via The Dumpster Project

You might feel like you’re willing to do a lot for a cause or for the good of the planet.  Would you live in a dumpster for 12 months or teach classes in one?  Probably not.  That’s what sets Dr. Jeffrey Wilson, a.k.a. “Professor Dumpster,” apart from the rest of us.

Mr. Wilson is an environmental science professor at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas.  Wilson has plans to spend the next year doing as much as humanly possible in what amounts to a shipping crate.  The crazy news is that his employer is totally in on the plan.

The university has agreed to allow Wilson to teach classes, from within his 33 foot crate, on how to convert spaces such as his into “livable,” eco-friendly dwellings.  He plans to first camp out in a sleeping bag on the metal floor of the empty structure which is about one percent the size of a modern American home.

However, here’s where the plan gets interesting.  Wilson and his students will start making adjustments over time.  They will add in energy efficient light bulbs, nano-insulation, and an energy-producing toilet. Taking what they’ve learned, the students are expected to go make energy-efficient switches in their dorm rooms.

According to Wilson, “What we are talking about right now is to start a green movement within historically black colleges and universities (of which Huston-Tillotson is one), and become the flagship school of that, under an initiative called ‘Green is the New Black.’”

If all goes according to plan, Wilson would like to take his show on the road and teach local elementary schools about how to be more sustainable.  He feels like the next generation could be the one to change things.

Is there anyone not completely jazzed by Wilson’s rather unusual choice of residence?  Wilson’s ex-wife has already said their six-year-old daughter will not sleep in a dumpster, period.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say I agree with the ex, as far as children are concerned.

Anyone else willing to give it a try?  If so, it’s a great way to save money on energy, heating, and pretty much every other cost.  Perhaps you could even do it to raise money for a great charity.

Organizations Profiles

Tammy Tibbetts Changes the World With Cupcakes and Content

Tammy Tibbetts
IMG: via

When Tammy Tibbetts was 23, she worked as a web content manager for a women’s magazine.  She loved seeing first hand how social media can create change in how we accomplish things and connect with others.  When she became frustrated by an article on teen pregnancy in Liberia, she realized she wanted to help promote education for girls in developing countries.  Education is the primary factor in decreasing rates of teen pregnancy, unemployment, and domestic violence.  Tibbitts founded She’s the First with a group of friends in 2009, with a simple social media campaign calling young people into action to raise enough money to sponsor just one girl to finish school.

In 2011, Tibbetts was able to relaunch She’s The First into a fully-fledged nonprofit.  The organization’s fundraising projects have included several fun activities. These include promoting bake sales of tie-dyed cupcakes (300 cupcakes at one dollar a piece raises enough to sponsor one girl), to a benefit concert called Girls Who Rock.  The organization researches the highest quality education partners, and provides them with profiles on girls that the organization’s donors are supporting.  The site is now an interactive community connecting donors to organizations and subsequently girls in developing countries that are now able to go to high school by participating in one of various programs.

For Tammy Tibbetts entire profile, click here.