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Prospect Park is one of Brooklyn’s Treasures

Prospect Park
IMG: via Shutterstock
Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY

Prospect Park, located in the heart of Brooklyn, NY, is a 585-acre sanctuary, the result of a collaboration between famed landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. The expansive park features a 60-acre lake, the Prospect Park Zoo, and Brooklyn’s only forest. It is home to many events and performing arts festivals, which brings the community of Brooklyn together to celebrate, as well as invites visitors to explore the beautiful urban oasis.

Prospect Park is a real treasure of Brooklyn, and is “safer, cleaner, more vibrant, and more popular today that it’s ever been,” thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Prospect Park Alliance, a group focused on maintaining the park’s breathtaking natural offerings. During the summer, Prospect Park comes alive for concerts, performances, parties, and events for locals, families, and visitors of all ages to delight in.

July marks the annual Summer Soiree at Prospect Park, an event made possible with the help from sponsors and organized by the Prospect Park Alliance. The Soiree is an annual cocktail gala that raises funds for Prospect Park, and features musical performances, an open bar, silent auction, hors d’oeuvres, and of course, a wonderfully fun and entertaining evening, held at the beautiful Prospect Park Boathouse.

Summer Soiree at Prospect Park is one of the most important fundraising nights of the year for the park, because ticket sales and support take up a huge chunk of the expenses needed to maintain the beauty of Prospect Park. The event receives support from community members and many local philanthropic organizations and individuals such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Jennifer Fisher, Warby Parker, and Brooklyn Brewery. Another advocate for the event is Brooklyn-based Mexican Summer Records, founded by local philanthropist Andres Santo Domingo, and whose recording artist Tamaryn will perform at the Soiree.

This year’s annual Summer Soiree to benefit Prospect Park will be held on July 24th, at 7pm. For more information about the event, and to purchase tickets, visit the official event page.

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Philanthropy: Available at a Store Near You

For a long time, causes and capitalism ran on parallel yet separate tracks: philanthropists and entrepreneurs alike worked endlessly in order to gain attention and support from the public. Companies sought profit while charities sought aid. Today more consumers are seeking products, services, and retailers that use their influence and their means to support a good cause. Some  People want companies that give back to the community, and retailers have eagerly met this demand. Some companies host short-term campaigns in order to raise awareness and funds for a cause while others have established long-term, committed associations with philanthropies that they believe in. The companies and campaigns highlighted below illustrate how when a capitalist and a philanthropist collide, a new wealth of opportunities arise.

Target, one of the largest discounters in the U.S., is proud of their long history of philanthropy. Target has been donating 5% of their income to local communities since 1946. Their focus on charity has expanded since, and last year they launched an agenda called “Here for Good” that hosts programs surrounding education, the environment, safety & preparedness, and well-being. These programs, coupled with their social services, crisis relief, and their military and veteran support, Target has received accolades for their corporate social responsibility.

A brand-new glasses retailer, Warby Parker, had combined their cause with their product before the first pair of spectacles sold. For every pair of glasses that the company sells, they provide funding and/or glasses to a non-profit organization VisionSpring that trains men and women to sell glasses in developing countries. This model creates jobs while also providing glasses to a few of the almost one billion people worldwide in need of glasses. So far Warby Parker has distributed over 150,000 pairs.

Warby Parker’s model follows in the footsteps of the capitalism-cum-charity giant, TOMS. TOMS began in 2006 as a socially-conscious shoewear company that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie’s motivation for the company is simple: “If I started a charity, I’d have to go raise money every time I wanted to give them shoes. But if I started a business and made a shoe where the consumer liked it for what it was, then the consumer will be my natural provider of the shoes every year.”

TOMSBy September of 2010 TOMS had donated over 1 million pairs of shoes, and their popularity had exploded. Since its founding, the company has also put on an annual event called One Day Without Shoes that raises awareness for their cause, and they have established campus programs for passionate, involved students. TOMS has been praised as one of the most innovative retail companies of this decade, and it has been the exemplar of the for-profit-as-non-profit movement of the last decade.

These companies have created an easy link between consumers and charity; consumers are able to feel socially conscious and philanthropic while they get to buy the products and services they want. Meanwhile non-profit organizations get access to reliable funding sources and widespread exposure to their cause. The relationship benefits both parties, and most importantly, it benefits the people who need it most.