Hungry for Human Rights

By: Kate
Kate is a participant in Allowance for Good's Winter 2015 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers class. 

In this week’s ELP class we talked about many different human rights and what we have to do to protect those rights. We talked about our roles in helping protect these human rights and how we can help create a better nation. We also talked about our nation’s agenda for the future and how so many things that we planned to be done by 2015 aren’t done and seem to be going nowhere. We made agenda’s for the UN on more logical and attainable goals for the future and how they can make those succeed, while also trying to see how we can attain the goals already set.

One human right that I specifically am very passionate about is hunger in America today. I have been involved with this cause deeply because my mother works for the non-profit organization Feeding America so I get a lot of facts spit out at me about hunger in the US. From this information from my mother and personally seeing what is going on, it saddens me but also makes me inspired to do more to help this cause.

This cause is very important to me and inspires me because we spend so much time thinking about other places and people when our own people are suffering. We give money to others when they are in need yet we don’t see what is going within our own borders. I feel that everyone should have the basic knowledge of what is going on in our country and that people we can see on a daily basis are suffering.

I have done many bake sales and food drives to help support this cause but I would like to do more hands-on work in the future. I feel like donating money is such an easy way to help and that it can go such a long way, but even then you don’t truly see where your money is going and who it is going to help. I plan to work in more food pantries, packing meals, so I can truly see who these people are and where my help is going to.

Kate writes, "I am a Catalyst for Good because everybody deserves to have their basic human rights."

A Generation of Dreamers and Catalysts for Good

By: Madison
Madison participated in Allowance for Good's 2014 Global Philanthropy Summit program. 

As students, we are often told to remain in our place of academia.  Students are supposed to learn, to study, to absorb and interpret the knowledge of our elders and our teachers and our society without much thought to the impact each of these characters in our lives has on the world.  And, this has worked for hundreds of years.  Society progressed, mostly as a whole, to as it appears to us today.  In some ways, this system is functional. But, quite cliche, we live in a collective of billions of people, more connected than we ever were before in history.  Social media allows us to interact with people we may not have ever known existed, and mass media allows us to get a narrative of what happens in our world; it is for better or for worse the actual accuracy and detail of these accounts. And most importantly, I believe, we are posed with the ability to choose our impact with which we will leave the world.  Maybe this is morbid and depressing, but we, as a society and a species, are allowed the privilege to make the changes we wish to see in our world.  And as we expose the genius of our young leaders such as Malala Yousafzai, Ann Makosinski, and even the early Steve Jobs, a shift in power and insight begins to take place.  No longer is the political, scientific, or social spectrum simply a battleground of greying, ivy league men, but a fairground of unpassable opportunity.  

Working with a non-profit organization like Allowance for Good is exactly that kind of opportunity. For me, as well as many of my mates from this year’s Global Philanthropy Summit, each day felt only like a minute.  We were immersed in the intricacies of social policy, of business and enterprise, of innovation, but most importantly (and sometimes I feel like most revelled by my peers) the prospect of dreaming. Only a minority of this week was spent on our dreams, but each minute of preparation was exciting and helpful.  They tell us in school to remain realistic, to maintain short term goals that we can accomplish and satisfy.  While this is helpful, it is not always fun. Understandably, when they told us to create a project for one of our Allowance for Good Affiliates, we were ecstatic.

It was with this idea that our dreams began.  Ideas for how to support worthy causes were thrown each and every way possible until we could not think of any more that would be governed by the laws of physics. Finally, we made a decision.  Our ideas were scattered with a bookmark sale, to a simple donation request (With a bookmark as reward), and an art supply drive for students in Nicaragua.  We were creative and quick in our thinking, and even though it was fairly improvised and small scaled, for my peers and I this opened doors to our own philanthropic potential.  It was no longer simply about these bookmarks now, or these school supplies, but about our own ability to decide where the funds were delivered and our independence in our efforts.  While we collaborated, it was by our own will and talents that we were able to raise over two hundred dollars (over the course of only a few hours) and a hefty art supply.  We are the change who will sit in the desks previously occupied by stuffy, bureaucratic, businessmen, creating progressive policies that utilize our world’s resources, create peaceful international policy, guarantee the education of every child, and learn what the world wants before we try to give it to them.  For the time being we are students, making our way into the world, but we will all be catalysts for change in our own ways, obstructed by no barriers that we cannot surpass.

Evaluating Effective Altruism with Peter Singer

By: Leah
Leah is participating in Allowance for Good's autumn 2013 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy program.

Hi! I’m Leah, I’m 17, a senior at ETHS, and I’ll be writing this week’s blog post.

On Wednesday night we heard Peter Singer, a bioethics professor at Princeton, speak at Northwestern on the topic of effective altruism.  Peter belongs to a utilitarian school of thought and generally approaches issues through a secular lens.

At its core, Peter’s argument was that we should find ways to make each dollar we donate go as far as possible. This seemed based on a hierarchy similar to Maslow’s pyramid, guaranteeing all people their basic rights and necessities before addressing the non-basic needs of others. One of the examples Peter used to effectively show this point revolved around the problem of blindness. Cataracts are an incredibly common and treatable cause of blindness, especially in the developing world. A cataract surgery, giving someone the gift of sight, costs within a range of $20-50. Giving a seeing-eye dog to a not preventably blind person in the first world costs around $40,000.  Peter argues that the obvious choice is to cure many more people of preventable blindness rather than assist one person who will remain blind for the rest of their life.

Peter stressed the fact that he believes all human lives have the same value, which is something a think a lot of us coming from privileged backgrounds overlook too often. I think we need reminders, like Peter’s lecture, that we are people in exactly the way that people from Cambodia, Laos, Botswana, Uganda, Columbia, and Nicaragua are people and that we cannot assign their lives any less value than we assign our own. This is a topic we discuss a lot in ELP and I think it merits our attention.

Some of the Northwestern students in the crowd asked questions that were frankly kind of stupid. Through my learning about the world (in ELP and elsewhere) and by simply listening to Peter’s talk, I felt confident enough to answer. Hopefully more students in my generation will learn what I have the privilege of learning now in ELP and the power of listening so that we can avoid silly questions and truly get ot the core of helping our world.

Leah, left, shares her group's venture philanthropy idea during one of the Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy sessions.