Striving towards an Education for All

By: Luke
Luke is participating in Allowance for Good's Spring 2016 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy class in the Elmhurst location.

"I am a Catalyst for Good
because...all people have
the right to food and
education." - Luke
My name is Luke and I’m in Allowance for Good program, I have learned what are the human rights and that they were developed by the United Nations. What struck me was that the United Nations had to develop the human rights because some countries didn’t provide basic needs for their people. There are kids in Africa that don’t have water and food. Another example is certain countries don’t educate their girls and there are extremist who bomb schools to prevent girls from going to school. The extremists don’t want girls to learn because they will learn how to make a stand against the radical ideas.

I’m passionate about my sports and fortunate to compete in baseball and lacrosse. I don’t have to worry about basic needs and my school being bombed. I want all kids to grow up not worrying about their next meal, having water and be able to walk to school without being afraid of being hurt.

Allowance for Good has inspired Matt and I to start a project for Nicaragua. The project will raise money for kids in the country that don’t have a proper education. Many of the children fail to reach the 6th grade and one third never have the chance to enroll in elementary school. If you are interesting in donating to this cause, you can email my mom at

A Small Amount, A Big Impact

By: Blair
Blair is participating in Allowance for Good's Spring 2016 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy class in the Elmhurst location.

I learned this week in our financial literacy lesson that the extra money we spend on eating out, buying toys, and living through our daily lives adds up to a lot of money. Money that goes a long way in other people’s lives across the world. I realized this week that most people who live comfortably in our world with little to no financial problems don’t know how much of an impact even a dollar can do. People all over the world live in so much poverty that even a dollar could help them get enough food for their family. If we as a society realize how much extra money we spend on items we don’t even need and instead donate them to these hungry and starving kids, the impact would probably be as big as having almost every kid in poverty go to bed every night with a full belly. I encourage every person in the world to stop and think about if you really need this pointless item you are about to buy, and the impact it would have on others if you donated the money to charity instead of buying the item.  

"I am a catalyst for good
because...I will improve the
basic education around
the world" - Blair

ELP Elmhurst class brainstorming.

ELP Elmhurst class teacher 
Jeanne leads discussion.

Catalysts for Good: Raising Awareness

By: Madeleine
Maddie is a participant in Allowance for Good's Spring 2016 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy class in the Evanston location.

Through our discussions on human rights and the sustainability development goals, I was able to learn more about how the UN and other governmental bodies approach human rights abuses around the world. The sustainable development goals, created by the UN, were surprisingly optimistic and confident. However, I believe that these aspirations, although they are a significant step towards preventing and ending human rights abuses, need to provide further comprehensive steps in order to complete the goals they outline. Although they provide various statistics and goals surrounding the issue at hand, realistic preventative methods are needed to further their aspirations. I also thought it was very interesting and innovative how the UN develops new and improved goals as global problems change, and the world’s focus shifts.

ELP Evanston class focusing on a new lesson.
I am very passionate about refugee resettlement and outreach programs, specifically within Chicago. This year, I have been working with a friend at the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, an amazing non-profit that provides refugee resettlement resources, English classes, tutoring programs, and a multitude of other services to the refugee and immigrant population in Chicago. I have been able to raise awareness about this issue by connecting my classmates and peers with ECAC through the after-school program at the center, and giving presentations on the issues refugees in Chicago face to my teachers and classmates. I can continue to spread awareness on the refugee crisis by learning more about the assimilation process in school and through the center, as well as engage my community and friends with organizations like ECAC in the future. 

ELP Evanston class in discussion.
For my Global Awareness Project, I want to focus on a different issue. Sofie and I are going to focus on hunger and accessibility to food, and have begun the process to gather and donate all leftover lunch food from our school’s cafeteria (that isn’t sold). The food will be donated to Breaking Bread Ministries, which holds soup kitchens every week, near our school. The food will be donated daily, after all lunch periods, and will help to support the church’s important efforts to lessen hunger within the Chicago area. 

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."

Taking Action to Change US Food Aid: February goodTALK

By: Katherine and Emily
Katherine and Emily are both Program Fellows at Allowance for Good and students at Northwestern University. Read their bios here.

On February 12th, we braved the cold to attend a goodTALK with Josh Meyer, a Lecturer at National Security Studies at Medill’s Washington program, where he teaches graduate level journalism classes on covering conflicts, terrorism and national security. At this event, Meyer discussed the investigation into the US food aid effort that he led with a group of graduate students in the Medill School of Journalism. In a report titled, Hunger Pains: A Problem-plagued US Food Aid Program Faces an Uncertain Future, his team explored the inefficiencies and pitfalls of the program.We joined Northwestern students, staff and other interested members of the public around a table to hear Meyer speak in an intimate setting. Meyer kept everyone engaged throughout the 90 minute presentation with a powerpoint full of potent and dismaying statistics about the US Food Aid program, a long Q&A portion, and even a clip from the Daily Show. After hearing his talk, we at AfG have been moved to act in order to improve this ineffective system.

Josh Meyer chooses to focus his research not on sensationalized current events, but global systemic issues that have repercussions now and for future generations. One large-scale issue that Meyer believes will only become worse with the future challenges presented by climate change is food insecurity. By narrowing in on US food aid, Meyer’s team investigated a subject that the US public can directly impact and hold their government accountable for. As the leading global power, the US has the resources to help people throughout the world who are in need, and in the past century it has been central to US foreign policy, and the American identity, to do so. This ideology has persisted into the 21st century; military action, aid and various disaster relief efforts have all been presented as sacrifices made by the US to protect human rights abroad. But what happens when these aid efforts are wasteful and unproductive?

U.S. food aid has been quoted by experts to be the most inefficient humanitarian aid program in the world. Interviews with U.S. officials and recipients of aid on three continents revealed that USAID, the agency in charge of the food aid effort, actively seeks to serve American economic interests over the interests of those in need. Congressional mandates force USAID to use American commodities sent on American ships through an extensive logistic transportation bureaucracy. As a result, food often arrives months too late, and spoiled from the overseas journey. Former USAID administrator Andrew Natsios claims that, “people have died waiting for food to arrive,” because of this long and slow process. 

Regardless of these problems, USAID remains the largest aid effort in the world. But the U.S. can do better. Despite criticism from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and frustrated USAID workers fighting for reform, policy changes have not been made, due to vested interests in Congress. So what can we, as attentive and committed global citizens, do to help? One way could be encouraging our representatives in Congress to support reform efforts. The United Nations World Food Programme has already begun using food vouchers in place of food ration boxes in places like Jordan for the Syrian refugees there. These vouchers give the refugees the ability to choose where they shop, what they buy, and how much– restoring their sense of dignity and normalcy. If the U.S. adopted this approach to aid, the money would be going directly into the pockets of the recipients, rather than being wasted on transportation or food they don’t necessarily want. We can spur our local and state leaders to fight for this change– a change that will ensure effective aid for all of those in need.

If you would like to take action, sign the petitions at the links below, or share Josh Meyer’s piece with your friends! Advocacy and action begins with awareness.


Meyer’s Piece:

Support organizations that fight for food aid reform: