women's empowerment

Corporate Philanthropy in Action

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

The Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy course is not my first exposure to Allowance for Good. I spent a week of my 2014 summer in its Global Philanthropy Summit, a sort of crash course in Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship. After that week I was hooked. I had always had a passion for philanthropy, inspired by pretty much everyone in my family. My Dad is in charge of Pro-Bono work at his law firm, my Mom works for two public health non-profits, and my Aunt works in marketing for JUF, another non-profit. So, I was familiar with the concept of “giving back,” but I didn’t really know the details because no one sits a child down and explains the who, what, where, how, and why of philanthropy-- except of course AFG.

This past week we focused on socially responsible corporations, ranging from Warby Parker, which donates a pair of glasses for every single one of its products sold, to companies that encourage volunteering or match the donations of their employees. There are lots of ways that a company can fit philanthropy into its mission, and based on the rising popularity of socially responsible companies among consumers, not doing so could be devastating. In addition to these examples, there are still other ways to integrate philanthropy into a company: a corporation could use its brand name or money to raise awareness of an issue (for example, Always’ #likeagirl campaign); donate a portion of its yearly profits to a cause (e.g., Patagonia donates 1% of its profits to saving the environment); or implement specific ways to encourage volunteering, such as allowing employees days off to volunteer, offering the specialized services of the company for free, or providing other incentives (perhaps financial) for employees who volunteer.

After learning about the different ways corporate philanthropy is possible, we put the lesson into action. Our job was to determine how the hypothetical (or maybe future company run by AFG) bicycle company, “GetThere” should integrate philanthropy into its mission plan. The students split up into two groups and were joined by the board members, to make a plan. After going through a variety of ideas, my group settled on a bike safety program. This would involve teaming up with the local governments of our store locations to create bike paths, and providing free helmets to those who need one, but cannot afford one. This plan, if put into action, would have numerous benefits. Not only would there be a safer space for bikers, but the anxiety caused by bikers on the road would be reduced for drivers, and it would make GetThere a more sustainable company. With the danger of biking as transportation reduced, more people would bike, increasing the demand, and therefor the sales. This would also create a brand awareness for GetThere, hopefully bringing more bike-buyers to that store. This past week was a great one, and I am sure this information will come in handy when dealing with corporations.

Arielle, far left, brainstorms with her ELP classmates.

Spreading Awareness for Education, Animal Rights

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

I recently watched a video of 17 year old Malala Yousafzai at the UN Youth Assembly. Her steady voice delivered words of wisdom and advice, trying to inspire the youth in front of her. I found her speech interesting and inspiring in several different ways. She made a point to not offend anyone, and spoke about how obstacles should not stop people from doing what is right. I thought it was brave of her to stand in front of so many people and talk about such a controversial topic. All of the statements she made were positive, or ended on a positive note. She had something nice to say about everyone and everything. She spoke of the positive impact people could have on the world by using kindness instead of violence, and how no one should be denied their right to education. She was very passionate about it, and talked about how opposition from others did not stop her from going to school. 

The amount of time she talked about spending advocating the right to education and the dangers she had faced opened my eyes to how many problems there are in the world and how much work it will take to fix them. I am very passionate about animals, and spend time volunteering at shelters over the weekend. Some people believe that animals are not important, and that they don’t matter. However, I think that they are just as important as people, and believe that it is important to protest animal cruelty. 

One way I can raise awareness about this issue is by talking to friends and my community and letting them know that there are problems that need to be solved and more than one person is needed to do it. I can also raise money to help larger organizations who are already combatting this problem. This is related to our Global Awareness project because we are trying to open people’s eyes to the things that happen around us that could be improved if everyone donated their time and efforts to the cause. I can use the project to help others understand what needs to be fixed.

Rashmi, front left, with some of her ELP classmates.

Using Philanthropy for Gender Equality

By: Hannah
Hannah is a participant in Allowance for Good's Autumn 2014 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers class. 

Recently, I have become quite a feminist. Not the stereotypical, angry, hairy-legged feminist, but the person who genuinely believes that the world needs to see men and women as equals. Nothing makes me more disappointed than hearing about the injustices women suffer of a daily basis just by being female. Don’t get me wrong, I have always been in support of gender equality, but only in the past few months have I become so attuned to extent of the problem both local and worldwide.

If I were to be fortunate enough to have a family foundation, I would dedicate it to making the woman’s voice heard through education. I choose education because the only way to make lasting change is by inspiring the next generation. School teaches young girls more than just academics—it teaches them they have a future. It teaches them they have power to do anything they set their mind to and will create the spark needed to for us to obtain true gender equality.

Most of my family foundation’s money would go to help international organizations dedicated to ending the gender gap in places like the Middle East where sexism is most prominent. This is because the money would make the most dramatic difference there, and I would want each penny to be used as efficiently as possible. I would also give to organizations that support women’s health because it is equally important for women to be educated in body and mind. After all, happiness and success are only possible in good health.

The rest of the money would go to organizations that focus on women’s rights in the US because American women experience sexism on a daily basis. We have come a long way, but the end of gender-based discrimination is still far off. One staggering statistic is the fact that females make up fifty percent of college graduates, but only five percent of CEOs. That resonates with me because it points out exactly what we have accomplished and what still needs to be done. It shows we have given girls dreams, but we have not turned them into reality just yet. I think that if women’s rights organizations get the support they need, we have a real chance of creating a tomorrow where no woman is disadvantaged just because of her sex.

Hannah works with her ELP classmates to create their theoretical family foundation.

Reflections on Reciprocity

By: Karin Scott
Karin Scott is the Program Manager at Allowance for Good. She recently returned from traveling with Spark Ventures and Allowance for Good youth to Nicaragua. Karin wrote these reflections on day 3 of the trip, and agreed to share them here on our blog.

Together we can connect on a common human level by sharing simple words, smiles, high fives, and laughter.

As our Spark Ventures and Allowance for Good travelers reflected on their second day at Las Tías we were asked to finish the phrase “Together we…” My chosen phrase stems from my connection with my partner, Muriel. Muriel is a bright, big-hearted, eight-year-old girl who I have spent my mornings with at Las Tías.

My two mornings with Muriel have involved simple words, smiles, hugs, and lots of high fives. Through the exchange of “hola”, “que linda”, and “muy bien” we learned our ages, favorite school subject, preferred colors, and future aspirations. We drew pictures, played math flashcards, and tossed a frisbee countless times. In our few hours of interaction we have probably exchanged the same short phrases dozens of times. I point and say a word in English, and ask “en español?” She responds with the Spanish equivalent, and so it goes. But with each repeated phrase comes another smile, another high five, increased trust, and reciprocity.

Our interactions have been short and simple. But on the second day when Muriel greeted me with a hug, a smile, and a loud “Hola!” I felt like in some small way, we had reached reciprocity. We have exchanged languages, games, and laughs for our mutual benefit. My hope is that we have benefitted in equal ways, that Muriel week was brighter because I was a part of it, as I know my short time with her has opened my eyes and shifted my perspectives in new, challenging, and hopeful ways.

My connection with Muriel opened my eyes to the ways in which we can connect on a common human level, beyond the use of language. I was amazed by the way we were able to communicate with each other by only sharing a few words. During my second day with Muriel, I was pleasantly surprised by how much she wanted to spend time to me. The shyness of yesterday melted away into a budding friendship. As a fellow trip participant so accurately stated, “You are only a stranger once.” Muriel, and the other children of Las Tías, will forever remain in my heart.

Karin and Muriel at Las Tías.