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World Changers: Giva Salutes Estella's Brilliant Bus

Here at Giva we search for organizations, large and small, that are doing a great job of changing the world around them for the better; and we are pleased to salute them here.

Estella's Brilliant Bus

Technological literacy is an extremely important quality for the 21st century student. Research is increasingly conducted through the internet, and it is rare to find a field that does not take advantage of the data-sorting power of computers. Estella Pyfrom recognized this trend as a guidance counselor in Palm Beach County, Florida. She also recognized that a number of poorer students were being excluded from this information revolution due to a lack of access to a personal computer. Her solution was Estella's Brilliant Bus, an innovative non-profit that literally brings technology to students.

Pyfrom purchased a bus with her savings and equipped it with 17 computer stations. Each computer is equipped with high-speed internet access and a number of interactive tutorials that align with the state's academic curriculum. Students are encouraged to make an account that allows them to track their progress working through a series of tutorials. Classes range from computer and internet basics to math, science, and reading lessons. Once students have demonstrated 90% proficiency in a subject, they are encouraged to begin the next tutorial. The system is designed to support young students as they interact with detailed subject matter. Older students and adults can access college preparatory work, GED training, or leadership classes. Estella's Brilliant Bus offers tools that fit a diverse range of needs.

Estella's Brilliant Bus helps adults with technology as well. Courses are offered in online banking, job searching, and resume assistance. The community-centered organization helps adults learn about these tools in a comfortable environment. It has also recently begun to expand its efforts in partnering with other groups to provide free meals to people in the neighborhood; and it continues to expand its presence in the Florida area.

Estella's Brilliant Bus is an example of an innovative solution to an important problem. It has facilitated learning by providing individuals with access to computers and tutorials. Expanding access to technology and supplementing traditional forms of education are important endeavors in the modern world. Estella's Brilliant Bus is a laudable example of a grassroots solution.

To donate to Estella's Brilliant Bus and to learn more, visit

To read her feature article as a CNN Hero, visit

World Changers: Giva Salutes

Here at Giva we search for organizations, large and small, that are doing a great job of changing the world around them for the better; and we are pleased to salute them here.

Difficult challenges have arisen in the world of education. From wearing how much debt they are in on their graduation caps to living out of their cars to escape debt, students are becoming increasingly worried on how to lower their debt. One of new ways to lower the debt accrued while in school is as simple as making a change in your community, and it is made possible by is an organization that recruits college graduates to do volunteer work and service projects. These graduates are then rewarded with loan payments, and non-profits gain greater potential by having a stronger workforce of skilled laborers. The motivation behind is a noble one. On their website, the organization explains why they decided to create this platform. Student debt has increased and students struggle to pay back their loans and their other bills due to underemployment. They also noticed that once students graduate, the amount of time that they spend volunteering dramatically decreases which leads to non-profits trying to do more work with less funding and fewer people and communities suffering because of this. You can watch an animation of the mission under the "How it Works" link.

The criteria for becoming a "Sponsor Agent" is clear cut and open. The agents must be graduates who have proof of student loan debt, the graduate has to have a desire to serve in the community which means volunteer experience is a must, they must have leadership skills, and they will be required to write service blogs and upload photos. The graduates will then be matched with a sponsor and paid for every hour that they volunteer with their non-profit.

At the moment, is not a national organization, but they are trying to expand. Non-profits that are not based in the Pittsburgh, Chicago or Washington D.C. area (which is where is currently located) can still join and sign up with the movement. Or, if you are someone who does not have student loan debt but you would like to donate money to help graduates pay off their student loans and give back to the community, the website also allows for people to become sponsors! gives you the opportunity to look into giving back to the community with an organization that is truly focused on helping everyone get an education and helping communities and nonprofits to thrive with a stronger work force of leaders. For more information, visit their website at

World Changers: Giva Salutes "Create the Good"

Here at Giva we search for organizations, large and small, that are doing a great job of changing the world around them for the better; and we are pleased to salute them here.

Create the Good

It is becoming increasingly important for people to find ways that allow them to feel fulfilled; people want to make a difference in our world. The organization "Create the Good" is all about people coming together to make a difference. With a growing workforce of almost 650,000 people and over 7,000 volunteer opportunities, they are helping create a space where anyone can volunteer.

On the Create the Good website:, you will be able to find volunteer opportunities for even the tightest of schedules. You can explore their projects and find inspiration to start up community projects and also search for volunteers so that you are able to build your own workforce to get your projects going.

The "Create the Good" campaign and AARP were started by Ethel Percy Andrus when she was 78 years old (they truly mean it when they say any volunteer; there isn't an age limit on giving back!). She is quoted on their website saying, "The challenge, to live up to our better selves, to believe well of our fellow men and perhaps by doing so to help create the good, to experiment, to explore, to change, and to grow." This woman was not only a visionary in volunteer work, shown in the statement, "to believe well of our fellow men" alone, but the message as a whole is even stronger--that we as people are not complete; we are not doing all that we were meant to (existential crisis alert!) until we are helping our fellow man and believing that they are innately good and are willing to help others as well; that our acts of good and altruistic tendencies are so much stronger than those who are selfish.

By clicking on their "explore projects" link, you will immediately be given access to ways to start something as simple as helping people save money when they shop to sending books to troops and organizing a food drive in your community. Now, AARP in general has many outlets that allow for people to volunteer such as tutoring young children to helping people with their taxes. What sets "Create the Good" apart from their other branches of volunteer work is that Create the Good is huge on inspiration. They want people to inspire and feel inspired so that no one thinks that volunteering is ever too difficult. The service is free and there are multiple opportunities to help out in different ways. By clicking on their "Find opportunities" link on their homepage you will be able to search for volunteer opportunities by keyword, your zip code, your state and even working from home opportunities. Each opportunity comes with detailed information on what has to be done and also start and end dates so that people are able to find the best work for their schedule. If you are more focused on finding help, it is free to register your cause on the Create the Good website and there is no size limit on your cause. So if you need two people to help you out, they are willing to help you find them. After registering, your cause has to be approved and once that is complete you will be able to manage the opportunities you create and track who is helping you out. "Create the Good" is helping fuel something beautiful of which everyone can be a part.

World Changers: Giva Salutes

Here at Giva we search for organizations, large and small, that are doing a great job of changing the world around them for the better; and we are pleased to salute them here.

Charles Best and his colleagues at a Bronx high school were having difficulty raising money for class projects. This challenge gave Mr. Best the impetus to start, an online charity dedicated to raising funds for public school class projects. His colleagues posted the first 10 projects as a way of testing the new tool. Mr. Best proceeded to anonymously fund each of them giving the impression that the website was a quick success. Fortunately, the donor base has grown considerably since the initial test. With over 250 million dollars raised for over 471, 027 projects, it is safe to say no longer relies on Mr. Best for funds. The organization continues to prove itself as one of the most innovative charities in the world. In March of 2011, it became the first charity to make Fast Company's annual ranking of the 50 most Innovative Companies in the World. Each year becomes more ambitious relying on its simple model to accomplish even loftier goals. is a database of thousands of public school projects posted by teachers seeking funds. All projects are approved by the organization ensuring their legitimacy. Donors can then search through the database by category or keyword until they find a project that resonates with their interests. No minimum donation is required. Individuals can give as little as 1$ to a project. This structure allows anyone looking to support public schools to help out. Once projects raise sufficient funds purchases the materials and ships them off to the teacher to use. Donors eventually receive photos of the project, as well as a letter from the teacher and insight into how their money was spent. The entire process is highly personal and extremely transparent. About 70% of projects are successfully funded through the site, an indication of its popularity. Both donors and teachers feel empowered, and have a clear way to support the next generation of thinkers. is a personal and reliable way to give back to one of the community's most important assets. It has established a large and excited donor base and is primed to tackle more challenging problems. By tracking the kinds of projects that appear most often on, the organization hopes to better advise local governments and school boards on how to allocate funds. It is also attempting to support 100% of high-poverty public schools. Its goals are certainly ambitious, but given the strength of its tool and the trust it has established, is ready to address these important challenges.

To learn more about or to support a project visit:

Non-Profit/Business Partnerships

As social challenges merge with business challenges in the contemporary world, corporations are beginning to look for opportunities to engage in shared value initiatives. Increasingly, shared value projects involve partnerships between NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and businesses designed to address common issues. When these partnerships are formed correctly, they can be instrumental in tackling some of the toughest problems currently faced by the business community.

Successful partnerships occur when each party complements the strengths of the other. Businesses are able to provide a conglomeration of resources that many nonprofit organizations lack. They are able to implement change on a massive scale. This opportunity allows nonprofits to expand their impact and take on initiatives that require many resources. Businesses also provide a natural discipline that ensures all agreed upon solutions are sustainable in the private sector. For their part, NGOs are able to fill certain knowledge gaps in the private sector. Some understand specific cultures and relationships in under-served markets, while others are attentive to the specific needs of different communities. Often NGOs are called upon to evaluate unknown areas of the market. Valuations of areas like biodiversity are critical for businesses looking to transform their supply chain.

The partnership between Coca Cola and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is exemplary of a successful shared value relationship. The WWF began working with Coca Cola in 2007 to conserve freshwater resources. The partnership has been extended through 2020 and will now focus on 11 key regions of freshwater basins. The two parties have also elected to expand the initiative to other conservation areas. By 2020 Coca Cola hopes to reduce carbon embedded in drinks by 25%, begin implementing plant-based renewable packaging, and ensure all ingredients are sustainably sourced. The WWF's detailed knowledge of biodiversity, ecosystems, and climate change is an essential tool in each of these projects. By developing environmental models and a system to evaluate the tradeoff between conserving biodiversity/ecosystems and minimizing costs, the WWF hopes to embed environmental sustainability into decision making. Coca Cola hopes to demonstrate the business case for investing in natural capital. The two parties have much to gain from the joint venture. If their actions are successful, society will gain too.

World Changers: Giva Salutes "A Wider Circle"

At Giva we search for organizations, large and small, that are doing a great job of changing the world around them for the better; and we are pleased to salute them here.

A Wider Circle

Perhaps no image is as emblematic of poverty as the empty unfurnished house. It is difficult to achieve a stable and independent lifestyle when one is deprived of the comfort and necessities of a home. Mark Bergel founded A Wider Circle after observing the number of unfurnished homes in poorer areas of Washington D.C. He vowed to sleep on his own couch until every family in America had a bed to fall asleep on. It is this unwavering commitment that has led to his nomination as a 2014 CNN hero and propelled his organization to a level of national recognition. A Wider Circle now operates two warehouses that stock furniture freely available to families lacking basic supplies. It also runs a series of life skills workshops designed to empower people with knowledge. By providing families with this level of personal attention and support, A Wider Circle has helped thousands of people feel more at home.

The organization's signature program is its Neighbor-to-Neighbor initiative. The program provides furniture free of charge to families emerging from challenging circumstances. Beds, dressers, tables, chairs, and dishes are some of the items available to these families. Each year, A Wider Circle furnishes more than 4,000 family homes and refuses to turn any family down in need. Amongst the myriad of challenges present in the modern world, it is sometimes lost how empowering simple acts can be. Providing a desk to a young child can at times be just as influential as improving parts of the local public school. The work of A Wider Circle is evidence of this power.

Propelled by its early success A Wider Circle now offers additional programs in job preparedness, life-skills, and parental training. Recognizing that the only sustainable way to emerge from poverty is through a steady job, A Wider Circle offers classes in resume writing, interview skills, and job selection. It also offers a wide array of professional attire and accessories.

The organization also hosts a Well Mother, Well Baby program that aims to help teenage mothers succeed despite some challenging circumstances. The program ensures mothers have a healthy pregnancy, provides them with necessities like cribs and diapers, and matches each of them with a mentor who continues to support them through the early years of motherhood. These actions are one more way the organization works to ensure a comfortable home environment.

A Wider Circle provides thousands of people with the resources to construct a better home. It deserves immense credit for addressing complex challenges in effective ways. In the process of creating better homes it is truly creating better lives.

To learn more about A Wider Circle or to donate money visit:

World Changers: Giva Salutes VolunteerMatch

VolunteerMatch describes itself as an organization dedicated to connecting good people with good causes. As their Annual Impact Report shows they have been incredibly successful at accomplishing this challenging goal. In 2013 alone, VolunteerMatch helped create 915 million dollars in social value and attracted 900,000 new volunteers. For every 1 dollar invested in the organization, VolunteerMatch was able to produce 190 dollars in social value. Given the success of this phenomenal organization and its importance in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) industry, it surely merits a closer look.

One of the largest hindrances in the nonprofit industry is the information gap that exists between volunteers and nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits have difficulty communicating the skills and attributes they need in volunteers, and can occasionally struggle to communicate their message to a larger audience. Conversely, volunteers have trouble finding organizations that represent their concerns and interests. VolunteerMatch solves this problem by synthesizing a vast network of nonprofits with a vast network of volunteers. The entire process is personalized. Prospective volunteers begin by selecting an area of interest such as Animals, Education, or the Environment. They are then matched up with a local opportunity to contribute to this nonprofit sector. In essence, VolunteerMatch makes it easy to search, sign up and contribute to these wonderful causes.

The customization of this process helps explain the positive impact VolunteerMatch has had on a variety of workplaces. According to their Annual Report, 3.7 million employees had access to their services in 2013. In total, 38% of VolunteerMatch activity occurred via workplace programs with the average employee dedicating 36 hours to altruistic endeavors. By utilizing the skills and enthusiasm of their employees many companies were able to make significant contributions to their local communities. They were also able to track their efforts, including the hours logged by their employees, to determine the success of each program. This ability to track and quantify the value of volunteerism has provided valuable feedback to individuals and firms about the significance of their contributions.

By connecting volunteers with nonprofit organizations VolunteerMatch has helped thousands of causes across a wide range of communities. Their ability to personalize and organize the volunteering experience has been essential to the development of social responsibility. Their efforts are to be commended.

For more information on VolunteerMatch or to begin volunteering in your local community visit:

Skills-Based Volunteer Programs

Companies are increasingly looking for ways to involve their employees in different communities by inspiring them to volunteer. One of the more effective approaches that has been implemented by some larger firms is the concept of skills-based volunteering. Skills-based volunteering takes advantage of the unique talents of employees by pairing them with nonprofit organizations that can use their expertise. To understand this concept in detail one can look at the efforts of Morgan Stanley and IBM. Both have implemented effective programs that demonstrate the value that can be produced from well-designed volunteer schemes.

Morgan Stanley’s Strategy Challenge provides nonprofits with pro bono strategic consulting advice. Teams of talented employees are formed and paired with a nonprofit organization seeking expert advice on how to increase their impact in different communities. Each team is comprised of four Morgan Stanley employees at the Associate or Vice President Level as well as a Managing Director and expert in nonprofit consulting. Relying on an analytic approach, teams assess the most appropriate measures their nonprofit can implement in order to accomplish a series of goals. The eight-week project culminates with a final presentation in front of a panel of experts. The presentation details the actions each team believes is best suited to improve the productivity and impact of their nonprofit. The 2013 winner of the Strategy Challenge is exemplary of the impact Morgan Stanley is trying to achieve. A team helped Bring Me A Book, an organization dedicated to improving literacy in underserved Californians, expand their book access program with the introduction of digital media. The project did an excellent job orienting the nonprofit towards the future.

In total, Morgan Stanley employees have helped 77 nonprofits by dedicating 45,000 hours to produce 6.8 million dollars in value. But, these statistics only detail half of the equation. Morgan Stanley employees often leave the initiative having developed critical business skills and further contacts within the company. Skills like client management and communication are honed throughout the process. Most importantly, employees leave with an appreciation of the nonprofit sector and the satisfaction that comes with contributing to its goals.

IBM’s Corporate Service Corps is likewise an initiative that has received much praise in recent years. The company routinely sends 10-15 person teams of top management prospects on four week projects to address economic concerns in emerging markets. The goal is to provide local groups and governments with superb consulting advice developed through years of experience working on similar projects around the world. Communities can be sure they are making smart development decisions while IBM can be sure they are gaining knowledge of and improving their reputation in growth markets. It is a win-win for both parties and has brought positive exposure to some underserved areas of the world.

Skills-based volunteering is an excellent way to provide professional services to worthy nonprofit and government organizations that would not otherwise be able to afford them. It is a different way of thinking about the nonprofit sector that inspires employees to give back. Many are thrilled to learn that the skills they have developed in their professional lives can be used to help nonprofit organizations. This enthusiasm is shared by the charitable organizations who receive specific and productive help. The result is a fruitful alliance that excites both parties and highlights the power of skills-based volunteering.


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