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AmpleHarvest.org

AmpleHarvest.org

In Minnesota, this is the time of year where home gardeners are harvesting their bounty and cooking or preserving their harvest in canning jars.  Today’s organization is working to encourage growers not to allow their harvest to go to waste.

Shortly after Gary Oppenheimer became the director of the Sustainable West Milford Community Garden in late 2008, he learned that some of their garden plot holders left large amounts of their garden unharvested when their crops produced more than they could possibly use.  Gary was aware that hunger was a problem in his community so he suggested that they create a committee to help gather the extra harvest and deliver it to local food pantries.  The program was named Ample Harvest West Milford.

Food pantries are hard to find because many operate without an Internet site or yellow pages listing.  Even Google doesn’t provide an answer since it can only list those pantries it knows of.  This challenge is shared by backyard gardeners throughout the United States who wish to share their excess bounty.

To address this dilemma, Gary created the AmpleHarvest.org Campaign, new supply side channel in our national food network that educates, encourages and enables gardeners with extra produce to easily donate to a local food pantry.  AmpleHarvest.org gives food pantries the opportunity to register themselves in a central nationwide directory so that gardeners and other donors can share their fresh produce and, garden-by-garden, help diminish hunger in America.

The organization’s mission is to move information instead of food to diminish hunger and malnutrition in America by educating, encouraging, and empowering growers to share their excess harvest with the needy in their community rather than letting it rot in their garden.  Their “No Food Left Behind” goal is being spread via a virtual solution to hunger.  Today nearly 6,400 food pantries from 50 states are registered in the AmpleHarvest.org database.  This allows the 40+ million Americans with home gardens to easily donate what they cannot use.

In August 2010 when AmpleHarvest.org was only 15 months old, a survey of registered food pantries indicated that more than 3 million pounds of freshly harvested locally grown produce had been donated to food pantries. At the end of 2011, it had increased to more than 20 million pounds.  There are other benefits as well.  Families who utilize the food pantries are introduced to new varieties of food they may have had no prior access to and gardeners across America can enjoy the satisfaction of helping their neighbors in need by reaching into their backyard instead of their back pocket.  With one out of six Americans (including one quarter of all children under age six) without access to healthy fresh food at their local food pantry, AmpleHarvest.org can make a significant difference!

Below you can view a TEDx talk from AmpleHarvest.org founder, Gary Oppenheimer.

How can you help?

Learn more about Ample Harvest on their website, AmpleHarvest.org or contact them directly via e-mail.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or their blog.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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A Rotta Love Plus

A Rotta Love Plus

In school this past spring, my daughter was given an assignment to write a persuasive letter to her parents.  She attempted to persuade us to get a dog…I think she may have convinced her father, but not me or the cats.  Today’s organization is working to persuade people to understand two specific dog breeds: Rottweilers and pit bulls.

In 1997, A Rotta Love was founded as the first nonprofit Rottweiler rescue organization in Minnesota.  In 2003, A Rotta Love and a Twin Cities’ bit bull rescue named Pits Plus merged to become A Rotta Love Plus.  The organization is a comprehensive and proactive all-volunteer advocacy organization that uses multiple strategies to further their mission of re-homing Rottweilers and pit bulls in Minnesota, raising breed awareness, educating the public about responsible pet ownership, and advocating for the humane and equal treatment of all dogs without prejudice.  They are based in Golden Valley, Minnesota, but they serve the entire greater Twin Cities area.

Pumba

Pumba

A Rotta Love Plus has several programs that further their mission.  Their foster and adoption program takes a “quality-over-quantity” approach to carefully select the dogs that they bring into the program and the homes where they are fostered and adopted.  They also offer ongoing assessment and support for their dogs to ensure ongoing success for the animals.  They rehome approximately 30 to 40 dogs each year.

A Rotta Love Plus builds and foster strong relationships between dogs and owners through their Rott n’ Pit Ed training classes.  These classes, free to fosters and dogs who have been adopted through their organization, offer owners a variety of tools to ensure the right approach is taken for each dog as an individual.  They also offer a Dog Safety/Humane Education program that offers education to youth, adults, and organizations on the humane treatment of animals and reduces the risk of dog bites.  Between 2009 and 2012, this program reached nearly 4,000 individuals.  They also offer free spays, neuters, vaccinations in addition to low-cost micro-chips to pit bulls and Rottweilers.

Vitojoe

Vitojoe

This year they partnered with the Minneapolis Police Department, Minneapolis Animal Care and Control, and the Minneapolis Public Schools to bring a Dog Safety program to local elementary schools.  In just one semester, they conducted 46 classes where a group facilitator and two or three volunteers with their trained pit bull or Rottweiler visit a classroom and educate student on the humane treatment of animals and reduction of dog bite risk.

Another program offered by A Rotta Love Plus is their PRIORITY Paws (Pit Bull and Rottweiler Interactive OutReach Instruction and Therapy for Youth) program where they conduct dog-therapy groups with youth in crisis who reside in local youth-services organizations.  The stories of abuse, neglect, and negative social perception of the pit bulls and Rottweilers provide the youth with a powerful parallel that often mirrors their own experiences.  This can inspire the youth and enable them to work through their own crisis using the lessons and skills that only the dogs can teach.  In 2012, their PRIORITY Paws program gave about 700 at-risk youth experience with this unique program.

Sara Nick, Communications Director for A Rotta Love Plus shared just one of their many success stories:

This is the story of Prim, a beautiful brindle pit bull. Prim endured the first couple years of her life in a heart-wrenchingly abusive situation – without going into the ugly details, suffice it to say that when she wound up in a local animal control, it was like heaven on earth. (Food! Rest! Kindness!) Eventually, Prim ran out of time at animal control, but two ARLP volunteers, who were freshly mourning the loss of their 10-year-old pit bull to cancer, decided to push through their heartache and open their home to another dog in need through fostering. ‘When we saw her face and heard her story, we knew without words that we wanted to save her,’ they said. As soon as Prim was in their car, ‘despite not having a clue where she was going, she was smiling ear to ear!’

Ever so gently, Prim’s new fosters took the time to earn her trust. They slowly introduced her to the sights, sounds, smells, and other animals of their household. Prim adjusted well (REALLY well) to their routine and lifestyle, so it came as no surprise when we heard the news not long after that they decided to make Prim a permanent member of their family. In their words, ‘Prim brought life back into our family. She will stop doing whatever she’s doing to come kiss us and let us hold her. She has so much love that she wants to give, and we want to be the ones to give her every success in life.’”

Prim

Prim

How can you help?

The organization’s greatest volunteer need is for foster homes which allow them to save a pit bull or Rottweiler and place them in a loving home until their forever family can be found.  Foster families are provided with everything they need to be successful, including food and supplies as well as free training and support.  Learn more about their foster program on their website.

A list of other current volunteer opportunities can be found here.  You can also give a monetary donation, including dog sponsorships. They also have a wish list of in kind donations.

You can also attend any of their adoption events.  On Saturday, August 10 from 4 to 7 PM, they have a “Beer and Dogs” event at Nomad World Pub (501 Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis) where people will have an opportunity to meet some of the dogs they have available for adoption.

You can learn more about A Rotta Love Plus on their website, www.arottalove.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter or follow their blog.

ARLP-3

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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NeighborLink Network

NeighborLink Network

A couple weeks ago, after a series of rainy days, my husband was attempting to mow the lawn.  He was struggling because the grass had grown so much since the last mowing.  The neighbor stopped by and asked if he could help.  He has a riding lawnmower that easily cuts even long grass.  We accepted his offer and plan to pay him back with an invitation to dinner.  Today’s organization is enabling neighbors to help other neighbors even if they cannot directly witness the need.

In 2003, John Barce and Doug Crane participated in a competition called Leadership Fort Wayne.  Their idea to create a web platform to connect volunteers with people in need received second place in the competition and the NeighborLink model was born.  Since 2003, similar platforms have been created in nine other cities using the same model.

NeighborLink uses a web platform to connect vulnerable homeowners including the aging, people with disabilities, and low income single parents, with volunteers who would like to help.  The volunteers typically help with home repair or yard work projects.  In addition, they encourage volunteers to build relationships with the recipients of their help.  NeighborLink’s goal is not only completion of the projects, but also developing a sustainable solution for community development by connecting neighbors.

NeighborLink is a Christian, faith-based organization with a mission of “practical, neighbor-to-neighbor expressions of God’s love.”  They frequently work with churches but appreciate and welcome volunteers from a variety of backgrounds.  They are currently in nine locations: Fort Wayne, Indiana; Indianapolis, Indiana; DeKalb County, Indiana; Porter County, Indiana; Liberty County, Georgia; Van Wert County, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Owensboro, Kentucky; and Evansville, Indiana.

One NeighborLink volunteer named Andrew volunteered, along with a small group, to help Jean paint her house one summer.  During that project, Andrew was made aware that she also needed assistance with other projects from a long list of code violations.  He was able to raise funds to make repairs to her porch.  Just before Christmas, Andrew stopped by with a basket of food and learned that Jean’s son had just passed away.  Andrew continued to show Jean love and support by mowing her lawn and helping with other tasks in the years that followed.  This relationship encouraged Andrew’s involvement with NeighborLink and he eventually became the organization’s Executive Director.  This willingness to continue helping and desire to get to know her better instead of just completing the project at hand is the type of relationship that NeighborLink strives for.

How can you help?

Any individual in the cities that NeighborLink exists in can get involved.  Individuals simply register to be a volunteer on the NeighborLink website for their city.  You can find the current cities on their affiliate and non-affiliate pages.  Once registered, volunteers can look through current projects and choose one.  There are also opportunities for groups to do projects together.

You can also make a monetary donation through any of the specific city NeighborLink websites.

You can learn more about NeighborLink by visiting their website, neighborlinknetworkfoundation.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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TechSoup Global

TechSoup Global

I have worked with and written about many nonprofits in the last decade.  One common issue that many share is the lack of funding for technology.  Computers and software are necessary to run most nonprofits, but much of it is expensive.  Today’s organization is making a difference for other nonprofits.

In 1987, Daniel Ben-Horin was inspired by discussions in an early online community to create a program that connected those with technology skills with nonprofit organizations who wanted to learn more and start utilizing new technologies.  The organization created in 1987 was called CompuMentor because those with computer skills “mentored” nonprofits on new technologies.  In 2008, CompuMentor formally announced a name change to TechSoup Global to better reflect the organization’s evolution to serve nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) around the world.  As of March 2013, TechSoup is the largest not-for-profit provider of technology assistance services to NGOs, libraries, and other organizations worldwide.

Since their founding, the organization has aimed to harness the power of technology as a means to accelerate social impact.  They believe that a strong civil society is as critical to local communities as healthy business and government sectors.  Technology has a significant role to play in strengthening an organized civil society because it can democratize access to information and resources to achieve effective, system changing outcomes.  This has inspired TechSoup Global to continue their work with partners to deliver relevant, innovative, and scalable programs.  They have support from 90 leading technology companies including Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, Cisco, Intuit, and Redemtech and have reached more than 208,000 NGOs around the world.  To date, they have distributed more than 11 million software and hardware solutions and enabled recipients in 56 counties to save more than $3.62 billion (US dollars) in technology expenses.  You can see their impact on their local impact map.

In 2012, they had 209,660 unique visitors per month to their websites from over 190 countries.  Their websites include articles, webinars, and forums.  They also delivered newsletters around the world to over 200,000 subscribers in 16 languages.  In addition, through their NetSquared program, local groups hold regular in person events.  Together with their partners, they strive to ensure technology solutions are complemented by practical, locally relevant educational content.

How can you help?

  • Please spread the word about TechSoup to any nonprofits or NGOs that you work with.  Encourage them to visit techsoup.org to learn more and explore the various discounted software and hardware options available.
  • You can also contribute your knowledge – learn more about their knowledge sharing programs on their website.
  • TechSoup makes use of volunteers in a variety of ways at their headquarters in San Francisco as well as in their Europe office in Warsaw.  Please direct any inquiries to pr@techsoupglobal.org.

You can learn more about TechSoup on their website, techsoup.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Children’s Law Center of Minnesota

Children’s Law Center of Minnesota

The legal system can be a difficult place to navigate for anyone, but imagine a child in foster care or a homeless young adult trying to navigate the system without any professional guidance.  Today’s organization was founded to help these kids.

In 1995, an interdisciplinary group of attorneys, social workers, youth workers, judges, teachers, pediatricians, and other children’s advocates in Minnesota realized a need to create an organization that focused on increasing the impact and effectiveness of legal advocacy for foster care and at-risk children.  They established the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota in order to help them through some difficult situations and help prepare them for successful adult lives ahead.

The mission of the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota is to promote the rights and interests of Minnesota’s children, especially children of color and children with disabilities, in the judicial, child welfare, health care, and education systems.  The organization’s vision is that through their work, abused and neglected youth achieve stability, hope, and opportunity.

Since their founding, the organization has trained over 650 volunteer attorneys, represented more than 1,800 foster children, and helped promote systemic change and advocacy for vulnerable youth throughout the state.  The majority of the organization’s volunteers are trained to provide legal representation for youth who are at-risk, homeless, or in foster care.  Other volunteers work on special projects such as legal research, copyediting, and graphic design in addition to other legal, paralegal, social work, and administration volunteers and interns.

Today, they serve over 560 child clients each year.  They also collaborate with individuals and organizations in the county, court, educational, and health care systems to support coordinated efforts to ensure the basic needs of the state’s most vulnerable youth are legally met and optimized.

The Children’s Law Center also works on reform efforts that result in policies, procedures, and legislation that protects the safety and stability of foster populations.  They also provide education to lawyers, judges, social workers, educators, school administrators, law enforcement officials, youth, and other youth serving professionals on the issues that youth in foster care or at-risk situations face.

To better understand the difference that the organization makes, Heather Wolfgram, Director of Development, shared Steven’s story with me:

“Until he was 10, Steven lived with his mom and her boyfriend who was a pimp and drug dealer. The boyfriend routinely beat up Steven and his mom. Steven watched as the boyfriend killed his mother. Child protection placed Steven with his father who had remarried. Steven’s step mother hated and abused him. Eventually, Steven’s father kicked him out of the house and he ended up on the streets. Steven reentered the child protection system where he bounced from foster home to foster home and school to school. He began to act out at school, was put in detention almost daily, and was then placed in a special education program. This all happened before Steven was 14.

Children’s Law Center (CLC) was court appointed to represent Steven when he was 14. When the volunteer attorney took the case, child protection was about to place Steven in a residential treatment program for kids with mental health problems. The CLC attorney fought to keep him out of the facility and to get the mental health assessment that he had never been given. That assessment determined institutionalization was not needed. The attorney then fought to get Steven a stable placement where he felt welcomed and comfortable. The attorney also advocated for an education assessment that resulted in Steven being removed from the special education program and put into a mainstream high school program. As a result, Steven graduated from high school. Finally, the attorney fought the county’s efforts to discharge Steven from the foster care system on his 18th birthday and successfully advocated for transitional living education and funding for living expenses and job training. Steven currently has a full-time job and is living in his own apartment.”

You can also watch Sophie’s story below:

How can you help?

  • Children’s Law Center is always in need of financial support from individuals or corporations.  You can donate via their website.
  • They also have a wish list of in-kind goods and services they are seeking on their website.
  • They also have opportunities for lawyers to provide pro-bono attorney services.  You can find information on their website.
  • In addition, they are looking to partner with groups to put together birthday and graduation packages filled with items such as boxed cake mix, frosting, a card, and a gift card for the youth they work with.  Please contact them to arrange a donation.

To learn more about Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, you can visit their website, www.clcmn.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook or Twitter.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Life Pieces to Masterpieces

Life Pieces to Masterpieces

According to the 2012 United States Census, individuals who graduate from high school earn an average of $10,000 more annually than those who do not.  Average annual income raises almost $10,000 more with an associate’s degree and jumps even higher with a bachelor’s degree.  Yet, in the United States as of 2011, only 32% of people age 25 to 29 have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher according to the US Department of Education.  Today’s organization has focused in on one population in an attempt to increase their education rates.

The mission of Life Pieces To Masterpieces is to provide opportunities for African American boys and young men in Greater Washington, DC by developing character, unlocking their potential, and empowering them to transform their lives and communities.  Their goal is to nurture, embrace, encourage and elevate African-American boys and young men so they can grow into mature men who demonstrate social responsibility and create positive change in their communities.  Their do this by focusing on arts and education while supporting young men and boys in disadvantaged communities in Washington, D.C.

Over 90% of the young males age 3 to 25 in the Life Pieces to Masterpieces program live in Wards 7 and 8 of Washington D.C.  They call their program participants Apprentices.  These participants come from communities with a variety of challenges including social, physical, and mental health problems and gang activity.  Over 70% of the households in these wards are headed by single females which causes a lack of positive male role models for many of the Apprentices.  These conditions cause the boys and young men in the community to stray from academic development and other positive development opportunities.

So, what is Life Pieces To Masterpieces doing to make a difference for these boys and young men?  They utilize their “4 Cs” as part of their curriculum:

  • Students connect to themselves and to their classmates.
  • They create — homework, artwork, and poems.
  • They contribute — sharing their work and their thinking with a greater community.
  • And they celebrate their successes.
America What About the Children

America What About the Children
(available for purchase at lifepieces.org)

I think this is best brought to life through the stories of their program participants.

Lorenzo was 13 years old and had a lot of responsibilities when he was first introduced to the Life Pieces to Masterpieces program.  His parents had split up and his mother was battling addiction.  Lorenzo was left to help his eight brothers and sisters by ensuring they were fed and did their schoolwork.  He found Life Pieces to Masterpieces as his home away from home.  He is now 20 and is pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism while serving as a mentor and teacher at Life Pieces to Masterpieces.  He credits the program for “aggressively pursuing education” and for the importance it places on getting the best grades possible.

You can find additional stories of the difference that the program has made on their website.

Their program results are impressive.  They have served over 1500 young men and boys over the last 17 years with 100% of their young men graduating from high school and gone on to pursue a post-secondary education.  Many of their alumni return to serve as mentors and teachers in the after school program.  In addition, 100% the participant’s parents show satisfaction with the program and state that their young men and boys are more confident, make better decisions, and speak in a positive manner about their future.

Expressing Love (available for purchase at lifepieces.org)

Expressing Love
(available for purchase at lifepieces.org)

How can you help?

  • If you live near Washington D.C., you can help serve as an after-school program mentor.  Individuals serve as a positive role model and support the lead classroom teacher.  They are also working on a corporate art leasing program to share their Apprentices art with local corporations and provide additional revenue for their program.  Other volunteer opportunities include social media, fundraising, and volunteer recruitment.  You can learn more and contact them about these and other volunteer opportunities on their website.
  • You can show your support by shopping their store of logo merchandise or by making a donation on their website.
  • In kind donations are also appreciated.  Their current wish list includes art easels, healthy food for their summer program, a 14 seat a minivan, and boxes of white printing paper for their office.

You can learn more about Life Pieces to Masterpieces on their website, www.lifepieces.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Detroit SOUP

Detroit SOUP

Soup has been part of our culture since the first water-proof vessels were created – some estimates are as early as 6000 B.C.!  You can find soup recipes for most ethnic cuisines and taste preferences.  Today’s organization is using this versatile meal to bring people together to make a difference.

In February of 2010, Kate Daughdrill and Jessica Hernandez saw how InCUBATE, a research group dedicated to exploring new approaches to arts administration and arts funding, started a soup “potluck” in Chicago.  At these events, grant proposals were collected, a meal of soup was shared, and people were invited to pay, eat, and vote on which proposal should receive the funds raised during the event.  Kate and Jessica decided to bring the event to Detroit to create and engage with a community that is interested by the dialogue about the revitalization of Detroit.

Detroit Soup is now run by Amy Kaherl with a goal to put on a monthly dinner that supports creative people and endeavors while providing a safe space for dialogue and conversation.  They started with about 40 attendees and have grown in their first three years to over 200 attendees.  They raise and grant approximately $1000 at each event with over $30,000 raised during 35 meals.  Five of the groups who received grants have gone on to become nonprofits or small businesses.

Watch this short video to learn more about the dinners:

At the Detroit SOUP dinners, you pay just $5 for soup, salad, bread, and a vote.  Attendees hear from four creative projects around the idea of helping make Detroit better for four minutes each.  These ideas are in the areas of art, urban agriculture, justice, education, technology, and entrepreneurs.   The presenters each get four questions from attendees to help clarify the project, then attendees vote on the project they think should receive the money collected that night.

Amy Kaherl told me, “Our organization provides the opportunity for others to support others.  Those who come to SOUP choose the winner.  Detroit SOUP just provides the location and the possibility to interact with others.”

How can I help?

  • If you live in Detroit, volunteer to make some soup, salad or a dessert to share with the group.  You can also attend the next event to participate in the conversation.  Check their website for the next dinner.
  • Anyone can donate to Detroit SOUP on their website.
  • If you are interested in starting a SOUP event in your community, read the How to SOUP Guide written by Amy Kaherl.
  • You can also visit SundaySoup.org to see if there is a SOUP event in your community.

To learn more about the Detroit SOUP organization, visit their website at detroitsoup.com.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.  If you wish to start the dinner in your community, read the “How to SOUP guide”.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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