March 2011: Founded
June 2011: Donation to Charity:Water
Funding projects that provide clean water and sanitation is especially appropriate when trying to eliminate poverty, because the lack of clean water imposes an enormous economic burden on communities. When women and children spend hours a day in pursuit of water for their families, they can’t be contributing their time, energy, and intellect to education, businesses, or other pursuits to further themselves, their families, or their communities. The economic loss due to lack of accessible, clean drinking water is estimated at 28 billion dollars in Africa alone.
In addition, death, disease, and violence result from lack of clean water and sanitation. These rob communities of the people, the energy, and the activities needed to promote strong economies.
Charity:Water was an especially appealing organization for a few reasons:
1. They provide proof of all their work by making the satellite images available via Google Maps. As a result, we felt very confident that this organization was doing exactly the work they said they would do with our money.
2. 100% of our donation went to fund water projects. Because they have private support that funds all the administrative work of the organization, our entire donation went directly to provide a village with access to clean water. So, we knew we were making a difference in people’s lives.
3. In almost five years, Charity:Water has raised $40 million and funded 4,282 water projects that provided clean water for 2,060,000.
We were clear that this organization is entirely focused on results, and Poverty Busters was delighted to send them our pooled donations.
September 2011: Donation to Heifer International
Heifer International provides an animal along with comprehensive training (including veterinarian and sustainable farming practices) to a family. The family will pass on the first offspring to another family in the community, so that the whole community will begin to be prosper. We were very impressed with a 5 year study by Western Michigan University that determined, “It is beyond doubt that in all 20 of the countries we have examined, Heifer has brought large overall benefits to very large numbers of low income rural families.”
While there were other worthwhile organizations being considered for that month, we were swayed by the matching donation opportunity at Heifer. An anonymous donor was matching the first 1.5 million in donations directed to Haiti. As a result our $425 donation became $850.
December 2011: Donation to Kickstart International
Kickstart International sells a subsidized water pump to rural African farms. Because of this pump, the farmer can reliably irrigate his or her crops resulting in a reliable food source for the family and a reliable food surplus to sell to others. Not wanting to deprive locals of jobs, they partner with local shops to market and sell the pumps resulting in even more economic opportunity.
As a result, families stay together, children go to school, and the world becomes a better place. We were all very impressed with this organization’s focus on lifting people out of poverty through market economics. They have a laser focus on results with the most extensive tracking and reporting of results we’ve seen.
March 2012: Donation to Deworm The World
If our mission is to eliminate poverty, then why did we just choose to donate to Deworm the World?
According to Poor Economics, each year of education increases earnings more or less proportionally. So, if we’re interested in ending poverty, then we’re interested in people getting educated.
In the developing world, enrollment in primary school keeps increasing, but absenteeism is high due in part to treatable illnesses. In fact, over 600 million school-age children are infected with parasitic worms. Parasitic worm infections can cause immediate illnesses, but as the worms accumulate and grow they steal more and nutrients from their hosts causing long-term illnesses and fatigue, too. Children with parasitic infections are much less likely at attend school and to do well in school. And since there is a direct relationship between a child’s education and their future income, keeping children in school helps break the cycle of poverty.
According to Deworm The World, the benefits of school-based deworming are both immediate and enduring. Regular treatment can reduce school absenteeism by 25% and increase adult earnings by over 20%. It is also a program that is very cheap to implement and costs only about .50 cents per child per year. So, our $540 donation will help 1,080 children receive deworming medication.
We liked that Deworm the World worked with the local community structure to administer the medication through the school systems and they partnered with the national governments to design a program that can maintained through the long-term. Since children are constantly exposed to these parasites, continuous treatment is essential to the success of the deworming program.
June 2012: Donation to Fire Mountain Programs
A young man addicted to drugs is looking at a future of incarceration, of emotional, physical, and economic struggle. I learned quite a lot from my discussion with one of the founders about drug addiction and teens. For example, she shared with me the importance of creating new rituals in the lives of teens. Sometimes it’s the process of getting high that is as important as getting high. When teens are getting sober, they have a huge gap in their life where the process of getting high used to be. So Fire Mountain Programs creates healthy rituals that give them something new and better to do.
Fire Mountain takes a comprehensive approach to helping teens stay sober. There is of course, the physical process of getting sober. But in addition, Fire Mountain Programs helps prepare these teens for job interviews, getting apartments, and setting budgets so they can function economically. Plus Fire Mountain Programs focuses on their emotions and their relationships helping teens create strong, healthy network of friends and family to support their sobriety. I also appreciated her insight on how important it is for these kids to have responsibilities. She says the more responsibility they have and the more important they feel their support is for helping other teens stay sober, the better they do.
Fire Mountain Programs is a small organization making a big impact for kids, and we are delighted to help them in their efforts and change the future of one kid.
September 2012: Donation to Mines Advisory Group and Nuru International
For the first time, we had a tie! It was very difficult to decide between these two charities– both of them are saving and changing lives, and since we split down the middle, each charity will receive half of our $747.50 group donation.
Mines Advisory Group is removing landmines and destroying small arms in countries around the world. But wait… you’re thinking, “What does that have to do with poverty?” A lot it turns out. When the land is not safe it cannot be farmed and important infrastructure like roads and schools can’t be built. The community remains without the resources necessary to educate their children and create economic opportunity, so they are stuck in poverty. When people don’t have access to economic opportunity but they do have access to arms, violence and crime happen creating an unpredictable environment which furthers hampers the creation of wealth. MAG also pulled deeply on our heart strings as we saw the real human suffering involved in landmines. If you want to shed a few tears, you can watch some videos at MAG’s website: http://www.maginternational.org/videos/
Nuru International is quite different than MAG but doing equally important work. What’s unique about Nuru International is their comprehensive focus on a single area in Kenya. Some organizations focus on creating economic opportunities. Some focus on clean water and sanitation facilities. Some focus on building schools. Nuru does all of that and more. Their goal is to to take this one area, the Kuria district in Kenya, and improve all aspects of the community providing a place where the residents can be healthy, wealthy, and wise. Once they’ve met their objective, their plan is to leave. We feel especially strong about the intention for NURU to leave and so make the community self-reliant, because once a baseline is established, people CAN take care of themselves and SHOULD have the dignity of taking care of themselves.
We also like that each of these organizations partner with members of the local community providing jobs, training, and leadership opportunities.
December 2012: Donation to GiveDirectly and International Rescue Committee
GiveDirectly provides cash to extremely poor (living on less than .65 cents per day) families in Kenya. The cash is provided with no strings attached, and the families can use it as they see fit.
Cash transfer programs are well studied and have immediate and measurable impacts on a number of health and education standards. Keeping the cash transfers unconditional keeps the cost of the program low so that 90cents of every dollar donated is going directly to an extremely poor person.
Program participants have fixed their roofs (a iron sheet roof is cheaper in the long-run, requires less repair, and less inconvenience due to leaks), purchased livestock, and started businesses.
The IRC is a large organization with a large scope. They respond immediately to emergencies and provide urgently needed supplies, expertise, and health care. In addition, they look to the future by resettling refugees, reuniting families and rebuilding communities. They work in over 40 countries and in 22 U.S. cities, to restore safety, dignity and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure.
March 2013: Donation to Grassroots Reconciliation Group
Grassroots Reconciliation Group supports projects that bring together local community members and ex-child soldiers of the LRA who have escaped from rebel captivity. Together, the two groups build relationships and work hand-in-hand on livelihood projects that they design themselves, including communal farming, brick-making, animal husbandry, and volunteering at counseling centers. By supporting these projects, they help the long-term rehabilitation, reconciliation, and economic capacity of the war-weary people of northern Uganda.
June 2013: I’m Aware
I’m Aware is a very small charity in Augusta, GA started by siblings in January 2010. They’re striving to raise awareness about human trafficking in the South and support other organizations in their fight to rescue survivors.
Our donation would be used to bring Sgt. Fassett, an expert on human trafficking, in to train Richmond County, Aiken County and several other law enforcement agencies in the Central Savannah River Area on how to effectively build a case against sex traffickers. Because it’s a crime most law enforcement officers are not familiar with, it can be difficult for them to know how to proceed and the training will help the officers be more effective in prosecuting the offenders and helping the survivors.
September 2013: Year Up
Year Up is running an incredibly successful program to close the Opportunity Divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.
Their year long training program is giving young adults the opportunity to attend and work with with excellent schools and employers and break that cycle of poverty.
December 2013: Give Directly
Give Directly provides cash grants to the extremely poor in Kenya. What? Give money directly to poor people? Won’t they just waste it?
It turns out, no. The households are carefully chosen to avoid fraud and corruption, and the past success shows that recipients invest their money where it will make the biggest difference in their financial situation such as livestock, roof, or transportion. The extensive research proves that this method is extremely cost efficient (no third parties to administer, create programs, buy supplies, etc) and effective (less waste, less oversight, more accurate investment in the appropriate resources).
March 2014: Heritage Academy and Year Up
Located in Augusta, GA, Heritage Academy provides 190 students with private school level education. 90% of students are African American. 10% live with a grandparent or guardian. 65% live in a single parent home. $17,000 is the median family income. Our donation funded an entire classroom of students for the entire semester!
Year Up is a one-year, intensive training program that assists low income young adults, ages 18-24. For the first six months of the program, students develop technical and professional skills in the classroom. Students then apply those skills during the second six months on an internship at one of Year Up’s 250+ corporate and government partners. As a result of their work, young adults facing a lifetime of minimum wage jobs and public support enter careers with starting salaries of $30,000!
June 2014: Feeding America, Girls Empowerment Network, Nuru International
For the first time ever, we had a three way tie.
Feeding America is a network of food banks around the country. Specifically, we the Kids Cafe programs which provide free meals and snacks to low-income children through a variety of community locations where children already congregate during the afterschool hours—such as Boys and Girls Clubs, churches or public schools.
Girls Empowerment Network, located in Malawi, advocates for young women at both the local and national level. Nationally, they are working to pass laws that protect girls and women from harmful practices like child marriage. Locally, they work with tribal leaders and young women to create a culture where women are protected, valued, and educated.
Nuru International made a second appearance. We donated to them in September of 2012, and since then they’ve expanded to another community. Nuru International is unique in that they focus on a community and work on every issue that community needs help with. They don’t just pop in a build a well. They build schools, teach leadership and team building skills, develop businesses and create markets.
September 2014: Heifer International
Heifer International brings sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market.
When many families gain this new sustainable income, it brings new opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses.
December 2014: Boys and Girls Club of Mercer County
Boys and Girls Club of Mercer County provides young people, ages five to 18, in Trenton and surrounding communities with safe havens, academic enrichment, and recreational activities through after-school, weekend, and summer programs.
More than 2,300 youths in the Greater Mercer County area attend programs in our Clubhouse at 212 Centre Street and at seven public elementary schools in the City of Trenton. Teens from five area high schools enroll in Job-Ready programs, complete paid internships, and prepare for post-graduate careers. More than 500 children and teens attend our summer camps.
March 2015: Hephziba Children’s Association
This charity helps children thrive and families flourish through innovative, community-based programs. There aren’t a lot of resources out their for children in and out of the foster care system, so I’m especially glad to see a donation support their important work.
Here are a few examples of programs they provide:
The Diagnostic Treatment Center which provides abused and neglected children a 90-day period of stabilization and evaluation. It is the only diagnostic shelter for children between the ages of 3 and 12 in Illinois.
The Residence at Hephzibah Home which provides long-term (1 or two years) therapeutic support for severely traumatized children.
Foster Care Program that trains foster parents to provide the love, constancy and additional support needed to help traumatized children heal and learn to trust again.
June 2015: A Home Away From Homelessness
The charity helps youth who are homeless, have been homeless, or are in an unstable living situation. They are not a homeless shelter. Instead, they help these youth experience safe and supportive spaces that respect and foster his or her strengths, creativity and abilities. They do this by taking these young people out on beach outings and by a home where children come for after school activities, tutoring, and meals.
September 2015: Youth Empowerment Program
The Youth Empowerment Project engages underserved young people in New Orleans through community-based education, mentoring and employment readiness programs to help them develop skills and strengthen ties to family and community.
For example, in their Community Reintegration Program (CRP) they provide intensive, individualized case management and support to reintegrate juvenile offenders returning from detention facilities back into their community. The youth’s advocates have face to face contact with the youth three to five times per week at home, school and in the community. The advocates also speak regularly with the youths’ teachers, guardians and parole officers. YEP serves up to 120 youth per year through the Community Reintegration Program. According to an 2011 external evaluation of the program, 91percent of all Reintegration youth were not revoked and did not return to the OJJ system.
December 2015: World Food Program
The World Food Project USA (WFP USA) exists to support the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The WFP is a $55 billion organization composed of member countries who contribute funds to provide food aid to hungry people around the world. When you see a country pledging foreign aid, this is one of the places that money goes. Additional funding is provided by private donations, and WFP USA contributed $22 million to that effort.
Their mission is to save lives in refugee and other emergency situations, to improve the nutrition and quality of life of the most vulnerable people at critical times in their lives, and to help build assets and promote the self-reliance of poor people and communities, particularly through labour-intensive works programmes.
We directed our donation to the Syrian refugee fund. There are more than 4 million registered Syrian refugees residing in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. More than half of the refugees are children. Inside Syria there are an estimated 6.5 million people internally displaced. The level of desperation these refugees are experiencing is something I can’t even fathom. It’s a complicated situation, and I certainly don’t know what the solution is. But I do know that our donation this month will save lives.
Watch the stories of 3 refugee families here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWWJfBt4szg
March 2016: Health for Haiti
Health for Haiti started with a faculty-led, credit-bearing global service learning course. Launched in January 2014, the focus of this interdisciplinary four-credit course is to provide humanitarian assistance to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere – Haiti – and prepare college students to contribute to global security and prosperity. Students explore the dynamics between poverty, education, and health care by engaging in service projects that address pressing community needs identified by our partners in Haiti. Each spring, approximately 20 students head to Haiti for 10 days as part of the program. Students pay all their own travel fees.
As part of this project, they have delivered over 50 donated laptop computers to create multiple computer labs. Computer literacy documents were translated into Haitian Creole and are being used to teach basic computer literacy to hundreds of children and young adults. They have also partnered with a local elementary school to set up an information and idea exchange between children in upstate New York and children in Haiti. Plus, they assisted with construction of two classrooms for the children in Grande Saline Haiti Their biggest project was to deliver and install a Pall Aria AX1 water treatment/filtration system that can provide enough clean water for the entire community. The system is now functional and operators hired from the local community run the system which is providing thousands of gallons of clean water to the community each day.
Projects under way include the construction of public toilets, a solar power system, and a community pavilion.
June 2016: Waves for Water
We chose to donate to Waves for Water to purchase water filters for Ecuador. In April, a 7.8 earthquake caused widespread damage along the Ecuador coastline in the Manabi and Esmeraldas provinces. At least 661 people were killed, 2500 injured and 27,732 people left homeless. Damaged is estimated at $3 billion dollars.
Many places in Ecuador needed clean water programs long before the earthquake. Waves for Water reports a good local network already in Ecuador along with good ties into the US DOD (Department of Defense) units stationed there. They write, “Together, as a unified group, we will be striking into the hardest hit areas areas to implement our portable water filtration systems with primary focus on community centers and IDP camps. Placing the filter systems in higher concentrated populations such as these, we are able to maximize our impact” In addition, they plan to replicate what they did in Nepal with their local team that was developed after their quake, and those teams now lead programs in India, Myanmar, and Thailand. Waves for Water sees this as an opportunity to build a regional team that will be the project leaders in disaster preparedness and response for the future calamities in the area.
One water filter costs $50, so our $1,200 would purchase 24 filters, potentially providing clean water for 24,000 people and over 24 million gallons of clean water. Please be aware that these numbers reflects potential and not actual users. The water filters can provide enough clean water to support 100 people every day, but the location of these water filters may mean that actual daily usage is less.
September 2016: RIP Medical Debt
64 million Americans struggled to pay their medical bills in 2014. More than 11 million people will take on additional credit card debt this year to cover mounting medical expenses. Nearly 15 million people will deplete their savings to cover medical bills. Another 10 million will be unable to pay for basic necessities because of these bills. When the bills go unpaid, those debts are then sold and resold to debt collection agencies inflicting an economic and emotional toll that drains savings, damages credit reports, and inflicts embarrassment and stress. In fact, 43 million Americans have delinquent medical debt on their credit reports – that’s one out of five.
RIP Medical Debt targets medical debt held either by veterans or by people 2 times below the poverty level, purchase it for pennies on the dollar, and then forgive that debt. Lucky recipients are notified of the gift and provided a certificate that confirms they no longer owe this debt, so they can ensure the creditor calls stop and credit reports get corrected.
Our donation will forgive nearly $80,000 in medical debt.
December 2016: MEND Poverty
MEND Poverty serves an average of 37,000 poverty–level clients each month. A volunteer-powered organization since its founding in a garage in 1971, MEND today benefits from the assistance of nearly 5,000 volunteers (and only 34 paid staffers) to implement a broad array of programs, including a Food Bank; a Clothing Center; Medical, dental, and eye care; Job training; Classes for adults in English as a Second Language, literacy, computers, office skills, sewing and parenting; Math, reading and science tutoring for kids; Showers and other services for the homeless.
March 2017: LIFT
LIFT is fighting to end the cycle of poverty by working exclusively with parents in the South Bronx, NY; Southside, Chicago; Pico Union in L.A.; and in D.C.; who have children between the ages 0 and 8 and who have child betterment as their number 1 goal. When a parent enters the LIFT community, they begin with meeting immediate needs of food, shelter, stabilizing income and living conditions, and teaching basic financial literacy on budgeting and checking accounts. Once some stability is achieved, phase 2 starts and they help clients plan long term goals that can include creating college savings accounts for the children, establishing savings accounts for the adults, or identifying education goals or training opportunities that will improve the parent’s employment opportunities. In addition, LIFT provides opportunity for social networking so parents can connect with other LIFT members to provide support and share knowledge. They find that a network of relationships helps reduce the effects of toxic stress caused by poverty.
Located in Denver, Colorado, A Precious Child ensures that children are properly clothed and have the necessary supplies to participate in school. Education is one of the most important factors in getting out of poverty, but the Educational Services of America (ESA) learned through the district truancy officer that, in many cases, “students were not coming to class simply because they didn’t have clothes or school supplies.” By providing these essential services, A Precious Child helps children stay in school, focus on learning, and maintain positive self-esteem.
They partner with about 300 agency partners like Hope House or Big Brothers Big Sisters who can give families in need a voucher for a shopping trip to their facility. Families can visit the facility up to 3 times per year. A Precious Child strives to provide a dignified experience, so families make an appointment for a 2 hour window when they can come and shop in a clean, well organized, and normal store like environment. Kids who come along with their parents can hang out in the Inspiration Corner where they can play with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) toys.
September 2017: Give Directly
The Poverty Busters Giving Circle last donated to Give Directly organization in December 2012 shortly after they were founded. At the time they were granting $1,000 (USD) to qualifying households (aka extremely poor in Kenya) over a 1-2 year period. They launched on the basis of several scientific studies that showed that direct transfers of cash was a more efficient and more effective way to provide aid. When cash is provided directly, the charity doesn’t need a large staff or a large variety of programs. Instead the money comes in and goes directly to the people who need it. While there used to be some concern that people who received cash transfers would blow it on alcohol or stop working, the reality is that they used it to increase their earnings, their assets, and their psychological well-being.
They studied their results rigorously and have concluded that not only is it more effective, but it inspired them to create a bold vision for a new model. Give Directly is launching the largest basic income experiment in history in which thousands of recipients will receive enough money to live on for 12 years while they rigorously study the impact.
Basic income is a specific type of cash transfer. In its fullest form, it’s unconditional (recipients don’t have to work or do anything else to be eligible); universal, with all members of society receiving’ enough to cover basic needs; and guaranteed for the recipients’ lifetimes.
Because basic income has never been implemented or even sufficiently tested, there’s a lot we still don’t know. But if it works, basic income could change social protection and aid policies that affect poor people all over the world. According to Give Directly, it would take $80 billion in cash transfers to move everyone above this poverty line, while the world spends almost twice that in global aid every year.
Their basic income experiment will shed light on how cash transfers impact economic status (income, assets, standard of living), time use (work, education, leisure, community involvement), risk-taking (migrating, starting businesses), gender relations (especially female empowerment), and aspirations and outlook on life.
At a minimum, we’ll help some of the poorest families on the planet significantly improve their lives. At best, if their theories are right, we help create an entirely new way to end extreme poverty.