Earlier today, I met with several students at Addis Ababa University to discuss the opportunities and challenges they face in their academic and professional lives. 

One of the biggest challenges we have here on the Internet is hearing marginalized and underrepresented voices, especially those across the digital divide. You can’t amplify voices online that aren’t online.

While all of the young people I talked to used the Internet and most had regular access via a tablet, smartphone, or laptop, none had blogs or tumblrs or YouTube channels, and none had social network interactions with people outside their IRL social networks. I’m sure there are English-language tumblrs from Ethiopian students (although I haven’t been able to find any today), but almost all voices—even highly educated and privileged ones—from the world’s poorest countries go completely unheard online.

(And when we do hear them, it’s usually through an intermediary: videos edited by someone else, transcripts of interviews, etc. It’s not direct participation in the conversation by, for instance, posting to tumblr or reblogging HIMYM gifs. [The students I spoke to agreed that HIMYM is the best American show they have on TV, although a couple said that watching TV was a waste of time and a distraction from studying, to which I said HAVE YOU SEEN PHINEAS AND FERB BECAUSE IT IS TOTALLY EDUCATIONAL.])

Anyway, all of this is a long preamble to say: Earlier today I met with a 20-year-old law student who helped found an organization in Ethiopia devoted to empowering women and ending gender-based violence. (I’ll include her talking about her work in a video soon.)

The organization does fundraisers so the poorest women at the university can have access to contraception, and every year they have a Blood Drive for Mothers, where many students donate blood to combat maternal death. (Post-partum hemorrhaging is a too-common cause of death among Ethiopian women.)

We often think of global charity as people from rich countries giving money to people from poor countries. But the real story is much more complicated (and much more exciting!); we just don’t hear those stories often, because organizations like the one founded by the young woman I met don’t have YouTube videos or tumblrs.

…public libraries have never been content to just circulate books or other media. Generations of librarians have developed programs to lift up, educate, entertain, or engage. From offering everything from ESL classes and salsa dancing to workplace readiness workshops and henna tattooing demonstrations, librarians are always reaching into an ever-expanding bag of tricks to meet the needs of their community.

The Fact That Changed Everything: Michael Karnjanaprakorn and Skillshare
Bekah Wright and Jessica De Jesus contributed in Education and Nonprofits

In America, college graduation is usually a momentous occasion, an initial step towards achieving various life goals. Possibilities of a bright, new future stretched ahead for the newly matriculated. But with skyrocketing tuition and the growing number of students graduating every year, ask what college graduation today and the immediate response will likely be… debt.

Continue reading on good.is

Illustration by Jessica De Jesus

A recent study using data from a probability sample of nonprofit human service organizations in Los Angeles County examined the likelihood that organizations received government funding. It found that greater levels of neighborhood poverty improved the chances that nonprofit human services located in them received government funding — unless those neighborhoods were substantially African American.

YouTube Launches Human Rights Channel

Via the YouTube blog:

Activists around the world use YouTube to document causes they care about and make them known to the world. In the case of human rights, video plays a particularly important role in illuminating what occurs when governments and individuals in power abuse their positions. We’ve seen this play out on a global stage during the Arab Spring, for example: during the height of the activity, 100,000 videos were uploaded from Egypt, a 70% increase on the preceding three months. And we’ve seen it play out in specific, local cases with issues like police brutality, discrimination, elder abuse, gender-based violence, socio-economic justice, access to basic resources, and bullying.

That’s why our non-profit partner WITNESS, a global leader in the use of video for human rights, and Storyful, a social newsgathering operation, are joining forces to launch a new Human Rights channel on YouTube, dedicated to curating hours of raw citizen-video documenting human rights stories that are uploaded daily and distributing that to audiences hungry to learn and take action. The channel, which will also feature content from a slate of human rights organizations already sharing their work on YouTube, aims to shed light on and contextualize under-reported stories, to record otherwise undocumented abuses, and to amplify previously unheard voices. The project was announced today at the Internet at Liberty conference, and will live at youtube.com/humanrights. Storyful will source and verify the videos, and WITNESS will ensure the channel features a balanced breadth of issues with the context viewers need to understand the rights issue involved.

We hope this project can not only be a catalyst to awareness, but offer people new avenues for action and impact. The channel is committed to providing new citizen creators as well as viewers with the tools and information necessary so that every citizen can become a more effective human rights defender. It will also be available on Google+, where the broader human rights community can take part in discussions, share material, and find collaborators.

Image: Screenshot the Human Rights YouTube channel.

Most outside spending this election was by conservative groups

Our latest analysis on spending in Election 2012 finds more than a few big numbers:

  • That whole pie above represents spending by super PACs and nonprofits groups, from Jan. 1, 2011 to Oct. 28th, 2012: $840 million.
  • The $577 million from conservative groups is roughly 69 percent of the pie.
  • Liberal groups spent $237 million, or about 28 percent.
  • Each and every dollar of that pie was made possible the ‘Citizens United’ ruling.

Reporters and analysts at Center for Public Integrity and the Center for Responsive Politics came together to bring you these (almost) final elections numbers, see the rest of our work here.

Libraries and librarians…are…a kind of secular clergy, a trusted ear and an unbiased source of information and support to anyone who walks in the door. This is the compact we have at the deeper levels of our engagement with our communities past the bestsellers and free internet. There is a web of trust. Our users know, or should know, that they can come to us with issues and concerns and that we will leverage our best abilities to their ends. No matter what crazy crap is going on in your life the librarian will figure it out and set you up with at least some better understanding and a direction to go in.
—  Christian Zabriskie - Urban Librarians Unite founder and assistant community library manager at Queens Library at Baisley Park

Watch your donation grow when you support Learning Ally on Colorado Gives Day — Tuesday, December 4th!

• When you give online any time on December 4th, the value of your donation will be increased by the FirstBank Incentive Fund.
• Click here any time during a 24-hour period starting at 12 a.m. on December 4th to help us qualify for the incentive.
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NELSONVILLE — Rocky Brands has awarded grants through its Community Improvement Fund to seven local nonprofit organizations.

A total of $13,000 was awarded to Nelsonville Main Street, the Paper Circle, the Trimble Textbook Foundation, the Athens County Child Advocacy Center, Kids on Campus at Ohio University, Nelsonville Church of the Epiphany and Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action Agency’s Southeastern Ohio Regional Food Bank.

Read more from The Athens Messenger (free link).

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As we continue to prime the company to shift its focus to working with nonprofit organizations, Harriet was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with Betsy Uhrman, Senior Consultant at NPO Solutions. Ms. Uhrman has given us some fantastic insights into working with nonprofit organizations – this interview is a must read for anyone who is thinking about or already doing so! 

One century after it began, corporate philanthropy is as much part of our lives as Coca Cola. There are now millions of non-profit organisations, many of them connected through a byzantine financial maze to the larger foundations. Between them, this “independent” sector has assets worth nearly 450 billion dollars. The largest of them is the Bill Gates Foundation with ($21 billion), followed by the Lilly Endowment ($16 billion) and the Ford Foundation ($15 billion).

Armed with their billions, these NGOs have waded into the world, turning potential revolutionaries into salaried activists, funding artists, intellectuals and filmmakers, gently luring them away from radical confrontation, ushering them in the direction of multi-culturalism, gender, community development—the discourse couched in the language of identity politics and human rights.

The transformation of the idea of justice into the industry of human rights has been a conceptual coup in which NGOs and foundations have played a crucial part. The narrow focus of human rights enables an atrocity-based analysis in which the larger picture can be blocked out and both parties in a conflict—say, for example, the Maoists and the Indian government, or the Israeli Army and Hamas—can both be admonished as Human Rights Violators. The land-grab by mining corporations or the history of the annexation of Palestinian land by the State of Israel then become footnotes with very little bearing on the discourse. This is not to suggest that human rights don’t matter. They do, but they are not a good enough prism through which to view or remotely understand the great injustices in the world we live in.

By Kevin Starr

Whatever windy drivel they might put forward as a corporate mission statement, mainstream for-profit businesses have a clear, central mission: make money for shareholders. Some do it more sustainably, some are nicer about it, but they’re all in the same boat. If they have a bad idea or execute poorly on a good one, they fail in their mission and eventually go out of business.

Mission statements in the social sector are often the same kind of word-salad, but there isn’t a common raison d’etre. As investors in impact, we—the Mulago Foundation—don’t want to wade through a bunch of verbiage about “empowerment,” “capacity-building,” and “sustainability”—we want to know exactly you’re trying to accomplish. We want to cut to the chase, and the tool that works for us is the eight-word mission statement. All we want is this:

A verb, a target population, and an outcome that implies something to measure—and we want in eight words or less. 

Why eight words? It just seems to work. It’s long enough to be specific and short enough to force clarity. Save kids’ lives in Uganda. Rehabilitate coral reefs in the Western Pacific. Prevent maternal-child transmission of HIV in Africa. Get Zambian farmers out of poverty. These statements tell us exactly what the organization has set out to accomplish. 

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