Tag Archives: poverty

Connecting for Good

Connecting for Good

Most of use the Internet every day – staying in touch with friends, reading about current events, menu planning, and most jobs now utilize the Internet.  Imagine if you were unable to afford having an Internet connection and a computer at home?  While Internet access is available at libraries, schools and other public institutions, today’s organization believes connectivity in the home is essential for families if they are to fully participate in our digital society, and they are making a difference in one community.

Michael Miimatta had been serving as a consultant to several non-profit organizations while his friend Rick Deane had a company that provided technical support to nonprofits.  They both saw the need to close the Digital Divide between the nonprofit world and the corporate world.  They gathered a few other providers of Information Technology services to nonprofit organizations to begin a joint venture in the spring of 2011.  They began by planning a series of training events to teach nonprofit staff members about websites, online marketing, and social media to raise public awareness of their causes as well as utilize the Internet for fundraising. 

Around that same time, Google announced that it had chosen Kansas City as the first city in the United States to build its ultrahigh speed one gigabit fiber network.  Michael and Rick saw this as an opportunity to extend Internet connectivity to underserved kids and families who would be left out of this fiber revolution simply because they cannot afford to pay for fiber service, lack the computer equipment to connect, or the knowledge to become productive Internet users.  A board of directors was formed and Connecting for Good was incorporated in Kansas in November 2011.

In October 2012, Connecting for Good received a jump start when a local mobile applications developer, One Louder Apps, won a national competition where the prize was to give $10,000 to the charity of their choice, and they selected Connecting for Good as the recipient.  In December 2012, Connecting for Good installed their first free Wi-Fi network in a 168 unit low income housing complex in Kansas City, Kansas.  This project brought Internet connectivity to nearly 400 residents as well as digital literacy training to fifty residents and several low cost laptops for residents.

The mission of Connecting for Good is to enable organizations and individuals to use technology to connect with one another in order to have a positive impact on society and the environment.  They are bridging the Digital Divide through free in-home Internet connectivity, Wi-Fi mesh networks, refurbished computers, and digital life skills instruction for low income families.

Rosedale Ridge

Since December 2012, they have brought free broadband Internet to over 600 households in the Kansas City area, along with cheap PCs and digital literacy training to a 168 unit low income housing facility, to a 60 unit building for low income senior citizens and to a 390 unit public housing project.  Their most recent project at Juniper Gardens was accomplished by installing over 70 Wi-Fi transmitters to create a hotspot that covers four city blocks.  Their installation at Rosedale Ridge enabled over 400 devices to connect to the Internet including 21 school issued laptops.  You can read more about this installation on their website.

Connecting for Good believes that Internet connectivity equals opportunity and the Internet is a necessity in order to fully participate as a productive citizen in a digital society.  They also believe that education is the number one thing that lifts people out of poverty and it is nearly impossible to pursue a quality education without access to the Internet.  Connecting for Good also believes that in-home Internet access should be viewed as an essential modern utility like phone service, electricity, and running water.

How can you help?

Connecting for Good has a variety of volunteer opportunities including:

  • Mentoring of low income individuals who are beginning Internet users, teaching digital literacy classes, and working in their computer refurbishing shop.  You can learn more about these opportunities and view their volunteer opportunity calendar on their website or by joining their Meetup group.
  • Donating your used computers for their refurbishing program.
  • Donating to their Crowdfunding campaign to purchase the remaining Wi-Fi antennas they need for their Juniper Gardens project.  You can watch a news story about this project here.
  • Donating to them via PayPal by clicking the Donate button on their homepage.

Learn more about Connecting for Good on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Meetup.  You can also contact them by phone at 913-730-0677.



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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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Kitchen on the Street

Kitchen on the Street

Food trucks have become quite a trend.  There are food truck races on television, websites dedicated to where food trucks are parked for the day and even food truck festivals.  I was excited when a local food truck made a trip to the parking lot of the suburban office building I work at for a special food drive event.  Today’s organization is also using a food truck to make a difference.

In 2005 and 2006 Vince, Lisa and Taylor Scarpinato were volunteering around their community, but always left feeling a deeper calling.  In September of 2006, a family friend and local elementary school principal, Dennis Cagle, came over for dinner and shared stories of hungry children.  One second grade girl went through the school cafeteria and picked up discarded half-eaten foods from other children.  The principal went on to share that many children receive breakfast and lunch from the schools, but go hungry on the weekends.  That night, the family decided to start a non-profit and Kitchen on the Street was born.

The mission of Kitchen on the Street is “Turning Hunger into Hope”.  They fulfill this mission through several programs.  The first program they started was Bags of Hope; backpacks of individually portioned, shelf stable meal and snack foods for children to eat on the weekends.  In their first year, they served 30 children through the Bags of Hope program and have since expanded to serve many more.  The organization also partners with local growers, community gardens, and food banks to distribute fresh produce to families in need through their Fresh Food Distribution program.  They collaborate with local schools, churches, and community centers on events where low income families receive free fresh produce.

The newest program is the Kitchen on the Street Food Truck.  This truck is a traveling kitchen that feeds people, raises awareness, acts as a mobile classroom and helps raise funds for the Bags of Hope program.  The truck was purchased from a $100,000 grant provided by the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The truck is used to teach families about food and nutrition and to teach job skills to adults in need.  The truck also travels to a variety of locations and special events as a catering business that feeds money back into the other Kitchen on the Street Programs.

Kitchen on the Street's Food Truck

The video below talks more about the impacts of childhood hunger and how Kitchen on the Street is making a difference:

How can you help?

  • Become a fan on Facebook or subscribe to their e-news to receive notifications of volunteer opportunities with Kitchen on the Street such as backpack packing events, fresh food handouts, and a variety of other tasks.
  • You can volunteer or participate in the annual Hike for Hunger to raise awareness of childhood hunger.
  • You can also make a monetary donation through the Kitchen on the Street website by clicking the donate button.

Learn more about Kitchen on the Street on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.


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Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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Many families look for ways that they can give as a family.  Giving provides teachable moments for children to learn about generosity and gratefulness.  I wrote about one organization called Doing Good Together that offers many suggestions.  Today’s organization provides direct connections between families who wish to give and families that have a need.

In the fall of 2002, the New York Times ran a series of articles on poverty in the United States.  One article featured stories of poverty from Pembroke, Illinois where “some still live in crumbling shacks with caked-dirt floors and no running water.”  The article went on with other staggering statistics such as 98% of their school children qualify for free lunch and the average per capita income was less than half the national average.

Pam Koner, a mom and entrepreneur living in Westchester, New York, read that article and felt compelled to help.  She contacted an outreach worker in Pembroke to share her idea of linking families she knew with the neediest families in Pembroke.  She was given the names of seventeen families and then convinced sixteen friends and neighbors to help.  They began sending monthly boxes of food and letters – one family linked to another family.  The seventeen families quickly grew to 60 families, then after a flurry of media attention, they grew to 900 families linked across the United States.  The Family-to-Family organization was born.

They currently help approximately 2,000 moms, dads and kids in 22 communities across the United States.  Families sponsored through the program continue to be identified by local outreach partners who have specific knowledge of the needs of families in their communities.

Learn about the founding of Family-to-Family directly from founder Pam Koner in the following video:

The mission of Family-to-Family is to alleviate suffering, one American family at a time.  They started by providing groceries to supply seven dinner type meals for a family of five, but have expanded to help families in need in a variety of ways including sponsoring meals for families, a variety of literacy projects, donating seeds to a family to grow their own garden, and much more.

Learn about a recent addition to their program offerings where children in need are enabled to help other children in need to learn how it feels to give to others in the video below.


How can you help?

Family-to-Family offers a variety of opportunities to get involved.

  • You can sponsor a family.  They have multiple options on their website including packing and shipping your own sponsorship or sponsoring a family though an online donation.
  • Give a child in need a birthday party including a gift, decorations, and a cake through the Birthday Giving Project.
  • Give the gift of books through their Books for Life or One Book at a Time program.
  • Help a family build their own garden by donating seeds to one of the Family-to-Family community partners.
  • Help children with less learn how it feels to give by supporting the Giving Works program.
  • Monetary donations can be made on their website.  These donations help purchase food for families who are not currently sponsored, expand to additional communities, or general operating expenses.
  • Explore the Family-to-Family website to find additional opportunities to help.
  • You can also watch this video to see how you can help.
  • You can also help by spreading the word.  You can share this post using the share buttons below to encourage others to make a difference.

You can learn more about Family-to-Family on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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Threads for Teens

Threads for Teens

Sometimes an organization evolves slowly from idea to fruition.  Today’s organization went from inspiration to making a difference in a very short time and shows that anything is possible when you put your mind to something.

In January of 2010, Allyson Ahlstron read “Generation Change” by Zach Hunter, a book that detailed different service projects that teenagers had done across the country.  She immediately became inspired to do something within her own community.  Within weeks she had chosen the name Threads for Teens and a logo and started working on her idea to outfit ten deserving girls in two brand-new head-to-toe outfits.  It has since evolved into a clothing boutique that provides clothing to underprivileged girls in foster care, group homes, or extreme situations of poverty.

Threads for Teens is a clothing boutique located in Windsor, California and has a goal to help young, less fortunate girls build their self-esteem and confidence.  They work to accomplish this through gifts of clothing, support, and education.  The boutique is in a retail location and decorated to look like a real store, but it open by appointment only and everything is free.  Since their opening in August 2010, Threads for Teens has served over 250 girls by providing them with two brand new head-to-toe outfits.  Over $125,000 in clothing donations and over $55,000 in monetary contributions have been made to the organization to date.

Founder Allyson told me, “If we can just brighten the days and lives of a few girls, we can change it for all the disadvantaged girls by spreading the word thanks to modern day communications. We are the future leaders of the world; if we can give each other confidence, nothing can stop us. No mountain is too high, no forest is too thick, and no ocean is too vast from giving girls everywhere the opportunity to succeed.”

Allyson also shared the story of a girl named Brittany who was helped by Threads for Teens.  She was quiet but happy throughout her shopping experience in August of 2010.  About a year later, a social worker called to share that after shopping at the Threads for Teens boutique Brittany found the self-esteem to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a mechanic.

How can you help?

  • You can volunteer to organize clothing or facilitate shopping appointments in the boutique.
  • You can donate used formal dresses in excellent condition for prom season as well as new clothing for teens.
  • Threads for Teens also accepts monetary donations on their website.
  • You can also take a look at the website to nominate a teen girl that meets the organization’s criteria.
  • During the summer of 2013, Threads for Teens will be going on a national tour to outfit 1,000 girls in a brand-new outfit.  They are seeking some special help for this tour including clothing, publicity, hotel and flight sponsorships.  You can learn more and see their list of cities here.

You can learn more about Threads for Teens on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Posts: Wyman Center, Bridge for Youth, and Cinderella Project

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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Women With Drive

Women With Drive

I have been lucky to have a vehicle since I was old enough to drive.  There have been a few times when I had car troubles and it was difficult to make due while the car was being repaired.  But, some people do not have a car.  While public transportation can get you some places, it can’t get you everywhere and not all cities have great public transportation systems.  Today’s organization is working to make a difference.

There is research that links a number of factors suggesting that inadequate transportation hinders a welfare recipients’ ability to seek and keep employment.  The Surface Transportation Policy Project cites the following findings: the Welfare to Work Partnership found the most significant barrier to employment for their employees was transportation; a study by the Volpe Institute revealed that three of every five jobs suitable for welfare-to-work participants are not accessible by public transportation; and most metropolitan areas typically do not offer adequate services during second and third shift hours.

The Women with Drive Foundation was founded in 2010 by Molly Cantrell-Kraig to help fill that gap.  Molly knew what it was like to struggle as a single mother.  She spent twenty years learning the lessons of autonomy and self-sufficiency.  She found many organizations that help women develop skills to be self-sufficient, but she only found a few organizations that provided reliable transportation to facilitate a woman’s independence.  Molly had a vision for something bigger.  She wanted to incorporate a two-year developmental journey alongside the distribution of a car to help empower women.

Women with Drive wishes to provide women with the literal and figurative vehicle to enable her to change her life.  They do this by collaborating with private and public organizations that help them identify and strategically invest in women who have taken ownership of their choices and wish to transition off a life of welfare to a life of self-sufficiency.  The organization currently is limited to the state of Iowa, but they do have plans to scale nationwide.  They have already received requests to start chapters in the states of Washington, Minnesota, Illinois, Texas, and Oklahoma.

The organization taps existing resources within the community to help the participants access higher education, gain financial planning skills, learn interviewing and other life skills designed to empower her, her children and give her a new perspective about her capabilities.  By removing the pressure of owning and maintaining a vehicle, the women helped by the organization have the energy to focus on elevating and empowering themselves.  Molly stated, “Our goal is to ‘inoculate’ women against poverty. The mission of our organization will affect not only the primary participant (the woman who applies and receives a car), but her children will have witnessed their mother taking ownership and accountability of her choices. These children’s lives will have a different trajectory. Our goal is to contribute a very pragmatic and vital part of the capacity building process so that women can gain dignity, independence and live a meaningful life.”

How can you help?

  • Women with Drive has several volunteer opportunities include social media administration, database management, newsletter composition, and general awareness building.  They are also recruiting board members for 2013.  You can contact them to learn more about specific opportunities.
  • They are also seeking to partner with a university or college to provide a measurement model to track the return on the investments in their program.
  • Donations of cash and cars are always welcome to continue their mission.  You can learn more about making a donation on their website.
  • You can also support them by making a purchase in their online store.

You can learn more about the Women with Drive Foundation on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.


Posted by on November 15, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Loved Twice

Loved Twice

Kids grow fast!  Babies grow even faster.  In the first year of a baby’s life, they go through so many clothes that they sometimes barely wear an outfit before it no longer fits.  I was lucky to have several hand-me-downs to keep up with the many new sizes they needed.  Once my kids outgrew their clothes, I made sure they went to good homes.  Some went to friends with younger kids, others went to a charity garage sale, and a lot of baby clothes went to the local chapter of today’s organization.

Loved Twice started in 2005 when Lisa Klein responded to an online community appeal for donations of baby clothing after Hurricane Katrina.  Lisa had just had her first child and was deeply moved to contribute.  She rallied together with other San Francisco Bay Area mothers to collect 200 pounds of clothing for babies in Louisiana in just four days!  While she was mailing the collected onesies, swaddling blankets, and other donated newborn clothing, she realized that this simple process of recycling gently used baby clothing could be spread nationwide to help provide for infants in need. 

The mission of Loved Twice is to clothe America’s Newborns-in-need with quality recycled baby clothing for the first year of life.  They are based in the San Francisco Bay Area, but they have “mail to” locations across the Unites States to help spread their donations. 

Since their founding, they have grown into an effective organization embraced by the communities they serve.  According to a 2010 report by the Children’s Defense Fund, 2,962 babies are born into poverty each day in the United States.  Since 2005, Loved Twice has clothed 5,759 newborns with over 430,000 garments at an estimated retail value of almost $1.3 million.  Loved Twice is making a difference to those babies by providing them with clothing.  At the same time, they are reducing waste by encouraging people to reuse and recycle baby clothing and supplies.  They have kept over 57,000 pounds of clothing out of landfills.  You can watch the video below watch them in action:

Loved Twice collects and distributes baby clothes in sizes up to 12 months.  Blankets, hats, socks, bibs and board books are welcome too.  However clothing for older children as well as other baby supplies are not collected.  The clothing is distributed through social service agencies to ensure it gets to those who need it most. 

How can you help?

  • Tax deductible donations are accepted via their website to help clothe more babies.
  • Their website provides all the details for running a baby clothing drive to help newborns-in-need in your local community. 
  • You can also mail clothes to one of the Loved Twice partners throughout the United States.  You can find an updated list on their website.
  • In addition, you can join other supporters of Loved Twice by signing up to be a campaigner in the Grand Baby Campaign where volunteers each raise $1000.  The organization provides the support with over 100 fundraising ideas and the materials you need to be successful. 

You can learn more about Loved Twice on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Modest Needs

Many people are living paycheck to paycheck, scheduling bill payments and trips to the grocery store around their next payday and having a constant fear that something, anything, could happen to cause an imbalance in your monthly income and expenses.  A layoff, large medical bill, car repair, or broken appliance could be all that stands in the way of paying the bills for a month (or longer).  Today’s organization is trying to help those hard-working individuals and families with their needs. 

University professor Dr. Keith P. Taylor wanted to help two, three, or maybe four people by sharing 10% of his own salary each month.  He quickly realized that his mission could be bigger than just one person.  More people could be helped and more people could contribute.  In 2002, Modest Needs and the technology behind it was born. 

Modest Needs

Modest Needs is a non-profit organization that promotes the self-sufficiency of low-income workers by making grants that help them to afford short-term, emergency expenses.  The organization recognizes a gap in the social “safety net” that leaves low-income but generally self-sufficient individuals and families without access to small amounts of short-term assistance.  Instead, the typical social safety nets offer long-term assistance after an individual or family has fallen deep into the cycle of poverty. 

Modest Needs uses grants to fill this need.  The grants are meant to help prevent an individual or family from entering the cycle of poverty, restore self-sufficiency of those who are willing to work but temporarily unemployed, or empower permanently disadvantaged individuals who have been hit with a temporary, unexpected financial setback related to their medical conditions.  In addition, grants are made to strengthen small non-profit organizations by providing a tool to ask the general public for the help they need to complete small projects to allow them to better serve their clients and communities. 

Since 2002, Modest Needs’ donors have stopped the cycle of poverty for 10,620 hard-working individuals and families throughout the United States and Canada that conventional philanthropy otherwise had forgotten.  Each request for a grant is made by the individual and reviewed through a rigorous screening process by Modest Needs to determine their eligibility and legitimacy of their request.  Then it is made public on the Modest Needs website to allow any donor to fund that a portion or the entire request.  Once the grant is funded, the money is given toward the specific emergency expense.  You can read the stories of some of the recipients on the organization’s website.

How can you help?

  • Take a look at the list of current requests for help.  Even giving small amounts such as $5, $10 or $25 toward a specific request will make a difference.  Contributions quickly add up to the total of the grant request.
  • You can also spread the word about the program by sharing their brochure or directing people to this blog post.  The more donors there are; the more of a difference they can make. 
  • Consider giving a Modest Needs gift certificate for a gift. 
  • You can also make a donation to the Modest Needs general fund by clicking on the Donate button on their website.

To learn more about Modest Needs, visit their website at  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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