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Posts Tagged ‘fundraising’

Photo: CNN
Sy Newson Green, center, attended a book club at California’s Soledad State Prison while he was a student at nearby Palma School. Jason Bryant, right in blue shirt, is one of the inmates who led the fundraising for Newson Green’s tuition at the Catholic school.

Just to remind you on the day after the Capitol invasion* that good people are still in the majority around these parts, I offer a recent story from California. It’s about prison inmates who received kindness from a local school and found an impressive way to give back. And since the story is about people in prison for serious crimes, it’s also about redemption.

As Lauren Kent at CNN reported in November, “It’s hard to imagine two more different places than an elite private school and California’s Soledad State Prison, which houses the state’s largest concentration of men sentenced to life behind bars.

“But for the past seven years, the two worlds have collided in an unusual way: through a book club. Palma School, a prep school for boys in Salinas, California, created a partnership with the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) at Soledad State Prison to form a reading group for inmates and high school students — bringing the two groups together to learn and develop greater understanding of one another.

“But the reading group has developed into much more than an exchange of knowledge and empathy. When one Palma student was struggling to pay the $1,200 monthly tuition after both his parents suffered medical emergencies, the inmates already had a plan to help.

‘I didn’t believe it at first,’ said English and Theology teacher Jim Michelleti, who created the reading program. ‘They said, “We value you guys coming in. We’d like to do something for your school … can you find us a student on campus who needs some money to attend Palma?” ‘

“The inmates, who the program calls ‘brothers in blue,’ raised more than $30,000 from inside the prison to create a scholarship for student Sy Green — helping him graduate this year and attend college at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.’Regardless of the poor choices that people make, most people want to take part in something good,’ said Jason Bryant, a former inmate who was instrumental in launching the scholarship. ‘Guys were eager to do it.’

“Bryant served 20 years for armed robberies in which one victim was fatally shot by an accomplice. But while inside Soledad State Prison, he made a daily effort to turn his life around, earning his bachelor’s degree and two masters and running leadership training programs for inmates. ‘I’m never far from the reality that I committed a crime in 1999 that devastated a family — several families — and irreparably harmed my community,’ Bryant said. ‘I keep that close to my heart, and I would hope that people can identify the power of forgiveness and the probability of restoration when people put belief in each other.’

“Bryant’s sentence was commuted in March due to his contributions in restorative work while he was in prison. He now works as the Director for Restorative Work at an organization called Creating Restorative Opportunities and Programs (CROP), which helps equip formerly incarcerated people with tools like skills training and stable housing in order to succeed in their communities. …

“Hundreds of incarcerated men jumped at the opportunity to make a heavy, meaningful investment in someone else’s life. Considering that minimum wage in prison can be as low as 8 cents an hour, raising $30,000 is an astonishing feat. It can take a full day of hard labor to make a dollar inside prison. … Some brothers in blue who had no money to donate even hustled to sell possessions or food so they could be a part of the campaign. …

“Sy and his family started making visits to the prison in addition to taking part in the Palma reading group. He and his family have embraced building relationships with many of the bothers in blue, and four former inmates even attended his high school graduation. …

“The inmates also plan to continue the scholarship program for another student in need. With the help of inmate leadership groups and the CROP organization, they want to keep paying it forward. … Said Bryant. ‘If more people just decided to do good things, this world would be a better palace.’ “

More at CNN, here.

* In the first version of this post, I said the Capitol invasion Wednesday was a first in American history. I stand corrected.

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ICYMI (that’s twitter-speak for “in case you missed it”), a young man who decided to go on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter to raise money to buy ingredients for one small potato salad got more than $55,000.

According to the Associated Press, “A man who jokingly sought $10 from a crowdfunding website to pay for his first attempt at making potato salad and ended up raising $55,000 is making good on his promise to throw a huge party.

“Zack Brown is planning PotatoStock 2014, an all-ages, charity-minded party Saturday in downtown Columbus featuring bands, food trucks, beer vendors, potato-sack races, and definitely potato salad.

“His effort on Kickstarter in early July to buy potato salad ingredients took on a life of its own and attracted worldwide attention as the amount grew.

“The 31-year-old eventually raised $55,492. The Idaho Potato Commission and corporate sponsors have donated supplies for Brown and volunteers to whip up 300 pounds of potato salad for the event.

“The Columbus Dispatch reported that Brown partnered with the Columbus Foundation to start an endowment to aid area charities that fight hunger and homelessness. The account, started with $20,000 in postcampaign corporate donations, will grow after proceeds from PotatoStock are added.” More here.

By golly, I do love quirky.

Photo: Chris Russell/The Columbus Dispatch via AP
Zack Brown’s PotatoStock 2014, an all-ages, charity-minded party, is set for Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.

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Do men and women have different approaches to charitable giving?

In the July 12 Christian Science Monitor, Temma Ehrenfeld writes that the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University has found that “female-headed households are more likely to give to charity than male-headed households, and that in nearly all income groups women give more than men.”

In addition, continues Ehrenfeld, “Insiders say women have their own culture in grant-making. …

“For example, the Global Fund for Women (GFW), unlike most grant-givers, accepts handwritten proposals of any length and in any language, and is unusually open to grants for general purposes rather than specific projects. It also funds meetings to create networks of women activists.

“The approach demonstrated its power during Egypt’s Arab Spring, said Christine Switzer, GFW’s director of development. ‘Our women were able to mobilize together,’ she said, pointing to 77 grants totaling more than $1 million GFW has given to Egyptian women, young and old.”

I often wonder, though, Are women more generous to the underprivileged when they become heads of state? I doubt it. Indira Gandhi? Maggie Thatcher? Golda Meir? Kirchner of Argentina? Let me know if you see studies on this topic.

Meanwhile, there’s more to read at the Monitor.

Photograph: http://www.dw.de

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Isy Mekler, 13, wanted to do a charitable deed in anticipation of his Bar Mitzvah. Because he has always loved reading, he decided that what would be ideal would be to raise money for the early literacy program Reach Out and Read, which gets books to kids who need them.

Isy “wrote to hundreds of artists across the country and asked them to create a work of art that could be auctioned to raise money for books. …

“He was inspired, he said, by a favorite children’s book, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, which has an underlying message about generosity. He e-mailed some 300 artists and illustrators and asked them to paint or illustrate a three-dimensional cardboard tree, which he had manufactured in Colombia.”

About 35 artists responded, throwing “themselves into the project with such enthusiasm that their trees will be exhibited at the Danforth Museum and School of Art’s Children’s Gallery in Framingham, [Massachusetts] beginning in May. The auction, held online, will run concurrently.

“Author-illustrator Grace Lin of Somerville, a Newbery Honor book winner who is enamored of large origami animals, painted a tree with tiny origami birds.

“ ‘Not only was it for a good cause, I thought it would be fun to do,’ said Lin.” (BTW, I wrote about reading her book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon here.)

Read more about Isy’s outreach to artists and the artists’ responses here, in the Boston Globe.

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