Friday, May 29, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Black Visions Collective

If you are coming into this Feel Good Friday distressed about the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis and wondering what you can do, I invite you to support Black Visions Collective (BLVC).

I learned about BLVC in the article, "5 Ways White People Can Take Action in Response to White and State-Sanctioned Violence". You can find it here.

Black Visions Collective was founded in Minneapolis in 2017. It's a "Black-lead, Queer and Trans centering organization whose mission is to organize powerful, connected Black communities and dismantle systems of violence."

They accomplish this work by building movements from the ground up and developing Minnesota's emerging Black leaders so they can lead strategic campaigns that put healing and transformative justice at the center. Whether the actions they take involve mobilizing with national groups, or focusing on local campaigns they support their long term vision in which "ALL Black lives not only matter, but are able to thrive."

In response to the murder of George Floyd, BLVC is encouraging supporters to call Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey, and ask that the police department funds are redirected to mental health resources, affordable housing and public health approaches to violence prevention. 612-673-2100.

Other ways to support the work of Black Visions Collective is by making a donation and keeping up with the latest news on social media. Like the BLVC Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @BlackVisionsMN. #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatter

Friday, May 22, 2020

Feel Good Friday - College Track

Last week's Feel Good Friday blog focused on high school graduation. This week, we take the College Track.

Founded in 1997, College Track "is a unique, comprehensive 10-year college completion program that empowers students from underserved communities to graduate from college". They started with a group of 27 students in East Palo Alto, California and now have over 3,000 students around the country on the path to college graduation and beyond.

The mission of College Track is "to remove the academic, financial, and social-emotional barriers that prevent low-income and first-generation students from earning their college degree." They start working with students in 9th grade and stay with them through high school, college and post-graduation.

During their high school years, students attend one of the 12 College Track centers and participate in programs focused on academic affairs such as tutoring and SAT prep, student life engagement in service projects and wellness programs, and college completion where they are advised on filling out college applications and applying for financial aid.

While in college, students work with an advisor on academic and financial issues, and on building social-emotional skills. Students also participate in corporate residency programs, mentorships and internships. Post-graduation, College Track helps connect students with the resources they need to further their careers.

So, does it work? Yes! 79% of students are employed within 6 months of graduation and 95% have a job with employer-provided benefits. 75% borrow less than $30,000 in loans and the median salary for graduates age 25-34 is $62,500.

If you know a student who would benefit from this program, have them apply at this link. If you'd like to support all the students in College Track you can volunteer, donate, and spread the word on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @collegetrack.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Feel Good Friday - #GraduateTogether

Another Feel Good Friday sheltering in place means coming up with more creative ways to share experiences that usually happen in person. #GraduateTogether is reimagining, you guessed it, graduation.

#GraduateTogether is a national, virtual ceremony honoring the 3 million students graduating from high school this year. As explained on the website, "Artists, athletes, musicians, commencement speakers, influencers, and cultural icons will show their support with performances and messages featuring students, teachers and their families from coast to coast."

It airs tomorrow, May 16th at 8pm ET/PT and 7pm CT/MT, on major broadcast channels and all your favorite social media platforms. But don't just watch, participate! There are options for you to get involved whether you're a student, teacher or family member. Submit a photo, a speech, a tweet, a note of appreciation or tell the world what the class of 2020 taught you. All entries are welcome.

If you want to plan a graduation ceremony in addition to tomorrow's celebration, there's also a toolkit full of ideas, resources and guidance on logistics. Download it here.

This program is brought to you by the Entertainment Industry Foundation (helping members of the entertainment industry find philanthropic opportunities), The LeBron James Family Foundation (investing in education for kids in Akron, Ohio) and the XQ Institute (rethinking the high school experience).

If you've got a graduate in the family, or you want to share in the excitement of graduation, be sure to tune in tomorrow. Help spread the word by liking the XQ Facebook page, following the event on Twitter @GradTogether and tagging all your posts with #GraduateTogether when you Tweet up a storm or submit your #GradWalkTikTokChallenge video. Congratulations!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Global Midwife Education Foundation

Mother's Day in the U.S. is this Sunday so we're devoting today's Feel Good Friday to a group that works with mothers, the Global Midwife Education Foundation (GMEF).

Founded in 2010 by Genevieve Reid, MD, the mission of GMEF, as stated on their website, is "to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in rural areas of the developing world."

Current projects are active in Boliva and Peru and GMEF is addressing the various root causes of maternal and infant mortality with a multi-level approach. Keep reading, or watch a short video here.

Since most families live hours from the nearest hospital and lack access to transportation, hospital births are rare. GMEF trains birth attendants (both women and men) how to prevent infections and hemorrhage associated with childbirth, and how to provide basic newborn care. GMEF also trains Ministry of Health doctors and nurses in critical newborn care and provides supplies and equipment.

More of their work with the Ministry of Health includes providing access to safe birth control options for women who desire contraception. Family planning helps women secure their autonomy and well-being by spacing out pregnancies and/or limiting family size.

In 2019, GMEF's work focused on clean water and sanitation. Contaminated water causes diarrheal diseases, which account for 1 in 9 child deaths worldwide. GMEF coordinated efforts between the government, Ministry of Health and the community of Oplaca (over 4,000 people) to build a new water system that now provides clean water to the village. They also used donations to purchase a new water pump for the 600 people living in Tomatas.

GMEF also helps people construct bathrooms and sanitation systems that keep water and food sources free from contamination. In the 2018-2019 year they provided 12 schools with bathrooms and sinks, bringing their grand total to over 750 bathrooms serving 6,000 people.

If you'd like to support the work of the Global Midwife Education Foundation, you can do so by making a donation, shopping for a gift and liking their Facebook page.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Feel Good Friday - The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York

The days tend to blur together when sheltering in place so we're going to spend this Feel Good Friday talking about Tuesday! Cinco de Mayo is a holiday commemorating the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. While you're raising your glass to Mexico next week, take some time to learn about The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York (MCINY).

Founded in 1991, the mission of The MCINY is "to strengthen the image of Mexico and foster a  better understanding of our country through the promotion of its art and culture."

They do this by organizing music concerts, dance performances, art exhibitions, film screenings and book presentations. The MCINY also participates in local festivals and partners with art institutes around the world. You can explore past events at this link.

With no current events scheduled, and in-lieu of an annual luncheon, The MCINY is supporting the Cinco de Mayo Eat, Drink and Support Week. From May 2 - 9, New Yorkers are encouraged to order delivery and takeout from participating restaurants who will all be offering special Cinco de Mayo menus. Sounds delicious!

If you're not in New York, perhaps you live near another Mexican Cultural Institute. You can find them in Miami, San Antonio, Washington DC, Paris, Spain and Costa Rica!

As you celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Tuesday, consider supporting and promoting Mexican culture in New York with a donation to The MCINY and by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @MCINY. ¡Viva!