Friday, March 31, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Together Women Rise

Let’s close out Women’s History Month with “a powerful community of women and allies dedicated to achieving global gender equality”, Together Women Rise.

Founded in Greenville, South Carolina in 2003, the vision of Together Women Rise is “a world where every person has the same opportunities to thrive regardless of their gender or where they live.” They work towards this goal through three core action areas: learning, giving and community building.

The actions take place in hundreds of Together Women Rise chapters across the U.S. As explained on the website, in local chapter meetings “members learn about and advocate for gender equality issues, give grants to organizations that empower women and girls in low-income countries, and build community to forge meaningful connections that increase our strength and collective impact.”

Together Women Rise identifies and funds a monthly Featured Grantee organization, who has been carefully vetted. All grantees are locally-led, measuring impact and working in collaboration with the women they serve. Chapter members are provided with a wide range of learning materials on the featured country, issue, and project. This also includes recipe, book, film, and music recommendations from the grantees. 

Examples of organizations that have received $50,000 grants in 2023 include: The Pangea Network, providing life and business skills training to women in poverty in Kenya, in addition to small business funds; and Maya Midwifery International, preparing and sustaining midwives in Guatemala to improve maternal child health outcomes. Upcoming grants will fund projects supporting women and girls in Ethiopia, Honduras, India and many more countries.

As you can see from the examples above, Featured Grants focus on delivering direct services to women and girls. Together Women Rise also funds Transformation Partnerships, organizations whose work creates broader, systemic change in order to achieve global gender equality and Impact Partnerships, programs run by larger organizations such as Unicef and the Peace Corps.

If you’d like to become a part the global community of women and allies working towards the goal of gender equality for women and girls everywhere, there are many ways to get involved. Attend one of the Together Women Rise 20th anniversary events, join a chapter, or if there’s not one near you, start a chapter. Members can join trips to visit grantee organizations and everyone is welcome to join the book club

There are also more traditional ways to show your support such as volunteering, making a donation and amplifying their message on social media. Follow Together Women Rise on Facebook, on Twitter @TogetherWmnRise and on Instagram @togetherwomenriseorg.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Feel Good Friday - National Women's History Museum

Want to spend Women’s History Month increasing your knowledge of women’s history? A good place to start is the National Women’s History Museum.

Founded in 1996, the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) is “an innovative online museum dedicated to uncovering, interpreting, and celebrating women’s diverse contributions to society” in order to “fundamentally change the way women and girls see their potential and power.”

More than four million people visit NWHM each year. A great place to start your tour of the museum is by exploring their virtual exhibits. Topics range from creating a female political culture, through the women of NASA and all four waves of feminism. This museum never closes so you can visit as many exhibits as you like at a pace that works for you.

Next, peruse biographies of inspirational women throughout history. While you’re likely familiar with people such as Rosa Parks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Malala Yousafzai, there are hundreds of stories of lesser known women to read. You can sort the biographies by topic, era and location or click on a picture of someone you don’t recognize. That’s how I learned about jazz musician Toshiko Akiyoshi, Zuni cultural ambassador and artist We’wha, and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” author Sarah Josepha Hale.

NWHM also provides educational programming for teachers, students, and parents. This includes digital classroom resources with lesson plans and virtual field trips covering topics such as “African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement” and “The Beginnings of the Women’s Suffrage Movement 1776-1872”.

Not everything produced and curated by NWHM is virtual. There is a shattered-glass portrait of Vice President Kamala Harris, titled Glass Ceiling Breaker, on display at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., and a new exhibit, We Who Believe in Freedom: Black Feminist DC, will open at this location on March 30th. You can check the website for other upcoming events, both in person and virtual.

If you’d like to help the National Women’s History Museum educate, inspire and empower their visitors there are many ways to do so. Make a donation or shop to show your support. You can also let other people know about this resource by amplifying them on social media. Follow NWHM on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @womenshistory. #WomensHistory

Friday, March 17, 2023

Feel Good Friday - MADRE

The Women’s History Month theme continues and today we highlight the work of MADRE.

Founded in 1983 and headquartered in New York City, MADRE is “an international women's human rights organization and feminist fund” with a mission to “advance women’s human rights by meeting urgent needs in communities and building lasting solutions to the crises women face.”

MADRE works with community partners in Colombia, Guatemala, Iraq, Kenya, Nicaragua and Palestine. They focus on three strategies: grant making, organizational strengthening, and legal advocacy.

Grants fund local, women-led organizations that are meeting immediate needs, such as shelters and health clinics, while also focusing on lasting change. MADRE targets groups that prioritize the leadership of young women and girls, Indigenous women, Afro-descendant women, LGBTIQ people, and people with disabilities.

Community-based partner organizations receive training, advice on funding models, and strategic exchange to strengthen their capabilities. MADRE also helps women leaders advocate for their communities in policymaking spaces by providing legal advocacy and training.

These strategies are applied across the following programs: ending gender violence by equipping women with tools to prevent abuse in war and building clinics and counseling centers;  advancing climate justice through grassroots solutions like building clean water systems and seed bank harvesting; building a just peace by bringing aid to communities, working to address root causes of conflict and involving women in the peace process; and a feminist policy jumpstart which advocates that U.S. policymakers champion gender justice and human rights.

In December, 2019, MADRE Executive Director Yifat Susskind delivered a talk at TED Women encouraging people to think like a mother in order to not get overwhelmed by crises and be able to take action. It’s a philosophy that guides MADRE’s strategy today.  

If you’re interested in taking action to support women leaders around the world, a great way to do so is with a donation to MADRE. You can also help out by amplifying their work on social media. Follow MADRE on Facebook, Twitter @MADREspeaks, and Instagram @madrespeaks. #ThinkLikeAMother

Friday, March 10, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Feminist Network

International Women’s Day was March 8th and we’re going to continue the celebration by highlighting the international women of Feminist Network.

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Lviv, Ukraine, the mission of Feminist Network is the “creation of space for the development of the feminist community in Lviv and Ukraine.”

The activists who started this organization originally wanted a space where they could discuss feminism with other women. Since those early days, Feminist Network has grown in both size and scope. Now, they do work focusing on gender and feminist education; creation, support and development of the feminist community; and building a network to unite different leaders and city institutions in order to bring feminist values to life.

Projects they run include public lectures and events, art exhibits, street protests, a club for teenage girls called Girls Can, events focused on LBGTQ rights, and online classes in medi, writing, and feminist theory.

Since the Russian invasion last year, Feminist Network responded by starting new activities to support the people of Ukraine. These include finding housing for refugees and activists from regions where active hostilities are taking place, providing free babysitting services for refugee’s children, holding free sessions with psychologists for people in the community, providing humanitarian support to elderly women in Lviv, and creating online content to address the needs of vulnerable groups during the war. You can see the volunteers behind these efforts in this short video and read these stories of how and why they got started. 

The best way to provide support to Feminist Network is with a donation. You can also help by amplifying their work on social media. Like the Feminist Network Facebook page, follow them on Instagram and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Win (Women in Need)

On this first Feel Good Friday of Women’s History Month, let’s get to know Win, an organization helping women and children across New York City.

Founded in 1983 as Women in Need, Win began as a shelter for four homeless women and their combined six children. Forty years later, Win is " the largest provider of family shelter and supportive housing in New York City.”

Statistics on their website state that approximately 60% of New Yorkers in shelters are families with children and every night nearly 52,660 people in New York City, including over 17,000 children, go to bed in a homeless shelter. That’s why the vision of Win is “to break the cycle of homelessness by being the premier leader and trusted partner in innovative solutions for families in need.”

Win takes a comprehensive approach to break the cycle of homelessness which they call The Way to Win. It includes over 1,700 units of transitional housing where families stay for an average of 14 months. There are also 330 permanent supportive apartment units that include continued counseling for families with special needs, such as mothers who have aged out of foster care or who are in recovery.

In addition to housing assistance, Win provides childcare; education on life skills such as parenting, financial literacy, healthcare, employment counseling, and interview preparation; and counselors who can address issues such as mental health, domestic violence and substance abuse.

Last year Win served nearly 8,700 homeless people, including 4,700 children, and helped more than 730 families transition from shelters to their own homes. You can read some of their stories at this link. More recently, the New York City Council just passed Win-authored legislation which “requires the city to fund mental health clinicians at every shelter for homeless families with children, providing the support parents and children need and deserve, directly where they live.”

If you’d like to support the women and children Win serves you can attend an event, volunteer your time or donate your money. As always, I encourage you to amplify their work on social media. Follow Win on Facebook, on Twitter @WINNYC_ORG and on Instagram @winnyc_org. 

Friday, February 24, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Black Girls Smile

As we make the transition from Black History Month to Women’s History Month, it’s a great opportunity to highlight the work being done by Black Girls Smile.

Founded in 2012 and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Black Girls Smile (BGS) “provides gender-responsive and culturally-affirming mental wellness education, resources, and support geared toward Black women and girls.” Their vision, as explained on the website is “a society that focuses on ensuring all young Black women and girls receive the resources and support necessary to lead mentally healthy lives.”

Programs are focused on Black women and girls between the ages of 13 and 25 and include workshops on creating healthy daily habits, cultivating a healthy body image and a customizable educational and wellness program focused on fostering community. You can watch a Today Show segment to see how BGS built community by talking with young women about hair.

Programming available to schools and community centers focuses on group coaching, conflict mediation and suicide prevention. BGS also provides therapy assistance by connecting Black women and girls with culturally, racially, and gender-competent mental health professionals and providing two to six months of financial support for therapy sessions.

In addition to the programs and events, the BGS website has an extensive list of resources. You can find referrals for mental health professionals, crisis hotlines, and support for specialized disorders such as anxiety and depression, addiction and ADHD. There are also links to connect you with mental health outreach and advocacy organizations, Black-focused mental health-centered professional associations, and community partners that focus on empowering Black women and girls like Black Girls Code, Therapy for Black Girls, and Justice for Black Girls.

Since they began, Black Girls Smile has impacted over 10,000 young women across the United States. If you’d like to get involved, there are many ways you can support their mission. Volunteer your time, donate your money and amplify the work of Black Girls Smile on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Instagram and TikTok @blackgirlssmile.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Black History in Two Minutes

There are a lot of resources to educate yourself during Black History Month and knowing where to start can be difficult. One place I’ve found very useful to get a lot of information in a short period of time is Black History in Two Minutes.

Launched in 2019 by Robert F. Smith, Black History in Two Minutes (or so), is a web series designed for people of all ages and educational backgrounds to be able to immerse themselves in Black history. As they explain on their website, “the digital video series features dozens of short, engaging and factually accurate videos about important historical events or people who have shaped American history.”

The episodes are researched and narrated by historian, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and range in length from two to four minutes. A great place to start exploring is their YouTube channel. Topics of the videos include slavery, civil rights, politics, music, sports, science and profiles of people whose names you do know, or should know. There is something to interest everyone.

In less time than it’s taken me to write this blog, I learned that the first underground railroad in the United States ran from north to south taking slaves to Spanish Florida, that Ella Baker helped organize both the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and that Oscar Micheaux was the first major Black filmmaker to produce and direct his own films - starting in 1917!

Black History in Two Minutes has won 5 Webby Awards and is a great place to get bite sized history lessons. For a more structured approach to learning, there are teaching guides which you can download for use in the classroom: season one teaching guides.

The best way to support the work of Black History in Two Minutes is watch some videos and amplify their message on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @blkhistory2min and on Instagram @blackhistoryintwominutes.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Buy From a Black Woman

If you’re looking for a unique way to celebrate Black History Month, visit today’s Feel Good Friday organization, Buy From a Black Woman, and support Black entrepreneurs. 

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Buy From a Black Woman (BFABW) “ensures that Black Women have the tools and resources that will allow them to be successful.” 

As they explain on their website, due to lack of support and awareness, “annual sales for Black Women Business Owners are five times smaller than all Women-owned businesses.” BFABW aims to increase those numbers by educating, empowering and inspiring Black women in business.

Educational resources are designed to help Black women start, maintain and grow their businesses. There are free worksheets you can download that cover topics such as the consumer purchase decision process, price and cost analysis, and setting intentions to keep your vision for your business top of mind. You can also tune into monthly workshops offered as part of BFABW University. From trademarks and order fulfillment to financial management, these courses are streamed live at where recordings are also posted for later viewing.

Empowerment comes through a variety of grants. BFABW awards grants to cover the creation and hosting of an e-commerce website, trademarking a brand name or supporting specific projects that will help advance a current business.

Inspiration comes through connections and events. Classes, gatherings, holiday markets and a multi-city tour across the United States highlighting Black women business owners are some of the ways community members stay engaged and inspired.

The best way to support the entrepreneurs behind Buy From a Black Woman is also the most fun. Get out your credit card and start shopping! Clothing, beauty products, art, furniture, professional services, fitness, travel, and more. There are over 170 shops in this online directory so you’re sure to find something you’ll like.

You can also support BFABW by donating your money and amplifying their message on social media. Follow Buy From a Black Woman on Facebook, on Twitter @BFABWInfo and on Instagram @buyfromablackwoman.


Friday, February 3, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Campaign Zero

Another week when a frustratingly familiar story, this time of a Black man being killed by police, leads me to find an organization working to address policing in the United States. Today’s focus is on Campaign Zero.

Founded in 2015 in response to incidents of civilians being killed by police, Campaign Zero is a national, research-based platform focused on ending police violence in the United States. As they explain on their website, “We can live in a world beyond policing. We can live in a world where the police don’t kill people by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.”

Their research and advocacy projects are focused in five areas: 

  1. Public safety beyond policing
  2. Shrink the reliance and power of the police
  3. End mass incarceration
  4. Fundamental fairness, accountability, and transparency
  5. Direct support & advocacy

Examples of related campaigns include addressing corruption and mismanagement at the Rikers Island jail, working to achieve accountability in cases of injustice like that of Samuel Celestin who was killed by police, and canceling the use of ShotSpotter technology in cities around the country.

The website includes extensive research into the campaigns and issues. In the case of ShotSpotter, a study published in the Journal of Urban Health found it does not reduce violent crime. The city of Oakland, California, where I live, has a 5 million dollar contract with ShotSpotter, and yet 6,053 alerts in the year 2020 led to only 69 weapons being found. You can get more information on all the issues on the research page of the website. 

The work of Campaign Zero is having an impact. One state has repealed its law enforcement officers “bill of rights”, six states have restricted the use of no-knock raids and over 340 cities have restricted use of force policies. 

If you want to help Campaign Zero end police violence in America there are many ways to get involved. Volunteer your time, donate your money, and amplify their message on social medial. Follow Campaign Zero on Facebook, on Twitter @CampaignZero and on Instagram @campaignzero.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Moms Demand Action

The four mass shootings in California this week made it an easy decision to focus today’s Feel Good Friday post on an organization working to end gun violence, Moms Demand Action.

In 2012, the day after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Shannon Watts started a Facebook group with the message that all Americans can and should do more to reduce gun violence. So began Moms Demand Action. 

In their own words, “Moms Demand Action is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence. We pass stronger gun laws and work to close the loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our families. We also work in our own communities and with business leaders to encourage a culture of responsible gun ownership. We know that gun violence is preventable, and we’re committed to doing what it takes to keep families safe.”

There are Moms Demand chapters in all 50 states where volunteers connect to take actionable steps to prevent gun violence. Examples of current campaigns include updating background checks, a system which has blocked more than 3.5 million illegal gun sales in the past 20 years, disarming domestic abusers, and helping to elect gun sense candidates.

The impact made by Moms Demand volunteers is impressive. This page of victories is listed in reverse chronological order with almost daily entries. Recent wins include Governors in Michigan, California and New Jersey signing stronger gun safety bills into law. You can scroll through the list for details and also watch this 3-minute video to see Moms in action.

While you’re on the website, take a moment to read stories from volunteers and survivors, check for events in your area or explore resources to get educated on the issues. For example, you may not be surprised to learn that states with strong gun laws see less violence, but now you can check the gun law rankings to find out how your state compares.

If you’re ready to turn your frustration and anger over senseless gun violence into action there are many ways to get involved. Text READY to 644-33 to volunteer with a Moms Demand Action chapter in your area, send a message to your U.S. Representative to work to end gun violence,  shop for merch, make a donation and amplify their message on social medial. Follow Moms Demand Action on their Facebook page, on Twitter @MomsDemand and on Instagram @momsdemand.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue

January is National Adopt a Rescued Bird Month and a great opportunity to highlight the work of Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue.

Founded in 1998 and based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue is an all-volunteer, virtual organization with the goal “ to rescue parrots and other commonly domesticated companion birds who have been neglected, abused, injured or surrendered to us because their owners can no longer care for them.”

The services Mickaboo provides include: providing medical care and foster homes for the rescued birds they take in, rehabilitating injured and sick conures from the San Francisco “Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” flock, finding adoptive homes for the birds in foster care, offering classes and online resources to avian caregivers and educating the public about the tragedies of overpopulation, and encouraging them to adopt, not buy or breed birds.

With the help of their volunteers, Mickaboo rescues between 300 and 400 birds every year and places them in foster homes until they are adopted. You can learn more about the organization and the birds on the Mickaboo YouTube page.

If you’re interested in adopting a new feathered friend, take a look at the available birds on their website or join the upcoming Mickaboo Virtual Adoption Fair on February 12th at 1pm Pacific. Sign up with this registration link.

There are many other ways to get involved with Mickaboo and show your support. If you live in the Bay Area, you can foster a bird or volunteer for other tasks. No matter where you are, you can shop, make a donation and amplify their work on social medial. Follow Mickaboo on their Facebook page and on Twitter @MickabooRescue. Remember - “Don’t breed, don’t buy… adopt a rescued bird!”

Friday, January 13, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Creativity Explored

Happy Feel Good Friday! If any of your New Year’s resolutions involved exploring your creativity, take a moment to get inspired by the artists at Creativity Explored.

Creativity Explored (CE) is a nonprofit organization located in San Francisco, California where artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit and sell their work. It was founded in 1983 by Florence and Elias Katz “on a belief that art is essential to life. We exist to provide developmentally disabled people access to the human right of creative expression.”

CE serves 130 artists and operates a studio space in the Mission District where these artists come to take classes and create their artwork. You can see the space, the artists and learn about the impact of CE in this short video.

When Covid-19 came to San Francisco, the staff at CE offered virtual classes. Now that the studio is open again, artists can take classes either in person or online. Since the pandemic began, CE artists have held a sold out gallery show, displayed their work at 38 exhibitions and earned nearly $200,000 from their art. 

Looking back at all 40 years of Creativity Explored, hundreds of disabled artists “have seen their work exhibited in museums, galleries, and art fairs in over 14 countries and have earned over $2 million from their art.”

You can learn all about the artists and view their work at this link and if you live in the SF Bay Area, you can attend one of the upcoming CE events. I’m especially interested in the collaboration with the Artist-in-Residence Program at Recology to see how trash is transformed into art. You can learn more about that Recology program in my FGF blog post from 2012. 

There are many fun ways to get involved with Creativity Explored and show your support. Apply to be an artist or register to volunteer. You can also shop for art, make a donation and amplify their work on social medial. Follow Creativity Explored on their Facebook page, on Instagram @creativityexplored and on Twitter @creativityxplrd. #ArtChangesLives

Friday, January 6, 2023

Feel Good Friday Flashback - Moving Windmills

While I recover from knee surgery, please enjoy this flashback Feel Good Friday post from January, 2013.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Feel Good Friday - Moving Windmills

It's a cold, windy Friday in San Francisco (well, cold for California) and that made me think of William Kamkwamba.

William lives in a village in Malawi that (in 2002) had no electricity or running water and was suffering from drought.  His family was struggling to survive and he had to drop out of school as they couldn't afford the $80 school fees.

Only 14 at the time, he read a book from the library about windmills which said they could be used to generate electricity and pump water.  He built a windmill from bicycle parts, gum trees and bamboo poles.  It worked well enough to bring electricity to power radios and enable his family read and study at night.  His second windmill turned a water pump so his family could irrigate their crops and fight the effects of the drought.  

Word of his accomplishment started to spread and since then, William has continued with his education, given two TED talks, written a book for children, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, and a version for adults.

His work inspired the creation of an organization called Moving Windmills Project in 2008.  They pursue rural economic development and education projects in Malawi.

All of this started with one 14 year old boy with curiosity, initiative and determination! You can watch a 6 minute documentary about William and his windmill here for a little inspiration.

As he says at the end of his TED talk "Trust yourself and believe.  Whatever happens, don't give up.”