Archive | August, 2011

Find Your Cause: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

31 Aug

Meet The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force 

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force works to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. They have a long history of fighting for their cause which dates back to the 1970’s, with a focus on: aging, anti-gay industry, bisexuality, campus, elections and politics, health, faith, marriage/partner recognition, nondiscrimination, parenting and family, racial and economic justice, transgender, youth, and hate crimes. The Task Force Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, the Task Force works to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all.

How The Task Force Does Good

The Task Force strives to achieve their goals through five main programs: The Task Force Academy for Leadership and Action, Organizing and Training, Movement Building, Public Policy and Government Affairs and the Policy Institute. Through these vehicles, they train activists, equip state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and build the organizational capacity of their movement.  Resources such as Action Alerts keep the community informed and aware of issues and movements that are currently affecting the LGBT community.  Not only does the Task Force increase awareness, they also offer advice on how to get involved. Supporters make a difference through volunteer recruitment, canvassing, fundraising, and more.

The Task Force is well known for organizing the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, the premier annual organizing and skills-building event for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and their allies. This 5 day conference attracts more than 2,500 people from all over the country every year and features over 250 workshops and training sessions, four plenary sessions, and tons of networking opportunities. Presenters and participants come from all walks of life and include members of the business community, elected officials, students, faith leaders and staff and volunteers of non-profit organizations.  This event is part of The Task Forces’ “Academy for Leadership and Action” program, which uses signature projects to build the capacities and capabilities of organizations and community leaders at the grassroots of their social justice movement. The overarching goal is to increase enduring political power through gatherings that bring communities and movements together to strategize and network, along with a variety of trainings and leadership development that increases the diversity of the movement and builds LGBT communities.

Another of the Task Force’s most exciting new programs is the New Beginning Initiative,  composed of a variety of organizations which are organized by the Task Force. The coalition has been working with the Obama Administration to make concrete changes that benefit the entire LGBT community.

The Task Force’s Impact

Through their mission and programs, The Task Force has generated a lot of impact for their constituents, enacting legislation and policy but most importantly of all, building a powerful movement. In 2010 the Task Force achieved impacts across a variety of their focus areas:

  • Provided critical technical assistance, training and capacity building support to advance pro-LGBT equality and defeat anti-LGBT measures over the long-term in more than 20 States including California, Iowa, Ohio and Oregon.
  • Beat back two referendums in Bowling Green, Ohio that would  have stripped away anti-discrimination policies for LGBT people.
  • Trained thousands of LGBT community leaders across the country, including intensive trainings provided through the academy for Leadership and Action, and nearly 2,500 individuals who attended the 2010 National Conference on LGBT Equality; Creating Change in Dallas, Texas.
  • Advanced tangible and positive policy change for LGBT equality on the national level, including “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell”.
  • Continued to convene  the New Beginning Initiative resulting in more than 10 Federal policy changes benefitting LGBT people.
  • Completed, with the National Center on Transgender Equality, Injustice at Every Turn, the largest-ever study of experiences of discrimination by transgender and gender non-conforming people in the U.S.
  • Significantly increased the visibility of the breadth of issues facing LGBT people and their families. Throughout 2010, the Task Force was one of the most quoted LGBT organizations in the country, and has one of the largest and most-followed social media efforts in the community.
  • Task Force senior staff testified before Congress on numerous issues of importance to the LGBT community, including calling on legislators to amend the Fair Housing Act to ban housing discrimination against LGBT people.
  • The Task Force continued to work with LGBT and non-LGBT progressive organizations to build greater strength and understanding about how issues such as comprehensive immigration reform and the Affordable Care Act uniquely affect LGBT people and their families.
  • Through the Queer the Census Campaign, the Task Force distributed over 140,000 stickers that people placed on their census envelopes demanding that LGBT individuals be counted in the census.
  • Held  the Believe Out Loud Power Summit with 250 pro-LGBT christian leaders for worship, networking, and advanced skills-building training to strengthen pro-LGBT christians’ ability to win secular, church and denominational policies that promote full inclusion and equality for LGBT individuals.

Catchafire’s Pro Bono Impact with The Task Force

The Task Force will soon be seeking their first pro bono professionals! Stay tuned for how you can get involved!

Get Involved

Please favorite The Task Force on Catchafire. (You need to be logged in to do this.)  We’ll alert you as other opportunities to get involved with The Task Force become available.  If you want to learn more about this great opportunity, email community@catchafire.org.

Find Your Cause: Global Learning Across Borders (Global LAB)

30 Aug

Meet Global LAB

Global LAB creates life-changing cultural immersion and service programs in the developing world for US high school and college students. Their mission is to educate and inspire new generations of people to become responsible and committed global citizens in their local communities and beyond. They  believe that international experience is a fundamental component of global education and citizenship in the 21st Century and should be available to all, regardless of financial need. Global LAB programs are designed to cultivate in small groups of “global learners” a deep appreciation for the interconnected and interdependent nature of our world.

How Global LAB Does Good

Currently, Global LAB programs run in India, China/Tibet, Vietnam, Cambodia, Morocco, and Argentina. Programs range from 10 to 90 days and are designed to facilitate intercultural awareness, leadership development, and empowerment to make positive social change relating to pressing global issues.

Global LAB Semester Programs are their most popular, dynamic programs every fall and spring in India and Morocco for young people ages 17 – 22, particularly those deferring college to embark on an interim or “gap” year.  All semesters begin with a residential orientation in the US to prepare students for international cultural immersion via language study, homestays, community service projects, and independent study projects. Global LAB programs facilitate cultural engagement through focusing on a range of themes and topics, including globalization; visual, performing, and literary arts; sustainable development; wisdom traditions; peace and conflict studies; and public health issues.

Global LAB’s fastest growing program–the International Leadership Program (ILP)–uses a selective nomination and application process to identify cohorts of 15-20 low-income public high school students in NYC. These students then work with ILP cohorts from January – June, using New York City as a classroom to explore South Asian diaspora communities and the arts, culture, and belief systems of India and the Himalayan region. The ILP curriculum also incorporates leadership training; social media/photography/video workshops; and fundraising skills challenge each student to raise $1,000 toward their program cost of $6,000. In July the ILP students and faculty advisors travel to Dharamsala, India for one month of intensive cultural immersion. Students live in homestays with Tibetan exile families; participate in Independent Study Projects with local mentors; and engage in community service work. Upon returning to NYC, ILP students receive storytelling/presentation training and college application coaching, prior to celebrating at their ILP graduation ceremony.

Global LAB also provides Professional Development Programs which are open to teachers at all levels. These 2-3 week intensive programs in Africa and Asia offer opportunities to enrich teachers’ abilities to teach about diverse world cultures in US classrooms and communities.

Finally Global LAB works in partnership with individual US high schools, colleges, and other educational institutions to provide innovative 2-5 week cultural immersion programs in Africa and Asia for small groups of students and faculty. These programs cater to educators interested in creating customized programs linking their curricula and student interests to global immersion and service learning. Schools involved include Georgetown University, Pratt Institute and The Hotchkiss School.

Global LAB’s Impact

Global LAB has been running educational programs since 2006, opening the eyes of young people from around the country and inspiring them to become lifelong learners and to continue their roles of service.  Global LAB’s impact is perhaps best illustrated through the words of participants, who were asked to describe their most valuable learning from living/traveling abroad with a Global LAB program:

“[I had]…the confidence to be able to navigate through an entirely unknown culture and forge lasting connections with individuals–from the shopkeepers in the medina to the peers in my program. I returned home feeling not only that the world was my oyster, but that I could go anywhere on a whim with my pack and my travel smarts.”

“My six weeks living with my home-stay family in Fes, along with my week of living with families in the High Atlas Mountains, allowed me to directly experience Moroccan culture and, more importantly, gave me a deep and personal understanding of Islam–one of the best gifts I have brought back with me. I came to realize that no matter how many differences there seemed to be between me and another person, there was always something that could be found that would connect us.”

“My semester in India with Global LAB far exceeded any expectations or hopes that I had, in these realms as well as in all others. The semester was hands-down the most challenging and rewarding experience I had ever had, and what I learned in that semester has aided me in countless experiences and relationships since.”

Catachfire’s Pro Bono Impact with Global LAB

Global LAB is working with its first Catchafire pro bono professional on an Organizational Budget Design and Development Project  Project. Global LAB had a starting template for its budget, but required professional skills to analyze key financial and strategic issues to help them move from reactive to proactive and profitable money management.

Get Involved

Global LAB is currently looking for professionals to help them with a Google Adwords Plan and a Search Engine Optimization Project. If this is not in your skillset but you would like to get involved, please favorite the Global LAB page on Catchafire. (You need to be logged in to do this.) We’ll alert you as new opportunities to get involved become available.  If you want to learn more about this great opportunity, email community@catchafire.org.

Find Your Cause: Sakhi

29 Aug

Meet Sakhi

logo

 Sakhi works to end violence against women by uniting survivors, communities, and institutions to eradicate domestic violence while simultaneously creating strong and healthy communities. The word ‘Sakhi’ is founded on the fundamental meaning of the word “woman friend”.  The organization began 21 years ago when a group of five South Asian women decided to fight against abuse and violence against women. They recognized that  there are many religious, cultural, and professional groups organized within the South Asian population in New York, however there were very few outlets that gave women a chance to speak up about domestic violence.  Sakhi is trying to change that.  By creating an infrastructure for a safe space, South Asian women can finally stand up against the violence they are facing or are seeing around them in their lives.

How Sakhi Does Good

Sakhi creates a positive change through a two pronged approach.

1. They create a safe place with a full range of culturally-sensitive , language-specific information, support, services, and advocacy for South Asian women facing abuse in their lives

2. They work to inform, actively engage, and mobilize the South Asian community in the movement to end violence against women forever

Sakhi believes that in order for families to be healthy and happy, violence and oppression must be eliminated at the heart and root of communities. Therefore, all members of the community must be aware of and willing to take steps to achieve a nonviolent atmosphere.  Sakhi helps to create this atmosphere by teaching others these steps, including: taking charge, getting involved and staying involved, hosting gatherings for solidarity and supporting the cause through donations. These resources and forums will give people the tools to lead a better life.  The organization also provides a helpline that can be accessed during weekday hours for further assistance.

Sakhi follows the philosophy that women need and deserve friendship and support in whatever choices they make, at every step of their journeys toward happier, healthier lives, free from abuse. They are there for women from the first call they make – when they might be unsure of what domestic violence is – to when they are ready to make new friends, start new lives, pursue education or career opportunities, and when they join the fight to end violence against women forever.

The latest exciting development for Sakhi is their upcoming conference for social justice leaders – “Preventing Violence, Promoting Justice”.  This game-changing conference, which is the first event of its type for Sakhi, will be held October 10th and 11th.  The goal of this convening is to build a stronger movement to end violence against women in the US by forging connections between related movements for social justice.

Sakhi’s Impact

Sakhi has transformed the lives of both individuals and communities.  Here are the highlights of just a few of their achievements:

  • Mobilized the landmark New York State Office of Court Administration court rule in October that obligates courts ensure an interpreter in all civil and criminal cases when a party is not proficient in English. They also produced a groundbreaking report on the first national survey of court interpreters.
  • Featured as experts in 48 presentations, including a panel hosted by Dan Rather titled, “Between Two Worlds: Domestic Violence, Immigration, and Human Rights” and four sessions at the National Network to End Domestic Violence Conference.
  • Scaled up survivor grants for economic empowerment by 50%, offering discretionary funding to alleviate barriers such as childcare and transportations costs.
  • Opened computer labs for and provided computer training to survivors via one-to-one assistance and group workshops.
  • Launched its Communities Take Charge campaign in Richmond Hill, Queens, with a mela, or street festival.  Over 750 community members attended and about 35 community-based organization participated.  Sakhi continues to form partnerships with the community-led organizations, faith-based institutions, and key leaders in Richmond Hill (To read more, please click here.)
  • Recruited a team of volunteers and interns who are so committed to the cause that they devoted 19 months worth of volunteer time towards ending violence against women.
  • Successfully responding to continually rising volumes of new requests for assistance through their Domestic Violence Program.

Perhaps the best indicator of Sakhi’s impact is a comment from an individual directly engaged with their work:

My most valuable experience with Sakhi occurred a couple of years ago when I had the opportunity to work with a domestic violence survivor. She insists that I changed her life, but I know that her influence on me was far greater. The survivor and I spoke daily and I watched her grow from a distraught young person to an empowered woman who ultimately took charge of her life and turned it around. When I feel down or overwhelmed, I recall the strength and courage that this 20-year-old displayed, and tell myself if that if she can make it, everyone can… I realized how much Sakhi has impacted my identity. Its influence has been constant and far-reaching.” Sakhi volunteer

Catchafire’s Pro Bono Impact With Sakhi

Sakhi is new to Catchafire and will soon be seeking their first pro bono professionals! Stay tuned for how you can get involved!

Get Involved:

Please favorite the Sakhi page on Catchafire. (You need to be logged in to do this.) We’ll alert you as new opportunities to get involved become available.  If you want to learn more about this great opportunity, email community@catchafire.org.

Find Your Cause: YES Inc.

26 Aug

Meet YES Inc.  

YES Inc. fights poverty through large-scale job creation and entrepreneurship for youth. An international non profit, “YES” stands for Youth Entrepreneurship and Sustainability. Today, YES supports 55 country networks around the globe that are working independently to create unique programs that build an entrepreneurial culture where young people move toward self employment. The network strives to build the individual capacity of youth, empowering them to create sustainable livelihoods in their communities.  To achieve this, YES Inc. focuses on three main objectives:

1. To hold the issue of youth unemployment firmly on the global agenda.

2. To build the knowledge base of effective programs and policies for youth employment and entrepreneurship and help country partners with adaptive replication.

3. To support partners and YES country networks in understanding the country’s poverty eradication strategies, allowing them to identify, design and implement specific training and development programs that promote youth employment and entrepreneurship.

How Yes Inc. Does Good

The YES Campaign was first launched in 2002 at the YES Global Summit, by 1600 delegates from 120 countries and co-chaired by Mrs Mubarak, First Lady of Egypt and former President Bill Clinton.  The goal was to engage the world in and raise awareness for the youth unemployment crisis.  Along with the Global Summit, YES Inc. has also held Employment Summits to promote the YES campaign and build their global network. Today, YES is focused on capacity building and action-oriented programs that promote youth entrepreneurship. Working directly with country networks, current YES Inc’s 2011 initiatives include:

  • Enterprise Studios™: A refuge which inspires young people to paint the canvas of their dream by building upon their Big Idea, locating tools and signing up with mentors to create a life of promise.
  • Enterprise Generators: A program to repurpose universities as enterprise generators to provide a space for convening stakeholders, entrepreneurship education and project planning skills for youths. Through all their programs, YES Inc. hopes to inspire, educate, and support youth around the world  by creating an entrepreneurial culture moving people towards productive work.

Currently, Yes Inc. is focusing on their Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2011: Jump Start America which will be held in November 2011. This Summit will gather leading CEOs, foundations, young entrepreneurs, investors and community organizers who will take bold new innovative action to power a new generation of young entrepreneurs. The Summit will be chaired by Desh Deshpande, Co-Chair of Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and will feature speakers such as CEOs from the Conscious Capitalism Institute and Whole Foods.

The Summit will also launch a Do Tank for Youth Entrepreneurship to take joint actions for creating access to markets for youth products and services, with the aim of bringing 100 young entrepreneurs under the age of 35 to the Summit. This aim will be supported by YES Inc’s Adopt an Entrepreneur Program, which encourages businesses to provide a valuable opportunity for a young American entrepreneur to attend and participate in the Summit, helping them turn their ventures into a sustainable future. In this way, businesses can be a viable part of the creative values, vision and energy that is reshaping the US.  The Do Tank will focus on innovative new initiatives grounded in the principles and practices of Conscious Capitalism.

YES Inc.’s Impact

To date, Yes Inc. has demonstrated impressive impact in a variety of diverse ways including:

  • Management of over 400 youth employment projects, employing over 1 million youth
  • Hosted 5 global summits and 5 regional meetings
  • Built and supported 55 YES Networks
  • Prepared 150 original publications and over 1000 online resource documents on best practice models and tools

YES Summit in Azerbaijan

Catchafire’s Pro Bono Impact with YES Inc.

YES Inc. is currently looking for a pro bono professional for a Marketing Analysis for Income-Generating Organizations Project.  The professional who is matched will get a chance to work with a new idea by Yes Inc. called YouthTrade™.  This is a new system of trade that will empower and accelerate young entrepreneurs by delivering their products and services to the marketplace. With this project, an organization will better understand the attractiveness of a market, its evolving opportunities, and existing threats in the external market as they relate to an organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses. This project will help YES Inc. determine the audiences it should target and suggest ways to improve and expand on its products and services.

Get Involved

Please favorite the YES Inc. on Catchafire. (You need to be logged in to do this.)  We’ll alert you as other opportunities to get involved with YES Inc. become available.  If you want to learn more about this great opportunity, email community@catchafire.org.

Find Your Cause: Amiji Twins

25 Aug

Meet Amiji Twins

The founder of the Amiji twins would like to ask the world a question: “If our kids got to know one another better today, would they be better neighbors tomorrow?”
The Amiji twins give kids an opportunity to get to know other kids living all around the world so they can discover the many things they share in common, and the little things that make them unique.  The Amiji twins are friendship dolls.  Every one is handmade by the pair in Nepal and has a twin just like it in another country. A handwritten code on the Amiji’s tag allows kids to find where their twin lives on AMIJIworld.com.
The founder believes that our kids will be inheriting a world that is more crowded and complicated than the one we grew up in. Maybe Earth would be a better planet to share tomorrow if our kids got to know one another today? The hope is that with Amiji twins, kids can how much they share in common with the other kids they will someday share the world with, and grow up to regard one another not as strangers but as neighbors.

How Amiji Twins Does Good

Since February 2011, Amiji Twins has been giving free Amiji twins to teachers and selling them to parents around the world.  With every one that is purchased, they give another Amiji twin to a teacher for free.  Kids everywhere with Amiji twins can login to a sister site, AMIJIworld.com, to find where their twin lives. AMIJIworld is a safe website designed specifically for kids. It takes the social power of the internet, and points it not at your friends, but around the world, so kids can hear from kids they may have never thought to listen to. It is not a place filled with facts and figures about countries. It is a place filled with real human beings. They can ask questions of one another, share photos and look at other photos taken in far away places by kids just like them. As they share they earn “Amiji smiles” and they can give smiles to the other people who share things they like. The built-in Google translate feature allows a kid who speaks Spanish, to share and be understood by a kid who speaks Norwegian, or Arabic, or English, with just a click.  In this way, kids get the chance to hear from real kids, first hand, and discover the world for themselves.

Amiji Twins’ Impact

In their first few months the Amiji twins have already started to break down barriers between kids around the world.  Nearly 120 Amiji twins have been given to teachers and kids in the United States, France, Ghana, Norway, South Africa, Brazil, Honduras, The Dominican Republic, Kenya, Mexico and Italy for free.  They are already generating conversation between kids who may have never heard from one another.  Though most of the action in AMIJIworld still comes from the USA, the organization hopes to give as many Amiji twins as they can to teachers internationally in this coming year to keep the momentum going.  Here is a sample of some questions asked in AMIJIworld this past summer:

What is your favorite pet?

Do you go to church?

What was the most important day of your life?

How long is your Amiji’s arm?

Do you like banana pancakes?

What is your favorite fruit?

What is your favorite snack?

Where are your ancestors from?

How many teeth have you lost?

Do you play sports?

By simply asking these questions, kids get to share a moment and learn in a way that is different than learning from a textbook or in school.  They don’t get an expert opinion from a book, movie or other mass produced source that focuses on all the things that make other cultures different.  A kid gets an answer from a real kid, who is probably not so different than themeless.  That is the education here: the world is filled with human beings like me.

The hope is that this lesson grows with kids so that one day they approach people who are different not with indifference, but with respect.


Catachfire’s Pro Bono Impact with Amiji Twins

The founder of the Amiji twins has recently posted his first project to Catchafire, and is now seeking his first pro bono professional! You can have an impact by helping Amiji twins with  a Social Media Campaign. He is is seeking to run this campaign to reach teachers in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. This is an international campaign, a challenge, and something extremely important to this very new company. Amiji twins’ key question for the teachers they reach is: “If our students got to know one another today, would they be better neighbors tomorrow?” By identifying the teachers with whom this question really resonates, Amiji twins hopes to identify those who will really grow awareness of the cause and give the Amiji twins to their students.

Get Involved

Amiji twins is currently looking for professionals to help them with a Social Media Campaign. If this is not in your skillset but you would like to get involved, please favorite the Amiji twins page on Catchafire. (You need to be logged in to do this.) We’ll alert you as new opportunities to get involved become available.  If you want to learn more about this great opportunity, email community@catchafire.org.

Find Your Cause: The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research

24 Aug

Meet The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research

The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research was founded in the name of Sean Costello, an internationally renowned blues musician. Sean endeavored until the end of his life to overcome the demons of panic attacks, sleep deprivation and depression that plagued him, the cause of which remained undiagnosed and unrecognized until close to his death, in 2008, when he was diagnosed as Bipolar Type II.  Family and friends of Sean’s chose to honor him by starting an organization that would research the connection between bipolar disorder and creativity, strive to reduce the stigma of the disorder and educate about the symptoms and consequences of the disease.  The organization applies Sean’s celebrity and the love of Sean’s fans and fellow musicians to bring the discussion of challenges that creative people, especially musicians, face into the open. Their goals include improving support for early diagnosis and intervention and illuminating the human side of bipolar disorder and its severity. They seek to improve outcomes and resources, especially for those without insurance, targeting the musical community in particular.  Because of his unique interpretation of American roots music and his generous spirit, Sean’s passing has ignited a burning desire to keep his personal and musical memory alive and to translate the human side of his suffering into action that will help in research, education, outreach and treatment efforts for bipolar disorder.

How The Sean Costello Memorial Fund Does Good

The Sean Costello Memorial Fund works towards six primary goals to create better outcomes for those living with bipolar disorder:

  • They support research for early diagnosis and intervention to help those who are suffering but have not yet learned how to cope with the condition.
  • They promote research to connect creativity and bipolar disorder, along with its connection to social anxiety.
  • They strive to improve treatment and prevention for the condition by advocating for healthcare policy change.
  • They focus on the music community, many of whom suffer emotional challenges but often have no insurance, and who live in a world full of triggers.
  • They provide information about resources to families, who are also strongly affected by their loved ones who have bipolar disorder.
Through these 6 main goals,  The Sean Costello Memorial Fund is working towards bigger visions, such as one that is very dear to  Sean Costello’s mother Debbie’s heart: “It would be my dream to have a center for recovery for musicians and artists, with treatment modalities appropriate for their biochemistry and unique gifts for communication and introspection.”  To help reach their goals, the Sean Costello Memorial Fund also sells merchandise through their online store and holds benefit concerts, funds from which go directly into their research and work.

The Sean Costello Memorial Fund’s Impact

The Sean Costello Memorial Fund conducts fundraising through the sale of merchandise and music benefits, however they also search for donors who can provide ideas to further the cause and engage with scientists in groundbreaking research. In 2010 they sponsored a conference of three members of their Scientific Advisory Board in San Francisco with the purpose of analyzing data to determine the relationship between creativity and bipolar disorder. Additionally, the data was used to evaluate the impact of mania on creativity.  The results of this conference were so significant an article was published in Clinical Psychology Review and spawned a Community Consultation Day with Crest.BD at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Additionally, the scientists presented their findings at the IRBD in Rome this past April. The IRBD is the largest international conference on bipolar disorder, and the Sean Costello Fund was prominently represented.

Catachfire’s Pro Bono Impact with The Sean Costello Memorial Fund

The Sean Costello Memorial Fund is about to post their first projects to the Catchafire site and will soon be seeking their first pro bono professionals!

Get Involved

Please favorite the Sean Costello Memorial Fund page on Catchafire. (You need to be logged in to do this.) We’ll alert you as new opportunities to get involved become available.  If you want to learn more about this great opportunity, email community@catchafire.org.

Find Your Cause: Solving Kids Cancer

23 Aug

Meet Solving Kids Cancer

Solving Kids’ Cancer’s (SKC) dream is to extend life for children with the deadliest forms of pediatric cancer today while making survivorship possible for all children by 2015. SKC is dedicated to facilitating the development of therapies to improve survivorship of the deadliest childhood cancers through an innovative and aggressively funded model. SKC was created not as a conventional charity but as a nonprofit enterprise that funds and manages a new model in therapeutic development for pediatric cancer. SKC does not intend to transform the existing clinical development system through advocacy and awareness efforts.  Instead, they aim to change the system by facilitating the therapeutic development process through their scientific programs. SKC envisions a system that provides appropriate therapeutic intervention to children with cancer immediately, and that simultaneously develops daring research projects that lead to therapies that make survivorship possible.

How Solving Kids’ Cancer Does Good

SKC looks to solve the problem of pediatric cancer from many angles and multiple paths because they believe the deadliest childhood cancers will not be stopped by one agent or one targeted approach.  There are multiple and varying processes that contribute to cancer, therefore  it is necessary to investigate multiple paths to successfully stop it. This is accomplished using both existing and novel therapies that are the most scientifically promising. SKC sponsors pilot, proof-of-principle, and Phase I clinical trials that drive an improved understanding of both safety and efficacy of promising therapeutic agents.

SKC brings a novel “think-tank” approach to therapeutic development in pediatric cancer.  SKC’s Therapeutic Development Initiative (TDI) brings together the diverse knowledge and experience of scientists who represent multiple disciplines in cancer.  To tackle this challenging problem, SKC believes we must reach out to experts beyond the immediate field of pediatric oncology to tackle this challenging problem. As such, their TDI board includes leading pediatric oncologists and researchers, as well as experts from other key disciplines, including immunology, systems biology, adult oncology, and clinical trial design.  This ensures innovation and creative thinking, and optimizes review of project ideas.

SKC plays multiple roles in order to speed up the process and remove obstacles that can hinder principal investigators from expediting therapeutic development:

  • Acting as ambassadors to the Life Science’s Industry on behalf of investigators to gain access to promising therapeutics in the pipeline
  • Coordinating all stakeholders involved in progressing a therapeutic option — the investigator, industry, academic research institutions — to make the process as effective as possible
  • Participating in the design and roll-out of programs to ensure speed and effectiveness
  • Creating standardized and reproducible negotiating contracts between SKC, pharmaceutical or biotech companies, and clinical institutions to save valuable time and resources
  • Issuing funding in an accelerated manner
  • Maintaining an accessible, user-friendly, and electronic grant submission portal accessible to everyone
Solving Kids Cancer’s Impact
 
Since starting in 2007, SKC has launched 10 therapeutic development projects. Their involvement in the  Nifurtimox Phase I Clinical Trial is an example of the impact they have managed to effect. This trial was an example of the abundance of basic scientific research that has not been translated into the clinical realm. The trial was created based on a 2‐page abstract detailing a single patient history. Nifurtimox, an antiprotozoal drug, was used to treat an infection called Chagas’ disease but the abstract detailed the discovery of an “accidental” therapeutic benefit for neuroblastoma, a deadly pediatric cancer, which had been uncovered during the patient’s treatment. In only three months, SKC co‐founder John London was able to organize a Phase I Clinical trial using Nifurtimox to treat neuroblastoma. This provides a wholly new therapeutic option for children with this disease. In keeping with its commitment to prioritize treatment over traditional protocols, the Nifurtimox Phase I trial was designed to be as therapeutically effective as possible. Rather than utilizing Nifurtimox as a single agent, as is typical in a traditional trial for an investigative drug, this study allows for combination therapy, e.g. patients can use chemotherapy agents (cyclophosphamide and topotecan) as well as Nifurtimox to maximize the potential clinical benefit. Although ongoing, initial results showed a benefit of four to six months in increased survivorship for patients. As a consequence of this trial, a second Phase II trial has been developed to test the drug’s efficacy.

Catchfire’s Pro Bono Impact with Solving Kids’ Cancer

SKC is about to post its first projects to Catchafire seeking pro bono professionals to help them build capacity!

Get involved

To get involved and learn when Solving Kids Cancer posts their projects, please favorite the Solving Kids’ Cancer page on Catchafire. (You need to be logged in to do this.) We’ll alert you as new opportunities to get involved become available.  If you want to learn more about this great opportunity, email community@catchafire.org.

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