Archive | September, 2011

Find Your Cause: Green Guerillas

8 Sep

Meet Green Guerillas

Green Guerillas uses a unique mix of education, organizing and advocacy to help people
cultivate community gardens, sustain grassroots groups and coalitions, engage youth, paint
colorful murals, and address issues critical to the future of their gardens.

In 1973 Liz Christy, a Lower East Side artist, gathered her friends and neighbors together to clean out a vacant lot on the corner of Bowery and Houston Streets. Calling themselves the
Green Guerillas, these visionaries created a vibrant community garden and sparked the modern community gardening movement in New York City.

Green Guerillas tapped the time, talent and energy of their members. They took on projects as varied and interesting as the city itself – they threw seed “green-aids” over the fences of vacant lots, installed window boxes, planted flowers in tree pits – and helped people transform city- owned vacant lots into community gardens that serve as botanic gardens, vest pocket parks, urban farms and as expressions of art, ecology, and culture. More than three decades later, Green Guerillas is a vital 501c3 nonprofit organization, and there are more than 600 community gardens in New York City with a whole new host of challenges.

How Green Guerillas Does Good

Green Guerillas engages in a variety of program activities to achieve their vision and mission. Primarily, they

  • Gather and distribute information on critical issues to New York City’s community garden groups.
  • Distribute plants, materials, and advice to 200 community garden groups to help them grow more food, strengthen their gardens, and manage healthy, vibrant green spaces.
  • Provide organizational assistance to dozens of groups to help them recruit new members, hold effective meetings, engage the community, organize events, and ensure the long term viability of their community gardens and their grassroots groups.
  • Serve as the fiscal sponsor for 20 community garden groups to help them obtain and manage grant funding that supports events, garden improvements, and outreach campaigns.
  • Rally community members to breathe new life and new energy into 10 underutilized community garden sites.
  • Help the Phoenix Community Gardeners continue to establish their large Fulton Street site as an urban farm, a community garden, and an outdoor educational center.

Work That Matters

Fighting Hunger, Improving Food Choices: Green Guerillas uses the Harvest for Neighborhoods (H4N) Campaign to help central Brooklyn community gardeners grow thousands of pounds of fresh, healthy food for their families, their neighbors and for distribution to local soup kitchens and food pantries. The H4N Campaign helps gardeners grow fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods that lack supermarkets and green grocers, helping change the food equation in important ways. By supporting 3 emerging community farmers markets, Green Guerillas is helping community garden leaders provide thousands of their central Brooklyn neighbors with access to fresh healthy food to help create healthier neighborhoods.

Creating the Next Generation of Environmental Leaders and Food Advocates:  Green Guerillas engages youth as true partners in New York City’s community gardening and urban farming movement. The Youth Tillers program engages 10 central Brooklyn teenagers  in paid urban agriculture internships that challenge them to grow food, build compost bins, strengthen food-growing community gardens, and teach 200 other kids where their food comes from. 3 Summer AmeriCorps members  work at the core of the Harvest for Neighborhoods Campaign as they tend harvest beds, help gardeners grow more food, lead garden workdays, organize events, and help garden groups recruit new urban farmers. The Youth Mural Project  and the Youth Gardening Project put trowels, seeds, seedlings, and paint brushes in the hands of more than 250 children and youth to help them garden and paint murals as they learn about food, art and nature in the city.

Green Guerillas’ Impact

 In the past year alone, Green Guerillas:

  •  Organized 3 comprehensive plant giveaways for 170 community gardens that provided gardeners with a wide variety of vegetable seedlings, herbs, annuals and seeds to help them boost their harvest and add splashes of color to New York City neighborhoods
  • Organized community workdays to increase and improve growing areas at 14 gardens
  • Helped gardener leaders organize community events to bring in more garden members and increase accessibility to local healthy food production at 16 community gardens
  • Targeted ongoing organizing efforts at 10 underutilized gardens
  • Conducted ongoing community outreach connecting community groups with each other to share ideas and resources
  • Helped 90 community garden groups grow thousands of pounds of fresh, healthy food
  • Gave 3 community farmers markets the assistance they need to help them become established as sources of fresh fruits and vegetables for thousands of Brooklyn residents of all income levels
  • Engaged 15 young people in well organized internships to help them become urban farmers. community organizers and food advocates
  • Helped garden groups become sustainable by providing fundraising assistance and fiscal sponsor services to 20 community groups
  • Through the COOL FOOD Campaign, helped 40 garden groups understand season extension and access the supplies they needed to plant for multiple harvests in the same growing season. As a result, gardeners were able to double their harvest out of the same planting boxes.

Catachfire’s Pro Bono Impact with Green Guerillas

Stay tuned – Green Guerillas is new to Catchafire and will be posting their first projects soon!

Get Involved

To stay updated on when Green Guerillas needs help,  please favorite the Green Guerillas 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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Join Team Catchafire – we are looking for an Intern!

8 Sep

Our team is growing quickly, and we’re now looking for a Community Intern!

Are you a college student in New York City? Do you want to be a part of one of New York City’s coolest, most innovative startups? Are you interested in social enterprise and building community? If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, Catchafire is looking for someone like you to be their Community Intern. If you or someone you know shares our values and would be interested in joining our team, please visit our jobs board for more info.

Join the team!

Catchafire is looking for a passionate college student with a social conscience. You will be a member of a small, high performing Community team responsible for managing accounts, providing customer service, and growing our community of pro bono professionals. You will serve our nonprofit and social enterprise members by recruiting and engaging with pro bono professionals. We are a fast-paced, highly-collaborative, mission-focused startup located in midtown Manhattan. Ours is a small and highly leveraged team where self-motivation, task-focus, and efficiency are essential.

Announcing Virtual Pro Bono!

7 Sep

 Make An Impact
From Anywhere

September 2011 is a big month for Catchafire – we have gone national with talent by activating virtual pro bono for the first time! Until recently, only pro bono professionals based in the greater NYC area could give what they’re good at but now, professionals can give their skills pro bono from anywhere in the United States.

All registered pro bono professionals will now begin to receive suggested projects based on their nominated cause interests and skills. Visit your dashboard to update your skills and causes interests, or begin applying to projects today!

Here are just a few benefits of opening our opportunities to professionals nationwide:

  • More options for organizations thanks to project applications from both virtual and local professionals
  • Access to a larger pool of talent to help organizations build capacity
  • Greater exposure for organizations as, from coast to coast, more professionals will now hear about an organization’s important work

“The move to virtual pro bono is possible now that we can provide our organizations and professionals with just as good an experience virtually as we can in person,” says Catchafire CEO Rachael Chong. “We have all the pieces in place to make a virtual project just as successful as a project where the professional and organization can meet in person. We want to provide our organizations with as much choice as possible in terms of talent, and allow highly skilled professionals from anywhere in the United States to give what they’re good at to an organization they are passionate about!”

To learn more about virtual pro bono, visit our Pro Bono Best Practices or read more about How Matches Are Made.

What do YOU think of virtual pro bono?
Post your comments below!

Find Your Cause: Alpine Learning Group

6 Sep

Meet Alpine Learning Group  

Alpine Learning Group provides learners with autism and their families comprehensive, scientifically-validated educational and behavioral services designed to foster individual growth and personal achievement. In 1988, New Jersey was home to only a few behaviorally-based school programs serving children with autism. Confronted with the challenge of securing an appropriate and effective educational program for their children with autism, a small group of local families joined with autism specialists to found the Alpine Learning Group. Originally housed in the basement of a local community house, Alpine Learning Group opened the doors to its first four students in 1989. In 1991, there was 1 child in every 3,000 diagnosed with autism. Today, it is 1 child in every 100 nationally, and growing. Over time Alpine Learning Group’s Education Program has grown steadily, and now serves twenty-nine learners with autism, aged 3 to 21 years, and 8 adult learners at their temporary Adult Learning Center in Ridgewood. Alpine also serves many families as part of their Outreach, Social Skills and Early Detection Programs.

How Alpine Learning Group Does Good

Alpine Learning Group’s primary program focus is their educational program, which is based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Scientific research has demonstrated that ABA is the safest and most effective treatment for autism. ABA is widely recognized by educators and professionals as the only intervention leading to comprehensive, lasting improvements in the lives of individuals with autism. In fact, ABA has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the U. S. Surgeon General and the New York State Department of Health. Some of the key tenets of ABA include:

  • Individual assessment of each learner’s strengths, challenges and learning style
  • One-to-one and highly structured small group instruction
  • Monthly educational clinics bringing together families, learners, and staff
  • Systematic data analyses to track learner performance
  • Intervention in both structured and natural settings

Alpine Learning Group has many other programs which support and align with their educational program and ensure they are addressing their vision from a number of different perspectives. Their Peer Modeling Program provides some preschoolers with autism the opportunity to learn from typically developing peers. The Early Detection Program provides parents comprehensive in-home training services to address problem behavior and to promote language and social skills. Unique mentorship and training opportunities to professionals seeking training in applied behavior analysis, special education, and autism treatment are also available through the Mentorship and Training program stream.

Alpine Learning Group’s Impact

The words of families and individuals whom the Alpine Learning Group has helped are powerful indicators of the impact they have had on the autism community. Clinicians also speak highly of their success in developing support programs for those living with autism.

“At Alpine Learning Group, our son is treated with respect and his life has dignity and purpose. His future is full of possibilities and they never cease to amaze us! “ – The Omaechevarria Family

“Your use of positive social reinforcement and noncontingent attention provides your program with a very positive, nurturing base. Staff were very warm and spontaneous with the students who often appeared pleased to interact with staff and visitors. The use of multiple staff to train the students throughout the day emphasizes flexibility and facilitates generalization.” Dr. David Wacker, External Evaluation 

“The supported volunteer program is a great opportunity for our son to practice different job skills while interacting in the community. This is terrific preparation for adulthood.” – Merri Duchak, parent

Catchafire’s Pro Bono Impact with Alpine Learning Group

Alpine Learning Group is new to Catchafire and has just posted their first project. They are looking for a pro bono professional to help them with a Brand Messaging project.  Alpine Learning Group has chosen this as their first project because they have expanded their services and need to redefine their brand messaging to reflect this diversifaction and position within the field of autism education. This project will help Alpine Learning Group to convey their mission, values, and personality to the outside world.

Get Involved

If Brand Messaging is not in your skillset but you would like to get involved, please favorite the the Alpine Learning Group page on Catchafire. (You need to be logged in to do this.)  We’ll alert you as other opportunities to get involved with the Alpine Learning Group. become available.  If you want to learn more about this great opportunity, email community@catchafire.org.

Find Your Cause: The Partnership at Drugfree.org

2 Sep

Meet The Partnership at Drugfree.org  

The Partnership at Drugfree.org

The Partnership at Drugfree.org helps parents and families prevent, intervene and find treatment and support for drug and alcohol use in their teens.  By bringing together renowned scientists, parent experts and communications professionals, the Partnership at Drugfree.org translates current research on teen behavior, addiction and treatment into easy to understand, actionable resources at drugfree.org.  They also offer hope and help to the parents of the 11 million teens and young adults who need help with drugs and alcohol. The Partnership began with an idea to harness the power of the media, coupled with compelling research-based consumer advertising, to turn the tide on drug abuse trends, specifically among teens and youth. At the time, the nation was in the throes of the crack cocaine epidemic and they focused their efforts on reducing demand for those drugs through proven-effective public service advertising (PSA) campaigns. Today, crack and cocaine use is down 70 percent. Over the past several years, The Partnership has expanded their work, now including underage drinking, and focused on parents as their key leverage point, not only in preventing teen substance abuse, but in getting help for a child who is struggling with drugs or drinking.

How The Partnership at Drugfree.org Does Good

Across the nation through community education programs, The Partnership at Drugfree.org has trained more than 1,500 professionals who are working daily with local leaders, concerned citizens, parents and teens — in neighborhoods, schools, civic organizations, community centers and churches — to deliver research-based programs designed to help communities prevent teen drug and alcohol abuse. They have both a Parent and a Scientific Advisory Board, which ensure that the information and guidance offered to parents is grounded in the latest research, is focused, relevant and scientifically accurate. The Partnership partners with prominent organizations to reach wide audiences and leverage the power of brands that teens support.  In Spring 2010, they collaborated with the Major League Baseball Players Association and introduced a new online campaign, “Healthy Competition: A Resource for Parents”.

The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) is an example of how The Partnership at Drugfree.org contributes to the field of substance abuse prevention. This  research is the longest-running national research study of parent/teen behaviors and attitudes about drug and alcohol use in the United States. The teen sample is administered in private, public and parochial schools, and the parent sample is conducted through in-home interviews. PATS keeps parents and caregivers informed about what substances pose a threat to kids and families, while serving as a beacon for parents and alerting them to new trends in teen substance abuse.

The Partnership also puts on an annual gala and a series of special events in cities across the country where they recognize the support and significant contributions of individuals, corporations and foundations.

25th Anniversary Gala - Promise of Partnership

Promise of Partnership Healthy Families, Healthy Futures Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s Impact

Over the past several years, The Partnership at Drugfree.org has expanded their work and their online resources. They have developed new resources for multicultural communities including the new bilingual Parents Toll-Free Helpline, 1-855-DRUGFREE. 2010 was a notable year for The Partnership – amplified by the voice of their first-ever celebrity spokesperson, Melissa Gilbert, best known for her role in “Little House on the Prairie,” they reintroduced themselves in October 2010 as The Partnership at Drugfree.org. They also unveiled their new website, a completely redesigned, user-friendly gateway to all of our programs and resources. In terms of resources, The Partnership at DrugFree.org created a set of e-books focused on teen and young adult intervention and treatment that guide parents to get help for a child in trouble with drugs or alcohol. The e-books lead to practical tools and consolidate the most current information at drugfree.org, saving parents from often fruitless searches for support and advice. One of the best indicators of the impact that The Partnership at Drugfree.org has had, however, are personal testimonials:

“The Partnership at Drugfree.org offers state-of-the-art and highly engaging resources for parents and youth. In kid language, ‘It rocks.’ In parent-speak, ‘It’s just what I needed!’ — Ken Winters, PhD, Adolescent Expert

“This website has really helped me to not feel so alone and has given me a lot of good ideas about how to approach things.” — Joy (comment on Intervene blog, The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s blog)

“I am a mother just recently entering this difficult path. My husband and I are lost when it comes to dealing effectively and rapidly. Thank you for all the information you provide for people like us.” — Hannah Brown (comment on Intervene)

Catchafire’s Pro Bono Impact with The Partnership at Drugfree.org

The Partnership at DrugFree.org will soon be seeking their first pro bono professionals! Stay tuned for how you can get involved!

Get Involved

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

Give & Get Involved

Find Your Cause: Rainforest Foundation US

1 Sep

Meet Rainforest Foundation US

The Rainforest Foundation supports indigenous and traditional people of the world  in their efforts to protect their environment and and fulfill their rights. The Rainforest Foundation was one of the first organizations to focus on the vital link between protection of the rainforest and securing the rights of indigenous peoples. As deforestation pressures have intensified, providing the support needed for indigenous peoples to remain stewards of their ancestral lands has proven to be extremely effective in protecting rainforest. Recent data in Brazil shows that the deforestation rate in the Amazon was 1% in indigenous areas versus 24% outside of those areas.

How the Rainforest Foundation US Does Good

In 1989, Sting and Trudie Styler founded The Rainforest Foundation in response to a direct request for help from a Kayapo Indian leader in Brazil who was seeking to protect his peoples’ land and culture.

The Rainforest Foundation US’ two main initiatives for 2011 are:

Securing land rights for indigenous peoples  is a top priority for indigenous peoples across the world as it gives communities the control and security they need to protect their forests. However, indigenous groups often face significant legal, procedural and technical hurdles to obtaining legal recognition of their land rights, such as accurate marking of boundaries, professional maps and formal title documentation. The Rainforest Foundation is assisting its partners overcome these challenges by providing technical support to map territorial boundaries, document land claims and assist with complex administrative and legal procedures. On regional and national levels, the Rainforest Foundation is supporting indigenous organizations and networks to negotiate with the relevant authorities and gain formal recognition.

Ensuring Indigenous Peoples’ participation in climate change initiatives. The international community has increasingly come to understand that protection of rainforests is a key to mitigating climate change. Indigenous lands in the tropics, by and large, retain relatively intact forest ecosystems despite outside pressure, thanks to traditional management of resources. These areas are therefore prime candidates for programs aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). REDD can represent a great opportunity for indigenous peoples. Depending on how these initiatives are carried out, however, they also risk establishing perverse incentives and top-down models for forest protection, leading to land conflicts and unfair distribution of benefits. Consultations with indigenous peoples have largely been inadequate so far, and communities have demanded further information, and that their rights be respected. In response, the Rainforest Foundation is working with indigenous organizations in Guyana and Panama – two countries where REDD initiatives are growing quickly – to provide information on REDD and indigenous peoples rights and to push for indigenous involvement in decision-making around these projects.

Rainforest Foundation US’ Impact

The organization’s initial project led to a role coordinating the first ever privately funded demarcation of Indian land in the region. Since then the Rainforest Foundation has grown into a small network of four independent organizations in the US, the UK and Norway, working collectively in 20 rainforest countries around the globe. Collectively they have helped protect 28 million acres of forest.

Catchafire’s Prob Bono Impact with the Rainforest Foundation US

The Rainforest Foundation US has worked with three Catchafire pro bono professionals to date. The projects included Brand Identity, a Public Relations Plan and Copywriting. All three of these initiatives have helped broaden awareness and support for their cause.

Get Involved

If you want to get involved, please favorite the  Rainforest Foundation US  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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