Archive | September, 2012

Enter the Dream Construction Zone

28 Sep

It’s Friday! We want to celebrate by presenting the eighth in our series of profiles of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill- Carrboro.  What happens when you combine every  color of poster paint under the rainbow with a little glitter glue, the occasional garden gnome, a miniature kitchen set, fairytales and clay sculptures? 

You get a hands-on museum dedicated inspiring young minds!

Kidzu is the place, a museum where children ages 0-8 are encouraged to let their imaginations run wild as they learn about the world and turn their ideas into original creations.

Children are invited to discover new talents in sculpting, painting and crafting classes. Their imaginations are put to the test as they play make-believe inside the many touring exhibits and their creativity is celebrated at Kidzu’s original exhibit.

Enter into a museum of possibilities

On a typical day at Kidzu, artistic creations by local artists dangle from the ceiling, authors from the community can be heard telling their stories in the puppet theater and kids of all ages are getting the  chance to make their wildest fantasies a reality in the dream construction zone of Kidzu’s original exhibit, KidBoom: The Power of Creativity! Opportunities for little minds to wander are seemingly endless at Kidzu.

Kidzu has been busy lately

Executive Director Pam Wall says, “just two weeks ago, Kidzu began the concept design phase of our new museum with our world renown team of architects, Frank Harmon, The Porticos Group and MIG.  We engaged our community advisory group for input on how we will make this the best children’s museum in the state and country.”

Sign up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and let your imagination run wild!


At Volunteers for Youth, Every One Counts

26 Sep

Today we present the seventh in our series of profiles of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro.  We are excited to work with an organization that was created when a group of caring individuals decided that giving up on their community’s juvenile delinquents was simply not an option.

Twenty years ago the city of Carrboro faced a rising juvenile crime rate with no solution in sight. Enter Volunteers for Youth (VFY). The organization offers a variety of youth-focused programs all geared towards preventing delinquency.

Question: Is it possible to change the course of a  child’s life?

Volunteers for Youth believes the answer simple —  just give them a chance!  VFY wants every child they work with to know that they are important and to help them grow into strong, contributing members of society.

Here’s how they do it:

High-risk kids are paired with responsible mentors who devote many hours a week to fostering year-long (or in cases life-long) relationships. Mentoring focuses on building positive relationships and encourages children in the community to realize their strengths.

Juvenile Community Service

Youth who have committed crimes in Orange County are assigned community service hours. The young people are then placed in nonprofit work sites where volunteer supervisors oversee and evaluate their work on projects including  park clean up projects and arts & crafts projects that benefit the community. Young people learn valuable life and job skills in the process.

Teen Court
When a first time offender is brought to Volunteers for Youth, they encounter an innovative justice model: Teen Court, run by teens for teens. First time offenders enter into an alternative court program where they are tried by fellow students who take on the roles of prosecutor, defense attorney, clerk, bailiff and juror and sentence them accordingly.

Despite major cuts to funding at the state and Federal level, Volunteers for Youth has never failed to empower young people through these programs. With the support from Carrboro and surrounding communities, they continue to serve at-risk youth in Orange county.

We think Volunteers for Youth is on to something!

Sign up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and give every child a chance.

Bringing TV to the People, TPC Style

24 Sep

This Monday we present the sixth in our series of profiles of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Here’s what happens when a group of concerned media activists set out to make sure that local voices are heard.

The People’s Channel (TPC) and Durham Community Media (DCM) are the result of these concerned activist’s struggle and as the only public access TV and community media centers in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham they understand the importance of free access to quality media content. In 1998, they went live with their locally run media model, a model devoted to addressing specific needs of the community.

What’s missing from National TV?

Profit-driven mainstream media favors stories that increase viewers or please advertisers, which can leave less popular but no less relevant, stories out in the cold. The People’s Channel believes this creates an inequity in the kinds of stories that are told.

How does public access television address this issue?

TPC values the power of free speech and works hard to disseminate effective media. They provide community members with the resources to create and share their own media, developing a local and alternative television dialogue.

TPC and DCM make it possible for anyone in the community to tell their stories by offering courses in filming, film production and editing. Whether you are looking to hone your technical skills or have never touched a video camera in your life, you are welcome at TPC.

Over the past three years The People’s Channel and DCM have grown significantly, tripling their staff members and doubling the amount of facilities they have allowing them to reach a larger public.

Executive Director Chad Johnson reflected that, “The organization has spent a great deal of time building a solid and sustainable organizational culture, which was not a small undertaking. However, because we chose to build a solid foundation, we stand at a tipping point as an organization. We are at a crossroads, where the staff and the board feel as if we can truly serve the community in a manner, which is consistent with our mission and has the internal capacity to make our mission a reality on a day to day basis.”

Sign up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and help public access television and community media stay relevant.

Check out some of the local stories, made possible by TPC’s efforts:


How do you solve a problem as big as the Earth?

21 Sep

Today we introduce the fifth profile in the series of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro. We’re exploring what happens when a young boy’s fascination with bugs evolves into a vision that inspires a change-making biodiversity foundation.

E.O. Wilson never grew out of his bug phase. What began with an observation of ants developed into a lifelong study of biodiversity and resulted in the launch of a foundation dedicated to promoting worldwide understanding of the importance of biodiversity and environmental conservation.

Why is Biodiversity Important?

Biodiversity on our planet is shrinking quickly and in most cases humans are the cause. We chop down our rainforests and compromise the quality of the air we breathe. We affect a sensitive environmental balance and species become extinct. As a result of extinction there are fewer organisms for scientists to study, which limits the number of breakthroughs and their potential to provide us with new medicines, innovations and improvements in our quality of life.

The Wilson Foundation believes education is one solution. This year they launched a digital textbook that puts the 10 lb. paper textbooks from high school to shame. E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth engages students using interactive multimedia, transforming the way students learn.

E.O. Wilson Asks You to Enter the World of the Biologist

Paula J. Ehrlich, President & CEO of E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation discusses the importance of this new tool,  “From molecules to ecosystems, this iBook introduces students to the grandest story there is, the story of life on Earth. Today’s biology students will be tomorrow’s biochemists, explorers, environmental policy makers, park rangers, and informed citizens.  E. O. Wilson’s Life on Earth is being created to prepare them for their work.” 

The Foundation’s efforts take them as far as the Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique where an unprecedented ecological restoration project is underway by the Carr Foundation and the Gorongosa Restoration Project. The Park was once one of the highest density wildlife areas in the world but was devastated by decades of war. The Wilson Foundation is documenting the restoration of the park and working to establish a living laboratory there, which will be used as a model research station for this and other treasured ecosytems.

We think EO Wilson and his team are are on to something!

Sign up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and help them train tomorrow’s scientists. 

We think you’re fascinating (we really do)!

20 Sep

That’s why we’ve launched a new program to collect and share your unique stories: Catchafire StoryCatcher. Take a few moments and fill in the survey below to help us learn more about you, your secret talent, your favorite candy and the true story behind your motivation to give your time and talent for the greater good. This will not only satiate our burning curiosity, it will help us generate powerful stories to share with the world via our blog, social media channels and press partnerships. You may just find yourself on a page in your favorite magazine or online publication.

The Fabric of Change

19 Sep

Today is the fourth in our series of profiles of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Today we find out what happens when a smart UNC grad with a head and heart for social good sees a problem and wants to find a solution:

After graduating from UNC, Callie Brauel decided to focus her energy finding the answer to a problem she encountered after spending a semester abroad in Ghana.

PROBLEM: Every day 40 tons of plastic waste is thrown into the streets of Accra, Ghana. A substantial portion is from sachet bags, sandwich-sized plastic bags filled with water and the main form of safe, clean drinking water in Ghana. Every night 30,000 children sleep on those same streets.

SOLUTION: The nonprofit A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN). ABAN, co founded by Callie Brauel and Rebecca Brandt, provides formerly homeless girls with shelter, seamstress training, Business, English, Math, and Life Skills Education, and the means to save, matching their individual savings upon graduation. Through seamstress training, our girls learn a marketable skill by sewing the recycled sachet bags into unique, handmade products. ABAN then provides a financial boost and personal assistance that they need to transition from life on the streets to a respectable standing in society.

Watch this video for portrait of one of these remarkable young women:

We asked Callie for an update on ABAN and she had great news to share: “We graduated our first class of ABAN girls in Ghana this summer! To see these young mothers go from living on the streets of Accra just two years ago to standing on their own two feet with housing, jobs, and education for their children, was the largest milestone yet for our organization!”

Sign up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and help more girls in Ghana realize their dreams.

And while you’re at it, consider buying one of ABAN’s gorgeous products made from recycled bags! 

18 Great Ways to Buddy Up

18 Sep


Promotional Video (New York City) for Second Chance Toys
Second Chance Toys (SCT) rescues and redistributes gently used plastic toys to children in need through local community organizations while at the same time, helping our environment.  SCT conducts major toy collections through community-wide efforts during Earth Week (Apr) and Year-End Holidays (Nov/Dec).

Promotional Video (Boston) for BELL
BELL exists to transform the academic achievements, self-confidence, and life trajectories of children living in under-resourced, urban communities.  BELL delivers world-class learning experiences during the summer and after school to children in grades K-8. They focus on serving students – who referred to as “scholars” – who are falling behind academically, attend low-performing schools, and come from under-resources neighborhoods.  BELL pursues their work in public schools in Boston, where we were established nearly 20 years ago, as well as in Baltimore, Charlotte, Detroit, Newark, New York, and Springfield (MA).

Motion Graphics Video for Resilience Advocacy Project
RAP’s mission is to break cycles of poverty by using innovative youth empowerment and system-level advocacy initiatives to build resilience – i.e., the ability to overcome adversity – in low-income children and youth.

Motion Graphics Video for Boston After School and Beyond
Boston After School & Beyond is a public-private partnership dedicated to supporting, strengthening, and expanding Boston’s after-school sector. By fostering strategies that link education and enrichment efforts, Boston Beyond seeks to improve outcomes for Boston’s youth.

Short Video Editing for Behind the Book
Behind the Book’s mission is to excite children and young adults about reading. Working with low-income students in high-need New York City K-12 public schools, we bring authors and their books into individual classrooms to build literacy skills and a new generation of book readers.

Photography (Boston) for Good360
Good 360’s mission is to fulfill the needs of nonprofits with corporate product donations. Through the world’s largest online product donation marketplace, they look to create 360 degrees of good – good for companies, good for nonprofits, good for people and good for the environment.  Good360 is driven by a vision that demands constant innovation, leveraging the latest technological and social networking developments to create new and engaging online solutions that strengthen nonprofits and expand corporate citizenship.


Brand Messaging for Quest Adventures
The Quest Adventures service learning experience changes the lives of students from urban settings by empowering them through travel, community service, and self-discovery to become contributing citizens of the world.

Brand Messaging for Youth for Debate
Youth for Debate’s mission is to bring public speaking and debate education to public high and middle schools in order to promote transferrable confidence, critical thinking, positive self-expression, and academic engagement. We want to give students the tools they need to be their own strongest advocate.

E-Newsletter for Goods for Good
There are over 1 million orphans and millions more vulnerable children in Malawi. 50% of these children will never make it past the 4th grade.  Through the provision of excess goods and services, Goods for Good works to shape a brighter future for orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi by providing each with the opportunity to achieve.  Together with our partners, we meet the immediate needs of over 54,000 children while improving the long-term sustainability of their communities.

E-Newsletter for Boston Harbor Alliance
Boston Harbor Island Alliance promotes the use, enjoyment, and awareness of the Boston Harbor Islands national park area by creating vibrant public spaces, facilities, and programming on the islands, raising and managing the public and private resources necessary to do so.

Online Marketing Plan for Community Service Society
The Center for Benefits and Services of the Community Service Society seeks to stabilize the lives of low-income New Yorkers by ensuring their access to public benefit and housing programs, to help families move out of poverty while simultaneously strengthening the City’s economy.


Fundraising Plan Review for Unstoppable Foundation
The Unstoppable Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to bringing education and sustainability to people in developing nations.   Its mission is to ensure that every child has access to the lifelong gift of an education thereby building a thriving, just and sustainable world.  Its goal is to lift 100,000 children and their families out of extreme poverty through education and sustainable community development by year-end 2014.

Fundraising Plan Review for Young Photographers Alliance
Young Photographers Alliance inspires, educates, and empowers the next generation of photographers from around the world.

Donor Relations Strategy for KidZNotes
KidZNotes transforms the lives of underserved children through classical, orchestra music training beginning in early childhood to combat poverty, strenghten inner-city education, and foster positive decision making to unlock the world.

Membership Development Strategy for Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC)
The Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC) is a non profit organization located in Boston MA, but serving nationally. The mission is to influence culture and education by re-imagining and transforming the schooling experience for males of color. COSEBOC’s signature event is the Annual Gathering of Leaders, bringing hundreds of educators, community leaders and advocates, school administrators, etc together to explore, present findings, share stories and experiences, discuss issues and find like minded people who care passionately about this issue. This annual gathering has been generating increasing interest in the urgency of this cause since 2006.


Brochure Graphic Design for Adoption & Foster Care (AFC) Mentoring
AFC serves youth (ages 7 and older) in the Greater Boston area who have been removed from their families of origin and are living in out-of-home foster, kinship, psychiatric, or congregate care. Youth in foster care are an underserved population that benefits significantly from mentoring.  AFC is one of only a few mentoring organizations in the country that exclusively serves this population, and provides the most targeted, specialized mentoring service for young people who have been removed from their homes due to alleged abuse or neglect. Youth in the child welfare system constitute one of the more underserved populations in our community; because of this, these youth can benefit significantly from committed mentorships and increased access to employment training, education, and other critical job- and life-skills resources.

Website Visual Design for E+Co
E+Co is a mission-driven investment company that provides services and financing to clean energy entrepreneurs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These enterprises not only represent a cost-effective and long-term solution for local energy provision through clean technology, but many have also become local business champions that are charting a new, cleaner, more inclusive development path for their countries.


HR Systems Setup for SEEDS
SEEDS is a nonprofit educational community garden that uses gardening and growing food to teach respect for life, for the earth and for each other.

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