Archive | October, 2012

How will you indulge in the luxury of #Sandy?

31 Oct

In the confusion and mayhem of #Sandy, we lost track of our downtown Manhattan based CEO, Rachael Chong, for a few hours. Without cell service, power, internet, it took her some time to get to a safe place. When she wrote to update the team on her whereabouts she had this to say about her situation:

I lost power at home last night but caught myself flicking the switches anyway, out of habit. Hot water wasn’t available either. It took a lot of work to function normally without lights and without hot water flowing from the faucet at command. I was curious and looked up some stats. 79% of people in the Third World live without electricity every day; 780 million people live without clean water; and when we take a 5-minute shower, we use more water than people in many developing countries use for an entire day. And these are just the basics. Shoot. 

Times like these remind me of how much we have, how much we have to be grateful for, and how much we have to give. Because we can simply flick a switch and make the lights go on, because we don’t have to walk miles to collect water, because we can safely walk out of our homes without fear, because our garbage is picked up daily and whisked way for us to never see again, because food is abundant (and literally served on silver platters for us) — because of all these things that we don’t even have to think about — we have the luxury of going to work and making a difference. The luxury to make a difference, the luxury to give back, and the luxury to do meaningful work. I refuse to take this for granted. I will take advantage of and LOVE every luxurious day. Please someone slap me if I don’t.

Right now we are compiling a list of ways to indulge in the luxury of giving back post Sandy in the immediate future and in the weeks and months to come.

We welcome your leads in the comments below, on FB or to hsamuelson@catchafire.org.

Stay safe, be well and stop feeling guilty — do something about it!

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Skyfall and Silverlings: Great Upcoming Events from Our Friends at TFI

30 Oct

This Fall, Tribeca Film Institute will host two benefits to raise funds for their programs. An exclusive advanced screening of Skyfall on November 5th at the Ziegfeld Theater with Daniel Craig and cast in attendance. An after party at the Museum of Modern Art will follow. Tickets are on sale now.

On November 12th, TFI hosts its first ever Tribeca Teaches benefit, the NY Premiere of Silver Linings Playbook. Ticket sales go directly to TFI’s Tribeca Teaches program which uses youth made media to empower, integrate, explore and educate. Tribeca Teaches pairs classrooms with teaching artists and is designed to give youth the film and media-making skills needed to tell their own stories and explore critical connections between personal experiences, school curricula and the communities in which they live. Purchase tickets for Silver Linings Playbook here.

Contributions from ticket sales help Tribeca Film Institute provide over $1.2 Million in grants to filmmakers to help get their documentary, narrative and transmedia projects made and brings independent film and filmmaking to over 15,000 middle and high school students in NYC and Los Angeles. TFI believes that art is alive and with your help, they can make it thrive!

About TFI

Tribeca Film Institute brings diverse artistic visions, cultural experiences, and unheard voices to the screen and new audiences. In providing over $1 million in grants annually and access to professional development, TFI empowers filmmakers from around the world, while offering year-round educational programs that help students gain the media skills necessary to be productive 21 st century citizens and creative individuals.

Calling all Filmmakers with a heart and head for service. Catchafire needs you to create promotional videos for these excellent causes:

Announcing the MTV Catchafire Non-Profit Makeover

26 Oct

A Catchafire Member Exclusive

Your organization is doing vital work, making the world a better place and growing by leaps and bounds. But your brand and website need some long overdue TLC, your Facebook following has yet to reach a critical mass and it’s always a struggle to get the press to pay attention.

Sound familiar? We feel your pain.

One eligible member of the Catchafire social good community will be selected for a four-month partnership with the talented creative team at MTV to help “Makeover” your organization, including: Website Design, Branding, Marketing Materials and Social Media Strategy.

The result? 

A new and improved public face to help give your organization a boost to the next level and a new set of tools and strategies to keep the momentum going for years to come.

Deadline: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 5:00 PM EST
Eligibility Requirements and Application 
HERE.

You never know; your organization might get a brand new bag.

Questions? We love questions!
help@catchafire.org

A Home Away from Home

10 Oct

Today we present the final profile of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Last but certainly not least, here is an organization that has been supporting families with seriously ill children since 1988.

Many families with seriously ill children are forced to travel long distances or endure extended stays in the hospital to ensure their children get the best treatment. The emotional trauma of a sick child is enough to bear without the additional stress of life on the road.

This is where The Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill comes in. This organization understands that providing comfort to families with seriously ill children can truly make a difference in their lives.

The Ronald McDonald House believes hope can be found in the comfort of a home!

Each year, they open their doors to more than 1,800 families with children in the hospital. When the weary travelers arrive at  the Ronald McDonald House, they find a home with a fully stocked kitchen, home-cooked meals, a cozy living room, hotel-style guest rooms, and outdoor play areas.

Families get the chance to take their minds off of the stress of hospital life and relax by participating in the Healing Arts Program. This program sponsors family-oriented activities each night, giving everyone in the house a chance to relieve stress and have fun while interacting with other families. These activities include craft nights, therapy dog visits, cooking, music performances and even massage therapy.

Sign up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and give families in need a home away from home!

Shrinking America’s Education Gap

8 Oct

Today we present the twelfth in our series of profiles of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Here’s an organization that works diligently to give every teen the chance to attend college. 

The U.S. is facing a major problem: 90 percent of the fastest growing jobs today require a post-secondary education, yet the U.S. lags behind other nations in young adults enrolled in higher education. This is disproportionately true for low income students.

The National College Advising Corps (NCAC) strives to fix this problem by closing the gap in access to education and opportunity. They hope to accomplish this goal  by providing low-income, first-generation-college students with the advice and support needed to enroll in and complete college. NCAC approaches the education gap in a unique way. They lessen the non-academic barriers to applying to college, for example, helping students tackle the timely financial aid application.

Advising is key: Many students do not apply to college because they are deterred by the lengthy and sometimes confusing application and enrollment process. NCAC matches counselors with prospective college students to help them choose the right college and complete the required paperwork .

NCAC counselors are unique in that they are required to be 25 years old or younger. Sixty percent of counselors are from low-income families and all of them recently graduated college. Being close in age and origin to their mentees is important for counselors because it helps them relate to and develop a strong mentor-mentee relationship.

Today, U.S. high school counselor caseloads reach as high as 500 students, leaving counselors less time to dedicate to each student’s success. NCAC advising addresses the issue by providing full-time one on one counseling to low performing high schools around the country, ensuring that students receive plenty of attention.

How does NCAC measure success?

Since its start in 2004, NCAC has partnered with 18 colleges in 14 states. They have helped 12,000 students enroll in college and the high schools they are partnered with have seen an 8-12 percent increase in students attending college, compared to schools not partnered with NCAC.

By fostering the spirit of community and public service in young adults throughout the country, the Advising Corps aims to improve college-going and graduation rates, thus creating a more productive workforce for future generations.

Sign up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and help NCAC close the education gap!


Bringing Local to the Forefront

5 Oct

Today we present the eleventh in our series of profiles of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Here is an organization that is taking the food and farming industry in North and South Carolina by storm — literally.

The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) is a leading advocate for local and organic farming in North and South Carolina. They have set their sights on creating a region where sustainable agriculture is the norm.

How does CFSA  go about mainstreaming this grand idea?

They start by inspiring the communities closest to the issue.

Educate the community: CFSA focuses on increasing the understanding of sustainable food and agricultural systems. They promote the importance of organic and local food to the general public and farmers at their Sustainable Agriculture Conference and through programs like their Growing Green Farmers initiative which helps new farmers grow a sustainable business.

Advocacy:  This summer, CFSA  promoted fair farming and food policies by launching the Local Food Barn Storm Tour of the Carolinas. The Local Barn Storm travelled to farms across the Carolinas to provide farmers with the resources grow to their industries. Along the way, CFSA collected stories that demonstrated the importance of local farming, inspired support for sustainable agriculture and raised awareness about the 2012 Federal Farm Bill, a series of reforms to agricultural policy that prioritize farmer’s needs.

One exciting result of this tour is carolinafood.org, CFSA’s new food-finder blog where you can easily search for local food, farms and restaurants.

Fostering growth: CFSA has a variety of programs in place which aim to establish a  world class organics industry in the Carolinas.  Like the small-scale Carolina Ground project that builds up local farming by supplying bakeries with high-quality organic supplies to create delicious, local and organic baked items.

We asked CFSA’s Alice Alexander to share her thoughts on working with Catchafire, “As a small but smart regional organization with a proven track record, we are ripe for expert consultation to help us raise our visibility and influence. As with most nonprofits just reaching adolescence, we do not have the luxury of deep pockets to invest in strategy development that would kick us to a new level. Catchafire serves as an angle is making these leaps possible!”

Sign up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and help people in the Carolinas grow and eat local, organic foods.

 

 

Helping Young Artists Find Their Voice

3 Oct

Today we present the tenth in our series of profiles of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro.  Here’s what happens when an organization unites young poets from the North Carolina Triangle to help them build self-confidence and become leaders using the spoken and written word. 

Sacrificial Poets (SacPoe) has been challenging young people to find their voice and discover new ways to empower themselves through artistic expression since 2005. Students are chosen from local slam poetry competitions in the Triangle and are invited to join the organization to hone their artistic skills and find their way in the world.

Internationally: This past year, SacPoe launched Poetic Portraits of a Revolution, a program to inspire young people to use art as an element of agency. Recently, four of their young poets traveled to Egypt and Tunisia to document the popular uprisings using poetry and photography.  A series of their poems were broadcast on NPR.

Back at home: SacPoe created a local alternative to the Poetic Portraits of a Revolution, called Painted Voices. This program teaches young people to look for groundbreaking stories close to home.

When the Sacrificial Poets are not slamming down rhymes or travelling the world looking for inspiration, they are educating their community.  YouTh ink is a SacPoe educational program that uses spoken word poetry to introduce students to tools that aid them in strengthening not just writing and public speaking skills, but their emotional literacy as well.

Executive Director Will Inerney is excited to start working with us, “Catchafire allows our local non-profit the ability to connect with skilled professionals across the nation with the click of a button. The diverse skills, opinions, and experience [Catchafire] experts bring will help Sacrificial Poets continue to be a more efficient, effective, and impactful organization.”

SacPoe is doing something right if their poets are this inspiring:  

There’s more where that came from! Take a look at more performances here.

Sign up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and help young artists  find their voice!

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