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Media Alert – Boston Panel Event

15 Feb

Leveraging Pro Bono Talent to Build Organizational Capacity 

An Expert Panel Discussion in Boston

New York, NY – February 15, 2012 – We’ve assembled a panel of esteemed speakers from Boston’s social good sector. We will get together later this month and spend an evening discussing how to use pro bono to effectively build capacity within a nonprofit or social good organization.

Since coming on board in 2010, Prosperity Candle, a Boston-based organization, has successfully completed 11 Catchafire projects – including branding, marketing, social media, PR and strategy – to dramatically enhance their social impact. This amounts to 355 hours pro bono time and $82,500 in organization savings. Says Properity Candle co-founder, Siiri Morley:

Catchafire fills an important role in the social sector. As a young social enterprise start-up, Prosperity Candle struggles with limited resources and huge ambitions. Catchafire offers a perfect solution – with a small investment we can get fantastic talent that truly delivers on the proposed scope.”

The panelists:

  • Matthew Segneri, Advisor to the Mayor at City of Boston
  • Jennifer Aronson, Director of Nonprofit Services, The Boston Foundation
  • Selena Schmidt, CEO, Common Impact
  • Andrew Wolk, Founder – Root Cause
  • Rachael Chong, Founder and CEO, Catchafire

We’re inviting all nonprofits and social enterprises in the Boston area to join us for an evening of inspirational learning, sharing, meeting old friends and making new friends.

Where: New England Research & Development (NERD) Center
When: Monday, February 27th
Time: 5:00pm – 7:30pm
Fee: Free

Schedule:
5:00 – 6:00pm: Panel
6:00 – 7:30pm: Networking and Refreshments

About Catchafire:
Catchafire is the largest pro bono service provider in NYC. Through Catchafire, social good organizations can access professional services at rates that they can afford and professionals can access meaningful skilled volunteering opportunities. Last November we expanded into Boston and welcomed our Boston Founding 30 Members.

Read more about Catchafire here.

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Press enquires:

Contact JC Darné
Email: press@catchafire.org
Phone: (646) 400-5659

Interested in attending? Book tickets here.

Prosperity Candle: Passionately Growing One Candle at a Time

25 Jan

In April 2010, a few weeks before Mother’s Day, Prosperity Candle founders Amber Chand, Siiri Morley and Ted Barber drove from their Boston office to JFK Airport in New York City to pick up their first ever shipment of candles. These candles were made by 50 women – “chandler-entrepreneurs” – living in war-torn Baghdad, Iraq. This was the first test – would the candles survive the journey? Apprehension was quickly replaced by pride and joy at the sight of perfectly made, unscathed candles. They made it, and for the first time Chand, Morley and Barber saw the fruits of their labor. “As of today”, wrote Morley, “50 women in a place of conflict have been given the opportunity to start their own businesses.”

Abeer, Iraq

Through candle-making, Prosperity Candle is providing women who live in regions ravaged by armed conflict, and human and natural disaster with an opportunity to rebuild their lives and share their stories with the world. Launched in 2009, this small (but growing) social enterprise has had a tremendous impact, one candle at a time. Their mission is bold but they’re finding success in a simple philosophy: “Every candle is a vehicle for social change and global connection.”

After that first shipment, sales would provide the next important test. Mother’s Day, just around the corner, provided the perfect opportunity to launch the product. Each candle is sent with the name of the maker on the label. The receiver can then go online to Prosperity Candle’s Voices to read the chandler’s story and even send her a message. There was an outpouring of messages from mothers across the US who weren’t simply enjoying their candles but deeply affected by the woman-to-woman connection the gift enabled.

With an effective supply chain, the final test was that of their guiding philosophy: How did these women, living in one of the world’s most dangerous cities, feel about their new business? After their second shipment, Prosperity Candle touched base with Women for Women International, its partner in Iraq. Once again the feedback was positive and heart-felt. Most notably, Morley asserts, these women believe that their candles fulfill a higher social purpose and are enabling them to connect with others across the globe.

(Read their inspiring testimonials here.)

Prosperity Candle has since begun working with women refugees from Burma and Bhutan who have resettled in West Springfield, MA. The company is also exploring opportunities in Haiti, Rwanda and Afghanistan, and developing partnerships with larger organizations – both for- and not-for-profits – that share their mission.

Naw, Moo Kho, Mee Mee, West Springfield, MA

This young organization has completed an astounding ten Catchafire projects. We’re extremely proud of the pro bono professionals who have worked with Prosperity Candle to help them build capacity, share their story and make an impact. Morley says her Catchafire professionals have provided the organization with “energy, expertise and objectivity,” three qualities that a young social good organization thrives on. She also noted that great pro bono professionals not only provide much-needed skills but also a shared passion for their cause, and a sense of flexibility that a growing organization needs. Morley talks fondly of pro bono professionals like Stephanie Leydon, a communications specialist, who comfortably and effectively “put herself in our shoes” to meet their specific needs and of others, like copywriter Sara Buschkamp, who, in their initial meeting, eloquently stated, “you can’t read the label from the inside of the bottle” and provided the organization with new energy and a fresh perspective.

Prosperity Candle currently has a blog that’s integrated into their WordPress website. They’re looking for a technically-skilled and creative pro bono professional to help them create a playful, spirited and reflective WordPress blog that’s distinct from their website. Click here if you’re interested in being a part of this organization’s incredible narrative.

Connecting for Justice in Boston: Thursday Jan 19

12 Jan

Socializing for Justice (sojust.org) is not just Boston’s fastest-growing cross-issue progressive community, they’re also friends of Catchafire.

This organization is the brainchild of local activist, community organizer, and event planner, Robbie Samuels. He believes that the fight for social justice will be more effectively fought if people, representing multiple progressive issues, can get together in a room and connect on their overlapping values.

This Thursday, January 19th from 6-9PM, Socializing for Justice will be hosting it’s largest event of the year, Connecting for Justice, at Lir on Boylston. ”This is a welcoming space where all attendees, diverse by age, race, gender, sexual orientation, newness to Boston, and experience with activism, come together to “put the SOCIAL back in social justice!”

At Connecting for Justice, participants can experience the connecting power of Socializing for Justice for themselves. There will be Action Stations to link attendees with local organizations, “I’m Looking For” and “Ask Me About” tags, a Jobs Board filled with openings from other social change groups and a free Literature Table.

Learn more and RSVP for Connecting for Justice at www.sojust.org.

Unfortunately Catchafire can’t be there this time, but keep your ears open for some exciting events that we’ll be planning in the months ahead.  We look forward to catching up with our Boston friends soon!

Our Boston Founding Members helping children and youth in need

21 Nov

Congratulations and thank you to Boston’s Founding 30 for coming on board with Catchafire, and for making our Boston launch event last Monday the success that it was. Today we conclude a blog series featuring the last four of our Founding 30, who are helping children and young adults in Boston and across the nation to lead safe, happy lives and realize their dreams, whatever their circumstances.

Since its formation in 1986, Youth Villages has been helping emotionally troubled children and their families. Its programs and services have a national reputation as the most effective available. They’re focused on results and employ evidence-based treatment models to fulfill a refined and simple goal: building stronger families.

The organization provides therapy in the least restrictive setting available – the child’s own home. This enables Youth Villages to work closely with families to create permanent solutions. There are about 425,000 children in foster care across the US and every 38 minutes, Youth Villages brings another child into their care. This year alone they’re working with more than 17,000 children and families in 11 states.

Despite Youth Villages’ incredible success rate of 80% (twice the national average), the organization can always use more help. Visit their website to view opportunities to mentor, volunteer, donate, fundraise and attend events.

ROCA focuses on supporting the most disenfranchised young people living the Greater Boston area, including those involved with gangs, school and college dropouts, young parents, refugees and immigrants. By helping them transition into educational and life skills programming and employment, ROCA is helping them to re-engage with society.

Founded in 1988, ROCA has helped more than 25,000 young people to take responsibility for their lives and make meaningful change. ROCA doesn’t simply help young people find future opportunities, it provides them with the skills and motivation they need to proactively and enthusiastically embrace these opportunities, thereby ensuring long-term success. Of the 705 young people engaged with ROCA this year alone, 90% remain actively involved in ROCA’s program.

There are many way for those living in the Greater Boston area and beyond to get involved. Get the ball rolling!

Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) provides youth with positive role models and one-to-one and group mentoring programs, empowering them to achieve their personal, educational and professional goals. They have pioneered a number of nationally recognized, award winning mentoring services.

Mentor Match, PYD’s primary program, provides adult mentors for 40-60 youth every year. Mentors, often disabled themselves, foster close relationships and focus on independent living skills. An array of other programs help troubled youths build skills in self-advocacy, entrepreneurship, career development, socialization, leadership and healthy living, to name a few. The Access to Theatre program, for example, gives youth with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the arts and explore their creative talents.

PYD’s scope is broad, as are their volunteer opportunities. Volunteers are key to the organization’s success and continual growth. Interested in becoming a mentor or simply hosting a “Job Shadow Day”? Contact YPD via their site.

Hubert Eugene Jones, or “Hubie Jones,” has been shaping the social landscape of Boston for over 45 years. In addition to building, rebuilding and leading a number of community organizations across Boston, Jones chaired a task force that effectively spearheaded the enactments of two landmark laws in Massachusetts, the Special Education Law and the Bilingual Education Law. Jones created the taskforce after discovering how 10,000 children were, for a number of reasons, being excluded from the school system. That was back in 1967.

Fast-forward 43 years and he’s on a new mission. Modeled after New York City’s Harlem Children Zone, Jones has formed Higher Ground. Higher Ground will focus its efforts on certain “impact areas”, providing the services needed most and working closely with other social good organizations to increase their effectiveness. Higher Ground is still raising startup capital, but with the extremely determined Hubie Jones behind the project, it’s destined for success.

If you missed our post on the Founding 30, check it out here.

Boston Founding Members who partner with purpose

18 Nov

Social good projects are most effectual when a group of purpose-driven and talented people comes together behind the cause. Indeed, behind almost every social and environmental initiative underway today, nonprofits, government agencies, businesses, and individuals are working together to ensure their success. A number of organizations have come into existence around this simple idea: that we can accomplish so much more when we work together. Three such organizations are Catchafire Boston Founding Members. They’re promoting Boston as a center intellectual excellence, finding talented people for worthy causes and facilitating meaningful partnerships with all sects of society.

Boston World Partnerships (BWP), a nonprofit created by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, is a network of innovators, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and business leaders. This network is managed by the BWP Connectors who disseminate information about Boston’s economic opportunities and resources. The organization’s goal is simple: To raise global awareness for Boston as a center of excellence and a destination of choice for business.

Distinguishing BWP from similar platforms is their focus on building relationships and fostering ideas. BWP has nurtured a culture of mutual benefit by building a community of individuals willing to combine their personal and civic interests. They offer members an array of services geared toward connecting like-minded people with each other and Boston-based opportunities. These include access to fellow members and partner organizations and businesses, networking events and strategy sessions.

Visit the BWP website to learn more about future events, their services and how to become a member.

In 2005, a group of Boston-based nonprofit professionals came together out a shared frustration: the difficulty in finding and recruiting talented individuals for social good. They formed Commongood Careers, a recruitment agency serving the nonprofit sector.

Among their first clients were BELL, College Summit, Jumpstart and Year Up. Today, they’re one of the most experienced nonprofit recruitment agents in the country, operating nationwide and serving over 175 organizations in 26 states. They envision a social good sector where the access to and development of talent is simple and efficient. To make this happen, they’ve set a goal of expanding five-fold over the next five years, to eventually be placing 500 nonprofit professionals every year.

Organizations looking to hire talented, purpose-driven job seekers should visit the Commongood Careers website to get started.

Driven by the belief that social problem solving is best achieved through innovation and investment, Root Cause has been partnering nonprofits, philanthropy, government agencies and businesses around worthy causes since 2003.

Root Cause believes these partnerships can be most effective by helping clients fulfill four key prerequisites:

  • Social innovation –sharing ideas among all stakeholders
  • Information alignment – providing common terminology and data for all stakeholders
  • Public innovation – forming strategic partnerships between government leaders and their counterparts in nonprofits, philanthropy and business
  • Social impact markets – enabling individuals and institutions to provide financial (and other) resources for social good

In addition to the consulting services and research that Root Cause provides its clients (nonprofits, philanthropists, government agencies and businesses), they also host a forum where nonprofits can expand their networks and build capacity.

We’re almost at the end of our Founding 30 blog series. On Monday we will feature our final group – four great social good organizations helping children and young adults.

Celebrating in Boston with our social good organizations and professionals

17 Nov

On Monday, Catchafire took its first step towards national expansion by launching in Boston with 30 Founding Members. We held our first Boston Pro Bono 101 Seminar, designed to help our Founding 30 get the most out of their pro bono experience. During the seminar, the Catchafire team shares pro bono best practices, discusses expectations and process, and new organizations have the chance to hear the perspectives of a current Catchafire member. The seminar was followed by the Launch Party, held in Space with a Soul’s new event space. 130 people, including individuals from across the Boston social good landscape, Boston Founding Members and members of the press, were in attendance. Guests enjoyed food provided by Haley House, wine by Eventbrite Boston, and Sam Adams beer.

Siiri, Founder of Prosperity Candle, and Ann Kamensky from Partners for Youth with Disabilities

Celebrating at the launch party

Dana, Catchafire Service Officer and Erica from MassChallenge

The following evening, Catchafire and Root Cause participated on a joint panel for the Northeastern University Social Enterprise Institute‘s monthly discussion series. The topic was “Innovative platforms to Build Capacity for Non-Profits” and panelists were to discuss how they are innovating to help nonprofits build capacity. Speaking to a full house of students and professionals, Rachael discussed Catchafire’s evolution, the decision to adopt B Corp status and the key tenets of Catchafire’s theory of change. Ryan Letada, one of Catchafire’s Account Managers, conducted a demo of the live site for the audience to illustrate the power of technology to support matching of professionals and organizations. As many in the audience were students and entrepreneurs-in-training, Root Cause and Catchafire also provided tips on choosing a career path. Rachael’s message to those who wanted to start their own companies was to work for a startup, at as early a stage as possible, in order to get the best on the ground experience.

Rachael with panelists from Root Cause, Allison Mirkin and Anne Radday

All in all, it was a fantastic trip and we look forward to heading back up in December.

Boston professionals: register with Catchafire today to give what you’re good at with one of our amazing Founding 30!

Boston Founding Members working on environmental protection: sustainable solutions to big problems

16 Nov

The public is becoming increasingly concerned about the environment. The impact of human activity on the planet is far reaching and there is growing concern about access to clean water, overpopulation, the depletion of natural resources, and the burning of dirty fuels. Gone are the days when we can lean on Government to solve these problems alone. Government, business and citizen alike, we must all play our part. It is the nonprofit and social enterprise sector however, that by and large, is leading the way in environmental stewardship. Today we feature four of our Founding 30 Boston-based organizations who are working to protect the environment and tackle these problems. What makes these four so compelling, is not just their impact on the environment, but their approach to tackling a combination of social and environmental issues simultaneously.

SolSolution has a dual focus: to generate clean, renewable energy and improve the quality of education in low-income communities. Their model is simple but effective – funds from the sale of solar-generated energy are diverted to underprivileged schools.

They’re ambitious too. Their 2020 goal is to provide 1 GW of solar power to U.S. schools, effectively saving $200 million in energy costs, which is donated to schools in need. How are they reaching their target? The SolSolution Educational Power Purchase Agreement (E-PPA) provides clean energy at a low, fixed rate, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and freeing up schools’ budget to be spent on much needed resources.

Help SolSolution! Learn how you can promote their case, go solar, make a donation or simply “Shop and Eat!”

Wegowise is bringing clarity and simplicity to a complex but popular issue in the green space – Energy Efficiency Investments. In addition to helping those grappling with the confusing science and finance of energy efficiency, Wegowise is also using its resources to serve low-income housing communities – precisely where their work can have the most meaningful impact.

They have created a low-cost and easy-to-use online tool that “gives expert answers to non-experts.” This tool helps users get the most out of energy efficiency investments, especially in the affordable housing sector, where resources are limited. As a social enterprise, Wegowise also combines the benefits of a revenue stream with a mission for using energy more wisely. Visit their website for a demonstration of how the Wegowise tools work, as well as pricing plans.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) combines the expertise of scientists, economists and lawyers to address environmental threats to the climate, oceans, ecosystems and people’s health.

Science, Economics and Partnerships: EDF was founded by a small and passionate group of scientists, who remain firm in their belief that rigorous science will help us identify and understand the most serious environmental problems and most effective solutions. Armed with scientific facts, EDF appeals to the marketplace. EDF have demonstrated time and time again that the right incentives can attract people and capital investment from the markets to solve environmental problems. Finally, EDF scientists partner with lawyers and major corporations to ensure lasting solutions.

EDF has been in operation for over 40 years and has many success stories to share. Visit their site to learn how EDF wrote the 1990 Clean Air Act, changed the way people think about commercial fishing and how they became the first nonprofit to partner with a big business in the US.

Founded in 1973 by the League of Women Voters and the Boston Shipping Association, The Boston Harbor Association (TBHA) promotes a clean, alive and accessible Boston Harbor.

Harbors are often the hub of industrial activity for seaside cities. That doesn’t mean they can’t also be beautiful, green, and safe public spaces. TBHA works closely with all the harbor’s stakeholders – from developers, environmentalists, waterfront businesses and local government – to develop sustainable solutions for environmental protection, industrial and commercial activity and public access. Among its many initiatives, TBHA has ensured the success of various renewable energy projects, the development of its popular waterfront and a program to remove over 240 tons of marine debris from the harbor’s waters.

They also host a number of free events that encourage both locals and tourists to get involved and enjoy the harbor. Visit their website to see what is happening in the upcoming weeks and learn how you can get involved.

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