Tag Archives: orgs

Change comes from within a community

1 Oct

Today we present the ninth in our series of profiles of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro.  Here’s what happens when a $26 loan and a few determined hearts have the power to change an entire community.

In 2000, an unlikely trio formed: Rye, a UNC student, Salim, a community organizer and Tabitha, a nurse and Kiberian local. Despite their vastly different backgrounds, a common goal united them. They each dreamed of changing the community of Kibera. $26 doesn’t sound like a significant sum, but it was a starting place for Tabitha. After borrowing the money from Rye (the now co-founder of Carolina for Kibera), she  who worked diligently to save up and launch a community health clinic in Kibera, one of the world’s largest slums.

In 2001, Carolina for Kibera (CFK) was launched to further the efforts of the clinic and quickly realized they had much more to offer.

Challenge: Kibera is a densely populated urban settlement, housing roughly one million people in one square mile. Lacking access to education, healthcare and basic services, inhabitants of the slum are no strangers to struggle. They are faced with the consequences of gender inequality, ethnic violence and extreme poverty on a daily basis.

CFK accepts this challenge. Using a localized and youthful approach they broke down the larger goal of empowering an entire community to focus on three areas.

Healthcare: CFK prioritizes health in Kibera by providing top quality medical services at their community based Tabitha Clinic. Their multiple health focused programs offer HIV/AIDS and sexual health education using a de-stigmatizing “edutainment” and offer safe places for young women to learn about reproductive health and women’s rights.

Community: Half of Kibera’s population is under the age of 15, a statistic that provoked CFK to set up a scholarship program to help families in the area afford sending their children to school. CFK also has set up sports programs to empower young Kiberians by building confidence and teaching life skills while promoting peace and cultural understanding.

This video tells the story of Innocent, a local CFK jump-rope coach who is dedicated to the CFK mission.

Economy: CFK  advances businesses in the community by offering entrepreneurial and business training to locals. Their innovative approach to dealing with waste management is outlined in this impressive video.

We applaud CFK as this year their leaders and volunteers supplied 40-45,000 patients with quality medical services. In addition, their mobile health effort educated 7,000 people! As the needs of Kibera change, CFK’s programs adapt quickly and accordingly.

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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.”

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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!

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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.”

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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. 

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