Monday, August 31, 2015

STEAM Coders Teaching Disadvantage Students Tech Fundamentals



Only founded in 2014 STEAM Coders has already served nearly 400 greater Los Angeles area students. The Pasadena, CA-based nonprofit  is teaching disadvantaged and underrepresented middle and high school students of color the fundamentals of Science, Technology, Engineering,  Art and Math (STEAM).

While ethnic and racial groups that have historically comprised a minority of the U.S. population are growing in size and influence, they remain underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics nationally. 4% of minority students are awarded degrees in physical science while 12% of other students receive degrees in this area. In 2011 National Science Foundation Reports Low Minority Representation on STEM Faculties. And according to the New York Times, in 2013, both women and people of color earned fewer higher education STEM degrees than ever.

STEAM Coders is on point to, through hands on activities, field trips and classroom instruction, help students develop the requisite skills to excel in the STEAM fields, spurring their appreciation the fields and fueling a desire to engage in activities that will spur imagination and innovation, in a quest to find solutions.

With burgeoning demand in the STEAM fields STEAM Coders is on a fast track to grow to assure underrepresented populations are not left behind. So far classes have been held in Pasadena, Claremont/Pomona, Inglewood and Los Angeles.Yhey are looking to expand with the help of grants, individual donations and strategic partnerships.  To learn more, get involved, teach courses and make a donation visit www.steamcoders.org

Monday, August 24, 2015

Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship-Work That Matters



This organization, a super early player in this field, was started in New York City in 1987 by Steve Mariotti, a former entrepreneur turned high school math teacher in the South Bronx.

Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has worked with more than 600,000 young people from low-income communities in programs across the U.S. and around the world. As of fall, 2014 NFTE operates our successful curriculum in 17 U.S. communities and 10 countries and is continuing to expand.

There are opportunities to volunteer in Chicago, Miami, various New York state locations, Los Angeles, D.C., Baltimore and Boston. As a volunteer you have opportunities to support young people in the development of business ideas with positive social impact.  Volunteer roles include becoming a guest speaker, offering to be a field trip host, business plan coaching, mentorship and other options. There are also opportunities to bring the NFTE program to a community you want to support as a NFTE teacher or licensed partner.

The program targets communities in which at least 50% of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. The core mission is positive impact in areas around the United States and around the world that are plagued by high dropout rates, violence and crime. Their focus on entrepreneurship comes from a belief that the entrepreneurial mindset is the set of attitudes, skills, and behaviors that students need to succeed academically, personally, and professionally.

To learn more, donate and get involved visit www.nfte.com

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Growing Home Leading Us To New Thinking On Nutrition And Environmental Responsibility



Watching the documentary Urban Fruit by Roman Zenz I was fascinated by the story of Rishi Kumar a highly educated engineer by training who gave up a promising career in information technology to choose a different path. Along with his mother they have transformed their once wasteful and nonproductive meticulously landscaped yard into a productive bio diverse urban farm which uses about 1/3 the water it took to keep their lawn green. 
They have done so while creating healthy organic food in abundance. In fact more than enough for themselves, their extended family of relatives and friends and untamed wildlife not limited to rare butterflies, hummingbirds, mosquito fish, dragonflies and raccoons that struggle to eke out good diets due to urban sprawl.

This project has grown into a mission of education on the how-to's and benefits of urban farming and creating bio diverse mini ecosystems that give back to our environment as opposed to simply taking. 

The Growing Home is a model for sustainable urban living. 

They offer classes and workshops, and host talks by experts in native gardening and organic farming. Rishi works with educators and young students in the Pomona California School District on hands on organic urban farming projects. They also participate in the Institute of Urban Ecology and in hosting a radio show on KPFK 90.7FM called The Good Food Movement.

To volunteer, request a speaking engagement, make a donation or visit their online shop for organic medicinal herbs visit thegrowinghome.net

Monday, July 6, 2015

Ithaca Children’s Garden Anarchy Zone



Offering year round education in the form of innovative, research-based programs, events, and workshops, designed for children, families, schools, educators, volunteers, and community members Ithaca Children’s Garden is described as a program and a place. The garden was organized in 1197 by organized in 1997 by Harriet Becker, Mary Alyce Kobler, and Monika Roth.

In 2004 the organization secured a lease of 3 acres in Cass Park from the city of Ithaca. The garden’s Nature Anarchy Zone demonstrates and exemplifies the  educational and developmental benefits of unstructured play.

Kids can get dirty digging for worms, playing with rocks and sticks, building forts, climbing trees, and generally daring to engage in the kind of wild and unsanitized play that was common 70 years ago but would scandalize today’s average helicopter parent.

 Somehow  children’s lives and time have become overwhelmingly structured, scheduled play dates appointment outings that have supervised structure agendas and schedules. "We’re starting to make the connection that our children don’t have access to enough free play," says Erin Marteal, executive director of Ithaca Children’s Garden, which established the Anarchy Zone in 2012. "There’s data to back it up that children are more creative, more active, and they communicate better when they’re engaged in open-ended play that they’re directing."

Other such adventure playgrounds are popping up around the country as more and more parents embrace the idea of unstructured play.

The beauty of a space like the Anarchy Zone, Ms. Marteal says, is that almost nothing is dictated to the kids. There are only three rules: Children in the zone must take care of themselves, each other, and the environment. Their mission is a simple one.. to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards

To make a donation or learn more about Ithaca Children’s Garden and unstructured adventure playgrounds visit http://ithacachildrensgarden.org/

Monday, June 29, 2015

StoryCorps - Giving Us A Chance To Tell Our Stories

I have always been a big fan of spoken word and the art of storytelling. I look forward to platforms like the MOTH.org and TED.com because they give us a chance to get outside ourselves and literally jump into the experiences and perspectives of so many others.  Spoken word and story telling are ways of connecting in an intimate way with other individual's lives. I've always come away from these listening experiences with a greater appreciation that we ARE all connected.

The StoryCorps ("storycore") mission is to collect as many American stories as possible from all walks of life. StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit.   Since 2003  they have collected over 45,000 stories with over 90,000 folks participating.  

The storyteller gets a copy their story to share. The stories are also preserved  in the American Folk Center at the Library of Congress.  

These stories ranging from couples talking about how they met, families of immigrants sharing experiences of America assimilation, a daughter dealing with her mom's diagnosis of Alzheimer's and a Mother talking to her daughter about being a transgender woman make up an audio tapestry of American lives..... stories well worth sharing and preserving.  We can all use social media- a digital platform for sharing stories- to share the story of  StoryCorp and support their work.  Visit http://storycorps.org/
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Monday, June 22, 2015

Pachamama Alliance Works for Sustainability of Amazon Rainforests and Achuar Culture

Founded in 1995 by Bill and Lynne Twist the Pachamama Alliance is a remarkable partnership between socially conscious citizens of the “modern” world and the Achuar people of the Amazon rainforest.

By the early 1990's, from contact with neighboring tribes, the Achuar knew that oil companies were poisoning the rainforest and everything alive in it and steadily moving closer and closer to their home.  They knew their land and their traditions were in danger.  They boldly reached out to the “modern” world that was threatening their land and their culture. Bill and Lynne Twist were among the people who traveled to Ecuador to hear the plight of the Achuar people.

The Achuar shared their vision of self-determination and a goal to change the culture of the “modern” world from over-consumption to a culture that honors and sustains life.  They were looking for allies from the North which they found in the Twists who returned to the U.S. and founded the Pachamama Alliance.

Among the key goals of the Alliance are to educate and engage citizens of the “modern” world around the vision of the Achuar, the global negative environmental impact powerful and influential oil companies are having in the Amazon rainforests of Ecuador and Peru and the importance to us all of sustaining the culture and worldview of the Achuar and its neighboring tribes.

It has probably NOT come to your attention  that President Correa of Ecuador recently announced plans to terminate the Yasuni-ITT Initiative to leave crude oil underneath Yasuni National Park untouched in exchange for financial support. The Pachamama Alliance has worked for the past 18 years, and continues to do so, to engage us through workshops and events to work for the ongoing protection of such areas and in appreciation and protection of cultures of the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest.

Visit their website to learn more about their workshops and trips they offer to experience the rainforest and Achuar culture. Most importantly you will find information on how to donate to support their work. 91% of their donations come from individuals like you. Visit http://www.pachamama.org
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Monday, May 25, 2015

United Nations Association- Citizens Engaged To Support the Millennium Goals Of The UN


If you’re a member of a local chapter of the United Nations Association stand up and take a bow. If you even know what the United Nations Association (UNA) IS raise your hand. 

The UNA is a nonprofit citizens' organization, separate from the United Nations, dedicated to supporting the mission of the United Nations, and with a key goal of making more citizens like themselves, and government officials, aware of the vital role the United Nations plays in global peace keeping, addressing global environmental challenges,  bringing war criminals to justice,  providing women and families in developing countries with family planning resources,  fighting for gender equality, universal primary education, reducing infant mortality and work to eradicate HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases.

Local UNA chapters reach out to educate politician and local folks about the missions of the United Nations. Chapter members help assure citizens and politicians are engaged in U.S. political dialogue, legislation and initiatives related to UN global efforts as global citizens.
Participation opportunities for local chapter members are only limited by the membership’s own creativity. Chapters host documentary film festivals, partner with the Levitt Pavilion summer concert series,  host community talks with professors from nearby colleges and university and hold meetings with local government officials. 

One of the UNA’s cornerstone programs is called “The Model UN.” Through this program, locally high school student actually join to act as a “model” United Nations, as “representatives” of a variety countries to discuss real issues the United Nations is dealing with.

To find a chapter near you or to learn more about the United Nations Association visit http://www.unausa.org/