Altruism Today

The disruption of education: How technology is helping students teach themselves

November 2nd, 2012  |  Source: Giga Om

Even with no teachers, students taught themselves

One example: At a recent conference on emerging technology at MIT, Nicholas Negroponte — the former head of the MIT Media Lab and founder of the OLPC project — talked about what his group noticed about the villages in Ethiopia, where some devices were dropped off. The Motorola Xoom tablets, which were distributed along with a solar-charging system, were delivered in boxes to two isolated rural villages about 50 miles from the capital of Addis Ababa, where Negroponte said the children had never before seen printed English words — not even packaging or road signs with printed letters.

Although the OLPC founder says the group expected most of the children to spend their time “playing with the boxes,” in a matter of minutes they had powered up the devices and, within days, they were using a number of apps included with the system. Even more remarkably, within weeks, they had figured out how to “hack” their way around restrictions built into the software to change the laptop’s display background. Thanks to the tablets, they were singing ABC songs and even spelling words in English. Said Negroponte:

“Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera.”


October 30th, 2012  |  Source: Mobile Giving Foundation/BBB

Great initiative from the Mobile Giving Foundation and the Better Business Bureau 

List of Available Short Codes to Donate in the U.S. & Canada

What: The quickest way to provide monetary relief to those affected by Hurricane Sandy is mobile giving.  By texting a keyword to a designated short code via a mobile phone, you can make a donation of $10 to aid the millions of people affected by this disaster.  100% of your donation goes to the recipient charity, and the donation appears as a charge on your carrier bill (standard rates may apply).

Who: There are several organizations that are responding to this urgent need with mobile giving efforts, including the following national charities that meet BBB Wise Giving Alliance standards:

Text : “STORM” to 80888 to donate $10

On behalf of the Salvation Army


Text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate $10

On behalf of the American Red Cross


Text “HUMANE” to 80888 to donate $10

On behalf of  American Humane Association


Text “GIVEUSA” to 777444 to donate $10

On behalf of World Vision


October 9th, 2012  |  Source: Dani Dalesandro

A new PSA featuring Kevin Bacon, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, Meryl Streep, Sandra Bernhard, Lisa Kudrow, and so many more in support of The Center for Reproductive Rights. Today, the organization launched a new campaign called DRAW THE LINE through which they are calling on women and men across the country to fight against attacks made on a woman’s fundamental and constitutional rights by signing the Bill of Reproductive Rights (language below) at

You may view the PSA at this link:

Nonprofit’s “Meatless Mondays” Sparks USDA Controversy

July 29th, 2012  |  Source: NPQ

Source: New York Times

The July edition of the USDA’s internal “Greening Headquarters” newsletter had included a pitch for USDA employees to participate in “Meatless Mondays” at the agency’s cafeteria.

The newsletter has since been taken down, though you can still find it here. Why the retraction of support for the nonprofit campaign? It seems the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) didn’t take too kindly to the suggestion that Americans should abstain from eating their main product at least once a week. The beef industry trade association posted a statement on its website declaring, “This move by USDA should be condemned by anyone who believes agriculture is fundamental to sustaining life on this planet.”

Kenya's Running Brand

July 22nd, 2012  |  Source: IndieGoGo

Kourage Athletic's mission is to leverage the tradition of Kenyan runners to create authentically Kenyan running apparel.

Since launching last year, Kourage has sold garments to over 20-countries and has received fantastic product reviews.  In addition, Kourage has been featured on global media outlets including CNN's Inside Africa3/GO Triathlon Magazine,and Africa's Fashion Guide.

Kourage isn't just selling shirts. Our objective is to create jobs in Africa.  Kourage's supply chain is 100% sub-saharan African - from design through distribution.  This means when you purchase a Kourage shirt, you are investing in Africa's future.

Kourage Athletics is founded by a small team of entrepreneurs:

·       Douglas Wakiihuri, Kenyan, Olympic Silver Medalist

·       Chris Markl, American, Developmental Economist

·       Hussein Kurji, Kenyan, Graphic Designer

To compete with Nike and Adidas we need your help!  

Buy your t-Shirt here:


July 16th, 2012  |  Source: Spoiled Fashionz

SPOILED! has a partnership with charitable organization, Baby2Baby. 

An online platform consigning children's new and gently worn designer clothing, SPOILED! was created to meet the growing demand for consignment shops specializing in children's items, 

SPOILED! now will offer consignees the opportunity to donate products that are not sold after 90 days to With celebrity ambassadors like, Jessica Alba and Nicole Richie, Baby2Baby supplies families in need with essential baby gear and clothing for their children up to age 12. By distributing new and gently used items to over 40 non-profit organizations, Baby2Baby reaches over 50,000 children per year.

The Coffin-Maker Benchmark

July 8th, 2012  |  Source:

IF you worry that foreign aid is an utter waste, just chat with some mortality experts here in southern Africa — the coffin makers.
They’re miserable.
These coffin makers in the street markets are idle partly because American spending on programs to fight AIDS around the world means that vast numbers of people are no longer dying at a young age. So coffin makers sit dejectedly beside stacks of lumber, waiting for business.

Online Education for Boomers

July 4th, 2012  |  Source: WSJ


UCLA and Start-Up Teach New Skills as Retirement Becomes Elusive

A Silicon Valley entrepreneur and the University of California are combining ready-made software, rented Web services and Apple Inc.'s AAPL +1.16% iPad tablet computer in a high-tech effort to bring career training to baby boomers looking to upgrade their skills.

Empowered Careers last week began enrolling students in 10 certificate programs to be taught by instructors at the UCLA Extension, the continuing-education arm of the University of California, Los Angeles. The programs target areas—such as patient advocacy, health-care management and new media marketing—that are expected to generate job growth.

The effort is part of a recent rush of colleges, start-ups and nonprofits tapping a mix of Web services and software to open online educational ventures. Coursera in April raised $16 million to start Web-based classes for four top schools, including Princeton and Stanford Universities. A month later, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said they had committed a combined $60 million to create edX, a platform for teaching courses online. EdX courses are expected to start in the fall.

The trend is a boon to companies such as 15-year-old Blackboard Inc., which makes software used to organize courses, display test scores and provide transcripts. Four-year-old start-up 2tor Inc., with close to $100 million in funding, works with universities to bring live video classes over the Internet to graduate students. It has joined with four colleges, including the University of North Carolina and the University of Southern California, to deliver master's degree programs online.

Under Obamacare, Will States Refuse Medicaid Expansion?

July 2nd, 2012  |  Source: NPQ


Of critical concern to nonprofits in the Supreme Court’s decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was the part that didn’t go the Obama administration’s way. The Roberts court ruled that the federal government could not force states to expand Medicaid coverage by threatening to withhold the state’s federal Medicaid funding.

Twenty-six states had challenged the provision of the PPACA that would extend Medicaid coverage to non-elderly people with incomes of as much as 133 percent of the poverty level. This expansion of Medicaid coverage would help some 16 million people by 2019, according to ProPublica. The states that filed against the federal mandate account for approximately 8.5 million of the 16 million who would benefit from the expanded Medicaid coverage.

Why would states reject the expansion of Medicaid? For some, it might be that the expanded program means a larger chunk of funding that the state must provide to cover its share of Medicaid costs (Medicaid is only partially funded by the federal government; between 2014 and 2022, the federal government ends up paying for $931 billion and the states $73 billion toward the costs of the expanded Medicaid). For some others, we have to question a possible motivation that simply won’t countenance additional federal “welfare” to poor people—and believe you me, an income of 133 percent of the federal poverty level, roughly $30,700 for a family of four, is poverty no matter how you define it.  

$2.3 million grant from the GE Foundation aims to draw future health professionals into primary care

June 7th, 2012  |  Source: GE Foundation

The GE Foundation announced today a $2.3 million grant to National Medical Fellowships (NMF) for the creation of the GE-NMF Primary Care Leadership Program (PCLP), providing future healthcare professionals the opportunity to experience primary care practice in community health centers across the US. NMF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing minority representation in medicine and the health professions. 

The two-year grant from the GE Foundation aims to draw future health professionals into primary care while building the capacity of community health centers. The partnership with NMF builds on GE’s $50 million commitment to increase access to healthcare through its Developing HealthTM initiative -- currently in 74 community health centers in 20 US cities.

“With an alarming shortage of primary care professionals anticipated in the years to come, PCLP enlists talented and motivated students to be part of the solution. We hope to ignite these students’ passion for a future career in medically underserved communities,” said Bob Corcoran, Vice President, GE Corporate Citizenship, and President and Chair, GE Foundation.

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