Everyone knows that Big Bird and his pals on Sesame Street have been helping kids learn their ABCs and 123s for decades, but did you know they are also helping children here and around the world with even tougher challenges?
Through the Yellow Feather Fund, Sesame Street is positively impacting the lives of children with autism, children with parents in the military, children affected by the crisis in Syria, children in developing nations, and millions of others. And you can help support them too! Just by doing your everyday online shopping through Giving Assistant.
What is the Yellow Feather Fund?
Named after the lovable Sesame Street character Big Bird and his large, yellow feathers, the Yellow Feather Fund uses the well-known Sesame Street Muppets to create new learning materials for children that are fun and teach important lessons. The Yellow Feather Fund specializes in making videos, books, and other free digital content that kids love and teaches them important values and life skills. Here are some examples of what the Yellow Feather Fund has been doing lately:
1) Autistic children sometimes struggle with making new friends, so the Yellow Feather Fund’s online videos help both children with autism and their friends see what is special about each other and learn how to respect each other’s differences, having fun along the way. They also have helpful videos and daily routine cards that both parents and teachers can use to help educate autistic children.
2) Since around 700,000 children have a parent serving in the military, the Yellow Feather Fund supports these kids as a part of their “Little Children, Big Challenges” family services. Their PDF packets and videos help children and their parents to learn how to cope with the stresses that come with worrying about or missing their loved ones when they’re away for a long time.
3) The Yellow Feather Fund works closely with the International Rescue Committee to help young refugee children in the Syrian response region to develop:
And other social-emotional skills.
More than 12 million refugee children around Syria alone have suffered from emergency relocations and other traumas, which makes special educational programs like this one so important. By holding camps and making videos with new characters designed to better connect with the local kids — such as the adorable Zeerak from Afghanistan — children gain good role models for behavior and learn tips to help them connect with their communities in a positive way.
How can you use Giving Assistant to support the Yellow Feather Fund?
“We’re so excited about our partnership with Giving Assistant” says Diana Polvere, VP Annual Giving at Sesame Workshop. “Our mission is to help kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder, and this is a wonderful way for people to support us in making a meaningful difference in the lives of children in the U.S. and around the world.”
If you’ve already signed up for Giving Assistant, all you have to do next is select the Yellow Feather Fund on your account settings menu. Then choose how much of your balance from cash-back rewards you’d like to donate.
If you haven’t signed up yet, you can join here to start supporting the Yellow Feather Fund AND saving money on your everyday purchases at over 2,700 online retailers.
In December of 2016, something incredible happened in West Africa. Something Tostan founder Molly Melching could’ve only dreamed of when she arrived in Senegal over 40 years ago as a young exchange student from Danville, Illinois.
Over 300 communities in four different countries came together to publicly declare a commitment to human rights.
They announced their abandonment of harmful traditions, including the long-standing practice of female genital cutting (FGC) as well as child/forced marriage. This brings the total number of communities who have made similar public declarations to over 8,000; evidence of a movement that has been quietly building in the region over the past two decades, due to community resilience and the efforts of Tostan.
Children hold up chalkboard signs declaring their community’s abandonment of FGC. Source: Tostan
Tostan is a non-profit named for the Wolof word for ‘breakthrough,’
And its unique model focuses on agency, not aid. Operating in six countries, Tostan offers an educational program which has proven that the greatest resources available to struggling communities are the people themselves and their own creative solutions.
In the Tostan program, participants first identify their vision and goals, then they acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to lead and sustain their own development. The Community Empowerment Program uses cultural methods of learning to cover not only the fundamentals of human rights and collective decision-making, but also:
Health and hygiene,
And confidence building,
And this model has been immensely successful.
In the quarter-century since Tostan’s founding, they have witnessed improvement in issue areas including:
Women and girl’s empowerment,
Peace and security,
Women participating in a classroom session of Tostan’s program. Source: Tostan
Giving Assistant raises nearly $18,000 for Tostan
Earlier this month, Giving Assistant mailed a check to Tostan for $17,754.58! These funds were raised entirely by Giving Assistant members who have chosen to support the organization through their everyday shopping.
“Supporters of Tostan are part of our global family. Like our communities in West Africa, they form a collective that is joyfully in pursuit of a common goal: dignity for all. We are so thankful that Giving Assistant has joined this family.” – Molly Melching, CEO of Tostan
This generosity will stretch not only across the globe, but for generations to come as rural West African communities continue on their positive path.
Women celebrating. Source: Tostan
Help support this rising movement
Due to its proven success, the Tostan program is in high demand. You can help them meet this demand by using Giving Assistant to easily donate a portion or all of your cash back to the organization.
It’s simple! Just make sure to select Tostan in your account settings and decide how much of your cash back you’d like to donate.
Not a member yet? Sign up here to begin supporting Tostan as you shop (and save!) online.
You’ll never look at a #2 pencil the same way again…
When a small boy’s answer to “What do you want most in the world?” was a mere pencil, the future founder of PoP was utterly touched. For Pencils of Promise, something as simple as a yellow #2 has now come to represent the need to unlock the potential in children that lack a suitable learning environment.
Across the world, 250 million children of elementary school age lack basic reading, writing and math skills. Unsafe, unsanitary and ill-equipped classrooms serve as hurdles for both teachers and students – which is what Pencils of Promise (PoP) wishes to overcome – by building schools and bringing solid educational programming to areas in need.
Pencils of Promise: “We believe every child should have access to quality education.”
Since 2009, PoP’s efforts have led to increased literacy rates, improved training and support for teachers, and better access to quality education for children residing in some of the most underserved communities in the countries where the organization is active.
Today, PoP has a strong presence inGhana, Guatemala and Laos. So far, nearly 36,000 students have been served by 380 PoP schools, impacting 300,000+ lives in their local communities.
These kids are on their way to their brand new PoP School. Source: Nick Onken
With 85% of communities that PoP visits lacking basic school infrastructure, the organization strives to break ground on a new school every 5 days. In Guatemala, 98% of teachers report increased focus in students learning in a new PoP building. To make sure students are able to benefit from their programs, PoP also implements the internationally recognized WASH program, which promotes healthy water, sanitation, and hygiene practices.
Amongst many achievements in 2016, PoP delivered tablets to three schools in Guatemala, marking their “first-ever expansion of digital reading content in Spanish,” as well as expanded WASH programming to 20 more schools in Laos.
Giving Assistant shoppers have contributed over $15,000 to PoP.
To date, Pencils of Promise has received $15,127.72 from Giving Assistant shoppers, who use their everyday online purchases to fuel the education of children around the world.
“We love finding new and easy ways for people to support Pencils of Promise,” says Natalie Ebel, PoP’s Director of Marketing. “Giving Assistant is simple and fun, and they’re already almost halfway to funding a full school build with PoP!”
It takes $35,000 to build a school, and since 100% of online donations that PoP receives goes towards their programs, Giving Assistant shoppers are on track to break ground on a new one soon.
Thanks to PoP, these girls have the chance to enjoy learning in a safe, new school. Source: Nick Onken
Help build a new PoP school.
With your contributions through Giving Assistant, not only will you make an impact in the lives of children, but also entire communities.
If you’d like to use Giving Assistant to easily donate a portion or all of your cash back to Pencils of Promise, visit their fundraising page here.
To make sure PoP receives your thoughtful donation, please select Pencils of Promise in your account settings.
Not a member yet? Sign up here to begin supporting Pencils of Promise as you shop online.
There are over 5 million children in our country who have been touched by a parent’s cancer. Kesem is the largest national nonprofit providing support to this population. Through its flagship program, Camp Kesem, thousands of these children experience fun, supportive, and totally free life-changing experiences.
While every child experiences a parent’s cancer journey uniquely – regardless of if the parent dies, survives or is currently undergoing treatment – there are often common and significant side effects to children including isolation from peers, loss of social interest, negative academic performance and taking on adult roles.
But then they find Kesem.
A child’s Kesem experience – while grounded in fun and the joy of childhood – helps address all of these consequences by providing them a community of support with children who are just like them and exemplary role models in Kesem’s college student leaders resulting in improved self esteem, enhanced coping skills, increased self-confidence and stronger emotional intelligence.
A happy group of campers on a hike. Source: Camp Kesem
“Kesem campers are part of our family for life.”
Every summer, Kesem holds over 90 weeks of summer camp in 38 states across the country. The camps are staffed by over 3,000 highly trained and passionate college student leaders from nearly 90 colleges and universities around the country. These college students volunteer their time year-round to create, manage and run the camp programs that accommodate children ages 6 to college-age. The camps are 100% free of charge.
Camp Kesem brings together new groups of friends. Source: Camp Kesem
Giving Assistant raises over $17,200.00 for Camp Kesem.
To date, Camp Kesem has received $17,230.75 from Giving Assistant shoppers, who have chosen to support the organization through their everyday shopping.
“We are so grateful for our partnership with Giving Assistant and their impactful support of children touched by a parent’s cancer.” Kesem CEO, Jane Saccaro says. “The need for Kesem’s services is far-reaching and touches every corner of our country. The donations we receive from Giving Assistant and their shoppers allows us to open new Camp Kesem chapters and support more children who can benefit from our services.”
Contributions like this helped Camp Kesem serve over 6,100 children during the 2016 camp season. Still, with long waiting lists at several camps, Kesem is making plans to serve 7,000 children in summer 2017.
Haiti has just been devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Over the next several days, the death toll rises to 900, and by the end of the month, over 1.2 million Haitians will be in desperate need of food assistance.
Less than 24 hours after the last storm clouds had parted—while other relief organizations around the world were still making the necessary preparations to provide much-needed disaster relief—the Greyshirts were already on the ground clearing away debris, caring for displaced citizens, and leading volunteer forces.
The Greyshirts (called such because of the ubiquitous grey t-shirts they wear) are the men and women of Team Rubicon, a nonprofit organization made up of military veterans committed to disaster response. According to their website:
“Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.”
Team Rubicon members hard at work. Source: Team Rubicon Global.
Team Rubicon Global: “Disasters are our business. Veterans are our passion.”
Team Rubicon formed in the wake of the devastating 7.3 magnitude earthquake that rocked Haiti in 2010. In response to the earthquake, a group of military veterans made the quick decision to unite and travel to Port-au-Prince and offer their assistance.
“In Haiti, it became clear that military veterans are uniquely prepared to provide immediate emergency response aid, oftentimes in the early hours of a disaster before larger relief organizations can get on the ground.” (Source.)
Over the last 6 years, Team Rubicon has more than proven its immense value on a global scale. The organization has contributed to over 140 missions, and deployed more than 5,000 veterans to over 20 countries, providing disaster relief in 24 hours or less. The organization also boasts a massive team of over 40,000 committed volunteers.
But Team Rubicon is more than just rapid-response disaster relief.
Team Rubicon member on their way to work for the day in Haiti. Source: Team Rubicon Global
By mobilizing veterans on behalf of jolted communities, Team Rubicon seeks to “bridge the gap between returning veterans and their home communities,” as well as support veterans by providing them with an increased sense of purpose and identity at home.
Giving Assistant raises over $18,000 for Team Rubicon Global
To date, Giving Assistant’s generous community of shoppers and donors has raised $18,437.45 in donations for Team Rubicon!
“We are grateful for the support of Giving Assistant. This is a fantastic opportunity. These donations will enable us to continue our global effort to harness the skills of military veterans to help people on their worst day. Going forward, we’re excited to have not only the support of Giving Assistant, but also of their shoppers who believe in our mission.”- William McNulty, Team Rubicon Global CEO
Even better—the nearly $18,500 raised in donations from Giving Assistant supporters is expected to grow right alongside Team Rubicon. “It’s really great to know we have this additional, reliable resource to lean on as we continue to expand our mission,” added McNulty.
Team Rubicon members wading through a stream in Haiti. Source: Team Rubicon Global
Support veterans. Support Team Rubicon Global.
To find out more about how you can easily use Giving Assistant to support Team Rubicon, visit their fundraising page here.
Giving Assistant members interested in donating their cash back to supporting Team Rubicon and their veterans simply need to select Team Rubicon as their organization of choice in their account settings.
Not a member? Sign up here to begin supporting Team Rubicon while you shop.
“We had been trying so hard to raise donations from individuals and foundations. It was surprising how easy, and how big of an impact Giving Assistant has had on us.”
-Julia Kurnia, Founder, Zidisha
Giving Assistant members are changing lives—even as far away as Africa—just by shopping online.
Imagine, for a moment, a bright, entrepreneurial single mother named Bineta raising her children in Senegal, West Africa.
Bineta designs and hand-sews beautiful dresses for a living, but she’s faced with a challenge—her dresses are highly sought after, and she can only hand-sew one or two of them a week, limiting her income.
If Bineta could afford a sewing machine, she’d be able to sew five or six dresses a week instead, effectively growing her business and making it possible for her to provide even more for her family.
Bineta’s dreams come true
Thankfully, Bineta can look toward non-profit organization Zidisha for assistance in obtaining a small loan for the sewing machine. With an affordable, low-interest loan from Zidisha, Bineta purchases a brand new sewing machine, and repays the loan easily with the additional profits she earns sewing more dresses each week.
To date, Zidisha has received more than $250,000 from Giving Assistant shoppers in order to expand their work providing these affordable microloans to borrowers in developing countries.
And Bineta has since opened a studio, hired an employee, and sent her teenage daughter to college preparatory school.
Organizations like Zidisha (and amazing people like Bineta) are the cornerstone of Giving Assistant’s global mission to transform consumers’ everyday online shopping activities into meaningful, productive, long-term contributions to humanity.
What is Zidisha?
Founded by Julia Kurnia, Zidisha is an organization that seeks to provide people in developing countries with affordable microloans. These small loans invigorate local economies while helping citizens meet financial needs, or just move a little closer to their dreams.
Zidisha keeps interest rates low—and loans affordable—by harnessing the power of the internet: borrowers can log on to Zidisha.org, create a profile, and be connected directly with lenders. Lenders browse borrowers’ profiles, and contribute to their projects with the click of a button. No loan officers’ salaries to cover, and only minor overhead costs.
“Through Giving Assistant, we’ve been able to raise almost a quarter of a million dollars in additional donations,” said Zidisha’s founder, Julia Kurnia. “That has allowed us to fund loans for two thousand people that otherwise would not have been financed.”
Giving Assistant shoppers donate $250,000+ to Zidisha—a number that grows every day.
Founder, Julia Kurnia, receiving Zidisha’s check from Giving Assistant supporters
Giving Assistant envisions a world where:
the average global citizen can more regularly experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from being able to contribute to their community
and where non-profit organizations like Zidisha can feel confident knowing they have one more consistent, reliable, long-term stream of financial support.
To this end, we developed an innovative, consumer loyalty program that enables us to pay Giving Assistant members more cash back on their online purchases than our competitors. Then, we provide shoppers with the option to donate some, or all of their cash back earnings to organizations they value.
In short: our shoppers earn more, so they enjoy the freedom to give more.
Zidisha is one of many organizations that Giving Assistant and its shoppers are passionate about supporting. In May of 2016, we were honored to deliver a check to Zidisha for $247,618.
That’s nearly $250,000 Zidisha can now use to expand their mission of providing microloans to business owners, teachers, families, and individuals in developing countries—and that number keeps growing. All because thousands of Giving Assistant members are shopping online, right now.
Want to give to Zidisha?
Giving Assistant members interested in donating a portion (or all!) of their cash back earnings to Zidisha simply need to select Zidisha as their organization of choice in their account settings.
Not a member? Sign up here to begin supporting Zidisha while you shop.
If you’d like to learn more about funding a loan to an individual or entrepreneur like Bineta in Senegal, visit Zidisha.org