January 13, 2012

What's Next for Literacy 'n' Poverty Project?

Dear Friends,

In December 2006, I started Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project, aptly known as LnP, from my dorm room at Babson College.  I was a senior who just completed an activist project for an Interdisciplinary Approach to Human Rights course with Professor Elizabeth Goldberg. This was an experience that changed my life!

You have been a supporter of LnP and for that I thank you and am grateful for your company on this journey. It has been almost two years since you’ve received an update from me, and today I’m going to share some intimate remarks about myself, LnP, and where we go from here. Please read on.

Since graduating from Babson in 2007, I have learned so much from my former professors, friends, colleagues, mentors and advisors, and the world. I have observed the habits, actions, and inactions of all types of entrepreneurs in many areas throughout the world. This observation took place mostly online using tools like LinkedIn, SocialEdge, Social Earth, Facebook, Twitter, Ning and other online portals that give us the opportunity to connect and engage with people from various backgrounds, from various parts of the world with different passions, interests and ideas for creating positive and lasting change.

To date, the most important lesson I have learned is that failure is an illusion. An illusion that manifests out of our fears, mistakes, and even our childhood conditioning in order to “keep you safe” which is really a way to prevent you from living a bigger, more fulfilling and gratifying life; the life you dream of.

Dwelling over failures keeps you stuck, and unless you look at failure from a different perspective and see it as a stepping stone rather than ultimate defeat, you will stay in that place for however long you choose.

So let it known, failure does not dictate your future. Failures or lessons learned as I like to think of them are stepping stones in your life journey. They help you see what you did well, what you didn’t do so well, and how you can do better in the future. The only thing that truly can stop you from accomplishing your goals, making dreams a reality and the world a better place is YOU.

Before 2011, I looked at LnP as a failure. I thought I was a failure. Why? Well, there were several things that factored into that conclusion but the recurring theme is that things did not go “according to plan” and the venture was not growing as fast or in the way I had expected. This taught me 5 things:

  1. "Failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night." Zig Ziglar
  2. “When you know better, you do better.” ~Maya Angelou
  3. Everything I have done up until now is preparing me for the rest of my life, one day at a time.
  4. Sometimes the expectations I put on myself and others are unrealistic and unnecessary.
  5. I need to breathe more (lol). I need to get into my physical body and BE here in the moment, without doing or thinking, just BEING. Because from the “being” comes the “doing”.
When I look at my lessons learned is this way, I am immediately at peace. I have forgiven myself for any and all mistakes I have made in the past. The past is yesterday. Today is the PRESENT. And as much as I am a visionary and constantly thinking about the future, I have to remember to ground myself and remember that the present truly is all we have now. The NOW is what matters most.

I’m currently reading “The Biology of Belief” by the renowned Bruce H. Lipton and also a book on Quantum Physics (yes, I love math and science and consider myself a “fun, beautiful and fabulous nerd”). In addition to these books, by learning from scientists, psychologists, and entrepreneurs and coaches like David Neagle, Baeth Davis, Fabienne Fredrickson and Ali Brown, what I also have learnt and KNOW WITH ALL MY BEING is that thoughts are energy and thoughts become things.

Our environment shapes our mindset and our mindset (what we believe and don’t believe) controls everything including our perception of what is and what isn’t real. It controls, from whom you ask for donations (if you run a nonprofit), how you ask for help regardless what kind of situation you are in, how much you charge for your services, who you do and do not work with, what you do and do not communicate…I mean everything!

Think about that for a moment. How would your life be different if you changed your mindset? What would your future look like?

Would your relationships be healthier? Would you love yourself more? Would you a kinder, more compassionate boss? Would you continue to see yourself or things you’ve done in the past as failures or stepping stones in your life journey? Would you be a better mom or dad? Would you be more conscious of the impact your actions and inactions have on your life and in the lives of others? Would you get out of your own way and unleash your brilliance, your gifts and desires onto the world?

I'm not saying you have to believe this, I only wish to share with you what I have been learning and how I intend to do things differently in the next phase of my life. Let’s get back to LnP.

The blog I started in 2007, Make Social Change A Reality, was originally designed as a blog that I, personally, would write on to inform, engage, and inspire people to go out and make changes in their own community in their own unique way.  The blog then became a product of Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project and for several months I ran this blog with a team of 5 to 10 volunteer writers.

At the end of 2008, we hosted a December Giving Drive where we posted information about nonprofit organizations that were in need of donations such as food, clothing, medical supplies, and books and other literacy materials. Cabrini Ministries, one of the organizations we promoted during the drive, contacted us some months saying that one of our blog readers was able to help them receive thousands of dollars in medical supplies for hospitals in Swaziland, Africa.

“What?! Hell Yeah!” Those were my exact words when I read the email. :)

What we did [conducting this giving drive] was but a small act of kindness that provided a means for free publicity and created a space for the organization to ask for and receive the support they needed to continue their work.

2009 proved to be the blog’s most productive and eventful year. During this time, however, I lost another 3 relatives – in a tragic car accident and a battle lost with AIDS. Two relatives passed away earlier in 2008. My life and the vision I had for it began to dwindle, not because I no longer had the passion to effectuate change but because my beliefs and priorities were changing and I did not have the know-how or understanding to overcome the challenges I faced in my day to day life.

If my story sounds like your story, full of loss, excitement, passion, joy, confusion, anger, disappointment and hurt, know that you are NOT alone and this time WILL soon pass. We fall down only to get up stronger, wiser and more resilient than before. Let my story set an example for how you can use events like this as a stepping stone in your life journey.

Towards the end of 2009, my life began to change yet again. What’s up with all this change? :) I realized that I loved writing but I was a much better speaker. I love talking and interacting with people in real time. Blogs are awesome and one day I’ll probably start another one but not in the near future, unless I feel it is the right thing to do. Let’s fast forward to the present.

It’s January 2012 and, as of today, Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project is closing its doors for good. Today is the last day I shall post on this site. I’m closing this chapter and starting new.

Once more I'd like to thank YOU for being a part of LnP’s journey and for being a part of MY JOURNEY. I have some exciting things going on in 2012, including an online radio show I’m launching next month where YOU will have the opportunity to express your creativity and share your voice to bring forth personal and global transformation. I would love to keep in touch (contact information is below) so I can share updates about these developments and also to support you in your journey. TOGETHER, we can make social change a reality.

With love and gratitude,

Connect on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chanellecarver
Connect on Twitter: www.twitter.com/chanellecarver
Email: chanelle(at)chanellecarver(dot)com

March 17, 2010

We Stopped Blogging and Got Serious About Our Future

It's been over four months since we last posted to this blog! While it breaks our heart to have been out of touch for so long, we had good reason.

You see, our blog is run by volunteers of the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project. LnP is a social initiative I started that addresses multiple aspects of literacy - health, reading, writing and financial - to empower the poor and low-income adults to lift themselves up out of poverty.

But, if you've been keeping up with our blog which we know you all have :), you can see that adult education has not been the focus. And rightfully so.

How We Got Started
Make Social Change A Reality was created as a venue to discuss various issues concerning the broader concept of social change from the environment to women's issues to healthcare to youth development. As a startup with goals of becoming an international social enterprise, we felt that y'all deserved a place of your own to learn, engage and share information and resources to help each other create change in your own special way, in your own community.

Our volunteer writers and guest bloggers have posted such interesting, thought provoking and even controversial topics. Your readership encouraged us to keep on pushing! And it still does, but in a different way.

Without all of your support, we couldn't have come to the place we are now. It's a place in our mind and heart that says it's time to GET SERIOUS about LnP's future, if not for our own sake then for the sake of our readers. You deserve better!

If you look back at our 2009 Goals post, we talked about the strategic planning process and used three simple questions that make up the process to develop our blog strategy. We've had some failures, successes and even a few A-HA moments. Here's two:

Success at Cabrini Ministries
Sometime last year, we received an email from our friends at Cabrini Ministries telling us that a reader of our blog was able to help them secure OVER $1,000 in medical supplies for the poor all the way in Swaziland, South Africa. And all we did was post a message about their efforts during our December Giving Drive in spirit of the holiday season. How awesome is that?!

The A-Ha Moment (a breakthrough long overdue)
After reading and studying several blogs, we noticed that our readership began to stale. No decline, no growth. It just sat there like a lump on a long. Something wasn't right, but what? A-HA! We're too big in scope. It was decided early this year that LnP needs a blog solely focused on improving adult education as a pathway for the poor to lift up out of poverty. That is, after all, the reason for our existence.

Fast forward to the present...it's 2010 and time for a new strategy. A new direction for our startup. A better, more focused and strategic mindset so we can create the big change we envision.

Moving Forward
As of today, March 17, 2010, we will no longer post to this blog. (tear...) The rest of this year we're going to be focused on creating a solid business plan, building our board of directors and conducting the due diligence needed to ensure that when LnP is ready and everything in place, we're entering the market with a bang. In a way, we're coming in with a bang rather than going out with one. That sounds much better, don't you think?

A New Space Created for You and By You
Without a doubt, we most certainly want to stay in touch with all of you. We even want to give you a space that allows for more learning, sharing, networking and organizing around the causes most important to you.

We're relying on the support of volunteers and agents of change like you to make this community all that it can be. You'll find a few discussions already started for you. Please don't hesitate to share your story with others. We want to hear it!

One More Thing...
Lastly, we...no, scratch that (it's time to get personal). I, Chanelle Carver, creator of this blog and founder of the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project want to thank each and every one of you for the support you have given this blog over the past two and a half years. Remember our first blog post?

Social change is not an occupation you take up one day and succeed the next. It can take years or even decades of brainstorming, planning, taking action and evaluating outcomes to achieve big results. This blog was a step in the right direction. A step that brings us a little closer to creating lasting change in our communities.

If you are like me, you know the journey isn't over. Why? Because I never give up. I might be exhausted, burnt out, hair breaking off and in serious need of a vacation LOL, but I NEVER GIVE UP! Join me in my quest to change the world and let's never give up together. :)

With love and respect,

P.S. If you'd like to keep up with the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project's journey, sign up for our eNewsletter. Your name and a valid email address is all that's required. We look forward to staying connected!

(JULY 25, 2010 UPDATE: Well folks, looks like we're not going to have a community space. After much discussion between myself, advisors, and supporters of this blog, it was determined that we could best use our resources elsewhere and for now - while LnP is in transition - setting up a community space is not the best use of them. We're still undecided about what to do with the domain name and welcome your suggestions. Some thoughts: donate to another community benefit organization, sell it to a for-profit or an individual whose intentions reflect that of the nature of the blog, or just hang on to it until we figure out another use for it. Feel free to email your suggestion here. Thanks for your patience!)

(MAY 2010 Update: Just last week, Ning's CEO shares that the company is terminating its free service, affecting thousands of network creators some of whom may be nonprofits. This is the exact platform we intended to use to create your new space. We know free doesn't last forever, but didn't anticipate or prepare for this change so soon. Will it be cost beneficial to pay for the premium services or look elsewhere? We'll wait to hear more details from Ning.)

October 27, 2009

Ready to Make Social Change a Reality? Start Volunteering!

We talk about working to make social change a reality, but where does one start? First, there is the light-bulb moment. The time when one realizes today is the day, now is the time to make a difference.

The next step is often harder – getting started. Where does one begin? How do you decide which organization to work with?

I’ve developed a short list of organizations that should kick start your research into volunteer work. And if you have any other ideas, or suggestions, please add them in the comments!

HandsOn Network

If you live in New York City, you know them as New York Cares. But did you know that there are actually 250+ affiliates of the HandsOn Network across the U.S. and 11 international locations? Their structure is based on an online model. You must first attend an orientation session in person. Then, you are eligible to volunteer during the day, evenings, or on weekends for organizations serving children, animals, the environment or adult job readiness, just to name a few.

United Way

The United Way’s programs focusing on three issue areas: education, income and health. A worldwide organization, there are nearly 1,300 local United Way locations in America alone. To volunteer, one is directed to their local United Way organization through the official global website. Once on the local site, there are options for individuals and corporations looking to donate their time.


This is another online source for volunteering. The difference here is that all contact with VolunteerMatch is virtual and the site functions much like a large job-search engine, which allows you to search for volunteer opportunities in various cities and communities across the country. Once a “match” is made, VolunteerMatch leaves the scheduling and details to the non-profit organization and the volunteer.

Volunteers of America

This is a national, faith-based organization with 38 offices serving 44 states. To volunteer locally, contact the appropriate office nearest your home or work. Volunteers of America offers help for the homeless, mental health, senior citizens and veterans.

Do you have other organizations you volunteer through? Do you have other ideas on how to start volunteering? Add them to the comments!

This post was written by Leslie Marie, a volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. Leslie lives in New York City and has done outreach and research for the Ad Council. For the past year she directed the marketing and recruiting efforts for an alternative teaching certification program run by a national education consulting organization. Please leave your comments or send us an email with your questions.

October 15, 2009

How Big is Your (Carbon) Footprint?

*This post was written in collaboration with over 7,500 other blogs from 140 countries for Blog Action Day 2009.

The Pew Center for Global Climate Change is an invaluable resource for information on how society has effected the environment and how changes in the environment are affecting society. Their purpose is to

… bring [sic] together business leaders, policy makers, scientists, and other experts to bring a new approach to a complex and often controversial issue. Our approach is based on sound science, straight talk, and a belief that we can work together to protect the climate while sustaining economic growth.

The website is organized to educate and empower both professionals and private citizens. My favorite feature is Tips on Curbing Your Personal Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions.

Here are some ways you can shrink your carbon footprint, and do your part to protect the environment, without increasing your expenses

At Home:
• Lower your thermostat 2° in winter and raise it 2° in summer
• Turn off and unplug electronics like your TV, DVD and computer when not in use
• Regularly defrost your freezer
• Go paperless for your bank and credit card statements

Out & About:
• Bring along a reusable shopping bag
• Plan multiple stops during one trip instead of multiple shorter trips to save gas
• Reuse lunch containers, coffee mugs and water bottles instead of buying disposable.

For More Ideas Check out these Resources:
* No-Cost Low-Cost Tips for Saving Money & Energy from the Alliance to Save Energy
* Energy Savers Booklet from U.S. Department of Energy: Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home (pdf)
* The Power of Green from Con Edison: Tips to Help You Go Green & Save Some Green
* Tips on Curbing Your Personal Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions from The Pew Center for Global Climate Change

What do you do to reduce your own carbon footprint? Share it in the comments!

This post was written by Leslie Marie, a volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. Leslie lives in New York City and has done outreach and research for the Ad Council. For the past year she directed the marketing and recruiting efforts for an alternative teaching certification program run by a national education consulting organization. Please leave your comments or send us an email with your questions.

October 8, 2009

Potential Bright Spots for the Long-term Unemployed

The Center for America Progress released their findings for September 2009 on Tuesday. Part of a list of signs that America’s economy is still struggling was this highlight…

“The average length of unemployment in September 2009 was 26.2 weeks, the median length of unemployment was 17.3 weeks, and 35.6 % of the unemployed were out of a job for 27 weeks or more. All of these indicators are at their highest level since 1948.”

Media outlets are reporting with more and more frequency the difficulties the long-term laid off are having in securing employment. The Wall Street Journal’s online career section regularly featured an article back in June titled, “Only the Employed Need Apply”. It seems, not only are there fewer jobs available, but the unemployed are being passed over for theoretically more desirable candidates - those who are employed.

The question becomes … with so many obstacles before them … Is there any good news for the long-term unemployed? Yes, there is.

#1 Unemployment Benefits Extension Vote Pending

In late September, the House of Representatives passed a bill to extend unemployment benefits for 13 additional weeks. The bill is currently waiting for a vote in the Senate. The difficulty is that the House’s bill limits the extension to only the jobless in states with 8.5% or higher unemployment. Various Senators are reluctant to sign a bill that will not support jobless Americans in all 50 states. However, the bottom-line is that if the original version is signed, 75% of those Americans who would lose their benefits at the end of September will get a much needed reprieve.

#2 COBRA Benefits May be Extended

Earlier this week, the Obama administration announced that they are considering seeking an extension of the law which subsidizes COBRA health insurance premiums for involuntarily laid-off employees. Currently, the subsidy covers 65% of monthly health care premiums for up to 9 months following the employee’s involuntary separation with their employer. The possibility of this extension, coupled with the likelihood of some extension of unemployment benefits could be a welcome sign of support to those struggling without jobs.

# 3 Student Loans – Initiate your own Deferment or Forbearance Extension

Deferment and forbearance rules are maintained by each loan provider. And federally funded loans have different rules than private student loans. However, that does not mean you cannot negotiate with your loan provider to extend the terms of your deferment or forbearance if you have a financial hardship. The important point is to not default on your loans. Start early and work with your provider to discuss payment plan options. Be ready to wade through a lot of red tape – online and over the phone. Be prepared to provide documentation. But above all, be persistent.

#4 Add Your Own

There are more useful tips that I did not cover in this post, but you can add them to the comments! Share your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas in the comments and other job seekers will be grateful.

Links (learn more):

* Economic Snapshot for October 2009, Center for American Progress, 10/06/09
* Only the Employed Need Apply, WallStreetJournal.com, 06/30/09
* Jobless benefits extension hits snag in Senate, Associated Press, 10/01/09
* Several options can help if you're struggling to pay student loans, USAToday.com, 09/21/09
* Obama administration mulls extending COBRA subsidy, BusinessInsurance.com, 10/05/09

This post was written by Leslie Marie, a volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. Leslie lives in New York City and has done outreach and research for the Ad Council. For the past year she directed the marketing and recruiting efforts for an alternative teaching certification program run by a national education consulting organization. Please leave your comments or send us an email with your questions.

The Day We Committed to Social Change

On this day two years ago, Make Social Change A Reality was born. Yay, Happy Birthday to us!

Last year, we celebrated our first birthday by declaring October 8th as a day of recognition for all who make a difference. This year we'd like to invite you to share your story in creating a better world.

What have you done to make a difference in 2009?

What are your goals for change in 2010?

Why do you do what you do?

How are you going to enlist the support of others to make social change a reality in your lifetime?

We look forward to hearing from all change agents regardless of issue area. Please share your stories in the comments!

This post was written by Chanelle Carver, creator of this blog and founder of the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project.

September 23, 2009

We Will Make Change Again

There are those who want to fuss and fight
And would rather scream and shout
Than try to find some common ground
And calmly talk things out

Some people are just so hell bent
On getting their own way
That they show utter disregard
For what others have to say

It is almost common place these days
To dismiss and reject
Those that have a different view
As down right incorrect.

It seems like some are delighted
With the chaos and the craze
They spread their anger and disdain
And expect to get high praise

The President speaks to Congress
To make us all aware
Of reforms he will be making
To bring us all healthcare

But with blatant disrespect
One chooses to defy
The President of the United States
And scream at him “YOU LIE !”

Have some people lost their manners
Do they simply have no shame?
Or is it easier to look outward
To find someone to blame?

Some are just determined
To make it their game plan
To fight against the social change
That could help the common man

Social issues are a reality
that some choose not to face
But to turn a blind eye to them
Would be simply a disgrace

If we have a moral calling
To help improve the lives of others
Then how can we ignore the plight of our
Sisters and our brothers?

The time is now to make real change
We have waited long enough
There will always be resistance
Because change is often tough

But as a country we have made change before
And we will make change again
The only questions that now remain are
What cause will you join…and WHEN?

This post was written by Robert Connor, Sr. IT Manager for Giorgio Armani Corp and formerly a Computer Consultant for companies such as Anne Klein II, Donna Karan & Chanel Cosmetics. Robert is a volunteer blogger with the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project. Please leave your comments or email info@makesocialchangeareality.com with questions.