December 30, 2008

Making Social Change A Reality: A New Year's Resolution

As the year ends and the New Year approaches, I start to think about my New Year’s resolution from last year (exercise more, take time to read). I realized that if I set my mind to something, I generally do it.

I accomplished both of my New Year’s resolutions from last year, so for this year, I decided to include a new one that I know I can accomplish…volunteer!

Moving to a new city and having a new job has given me the opportunity to spend some free time volunteering with different organizations. It wasn’t hard and the reward is meeting new people, learning a new place and helping to raise awareness for issues that are important to me.

The other great thing I realized about volunteering is how contagious it is. I mentioned to some friends about some of the volunteering efforts I was apart of, and immediately they were interested in participating too. I soon found out that I could afford to give some more time to other organizations looking for volunteers.

So one thing I am going to continue to do is volunteer in the coming New Year, with this organization and others because it is important to me and the success of the organization. Often times organizations just need a little support to get going, and if it happens to be in your area of expertise, than even better.

So I ask you this, how will you make social change a reality in the coming year?

Written by Matthew Reid, volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. A native New Yorker, Matthew now lives in Boston and works for a math curriculum development company.

December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

December 23, 2008

'Tis the Season to Reflect, Share, and Listen

We are a few days away from Christmas and are undoubtedly being reminded about the joys of giving.

But what if you don't have much to give?

What if this year money has been more than tight—it has been nearly non existent? What if emotionally you have been so drained that most days you would like to just sit home and cry? What if the merriment of the season leaves you feeling disillusioned and excluded?

Then don't give.

We are told it is better to give than to receive and now is the time to put aside all selfishness and give to everyone you love and to the less fortunate. But it isn't that easy and for many people it never has been. Poverty doesn't take a holiday. The recession didn't go away on vacation. We are still struggling.

Instead, reflect and open up.

Openness is a gift in and of itself. It takes a great deal of our personal strength to open up to others and to listen to others. Too many of us are raised to value the suppression of negative emotions—to be happy all the time and always moving forward never addressing what is eating us up.

And we spend so much time just trying to get by that we don't allow ourselves to reflect on what is wrong and what needs to be changed.

So during this time of giving, let the guard down, reflect, share and listen. Reflect with your family about what this year has been like; listen to the stories of loved ones and those in need; talk about the possibilities for the next year. When we reflect, share, and listen we validate ourselves, each other, and create a stronger community—a goal worth striving for all year round.

This post was written by Allison Jones, a development and communications professional in New York City and volunteer blogger with the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project. She is a writer, advocate, and educator focusing on empowering young people to change the world. Please leave your comments or email ajlovesya [at]

December 18, 2008

Communities in Swaziland in Dire Need of Supplies

There is a unique opportunity to make a difference and alleviate poverty all the way over in Swaziland (Southern Africa). Many children and families live in extreme poverty.

Parents of many children living in poverty have died from AIDS and are being looked after by their old grandmothers far away from any cities or electricity. These grandmothers mostly have no income but are solely responsible for feeding and educating the children.

Cabrini Ministries has done a great job providing help to many of these families over in Swaziland. YOU too can help these poor children and families have a better life by donating supplies to help them meet life's basic needs.

Supplies Needed

Drop Off Location
Supplies will be shipped to Cabrini Ministries the first week of January. They can be dropped off at The Hemingway African Gallery at the Manhattan Arts and Antique Center. The address is 1050 Second Avenue, Gallery 96 & 97, New York, NY 10022. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

If you need assistance as to what supplies are needed, please contact Michel Joffe at To speak with someone at the Gallery about dropping off supplies, call Brian Gaisford at 212-838-3650.

"Cabrini Mission Foundation funding supports programs and institutions that provide healthcare, education, and social services for women, children, immigrants, and the elderly. While each Cabrini entity provides unique services, all express an enduring commitment to helping the disadvantaged, in a society that is not always welcoming, and where needs are not always met." To learn more, visit

December 17, 2008

Drive For The Stuy: A Benefit Concert and Silent Auction

On December 19th, the Arise Collective in partnership with the Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCAH) will host a food and clothing drive in the form of an evening concert featuring local musicians and artists, and a silent auction for its constituents that struggle to meet basic life needs.

The Arise Collective is a union of progressive educators, organizers, and activists in the community of Bed Stuy working towards grassroots community development through the cultivation of local arts. If you are interested in helping with this event or to give donations, email the Director of Special Projects at

Purpose of Drive For The Stuy
To gain the necessities of food and clothing for members of our community who are struggling to meet basic life needs.

December 19, 2008

St. Phillips Episcopal Church

Donations Needed
*Donations for the silent auction, as well as the raffle
* Monetary donations to cover logistical costs for putting on the event
* Volunteers needed for the event itself on 12/19
* Food donations for the event

Boyuan Gao at

December 16, 2008

Teaching Students to Recycle

As a first-year public school teacher in Brooklyn, I learned quickly that if I was to survive in this position, it was going to be tough. I first turned to my colleagues; all of them seasoned teachers with 10+ years of experience. Apparently, being a first year teacher is much like entering a fraternity, and I was going through the hazing process. All I wanted was paper, was that so hard?

I soon realized that I was not going to get much in the way of paper, other than what I was willing to purchase. I did what I could for the first few months, but when test prep started, I was using a lot of paper. It was then that I decided it was time my students learn about recycling.

My school did not have a recycling program. I started a “recycle bin” for scrap paper and encouraged students to use it. I taught them about recycling, why it’s important to them and their community. Within the first few weeks, students would make a mistake on their paper and instead of crumpling up their paper; they turned it over and used the other side.

One day one of my students saw me taking home two bags and stopped me to inquire what I was doing. I told her I was taking our recycled paper somewhere it would be recycled properly. She was amazed that I did this but I told her as a teacher, how could I tell them to recycle and then not do it myself. A few weeks later, she was walking to school with a bag of her own bottles. I asked her what she was doing. She asked if I knew where they recycle bottles.

How else can we teach the importance of recycling to students?

This blog was written by Matthew Reid, volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. A native New Yorker, Matthew now lives in Boston and works for a math curriculum development company. Please leave your comments or email

FREE Resources for Educators courtesy of Amnesty International USA

As part of the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project's December Giving Drive, we're happy to inform you of a curriculum fair this Friday, December 19th hosted by the Human Rights Education program at Amnesty International USA. Be sure to RSVP to by Thursday, December 18th if you want to attend. The details:

In the spirit of giving that is such a great part of the holiday season, the Human Rights Education program of Amnesty International USA will be holding a curriculum fair to give away materials/resources to educators - for FREE! For an idea of some of the materials offered, please visit

Time: 4:00pm-6:00pm

Date: Friday, December 19th

Location: Amnesty International USA
NY Office
5 Penn Plaza (8th Ave btw 33rd and 34th)
16th Floor
NY, NY 10001

RSVP: by Thursday, December 18th

***It is VERY important that you RSVP. Security is very tight in our building and they will not let anyone upstairs who is not on the list. Please bring photo ID with you.

December 15, 2008

Should You Racialize the Internet for Social Change and Community?

Mozilla has launched Blackbird, a web browser created for African-Americans. The browser filters searches, networks, and websites to bring African-American related content and acts as a network for African-Americans to connect and highlight African-American charities.

My gut reaction is that this browser is created to make money for advertisers. African-Americans are projected to have over $1 trillion in purchasing power by 2012 so anyone who can get this groups attention will certainly see profits. Additionally for the 85% of African-American web users who prefer African-American related content this browser does all of the filtering and searching that they may not have the time or savvy to do.

At the same time, if we recognize that the Internet has revolutionized how we learn and interact with the world around us there is something unsettling about limiting content to solely focus on an ethnic group. And who gets the privilege of selecting what exactly is African-American content? What if I am interested in something that doesn't have a high African-American following or focus, will that info not be shown?

The only aspect of this browser that stands out is its Give Back function (coming soon) which will provide greater visibility for African-American community based organizations. But couldn't that have been a website instead of a browser? And wouldn't it help to have the visibility of African-American charities grow among all groups of people?

The goal of building community and social change seem lost by having a separate browser since change is not possible in isolation.

What are your thoughts?

This post was written by Allison Jones, a development and communications professional in New York City and volunteer blogger with the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project. She is a writer, advocate, and educator focusing on empowering young people to change the world. Please leave your comments or email

December 10, 2008

Millennium Development Summit 2008

On September 25th, the United Nations met in New York City to evaluate progress on the eight Millennium Development Goals. More than two months later, it’s still hard to dig through news about GM’s failures, Obama’s picks, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks to really assess the situation.

The press briefing from the Summit offers critique, but also hope for the future. Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown have gathered a team and formulated a plan to achieve the three MDGs for Health: reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. The team also includes World Bank President Robert Zoellick, Director-General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan, and Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Thus far progress has been slow and not steady. At the current rate of reduction, the UN’s efforts will see child mortality drop by only one-third instead of two. Decreasing mortality by one-third saves millions of children; failing to reach two-thirds allows millions more to die. Sadly, there has been little change at all in the number of preventable deaths during childbirth. At this point, maternal health is the United Nations’ greatest failure.

But there’s good news. Instances of AIDS infections are declining. So are cases of malaria and measles, mostly due to results-based funding funneled toward vaccination accessibility. The team has recommended a combined increase of $30 billion in funding to save 3 million mothers and 7 million children by the year 2015. Part of this money would go toward the training of health workers and the construction of delivery clinics. The United Kingdom will add over $650 million for health plans in seven developing nations. Countries that had previously not committed any money have now helped to increase overall funding by $8 billion. Furthermore, Bill Gates pledged additional funds toward scientific research in the treatment and vaccination of malaria. Everyone agreed that the global financial crisis should not slow efforts, but teach us how very interconnected we all are, and how vital it is that we cooperate and thrive as a global society.

Perhaps we really are at the dawn of a new day. In 2003 my friends were being sent overseas to fight, university costs were financially crippling me, and personal faith in my political system had all but died. Less than 5 years prior I hadn’t thought myself an idealist for simply believing that human beings can change the world around themselves for the better. Maybe there is a chance that now we are all, in our own way, preparing to make the next great collective jump forward. For now let’s not doubt success or focus on loopholes. It is possible to put a sock in the cynic and take one cue from the United Nations. Nothing will change in our world; nothing will change in our country, our state, our community, or our neighborhood until we realize our own role in progress, and the control we have over the future. I can’t tell anyone exactly what to do, but I promise you that that something can be done.

This blog was written by Allison Tritt, a former high school English teacher, volunteer for Oxfam Japan and blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. She blogs to foster global awareness and remind others that there is always a way to get involved. Email Allison at with your questions.

December 8, 2008

Need Food, Books and Other Supplies?

It's the season of giving...

...and we want to give you the gift of free publicity!

The Literacy ‘n' Poverty Project is hosting a December Giving Drive here on Making Social Change a Reality for any organization in need of donations whether you're looking for food, clothes, books, medical, or office supplies. We want to help YOU spread the word and get those much needed supplies to your constituents.

To participate in the December Giving Drive, email Chanelle Carver, Executive Director of the Literacy ‘n' Poverty Project at carver[at] with the following details:

  • The name and mission statement of your organization
  • Drive details (start and end date, who the drive will benefit, drop off locations, donations needed, etc.)
  • Person to contact (name, e-mail, and phone)

Literacy ‘n' Poverty Project is a startup nonprofit organization with a mission to support the advancement of adults through advocacy, research and service. We tackle social issues like education and poverty through a collaborative approach with community organizations, businesses and individuals in order to deliver quality programs and services that help alleviate poverty and improve adult education for all. For more information about who we are and what we do, please visit

Please feel free to forward this message. You can also post details in a comment.

December 4, 2008

I Love My LIFE Literacy/GED Program

Because Literacy 'n' Poverty Project is all about helping adults improve their literacy skills we felt compelled to alert the community about this great opportunity. These are troubling economic times so if you have the qualifications and ready to take on something new, apply to Life Camp, Inc. and become a GED Classroom Teacher! Here are the details:

POSITION: GED Classroom Teacher (2 positions)

ELIGIBILITY: NYCDOE license as a teacher

SELECTION CRITERIA: Satisfactory experience providing Literacy/GED instruction for at least two years preferred

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: Provide Instruction to Literacy/GED Students in English, Mathematics, Science or Social Studies

SALARY: $35.00 per hour

WORK SCHEDULE: Tuesday and Thursday, Evening hours, Average 6 hours per week

APPLICATION: Copy of NYC Department of Education license and resume must be received by December 8, 2008

Send your applications materials to with I Love My LIFE Literacy/GED Program in subject line.

LIFE Camp, Inc. is a 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Queens, NY with a mission to develop its participants into strong leaders and responsible entrepreneurs. LIFE (Love Ignites Freedom Thru Education) exists to provide a second change to youth who are disconnected from educational, employment and social opportunities. To learn more about LIFE Camp, visit

Good luck!