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The stories behind the grants

Dorcas Apoore: Hope by the Basketful

Dorcas Apoore: Hope by the Basketful

Dorcas Apoore grew up in Northern Ghana, in a remote village so small that it isn’t even on a map. Her mother was married at a young age and never got to finish school, a cycle that Dorcas saw repeated for a great many girls in her village. Most often, this is an...

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Birthing a New Dream of Equality

Birthing a New Dream of Equality

When she became pregnant at 18, Maria del Mar Jaramillo felt her dreams come crashing down around her. She spent her pregnancy full of worry, wondering if the life she had envisioned for herself would still be possible. With the loving support of her husband and...

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Live to Give

Live to Give

The wisest thing I ever learned was to take advantage of every opportunity. By this I mean not the opportunity to expand your own sense of mastery of the world, but the opportunity to expand your service to the world. If you gain something external it can be taken...

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Save the Food, Feed the People

Save the Food, Feed the People

In a shed in downtown Merced, California, there is a random refrigerator overflowing with an ever-changing bounty of persimmons, lettuce, celery, and other locally sourced whole fruits and vegetables. Everything in the fridge is free; twenty-four hours a day, anyone can visit to pick up what they might need. “The People’s Fridge” is a volunteer labor of love, organized by Erin Meyer and Steve Roussos.

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Going the Social Distance

Going the Social Distance

Growing up, Jenna Bardroff’s best friend was a potbellied pig named Arnie. When she made the connection between what her parents were putting on her plate and her love for Arnie, she became a vegetarian at the age of five. She started college at the age of fourteen,...

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Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Last week, the comedian Dave Chapelle hosted Saturday Night Live. Addressing the deep division in America following the most recent political election, he urged Americans to find a way to forgive each other. I was talking about this with a friend, who took issue with...

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Invest in Kindness

Invest in Kindness

We are now beginning to realize what you may have already known would be true: a political election is not a miracle cure for COVID-19, racism, poverty, or anything else. Our deepest divisions, inequities, and suffering will not vanish magically overnight. We can’t...

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The Vilka Chess Club

The Vilka Chess Club

Sohibjamol Rakamova is an unlikely chess champion. In her native Tajikistan, chess is a game of status and nobility. Many children are enrolled in chess training at the same time they go to nursery school, but this wasn’t the case for Sohibjamol. She grew up in the...

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The Fine Line Between Success and Failure

The Fine Line Between Success and Failure

In a world of outcomes and data points we often measure success externally; How much money? How many people? How quickly? Success is so often viewed quantitatively rather than qualitatively, with the underlying assumption that big means better. This reminds me of an...

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Totis Viribus

Totis Viribus

Today I learned a new phrase – “Totis Viribus,” which means “with all one’s might.” Living life purposefully takes effort. It takes work to focus our path in an intentional way; being consciously compassionate is a daily and deliberate practice. It takes all our...

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Raoul & Jali: Keepers of Memory

Raoul & Jali: Keepers of Memory

This is a story of brotherhood. Raoul Vecchio is an architect and engineer. One day in his native Italy, Raoul had a chance encounter with an artist named Jali Diabate. As they talked, a synergy emerged that would meaningfully shape both their lives. Jali is part of...

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Friendship Blooms Eternal

Friendship Blooms Eternal

When the pandemic came, some people drank about it, some people wrote about it — and some people planted potatoes about it. In the heart of South San José, next to a housing project for low-income seniors, is a small community garden on land belonging to St. Stephen’s...

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Humility is a wise teacher

Humility is a wise teacher

Humility is a wise teacher. To be humble is to admit when we may not know everything, which is a prerequisite to learning and growth. It allows us to listen, which is a state of openness that assumes something new and valuable is being shared. A structural challenge...

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Sides To a Story

Sides To a Story

How many times have you heard someone say “there are two sides to every story?” We are taught to frame our thinking in these dualistic terms, with even our most significant and complex cultural conversations unfolding on this binary framework. Pro-life versus...

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What makes you happy?

What makes you happy?

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson Last week, we shared the...

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Gratitude Goes Big: Laura Lavigne

Gratitude Goes Big: Laura Lavigne

Earlier this year, Laura Lavigne awoke from a vivid dream about contagious red hearts. In the dream, anyone who received a red heart was filled with a deep sense of peace. The hearts were spreading quickly throughout the world. This vision of something that “went...

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It’s the little things

It’s the little things

My father had a friend, I call him my uncle but he is so much more than that. His name is Vijay and he remains the happiest man I have ever known. He founded a large accountancy firm in his region, employing many people. He was successful and well respected in...

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The Direction of the River

The Direction of the River

It has been said that a person cannot step in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and you are not the same person. In case we needed a reminder, 2020 has shown us the relentless constancy of change. In theory, change is a hopeful thing that many of us...

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Direct Giving Promotes Diversity

Direct Giving Promotes Diversity

For much of history, giving happened directly. You saw a neighbor in need, and reached into your pocket to offer what you could to help; or perhaps a friend told you about a worthy idea, and you banded together to build a new community center or dig a well. Service...

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Compassion Made Visible: Animal House

Compassion Made Visible: Animal House

Jessica Gonzalez Castro is a reader. One book in particular has shaped the trajectory of her life. After reading “Animal Liberation” by Peter Singer, Jessica was moved to learn how she could be a more effective activist for animal rights. So it was with great...

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Beyond the horizon

Beyond the horizon

Recently, I was looking out over the horizon of the San Francisco bay. This is usually a view that inspires; the shimmering water, the blue sky, and the spectacular outline of the mountains can captivate even the most cynical of hearts. Right now, all this beauty is...

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