Our Grant Advisors
We believe that the best people to review grant applications are those who have personal experience working on similar initiatives. Our grant review team includes Pollination Project grantees and other trusted individuals working on many different issues around the world. A minimum of 3 people on this team reviews each qualified application. Together, they use the breadth of their experience to make the funding decisions for our grants
Courtney Bowles is an artist, educator, and community organizer who uses art as a vehicle for connecting diverse communities to build empathy and support for social justice movements. She is the co-director of The Philadelphia Reentry Think Tank and The People’s Paper Co-op (PPC), that received a Pollination Grant in 2015. The PPC is an ongoing initiative of The Village of Arts & Humanities that connects individuals in reentry with artists, civil rights lawyers, and many others, to run a multitude of programs and initiatives.
At the core of her practice is the belief that those most impacted by systemic social issues are the experts society needs to listen to, and that by connecting those directly affected with a multitude of community experts and political stakeholders, change can be created on personal and systemic levels.
David graduated with a BSc. Medical Biochemistry Degree of the University of Nairobi and returned to his community of Obunga Slum where he founded Riley Orton Foundation Org (ROF), a Kenyan nonprofit supporting underprivileged girls to break the cycle of poverty by implementing sustainable education programs.
Having been raised in Obunga slum and seeing women and children struggle to survive and break free from poverty, He has always been determined to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the less privileged in his community.
He started Akili Library and Information Technology center in fall of 2010, and Akili Preparatory School for Girls in Jan 2012. He has seen the growth of the library and the school over the years into a center of excellence supporting 85 underprivileged girls and adding 15 more every year.
As the Founder/Director of Operations at ROF, he is involved in managing the Akili library and preparatory School, Akili sustainable farm, recruiting teachers, researching and writing grants, partnership development and organizing training for staff as well as coordinating volunteer activities. David received a TPP grant in support of Akili School in 2014.
David says that he is driven by an innate desire to create sustainable change from the inside with the local community as the development experts.
DeJuana Golden, MS, EJD is a single mother of three children including her 13-year-old son CJ who has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism. She is the founder and director of Special Shades of Color, where she aims to provide a real look inside of the lives of parents raising special needs children via the power of video blogs.
A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Golden Gate University (Master’s degree), and Concord Law School (Executive Juris Doctorate); DeJuana has over 13 years of experience in marketing, advocacy, and community service. She is currently enrolled in a Special Education Advocacy Training program through COPAA (Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates), with the goal of improving access to services in order to enhance the lives of children, parents, and families in the special needs community.
DeJuana has been honored as a Rising Star by the Orange County Global Women’s Conference for her work with Special Shades of Color. Additionally, Special Shades of Color has been awarded the Pollination Project Grant (2013), LIFE Ministries Grant (2013), Impact Grant through the Pollination Project (2014), and featured on KTLA’s Helpful Honda commercial highlighting those who make a difference in their communities (2014).
Derek Young is a veteran CSR/Sustainability and communications professional with nearly 17 years of experience. He is recognized as a thought leader capable of working across industries, analyzing and determining needs and opportunities for value creation and building and delivering strategic CSR/Sustainability programs, messaging and branding campaigns, and community and stakeholder engagement efforts.
Derek has worked in the public policy, non-profit, for profit and consulting sectors and has developed deep experience in the areas of strategic analysis, corporate sustainability, communications, message development and branding, energy and water efficiency, corporate responsibility, non-profit partnerships, charitable giving, and community and stakeholder engagement.
Derek has helped to start and lead CSR and Sustainability programs at several corporations and most recently developed and lead the Responsible Business function globally for TGI Fridays restaurant chain. In 2014 Derek joined Edelman Public Relations as a contract employee providing council and support to the Dallas offices corporate and consumer practice areas as well as providing subject matter expertise on Business and Social Purpose issues. He supports clients ranging from an innovative biosciences company to an international non-profit focused on reducing food waste and alleviating childhood hunger.
Derek is part of several boards including the Grant Advisory Board for The Pollination Project, the Steering Committee for the Dallas Corporate Citizenship Network the Food Advisory Council for the North Texas Food Bank and has served as a past Advisory Council member for Sustainable Brands.
Desire Johnson-Forte is an Oakland native who received her B.A in English from Mills College (Creative Writing) and minor in Ethnic Studies. Between her full time work and passion oriented consulting: she uses shared narrative to transform the possibilities society & culture have outlined for black youth;a budding innovator of pilot-program participatory implementation & monitoring. She works full-time as the Downtown TAY Program Manager, and is a youth co-facilitator at Oakland’s Youth Impact Hub. In between time she runs her (3) social enterprises: the BIZ Stoop (educational consulting, life style curation, and youth development); Damn Good Teas (natural ready-made herbal tea beverage); and Luv Euphor (crafts & artisan goods).
Donna DeGennaro is the Founder and Director of Unlocking Silent Histories, for which she received a TPP grant in 2014. She obtained her PhD in education from the University of Pennsylvania. Her passion for creating socially just learning designs that are technology-mediated and youth-driven fueled her work with youth in informal learning environments in the US and abroad for the past 10 years. During this time, she developed an innovative pedagogical model that simultaneously addresses the digital divide, culturally responsive learning, and social justice education.
She was motivated to start USH after being perpetually inspired by the ways that the pedagogical model not only unleashes youth voice & agency, but also opens spaces for young people to envision and create their own futures. Her commitment to indigenous populations began in Guatemala, where she witnessed USH participants capturing their languages and cultures. Donna has learned conversational Spanish from our USH students.
Elle Morgan’s diverse experience ranges from being a counselor at a youth wilderness center, a teacher at an inner city arts/career learning center and a newspaper and magazine writer. As a freelance writer she covers topics on health and wellness, spirituality, and women’s leadership.
She lives in State College, PA with her husband Terry and their dog Willy. She is currently the director of a retreat center on 36-acres of woodland in Clearfield County where she runs her program, The Elements of New Life Scripts for at-risk youth, women and anyone interested in personal transformation.
Elli Weisbaum grew up in the world of education and mindfulness, attending her first mindfulness retreat at the age of 10. In high-school she began creating and co-facilitating workshops with her mother for parents and at-risk youth that used mindfulness as a basis for personal transformation and conflict resolution.
She is currently completing a Master’s degree at York University’s Environmental Studies program, focused on cultivating mindfulness in education. She has also worked as a producer in the film industry, and has used her knowledge of film production to create several short documentary films exploring mindfulness as a secular education tool.
Over the past three years, Elli has toured with monastics in the tradition of Nobel Peace Prize nominee, scholar and internationally renowned Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh (a.k.a. the Plum Village Community), to bring mindfulness into schools and universities around the world. This work has included a tour of universities on the East Coast of the United States, a conference at the American School in London, organizing a program development intensive at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Germany, co-facilitating workshops in Bhutan, in coordination with the Gross National Happiness (GNH) Centre, along with one month of workshops for teachers, parents and students, at schools in New Delhi, India.
In the Summer of 2012, she became the international program coordinator for Plum Village’s mindfulness in education initiative entitled “Wake Up Schools”, working from their centres in France, Germany and the United States. Her ongoing work with Plum Village focuses on a holistic approach to education, working simultaneously with teachers, students, parents and school administrators, to cultivate sustainable mindfulness communities.