It Starts With Communities

by | Mar 4, 2019 | Seeds: Our Blog

The Pollination Project has funded grantees in over 110 countries working on almost any kind of project you can imagine (that almost is important – there’s always room for your idea as well!). And with that broad scope comes the question – what do they have in common?

We think there are many answers to that question. But, for now, here’s a big one: community. The 14 projects below all represent efforts that are by community members, serve communities, and build community. They show us what can be achieved by people working on issues that they know, the power to effect change that is tapped when people come together to address issues that they see up close and personally, or the strength and resilience that emerges when someone provides the spark that ignites the flame of enduring community relationships.

We like to say that we believe in people. And that’s true. But perhaps even more than that we believe in the power of community; when we come together around shared ideas and dreams, when we pool our ideas and resources, and when we work together to turn those dreams, ideas, and resources into meaningful change, we don’t just change the world, we change ourselves too.

Ayodele Ayeni – The Bridge Project

After studying early childhood development and volunteering with UNICEF Rwanda, Ayodele Ayeni realized that children in his country and community were not being afforded equal opportunities to pursue education. To address these concerns, he established The Bridge Project, an initiative aimed at bridging the learning gap in Rwanda by promoting programs for disadvantaged youth in remote communities. Lead by Ayeni Ayodele, Pascaline Miderho, and Evareste Nsabimana, The Bridge Project train teachers, work directly with students, and ensure that students have access to learning materials. Ayeni told us,”I am a firm believer in every child having access to quality education irrespective of their background or status and one way to achieve this is by a genuine compassion for [all] children”


The Mentor’s Foundation – Empowering Internally Displaced Single Mothers

The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon has forced more than 300,000 people to be internally displaced and another 30,000 as refugees. After realizing that single mothers are amongst the most affected after being forcibly displaced, The Mentor’s Foundation are working to provide 15 displaced women with training and resources to generate income themselves and their families.

Chad and Ali Tucker, Ashley Metcalfe – Military Transitional Course

“A few years after Chad and Ali Tucker got married, their brother, Adam, was injured in the Air Force and was eventually medically discharged back to the States. Shortly thereafter, Chad, who also served in the armed forces, was injured and he too was medically discharged. To say this was a difficult time emotionally and financially would be an understatement however nothing could have prepared them for what was to come.

On January 31, 2016 Adam took his own life. He is the reason Ali and her team have founded Sheepdog Support, to advocate for veterans across America. Their newest program – Life Skills Courses for Veterans – fulfills their long term goal of creating and providing transitional courses for military personnel leaving the service and veterans who have recently returned home.”

Bashiri Iddy – Vegetable and Fruit Garden for Happy and Healthy Kids

In Mwanza, Tanzania, Bashiri Iddy introducing students to vegetable and fruit gardening to make learning fun while inspiring healthy lifestyles, promoting environmental care, and introducing an entrepreneurial mindset among school children. Due to recent changes in laws that affect the income of many community members in this fishing community, there has been an increase unemployment, divorce, migration, and decreased access to nutrition. Through this project, young people will learn about themselves, their community, and also learn valuable gardening and food production skills.

Bryan College Enactus – Dayton Community Garden

In Dayton, Tennessee, access to healthy food is limited due to the socioeconomic status of the city and a lack of incentives to exercise and eat healthfully. A healthy lifestyle is often perceived as unattainable or formidable by many community members due to lack of information or resources. The Dayton Community Garden is passionate about changing the health of Dayton and showing Dayton residents that eating better can taste good, exercising can be fun, and growing your own food is incredibly rewarding!

The Community Garden takes a multi-faceted approach that targets multiple age-groups and demographics through gardening enrichment programs. They have sectioned off 21 learning plots for students at local middle and elementary schools to grow their own produce, herbs, and flowers. Students have the freedom to utilize the plot to grow whatever they want and take ownership of what they produce. In addition, younger students benefit from the mentorship of an older students and learn to take pride in what they grow, as well as how to grow it.

Audrey Patra Atuhumuze – – Train a Woman

The – Train a Woman project in Oyam District, Uganda hopes that by helping young people who are not enrolled in formal education they will have more opportunity to not only generate income for themselves, but also to provide resources to vulnerable community members. Project participants will receive training on skills such as sewing and tailoring. This will enable the beneficiaries to produce and sell handmade products, ranging from school uniforms and school bags to sanitary towels.

Sharon Keoppel & Jason Smith – El Dorado Disc Sports Foundation

Disc sports, which have the opportunity to be accessible to a wide range of audiences, are seeing a sharp rise in popularity, and many municipalities are encouraging their installation. Developing an organization that creates a culture of inclusivity in this increasingly popular space is long overdue. Sharon is passionate about this space, and, with her husband, has started this group with a passion for making more opportunities for health and community available for a larger audience. Bringing diverse communities together through shared activity builds connections, understanding, and resilience, all while getting outside and getting some healthy activity!

Martin Kimani, Caroline Wamaitha – Digitoto IT Solution

When Martin Kimani was growing up, he did not have the opportunity to learn about computers or the skills related to information technology. Since then, he has made it his mission to help other kids gain access to such skills. Digitoto is a fusion of two words, digi- standing for digital and -toto being a Swahili word for kids, thus digital kids.This project, aims to empower kids and youth with computer and life skills while offering mentorship opportunities in informal settings. Funds from The Pollination Project will help Martin develop the website, cover costs for laptops, and purchase a projector, thus increasing impact in the community.


Daphne Morgen and Hannah Brumbaum – Youth UnMuted

Youth UnMuted facilitates pop-up creative storytelling and art workshops with refugee and migrant youth, increasing resilience and building peer-to-peer support networks. Founded by Daphne Morgen and Hannah Brumbaum in April 2018 in response to the lack of adequate programming for youth, many of whom are stuck in a state of chronic trauma for years, Daphne and Hannah were determined to establish a program that provided a space and the tools necessary for youth to reclaim their own experiences, their peers, and the prospect of being heard. Youth UnMuted seeks to elevate youth voices by engaging workshops focused on storytelling and art, emboldening participants to build and express their own narratives; and by elevating their voices through their online magazine.


Mercyline Nakholi – Food Security and Community Livelihood Project

After witnessing decreased harvest due to climate change in her rural Kenyan community, Mercyline decided to step in an help farmers learn agroecological farming techniques that are good for their livelihoods and good for the soil. Her project, The Food Security and Community Livelihood Project in Navakholo, aims to promote environmental awareness among communities by training farmers and community members on indigenous tree seedling production, supporting the rehabilitation of degraded environment, and conserving natural resources. Mercyline will be training 20 farmers on best practices and planting of indigenous friendly environmental crops, which they will then share with the larger community. Funds from The Pollination Project will help purchase indigenous seeds to establish the demonstration learning plot along with fencing material.

Thorne Rankin and Sally Shea – DC Natives

Founded by Thorne Rankin and Sally Shea, DC Natives increases pollinator habitats and creates local beauty for the residents of Washington, DC. Their efforts create a thread to help address issues while building connections between people who might otherwise lead parallel lives. Thorne and Sally offer the gardens as a vehicle to help bridge communities, underscoring the shared environment that connects us and the importance of collaboration to improve it. Low maintenance and drought resistant, the flowering gardens support pollinators in manageable plots scattered throughout the District. Every small garden contributes to a beautiful, aggregated whole. Funds from a seed grant will allow DC Natives to create a functional website and social media presence.


Peter Makero and Robert Eddaru Dhitwala- Sanitation for Health

Approximately 2,000 people reside in Lukoma, Uganda, which is severely affected by the frequent outbreak of diseases related to poor sanitation as a result of poor waste disposal. Located on the shores of Lake Victoria, waste is often washed down into the body of water during rainy seasons, a body of water that is the sole source for individuals. Peter Makero grew up in the region and saw first hand the number of children and adults that suffer from related diseases. This serves as his inspiration to identify and engage in hygienic activities that can address this community problem. Funds from The Pollination Project will help acquire the materials to construct a sanitation facility, thus reducing the risks for those in Lukoma.

Katasha Davis- Turning Pointe Youth Initiative, SC

Katasha Davis, Founder, and her team founded Turning Pointe Youth Initiative to identify non-traditional ways to bridge gaps between youth and parents by creating engaging learning activities that bring about open communication. Through this work, youth hear their own voices and discover ways to articulate feelings and emotions during moderated groups and other activities.The project raises awareness and breaks the cycle of myths that parents often have about youth today. The volunteer staff working on this project were inspired to give back after seeing many youth fall through the cracks as a result of not having access to the right people or right tools to build strong intergenerational relationships.

Lily Levin- Project to Stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper recently released an ambitious executive order to reduce greenhouse gases by 40% in 2025, which is not feasible with the continued construction of the ACP. Additionally, the ACP further disenfranchises low-income communities of color who will suffer the harshest consequences of inaction to address the threat of climate change. Our goal is to bus in students from North Carolina counties directly affected by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to rally against this destructive project.

Written by Milena Fraccari