Seeds: Our Blog
Welcome to our blog! We use it to tell our grantee’s stories and to share more about what we are learning here at the Pollination Project.
I am an environmentalist and Mexican-American with dual citizenship, and in 2012 I relocated back to my native Mexico. There is a lot of talk these days about walls between my two countries- the US and Mexico. But the wall I’ve been most focused on lately is the philanthropic wall that keeps funders separate from hardworking local activists. This wall is built upon language barriers, limited access to technology, bureaucratic aversion, and the effects of centuries of colonization. And now my passion is tearing it down! My path to becoming a funder started in 2012 when I began a friendship with a local environmental activist in Guadalajara. We formed Ecotapatio – a collective- which received $1000 of seed funding from [...]
Leadership and connecting with the community is valuable. We all have a place in our community, and it is up to each of us to seek that place. Our community can grow as much as we can grow personally. Our community can transform as much as we can transform. Our community can speak as much as we speak. Our community can connect, as much as we connect. My experiences with The Pollination Project as a Grantee and Fellow (aka Flow Funder) with the Youth Development Hub has helped me use my voice to share stories, grown personally and professionally, and make connections to grow stronger together. My voice is heard through my work. I believe every child deserves a chance [...]
I must have received messages about the first announcements about the Pollination Project from about a dozen people. As a community organizer, I am constantly on the search for foundations who provide for grassroots projects, as they are so few and far between. I applied for my first grant in 2014, my second grant (for another project) in 2015 and received an Impact Grant in 2016. So when I was approached about becoming a Flow Fund Fellow, it seemed too good to be true! Me, receiving a stipend to give away funds for amazing youth development projects? Heck yeah! The first phone calls with my the Fellows on my team were equally gratifying. Though we live in various parts of [...]
Have you ever imagined that you were a millionaire and had lots of money to donate to charities and people in need? Well, Im not a millionaire, not yet at least, but I was given the opportunity to serve as a Flow Funder for The Pollination Project's Youth Leadership Hub where I was able to give local organizations and individuals who are committed to positively impacting their community a "seed" grant. Theses grants were a thousand dollars and gave grass roots organizations the much needed support to launch and help catapult their business and/or community organization. As a flow funder I was given the fulfilling task of granting three individuals with a $1,000 grant to support their local projects and [...]
It has been an honor to serve as the Leader for the Youth Leadership Fellowship Program for 2016. I am so thankful for the experience and opportunity to have been involved with such spiritually rewarding, heart felt work. The Youth Development Fellowship has been an incredible experience and journey that I was blessed to share with a great team, Susan, Chris, and Kehli. The power behind us all connecting from various parts of the world to find people "just like us", "being the change" has been beyond rewarding. The success that I have seen not only from my own personal & professional growth, but from each of my colleagues, to each of our flow funds, has been tremendous, and moves [...]
In the midst of today's political turmoil, numerous California youth communities are taking action to generate community health, justice, and resilience. Through our newest program, Youth Rising, we are supporting powerful youth on the ground like the Semillas collective in Salinas, CA and Brayan Cruz in Riverside, CA to realize their dreams on the ground. These youth come from communities that suffer extreme health and education inequities but that has never stopped them from doing the work that makes them come alive. The Semillas (seeds) collective has been planting seeds of awareness and inspiration through their pop-up nutritious juice bars where they facilitate creative dialogue around issues of health and agriculture, while sharing poetry and interactive games that break the [...]
Have you ever been so frustrated with a person or situation that you thought your mind would explode? We can’t do this work alone. No one can live this life alone. In this day and age, in the state of such a chaotic, and unbalanced world, everyone needs someone. We all need venting time, an ear to listen, and a nonjudgmental, empathetic, and nonthreatening space to just “be”. To be heard, to be felt, to be understood, to be accepted, to be loved and to be encouraged to press on. For you, it could be your mentor, mom, favorite aunt, or best friend. For me, that person is grantee, La-Ty Banks- fondly known as TY, who just happens to be [...]
It is 9 pm in Kenya, my phone rings and it is Franciska on the other end. She is one of the recipients of the 'flow fund' grants that I made through the Pollination Project's East Africa Hub. She asks how I am and proceeds to inform me that she is away for 3 days looking for mats made of papyrus reeds to sell in her village. With the poor maize harvest this season, Franciska and her group are diversifying their income sources by selling locally made papyrus reed mats. How amazing it is to see how people hither to considered helpless can be so creative and think outside the box when connected with the resources they need to create change! [...]
The Summer Olympics are in full swing. American swimmers & gymnasts, Jamaican runners, and Irish rowers have all won gold. Eyes will be fixated on Rio until August 21st. The Olympic opening ceremonies were spectacular; could be the best ever. Of all the highlights in the opening ceremonies, one stood out to me the most; The Laurel Award. This is the first year this award has ever been presented. A man in a suit came running in with children dressed in white and they were flying white kites. The music playing sounded heavenly and created a sense of peace. The Laurel Award was created to honor a person who has used his or her accomplishments in sports to make achievements in education, [...]
Jude Thaddeus Njikem is an advocate for women in Cameroon. He is an educator and activist who works to end violence against women in his country, and bring about conditions of equality for women.
Kathmandu destruction On April 25th, 2015, the worst disaster to strike Nepal in over 80 years came as an earthquake. Measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, the earthquake lasted nearly a minute and its magnitude was even felt in surrounding China and India. Over 8,000 people were killed, over 16,000 people were injured, and nearly 3 million people were displaced. Just when it felt like things could not get any worse, a second earthquake struck Nepal a few weeks later. With continuing aftershocks striking daily and landslides cutting off many affected villages, panic and instability ensued. While most of the media focused on the collapsing temples and buried bodies of Kathmandu, a much more hidden disaster was unfolding. [...]
Born and raised in a Western Kenyan slum, grantee David Omondi knows first-hand what it’s like growing malnourished, how it feels living in a single room with his whole family, and the difficulties of trying focus on completing school work in a crowded and often unsanitary environment. Despite these challenges, David graduated from school then went on to earn a scholarship to pursue a Medical Biochemistry Degree from the University of Nairobi. Upon completing his education, David chose to take his gifts and skills back home, to make a difference for those less fortunate-those barely surviving, but still hoping for a better life. David started Akili Library and Information Technology center in fall of 2010, and Akili Preparatory School for [...]
Shari Jones is a bright young lady with a good head on her shoulders and a passion for giving back to young children in her community. She is committed to her two young girls, and making sure they get their needs met, which motivates her to help other young girls in her community have the same opportunity. Kids seem to be drawn to her warm smile and welcoming demeanor. Raised in South Central, Los Angeles, by a hard-working single mother, Shari had to learn how to take care of herself at an early age. As a result, she turned to cooking and baking as a way to cope with the growing pains of life. I met Shari at Lou Dantzler [...]
Beginning in the 1970s, Hayu’s home country of Indonesia experienced great interest from multinational food producers. These firms sought to drastically increase food yields so they could supply a burgeoning global market. For example, genetically modified seeds for rice, known as I8 rice, were one of the experimental mechanisms that began during this time that led to 30% more rice yields.
How does a seed grant grow and sprout into sustainable, and fruitful impact? Travel with us to Kenya, where a lot of young girls are missing days, or months of school because they cannot afford it. Grantee Lila Kiwelu and her project Mdada, strives to keep girls in school by helping them pay school fees. What’s so impressive is the creative change in their business model, from initially selling fashion items themselves to raise money for school fees for girls, to now teaching girls how to make personalized, eco-friendly bracelets to earn their own income, enabling them to contribute to their own school fees, and academic success. In their final Grantee report, Lila noted that they were challenged with their [...]
Suzan Wilmot grew up straddling the line between poverty and privilege, a foot in each world as her father struggled to raise her single handedly while doing odd jobs for wealthier families. These contrasting experiences gave her the chance to determine what is truly meaningful in life. The history we go through shapes our future and determine what we can become in life, and Suzan didn’t let this situation stop her dreams.
In 1994, when Jimmy Amone was about 7 years old, he and his parents left the village to settle in the City of Kampala due to the civil war in Northern Uganda. While living in the city, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Information Technology from Nkumba University. Upon completing his degree course, and with the spirit of volunteerism and compassion that he possessed towards life, he wanted to use his new acquired knowledge, skills and experiences gained in Information Communication Technology, leadership, debate, and sports to help his community. So, in 2010, he returned to Northern Uganda and settled in Kitgum village.
Women never cease to amaze me. I am in awe of the superlative dedication they put in to whatever they do. Every time I read about people changing the world, I am introduced to strong-willed women who would give their life to make the world a better place. As a 2016 Fellow with the Pollination Project’s East Africa Hub, I have met an incredible woman who is transforming the world of mental health, one blog, video, or training session at a time. Sitawa Wafula is a rare bird. As a rape survivor living with a dual diagnosis of epilepsy and bipolar disorder, she has dedicated her life to providing people in Kenya and Africa with the vital information and support that they need to handle mental health conditions and deal with everyday life.
The story of the Pollination Project is one that is often best told through the stories of its grantees. This is certainly the case for Kenya, and a good place to start is with the story of Vincent Atitwa. Born as the 11th child in a family that survived largely on subsistence farming in rural Western Kenya, Vincent grew up with little access to basic needs like food and education, and even suffered from malnutrition throughout his childhood. As a young man, Vincent realized that “for many people in the world, no matter how hard they choose to work, they cannot achieve the same level of security and access to resources.”
Admit it: Sometimes as adults we are just not in the mood to eat our vegetables and become bored of the same old salads. In inner city Los Angeles, how do you get kids excited and willing to eat GREEN and healthy when there is a McDonald’s or other fast food option on every other corner, and places like Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s are miles and miles away? You teach them how skipping breakfast is not cool, and how in 5 quick minutes they can transform 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup frozen peaches, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple, 1/2 banana, 2 cups kale and 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed into a tasty, Peachy Green Smoothie! Ar’Lisa Foster and [...]