Though we are bound together by our shared humanity, each of us see the world from a unique perspective that is shaped by our experience– we feel joy for different reasons, we live through different challenges, and, in turn, we dream of changing the world in different ways and for different reasons.
Though the 14 projects below address different issues in different ways, they each represent dreams of a better world becoming action. And for us they represent inspiration – it is never too late to make a difference, and, as these projects show, if you are determined enough, even the most challenging situations cannot stand in your way.
Jordan Creek Elementary – Lots of Knots for Kindness
Teacher Danielle Stull told us, “In order to grow empathetic leaders who care about all people and animals, we need to teach our students how to serve others with an open and generous heart”. At Jordan Creek Elementary in West Des Moines, Iowa, Danielle and a team of teachers and student leaders are working together on a school-wide service project to do just that. After students realized the challenges faced by many community members during Iowa’s cold winter months, the school community began coming together to work as a team making fleece blankets that will be distributed to hospitals, shelters, and anywhere they are need in order to spread warmth and compassion throughout central Iowa.
Godfrey Were and Moses Nyangweso – Here’s Life Community Based Organization
In the Mathara and Soweto slums outside Nairobi, Kenya HIV/AIDS has ravaged the community, with many of those affected widowed women and orphaned children. That’s where Here’s Life Community Based Organization come in. After witnessing the financial struggles faced by many community members living with HIV/AIDS, Here’s Life realized that they needed to provide immediate help through food and health care, while also looking to the longer term by helping children to transcend their situation and find their way out of a cycle of poverty. At Here’s Life, the children are given the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of educational programs, including science, drama, music, culture, environmental conservation, life skills, and more.
Catherine, Betty, Yakoba, Donato – PCE Alumni Group
In 2018, the Tororo District of Uganda fell among the worst 5 performing school districts in Uganda. After recently graduating, Catherine, Betty, and 13 others felt driven to address the issues facing students in the district. By providing coaching, school supplies, building parental support, and engaging teachers, the group aims to inspire 500 students across 40 schools and to help their families and teachers give them the support they need to succeed.
Clare Maxwell, Vasti Rosado, Karla Rosado – Casa de Abue
In Puerto Rico, a team of volunteers is taking the house from which group members’ Vasti and Karla’s grandma raised and fed a family and extending that hospitality to the wider community. Named in honor of their grandmother, Abue, Casa de Abue is a demonstration urban permaculture farm, as well as a venue to host volunteers, workshops, and other community building events. They hope that the love and care of a Grandmother will serve as their inspiration as they seek to find more sustainable and community oriented ways to live. So far, they have planted a food forest of fruit trees, greens, root vegetables, and medicinal herbs, done plumbing and electrical repairs, hosted a workshop on microbial balances in soil, started hosting volunteers and educators, and volunteered at farms across the island.
Russ Patrick, Olanya Sunday – Reducing Waste, Improving Livelihoods
Northern Uganda is still recovering from bitter conflict that affected thousands of young people. Now facing economic challenges as they process and heal, those young people are nonetheless determined to improve their communities. Due to heavy use of plastic water bottles and other items, plastic waste poses a real threat to the health of the community and the local environment – waste bottles are often burned, buried, or left to wash away into water sources -. Working with a youth employment group from the local college, Agoro International Vocational Institute, Russ and Olanya have come up with a novel way to reuse the plastic bottles that litter the streets throughout town: they will be melted down and combined with sand to form items such as fence posts that can be sold. The seed grant will enable Russ and his youth to purchase set up equipment, ultimately empowering the youth to generate income through their labour while cleaning up their town of Kitgum.
Yvette Montanez – Little Dandelions
Fostering a love of the environment through gardening at an early age can have life changing effects. In San Diego, Little Dandelions is group dedicated to inspiring agriculture by creating bilingual and physically impaired mobile gardening spaces with unique crafting activities for children age 2-5 and their families. Through fostering an environment where families and children of all ages can come together regardless of language and physical abilities spreading of love and kindness is Little Dandelions’ way towards educating and encouraging positive change in the world through the art of agriculture. Founded by Yvette Montanez, a proud military spouse and mother of two, and working together with a dedicated team, Little Dandelions’ goal is to create a better humanitarian path for individuals by providing all the tools necessary for families to grow at home.
Azah Jackline Chey and Abai Victor Asondo – Hygiene to Safe Lives
With ongoing conflict devastating regions of Cameroon, many thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes to safety. Arriving in camps that are overcrowded and poorly managed, they now face preventable diseases that run rampant in the camps. After witnessing the spread of disease in the camps during their ongoing work to support women and girls in Cameroon, Azah Jackline and Abai Victor have focused the attention of their group, the Bridgers Association Cameroon, on helping to provide the tools, knowledge, and resources to tackle the spread of diseases in the camps. Facing difficult conditions, they work primarily with women to provide them with the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe from illness during these difficult times.
Karen Eckert – The Poeta Project
Buffalo, NY educator and poet, Karen Eckert, started The Poeta Project in response to a need she saw in high schools: students holding back creatively and giving up too easily. Combining poetry, art, and education, this project pairs Karen’s poetry with local artists, using each other’s medium to craft work from a different inspiration, practicing the struggle and risk taking of learning something new, and persevering when faced with a challenge. The resulting poetry and artwork pairings will be shown together in a group exhibition in October, 2019. This group show, along with artist interviews and video documentation, will be used to create unit plans for high school educators. Through the generosity of the Pollination Project grant, students will be able to participate in this project, mimicking the idea of finding varied ways to become inspired, focusing on perseverance when faced with a challenge, and giving students voice and confidence to allow themselves to be creative.
Nina Ackerberg and Joel Turner – DEPTH
For special education teachers Nina and Joe, it became clear that a tool originally designed to serve and support young people with special needs has become a barrier to teacher and student success. They told us, “The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) came into being to in 1990 to ensure that all children have access to an education. It’s clear the intent of the IEP is wonderful and important however it has evolved so that it isn’t working as the founders intended. The current IEP tends to pathologize, alienate, and confuse. . . special-ed teacher turnover is at crisis levels with the teaching positions serving our most vulnerable students often left vacant.” Nina and Joe point to huge amounts of paperwork as a factor in this rate of turnover and propose to design a kinder, more user friendly IEP that is designed with children and families in mind. Using a growth mindset approach and helping to focusing on engaging teachers, parents, and students, Nina and Joe hope to bring a more human approach to this important process.
Elizabeth Agnello and Nancy Dowdall – Brave Little Fighters
For Elizabeth Agnello and Nancy Dowdall, compassion is at the heart of their work with the Brave Little Fighters Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to relieving the heartache, uncertainty and challenges faced by children and the families of children with serious and terminal illness. Leading with this principle of compassion in all they do, from screening volunteers who support in this work to directly identifying programs for children and their families, Elizabeth and her team of volunteers will use TPP funding to be able to increase outreach and provide opportunities to more families through activities such as yoga and meditation classes, attending sports games, and generally being a supportive and positive force during a troubled time.
Sara Huber – Rescue Animals in the Spotlight
After recognizing that a hurdle to shelter animals being adopted was a perception of them as damaged or aggressive, Sara Huber realized she could change that. Bringing a keen eye for photography to the issue, Sara’s project, Rescue Animals in the Spotlight, located in Connecticut, USA helps promote animal adoption by taking adorable images that let the dogs’ true personalities shine through. Sara creates unique portraits of animals up for adoption that are used by rescues and shelters to promote their animals. When an animal has an eye-catching photo their chances of being noticed and adopted increase dramatically.
Ngwang Yvonne Nsa-ah – Training Youth as Literacy Ambassadors of Nigeria
After witnessing violence, lawlessness, kidnapping, civil unrest, and religious and ethnic tensions in her community, Mrs. Ngwang Yvonne Nsa-ah asked herself how she could address the root causes of these issues. A teacher by profession and a writer of adventure stories, she realized that low levels of literacy were playing a major role in holding youth back and leading them into violence and possibly extremist activities. Bringing together 60 young people over 6 months, Ngwang will focus on building their literacy skills and helping them to imagine new possibilities in the world. At the end of the program, the top ten stories will be published and distributed to schools to in turn inspire other young people to think and dream big.
Vasco Masseh – Accident Prevention & Rescue Initiative of Liberia (APRIL)
After the loss of his best friend in a car crash in 2012, Vasco Masseh began advocating for safer streets in Liberia through his organization, Save Life Liberia. The Liberian roads are dangerous and school age children and adolescent youth fall victim to unsafe roads on a daily basis. Vasco wants to put an end to road traffic deaths and injuries through a school-based road safety education project called Accident Prevention & Rescue Initiative of Liberia (APRIL) .
Vasco will carry out a school-based road safety education and design crosswalk for 10 at-risk schools in Monrovia. Road safety clubs will be set up in all 10 schools to maintain the initiative even after the project lifetime. At least 3000 kids are expected to learn about safe crossing while laying colorful and beautiful crosswalks in school zones.
Youth in Agriculture for Economic Development (YAED) – Rooting Out Infant Malnutrition With Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato
Though Malawi has a rich agricultural heritage, many people remain vulnerable to malnutrition. As a group of young people who are skilled in agriculture, YAED have a plan to address this. By providing training and support to communities as they grow the Vitamin rich Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato they intend for the crop to provide both a significant source of nutrients and a source of income for community members.