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When Felecia Gaston founded Performing Stars of Marin in 1990, a nonprofit art academy serving the underprivileged, she began with no budget whatsoever. “I had no idea about fundraising, writing grants, doing all the networking, filling out the 501(c)(3)s,” Gaston says.

Fast-forward 30 years, and today more than 3,000 young people have attended the program--and many have gone on to achieve at a level they never thought possible. By making classes, scholarships and other assistance accessible to families unable to afford performing arts programs, Gaston opened up a new world to kids who otherwise may have never had the chance to participate in the arts.

One excellent example is John...

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As we and our families struggle to accustom ourselves to the COVID-19 pandemic and all the ways it's impacting our daily lives, it's important to remember to stay as informed as possible. There is a lot of conflicting information out there, and a new interview from Salon with Dr. Timothy Brewer, of UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health, helps sort fact from speculation.

The author points out that China's infection rate appears to be falling quickly--and that it's the way we respond to the crisis that will determine its ultimate severity. And crucially, he reminds us that compassion is part of any proper response to an outbreak of this kind. It's a timely read, and you can check it out here....

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When Devin Nakano of Boise was only three years old, he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. At the time, his mother was told that the chances of her son living a successful life were "slim to none."

Miraculously, today Nakano is the founder of Y Stem and Chess, a nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by teaching at-risk kids chess, math and computer coding. Nakano has been at it since 2017, and is just getting started. “It builds critical thinking, it raises your IQ, it builds math scores," Nakano says. "It helps you communicate, it builds self-esteem, the list really goes on and on and on.”

To read more about this remarkably gifted educator, check out the recent...

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When he founded nonprofit TechnoServe just over a half-century ago, Ed Bullard espoused a point of view that was downright radical for the time. Namely, that profits and poverty abatement aren't antithetical, and that the two can actually support one another.

Of course, this perspective has become almost mainstream in today's business world. TechnoServe has expanded to 29 countries, connecting big corporations with small farmers to help them prosper and grow their businesses. And they're at the top of their game: Impact Matters, which rates nonprofits based on their impact, has rated TechnoServe as the number one nonprofit in cost effectiveness for reducing poverty.

And as TechnoServe CEO Will...

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On October 11, the world observed the International Day of Girls: a day dedicated to raising awareness of the serious issues facing the world's 1.1 billion girls, and promoting their empowerment. It's an enormous issue–one that requires our attention far beyond that single day.

Each year, about 246 million children are harassed and abused either at or on their way to school. Girls are disproportionately affected, a reality that curbs their academic lives and makes it more likely they will drop out. But things are slowly changing: fully twenty-five million child marriages have been prevented, just in the past ten years.

These two things–ending child marriage, and working to make sur...

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Opportunities for education in many areas of sub-Saharan Africa are scarce, and more than one-fifth of primary-school-age kids do not attend school throughout the region. Not content to sit on the sidelines, an organization called Street Child is acting to provide solutions for sub-Saharan children.

And they haven't been slow to the task. In the last decade, the org has helped to educate more than 250,000 children, and helped over 25,000 families start their own businesses. Now they've even enlisted the help of the royal family: Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, became a Patron Ambassador of Street Child when the organization joined forces with Children in Crisis.

For more about this impres...

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Unless you work in the world of NGOs, you've probably never heard of Bangladesh's BRAC. But don't let that mislead you: the organization has close to 100,000 full-time staff, 8,000 working outside of of their home country. And in the last year alone, BRAC worked to educate more than a million children, and lent money to nearly eight million striving people.

One of the world's most highly rated charities, BRAC works across a host of categories: they've invested in a university, a bank, a seed company--even a chain of boutiques. And as a hybrid of charitable programs and businesses, BRAC uses their profitable operations to subsidize the remainder of the org. But as Afghanistan changes, their go...

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As a youngster growing up in California's Salinas Valley, Fabiola Moreno Ruelas dealt with more than her share of hardship. She saw her father deported, and her family routinely struggled with housing and basic needs, at one point facing eviction.

Fortune is fickle however, and Fabiola received $29,000 on her 18th birthday as part of an injury settlement. But when the young student started to thinking of how to spend the money, she realized it shouldn't be on herself. Fabiola set up a scholarship program instead, naming it after her mother: the Ruelas Family Scholarship. Once Fabiola had ironed out the details, applications poured in, and Fabiola awarded her first scholarships to four student...

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When Ali Takata and her husband moved to Austin from the San Francisco Bay Area three and a half years ago, she was immediately struck by the lack of diversity. "I was surprised by how white Austin felt," she says. But Takata soon realized that Austin wasn't particularly white--it was just very segregated.

Two years ago, the couple decided to move their daughters from the mostly white, affluent school they had been attending to a more diverse school in East Austin. It's a higher poverty district, and the new school doesn't have the same resources as the other school. But since learning about the history of segregation in Austin, Takata feels they made the right choice.

“I felt like I was...

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Here at Billions Rising we have always emphasized self-reliance, and solutions that empower those in poverty to better themselves and their communities. One organization that is doing great work in this area is Street Business School, a non-profit that works with other orgs to provide next-level entrepreneurial training for women.

For the past fifteen years, SBS has worked to help women become small-scale entrepreneurs--and their track record is remarkable. On average, women who graduate from the SBS program go from making $1.35/day to $4.19/day two years after graduation. Even better, 89% of their graduates have businesses of their own.

The organization has tested and evaluated their methods ...

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