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Craig's Blog

When You Practice What You Preach…

I'm hearing, anecdotally, that cultural transformation at VA and elsewhere might have been nudged into motion by relentlessly handing out my business card and practicing what I preach.

The big thing I've learned here is that for me, tech skills and money aren't what gets the job done. What works is bearing witness to the good works of others. This can work partly through helping 'em get their social networks going, by sharing their stuff.

bizcard
My business card says "customer service rep & founder" and people see that I'm committed to that, every day.

Customer service is a big part of what inspires me; that, and my rabbi, Leonard Cohen. Ya know, customer service can really be corrosive, and it gets worse than the usual trolling and abuse. However, singer and poet Leonard Cohen really helps me get through the day, with a small but substantial assist from Dr Stephen T Colbert, DFA (Doctor of Fine Arts).

Seriously, my team, people smarter than me, and I, we're listening, and what you say affects the trajectory of our work. If you feel we miss something, please tell us via craigconnects.org/connect, or if you really want, I'm personally at craig@craigslist.org.

(Recently I've made a point of reminding people that I haven't been a spokesman for craigslist, or had any role in management since 2000. On the other side of things, I'll be in customer service for a lifetime…)

Why We Need More Women In Tech

Women and girls still face a lot of obstacles in shaping technologies. The digital gender divide might be getting worse. Women and girls everywhere are missing, underrepresented, and dropping out from technology fields. As a result,  today's tech – and increasingly today's world – does not reflect the diversity of women's experiences or ingenuity.

This isn't fair, it's not treating people like you want to be treated.

Beyond that, I've observed that technology is improved when women and girls have equal access. That's pretty much common sense, since tech talent has no gender bias, and I've got over forty years working with women engineers and programmers that proves it. (We need a lot more, and in the U.S. we're talking about a renewed emphasis on STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — education.)

Too often, women in STEM get little acknowledgement for the work they're doing. As a nerd, it's my philosophy that everyone gets a fair chance to be heard. It's one of the reasons I started craigconnects.org. Earlier this year, I shared some big news: for the first time, in 2014,  women outnumbered men in a UC Berkeley Computer Science course. We need to continue supporting trends like this. It's really important, folks.

women in tech

All this is why I've added my voice as an advocate to Global Fund for Women's petition with UN Women calling for an end to the global gender technology gap. I wrote more about it over on HuffPo…

Specifically, I'm adding my name to call on the United Nations, governments around the world, and key decision makers to remove all barriers to the development and use of technology, increase investment in girls' science and technology education around the world, and ensure women's and girls' full participation as developers and innovators.

Join me and add your signature to the Global Fund for Women and UN Women's petition. Let's make our call loud — we want to reach 20,000 signatures by March 5 in time to deliver the petition for International Women's Day on March 8th.

Tell your colleagues, friends, and social networks that their signature can make a difference in shaping the type of future we live in.

Big News: $2M+ Raised for Nonprofits in CrowdRise Holiday Challenge

Folks, I just got an update from Ed Norton, one of the co-founders of CrowdRise, about the #GivingTower Holiday Challenge I'm sponsoring with MacAndrews & Forbes, Fred & Joanne Wilson, and Isaac S. Gindi. This year I'm giving $50k to support nonprofits.

A total of $250k is being given away in prize money, but an impressive $2 million+ has already been raised by the nonprofits participating. Last year, at this point in the Challenge, the total raised was: $609,835. That's $1,561,954 more raised right now than was raised at this same time last year. This is the real deal.Capture

Each time a donation's made, a brick is added to the #GivingTower. What does this mean?

  • There are 16,757 bricks in the Tower.
  • It's over 2,514 ft tall.
  • It's taller than 2 Bank of America Towers stacked on top of each other.
  • In 208 more feet, the Giving Tower will be taller than the Burj Khalifa, Dubai.

It's inspiring to see the organizations putting in lots of effort and  taking the lead. They're orgs that aren't household names, but instead charities like the Cure JM Foundation – which works on an extremely rare disease affecting children, and small but mighty animal reserves.

The Bonus Challenge winners so far are…

Bonus Challenge #1: Cure JM Foundation

Bonus Challenge #2: Wildlife SOS

And there was a Surprise Bonus Challenge: Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation

Bonus Challenge # 3 is happening now. Every org that gets 10 donations will be entered to win $10k. You've got til December 16th to get the donations. And there's still time to sign your org up to participate in the Challenge.

Sign up here (by Friday December 19th) to join the Holiday Challenge…! More to come.

How the Internet Creates Possibility

ekcenter

Folks, I support the Ekialo Kiona Center (EK Center) and the Organic Health Response, and they're creating real change. I get updates every so often, and I like to share the good work they're doing. They seek to activate information technology, social solidarity, and environmental sustainability to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS across Lake Victoria (in Kenya).

The EK Center's seen, first hand, how tech can turn a community into a global village, how a lizard in the security shed can shut everything down, and just how important local-global youth development is. This most recent update was about, both, turning a community into a global village and furthering development of youth locally and globally…

Pen Pals Meet via Global Broadband Connection

On the remote island of Mfangano, in the heart of Kenya’s Lake Victoria, a small but growing community center has emerged to support the residents in the area. Over the past 3 years, the craigslist Charitable Fund has helped support IT infrastructure at the Ekialo Kiona Center, in partnership with the Organic Health Response. 100% sustainably powered, this IT resource center has opened up a pipeline for Mfangano residents to access free and unlimited broadband Internet, the first of its kind in the region.

mfangano skype

Last week, this incredible resource allowed, for the first time ever, students on Mfangano Island, Kenya to meet their pen pals of 2 years in Minnesota, USA. On November 17th, Rutherford Elementary School in Stillwater, Minnesota held a school-wide assembly to meet their friends on Mfangano Island, Kenya. Students on both ends of the line were thrilled to finally see their friends from so far away.  As the Minnesota students filled into the gymnasium, students came up to the camera and vigorously waved to their friends.

A parent from Rutherford Elementary posted this last week,

You know when you ask your kids, “Did anything exciting happen in school today?” And they usually say NO. Well my 7 year old daughter’s answer yesterday was, “I got to see my pen pal over Skype. She lives on Mfangano Island in Kenya.” Followed up with, “That’s in Africa mom.” Because I was just staring at her speechless! SO cool!

skype

For the students in Kenya, this was their first time using the Internet to connect across the globe. “The kids couldn’t believe they were speaking to people in America!” Evelyne Magioki is a teacher at the Wakinga Junior Acadamy on Mfangano. “When the children receive the letters they realize that students in America are just like them.”

ek kids

Over the next year, students from Minnesota are helping to raise funds to support IT fieldtrips to the EK Center for their friends on Mfangano Island. With proper lessons in global communication, these kids will be connecting more than we can imagine!

 

How #GivingTuesday Raised Over $45million

Folks, I support #GivingTuesday each year because it's the real deal. I got an update from Henry Timms… More data and stories are still coming in, but here are the highlights as they stand right now (more soon!):

  • Indiana University is estimating an overall 63% increase this year in online donations.
  • Early results from Blackbaud show a 159% increase in online donations from the first #GivingTuesday in 2012.
  • Network for Good processed more than double the donation total from last year.
  • 20,000 partners participated in all US states – partners included nonprofits, local business and corporations working to benefit causes they care about, student groups, etc.
  • There were over 40 local communities across the US (states, cities and counties) joined together in the spirit of civic pride. The Maryland Gives More statewide #GivingTuesday campaign, alone, raised $8.3 million for local causes.
  • There were over 6,700 global partners participating, with #GivingTuesday activities taking place in 68 countries from Armenia to Mongolia to Wales. There were 7 countries and 2 regions leading localized #GivingTuesday movements including Australia, Brazil (#diadedoar), Canada, Ireland, Israel, Latin America (#undiaparadar), New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
  • There were over 32 million Twitter impressions with 700,000 hashtag mentions. #GivingTuesday was trending no. 1 in both the US and UK.
  • President Barack Obama released a special #GivingTuesday message and Prime Minister David Cameron voiced his support. Other notable names who gave their support of #GivingTuesday range from Malala to Melinda Gates to Matthew McConaughey.
  • H.Res. 761 recognizing #GivingTuesday was introduced in congress this November. The #GivingTuesday resolution recognizes that philanthropy and charitable giving knows no party divide, as giving has the ability to transcend any differences of political ideologies and has the power to unite people across boundaries.
  • Every major religion participated with people of all backgrounds, religions, and ethnic groups celebrating #GivingTuesday.

And here's an infographic from the Case Foundation about the successes of #GivingTuesday:

GivingTuesdayInfographic

Did you give this year? (You can still give over on CrowdRise's #GivingTower Holiday Challenge…)