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5 Nonprofits That Are Igniting Change

Folks, lots of nonprofits really have their boots on the ground doing good work, but my team and I wanted to highlight a few that have been on our radar lately.

ignite change

These nonprofits have been disruptors and changemakers, and deserve some recognition.

1. Blue Star Families – Blue Star Families was formed by a group of military spouses to create a platform where military family members can join with civilian communities and leaders to address the challenges of military life. Blue Star Families includes active duty, National Guard, Reserve, wounded, transitioning service members, and their families from all ranks and services, as well as veterans and civilians who strongly support their work.

They're currently asking that folks fill out their 2015 Blue Star Family Military Lifestyle Survey.  This survey's big for policymakers to help decide what is hype vs. what needs funding. Your voice is really important.

2. Donors Choose – Donors Choose is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers from all over America post classroom project requests on the site, and you can give any amount to the project that most inspires you.

Public teachers are a great case, doing mission critical work for little recognition and less pay. Once in a while they find students they prize, who show real promise, and that can be rewarding. Otherwise, it can be a tough life, worse when you feel the need to pay out-of-pocket for needed supplies, like pens and paper, with low pay. Please help out if you're able.

3. Voto Latino – Voto Latino's a nonpartisan org that empowers Latino Millennials to claim a better future for themselves and their community. United by the belief that Latino issues are American issues and American issues are Latino issues, Voto Latino's dedicated to bringing new and diverse voices to develop leaders by engaging youth, media, technology, and celebrities to promote positive change.

4. Columbia Journalism Review – CJR is news regarding the evolution of news.

As a culture, we need to ensure that journalism fulfills its role as the heart of democracy and its mission of seeking truth and building trust. The press should be the immune system of democracy. Turns out that what we have now are a lot of ethics codes and policies, but very little accountability. This is something I often discuss when I talk about trustworthy journalism in a fact-checking-free world.

5. Organic Health Response – The Organic Health Response seeks to activate social solidarity, information technology, and environmental sustainability on Mfangano Island, in Kenya, to turn the tide against the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS. They support the people of Lake Victoria in cultivating a resilient, healthy, locally-directed future. They're also proof that tech can turn a community into a global village.

Folks, what nonprofits in your communities are having a real impact? Thanks!

4 Leadership Lessons I've Learned the Last 20 Years at craigslist

Folks, 20 years is a lot of time to make mistakes, fail fast, and learn some lessons about leadership. They don't teach you this at school.

Customer service is a big part of what inspires me; also consider that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." (Martin Luther King Jr.)

lead

Here's 4 leadership lessons I've learned over the last 20 years at craigslist, and over the last 30 years of my career:

1. The qualities that make the most effective leaders? This includes the capacity to listen and to act, to be restrained when useful, and to get outta the way when needed.

Sense of humor might be necessary (remember: salvation through comedy).

2. My biggest leadership challenge? It's been to recognize my limitations as a manager, and then relinquish my CEO role… I did this in 2000. A LOT of people still think I'm the CEO of craigslist, and it gets reinforced by inaccurate articles that persist on the 'net. Note: This is why I haven't had any role craigslist in management in 15 years.

3. The best leadership advice I've received? To use my sense of humor, while recognizing that I'm not as funny as I think I am.

4. What I wish I'd known starting out that I know now? That I should see things as they are, and avoid denial. This means taking charge of your brand, too.

What are the most valuable leadership lesson you've learned? And did it take learning it the hard way for it to sink in?

Giving Back to Vets: When Their Service Ends, Ours Begins

Folks, you might remember that I started an Indiegogo Life fundraiser to support Swords to Plowshares, veteran and Bay Area hero Starlyn Lara, and women veterans. Our goal was to raise $2,000 to pay for job readiness training, job placement, and mentorship activities for women veterans in the Bay Area with the Women Veterans Professional Network (WVPN).

swords

Good news: In less than a month, we surpassed our goal. With everyone's support, we raised more than $2,000, and like I said, I matched every dollar up to $1,000. This means, with my contribution, we've raised over $3,000 so far. This is in addition to much larger contributions to Swords, and other vets' orgs. It's not altruistic, it just feels right – If someone volunteers to risk taking a bullet to protect me, I should stand up and help out.

How will the money raised be distributed?

- It'll go toward supporting the 80 women currently enrolled in the WVPN, provide them with a mentor associated with their personal and professional goals, and bring them together for in-person professional development sessions.

- It'll help provide eventual placement for 40 women from the WVPN with Employment and Training case managers at Swords to Plowshares.

Thanks for all you've done, and let's continue supporting vets and milfams.

5 Ways To Hack Tech This Spring

Hey, I've gotten lots of emails lately from folks who want to get more involved in tech. I figure the best way to advise 'em is to make connections between people doing good work. It seems counter-intuitive to double efforts, and the impact's greater when there's collaboration. Orgs that really have their boots on the ground will send me stuff, like social media, to share, and I really appreciate that.

Code for America

Code for America

With winter melting, and spring coming into view, lots of folks are re-emerging and looking to get involved. My team and I generated a list of 5 ways to get involved in tech this spring.

  1. National Day of Civic Hacking is coming up. And, according to Code for America:

    On June 6, 2015, thousands of people from across the United States will come together for National Day of Civic Hacking. The event will bring together urbanists, civic hackers, government staff, developers, designers, community organizers and anyone with the passion to make their city better. They will collaboratively build new solutions using publicly-released data, technology, and design processes to improve our communities and the governments that serve them. Anyone can participate; you don’t have to be an expert in technology, you just have to care about your neighborhood and community.

Find out where to participate and hack for change here. Can't participate, but want to give an hour? You can code for America right now – there are lots of open GitHub issues that could use your attention.

  1. Signup for the Women Who Tech TeleSummit. The 5th Women Who Tech TeleSummit, on April 29, 2015, features the most inspiring tech changemakers, disruptors, and startup entrepreneurs, speaking on topics like funding your own startup and pitfalls to avoid, disrupting the BS startup brogrammer culture, defining your startup vision, how to rock your pitch deck, etc. You can participate from anywhere – you just need a phone and the web.Speaking of Women Who Tech, they're just launching the first-ever Women Startup Challenge that'll help women crowdfund money for their startups (disclaimer: I'm one of the sponsors). You can either signup for the chance to win up to $50k cash, no strings attached, or spread the word so we can fund more women-led startups. Apply and find out more here.
  1. Help get more girls involved in coding. You can either volunteer to teach a Girls Who Code club, or you can start one in your community.Why does it matter? According to Girls Who Code, in middle school, 74% of girls express interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), but when choosing a college major, just 0.3% of high school girls select computer science. Let's change the ratio.
  1. Check out the upcoming hackerspaces events worldwide. There might be something near you, and feel free to add to the list if you know about an event that's not listed.
  2. Black Girls Code (BGC) has lots of events coming up that you won't want to miss. BGC Dallas is hosting a Build a Game in a Day workshop that you can register for, or signup to volunteer for on Saturday April 25. The Bay Area BGC is hosting a parent/daughter workshop on Saturday May 9. You can signup here.

How are you going to get involved? And what would you add to this list? Thanks!

Why You Should Take Up Birding for a Good Cause

Folks, I've been working with the folks from Cornell's bird lab for some time now. They do great work, and also help me identify all the birds that visit my home office.

Next month they're launching the Global Big Day. For the past 30 years, the Cornell Lab’s biggest conservation fundraiser of the year has taken place in the spring in the form of “Big Day”.

They've gotta team of Lab staff, called the Sapsuckers, and a student team called the Redheads, who try to see or hear as many bird species in a 24 hour period as possible. Here's the deal: donors pledge amounts per bird, as counted by the Sapsuckers.

World bird map artwork by Team Redhead member Luke Seitz, a Bartels Science Illustration Intern at the Cornell Lab.

World bird map artwork by Team Redhead member Luke Seitz, a Bartels Science Illustration Intern at the Cornell Lab.

Two years ago, the Sapsuckers smashed the North American record with 294 species and they raised around $350,000 around the campaign.

This year, the Lab’s Centennial year, they're inviting everyone around the globe who loves birds to be a part of the team. Their goal is to raise $500,000 for conservation and, with help from birds everywhere, collectively tally 4,000 of the world’s 10,300 bird species in a single day. Please donate here, if you're able. This is the real deal for conservation and birding.

I'm pledging $1K to the Western Tanager, a bird that shows up unannounced at my home office…these guys rarely show, quite a treat when they do.

western tanager

My team and I would love you to guess how many Western Tanagers will be counted on the Global Big Day. Leave your guess in the comments, and we'll post the winning number after May 9th.

Global Big Day will be on May 9. The Sapsuckers will be birding in Panama on May 9 and will be posting updates throughout the day on Facebook and Twitter. Can you help? Join in by using hashtag #GlobalBigDay.