A surprising solution to global poverty, from one of the wealthiest men in the world.

"Can a chicken change the world?"

It's an intriguing question. It appeared on a minimalist poster board outside the elevator on the 68th floor of 4 World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan on June 8, 2016.

"It begins with a chicken," read another sign.


Photo by Jon Comulada/Upworthy.

Behind the signs was a makeshift chicken coop — built out of selectively shabby wood and wire — placed amid stunning views of lower Manhattan and the Hudson River.

Inside the makeshift chicken coop were 13 chickens and ... one of the richest men in the world.

Photo by Jon Comulada/Upworthy.

Yep, that's right. Billionaire tech CEO and philanthropist Bill Gates was standing in a chicken coop.

Gates, the godfather of Silicon Valley and the man against whom all American wealth is measured, really isn't your stereotypical cartoon billionaire, like Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons."

In fact, despite his Burns-esque body language in the picture above, he's kind of the opposite. Instead of dumping chemicals in the local watering hole or stowing away cash in the Cayman Islands, Bill and his wife Melinda spend their time and incredible wealth doing ... well ... good things.

So, what good things was Gates planning to do with all these chickens?

The chickens are part of his latest initiative: Coop Dreams.

Photo by Jon Comulada/Upworthy.

Started by Heifer International, Coop Dreams is now supported by Gates, who is donating 100,000 chickens to extremely impoverished communities all over the world.

The Gates Foundation does a lot of work with agriculture around the world, although so far its focus has largely been on seeds.

While Gates says they've made good strides creating seeds that are "more productive and disease-resistant," he also explained, over the chorus of clucking birds, "There’s a huge part of it now that has to do with livestock."

Livestock — in this case chickens — is a gift that keeps on giving, Gates says. Chickens are an economic opportunity that literally multiplies itself and can help lift people out of poverty.

A Coop Dreams starter kit includes a rooster and several hens.

Within a year, farmers can have hundreds of egg-laying chickens. They can eat the chickens, eat the eggs, or sell the chickens in nearby cities for around $5 U.S. They can then use the money to buy food, medicine, or anything else they need.

In time, a farmer who raises and sells 250 chickens per year can bring in around $1,250 annually.

Photo by Jon Comulada/Upworthy.

Once Coop Dreams hands out the starter kits, they stick around to teach participants how to house, feed, vaccinate, and otherwise care for the new flocks.

Right now in West Africa, only 5% of households own chickens, Gates says. He hopes Coop Dreams will help get that number up to about 30%.

To be fair, not every country is interested in chicken gifts. The government of Bolivia, led by President Evo Morales, rejected Gates' chicken donation because of its policy of turning down Western development aid.

The chickens are gifted to small, independent farmers for their own benefit, not major farms that stimulate the country-wide economy.

Annie Bergman has seen the world-changing power of chickens firsthand.

As part of her job as the global communications Director for Heifer International, Bergman visits communities that have received chickens to see how the project is affecting their lives.

Photo by Jon Comulada/Upworthy.

"We did a lot of earthquake relief with the folks that were affected [in Nepal] last year," Bergman told Upworthy of her recent trip.

"I saw one woman who had been raising chickens and lost a number of her livestock due to exposure and shock after the earthquake. [She] took her savings and reinvested specifically in chickens. When we went in with her, with her chickens, her face just immediately lit up. It was clear that this was the path for her to continue, even though she had lost everything months beforehand."

As the parable goes: "Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." In the case of Coop Dreams, instead of fish, it's chickens. And instead of men, it's women.

"You can go through crop by crop," Gates told us. "Some crops — both men and women do. Some are almost entirely men."

Chicken-rearing, which requires regular tending, is a chore controlled almost entirely by the women of the household.

Mbene Sarr, a Coop Dreams participant. Image via YouTube/Heifer International.

There's a doubly cool benefit to giving women the responsibility of managing the chicken coops: Study after study shows that when income starts flowing to women in these communities, everyone benefits.

Why? According to Gates, "If you get the income going to the mother, then it’s used for nutrition and school fees a higher percentage of the time than if it’s going to the male."

The most amazing part of Coop Dreams is the way it encourages recipients to spread the wealth — "wealth" being chickens, of course.

Participants in the Coop Dreams program are required — yes, required — to donate their flock's first offspring to another family in need. Heifer International calls it "passing on the gift."

Farmers generally donate their chicks to another family in their community, and often donate to the younger generation, which has a multiplicative effect on their community's ability to escape extreme poverty.

Photo by Jon Comulada/Upworthy.

So — what's the answer? Can a chicken change the world?

Extreme poverty is a problem that is both gigantic and multifaceted. There is no one solution to it, and of course Bill Gates knows that.

Perhaps the irony of unveiling a solution to global poverty in one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the world wasn't lost on Bill. Maybe it was even intentional. We can all help the world move forward, and we don't have to be billionaires to do it. We just have to be paying attention.

And yes, the chickens are a tiny, clucking, head-bopping step in that direction.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.