A woman who's tackling revenge porn, and 9 other women changing the world for the better.
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L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth

Despite facing numerous social and political obstacles throughout history, women have always been powerful agents of change.

Every era has its heroines — women who inspire, empower, and offer the world an extra dose of awesome. Some of these women are household names, while others fly under the radar, improving their communities and impacting people around them with little fanfare or fame.

Those unsung female heroes are who L’Oréal Paris had in mind when they created the philanthropic program, Women of Worth. Every year for the past 12 years, 10 women have been chosen from thousands of nominees to be honored for their selfless volunteer work as advocates and founders of charitable causes.


For 2018, the list of nominees is impressive. Of these 10 women, one will be chosen (by you, if you vote before the end of November) as a National Honoree and receive an additional $25,000 for her organization.

Get ready, because reading about these extraordinary women will make you want stand up and cheer.

In 2014, Shreya Mantha was tutoring sex-trafficking survivors to help them get their GEDs. Then she started her own foundation — at age 13.

Shreya Mantha. All photos via L’Oréal Paris.

Shreya is now 17 and her Foundation for Girls is a thriving, youth-led social venture hoping to change the life-trajectory of at-risk girls and youth in Charlotte, North Carolina. Through a network of “caring coaches” and programs in digital literacy, financial wellness, leadership, and health and wellbeing, teen moms, homeless girls, refugees and trafficking survivors receive the skills and structured support they need to realize their full potential and take charge of their futures.

As of June 2018, Foundation for Girls has reached 1,480 girls and youth, has almost 300 workshops and completed more than 14,000 hours of life-changing investment.

Adding to the “Wow, these kids!” factor, Alisha Zhao was 17 when she founded Kids First Project to help homeless kids achieve their dreams.

Alisha Zhao

When she was 14, Alisha volunteered at a homeless shelter, and it struck her how all of the kids there had big dreams and ambitions, but limited opportunities. A few years later, in 2015, Kids First Project was born. The initiative helps bridge the gap between homeless kids and the resources they need to reach their full potential.  

Today, the Kids First Project is in 10 locations with more than 400 volunteers in the Portland and San Francisco Bay areas — serving approximately 500 families who are experiencing homelessness each year. The now 20-year-old says her goal is to "work on the issue of youth homelessness and human rights for my entire life," and that this honor will help her "empower children experiencing homelessness to reach their full potential and help break the generational cycle of poverty."

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Hannah Dehradunwala is tackling food waste in New York with her platform Transfernation.

Hannah Dehradunwala (right).

Where Hannah grew up in Pakistan, no one let food go to waste. But when she returned to the United States to attend NYU, she was struck by the amount of food that got thrown out after catered events on campus. So she created Transfernation, a platform for companies and corporate hospitality groups to donate extra food to those in need of food assistance.

By coordinating ride-share drivers and bike messengers to pick up leftover catering and deliver it to community based organizations, the organization is helping empower businesses to reduce their environmental footprint and decrease food waste. So far, Transfernation has rescued 530,000 pounds of food and provided 510,000 meals to those without reliable access to food sources.

Veteran Genevieve Chase was severely injured in the line of duty. Now she’s channeling that experience into helping other female veterans.

Genevieve Chase

While deployed in Afghanistan as an Intelligence Soldier with the Army Reserve, a car filled with explosives plowed into Genevieve Chase’s truck, leaving her with external wounds and a traumatic brain injury. What's more, when she came home, like so many other soldiers, Genevieve suffered from PTSD and struggled with depression and suicidal ideation.

And as she dove into veteran advocacy, she felt the absence of awareness and support for female veterans. So she attempted to fill that void by starting the non-profit organization American Women Veterans, which honors and empowers military women, veterans and their families. The 40-year-old’s goal is to create “a community of empowered and inspiring women who will continue to ensure that all military women and veterans get the care and benefits we’ve earned so we can continue service to our communities both in and out of uniform.”

Holly Jacobs is helping victims of another form of trauma —nonconsensual porn — with her Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.

In 2011, Holly was blindsided when nude photographs she’d shared privately with a romantic partner showed up on the internet without her consent. Her identity was exposed, and she felt like running from the world. Instead, she decided to fight back — for herself and other victims of “revenge porn.”

Holly Jacobs

Today, the 35-year-old’s Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) serves thousands of victims around the world. Advocating for technological, social, and legal innovation to fight online abuse and discrimination, CCRI has helped advise legislation in 30 states, Washington, D.C. and the federal government. And the CCRI Crisis Helpline serves hundreds of callers per month. “Nonconsensual pornography is intended to make women feel worthless,” Holly says. "I want to tell victims like myself that they don’t have to run or hide in shame. They are not alone, and together we have the power to speak up and fight online abuse.”

Chicago police officer Jennifer Maddox fights crime by providing after school programs for at-risk kids.

Jennifer was a single mother working two jobs when she founded Future Ties, an after-school program that provides a haven for young people in the Chicago's Woodlawn area. She had noticed that most crime and gang activity took place after school, so in 2009 she set out to give kids a productive, empowering "safe space" where kids go instead — using her own money to purchase supplies.

Jennifer Maddox

Today, Future Ties serves about 40 elementary students, with adult volunteers, parents, and young people from the community serving as role models and tutors. Since its founding, gang-related activities have declined and crime has decreased by 50 percent. Jennifer, now 47, wants to expand Future Ties' life-changing services to help the 1,200 young people living in her community.

Laura Reiss, 49, also started an after school program, encouraging kids to be kind and contribute to their world.

Laura's foundation started out as a free after-school kindness program at her children's elementary school in Boca Raton, Florida. That single club morphed into The Samaritans365 Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that teaches kids to be kind to themselves and others, and make a positive impact in their communities and the world.

Laura Reiss

The Samaritans365 Foundation, Inc. now has more than 400 ambassadors and 4,050 members in 90 chapters across nine states. All together, they have collected and distributed $1,347,000 in goods, raised $2.5 million in disaster relief, and invested 613,213 community service hours. Laura's strong formula for empowering people is helping her reach her goal of "leaving this world better for having been here."

Christy Silva took a parent's worst nightmare and turned it into a life-saving screening program.

In 2010, Christy's seven-year-old son Aidan collapsed without warning and died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. They had no idea he had a heart condition, and despite investigations, the cause of the arrhythmia that led to the heart attack is still unknown. Then Christy learned 70 percent of conditions that cause SCA in kids can be detected by a simple, non-invasive EKG (electrocardiogram). She decided she had to help other families avoid the same fate.

Christy Silva

Thus was born Aidan's Heart Foundation, which provides awareness, education, support and coordinated screening efforts. Through screenings of 1,800 youth in Pennsylvania, the Foundation has detected previously undiagnosed and potentially life-threatening heart conditions in 25 young people. It's also helped pass legislation to equip schools with updated defibrillator (AED) devices and trained more than 4,500 sixth-grade students and 400+ adults in life-saving CPR-AED skills. Christy, 44, says "Aidan may be gone, but our work is keeping his legacy alive.”

Betty Mohlenbrock proves it's never too late to make a difference with her nonprofit reading program for incarcerated parents.

Betty is a retired classroom teacher who has always been committed to improving kids' lives. In 2010, at age 70, she came out of retirement to found Reading Legacies, a nonprofit dedicated to negating some of the devastating effects of incarceration on families by fostering relationships between incarcerated parents and their kids through the simple act of reading aloud together.

Betty Mohlenbrock

Last year, Reading Legacies facilitated 8,000 read-aloud experiences among family members participating in its programs. Based on research the org's conducted, 73 percent of children enjoy reading more and nearly 70 percent communicate more with their parents since starting the program. Every teen who has volunteered with Reading Legacies says it has strengthened their leadership skills, and 94 percent of incarcerated parents participating have felt a boost in morale and feel more connected to their children at home.

Betty, now 78, wants "to give people hope, especially if they haven’t had a reason to be hopeful for a long time.”

As a two-time cancer survivor, Carolyn Keller understands how important a wig can be for women undergoing chemo.

Carolyn was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 and again in 2005. When she lost her hair while undergoing chemotherapy, she started using wigs to cover her hairless head. Then, when her sisters-in-law were diagnosed with cancer, she passed her wigs onto them. Carolyn felt how empowering it was as a survivor to pass on wigs to another woman going through cancer treatment. As Carolyn, now 57, says, "Sometimes simple gestures can be the most healing."

Carolyn Keller

That's why she founded EBeauty Community, Inc. Through the organization's Wig Exchange Program, more than 25,000 women have received and donated wigs, and 10,000 wigs are distributed each year to women across the country through a network of hospital partners. EBeauty is considered the largest wig exchange program for women undergoing treatment for cancer in the country. And so far, Carolyn's goal "to help women embrace their identity and dignity when everything else in their life feels out of control” seems to be right on target.

Does one of these women's stories stand out to you? You can offer her your vote.

Throughout the first three weeks of November, anyone can cast a vote to choose this year's Women of Worth National Honoree. If you'd like to help one of these women receive an additional $25,000 for her cause, go to the L'oréal Paris website, and vote before November 30th, 2018.

Good luck choosing just one, though. They all deserve all the kudos.

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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.


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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.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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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.