GoFundMe Heroes

Four More Winners of Upworthy's Kindness Fund

Four More Winners of Upworthy's Kindness Fund
Image courtesy of Fostering Dreams Project

Saving the descendants of Eleanor Roosevelt’s monkeys. A “So You Think You Can Dance” finalist teaching kids in the foster care system to use dance, movement, and creative arts as a medium for health and well-being. Spreading Christmas cheer to kids in Peru. Creating a lit bookfest in the most diverse city in the U.S.

At first glance, these initiatives might seem at odds with each other, but if you look closer you’ll see that they all embody simple acts of kindness for those most in need in their communities—human or otherwise.

Plus, each project has received a $500 financial boost thanks to the Upworthy Kindness Fund—a collaboration between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates and amplifies everyday acts of kindness.

Through the end of 2021, you too can tell Upworthy how your GoFundMe is making a difference in your community for a chance to receive $500 for your project and a shout-out on Upworthy.

So far, more than 120 people have received a financial boost from the Kindness Fund. Meet the latest batch of winners:

1. Fostering Dreams

Throughout Melanie Buttarazzi’s dance career, she has been a finalist on “So You Think You Can Dance” and has worked with Jennifer Lopez, Pharrell, Pitbull and Ne-Yo. For her, dancing is strength and offers freedom. These are some of the core tenets of Melanie’s nonprofit Fostering Dreams Project. The organization partners with school districts to bring a comprehensive curriculum designed to enrich the lives of foster youth both academically and socially.

Since 2018, the Fostering Dreams Project has explored the therapeutic use of dance, movement, and creative arts improve the grades, self-esteem and behavior of more than 1,000 students in 25 schools. But now, with COVID-19, many school budgets have been reduced.


GoFundMe for Fostering Dreams will allow kids in foster care to continue to have a healthy way to release the stress, anxiety and depression that many battle every day.

Image courtesy of Fostering Dreams Project

2. Christmas for Kids in Peru

Biancha Medina believes in “una Navidad para todos,” which translates to “a Christmas for everyone.” But in many parts of the world, including Peru, kids don’t get to experience the joys of the Christmas season.

With the help of Upworthy’s Kindness Fund, Biancha’s fundraiser will bring gifts and supplies to kids and their families living in extreme poverty in Peru’s agricultural Incahuasi district.

In partnership with Lions Club International, Biancha aims to spread Christmas joy and address the basic needs of more than 400 children in many more villages throughout Peru.

Image courtesy of Biancha Medina

3. Let’s Build a Monkey Sanctuary!

Seventy years ago, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt imported tiny vervet monkeys from Africa for biomedical research in Florida. Nearly a dozen of them escaped, and in the ensuing decades they procreated—as monkeys do—and settled around Dania Beach.

But the monkeys remain wild and, as such, face risks due to human interaction. Deborah Williams, organizer of the Dania Beach Vervet Project, writes on its GoFundMe page, “We’ve lost many monkeys over the years to painful electrocutions, car collisions, and wounds due to possible snaring.”

And because they’re not a native species to Florida, the monkeys are not entitled to proper veterinary care. The best solution is to build a 3.5-acre sanctuary that would reduce human interaction in an urban environment and allow the monkeys to live peacefully and injury-free.

Image courtesy of the Dania Beach Vervet Project

4. BIPOC Bookfest

Journalists and writers of color have come together to form the BIPOC Bookfest in Houston, Texas, with a mission to ensure that people’s reading experiences are, as they put it, “a little more diverse, and a lot more lit.”

The two-day festival in what is one of the country’s most diverse cities will celebrate books by Black, Indigenous, Latino/a/x, Asian American, Pacific Islander and other marginalized groups’ authors. A vital aim of the festival will be to combat low literacy rates in Harris County.

The festival is currently raising funds to pay for venue rental, artist fees, book giveaways and other logistics—all crucial in making the event come alive in Spring 2022.

Image courtesy of BIPOC Book Fest

Do you have a GoFundMe or an idea for one that helps your community or the planet in some way?

Through the end of 2021, we want to hear about projects that make a difference—and should your project qualify, we’d be proud to support your efforts with a $500 grant to your fundraiser!

For questions and more information, please check out our FAQs and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.


4 simple hacks to help you meet your healthy eating goals

Trying to eat healthier? Try these 4 totally doable tricks.

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

Most of us want to eat healthier but need some help to make it happen.


When it comes to choosing what to eat, we live in a uniquely challenging era. Never before have humans known more about nutrition and how to eat for optimal health, and yet we’ve never been more surrounded by distractions and temptations that derail us from making healthy choices.

Some people might be able to decide “I’m going to eat healthier!” and do so without any problem, but those folks are unicorns. Most of us know what we should do, but need a little help making it happen—like some simple hacks, tips and tricks for avoiding pitfalls on the road to healthier eating.

While recognizing that what works for one person may not work for another, here are some helpful habits and approaches that might help you move closer to your healthy eating goals.

man pulling chip out of a chip bagOur mouths loves chips. Our bodies not so much.Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Goal: Snack on less junk food

Tip: Focus your willpower on the grocery store, not your home

Willpower is a limited commodity for most of us, and it is no match for a bag of potato chips sitting on top of the fridge. It’s just a fact. Channeling your willpower at the grocery store can save you from having to fight that battle at home. If you don’t bring chips into your house in the first place, you’ll find it a lot easier to reach for something healthier.

The key to successful shopping trips is to always go to the store with a specific list and a full stomach—you’ll feel much less tempted to buy the junky snack foods if you’re already satiated. Also, finding healthier alternatives that will still satisfy your cravings for salty or crunchy, or fatty foods helps. Sugar snap peas have a surprisingly satisfying crunch, apples and nut butter hit that sweet-and-salty craving, etc.

slice of cakeYou can eat well without giving up sweets completely.Photo by Caitlyn de Wild on Unsplash

Goal: Eat less sugar

Tip: Instead of “deprive,” think “delay” or “decrease and delight”

Sugar is a tricky one. Some people find it easier to cut out added sugars altogether, but that can create an all-or-nothing mindset that all too often results in “all.” Eating more whole foods and less processed foods can help us cut out a lot of ancillary sugar, but we still live in a world with birthday cakes and dessert courses.

One approach to dessert temptation is to delay instead of deprive. Tell yourself you can have any sweet you want…tomorrow. This mental trick flips the “I’ll just indulge today and start eating healthier tomorrow” idea on its head. It’s a lot easier to resist something you know you can have tomorrow than to say no to something you think you’ll never get to have again.

Another approach when you really want to enjoy a dessert at that moment is to decrease the amount and really truly savor it. Eat each bite slowly, delighting in the full taste and satisfaction of it. As soon as that delight starts to diminish, even a little, stop eating. You’ve gotten what you wanted out of it. You don’t have to finish it. (After all, you can always have more tomorrow!)

colorful fresh food on a plateA naturally colorful meal is a healthy meal.Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

Goal: Eat healthier meals

Tip: Focus on fresh foods and plan meals ahead of time

Meal planning is easier than ever before. The internet is filled with countless tools—everything from recipes to shopping lists to meal planning apps—and it’s as awesome as it is overwhelming.

Planning ahead takes the guesswork and decision fatigue out of cooking, preventing the inevitable “Let’s just order a pizza.” You can have a repeating 3-week or 4-week menu of your favorite meals so you never have to think about what you’re going to eat, or you can meal plan once a week to try new recipes and keep things fresh.

It might help to designate one day a week to “shop and chop”—getting and prepping the ingredients for the week’s meals so they’re ready to go in your fridge or freezer.

woman holding blueberries in her handsOrganic foods are better for the Earth and for us.Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash

Goal: Eat more organic/humanely raised food

Tip: Utilize the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15” lists to prioritize

Many people choose organic because they want to avoid pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals. Organic food is also better for the planet, and according to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that organic produce is higher in certain nutrients.

Most people don’t buy everything organic, but there are some foods that should take priority over others. Each year, researchers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyze thousands of samples of dozens of fruits and vegetables. From this data, they create a list of the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” fruits and vegetables, indicating what produce has the most and least pesticide residue. These lists give people a good place to start focusing their transition to more organic foods.

To make organic eating even simpler, you can shop O Organics® at your local Albertsons or Safeway stores. The O Organics brand offers a wide range of affordable USDA-certified organic products in every aisle. If you’re focusing on fresh foods, O Organics produce is always grown without synthetic pesticides, is farmed to conserve biodiversity, and is always non-GMO. All animal-based O Organics products are certified humane as well. Even switching part of your grocery list to organic can make a positive impact on the planet and the people you feed.

Healthy eating habits don’t have to be all or nothing, and they don’t have to be complicated. A few simple mindset changes at home and habit changes at the grocery store can make a big difference.

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With just her Amy Winehouse-ish voice, a guitar and a piano, Jordan brought the fan-favorite Queen anthem down to a smooth, melancholy ballad that's simply riveting to listen to.

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Louis M. Profeta MD explains why he looks at the social media accounts of dead patients before talking their parents.

Photo from Tedx Talk on YouTube.

He checks on your Facebook page.

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Image by Delia D Blackburn, used with permission.

Brittany Peck's wedding.

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That's something my mother-in-law said to me when her son and I were ending our young, impetuous, and ultimately-not-right-for-us marriage. It stuck with me through the years.

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