Looking to make an impact in your community? These people have some ideas.
True
Stand Together

We're always talking about giving back to our community. It's important. But sometimes it's hard to figure out where to start.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Volunteering and helping others isn't just good for the people around you, it's good for you, too. However, deciding what you want to do to help make an impact is often the trickiest part. Perhaps you're wondering whether or not the skills you already have can translate into actions that will elevate the lives of those in your neighborhood?


The answer is: Yes. There are endless ways to be an arbiter of change no matter where you live. Below you'll find some great places to start.

Build relationships with young people to help them gain the tools and skills they need to reach their full potential through programs like Thread.

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

The relationships a child develops early on play a crucial role in their educational and future life successes. Few organizations know that better than Thread in Baltimore Maryland, which has seen first-hand how positive bonds with adults has turned disadvantaged children's lives around.

The basis of their program is simple — as they note on their website: "Thread engages underperforming high school students confronting significant barriers outside of the classroom by providing each one with a family of committed volunteers and increased access to community resources. We foster students' academic advancement and personal growth into self-motivated, resilient, and responsible citizens."

Their methodology seems to be working. Out of all the kids who've been part of Thread for 6 years, 85% have graduated high school, and 83% have completed a two or four year degree or certificate program.

But it's about more than helping students. Thread fervently believes everyone who forms relationships through the program benefits, because we could all use more ties to a community.

Becoming a volunteer is easy — as long as you can connect with a student once a week, you're more than welcome.

Leverage your unique knowledge and skills to help others learn, like Oliver Ballou.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Olivier Ballou is a graphic designer in Washington, D.C.. Through Stand Together's Needs and Offers Marketplace, a volunteer platform that connects people to organizations that can benefit from their skills, he created two infographics for The Nevada Youth Empowerment Project. It's a community-based organization that helps "homeless, aged-out, unprepared, and parentless youths" gain the skills necessary for a limitless future. The program helps youth finish high school, enter college, find jobs, obtain housing, and maintain employment all while building the interpersonal relationships they need to create a strong support network that can offer help if they need it.

For the first project, Monica DuPea, Executive Director at NYEP, was looking for an infographic that could “highlight our breadth of accomplishments and experiences during that time that we can hand out to community members and add to our website for a quick reference for newcomers," She hoped it would "help increase donors and raise awareness about the organization."

The second was a bit more specific. “Each year, NYEP organizes the Washoe County Homeless Youth Count," explained DuPea. "The data collected at these counts is used by our agency and others to tell a story about a single point in time with regards to the Homeless Youth situation. When it comes to data about youth want to be sure that the information is easy to understand and is visually exciting."

Each infographic is estimated to have saved MYEP $4,212 — so Ballou ended up saving them a combined total of over $8,400.

If you're interested in helping youth reach their potential, gain the education they need to live their best life, and fight poverty, NYEP is a great organization to give your time and money to.

Look for ways to reduced barriers in your community through apps like Be My Eyes and programs like The Path Project.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Jennifer Bristol struggled for a long time about how to give back. Not only has she relocated many times in her life — attaching her to "many geographic communities" — but she's also an introvert. Being around others for too long drained her of energy. So while she's always been passionate about helping others, she sometimes found it hard to do.

"I give back to my global community through an app called Be My Eyes," Jennifer writes. "This app connects sighted people with blind people who need assistance with pretty much anything having to do with sight." She's helped people choose items of clothing, read the directions to a recipe, and select the movie they might want to see that night. While they might sound like small things, the help has made a make huge differences to blind people all over the world.

"I find it really satisfying to do something for someone else that I do on a daily basis and take for granted," Jennifer adds. "It's grounding and a great reminder to be grateful for all I have. I also love that it gives the recipients a sense of independence. Instead of one pair of eyes, they have tens of thousands at their disposal."

While the barriers Jennifer helps blind people navigate are often physical, there are other barriers, like a lack of access to education, that are similarly limiting. That's where organizations like The Path Project come in.

The Hollandsworths, who started The Path Project, saw a gap in the educational outcomes of young kids in their neighborhood. Not only were the families that lived there fighting poverty, but language barriers prevented their children from succeeding in school. So they started a volunteer homework helping program that took off in a big way.

The Path Project's success speaks for itself. 95% of its students attend school regularly, 87% have passing grades in reading and math, and 92% have good behavior reports in school.

If you live in Georgia, you can volunteer as a tutor, but there are opportunities to give a hand to kids all over the country through Stand Together's Catalysts — organizations with similar social good goals.

Whether you mentor kids, offer your skills to those in need, or use your eyes to help others see, you're helping others get where they want to go. That's making the world a better place.

Thread, NYEP and The Path Project are able to offer that support to a large community thanks to their partnership with Stand Together, an organization that's helping break the cycle of poverty by supporting the country's most innovative social entrepreneurs.

Stand Together's support allows these organizations to scale their efforts in existing communities and other places that need it.

Want more ideas for how you can help out your community, or the global community? Check out their site to learn about many other organizations that are making a difference and get involved!

To find out which organizations supports your values, take this quiz here and let Stand Together do the searching for you.

True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels.com

The Delta Baby Cafe in Sunflower County, Mississippi is providing breastfeeding assistance where it's needed most.

Mississippi has the third lowest rate of breastfeeding in America. Only 70% of infants are ever-breastfed in the state, compared to 84% nationally.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life. However, in Mississippi, less than 40% are still breastfeeding at six months.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


via msleja / TikTok

In 2019, the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada instituted a policy that forbids teachers from participating in "partisan political activities" during school hours. The policy states that "any signage that is displayed on District property that is, or becomes, political in nature must be removed or covered."

The new policy is based on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2018 Janus decision that limits public employees' First Amendment protections for speech while performing their official duties.

This new policy caused a bit of confusion with Jennifer Leja, a 7th and 8th-grade teacher in the district. She wondered if, as a bisexual woman, the new policy forbids her from discussing her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

We've heard from U.S. intelligence officials for at least four years that other countries are engaging in disinformation campaigns designed to destabilize the U.S. and interfere with our elections. According to a recent New York Times article, there is ample evidence of Russia attempting to push American voters away from Joe Biden and toward Donald Trump via the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, which has created a network of fake user accounts and a website that billed itself as a "global news organization."

The problem isn't just that such disinformation campaigns exist. It's that they get picked up and shared by real people who don't know they're spreading propaganda from Russian state actors. And it's not just pro-Trump content that comes from these accounts. Some fake accounts push far-left propaganda and disinformation in order to skew perceptions of Biden. Sometimes they even share uplifting content to draw people in, while peppering their feeds with fake news or political propaganda.

Most of us read comments and responses on social media, and many of us engage in discussions as well. But how do we know if what we're reading or who we're engaging with is legitimate? It's become vogue to call people who seem to be pushing a certain agenda a "bot," and sometimes that's accurate. What about the accounts that have a real person behind them—a real person who is being paid to publish and push misinformation, conspiracy theories, or far-left or far-right content?

Keep Reading Show less