Save money and do good with this financial firm’s socially conscious rewards program
Aspiration
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Aspiration

Financial firms and social goodwill don't always go hand in hand. But one company, fittingly called Aspiration, challenges that assumption.

Aspiration is a financial institution with a conscience — one built to help serve everyone. That shouldn't be revolutionary, but it is. Perhaps it's worth taking that analogy one step further: Aspiration isn't changing the face of finance. It's giving it a face by restoring a long-absent social conscious to the world of financial services.


US vs THEM www.youtube.com

Here are just a few examples: Instead of using their customers' deposits to fund oil pipelines, which can "threaten Indigenous and human rights, put drinking water and wildlife at risk, and contribute to climate change," or fund political campaigns working directly against their own interests, 10% of Aspiration's net profits from customer's "Pay what is fair" program are donated to charity. And yes, the monthly maintenance fee is a choice, entirely within the customer's jurisdiction. The customer pays a monthly maintenance fee based on what they think is fair... even if it's zero.

It's an approach that landed Aspiration on Fast Company's Top Ten Most Innovative Companies list in both Finance and Social Good – the only company to ever appear on both.

Since Aspiration Partners, LLC's CEO Andrei Cherny, a former speech writer for Al Gore and Bill Clinton, co-founded the financial startup in 2015, the company has let customers track their debit purchases with sustainable brands. "We want to find every way we can to help people line up their money with their morals," Cherny told Bloomberg.

But now they're taking that commitment one step further: When debit-card customers shop with one of the sustainable companies with whom Aspiration has partnered, they will receive 3% to 5% cash back. So by giving more, you're also receiving more (call it institutionalized instant karma.) "It provides the encouragement people need to vote with their dollars," Cherny said.

"We've selected and teamed up with over 15 companies that put 'doing the right thing' at the heart of their businesses — from giving away eyeglasses and shoes to distributing food when you shop with them," Aspiration said about the program it's calling The Conscience Coalition.

Aspiration Presents: The #ConscienceCoalition www.youtube.com

As more customers sign up and participate in this new brand of financial service, they predict the Coalition will expand, not only to include more ethical brands, but also inspire existing brands to change their business model. A few of the companies currently included in The Conscience Coalition are: eyeglass provider Warby Parker, shoe seller TOMS, household-goods retailer Brandless, pet care company Wag!, and fashion retailer Reformation.

In time, perhaps Aspiration's vision will revolutionize the financial industry as we know it and revamp its image for a more progressive, more compassionate era.

If you want a financial institution that helps you do more with your money, visit the Aspiration website to sign up.


The Aspiration Spend & Save Account is a cash management account offered by Aspiration Financial, LLC, a broker-dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). Aspiration Financial, LLC (Aspiration Financial) provides brokerage services and securities products. Its affiliate company, Aspiration Fund Adviser, LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser, provides investment advisory services. Aspiration Fund Adviser, LLC and Aspiration Financial, LLC are subsidiaries of Aspiration Partners, Inc. Neither Aspiration Partners, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries is a bank. Aspiration pledges to donate 10% of our net profits to charities.

Aspiration Partners, LLC and its subsidiaries are not affiliated with the organizations or individuals listed.

Aspiration Debit Card is issued by Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license by Mastercard International Incorporated. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Images via YouTube and Takahiro Kyono

Adam Barrett covers 'God Only Knows' co-written by Brian Wilson

Adam Barrett has been steadily building a fan base on YouTube with his acoustic guitar covers of iconic songs from musicians and bands like The Beatles, The Cure and Oasis.

Last year, Barrett uploaded a cover of The Beach Boys song "God Only Knows," from their iconic Pet Sounds album. It's a song so good that Paul McCartney once called it the "greatest song ever written" and has repeatedly praised it over the years, including in 2007 when he performed the song live with Wilson.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."