Some of Ben Franklin's best ideas came from these 9 questions. Maybe yours can, too.

Ben Franklin: He was a Founding Father, he loved to party, and he's on the $100 bill. But you might be surprised what else he's left behind.

Image via Ervins Strauhmanis/Flickr.


Most people have no idea he created the civic triumphs that formed the foundation of American culture.

He and his friends created the first volunteer fire department, the first post office, and the first lending library.

Images 1 and 2 via Library of Congress/Flickr. Image 3 via Mennonite Church/Wikimedia Commons.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

How'd he do it? He had the right attitude and a great group of friends.

Image (modified) by Howard Chandler Christy/Wikimedia Commons.

And I'm not even talking about his Founding Father friends. This is a totally different squad.

At age 21, Franklin got his friends together to form the Junto.

The Junto was a weekly meet-up or "mutual-improvement club" where he and his friends talked about how they could make both themselves and the world cooler.

There were certain questions Franklin asked his friends at these meetings. High jinks and civic innovations ensued.

The folks at 92nd Street Y, Stanford's Hoover Institution, and Citizen University are set on proving that Franklin's approach can be brought into the modern day. Out of the questions Franklin posed, the folks behind a new form of the Junto, called Ben Franklin Circles, have chosen the most effective — just nine simple prompts:

1. Is there something you need help with?

2. Is anyone here starting a new project and is there a way we can help?

3. Anyone who’s doing innovative work?

4. Is there anyone whose friendship we want?

5. How can we use our networks to help each other?

6. Is there anyone we can mentor and encourage?

7. Can we give one another any personal/professional advice?

8. Can we improve anything about the circle itself?

9. Are there ways the circle should be connecting with and contributing to nearby communities?

As you can see, there are a lot of hive-mind, lifting-each-other-up vibes. Honestly, I feel kinda good just reading these questions.

But what's really interesting is what Franklin did more than 20 years after starting this improvement club.

At age 42, Franklin took the Junto to the next level. Believing he already had enough money to last the rest of his life, he retired from work and dedicated himself 100% to his community.

As a profile of Franklin's uniquely non-monetary definition of success in The Atlantic states, "rather than cultivate the fine arts of indolence, retirement, [Franklin] said, was 'time for doing something useful.'"

Useful like a volunteer fireman creator. Image (modified) via Charles Washington Wright/Wikimedia Commons.

Not a bad way to spend retirement. Or life. One way to create that energy in your life is now available to everyone in the form of the Ben Franklin Circle.

Ben Franklin Circles are starting to pop up, and they're creating an amazing difference in people's lives.

Asha Curran, who's on the staff at the 92nd Street Y, says that her Ben Franklin Circle was one of the most profound parts of her past year.

"It is so rare to have an opportunity to be in a room of smart, thoughtful people where the focus of conversation is solely on our ethical selves. ... I was challenged to face things about my own habits that were painful but constructive, and I came out absolutely the better for it both personally and professionally."

Creating a sense of belonging can affect more than just happiness and well-being — it can even improve health as well. Sometimes for years!

Social psychologist and Stanford professor Greg Walton created a "belonging intervention" — basically an exercise that gives participants a sense that they’re not alone in their struggles —and found that it "increased subjects' happiness, improved their health and reduced cognitive activation of negative stereotypes for several years after the initial intervention." The Ben Franklin Circles have the potential to create similar results in the lives of its participants.

We humans have immense potential inside of us, and through helping each other, we can do so much — more than Franklin ever imagined.

You can get more info below or by looking at the #BenFranklinCircles hashtag or heading to BenFranklinCircles.org.

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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