Starting a new business is hard, especially for veterans. This org makes it much easier.
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Macy's

When Officer Kimberly Jung  was looking for roadside bombs in Afghanistan, she couldn't help but notice a vicious cycle.

"It felt like every time we found one, a new one would take its place," Jung recalled in an interview with Bunker Labs.

She was a route clearance platoon leader, so it was a big part of her job. But constantly uncovering weapons of war made her wish they could interact with the land and its people in a more positive way.


She wasn't the only one who felt like this; several of her friends who served with her also saw the symbolism behind the seemingly unending activity. It was time to change how they related to Afghanistan.

When Jung returned to civilian life, she and her colleagues decided to start cultivating peace by working with Afghan farmers to harvest saffron.

Rumi (right) with her fellow co-founders. Photo via Bunker Labs/YouTube.

They co-founded a company called Rumi Spice in Chicago to help make the expensive and rare saffron spice more available in the states.

For them, it's not just about turning a profit. They have hired Afghan employees and created lasting partnerships with Afghan farmers to encourage a more healthy relationship with the war-torn nation.

"What we’re doing here is laying a sustainable foundation for peace through economic empowerment," Jung explained.  

By working with Afghanistan in this way, Rumi Spice is helping to infuse economic prosperity back into a country that desperately needs the boost. This, in turn, helps the farmers think positively about American businesses that want them to maintain their seat in the world's marketplace.

As of last year, Rumi Spice has been able to export 5% of Afghanistan’s total saffron available for it. It's a huge leap for such a small business, especially because they're simultaneously strengthening a key link between Afghanistan and the Western world.

Their thriving business is largely possible due to assistance from Bunker Labs — a national nonprofit that empowers veterans to become leading entrepreneurs.

Photo via Bunker Labs.

Bunker Labs was founded by former veteran Todd Connor, whose own experience returning home from the Navy sparked this idea for an interactive support system for veterans interested in starting their own businesses.

"He realized that one of the main barriers to success was the resources, networks, and a connected ecosystem in which to support them," Becca Keaty, Chief Development Officer for Bunker Labs, explains in an email.

So that's exactly what Bunker Labs provides. It inspires and equips veterans through immersive workshops, active mentorships, and innovative programs both in-person and online via its Launch Lab Online. But perhaps most importantly, it helps them establish a tribe of fellow veterans who are also pursuing their business dreams.

Jung, in particular, has found that network incredibly helpful and motivating.

"Our biggest supporters have been other veterans," Jung said. "Being part of a veteran community has been key to our success."

Jung works with another veteran at a Bunker Lab. Photo via Bunker Labs/YouTube.

And she's far from alone. As of February 2018, Bunker Labs entrepreneurs have helped create 1,581 new jobs and generate $67,449,544 in revenue. What's more, the organization has headquarters in 22 major cities across the country, with a three-year goal of getting one in all 50 states, so those numbers will only continue to climb.

Thanks to brands like Macy's, that goal will likely be reached even sooner. As part of its July 4 Give Back campaign, if you donate $3 at checkout in stores or online, you'll receive 25% percent off your purchase, and a portion of your donation goes to Bunker Labs. Your donations will help them expand their programs, making them more accessible to a larger population of veterans.

It can be especially hard for veterans making the transition back to civilian life to set themselves up for success in business. According to Bunker Labs, while 25% of returning veterans want to be entrepreneurs, only 4% manage to do it because they don't know where to start. But now, with organizations like Bunker Labs in place, they can avoid a lot of that guesswork and turn to fellow veteran entrepreneurs for advice when they're feeling overwhelmed or looking for assistance.

Being in the military means never leaving someone behind. That sentiment doesn't expire when their uniforms are off.

To learn more about Bunker Labs, check out this video:

Salute those who serve by donating at Macy's to organizations that support veteran and military families from June 28th — July 8th.

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Amazon

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.


Amazon

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.