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The savvy plan two Puerto Ricans came up with to revitalize the island's economy.

A think tank looks to revive Puerto Rico's stagnant economy.

When Miguel Columna graduated high school in 2006, he followed a pathway that had become common for many of his peers in Puerto Rico: He packed up his bags and left the island.


Columna visiting Culebra, a small island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, in Dec. 2013. Photo used with permission.

The now-26-year-old Columna jetted off to Washington, D.C., to study economics and political science at American University. After that, he took a job with the Obama administration, working as a special assistant to the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.

His story isn't that uncommon.

From 2010 to 2013, more Puerto Ricans left the island than during the entirety of the 1980s and 1990s, according to a report by the Pew Research Center.

The ongoing economic crisis in Puerto Rico is a big reason why so many people are heading out.

Puerto Rico, one of five remaining U.S. territories, is bogged down by a whopping $72 billion in debt and hasn't been able to pay its bills. At this point, some experts say declaring bankruptcy is its best bet because that would allow the government to renegotiate the terms of its debts. But since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory (sort of like a state, but not really), it can't declare bankruptcy without approval from Congress.

With the Puerto Rican economy in shambles and no promise of relief on the horizon, a net average of roughly 48,000 people per year left the island for the mainland between 2010 and 2013 — and the trend continues today.

Movers pack up a woman's apartment in July as she prepared to move from San Juan to Orlando, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

But folks like Columna are finding a silver lining to the huge numbers of people leaving Puerto Rico behind.

While some see the mass exodus as brain drain — losing ambitious young people to places like New York and Miami — Columna, a transplant himself, envisions his scattered compatriots as a global network, capable of performing “brain circulation" that could bring knowledge, connections, and capital back to Puerto Rico.

His idea: Why not reach out to the millions of Puerto Ricans living outside the island to help promote economic growth back home?

Back in 2012, Columna joined forces with Isabel Rullán, another Puerto Rican working in the Obama administration, to form ConPRmetidos, a think tank that uses public-private partnerships to spark economic development on the island. This July, they launched a new project, the Puerto Rico Global Initiative, focused on connecting Puerto Ricans at home and on the U.S. mainland.

They see the millions of Puerto Rican transplants and their children as potential ambassadors to attract investment in the island.

“We're leveraging the fact that we have this sales force that is untapped," Columna told Upworthy. “It's all these Puerto Ricans who are abroad, who are in decision-making positions."

Of course, even if investments like these succeed, they alone won't solve the island's deep financial woes. For that reason, Columna also wants Congress to allow Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy.

In the meantime, the group is continuing its more practical work: building connections with Puerto Ricans living abroad who can help bring investments back to their home, in areas such as real estate, energy, and tourism.

Bianca Cabán, a 27-year-old entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist based in Manhattan, is one of the people who received a boost from Puerto Rico Global.

Cabán (right) with Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the New York City Council, at a July 2014 event in the Bronx. Photo used with permission.

Both Cabán and her parents were born and raised in New York City, but she still has relatives living in Puerto Rico and would like to see the economy rebound. With a degree in economics and political science from Harvard and experience working for Credit Suisse and Atlas Merchant Capital — an investment firm focusing on emerging global markets — she has the perfect background for a project like this.

In late 2014, she learned about a pilot version of Puerto Rico Global and its mission to connect professionals on the island and around the world. She became an ambassador for the organization but also says they've been “incredibly supportive" when it comes to executing her ideas.

In December, Cabán left her job to pursue investment opportunities in Puerto Rico full time.

At her uncle's house in Rincón, Puerto Rico, during a December 2013 visit. Photo used with permission.

Cabán says she was spurred on by the advice of former Harvard President Lawrence Summers, who also served as a senior adviser for Atlas. She remembers hearing him say to “never waste a crisis," a message that she took to heart. “I saw the opportunity to do well and do good," she says.

So far, she's pitched investors on several business deals in Puerto Rico around real estate and the energy sector, as well as entertainment and medical cannabis. She heads to the island every five to six weeks — staying with friends or in hotels — but would like to establish a business office, if not a home, in San Juan.

Cabán says working with Puerto Rico Global has been "invaluable." Although she grew up visiting the island once or twice a year, she didn't have deep contacts in government or business before now.

“They really helped me get plugged in to that whole system and helped introduce me to the most important people that I needed to know," she says.

Interested in joining the Puerto Rico Global Initiative? Visit them here.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

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