Amway Awards $10,000 To Positivity Project
(NAPSI)-In an effort to recognize the importance of making a positive impact, Amway launched The Positivity Project contest. The contest invited people to share stories online about how the power of positive has changed their life or the life of someone they know.
Twenty-five semifinalists were identified by judges and a public vote decided the top 10 finalists and, ultimately, the grand-prize winner: Caitlin Boyle, founder of Operation Beautiful. Operation Beautiful is a movement dedicated to ending negative self-talk by women, leaving anonymous and inspirational notes for other women in public places, such as the gym or at work.
Boyle plans to use the $10,000 to pay it forward to Girls on the Run International, which encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running.
“The Positivity Project is a great example of how thousands of people can come together to do something positive,” said Boyle.
Amway encourages you to share stories about the power of positive online, in its Living Library of positivity. Visit www.yourpositivityproject.com to view stories or to share your positive story.
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Teachers Paying For Class Supplies
(NAPSI)-Public school teachers spend about $3.5 billion of their own money on educational products a year, according to a National School Supply and Equipment Association study.
The study also found:
• Fifty-seven percent of respondents indicated that classroom funding decreased at least in part due to the down economy.
• To make up the shortfall in their classrooms, teachers say they have spent more of their own money, altered their lesson plans and asked for more from parents.
• Teachers’ personal money is the most common source of money for classroom educational products.
• Ninety-two percent of teachers surveyed report spending their own money for school supplies and 85 percent on instructional materials for their classrooms.
Now, teachers, parents and pupils are getting help from a corporate citizen. To help offset rising expenses for classroom supplies, a new privately funded program will provide more than $4.5 million to 45,000 teachers. Focusing on public schools with the highest level of need, each Walmart store and Sam’s Club location across the nation is eligible to select one kindergarten through eighth grade school to participate in the company’s Teacher Rewards program. Ten teachers per school are randomly selected to each receive a $100 Teacher Rewards card to purchase classroom supplies.
“Teachers are the single most important factor in preparing students to be the next generation of leaders and to succeed in the workforce,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation. “With budgets tightening, we want to support teachers who are purchasing supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets.”
This is the second year that Walmart has supported educators through the Teacher Rewards program. Last year, educators used the rewards to purchase 25,000 report folders; 24,000 packs of pens, pencils and crayons; 14,000 packs of paper; 13,000 markers; and 10,000 binders and clipboards. This clearly demonstrates that teachers need basic supplies to help support their classrooms.
In 2009, Walmart and its Foundation gave more than $53 million to fund educational programs across the country.
For more information about the Teacher Rewards program, visit www.walmartfoundation.org and www.nssea.org.
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Youth Engineer Success Through Growing 4-H Robotics Program
(NAPSI)-At a time when only 32 percent of undergraduates in the United States are obtaining college degrees in science or engineering, 4-H is pursuing a bold goal to reach 1 million new youths with hands-on science education and exposure to exciting science careers by the year 2013.
4-H Science programs range from agricultural and animal sciences to rocketry, renewable energy and computer science. Nearly 5 million youths are already involved in 4-H Science programs, with new interest stemming from the rapidly expanding 4-H Robotics program.
The excitement surrounding the program can be attributed to a strategic partnership that National 4-H Council formed with FIRST Robotics in April 2009. Within the first year of the partnership, 43 new 4-H Robotics teams were formed across the country, giving hundreds of youths the opportunity to explore science fields through team-based experiences in designing, building and programming robots.
In April, nine 4-H teams were chosen to compete at the FIRST Championship for robotics in Atlanta, where they were among nearly 300 teams from around the country vying for the national title on the floor of the Georgia Dome.
“The joint work of National 4-H Council and FIRST demonstrates the amazing things youths achieve when given the opportunity to step up and pursue their interest in science, engineering and technology,” said Donald T. Floyd Jr., president and CEO, National 4-H Council.
And now, more 4-H youths will be able to explore their science interests. The state of Maryland was selected to help develop and test further expansion of robotics programming through a partnership with Lockheed Martin and JCPenney. 4-H is working with the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Program to establish and support 4-H Robotics clubs in each of the state’s 24 counties and Baltimore city. This work will ultimately create a model for establishing new 4-H Robotics clubs all across the U.S.
National 4-H Council will also launch a comprehensive robotics curriculum this fall for youths titled Robotics: Engineering for Today and Tomorrow, developed in partnership with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It will focus on physical science concepts related to robotics, engineering design processes and the exploration of possible careers in the field. The curriculum will be available for purchase online at www.4hmall.org.
For more than 100 years, 4-H has reached youths with science education through clubs, out-of-school programming, in-school enrichment programs and camps. Today, 4-H’s robust science programming is supporting the development of the next generation of top innovators as they grow through science, engineering, technology and applied math.
To learn more about 4-H, visit www.4-H.org or join on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/4-H.
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Tips To Help Your Organization Raise Money
(NAPSI)-Events have become a popular way for nonprofits and associations to raise money and increase membership.
To spend the least amount of time and resources to get the highest number of people, a growing number of nonprofits are using online event marketing tools. If you have a computer and Internet connection, you can track registration and organize the events in less time.
“We love that people RSVP online so we don’t have to field as many phone calls,” says Robin Lee, from Quest Sports Travel in Malverne, New York.
Here are a few tips on choosing an online event marketing tool from Erik Mintz, a marketing expert with Constant Contact.
• Go professional
Choose a tool made for business users. For example, find a tool that allows you to customize your invitation to match your brand design. Some free tools place ads in the invitations, which can look unprofessional. Upgrading to a low-cost paid service eliminates this hassle and ensures a professional look and feel.
• Make a wish list
Identify the features you want and arrange them by “must have” and “nice to have.” Do you need invitation templates or ticketing capabilities? Do you want to track both yes and no responses so you can tailor follow-up e-mails? Do you need the ability to collect payment or to allow attendees to register guests?
• Look for perks
Look for product-plus pricing: Pay for the tool and get free coaching and training, ensuring that expert training and re?sources are always just a phone call, e-mail, Web click or webinar away.
• Think social
Social media is a free and easy way to boost your event promotion. Look for a tool that lets you and your attendees easily share your events on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, allowing your organization to broaden its reach and gain exposure with new audiences.
More information about choosing and using online event marketing tools is available at www.constantcontact.com/eventmarketing.
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The Right Anchor Can Help A Business Grow
(NAPSI)-A ship isn’t the only thing that can benefit from having an anchor. It turns out that there are anchors that can actually help inner-city communities and small businesses rise up.
The anchors, in this case, are large organizations—such as a college, university or hospital—that are deeply rooted in the community and can play an integral role in fostering the community’s economy by spending on goods and services.
By building a relationship with such anchors, a small business can often reap big benefits and set a course for increased prosperity. The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and Staples, Inc. offer three tips on how a business can begin to develop such a relationship.
• Become a trusted supplier of goods and services to local anchor institutions. Many anchor institutions actively direct their institutional purchasing to community businesses.
To successfully supply these purchasers, research anchor institutions’ procurement policies and goals for local and diverse businesses and then make the business case for why an anchor should work with your business.
• Use anchors to help identify and train your employees. For any small business, having the right talent is critical. Educational institutions, in particular, develop local skills as part of their core mission, and they can help small businesses find and build talent.
To leverage these resources, a business can use educational institutions, such as a university or a community college, to identify qualified job candidates, find job-training opportunities for its existing workforce and create specialized job-training programs.
• Use anchor institutions for advisory and consulting services. Anchor institutions often look for ways to use their employees’ expertise to help a community grow. Many anchors offer advising, consulting or mentoring services to small, local businesses seeking advising, networking and mentorship opportunities from local faculty, students and executives.
The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1994. Its mission includes highlighting the competitive advantages of inner cities and the thousands of thriving companies that are already capitalizing on these advantages.
For more information, visit www.icic.org and click on Resource Guide.
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Small Businesses Make A Big Difference
(NAPSI)-It’s not just individuals who do good deeds during the holiday season. Businesses, whether they are large conglomerates or “mom and pop shops,” can find ways to give back year-round.
Businesses of any size can give. For example, Dapple, a pioneer in natural cleaners, got the break it needed to get off the ground when the start-up company won the Yahoo! Small Business’ Seeds for Success program in 2008. The program provided Dapple free Yahoo! Web Hosting services, cash prizes, and expert advice from top business mentors.
Dapple began its business with a mission: to create a line of products that were natural and safe for babies but were also targeted to clean tough messes.
Remembering the amount of help it took to get started, including the help of several pediatricians, a team of green chemists, support from friends, and expertise from Yahoo! Small Business, Dapple now “pays it forward” in a variety of ways. From career mentorship to financial donations, Dapple founders Tamar Rosenthal and Dana Rubinstein are focused on giving back as often as they can.
The duo also hopes to inspire other companies to give back by providing the following ideas:
• Ask customers which causes are most important to them, and then create a special donation section on the company website featuring the relevant links and logos;
• Organize a charitable event or fundraiser that involves the company, employees and community;
• Volunteer time and energy to a cause that needs “feet on the street” to get the job done;
• Donate products and proceeds to organizations that map back to your company’s mission.
Although many small businesses have limited resources, the most important thing to remember in giving back is to support a cause that is important to your organization and employees. For example, Dapple’s mission is to keep families safe and healthy, so it supports organizations like March of Dimes, Midwives Association of Florida, Safe Kids Upstate, and Moms Offering Moms Support.
With one act of kindness, an individual or business can make a difference in someone’s life. And before you know it, a “Ripple of Kindness” has been created. For Dapple, it started with the mentorship provided by Yahoo! Small Business and continues with waves of giving by them.
Your website is an easy and inexpensive place to promote the nonprofits your company supports. If you don’t have a site yet, a quick stop at www.smallbusiness.yahoo.com can help you get started. And for more information about how you can start your own “Ripple of Kindness,” visit www.kindness.yahoo.com or www.dapplebaby.com and see how one company does it day in and day out.
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WomenOnCall.org Makes Volunteering Easy For Busy Professional Women Nationwide
Provides Non-Profits With Access To Thousands Of Volunteers
Eager To Use Their Professional Skills To Give Back
(NAPSI)-While every woman’s schedule is different, one thing’s for sure: Women are busy. Balancing work, family and personal responsibilities can often make finding time to volunteer seem impossible. Women want to give back, but may need assistance identifying appropriate ways to do so.
“WomenOnCall.org makes it easy to get involved with issues and organizations that I believe in,” said member Laura-Ashley Barnes, who has volunteered her graphic design skills to a number of non-profits. “The website has made it possible for me to fit volunteering into my busy schedule and give back to the community.”
WomenOnCall.org is a free online network that connects non-profits that have specific volunteer opportunities with women who want to share their professional skills and expertise with non-profits. The website makes it simple for women to find meaningful volunteer opportunities nationwide.
Retaining professionals, such as a lawyer or accountant, can be costly, especially with rates often exceeding $200 per hour. Yet, there are occasions when non-profits can leverage these highly skilled professionals for short, high-impact volunteer opportunities. For example, through WomenOnCall.org, a lawyer could review and provide feedback for a memorandum of understanding, a graphic designer could develop a brochure, or a writer could edit a monthly newsletter.
The win-win experience provides non-profits access to needed professional assistance. At the same time, women, whether working, in between jobs, stay-at-home moms or retired, can keep their skills sharp and utilize their professional skills while networking with wonderful organizations.
“There are so many things to do when starting a non-profit,” said Elizabeth Leibovitz of Childreach International USA. “WomenOnCall.org provided me with fantastic professional resources that I would not have otherwise had access to if this community of volunteers did not exist.”
“WomenOnCall.org was founded because we recognize that time is a premium for professional women and that given the right match of volunteer skills and opportunity, just one hour of service a week has the potential to positively impact people’s lives,” said WomenOnCall.org Founder Margot Pritzker. “This thinking continues to ring true as we expand to connect women and non-profits across the country.”
Launched in 2006 in Chicago, WomenOnCall.org has thousands of members and hundreds of participating non-profits-and this now-national network continues to grow.
Here’s how it works. Volunteers register on the site and provide details about their skills and experience and their preferred time commitment, including if they are willing to volunteer virtually. Non-profits are able to view volunteer profiles and initiate a connection through a secure e-mail system. Volunteers can then accept or decline an opportunity, at which time volunteers can communicate directly with the non-profit. WomenOnCall.org does not provide non-profits with volunteers’ personal contact information.
“More and more, we’re seeing virtual connections being made, which allow busy women to volunteer while traveling or from home in the evening,” said Pritzker. “Virtual volunteering allows our non-profit members to engage our nationwide network of skilled volunteers.”
For more information on WomenOnCall.org, connect online at www.WomenOnCall.org, Facebook (www.facebook.com/WomenOnCall), Twitter (@WomenOnCall) and through its group on LinkedIn.
Non-profits interested in learning more about WomenOnCall.org can call (800) 531-3543 to schedule a conference call with WomenOnCall.org staff and to brainstorm specific areas in which their organization can use volunteers with professional skills.
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Farmer Co-ops: Putting Food On Your Table
by Chuck Conner
(NAPSI)-The famous chef and food writer James Beard once said, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” From potluck dinners to after-church brunch to a holiday meal, food is the tangible connection between us and our communities.
Food and Farming
However, despite its importance and necessity in our lives, many Americans have limited knowledge of how food gets to the dining table. Farming has evolved greatly over the decades, with the variety, quality, availability and affordability of food improving steadily. Many of these improvements in food production and supply exist in large measure because individual farmers formed cooperatives to remain competitive in an ever-changing agricultural environment.
Farmer co-ops are made up of thousands of individual farmers who work together to succeed in a global marketplace. For more than 100 years, they have allowed farmers to pool their risks and better manage agriculture’s volatility.
Co-ops also provide their members with all the tools necessary to run successful farming operations, including credit, financing, feed, seed, fertilizer, fuel and other crop production products. Farmers and ranchers sit on and govern their co-op boards, and guide or make all important decisions. This hands-on level of involvement ensures that co-ops are accountable to their farmer members and the American public.
Some of the most innovative products and recognizable brands on grocery store shelves are co-op creations, providing members with the opportunity to participate in the food and fiber system, from the farm to retail. Whether it’s grains, dairy, meat, fruits, nuts or vegetables, farmers rely on co-ops to help them grow, process, market and deliver Americans’ meals.
Sharing the Benefits
And the benefits go well beyond the farm. Farmer co-ops provide over 250,000 jobs in rural America, with a total payroll in excess of $8 billion. Profits of the co-ops are returned to their members and cycle through their local communities, fueling economic growth.
The Cooperatives’ Voice
Since 1929, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. The majority of America’s 2 million farmers and ranchers belong to one or more farmer cooperatives.
Supporting farmer co-ops means building stronger communities and a stronger America. So the next time you are gathered around the dinner table, remember to give thanks to the farmers and farmer co-ops that made your meal possible. You can learn more at www.ncfc.org.
Chuck Conner is president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.
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