Changing the World with Soylent

The next time you reach for a snack or prepare yourself a meal, you’ll have a hard time not thinking of Soylent after reading this article. That’s because the food company is literally looking to change the world with its new product, Soylent.

Everything the Body Needs in a Glass

The idea came from a man named Robert Rhinehart, though it’s technically nothing new. He essentially wanted to find a quick and easy way to get all the nutrition his body needed, but in a manner that was also affordable.

Coming from an engineering background, Rhinehart knew how to achieve his goal. He set out to discover what the human body actually needed every day as far as nutrition was concerned. He then went about reverse engineering these necessary nutrients into one simple source. The result was a powder called Soylent. Mix it with water, drink it down and your body has everything it needs for the day.

Food for the World

But that’s far from where Soylent stops in terms of its potential. When you think about it, yes, Soylent is plenty convenient for those constantly on the go who don’t have the time to stop and prepare an ideal meal as much as they’d like. It’s also great for those of us on a budget, as Soylent only costs around $10 a day.

However, one of the most compelling reasons to get excited about Soylent is that it could be the key to ending world hunger.  For a fully nutritional meal, it’s incredibly cheap.  Much of the world’s hungry populations are fed meager rations of grain-based gruel that is the nutritional equivalent of eating cardboard.  The gruel stops the hunger pangs, but those bloated bellies on stick-framed people convey not just hunger, but malnutrition!   

Another benefit is Soylent’s shelf life.  Unlike other options, though, Soylent can be transported all over the world without the need to be frozen or kept at a certain temperature. It’s essentially a non-perishable food item, which means transports can take their sweet time getting to the intended recipient. Once received, those who need it can also store it for weeks or even months without fear that it will go bad.

Nutrition for Every Need

Soylent was designed to meet the nutritional needs of both men and women, meaning there isn’t a different product for each gender. Furthermore, the product is vegan, so anyone can eat it without fear of their dietary restrictions being violated. Their old blend does come with fish oil in it, but this can be left out for vegans who provide their own vegan friendly oil to the mix.

While it was an idea born out of convenience, Soylent may have what it takes to truly change the world.

Get to Know Monocle

Without expansive and reliable news coverage, the world around us can feel incredibly small.  Anything outside the perimeter of word of mouth could be experienced as foreign. Oddly enough, in today’s world of globalization, the world outside our comfort zone has never seemed so far away for many. This is due in large part to the fact that the majority of our “news” comes from biased, commercial sources that can’t do their topics justice.  Infused with speculation and conjecture as well as flat-out personal opinion, reporters of the “news” today lack any semblance of objectivity that greats like Walter Cronkite were known for.

A New Kind of News

And that’s where monocle comes in. They’re different for a number of reasons. For one thing, Monocle is available around the clock. You can check out their website for a news ticker that will continue throughout the day or listen to their radio coverage, which also goes on 24/7.

The other cool thing about Monocle is how they present so many of their important news stories. Instead of simply providing commentary with a few clips for dressing, Monocle actually has their reporters craft short films that serve as educational documentaries. They’re not only more interesting to watch, they can also actually do their subject matter justice.

Nonetheless, Monocle is still printing the news as well. Every year, they produce 10 issues.  These are not fragile little periodicals. Monocle creates magazines that are almost more like books; they come in full color and are crafted in such a way that they’re almost collectibles.

With their global presence, Monocle has also produced a series of travel guides for others who may want to see the world. They figure that news is one way of learning about the world, but so is travel. So they have over 50 of these guides, many of them covering rare cities of choice like Verbier, Trancoso, Muscat, Forte dei Marmi and Marrakech. Their titles are split into resort and business works, 25 for each, so you can choose both the city you’re interested in and your reason for being there.

About Their Staff

For an independent news organization with such ambitious goals, Monocle is actually fairly well staffed. The company has more than 30 correspondents spread out from Milan to Beirut and from Singapore to Washington.

Though the news may seem like a fairly well-covered topic, Monocle proves there is still plenty that can be done. This innovative brand has found a new way for its subscribers to get to know the world around them.

Finals are wrapping up in colleges and universities across the nation this week, and students are breathing a sigh of relief. But that smiling grad in your life has more to worry about now that school is over than what to wear with their cap and gown. Statistics show that seven out of ten graduates in 2013 left school with student loans averaging at around $30,000 each, and it’s only looking worse for the 2014 crowd.

With the weight of student loan debt and the discouraging career prospects offered in today’s troubled economy, many young people are putting off life events normally associated with being twentysomething: getting married, buying a first home, and starting a family. Debt is stilting the future for Millennials and creating changes in the way our society looks at transitioning from youth to adult.

While student debt was growing into one of this year’s hot-button topics, some people were coming up with creative ways to pay off their education. One such group is a small non-profit called SponsorChange.org, which is harnessing the power of volunteerism to help graduates pay their debts while giving back to their communities.

SponsorChange.org works by matching donation money to volunteers who offer their time to causes within their community that have enrolled in the program. Donors give money to SponsorChange with the knowledge that they will be helping both a cause and a graduate, and non-profits get free work from trained people looking for opportunities and experience. Volunteers get money paid toward their student loans based on donations and the amount of work they do.

Potential volunteers can sign up in cities where SponsorChange has offices. Normally, co-founder Raymar Hampshire says, “we match a graduate to an organization, and they actually live in that city.” Currently, there are only a few cities where opportunities are available—Chicago, Pittsburg, and Washington, D.C.—but the program coordinators are working to expand into other cities and into something they call “virtual volunteerism.” “We’re trying to figure out what type of projects can be done at a high-quality level” remotely, says Hampshire.

Volunteering virtually can be anything from designing a web page to grant writing. Volunteers can sign up to work remotely for causes that aren’t necessarily in the city where they live, broadening the options for volunteers and the pool of people to choose from for organizations. While the people at SponsorChange prefer to have volunteers investing in their local communities, they acknowledge that for some volunteers, it’s just not possible.

There are already a number of programs offering debt relief to recent graduates in exchange for volunteer service. AmeriCorps and the Peace Corp. are two popular choices, but few opportunities exist that don’t also ask graduates to put their lives and careers on hold for a period of time. With mounting debt and young people starting career jobs later in life, programs like SponsorChange might be the key to providing much-needed relief and experience for this year’s newest graduates.

Drunk driving has been on America’s radar since the inception of MADD in 1980, but in spite the non-profit’s legislative inroads, such as raising the national drinking age and promoting heavier penalties for drivers, MADD has had little impact on providing transportation alternatives for social drinkers. That’s where crowdsourced car services like Uber, Lyft, and SideCar come in.

In case you haven’t heard of these companies, here’s the rundown: Anyone with access to the app can request a ride right from their phones and pay pre-set fees without ever having to exchange cash with a stranger. What makes these services different from taxis is their pool of drivers—regular people who have signed up for a sort of rideshare in exchange for a fee. Sounds good, right?

But it turns out that these companies aren’t for everyone. Cities like Seattle have cracked down on the number of drivers companies like Uber can have on the road at any given time, and Uber’s policy of raising prices by three or four times during high-demand time periods (think New Year’s Eve) has recently come under fire. Some have accused these rideshare services of pandering to the rich, leaving the less affluent to fend for themselves.

But the problem that the Uber model highlights isn’t as simple as an issue of the haves versus the have nots; it’s actually a lesson in supply and demand. That crackdown on Uber’s business that occurred in Seattle? It came only a few months before a county vote struck down funding that would keep a number of critical bus lines running. Come November, the greater Seattle area will be losing as many as forty routes. Where rideshare services might have once helped alleviate the upcoming strain on Seattle roads, commuters will likely turn to driving their own cars to work instead.

Transportation is important, and not just for tipsy college students. Reliable access to transportation is one of the basic necessities for our economy to function. The fact that Uber, Lyft, and SideCar exist means that there is a market for the service they offer. And the fact that they’re doing well enough to cut into the profits of traditional taxi companies (complaints from taxi companies was one of the main catalysts for the Seattle crackdown) means that there is a demand.

It’s true that MADD’s campaigning has done a lot for our society in the past thirty years. DUI-related deaths have dropped drastically since the 1980s, and much of that can be attributed to MADD’s efforts to educate young people on the dangers of driving under the influence. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been an emphasis on alternatives to drunk driving, and public transportation is growing at an abysmal rate.

Seattle’s situation is just an example of the complicated way that our nation views issues surrounding transportation. In Boston, the “T” only recently added late-night routes on the weekends, and Phoenix’s Valley Metro light rail, which connects downtown Phoenix with Arizona State University’s main campus has only been open since 2008. And that’s not even mentioning cities like Los Angeles where public transportation is so underdeveloped that it barely registers on the morning commute, let alone having an impact on late-night business.

With recent population shifts toward large cities, it’s more important than ever that we think about our transportation needs. MADD’s efforts have been greatly effective in culling drunk driving, but now it’s time to focus on transportation alternatives. No one likes drunk driving, and having other options will help people make the right choice. Focusing on these alternatives will not only make roads safer but help our society in the long run.

When most people think of the Department of Health and Human Services, entrepreneurship probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But along with helping the country stay healthy and enjoy a higher quality of life, HHS is also looking to get entrepreneurs the help they need in seeing their vision come to life.

High Risk, High Reward

That’s how the Department of Health and Human Services has described the types of projects they’re looking for from eligible entrepreneurs. Given the level of ambition most entrepreneurs have, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, it’s still interesting that HHS would put themselves on the line like this, all to help with projects that involve so much risk.

However, as the Chief Technology Officer for HHS, Bryan Sivak, made clear, the whole idea is that they’re looking to bring innovation to government operations—an area that can often fall stagnant or rely too much on what’s worked in the past. So HHS’ intended outcome will have as much to do with helping entrepreneurs as it will with getting this department the help they need too.

Ideal Candidates

To this end, the Department of Health and Human Services is looking for candidates who will embrace the challenge, but also who have a desire to help shape government in new and innovative ways. Obviously, they’ll need to be adept at problem solving and have their own toolbox of methods for approaching hurdles. Clearly, they can’t be intimidated by scope either, as the HHS employs over 75,000 people, has a number of departments within it and has some components and procedures in place that haven’t changed since 1979, when it first started.

Four Years Running

This isn’t the first time HHS has held such a program. Known as the HHS Innovation Fellows Program, it was started back in 2010. In 2012, they changed the name to HHS Entrepreneurs. Its stated purpose was to help the department locate members of the public who had a unique skill set, level of experience and dedication to solve some of the challenges that stand in the way of providing the public with proper care. In the past, HHS had trouble attracting these applications, but the offer of a yearlong fellowship, they have found, has been a viable solution.

Applicants must have the above traits and apply to HHS by July 16th. An interview process will follow for those candidates who meet the requirements. 

For over 50 years, Misereor, a relief organization dedicated to ending suffering around the world, has found innovative ways to get the good word out about charitable contributions and bring in donations at the same time. Their most recent method may just be the best example yet and could actually change the way other philanthropies raise funds in the future.

A Simple Swipe

Most charitable organizations use some kind of poster or billboard campaign to get the word out about what they do. However, usually they have to stop short at actually getting donations. Instead, they’ll usually give a website or phone number people can call if they want to help.

Misereor got around this issue by making it possible for donors to actually swipe their credit card on the poster itself. Anyone who sees the sign can walk up to it, swipe their card and immediately put two Euros toward this important cause.

Innovative Marketing

Here’s where it gets really cool though. The poster is interactive and displays an animation triggered by the swipe of a credit card. To pull this off, Misereor teamed with a Hamburg-based ad agency called Kolle Rebbe that eventually put the interactive posters together.

As an example, you may see a poster that reads, “Feed Them.” Below the message is a loaf of bread that can have a piece “cut” from it when you run your credit card through it. Once you do, your two Euros are donated and you get to watch the piece get cut off. Other posters show children with their hands tied together. Swipe your card and they are released.

The real challenge behind the poster was synchronizing so many moving parts. Aside from the animation that needed to be triggered, the company also had to figure out a way to read, authenticate and then charge a credit card all within a moment or the interaction wouldn’t come off without a hitch.

Although Misereor is focused on helping out those suffering from injustice in Latin America, Africa and Asia, the posters are currently featured throughout shopping centers in Europe. No word yet on how successful they’ve been, but they already accomplished gaining plenty of attention for Misereor with their campaign being the feature of a number of news items. If nothing else, these posters help the charity advertise their message. If people take the offer and decide to give instantly, so much the better!

Many startups and entrepreneurs face the exact same challenge at the beginning. It’s not that they don’t have the knowledge, the drive or even the right people to work with. Instead, they simply don’t have the resources. This isn’t exactly the best economy to raise money in either.

Enter the Knight Prototype Fund

For 17 groups, however, this hurdle has been overcome in a pretty amazing way. The Knight Prototype Fund was started to help people get the time, space and money they need to take their projects from conception to reality. For these lucky groups, they’ll receive $35,000 and six months of office space to get their vision off the ground.

Early Successes

While the idea itself is great, there are already many reasons to think it is going to be a successful one, as well. Two different groups from a recent class have already taken the next step out of the fund and secured funding from outside sources. With a new class now starting, that includes 17 different groups, it will be exciting to see how many can reach similar degrees of success.

A New Class

This most recent class includes the following projects:

  • Capitol Hound
  • GovLoop Academy
  • Expunge.io
  • LibraryBox
  • Minezy
  • Louder
  • MLRun
  • Open Data Philly
  • News on Demand
  • PressSecure
  • SmartResponse.org
  • Project Fission
  • Tabula
  • Uncovering Cost, Examining Impact
  • Tipsy
  • Whilecard
  • Wiredcraft

While all these groups function on interactive platforms, it’s still a very diverse collection of companies. Wiredcraft, for example, serves to help people edit and publish maps of their local areas. Tipsy’s goal is to help news sites fund themselves through microfunding by readers. Expunge.io’s project focuses on helping youth offenders make sense of an often confusing legal system so they can have a chance in the future.

Getting Started

Aside from the resources, the Knight Prototype Fund is also helping members get off the ground by providing them with the knowledge and experience they may not already have. The beginning of the experience starts with a two-day boot camp wherein members not only learned the tools of the trade, so to speak, but also network with one another and workshop their ideas.

Campaigns like the Knight Prototype Fund are essential for new ideas that just need some help standing up on their own two legs.  Because of efforts by the Knight Prototype Fund, 17 groups are now getting that help, and there will be more to follow. 

Crowdfunding is not a new idea. In virtually any situation where a group or a “crowd” of people lend or volunteer funds to a public service, an idea, or a marketer for a specific product, it could be termed crowdfunding. However, in the most modern iteration, it is almost wholly Internet-based, using the power of the web to offer the information and the funds needed to allow a new business to start or an established business to stay in viable.

Electronic Readers Rule

Bookstores, on a global scale, are slowly succumbing to the weight of electronic readers. Online libraries like Oyster and Amazon Kindle are putting a huge monetary dent in traditional printed books. It is in this environment that a Dutch start-up called Polare thought to reinvigorate printed media by opening up several stores throughout the Netherlands.

It was formed by merging two of the Netherlands largest bookstores and setting them up in very high profile areas of the country. But they failed to innovate, providing the same types of printed media which were quickly going out of fashion, and without innovation, they were forced to file for bankruptcy within 8 months. It seemed that, once again, the electronic writing was on the wall for brick-and-mortar bookstores, proving once again that electronic readers rule.

The Polare Bookstore Hoax

Enter Tim Gouw and Martin van den Heuvel. Sitting in a coffee house one morning, they had their own ideas of why Polare had gone under. So they decided to create a false marketing site, or a hoax, and play with the “what if” factor.  What if Polare had innovated in the electronic sector, instead of just offering printed material?

They put up a modest single-page website that offered electronic reading material with yearly subscription options to Polare. To their utter surprise, within minutes, their servers were overloaded with requests, and virtually everyone who was a part of the Dutch book community was sending word out about the new Polare website.

The Crowdfunding Initiative

As if a light bulb had gone off in their heads, both Gouw and van den Heuvel realized they were on to something good. What if they could turn this Internet attraction into something that could save the many local bookstores that were floundering or going out of business? First and foremost, they would be saving countless amounts of jobs if they could turn this interest into actual cash, and secondly, they would also save some of the most renowned literary institutions, including the world famous Dominicanen book store, a converted 13th century church.

The answer was crowdfunding.  They converted the hoax website into a genuine one where locals and investors could participate and invest in their favorite bookstores.

Overwhelming Success

The first crowdfunded bookstore reached its funding goal within 48 hours after being posted on the site. In less than 2 weeks, over 1000 investors contributed and funded multiple bookstores, keeping them open for business while saving jobs in the process. This initiative was touted as the biggest Dutch crowdfunding success ever, and it should serve as a lesson and as a blueprint that crowdfunding on a grass roots level, works!

If the events of 2011’s Arab Spring have taught us anything, it’s that there is power in social media. Protesters all across the Arabic-speaking world rallied against the actions of their governments using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, causing pandemonium in the streets and, in a few cases, actually overthrowing existing governments—which is why Cuban officials were upset when the Twitter-like ZunZuneo application in Cuba was discovered to have been created and implemented by an extension of the U.S. government.

ZunZuneo was established in 2008 and shut down in 2011 after the project ran out of funding. The program was meant to appeal to smartphone users in Cuba who could then be encouraged to take part in information discussion and thought exchange.

But the U.S.’s social-media efforts don’t end with Cuba; it has since been revealed that similar programs were implemented in Kenya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and dozens of other countries, with plans to expand to Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Some of these programs, such as Yes Youth Can in Kenya and the Pakistani social-media network, operate openly with the knowledge of the governments whose countries are targeted, but others are working covertly. Since the U.S.’s involvement with ZunZuneo was revealed earlier this year, the motivation behind the government’s other programs have come under scrutiny.

For its part, the U.S. government states that these social-media programs have been implemented to foster communication and open discourse in countries where free speech isn’t easy to obtain. The Obama administration has expressed its desire to open up conversation and the sharing of information in targeted countries, encouraging residents to become more involved in their communities and discuss their ideas openly. The Associated Press on the other hand reported that the programs were actually meant for political subversion, and it seems that Cuba agrees with this interpretation.

All of this may seem like a moot point in light of the failure of many of the projects to become self-sustaining. When the U.S.’s involvement in ZunZuneo was announced, the program had already shut down due to lack of funding. The same has occurred in Pakistan and Afghanistan. While there are a variety of reasons why such programs wouldn’t have taken root—lack of popularity, failure to reach the desired audience, government censorship, or program accessibility—the fact that a number of these programs have failed to achieve self-sustainment is telling.

In all three cases, it seems that the U.S. government lacked a long-term plan to keep the programs running and simply closed the networks down as soon as funding ran out.

While these programs haven’t obtained the long-term appeal that more established social-media platforms have, the sting of their undisclosed existence is no less painful. ZunZuneo is just another example of the U.S.’s well-established involvement in Latin American politics, which has fostered a widespread distrust of U.S. motivations in South and Central America and stunted the U.S. government’s relationship with the region for decades. Similar distrust of the U.S.’s political motivations has also long been evident in many Middle East and east-Asian countries, making the possibility of pure intentions on the part of the U.S. somewhat of a non sequitur in the eyes of the other countries involved.

With the events of the Arab Spring still fresh in the memories of government leaders worldwide, social networking in general is receiving more scrutiny than ever before. And with the revelation of the U.S.’s involvement in social-media programs internationally, it’s no surprise that such a practice would spur criticism. Whether the U.S.’s intentions for these programs are innocent or not, international distrust is unlikely to waver.

When Mayor Larry Morrissey of Rockford, Illinois, discovered Etsy, an online sales platform for artisans and crafters, he didn’t just see a store; he saw an opportunity. Like many cities across the country, Rockford was suffering from the loss of middle-wage jobs and the city was ill-equipped to help those affected. But seeing Etsy, Morrissey realized that there might be a different solution than the government’s standard approach of offering aid to low-income people.

“So often when we try to help people in poverty—not just in Rockford but throughout the country—we focus on what a person doesn’t have instead of what they do have,” says Morrissey. “Our goal is to try to focus on these gifts that a person has, their passions and interests, and develop those. And nothing can stand in their way if they’re given a platform to sell.”

That idea is the guiding force behind craft entrepreneurship. The city of Rockford has paired with Etsy and Etsy teams to provide high school students and residents of Rockford Housing Authority with the tools and training to run their own shops on the craft-centered website. Through this program, participants are given the opportunity to start a shop, build the skills that they’re already passionate about, and learn how to turn those skills into either a secondary income or their primary job without the fear of failure that often comes with entrepreneurship.

Ultimately, program participators want to create a source of income that doesn’t rely on opportunities provided by outside companies but by residents of the community. Morrissey doesn’t expect every student to create their own Etsy shop. Instead he hopes that the training provided will be the blueprint for a new type of economy—one where people build on the skills that they already have to make a positive impact on Rockford and similar communities across the country.

And so far, the idea is working. A program has already started up in New York City, New York, where Etsy is pairing up with the Department of Small Business Services to launch training with Workforce 1 Career Centers in the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods. The New York program is set to focus on creating supplemental income to under-employed residents in a city where full-time employment can be incredibly hard to find.

Other communities are getting involved as well, with free curricula popping up on websites such as craftentrepreneurship.com. What Morrissey saw as an opportunity for prosperity in Rockford could soon become the chance of success for small businesses nationwide. Craft entrepreneurship might not be nationwide yet, but communities like Rockford and New York City are paving the way for the future of the craft economy. 

Did you know that you can make every day look better? It’s easy, put on a pair of Tens sunglasses and see the world as you’ve never seen it before.

Featured in Time Magazine, the BBC, Esquire and GIZMODO, to name a few, Tens sunglasses feature a tinted lens that brings out the best in what you see. Simply put, they work with the sun to provide a warm visual field and clarity unlike any other sunglasses lens.

Full Protection from the Sun’s Rays

Just because the images beyond the lens look better, that doesn’t mean your eyes are not fully protected from the sun’s harmful rays. Tens lenses feature UV400 protection that blocks out all of the sun’s harmful rays.  That is the best that there is. The lenses themselves are scratch resistant and made of a CR - 39 plastic polymer for ruggedness and lightness in one lens. It all comes together in a lightweight unisex classic frame, made of an acetate compound and featuring a five-tooth durable hinge and four color choices: Black, Navy, Deep Red and Teal.

Three Years to Perfection

Tens lenses were not created in a lab overnight. It took three years for Tens sunglasses to evolve.  As stated by the company, “To our knowledge, there are no other sunglasses available on the market that will offer you as pleasurable a view as Tens.” That means by getting a pair of Tens sunglasses, you’ll be on the cutting edge of sunglasses technology, looking through lenses that change the way you see things.

Sun Worshipers Rejoice

It has been recommended by experts that everyone should where eye protection from the sun.  Since you need a pair of sunglasses, Tens is a great choice for optimized protection and view. Not only will they protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, but they will also reduce glare and the suns brightness to allow you to see everything a little bit better.

Tens enhances the color in the world around you, bringing things into warm, crisp focus.  These classically framed durable sunglasses filter your view through a tinted lens that brings you a techno-color panorama. 

Check out the progress of this start-up as they grow and expand their offerings.  You can help crowd fund their progress and pick up a pair of these uber-cool specs.

With Tens sunglasses, not only will your eyes be fully protected from UV rays, but you’ll see things clearer, with a warmth and a vision that is unheard of in regular sunglasses. Tens makes your day look ten times better, and that alone will keep you smiling all day long every time you put on your pair of Tens sunglasses. They will rock your world.

For more information about Tens Sunglasses, contact hey@tenslife.com

The Accountability Tool for Development was thought up by Integrity Action, a charitable organization with presence in Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe and Central Asia.  Their mission is to empower citizens to demand and act with integrity. This organization works with many outlets to bring integrity to some of the hardest situations and settings around the world. Integrity Action’s vision is to have integrity play a part in all societies.  They give citizens a sense of responsibility for their local area and society to thrive.  The Accountability Tool is something they have been working to implement to ensure this goal.

Integrity Action wants to put the monitoring of improvement in the hands of the citizens, by creating an online platform where those living in war-torn areas can keep governments, contractors, the media, and agencies up to date on the progress that is being made.

Currently, so much of aid donated to countries that have been ravaged by war is wasted. This can be due to corruption, fraud, or even just improper management of the funds given and can result in losses up to 25%. When added up, the lost funds can amount to over $8 billion each year.  Measures are needed to improve this.

With the online platform, citizen reporting can actually keep those remote stakeholders aware of what’s happening in the developing communities.  Governments can be held accountable, as well as any agencies involved, because they are completely aware of the situation at each step. By cutting the losses, the improvement in impact that each dollar has will increase significantly. With more people aware of situations that need to be addressed in various war-torn countries, money is allocated will be more transparent, goals will be more concrete, and timelines more attainable. 

Integrity Action plans to train people in the community to do reporting.  With citizens directly affected by outcomes being involved, projections show that the online platform can lead to 50% of problems being fixed in war-torn areas. Over the next 18 months, over 2000 citizens will be trained as community monitors. The Global Impact Award will provide the funding needed for Integrity Action to fund the development of a mobile app, that the monitors will use to provide the feedback necessary to ensure the steady and constant improvement on projects. They hope this app will improve the quality of life for over half a million people. 

The international charity SolarAid has a mission to provide various areas in the world with affordable, safe and clean solar lights. This London based leader in solar lighting implementation is determined to replace millions of kerosene lamps in Africa with solar powered lights.  This is no small feat.

Currently in rural Africa, over 110 million households use kerosene lamps as their light source. Those unfamiliar with kerosene should know that it’s toxic. Kerosene emits a black smoke that is extremely damaging.  When used indoors it has a very strong odor and can be poisonous if the concentration is high enough. It can cause many health problems, especially respiratory illnesses, which often go untreated, and can affect the majority of household members.

Kerosene is also extremely expensive to use on a regular basis.  Many households in Africa are using up to 20% of their overall income just to pay for the kerosene needed to light their home. Since many areas in Africa are extremely impoverished, this is an outrageous amount of income that could be allocated to other areas of lifestyle improvement.  Fuel costs are preventing families from obtaining things like clean water or medicine and proper medical treatment. 

Solar lighting is a solution that is cost effective. At a cost of approximately $10, a family can light a room for many years. When you calculate that with the average income of a home in Africa, it is a tremendous savings.  When compared to what a typical household would spend on kerosene, it can pay for itself after about 12 weeks. 

A solar lamp will also last up to five years.  That works out to be 2% of the cost of kerosene. Definitely a smarter long term solution economically, and since it’s providing clean light, the lamps are better for the environment and for the health of those in the household.

Getting solar lights for communities that are off the power grid will provide jobs opportunities for African natives. With SolarAids determination to bring 144,000 solar lights to Africa in one year, there will be maintenance, distribution and implementation to be done on a regular basis, which will provide brand new income opportunities to many areas.

Creating these solar maintenance hubs will have huge impact on families and communities. Over the next 3 years, 11.2 million people will be using solar lighting. If kerosene lamps are completely eliminated, the overall health and well being of many individuals will improve, and family incomes can be spent on other aspects of their life, elevating the financial profile and lifestyles for many African families. 

The Zoological Society of London has come up with an idea to deter and perhaps eventually prevent the unnecessary and illegal poaching of endangered animals in Africa. It’s estimated that a rhino is killed every eleven hours by poachers and hunters in Africa.  This animal is on the very brink of extinction.  Poaching and other wildlife crime is done to sell off parts of the animal for a high price on the black market.  Elephants and rhinos are hunted for their tusks, while other animals are hunted for their pelts. Rhino poaching in particular has increased significantly over the past few years, which not only threatens the animal, but also the burgeoning tourism industry that relies on visitors being able to view native African wildlife.

The commerce of these animals is not confined to one continent.  This is a global industry and a global problem.  Wildlife commerce is actually the fourth largest illegal trade in the world. Since this industry is so huge – worth over $7 billion – the Zoological Society of London has taken the initiative to figure out a way to keep wildlife safe with technology that monitors the animals’ movements and events in their geographic proximity.

By aggressively monitoring areas that are highly susceptible to poaching, the ZSL is hoping that the number of poaching incidents will be drastically reduced. Using efficient camera traps that implement sensors that pick up large sounds or movements, poachers can be caught in the act, identified and tracked down. With more of this technology placed in the region, it won’t be long before they won’t be able to prey on animals without being detected.

The ZSL is focusing on an area in Kenya that has been particularly affected by poaching, which has made the community unsafe and put animals at high risk of being slaughtered. By monitoring this area with sensors and cameras, they estimate that they will be able to reduce poaching by 50%. Starting with areas at higher risk is the best way to begin to eliminate poaching in Africa’s most vulnerable spots.

Endangered rhinos and elephants that frequent this area will have time to reproduce, building their population numbers back up to healthy levels. They will live longer lives and support the tourism that Africa is so well known for. 

If there is more global awareness and understanding of the poaching industry, people can make informed decisions regarding the products generated by illegal killing of endangered species.  By using digital eyes and ears where hunted animals live, poachers will find it increasingly difficult to stay away from being caught and arrested. The market for poachers can be diminished and possibly evaporate completely over time.  Ideally, in generations to come, perhaps the word “poaching” will become extinct rather than the animals that are hunted under these circumstances today. 

“Apps for Good” is a technology education movement that works to foster technological education in children while they are in school. Since traditional school programs don’t often include training in the technology field, this London based program has recognized the gap between available jobs and students focused on eventually filling those jobs. In London alone, there were over 80,000 new tech job openings - compared to the statistics of how many students are learning about computer science, this is a field that needs some recruiting!

Teachers have taken the initiative, along with some tech experts and even some entrepreneurs who volunteer their time, to bring the guidance, tools and information to children who are eager to learn. Bringing the idea of app creation to students that may not otherwise consider it is a great first step. By providing the motivation and know-how to take the idea to fruition and actually create a working app, Apps for Good is revolutionizing the way students learn about computer science.

Students learn about coding, what the digital world is all about, and creative thinking skills. By working as a team and coming up with apps with their peers to solve issues, their communication skills improve as well.  Apps for Good is a way for students to feel like entrepreneurs and is on track to create a new generation of innovative thinkers that can use coding and technology to improve and create real world infrastructures.

By focusing on low income communities that aren’t represented to the same extent as other communities, they are working to have students develop apps that are directly improving aspects in their own lives. For example, students developed an app that translated English into Bengali. This simple app helped to facilitate proper communication at parent teacher interviews.

Apps for Good is working to get into more classrooms, and increase their reach. Their goal is to get at least 175,000 students involved in the app development program over the next three years. By starting students out with the skills they need to get started in their own tech innovation projects, it’s empowering them to solve their own problems while learning how to master the tools they need that can create a sustainable career for them in the future.  App development training for kids in the UK will create a generation of innovators in technology.

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