4 Ways To Help Out At Your Child’s School


Chances are you’ve heard the expression the “children are our future”. We need to work hard to ensure that the children of today grow up to build a better world of tomorrow. And the only way to make this happen is through top notch education provided to as many children as possible. If you have a child who is in school and want to thank the school for what it has done for your child, there are a few things you can do. Here are a list of ways to give back to your child’s school:

1) Volunteer in the classroom

Teachers have a lot on their plates, and they often need volunteers. Parent volunteers can help out in the classroom by assisting with hands-on classroom activities, reading to the students, or completing tasks such as correcting students’ papers. The teacher will be extremely grateful, and there will also be a lovely bond between the parent and the teacher.

2) Volunteer After School

Whenever the budget of a school district gets cut, the first things to go are after school activities. It is unfortunate that these enriching activities such as sports, music programs and other activities that allow children to explore their passions are being cut. But the programs are much less likely to disappear if parents volunteer to help out. If your child is involved in an afterschool activity, ask the coach or leader if he or she needs any help. This will allow to you spend time with your child and your child’s friends while also lending a hand to programs that need assistance.

3) Donate School Supplies

All too often, teachers need to pay for school supplies out of pocket because they are working on tight budgets. there is always a high demand for everyday supplies such as pencils and paper. It is rare for a teacher’s annual stipend for supplies to last longer than one or two months. If you’re in an office supply store, buy some supplies for your child’s classroom. Your child’s teacher will be extremely grateful.

4) Join the PTA

The PTA, or the National Parent Teacher Association, is a great way to get involved in your child’s education. If your child’s school is not affiliated with the PTA, it probably has something similar such as “home and school” or a booster club. These are independently operated clubs that function in a way similar to the PTA. If you help out in the PTA, or the equivalent in your child’s school, you will be able to get to know your child’s teachers and build a strong network with the other parents. You will also be able to stay up-to-date on the happenings within the school, and the school will thank you for your help.

It is clear that your child’s education is important to you. And one of the best ways to make sure your child gets the best education possible is by helping out within the school. By staying in the know in your school community and assisting the school’s faculty, you are showing your child how important education is, and you’re working to give the future generations an enriching educational experience.

Facebook Is Turning Internet Activism Into Something Bigger

Facebook_icon_2013.svgIt is common to hear the term “slacktivism” thrown around. Many people criticize the idea of people showing their support for a cause by liking a Facebook status or changing the filter on their profile picture because they feel that it is not doing something tangible. Others do not see need for criticism, as utilizing social media to raise awareness is better than doing nothing. And after all, who is to say that these people are not taking concrete action as well? But this conflict may be put to an end as Facebook is now making a site specifically for nonprofits.

This site, called nonprofits.fb.com, aims to make it easier for non-profit organizations to fundraise and to gain donors. In a statement, the team at Facebook said “We are inspired by how many people use Facebook to improve the lives of others and help their communities, and we are committed to helping people do more good through Facebook.”

The new site functions partially as an instructional for nonprofits and activist individuals, supplying them with information about the best practices on making fundraising campaigns, increasing awareness, and engaging people in charitable action. This information is all provided in user-friendly step-by-step guides. The site will also be a great forum for groups and individuals to create strong networks with one another. These people will be able to see which tactics worked for similar groups, thus bouncing ideas off of one another and creating group success.

While none of the tools on the site are new, this is a first time there will be a platform on which these features will be specifically directed at those who use Facebook for charitable causes.

The first step to joining the site is having a public “Page” for your cause or group. It is possible for all Facebook users to add a Donate button to their page, but it is best to have your Page officially recognized by Facebook as a charitable cause. If it is not recognized as such, a pop-up appears showing that the page is “not endorsed by or affiliated with Facebook.”

Because the new site was inspired by the way charitable organizations have grown via Facebook in the past, the site features a number of success stories on its page. These are stories of organizations that have used Facebook for social impact and ultimately made big changes in the world. One example is the Malala Fund, which got over one million signatures on a Change.org petitition using the hashtag #withMalala.

Facebook decided to create a team for “social good” in November of 2015. Facebook has been working hard to make charitable efforts, but not all of these efforts have been well received. For example, Facebook’s “Free Basics” campaign worked with the aim to bring Facebook and other web services to users in the developing world. This initiative led to tremendous backlash in India and was banned by the Indian government.

Social media can be a great catalyst for change. Facebook has recognized this and therefore has created its very own platform for charitable organizations. It will be exciting to see how this platform does, and what impact it helps to create.

Valentine’s Day: Gifts that Keep On Giving

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. Many of us may have plans to spend the day surrounded by beautiful roses while enjoying chocolates and romantic dinners (did you remember to book that reservation?). More often than not, we get so caught up in the romanticized hype of Valentine’s that we neglect how truly philanthropic it could be.  Below are a few gift ideas that not only come from the heart but will be appreciated for many Valentine’s Days to come.


You and your co-workers are around each other A LOT! Why not show each other how much you appreciate each other by sharing candy grams filled with kind words. The candy gram prices can be as low as $1 and all proceeds can be donated to your local charity.

vday candy pic


There are 260 nursing homes in the Boston, Mass., metropolitan area. It may be seemingly impossible to reach every resident at each nursing home, but it wouldn’t hurt to find the nursing home closest to you and spread some love. Here’s what you can do:

  • Reach out to your local nursing home facility
  • Find out the total number of residents and staff
  • Gather a group of friends
  • Decorate Valentine’s Day cards and have them delivered to your local nursing. You could even hand deliver the cards yourself. The added joy you will feel from actually seeing those happy faces will be magical.

 nursing home pic


February is definitely the month of love and not only because of Valentine’s Day. This month is also known as  National Wedding Month. Planning a wedding in itself is a bit of a headache and adding a philanthropic edge to it may seem daunting. It’s not. There are so many things, big and small, that you can do. Every little bit counts. Here are a few ideas:

  • Instead of accepting traditional wedding gifts, create a charity registry
  • Thank your vendors and guest by giving them charity gift cards
  • After your wedding, donate your wedding dress to Brides Against Breast Cancer

wedding image

Holiday Shopping: How to Shop Without Breaking Your Budget

David K. DonovanThe biggest holiday shopping season of the year is in progress. As much as we would like to provide our family and friends with every gift their heart desires, it is important to keep our financial goals in mind.

Staying within budget does not necessarily mean that you must limit the amount of gifts you buy. It simply means your financial goals must remain at the top of the shopping list. The following suggestions are tips to assist holiday shoppers with staying on track.

What To Do Before You Begin Shopping

Know Your Budget

The first thing budget-conscious shoppers must do is create a budget. By doing so, you will be able to keep a log of what you are spending.

Comparison Shop

Do a bit of investigating in stores and online to locate better deals. Most stores offer discounts specifically for online shoppers, and they normally make deals more enticing by with no-hassle returns and free shipping.

Make a List

Make a comprehensive list of how much money you want to spend, what gifts you are purchasing, and who you are purchasing gifts for.

What To Do While You Are Shopping

Debit or Credit?

Definitely use a debit card instead of credit cards. Debit cards automatically prompt you to spend only what you have, and help you avoid paying interest.

Say No To Department Store Credit Cards

Some retailers will offer a 10 or 15 percent savings on your entire purchase if you open a credit card on the spot. However, shoppers must consistently be aware of their credit card balance and be sure to pay it off in full. If not, you might be stuck with an annual percentage rate of nearly 20 percent.

Say Yes To Gift Cards

What’s better than a gift? A prepaid gift card. Prepaid gift cards work similar to debit cards and the cardholder has the opportunity to purchase exactly what they want.

Read Your Receipts Carefully

We have all been given a gift we wish we could return. Some of your family members and friends might feel the same way and that’s okay. Just be sure the receipt includes the real cost of the item. Some stores provide gift receipts, which hide the cost of the gift. You might think hiding the value of your gift is a good idea but stores will often disregard the purchase value and instead offer store credit or a reduced price on returns.

Great Ways to Give Thanks

David K. DonovanAs we approach the start of the holiday season, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with extra paper work related to the end of the fourth quarter of 2015, bogged down with travel plans and generally stressed out by logistics. However, the end of the year – particularly around the holidays is also a great time to set aside some time to reflect on the positive aspects of the closing year, and to give thanks for the innumerable gifts currently in your possession. This is also a great time of year to show your gratitude by helping others in need.

Sharing your good fortune with others not only generates good karma and goodwill, but it also helps you remained focused on the great things in your life instead of being weighed down by the distractors. Below are a few easy ways to express your gratitude during the holidays.

1. Donate funds to a cause you care about. Although this may seem like the easy route when it comes to showing your gratitude, donations are important when it comes to helping out a cause or charity. Do some research into causes you care about and consider becoming a regular donor or member. Even if your contributions are small, being a consistent giver to a particular charity is more helpful to the charity because they are better able to plan their budgets.

2. Volunteer. The wonderful thing about volunteering your time is that you often have the chance to interact directly with the people that you want to serve. While providing charities and causes with capital is of course very important and critical to the operations of these organizations, there is something incredibly satisfying about giving your time and your talents to a group that is working towards something that you believe in personally. Take some time to research what organizations are looking for help – particularly when there may be an uptick in need due to the holidays.

3. Organize a fundraiser. While organizing a fundraiser takes time and planning, the rewards are priceless. Whether you are looking to host a low-key dinner at your home or perhaps organize a full scale gala event, start your planning early and connect with organizations that you and causes that you believe in. Get some guidance from that charity so that you know what their immediate and long-term goals are so that you can best aid them in obtaining their objectives.

4. Donate clothes, furniture and items you no longer need. While many of us look at spring-time as the optimal time to clean out our closets and pantries, it’s also a great way to start the new year with a clean slate. By doing a big scale clean out of your home, you will not only create more space and calm for the new year, but you will likely provide goods for people when they can use them the most – during the holidays. Find out the standards at a local soup kitchen or shelter in terms of what kinds of products they are currently accepting, and figure out what you need in order to get those products to people who can use them.

5. Reach out to neighbors and acquaintances and find out their holiday plans. The winter holidays are very closely associated with spending time with family and loved ones, which can be difficult for those who don’t have that option. Therefore, consider inviting those without holiday plans to join you and your family for a Thanksgiving meal.


Changing How We Think about Charity

One of the most popular TED talks about charity comes from activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta who spoke about the topic back in the spring of 2013. During his talk, Pallotta sheds light on the double standard that feeds into our contradictory and ineffective relationship to charitable organizations. He claims that too many nonprofits, are rewarded for their frugal spending habits as opposed to being applauded for the work that they actually accomplish. Pallotta suggests that instead of looking at meager expenses with piety or morality, he implores the audience to reward, acknowledge and support charities that that accomplish big goals – even if that incurs large costs! During this talk, Dan Pallotta suggests that we change the way we think about changing the world.


US Department of Education goes Back-to-School on Annual Bus Tour

David K. DonovanThe US Department of Education recently held its sixth annual “Back-to-School Bus Tour. This “Ready For Success” tour lasted five days beginning on September 14th. The tour included multiple stops across Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and ended with a stop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The purpose of the tour was for senior members of the US Department of Education, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to celebrate and witness the ways in which states and smaller regions of the state are preparing their students for higher learning, as well as aiding them in creating opportunities for themselves.

One of the attendees of the bus tour was Matt Presner, a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education. According to Presner, one of the highlights of the tour included seeing two universities where, “students with disabilities are not just enrolled in college, they’re thriving, finding success academically and socially in a way that many never could have imagined.”

The two universities included in these observations were the  University of Central Missouri and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Melody Musgrove, director of the Office of Special Education Programs claimed that neither university simply complied with regulations, instead, the director claimed that these universities provided an ; “on-ramp to the rest of our kids’ lives.”


It’s easy to understand Musgrove’s enthusiasm for the programming and support that these universities provide for their students when you consider the facts. Youth with disabilities are significantly less likely to enroll in a four year college than their counterparts in the general population. Considering the increase that society and employers place on attaining education post-secondary school, it’s no surprise that this puts these young people who don’t enroll at a disadvantage.


However, the success stories coming out of these two schools prove once again that students with disabilities can thrive in four year colleges, and that these numbers of low enrollment should change. Both of these universities offer programs that provide support to match the individual needs of these students, while respecting the freedom, intelligence and independence of these young adults.


In years to come, hopefully more institutions of higher learning will provide the tools that can help enable these students to harness and share their strengths and gifts with the rest of the academic community. There exists a need for these academic communities and society at large to change so that it can see the immense talent and undeniable value that these students bring and contribute to the community.


Dissolving the Stigma: New Study Reveals Link between Creativity and Autism

David K. Donovan LearningAccording to a new study , those with autism have the ability to excel in creative thinking and processes. Researchers discovered that people with autism were far more likely to produce a creative explanation or solution  to problem-solving questions despite other traits that can cause severe social impairment and make it difficult to maintain a job.

The brains of people with autism function in a way that is unorthodox, allowing them to create unique and original ideas (something that the rest of us often struggle with).

Hoping to change the stigma often associated with autism, this study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, can serve as a rallying hub for those interested in changing the perception of autism. There has been an overflow of support from the acting community. This includes actress Daryl Hannah, who was diagnosed with autism as a little girl. She shared, “It’s time people with autism and other learning difficulties are seen as people first. I want to educate people without learning disabilities that I’m not all that different to them, and I want people who do have learning disabilities to feel better about themselves by showing my problems. They are not alone.”

What has been reiterated over and over again from those who diagnosed with autism is that it’s not about “helping” or “allowing” them to participate in daily activities. It’s about understanding their needs and encouraging them to utilize their own voice to express themselves.

Cian Binchy, another actor with autism commented, “There just aren’t any people with learning disabilities – in this field I’m the only one. It’s because people with learning disabilities may need a bit of extra support, and a lot of theatre companies and performers can’t be bothered…The boundaries and barriers we’ve placed in the country over mental illness can be difficult.”

There are many misconceptions that have been perpetuated as the norm when they are not. Many see those with autism as antisocial and lacking empathy, but that is not always the case. Individuals should be examined and judged by their own actions (like we all hope to be) and not by a stigma.

Studies such as this coupled with the numerous organizations, individuals and causes lobbying for a social and professional changes are truly galvanizing this movement.

People like Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of the charity Ambitious about Autism, are truly campaigning to encourage employers to view people with learning disabilities as potential candidates in their hiring process. No one should be judged on one single aspect of their being.


A Lesson in Humanity : Becoming ‘Special Needs Certified’

Special Needs Certified David K. DonovanAn inspiring story out of Alpharetta, Georgia revolves a man who has started a successful business that trains people to be more human. Eight years ago, Lindsey Turner was pleased with his life, he found himself in a happy marriage and enjoying his work as a professional in the booming tech sector. But one afternoon would change the direction of his life. Lindsey was invited to attend a little league game for children with special needs and was completely moved by the experience. He spent the day with a “little guy named Brent” and they just “had  a great time together”, said Turner. After this experience, he became very sensitive to how people reacted on the whole to children with special needs and their families.

Lindsey witnessed a discomfort, reluctance and uncertainty in how people would approach these kids and their families. Seeing this after having had such a positive experience at that little league event gave Lindsey even more resolve to change this pervasive type of reaction.

He decided to confront the problem head on by instructing both individuals and companies how to interact with people who have special needs. He did this by launching a company called, “Special Needs Certified”. Through this venture,  Lindsey started fulfilling this larger mission of improving interactions between those with special needs and those without by creating a series of informational videos – some of which revolve around situations that could emerge in real life. Companies and individuals watch these videos, undergo testing on the skills that they have just acquired, and upon passing that exam, the test taker becomes “special needs certified, and will retain listing on the Special Needs Certified Website. The site also showcases sites recommended personally by members of families that have another member or members with special needs.

According to Turner, there are  “…over a hundred businesses that are certified on our website”, all of these business are located throughout the state of Georgia.

While Turner is proud of the work that he has accomplished over the past few years, and the excitement that businesses show when they get involved with his program, he has some very clear thoughts about the future of the company. He exclaims, “…it’s pretty ridiculous that we need a business called ‘Special Needs Certified’ to teach people how to treat others with a disability. The end goal is to put myself out of business.”


Kofi Annan Commends Philanthropists of Today

David DonovanRecently, Kofi Annan; former Secretary-General of the United Nations, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize and current Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, took to Linkedin to share his thoughts on modern philanthropists. In the beginning of the article, Annan confides that throughout his storied career he has witnessed numerous changes in how we collectively approach global issues. But he claims that the seeming resurgence of philanthropy in recent memory has truly been a change for the better.

david donovanAnnan recounts that the intractable global challenges have been tremendously aided by the involvement and contributions of today’s major philanthropists. He recounts the integral role that the Gates Foundation played as an early contributor to the launch of the Global Fund as a means of fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

According to Annan, The Gates Foundation not only provided additional resources, but approached the task at hand with a mentality completely different that of the U.N..

Annan goes on to describe modern-day philanthropists as courageous innovators unafraid to implement creative solutions in the hopes of delivering the desired outcomes. He also describes the inherent understanding among these philanthropists of a need to cultivate partnerships across many sectors in order to successfully attack an issue or cause. While some NGOs may fear the power that these philanthropists yield, the philanthropists acknowledge the value of collaboration and rarely act solely on their own whims.

Modern day philanthropists are usually very well-considered and thoughtful when it comes to contributing to different causes. However, there is still room for their own convictions and beliefs to be expressed in the process. Many philanthropists choose a cause or causes that are dear to them or meaningful to them in some way. Although many still contribute anonymously, many members of the “new breed of philanthropy champions” have increased the visibility of certain causes and questioned traditional thinking about different issues through openly discussing their cause publicly.

Annan cites the growing number of successful companies that have thrived in Africa then gone on to set up charitably foundations there. These foundations bear a certain amount of credibility owing to the skill sets that these philanthropists bring from their professional lives to these more personal endeavors.

Annan ends his article expressing how delighted he is to see this “next generation of philanthropists leading the way [in doing more than funding, but coming up with great ideas and focusing on making these ideas work in practice]”

These sorts of observations from someone who has truly dedicated his career to fighting the challenging global issues of our time are encouraging and hopefully, we can take note of the iconic philanthropists of today and apply some of their lessons to our own engagement in charitable causes.