Education Organizations Are Breaking Down Barriers With Virtual Classrooms

As the field of education continues to evolve, so does the need to continue expanding Americans’ access to a proper education. To do so, innovators and entrepreneurs around the world have worked to solve the problem by taking education to the internet. These organizations have reduced the barriers that many students face when trying obtain a comprehensive education.

Florida Virtual School (FLVS)
Florida Virtual School is an online school that provides opportunities for students between kindergarten to 12th grade to complete courses online. FVS is one of the pioneers to begin building on the idea of virtual education. Chief Operating Office and Founder Julie Young first created the idea for FLVS after receiving a grant to create online courses that allowed homeschooled students and those in rural areas to stay up-to-date on their education. FLVS offers over 150 courses to students around the nation who may not have the resources to succeed in a classroom setting. Since 1997, Florida Virtual School has expanded from 77 students to over 2 million students across the nation and 68 countries worldwide.

The Khan Academy
When the Khan Academy first began their operations in 2004, its CEO and Founder Sal Khan would have no idea that it would become one of the world’s most used online education platforms. The Academy was built with the mission that world-class education should be free for anyone, and offers free online courses, lessons, and resources for both teachers and students. Today, the Khan Academy offers tutorials for the basic subjects, including math, economics, and computer science, to over 42 million registered users from 190 different countries. Additionally, the content from Khan Academy has been translated to over 38 languages, with plans to expand in the future.

edX
Known as one of the largest online providers of massive open online courses, edX offers free online courses from a variety of universities. The concept for edX was created by MIT and Harvard University in 2012. Moocs provide students free, continuous access to a massive list of online courses from 130 leading universities worldwide. edX currently offers over 1,900 free online courses to over 14 million learners worldwide.

Florida Virtual School, The Khan Academy, and edX are just a couple examples of how organizations are working to make a quality education attainable through by providing it virtually. Advances in technology has allowed organizations and educators alike to reach students around the world in a new way.

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Great Organizations Dedicated To Children’s Health

When a child becomes ill, it can be incredibly scary for the parents to navigate their healthcare when looking for answers. In today’s turbulent society, access to adequate, affordable healthcare continues to grow as a concern for parents everywhere. For the nation’s most vulnerable population, lack of access of healthcare can contribute to future chronic health problems. Below are organizations that are working to help increase access to affordable healthcare for families and children around the nation.

Children’s Health Fund
The Children’s Health Fund is committed to helping children in underserved communities get access to the best healthcare possible. When a child lacks access to basic, affordable healthcare, it not only interferes with their life, but preventable illnesses can become an increasing problem overtime. To combat this, the Children’s Health Fund began operating 56 “blue buses,” or pediatric mobile homes that travel the country to provide pediatric healthcare. In doing so, the organization is bringing crucial medical care to children. The blue bus program contains 53 mobile homes and has had 4 million health encounters with Americans since its inception.

National Institute for Children’s Health Quality
The National Institute for Children’s Health Quality is another organization that focuses on providing children access to quality healthcare. Although NICHQ takes a different approach from organizations like the Children’s Health Fund, they are also focused on not only improving a child’s access to healthcare, but the quality of the healthcare they receive. The work of NICHQ has had a profound impact on different pediatric initiatives. For example, the organization has provided 11,000 children with sickle cell disease access to the necessary medical care  they need to control the disease.

HealthyChildren.org
Originally created by pediatricians, healthychildren.org is managed by American parents and is backed by nearly 66,000 pediatricians. HealthChildren.org is focused on helping children receive access to physical, mental and social health services. Additionally, the organization provides resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), as well as fighting to get American children access the healthcare they need to thrive. The website provides information for every stage of a child’s development, so a parent feels comfortable knowing that the information they receive is medically sound.

Children are one of the most vulnerable populations around the world, make it vital for others to act as their advocate. Whether to provide access to adequate healthcare or help a family find a specialist, parents and doctors alike should work to provide that to children. The Children’s Health Fund, National Institute for Children’s Health Quality, and HealthyChildren.org are all reputable organizations that actively work to not only improve access to healthcare, but bring new opportunities to children around the nation.

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Why Is Philanthropy Important?

Have you ever thought about getting involved in your community, but are unsure of what the next step is? Understanding philanthropy can be tricky to navigate, so it is important to know common terms that are used. For example, you may have heard about philanthropy and charity, but how exactly do they differ? While the meaning of philanthropy and charity are oftentimes intertwined, there are a few significant differences to understand. Both charity and philanthropy are necessary in order to help solve social problems in today’s world.

Philanthropy vs. Charity
When a person thinks of charity, giving money to relief funds or food to homeless shelters will come to mind. When a person donates to a charity, they are providing an immediate need in their community. While philanthropy is similar in that a person can actively work towards improving a situation within their communities, they are looking for a long-term solution to a community need. As Learning to Give puts it, charity works to help reduce or eliminate suffering that individuals experience from social problems, while philanthropy works to reduce or eliminate the social problems. As a result, philanthropy is typically seen as an ongoing, long-term project.

Why is Philanthropy Important?
Not only does philanthropy work to solve a social problem that our community faces, it helps provide opportunities to today’s society. For example, philanthropists who are focused education may provide academic scholarships to different ivy league universities. In doing this, the philanthropist is providing the opportunity for someone to attain an education that they would not be able to afford otherwise. If they are unable to provide the money, they can still volunteer for the university or non-profit organization, to help raise the money for scholarships. In general, the philanthropists are providing long-term solutions that can be used in the future.

How to Get Involved
In order to become more involved as a philanthropist, it is important to think about social problems that you care about. If helping younger generations attain an education is important, you can get involved with universities or non-profit organizations that work towards providing scholarships to underserved populations in your community. By getting involved with an cause that you care about, you will enjoy what you are doing while making an impact.

When deciding on an organization that you would like to get involved in, it is also important to do research prior to committing to them. Going back to the education example, you may want to focus your time and resources towards providing undergraduate scholarships for students in underserved communities. While there are many organizations dedicated to improving education, they may not have any scholarships in their budget. By researching the organizations, you will be able to narrow the options down by the services they offer the community. 

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Utilizing Social Media in Your Philanthropy Page

Social media has become a part of society. Nearly everyone has multiple social media accounts on the various platforms available. Businesses constantly research ways to reach consumers through  social media and what the best practices are to bring attention to their product. It’s time that philanthropies do the same. The millennial age group has a particular interest in philanthropy and they’re also the group that has the highest social media usage. By utilizing social media, philanthropies can attract more donations and volunteers and seriously advocate for their cause.

 

Do some research

Before ramping up your social media usage, research how best to approach it. Learn what your target age group is and the social media outlets they use the most. Check out other philanthropies that use social media and see how they do it effectively…and not so effectively. Decide which methods would work for your organization and then craft a plan. It’s important to approach social media in an organized manner so you can make significant progress.

 

Engage with your followers

If you want to really get a response to your social media pages, you need to engage with your audience. Once people start commenting and sharing posts, create a dialogue with them. Craft posts that encourage interaction from followers. Consider hosting some kind of giveaway or create a unique hashtag. You’re also likely to get messages and reviews from people, so make sure you’re engaging with those in a timely fashion. If the organization is directly contacted, try to respond within a couple of hours. This method gains you a reputation as a philanthropy that actually engages with those who are interested.

 

Post regular updates

When you first start utilizing social media, you’ll be updating regularly, but it’s important you remember to continue posting updates after the first few weeks. Consider creating a blog for your organization where you can post weekly articles and pictures. Without quality content and regular updates, your audience will become uninterested and it’ll be difficult to attract new followers. This point is why it’s so important to have a plan for your social media before you even start posting.

 

Add a personal touch

While you want to keep followers updated on news and events, it’s also important to add a personal touch. Delegate the role of managing social media to someone on your team who has significant knowledge and experience using different platforms. Work with them to craft your approach and what kind of content you want to share, then get to work. By having one person deal with the majority of the responsibility associated with updating the organization’s social media, you’ll create a recognizable voice for your social media persona. Make informal posts that let followers see behind the scenes and know who’s running your social media accounts.

 

Share pictures…lots of them!

Add pictures of your volunteers and employees, as well as the activities you do to help your cause. When the philanthropy has an event, take lots of pictures to share on social media and give followers a visual of who or what they’re supporting! Photos give your philanthropy authenticity and shows you’re actually working on accomplishing your mission.

 

Organ Donation: Myths and Questions

 

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Every 10 minutes, another person is added to the waiting list for an organ to be donated. Anyone with good medical conditions can be an organ donor, but people tend to have a lot of fears or hesitations when deciding to become an organ donor. Your organs can save up to 8 lives, while your tissue could save up to 75 lives.

 

What causes people to decide not to be an organ donor?

 

Behind the decision, people think about their beliefs or religious views. Sometimes they’re fed with myths about organ donation. If you’re considering becoming an organ donor, you should know that you can sign up for organ donation at any time and any age. Even children under the age of 18 can become an organ donor.

 

A big myth to organ donation is that doctors don’t work with the same urgency to save your life. That’s far from the truth as the main goal of every doctor is to do everything they can to save you. Your doctor is obligated to keep you alive in top priority until you are pronounced clinically or legally dead.

 

How does the Organ Transplant List work?

 

Only 54% of Americans are an organ donor even though 95% are in favor. Donated organs are given to someone in need based off of size, blood type, level of sickness (to be given an organ transplant, the person who received the organ has to meet specific health conditions), donor distance, tissue type and the amount of time on the waiting list.

 

Organ donation does not decide who receives an organ based on race, income or social status.

 

What is the cost of organ donation?

 

Donating an organ is exactly what it says it is; a donation. The donor’s family does not pay any medical expenses for organ transplant, only the procedures/medical expenses before death.

 

The person who receives the organ will be charged for all medical expenses of pre-procedure care, the procedure, recovery, medications and more. Receiving an organ is expensive which is why the families raise money to help cover the costs.

 

What can I do to help?

 

There are plenty of ways you can aid in organ donation. If you aren’t already, sign up to be an organ donor. For any reason, if becoming an organ donor is not in your plans, you can contribute financially. Many families will start a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for financial assistance. Lastly, if you’d like to spread awareness of organ donation you can get involved with your local community. Attend events, become a partner of Donate Life, or start a fundraiser for organ donation.

Pairing Passion with Philanthropy

They say you should do what you love–what motivates you, what inspires you, what helps you become the best you possible. Though many people follow through on this advice, many more don’t. I’m lucky enough that I’ve been able to step into a number of professional roles that have allowed me to do what I love.

 

Outside of my work, I get actively involved with philanthropic causes that I support. And I don’t do it for the tax write-off or the ability to pat myself on the back. I do it because I’m passionate about helping others–and you should be too.

 

Getting involved with philanthropy is one thing. It’s easy to write a check. It’s easy to sign a slip of paper indicating that you want $25 from every paycheck to go towards helping…someone. It’s easy to make these sort of philanthropic donations that are written off, signed for, and done. You don’t know where the money is going nor who it’s helping. It’s another thing–a completely different thing–to really try to make a different. To find that philanthropy you’re passionate about. To find a cause worth helping, worth supporting, and worth your time.

 

I found my personal passions–helping children, funding educational endeavors and putting time and money towards causes like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through my personal life and experiences. These were people and organizations that I aligned with, that I truly cared and felt passionate about. Finding your own philanthropic passion helps to facilitate a more meaningful connection. So how do you do it?

 

The short answer is by researching. Find your passions and research how you can get involved–if you’re passionate about helping animals (as my father, Anatoly Vanetik, is), research animal shelters in your area. Then, coordinate some visits and find out how you can get involved. By finding an organization that allows you to pair your passion for philanthropy for your passion for what’s around you, you’ll find it more fulfilling, and perhaps even start an annual tradition.

 

In the end, a check coming from someone who only marginally knows and cares who he’s helping, and one from a passionate philanthropist looks no different. There’s no discernable variations between the two checks and, once cashed or deposited, the money will look the same too. The passion that you may or may not have for helping others is intrinsic, but moldable. Find what you’re passionate about and make a real difference. Donate, volunteer and reach out when you can. Helping those that you care about and finding your philanthropic passion will help form a mutually beneficial relationship that should last forever.

Do Awareness Campaigns Work?

At the peak of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge during the summer of 2014, it seemed like no matter where you turned someone was dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads for a good cause. In the name of raising awareness of the debilitating illness, people around the country–from you and your family to the likes of Chris Pratt, Oprah and Conan O’Brien–turned on a camera, hit record, and doused themselves in ice cold water.

Many were criticized for their efforts. The claims came pouring in left and right, saying that “awareness” wasn’t going to help anyone suffering from ALS, only monetary donations could help.

The truth is that, yes, you’ve more than likely already heard of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. You, and the good majority of the country are aware of the disease and the effects that it has on those unfortunate enough to suffer from it. Awareness, as it stands, is not typically an issue when it comes to diseases.

But as it turns out, awareness campaigns can–and often do–yield incredible results.

It was announced in July of 2016–almost exactly 2 years after the trend went viral around the globe–that a gene was discovered as a direct result of the awareness and subsequent increase in donations that resulted from the Ice Bucket Challenge. The huge influx of donations came thanks in part to the process of “nominating” other participants via video–if those participants elected not to douse themselves in water, they were asked to donate to ALS research instead.

Not all awareness campaigns are created equally, though. Awareness campaigns that have spread across social media platforms in recent years have been met with somewhat middling success. Multiple breast cancer awareness campaigns have flooded the Facebook feeds of millions of users in recent years. One that garnered a particularly high amount of attention came in the form of status updates containing just one word–a color. Seeing these pop up on feeds around the world lead many people to question why their friends were posting “blue” or “pink” or “black” seemingly without context. Later, it was discovered to be a breast cancer awareness campaign that asked women to simply post the color of their bra on social media without context.

The attention garnered from the campaign was immense, but that’s more or less where the productivity stopped. There was no donation-portion of the campaign, an important distinction from awareness campaigns like the Ice Bucket Challenge, which asked people to donate if they were nominated but opted not to participate.

While some awareness campaigns are effective and potentially life-changing, others have yet to solidify just how they plan to go about making that important impact. Without proper planning and execution, an awareness campaign can come and go, leaving little more behind than a status update that says “blue.”