Nonprofit Spotlight: Bubble Foundation

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

At first blush, the Bubble Foundation seems like an unusual name for an organization that helps kids live healthy and happy lives, but then again…. Not wanting to pigeonhole their holisticbubble_logo efforts or be heavy handed about wellness, the name was chosen to keep it fun and focused on kids.

Funders ask about our name, says Executive Director Lizzie Redman, but never the kids. In fact, it’s a contagious echo in school halls where kids are heard chattering about “Bubble, Bubble.”

Bubble’s mission

Bubble believes every child in the United States, regardless of socioeconomic status, should have access to activities, food and information that helps them live healthy and happy lives. To accomplish this in New York City, they partner with schools in underserved communities, supplying core curriculum and program activities to fill a gap. They provide – free of charge – information, food and activities for schools, students and families who would otherwise get little or no health and wellness education.

School programs that deliver

The power of going directly into schools is how Bubble succeeds. Not just with kids, but their parents and school leaders too. Redman explains, “We reach kids while they’re young and expose them early on. We also bring in parents for family meals and workshops where we work with them about how to make healthy changes at home. We plant the seeds for healthy habits and empower school leaders to carry it forward.”

Bubble’s programs make “food, fun and fitness float”:

 

Bubble EATS is nutrition education delivered through weekly classes, cooking demonstrations and more from volunteer teachers. For instance, “kids may never have seen broccoli before, but they learn about it, cook it and find it enjoyable to eat,” describes Redman.

Bubble GROWS teaches the science of how food grows and basic farming and irrigation principles, and includes visits from farmers and to community gardens. Bubble brings portable grow boxes into classrooms and starts outside or rooftop gardens where there’s space available.

Bubble MOVES connects the school to other organizations and experts for fitness classes, recess programs, sports clinics, and special programs like yoga and African dance.

Results

Started in 2010 as a small organization to help one school – the Mott Haven Academy in the Bronx – Bubble will partner with eight schools during the 2015-2016 academic year. A few stats:

  • Bubble programs teach 1,200bubble2 students each week
  • Around 50 volunteers work for Bubble each semester – 30 teach weekly and 20 others support special programs
  • School partnerships last for 2 years (with support afterward)
  • Impact: 5 schools are successful program graduates, 6 schools are currently partners, and 4 more are being added next year

Giving practices

JustGive is proud to help the Bubble Foundation raise money online. “The ability to have a platform we can easily use is huge,” comments Redman. “And from a data perspective, to know where the money is coming from is valuable.”

Following best practices, Bubble has its Donate button built into every page of its website, and has customized its Donation Page, telling donors exactly what different size gift can do.

Check out how you can help the Bubble Foundation do even more.

– Candy Culver

Marketing Consultant

P.S. If you’d like to be featured in the JustGive Blog, submit your nonprofit!

The Diabetes Epidemic: Risks & Resources

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Image Source: Flickr

Each year, the American Diabetes Association designates a day in March as Diabetes Alert Day. It’s a wake-up call for all of us to find out if we’re at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. And that’s important since 1 out of 4 people with diabetes don’t know they have it!

Every 17 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes. To you, that may sound like just another statistic – but it’s personal for me. I live with someone who has diabetes and wasn’t diagnosed until his late 40s. He’s one of nearly 30 million American children and adults with the disease (10 percent of the U.S. population). Worldwide, nearly 400 million people are living with diabetes.

The bad news: Diabetes can develop at any age for both Type 1 (previously known as juvenile diabetes) and Type 2.

For Type 1, the body doesn’t make enough insulin and there’s no known way to keep it from happening. For Type 2, the body can’t use insulin properly. At least one out of every three of us will develop Type 2 diabetes in our lifetime.

The good news for Type 2: In most cases, it’s preventable.

Are you at risk for Type 2 diabetes?

It only takes minutes to take a Risk Test and answer a few questions about weight, age, family history and other risk factors.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

If the test says you’re at increased risk, talk to your doctor. There are several definitive ways to diagnose diabetes.

While there is no cure yet for the disease, you can manage it. From my nearly 10 years of experience living with someone who has diabetes, it’s not that hard. Balancing the food you eat with exercise and medicine (if prescribed) helps control weight and keep blood glucose levels in the healthy range. Many people with diabetes live long and active lives.

You can make an impact for diabetes

There are many charities helping educate us about diabetes, providing services, and working to find a cure. Here are three:

American Diabetes Association: The American Diabetes Association delivers services to hundreds of communities, helps fund research, and is a go-to source for information about diabetes.  Raising awareness is one of the organization’s main efforts, guided by its vision of a life free of diabetes and all its burdens.

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Diabetes Research Institute Foundation: The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, founded in 1971 by a small group of parents of children with diabetes, has evolved into an international coalition of families, patients, business leaders, celebrities, scientists, clinicians and more. Its sole focus is on finding a biological cure.

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Joslin Diabetes Center: In 1898, Elliot P. Joslin, M.D., launched the effort to understand, treat and potentially cure diabetes. He started by taking his written patient observations to the lab to conduct research. Today, Joslin’s research team of more than 300 scientists make it the most comprehensive program dedicated to diabetes in the world.

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Want to get involved in diabetes efforts in your community and volunteer? Check out events in your community from American Diabetes Association. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes is currently the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of more Americans every year than AIDs and breast cancer combined. Let’s change that – and give of our time and money to make a difference.

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-Candy Culver

Marketing Consultant

One From the Heart – February is American Heart Month

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Image Source: Flickr

I’ll be the first to admit it. I get stressed.

Stress affects our health in many ways, but heart disease is a common result in the United States, particularly among women. As a woman, this is a stressor in itself. Worries and perfectionism aside, what are some simple, everyday ways you and I can decrease our stress and be kind to our hearts?

A plant-heavy or plant-based diet is a wonderfully heart-healthy eating plan. Personally, I switched from a vegetarian to a vegan diet 2 years ago, and everything I continue to learn about its health benefits encourages me to keep at it. Avocado and olive oil are my favorite plant-based ways to lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol while leaving heart levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol intact.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Hobbies that include movement are a low-stress way to get your heart pumping stronger. Dance class (or dancing around the house), gardening, vigorous cleaning and yoga or stretching are some relatively low-impact and low-cost ways to get your circulation up and flex your heart muscle.

But what about the mental stress? It’s the biggest factor in many of our busy lives. Mindfulness meditation is one way to change your mindset and even regulate the rhythm of your heart. Look for a zen or yoga center in your area for more information. Lucky for me, San Francisco is home to a beautiful Zen Center that hosts a variety of programs, classes and retreats.

My personal favorite fact about preventative heart health? Doing good for others lowers your stress levels.

This is something we can all do anytime and it doesn’t have to cost money – sharing time is just as valuable.

Image Source: Flickr:

Image Source: Flickr

If you’d like to find volunteer opportunities in your area, you can use our Act Locally search option and contact local charities to see how you can help. Bonus points on volunteering: It gets you outside – and being in nature is another great de-stressor.Even if you live in a city, you can likely find an urban gardening project to volunteer your time. Check out The National Gardening Association’s Kids Gardening program, which empowers every generation to lead healthier lives, build stronger communities, and encourage environmental stewardship through gardening programs.

If you’d like to support their efforts:

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The most sobering fact I uncovered in my research: women are more prone to suffer from undiagnosed heart disease. Women’s symptoms tend to differ from men’s, and women are more likely to suffer a silent heart attack.

In fact, heart attacks are responsible for the loss of half a million women per year in the U.S. alone. Heart disease is the number one killer of women even though many women are more afraid of breast cancer.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

I lost a friend and community member, far before her time, to silent heart disease. After her untimely passing a few years ago, another friend organized memorial donations in her honor to WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. It’s a charity that provides support and research and was started by three women who have personal experience with heart disease issues. Women Heart was the first – and is still the only – national patient-centered organization focused exclusively on women’s heart disease.

If you’d like to donate to help WomenHeart carry out its work:

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Education, information and advocacy are our greatest weapons against killer heart disease. Together, we can multiply our strengths in fighting the battle against heart disease with a unified front. We have to watch out for each other, right?

-Alex Mechanic

Customer Service Manager

YEAR IN REVIEW: A LOOK BACK AT 2014

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Thanks to your giving and support, JustGive expanded philanthropy and sent more than $30 million to charity in 2014!

We passed a major milestone in May, processing our 1 millionth donation, and are proud that 24 percent of giving came from 2013 donors returning to use the site. We also saw charity gift card purchases grow by 9 percent. To be more accessible and expand our services, we launched our mobile responsive site and added the ability for companies to independently buy a quantity of gift cards.

Here’s a glimpse of our impact—and what we accomplished together—this year.

We’re charging into 2015 eager to do more good, fulfilling our mission to make charitable giving a part of everyday life. Here’s to making more of a difference!

Help us kick off the year in the best way possible: Set up an automatic monthly donation to your favorite charities today.

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Thank you for giving.

—Andrea Lloyd, Director of Programs

Hunger and Food Justice: Community Building for Food Equality

Hunger: it’s a daunting problem the world over. Even though I was eager to research and write on this topic, when I started to dig into it, I got more and more overwhelmed with how broad and profound the issue … Continue reading

Get involved in the fight for Alzheimer’s disease

blog_title_image_alzheimersTwo of my good friends have lost their mothers to Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a heartbreaking experience. I watched as the women I knew disappeared into themselves and blankly became someone who didn’t recognize their own child.

One friend described it as losing her mother twice – once to Alzheimer’s and once to death. And it’s the ultimate role reversal: The parent who taught you how to tie your shoes now needs you to do it. That’s true for so many simple, everyday actions.

The sixth leading cause of death in the United States, flickr_ann_gordon_mom_handsAlzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Every 67 seconds, someone in the US develops the disease. Today, more than 5.2 million Americans are living with it.

Recent studies found low Vitamin D can double the risk of Alzheimer’s but didn’t show a direct cause and effect link. Why it strikes older adults is still a mystery, and scientists don’t yet understand what causes the disease. It’s most likely a mix of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

As the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s continues to soar (tripling to 16 million by 2050), it’s maddening there are no clear ways to slow or stop the progression of this life-robbing disease. It’s the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that can’t be cured.

What can we do?

Fund research and advocacy.

Here are three organizations making a difference through research and policy changes:

The Alzheimer’s Association, started in 1980, is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Committed to accelerating the progress of new treatments, preventions and ultimately, finding a cure, the association reaches millions of people affected by the disease across the globe. If you’d like to support Alzheimer’s Association and get some exercise at the same time, join one of the Fall Walks to End Alzheimer’s. Find one in your area here.

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BrightFocus Foundation supports research and provides public education to eradicate brain and eye diseases, including Alzheimer’s. The foundation awards research money annually to fund highly innovative, experimental ideas it believes will lead to revolutionary therapies.

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The Alliance for Aging Research advances scientific and medical discoveries that can maximize healthy aging, independence and quality of life for older Americans. Founded in 1986 in Washington D.C., it has become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. The Alliance believes that research helps people live longer, happier, more productive lives, and reduces health care costs, long term.

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Give to organizations that support caregivers.

Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) is one of those organizations. Founded in the late 1970s, FCA was the first community-based nonprofit organization in the country to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. The alliance raises awareness about caregivers’ daily challenges, provides the assistance they need and deserve, and helps improve the quality of life for them and those they care for through education, services, research and advocacy.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 15.5 million caregivers provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia in 2013.

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Be there for friends who are caregivers.

Don’t shy away or do nothing when you learn a friend has a family member with Alzheimer’s. Instead of asking them to let you know if they need something–just step in and help: Tell them you’re bringing over dinner on a given night. Or when flickr_Susumu_Komatsu_ALZ_TYyou’re stopping by with groceries. Send them cards of encouragement in the mail.  Call or visit when it’s convenient, and listen while they vent. On any given day, you have no idea how much it can mean to them!

While there is no single answer for tackling Alzheimer’s disease, I know the care I’ve shown and donations I make can help . . . until a cure is found. I challenge you to do the same. Join the fight today.

-Candy Culver

Marketing Consultant

This local tragedy stirs deep emotion

I’ve been having great difficulty dealing with the horror that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My kids are often in Sandy Hook for sports and other activities, and I have spent many weekends on the sidelines of the soccer fields directly behind the school.

Holiday AngelNewtown is almost identical to my town of Weston, Connecticut, so it is very hard for me to let go of the horror by rationalizing to myself that it is far away or such a different type of community than my own. This trauma is deeper for all of us because the reality is that this could have happened anywhere and to any of us. That is what is most profoundly frightening about this event.

I have a 7 year old who is always curious, and he came home from school on Friday asking a lot of questions. After asking all the main questions, he paused and asked, “How did the kids know what to do when their teacher died?” He was obviously putting himself directly into that situation. I am very sad he has to think about these things at such an early age. As he was going to bed that night he asked, “Does God make these bad people?” I had to explain that everyday, we all wake up and have to make many decisions that can make us “good” or “bad” for that moment.

Every night now when I put him to bed, I first get a chill of realization that he could have been in that 1st grade classroom, and then I give a grateful hug that he is still here to tuck in.

It is almost impossible to comprehend the depth of tragedy and anguish that will always be a part of the Newtown community. Life is so precious—and at the same time, it can be unfair and unpredictable.

While our hearts are broken for the victims and all of those affected by this senseless tragedy,  the healing process must begin. There are many nonprofits that are currently supporting the town with: cleaning up the old school, setting up the new school, providing health services to residents in the community, supporting the firefighters, supplying aid for the memorial services, and offering ongoing activities to help the kids heal. To find out more and how to help Newtown, here’s an article that gives several ways you can be supportive.

A few charities providing the community with services that you can donate to:

kindnessMy personal belief is that we all must put a little bit of goodness back into the world and do what we can to overcome the horror by being kind to those around us. In addition to helping Newtown directly, random acts of kindness should be part of our daily routine to spread goodness. More than something we do in response to Ann Curry’s tweet…something we make part of our everyday life.

—Kendall Webb, Executive Director

Encouraging your child to read

Encouraging your child to read

Source: Sara Olsher

Every night after my daughter and I climb into bed, she picks three books for me to read to her. In the morning, the first thing she does after she opens her eyes is reach for a book to “read” out loud.

Children have a natural curiosity for reading that amazes me. My daughter has gone from literally eating her books at 6 months old to reciting them from memory at 2 years old. She has a veritable library full of board books to choose from, and at the end of most days, they’re scattered all over the living room.

How does the average parent encourage literacy?

If I’m being totally honest, I don’t have a clue what I’m doing when it comes to teaching my daughter (Charlie) to read. We sing the ABC song and we read aloud every day—but is that enough?

The nonprofit Reading is Fundamental (RIF) is an amazing resource for learning more about literacy and teaching your child to read. As it turns out, a big part of early reading is simply learning the joy of storytelling—which means I’m doing all right so far. In addition to reading books, you might try singing, finger plays (like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “I’m a Little Teapot”), and nursery rhymes, which are great ways to get small children excited. Toddlers who love for someone to read to them often begin “pre-reading,” which is what Charlie is doing when she tries to recite her books from memory. This is the first step toward literacy.

Reading books out loud helps children understand that letters have meaning, and you can emphasize this by teaching them the ABC song, making letters out of pipe cleaners, letting them play with flash cards, or shaping letters out of play doh. You don’t need to drill your two year-old with flash cards, though—simply making the commitment to read to them every day is the most important thing you can do.

Toddler enjoying books

Source: Sara Olsher

For older children, the goal is to learn to read fluently, not to read every word. This means resisting the urge to jump in every time they skip a word or miss a sound. If your child understands what he or she is reading—that is, the meaning behind the story—they’re on the path to a lifetime of reading. Not sure? Ask detailed questions about the book to encourage comprehension.

Ultimately, children learn by example, so pick up a book and read with your little one. If you enjoy reading, it’s likely your child will want to try it, too.

For fun resources, check out RIF’s Learning to Read section (which is also available in Spanish).  I am madly in love with their “finger plays” page, which teaches all the hand gestures to popular rhymes like Pat-a-Cake.

What about kids who don’t have these resources?

RIF, sharing books with children

Source: RIF

Unfortunately, not every child has a parent with the ability to encourage reading. Did you know that two-thirds of America’s children living in poverty have NO books at home?By the fourth grade, an astonishing forty percent of children do not achieve basic levels of reading proficiency. According to RIF, African American and Hispanic students are, on average, nearly three academic years behind their White peers at this age.

It’s clear that having access to books at home is key for helping children learn to read: fourth graders who reported having 25+ books at home had higher scores on reading tests than children who didn’t have that many books (NCES, 2003).

Organizations like RIF are working to encourage literacy for all children. In addition to the awesome resources I listed above, they have a variety of programs aimed at helping children who don’t have easy access to books. One of their programs is called Books for Ownership, which distributes 15 million new, free books to 4 million children in all US states and territories. Two other programs, Care to Read and Family of Readers, empower childcare staff and parents with the resources they need to encourage reading.

Motivated to help? I am super inspired by Reading is Fundamental (their bumper sticker is now on my car), and I encourage you to support this amazing organization with your donation:

For just $10, you can provide 4 books for children in need.

Donate

For 20 more charities providing valuable educational and reading resources, check out the JustGive Guide. And you could be the difference in a child’s life!

Thank you very much to Margaret Carter and Samantha Louk from Reading is Fundamental for the images and statistics about this important topic.

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Rock, Paper, Success

“We’re like WD-40 for enhancing school climate. We come in, we make things go a little easier, and it makes it that much easier for teachers to be really good at their jobs.”
Playworks founder Jill Vialet, ABC News Nightline, May 10, 2010

There’s anticipation in the air. The neighborhood kids sense it coming. It’s back-to-school time, and judging from the commercials running now, there’s no way to avoid it. But the schools that kids are going back to aren’t like the ones I remember.

Today’s kids spend more of their time in a classroom and less time playing—12 hours less per week in free time since the 1970s—according to a recent study. With the advent of No Child Left Behind, even the time spent in the classroom is much less playful than it used to be, as schools focus more closely on testing requirements. Our kids aren’t learning how to play, and, as research shows, it’s affecting their ability to learn.

Enter Playworks.

Changing the Culture of Education

Playworks is one of my favorite big new ideas in education. The team at Playworks brings safe, healthy and inclusive recess to schools. Their coaches provide full-time, on-site program coordination to 170 schools in 10 cities across the nation. That’s more than 70,000 students at low-income, urban schools who have a chance to engage in play every school day.

ABC News: Click here to see a video of the man who rehabilitated children at recess through 'rock-paper-scissors'

What makes Playworks so great is that they help kids create their own games and solve their own problems using such tools as Rock, Paper, Scissors. Kids who participate in unsupervised play are able to explore their imaginations, connect with other people, and grow physically, emotionally and socially. Quality recess and play help children return to the classroom more focused and ready to learn.

As I think about kids heading back to school, quality recess and educational outcomes are something I can get behind. If it’s something you’d like to support, donate now to Playworks. Visit the JustGive Guide for other organizations providing quality education enrichment programs. Or search by zip code to find and give to your schools in your area.

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Back to School

It’s that time of the year again! Kids are getting ready to meet new teachers, and make new friends. Parents are stocking up on sharpened pencils, new notebooks and more. Teachers are setting up their classrooms—often spending their own money for what they need.

Teacher and Sudents

Education not only shapes a child’s future—but the future of our workforce and society. During times when  school budgets are stretched and funding is cut, there are several everyday ways you can help your local schools:

Cash for Cans

As long as I can remember, my family recycled aluminum cans. We collected cans in a bin in the garage. Each month we turned them in at the recycling center, using the money to buy ice cream on the way home. It was a fun family tradition my Grandparents eventually brought to our schools. We coordinated with teachers to put bins in the classrooms. Once a month we recycled the cans and gave the money to the school. It’s a simple way to raise money for your child’s school and help the environment!

News for Schools

When you go on vacation, donate your regular newspaper to a local school. Teachers use the papers for in-class education and to promote literacy. If you live in the California Bay Area, you can set up a donation by calling 1-866-444-READ. Find out more at NewsSchool. Or contact your local paper to ask about similar programs in your area.

Nominate a Great Teacher

Visit ExpoEducator and nominate your child’s inspiring teacher! Through the program, ten teachers will win a year’s supply of Expo products for the classroom. The Grand Prize is $5,000 and a trip to an NBC late night show in New York or Los Angeles. The site also features an Expo coupon for markers (you can give this to a teacher too) and a checklist for back to school items.

Make Your Donation Dollars Count

  • A $30 donation to World Vision supplies a schoolchild in the U.S. with a backpack filled with pencils, paper and art materials
  • A $50 donation to Teach for America provides Summer Institute training materials and professional development for a new teacher. For $75, learning materials are supplied to a teacher in an under-resourced community.

Pass this on and get your friends, family members and colleagues who care about education involved!