Today – April 24 – marks the first anniversary of the Savar garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1,133 men, women and children, and injured more than 2,500 others. In the weeks that followed, Jolkona donors raised more than $20,000 for our campaign to buy artificial limbs (through BRAC) for the survivors who had lost arms, legs, or both.

In January, our co-founders Adnan and Nadia Mahmud met with two of the survivors. Here are their stories:

Adnan’s column in The Huffington Post’s Impact section explains more: 3 Lessons from the Biggest Industrial Disaster in Bangladesh.

You can continue supporting Jolkona’s Bangladesh partners through our Lift Bangla program. Collectively, we can make a big difference for the Savar families and the people of Bangladesh.

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Imagine a city that is carbon neutral, has zero emissions, uses sustainable energy sources and  builds a comprehensive public transportation. This is the “city of the future,” according to the Earth Day Network’s Green Cities Campaign – and a future not too far away, especially here in Seattle.

Seattle is consistently ranked among the top Green Cities in the U.S. due to our ordinances to reduce the impacts of climate change and use of sustainable energy. Not only is Seattle home to the world’s greenest commercial building, the Bullit Center, but we also have the University of Washington’s campus-wide dedication to composting and a growing light rail system. Even more, Seattle is pioneering the use of coastal underwater turbines – a sustainable source of hydroelectric power that doesn’t impact important rivers and waterways. With our commitment to innovation in philanthropy, Jolkona is proud to call Seattle home.

The Green Cities campaign, a feature of Earth Day 2014, encourages cities to update their infrastructures and building codes to reduce emissions, increase efficiency and emphasize the development of key areas like public transportation, green buildings and renewable energy.

In honor of Earth Day 2014, YOU can take action in your community to promote the Green City vision. It is never too late to support a clean future for your home! Learn more from the Earth Day Network.

You can also support Earth Day globally by funding a project through Jolkona that supports the environment.

This Earth Day, join Jolkona in celebrating Seattle, the green city we call home, and work to improve sustainability both in your community and globally!

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I’ve worked with several food-related nonprofits in the Seattle area, providing cooking classes, nutrition education and youth engagement for low-income and immigrant communities. Local farmers donated fresh fruits and vegetables for our programs; opening the produce box was a highlight every week. We embraced the challenge of cooking with garlic spears and sun chokes, varieties of mushrooms, and raabs, all unknown to our veggiephobic immigrant and refugee youths.

While naming new vegetables and sharing in the glee of tasting nectarines for the first time, we also learned that CSAs – community-supported agriculture – are great for the planet. If there’s a CSA program available in your area, sign up! Celebrate Earth Day (Monday, April 22), and start reaping these significant benefits:

  1. Eat fresh: Since everything is grown locally, you can count on getting fresh ripe produce that hasn’t been sitting inside a truck for days.
  2. Try something new: Each week, be surprised by a new fruit or vegetable, and experiment with it. My favorite item from 2013: garlic spears! (See recipe below.)
  3. Save the planet: The earth suffers when crops are grown en masse and flown around the world. By subscribing to a CSA, you encourage local farming and heritage variety crops. You may not get tomatoes in December, but you’ll get a dozen different varieties all summer long.

What’s a CSA?

CSA stands for community supported agriculture, and is a loosely organized group of customers and farmers who organize to sell “shares” of the farmers’ crops to the customers, who in turn subsidize the farmers, their operations, and often their families. Some CSAs ship directly to customer homes, but others allow you to pick up your share at a nearby collection point.

How much does it cost?

Depending on how large the CSA is or how many seasons you sign up for, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20-$50/week for a seasonal share. That means a typical June to November summer season may cost between $400 and $1,000. Some CSAs ask for the money upfront; others charge on a weekly basis.

Which is the best one?

If you live in the Seattle area and want the convenience of home delivery (at the cost of having a CSA that isn’t a 100% local), New Roots Organics is my favorite: you get a list a few days before the drop-off, and an opportunity to switch out the items you don’t want. Plus owner Carolyn is incredibly friendly and responsive!

Typical Late-Summer Box

  • Spinach – 1/3 lb
  • Arugula – 1/3 lb
  • Swiss Chard – 1 bunch
  • Turnips – 1 bunch
  • Radishes – 1 bunch
  • Storage onions – 1 lb
  • Lettuce – 1 head
  • Kale – 1 bunch
  • Carrots – 1 bunch
  • Sunchokes – 1 lb
  • Cabbage – 1 head
  • Garlic – 2 heads
  • Pumpkins – 1 ea

If you’re willing to pick up your box a few blocks or miles from home, the City of Seattle’s P-Patch and Oxbow Farms are also great.

Aparna’s Garlic Spear Pesto

  • Eight 10-inch-long garlic scapes/spears
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shelled walnuts or pinenuts
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 a large lemon
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil(evoo)

Throw in all ingredients into a food processor, and pulse until they come together. Add salt and extra lemon juice/evoo for taste and consistency.

Use pesto in sandwiches, on pasta – everything is better with a garlicky twist!

Aparna Rae is an organizational and development consultant in Seattle’s nonprofit sector.

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Earth Day is less than a week away, and an excellent time to reflect on what we can do to celebrate our planet and keep it healthy.

When we focus on sustainable agricultural practices or conservation, we can improve global health and help lift people out of extreme poverty. Of course, meaningful change starts with what we do from day to day to take better care of our planet.

Here are some things Jolkona is doing to help the environment. What will you be doing?

  1. Jolkona HQ is getting new recycling bins, thanks to Partner Coordinator, Ross Polk. Now we can be more responsible with our office waste. Perhaps a compost bin is in the future?
  2. Aparna Rae, our Development Manager, receives a CSA box (community supported agriculture) where she gets a variety of fresh produce directly from local farmers. Learn more about CSAs in her guest post tomorrow!
  3. Nicole, our Communications Manager, is taking a thermos everywhere she goes, so that she can avoid using disposable coffee cups.
  4. Give to educate farmers in Kenya in bio-intensive farming, so they can better feed their families, farm sustainably, and support bio-diversity.
  5. Give to conserve the rainforest in Tanzania, and reduce poverty by empowering local villages to maintain and protect the forest.
  6. Give to conserve Rainforests in Bangladesh through Lift Bangla, by restoring water supply to the indigenous community so they can continue to farm sustainably.

Whether you make small changes in your own life, like getting a CSA box and reducing waste like Aparna and Nicole, or you donate $10 to a nonprofit project that supports our environment, you will make a difference for our planet. With only a couple days until Earth Day, why not start now?

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We’re proud to introduce the first five participants in Project Catalyst, Jolkona’s new accelerator for social entrepreneurs from developing countries.

This 2-week intensive workshop will bring five candidates from Indonesia to Seattle, where they can hone their business plans, gain valuable insights, and meet prospective investors. We can’t wait to welcome them to our offices on June 8!


Name: Dino Fitriza

Age: 31

Websites: &

Twitter: @dinolefty

Projects: Both of Dino Fitriza’s projects, Claps and Vertesac, work toward raising awareness of climate change and natural disasters, and encouraging people to modify their behaviors toward the environment. Claps is a mobile photo sharing app for pictures and videos of the “real” impact of climate change. While it aims to document and educate civilians about natural disaster, Claps also offers to help government, research institutions, and NGOs to develop new ways to educate people about climate change and natural disaster. Meanwhile Vertesac is a smart shopping bag system designed to track consumer use of reusable bags and offer discounts to users. By giving economic incentives to Vertesac bag users, the project aims to reduce the excessive use of plastic bags.

Name: Hendriyadi Bahtiar


Twitter: @pelukislangit

Project: The Healthy Shredded Fish not only produces an Indonesian national snack, but is a campaign for healthier lifestyles, because the shredded fish does not contain MSG. In addition, the project employs fishermen’s wives in coastal areas in South Sulawesi, which helps increase income and to reduce poverty in the area.

mirahName: Mirah Mahaswari

Age: 24


Twitter: @mirahmahaswari

Project: To promote literacy rate in Indonesia and instill passion for reading, Pack Your Spirit collects children’s used-books, host community events for packaging, and coordinates their transportation to remote schools in the villages of east Borneo. It is currently working on a project to assist Balikpapan’s Public Library with community development.

Nadine_ZamiraName: Nadine Zamira

Age: 30


Twitter: @naynadine

Project: LeafPlus is communications agency with sustainability at the heart of their work.  LeafPlus believes that good communications is about inspiring perceptions, emotions and actions that benefit people and the planet too. LeafPlus works with government agencies, businesses, NGO’s, schools and communities to identify their sustainability objectives and translate complex concepts into creative, engaging and easily shared stories. Challenging conventional communication methods in delivering social and environmental messages, LeafPlus goes beyond advising to deliver implementation and impact.

9338d6a70a333b2dadc4e7e33096eb78Name: Nadya Saib

Age: 27


Twitter: @nadyasaib

Project: While Wangsa Jelita produces non-toxic, natural personal care products to address environmental issues of waste, it empowers local farmers and artisans as well. The project provides fair trade and community development, especially to women in the rose farming community in West Java, and collaborates with local artisans to create environmentally-friendly packaging.

If you are interested in helping these amazing entrepreneurs, Project Catalyst is recruiting for mentors, coaches and hosts! If you are available between June 8 and 22, please contact

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As part of National Volunteer Week, Jolkona is pleased to announce not just one, but two Volunteers of the Year! Congratulations, and thank you so much, to Nancy Xu and Chi Do.

Jolkona CEO Nadia Mahmud describes the service and dedication of our honorees:

Jolkona was started on a strong culture of volunteerism, and six years later, we continue to grow because of the skills, time and connections that our volunteers donate. In 2013, with me on maternity leave, having the support of volunteers was extra important to me and the organization. In my absence, so many people went above and beyond for Jolkona. I was not able to pick just one person to recognize, so I wanted to recognize two individuals for all of their contributions to Jolkona in 2013: Nancy Xu and Chi Do.

Nancy Xu

Nancy Xu

Nancy Xu has been a volunteer with Jolkona for the last four years, working on various projects related to video production, graphic design, and most recently working on the tech team to lead our website redesign. Last year, Nancy went above and beyond as a volunteer to help our ambitious website redesign get done by June. She created the updated design and helped coordinate the project so that we were ready for the launch. And, after the website launch, she managed a group of design and tech interns and volunteers complete initiatives for the next version of the website, and to make necessary updates. In addition to that, Nancy also helped with and attended the Jolkona expedition to West Africa earlier in the year.

Without Nancy, our website launch would not have been possible last year, or would have cost Jolkona a lot of money. So, I wanted to recognize her for the skills and time she has donated to Jolkona to make our web presence and mission stronger than before.

Chi Do

Chi Do

Chi Do has also been a longtime volunteer, working with Jolkona for the past three years or so. She first started out working on our Partnership Team, and then moved on to Events. Last year, Chi went above and beyond as a volunteer by heading up the entire Events Team. Chi also took the initiative to help launch the Microsoft Giving Campaign in 2012 and the bigger and better version of 2013.

Aside from helping with a successful relaunch party and holiday party last year, she successfully helped manage one of Jolkona’s biggest fundraisers, the Giving in Style fashion show at Microsoft. The event was a huge success, with close to 100 people attending, over 30 volunteers helping, and thousands of dollars raised for Jolkona’s operational growth which is so critical for us to grow our mission.

Each one of our volunteers and interns plays a vital role in expanding our mission of inspiring more philanthropy through small donations. I wanted to again congratulate and recognize Chi and Nancy for their efforts in 2013 as our Volunteers of the Year! Thanks again for your dedication to service and for supporting Jolkona all these years, especially in 2013. Adnan and I look forward to celebrating this with you soon over dinner!

If you’re interested in volunteering with Jolkona, keep an eye on our website for internship opportunities, or just email

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Jolkona’s volunteers are absolutely essential to what we do — not only because of their skills, but also because of their dedication and positive energy. Even when it’s time to say goodbye, their professional contributions and personal friendships have a lasting impact on our team.

As part of National Volunteer Week, Jolkona is honoring Jessica Wicksnin, a talented web developer who is pursuing a career as a web apps engineer at Qazzow.

Nancy Xu, our Design/Tech Director, describes working with her:

Jessica joined us last year and has been such a great part of our tech team ever since. She worked on our Jolkona website (2 versions of them!), helped ramp up new team members and wrote great documentation of what we did (the rest of us somehow never get around to doing this). Her latest project – a philanthropy quiz – will be launched in the next week or so!

I love working with Jessica because she is very thoughtful when it comes to solving tough programming challenges, she is a great communicator and explains things really well, and she’s so warm and friendly so everyone here enjoys her presence!

Dhanya Satya, our HR Recruiter, adds:

Jessica is awesome! I like the energy and the positivity she has towards her dream, her pet, her blog, and basically everything. She is extremely determined and the very fact that she has transitioned so seamlessly and made a career change is a testament for that. I will surely miss having her here  at Jolkona. I am sure she is  going to shine wherever she goes.

Dedicated volunteers like Jessica have a huge impact on small organizations like Jolkona, and on the nonprofit sector as a whole. Be sure to join Jolkona in recognizing National Volunteer Week as an opportunity to thank the volunteers who give their time to improve your office and community.

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What do mosquitoes, freshwater snails and ticks have in common? All three are vectors – critters that transmit deadly diseases like malaria and dengue fever – and therefore major villains in this year’s vector-borne disease themed World Health Day, the April 7th World Health Organization observance that raises awareness of serious global health problems.

Three facts to think about over the weekend:

  • More than 1 billion people are infected and more than 1 million die from vector-borne diseases every year.
  • Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17 percent of all infectious diseases.
  • Malaria causes more than 600 000 deaths every year globally, most of them children under 5 years old.

Many of these diseases are preventable, primarily by improving access to clean water and sanitation. Jolkona’s partner MADRE works in Kenya to provide sources of clean water in rural, indigenous communities. This project builds communal collection points in villages in schools, and trains local people in hygiene, health, and water system maintenance.

Along with preventing and treating vector-borne diseases, our health partners also work hard to improve access to prenatal care, lifesaving surgeries and prosthetics. You can make a difference, too, by supporting any of these projects:

You can observe World Health Day on Monday by learning more about vector-borne diseases and contributing to a global health project — even with just $10. As we say here at Jolkona: every drop counts.

Photo Credit: WHO/S. Hollyman

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Message from Nadia Mahmud, Jolkona CEO, to Give to Girls 2014 donors:

Thank you so much for joining us to Give to Girls! Your contributions helped us raise more than $2,600 in March for Jolkona partners supporting maternal health, education and empowerment for women and girls locally and globally.Nadia

With your donations ranging from $10 to $1,000, our collective giving is enough to fund English and computer classes for eight girls in Nepal (Bo M. Karlsson Foundation), agriculture training and supplies for six women farmers in Sudan (MADRE), school supplies for five girls in Liberia (More Than Me Foundation), job skills classes for two homeless women in Seattle (Jubilee Women’s Center), and more.

Our partner organizations will be sending out impact reports for every donation in the coming months. You can also continue supporting these kinds of projects by making a meaningful contribution to Jolkona’s Women & Girls partners throughout the year.

If your company has a matching donation program, you have an opportunity to double your impact. Let us know if we can assist you in submitting the information to your employer this month.

Thank you for investing in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today!

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