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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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Like many first-time moms, when I went into labor last year, I was really scared about how painful the delivery would be and whether anything would go wrong with me or my baby girl. And even now, though Aleena is very healthy, I often double-check to make sure she’s still breathing when she’s asleep.

These fears are real to me, but they seem so trivial compared to the fears that mothers in developing countries face: Will they survive childbirth? Will their babies survive? Will they be able to give them clean water and healthy food? What about medicine if they get sick? Can they afford to send them to school? All of them, or just the boys?

Medical complications from pregnancy is one of the leading causes of death for women around the world. Even in India, which has made great strides in the past generation, the maternal mortality rate is 10 times higher than in the United States, according to the World Health Organization – even worse than in neighboring Bangladesh and Nepal. But there’s hope: When I visited a Kolkata slum a few years ago, I met with a grateful woman and baby who had received proper prenatal care and a safe delivery through Calcutta Kids. Thanks to the funding this nonprofit gets from our Jolkona donors and other supporters, this woman and thousands of others in her community no longer live in fear of dying in childbirth, or that their children won’t live past their fifth birthdays.

Some people argue that supporting efforts to improve maternal and child healthcare in slums and developing countries only exacerbates overpopulation. But, as Melinda Gates noted in the Gates Foundation’s annual letter, the data actually show that when more children survive, women opt to have fewer babies – slowing population growth and improving education and empowerment opportunities per family.

 In addition to health issues, the world’s women and girls continue to lag behind in education and employment. Improving these measures is a win-win-win for the women, their families and their communities. Researchers have confirmed that when women and girls earn money, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families (compared to only 30-40 percent for men) – a ripple effect that can break the cycle of poverty in a single generation.  

Last Day to Give to Girls

These stories and statistics inspire me during Jolkona’s annual Give to Girls campaign, combined with March as Women’s History Month. This year, we focused on crowdfunding in three categories where our growing pool of small donations can have the greatest collective impact: maternal health, education, and empowerment. The 10 projects we chose will each provide proofs for every donation, so that even small donors feel confident that they can make a difference.

It always amazes me how little it costs to make a life-changing difference for young woman. For just $30, we can train a woman farmer in Sudan. For $60, we can educate a girl in Afghanistan for one year. For $160, we can provide prenatal care to a mother in Guatemala.

All it takes is a small donation to change lives – starting with one girl, her family, her village, and the world. We need to invest in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today.

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Jolkona’s mission is to engage a new generation of philanthropists, by making giving easy, meaningful and transparent. Millennials like me (ages 22-35) yearn for something more when it comes to philanthropy: we want to go beyond making donations, to be truly engaged with social change. According to Nonprofit Quarterly, while older generations value giving time and financial support to organizations, we millennials want to be excited and passionate about a cause — learning new skills and expanding our networks along the way.

The evolution of Jolkona’s Give Together campaign, our monthly giving program, reflects our mission and millennial perspective. Starting at $10/month, members are invited to our private Facebook group, where you can view project proposals from our nonprofit partners, discuss the pros and cons, and lobby for your favorite. It’s a unique way to learn about different causes, engage in the grant-making process, and network with a community of passionate, like-minded donors.

In the same way that engaging millennials is the driving force in 21st century philanthropy, empowering women is the driving force of global development. This month’s Give Together theme is “Women & Girls,” tied to our March Give to Girls campaign, with nine projects targeting women’s education, maternal health and empowerment. Give Together is our bonus tenth option: we’re considering three proposals to change girls’ lives in Afghanistan (Barakat), Nepal (Bo M. Karlsson Foundation) and Nicaragua (MADRE). Join Give Together before March 31, and help us choose which innovative project gets this month’s grant.

When you Give Together, you can be part of the changing face of philanthropy. You can give with a network of other passionate philanthropists, and be more knowledgable than ever about the projects you support. Give Together for Girls.

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I got the news on a Thursday afternoon, in February 2012. Our sales team had completed a stellar quarter at Google, and the email notified me that I could expect a handsome bonus in a few weeks time.

As my mind raced with ways I could use the extra money,  I thought about my recent volunteer expedition to South America, with Jolkona. I’d been meaning to do something positive once I got back to the U.S.; perhaps a donation was a good place to start. I called up my good friend, Jolkona CEO Nadia Mahmud, and told her I wanted to make a donation benefiting women and girls. Nadia said, ”Well, rather than a donation, how about making a sponsorship?”

I’d never done something like this before; weren’t sponsors supposed to be big organizations or corporations, and not random tech employees like myself? But together, Nadia and I crafted a plan for Jolkona’s 2nd Annual Give to Girls campaign. I’d match donations, dollar for dollar, to a handful of charities that Jolkona works with — and we decided to approach the women’s network at my office to come on board as a key marketing partner.

My initial thought was to not mention my individual sponsorship in our marketing campaign, keeping it anonymous . The head of our women’s committee thought this was ridiculous. “Absolutely not! We’ll tape a video of you talking about the campaign, and you need to put your name on this.” I was reluctant, but the personal touch seemed to work.  Our community banded together, and the donations came in day by day. I received countless emails from co-workers and friends excited to support our efforts. And one particularly generous coworker of mine, Jessan Hutchison-Quillian, was moved to join me halfway through the campaign as a sponsor.

I never imagined we’d raise $25,000 for girls & women in 2012, and I’m so happy Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign is now in its fourth year.

Through my Give to Girls sponsorship, I learned a couple of powerful lessons. First, I witnessed the power of the crowd rather than the individual — we can truly amplify our impact when we give together. Second, I experienced how people around you will rise to the occasion when you share your personal passion for something. Jessan jumping in as a co-sponsor was an unexpected and wonderful example.

During these last few days of Women’s History Month, I encourage you to make a meaningful donation to Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign.

Zanoon with other Jolkona volunteers during our 2012 expedition to Rio, Brazil.

Zanoon with other Jolkona volunteers during our 2012 expedition to Rio, Brazil.

Zanoon Nissar leads various giving initiatives at Google. Since 2010, she has volunteered with Jolkona, and has spent six weeks traveling/blogging through South America & South East Asia as part of their Expeditions.

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When I was fresh out of college and teaching in Singapore, I spent a whole day on MRT subways and buses all over the country — in search of a women’s basketball. I found myself trying to explain to young men and women, in both English and Mandarin, what a “women’s basketball” was… Anyway, I couldn’t find one. Eventually, I discovered that although hundreds of boys’ secondary school basketball teams participated in Singapore’s interscholastic league, only about 30 girls’ teams did. That was when I really, really realized how much Title IX had done for girls in the United States —and how lucky we are to be gaining more gender equality with every generation.

After more travels, including teaching in Honduras and backpacking through Central America, I came to Seattle and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. As Jolkona’s newest Communications Intern, I’m thrilled to use my love of writing and global development to raise awareness for social change, to bring to the page what I have witnessed abroad and turn it into action.

Jolkona provides young professionals and backpackers like me on limited budgets a platform to donate and, drop by drop, make every single dollar matter — whether it’s in providing children in Mexico with fresh producesupporting safe births for women in Palestine, or creating jobs for silk weavers in India.

By joining the Jolkona team, I will no longer be just another tourist who has passed by; my experiences can continue contributing to a worthy cause. I’m excited to work with a group of like-minded volunteers who are committed to making a difference, one day, one dollar, one drop at a time.

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And finally, as an advocate for women’s rights, I’m excited to be joining Jolkona during its annual Give to Girls campaign — supporting 10 nonprofit projects that help women and girls locally and globally. Join us!

Bea Chang received her MFA in fiction from the University of Washington, Seattle. Her stories and essays have appeared in Colere: A Journal of Cultural Exploration, Toasted Cheese, and Memoir Journal. Since 2007, she has lived in and backpacked through 50 countries. 

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A self-professed tech geek, I’m routinely amazed at the power I hold in my hands: smartphones, tablets, laptops, the latest new gadget. A shocking statistic from the United Nations made headlines last year: more people now have access to cell phones than to toilets. Increasingly, our world is run by technology and the people who know how to wield it.

That’s why Jolkona’s Give to Girls project to support homeless women by teaching technology and life skills resonates with me. Housing and homelessness — especially in the Seattle area — are pressing issues, as rent and property values rise higher than low-skills workers can afford.  In my experience, there is no single narrative for homeless women and no negative stereotype that holds true. There are many paths to homelessness: foreclosure, domestic abuse, layoffs, medical expenses. However these women got there, their energy and time is now focused on day-to-day survival.

But what if you could help put the power back in the hands of women who are experiencing homelessness?  What if you could take the focus away from short-term survival and give women the ability to build marketable skills, allowing them to look to their futures?

I support women’s projects like this because I believe in empowering women to dream, plan, and achieve. I believe that women with technology can change the world.  Technology is the foundation of many careers and jobs.  It is access to information and resources. It is having a platform to voice one’s opinion and engage with other people. Technology is power.

I invite you to join me in supporting the Jubilee Women’s Center, or one of the other partners in Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign this month.

Genevieve Venable works in communications and community outreach for Seattle University’s Center for Service and Community Engagement.  She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree.  

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As we enter the final week of our annual Give to Girls campaign, in honor of Women’s History Month, I asked the ladies of Jolkona, “Which woman inspires you?” The responses reveal a spectrum of diverse role models, locally and globally:

I’m reminded of a quote by Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo and a personal source of hope and inspiration: “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”

I ask you to take a moment to think about a woman or girl you admire. How does she inspire you? When you Give to Girls, you are investing in the next generation of inspirational women, creating a global ripple effect of hope. Please Give to Girls today!

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Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign revolves around the idea that the world’s women — over half the global population — are a significant untapped resource. Women represent 70 percent of the world’s poor, disproportionately suffering in times of crisis: natural disasters, economic downturns, wars. On the other hand, as more women gain equality in the workforce, the faster a country’s economy will recover and grow.

This doesn’t only apply to the developing world; America’s GDP would jump by 9 percent if we had equal pay. Empowering women, along with giving them access to better healthcare and education, is the key to local and global development.

You can help three Jolkona partners empower women:

Give Life and Tech Skills to Homeless Women in the U.S.

Many homeless women in the U.S. can’t get back on their feet because they lack the skills needed to find jobs in today’s economy. Jolkona’s partner the Jubilee Women’s Center, works to help Seattle women transition out of extreme poverty, with a comprehensive life and tech skills program including classes in Microsoft Office, interview and job retention practices.

Support Rape Survivors in Haiti Displacement Camp

Four years after Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake, more than 100,000 people are still living in tent camps — unstable conditions that have made women even more vulnerable to sexual violence. Jolkona’s partner MADRE provides peer-counseling groups to help rape survivors empower each other and heal together, and works with local organizations to build effective community anti-violence strategies.

Support Women Farmers in Sudan

Women in Sudan grow 80 percent of the food crops, yet are excluded from government farm aid programs. The country’s farmers also struggle to survive the ongoing war, environmental degradation from unsustainable practices, and droughts and floods from climate change. Jolkona’s partner MADRE provides women farmers with tools, seeds, and ongoing training — enabling them to feed their families and achieve financial independence.

With the right set of tools, any woman can become empowered, and empowered women are one of the greatest potential forces for global change. Give to Girls today!

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Giving birth is one of the most dangerous things a woman can do, especially in a developing country. But with your help, Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign is raising funds this month for programs focused on improving maternal health in Palestine, Guatemala, and India.

According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, around 300,000 women die in childbirth every year; according to the World Health Organization (WHO) nearly 5 million babies die before their first birthday every year. This doesn’t include the women and children who suffer permanent injuries, malnutrition and physical and neurological under development. The good news is that many of these deaths and injuries are preventable, if we can improve access to adequate prenatal and maternal health services.

Each of these Give to Girls projects aim to help women have safe pregnancies and healthy babies:

Support Safe Births in Palestine

Due to its status as a conflict zone, Palestine is a difficult place for a woman to give birth; maternal health conditions have actually been in decline since 2000. Jolkona’s partner MADRE works to provide prenatal care and safe births and prevent unnecessary deaths for women in West Bank, who are unable to access a hospital or adequate care.

MADRE works with Palestinian and Israeli midwives to provide training, prenatal supplements, portable ultrasound devices and birth kits, so that as many women as possible can deliver their babies safely.

Reduce Infant Mortality in Guatemala

Guatemala has the highest infant mortality rate in South America. The majority of these deaths occur in rural indigenous populations, among the poorest 20 percent of people in Guatemala. Jolkona’s partner Project Concern International provides an integrated infant and maternal health program to bring proper clinical care for women, and and low-tech care techniques to parents and care-takers to ensure a higher chance of infant survival.

Effecting over 1500 women and children, your donation to PCI will provide a clean environment and clinical care to the mother, as well as transportation to a hospital for her birth.

Provide Prenatal Care in India

Even though India is rapidly industrializing, it has an infant mortality rate 100 times higher than other industrial nations. Adequate prenatal care not only helps thousands of babies survive their first year, but also reduces susceptibility to malnutrition, disease, and underdevelopment. Jolkona’s partner Calcutta Kids is focused on increasing access to health and nutrition services, providing health information and encouraging positive health-changing behaviors.

Calcutta Kids provides six months of prenatal care for a pregnant woman in the slums of Calcutta, as well as delivery in a private facility, and follow up care for two years following birth.

When you Give to Girls to support maternal health, you not only help women and babies survive delivery, but also set them up for a healthier future. Please Give to Girls today!

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Why do we give to girls? Because we must, if we want to reduce violence, promote equality, build stronger economies and improve a plethora of other crucial development measures locally and globally.

Halfway into our annual Give to Girls campaign, which highlights education, maternal health and empowerment projects this year, I’ve asked the ladies at Jolkona HQ: “Why should we give to girls?” The responses vary, but all come down to making the world a better place for our generation, and a brighter place for the next generation:

So we ask you today: what compels you to give to girls? Let us know in the Comments section, and through our social media channels.

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Everyone knows that educating girls improves their career opportunities. But did you also know that educating girls reduces child mortality and kickstarts developing countries?

The Global Education Fund reports that each year that a girl spends in secondary school, her future income increases by 15 to 25 percent. An educated girl invests 90 percent of her income in her family and community. When a mother has received a basic education, her children are 40 percent more likely to survive past the age of five. When looking at the 50 million girls that currently live in poverty, just imagine the impact that educating these girls could have on the world!

Through Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign this month, you can support education projects in Afghanistan, Liberia and Nepal. For these three countries, which have some of the lowest GDPs and literacy rates, improving education for girls is absolutely essential.

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Improve Female Literacy in Afghanistan

Only 11 to 13 percent of girls and women in Afghanistan are literate, due the distances to travel to schools, caring for infants, and the social and cultural taboos related to attending co-ed schools, having contact with male teachers, and female education in general. But educating and empowering Afghanistan’s women is essential to lifting the country out of decades of war.

Barakat, Jolkona’s nonprofit partner on the ground, has an innovative curriculum that enables girls and women to become literate in a safe environment: all-female classes and teachers, community spaces, no restrictions on age or bringing babies to class. Barakat already engages 3,000 girls and women with their literacy programs. A Give to Girls gift of $60 will provide a Lower Level Literacy Education for one girl. 

Educate Girls in Liberia

More than 60 percent of Liberia’s school-aged children are not in school, including the most vulnerable girls in the country: orphans, homeless children, sex workers, and children of single parents. Jolkona’s nonprofit partner More Than Me believes that these low rates of education are directly related to the low life expectancy and other health problems Liberians face.

MTM’s program provides vulnerable girls in Liberia the opportunity to go to school, while also learning about nutrition, disease prevention and vaccination — giving them the tools they need to lead fuller, healthier lives. A donation of just $25 will provide two girls with school supplies, and $100 will provide a whole semester of education.

Educate Enslaved Nepali Girls

Struggling with extreme poverty, many families in Western Nepal take their daughters out of school and sell them into bonded service, known as Kamlari. The Nepal Youth Foundation works to rescue these girls by returning them to their family, helping the family develop another source of income, and prevent future trafficking through education.

NYF has rescued and educated more than 10,000 girls since its inception in 1990, and with your help, they can help even more. A gift of $100 will rescue one Nepali girl. Even just $5 can make a huge difference. 

Here at Jolkona, we are excited to support women’s education this month, since so many other causes hinge on the education and professional success of girls. Join us, and Give to Girls today.

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In honor of International Women’s Day, I joined other nonprofit communicators at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Friday to discuss ways we could use social media to promote women’s health initiatives, including PATH’s redesigned female condom, self-administered contraceptive shots (see photo — so tiny!) and low-tech cervical and breast cancer screenings.

This #GatesSocial also got me thinking about more ways to inform and engage donors for Jolkona’s 4th annual Give to Girls campaign, which is crowdfunding for 10 projects that save lives, educate and empower women locally and globally. What would inspire you? We’d love to produce something like the Girl Effect video:

Stay tuned for some new Jolkona media for this year’s #Give2Girls. In the meantime, check out the traditional press release about the campaign.

SEATTLE – Launched on International Women’s Day (March 8) and continuing through Women’s History Month, Jolkona’s 4thannual Give to Girls campaign is crowdfunding for 10 innovative projects to lift up women and girls in the United States and strategic regions of Latin America, Africa and Asia.

“We inspire the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today,” says Nadia Mahmud, Jolkona co-founder and CEO. “Empowering women is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty around the world. Invest in a healthy and educated girl today, and she will be able to reinvest in her family, her community, and our world tomorrow.”

From now through March 31, donors can choose among nine high-impact projects related to education, maternal health and empowerment. Starting at the $5 level, the options range from supporting job training for homeless women in Seattle topromoting female literacy in Afghanistan to funding counseling services for rape survivors in Haiti.

The bonus project will be selected by members of Jolkona’s monthly Give Together program: starting at the $10 level, participants join a private Facebook group to review proposals from nonprofit partners and determine which one should be awarded the community’s collective grant. For this campaign, Give Together is also accepting one-time donations, in addition to monthly subscriptions.

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In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, Jolkona is launching our 4th annual Give to Girls campaign. All month long, we will bring you opportunities to help girls and women in nine countries.

By supporting women’s education, health and empowerment, we can create sustainable economic development and reduce poverty locally and globally. By working with Jolkona and our Give to Girls partners, you can help, too — starting with just $5. As U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon states:

This International Women’s Day, we are highlighting the importance of achieving equality for women and girls not simply because it is a matter of fairness and fundamental human rights, but because progress in so many other areas depends on it.

Welcome to Give to Girls 2014! This year’s projects:

Education

Maternal Health

Empowerment

Give Together Bonus

Starting at $10, you can also Give Together — contributing to a collective grant and helping us choose which project related to women and girls gets the community’s pool of donations this month.

With your support in these three key areas, not only will more women have social and economic opportunities, but the whole world will benefit from a ripple effect of change. Thank you for your support!

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GET INVOLVED!