Blog

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.  

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on Facebook and Twitter

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!

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on Facebook and Twitter

Last week, dozens of women in Saudi Arabia got behind the wheel. Driving while female may seem trivial or mundane to us, but this is a major act of courage for Saudi women. While driving is technically not illegal for women in Saudi Arabia, they are banned from obtaining driver’s licenses, along with countless other acts of independence. Yet over 60 women (most equipped with international driver’s licenses and experience) coordinated a “drive-in” and posted videos of their activity online, continuing a small but persistent movement for improving women’s rights.

The Associated Press reports that the first time a Saudi female driving protest took place, in 1990, 50 women were arrested, had their passports confiscated and lost their jobs. But not a single woman was arrested on Wednesday. Activist and professor Aziza Youssef explained that they plan to continue driving and posting photos and videos, which they hope will normalize the notion of women driving. Check out some of their videos on The Guardian’s website.

Youssef and the other female Saudi drivers are an inspiration for women empowerment efforts everywhere, including partners and participants in Jolkona’s Women and Girls Give Together campaign. We believe that when given the right economic support and educational tools to rise out of poverty and oppression, women can make an incredible impact on the world.

If you want to make an impact of your own for women and girls, there’s only a few days left in this month’s Give Together campaign, with collective funds going to support Jubilee Women’s Center, MADRE, and the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation. We have $1,500 in matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation, which will double these Give Together donations and amplify October gifts to our Give Direct projects that also support women and girls.

Time is running out: help empower a woman or girl today!

Photo by MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

This month, our Give Together projects focus on supporting and empowering women and girls. Our first partner, the Jubilee Women’s Center, provides essential services like affordable housing and job training to homeless women in the Seattle area, to help them transition out of poverty. Follow them on Twitter: @JubileeSeattle.

We have up to $1,500 in matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation for October’s Give Together campaign for Women & Girls. So join Give Together and your gift will be doubled this month!

Jubilee photo2What’s your mission? What inspires your organization?

Jubilee Women’s Center’s mission is to support women experiencing poverty to build stable and fulfilling futures, one extraordinary woman at a time. We are inspired by the women we serve who, although they have been through terrible circumstances, are all – we believe – extraordinary. Jubilee works to help them overcome their circumstances and build resiliency for a healthier, more secure life ahead.

What’s your project for this month’s Give Together campaign?

Recently, Jubilee has expanded the capabilities of our Learning & Opportunity Center so we can now serve women in the community in addition to our residents here. We can now offer computer and life skills classes for up to 22 women at a time! Classes range from Introduction to Computers to Conflict Resolution to Resume Writing. All of these skills can give women the skills they need to have a more secure future.

If Jolkona’s Give Together members raise $250 for your organization, what’s our impact?

If Give Together members can raise $250, Jubilee can offer a four-class series to 12 women on career exploration, resume writing, job interview skills and job searching. With these skills, women can begin to work toward a career that will pay them a living wage and insure their independence.

In a nutshell, why should Give Together members support your project this month?

Jubilee relies on the support of our community to help women transform their lives. Led by the guiding principle that all women are to be treated with respect and dignity, Jubilee’s holistic programs, housing and support services help women make permanent life changes. We do this by providing safe, affordable and supportive community housing and educational resources to empower each woman to become financially independently, regardless of her circumstances.

We love impact reports at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite story you can share about how your organization changed someone’s life?

There are so many stories of how Jubilee has changed women’s lives! The first one that comes to mind is a resident who drained her savings and retirement fund when she was treated for breast cancer. When it came back, she found herself homeless. She found Jubilee as she was losing her apartment, and had time and space to go through treatment and get healthy. She took advantage of the many resources at Jubilee and is in college, working to earn a degree in accounting. There are so many stories like this!

This is one post in our ongoing Partner Spotlight series. When you join Give Together, you can allocate your October contribution to the Jubilee Women’s Center, or one of our other Women and Girls projects. Email your choice to givetogether@jolkona.org, or tell us via Twitter: @Jolkona #GiveTogether #WomenEmpowerment

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS POST WAS UPDATED OCT. 2 WITH INFORMATION ABOUT A MATCH CAMPAIGN FOR THIS MONTH.

The world’s women and girls are one of the greatest sources of untapped potential for providing lasting global change. That’s why empowering women, promoting gender equality, and improving maternal health are emphasized in the Millennium Development Goals, the U.N. initiative to significantly reduce extreme poverty around the world.  Improving women’s lives has a positive impact on society; on average, 90 percent of each dollar invested in a woman is returned to her family and community.1377587_10151597205727396_451819059_n

Starting at just $10, join Jolkona and Give Together to three projects that not only change the lives of specific women locally and globally, but also help advance these Millennium Development Goals.

sudan madreMADRE

MADRE is an international human rights organization that addresses the urgent needs of women in crisis. By partnering with women locally, regionally and internationally, MADRE believes they can create lasting solutions to the world’s toughest problems, such as social injustice, inequality and sustainability issues.

Give Together‘s MADRE project supports women farmers in East Sudan, training them in sustainable agricultural practices to address malnutrition, provide basic education and access to literacy and health programs. Women contribute 80 percent of the food crops in Sudan, but are excluded from government aid programs. The Give Together community’s donations will give a woman farmer the means to support herself and her family despite the challenges of environmental degradation, the threat of armed conflict, and generational poverty. For every $250 we raise, MADRE can send two Sudanese women to a 2-day agricultural training program and buy enough sorghum, sesame and millet seed for 10 women this year.

Jubilee Women’s Center

The Jubilee Women’s Center is a Seattle-based organization that provides training and support to help women transition out of homelessness.

jubilee center

Where many homeless women come from a life of poverty and abuse and lack the job skills to be successful in today’s careers, the Jubilee Women’s Center has a proven record of success in helping these women achieve sustainable employment and independent living.

Give Together to help expand Jubilee’s Learning and Opportunity center so they can not only provide training to the center’s residents, but also women in the greater Seattle area. For every $250 that Give Together raises for this project, Jubilee can offer a 4-class career-building series to 12 women, including resume writing and job interview skills. With your help, these women will be able to find jobs and achieve independence.

Bo M. Karlsson Foundation

Most Nepali women are married by the age of 15, and only 27 percent are literate. These are huge barriers towards women becoming financially productive and independent.

Bo M. Karlsson Foundation

The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation provides young women and girls in Nepal with access to higher education, which reduces income inequality and empowers young women to become independent and productive agents of change in their communities. For every $250 we raise, the foundation can provide room and board for one female student for an entire year. Give Together to help a young Nepali woman attend a trade school or college.

Check the Jolkona Blog throughout the month for more detailed information about each project. UPDATE: This month’s donations will be matched by the Seattle International Foundation, so our contributions will go twice as far!

Join Jolkona to Give Together for Women & Girls in October, and make a big difference for women in Africa, Asia and the United States.

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

The debates over the 2014 Federal Budget have been at the center of domestic politics lately, especially with the sequestration of last month. The biggest question, of course, is what are politicians willing to cut, and the itemized charitable giving deduction is on the table to be reduced. The non-profit sector has responded with a coalition of some of the most prominent charities in the U.S. to call for the current rate to be maintained, and argue that charitable giving should not be held in the company of mortgage deductions as a potential tax loophole. Some in the non-profit community, such as Rick Cohen of the NonProft Quarterly argue that other budget cuts – those that impact essential services that alleviate poverty should be more central than the charitable giving deduction.

Reducing the charitable giving deduction would largely effect those in the highest tax brackets, those who make over $200,000 a year, and itemize their deductions. Most donors, at least those that make smaller donations, are unlikely to be effected. This is good news for Jolkona and our donors, as our partners are mostly international, and rely on micro-donations. The non-profits that will be most effected are those that not only rely on large donations from wealthy donors, but also those that provide domestic services, especially the ones that focus on poverty.

Cohen argues that additional budget cuts from agencies that provide services for people in need are perhaps are more concerning than the charitable deduction issue, at least by themselves. The budget cuts would mean that non-profits that provide similar services as the reduced agencies would have to shoulder significantly more of the demand, which has increased significantly in the last decade. While he has a good point that the charitable deduction argument has pushed attention away from the issues surrounding budget cuts, the coalition of non-profits states that the problems are interconnected. If the itemized charitable giving deduction is reduced, then it could be less of an incentive for large donors to give. The non-profit sector could see the loss of $9 billion in donations, meaning that non-profits, which are already shouldering an increased burden from the budget cuts, would be additionally impacted.

If the reduction to the itemized charitable giving deduction passes with the 2014 budget, the non-profit sector may have to reconceive how they get their donations, and the kinds of donors they reach out to. There is some fear in the non-profit community that without the actions of major donors, fewer people at all income levels would give. With a giving culture that emphasizes the small contributions of many, as opposed to the large contributions of a few wealthy donors, the impacts of these budget cuts maybe wouldn’t sound so dire. Here at Jolkona, we have already made an international impact with that philosophy, believing that $15 can easily change someone’s life.

However, changing an entire culture of charitable giving takes time, and there are people in need much sooner. With the potential of budget cuts, some non-profits may need all the help they can get. You can make a difference today, and help an under-empowered person here in the US. With a donation of as little as $25 through the Jubilee Women’s center, you can support a homeless woman, and help her find employment and independence. Or, through the Technology Access Foundation of Seattle, you can donate as little as $30 to support the technology education of an underserved youth, preparing them for a career in science, math or engineering.

It is difficult to predict how extreme the effects will be if reductions on charitable giving deductions comes to pass. However, you don’t have to wait until a crisis to make a difference. Even those that aren’t wealthy, and can’t make massive donations can have a truly meaningful impact.

You can also help spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter,  Pinterest, and Instagram

GET INVOLVED!