Nelson Mandela, Champion of Education

On July 18 – Nelson Mandela’s birthday – we recognize Nelson Mandela Day. It is a day to reflect on the accomplishments of one of the greatest philanthropists and human rights activists in modern history. Mandela is remembered for his nonviolent anti-apartheid activism (which led to his imprisonment for 27 years) and for becoming the first elected black president of South Africa. In 1993 Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – along with Frederik Willem de Klerk, the last president to serve under the apartheid system – for his work in ending apartheid.

Nelson Mandela was also a great champion of education, believing that it’s power could change the world. His passion for education was a result of his own experiences growing up, and later struggling against, the inequality faced by blacks in South Africa under apartheid. One of his legacies is the founding of the Mandela Institute for Education and Rural Development. The institute was set up to help provide quality education for children in impoverished rural areas where infrastructure does not support it. The institute works with communities to refurbish schools and train teachers.

After his time as president – he stepped down in 1999 – Mandela founded the Nelson Mandela Foundation and partnered with UNICEF to create Schools for Africa, a campaign to support education initiatives in 13 African countries. The partnership builds schools, provides supplies to teachers and students, trains teachers, and facilitates access to schools to disadvantaged children. Since it started in 2005, Schools for Africa has helped over 30 million children receive a better education.

Nelson Mandela Day means many things to many people. At the BNI Foundation we honor his commitment and contributions which continue to strengthen the role of education in disadvantaged areas around the world. His work and life are an inspiration to our own mission.

Nelson Mandela on Education in His Own Words

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

It is not beyond our power to create a world in which all children have access to a good education. Those who do not believe this have small imaginations.

A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.

No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.

Networking Week

International Networking Week Fundraising at BNI Oregon & SW Washington

The Oregon & SW Washington BNI chapters used International Networking Week as an opportunity to bring members and local business leaders together to raise hundreds for local youth focused non-profits. The first event, a networking mixer in Vancouver, attracted 70 BNI members and local business professionals. All of the proceeds from the event were donated to Bridge the Gap, a nonprofit that provides resources to children in the foster care system.

Next in Portland, a networking mixer brought in over 100 BNI members and local business professionals. This event raised $500 in support of Young Entrepreneurs Business Week. This statewide, Oregon initiative helps to educate youth in business, leadership and teamwork while encouraging them to explore the business world through hands-on experiences.

“It was great to come together to network with local businesses and give back to the community at the same time! BNI Oregon & SW Washington is proud to support Bridge The Gap and Young Entrepreneurs Week,” said Mary Burleson, BNI Oregon & SW Washington’s Regional Communications Coordinator & Chapter Launch Coordinator. Congratulations to everyone involved for a successful couple of events.

National Teacher Appreciation Week

Gifts Ideas for Your Children’s Teachers

The history of National Teacher Appreciation Week starts in 1944 when a Wisconsin teacher named Ryan Krug lobbied political and educational leaders to designate a national day to honor teachers. March 7,1980 was designated the first National Teacher Day by the US Congress. However, they did not make it an annual event and instead set aside just that one day to honor teachers. The National Education Association (NEA) continued to observe National Teacher Day on the first Tuesday of March.

In 1984, the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) designated the first full week in March each year as National Teacher Appreciation Week. The National PTA sponsors events on the national, state and local levels to recognize and celebrate all of the hard work teachers do.

Teachers play an important role in the lives and development of our children, often inspiring a love of learning and readying them for success. This is the time to think about ways to show our appreciation, and that is often expressed in the form of a gift. This year give some thought to what your children’s teachers would actually like and present them with a gift that communicates your appreciation. Here are a few ideas to help you think outside the box and go beyond the usual pencil holder or “World’s Best…” coffee mug.

A Letter of Gratitude

Take the time to write a letter about how much your child has learned and grown under their care. Use examples of the ways that your child has become more excited about learning, happier, more confident, etc. Hand write it for a bonus personal touch.

Classroom Supplies

It is no secret that teachers must often reach into their own pockets to make sure their students have the supplies they need to learn. Help ease some of the burden by gifting supplies for the classroom. It is probably a good idea to find out what the teacher needs most ahead of time. Your child may be able to help.

Coffee

Unlike the typical corporate office, not every school makes coffee available for their employees. Coffee shop gift cards are great. Also consider quality coffee beans or pods.

Contact Your Former Teacher

This one is not necessarily about your children’s teachers but is definitely in the spirit of appreciation that National Teacher Appreciation Week encourages. Most teachers would love to catch up with an old student and learn about how they may have influenced a life. You can encourage your kids to do the same. If a visit is impractical, write a note or an email.

These are just some general ideas. Use them as a starting point to come up with the perfect thank you gift for your kids’ teachers. Happy National Teacher Appreciation Week.

Inspiring Films

Inspiring Films For National Volunteer Week

With National Volunteer Week (https://www.pointsoflight.org/nvw/) running from April 7-13, we thought it would be a good time to suggest some inspiring films about giving and charity. The late film critic, Roger Ebert, called movies empathy generating machines for their ability to help viewers connect with others. The films listed here all deal with kindness and the act of giving. They range from an obvious, not to be missed classic, to a couple of less familiar titles.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) has spent years putting his dreams on hold to help others in his town of Bedford Falls. Due to a mistake and the machinations of the film’s antagonist, George finds himself in a desperate situation and contemplating suicide. That is until the angle Clarence appears to show home what the lives’ of his friends and family would have looked like without his generosity. There is a reason this one is a Christmas classic.

Pay It Forward (2000)

Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) is a young boy who becomes inspired by his civics teacher’s assignment to think of something to change the world and put it into action. He comes up with the idea to “pay it forward.” Instead of repaying a good deed, he will do three good deeds for three new people. His project goes on the change his life as well as those of the people close to him.

Millions (2004)

Seven year old Damian is obsessed with Catholic saints and their good deeds, even believing that his deceased mother may have been one herself. When a duffel bag filled with millions of British Pounds crashes into his backyard cardboard fort it puts in motion a story about the power of caring for others. The film occasionally steers into magical realism but is sincere and has an important message.

The Blind Side (2009)

The true story of Leigh Anne and Sean Touhy who take in homeless teenager Michael Oher. Michael was fatherless and his mother was a drug addict. The Touhy’s made sure that Michael had every opportunity they could provide him to succeed. Michael Oher ultimately played NCAA Division I football on a scholarship and became a first round NFL draft pick.

Batkid Begins (2015)

In November, 2013 the Make a Wish Foundation was ready to grant 5 year old cancer patient, Mike Scott’s, dream. He wanted to be Batman for a day. After a few calls were made to get things rolling, the project continued to grow as more and more people got involved;  from the San Francisco mayor, police and Giants baseball team to a Hollywood effects studio, President Barack Obama and more. Ultimately, the event became a city-wide roleplaying narrative game the had Batkid running around the city, with an adult Batman sidekick, fighting crime.

Each of these inspiring films reminds us of the power of giving of ourselves to benefit the lives of others. Queue one this weekend and get inspired to do some good during National Volunteer Week, and beyond.

Givers Gain Grants

Givers Gain® Grants Awarded to Five Deserving Organizations

This year’s winter round of Givers Gain® Grants have been awarded. Every year the BNI Foundation awards at least ten $1,000 grants to schools and educational organizations for projects that will benefit students. To qualify the school or organization must be associated with one of our Business Voices teams. Here are this year’s winners.

Swift Youth Foundation in Scottsdale, AZ

The Swift Youth Foundation was founded in 1980 to provide a camping experience to children who would otherwise be unable to afford it. The organization works to empower teens to make a positive difference in their own lives and communities by developing leadership skills and instilling a commitment to social action.

Horizon House in Philadelphia, PA

Started in 1952 as a support group for former mental health patients, Horizon House is committed to helping individuals live a fulfilling life in their communities. There PEACE program helps young people deal with early psychosis. 

Just for Girls in West Bradenton, FL

Just for Girls makes a positive impact on young women through prevention education, academic support, character development, and personal enrichment. They provide before and after school programs as well as education programs for K-8th grade that help girls map a new path to success, find their personal inspiration, and increase their grades. 

Investing in Kids, St. Augustine

INK works to provide scholarships, innovative programs and classroom resources to the students of the Saint Johns County public school system.

Carlson School 

Building Blocks School

Congratulations to all of the recipients. We look forward to learning more about the programs the Givers Gain® Grants will fund.

BNI Global Convention 2018

BNI Global Convention 2018 – Bangkok Thailand

A Word From BNI Foundation Vice Chair, David Kauffman

We had a GREAT convention and I would like to thank all of those who supported the foundation at this historic event!

 A number of our supporters flew in early and visited the Friends of Thai Daughters, a charity that the BNI Foundation supports. They were able to visit with many of the girls and help distribute needed supplies to a few of the local villages. We were also honored that 3 of the girls were able to attend our Gala event. Through the generosity of the 1200 attendees we raised over $36,000 USD for the BNI Foundation that we immediately donated to Friends of Thai Daughters to make sure the girls have continued support.

I would also like to thank the following authors for donating a portion of every book sold at our booth. Norm Dominguez, The Magic of Positivity, YP Lai and Paulo Corsi, Networking Quotient. We sold hundreds of copies of each.

The Foundation gave out several awards to countries and directors with outstanding Business Voices teams. The BNI Foundation Award of Excellence was given to team BNI Canada and BNI Japan. While the Ivan Misner Excellence in Giving Award went to Monica Passini and Dario Castagna from team Italy. Team Italy held a Business Voices awards banquet this year to celebrate their 18 teams and had over 500 members in attendance. Their teams accomplished over 80 projects this year including insulating schools to keep the environment quiet and conducive to learning. They held a number of medical screenings at local schools and taught over 1000 children about dental hygiene.

From the main stage in conjunction with our round tables and breakout sessions we were able to raise global awareness about the BNI Foundation and Business Voices (our boots on the ground program). Members and directors learned how the BNI Foundation belongs to them and how they could get involved and truly make a difference in a child’s life! See photos from the BNI Global Convention in our gallery.

We are working hard to grow the foundation and hope to be in at least 6 new countries before the next Global Convention in Warsaw next year. The Business Voices teams around the world keep growing, even in countries that do not yet have foundations. We need to get your stories. If you are apart of a team please send us your stories at bnifoundation.org/monthly-business-voices-form/. If you would like more information on the BNI Foundation or Business Voices Teams, please contact us at bnifoundation.org/contact-us/.

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday Grows Bigger Every Year

Now that Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, we have Giving Tuesday to truly drive home the spirit of giving for the holiday season. Conceived of by the 92nd Street Y in New York City as a day to encourage everyone to donate their time and/or money to a worthy charity, Giving Tuesday, which falls on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, started six years ago and spread through the public consciousness with the help of media companies like Mashable, Skype, Cisco and Google.

Today Giving Tuesday is observed in dozens of countries and has resulted in 100’s of millions of dollars in charitable donations. Last year’s estimate alone is $274 million moved. The event is driven by social media and two years ago Facebook began to take part. In 2017 $45 million was donated through the social media platform, with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matching $2 million of that amount. Given the yearly growth, we can expect even larger numbers this year and for the giving spirit to be carried through to the end of the year and beyond.

Giving Tuesday and the BNI Foundation

The BNI Foundation was started to help children, schools and educational organizations around the world. The Business Voices initiative is designed to facilitate charitable giving by BNI chapters and members. A Business Voices team partners with an educational organization in its own community and works with them to help meet the organization’s and students’ needs. BNI members give their time, talent and treasure to make a difference in the lives of students. If you are not familiar with Business Voices please visit our website for information and a toolkit that includes everything you need to get your BNI chapter involved. This is the perfect time to get your team started as many students and schools need help with supplies and more when they return to class after the holiday break.

World Teacher’s Day

World Teacher’s Day Celebrates Contributions, Recognizes Challenges

“Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach.”

Aristotle

Celebrated annually on October 5th since 1994, World Teacher’s Day was created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to commemorate the adoption of the 1966 “Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers.” The 1966 Recommendation set benchmarks for the rights and responsibilities of teachers as well as international guidelines for the recruitment, employment and training of teachers around the world. World Teacher’s Day has become a day to recognize and celebrate the contributions of teachers and to encourage mobilization around the challenges teachers face every day.

This year’s theme is “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher,” chosen to reflect the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which recognized education as one of humanity’s fundamental rights. In the 70 years since the Declaration, UNESCO has worked toward ensuring every child has access to quality education. The primary challenge to this goal is a continued worldwide shortage of teachers, most pronounced among vulnerable populations like girls, refugees and migrants, and the poor.

World Teacher’s Day is observed in over 100 countries throughout the world. Events include community celebrations that honor teachers and conferences and symposiums concerning issues facing teachers and education.

Business Voices on World Teacher’s Day

This yearly celebration, and the awareness it creates, provide an excellent opportunity for Business Voices teams to mobilize and help schools, teachers and students in their communities. Projects can be geared to help teachers as well as the schools where they work and the students they teach. The Business Voices toolkit includes charitable project ideas including school beautification days, supply drives and even using your business knowledge to coach teachers and school staff. Take advantage of this day that honors teachers around the world to create excitement and support for the teachers in your own community.

Austin Award

Beth Misner Awarded for Her Philanthropic Work with Children

This weekend, at the 7th Annual Austin Originals Benefit Concert, BNI Foundation founder Beth Misner was awarded the Community Activist Phyllis Richards Austin Icon for Children Award. The award, which is presented each year by the Austin Child Guidance Center, recognizes Mrs. Misner’s contributions to, and engagement with, the community, which have resulted in positive changes for Austin’s children.

Beth Misner, along with her husband, Ivan Misner, founded the BNI Foundation 20 years ago to support students, schools and educational organizations around the world. The BNI Foundation congratulates Mrs. Misner on this prestigious award given in recognition of her volunteerism and philanthropic spirit.

Opened in 1951, the Austin Child Guidance Center works to improve the mental health of children and their families by providing early intervention, diagnosis and treatment. In the decades since it’s establishment, The  Austin Child Guidance Center has provided treatment to more than 140,000 children and families.

BNI Manhattan Teams Up With Operation Backpack

BNI Manhattan Teams Up With Operation Backpack

In New York city, there are more than 16,000 homeless children who start each school year with no school supplies. Operation Backpack, organized by Volunteers of America, is dedicated to providing brand new backpacks with age-appropriate school supplies for children in grades 1-12. Last year Operation Backpack provided 18,000 backpacks full of school supplies to homeless children in New York.

Several BNI Manhattan members volunteered this month on to help stuff backpacks. Additionally, the BNI Manhattan 62 chapter has committed to providing 24 supply stuffed backpacks themselves. “Many of us in BNI have children and know how much it means when our kids go back to school each year with brand new supplies and a new backpack. I’m so happy that we as a BNI franchise and community of business professionals are able to support this effort, both financially and through volunteering.” said Jennifer S. Wilkov, BNI Manhattan’s Philanthropy Coordinator.

Volunteers of America is a nonprofit organization of nearly 16,000 paid, professional employees and 60,000 volunteers dedicated to helping those in need including veterans, at-risk youth, the frail elderly, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions. Learn more at voa.org.

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