A Magic (Johnson) Moment at the ConnexFM Conference

A Magic (Johnson) Moment at the ConnexFM Conference

 

Our chairmen, Kevin Barber and David Kauffman, along with board member Michael Walchonski, were recently given the opportunity to speak about the BNI Foundation’s impact at the ConnexFM conference in Long Beach, CA. While there, they met and spoke with Magic Johnson, world renowned basketball star and philanthropist. At the meet and greet they thought they would have a bit of private time with Magic, but he had other plans.

He was pushing past the backstage crowd and got to our chairmen and Kevin asked, “How can we help you?” He stopped and looked at them and said, “What did you say?” David responded,” We are the BNI Foundation, and our foundation has a similar mission as yours, we help children succeed, I want to know how we can help you?”. He looked and said, “That is a totally different conversation.

Give me something to write on and call me to set up a meeting.” After talking about both of our Foundations for a brief time, he gave them his number! BNI Foundation and Magic Johnson have hopes to work together on a project soon. A true testament to the Givers Gain philosophy, we are excited to see what the future holds!

New Life Beginnings: Partnership with Connex Foundation

New Life Beginnings Project: Partnership with the Connex Foundation

The BNI Foundation has been working on a partnership with the Connex Foundation over the last few months to support New Life Beginnings, a shelter for women and children in Long Beach, California and we were finally able to see the project come to life on April 24th, 2022. Along with this partnership, the BNI Foundation awarded a $25,000 Givers Gain Grant to the project, our largest Grant to date. Board Members Kevin Barber, David Kauffman, and Michael Walchonski were on-site representing the BNI Foundation during the New Life Beginnings Project making much needed updates to the building spaces, living quarters, and learning centers.

New Life Beginnings provides safe shelter to vulnerable women and their children in a stable, caring, structured environment. The organization does not take government funding because the regulations in place would only allow those seeking shelter to stay for 2 months and women would only be permitted to house 2 children with them, requiring their families to be separated and the other children to be placed in foster care.

At the BNI Foundation, we know how important it is for children to live and stay in an environment that has all of the resources they need to be successful which is why we were proud to be the premiering sponsor of the New Life Beginnings Project. With this grant, we could contribute new books, furniture, and other necessities in the shelter to make sure all of the families and children that are staying at New Life Beginnings feel welcomed and cared for.

In addition to the project, the BNI Foundation was given the opportunity to attend the ConnexFM Conference the following days. As the guests of the Connex Foundation, our Chairmen were able to speak on stage about the BNI Foundation, our goals, mission, and vision. We are thankful for the partnership with the Connex Foundation and the good work we could do together with the New Life Beginnings Project.

To watch a review of our project, check out our YouTube channel – linked here!

BNI Foundation Learning Center in Kashipur Village, Bangladesh

 

[Kashipur Village, Khulna, Bangladesh] – The BNI Foundation partnered with Speak Up for the Poor to build the BNI Foundation Learning Center in Kashipur Village in Bangladesh. Speak Up for the Poor is a nonprofit whose mission is to create a new reality for girls in poverty. They create transformative programs for impoverished girls though three channels – the Girls Education Program, homes for at-risk-girls, and as justice advocates for girls experiencing abuse.

Speak Up for the Poor was a Givers Gain Grant recipient in the Fall of 2021 and immediately put the funds to work with the construction of the BNI Foundation Learning Center completed in March of 2022.

“The BNI Foundation grant has funded the construction of a brand-new Learning Center (schoolhouse) in Kashipur village — one of the 35 villages and urban communities in which Speak Up’s Girls Education Program operates”, says Dave Palmer, Director of Development for Speak Up for the Poor. “The new Learning Center in Kashipur will facilitate the education of more than 150 girls and young women in our Girls Education Program every year.  We are so grateful to the BNI Foundation for their kind partnership with us”.

Speak Up for the Poor helps girls from impoverished backgrounds to escape child marriage and child trafficking, and to stay in school all the way through high school and college graduation, changing their future. Their life-saving programs in communities throughout Bangladesh are monumental, and the BNI Foundation is proud to partner with Speak Up to provide this grant to help in their mission to change lives.

For more information about Speak Up for the Poor, visit their website at  https://www.speakupforthepoor.org/.

 

Giver’s Gain Grant Funded to Bring Diversity to Art Schoolbooks

[Bradford, Vermont] – The Bradford Elementary School was recently awarded $1,000 of grant funding by the BNI Foundation to support their art program. This grant funded updated schoolbooks in the classroom to reflect a diversity of artists from different backgrounds who are masters in their mediums. The Bradford Elementary School is a student-centered community of learners who work together to support student growth academically, socially, and emotionally.

“I am very excited to be the recipient of the BNI Givers Gain Grant! As the art teacher at Bradford Elementary School, I am privileged to see each of my kindergarten through sixth grade students every week for art class,” said Al Morrow, Bradford Elementary Art Teacher for K-6.

“They are always excited to learn about new artists, and one of my favorite ways to introduce them to different artists is through picture books. Most of the books we have in the art room are

about thirty years old, and do not reflect the diversity of today’s art world. Because each year’s art budget is used to purchase art supplies for students, updating the books has had to wait. I am thrilled to be able to use the funds from the BNI Foundation Givers Gain Grant to finally be able to diversify and update the books in the art room! I know that the students of Bradford Elementary will be ecstatic to have access to these wonderful books”.

At Bradford Elementary School, we are seeing firsthand the urgent need to support educators in their ability to provide relevant materials for their students. We believe updating these books will have a significant impact on the students at Bradford Elementary

School as they continue their education by providing diverse, updated materials. The BNI Foundation works diligently to ensure that the grants we provide to educators will make the biggest impact on the largest number of students, and we are glad that we can assist Ms. Morrow in her endeavors to provide the highest quality education possible for her students.

 

 

National Volunteer Week

In his proclamation, President Biden said volunteers provide “Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another.” This week is National Volunteer Week, established by Presidential Proclamation in 1974 to recognize the impact of volunteers and to highlight the various opportunities available for those interested in volunteering.

Volunteers lend their time and talents to keep benevolent and essential organizations operating, face some of our greatest challenges and help provide services that may otherwise not be available to those who need them. They make our communities stronger and can sometimes produce transformative effects. This week we shine a light on the efforts of volunteers and consider ways we can make a difference.

Since its establishment, National Volunteer Week has grown exponentially and today leads to thousands of projects and special events being organized around the country. All kinds of volunteering opportunities are available online, at places of work and in communities.

BNI member have an exclusive volunteering opportunity. The BNI Foundation was founded more than 20 years ago to improve tomorrow’s business through education today. The Business Voices Initiative helps BNI chapter members, as well as other business leaders and organizations, team up with and help schools and educational organizations in their communities. Visit our website for more information.

Take some time this week to consider the essential work of volunteers now and throughout history. You are sure to find inspiration to volunteer yourself.

Halloween Safety

Tips for a Safe Halloween Night

Halloween, which originated from ancient traditions and religious rituals over 2,000 years ago, is observed around the world as a celebration of candy and mischief, dress-up, dark adventure, and for some, the supernatural. It is most popular in the US, Canada and Ireland- from where it originated.

Tonight millions of children and adults will go out dressed as their favorite hero, or most dreaded villain, to trick-or-treat. Here’s are some basic safety tips to keep in mind while out having fun.

  • Use reflective or light-colored materials and items in your costume to increase visibility at night.
  • Choose makeup over sight obstructing masks for costumes.
  • Trick-or-treat in groups and keep younger children closely supervised.
  • Use sidewalks and crosswalks and make eye contact with drivers before crossing to insure they see you.
  • Put your devices away. Our biggest distractors become more dangerous on a night like Halloween.
  • Drivers: be alert! Drive slowly through residential areas and where trick-or-treaters are present.
  • Turn the headlights on early.
  • Do not text and drive! Distractions can be deadly on Halloween where crosswalks may be less utilized by children and families. 

Keep these points in mind to keep the fun safe. Happy Halloween to all our friends celebrating today.

National School Backpack Awareness Day

Practice Backpack Safety

National School Backpack Awareness Day is observed every year on the third Wednesday of September. The awareness day was launched by The American Occupational Therapy Association in 2001 with the goal of encouraging proper backpack use by students. Improper use of backpacks can result in back pain, injuries, and bad posture as well as circulatory and other health issues. This is a great opportunity – now that school is in full swing in the US – to review proper backpack use with the students in you life. Here are some basic tips.

  • Always us both of the straps on a backpack. Slinging a backpack on just one shoulder can lead to pain, injury and bad posture. If the backpack has waist and chest straps, use those too. The waist and chest straps help to distribute the weight of the pack and keep it stable on the body. Well padded straps help to avoid cutting off circulation to the arms.
  • Ensure that the backpack’s size is appropriate for the child. Straps should be adjusted so the pack fits snugly against the child’s back and the pack should be worn high on the back (one or two inches above the hips).
  • A packed backpack should weigh no more than 10% of the child’s body weight. Heaviest items should be packed closest to the back of the pack (near the child’s back) with lighter items toward the front. Check periodically to ensure only essential items are in the backpack.
  • Backpacks should be picked up and put on by bending and lifting with the knees, not the back. If the child is having trouble lifting and putting on the backpack, it is likely too heavy.

Signs of Improper Use

  • Difficulty putting on and taking off the backpack
  • Pain while wearing the backpack
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms while wearing the backpack
  • Red marks on the shoulders where the backpack straps rest
  • Slouching or bad posture while wearing the backpack

The American Occupational Therapy Association has made a comprehensive checklist available for download. You can find it here.

Interesting Fact:

The modern backpack was invented by Gerry Outdoors in 1938 as a recreational tool for hiking and camping. In 1968 JanSport went into business making lightweight nylon backpacks which made them popular with students around the country. Today JanSport is the largest backpack maker in the world.

International Youth Day

International Youth Day

Today is International Youth Day, a day to consider the many difficulties that children face all around the world. From poverty and hunger to war and displacement, children face a wide range of hardships. Children are often the most vulnerable and unable to help themselves. At The BNI Foundation we have spent twenty years doing all we can to help children have access to education. The Business Voices initiative was designed to get business leaders to take action and help students and educational organizations in their own communities. Today there are Business Voices teams in cities all over the globe.

Established in 1999, International Youth Day grew from a United Nations program to bring awareness to the plight of children in need. It began with the first International Year of Youth in 1985 and the implementation in 1995 of the World Programme of Action for Youth which established broad guidelines to improve the world for children. Some of the primary goals of the United Nation’s program are to build a better world for children by focusing on fifteen priority areas including education, armed conflicts and health;  raise awareness about poverty and hunger;  and to encourage creative thinking to approach these problems.

Transforming Education

The theme of International Youth Day in 2019 is “Transforming Education,” which is perfectly aligned with the vision of the BNI Foundation. The United Nations is tying this effort with its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which in part calls for inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Education is essential to achieving sustainable development and can play an important role in eradicating hunger, improving health, increasing gender equality and more.

In observance of International Youth Day and the beginning of classes this month throughout parts of the world, we encourage BNI chapter members and others to participate in activities to benefit students and educational organizations. The Business Voices initiative is an excellent way to organize with your business colleagues and make a real difference in your own community. Visit our website for information and a toolkit that will help you get started and provide ideas for charitable programs. Students and schools all over the world need your help, and that means right in your community as well.

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.

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.

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