Tag Archive for Social

3 Social Action Projects to Watch in 2013

On Saturday Jan. 19, at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. — called the Googleplex — 300 thought leaders from around the country gathered at The Intersection, a conference focused on innovation and collaboration.

At this event, six organizations presented social action projects, all of which were included in the 10 finalists for the Gratitude Awards — awards that recognize social entrepreneurs for their innovative efforts that focus on social action. The awards were established through The Gratitude Network venture philanthropy organization, which mentors and funds innovator social entrepreneurs in nonprofit and for-profit organizations, and hosts The Intersection conference. 

Of the six projects presented at The Intersection, these three are the ones to watch this year:

This nonprofit organization, which won the 2013 Gratitude Award at The Intersection event, aims to help “young global citizens” get the support they need to succeed. Through partner organizations and mentors, the young adults involved in the program can design and carry out a range of social action projects, learn 21st-century skills and receive micro-grants to support their projects.

The foundation’s website serves as an online crowdsourcing platform, similar to sites like Kickstarter and Citizinvestor, so donors can help fund projects. People can also view projects in progress, including a brief description of what the project is, where in the world it’s taking place, how much funding has been raised and how much more it needs to be completed. The site then showcases the completed projects and the respective partners that were involved.

One project was completed in Niger, Africa, to help a school and community create awareness about drinking safe water. The group that carried out the project, called Water Circle, did not request funding; however, according to its project page, the group created an advocacy campaign and conducted fundraisers to help support the drilling of borehole wells in villages in Niger.

To help young minds learn math skills, Motion Math developed a suite of mobile games that the organizations calls “rigorously educational, stylish and awesomely fun.”

The organization’s mission, according to its website, is to help children develop an intuitive mastery of math through a visual and physical understanding. The idea is to help children learn math as a stepping stone for other fields like science, technology and engineering.

One game available through Math Motion is called Hungry Guppy – designed for 3- to 7-year-olds — to help with learning addition. The game, available on iOS devices, costs $3.99 from the iTunes store. 

According to a study funded by a grant from the Noyce Foundation, fifth-graders’ fractions test scores improved by 15 percent after playing Motion Math for 20 minutes over a five-day period.

Like the name says, nonprofit organization OneGoal has one goal in mind – to help students graduate from college. And according to the organization, only 8 percent of ninth-graders living in low-income communities are expected to graduate from college by age 25.

The teacher-led college persistence program selects teachers who are nominated to participate in OneGoal. After teachers are selected, OneGoal program directors work with those teachers and their respective schools to then work with students (OneGoal fellows) to stay on track for college graduation.

According to OneGoal, 95 percent of its fellows have enrolled in college and 85 percent of alumni are on track to graduate from college to date. The program, which began in 2007 now currently serves 1,200 students. 

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Social Media Monitoring May Detect Biological Outbreaks

Social media will soon be used as an early detection tool for biological attacks. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hired Accenture to conduct a one-year, $3 million test that will attempt to spot public health trends using the data available in open social networks, company officials announced Nov. 8. Such a program would serve to help solve problems like the 2001 anthrax letters, 2003 SARS outbreak, 2009 bird flu pandemic and 2011 nuclear emergency in Japan, NextGov.com reported.

President Barack Obama called for a solution that would allow early detection of such outbreaks in July in a National Strategy for Biosuveillance. “This strategy further articulates that when the collection and sharing of this essential information is prioritized, decision-making can be expedited at all

levels of government and beyond,” he wrote. “While other activities are integral to everyday local biosurveillance efforts that can and should continue, our strategy calls for a national focus on fewer issues so that more can be achieved collectively. Our approach also seeks to inspire new thinking and revised methodologies to ‘forecast’ that which we cannot yet prove, so that timely decisions can be made to save lives and reduce impacts during an emergency incident.”

A similar program led by the DHS, which attempts to use social networks to identify terrorist plots, caused some House members to sue the DHS over perceived Fourth Amendment violations. The DHS, however, contended that standards were in place to protect the privacy of the innocent. The collection of personal information was only for a narrowly defined group of people, DHS officials said in testimony, and the information was publicly available to begin with.

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