The Shin Fujiyama Podcast | Social Entrepreneurship | Nonprofit Organizations | International Development Aid | NGOs

Shin Fujiyama is a CNN Hero and the Executive Director of Students Helping Honduras. He lives with 30 former street children in Honduras where he runs a school and international NGO out of a tree house. In each episode Shin will be interviewing a proven social entrepreneur or NGO leader in the nonprofit or international development aid industry-- including several CNN Heroes and bestselling authors. They’re going to deconstruct their journey to explain HOW they built up their organizations. They’ll also tell us about their greatest failures, lessons, regrets, and behind-the-scenes realities. We’ll talk about their tactics, philosophies, principles, tools, and motivations to give you inspiration and actionable advice. 1) Subscribe to this podcast. 2) Turn on automatic downloads. 3) Leave me a review. 4.) Enjoy every new interview for FREE during your commute or workout.
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The Shin Fujiyama Podcast | Social Entrepreneurship | Nonprofit Organizations | International Development Aid | NGOs



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Now displaying: October, 2016
Oct 31, 2016

"The mountains are calling, and I must go." -John Muir

Back in 2011 while at the Coast Guard Academy, Johnny Zeng envisioned climbing the 48 fourteeners in Colorado. The fourteeneers are mountains that each exceed 14,000 feet in elevation. Five years later and after many months of training and preparation, he faced his fears and self-doubts head on. Johnny embarked on the dangerous journey to raise money for his favorite charity, Students Helping Honduras, through the climb. He called the expedition, Climb for Honduras.
He survived the grueling expedition to tell us his tales. Learn how he prepared, trained, equipped himself, slept, ate, dealt with wildlife, and survived a life-threatening fall up on the mountains, all the while figuring out how to raise money through trial and error.
Show Links for Johnny Zeng

Show Notes & Summary for Johnny Zeng 

Johnny found out about Students Helping Honduras from his classmate George at the Coast Guard Academy

He was a cadet for four years and then was commissioned for five years in Honolulu, Hawaii and then in Seattle

He was a swimmer growing up and into many physical activities

Later on in college, Johnny got into mountaineering and rock climbing

His friend Kyle told Johnny about mountaineering in Colorado and about the fourteeners

He realized that he could combine his passion for mountaineering with his passion for SHH by climbing for Honduras

Johnny focused on "scrambling" which is kind of like hiking but on steeper terrain, like cliffs

He took a year-long alpine mountaineering course through where he learned skills getting getting out of crevasses

Rock fall was a serious threat

Redundancy in equipment is important for safety

Johnny worked on his cardio and leg strength for fitness training.

You must be able to run 3-5 miles consistently

Everyone handles altitude changes differently, with headaches, appetite loss, vomitting

He did a lot of camping next to his car, which carried everything he needed

Colorado has convenient camping locations and regulations

He carried a water filter with him and get drinking water from a nearby streams

He took food, water, and snacks, emergency gear with him during the climbs

Sunglasses and sunblock are important

Johnny encourages the use of trekking poles to preserve your knees, even if it's a stick you pick up on the side of the road

Johnny had gotten a certificate in fundraising from the University of Washington through a year-long course

He learned to make a website through

"Learning about fundraising in the classroom was one thing. Applying it in the real world was a whole new experience."

Johnny used as the online fundraising platform

He marketed Climb for Honduras via word of mouth, Facebook

Right before the trek, Johnny felt terrified and was full of doubts and uncertainty

He knew that life was uncertain after the expedition, or even during the dangerous expedition

He brought a Honduran flag with him everywhere, including on the expedition. People signed it as he trekked along

People from his church network in Colorado helped him and even joined him during parts of the expedition

Johnny prefers climbing with his friends instead of going alone

Chicago Basin, Colorado, was the most beautiful landscape Johnny witnessed during his expedition

He worried about his fundraising while on the treks and continued to work on it during his rest days back in civilization

He would climb 4-5 days of the week and take 2-3 days off

Camping up in the mountains was peaceful, especially the places with less people

There was the threat of encountering black bears

He saw many marmots!

At one point it started snowing, even though it was August

There were many moments where Johnny felt in danger

Due to frost, Johnny fell and injured his right hip. He kept going despite the sharp pain.

He saw rain, snow, thunderstorms, and even hail

Johnny ate a lot of dehydrated food that he heated up with hot water. They were mostly stews

Johnny's favorite flavor was chicken and rice

The sunrise hikes were breathtaking

When the sun comes up, all your worries melt away

The last peak was Mt. Huron, and in preparation they had brought a champaign bottle with them

He had lost 12 pounds of weight

He loved In-And-Out Burgers when he got home

"The mountains are calling, and I must go." -John Muir

Oct 26, 2016

Social entrepreneur Sophia Sunwoo believed in her mission so much that she worked without a salary for the first 2.5 years of starting The Water Collective. To make ends meet, she worked at a bakery during the day and built up the NGO at nighttime.

Entrepreneurial at heart, Sophia built a clothing company (celebrities like Miley Cyrus wore her clothesline) and sold it while still in college.

She remained in the corporate world for several months after college. But for Sophia Sunwoo, creating social impact was her calling. She quit her job, and began working at a bakery in New York. With co-founder Josh Braunstein, Sophia created The Water Collective to help provide clean drinking water to partner communities in Africa and India. 

In this episode, Sophia talks about the challenges of working in the developing world as a female leader and dealing with petty community politics. You'll also learn what it's like to run an NGO with a co-founder and why for Sophia it's like "like a marriage without all the fun parts." 

Sophia was listed as a leading force for social entrepreneurship on the Forbes' 30 Under 30 List in 2016.

Show Links - a site that connects NGOs, people, and projects


Show Notes & Summary

While in college, Sophia started a clothing line out of her dorm room with her roommate

She wanted to be a clothing designer since she was 9 years old

250 retailers

Miley Cyrus wore one of her hoodies

Despite her success, Sophia was unhappy

Sophia sold her company while she was still in college so she could do what she was passionate about

She was inspired by a professor asking his students to do something about climate change and social impact

She regimented a very strict schedule while in college to accomplish everything

She wanted to enter the nonprofit and social impact industry but nobody would offer her a job due to her lack of experience. She got rejected every time!

She returned to the corporate world, at a art consulting firm

She learned to project manage, production schedules, conflict resolution in the corporate world

Within 7 months, Sophia was ready to quit the corporate world

Her parents took a step back and trusted Sophia and her decision

Sophia met her co-founder, Josh Braunstein, at the bar on the day she quit her corporate job

Sophia worked in a bakery while starting The Water Collective

Sophia had never met an Asian American social entrepreneur for her first five years in the social impact space

Josh's Jewish network was supportive of their work. The Korean American community was less willing to support Sophia because charity is not a part of their culture as much.

Immigrant parents have a hard time understanding the risky decisions that their second-generation children may take in entrepreneurship or social entrepreneurship

You need to leverage your immediate network early on to be a successful social entrepreneur

They had many false starts in the beginning and projects kept falling through for an entire year

Co-founder Josh Braunstein had worked in the nonprofit industry, specializing in clean water. He had noticed that many projects simply did not work on the ground.

They noticed that many water systems stopped working after a few years

Maintenance, troubleshooting, and finding spare parts were largely unaddressed

Super high-tech or electric-powered water systems were problematic due to technical problems

Sophia found partner organizations in Africa mostly on-line

They received an email from a farmer in Cameroon who came from a village that did not have access to clean drinking water

They hopped on a flight to go meet the farmer in Cameroon

It's extremely difficult for NGOs to work in Cameroon, such as roads not being paved. Mud roads got washed away when it rained.

The Water Collective had dealt with much of the legal work finished during the first year to make things easier for the second year

Managing community relationships and dynamics is challenging due to competing interests that people within the community may have

Each community has a village chief and it is crucial for The Water Collective to foster those relationships

The Water Collective never fully funds a project so that the community can feel as if they are true stakeholders by fundraising and building

Working with different village chiefs is challenging, as they may or may not have the support of the community or certain members

Seemingly small relationships within the communities are important

Sophia believes that you can always create a system or process that can help you, even when managing key relationships or choosing partner villages

The Water Collective vouches each community where they ask questions, observe, and gather anecdotal data to see if the community would be a good fit as a partner

Sophia is all about testing ideas, getting feedback, and iterating

Sophia is a Tim Ferriss fan!

Sophia needed a confidence boost after being in a country where women are not respected as much and where people don't know how to handle a women in a leadership position

People gave her more authority when she told them that she was American

People from work would invite her for a meeting but would cross the line with their romantic approaches

People would make offhand comments about Sophia because she was a woman

She now does not show a hint of her feminine side when in these communities. It's awkward for her because she's all about women's rights and equality.

She picks her battles when it comes to standing up for women's issues in developing countries because she wonders if it is her responsibility and it takes away from her efficiency getting the projects done

Someone of power in Cameroon is usually overweight, since that means he is wealthy enough to eat a lot. Sophia is a tiny Asian girl, the opposite of what most leaders look like.

Demonstrating a sense of self-worth is important for women in development aid, not accepting sexist comments or unwanted advances or being treated as a plaything

The co-founder relationship is complicated, it's "like a marriage without all the fun parts"

You can go from being best friends to not talking each other constantly. It can get very emotional.

Building a startup is an emotional process

"It's always about execution. It's never about the idea."

A close staff member in Cameroon passed away recently, and dealing with death was difficult for Sophia and Josh. They considered closing down and became depressed.

The Water Collective has an important gala coming up in New York

Sophia and Josh meet at least once a week, usually in person

In one community, the intra-community problems were too deep that The Water Collective could not moderate even with the help of moderators and political leaders. The community chief did not have the support of his community

It was not in Sophia's philosophy to try and be the white knight that would throw money at the problems the community struggled with to try and solve it for them.

They had to abandon that particular community partnership

The Mundame community partnership is Sophia's proudest project

The Water Collective has a rigorous water maintenance program

They teach the communities how to fix and repair the systems so that it becomes second-nature, kind of like how everyone nowadays know how to use a smart phone

The Water Collective uses mostly water catchment systems where they will get water from a stream, and sometimes wells

It's important for Sophia that women are involved in the communities

Sophia and Josh worked for The Water Collective without a salary for the first 2.5 years

It's important to stay on the pulse when it comes to fundraising so you can evolve

It's important for an NGO to have a strong Board that can financially contribute a certain amount each year

Sophia like to host intimate, private dinners to update key donors

Sophia finds Board members that she can get along with and will support each other

They found Board members by searching for specific qualifications

Sophia likes to meditate and write down how she's feeling about certain projects

Sophia loves the Tim Ferriss Podcast!!

Sophia is currently coaching social entrepreneurs secure revenue for their projects at

Oct 24, 2016

Social entrepreneur Marquis Taylor started Coaching for Change by racking up $15,000 in credit card debt. He believed in his mission that much.

Marquis Taylor grew up in a rough, gang-riddled neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. For him, basketball was the only thing that mattered. Using his talent and dogged work ethic, Marquis got a scholarship to play NCAA basketball.

After college and a number of years in the real estate industry, Marquis took a giant leap of faith forward. He left it all to start Coaching for Change to help vulnerable students become college and career ready. Coaching for Change organizes business training, mentorship, and academic support through the one thing that he loves: basketball. The organization works with low-income, disengaged high school students who are on the verge of dropping out.

Marquis Taylor is an Echoing Green Fellow and CNN Hero.


Show Links (Echoing Green is a social innovation fund that acts as a catalyst for impact. With access to funding, grants, and strategic foundational support, they can accelerate the positive vision leaders have for the world.


Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America by Paul Tough


Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi

Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin


Show Notes & Summary

California is not all palm trees and sunshines as people may think

He saw the worst and the best of humanity growing up

Marquis struggled through school, unable to read until the third or fourth grade

Basketball was his one escape, his "one and only motivator"

Marquis describes himself as a mid-range player who was like a "gnat"

Over the summer during high school, Marquis trained three times per day

He trained under Wayne Slappy at UCLA during the summers

Marquis noticed that the NBA players focused on the little things

He worked in the sub-prime mortgage industry, kind of like as Cristian Bale's assistant in the movie The Big Short

After college, Marquis wanted to make a lot of money

When the industry collapsed, he moved to the Mississippi Delta for a new job.

Marquis felt like he was in the third world being in the Mississippi Delta seeing all the dirt roads and lack of opportunity

They call these areas Mail Box Communities because everyone is living off welfare

It was there that Marquis realized the importance of education and how privileged he was relative to the people there

Witnessing the poverty, Marquis decided to become an educator to help

He got a master's degree in education but realized he didn't want to be a teacher

He started Coaching for Change without much of a fallback plan

Marquis truly hustled to start Coaching for Change, from sleeping on couches and in his car to getting into credit card debt

"It's not rocket science. It's persistence and hard work."

The program evolved from just training high school students to become basketball coaches

Coaching for Change then helps the students get jobs, graduate from schools, and mentor middle school students

"People label these kids we work with as the bad kids. I believe that they are just misunderstood."

These kids have a lot of things to deal with at home, such as parents being in jail

"Through small successes, young people begin seeing that they CAN actually do this."

Coaching for Change started with just 15 kids

Some of his high school students had never met a person who was in college

One of his high school students was struggling in school because he was dealing with his father being imprisoned for drug dealing. He overcame immense challenges and became a mentor to middle school students and is now attending college

His kids are required to organize sporting events, like 3v3 basketball tournaments and run them like businesses, selling t-shirts, running concession stands, charging entry tickets

The learn the elements of business through a fun process

Marquis racked up $15,000 in credit card debt to start Coaching for Change and to keep his promise

He won the Echoing Green Fellowship and $70,000 award by being honest

"When you put forth the work and effort, luck will follow."

Principles, teachers, and parents have competing interests

Marquis stresses the importance of fighting for moments and embracing them

The public schools pulled out of Coaching for Change because they did not want the organization to start including charter schools in their program

Marquis hadn't realize the dark side of politics behind education system until then

They had plans to impact 350 kids from 7 schools and all the public schools pulled out of the program just because Marquis wanted to also include charter schools in the program

There is intense competition for funding between public and charter schools

They had to shut down their programs as a result

Schools are able to custom design the programs like the Nike ID Lab

The students Coaching for Change works with have a 6,000-hour learning gap (equivalent to 5 years in the classroom by the time they are graduate due to a lack of extracurricular activities compared to students who enjoy them in higher-income neighborhood

He had to start all over again, going from seven schools to just one

Instead of working district by district, Coaching for Change started working with individual schools

Marquis was inspired by Geoffrey Canada, the founder of Harlem Children's Zone

Geoffrey Canada has the ability to mesmerize a room through his story telling

People tried boycotting Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone whey it was first starting off due to its audacious nature

The secret to recruiting busy college students is to get them passionate about the project by having them meet and spend time with the kids in the program. They also get paid, which helps.

Oct 18, 2016

Most high school students are too busy with school work, video games, and their social lives to do much else. But Chris Cao, a 17-year-old senior at Thomas Jefferson High School is raising the bar for his generation.

At age 15, CNN Hero Chris Cao became a social entrepreneur. He started Reboot for Youth, a nonprofit organization in northern Virginia that recycles, repairs, and delivers refurbished computers to youth in need.

His core team is made up of his friends who go to different high schools in the Fairfax area. Each Saturday, Chris gets the team together at a friend's basement to further their mission. Of course, pizza is essential at these gatherings.

In two years, Reboot for Youth has delivered 418 computers (as of October, 2016) to youth in the Washington D.C. area, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Leave your comments here:

Show Notes & Summary

Started the operation at the basement of his friend's house

Chris Cao has several online classes at his high school

He spends his weekend like any normal teenager, hanging out with friends and catching up on school work.

Chris was tutoring a kid named Sebastian who couldn't afford to have a computer at his house

"Students in our very own neighborhood don't have access to computers."

Chris began tinkering with and fixing computers at age 10 by watching YouTube videos

Chris's parents were supportive of his interest in computers

Chris's grandfather was a doctor from Vietnam and worked in philanthropy, offering free medical care to the poor in Vietnam

The process of becoming a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization was "tedious" for Chris. He found most of his information on WikiLinks.

It's difficult to juggle school work, a social life, and Reboot for Youth simultaneously

Homework gets in the way of running Reboot for Youth

Chris has a great team he can rely on

Chris was only 14 when he started Reboot for Youth, and because of his young age it was difficult to get adults to see them as a legitimate organization

Every Saturday the Reboot for Youth team meets for two hours at a friend's house. They form an assembly line to repair the computers together. Pizza is essential at these meetings.

Families in the Washington DC neighborhood could submit a request for laptops on the Reboot for Youth website

Reboot for Youth uses Keepod USB drives to provide operating systems for the refurbished laptops.

The first international shipment was to El Salvador

Sometimes Chris focuses his attention towards his personal issues and away from Reboot for Youth, which is frustrating for him

Sometimes Chris gets overwhelmed, feeling like his back is against a wall and there is nowhere to go

It was extremely difficult for Chris to take his AP exams while Nickelodeon was filming his efforts all day

Chris Cao describes how he felt when CNN called him for the CNN Heroes program. He was happy that Reboot for Youth could finally display their work to the entire world. The showing resulted in many laptops donated.

At first not everyone believed in Chris nor in Reboot for Youth's mission

Chris felt a tremendous amount of pressure not to let down his donors, but he used it as motivation to work harder

When the Reboot for Youth team encounters a disagreement, they make decisions by voting and through peaceful means.

For the Costa Rica project, the Reboot for Youth team had to refurbish 20 computers in one week all the while they had to go to school and finish homework. They stayed up until midnight to finish the project.

Chris is learning to be a leader through trial and error.

He picked up his leadership skills while a freshman intern at an IT firm in DC. The CEO of the company taught Chris Cao about leadership, recommending him books like Good to Great.

The CEO selected Chris as a project manager even though he was only a freshman in high school, leading a team of developers to make a website for the company. He had to lead people who were older. Chris doesn't think he was a great leader when he did that.

He learned many leadership skills at the internship that he can use for Reboot for Youth

The CEO saw in Chris drive and the willingness to learn and progress as a person

Chris believes that the youth today are very inquisitive and self-motivated to further themselves

Intrinsic self motivation is important for Chris

Having parents who were not too strict has helped him

We live in a world where Asian Americans are underrepresented in the media and in leadership positions. Chris wants to be a trendsetter for Asian Americans.

Yang Yuanqing, the CEO of Lenovo tweeted at Chris after watching CNN Heroes to congratulate him

Lenovo donated 75 new laptops to Reboot for Youth, which became a turning point for Chris

Chris is now finding a new group of high school students to run the local operation so he can head out to college

Chris plans to expand the international reach of Reboot for Youth

"You're never too young to make an impact. I've met entrepreneurs younger than me."

Chris is grateful for his family and brother who have helped him along the way.

Oct 13, 2016

Ned Norton could deadlift 660 pounds. But that's one of his smaller accomplishments in life.

Ned is a social entrepreneur and a Top 10 CNN Hero from Albany, New York. He is the founder of Warriors on Wheels. In this episode he tells his story all the way from growing up as a scrawny kid (like me) and how that motivated him to become a competitive athlete and power lifter. He became a fitness trainer and trained several Olympic athletes, helping them win gold medals.

But even that wasn't enough for Ned Norton. He needed a greater challenge. Through a series of random events, he began to train a friend who had been paralyzed from an accident. Soon, many people in wheelchairs and with physical disabilities like spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, and traumatic brain injuries began to seek his help.

So in 1988, Ned started the nonprofit organization, Warriors on Wheels, opening a gym at his home town specialized for individuals with disabilities. At one point, he trained five members at his gym to bench press 300+ pounds.

Through his newest initiative, The Hercules Project, Ned ships free fitness and rehab equipment to individuals with disabilities in more than ten countries, including Mali, Darfur, Guatemala, and Somalia.

Ned has a saying at his gym: every person who comes in our front door will become their own success story.

Show Notes & Summary

Ned Norton was a scrawny kid growing up

When Ned was 12, his uncle gave him a set of weights, which was a great discovery for Ned

At his peak, Ned was deadlifting 660lbs

He loves going to the gym, he can't wait to get there each day (like me)

"It becomes part of your life. Like brushing your teeth."

Ned Norton is 58 years old

He got his dream job, to work at a gym. He became a trainer.

He worked with a few Olympic gold medal winners

He was a strength coach for three Olympic teams, basketball teams, football teams, bodybuilders

He learned about a 20-year-old guy who had gotten paralyzed after falling off a tree. The kid was so depressed that he was suicidal

Ned started training him at the gym, which instantly boosted the kid's confidence and self-esteem, eventually leading him to return to college and find a job

Nobody at the hospital could believe he was the same guy. This inspired 6 other people from the hospital come in to train with Ned

He had no specialized equipment

They called themselves the Warriors to have a cool name

The guys were making social and psychological transformation through Ned's training

60 people began to seek Ned for training after a story was published in the local newspaper

Ned saw the need and formed a nonprofit organization to help his disabled trainees

They get that feeling of well-being, confidence, progress, positivity

He found an abandoned floor in a public housing project which he was able to use for free for the new facility

People thought he was crazy for working in the "projects"

He charges a fee at his gym, but if people can't afford it, they don't need to pay

Less than 25% of his members are paying

When Ned got the phone call from CNN, he thought it was some kind of joke from the fire department guys

So many times things were so tough he was on the brink of closing the doors

It was on the day that Ned was contemplating how he was going to close down the gym and sell the equipment that he go the phone call from CNN Heroes

The ups and downs of running a nonprofit organization is extreme

Ned does it ALL ALONE. He runs the gym, he does the social media, the website, takes care of his family

The CNN glory gave Ned about a year of fame and funding. After that, he has had to return to the grind. "It never ends lol."

He was out meeting celebrities, movie stars, and on TV. Soon after, he was back in the projects hustling and grinding to keep the gym afloat

Raising money is the most frustrating thing about running Warriors on Wheels

Ned has a hard time asking for money (he's like a giant teddy bear)

After being on CNN, people with disabilities from all over the world began contacting him for help

A guy from Cambodia asked for help for landmine survivors and that sparked the Hercules Project where Ned sends resistance bands for free all over the world

Ned partnered up with the United Nations Mine Action Service

He will be sending workout equipment to Cali, Colombia (I'll be there during October-November, 2016)

He sent equipment to patients from a mental hospital in Somalia, where people had been chained down and their muscles had atrophied drastically

One girl in his program lost a leg to bone cancer at age 18, then at 24 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis which put her on a wheelchair, then she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to get a double mastectomy. Yet she still never misses a workout.

Ned has a strict morning routine where he works out at the gym and/or goes for a long run to "outrun the thoughts in his head."

To help the people in wheelchairs bench press 300+ pounds, Ned followed the strategy: Less is More. He only had them do 3-5 bench press sets per workout using his 6-8 weeks program.

Because his athletes dominated so many competitions, Ned eventually felt like he was the "evil coach" from the Karate Kid movie lol

I decide on the show to name our home gym at the Villa Soleada Children's Home the "Warrior's Gym Honduras"

Ned read up on Arnold and Franco's workout tips during his early days, before the internet was available

Arnold said to Ned in a seminar: "Don't ever do any of the workouts I talk about in the magazines. I never did any of them!"

Ned's "go-to" fitness resource is Muscle and Fitness

"Once you get hooked into enjoying it [fitness], it opens up a whole new world for you."

"You can always do more than you think you can. Never give up."

"You've only tapped into 40% of your potential."

He calls his best friends at the gym "the smelly monkey butts" lol

Ned trains people with Down's Syndrome. They oftentimes are good at powerlifting and bench pressing because they have shorter limbs.

When people come into the gym for the first time after recovering from an injury, they have terrible self-esteem

Sometimes doctors, family, and people at the rehab office focus on telling their patients what they can't do, what not to do. Whereas Ned talks about the amazing things they will be able to do after his 3-month training program.

Oct 11, 2016

In today's episode, we have Jessica Heinzelman ("a white woman who doesn’t discriminate against lovers based on race") and Teddy Ruge ("an educated, angry African--a rare species in the development sector").

They are the founders of Jaded Aid: A card game to save humanitarians (Wayan Vota, the third co-founder, couldn't make it for the call). As friends, they loved to drink and laugh together. And all three worked in the international development aid sector.

One day at a bar in Washington, DC, the three founders realized that existing power structures and humanitarians’ propensity to take themselves too seriously were inhibiting honest dialogue about the industry that could catalyze transformative change for improved results.

They decided to create a card game similar to Cards Against Humanity, except that this one would be for development workers, created by development workers.

They used Kickstarter to fund the idea. Within 48 hours they surpassed their goal, eventually raising $50,000+ on the platform. They were featured on several news outlets and sales began to climb.

As a humanitarian who has worked in Honduras since 2007, one card in the deck made me laugh out loud: “giving up any hope of a stable relationship.”

Learn how these founders created Jaded Aid to help the development industry... all the while making beer money and having fun.

Show Links

Jaded Aid Original Deck

Jaded Aid Peace Corps Expansion Pack

Jaded Aid T-shirt (red)

Jaded Aid T-shirt (grey)

Show Notes & Summary

They crowdsourced the card idea to the online community of aid workers

They received more than 2,500 admissions for card ideas

They held design parties to get feedback

User-centered design

Jaded Aid is fashioned very similar to Cards Against Humanity

There is a donor card (a statement with a blank or question) that is read out and recipients submit their proposals to answer or fill in the blank using the recipient cards

Jessica talks about the process they went through to come up with their cool logo, a play on the USAID logo and the donor-industrialization of the industry. Also the black, bleeding heart inherent cynicism of the industry

How the three co-founders divide up their roles despite their busy lives

"It helps that we're friends first and co-founders second."

Why friendship makes the working environment vibrant

If you love it enough, you'll make the time

When overachievers find something that is fun and worthwhile, they'll figure out a way to do it

The co-founders see Jaded Aid as a side hobby. They all have other full-time jobs

"If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it." LOLOL So true!

It's harder get the stuff done that's not fun, like how to move product around

Jessica explains what a design party looks like for Jaded Aid, where there are lots of people and alcohol. They ask for feedback and watch for reactions and get people to weigh in what they like/dislike

The expansion pack coming out soon has the theme: Peace Corps

Themes on violence and sexual assault were deemed "too much" and were tossed out

Their $50,000+ Kickstarter strategy was simple: Wayan

Within 48 hours they had reached their funding goal

Jaded Aid was featured on many major news outlets despite not having tried that hard to get their attention

The founders had tapped into a particular sentiment of frustration in the industry that nobody else was willing to talk about. They were addressing a taboo and doing it in a funny, real, and approachable way.

Once you get one major media captures your story, the other media sources jump on the bandwagon to not to miss out

The cards can take you to some crazy places and the combinations are nearly endless. They can be benign, uncomfortable, outrageous, squirm-worthy

The Diva Cup is a menstrual cup that can be re-used

Shipping through Diplomatic Pouch Services

Jaded Aid ships internationally, although it can be expensive

It's a very dedicated and loyal market but not huge enough to make Jaded Aid profitable enough for the founders to work full-time on it. It's enough for beer money.

The founders want to be a part of the effort to change the industry. They love their work and the humanitarian in themselves and want to help the industry pivot for the better

They want to act as the trigger for conversation, innovation, and improved impact in the industry

"Here are the problems. Let's discuss them out in the open."

They can't ever stop working in the development industry though, since they have to keep generate new ideas for cards lol

Oct 6, 2016

Today’s guest is our very own Caroline Gray, a staff member here at Students Helping Honduras. She began teaching in 2011 in a low-income neighborhood in Bridgeport, Connecticut through Teach For America. Her first year there, she taught reading and writing for grades K through 8. She then taught third grade for two years. 

Caroline moved to Honduras in 2014 to teach third grade at our Villa Soleada Bilingual School, helping her students achieve 1.6 years of growth in reading each year. And she did that twice. She is now the Academic Director of the school. 

You can follow her on her personal blog at

For show links, go to

Show Notes & Summary

She oversees the curriculum

Why Honduran parents want to send their children to a private bilingual school

The tuition for bilingual schools can range from $100-$400 per month plus material costs in northern Honduras

The Villa Soleada Bilingual School's tuition is around $25/month

Caroline shares the story of a student from Villa Soleada who has been making tremendous growth despite coming from a challenging home-life and having parents who are illiterate

The evolution of the bilingual curriculum at the school, especially aligning the content taught in Spanish and in English

In Pre-K and Kindergarten classes, the majority of the classes are taught in Spanish

As they move through the grades, less Spanish is spoken and more English is spoken

By the upper grade levels, the majority of classes are taught in English

Teacher training at Villa Soleada Bilingual School has evolved tremendously, going from a few days to five weeks

We use the S.M.A.R.T. (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) framework when setting goals

We assess the students three times per year in phonics, sight words, reading comprehension, and math

We track data for each individual students and also entire classrooms using the Core Phonics Survey assessment, Reading A-Z Diagnostics, and the NWEA MAP Assessment

Our school shares many values with Teach for America. A big one is in the belief that all students regardless of where they come from deserve equal access to an excellent education as their wealthier peers

 We also align with TFA in the belief that great behavior management and high quality instruction can lead students to find success in the classroom no matter where they are

Time management is Caroline's greatest challenge

Caroline has many self-doubts and insecurities, only being 27 years old and running Villa Soleada Bilingual

Her Spanish was poor when she began in Honduras

Caroline understands her limitations and reaches out to a wide range people who support her

A special shoutout to Maxie Gluckman

Caroline loses sleep when she is worried about her students who come to school with black eyes or when families are assaulted

She understands the need for a holistic pathway out of poverty to supplement the work that the school is doing

Teachers who didn't succeed at VSBS failed to become a part of the greater community in El Progreso, which serves as an outlet. It gives them a way to relax and make friends. Small things like joining the local gym

The teachers who succeed have the heart for this kind of work. They have a sense of purpose.

The students who come from wealthier neighborhoods have superior early childhood education. The children from lower-income families have to catch up already in pre-K and Kindergarten.

Earning the trust of the community and parents has been challenging for Caroline. It took years for her to build that trust, especially in an environment where parents are used to foreign staff members coming and going each year

The school is looking to provide more extracurricular activities to the students

The Summer Enrichment Program allowed children to participate in many extracurricular activities

Caroline is the head soccer coach of the school. Our team has lost almost every single game, but our kids have learned to play with heart and humility; to lose with grace and dignity; to improve.

The first and last victory of the year was huge. It was 120 degrees outside. The victory was for the team and for the school and the entire community. The entire community cheered on the team and celebrated.

Caroline's goal for the team is to continue improving technical skills and approach everyday with courage

She wants our kids to be on par with their peer in high performance schools in the US by the time they graduate from our school at the 9th grade

The kids who graduate would go onto a bilingual high school in the city or continue to work on conversational English with us

Fluent English speakers can work at the growing tourism and call center industries, even as managers.

Jobs that require English pay much better in general in Honduras

Get ready for our very first graduation ceremony in the year 2020!

Oct 3, 2016

Michael Driscoll was an active member of Students Helping Honduras during his time at Virginia Tech, helping build several schools in El Progreso. During his senior year, he served as the Chapter President on campus.


Upon graduation, as his classmates were signing contracts to work at high paying corporate desk jobs, Mike took a different path. He became a middle school teacher in a low-income neighborhood in Miami through Teach for America.


After serving TFA for two years, Mike flew down to Honduras to work for the Villa Soleada Bilingual School as a 4th grade teacher.


In this episode, Mike talks about his experience with TFA in Miami and what his days are like now living and working in Honduras.


Check out the show notes & photos at


"The idea of sitting in a desk for eight hours everyday wasn't appealing to me."


"Some days I felt like... what am I getting myself into!?"


"There were days I did not want to get out of bed."


A day in the life of Michael


The meal plan of a typical teacher at Villa Soleada Bilingual School


What the gym in El Progreso is like


Michael compares the teacher training process between Teach for America and Villa Soleada Bilingual School


The biggest difference that Michael has seen between schools in the US and in Honduras: unexpectedness


Many teachers at his school in the US transferred out to other schools due to their unsatisfactory experiences


His goal this year is to help his students reach 80-100% proficiency in grade level math and 1.5 years growth in reading levels.


Mike is working on a CRM (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning) program in his science class


Mike is collecting data and tracking the progress of his students


Each week Mike has been highlighting a specific character trait with his class. This was inspired by the KIPP schools. This past week he highlighted grit.


"Grit is about never giving up. It's trying your hardest. And doing your best."


Something has been keeping Michael awake at night, worried.


What the first day of school was like for Mike, working for Teach for American and then at the Villa Soleada Bilingual School


On the first day in Miami, one girl says to him, "Middle School fucking sucks!!!" That inspired him to make sure nobody finishes the year with that mindset.


"This is when I figured out what it meant to have high blood pressure."


"My students are like my cup of coffee in the morning."


His biggest challenges in Miami were to get kids to listen to him, behavioral management, low test scores


What his weekends are like in Honduras (salsa lessons, tutoring friends in English, gym, night out in town)


Mike's favorite dance club in El Progreso is Zona 504. They have air conditioning!


He encourages people interested in working at Villa Soleada Bilingual School to come visit the program first for a short period of time


Don't miss Mike's moving shoutout, Academy-awards style.