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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Nov 14, 2016
Today's guest is the person who I spend the most time with (even more than my mom) over the phone/email during any given week. She is also one of my best friends.
In this episode, Amanda Fennell talks about getting adopted from an orphanage in Colombia, childhood in America, how she dealt with her "ugly duckling" years, the tragic loss that devastated her family, her first (tumultuous) exposure to leadership where she was called "awful", favorite books, what she REALLY thinks of me as her boss, what was going through her mind during her first trip to Honduras, how she raised $125,000 while in college, why she quit a high-paying "dream job" to help SHH, what it's really like having a location-independent work arrangement, her newest side-hustle, and more.
As COO of an organization with an annual budget of almost $1 million and network of 5,000+ volunteers, Amanda does it all: answering phone calls & emails, updating our website & social media, coordinating the efforts of 100+ chapters, securing new partnerships, and more.
She was the co-founder of the Students Helping Honduras chapter at Towson University, leading the efforts to raise a record-breaking $125,000 in four years while a student. She also served as Student Director her senior year, organizing the efforts of the then 50+ chapters of the organization nationwide.
Check out her newest side-hustle known as Bear Street Collective, a succulent arrangement business! 

Show Links

Show Notes

Amanda Fennell was adopted from an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia in 1990

It was around the time of guerrilla warfare, and the orphanage had bomb nets over them, and military was everywhere

Amanda Fennell grew up in New York

Amanda wants to adopt one day

She wants to visit Colombia, her birthplace, but is unsure of when and the circumstances of her situation, and facing her fears

Amanda feels a tremendous amount of gratitude for her situation

Amanda's sister, Lauren, was adopted from the same orphanage four years before Amanda was adopted

Lauren was Amanda's very first friend

She doesn't remember when she found out or realized she was adopted

Lauren was killed by a drunk driver when Amanda was a senior in high school

Amanda has a tattoo of Lauren's fingerprint together with her own fingerprint to format a heart shape

She was bullied a lot in middle school because she was outcasted as a "church kid"

Her "ugly duckling phase" lasted a while, especially since she went into college with braces

I use the word antifragile to describe Amanda Fennell

She has always been resilient and "overly" optimistic

Amanda thrives on stress and a sense of urgency

Amanda decided to attend Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland because of their strong nursing program

She wanted to be a pediatrician back then

Because of the loss of her sister, Amanda almost didn't attend college

Instead of wallowing in sadness, Amanda enrolled at Towson

In a strange way, going to college allowed Amanda to "run away" from her trauma

She wanted nothing to do with the medical field due to the loss of her sister, so Amanda majored in Family Studies and Community Development

She searched for student clubs to join.

Joining Invisible Children club was intimidating for Amanda because it was for the "cool" crowd

She then joined Circle-K service club

She ran for President as a freshman!

Amanda met two of her best friends, Kari Adlington and Jessa Coulter, during freshman year

The Circle-K initiatives were too small and low-key for Amanda, who wanted to do more

Amanda (along with Keri and Jessa) and I met at a Circle-K Convention where I gave a keynote speech

Amanda thinks that I am quirky!!! LOL

When Amanda wanted her Circle-K club to get involved with SHH, she was labeled “awful” and as the “worst President”

Leaving Circle-K to start Students Helping Honduras on campus caused rifts in friendships and personal hate against Amanda

Honduras was Amanda’s first trip outside of the US

She didn’t realize the SHH service trip would have so much of an educational component to it

Amanda met and talked to the families in Villa Soleada when the project had just started

SHH introduced Amanda to concepts like the ethics behind development aid

She helped build the Villa Soleada Education Center, which was the prototype project that later turned into the Villa Soleada Bilingual School

Eduardo “Chilo,” a small boy from the village spoke to the group to thank them for providing the education

The Education Center would provide Chilo his first books and computers ever

Amanda is careful about over-romanticizing development aid and volunteering

“I was so idealistic and naive.”

It was difficult to convince the Towson administration to let the chapter go down to Honduras, then considered the most dangerous nation outside of war zones

Dr. Santiago Solis helped as a faculty advisor and mentor to Amanda

The Towson Chapter raised $13,000 during their first year

They then returned to Honduras with 33 student volunteers

The following year they raised $30,000

During Amanda’s senior year, the chapter raised $53,000

In four years, the Towson Chapter had raised about $125,000 for Students Helping Honduras

Jessa Coulter was the co-President of the chapter alongside Amanda

They didn’t have much of a hierarchy

The chapter members became best friends

Some members spent more time on SHH than on school work

They organized 3-4 events every week

Each semester they did one massive event, like a benefit concert

Having compassionate, empathetic leadership is key

Fundraising was fun despite the sense of urgency

A lot of other chapters envied Towson and Amanda’s success

Leadership Week has fostered competition while building friendships between SHH chapters

Amanda became a community director for March of Dimes after graduation

She posted photos from Honduras all over her desk area at March of Dimes

Amanda was always interested in international maternal and prenatal health

I reached out to Amanda for help, as SHH was under so much stress due to lack of staff members and security threats in Honduras

Amanda saved up for a year working at March of Dimes and quit there to work for SHH on a shoestring salary as the Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Amanda feels really lonely while working out of her laptop in New York

At around 11:30pm one night—I was on the brink of shutting down SHH because of all the turmoil in Honduras and its consequences—I called Amanda to ask her for help and to join SHH

Amanda and I consult each other on everything just naturally, going all in together

Humility is something Amanda and I value in staff members

I needed someone to support me

Amanda doesn’t like being placed on a pedestal

Amanda is as loyal as it gets

At Towson, Amanda had a sense of community and personal success

It’s hard for Amanda to not have that sense of community as she works alone in New York

Amanda’s boyfriend Chris is supportive of her, always

Amanda’s best friends are mostly from SHH, though many of them are far away

Amanda is a social butterfly so it’s hard to work alone for her

“The work day is never over."

She’s learned to pace herself, delegate, avoid burnout

SHH could use some help with grant writing, social media, chapter recruitment

People are much more motivated when they can work face to face, instead of remotely and isolated

There is no reason to constantly second guessing herself as the COO of SHH with all the trust that I have in Amanda

Amanda has to remind herself that there is value in what she does for SHH

Amanda and Chris have started a succulent arrangement business on the side, BEAR STREET COLLECTIVE

The succulent business allows Amanda to interact with other people, something she missed doing

Jessa Coulter and Amanda Fennell are like the Yin and the Yang together

Amanda Fennell drinks a lot of coffee!

Amana is a night owl, working late into the night

She likes being “zesty” with life : )

The person Amanda Fennell was most grateful for that week was her boyfriend Chris

They recently visited Denver, Colorado together

Nov 7, 2016

While studying at the University of Maryland, Melissa Frankenberry raised more than $30,000 for Students Helping Honduras. In this episode, she breaks down her process step-by-step and talks about facing her own fears when making the ask.

Show notes for Melissa Frankenberry

  • Melissa Frankenberry first heard about SHH at UMD’s First Look Fair where 500+ clubs on campus try to recruit members
  • She was actually looking for Habitat for Humanity and instead joined SHH!
  • She knew very little about Honduras
  • She remembers the upperclassmen members like Nahal, Kristin, Peter, Brandon
  • Melissa still remembers the first meeting still
  • She volunteered in Honduras four times while at UMD
  • Honduras was Melissa’s first exposure to a developing country
  • She worked at Balsamo village during her freshman and senior year
  • She worked hard selling grilled cheese in front of bars during weekends
  • Melissa used to create an online fundraising page
  • “It’s really scary asking people for money.”
  • The first thing she did was craft a long email message to her family and friends
  • She sent it out to her immediate circle
  • It wasn’t as bad as she had imagined
  • Her father’s business clients got involved and donated
  • She customized the messages of each letter to personalize them
  • Photos and videos were critical
  • At first she wrote it “straight from the heart” but it ended up being too long
  • She placed the link to her fundraising page at the very beginning of the letter and not at the end
  • The subject line of the emails was important. For example, saying Students Helping Honduras instead of SHH was helpful
  • Follow up phone calls and emails after each campaign was critical
  • There is a Fundaround “hack” that Melissa did. She used a photo collage for each of the photo boxes, to increase the number of total photos she could post!
  • Showing your passion is critical for fundraising success
  • “Don’t just half-ass on the fundraising.” -Melissa Frankenberry
  • “Don’t be afraid to ask for donations. People want to help.” -Melissa Frankenberry
Nov 3, 2016
Want to learn how to raise money for your favorite charity by traveling across a continent on a bicycle?Long-time Students Helping Honduras support Cristy Falcone biked 2,200 miles through Europe for SHH. On her daring expedition from Oslo to Paris, she got lost, stuck in rain storms, slept in her tent, and faced gear malfunction. At one point, she crashed and injured herself badly.
Cristy Falcone pedaled 50 miles (5-7 hours) nearly every single day for the cause.
Learn how she physically trained herself, learned to fix & maintain her bicycle, got the right equipment, packed, stayed fueled, slept, and built up her fundraising platform. Get an understanding of where your mind will be before, during, and after such an epic feat.
Check out Cristy Falcone’s Bike For Honduras.

Show Notes & Summary for Cristy Falcone

Ever since Cristy Falcone was a little girl, she wanted to go places on a bicycle with a sleeping bag

According to Cristy, I was an enthusiastic and energetic guy back in college

She had done one previous grand tour, going 1,800 miles from Seattle to San Diego

Her touring pace is about 12 miles an hour

Her plan was to do 45-50 miles per day!

Scandinavia was the hardest part of the trip for Cristy

She used the Kona Sutra touring bike

You must use a touring bike that puts your body in a comfortable position

Most touring bicycles cost $500+

She worked at Bike Works , a bicycle shop in Fredericksburg during her senior year in college where she learned the basics of bicycle maintenance

At the least you should know how to change your tires, fix a flat tire, adjust your brakes, adjust de-railers, and fix your gears

You can get panniers and strap them on the sides of your bicycles to store your stuff

Backpacks are not recommended because it makes your back sweat

She carried 25-30lbs of gear (food, water, sleeping bag, tent)

She went on an unsupported tour where she had to carry all her stuff with her!

“You basically carry your life with you."

Cycling maps are essential

GPS systems for bicycles can cost $400-$500!!

She set up a Facebook page and coordinate a Fundaround page with Colette Eustace

She had to face her fears while fundraising

Her dad gave out fundraising flyers and gave them out at his work

She was moved by her father’s gesture

You need friends and family to support you while on a grand tour

She posted photos and updates during her grand tour

Leading up to the trip, she was scared, nervous, excited, anxious

“The first day was totally ridiculous."

To fly a bike, you have to take it apart and stuff it into a box

On the first day, it poured rain and everything got soaking wet

They had to dry everything overnight on a campsite!

Advice: Put all your stuff in trash bags inside your panniers

In Scandinavia, she saw lots of farmland, coastal sea, beautiful scenery

She ate a lot of picnic food to stay fueled, and also fish in Scandinavia

She ate a lot of sausage in Germany

France has great fruit

She stayed in hostels sometimes, the cheapest ones in Europe cost about 20 Euros per night

She camped out in random places

Her two biggest threats were bike accidents and men

Her then boyfriend went along with her for the first month

She met other cycle tourists and would ride along with them sometimes

Europe has very developed and organized bicycle routes

She regrets not having a gadget to listen to podcasts during the tour

“You can work a lot of things out, alone on a bike."

She loves bicycle touring but got homesick

Her brakes kept failing on her during the expedition for an unknown reason

She got sun burn and saddle sores

In Basil, Cristy got into a serious accident and got badly injured

Her bicycle tires got stuck in a trolly track and she crashed in slow motion

She had to sit down and cry in the shade for a little while : (

She got a beer afterwards to recover

She could barely make it on the bicycle the next day

She ended up sleeping (“nestling”) in her tent in a random community garden!

The owners of the garden plot caught her and Cristy was terrified hearing them rustle around and speaking in German

The German family took her in like a little child, feeding Cristy and even gave her coffee and pastry

Her rain gear was not adequate

Scandinavia has a strong wind going against you

It gets very hot in the summer in France

She’s injury-prone and has scoliosis, but avoided any major injuries

She rode 5-7 hours per day on average

She had to end her trip in Paris and not in Spain as planned because her visa expired

At the end, she felt sadness, relief, homesick

She had to stop putting up photo updates because of a potential stalker

“I can’t wait until my next tour."

After the trip, she slept a LOT but didn’t eat too much

European coffee is very strong and bold

You’ll be scared every step of the way. But you should do it anyways."

“I was scared during the entire phase of the process."

Before the trip, Cristy was working on a farm and at some odd jobs

Her dream is to work in biotech and live on a homestead

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.

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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.


Sep 27, 2016

In this episode, Natalie Jesionka and I discuss volunteer travel and current trends in the NGO industry. Some of the questions asked during the episode:

  • Does a volunteer's intent matter?
  • Should an NGO ever fire a volunteer who is there to help?
  • Should volunteers take photos during their trips abroad?
  • Should vulnerable children grow up with distant relatives or in orphanages?

Natalie is a lecturer, reporter, and human rights advocate. Natalie is the founder of the Prizm Project, the first human rights education organization for young women. She has researched human trafficking, the arms trade, and women in conflict throughout Asia.

She is also the Editor of Shatter the Looking Glass, a human rights and ethical travel publication examining the complexity of moving across borders in the modern world. She serves on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA. She is currently a sociology professor at Rutgers University.

Natalie and I originally met in Thailand in 2010 where she was a Fulbright Scholar.


Show Notes & Summary

  • "Voluntourism"
  • Be wary of third party organizations that match you with volunteer opportunities for a large fee
  • Not every volunteer opportunity may turn out to be as great as promised in their marketing material
  • Volunteers need to set realistic goals instead trying to change the world in a short amount of time
  • Volunteers may go home with more questions than answers
  • Ethical practices for taking photos while volunteering
  • What to do as a volunteer when you make a mistake that causes a misunderstanding or unintended consequences
  • Why mentorship is important in the volunteer industry
  • Why energy slamming and insulting volunteers who make mistakes should be redirected
  • "We need to start helping each other instead of bringing each other down."
  • The intent of the volunteering isn't always of altruism, but is that a bad thing if the end product
  • Let's stop with the charades, volunteering is a lot about our own personal development and ourselves
  • Natalie challenges young people to consider starting a social business instead of a traditional nonprofit organization
  • She talks about the sense of entitlement that volunteers get even though the skills they gain may not be as relevant for jobs back at home
  • What to do when a volunteer is acting out. Should the NGO fire him or her?
  • What should a volunteer do if he or she finds out that the NGO they're working for is corrupt?
  • The importance of having tact as a volunteer when confronted with complicated situations
  • Experteering = Volunteering + Expertise
  • Natalie responds to recent criticisms of volunteer travel
  • Some people think that volunteering abroad carries a colonial essence
  • How to respond to criticism about your organization
  • How I feel about the orphanage vs. family reunification debate regarding orphaned and abandoned children
Sep 23, 2016

Social entrepreneur Caitlin McHale is the Co-Founder and Director of Project Esperanza (, an NGO dedicated to serving the Haitian immigrant population of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic in the areas of education, social aid, and community development.

They run a group home for street children and two school projects, mainly for children from the "Batey" slum communities near the sugarcane fields. In the D.R., it is said that nearly half a million Haitians live in 400 Batey slums. Many children from the Bateys face trafficking, indentured servitude, prostitution, a sense of "statelessness," and illiteracy.

Caitlin began volunteering in Dominican Republic while an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech. Upon graduation, she left everything behind to pursue her calling to grow the nonprofit organization. She continues to live on the Caribbean island, now married and with children.


Show Notes & Summary

  • Caitlin went to the Dominican Republic for the first time as a freshman volunteer
  • Haitian children born in the bateys of Dominican Republic are oftentimes denied citizenship rights
  • These "stateless" children get stuck in the middle of two cultures/nations
  • There are about 400 bateys in the Dominican Republic
  • Some schools deny admittance to these children who lack "proper" documents and birth certificates
  • Project Esperanza works in the Muñoz Batey near a resort area
  • More than 550 residents live in a space about the size of a football field
  • 78% of the families had no toilets according to their census
  • Esperanza began building compost toilets in the Bateys
  • Where Caitlin lives, they get running water one day a week!
  • Many sugar cane fields have stopped functioning, leaving the workers in the bateys to find jobs elsewhere
  • It all started as a student organization at the Virginia Tech campus
  • A street census in Puerto Plata revealed that none of the Haitian children in the area were attending school
  • A restavek (or restavec) is a child in Haiti who is sent by his or her parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant to make a living. It is considered a modern form of slavery, although not in every case.
  • Some Haitian children are tricked and then trafficked into the Dominican Republic to become restaveks
  • Caitlin talks about her group home for boys where they house up to ten street kids and how they try to foster self-sufficiency
  • The young adults aging out of the group home face a set of difficult challenges
  • The sense of entitlement becomes a problem for the young adults, who oftentimes become jealous of the extra attention that the younger children in the program receive
  • One young adult in particular became rebellious and they had to call the police to have him leave the premise--and how that made Caitlin feel
  • How the day care program for street kids turned into a residential program (group home)
  • Esperanza purchased a plot of land in 2013 to relocate the group home because the neighbors in their old location didn't want street kids around
  • They have no running water in the new location so they have to get water trucks to fill up their tanks
  • A nearby church was giving classes to disadvantaged kids who were not admitted to the local public schools due to documentation problems and discrimination
  • Esperanza partnered with this one-room church school, helping pay teacher stipends
  • After moving the school through five rental properties, they finally purchased a permanent building for the school through a private loan
  • Deportation is a threat for these Haitian kids, even if they've lived in the DR their whole lives
  • The budget to sustain the school started at $400 per month and is now around $3,000 per month, including the mortgage on the loan
  • This year the school added a 7th grade, free lunch program, and extended hours (8am-1pm)
  • Shortly after, they began working in a place called Muñoz with a community school there
  • Public school teachers in the DR make about $300/month. Private school teachers make about $100-$200/month
  • The minimum wage in the DR is around $180/month
  • The children now have a support network and sponsors helping them
  • Prostitution and the sex trade are major challenges in the area
  • The children begin attending the school at age 3
  • Creating trust and teamwork were the two biggest challenges Caitlin has faced
  • They were taken to court by a corrupt staff member who brought up labor laws that they were not aware of to extract money from Esperanza
  • They started an internet center but the project failed due to the lack of electricity in the area
  • They used the space to start an art shop instead
  • The well-digging on their property has been delayed repeatedly
  • They can start selling water from the well for about a dollar per tank
Sep 13, 2016

Check out the links and related articles at

There are many ways to help orphans and children who have no home to go to, and there is a heated debate to figure out what programs are best or in some cases harmful.

Traditionally, orphanages helped these children. As the years have gone by, foster care, family reunification services, and adoption have become the dominant options. Today, some people are skeptical or even against the idea of orphanages, believing that it's an outdated and sometimes harmful way of helping these children. Recently, J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, tweeted a series of criticisms against orphanages and young people who volunteer in such institutions. In one tweet, she says, "Orphanages cause irreparable damage, even those that are well run."

Dr. Richard Mckenzie is a professor emeritus of economics and management in the Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine. He has taken on a life-long mission to support and advocate for high quality orphanages in the US. As a child, Richard grew up in the Barium Springs Children's Home in North Carolina. He has conducted research studies and surveys of orphanage alumni, collecting data on their life outcomes. 

He is the author of a number of books, including: The Home: A Memoir of Growing Up in an OrphanageMiracle Mountain: A Hidden Sanctuary for Children, Horses, and Birds Off a Road Less TraveledHome Away From Home: The Forgotten History of Orphanages and Rethinking Orphanages for the 21st Century.

In today's episode, Dr. Mckenzie defends the role of orphanages in today's day and age.

Show Notes & Summary

  • Why Richard uses the term "orphanage"
  • The different words for orphanage all mean the same thing
  • "Treatment centers" are different--they take kids who have been severely traumatized
  • Richard grew up in an orphanage in North Carolina (Barium Springs Children's Home) in the 1950s from age ten and got their support to attend university
  • He has bad memories from his childhood living with problematic parents
  • His father was too much of an alcoholic to take care of him and eventually his mother committed suicide
  • Richard became a bad kid, stealing and shoplifting
  • His relatives didn't want to take care of Richard and in fact wanted him out of sight and out of mind
  • Family preservation or foster care were the norms
  • Kids with behavioral issues often cycle through various foster families
  • His experience in the orphanage was positive
  • His surveys from the 1990s (with 2,500 respondents from 15 different orphanages) revealed that 85% of orphanage alumni had favorable or very favorable experiences growing up in orphanages even though most of these centers were not financially endowed... They had a significantly higher high school graduation rate, college graduation rate (39% higher), and rate of having doctoral degrees than white Americans their age. They also had a higher median income (10-60% higher) than white Americans their age. They had a lower criminal record. 29% reported being very happy compared to the general population where 5% reported being very happy. They suffered less psychological problems. The did report a slightly higher divorce rate than their peers
  • He enjoyed his time living and constantly playing with other boys in their cottage
  • The kids at the orphanage worked at the orphanage farm, developing work ethic and valuable experiences
  • They learned skills like plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, thing that other kids were not exposed to
  • The orphanage had their own school, which was better than the city school
  • They had their own basketball team which was very scrappy, small-bodied, but with a winning record
  • Richard remembers the houseparents, some of them were good, others weren't
  • Young Richard remembers being told: "It's not your circumstance that determines how far you'll go in life. It's going to be you."
  • "Their good work [of the people running orphanages] is being unduly trashed."
  • He gathered 4,000 pages of testimonials from orphanage alumni and most of them wrote raving reviews of their experience growing up
  • Charles Dickens gave orphanages a bad image even though he actually favored orphanages. He did it to give the story some dramatic tension
  • In the 1900s people began to think that orphanages were poorly run
  • In the 1930s and 1940s, studies of institutionalized kids started coming out, with questionable and sometimes appalling and biased study methods where the orphanage kids always had the worst outcomes. Six studies had just 6-15 kids from the samples without knowing if they were randomly selected or not--many of these kids had serious psychological issues. The outcomes often favored foster care, but Richard suspects biased research methods
  • There are many interest groups that want to protect jobs in the foster care industry
  • Many people in the child welfare industry have never visited or investigated an orphanage
  • Why ABC was overwhelmed with what they saw in two modern-day orphanages in the US
  • Richard is looking forward to his orphanage's homecoming event later in the year, although many alumni have passed away already
  • The orphanage that he grew up in has gone through major changes
  • "If you don't have dramatic tension in a documentary, you won't be able to sell it."
  • The Hebrew Orphans Asylum (a large residential facility for 1,100 kids) still has massive reunion events even though they've been closed for decades
  • There are nearly half a million children in foster care in the US
  • Richard spent a week living in the Crossnore School for Children in Need recently to see what life was like for the children there and was impressed
  • The Crossnore School guarantees high school graduation and promises financial support for post-high school education
  • One boy from the school said in response: "We are larger than our biographies. Our pain and hurt are only a small fraction of who we are. We read numerous articles of abuse, neglect, and drug addiction. But few ever tell the real story. That the important part is what comes after the storm. It is who we are now."
  • Of a pair of twins, one boy ended up at Crossnore and the twin sister stayed at home in a problematic household. The boy graduated with honors from NYU whereas the sister dropped out of high school.
  • Child welfare workers in the foster care industry were reluctant to share information with Richard
  • Many kids in foster care get moved around constantly from one family to another
  • Some judges call kids in foster care as the "plastic bag brigade" because they go from one family to another carrying their belongings in plastic bag
  • There is an organization that dedicates itself to giving suitcases to foster care kids
  • The chief family court judge in San Diego got tired of the foster care system and built a children's home outside San Diego for 125 kids--each kid had gone through 7-8 foster care placements
  • Everyone in the community supported this orphanage because they wanted an alternative to foster care because they found that 56% of kids who aged out of foster care at 18 were homeless within 3 months, and a disproportionate number of these kids who ended up in the penal system
  • One girl had to go through 8 different foster families during her first two months of her freshman year of high school
  • Family reunification services haven't met their promises and sometimes does harm to kids
  • Many parents are not loving or responsible. Some are mean, physically abusive, sexually abusive. It's easy for these parents to hide these things from family reunification services, forcing kids to be with abusive and/or neglectful parents
  • Kinship care sounds like a great solution but sometimes relatives can molest or sexually abuse the child, leading to more toxicity and the child getting sent to yet another home
  • The orphanage critics always say "Children will always do better with loving and responsible parents." Policy makers buy into that ideology.
  • According to Richard, not having loving and responsible parents is the problem.
  • Kids need permanence and stability and alternatives to orphanages do not always offer that
  • Foster families sometimes give preferential treatment to their biological children over foster children
  • The Bucharest Early Intervention Project studied the outcomes of children who grew up in Romanian orphanages with terrible conditions
  • Communist Romania had some bad orphanages and if you study the outcomes of such orphanages you're going to find problems
  • "Nobody is recommending duplicating orphanages like the ones in Romania."
  • Father Marc's organization in Haiti, Free the Kids, houses 600 kids
  • Dr. Kate Whetten from Duke University followed 3,000 orphaned kids in 5 low-income countries in Africa and southeast Asia in a study. The kids in the orphanage care do as well or better than the kids who were reared in biological families and better than in foster care. The orphanage kids are far less subject to sexual violations.
  • "You can have children's home that do good."
  • J.K. Rowling's (author of Harry Potter) recent criticism and condemnation of orphanages on Twitter and her anti-orphanage and anti-volunteering campaign. She has no data to back up her claims
  • Richard responds to her criticism, stating that even though most orphans have at least one living parent, in many cases those parents and relatives should not or are incapable of taking care of these kids
  • There is a dark side to foster care payments and stipends for the parents of kids who go through family reunification
  • It's much easier to monitor the progress of the children in an orphanage compared to scattering the kids between dozens of locations
  • Dr. Mckenzie agrees that the high cost-per-child to support children in orphanages is a legitimate concern
  • Orphanage care is oftentimes more expensive because the kids tend to have more serious problems (e.g., they have to first be turned down by 10 foster families before entering Crossnore)
  • It costs about $60,000 per child per year at Crossnore ($30,000 for basic care and $30,000 for academic services)
  • The key is to get the kids into the orphanages sooner, before they are "damaged goods"
  • The Children in Families First Act of 2013 would prevent government funding to support orphanages that are not treatment centers. If this law comes to fruition, kids will see more problems
  • "What we need in this country is a change in attitude towards orphanages."
  • The US needs someone like Sam Walton who could figure out a way to provide care at a good price to show the world that children's homes can work
  • "We need a menu of options for kids."
  • There is a growth in failed adoptions where kids end up with families who should have never adopted, kids have serious problems that the families were not aware of or prepared for, or the parents get a divorce
  • Some kids in Crossnore were involved with failed adoptions
  • Foster families may not take in large groups of siblings and these siblings get separated into different families. With orphanages, sibling groups can stay together
  • There are camps where siblings living in different foster families can reunite for a few weeks to be together
  • Private organizations and churches are stepping away from child welfare services as the government is taking over. Richard thinks that we need to reverse this.
  • For Richard and Phyllis, children need hugs
  • Reports say that 60% of Americans have lost faith in the American Dream, but Richard's upcoming survey of orphanage alumni have shown that 91% of orphanage alumni said they have lived the American Dream
  • Richard will be coming out with several new studies on life outcomes of orphanage alumni
  • Richard publicly thanks the staff members who brought him up at the orphanage
Sep 8, 2016

Two college buddies studying engineering--Greg Mcgrath and Wes Meier--started EOS International with no money. They had to travel on chicken buses, ox carts, and by foot for years in Nicaragua. Today, their NGO provides under-served communities with access to low-cost appropriate technologies that generate income, improve health, and preserve the environment. Together with other engineering students, they began working in Mali (where Wes served for the Peace Corps) and in Nicaragua.

Learn how these two young social entrepreneurs built up EOS while they worked full-time and how they distribute products and services that provide clean water, drip irrigation, biogas, fuel-efficient ovens, and solar power throughout Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Show Links

Show Notes & Summary

  • The challenges of having two founders
  • How they decided on job titles and responsibilities
  • Wes volunteered for the Peace Corps in Africa
  • Greg worked on marketing, logistics, getting the nonprofit status
  • What makes their significant others jealous
  • They were influenced early on by Paul Pollack, Muhamad Yunus, Martin Fisher
  • EOS is focusing more on sustainable development over charity
  • Greg talks about their first project, their drip irrigation system and why it took way longer than expected
  • What it was like starting an NGO without basic tools, language skills, experience
  • Wes talks about his frustrations getting their nonprofit status and bank accounts set up in Nicaragua
  • The moment that Greg realized that a good idea and passion were not enough
  • How EOS found their first Nicaraguan staff members, including the Country Director, Alvaro
  • Wes explains how the EOS biogas stove ($150/unit)  works, where a family can produce 5 hours worth of odorless methane gas for cooking with manure from one cow
  • How EOS uses customer testimonials to market their appropriate technology products to new communities
  • How EOS allows customers to make monthly payments for their products
  • Greg shares the story of a failed solar oven project
  • Greg explains why it's so important for their customers to pay a fee for the products instead of them receiving free handouts
  • "What is free has no value."
  • Wes explains why their first drip irrigation was not utilized by the community--people did not feel ownership because they received the project for free
  • Wes explains how their water chlorinator ($100/unit) works using PVC pipes, chlorine tablets, and gravity to treat water for up to 1,000 people
  • The unpleasant taste of chlorinated water makes implementation and usage a challenge
  • Each water project design is unique because of terrain, available materials, etc. which makes standardization difficult
  • Greg talks about the toughest water project they tackled where multiple, elevated water barrels were involved
  • What it was like hauling barrels on the roofs of Nicaraguan chicken buses, ox carts, and on their backs back when they didn't have vehicles nor money
  • What it was like when they couldn't afford a $3,000 motorcycle to carry their supplies
  • The behind-the-scenes story behind EOS's marketing, website, and logo design
  • Why EOS emulates the Charity: Water marketing model
  • How Wes was able to finally work for EOS full time, and the conditions that had to be met first
  • How Wes and Greg worked on EOS for 20 hours per week while they were both working other full-time jobs, their hustle and grind
  • "EOS was a full-time hobby"
  • How EOS fundraises successfully, using the help of family, friends, and individuals
  • Why the "Sponsor a Technology" fundraising model has been so successful
  • How EOS organizes regional fundraising hubs by leveraging their network
Sep 6, 2016

When sloths are in trouble in Suriname, people call today's guest for help. Social entrepreneur Monique Pool is a CNN Hero and the founder of Green Heritage Fund Suriname. She's rescuing homeless sloths in South America who are facing deforestation of their natural habitats. It all began from a chance encounter at the animal shelter that led to her facing what history called the "sloth Armageddon." She is also helping other animals in Suriname, such as anteaters and dolphins. 

Learn what a rescue mission looks like, how she built an animal sanctuary in her own house, and why she wakes up at 4am.


Check out the show links at


Show Notes & Summary

  • What Monique Pool does during her free time
  • How looking for her missing dog changed Monique's life for good
  • Monique hadn't realized that sloths have a 30 year life span when she began taking them in at her sanctuary
  • Monique explains what happened to the first baby sloth she rescued and how it changed her life
  • How Monique names each of the sloths
  • What happened during the sloth "Armageddon" in Suriname
  • The difference between two-fingered and three-fingered sloths
  • How Monique managed to house 200 sloths after the big rescue
  • Monique's experience working at Conservation International Suriname
  • How Monique got help from experts in Costa Rica and Colombia
  • The deliberate process that helped Monique become a sloth newbie to a sloth expert
  • Why Monique was inspired by Wangari Maathai, the first African female to receive the Nobel Peace Prize
  • How Monique got involved in a battle with the local oil companies
  • "Ni un paso atrás." --The quote that keeps Monique going
  • Monique explains the peculiar behavior of sloths when they feel stressed out
  • Relocating the sloths to new forests
  • The sloth  that was most special to Monique and the things she did in the bathroom
  • What is going through her mind when Monique is releasing the sloths back into the wild
  • The first products that Green Fund Suriname began selling to raise money
  • Monique put in a lot of her own money to start the NGO
  • The Suriname River pink belly dolphin project
  • What it was like to have her parents as her first volunteers
  • The moment that made Monique question her own conviction to keep fighting for the animals and the environment
  • Why Monique feels she has failed at fundraising
  • What volunteers do for the organization
  • The story behind their website
  • The story behind their merchandise program
  • What Monique did with a sloth that had been shot with a bullet
  • How Monique is "professionalizing" Green Heritage Fund Suriname instead of doing things on the fly
  • How Monique used to find mentors
  • Her take on personal finance for the social entrepreneur
  • The new sloth rehabilitation center that is under construction
  • Sloth Armageddon 2 is looming
  • Monique's public speaking routine
  • Her upcoming book, Slothified
  • Why Monique wakes up at 4am
  • What Monique would say to her favorite sloth Lucia if she could see him one more time
Sep 1, 2016

Kelly Phoenix is the former Executive Director of Nourish International, a non-profit organization that partners with communities to make a lasting impact on extreme poverty. With the fundraising efforts of their 60 campus chapters, they've invested in 113 long-term, community-based programs to fight poverty. Learn how this NGO reached this level of success.

In this episode, you'll get a behind-the-curtains look at what it's like to be the Executive Director of a growing nonprofit organization. Kelly talks about the things that keep her awake at night as well as the issues and tasks that get her excited. Learn about the tools, books, habits, traits, mindset, and conferences that helped Kelly in her journey.

Kelly is currently heading Nourish Insurance. Check it out at if you'll be volunteering abroad and need travel insurance

Check out the show links at

Show Notes & Summary

  • What Kelly does during the weekends
  • Kelly's life-changing trip to Belize while in high school
  • Kelly's take on how our consumerist behavior and choices affect the world
  • How the organization started at UNC-Chapel Hill
  • How Nourish International Chapters start business ventures
  • Nourish's Hunger Lunch where they serve rice, beans, and corn bread where they make $2 profit per plate
  • How Nourish raises $30,000/year through Coolers for a Cause
  • How Nourish works with community partners in 28 countries
  • The criteria that partner organizations must meet in order to work with Nourish, such as being locally led
  • How Nourish recruits new members on their campuses
  • "Less talking. More action."
  • The Annual Nourish Institute
  • How a Nourish alum became the special assistant to Samantha Powers, the US Ambassador to the United Nations
  • How Kelly started Connected for Cause at UNC
  • Kelly's struggle with the co-founder of Connected for Cause
  • Kelly talks about whether a young person should start an NGO or work for a pre-existing nonprofit organization
  • What Nourish did when they found out that their donations were being misused by an employee in a partner organization in Uganda
  • Why Nourish builds long-term partnerships
  • What Nourish does during their staff retreats
  • Training volunteers prior to their visits to partner communities
  • Kelly's response to recent criticisms of NGOs and international volunteers
  • Nourish's annual Giving Challenge every February
  • How Nourish competes for foundation grants
  • Why nonprofit organizations lose about half of their donors each year
  • Nourish's Gratitude Grid for their donors
  • "Your donors are like your garden."
  • How Nourish provides insurance to volunteers from different organizations, including SHH, to generate revenue
  • Kelly on directive and servant leadership
  • Why passion is the one trait Nourish is looking for in their job candidates
  • The average Development Director in the nonprofit industry works 18 months for the position
  • Why Kelly listens to the TRON Legacy soundtrack before going on a speech
  • Why Kelly listens to Tony Robbins and Les Brown speeches
  • The one worry that keeps Kelly awake at night
Aug 30, 2016

Social entrepreneur and CNN Hero Jock Brandis is the founder of The Full Belly Project. He is the winner of the MIT Ideas Award and the Purpose Prize. He is known as the modern-day Thomas Edison, having invented the "holy grail" of sustainable agriculture and more. His universal peanut sheller and other appropriate technologies have helped tens of thousands of people in many countries across the world. His nonprofit organization works out of a factory in Wilmington, North Carolina. 

Jock is an old guy with a great sense of humor. He made me laugh out loud many times during the episode in between his inspirational stories. He talks in depth about embracing failure in this episode.

This episode is mostly about Jock's involvement with... peanuts!

"The peanut (or groundnut as it is called in West Africa) is an important subsistence crop to hundreds of millions of people across the world. Not only is it important nutritionally, as it provides a convenient source of protein and 30 essential nutrients, but it is also an important source of income for these communities. Often referred to as a "women's crop" in Africa, women traditionally grow, harvest and shell them to supplement their families' diets, but also as a product to bring to market." - The Full Belly Project website

Check out the show links at

Show Notes & Summary

  • Jock's teaching assignment in Trenchtown, a slum in Kingston, Jamaica
  • Working for Oxfam by flying food into war-torn Biafra in Africa
  • How Jock met Kurt Vonnegut in Africa and the deal they made together
  • How Jock became a lighting guy and an actor in the movie industry
  • Jock's role in Deathbed, The Bed That Eats People, known as the worst movie in history
  • Jock's life on a steam-powered tug boat in Toronto with his wife
  • How his life changed when his wife passed away, leaving Jock with his two children
  • Jock's favorite advice for raising children
  • How he ended up in Mali, Africa where he got the idea of creating a peanut sheller
  • Peanuts are the most consumed protein food in the world for poor people
  • What the doubters said to Jock when he told them about his attempt to invent a peanut sheller
  • How Jock's peanut sheller invention was featured on National Geographic
  • How Jock worked with Peace Corps volunteers to deliver his peanut shellers
  • What his first garage shop looked like where he made his inventions
  • How Fully Belly Project sends out their small peanut sheller factories to developing countries around the world
  • How one machine shelled 16 tons of peanuts, making enough money for a village to dig a water well that provided clean drinking water
  • Why his fail-proof peanut project failed in Guyana
  • "Hunger has nothing to do with food."
  • Aflatoxin, the peanut fungus that is toxic
  • How Jock used ozone to combat aflatoxin
  • Why Jock sends small ozone generators to the villages now
  • How Jock developed a solar livestock water program in the US
  • Jock explains what the Full Belly factory is like
  • Jock explains the important role that volunteers play at Full Belly 
  • The clubhouse-like factory culture
  • "Fail early, fail often."
  • "We've learned to fail faster than anyone else."
  • How Fully Belly got their water powered seesaw patented
  • Jock's secret to creating a big impact with a small team
  • His biggest regrets in life
  • "The road to misery is trying to make everyone happy."
  • "To roll up your sleeves and try something because your first three mistakes will teach you more than all the design conferences in the world."
  • Jock on failure: "If you're going to fail, fail with as many people in the world seeing you fail."
  • Jock's secret to success
Aug 25, 2016

Sebastian Africano is the founder of ENASA, a consulting firm for fuel-efficient cooking stoves. He now works for Trees, Water & People in Colorado as their International Director. Sebastian manages TWP's clean cookstove, solar energy and reforestation programs in Central America and Haiti.

In 2008, Sebastian worked with SHH to replace 30 traditional stoves with 30 fuel-efficient cookstoves in Honduras.

If you're deciding whether to become a social entrepreneur or to work for a traditional non-profit organization, this is your episode. Sebastian talks about and compares his work as a social entrepreneur in Central America and in East Africa vs. his non-profit desk job at TWP.

He discusses the lifestyle differences, and the different skills required for the two kinds of work.

Show Notes & Summary

  • Sebastian tested health indicators such as carbon monoxide and particulate matters (smoke and soot) in the kitchens before the fuel-efficient cooking stoves were installed
  • The paper white smoke filters turned black with soot within 24 hours
  • His tests showed an 80% reduction in particulate matter and carbon monoxide with fuel-efficient cooking stoves
  • According to the World Health Organization, approximately 4 million people are dying from indoor pollution each year
  • Babies are immediately exposed as soon as they're born.
  • Chronic exposure to indoor air pollution causes vision and respiratory issues
  • The Justa Stove was developed in Tegucigalpa around 1998
  • Appropriate technology is technology that adapts to the local realities
  • It improves conditions without interrupting culture
  • Scaling is difficult due to regional differences
  • Mass production, one-size-fits-all models that aren't localized
  • Composting latrines
  • Pit latrines during floods can cause a cholera epidemic
  • Sebastian started his journey by volunteering after college, getting to know different organizations in depth.
  • He was paying off parking tickets by volunteering. That's how he got started.
  • Aprovecho Research Center in Oregon
  • After 3 years of volunteering and interning, Sebastian became a consultant in Central America and East Africa
  • Sebastian discusses the skills it takes to land an internship position in a nonprofit organization in today's day and age
  • How Sebastian hustled to get his job at Trees, Water & People
  • Why Sebastian decided to take on a more traditional job with Trees, Water & People after seven years of being on the road as a social entrepreneur and independent contractor
  • Sebastian discusses the lifestyle differences between a social entrepreneur versus someone working for a pre-existing non-profit organization
  • The difficult transition that Sebastian went through from being a field guy to an office guy
  • Sebastian's relationship with his Executive Director
  • Sebastian discusses the kind of communications skills that are required for those looking to work in the nonprofit world, both in the field and in the office--or as he calls it the Barrio and in the Board room.
Aug 23, 2016

Social entrepreneur Kunal Doshi is the founder of Brighter Children, a non-profit organization that sponsors educational costs for students around the world who couldn’t otherwise go to school. The Brighter Children team is made up of Millennials looking to make a difference while still working full-time.

In this episode, Kunal speaks about how his team–despite their busy schedules–leverages evenings, weekends, and network to fund schools and scholarships for children around the world.

We are very lucky to announce that the Villa Soleada Bilingual School is now being sponsored by Brighter Children. Their team will be visiting us in Honduras this year.

For show links, go to

Show Notes & Summary

  • Kunal’s workout routine
  • What Kunal’s grandfather said to him on his deathbed made a great impact on Kunal’s life
  • “I want to leave the world better than I came into it.”
  • How Kunal recruited his first two friends to join Brighter Children
  • Why Kunal wanted to use the fundamentals of business for his non-profit organization
  • How Brighter Children found their first partner school in India
  • How Brighter Children finds and screens potential partner schools
  • What the first fundraising event for Brighter Children looked like where they raised $2,000
  • What went through Kunal’s mind when he got the very first $10 donation
  • How Kunal used LinkedIn to find new staff members for Brighter Children
  • “Transparency, scarcity, urgency.” -Adam Braun
  • How Kunal is brutally honest with his friends when asking them to join Brighter Children
  • How the Brighter Children website evolved including the words they used in each page
  • Kunal explains how Brighter Children uses analytics to improve their website and newsletters
  • Brighter Children is looking for a full-time Executive Director. Kunal reveals the one characteristic he looks for in their job candidates.
  • 90% of Brighter Children donors are below the age of 30
  • What the first big benefit event that Brighter Children organized in New York City was like for Kunal
  • What happened during an intense argument that the Brighter Children team had at the airport coming back from Colombia
  • Kunal reveals the best part about his job as Chief Dreamer for Brighter Children
  • Why organizational culture is so important to Brighter Children
Aug 18, 2016

CNN Hero and social entrepreneur Nancy Hughes is a 73 year-old grandmother and the founder of Stove Team International. They have distributed more than 56,000 fuel-efficient cooking stoves in Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Nancy Hughes was widowed at age 65. In an effort to fight the loss, she went on a medical mission trip to Guatemala. It was there that she witnessed a woman who's hands had been burnt shut for sixteen years. At age two, this Guatemalan had fallen into an open cooking fire. Her team opened up her hands through surgery.

Nancy Hughes found out that cooking stoves were a leading cause of death around the world, causing eight times more deaths than malaria. The indoor air pollution caused by the smoke (equivalent to smoking four packs of cigarettes per day) was causing lung disease, asthma, and many health problems, especially for women and children. Inefficient cooking stoves required a high volume of firewood, contributing to deforestation. Nancy wanted to prevent these problems by developing and distributing fuel-efficient cooking stoves.

"Just do it," Nancy thought to herself. So she contacted her Rotary International club in her hometown in Eugene, Oregon to start Stove Team International. They started stove-making factories in the backyards of local entrepreneurs in Central America. Together, they have started seven factories in the region.

Check out the show links at

Show Notes & Summary

  • What Nancy did when her husband passed away
  • Nancy's first trips to Guatemala
  • There are 6 million cooking stoves in Guatemala.
  • Carlos Santana saw an article about Nancy's efforts and he did something that changed it all
  • Gustavo Peña, the first factory owner in El Salvador
  • The stoves are made of cement, pumice rocks, sheet metal, and tiles. No imported supplies
  • How Nancy confronted the machismo culture
  • What it was like starting the first backyard stove factory in El Salvador using corrugated metal. The stoves were stored in the dining room!
  • How one factory employs 22 people from the community
  • Selling the cook stoves is a challenge in itself
  • It costs $70,000 to start a factory, including a used pickup truck
  • The stove factories are for-profit and run by a local entrepreneur
  • Selling door-to-door is difficult because of the violence and crime rate in Central America
  • What Nancy does when she gets discouraged
  • The shocking tragedy with her partnership in Mexico recently
  • Why opening bank accounts in Central America are so challenging
  • Stove Team is starting a new factory in Estelí, Nicargua
  • Why answering emails has been so important for Nancy
  • Why patience has been the most important leadership skill for Nancy
  • Nancy explains why fundraising through Rotary International is effective
  • "We're not a top-down organization."
  • Nancy talks about her unmatched work ethic
  • How Nancy prepares for her public speeches
  • "Just do it."
  • How Stove Team collects data for research, showing a 50% reduction in fuel usage
Aug 15, 2016

Social entrepreneur Jacob Lief started the non-profit organization Ubuntu Education Fund in 1999 at age 20 with the goal of transforming the lives of children in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. His interest for South Africa began on a trip that he took there as a young high school student.

Over the years, Ubuntu created a comprehensive, child-centered, community-based development plan for the townships of Port Elizabeth. They provide world-class health and educational support to the orphaned and vulnerable children in Port Elizabeth, including those with HIV.

Ubuntu highlights the difference between merely touching a child’s life versus transforming it. Check out his book, I Am Because You Are.

Check out the show links at

Show Notes & Summary

  • Ubuntu is the idea that I am because you are
  • Why checking boxes in the international development aid industry wasn't what Jacob wanted to do through Ubuntu
  • What Jacob Lief really thought about his poetry program
  • Why a cup of soup and a windup computer are not enough
  • Cradle to Career
  • The advice that Geoffrey Canada gave Jacob Lief
  • Parenting begins in the first trimester
  • Ubuntu's exit strategy
  • "Real sustainability is investing in a child every day of their lives."
  • Why Students Helping Honduras should focus on working with pregnant mothers
  • Why generational abuse is so challenging to address
  • "There is no point in investing in a kid's math and science education if they're being abused at home every night."
  • "It's not about program supplies. It's about people."
  • Jacob's first trip to South Africa as a high school student
  • The moment during that first trip to South Africa that changed Jacob's life
  • The very first raffle fundraiser that Jacob organized to start  Ubuntu
  • "I don't need anymore computers. I need people for this organization."
  • Ubuntu's philosophy on staff retention and organizational culture
  • Why the 12 month grant cycle is creating an unhealthy dynamic between the donor and the NGO
  • Jacob talks about donors who are cynical of NGOs
  • "Is it good enough for your own children?"
  • BUILD - Bertha Ubuntu Internal Leaders Development Program for Ubuntu's staff development
  • Jacob emphasizes the importance of finding mentors for staff members
  • 60 donors make up 80% of Ubuntu's funding
  • "It's not about giving sob stories. It's about uplifting people"
  • Ubuntu's first gala fundraiser
  • What Ubuntu's $450,000 study with McKinsey revealed
  • Why it was harder for Jacob to fail than succeed in high school
  • Not everything worthwhile is calculated
  • "We get so caught up in the numbers game. It's all bullshit."
  • "When an organization says they're reaching 10,000 kids, I just laugh and roll my eyes."
  • Jacob's reaction when Geoffrey Canada told him that the Harlem Children's Zone had graduated 347 kids from college.
  • Why Geoffrey Canada said to Jacob that "he was like every other asshole out there."
  • What Jacob does to deal with burnout
  • Why Jacob thinks most nonprofit memoirs out there are bad
Aug 15, 2016

CNN Hero Yash Gupta was a freshman in high school when he began collecting used eye glasses to distribute to children around the world who couldn't afford them. Since then, his nonprofit organization Sight Learning has collected more than 26,000 eye glasses, giving them out in Mexico, Honduras, Haiti, and India.

In this episode, Yash talks about the Tae Kwon Do incident that sparked it all, what it was like driving around with his mom to collect the first glasses, and his quest to grow his nonprofit organization (NGO) while studying full time as a sophomore at the University of Southern California.

Check out the show notes and links at

Aug 8, 2016

Social entrepreneur David Schweidenback is the founder of Pedals for Progress, an NGO that collects used bicycles in the US, shipping them out to 38 developing countries including war-torn Nicaragua, Honduras, Africa, and Eastern Europe.

In 25 years, this nonprofit organization has delivered 147,830 bicycles around the world. David Schweidenback is a CNN Hero, and his NGO has been recognized by Forbes Magazine and the Skoll Foundation, among many others.

Learn how bicycles can help spin forward a city's economy.

Check out the show notes and links at


Show Notes & Summary

  • Why so many bicycles get throw into the landfills
  • David's first bicycle as a child
  • David's experience with the Peace Corps in Ecuador
  • The most productive man David met in the Ecuadorian town
  • In the 1970s, very few people owned bicycles in Ecuador
  • Without wheels, a society cannot succeed in its modern sense
  • David's life after the Peace Corps
  • David's vision to ship 12 bicycles to Ecuador turned into 147,000+ bicycles
  • Speeding up the movement of goods and services is the key to economic growth
  • What David's first collection drive looked like
  • Why the Ecuadorian consulate did not allow David to ship bicycles to Ecuador
  • One-country-itis
  • The first shipment of biycles was through a church group that was helping war-torn Nicaragua
  • Each container shipment can fit 500 bicycles
  • 25,000+ bicycles have been shipped to Rivas, Nicaragua
  • "I thought everything was going to be so simple."
  • Some countries make it very difficult for bicycles to be imported, so David focuses his work where bicycles are welcomed
  • Very few countries manufacture bicycles, so importing used bicycles does not disrupt internal market
  • Imported bicycles are heavily taxed in certain countries
  • In many parts of eastern Europe, bicycles do not exist
  • David focuses on equity when it comes to distribution
  • Some institutions wanted to discriminate when it came to distribution
  • Pedals for Progress sells each bike for around $50-$60
  • Deciding prices is a complicated task based on the local market
  • David's goal is to create a more vibrant economy. Giving goods out for free does not do that.
  • A documentary is coming out about Rivas, Nicaragua, now known as Bicycle City.
  • How the local shops that sell the bicycles break even and/or make a profit
  • What Pedals for Progress does with the super expensive racing bicycles
  • Payments in installments
  • The shops also repair the bicycles
  • They spend $7,000 to ship 500 bicycles, which usually results in $15,000-$20,000 in revenue at the shops
  • More than 70 organizations have used David's business plan to ship used bicycles overseas
  • What makes the bicycle shop in Rivas more successful than the other shops
  • Many shops use their profit to benefit the community
  • What happened to the five containers of bicycles David shipped to Haiti
  • Why David was ashamed when he shipped a container to Ecuador
  • How Pedals for Progress shipped bicycles to El Progreso, Honduras
  • Pedals for Progress's lean staff of three people
  • What the Pedals for Progress warehouse looks like
  • Why David collects $10 with each bicycle donated
  • Why the logistics of moving things overseas is incredibly frustrating
  • How Pedals for Progress gets testimonial stories from his partner shops overseas
  • Why Pedals for Progress is now shipping sewing machines
  • How David gets funding from the Clif Bar Foundation
  • How Pedals for Progress is building their mailing list
  • David needs to raise $250,000 each year
  • The part of the job that David enjoys most
  • Why Eastern Europe is so poor and without infrastructure
  • What life is like in Albania
  • A bike collection takes up about 3 hours
  • Why sewing machines are so useful in developing countries
Aug 5, 2016
Social entrepreneur Rye Barcott is a captain from the US Marine Corps and the co-founder of Carolina for Kibera (CFK)This NGO leads a massive, community based youth program in Kibera (Kenya), the largest urban slum in Africa. CFK has been awarded by TIME Magazine and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their nonprofit work in Kenya.
Rye is the author of the award winning memoir, It Happened On The Way To War: A Marine's Path to Peace. He is the 2006 Person of the Year from ABC World News and is a TED fellow.

Rye started CFK as an undergraduate ROTC student at UNC-Chapel Hill. He grew the nonprofit organization while simultaneously serving in the US Marine Corps in Bosnia, the Horn of Africa, and Iraq.

Check out the show notes and links at

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