v. to make radically different
n. a fresh set of clothing; money

Change t-shirts 52 times in 2010 to raise awareness and funds for 52 world changers.

What do you change for?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Scott Harrison “wears charity.”

After working in the nightclub promotion business for years, Scott Harrison, the founder and president of charity: water, decided to make a major lifestyle change. In 2004, he left life in the fast lane and went on a journey with Mercy Ships, an organization that provides free medical care from floating ships. By the time Scott completed his experience as the ship’s photojournalist off the coast of Africa, he had been exposed to the horrific realities of poverty in Africa, specifically to the region’s lack of clean drinking water. And so, he embarked on a new adventure of wearing charity. He created charity: water, an organization that brings clean drinking water to those whose only sources of water are dirty ponds and swamps.

Through its clever branding and young appeal, charity: water has become one of the most chic charities around. Not only is its mission incredibly inspiring, but it allows everyone to participate. Charity: water explains that for $20, a person in Africa can have clean drinking water for 20 years. Working with a number of partners on the ground, charity: water gives 100% of their donations to help sustain the programs already in place by their field partners. In effect, charity: water serves as an advocacy and fundraising arm for their partners on the ground in 11 different countries.

Individual stories of people living without clean drinking water around the world are highlighted through photographs and day to day updates on new water projects through charity: water’s website. Recently, was launched as a mechanism for individuals to create their own fundraising page for charity: water.

Charity: water was born in September 2006 when Scott Harrison asked his friends to donate $20 towards his new project instead of buying him a birthday present. Once 700 people showed up to his birthday party, charity: water became a reality. Since then the organization has grown and expanded to bring clean drinking water to various regions around the world.

Due to its successful ad campaigns and high-tech appeal, charity: water was the first non-profit to attract over 1 million followers on twitter. Some campaigns include charity: water outdoor exhibits, charity: water windows at Saks Fifth Avenue, charity: water Gala events, and of course the annual charity: water birthday party (always with a different edge to engage donors in new initiatives).

With his yellow jerry can by his side, Scott Harrison somehow transformed charity into cool.

Please visit to learn more.

(Charity: water offers a simple solution to bring clean drinking water to various regions around the world.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


3 young filmmakers educate millions to tell a story of the world’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN.

In the past 24 years, over 30,000 children have been abducted in central Africa to serve as soldiers for Joseph Kony, a rebel leader. An additional 2 million people have been displaced in central Africa as a result of the violence.

Since 2003, Invisible Children has used its entrepreneurial spirit to engage millions in teaching and advocating for peace in Uganda. Sounding like a fairytale story in itself, Invisible Children began when three young filmmakers ventured to Africa. They returned with the “rough cut” of their concept for Invisible Children. After initial viewings for their family and friends, Invisible Children reached out to the young spirit of America through their multimedia story. “How can I help?” was the overwhelming response to Invisible Children’s work. And so, in the years since their first movie screening, Invisible Children has gained major individual, community, and governmental support to reveal the story of Uganda’s Invisible Children.

Jenna Ingrassia, the Office Manager at Invisible Children, explains the unique impact that Invisible Children “has had on the youth of western countries. I feel like our generation has been categorized as apathetic and lazy. Through Invisible Children, I have personally witnessed people of all ages becoming active and engaging in something much larger than themselves with their communities.”

Invisible Children sends its message across America with the help of groups of “Roadies” who tour the U.S. to screen the original, raw footage of the effects of the war in Uganda.

One of Invisible Children’s most popular programs is “Schools for Schools,” where students in western countries fundraise to build “sister” schools for children affected by the war in Uganda. This initiative has expanded to educate teachers (both Ugandan and western) to exchange skills and cultural values.

To raise awareness through local and national media outlets, in April 2009, Invisible Children took to the streets of America. Organized groups in major cities around the U.S. showed solidarity with those children abducted in Uganda by staging “The Rescue.” Groups of Invisible Children supporters “abducted themselves” to popular sites in major cities, only deemed “rescued” once a major media outlet recognized their “abduction.”

Jenna wrote that “The Rescue event in Chicago was an amazing experience… When we finally were spontaneously put on Oprah's Friday morning show, I just remember feeling so relieved. Oprah definitely raised the profile of the current situation with the L.R.A., [(The Lord’s Resistance Army) a militant group based in northern Uganda,] and Joseph Kony... she gave it the exposure that it has been lacking for the past 23 years. Check it our here:”

Right now, Invisible Children’s “main focuses are the L.R.A. Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act and our Legacy Tour. We have a meeting with the State Department to discuss the bill and the petition to make sure our representatives recognize the situation in central-east Africa as one that needs immediate attention. The Legacy Tour is a three month long international tour that will include guest appearances by the people who have been featured in our films or a part of our programs from northern Uganda. You can find more info on that here:

With the plethora of opportunities that Invisible Children has to offer, it is no wonder they are in second place on Chase Community Giving’s Facebook application to receive 1 million dollars if they win the contest on January 22nd.

Please visit to learn more.

Thanks, Jenna, for teaching us how we too can make the Invisible Children visible!

(Invisible Children is motivated by the unseen war in Northern Uganda, to use the power of stories to change lives around the world.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Brad Pitt + Sustainable Housing + New Orleans = Make It Right

After Brad Pitt toured the hurricane devastated region in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, he connected with community groups and families in the area, spurring a new movement and organization called Make It Right (MIR) in 2007. Since its inception, MIR has partnered with architecture firms to build sustainable housing solutions for those homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Kim Haddow, MIR’s Communications Director, “was attracted [to MIR] by how solutions-oriented this project is. They are asking the right questiText Colorons. How can homes and communities be built to adapt –to survive and thrive in the face of a changing climate? How can energy efficient homes be made affordably for the working families who need the cost break the most? In a world of concepts and theories, I liked how hands-on the search for solutions is here at Make It Right.”

It is often difficult to understand and to witness first-hand how policies and theories may be applied to changing life on the ground. Kim describes how this “hands-on” approach at MIR came full circle at her first closing on a MIR home. She explains “the joy on the face of a sixty year woman who lost a home in the hurricane that had been in her family for generations. After so much loss and sorrow, it really is quite moving to see a family regain their footing – and on the same lot they owned before the storm.”

This closing is only one of 150 homes that MIR hopes to complete closings for in 2010 and 2011.

While MIR definitely has their work cut out for them in the Lower 9th Ward alone, they are not stopping there. MIR is “part of a consortium of builders and non-profits in Newark, New Jersey waiting to hear if we have been awarded NSP2 (Neighborhood Stabilization Program) money from The Department of Housing and Urban Development.” This would enable MIR to build “affordable green housing” in areas not only devastated by hurricanes, but also in areas suffering from economic crises.

And now what you have all been waiting for!

Kim told me that she has “seen Brad three times in 9 months – twice in New Orleans, where he likes to come in quietly and meet with homeowners and staff, and once in New York for the Clinton Global Initiative, which featured a session on Make It Right last September. He is always passionate and up to speed on the project and clearly cares about the homeowners. When he was in New Orleans for the 4th anniversary of Katrina (Aug 29), he showed up at a farewell party for our interns at a local bar – it made their summer (and stunned the other four people at the bar).”

Make It Right has definitely left its mark on the streets of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. As construction continues to both inspire and lead homebuilding efforts in The South, MIR is creating a model for “affordable green housing” all over the country and perhaps all over the world.

“Why not rebuild using the lessons we have learned in New Orleans?”

Please visit to learn more about Make It Right and Kudos, Kim, for sharing your insight on Make It Right!

(Make It Right is helping to rebuild New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward through sustainable solutions.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


What happens when “corporate CEOs and their staffs, government leaders, faith groups, community groups and ordinary people like you and me” put our muscles into action?

A Habitat for Humanity worksite is born.

Habitat for Humanity- New York City is Charity Change’s first featured charity of the year! This week, Josh Lockwood, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity - New York City, gave me some insight on the organization and its mission for change in New York City.

Josh explained that “Habitat-NYC has taken a rural, volunteer homebuilding model and applied it to a dynamic, high-density urban environment. Most importantly, our organization provides the opportunity for low-income families living in overcrowded and dangerous circumstances to forever change the trajectory of their lives, by building their own homes, and by becoming first-time homebuyers.”

While many people may think of Habitat-NYC as an organization that builds homes for low-income families locally, Habitat-NYC also works with Habitat for Humanity International on a variety of projects to apply this rural homebuilding model in a high-density environment to various situations.

About four years ago, I had the opportunity to experience the “rural, volunteer homebuilding model… [in a] high-density urban environment” when I participated in an all-night Habitat build in Rockefeller Center for victims of Katrina.

The all-night build consisted of New Yorkers building the frames of houses which were then disassembled into large pieces and loaded onto trucks, driven to New Orleans to be reassembled, and finally inhabited by individuals devastated by Katrina.

It seemed to me that this event was the epitome of Habitat’s “change” it sees in the world. Through this building process, Americans from around the country were able to connect with each other in an intimate way even though they have yet to meet. As the sound of hammers banging nails into wood planks reverberated throughout the night on Rockefeller Plaza, volunteer builders would write messages on the frames of the houses: “God Bless You,” “Welcome Home,” “NYC Loves You.” These messages would be read by the new homeowners and volunteer builders in New Orleans as the houses were reassembled at their final destination.

Not only does Habitat-NYC face fundraising challenges to maintain its capabilities to physically build housing for low-income New Yorkers, but, as Josh explains, they “also face the challenge of educating policymakers and the general public about the life-changing merits of homeownership for low-income New Yorkers. There is no better way for working families to move out of poverty, and no better way to stabilize distressed neighborhoods than to have passionate new homebuyers invest in local property, schools, and institutions.”

Habitat for Humanity is probably well-known for the variety of people that can be found on a housing build work site at any time. “It brings people from all walks of life together to work for common good. In our new global world, our “neighborhood” includes our local communities, towns and cities and people from every continent. Working side-by-side with families, we all work together to transform families and communities.”

While there are endless stories of the lives that Habitat has touched, one particular family stands out in Josh’s mind as he recounted the story of the Ansahs. The Ansahs first approached Habitat-NYC in “a letter saying, "My wife and I live in a run-down one-bedroom apartment, and my wife is about to have quadruplets. Can you help us?" Through the help of Habitat-NYC, the Ansahs now live in “a 3-bedroom condominium that they helped to build in the South Bronx.”

Josh said that he is ”continually blown away by the work ethic and perseverance of our family partner homebuyers. These are folks leading families, holding down full-time jobs, going to school at night, taking care of elderly parents, but they still find time to build their new green homes on the weekends, and they have the vision to see a better life for their children. Somehow, they make the time to build their homes, take the requisite financial literacy classes, and take a step toward a better life.”

Please visit or to learn more about Habitat-NYC and Habitat International.

Thanks, Josh, for an insider’s view on Habitat-NYC!

(Habitat-NYC is an independent affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International and builds homes in the five boroughs of NYC for individuals in need.)