Have we mentioned that we love nonprofits? Yes, we’re a tech company, but our desire is to use our tech expertise to help nonprofits multiply their impact in their communities and around the world. We work for organizations all over the United States and the world, but we’re headquartered out of Denver, Colorado. During the last few years that we’ve been a part of the Denver community, we’ve been inspired by the many organizations in our area that are working to do good. We’ve recently connected with four incredible Denver-based nonprofits who are having a huge impact locally and globally, and we’d like to introduce them.
A BIG impact for the tiniest recipients: WeeCycle
WeeCycle is showing huge love to families in need by providing their little ones with the essential baby gear that they need for a happy and healthy start. Begun in 2008 during the economic downturn, WeeCycle has grown from two moms who wanted to serve families in need to an incredible nonprofit that is acting as a catalyst for change and empowerment in its community.
“Our collected gear not only provides ease and safety for babies and families,” says Jayme Ritchie, co-founder and executive director, “it provides hope for the future and cross-cultural support that brings us ALL closer together. It takes a village to raise a family. WeeCycle IS that village for so many families in our community.”
WeeCycle’s impact is anything but small. In the past year and a half, WeeCycle’s distribution to families has grown tremendously—by 400 percent. They distribute nearly 4,400 items per month to families in need through partner organizations in and around the Denver area. Offering a family-friendly volunteer program, they provide meaningful opportunities for parents and kids to serve their community. And they have established a car-seat recycling program for expired or unsafe car seats, creating jobs for individuals with disabilities and keeping car seats out of landfills.
What is their biggest need in 2017? “It may not sound ‘sexy’ to donate funds that will be used to pay the rent for the WeeCycle warehouse, or the utility bills,” says Jayme, “or gas for picking up all the baby gear donations, or the person who is driving all over town to collect the baby gear. But without funding for these things, WeeCycle wouldn’t exist.”
At WannaPixel, we find that covering overhead expenses is something that most nonprofits struggle with. But without the ability to cover their overhead expenses, WeeCylce couldn’t support the 2,000-plus families they work with a year. Thank you for the good work that you do, WeeCycle. We are proud to serve alongside you in the Denver area!
Technology for Good: Open World Learning (OWL)
As a company that loves both nonprofits AND technology, we can’t wait to introduce you to this next organization. Open World Learning (OWL) is working to provide opportunities for underserved students to grow, explore, and create through the power of digital technology. They do this by providing free afterschool programs for children and youth who attend Title 1 elementary schools, which serve students at risk of failure and live at or near the poverty line in the Denver area. In these programs, students are taught useful 21st century skills such as computer programming, graphic art, and internet research. Can you see now why we love this nonprofit?
In 2016, OWL worked with more than 1,000 students who each spent over 110 hours programming through learning labs, but it doesn’t stop there. Students also received homework support and healthy snacks, and their middle-school program also teaches additional skills such as LEGO Robotics, coding, and graphic design!
“I love watching our students build confidence as they master challenging tech concepts and take on roles as learners, teachers, and mentors to each other,” says Josh Kumin, their AmeriCorps VISTA Program Specialist. “It is eye-opening to see our students culminate creativity and competency in immersive digital technology.”
What is OWL’s biggest need in 2017? “In the rapidly growing age of technology, we will need to future-proof our curriculum,” says Josh. “OWL will stay a front-runner in constructivist-based, tech education by utilizing the cloud to further ensure that our resources are easily accessible. OWL looks forward to integrating digital tools into our curriculum that will enhance student engagement.”
Thank you, OWL, for providing opportunities for students to succeed today and equipping them to have a brighter future as our world continues to rely more and more on technology.
Transforming girls lives in Tanzania: AfricAid
If we’re going to talk about organizations that are doing good and creating lasting change, we would be remiss not to tell you about AfricAid. We stumbled upon them through Instagram, and are increasingly more impressed as we find out details about the good work that they do.
Their mission is to “support girls’ education in Africa in order to provide them with the opportunity to transform their own lives and the futures of their communities.” Gender inequality is alive and well in many African countries, and it prevents girls from going to school, forces them to into marriage at a young age, and keeps them in a cycle of poverty that prevents them from meeting their full potential. AfricAid works to mentor and support these adolescent girls, helping them to believe in themselves, because a girl who actualizes her potential will break the cycle of generational poverty.
“We support girls to complete their education to the level of their ability and/or choosing,” says Julia Gatten, AfricAid’s Communications Director, “prepare them for meaningful employment, and empower them to become change-makers in their communities. The outcome is better-educated, healthier, confident, and resilient girls who take responsibility for their own futures and who, by demonstrating what girls can achieve, help increase the standing of women in Tanzanian society.”
AfricAid does this primarily through two different programs run by local Tanzanian women, who are university graduates and act as role models, teachers, and mentors to these young girls.
The Kisa Project, is a two-year program that works with upper secondary school girls in their partner schools around Tanzania. The program consists of extracurricular activities, life skills and leadership courses, and a number of events that help girls succeed in secondary school and go on to university or to become leaders in their communities.
The other program, Binti Shupavu, was launched earlier this year, and is a four-year life skills curriculum aimed at younger, more vulnerable secondary school girls from rural areas. Through this new program, they hope to increase secondary school retention and completion rates for these girls.
What is AfricAid’s biggest need for 2017? “We aim to increase the impact of Binti Shupavu to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable adolescent girls across Tanzania,” Julia says, “demonstrating that relatively simple, low-cost interventions at the lower secondary level can have a significant impact on adolescent girls.“
Finding sponsorships for the girls is an ongoing task, and as these programs continue to grow, so will their need for finances. We are so impressed by the model of this program and so excited to see how they continue to grow and serve more incredible young women in Tanzania!
Hunger Advocacy and Action: Hunger Free Colorado
Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in our lives. It boosts infant brain and physical development, fuels children with the energy needed to excel in and out of school, reduces risk of chronic diseases in adults, and keeps seniors stable and independent. Unfortunately, 1 in 8 Coloradans face times when they don’t know where their next meal will come from. They often have to make difficult decisions between buying groceries or paying the rent or other life expenses. It’s these types of circumstances that Hunger Free Colorado is working hard to prevent!
Hunger Free Colorado is a statewide nonprofit organization that connects families and individuals to food resources, and it fuels change in systems, policies, and social views, so no Coloradan goes hungry.
“Collaboration is essential if we want to remove roadblocks and increase access to nutritious food, so all residents and communities can prosper,” says Michelle Ray, their director of communication. “We know when people work together and rally behind a shared vision, positive changes are possible and can have lasting impacts that support the health and well-being of our residents and the state of Colorado.”
Hunger Free Colorado works with many partner organizations, from government agencies to local businesses, community members, and faith-based organizations, helping to make an impact across the state.
They’ve worked together with these partners to implement a school breakfast program for low-income schoolchildren, push a Crop Donation Act through the local government supporting local agricultural communities, connect those affected by hunger to food banks and pantries, and improve the state’s food stamp system.
“It’s through the power of community, collaboration, and innovation,” Michelle says, “we will continue to make progress as a state to ensure all Coloradans have access to affordable, nutritious food, so they can thrive and reach their full potential.”
Hunger Free Colorado’s biggest need for 2017? “Private nonprofit organizations like ours rely upon donations, partnerships, and community action to achieve our mission of ending hunger across Colorado.”
They also need more people to participate in fundraising events like their annual “Hike for Hunger,” partner financially, and work as advocates to spread the word. Thank you, Hunger Free Colorado, for your hard work and dedication to the wonderful people of our beloved state!