Social Venture Semi-Finalists
Like countless others, I have spent the majority of my teen years comparing my love life to those of the adored characters on Sex and the City. However, when I tried to apply Carrie's advice, I often came up short. I recently realized why: they are in their thirties!
And then it hit me: there is absolutely nothing in the media for teens and young women who are sexually active, but not sexually experienced. I can find plenty of articles for virgins about how to avoid being pressured into sex. And my latest Cosmo gives a "how to" of tricks like "having sex against a wall." But where do I look if I'm having sex, but I'm still learning the ropes? Who can I relate to if I have a problem like, "How do I get over the guy I lost my virginity to?" Carrie Bradshaw has been having sex for longer than I've been alive; so I don't think her advice is truly geared towards my problems.
Here, then, is my proposition: A column or a Web blog about relationships and sex for those who are new to it- written by someone who is also new to it- that someone preferably being me. Now, I am no sexpert- but that is exactly the point. I could write about my experiences as I live them, and finally give the millions of girls in my shoes someone in the media to relate to. I know sex is a tricky subject, but my columns would be tasteful, truthful, and relevant. I am not trying to promote promiscuity or advocate sex amongst teens. I am merely trying to acknowledge that sex is out there, and provide helpful information for those who are already doing it or thinking about it. It may spark some controversy, but hey, Gossip Girl would not be such a hit if those explicit billboards were not hovering over Time Square.
Speaking of Gossip Girl, teens having sex is already portrayed in the media- just not accurately. When Blaire loses her virginity the scenario is hot, steamy, and utterly romanticized. For the non-fictional teen, a first attempt at sex is not about champagne and rose petals. It's actually more like a science project. Isn't it about time we stop expecting teens to go from the innocent virgins of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants to the sex kittens of American Pie overnight? I'd like to guide them through the in between phase as I experience it myself.
PROJECT ON ORGANIZING, DEVELOPMENT, EDUCATION, & RESEARCH Poder in Spanish = Yes, we can; strength; capacity
P.O.D.E.R. (Project on Organizing, Development, Education, & Research)
PODER is a mixed-profit information discovery business that seeks to eliminate corruption as well as economic, workplace, social, and environmental rights violations in Latin America. It envisions two complimentary theories of change: strengthening civil society as an active participant in economic and social development, while; democratizing business and incentivizing best corporate practices. PODER partners with human rights, labor, and environmental organizations in developed markets, as well as workers and communities in emerging markets, to strengthen civil society as a central decision maker in transitional democracies while mitigating business and investment risks.
Relief Development Cosulting
Relief Development Consulting (RDC) is a for-profit, international economic development firm. RDC focuses on creating innovative approaches to fighting poverty in developing countries. Our core competencies include:
Creativity and Innovation - RDC designs new and unique models for addressing traditional development challenges
Management Expertise RDC's unparalleled team of consultants works closely with its clients to implement and manage on-the-ground development projects
Development program design and implementation is traditionally performed by direct service NGO's, however RDC's approach to identifying development opportunities, creating development programs, and managing on-the-ground program implementation is entirely different. This is perhaps best illustrated by the types of clients RDC works with. RDC works with multi-national corporations, international development organizations, and local communities in developing countries to create mutually beneficial strategic partnerships. We work with these vastly different groups to identify to economic development opportunities that fight poverty, while also fulfilling the corporation's business and CSR strategy requirements.
Examples of RDC projects (currently in development) include building and managing locally based supply chains in developing countries for companies, such as Newmont Mining Corporation, Whole Foods and Aramark; and working with international development organizations, such as the Clinton Foundation to design and implement a new model for aggregated micro-finance lending.
Implementation is the most critical phase of any international development project. Advice and strategic analysis make up a much smaller part of the process. Many perfectly planned projects fail because of poor implementation, an inability to adapt the project's original strategy to the changing realities on the ground, and inadequate strategic partnerships. Often, this happens because incentive structures and skill sets within the development industry are not aligned to successfully identify, create, or manage sustainable, professionally-run, for-profit businesses, capable of competing in the global market. Staff at most development organizations come from non-profit backgrounds, and have little experience operating businesses. Furthermore, most development sector professionals do not have an adequate understanding of corporate strategy, making it difficult to build effective partnerships with the for-profit world.
RDC was created to address both of these development challenges. Its strength lies in its ability to combine traditional grass-roots, on-the-ground development implementation with best-in-class management practices from the business sector. It leverages the skills and expertise of its staff (all of whom worked in development after successful careers at top-tier management, finance, marketing and Fortune 500 companies) to ensure successful implementation of sustainable, economically viable, development initiatives.
StayingInvolved.org is a social venture that will allow everyone to stay involved with political/ policy issues that are affecting our nation. President-elect Barack Obama's acceptance speech asked us to "join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block ... This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change ... it cannot happen without you. This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time."
StayingInvolved.org believes that everyone needs to get involved in the policy/political debate to make a positive impact on society. The best way for us to lead a sustainable long-term rebound is to have an informed public that routinely takes part in policy debates and engages with elected officials. Society can no longer afford to ignore political issues and become distracted by the entertainment media.
StayingInvolved.org will provide a single source to allow individuals to take an active role in government. The Web site initial focus will be on federal issues (Legislative and Executive Branch). The Web site will provide the following distinctive features:
- Position Page for all Elected Officials: This page will include his/her respective stance on key issues, voting record, contact details, and a link to "contact elected official." Correspondences will be processed, stored, and catalogued.
- Issue Tracker: A bill/resolution page will exist to summarize the measure and to identify the key authors. All amendments and additions will also be identified with a brief description of the amendment (including the author).
- Inconsistency Report: Use to identify inconsistency in the voting records versus policy position. Once an inconsistency is noticed, an email will be send to the elected official to allow them to respond. This information will be posted on the "Position Page."
The main goal of StayingInvolved.org is to improve the country by providing a forum that easily allows individuals to stay involved in the political process on a day-by-day basis.
Health Benefits of Reflexology: Improvement in Everyday Life
In April 2008, the Rand Corporation reported that 320,000 of the 1.64 million veterans who served Iraq and Afghanistan had a major health problem, either 'probable traumatic brain injury', post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression. These injuries not only affected the veterans themselves but also their families. Combat experience changes behavior, and veterans do not return as the people they were prior to combat.
As a result, they may withdraw from society, and, in extreme cases, even wind up committing suicide. Veterans are trained to be strong, to endure pain, and they are discouraged from reporting any 'weakness'. All too often, more than a decade passes before a soldier seeks help. The cost of PTSD over the next two years is estimated to be 4 to 6 billion dollars. In every war, soldiers suffer from this condition, PTSD, but only recently has it been identified as a major issue. I am proposing a stress reduction program that teaches self-reflexology to veterans and their families. The focus will be on veterans returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Reflexology is the art and technique of promoting bodily relaxation by stimulating pressure points in/on the hand, the face, the ears, and/or the feet. But much more than the welfare of these separate body parts is sought for/because each of them "maps" the entire body. Research has proved its benefits in two distinct areas: it helps patients who are recovering from breast cancer treatment, and it helps anyone needing to reduce stress, anxiety or manage pain. Reflexology can bring healing to veterans because it involves touching to release trauma without having to relive events. This program will educate veterans, their families and veterans' employees about the benefits of applying simple reflexology techniques to relax and overcome the effects of PSTD. I have been connecting with people currently serving in the military and active in veterans affairs. I have also been in conversation with reflexology practitioners and their organizations to determine their interest in supporting this project.
Funding will be used to:
- Meet with reflexology and veterans associations
- Establish contacts
- Develop referral practices
- Establish guidelines
- Secure the necessary insurance
- Develop special training for reflexologists regarding PTSD
- Build a Web site
- Teach practices and the healing benefits of reflexology
- Share stories from those who wish to voice their experience
- Create an on-line network to connect practitioners and veterans
Susan Lee: With years of experience working in the Information Systems field, Susan Lee decided there was more she needed to know and is currently a full-time graduate student in the Seidenberg School at Pace University, working towards a master's degree in Information Systems and an Advanced Certificate in Information Communications Technology. While earning her Bachelor's degree in Business Management in the Lubin School of Business, Susan also studied techniques designed to promote well being, including classes in reflexology, tai chi and yoga. On visits to California and Hawaii, she continued studies in self-reflexology, acupressure points, and auriculotherapy. These classes inspired her not only to learn but also to share what she was learning with others. She helps other students, colleagues, and fellow travelers on the plane or on the bus. She finds that very few people have heard of the word "reflexology" and even fewer know that it is something you can do for yourself. This is why she is so passionate about sharing it with others.
Venture Model:What if one business could simultaneously solve a public need for effective public recycling, a company's need to showcase their social responsibility and a non-profit organization's need for funding? WeCycle, Inc. is a social enterprise advertising firm that provides solutions for these needs by selling advertising on recycling bins and donating a proportion of advertisement revenue to environmentally minded charities (EMCs). WeCycle branded recycling receptacles will be used to collect recyclable materials. These bins will be outfitted with four large commercial advertisement spaces. For every item recycled, WeCycle donates $0.05 to EMCs that promote the sustainable development.
WeCycle receptacles serve as the firm's own advertisements that encourage the public to log onto the Internet and vote on how WeCycle will distribute its funds to specific environmental organizations.
Operations: WeCycle provides recycling, online donations and advertising, that brings people, non-profits, and businesses together into a mutually beneficial collaboration:
Recycling: WeCycle offers a recycling service that is paid for by the advertisements sold on them. Additionally, WeCycle provides an incentive to recycle by donating 5 cents to EMCs for every item recycled. Not only is recycling is good for the environment, but the opportunity to recycle also attracts the public to continually interact with our advertisements. As an increasing amount of people recycle, more money is donated to EMCs and the value of WeCycle advertising increases.
Advertising: WeCycle provides a preferred advertising medium to companies and advertising agencies looking to market corporate citizenship. By advertising with WeCycle, businesses directly fund sustainability initiatives and receive great exposure for doing so. In order to be consistent with our brand image, advertisement images are limited to displaying CSR specific initiatives. As a result, WeCycle Inc. creates a more sustainable world that is funded by companies paying to advertise their CSR.
Online Donations: The amount of money donated each month will be determined by the amount of recycled material received. This money is distributed through monthly online voting to up to three non-profit organizations. In order to improve Web traffic, non-profits are encouraged to 'compete' for funding by blogging on the WeCycle Web site and convincing online users to vote for them.
Other features include receptacle locations, company profiles, and relevant event listings of local area fundraisers, community meetings, and speaker series.
Currently, the WeCycle team consists of five members with an array of experience and managerial expertise from across the non-profit, business, and government sectors.
Emery Goossens is a NYU student studying Economics and will act as the CEO of WeCycle, Inc.
Other Team members include:
Ben Lang is a NYU student concentrating in Sustainable Urban Development and will manage recycling operations.
John Oswalt, a Consultant at Accenture and former volunteer Internet strategist for the non-profit, CarPool, will handle the Web development and outreach.
Josh Swedarsky, a VP Global Pricing at Barclays Capital, will manage operations, corporate relations, and sales.
Cynthia Hilmoe, former Senior Program Consultant at The Pollution Control Agency of Minnesota, will coordinate social impact measurement and benchmarking.