Old Problems, New Problem Solvers

Albert Einstein famously said, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Taken a step further, perhaps the same people who created the problems won’t be the ones to solve the problems.

Let’s start with the fashion industry. The fashion world has been called out repeatedly for employing children, allowing safety risks in factories, and harming the environment. In this 3 trillion dollar industry, top-down approaches are often ineffective at addressing these big issues. At The Pollination Project, we recently learned about and gave seed funding to a fashion design and production project, Fabric of Life, in Kampala, Uganda. This innovative project gives children, orphans and refugee youth access to fashion equipment, education and training not just to develop job skills, but to revolutionize the fashion industry from the bottom up. Program participants are also involved in the global “Fashion Revolution” and the #WhoMadeYourClothes campaign.

Another recently-funded project that is revolutionizing an industry is the mother and daughter aquatic scientist team of Nevada Winrow and Taylor Winrow in Baltimore, Maryland. These visionary women are creating more access for black women in the aquatic science field. They founded the Black Girls Dive Foundation (BGDF) and created the STREAMS program to teach black girls how to scuba dive and build underwater, remotely operated vehicles with recording capabilities (ROVR), which they use to explore and study diverse marine ecosystems.

Today we celebrate 14 innovative individuals who are all tackling problems that our outdated thinking still hasn’t been able to solve. These trailblazers are improving conditions around the globe by equipping the next generation of thinkers, activists and visionaries. The Pollination Project is so proud to have given them seed funding for their courageous work.

Supreme MCs Rule Hip-Hop Expression Program in Augusta, Georgia seeks to improve social and economic outcomes for youth by using hip hop as a tool for exercising self-expression and learning social skills. They mentor students in kindergarten through 12th grade to become express themselves and explore conflict resolution through hip hop.

In response to the devastation in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, Michelle Carrera traveled to the island to provide emergency food and support. With many vulnerable residents facing unprecedented shortages of food, water, and still lacking power in many places, Michelle and friends are providing nutritious vegan food that is cooked and served with love to those in need.

The Asylum Seeker Assistance Project (ASAP) is dedicated to serving the estimated 25,000 asylum seekers living in the Washington D.C. Metro region. ASAP is launching “Common Ties,” a new community building initiative designed to decrease social isolation and promote community engagement among their clients.

Heart of Courage, serving Dallas County and nearby Texas communities, was formed to help mothers who have children in the foster care system. Their program Mentors for Courage matches mothers with volunteer mentors and aims to build better futures for mothers and their children.

Kenne Kuete Virginie‘s project “Livelihood Support and Empowerment of Marginalised Widows in Belo-Kom” promotes the socio-economic empowerment of marginalized poor rural women, especially widows in the Belo-Kom North West Region of Cameroon. She is providing training and start-up support to 15 widows in organic vegetable cultivation with the goal of supporting their family nutrition and income levels.

Thumbs Up Initiative (TUI) in Lagos, Nigeria provides youth with a platform to learn that leadership is for everyone, and not a selected few. They believe that the earlier youth become aware of this, the better for our world tomorrow.

Limbi Tata’s Mangroves for Tomorrow Project encourages mangrove reforestation in the Mabeta fishing community of the South West Region of Cameroon to mitigate the effects of floods on communities around the Cameroon coastal mangrove forest zone.

The Joseph Gogo Radienya Community Water Project will provide clean drinking water and drip irrigation for the school and community of Radienya in the drought prone area of Nyatike Sub District, Western Kenya. The project will reduce water-borne diseases in the area.

Rome Marinelli and Amy Mathews are leading Color Tusc—a community beautification project in New Philadelphia, Ohio that is part of the Sustainable Wildlife Area Restoration Movement (SWARM).

Composting Toilets for Ecological Sanitation Project aims to enhance sanitary conditions and soil nutrient recovery in an innovative and eco-sustainable way. This two-year program will be implemented by a team of five young social innovators who have a passion to improve the sanitary conditions and soil fertility of Kakamega, Kenya.

The Harding Mac-Boima Of Taia Development Programme (TDP) is empowering 100 indigenous rural youth to organize an agricultural cooperative for high production of maize in Taiama, Sierra Leone.

Antonio Mendoza and Hernánn Zabal lead Plastic Upcycling Club, which aims to increase plastic recycling in the local community of La Paz, Bolivia and raise awareness about plastic waste.

If you are looking to make positive change in your community, we hope you apply for a grant with The Pollination Project!

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