Examples of How Philanthropy, Art and Innovation Can Unite Communities

Philanthropy, art and innovation, when done on a local level, can democratize the process that allows new voices to rise, come together and engage in dialogue and ideas that otherwise would lay dormant. The spaces created when communities are connected and introduced to new ideas become fertile grounds for innovators to produce work that not only helps them, but that can contribute to a better world. 

Lindley Mease and Theo Gibbs-Plessl, based out of Oakland, California, have stepped into this space and are helping millennial professionals engage in social and environmental issues impacting their city through their project  Blue Heart. Blue Heart is connecting millennial philanthropic power to local grassroots organizations by sending literature and locally created art to their donor’s homes.

"We see an opportunity to spur creativity, compassion, and action towards ecological and social justice by linking three disparate communities: community-based organizations, millennial professionals, and artists.”

As fee-based membership organization, they fund under-resourced, grassroots organizations that are building the political power of low-income communities and communities of color. By sending members prints from local artists that explore the vision of a particular organization alongside stories and videos about the movements, they are connecting the donors (Blue Heart members) to meaningfully engage with the complex social and environmental justice issues that impact their city. 

While Blue Heart is connecting communities by sending materials to people’s homes, Kidnapped Pagan is an art exhibit that is connecting its community by going outside museum walls. The exhibit is being displayed in kiosks and buildings throughout Charlotte, NC neighborhoods. By displaying their work throughout the community, they are democratizing art access and fostering a timely and creative dialogue around class, race and narrative within the African American perspective.

Just like art is being leveraged to bring communities together, in Nigeria, technology is catapulting community members into innovation. Grassroots Makerspace for Innovation And Creativity is giving youth the opportunity to create income for themselves and their family. Fasoranti Isaac Damilola and an impressive team of young Nigerians are harnessing the skills of community youth by creating a space that helps youths use open-source online resources, the skills of their hands, the knowledge in their head and the gift in their heart to build projects that solve community problems while also giving them the opportunity to earn an income for themselves and their families.

Beyond these movements lies a global network that comprises The Pollination Project. People all around the globe are advocating and addressing community concerns surrounding education, environment, and more. 

Along with the projects mentioned above, here are 11 inspiring projects that received a grant from us in the past 14 days:

Elias Nyirenda: Construction of Antenatal Clinic at Zubachulu is a project that seeks to build a clinic that will provide maternal care and post-partum care in an area where it’s urgently needed. 

Eco Care Organization Nigeria: Bin-Go Desktop and Mobile Application is an app in Nigeria that facilitates efficient and effective waste management, recycling and promotes by connecting customers, waste management authorities, scavengers and waste merchants who want to buy recyclable materials.

Marie Incontrera: Eco-Music Big Band's Educational Program, is a USA-based multigenerational “virtuoso band” that defies tradition with genre-bending, avant-garde performances and recordings that collaborates with schools and universities to provide opportunities for young and aspiring musicians. 

Ronny Agyei Yeboh: Livelihood Diversification as a Solution to River Pollution is a youth group in Ghana that is trying to stop mining- created river pollution by offering programs that teach alternative forms of income to community members who are involved or tempted to join the illegal mining activities.

Joy M.K. Simwaka: Renewable Energy for Rural Livelihoods is an initiative in Malawi, addressing deforestation from charcoal and firewood cutting and will create jobs from creation and sale of Biomass Briquettes, created from farm waste, tree leaves etc instead of firewood and charcoal.

Dennis Wesonga Okoyo: Promoting Banana Value Chain for Food and Livelihood is a Kenyan based project that aims at increasing the availability of food and improving the household income for women.

Shem Ongori: Ndonyo Banana Value Addition and Marketing Project will enhance income for the rural farmers n Kenya. The project aims to mobilize and educate rural farmers on creating a market niche for their produces.

CandyJean Fowler: CherAmi FarmHer Program's mission is to uplift and encourage at-risk girls in Alabama, USA through unconventional methods such as Equine Therapy, Agricultural Education, and Community Service.

Julia Ho: Solidarity Economy Saint Louis Car Share is developing a car share in St. Louise, USA, to help increase access to reliable transportation, promote sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint, and provide a replicable model of how we can share resources in our community.

Mbuih Zukane Retruyap: Blind Chat (B.C.), is digitalizing the fight against HIV/AIDS stigma and other stigmatized diseases and patients in Cameroon, using a mobile app, website, bulk messaging and mobile home services to the persons.

Mayan Communities of Pacutama: Food Security for Landless Rural Communities are creating permaculture edible gardens and mushroom growing projects for communities in the rural Guatemala, that suffer from joblessness, malnutrition, and other difficulties due to job scarcity and the lack of farmland.

Where do you fit?

The world is motivated. Motivated for change and forward movements. We at The Pollination Project accept applications everyday of the year and invite you to become part of a community of doers by submitting your idea for grassroots change. As said by Lindley, “To create better relationships with each other, ourselves, and the Earth, each of us must use our power to take creative action for our individual and collective liberation.”

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