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GameStop Collects Nearly $1.2 Million in Donations During World Autism Month

For the second year, GameStop and its family of retail brands show their passion for autism awareness while raising funds for Autism Speaks®

Press Release – Grapevine, Texas, (May 16, 2017) – GameStop, a family of specialty retail brands that makes the most popular technologies affordable and simple, announced today that it collected nearly $1.2 million as part of its World Autism Month in-store donation campaign. In its second year supporting autism awareness, GameStop, along with its Spring Mobile AT&T, Simply Mac, Think Geek, Kongregate and Game Informer brands, invited customers and associates to donate to this important cause through an in-store and online donation campaign. All donations received directly benefit Autism Speaks.

“Our guests and associates never cease to amaze us with their passion and generosity for helping raise understanding and acceptance of people with autism,” said Matt Hodges, vice president of corporate communications for GameStop. “We were touched by the numerous stories of our guests who made donations in honor of a family member or friend impacted by autism. Plus, we were inspired to see our store associates from California to New Jersey going the extra mile in providing inclusive gaming days and special needs fairs for families impacted by autism locally.”

Some GameStop associates experience autism first hand. Christopher Hutton, GameStop district leader in Dallas-Fort Worth area, has worked for GameStop for more than seven years and is personally impacted by Asperger’s, a high functioning form of autism. He believes that a little education and communication can go a long way in increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism.

“Early on I decided to be frank with my colleagues about how Asperger’s affects me. When you’re straightforward about who you are, there are a lot of ‘aha’ moments for others,” said Hutton. “I also help my staff learn to interact with our customers who have autism. Interacting with them is a huge deal to them. I see their patience level go up when they realize that the customer is really happy to be here. The moment you start to identify with someone, you uncover things that can help you with your personal growth. You never know what you’ll say to someone that will change your perspective, or inspire them.”

A portion of the donations raised through the GameStop campaign will help fund Autism Speaks’ specially trained Autism Response Team, which provides information, tools and resources to help people with autism and their families make informed decisions.

In addition, the money raised will fund Autism Speaks’ science programs that are advancing innovative research into causes and better treatments for autism and its related conditions.

“What an amazing example GameStop and its customers have set by raising more than $2.4 million in the last two years. With their donations, GameStop and its customers are helping to enhance lives across the autism spectrum,” said Angela Geiger, Autism Speaks president and CEO. “We’re thrilled that this donation can help us reach even more individuals and families who are affected by autism.”

ABOUT AUTISM

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences. An estimated 1 in 68 children is on the autism spectrum.

ABOUT AUTISM SPEAKS

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. We empower people with autism and their families with resources, online tools and information covering the life span. To find resources, join a fundraising walk or make a donation, go to www.AutismSpeaks.org.

ABOUT GAMESTOP CORP.

GameStop Corp. (NYSE: GME), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Grapevine, Texas, is a global, multichannel video game, consumer electronics and wireless services retailer. GameStop operates more than 7,500 stores across 14 countries. The company’s consumer product network also includes www.gamestop.com; www.Kongregate.com, a leading browser-based game site; Game Informer® magazine, the world’s leading print and digital video game publication; and ThinkGeek, www.thinkgeek.com, the premier retailer for the global geek community featuring exclusive and unique video game and pop culture products. Our Technology Brands segment includes 1,522 Simply Mac, Spring Mobile AT&T and Cricket stores. Simply Mac, www.simplymac.com, sells the full line of Apple products, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones and offers Apple certified warranty and repair services. Spring Mobile, www.springmobile.com, sells all of AT&T’s products and services, including DIRECTV and offers pre-paid wireless services, devices and related accessories through its Cricket branded stores in select markets in the U.S. General information about GameStop Corp. can be obtained at the company’s corporate website. Follow @GameStop and @GameStopCorp. on Twitter and find GameStop on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GameStop.

Fundamental Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for Mental Health and Cognition Research with Psychedelics

Funds support groundbreaking studies on psilocybin, MDMA, and LSD

Fundamental Crowdfunding Campaign from FUNDAMENTAL on Vimeo.

Press Release – NEW YORK, NY (PRWEB) MAY 09, 2017: Today, Fundamental announced the launch of a crowdfunding campaign to support critical research into psychedelic-assisted therapies in mental health and cognition. This is the first large-scale fundraising campaign with an aim to secure funding for the most advanced US and UK research initiatives in the field.

With one in four Americans currently suffering from a mental health issue, new therapies that offer lasting benefits are needed now more than ever. Although new studies into psychedelics-assisted psychotherapy offer promising relief for a variety of mental illnesses, due to their classification as Schedule I drugs, the research currently depends on the support of a few private donors and institutions.

Fundamental’s first campaign plans to raise funds for ongoing studies on psilocybin & end of life distress, psilocybin & alcoholism, and MDMA & PTSD at a number of organizations, including the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) as well as future studies on LSD microdosing as part of the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme in London.

The Fundamental campaign is the brainchild of Rodrigo Niño, CEO of Prodigy and an accomplished real estate developer in New York. Known for crowdfunding commercial properties in Manhattan and democratizing access to investments for smaller investors from around the world, Niño is now taking a similar approach to philanthropy. He is also a cancer survivor who has experienced the positive effects of psychedelics firsthand.

“At 41, I was diagnosed with stage 3 Metastatic Melanoma, with survival odds about 1 in 3 over the next five years,” he said. “We are prepared to know that we will die, but we are never prepared to know when. That is essentially the sum of all fears; it creates a profound traumatic event.”

Like many patients with a terminal cancer diagnosis, Niño experienced severe “end-of-life anxiety.”

“That near death experience changed me in a number of ways. It opened the door for somebody like me—science driven, rational, numbers driven—to start looking for alternative treatments to ease my suffering when traditional medicine failed me,” Niño continued.

Rodrigo Niño, CEO of Prodigy, known for crowdfunding commercial properties in Manhattan

He traveled to the Peruvian jungle to partake in an ayahuasca ceremony. After spending a night with a curandero, his fear of dying was gone. Since then, he’s been on a mission to find scientific validation to determine what happened to him and has immersed himself into the research of psychedelics in treating mental illnesses.

Once back home in New York, he found Dr. Stephen Ross, Director of Addiction Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center, who recently led an internationally acclaimed study on psilocybin treatment for end-of-life distress in patients with life-threatening cancer.

“After meeting Dr. Ross, I came across research from all over the world from the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme to MAPS, which showed even more potential for a host of other mental illnesses,” continued Niño. “I knew then as I know now that this is some of the most important scientific work I had ever come across. I’ve made it my mission to support scientific research into treatments that can offer real change in the lives of people suffering from mental illness and their families.”

Dr. Ross’s study found that, when administered under psychologically supportive, double-blind conditions, a single dose of psilocybin produced rapid, substantial and enduring improvements in cancer-related depression, anxiety and existential distress as well as improvements in quality of life.

“Dealing with the reality of cancer is a terrifying experience and it deeply affects patients and their families. Forty to fifty per cent of cancer patients will have diagnosable anxiety or depression,” said Ross. “Our initial studies into psilocybin are showing great promise for people suffering from end-of-life depression and anxiety. However, to bring these treatments to patients, it is necessary to conduct a multisite study in a larger and more diverse patient population.”

Another study led by Dr. Michael Bogenschutz, Professor of Psychiatry at NYU Langone, and Dr. Ross is investigating psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol addiction. The preliminary results have shown strikingly positive outcomes; wherein following the first psilocybin session, percent heavy drinking days and percent drinking days lowered significantly from the baseline level.

“Addiction to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs is the leading preventable cause of death and disability globally,” explained Bogenschutz. “Our proof-of-concept study has shown positive outcomes, but controlled trials will be necessary to evaluate the efficacy of these treatments and bring them to the public, which is why initiatives like Fundamental are so critical.”

In a pooled analysis of 103 participants across six Phase 2 studies on improvement in PTSD symptoms after MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, statistically significant differences were found. Twelve months after treatment with MDMA, 68% of participants experienced long-term improvement and did not meet criteria for PTSD. An international team of researchers led by MAPS Founder and Executive Director, Rick Doblin, Ph.D., have completed Phase 2 trials and are working with the FDA to prepare for Phase 3 trials.

“In our Phase 2 pilot studies, we treated over 100 participants who had chronic PTSD and treatment-resistant symptoms. Neither prior medications nor long periods of psychotherapy had worked for them,” said Doblin. “If the results of Phase 3 trials, which we’re starting this year, are remotely comparable to our Phase 2 results, and if we receive the necessary funding, then we can expect FDA approval by 2021.”

Lastly, Fundamental aims to fund a new study focused on optimising LSD microdosing led by Amanda Feilding, Founder & Director of The Beckley Foundation, and Co-Director of the Beckley Imperial Research Programme.

“For decades, we have seen anecdotal evidence that microdosing improves mood and well-being, enhances cognition, increases productivity, and boosts creativity,” remarked Feilding. “Now we have the opportunity to undertake the first controlled scientific investigation, including the latest brain imaging technology, into the effects of microdosing LSD, thereby finally establishing whether the claims about its benefits are true.”

Fundamental’s campaign will be live on the Fundamental website on May 9, 2017. Supporters can choose which of the four studies they wish to donate to. For more information or to schedule an interview with Fundamental spokespersons, contact their PR Agent Borjana Slipicevic at +1.778.858.2595.

Sustainability Projects in 15 Cities Get a Boost with New Funding from Partners for Places

$1.7 million will fund environmental efforts across the U.S.

Press Release – Coral Gables, Fla. — Fifteen cities across the United States will receive more than $1.7 million for sustainability efforts as diverse as supporting urban agriculture and reforestation, providing green jobs for low-income workers, and ensuring all residents benefit from their community’s environmental progress.

The funding is through the Partners for Places matching grants program, which pairs city governments with philanthropy to support sustainability projects that promote a healthy environment, a strong economy, and well-being for all residents.

These sustainability efforts will take place in cities large and small, from South Florida to the Pacific Northwest, with most benefiting low-income neighborhoods. They include: Columbia, Mo., where an under-used 10-acre site in a low-income neighborhood will be turned into an urban farm and agriculture park; Newark, N.J., where efforts to promote healthier, more energy-efficient homes include a pilot program targeting 6-year-olds exposed to lead; and Boulder, Colo., which will work with Latino-owned landscaping businesses to convert to eco-friendly equipment and develop workforce training programs in renewable energy and efficiency.

“Climate issues are people issues,” said Darryl Young, director of Sustainable Cities at The Summit Foundation. “At the city scale, there’s meaningful work to be done jointly in the public and private sectors. These Partners for Places proposals are where people are rolling up their sleeves and building strong, sustainable towns that strengthen communities and improve lives.”

Partners for Places, led by the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities in partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, will provide $455,000 in funding to eight cities through its general grant program, which will be matched by local funders. The program is supported by six investor foundations: Bloomberg Philanthropies, The JPB Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, The New York Community Trust, The Summit Foundation, and Surdna Foundation.

Also today, seven additional cities received $405,000 in funding from the Partners for Places Equity Pilot Initiative, providing financial and technical support to a cohort of cities and their place-based foundation partners to develop local approaches for prioritizing equity in sustainability and/or climate action. They are also learning together and sharing their insights with each other to advance their work. This two-year pilot program is supported by the generosity of The Kendeda Fund and The Kresge Foundation.

“Low-income communities and people of color are disproportionately harmed by environmental hazards and the effects of climate change,” said Diane Ives, fund advisor for The Kendeda

Fund’s People, Place and Planet program. “We need to put equity at the heart of community-based sustainability efforts to ensure that everyone has a chance to live in a vibrant, healthy, resilient community regardless of their zip code.”

The latest Partners for Places general grant recipients and their matching funders are:

  • Boulder, Colo. ($50,000): To build stronger and deeper representation of underserved communities in climate and energy decisions by facilitating dialogues with diverse stakeholders on community-defined priorities; piloting a renewable energy and energy efficiency workforce development program; supporting regional coordination on climate and equity, and generating metrics to guide data collection and evaluate progress. (Matching funder: Philanthropiece Foundation)
  • Broward County, Fla. ($25,000): To support a sustainability education and youth leadership afterschool program in a distressed portion of the county that will teach high school students STEM skills, empowering them to become climate sustainability stewards and advocates to address their own neighborhood’s environmental challenges. (Matching funder: Community Foundation of Broward)
  • Chicago, Ill. ($75,000): To better connect low- and moderate-income residents more easily to all of the “green” programs offered by the city, such as recycling, transportation, and energy efficiency, ensuring they can take advantage of the many tools and resources available to make their lifestyles more sustainable and help their household budgets go farther. (Matching funder: Chicago Community Trust)
  • Columbia, Mo. ($100,000): To turn an under-used, 10-acre site in a low-income neighborhood into a multi-use agricultural park that will feature a farmers market, urban farm, outdoor classroom and green space. (Matching funder: Boone County Community Trust)
  • Lincoln, Neb. ($75,000): To implement sustainability elements of a multi-year neighborhood planning process in a low-income neighborhood, such as improving walkability and pedestrian safety and providing green infrastructure, landscaping and urban reforestation, as well as increasing the size, number and potential of community gardens. (Matching funder: Lincoln Community Foundation)
  • Newark, N.J. ($60,000): To develop and implement scalable strategies for promoting healthier, more energy-efficient homes in two target neighborhoods through a pilot program, targeting children under 6 years old exposed to lead. (Matching funders: Victoria Foundation; Greater Newark LISC; United Way of Essex and Hudson Counties; Essex Equities; PSEG Foundation)
  • Syracuse, N.Y. ($25,000): To design and implement a comprehensive and inclusive outreach campaign that creates a unified vision for protecting and growing Syracuse’s urban forest. (Matching funder: The Gifford Foundation)
  • Tacoma, Wash. ($45,000): To create an equitable and healthy food system that promotes healthy communities and people, supporting community members’ research and giving them the tools and resources to implement resilient food system ideas and projects. (Matching funder: The Russell Family Foundation)

The latest Partners for Places Equity Pilot Initiative grant recipients and their matching funders are:

  • Berkeley, Calif. ($30,000): To develop a “racial equity lens” tool that will include a set of questions that guide city policies and programs. The tool would be first used to incorporate racial equity into a community land-use planning process, and ultimately be applied to a broad range of programs and services. (Matching funders: The San Francisco Foundation; The East Bay Community Foundation)
  • Charlotte, N.C. ($75,000): To create an accessible “smart city” platform where residents and government can kick-start collaboration on meaningful projects in categories that include healthy communities, neighborhood transportation, technology training programs, and smart homes and neighborhoods. (Matching funders: Knight Foundation; OrthoCarolina Foundation)
  • Cleveland, Ohio ($60,000): To help improve outcomes in health, access to green jobs, and resiliency through equitable climate action planning and implementation, including workshops in 10 neighborhoods previously under-represented in sustainability efforts. (Matching funders: George Gund Foundation; Cleveland Foundation)
  • Dubuque, Iowa ($50,000): To ensure city departments and partners learn strategies and have the tools needed to put climate-vulnerable communities at the center of decision-making and planning. The project will engage partners throughout the Washington Neighborhood to build non-profit capacity and social resiliency. (Matching funder: Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque)
  • Minneapolis, Minn. ($75,000): To work with community members and organizations to implement a Green Zone pilot project that will address racial equity, improve health, and support economic development using environmentally conscious efforts in a community that faces the cumulative effects of environmental pollution and social, political and economic vulnerability. (Matching funder: McKnight Foundation)
  • Providence, R.I. ($55,000): To incorporate racial equity as a core pillar of the city’s sustainability efforts, including additional training and tools that will support long-term goals specific to environmental and racial justice. (Matching funder: Rhode Island Foundation)
  • Washington, D.C. ($60,000): To establish an equity advisory group of community residents from the Watts Branch neighborhood in order to bring equity and social cohesion into planning and implementation of the District’s climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives through a community-driven process. The project will produce a replicable model for authentic community engagement to be used in future planning efforts. (Matching funders: The Prince Charitable Trusts; Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation)

To date, Partners for Places has awarded more than $5 million across North America in this successful matching grant program, leading to more than $10 million in investments.

Partners for Places will open a new round of funding for the general grant program during the first week of June, with proposals due in late July 2017. To attract additional interest in urban sustainability projects, the program also houses an Idea Bank on the Funders’ Network website, which provides summaries of past project applications.

For more information on Partners for Places, visit the Funders’ Network website at http://www.fundersnetwork.org/partnersforplaces/. Funders interested in becoming a part of Partners for Places should contact Ann Wallace at the Funders’ Network.

About Partners for Places 

A joint project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and the Urban Sustainability Network, Partners for Places is a successful matching grant program that improves U.S. and Canadian communities by building partnerships between local government sustainability leaders and place-based foundations. National funders invest in local projects developed through these partnerships to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy and well-being for all residents. Through these investments, Partners for Places fosters long-term relationships that make our communities more prosperous, livable and vibrant.

About the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities

The Funders’ Network is a mission-driven network of grantmakers across North America, working to inspire, strengthen and expand funding and philanthropic leadership that yield environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, and economically prosperous regions and communities.

About The Urban Sustainability Directors Network

The Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) is a peer-to-peer network of local government professionals from cities across the United States and Canada dedicated to creating a healthier environment, economic prosperity, and increased social equity. Our dynamic network enables sustainability directors and staff to share best practices and accelerate the application of good ideas across North America.

Infosys Foundation USA Commits Funding to Train 1,000 Teachers in Computer Science

Press Release – Palo Alto CA – May 02, 2017: Infosys Foundation USA is pleased to announce the funding of Computer Science (CS) professional development for over 1,000 public school teachers in the summer of 2017. Including teachers supported in previous years, this will bring the total number of elementary and secondary school teachers trained to over 2,100, to benefit more than a million students over the next several years.

“The future is being written in code, and there is a critical need to invest in computer science education today. To prepare children for 21st century jobs it is vital that students can identify and solve complex problems, develop critical thinking skills and learn the computational thinking that is pervasive in a digital economy,” said Vandana Sikka, Chairperson of Infosys Foundation USA. “Teachers are the heart and soul of our children’s education and their role is even more significant in our digital world. One CS teacher alone can help hundreds, or even thousands, of students. Multiply that body of teachers by the thousands, and now you are able to achieve scale to get closer to our dream of making computer science accessible to every child in the United States.”

Inspired by the success of the 2016 CS PD Week, the Foundation is making investments in a variety of computer science teacher training workshops. These workshops make it easier for teachers from rural areas and smaller districts to attend at no cost in July 2017. Participating programs include Exploring Computer Science and Bootstrap at CS PD Week 2017 in Golden, CO; and Beauty and Joy of Computing, UTeach CS Principles, and Mobile CS Principles at various cities throughout the US. The latter three programs will make it possible for teachers to offer the new College Board endorsed Advance Placement CS Principles course to students in their high schools.

In addition, Infosys Foundation USA is continuing its funding of Code.org to train several hundred teachers in their high school CS Principles course, as well as in courses designed for elementary school students. Through its partnership with education crowdfunding leader DonorsChoose.org, the Foundation continues to provide CS training opportunities to teachers across America. By focusing on such evidence-based curricula, the Foundation is working to ensure that students benefit from a high quality computing education.

Infosys Foundation USA has already made multiple investments in previous years towards this goal of reducing the digital divide. The Foundation is the leading sponsor of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), the professional association for 23,000 CS teachers worldwide, and supports CSTA’s Continuing Professional Development Pipeline project and Teaching Excellence awards, along with the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). Besides supporting CS PD Week 2016, the Foundation has provided funding for CS training for hundreds of teachers with various partners.

Infosys Foundation USA’s long standing commitment to this cause is demonstrated by its systemic approach to supporting a variety of CS education programs over the past several years. These include funding directed towards curriculum development, afterschool programs, mentoring opportunities, research, evaluation, and boot camps and hackathons.

About Infosys Foundation USA

Infosys Foundation USA is focused on bridging the digital divide in America by supporting high quality computer science education and coding skills with a particular focus on underrepresented communities. It aims to give children and young adults the skills they need to become creators, not just consumers, of technology. In pursuit of this mission, the Foundation has partnered with internationally acclaimed non-profits and institutions like Code.org, New York Academy of Sciences, DonorsChoose.org, and the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University. In addition, Infosys Foundation USA committed a million dollars to the Infy Maker Awards to inspire makers across the U.S. to demonstrate creative excellence in making projects with genuine impact. Learn more at http://www.infosys.org/usa/ follow on Twitter @InfyFoundation or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/InfosysFoundationUSA

Honor Mom this Mother’s Day with a Gift That Truly ‘HELPS’

HELPS International Offers Gifts of Empowerment to Guatemalan Women

Press Release – ADDISON, Texas (May 1, 2017) – This Mother’s Day, Dallas nonprofit HELPS International is asking people to celebrate the women who shaped them by donating a tax-deductible, life-changing gift designed to empower the women of Guatemala. The HELPS100 Campaign was created to help 100 Guatemalan women obtain fuel-efficient cook stoves and high-quality water filters.

“This campaign to celebrate and empower women is such a worthy cause and donations can be made on behalf of the women in our own lives who inspire us,” stated Bill McMillan, executive director of HELPS International. “For as little as $50, we can honor our mothers, sisters and friends while changing the lives of women in some of Guatemala’s most underserved communities.”

Millions of women in rural Guatemala must spend hours each day kneeling on dirt floors to cook over open fires in their homes in order to feed their families. This results in many small children suffering severe burns from the flames of the open pits in their homes. In addition to the risk of burns, smoke from the open fires builds up quickly and causes respiratory issues from poor ventilation. And very few of these same homes are equipped with clean sources of water that are safe for drinking.

To solve these issues, former HELPS medical team leader Don O’Neal, a retired mechanical engineer, invented a simple stove from locally sourced materials. The concrete-block base, Plancha-top (Spanish for “iron”) ONIL stove replaces traditional ground-based, in-home cooking fire pits and is vented through the dwelling’s rooftop to eliminate both respiratory problems and the risk of severe burns. It also reduces wood consumption by 70 percent, allowing increased time for activities once spent gathering wood. To facilitate a clean drinking water source, the ONIL Gravity Water Filters now eliminate 100 percent of parasites and 99.9 percent of pathogenic bacteria.

As a part of this year’s campaign, HELPS International is on a mission to raise crucial funds to help 100 Guatemalan women stand up, save money and keep their families healthy and safe by donating fuel-efficient cook stoves and high-quality water filters. Donations will go to purchase the ONIL stoves and water filters, which will be installed by volunteers from the HELPS Women Helping Women initiative alongside the recipients, who have paid a portion of the cost. To donate, please visit the HELPS100 Campaign donation page.

To date, HELPS’ volunteers and supporters have worked alongside the people of Guatemala to provide more than 250,000 homes with clean air and water, more than 4,000 farming families with the skills and resources to boost crop production, and nearly 475 students with a high-quality education.

About HELPS International

Since 1984, HELPS International’s growing community of volunteers and sponsors has been changing lives in Guatemala with extraordinary dedication. HELPS’ mission is to provide enduring programs of practical, social and spiritual value to people in the developing world through a system of partnership and mutual responsibility. To learn more, please visit https://helpsintl.org or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

The Campaign for SDSU Raises $800 Million

SDSU’s first-ever, university-wide fundraising campaign exceeds goals

Press Release – SAN DIEGO, Calif. (April 29, 2017) —The Campaign for SDSU has raised $800 million, exceeding its goal of $750 million, as the first-ever university-wide fundraising campaign comes to a close.

“On behalf of the entire university, I’m extraordinarily grateful to all of our donors,” said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman. He spoke Saturday evening at an event with some of SDSU’s more than 70,000 campaign donors.

“The campaign has changed every corner of the SDSU campus and impacted our entire university community,” he said. “It has laid a stronger financial footing for the entire university and created a culture of philanthropy that is critical to the university’s success today and into the future.”

The university launched The Campaign for SDSU in July 2007 with a goal to raise $500 million to benefit students, faculty and staff. That goal was increased to $750 million in 2014.

“The Campanile Foundation (TCF) believed from the very start that The Campaign for SDSU would succeed,” said Mary Curran, chair of the all-volunteer TCF board, the university’s fundraising auxiliary. “We will continue to find new ways to build momentum and help the university become even more successful through sustained philanthropy.”

Campaign funding supports scholarships, endowed professorships, academic programs, new campus buildings, athletics and KPBS.

Approximately $185 million was donated to endowed scholarships, which will be available to students in perpetuity, including student-veterans, honors students and students studying abroad.

The campaign also raised funds to create or substantially support 20 endowed chairs and professorships that advance the university’s academic strength, including chairs to support programs in the life sciences, biomedical research, entrepreneurship, business, history and public relations.

SDSU received 138 gifts of $1 million or more. Among the most notable gifts of the campaign are a $25 million endowment from Ron and Alexis Fowler to support programs within the newly renamed Fowler College of Business and a $20 million scholarship endowment created by the late Conrad Prebys to support at least 200 students annually.

The Fowlers’ most recent gift was established as a matching gift, which challenges the university and its supporters to raise an additional $25 million for the Fowler College of Business.

While the Campaign for SDSU officially ends on June 30, 2017, the university’s need for philanthropic support is ongoing. State funding provides only 20 percent of annual operating expenses.

“Private giving will continue to be the bedrock of SDSU’s ambitions to advance academic excellence, hire and retain top-tier faculty and develop its research agenda,” said Mary Ruth Carleton, vice president for University Relations and Development, who led the 10-year campaign.

About San Diego State University

San Diego State University is a major public research institution that provides transformative experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom, for its more than 36,000 students. The university offers bachelor’s degrees in 91 areas, master’s degrees in 78 areas and doctorates in 22 areas. Students participate in research, international experiences, sustainability and entrepreneurship initiatives, internships and mentoring, and a broad range of student life and leadership opportunities. The university’s rich campus life features opportunities for students to participate in, and engage with, the creative and performing arts, a Division I athletics program and the vibrant cultural life of the San Diego region. For more information, visit www.sdsu.edu.

Light of Day WinterFest Raises Over Half Million Dollars for Third Straight Year in Global Battle to Defeat Parkinson’s Disease Through Awesome Power of Music

Boxing and Voice Therapy Programs Top Light of Day’s 2017 ‘Boots on the Ground’ Agenda

Press Release – ASBURY PARK, NJ (April 25, 2017) − For the third year in a row, the Light of Day Foundation has raised over a half a million dollars through its annual WinterFest fundraiser, catapulting its 17-year cumulative total past the $4.5 million mark in the global battle to defeat Parkinson’s Disease and the Parkinsonisms, ALS and PSP, through the awesome power of music.

Though Light of Day WinterFest has gained international notoriety for surprise performances by Bruce Springsteen in 11 of its 17 years, fundraising momentum continues to flourish despite his absence at the two most recent festivals. Light of Day WinterFest 2017: The Beat Goes On, attracted 12,000 patrons from around the world to witness over 150 acts at more than 50 shows over a 10-day stretch in New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia. Light of Day WinterFest is the culmination of a worldwide series of shows that began as a one-day affair in Asbury Park, where it still is primarily based. Among the artists who performed in 2017 were Peter Asher, Albert Lee, Jake Clemons, Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers, Willie Nile, Chuck Prophet, Jesse Malin, Jeffrey Gaines, James Maddock, Joey Molland of Badfinger, and Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan.

The Light of Day Foundation regrants money to organizations which fund specific research initiatives, including, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, CurePSP, the Parkinson’s Foundation (formerly the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation), and the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. The Light of Day Foundation also supports “boots on the ground” programs designed to help people with these diseases live better lives on a daily basis, including Joan Dancy & PALS, with a mission to help New Jersey residents in nearby Monmouth and Ocean Counties afflicted with ALS by providing a better quality of life for them and their families.

“As Maya Angelou once said, ‘People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.’ I’ve always believed that at its essence Light of Day was a feeling,” said Tony Pallagrosi, executive director of the Light of Day Foundation. “Every year that we produce Light of Day WinterFest, we hope folks come away with a feeling of community, joy, participation in something bigger than themselves, and the anticipation of and hope for what is to come. We utilize the awesome power of music to that end, to help us feel better and bring us together in the way that only music can as we battle to defeat Parkinson’s, ALS and PSP in our lifetime.”

Leading the Light of Day Foundation’s 2017 agenda is the launch of a pair of new Parkinson’s therapy programs, Boxing for Bob and the Parkinson Voice Project. Boxing for Bob, already underway in Forked River, NJ, is named for Bob Benjamin, the artist manager and music industry veteran who has been living with Parkinson’s since 1996, two years before he co-founded Light of Day with Pallagrosi, whose mother, Dolores, died in 2002 from the effects of PSP.

The Light of Day Foundation subsidizes Boxing for Bob, modeled after the Rock Steady program founded in Indiana a decade ago, to enable Parkinson’s and PSP patients at the Jersey Shore to participate at no charge. The Foundation is looking to open at least two more locations by the fall.

The Parkinson Voice Project, based outside of Dallas, TX, preserves the voices of individuals with Parkinson’s and related neurological disorders through intensive speech therapy, follow-up support, research, education, and community awareness. Its use of music as one therapy to increase the volume and clarity of patients’ voices, which deteriorate as Parkinson’s progresses, is a natural fit for the Light of Day Foundation. As such, the Foundation is working toward bringing the Parkinson Voice Project to the Jersey Shore by the end of the 2017.

Also in the Light of Foundation’s sights is the establishment of a Light of Day storefront location as a resource center “to host seminars, boxing, lectures, films − all having to do with Parkinson’s and PSP,” says Pallagrosi. “We hope to have programs for caregivers, too, because they’re the unsung heroes. In their own way, they’ve suffered a great deal.” Additionally, the Light of Day Foundation is planning a “Park on the Beach,” modeled after JT’s Grommet Island Park in Virginia Beach, VA, an accessible beach playground and park for children and adults with disabilities that allows everyone to “have their day at the beach.”

The next scheduled fundraising event is the Light of Day Mini Golf Classic, Saturday, June 10 from 1pm-8pm at Barnacle Bill’s Amusements, Route 35 North, Ortley Beach, NJ (Rain Date: June 11).

The Light of Day Foundation also is presenting Happy Together 2017, starring The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, The Association, Chuck Negron formerly of Three Dog Night, The Box Tops, The Cowsills, and The Archies starring Ron Dante, Saturday, Aug. 5 at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, with a portion of proceeds benefitting the Foundation. Tickets are on sale now at www.countbasietheatre.org.

More fundraising events for 2017 will be announced.

Complete information on all Light of Day activity can be found at www.lightofday.org. Donations to the Light of Day Foundation can be made through the website as well.

“Even though my heart breaks for every year that goes by without a cure, I am humbled by the fact that we have been doing what we do for almost 20 years and that Light of Day keeps growing, raising more awareness and money for research and support programs every year,” adds Pallagrosi. “I want to thank our sponsors, the venues, the production teams, the great City of Asbury Park, the Light of Day Foundation Board, the wonderful musicians who ‘bring it on’ year after year after year, all of the amazing folks who attend and support our mission and I want to especially thank Bob Benjamin, our founder and guiding light, who when diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 38 had a feeling to try to do something about it, a feeling that I believe enriches us, energizes us and resides in all of us who participate.”

ABOUT THE LIGHT OF DAY FOUNDATION

The Light of Day Foundation, Inc., utilizes the awesome power of music to raise money and awareness in its continuing battle to defeat Parkinson’s disease and related neuro-degenerative diseases, specifically Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), within our lifetime. The Foundation’s mission is to fund research into possible cures, improved treatments and support for patients who suffer from those diseases, their families and their caregivers to help improve their quality of life. Gifts to the Light of Day Foundation, Inc. are tax-deductible to the full extent of the Internal Revenue Code. The Light of Day Foundation, Inc. is designated by the IRS as a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization. The Light of Day Foundation, Inc.’s Federal ID # is 20-1560386. Light of Day – the concerts and the organization – grew from a birthday party and fund-raiser held in 1998 at the Downtown Cafe in Red Bank to celebrate the 40th birthday of artist manager and music industry veteran Bob Benjamin, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1996.

Star Wars: Force For Change Celebrates 40 Years Of Star Wars With Epic Fundraising Event

Prizes Include A Visit To A Star Wars Movie Set, Tickets To The Premiere Of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, An Overnight Stay At Skywalker Ranch, And More!

Press Release – SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Apr. 11, 2017) – Star Wars: Force For Change in collaboration with Omaze will launch the Star Wars “Past, Present and Future” fundraising campaign to benefit UNICEF and Starlight Children’s Foundation. The campaign is themed around the timeless appeal of Star Wars, with experiences inspired by the saga’s past, present, and future. Lucky winners will receive prizes, like the chance to appear in the upcoming Han Solo movie, tickets to the world premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, or, an overnight stay at the fabled Skywalker Ranch.

Over the course of four weeks between April 11th and May 11th, 2017, fans may enter at Omaze.com/StarWars for a chance to win these once-in-a-lifetime Star Wars experiences, with each week bringing a new prize to be awarded to a randomly-selected winner. Additionally, at the end of the campaign, one randomly-selected grand prize winner will be awarded all three amazing experiences.

Starlight Children’s Foundation is joining Star Wars: Force for Change as the initiative’s newest charity beneficiary in 2017. Through a $1 million grant, Star Wars: Force for Change supports the foundation’s core programs which are designed to bring comfort and joy and comfort to hospitalized kids through Starlight’s network of more than 700 children’s hospitals, clinics, camps and other partners across the US. Star Wars: Force for Change and fan donations through this campaign will also provide new Starlight programs, like fun, comfortable Star Wars-themed Starlight Brave Gowns, to tens of thousands of hospitalized children across the country.

Since 2014, Star Wars: Force for Change and UNICEF have joined together to help improve the lives of children around the world. With the support of Star Wars fans, the collaboration has raised more than $9 million to help the world’s most vulnerable children. To date, Star Wars: Force for Change has helped UNICEF save the lives of over 30,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition through the distribution of over 4 million packets of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food Packets (RUTF) around the world.

“In a year that we celebrate 40 years of the Star Wars saga, I continue to be inspired by the incredible generosity and charitable efforts of our fans,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. “We are so proud of their tireless dedication to positively impact the lives of children and others around the world, and hope this year’s Force For Change campaign will offer a few of those wonderful fans an experience they will never forget.”

Star Wars “Past, Present, and Future” Winner Experiences:

  • Past – Stay at Skywalker Inn, tour of the archives & the Ranch, and a screening of Star Wars: A New Hope
  • Present – Join the cast and attend the Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiere and exclusive after party
  • Future – Visit the set, meet the directors and have the chance to appear in the untitled Han Solo movie
  • Grand Prize – One winner will receive the Past, Present AND Future prizes!

Fans are encouraged to follow the campaign at Omaze.com/StarWars for exclusive updates each week.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Void where prohibited. Promotion begins 12:01 AM Pacific Time (PT) on April 11, 2017 and ends at 11:59 PM PT on May 11, 2017. Must be at least eighteen (18) years old and a resident of an eligible domicile to enter and win prizes. Residents of of Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Malta, North Korea, Singapore, Sudan, Syria, or Thailand are not eligible to enter. Sweepstakes consists of four (4) prize drawings; odds of winning a prize depend on number of entries received for each drawing. For free entry: (i) send postcard to Sponsor at P.O. Box 866, 9942 Culver Blvd, Culver City, California 90232 and write the following statement: “I have read and agree to the Star Wars: Force For Change Official Rules” and send by applicable mail date; or (ii) visit www.omaze.com/starwars. Prizes that include being filmed in a movie scene do not guarantee that such footage will be included in the final movie. Travel and accommodations are at Sponsor’s discretion and subject to availability and change. Winner and guest may be required to pass a background screening or security check to receive a prize and/or reward. Visa conditions may apply. All taxes are winner’s responsibility.

Rewards are separate from sweepstakes prizes. Some rewards are limited in quantity. Not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook®. Residents of certain territories may be required to successfully complete a trivia question to qualify. For full sweepstakes entry requirements, methods & entry periods, prize details, list of rewards and all limitations & restrictions, see Official rules at www.omaze.com/starwars. Sole Sponsor: Omaze, Inc., P.O. Box 866, 9942 Culver Blvd, Culver City, California 90232.

ABOUT STAR WARS: FORCE FOR CHANGE

Star Wars: Force for Change, a charitable initiative from Lucasfilm and Disney, harnesses the strength of Star Wars to empower and improve the lives of children around the world. Born in 2014, it was inspired by Star Wars fans, and the countless hours they have dedicated to
philanthropy over the past four decades. To date, over $13 million has been raised for charitable causes around the world on behalf of Star Wars: Force for Change, including $9 million towards UNICEF’s programs to put children first. This year, Force for Change is proud to announce Starlight Children’s Foundation as its newest charitable beneficiary. As a founding sponsor of Starlight Children’s Foundation’s VR program, Force for Change will continue to empower and improve the lives of children around the world. With a bright future ahead, and new Star Wars stories to be told, Force for Change aims to continue collaborating with causes and encouraging others to be forces for change in their own community. To learn more, please visit ForceForChange.com.

ABOUT LUCASFILM LTD.

Lucasfilm Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is a global leader in film, television and digital entertainment production. In addition to its motion-picture and television production, the company’s activities include visual effects and audio post-production, cutting-edge digital animation, interactive entertainment software, and the management of the global merchandising activities for its entertainment properties including the legendary STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES franchises. Lucasfilm Ltd. is headquartered in northern California.

ABOUT STARLIGHT CHILDREN’S FOUNDATION

Starlight creates moments of comfort and joy and comfort for hospitalized kids and their families. For 35 years, Starlight’s programs have positively impacted more than 60 million critically, chronically and terminally ill or injured children in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. With your help, kids and their families will enjoy Starlight VR, Starlight Brave Gowns, Starlight Fun Centers and other Starlight programs at a children’s hospital or facility near you. Support Starlight’s work by visiting www.starlight.org and by following Starlight on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

ABOUT UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org. Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook.

ABOUT OMAZE

Omaze is an online fundraising platform that offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences and exclusive merchandise to support nonprofits around the world. Omaze is disrupting the charitable giving space by offering creative opportunities that make it fun and easy for anyone to give. Each of our fundraising and awareness campaigns brings together influencers, nonprofits and people across the globe and enables real, lasting impact. Since launching, Omaze has impacted more than 200 charities and received donations from over 175 countries.

New Venture Seeks $50k to Teach Coding to Adults on Autism Spectrum



You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Oliver Thornton says his Aspergers is his super power. His brother, who is also on the autism spectrum, serves as a role model. Because autism hits close to home, he wanted to do something to address the unemployment rate for those with autism, which approaches 85 percent, he says. So, he launched Coding Autism with Austen Weinhart.

The two visited with me about their plans. Watch the interview at the top of the article.

Oliver, who serves as the company’s CEO, says, “Although we are pre-revenue, we just recently launched our crowdfunding campaign with the goal of fundraising a minimum of $50,000 on StartSomeGood. If we are successful with fundraising $50,000 on that platform, we will be able to cover the minimum costs to make the Coding Autism ASPIRE program happen.”

The money they are raising will go to pay the instructor, an assistant instructor, an occupational therapist, a social skills intervention expert, a career counselor and to pay for the space where the intensive 15-week course will be taught. Those who complete the course are expected to have sufficient skills to be able to begin a career as a software developer.

Oliver adds, that if they exceed the $50,000 goal they will be able to discount the tuition to the first class of students. If they reach $120,000, they can waive tuition altogether.

As of now, Coding Autism has raised $18,815.

Oliver says mentorship is key to the program’s success, “Research has proven that adults with autism tend to do significantly better in their careers and live more fulfilling lives when they have mentors and advocates. Coding Autism has made it one of its cornerstones to provide ongoing advocacy and mentorship services to all Coding Autism students. Our Coding Autism mentors and advocates ensure that all Coding Autism students stay on track with their curriculum requirements, their personal goals, their employment goals, and more.”

Readers can learn more and contribute to the campaign by visiting StartSomeGood.

More about Coding Autism:

Twitter: @codingautism

Coding Autism is a full-service professional coaching and training company that trains adults on the autism spectrum in professional skills such as software engineering, quality assurance, and web development. We also assist our graduates in finding employment within the software and technology industries. We do so by providing services such as immersive programs and bootcamps, resume workshops, career counseling, interview preparation, and coaching/mentorship, all of which is designed around providing an environment where people on the spectrum can thrive.

Oliver Thornton, courtesy of Coding Autism

Oliver Thornton, courtesy of Coding Autism

Oliver’s bio:

When I was two years old, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome shortly after my older brother was diagnosed with Autism. In 1994, the year of my diagnosis, having any variation of Autism was perceived as a horrific condition by society and experts in the medical field. In fact, doctors had told my parents that I would never develop adequate social skills and to not expect him to succeed independently in life.

Throughout my adolescent years, I struggled with my speech, making friends, and lacked self confidence in his intelligence and ability to succeed. One day, I had a realization. Through the motivational forces of autism influencers such as Temple Grandin, I transformed my mentality of what it truly meant to be an individual on the autism spectrum.

With this newly adopted mentality, I dove head on into my later years of college at California Lutheran University (CLU), where I was able to accomplish impressive feats such as obtaining my Real Estate Salesperson License, co-founding and spearheading CLU’s professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, and winning CLU’s 2016 New Venture Competition.

Since my college graduation, I have devoted my waking hours to building my father’s real estate team/Real estate representation at Compass in Beverly Hills as well as building my start-up Coding Autism, which helps and trains autistic individuals in professional skills such as software engineering, website development, QA, etc as well as assists in finding and obtaining employment in the software and technology industries. In recent months, I have been slightly drifting away from real estate and moving towards working on Coding Autism full-time.

I am confident that my entrepreneurial mindset, my gift of Asperger’s syndrome, and my drive to succeed and make the autism community more progressive will allow me to satisfy my highest endeavors with Coding Autism and my future ventures. Eventually, I sees myself manifesting into one of the most influential advocates, thought leaders, and mentors of the autistic community in my generation.

Austen Weinhart, courtesy of Coding Autism

Austen Weinhart, courtesy of Coding Autism

Austen’s bio:

I come from a background of extensive experience in the technology space, performing roles in marketing, quality assurance, and web development. Early on as a student at UC Berkeley, I was the president of the public relations student group, PR @ Cal. After graduating from Berkeley, I worked on both technical and marketing projects for high-profile clients such as Adobe, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and others. I was drawn into Coding Autism both for my passion for autism advocacy and also as someone who is a product of a coding bootcamp education myself. I am eager to create an environment where others can turn their lives around by learning to code, just as I did.

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Devin is a journalist, author and crowdfunding speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

EPIcenter Hires International Fundraising Firm With A Track Record Of Partnering With Transformational Renovation Projects, Worldwide

Press Release – San Antonio, TX, April 4, 2017EPIcenter has hired CCS Fundraising (CCS) to design and implement a comprehensive fundraising campaign for the new $74.56 million energy innovation center planned for the historic Mission Road Power Plant. CCS is a New York-based fundraising consulting firm that for seven decades has helped organizations across the globe advance some of the most important causes in history.

Situated across the San Antonio River from the historic Lone Star Brewery and just upstream from the San Antonio River Foundation’s Confluence Park, EPIcenter is leading the way in transforming the Mission Road corridor.

Construction on the more than 80,000 square foot project is expected to take between 18 and 24 months and will begin as soon as a critical mass of funding is achieved.

To date, EPIcenter has received $21.2 million in cash and in-kind donations, including the property, from founding sponsors OCI Solar Power, Silver Spring Networks, Landis+Gyr and CPS Energy. An additional $53.36 million is to be raised.

In addition to its international clients, CCS has helped raise funds for a wide range of one-of-a-kind, groundbreaking building and renovation projects across the country, including the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA, the UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, CA, and most recently, the brand-new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

“We are very pleased to work with CCS. The firm’s strategic approach to such an unusual and innovative project stood out. CCS quickly understood EPIcenter’s vision and the unique challenges and opportunities associated with a start-up non-profit. Its leaders have successfully completed several projects with these unique parameters.,” said Kimberly Britton, CEO for EPIcenter.

Groundwork for the campaign structure and organization is being laid now with an anticipated launch late spring.

“CCS is excited to be a part of this historic effort to create a hub for clean energy technology innovation, education, community engagement, and entrepreneurial incubation in San Antonio,” says Gary Hawkins, Senior Vice President, CCS. “Our firm has worked on a variety of campaigns supporting unique building and environmental projects across the globe, and we are honored to add EPICenter to that list of partners.”

Built in 1909, the Mission Road Power Plant housed one of the city’s first steam turbo generator units, using water from the San Antonio River to cool its operation. The historic structures, including its iconic smokestack, stand as testaments to the changes in the evolving energy industry and will serve as the foundation and framework for EPIcenter.

The project will include a new energy “co-op” where start-ups can incubate along existing companies; a think tank aimed at advancing the fundamentals of clean energy policy; a research and development fabrication laboratory to develop and test products, services, and technologies; exhibition space with interactive and structural artifacts; an auditorium and conference center; and outdoor venues with terraces, gardens, amenities and community spaces.

Occupation of the building is planned for 2021-2022.

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