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“Pledge It” Teams with 150+ Professional Athletes on Unique Crowdfunding Charitable Campaigns; On Record Pace with 15 MLB Campaigns

Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright, and Danny Duffy among Major Leaguers Running 2017 Campaigns, including Pujols’ Quest for Milestone 600th Home Run

Press Release – HARRISBURG, PA, May 23, 2017Pledge It, the nation’s first and only performance-based crowdfunding platform (money is raised based upon athletic performance), is on record pace, having already raised more than $300,000 for charitable causes through its 15 Major League Baseball (MLB) 2017 charitable campaigns just 50 days into the season – more than double the amount raised for charity in the entire 2016 MLB season.

During the 2017 MLB regular season, more than 15 players have partnered with Pledge It to convert their on-field statistics into financial support for charitable causes. MLB fans are encouraged to pledge a donation for every home run, hit, or strikeout recorded to help make an impact.

“Through our Pledge It campaigns, we’ve found that 7 of 10 fans choose performance pledging over a flat donation because the pledge is being earned. And our average pledge is nearly twice the national average for online donations” said Scott Shirley, PLEDGE IT CEO and former Penn State football and baseball player. “Our community of athletes are inspired to earn the change they want to see and we are thrilled at the early impact of the campaigns in raising funds for such compelling causes.”

“Working with PLEDGE IT has been awesome, because it has allowed me to connect my passion for the game with my passion for honoring Noah’s legacy and supporting Noah’s Bandage Project,” said Kansas City Royals’ Danny Duffy, who is dedicating his 2017 season to Noah’s Bandage Project to help fund targeted pediatric cancer research. “I love that it gives me the opportunity and ability to earn the fans’ support so we can make an impact together.”

Other MLB 2017 / PLEDGE IT campaigns include:

ABOUT PLEDGE IT

At Pledge It, we believe support for a cause is earned, not given. Our community of athletes are inspired to earn the change they want to see in the world! See how athletes and non-profits are harnessing the power and appeal of sports for social good – join the movement at www.pledgeit.org. See how PLEDGE IT is revolutionizing online crowdfunding and non-profit fundraising at Pledge It Video.

Charity Crowdfunding Pioneer, Razoo, Announces Management Buyout

Team led by current CEO acquires only fully-integrated platform in the online giving space

Press Release – Alexandria, VA – 15 May 2017 – Razoo Global Corporation (“Razoo”), a leading online fundraising platform with a pioneering legacy in charitable giving, today announced that its management has successfully concluded a buyout of the business from global investment firm and founder of Razoo, the Legatum Group (“Legatum”).

Since the company’s founding in 2006, Razoo has offered an online service for charities and has grown into the only fully-integrated cloud-services platform that empowers individuals, non-profit organizations, giving event hosts, and teams of people working together to fundraise for the causes they care most about.

“This is a very exciting time for Razoo. Online giving is thriving and, following major upgrades to our product, we’re here to empower philanthropic hearts and minds,“ said Tom Matthews, CEO of Razoo. “We’re greatly encouraged by recent product adoption and by all of the amazing feedback we’ve received from our users. We are committed to growing our community and building the very best online giving platform and experience for non-profits and the next generation of givers.”

Razoo has been a leader in the non-profit crowdfunding sector for more than ten years, enabling over US$550 Million in donations for causes globally.

Mark Stoleson, CEO of Legatum, said, “When we founded Razoo, our vision was to inspire a generation of donors to give directly to the people and causes they care about. We are delighted to see how the sector and personal giving has flourished over the past decade with Razoo mobilising over $550 million in donations.”

Stoleson added: “Tom and the team have created what we believe is the best product in the crowdfunding space today. Under his leadership, the company is well poised for growth and is configured to win in an increasingly competitive landscape. Razoo has a bright future in a sector that is delivering value to millions of givers around the world and we look forward to continuing to partner with its leadership and other shareholders to see the company fulfil its potential.”

Legatum will remain a significant but minority shareholder in the company and Razoo will continue to operate from its Alexandria, VA headquarters. No further terms of the transaction were disclosed.

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.

Real Estate Crowdfunding to Take Center Stage at Crowd Invest Summit

Real Estate Crowdfunding to be major focus at countries largest crowd investment conference.

Press Release – Los Angeles, CA – 5/3/17 – Crowd Invest Summit, the countries largest crowdfunding investment conference, taking place on September 6th and 7th at the Los Angeles Convention Center, has today announced that it will be expanding it’s focus on Real Estate crowdfunding.

Since the signing of the JOBS Act in 2012, Real Estate Investing has been the fastest growing segment of the new Crowdfunding Industry. According to Fundingtree.com, over $3 Billion Dollars has been raised so far.

“We expect over 3,000 attendees at Crowd Invest Summit this September, a significant portion being investors who are looking to learn about new opportunities,” said Alon Goren, co-founder of Crowd Invest Summit. “Real Estate investing has been a major focus at the summit, and because of overwhelming demand, this September we’re expanding on the topic.”

Crowd Invest Summit will feature the crowd investment industry’s top leaders, investors and firms covering real estate investing over the span of two days in September:

“As one of California’s preeminent real estate and business law firms, we are excited to partner with Crowd Invest Summit for its first-ever discussion on the emerging issues and opportunities presented by the ever-growing real estate crowdfunding market.” Said Chuck Jarrell, Partner, Allen Matkins. “Crowdfunding has become an integral part of real estate investing and a topic that will resonate well with conference attendees.”

“We are excited to be back at Crowd Invest Summit this September to discuss how we’ve quadrupled our investor base by combining technology and marketing with an institutional approach to real estate investing,” said Michael Episcope, Principal, Origin Investments.

“Commercial real estate is no longer reserved for the wealthy. Now, everyone has the ability to passively invest in multi-million dollar properties, all thanks to crowdfunding,” said Matt Schuberg, CEO, RealCap Investments. “We are very excited to come back to Crowd Invest Summit in September to bring these types of opportunities to the masses.”

“401(k) and IRA accounts provide access to 12 times more investment dollars than checking and savings accounts,” said Todd Yancey, CSO of IRA Services. “We are excited to teach real estate investors at Crowd Invest Summit how to easily access that capital.”

“Now more than ever real estate companies should focus on the fundamentals and principles in mitigating risks to investors capital. Crowd Invest Summit offers both Real Estate Companies and potential investors to engage first hand and learn more about the risks and rewards of investing in Commercial Real Estate,” said Rayaan Arif, CEO, FundingTree.

In addition to IRA Services, Origin Investments, Allen Matkins and RealCap Investments, Crowd Invest Summit is sponsored by OTC Markets Group, Computershare, iDisclose, Issuer Direct, dbbmckennon, Stradling, New Direction IRA, Krowdster, Crowdfunding Lawyers and FundingTree.

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

“Coding Autism” Surpasses $50K Crowdfunding Goal to Help Train Adults with Autism How to Code

Program Aims to Combat Unemployment and Underemployment Rates Among People with Autism; Crowdfunding Campaign Launches to Help Fund Program and Provide Scholarships

Press Release – (Los Angeles, CA) – April 28, 2017 – Coding Autism, 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, today announced that the company has surpassed its $50,000 crowdfunding goal. The contributions will help fund the program’s first web development bootcamp, and provide for scholarships so that the entire 15-person first class can attend tuition-free.

Every year, the number of people diagnosed with autism rises, however there are simply not enough quality programs designed towards training adults with autism with real-world career skills. As a result, too many are either unemployed or working in menial jobs below their skill level. To help adults with autism learn the fundamental skills necessary to secure an entry-level web developer job, Coding Autism has announced a new program to train those with autism how to code.

Coding Autism crowdfunding campaign can be seen at: https://startsomegood.com/coding-autism-training-adults-with-autism-in-code.

Coding Autism’s first web development boot camp is called the ASPIRE Web Development Immersive. This is a 15-week, full-time course where students will be learning the fundamental skills of coding. The first class will take place at Hub 101 in Thousand Oaks, CA (Greater Los Angeles Area) with online classes planned in 2018.

“We are proud to surpass our funding goal and are encouraged that supporters from coast to coast agree that it is completely unacceptable that our autistic community is experiencing an over 80% unemployment and underemployment rate,” said Oliver Thornton, CEO & co-founder of Coding Autism. “As passionate advocates who have either been diagnosed with autism ourselves or have family members affected with autism, we understand that with the right resources, training, coaching and environment that individuals with autism can thrive in the workforce.”

By founding Coding Autism and launching the ASPIRE Web Development Immersive, Mr. Thornton believes that they can create highly qualified, skilled, and eager to work autistic employees to fill job vacancies in the tech industry.

Research has shown that typical autistic characteristics such as attention to detail, affinity for repetitive tasks and introversion are all traits that lend themselves to becoming a successful employee within the tech industry. With the $50k+ average annual salary for entry-level, full-time web developers, tech is an attractive industry in which to pursue a career.

Over the last decade, companies such as Microsoft and SAP have implemented autism hiring initiatives. This was done not to combat autistic unemployment, but because they have seen that adults with autism can be exceptional employees and drive innovation when provided the right structure, mentorship and on-boarding. Students that want to enroll can sign-up to receive more information at: www.CodingAutism.com

A video can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVybQJSNlS4

About Coding Autism:

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. More information is available at http://www.CodingAutism.com.

JOBS Act Opens New Window For Small Company IPOs


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

With the “dot com crash” in 2000, largely by regulatory design, small company IPOs all but disappeared from the American economic landscape.

A scarcely noticed part or title of the 2012 JOBS Act sought to address that directly by reinvigorating Regulation A, raising the cap from $5 million to $50 million and creating a path for a Reg A offering to be an effective IPO (initial public offering). The new rule is commonly called Reg A+.

In early 2016, Elio Motors went public using Regulation A.

The rules weren’t effective until mid-2015 and the market is just beginning to mature. Rod Turner is the founder and CEO of Manhattan Street Capital, one of the players in this nascent marketplace.

Turner says his firm has 18 clients preparing their Reg A+ offerings. Watch my discussion with Rod at the top of this article.

Rod is passionate about using capital for good, creating opportunities for women entrepreneurs and creating companies that will employ people at scale. He’s also a Forbes contributor who has written about these topics.

Rod says, “Mid-sized companies have very limited access to growth capital. Regulation A+ provides an excellent solution in that our companies can raise up to $50 mill per year from investors of any income level worldwide, and the shares can be publicly tradeable, making them more appealing to the investor and providing liquidity to the company founders.”

Allowing ordinary investors to participate in offerings of small companies, gives them the opportunity to participate in their growth. Back in the 1980s, Microsoft went public as a relatively small business and ordinary investors were able to participate in the growth of the company exceeding two orders of magnitude. On the other hand, Facebook didn’t go public or allow ordinary investors to participate until the company had reached a valuation of $100 billion–only wealthy investors participated in the creation of value.

The new marketplace is exciting. Watch the interview with Rod to learn how your organization can take advantage of Reg A+.

Rod Turner, courtesy of Manhattan Street Capital

Rod Turner, courtesy of Manhattan Street Capital

More about Manhattan Street Capital:

Twitter: @Manhattanstcap

Funding platform for mature startups and mid stage companies. using Regulation A+. We take companies through the whole Reg A+ offering process to achieve a successful Reg A+ offering. Our website technology integrates the necessary services so companies can make their offering work efficiently on Manhattan Street Capital.

We provide some services directly, others we provide by introducing our companies to specialized service providers: Specialized CrowdFunding Marketing agencies, Legal, Broker/Dealer, Investment Banks, Underwriters, Broker Dealer Syndicates, Market Makers, escrow, transfer agent and auditors.

Rod’s bio:

Twitter: @iamrodturner

High energy strategic thinker. Excellent leader. Engineer with skills in all areas. Experienced M&A expert. Crowdfunding expert.

M&A experience: At Symantec I led the takeovers of their first acquisition (TimeLine), and their most strategic acquisition, Norton. I drove the merger processes to ensure success and upside. The implementation of the Norton merger has been called “the best ever in Tech.” I also lead the successful acquisition of PCAnywhere and an AV technology company into the Norton Group. Mobile Automation was acquired by iPAS and Our Neighborhood Energy was acquired by CBD Energy Australia. Two informative experiences of being acquired.

Founder, CEO Manhattan Street Capital and FundAthena April 2015 – now

RegA+ growth capital marketplace for mid-sized companies. Adapting IPO business model to the Internet, using new SEC RegA+.

Advisor to startups and CEOs of large companies, 2004 to current. Chairman & cofounder CirrusLS SaaS, bank lending. Strategic Advisor AssistMyCase (SaaS Legal research). NetQuarry, a .NET app dev platform. Our Neighborhood Energy, electricity retailer in Australia. Workshops for Warriors, non-profit trains Veterans in advanced workshop skills free of charge. Numerous other startups.

Founder, Chairman and CEO, START.ac: April 2011 – June 2013. Built business CrowdFunding marketplace with Mentors, advisers and unique innovations for scale.

Chairman, Artslant. Sept 2008 – current: CEO 2008 through 2010. Grew revenues 12.5%/month compound, and site page views by 700%.

Managing Partner, Irvine Ventures 1999-2003: Founded Irvine Ventures with Safi Qureshey, investing in tech startup companies, mentoring entrepreneurs. Raised $32million in angel and venture capital for, and built six startups.

Chairman & Founder, Mobile Automation 1996-2004. LAN & Internet software configuration, MSP and Enterprise IT market. Angel financing (Peter Norton), VC from Greylock (Dave Strohm). Sold the company to iPass (IPAS on NASDAQ) in 11/04.

President & CEO, Knowledge Adventure 1993-94. Grew revenues from $240k/month to $1.5m/month. Raised $12 million venture capital from Mayfield (Mike Levinthal).

Symantec 1985-1993. At startup, Executive VP for worldwide marketing, sales & product management. Promoted to division General Manager with P&L 5/87. Raised three rounds of venture capital, lead investor Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (John Doerr). In 1987 as GM, I ran the merger and accelerated the first company acquired by Symantec-Breakthrough Inc, TimeLine project management, and the Q&A database line. Trebled product group revenue in three years while generating 100% of Symantec’s profit. Grew Symantec revenues from zero to $250mil/year. IPO 1989.

In 1990 Symantec acquired Peter Norton Computing (maker of the Norton Utilities), and I was GM for the merger and the business. Introduced the Norton Antivirus in ‘91, the main profit generator for Symantec. In three years we grew Norton revenues from $20/mill/year to $200mill/year, taking the Norton group from 25% of Symantec’s revenue to 82%.

Acquired two companies into the Norton Group.

Chairman, Cofounder 1984-1990: Microport Software Inc. Startup ported UNIX System V to the 286.

Ashton Tate/dBASE 1981-1984: Startup microcomputer database software company, 12th employee. VP of US marketing and sales; GM of the International division. Grew sales from $2m to $150m/yr, IPO in ‘83. Made dBASE the market leading database on the PC by 1983.

Aston Univeristy 1975-1979: First Class Honors, Bachelor of Science in Energy Technology (Electrical & Mechanical Engineering) from Aston University, England. Stanford: Graduated Executive Institute 1983.

Interests: Married, with two sons. Boating. Racing cars. Public speaking. Altruism. Leadership. Innovation Born on a farm in the UK, moved to Silicon Valley to get into VC funded startups. My accent is gradually migrating across the Atlantic Ocean.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility 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!

 

Student Entrepreneurs Launch New Round of Ventures through Suffolk Crowdfunding Course

Press Release – BOSTON — Savory waffles sold from a food cart, a cinch-locking bag that deters theft of package deliveries and a children’s book about a guppy who tries too hard to fit in are three of the latest Suffolk University student-run ventures that launched crowdfunding campaigns April 7.

Suffolk’s Sawyer Business School introduced one of the nation’s first experiential courses on crowdfunding in fall 2016, where students launched campaigns to fund their own startup companies through Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The acclaimed course is now in its second semester with a new group of student entrepreneurs launching campaigns to fund their businesses. Campaigns will conclude with the end of National Small Business Week on May 6.

“Crowdfunding is shaping up to be an important factor for startup success,” said Sawyer Entrepreneurship Professor Chaim Letwin. “To run a successful campaign one must be passionate about their venture. That is why it is important to not only teach our students why some campaigns are successful while others are not, but also to give them the opportunity to dig in, get their hands dirty and run a campaign of their own.”

The concept for the crowdfunding course came out of conversations between Letwin and Professor Jenni Dinger, a colleague in the Sawyer Business School’s Management and Entrepreneurship department. Dinger and Letwin co-teach the course and both study crowdfunding and how campaign components relate to people’s decisions to contribute money to a particular project.

“This course is still quite young, only the second time through, so we are continuously adjusting and learning as a group,” Dinger said. “It’s very exciting to see how this group of students has built on what was accomplished last year.”

This semester’s ventures include:

  • Waffleholics, founded by Suffolk junior Carmen Reddick and senior Max Taylor, aims to create the most delicious sweet and savory waffles, starting with a Boston food cart business. Reddick graduated from Johnson & Wales University with an associate in science degree. Both students are from Boston.
  • Beyond Borders is a full-length documentary film by David Apostolides and John Moran. The film seeks to incorporate the perspectives of those living outside of the U.S. in the current American political conversation.
  • Baggabox prevents package theft by securing deliveries to your door in a cut-resistant and waterproof cinch-locking bag. Baggabox was founded by Jamie Manning, a Suffolk MBA alumnus, and is being supported by seniors Faisal Janahi and Alonso Villarreal. Janahi is from Manama, Bahrain, and Villarreal is from San Antonio, Texas.
  • Goliath Gallon, founded by Suffolk senior Zack Smith of Methuen, Mass., makes a reusable, BPA-free and easily cleaned gallon bottle for ice, fruits, amino acids, etc.
  • Cosmic Eye, founded by Ashton Viqueras-LaRochelle, utilizes augmented reality technology to bridge the gap between what you see through a telescope and what actually exists in the cosmos. Viqueras-LaRochelle, a Suffolk junior, is from Portsmouth, N.H.
  • Kwapis Can’t Hang is a children’s book about a guppy that enters a new bowl and pretends to be someone she is not in a misguided attempt to fit in. The book is authored and edited by Dana Prandato, a Suffolk junior and Marketing major from Sandpoint, Idaho.
  • Claude and the Magic Garden is a children’s book that tells a magical story of two brothers living in a foreign land and trying to fit in. Their community helps uncover the magic of true friendship. The book is authored and edited by Suffolk junior Christopher Hassapis. He is from North Reading, Mass.
  • Pup Picnic, founded by Joe Tassinari, is a 2-in-1 dog bowl with a water bottle attachment. This allows any disposable water bottle to attach to the bowl and act as a feeder. Tassinari is a Suffolk senior from East Boston, Mass.

More information on the student startup businesses and crowdfunding campaigns may be found at www.suffolk.edu/business/undergraduate/71487.php.

7 Crowdfunding Keys For Social Entrepreneurs

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Lots of people hold themselves out to be crowdfunding experts. I haven’t met anyone who has raised more money in on Kickstarter and Indiegogo than Funded Today’s Zach Smith. He reports raising over $110 million total over hundreds of campaigns.

Smith visited with me (watch the video recording of the interview above) to talk about how to apply his experience and insights for social entrepreneurs.

He thinks of himself as a social entrepreneur, helping other entrepreneurs to be successful. He is almost a prototypical entrepreneur. Young, confident—even brash—he has built his company to 50 employees and reports “eight figures plus” in revenue. Funded Today charges 25 to 35 percent of funds raised, so in its short three-year history, we’d expect it to have generated over $30 million in revenue.

Zach Smith

His reputation in the crowdfunding community is such that when Hiral Sanghavi, co-founder and CEO at BauBax had his crowdfunding campaign stall at around $4 million, he called on Smith to help. He says, “They reached out to a completely different audience and got another huge wave of traffic our way which helped us add another $4.5 million to our total in the last 3 weeks and our campaign closed at $9.19 million.”

“FT has got access to thousands of crowdfunding campaigns and they’ve built a community of early adopters out of it. They were able to get our campaign in front of the right audience who are mavens, early adopters of technology and innovative products. We couldn’t have done that using only Facebook ads,” Sanghavi says.

Paid media on social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, is a key tool that Funded Today uses to raise money for clients. Smith explains how you can do it on Facebook.

A good crowdfunding campaign begins with a crowd. A crowd is best represented by a list of email addresses. He suggests spending up to $5 per email address for people who are interested in your mission. Given that you’d like a list of 10,000 people and a list that long will cost up to $50,000 to build, he has another plan.

Ask, he says, someone in your mission space who has a list for a copy of the list specifically to use for building a Facebook audience. You should promise not to send email to the people on the list. Instead, you want to upload the list to Facebook for targeting advertising. Until Smith told me, I had no idea you could do this. Did you?

Not only can you use that audience as a target, Facebook will automatically offer to create a “lookalike” audience that is much bigger. For instance, I uploaded my mailing own mailing list following the instructions on Facebook and it instantly helped me create a list of more than 2 million people who are like the people on my list.

Smith also shared his “Seven Ps” for crowdfunding success:

  1. Product: The crowdfunding reward or product must be appealing; for nonprofits, Smith recommends identifying recognition that donors will appreciate.
  2. Platform: Not only do social entrepreneurs need to decide which platform to use, but whether or not their business is a good fit for crowdfunding. If a reward can’t be shipped or delivered digitally, it may not be, Smith says.
  3. Presentation: The way you pitch your offering on the crowdfunding page, including the video, represents the presentation—and he says it makes a big difference. Smith says he helped ShotBox raise over $184,000 primarily by changing the presentation after the original campaign raised only $7,000 and had to be canceled.
  4. Promotion: The three key parts to promotion are paid media, press and partnerships.
  5. Price: Smith cautions crowdfunders not to discount the price, noting that it is easier to drop the price later than to raise it.
  6. Probability: He says that backers need to believe you can and will do what you promise. In other words, you need to develop trust by proving you have the smarts and other resources to necessary to pull it off.
  7. People: Your team needs to have the right people on it; they must be confident of success and committed to doing the work required to achieve it.

Marina Prospero, CEO of Perfectore Corp, is crowdfunding with help from Funded Today now. She says, “We were watching some very successful 6 figure Kickstarter campaigns and they all had one thing in common, Funded Today was their marketing partner. Several of these campaigns were products that focused on back and neck treatment. We figured if they have already been successful marketing these campaigns then they will definitely know how to market ours.”

She’s glad she did. “They have performed beyond my expectation.” With Smith’s help, she’s raised over $585,000 with an original goal of just $5,000. “Frankly I am blown away at how good they are and I am anxious to work with them again on our next invention.”

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility 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!

 

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