The People Helping People Podcast is here to give you inspiration on how you can get involved and make a difference... exploring culture, social change, travel, social entrepreneurship and cool projects making an impact.
Cuddles Foundation Brings Nutrition to Kids with Cancer | with Purnota Bahl
Purnota Dutta Bahl of Cuddles Foundation provides nutrition to children undergoing cancer treatment. Being based in India, Purnota explained the barriers of cancer treatment for children within the country. Malnourishment is one of those barriers slimming the odds of proper treatment. Malnourished children can experience disruptive side effects during chemotherapy, and drop out of treatment. The organization believes “every child deserves a chance at cure”, and is determined to protect the probability of recovery.
Cuddles Foundation does not focus solely on giving food to children. Purnota explained the initiative educated parents/ guardians, wrote nutrition prescriptions, sent nutritional baskets worth one month of nutrition, and educated nutritionists across the country in the science of pediatric oncology nutrition. Everything is done to ensure a better condition for undergoing cancer treatment.
From the start, the initiative was intentional in purpose, and “let’s see how this goes” in actions. She has an instinct of treating the initiative like a startup. For example, Purnota recounted how she found herself at an opportunity with only ten days to register proper paperwork for Cuddles Foundation. The social enterprise benefited from her tendency to not waste a chance, and her skill of recognizing when to “push the panel harder”.
As the organization developed, there was a need to create awareness around the specific cause of the initiative. In this case, the cause is “how important nutrition is in cancer treatment”. Rallying support produced a challenge at times, but Purnota made a point of succinct advocacy and meeting the right people at the right time. Following this lesson came a lesson many social enterprises face, which is forming a qualified team.
Purnota expressed the gap between not having funds to pay the same rates corporations offer and a hiring qualified, cutting edge team. Her solution was to build a small core team. The core team of qualified individuals led to high performance and exponential results. Of course, we imagine this outcome not developing linearly, but unfolding ultimately. She summed up the key combination of securing a strong core team that has better potential to scale:
“... bring the people in, then you make sure that they feel fulfilled, that the work is such good quality, that they themselves will bring in money and they themselves will bring in people.”-- Purnota Bahl
Purnota dug further into this topic on which individuals to engage if you want to produce these kinds of cooperative relationships. Most of the interaction is helping people know that they have a stake in the action, empowerment, and value.
Cuddles Foundation approaches their operations by providing value from multiple sides and embraces mindset shifts. Purnota explained the future projects and goals the Cuddles Foundation is pursuing, including technology. She then explained past mindsets, even mentioning the beneficial e-commerce habit the Cuddles Foundation adopted. The organization is showing everyone how nutrition is an undeniable root cause in health treatment and needs an all-around approach.
If you would like to learn more, check out Instagram, Facebook, or the official website.
Columbus Works is Breaking Generational Poverty with Employment Retention Coaching
Beth Gifford, President & CEO of Columbus Works, described the initiative perfectly, saying Columbus Works is a “nonprofit organization providing job readiness training and longterm wraparound support for any individual in central Ohio who desires to move out of poverty through full-time employment.” During COVID-19, assistance in employment matters is extremely relevant. Beth explained the pivoting challenges and adapting to the new atmosphere once stay-at-home orders began. For example, their coaching switching from physical locations to virtual sessions unknowingly led to other issues being exposed. A major one being their members did not have access to WiFi or access to a stable learning environment.
Each new pivot became a defining moment to the decisions faced. Beth expressed the scenarios of chronically unemployed members, parent members with children, and the tough decisions where Columbus Works tried to provide guidance. People who make progress to come out of poverty are the most fragile and are understandably hit the hardest. It may take years to regain the momentum lost to the turmoil of the pandemic.
According to plans by Columbus Works, it takes three to five years to earn your way out of poverty. After that, it takes an additional five to seven years to learn how to stay out of poverty. Beth emphasized their approach being reasonably predictable in how they walk alongside their members to achieve life improvements. We explore these different stages in the podcast, from the beginning with the very first steps of engaging with Columbus Works.
Work through the initiative transforms the lives of members. Beth told a particular story of a man who went from living in a shelter owning a three-bedroom ranch in the course of a year. Not only did his life change, but the lives of the people he is connected to. The man was able to move his mother into his home and is able to take care of child support. At the time of the episode, the man is saving for a car, and Beth pointed out one threshold Columbus Works aims to have their members reach:
“You want to be able to get to a place where you can choose.”-- Beth Gifford
She expanded on this thought using the car scenario. The financial ability to choose how and what to pursue gives a different sense of freedom.
Another heavy area of impact within Columbus Works related to members learning through their trauma. For Beth, there came a realization that not being able to sustain employment could be connected to the fight or flight instinct of trauma. She delved into patterns she identified with Columbus Works members and their significance.
Beth wrapped the conversation through an explanation of what it takes to be part of Columbus Works. She explained the main characteristics for roles, such as a member or a partnering employer, that are necessary for a thriving Columbus Works journey.
If you would like to learn more, you can visit Twitter or check the official website.
Urban Accelerator X Creates A Better Business Map by Expanding the Horizons
George “Ski” Zarebski and Lolo Smith of Urban Accelerator X came to help everyone get on track around building up entrepreneurship. Urban Accelerator X works as an urban entrepreneur support organization much like their name would suggest. Usually, the initiative interacts with smaller businesses that are 5 years or younger in their business journey. The duo points out that they work with all levels of business, but the level closer to the ideation stage of business is where they currently have the most organic connection. To increase impact, they honor support for poc-owned and women-owned businesses against added barriers these entrepreneurs face. They also deliberately made their entrepreneur center accessible to the inner city. Clearly, Urban Accelerator X is adamant about supporting and expanding horizons of people growing through entrepreneurship.
Ski and LoLo explain the three huge barriers in business: management, money, and markets. Lolo specifically addressed the additional factors of emotional trauma and generational curses. Barriers with lingering effects tend to create a gap that widens over time. These are barriers that we seem to address on the surface, only to realize there is more depth needing discussion. Ski and Lolo touched on the limits seen in these lingering barriers, such as difficulty in building wealth.
A step toward minimizing these lingering barriers is to combat them from the beginning. One way is to focus on expanding the level of exposure to the possibilities of life. Ski gave an excellent analogy using an age-old question:
“When you're a kid, you almost inevitably get the question: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ It's a horrible question because the only possible answers you can give are things that you've been exposed to. That's exactly what we're talking about here. We're talking about a group of people that have not had the same level of exposure as another group of people, and so what we're trying to do is broaden that awareness, broaden that exposure.” - Ski
Feeding off this topic, we started sharing our own experiences of broadening our horizons. At times the shift was on purpose, and other times it was through shock. Each person is raised in different environments, and there comes a day when you realize what is the “normal” basic to you is not the same for everyone else. In a great illustration of this point, Lolo shared a personal college preparation experience that switched the entire perspective around family expectation and finance.
We dive more into real life stories of entrepreneurs overcoming limiting beliefs and the value of changing the lens we perceive the business world through. Both Ski and Lolo have accounts on touching stories they witnessed develop as entrepreneurs found their place. Luckily, Urban Accelerator X is continuing their work of helping entrepreneurs find their place. Ski and Lolo announce exciting news about upcoming work that will further entrepreneurs in their business journeys.
If you would like to learn more, you can visit Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or the official website.
Jennifer Sconyers Uncovers the Real Work Behind Diversity and Inclusion
Jennifer Sconyers came to discuss her extensive work in diversity and inclusion, alongside commentary on what lessons she learned. Being the president and founder of Abundance Leadership Consulting, Jennifer continuously worked with numerous companies and observed a lack of diverse talent. Absence of diversity only intensified as the conditions did not allow diverse backgrounds to thrive and be successful. For diversity and inclusion, companies and organizations will benefit from viewing their environment from all sides.
Examining both the internal and external relationships of a company reveal culture being upheld in the operations. Jennifer touched on what it looks like for a company where diversity has no longevity and added that the external affairs are important. The relationships with customers, clients, or any part of the external operation can also hold clues to how a company is choosing to interact with diversity. She explained how this can be experienced on different levels of a company, and the significance of tradition. A company that opened 100 years ago is more likely to have a set culture and be part of a larger system, which could make the issues of diversity a more tangled topic than a company first expects. Anything you change must be changed at the root, but reaching the root is not always easy.
A portion of the work is discovering what it means to be anti-racist. Uncovering the systems constructing racism give space for individuals to dismantle, and create something new. Jennifer emphasizes this work is not to be done as a badge of honor, but to “fundamentally” change people’s outcomes for the better. The work is a long term commitment.
At times the work appears in direct relationships, such as connections between co-workers or between relatives. Jennifer spoke on ways to approach the task of difficult discussion with relatives. We then switched into discussing relationships as building professional partnerships. I mentioned to Jennifer ways GiveBackHack is encouraging a more diverse environment. She took this moment to bring attention to the need for both sides to receive value. She expressed that people are willing to recruit for “diversity” as a metric. There needs to be value for the company, and for the individuals, the company is recruiting.
“If you're doing it because you need to increase diversity numbers, I would say rethink that. Cause there's gotta be something in it for both of you.”--Jennifer Sconyers
Jennifer explained how diversity is not only race but thought and experience. Diversity work is around including diverse backgrounds and making the environment welcoming. Involvement in the work is the follow up to actually acknowledging the work needs to be done. Jennifer gave a creative example on how oppressive structural systems are like a default wallpaper, which really speaks to the proactive nature and awareness we need. Recognizing the first steps in diversity and inclusion helps us find workable, impact-filled solutions in how we move forward.
If you would like to learn more, you can visit Jennifer’s official website or YouTube.
DC Design Involves the Community to Solve the Right Problem
Durell Coleman speaks on DC Design’s work as a social impact strategy and design consulting firm. The firm works on the pressing issues such as the criminal justice system, healthcare, foster care, and education. Through their efforts, DC Design helps organizations nurture relationships with their communities in addition to developing strong strategies and resources. In the end, the firm provides an overall structure to empower the organization and the community.
"Our work is powered by the belief that in order to truly create the type of change the communities need, you need to be in community with those communities. You need to be working hand in hand with the people that you want to benefit."-- Durell Coleman
Durell discussed DC Design’s multi-stakeholder human-centred design, starting with an example of work done on criminal justice in Santa Clara. The multi-stakeholder approach searches for the different narratives taking place within one scenario. For Santa Clara, Durell explained the choice to speak with people who worked with incarcerated individuals, people who had been incarcerated, mentors of incarcerated individuals, family members of incarcerated individuals, and victims of crime. DC Design’s process goes even further as the firm sat down with power roles, such as the sheriff and public defender, to include those narratives. All of the experiences are gathered to work towards a solution.
Collaborative effort plays a huge role in the vision towards a better solution in DC Design’s playbook. Letting the community take the lead, the firm focuses on listening. Durell expressed thoughts behind the importance of listening deeply to people in direct contact with the issues. We continued our discussion into the topic of longevity coming to the most fitting solution. The goal is to find a solution that will still have a positive impact years later. Identifying the different needs surrounding the issue, and discovering the overlap, provides a way to create such a solution.
“I think you need to make sure that you define the problem correctly to make sure that what you create actually solves the right problem.”-- Durell Coleman
Beyond helping organizations and governments, the firm opened DC Design University for people set on creating social impact. Courses explore topics that reach into overall achievement. DC Design is currently launching a self-paced course, Design Thinking Fundamentals for Social Change, giving the fundamentals of community change while using real stories of pivotal community initiatives.
We then discussed the untapped potential high schoolers have in our world. The podcast discussed this a while back, but to summarize, there is a sort of natural innovation in the limitless mind of youth. Durell shared his own story of this realization, bringing a new depth to why empowering youth is insanely beneficial. Durell then reminisced on major moments and questions that pushed his journey leading up to DC Design. He expressed his commitment to continuing the work changing communities and systems.
If you would like to learn more, you can check LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or the official site. You can also find Durell Coleman directly on Instagram or Twitter.
Also - they extended the discount of their innovative DC Design University program through August 3rd - check it out!
Omar Elhagmusa and Paul Bryson Answer the Question “Why Choose Non-Profit?”
In this episode, we have the pleasure of speaking with past guest Omar Elhagmusa and bringing in new guest Paul Bryson. Omar was a past guest when I spoke with his non-profit lending company Illinois Facilities Fund (IFF). Paul is working for the Legal Aid Society (LAS) as a non-profit lawyer. We dive into the benefits of incorporating as a non-profit, and navigate a conversation of whether to start as an LLC or non-profit. Quite often we hear the benefits of starting an LLC, so these two guests together help fill out the story on the other side.
Omar explained his work with the largest Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in the Midwest. He gave more information on similar community finance institutions, such as micro lenders. Paul followed up with his perspective on the strong points and barriers of each side. Paul mainly expressed the initial goal is simply to determine capacity and what ways to move forward.
Our conversation evolved into something like a brief consultation. We discussed the impact of timely advice on the operation of initiatives, whether for-profit or non-profit. Business models play an incredible role in sustaining and developing community initiatives. Soon we discussed our takes on business model examples in the social good space, such as Foundry. Paul provides his expertise in carefully explaining L3C (low-profit limited liability company), which is the closest to a cross-over of for-profit and non-profit. He described the common approaches of what a social entrepreneur might experience; speaking from both a bank’s perspective and the community perspective.
“I think the final thing is sometimes people go ‘Well, if I'm a nonprofit, then I can't earn money’. That's a huge myth that I think we're going to dispel as we go forward. ‘Nonprofit’ doesn't mean you can't earn money.” -- - Paul Bryson
We dug a little further into nonprofit operations, such as relations with the IRS or choosing a board of directors. Omar suggested an untapped source for finding board members, and discussed the benefits of incorporating board culture into social enterprises. Keeping social good at the forefront becomes key.
“The temptation of doing the easy, fast thing at the beginning may not translate to helping you achieve your mission, which is why you start a social enterprise in the first place; because you believe in the mission and you're trying to find a way to unlock capitalism in order to achieve that social good.”-- Omar Elhagmusa
In a full circle moment, I asked for a verdict on switching from an LLC to a nonprofit. Suggestions on how you transition were given, but overall, switching is not to be done casually. During our conversation we also discussed topics like subsidies and common myths around non-profits, alongside examples to properly illustrate which social entrepreneur interactions to expect.
If you would like to learn more you can check out the IFF official site or the LAS official site to find more information.
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