Pencils of Promise

Comment

Pencils of Promise

photo by Nick Onken

photo by Nick Onken

What do you want most in the world?

Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise, asked this question to dozens of children, each from different countries all over the world.  The answers: 

To dance.  A book.  Magic. 

One answer from a boy in India stood out the most.  A pencil.

From that moment on Braun began to hand out pencils to children he met on his travels.  This simple act sparked an idea that would grow into a for-purpose organization providing children in the developing world access to a quality education.

photo by Nick Onken

photo by Nick Onken

In 2008, Braun opened a new bank account, depositing just $25 with the hope of one day building a school in honor of his grandmother.  In the time since then, Braun & Pencils of Promise have built over 360 schools and educated 33,000+ students in Asia, Africa, & South America.  PoP programs also focus on training teachers & promoting good hygiene & sanitation.  Equally as impressive is the fact that 100% of PoP’s schools remain fully operational & educating students daily. 

Very few things empower an individual the way education does.  Six years ago, I experienced first-hand the lack of educational opportunities available to those in developing countries.  My husband & I spent the summer in Ghana, Africa finalizing the adoption of our then seven-year-old son.  We returned home as a family of three with a new perspective on life.  We began researching how to start a non-profit, but quickly shifted gears when we realized how many amazing organizations already existed.  Rather than 'reinvent the wheel' or make a one-time donation to a charity, we decided to invest our money into starting a socially conscious business that would create a reoccurring cash flow to support existing non-profits.

In the years that followed, we adopted again; this time a six-year-old boy from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Both of our boys had no prior educational training.  In fact, my three year old niece had a greater educational foundation than both boys combined.  Naturally, this experience influenced us to seek out organizations that were focused on increasing access to education for children in the developing world.  So, in 2012, when we launched (c)3 Wines, it was with organizations like Pencils of Promise in mind.

As (c)3's featured charity, PoP will receive 100% of the profits from each bottle of wine purchased.  We encourage you to share a bottle of (c)3 with others, & to use it as a talking piece for Pencils of Promise & the incredible work they are doing!

You can find many other ways to get involved with PoP on their website HERE.  The PoP annual Gala is just a few weeks away (October 26).  You can purchase tickets to the event, which features special performances by Wiz Khalifa and Nico & Vinz, HERE.

If you want to know more about Adam Braun & his journey to start Pencils of Promise, you can read about it in his book, The Promise of a Pencil.

 

Comment

Q&A with Nicole Mahobian

Comment

Q&A with Nicole Mahobian

Last month, my husband & I traveled to Denver to meet with Nicole Mahobian, founder of Colorado Young Leaders, & attend their 2nd annual fundraiser.  Nicole and I were first introduced because of a mutual connection we had with Sarah Nininger, founder of (c)3's Spring featured charity, Action in Africa.  We wound up chatting on the phone earlier this summer & I instantly was drawn into this story of CYL, its founding, & where it was going! I love the way a story has this amazing capacity to emotionally connect you with the world & the people in it. Upon meeting Nicole in person it's easy to see why CYL has positively impacted so many.  What kind of impact, you ask?  How about connecting high school students with 45 local nonprofits, where collectively they've logged over 20,000+ volunteer hours!  And that's all since it's founding in 2013!  But it's more than just the numbers.  Behind each of those numbers is a student, a person experiencing life & discovering more about themselves, their passion, & how they can use that knowledge for the greater good.  CYL's transformative elements, both for the students they work with and community they impact, are what make it so special...so important.

 I hope you'll be moved in the same way I was by her passion to inspire, equip, & connect high school students throughout Colorado.  And on that note, here is what Nicole says about how CYL does that:

CYL inspires students through engaging service opportunities, adult mentors, and leadership lessons, allowing them to see their true potential to make a positive impact in others.  We equip them with the leadership skills they need to both serve well and succeed in their own ambitions.  We connect them with a local non-profit that aligns with their passion.

Nicole, tell us about yourself.

I grew up in Michigan with a single mom, a sister I looked up to in every way, & an obsession with every sport imaginable.  Most days I would dribble a soccer ball or basketball to my small Catholic grade school.  I played outside until the street lights came on.  I ended up being a pretty talented soccer player, traveling the world with the youth national team, & earning a full scholarship to a division 1 school. 

In college, I had some pivotal experiences that taught me more about myself & my purpose in life.  I started dating my now husband, Aurom, captained my soccer team, spent a month of my spring semester playing soccer + serving in Ethiopia alongside a non profit, & decided to join the Denver Teach for America corps after college. 

These four elements of my college life really helped define who I am.  Aurom taught me the beauty of balance & slowing down to reflect.  Being a captain proved how much I enjoyed teamwork & that leadership required humility.  Serving in Ethiopia showed me what I wanted to do for the rest of my life: love + serve people to the fullest.  Choosing TFA, catapulted me in a love for high schoolers, teaching, & pulling out their potential in life.

How did Colorado Young Leaders begin?

The vision for Colorado Young Leaders developed in 2013 after I spent 5 years teaching in various sectors.  My first two years I taught reading to disadvantaged, minority youth with Teach for America at the worst performing high school in Denver.  The next two years I taught English in a private school where primarily affluent youth attended.  Two different worlds.  Even in these two contrasting schools, I found a common similarity in all my students regardless of economic means, background or ethnicity: they all performed better in a classroom when I first identify and acknowledged their passion in life.  After 4 years in the classroom, I used my educational training in experiential Ed leading high school students to Uganda, Chile, Costa Rica & various states on service learning trips.  This experience showed me that all youth wanted to make a difference in the world; they just didn't know how to start.  When they positively impacted another's life, they too were impacted, gaining confidence & a stronger character.

Is there a particular person or story that drove you to start CYL?

There are really two pivotal stories that drove me to start CYL.

First, Alberto.

Alberto, a 15 year old Hispanic boy, one of my first students I ever taught,  really began my "market research" on a leadership program built on exploring one's passion.  He had failed reading since the first grade, yet had been pushed through the public school system because he was too much of a "problem kid" to hold back.  During the first week of school, I asked my students to write a paragraph on what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Alberto turned in two sentences & almost all the words were spelled wrong.  He hated reading & writing, but he loved diesel trucks.  I realized I would need to connect my teaching to diesel trucks.  We took a field trip to a mechanic shop to learn about all the contracts, instructions, & books one in that field would have to read.  I assigned him to read books about diesel trucks & all his papers were on this topic too.  He passed 9th grade English & moved forward five reading levels in just one year.  Passion drove him to succeed.

Second, all my students who took international trips with me.

I had the privilege of leading high school youth on service trips around the world: Uganda, Dubai, Costa Rica, Chile, and many states outside of Colorado.  These trips transformed the students.  Many left with a stronger sense of purpose, the confidence to make a difference in others life, & a deep passion for a social issues.  However, when they returned home & were thrown back into everyday life, they often forgot.  They forgot about the problems of the world & they forgot they had the power to make a positive impact.  This is why I wanted to create an organization that allowed young people to serve right in their own community.

These two stories drove my vision because I believe CYL is an organization where students can find their passions & excel in other areas of their lives because of this.  CYL allows young people to see their amazing potential to make an impact in others' lives.  Since we focus on local non-profits, within walking distance for some of our students, they can realize their ability to make an impact everyday!

What have you learned from your work thus far?

Young people are amazing. There are two major stumbling blocks in a young person truly realizing their potential.   First, they are given "labels," both good and bad, too early in life that encourage them to operate a particular way rather than explore who they really are.  Second, they hear the word no too often.  They aren't encouraged to take risks, adventure, explore, or think differently than the norm or their culture.  We are a yes organization.  We ask them to dream & encourage them to go after those dreams, then encourage them to go into their community & help others accomplish their dreams too.

What are your hopes & plans for the future?

My hope is to create a CYL chapter in all 63 Colorado counties so that every high school student will have an opportunity to identify their passion, be equipped as a servant leader, & realize their potential before they go to college.

Comment

'14 Blending

Comment

'14 Blending

It's one of our favorite times of year again at (c)3-Blending!  If you're unfamiliar with how the term pertains to wine, you're not alone & I've been there! Blending is the process of adding different varietals (types of grapes) to one wine to add complexity + depth to the final product.  Most wines you taste are a blend; even if it doesn't say 'red blend' on the label.  For a wine label to state a particular varietal (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, etc.), only 75% of the grapes in that bottle must be that varietal (More details on this here).  This creates a fun opportunity for each winemaker & brand to craft a very unique and individual wine.  Hence, a large reason why two neighboring vineyards can create Merlot's that taste completely different.  Of course there are many other factors as well, including but not limited to, terrior (soil), harvest time, fermentation, barrel type, time spent aging, and the list goes on!  Some blending varietals that (c)3 has used in composing our past vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon include Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, & Malbec.  If you want to learn a little more about popular wine varietals click here!

Last Friday, we got together with our winemaker, Patrick, to blend (c)3's 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Our CS has been aging for nearly two years!  Blending it with other varietals is a trial-&-error method that's used widely in the wine making world.  Ultimately, we're looking for the 'right feel' on our palate.  Wine can be subjective & there's no perfect formula to duplicate year after year.  With Patrick's guidance we can adjust the oaky-ness, finish, shape, acidity, nose/smell, etc.  For the 2014 CS we added Petit Verdot to lengthen the finish & help round out the shape.  To add interest to the mid-palate, we blend in either Merlot or Malbec; they have similar qualities, but this year we felt Malbec gave us more of what we were looking for!  Lastly, I love the smell of our Cabernet Franc varietal, but we use this sparingly as too much would cause our CS to be more mellow than we prefer.  Once the wine has been blended it goes back into barrels for several more months to allow the wine to take on the characteristics we want.  

Here's how the 2014 CS blended:

94%  Cabernet Sauvignon

3.5% Petit Verdot

2%    Malbec

.5%   Cabernet Franc

 

 

Post blending celebration at FARM in Carneros

 
 

Comment

Q&A with Sarah Nininger

Comment

Q&A with Sarah Nininger

At c(3), we understand that charities are more than just organizations that provide water or food or money to those in need. Charities are best understood in terms of the individuals who saw a need in the world and then devoted their lives and resources to fill that need. These passionate people, people like Sarah Elizabeth Nininger of Action in Africa, are people we are incredibly proud to partner with.

You could say that Sarah Elizabeth Nininger grew up typically. She moved from her home town of Aspen, Colorado to California to attend Chapman University, aspiring to play college softball (an aspiration she would call short-lived, according to her blog). Now, eight years later, and a degree in Integrated Educational Studies with a focus in nonprofits and disabilities and a minor in Sociology under her belt, Sarah’s life is far from typical as the President of Action in Africa. To get to know her better, and to understand how she started Action in Africa, we sent Sarah a few questions. Please keep reading to see how Sarah turned a high school fundraising club into working and living in Uganda for Action in Africa.

Q: How did Action in Africa begin?

A: Action in Africa began as a high school club in Aspen, Colorado in 2006. We were just a group of kids trying to make an impact in the world. We started by fundraising for a handful of organizations, which we believed to be doing incredible work throughout Africa. In 2008, we had the opportunity to travel to Uganda, which is when we transitioned into having our own on the ground programs and projects.

Q: Why work in Uganda?

A: Placing Action in Africa in Uganda was serendipitous! In 2008, one of the organizations we were financially supporting invited us to Uganda to see where our money was going. Upon arrival, Uganda immediately captivated our hearts and souls, and Action in Africa has been here ever since! Uganda overall is simply stunning. The people are so kind and generous. The kids are eager to be in school, and the women are dedicated to bettering their lives and families. We couldn’t think of a better place for Action in Africa to call home.  

FullSizeRender 20.jpg

Q: Was living in Uganda an aspiration of yours from the start or an idea that slowly evolved into reality?

A: I do now live in Uganda, and it is a blast! Before moving to Uganda, I had traveled here six other times in between my high school and college years. Ever since my first trip, I have always loved the country and particularly the community that we work in.  When we first started Action in Africa I was so young, fifteen to be exact. If you had told me back then that I would be living in Uganda and running Action in Africa full-time at 26, I probably would have laughed. So many wonderful pieces of Action in Africa have fallen into place organically without any predetermined plan. This is inclusive of my big move to Uganda a year and a half ago. 

"People always ask me what my personal plan is, and my simple response is, “My only plan is to be surprised.” And so far it has worked out beautifully!"

 

 

 Q: Is there a particular story that you connected with that drives you to pursue the work you’re doing?

A: The individuals we work with are absolutely what drive us to keep doing what we do. We pride ourselves on the quality of our work, opposed to the quantity. We are proud to know the individual stories of the kids we work with, all about their families, where they stay, when their birthdays are, and what keeps them up at night.

My favorite part about my job is watching these kids take control of their lives and actively chase after their own dreams and passions.  The first three kids we started working with are still actively involved with Action in Africa 10 years later. One just graduated from secondary school and is currently applying to university. Another is in his final year of secondary school and holds a leadership position at his school. And the other just rejoined secondary school after a much-needed break for soul searching and to realign his life. I couldn’t be anymore proud to be playing a role in their lives.  And these are just three out of the thousands we have had the pleasure to work with over the years. 

Q: What’s your daily schedule like?

A: There is no such thing as a consistent schedule at Action in Africa, which makes our jobs and our community center very exciting!  Since our community center is centrally located, we are surrounded by tons of schools. In the village we work in, creative based programs are often cut from the schools due to funding, standardized tests, or lack of teachers. So at The Center we offer the opportunity for schools to sign up for free art classes with their students. We host the schools in the morning, and in the afternoons we can be found rotating between secondary schools and one university to join our scholarship students for a weekly lunch and check-in. After school we host homework and tutoring sessions. Once the kids finish their homework, they enjoy a hot cup of porridge, and they participate in outdoor games like volleyball and soccer, or they use our library for free reading.

While most of our energy is focused on children, do have adult English classes in the evenings as well as a support group for women that meet every Friday.  This is a quick glance into the every day happenings at Action in Africa! 

Q: What are your hopes and plans for the future?

A: My hopes for Action in Africa are to continue doing what we are doing now but even better. We currently do not have plans to grow or expand but do have plans to continue working with our community, students, and parents. Once you grow, there is always the chance of losing the intimacy that you worked so hard to build.  I hope in the years to come, our secondary students successfully graduate from school and continue onto vocational programs, university, or even the work force. As an organization, we plan to continue providing the tools and resources needed to help develop Uganda’s next leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs. 

"People matter and we have a global obligation to our brothers and sisters to ensure that we all have access to basic human rights, such as education. This job has brought more joy and purpose to my life than I could have ever imagined. So chase after your passions and what brings you true happiness, even if it means leaving behind everything familiar and moving to Uganda. It’s so worth it!"

"People matter and we have a global obligation to our brothers and sisters to ensure that we all have access to basic human rights, such as education. This job has brought more joy and purpose to my life than I could have ever imagined. So chase after your passions and what brings you true happiness, even if it means leaving behind everything familiar and moving to Uganda. It’s so worth it!"

 

 

Comment

Q&A with Katie Hilborn

Comment

Q&A with Katie Hilborn

Katie Hilborn, founder of Global Orphan Prevention, is one of few voices in the nonprofit world that is helping to reshape how charities work. With sustainable solutions like education, social entrepreneurship opportunities, and health initiatives, GOP aids communities in overcoming poverty related issues long term.  Her work, which focuses on orphan and child trafficking prevention, keeps families together and thriving.  Look for the future release of her book, Guerilla Relief, to hear the story of relief efforts following the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

 Below is a quick interview with Katie.

What experiences led you to found GOP? 

Since graduating college in 2006, I began traveling to developing countries. Every summer, I would incorporate a volunteer project into my travels. I saw how the developing world lived and as a privileged American, I felt it was my duty to help. I loved making a difference so much that eventually, I applied to work for the United Nations and Save the Children. Unfortunately, such jobs require 10 years experience and a doctorate! It seemed like a Catch-22. So instead, I decided to start my own nonprofit.  

In the Summer 2011, I went to Nepal with the intention to do so. After traveling the country for several months, I found that 62% of children in orphan homes had living parents and so, this is how Global Orphan Prevention was born.

"Everyone was helping the orphan homes, but no one was helping the mothers."

Why work in Nepal? 

I was drawn to Nepal for the mountains, and once I arrived, I found that the people were some of the most hospitable and loving cultures that I had ever encountered. It just made sense to help them. The gratitude that I receive from them keeps me going; it's easy to help those that are genuinely thankful. 

 

If you had to tell someone about GOP who'd never heard of it before, what would you say?

In addition to tackling the root of problems, we are the future of how the world should look at charity. Instead of simply giving money, we offer sustainable solutions. We are constantly on the lookout for investments in income generation (called Social Entrepreneurship). This means, we will invest in business opportunities for the recipient so that they can become independent and free from the reliance on charity.  

"A charity dollar only has one life, but a social business dollar can be invested over and over again."

What have you learned from your work thus far?

 From a philanthropic point-of-view, I have learned that traditional charity and welfare is not sustainable. Many nonprofits, donors, and governments simply throw money at problems without taking into consideration how the issues will be resolved long after the charity dries up. The key is sustainability. Give the net, not the fish!

What are your hopes/plans for GOP in the future? 

I'm currently seeking a corporate sponsorship and/or grant so that we may continue our programs. In addition, I want to expand our reach to Ethiopia. It seems it's a part of the world that has been forgotten. I will travel there in the next 1-2 years for needs assessment.

Comment

Comment

Announcing our Spring Featured Organizations

Today, I’m excited to announce our amazing Spring Featured Organizations, Action in Africa & Global Orphan Prevention

Years ago, before (c)3 was even a thought, our hearts were bent to care for others the way these organizations do.  Although we didn’t know it at the time, one day we would be advocating for them through the platform of a philanthropic wine company.  Having completed two international adoptions of older children, we’ve often wondered what their lives would have looked like if the right people had intervened to prevent the circumstances that led to their adoption.  We’ll never fully know every detail of what brought our children to their respective orphanages.  Could something have been done to keep their biological family in tact?  What if an organization had offered their family members the opportunity of schooling, or job skills, or a small business loan?

Though adoption has been a difficult road at times, we’re blessed to have our sons.  They’ve taught us much about unconditional love, forgiveness, & resiliency with their positive outlook on life.  This experience inspires us to support organizations working to reverse the cycle of poverty with sustainable initiatives like education, employment, & empowerment.  I believe when we help others-help themselves we’ll begin to see progress in the fight against poverty related issues!

Please join us in supporting the incredible work of our featured organizations + stayed tuned for more information!

-Christen

 

Comment