Human and Social Services

Women's Issues

Empower a woman to lift herself out of poverty, CARE believes, and that woman can help her family—and her local community—build a better future. CARE works side-by-side with women in the poorest areas of the world to improve education, sanitation, and economic opportunity, as well as to prevent the spread of HIV. CARE also offers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters. Visit the site’s Web Features section to view photo and video galleries, where you can get a glimpse into the lives of real people who are overcoming poverty, hunger, and other hardships. For a truly interactive experience, embark on a virtual field trip, where you can “travel” with a CARE group by reading volunteer journal entries and viewing photos of their trip.

In Her Hands
Paola Gianturco and Toby Tuttle were so inspired by the strength and spirit of indigenous craftswomen—many living on less than $1 per day—that they flew around the world to meet some of them, ultimately interviewing 90 women in 12 countries. Their subsequent book, In Her Hands: Craftswomen Changing the World, and this corollary Web site celebrate the exquisite and often colorful work of indigenous craftswomen living in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The money these women raise selling their crafts feeds their families, educates their children, and sometimes has unexpected effects, such as boosting respect for women and decreasing domestic violence. The site features an online gallery of the women and their handiwork, including mirror embroidery from India, beadwork from Africa, and painted pottery from Peru. Visit You Can Help for information on how to get involved or the Events page for a listing of appearances and exhibitions around the country.

Pro Mujer
As their web site makes clear, Pro Mujer has confidence in women and their ability to be not just economic support, but economic drivers in Latin American societies. Pro Mujer uses microfinance, that trendy idea that is yielding tangible results all over the world, to create a women’s development network. Latin America’s poorest women are offered the means to build livelihoods for themselves and futures for their families through microfinance, business training, and healthcare support.

Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Society
Named for a courageous woman who lost her battle with breast cancer at age 36, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Society has become a leading voice in the fight against the disease. The organization supports research, education, and community-based programs, and spearheads fundraising events such as Komen Race for the Cure. The Web site—available in English or Spanish—offers reliable medical and other information for patients and survivors, as well as those who care about them. Visitors can also subscribe to the national organization’s e-newsletter, KomenLink, to get the latest medical news. The message boards are incredibly active on this site, with women reaching out to one another to share information and experiences, offer advice, and lend heartfelt support. To get a more local perspective, visitors can enter their ZIP code on the Home Page to link to a Komen affiliate in their area, where they can learn about nearby initiatives and events.

The Breast Cancer Fund
A call for action, the Breast Cancer Fund site strongly makes the point that breast cancer is now a public health crisis. Their well designed site succinctly delivers up to date information on current breast cancer research and outlines the actions that can taken to address the known preventable causes of the disease. An excellent resource for anybody concerned with breast cancer, the site links to events, articles, press coverage, reports, brochures and newsletters, to name a few. Knowledge is power.

Women for Women International
This innovative organization harnesses the power of sisterhood to dramatically change the lives of women in war-torn countries, from Afghanistan to Kosovo to Sudan. For a small monthly donation, participants can support a “sister” who is struggling to rebuild her life. Funds help provide her with food and water, medicine, job skills training, and even guidance in launching her own small business. Sponsors receive a photo of their sister and can even exchange letters with her to learn about her life and offer moral support. The clean, user-friendly Web site provides an overview of each country it works in, complete with maps, photos of local women, and updates. Visitors to the site can read letters from the field, send a personal message of support to women in one or more countries, and visit the online bazaar where they can buy handcrafted items made by program graduates (who receive proceeds from the sales). Women for Women International also publishes an e-newsletter for those who want to stay abreast of the organization’s activities.

Children and Youth Services

Annie E. Casey Foundation 
To honor his mother, a young widow who had struggled to raise her family, UPS founder Jim Casey created a Foundation which aims to shape a better future for disadvantaged children. The Annie E. Casey Foundation partners with decisions makers at all levels and offers grants to states, cities, and community groups to help create smart, effective and durable solutions to the many problems that cause and are caused by child poverty. The Foundation takes a two-level approach to its work: providing both direct services to children at-risk and working to reform the existing systems that address their needs. The site inventories the many Casey Foundation projects, including a state-by-state map of initiatives, as well as a “knowledge center” that presents a range of valuable data amassed from the Foundation’s decades of work.

Big Brother, Big Sister
For a child who is discovering who he or she is, having a trusted mentor can make all the difference. For 100 years, Big Brothers, Big Sisters has been matching kids aged 6 to 18 with volunteer adult mentors who meet once a week to talk, share, and just have fun. Big Brothers, Big Sisters now operates in all 50 states in the U.S. and in 35 other countries. The organization’s colorful, upbeat Web site features several real life stories of “Bigs” and “Littles” from around the country—with photos. Visitors can sign up for the organization’s e-newsletter, which spotlights Bigs and Littles, offers ideas for fun activities to share, and more.

Break the Cycle 
True to its name, this organization means to address domestic violence before it creates a cycle that spreads to future generations. The non-profit’s work therefore centers around teenagers; offering education and advocacy for young people confronted with aggression. Be it violence in the home or in the dating scene, Break the Cycle aims to empower teens through education, free legal services and peer leadership programs.

First Exposures
“Empowering youth through photography," this San-Francisco-based non-profit mentors kids from ages 11 to 18 who are living in precarious circumstances. Good old fashioned analog cameras and darkrooms are the tools that allow kids from a diversity of backgrounds to find a means of self-expression and self-confidence.

FotoKids Guatemala
6 young children living in Guatemala City’s sprawling dump were the first students of former Reuters photojournalist Nancy McGirr’s photography project. Over 20 years later, the non-profit organization that later became known as Fotokids has used technical training and artistic mentorship to help break the cycle of poverty for hundreds of kids in rural and urban Guatemala. Not only do Fotokids learn new skills that can serve them in the working world, they can also win academic scholarships from the project. Graduates of the Fotokids have gone on to become its teachers, and to travel the world giving workshops and exhibiting their work. Truly a life-changing project.

Fresh Eyes Project
The language on site is pretty direct: the kids that participate in the Fresh Eyes project have broken the law, are paying the price and their future looks grim unless they can find “a new way to look at the world.” This is what the New Mexico non-profit offers, lessons in the mechanics of taking pictures and mentorship in the art of self-expression. On the site, galleries of work chart progress as students learn to work with the medium and gradually come to envision a different way of living. The professional photographers that volunteer in this program have been consistently successful in creating positive change in the lives young offenders – to the point where it radiates out into their communities.

A Home Within
A Home Within, a national network of volunteer therapists, takes on the critical work of caring for foster care children, who are among the most vulnerable and least supported kids in our society. The organization recruits licensed volunteer mental health professionals to provide free therapy sessions to a foster child “for as long as it takes.” Working in 22 states with 50 chapters nation-wide, these therapists, under the supervision of Clinical Directors and Consultation Group Leaders, make sure that foster children are seen, heard and supported.

The House is Small
The House is Small – But The Welcome is Big is an open-hearted revelation on the lives women and children affected by AIDS in South Africa and Mozambique, documented in their own photographs. Initiated by Venice Arts, an organisation known for its dynamic community-based art mentoring and education programs in Los Angeles, The House is Small brings together American photographers and filmmakers with HIV positive women in Cape Town and children orphaned by AIDS in Maputo. As the participants learned to use film and photography to communicate their experience of daily life, the projects evolved into powerful and genuine stories to be presented for the education of others. Indeed, both the film made by the children of Maputo and the images created by the women in Cape Town have been exhibited at the UN, and in venues around the world.

Images of Child Labor 
No doubt inspired by Lewis Hine’s revelatory and transformative photographs of child labor in 19th century, this project aims to give faces and stories to some the millions of children who are put to work, often in hazardous and dangerous conditions, while also exploring the complex factors that have created their situations. Child Labor and the Global Village: Photography for Social Change is a project that put a team of 11 photographers in the field to photograph child workers around the world, and to take account of the individual contexts and stories of each. The result is a traveling exhibition that has been shown in venues from the U.S. Congress, and American universities and schools to venues in Bangladesh. Some of these unsentimental and often intense stories are previewed on the site, and should be seen.

Save the Children 
Save the Children has a long history of matchmaking—that is, matching caring donors with children around the world who need their help. The organization protects and fights for the rights of children who face poverty and crisis, from armed conflict to natural disasters to abuse, in more than 100 countries. In all cases, Save the Children works closely with the local community to ensure each child’s health and happiness. The content on this well-organized site is supplemented with slideshows and videos to highlight the group’s work. Visitors to this site can search for a deserving child to sponsor (and see photos) or can simply sponsor a project. Kids can even get involved by ordering a Moneybox for fundraising or entering Save the Children’s Art Contest.

One Shot Project
A peaceful and positive initiative that relies on the transformational power of photography, One Shot Project addresses the needs of children coming of age in Iraq, a region that has seen conflict for a generation, through the art and craft of photography. The organizers of seek out children that living in particularly adverse conditions, proposing photo workshops that could then open up educational and vocational opportunities for those who wish to pursue them. The skills learned in One Shot can help kids process their wartime experiences while opening up future employment opportunities.

PLAN International
Over the course of its long history, PLAN has become a very well-established and respected NGO deals with the both the chronic and acute concerns of children, including bettering education, improving basic health care, insuring access to clean water and sanitation, promoting economic security, and encouraging children’s participation in debates that involve them, and crucially, ongoing relief campaigns for the many natural disasters that affect children around the world. The organization views aide to children as a way of defending their basic rights human beings, and the language of the site reinforces the idea that with help, children can empower themselves and change their lives. A PLAN for the long term.

St Jude Children's Research Hospital 
A pediatric hospital that was founded by entertainer Danny Thomas—and is now actively promoted by his daughter, actress Marlo Thomas—St. Jude’s gives new hope to children who have the toughest cases of cancer and other serious illnesses. A top research institute that also claims to be the nation’s third largest healthcare charity, St. Jude’s uses the most advanced treatments and has a history of helping children who have been deemed incurable by other institutions. Patients are accepted regardless of ability to pay, and St. Jude is the only pediatric research center that fully pays for lodging, food, and travel for patients and their families. This dynamic site offers guidance for referring physicians, information for patients and parents—including impressive multimedia presentations on various medical topics—and a directory of volunteer events.

Unicef Photo Essays
The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, UNICEF, founded with the mission to secure the rights of every child, makes excellent use of the photo essay to illustrate the dynamics of several important children’s issues. UNICEF’s worldwide endeavors lead it to address both local concerns, such as helping children recover from a natural disaster, to broader campaignssuch as global immunization. This substantial collection of essays is divided into categories such as Child Protection, Early Child Survival, HIV/AIDS, Water, Environment and Sanitation, and from the way the images are captioned it is clear that essays can also serve as teaching tools. As useful as they are, the photo essays offer something more: a meaningful chronicle of evolving issues for children worldwide, and a precious window into the lives of individual children.

UNICEF - United States Fund 
For over 50 years, American schoolchildren have been going door-to-door to raise money for UNICEF. The dimes and dollars they collect—as well as corporate and other donations—ultimately transform the lives of kids in more than 150 sites, from Afghanistan to Colombia to Swaziland. In times of war, conflict, and natural disaster, UNICEF reunites children with their parents, provides kids with nutrition and health care, keeps schools running, and helps ensure that children have safe places to play. At this information-rich, interactive site, visitors can view photo essays (with captions) or take “virtual field trips” with UNICEF celebrity ambassadors via slide shows. Kids will want to visit the Youth Action Center and link to Voices of Youth, where they can play educational games, discuss issues with other kids, enter contests, and find out about local events.


Annenberg Foundation
One of the country’s largest private family foundations, the well-respected Annenberg Foundation has focused its considerable grantmaking power on education. If this seems like a broad subject, it is, and the Foundation addresses the need for education broadly: education and youth development, arts, culture and humanities, civic and community life, health and human services, animal services and the environment are areas in which Annenberg has invested in projects and allied itself with other philanthropic institutions. The Foundation invites grant seekers, who must be non-profit organizations, to look through the files of past grant recipients and their projects to get a sense of the work they support. The scope of Annenberg’s involvement is impressive; international collaborations line up alongside local initiatives to help restructure and reform public schools.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – Education
Along his wife Melinda, the famous software tycoon Bill Gates has undertaken a project that is amazingly ambitious in scope: tackling inequities in global health, education, and technology. Based on the guiding principle that every human life has equal value, the Gates personally manage their $28 billion dollar foundation which acts as catalyst by giving grants to organizations (governments, private sector and non-profits) that aim to create positive long term change. The Foundation’s education initiative aims to dramatically raise the national high school graduation rate – across the board. A variety of scholarship programs are bolstered by the Foundation’s careful research on successful educational strategies and constant evaluation of its own work.
It’s hard to believe the scale and vision of this enterprise, but the modest-yet-focused tone of the Foundation’s web site helps us believe that this work could be as profoundly influential as Microsoft has been.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – Libraries
Along his wife Melinda, the famous software tycoon Bill Gates has undertaken a project that is amazingly ambitious in scope: tackling inequities in global health, education, and technology. Based on the guiding principle that every human life has equal value, the Gates personally manage their $28 billion dollar foundation which acts as catalyst by giving grants to organizations (governments, private sector and non-profits) that aim to create positive long-term change. The Foundation’s Global Libraries initiative seeks to bridge the “digital divide,” both nationally and internationally, through no-cost access to information technologies in public libraries and grants for replacing older computers. As public libraries are often the first and only place that many people can have access to computers, these simple and direct plans may change many lives in a profound way.

Learning Disabilities Association of America
This is the largest national organization dedicated to advocacy for individuals with learning disabilities and supporting their families. The LDA is a non-profit volunteer organization that has over 200 state and local affiliates in 42 states and Puerto Rico. According to the site, the membership, composed of individuals with learning disabilities, family members and concerned professionals, advocates for the almost three million students of school age with learning disabilities and for adults affected with learning disabilities.

Proliteracy Wolrldwide
This organization is teaching thousands of people to read throughout the United States and in more than 60 developing countries. But ProLiteracy Worldwide doesn’t stop there. The group also uses literacy as a foundation to improve people’s health, education, economic independence, and human rights. Those who would like to learn to read and write—as well as those who would like to volunteer teach—can click on “Find a Program” to locate opportunities in their community. The organization’s quarterly newsletter, LiteracyAdvocate, is available online and runs uplifting stories about how the group’s work is changing lives in the U.S. and abroad. This site is chock-full of information, even if some is a bit embedded.

Scholarship America
Believing that “college doesn’t happen by chance,” Scholarship America has awarded over $1 billion to deserving students who have the drive - but not the dollars - to get a college degree. The organization spearheads community-based scholarship fundraising, helps companies set up tuition reimbursement programs, and more. Students seeking financial help can use the site to find a chapter in their area, while community leaders can start a local chapter. Visitors can also peruse the group’s newsletter, The Scholar.

Teach for America
This project addresses head on one of the most intractable problems of our society: the education gap that divides the nation along socioeconomic and racial lines. Wendy Kopp, a 21-year-old Princeton graduate, designed Teach for America as her graduate thesis. The idealist then went on to implement her plan to offer quality education to low-income communities by recruiting hundreds of top college graduates committed to teaching in inner-city schools. Teach for American has had a definite impact, for the students who receive the attention of committed teachers, for the schools that now have a steady supply of highly qualified teachers, and for society in general that is learning that idealistic action can change things. In a sign that Teach for America has become a force to be reckoned with, Wendy Kopp was recently interviewed on the Colbert Report!

Arts and Culture

Art Works Project
Working with major philanthropic organizations such as Humanity United, the Open Society Institute and United Nations Development Fund for Women, Art Works Projects (AWP) uses art and design as creative tools to advocate for human rights. AWP designs exhibitions, books, recordings, films that address major international issues such as the situation in Darfur, blood diamonds and forced labor. Most of AWP’s projects employ photography as a means to reach and raise the awareness of the widest international audience possible.

Charity Buzz
Pairing the “satisfaction of getting with the reward of giving” Charitybuzz puts a slate of once-in-a-lifetime experiences and incredible luxuries up for bid, with the proceeds going to a variety of charities. The items up for bid are impressive, to say the least: power lunches with Fortune 500 CEOs, walk-on roles in films with Hollywood A-listers, a weekend at Richard Branson’s island get-away and back-stage meetings with major rock stars. The intention at Charity Buzz is clearly philanthropic (the many charities helped by the Charitybuzz formula are listed on the site), but be prepared to find far less information and emphasis on the “giving” side of the equation.

The Detainee Project
An unusual and powerful alliance of artistic and legal contributors calls attention to the still-evolving story of Iraqis detained by the American contractors during the war. The legal and moral injustices of these detainments are explained by the lawyers working on the lawsuits brought by the victims, while a number of writers and visual artists such as photographer and Soros Grant winner Chris Bartlett, explore the intimate and often unbearably graphic details of these men’s imprisonment and their lives in the aftermath. The Detainee Project speaks out about the ongoing injustice of a story that has disappeared from the headlines, but remains current for those that lived it and for those who question its effect on America’s moral leadership in human rights issues.

Global Compassion
Global Compassion sent out a call to documentary photographers world-wide, asking for Photo Essays that explore the human condition, and what they received is complex, fascinating and very human collection of stories. The concept may sound rather grandiose, but it is in the details that this project really shines. The participating photographers are clearly fascinated with their subjects, and the moments in time they are capturing. Global Compassion has seen no activity since 2008, so the site functions more like an eclectic archive of essays that delve into topics as divers as cast discrimination in Japan and a Saturday night in a Cornish social club.

Open Society - Arts Initiatives
Financier-philanthropist George Soros envisions a world where respect rules—respect of the individual and respect of the institutions of democracy. The Open Society Institute, Soros’s contribution towards shaping this world, is a grant-making foundation that “aims to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform.” It does this through financial support of local and international projects (including photographic projects), but also by implementing a range of initiatives that deal with issues that are truly impressive in scope: freedom and democracy, human rights, education, public health, and access to care, as well as transparency and access to information. If these goals seem improbably ambitious, check the Web site for a list of the organization’s accomplishments and works in progress - viewable by issue area or geographic region - and be impressed. Visit the Resource Center to read in-depth reports and analysis. Individuals and organizations seeking funding should visit the Grants, Scholarships, & Fellowships page.

Participant Media
This independent movie production company “ believes that a good story well told can truly make a difference in how one sees the world.” They have backed this belief with some very strong feature films, including “Good Night, and Good Luck,” which in turn, have inspired an associated web site, TakePart, where the issues addressed in Participant’s films are presented as campaigns that can and should be acted upon.

Photo Sensitive
This project makes the case for photography as an instigator of positive change, bringing volunteer photojournalists into partnerships with local charities and major international NGOs in order to illustrate a social cause and affect change from the ground up. Founded by Toronto Star photographer Andrew Stawicki and graphics editor Peter Robertson, Photo Sensitive explores causes such as HIV in Africa and child poverty in Canada. The non-profit’s intelligently designed website displays narrated slide shows of each of PhotoSensitive’s projects, outlining the situation as well as how photography helped to change it. The results of this work are tangible; students are mentored, food banks are funded, hospitals receive donations, but perhaps more importantly, people are given a chance to experience the personal stories behind the larger social issues.

Proof’s non-profit’s project bring together writers, photographers and filmmakers to shed light on some very difficult issues that transcend borders and cultures. Proof’s traveling exhibitions on subjects such as rape and sexual violence, child soldiers and genocide, use the power of visual storytelling to confront the silence and obscurity that often shroud these issues. The shared experience revealed in Proof exhibitions is one of the elements that make these projects such effective teaching tools. The stories are universal, the characters are familiar and speak to audiences across cultural divides. This is a brilliant and truly useful approach to humanitarian aid.

Formerly Participate, makes the activist in all of us want to get past our good intentions and take some action. TakePart presents issues related to current Participant films such as sexual harassment, dependence on foreign oil, and the decline of the independent spirit of journalism. Each issue is treated as a campaign and articles and discussions about the topic are bracketed with ways to take action and links to supporting organizations. An outstanding example of e-activism.