Category Archives: Social Entrepreneurship

Spotlight on Kendra & PJ Hyett, Honorary Hosts of Spark’s Holiday Bash

Spark loves Millennials who are committed to philanthropy and actively making our world a more equitable place for all. Holiday Bash Honorary Hosts and Spark Members, Kendra & PJ Hyett epitomize our ideals. Kendra’s journey is one that encompasses all types of social impact, from volunteer to major philanthropist. Her husband PJ, Co-Founder of GitHub, is a role model philanthropist and ally for women and minority groups in the tech community. As an inspiration to us and the next generation of philanthropists, we wanted to learn more. We sat down with Kendra & PJ to learn more about their journey, passions, and Harry Potter floo powder.

What has led you on this journey of philanthropy and social impact? 

Both of our families have always been very dedicated to volunteering and giving back, so we were both instilled with the desire to give back how we could to our communities and the world around us. Once Kendra had the opportunity in her career path to shift to nonprofit work focused on grantwriting and grantmaking, we had the opportunity to apply that new knowledge of the nonprofit landscape plus new skills to more strategically plan our giving and desired social impact each year.

What causes are you most passionate about and why?

Women & girls empowerment, leadership training & access to quality education both locally and globally; access to quality healthcare; global human rights advocacy; tech training for underserved youth; entrepreneurship training; and animal adoption.

These causes are the near to our hearts due to either opportunities afforded to us, or issues we are passionate about and understand need development to provide steps towards deserved equality for underserved people (and animals who need homes like our own two dear rescue dogs).

What are next steps for you and PJ’s philanthropy? 

Expand our giving around leadership and tech training, economic empowerment, and access to reproductive healthcare in this crucial time for women, girls, and minority groups.

Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

We recently had our first child, so life has, and will be, changing a lot! In reflection of that, we want the world to continue to grow into a more compassionate, equal, and beautiful place for our baby girl and more kids to come. We plan to stay closely tuned to the needs of our community and the nonprofits in it doing such important work, and focus our giving and volunteering where we see the strongest needs, and the strongest potential for meaningful and lasting impact.

What advice do you have for other millennials interested in making social impact? 

Find organizations like SparkSF, GiveWell, or giving circles that resonate with your areas of interest to help guide your philanthropy and social impact choices. Making informed, strategic decisions takes more time and research, but it’s well worth it to focus your impact and get to feel connected with it.

What do you both love about Spark? 
We both love the amazing learning and leadership opportunities Spark provides to young professionals. The membership fee and opportunities fit so well into the busy lives of young professionals who care about being involved in making the world around them a better place, as well as improving their own skills, and meeting like-minded people in a city full of transplants.

What talent (or superpower!) would you like to have?

PJ – Teleportation

Kendra – Harry Potter floo powder… so basically, also teleportation.

What is the quality you most like in a fellow human being?

PJ – Sense of humor

Kendra – Compassion

Who are your heroes in real life?

PJ – My parents

Kendra – My parents, Gloria Steinem, Malala Yousafzai

Reflections: Spark’s Philanthropic Mentorship Series Launch

Reflections by Spark Member, David Scatterday

It was a distinct pleasure to participate in the inaugural installment of Spark’s Philanthropic Mentorship Series. Worthy of a truly notable launch, we were joined by philanthropic innovators Yann Borgstedt and Antonela Notari Vischer from the Womanity Foundation.

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Auspiciously, everything about the launch event of such a promising series was seamless.

First, a little about our guests: Womanity is an entrepreneurial foundation that thinks creatively to find solutions to today’s women’s empowerment challenges. Key topical areas of action include giving women and girls a voice, advancing education and opportunities, providing fellowships to emerging female social entrepreneurs.  As a man, Womanity’s founder Yann Borgstedt does not fit the traditional model of a woman’s empowerment pioneer. However, Yann understands that solving for women’s issues is a key part of solving every development issue around the globe.

Back to our scene: we were hosted in the headquarters of the Cordes Foundation, whose work is focused on alleviating global poverty and empowering women and girls to fully participate in the development of their communities.

In my mind, the event crystallized everything that is so great about Spark.

First, reinforcing its mission of empowering tomorrow’s philanthropic leaders, the event was custom-designed to engage millennials in real dialogue with real practitioners. Speaking with leading social entrepreneurs in the field triggered valuable dialogue about real solutions to pain points encountered by the aspiring millennial philanthropists and activists in the room.

Second, the event was infused by a deep sense of shared mission. While Spark and Womanity take relatively different approaches to programming and fundraising for women’s issues – it was very evident the two organizations share a deeply held common cause of empowering women around the world. This shared sense of mission added a tangible sense of relevance and urgency to the entire session’s dialogue.

Finally, over several years of involvement with Spark, I’ve realized that solving for women’s issues requires an ‘all-hands’ approach. In our increasingly globalized and resource-constrained world, every pressing social issue is a woman’s issue. Whether climate change, health care access or hunger, women are disproportionately impacted. Bringing about real change will require large-scale collective action – women and men working together to solve truly global problems.  Both Womanity and Spark are organizations that understand this and practice a large-tent approach to addressing social problems every day.

Last week’s mentorship session made me prouder than ever to be an active male, millennial philanthropist and Spark member, confirming that I, and everyone at Spark, are taking the right steps to meaningfully improve the welfare of women in this generation – and the next.

SparkSF Member Profile: Toni Alejandria

Toni Alejandria works as the website coordinator for the California Institute of Integral Studies and consults in design, marketing, and event planning for start-ups. She majored in Dance and Global and International Studies at UC Davis. In her free time, you can find Toni doing dance performances and fundraising for causes. She is a campaign manager for HackCancer and a Champion mentor for Groundwork Opportunities. She talks to us about how she got involved with Spark, flying planes, and Bear Grylls.SparkSF Member: Toni Alejandira

Toni’s Spark Story:
One of my friends introduced me to Spark and was convinced I would fall in love with the organization. After attending my first Spark mixer, she was right. It’s amazing connecting with so many people who have a passion for empowering women and supporting women’s initiatives around the world. I’m always impressed with the Spark members I meet and love being involved with their fundraising and event efforts.

Who is your favorite grantee?
Uganda Women’s Water Initiative, an organization that provides clean water training to women in rural communities of Uganda.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Traveling around the world photographing people and collecting art.

What talent (or superpower!) would you like to have?
Flying planes. (It’s on my bucket list.)

What is your most marked characteristic?
Making friends wherever I go. It’s no secret, I love meeting people!

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
The female equivalent of Bear Grylls.

What is the quality you most like in a fellow human being?
Ability to hold a conversation with a complete stranger.

What is your favorite journey?
Giving up everything to do an apprenticeship with a famous dance company in Israel. I never made it out there due to an injury, but during physical therapy, I learned so much about perseverance, dedication, and faith. It was the hardest year I’ve ever experienced, but I came out stronger is so many ways. That experience alone changed the course of my life and set me on the journey to where I am today.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Sheryl Sandberg, Lisa Bevere, Scott Harrison, and Bartlomiej Jan Skorupa.

The Hillary Project, Moonwalking in Pink and a Lemon Heroine

The Hillary Project, Moonwalking in Pink and a Lemon Heroine. This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

Authored By Spark Fellow: Linn Hellerstrom

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Vivienne Harr, Make A Stand, Lemon-Aid

 ENTREPRENEURSHIP: When life give you lemons, start a social enterprise. 

9 year-old philanthropist Vivienne Harr, founder of Start A Lemon-Aid Stand, doesn’t wait for summer to change the world. 365 days a year she sits curbside, selling lemonade to raise money to abolish child slavery. In just 6 months of operation, she raised over $100,000. This year she registered as a B Corp.

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U.S POLITICS: Violence gets political

“The Hillary Project”, a new animated game goading the player to slap the former Secretary of State, is a bad joke – funded by a conservative Super Pac. It also reflects a bigger issue concerning the justification of violence against women. Violence against women is no laughing matter.

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WOMENS RIGHTS: Gender Equality – the cheapest, fastest way to get food on the table

What’s the most cost-effective way to combat hunger? Gender Equality. Women play a big role in food production and small-scale farming around the world. When obstacles like gender discriminatory land and labor laws make it harder for women to farm, it impacts food security. Equal opportunity will end hunger.

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BUSINESS: Moonwalking in heels – “Mars Explorer Barbie”

Still pink. Still disproportionate. Check out NASA’s Barbie.

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GLOBAL: The “Virginity Institute” upholding the purity myth in Georgia  

Recent human rights report reveals that Georgia’s National Forensics Bureau performs as many as 200 “virginity inspections” a year. While some are used for evidence in rape and abuse cases, many families will paid up to $200 for receive a certificate confirming their daughter’s “purity”. Protesters using social media and the streets are demanding the government to end the archaic practice. In response, a member of Georgia’s gender-equality council stated, “If there’s a demand for this service, the government can’t forbid it”. 

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Talk it out, Brit Love Fest & Afghanistan’s Sheryl Sandberg

Talk it out, Brit Love Fest & Afghanistan’s Sheryl Sandberg . This is your Spark News Digest.

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Authored By Spark Fellow: Linn Hellerstrom

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Roya Mahboob Afghan Citadel Software Co

ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Afghanistan’s Sheryl Sandberg

Roya Mahboob, Afghan tech entrepreneur, is shattering the concrete ceiling. Her company, Afghan Citadel Software Co., has become the foundation for social change. In a country, where women’s literacy hovers at 15%, this business leader is using her acumen to change the state of education in her country. You can see why Time Magazine calls her one of their 100 Most Influential People.

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POLITICS: Love is legal in England and Wales

The royal baby isn’t the only thing to celebrate. Same-sex couples will be able to get married in England and Wales after a new measure became law. Tally Ho!

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U.S NEWS:  Violation of women’s rights within prison walls

Shockingly, 150 female inmates were sterilized in California prisons between 2006 to 2010. Hundreds more have been sterilized since 2000. This outrageous act is an unwanted reminder of the 70’s brutally forced sterilizations.

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POLITICS: Q: What do Boris Johnson and the Princeton Mom have in common?

A: Both are sexist and ridiculous. First, the Princeton Mom pens an open letter about the importance of finding a husband during college, then, Boris Johnson makes the same irresponsible suggestion. Boris and the Princeton mom should be sent to the Principle’s office to think about their comments.

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GLOBAL:  Communication Never Gets Old

Let’s talk it out. In deeply rooted cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), change making is difficult. When determined to do something about the widespread problem, a pro-women group in an Ethiopian village made remarkable achievements. Read about how their strategy of  “community conversations” led to effectively ending female genital cutting in their home village.

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Avon for Good, Mobile BFF’s & Lady Gaga’s Credo

Avon for Good, Mobile BFF’s, & Lady Gaga’s Credo. This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

Authored By Spark Fellow: Linn Hellerstrom

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Anat Binur, co-founder of MEET (Middle East Education Through Technology)

TECH: Can a mobile app help Israelis and Palestinians MEET in the middle?

MEET (Middle East Education Through Technology) – is a mobile app that helps Israeli and Palestinian students break both cultural and physical barriers. Anat Binur, co-founder, aims to help students forge bonds between students by studying programming, marketing, and strategic planning side by side.

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BUSINESS:  How do you say Ding Dong in Swahili?

 Avon Products inspires more than good looks. By applying Avon’s renown door-to-door business model, Living Goods, a non-profit, helps thousands of Ugandan micro-entrepreneurs earn an income while saving lives by selling anti-malaria medicine, clean burning stoves, solar-powered lamps, and sanitary supplies.

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GLOBAL: What one thing is holding Iranian women back from running for President? A word.

The Iranian constitution says that the president should be from political rejal, a word with adual meaning of politically qualified and men. Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi sheds light on why women aren’t qualified to run for president in Iran but why they still keep on registering as candidates. You can’t stop, nay, won’t stop the ladies from pursuing what’s right and fair.

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 U.S.  NEWSLady Gaga credo, “Baby, You Were Born This Way” Swings legal.

Delaware agrees. Their House recently approved a bill outlawing discrimination against transgender people. Now, the category of gender identity is among race, age, religion, and sexual orientation as protected non-discrimination categories.

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Nerd Crush: Saru Jayaraman

Behind The Kitchen Door

Post Authored By: Spark Fellow, Calli Rothberg

Being a foodie has its costs. Pork belly may entice you in, but there is a sordid underbelly in the U.S. restaurant industry. Human rights advocate and food justice powerhouse, Saru Jayaraman, is hell bent on changing restaurant employment and labor issues in America. Fighting brutally for the rights of underpaid and harshly treated workers, Jayaraman is a force to be reckoned with. She leads in educating the public on the importance of the treatment of those serving the food rather than the obsession with the grass-fed meat and organic vegetables being served.

Jayaraman’s passion for eradicating social injustices sparked during her childhood as a first generation American. In 1992 she co-founded a national young women’s organization, Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE). Later her work with post 9/11 displaced World Trade Center workers became the foundation of her latest project, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United). She has been making significant strides towards leading in the food justice movement ever since.

Jayaraman co-founded ROC-United in 2008 striving to improve the wages and working conditions of restaurant employees. One in 10 Americans work in the restaurant industry and ROC-United has led and won 13 major campaigns against high-profile restaurant companies. Seven million dollars was obtained in tips, wages, and significant policy changes for workers as Jayaraman’s triumphs continue to go off like fireworks. Incentivizing restaurant owners to create policy change and workers to speak up against improper conditions continues to motivate ROC-United.

Now Jayaraman wants to talk to you. In her acclaimed new book, Behind the Kitchen Door, Jayaraman uncovers the truth about eating out. Highlighting stories where workers with unpaid sick days equal H1N1 in our food. Her interview on Bill Maher caused an intriguing ruckus when giving a preview of the facts put forth in Behind the Kitchen Door. For the past 22 years minimum wage for tipped workers has been stuck at $2.13 per hour and women with children make up 70% of those earning such a trivial amount. These women serve hundreds of people a day, yet they are poverty stricken, unable to serve their own children at home. It’s statistics like these that give Jayaraman the drive and passion to make a change in this world we all live, eat, and breathe in.

SparkSF is thrilled to welcome Saru Jayaraman at our Investment Committee on June 26. Join us as we look behind the kitchen door and mobilize to create a just restaurant industry. Space is limited. Click the link below to purchase tickets. See you there!

http://sparksfkitchendoor.eventbrite.com/