#GivingTuesday My Top 4

Today is the 4th #GivingTuesday, a day following the tradition of Black Friday and Cyber Monday with a twist: it’s a day to celebrate giving and to focus our collective and individual attention on how we can contribute to our community and our world. To celebrate this day and important month of giving, I’ve chosen to highlight 4 non-profit organizations that are doing incredible work locally (in and around Cleveland, Ohio where I am located), nationally, and internationally. These are presented in no particular order and this is just a small sample of the organizations that I believe are worthy of support. The views expressed here are my own based on my varying levels of involvement and experiences with these organizations. I encourage you to learn more about these organizations, consider getting involved, and consider giving if these resonate with you as part of #GivingTuesday or any time.


Locations: New York City, Laos, Guatemala, and Ghana offices.

Mission/Belief Statement: “We believe every child should have access to quality education. We create schools, programs and global communities around the common goal of education for all.”

Why I support Pencils of Promise (PoP):

It would be impossible to list all of the reasons here, so I’ll just explain a few. I have been supporting PoP for 4 years and have seen this organization grow from a small school building organization that aimed to bring quality education and suitable structures for learning to countries in Southeast Asia, Central America, and Africa to quite an important entity working on education in the developing world. They have built more than 300 schools but they also provide student scholarships to attend secondary school, additional training to teachers hired by education ministries in the areas they work, and hygiene and sanitation programming to help keep students healthy.

PoP is innovative, data-driven, and staffed by locals from the areas they work in who know the communities better than anyone else ever could. PoP believes that quality education is the key to individuals being able to achieve their fullest potential and that where someone lives should not dictate whether they have the opportunity to learn and live the life he/she imagines and I agree.

Some Ways You Can Get Involved/Additional Resources:

  1. Join me and become a Pencils of Promise Passport member and you’ll get an exclusive look into PoP’s work and impact.
  2. Support PoP’s Season of Promise campaign and help toward the goal of building 30 schools in Ghana this holiday season.
  3. Read the #PoPbook for more on Pencils of Promise, its founder, and how you can reach your own goals to make an impact on the world.

Website and Social Media links: https://pencilsofpromise.org/, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and on Snapchat: pencils_promise.

DLDT new logo

Locations: Cleveland, OH and Uganda offices

Mission: “Drink Local. Drink Tap., Inc.™ is a not-for-profit organization that inspires individuals to recognize and solve our water issues through creative education, events, and providing safe water access to people in need.”

Why I support Drink Local. Drink Tap. (DLDT):

I love that DLDT focuses efforts locally and globally and does so largely through its volunteer base and incredible founder/executive director. DLDT’s work is made up of three main pillars: access, education, and activism. The access piece means that they build sustainable water projects and powerful relationships in Uganda. Locally, they provide educational programming to greater Cleveland school children and teens teaching them ways to value and protect our Great Lake as well as ways to bring clean water to students like them in Uganda. DLDT also hosts monthly beach cleanups throughout much of the year and has a fun and interactive 4 mile run, 1 mile walk race yearly in May. I love that DLDT focuses efforts locally and globally and does so largely through its volunteer base and incredible founder/executive director.

Some Ways You Can Get Involved/Additional Resources:

  1. Give the gift of water and a gift to your family members/friends/co-workers at the same time.
  2. Watch DLDT’s documentary, “Making Waves from Cleveland to Uganda.”
  3. Listen to DLDT founder, Erin Huber talk about some of her work in Uganda

Website and social media links: http://drinklocaldrinktap.org/, Facebook, Twitter, InstagramYouTube.

LtN logo good

Locations: Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ohio, and Virginia

Mission: “Lacrosse the Nations unifies the lacrosse community to sustainably improve education and health while creating joy and opportunity for children in need.”

Why I support Lacrosse the Nations (LtN):

While LtN has been fueled by former and current professional lacrosse players and receives much of its attention from the lacrosse community at all levels of the game and I do not fit those classifications, the work they do transcends lacrosse and sports in general. They use lacrosse as the conduit to teach students life lessons, they provide meals to students, and their programming serves as an outlet and means to have fun in the midst of some challenging circumstances. LtN programming has at times served as the only physical education classes students were receiving in Nicaragua. I also love that LtN is investing in the futures of some of the local coaches they have worked with by providing some university scholarships. After learning of LtN and its founding members, I was able to experience some of the magic of the sport through watching some professional Major League Lacrosse games in Ohio and I’m glad that it is being used to support education and health internationally as well as domestically.

Some Ways You Can Get Involved/Additional Resources:

  1. Volunteer with LtN and its partner organizations in Nicaragua or Costa Rica to gain valuable skills and put some of your current skills to the test.
  2. Inform a lacrosse team near you (or maybe your own) about how you can use your games or hold events to support LtN.
  3. Help fund part of a university scholarship for one of LtN’s local coaches, support the nutrition program, or give any amount you can to support LtN.

Website and social media links: http://lacrossethenations.org/, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube.

GBU logo

Locations: Cleveland, Ohio and nationally

Mission: “Getting Back Up seeks to help those living with a spinal cord injury by improving their quality of life TODAY. The focus is on providing goods and services which can help make a difference in someone’s immediate situation.”

Why I support Getting Back Up:

I became familiar with Getting Back Up a few years ago after I attended a speech given by its founder, Scott Fedor about, among other things, how his incredible drive and outlook helped him literally fight for his life after sustaining a spinal cord injury in 2009. Since that time, I’ve learned that there is simply not enough support for individuals who become injured in this way to help them continue living life and thrive to new heights following the injury. The aftermath of an injury is unimaginable to me and to many of you who may read this, but what makes it worse is knowing that with the long road to recovery ahead, there are barriers to services and technologies that can make the future so much brighter. People like Scott are often deemed simply “inspirations” and while I cannot disagree with that, I think there is something missing from the notion. We can be inspired by his (and others in similar situations’) incredible fortitude, but we must also recognize that they have much more to offer than that inspiration. They deserve (and we all deserve) to be able to work toward accomplishing our goals and, if we choose to, help others do the same. That is something Scott has always understood and something that we can help him do through our support of Getting Back Up because it is an organization working to remove some of the barriers that exist specifically for those with spinal cord injuries to getting back up and becoming their best selves.

Some Ways You Can Get Involved/Additional Resources:

  1. See who Getting Back Up has supported so far.
  2. Get connected to resources for individuals with spinal cord injuries
  3. Read about The Quad and see if you or someone you know can help move the idea and plans forward.
  4. Follow Scott’s blog about his own experiences living with a SCI and just living his every day life as well as occasional Getting Back Up updates.

Website and social media links: http://www.gettingbackup.org/, FacebookTwitter

Images are not my own and were obtained from each organization’s website. The Giving Tuesday photo is from givingtuesday.org.