April 25, 2012

GIG Social Good Spotlight: College Possible

Go Inspire Go is proud to present this month’s Social Good Spotlight, to raise awareness of organizations doing good in their communities in order to inspire others to take action and ultimately make real social change. Featured organizations are identified with the help of GreatNonprofits, the leading developer of tools that allow people to find, review, and share information about great - and perhaps not yet great - nonprofits. For more information and to read past Social Good Spotlights, click here.

GIG Social Good Spotlight:
College Possible - Opening a World of Opportunity

"As a sophomore in high school, I had no plans on going to college. I didn't think it was possible for a low-income, first generation student to go to college. Joining [College Possible] for my junior and senior years changed my life…As a now sophomore in college, I credit my success to [College Possible] as a whole and the wonderful coaches they employ. I am now a social work major hoping to make a difference in people's lives.” – Michelle I.

What is College Possible?
College Possible (formerly Admission Possible) is a nationally-growing nonprofit organization that makes college admission and success possible for low-income students through coaching and support. College Possible targets low-income students in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN and Milwaukee, WI. Founded in 2000, 98% of its students have earned admission to college and nearly 80% of enrolled students are working toward their college degree or have already graduated. Two external evaluations conducted in 2005 and 2009 further proved these excellent results and the foremost associations in the college admission field recognized College Possible with their 2009 awards of excellence.

What inspires College Possible to do this work?
Jim McCorkell, founder and CEO of College Possible, put into action his life-long passion to make college admission and success possible for low-income kids. In his home state of Minnesota, working out of the spare bedroom in his St. Paul apartment, Jim and early supporters picked a name and a logo, recruited a Board of Directors and began fundraising.

College Possible was founded on three fundamental beliefs:
• Many low-income high school students lack the resources to compete effectively for admission to colleges and universities.
• Colleges and universities are very interested in admitting students from low-income backgrounds, but have difficulty identifying and attracting them.
• In an increasingly diverse and global economy, the economic stability and competitiveness of theUnited States requires a highly educated workforce.

How can GIGSTERS get involved and support College Possible?
Volunteer as a mentor in the office for one of their programs, or with their external relations team
Work with Americorps

College Possible Graduation 2011:

Making College Possible:

Find more Social Good Spotlights here.  If you know of an organization that you think should be featured, please help us forward their stories to inspire the world and contact us.

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April 15, 2012

Tea with Toan: Princess Tirelo and NBA Team Up to Inspire Confidence in Youth (VIDEO)

Name: Princess Tirelo Molotlegi
Occupation: Princess of the Royal Bafokeng Nation, Phokeng, South Africa
Power: Using connections and community influence to inspire school children
Catalyst: Belief that everyone should have opportunity
Tea: English breakfast

Mentors gift passports out of undesirable situations.

When we first moved from Saigon, Vietnam to America, my parents left a bustling construction business only to land on US soil with $4 dollars in their pocket. All 10 of us crammed into a trailer. We moved from one bad neighborhood to another. Aside from my voracious appetite for reading, the only other thing that helped me realize my potential was grandmother "Ma," my paternal grandmother -- a woman who never had the opportunity to go to school, yet "Ma" was my wisest mentor who inspired spirituality and values.

I believe that the equation to sparking positive change goes something like this:
Youth + Education + Mentorship = Change

When I told people that I was interviewing Tirelo Molotlegi, a “real” Princess, I got a lot of "Wows!" However, what I was honestly more excited about was learning about her family's NBA/Youth mentorship program and her zest to use her voice to help others discover their own.

I am honored to present a special edition of Tea with Toan, instead of a recorded Skype conversation -- I decided to take this interview offline and interview Princess Tirelo Molotlegi in person about her Royal family's collaboration with the National Basketball Association. I wanted to learn more about their efforts to expand a successful after school NBA basketball/mentoring program in Phokeng, South Africa.

Princess Tirelo was interested in doing an interview with Go Inspire Go (GIG) because we share the same passion of helping others -- GIG's mantra: "Discover and use your power to help others." Tirelo echoed our sentiments; "We all have a purpose on this earth, in the world. I know my purpose is to reach out to people to make a difference."

Her message: "Don't give up! We all go through tough times, challenges. When you fall, it's hard to find a way of rising. Once you can define how to rise, that is going to define who you become."

We met at the Mark Hopkins Hotel perched high atop Nob Hill in San Francisco, CA for afternoon tea and to talk about how she is using her power of connecting the youth and NBA to bring a special after school program that serves youth in several schools of the Bafokeng Nation.

For two to three hours a day, five days a week, three retired NBA players mentor a dozen youth, giving them one-on-one attention as well as group training through basketball. Basketball is the entry point in which the kids learn essential life lessons such as the importance of teamwork, confidence, self esteem, motivation and of course, exercise.

Princess Tirelo admits she was surprised that the kids took such a liking to basketball since the big sports in that region are rugby and soccer. She believes one major factor in the interest and success of the program is the attention, support and love each student receives from the coaches.

Just one year old, the NBA program led by her brother, King Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi, has changed the lives of the students in remarkable ways. "Aside from keeping kids out of trouble, [the kids] learn that it is okay to be their authentic selves, confident. It's about believing in yourself and caring for others," Princess Tirelo said with fervor.

When Princess Tirelo talks about the youth and how they're growing more into their potential everyday, her eyes light up and her voice becomes more commanding. Her passion is to ignite confidence, leadership and love amongst the kids who she calls, "our future."

Princess Tirelo says they have big plans on expanding the program and getting more NBA involvement with the goal of engaging, educating and inspiring these future leaders to discover what makes them authentically special, then inspiring them to use their talents to give back to the community.

"If we grow them right, we will have a better future for our country."

I was so impressed by how authentically down to earth and excited Princess Tirelo is (she even tried to help us move the furniture back after the interview) and am equally enthralled by her enthusiasm about inspiring the youth.

Without her and her family's influence, the trajectory of the "future" she serves would be forever changed. Likewise, without "Ma's" mentorship, I wouldn't be where I am today both personally and professionally. Her love illuminated what would become a brighter future for me.

How do you fit into the equation of change?
What can YOU do?!

Immerse Yourself:

1) Donate to support education in Africa:

Thuto Thebe Educational Trust (Means "Education as a shield" in Setswana Language)

The trust is driven by the vision and leadership of The Queen Mother of the Royal Bafokeng Nation, Dr. Semane Molotlegi

2. Volunteer your program design or business development skills to Thuto Thebe Trust

3. Become a strategic partner

Please address inquiries to Princess Tirelo:
Email: thutothebe@bafokeng.com

*If you or someone you know wants to be considered for an interview, send us an email: info@goinspirego.com

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April 11, 2012

GIG SPARK: Spreading Peanut Butter Sandwich

While in San Francisco, 15-year-old Bailey Branham was sad to see so many homeless people while on the way to summer school. She realized many of them were holding signs asking for food. Bailey heard about Go Inspire Go's GIG Spark (Youth Lesson on Compassion Program) and took action.

"As a student, I don't work, so I don't have much money, but I could afford a peanut butter sandwich," she explained. So she bought a loaf of bread, sandwiched some peanut butter and love in between the slices and headed out to busy, bustling downtown San Francisco to hand them out to homeless people along Market Street. Besides inspiring you to give what is in your power, Bailey also wants you to tell them to "have a great day." You can see from her GIG Spark video how something as small as a peanut butter sandwich sparked so many smiles and gratitude! What a sweet idea, even without the jam!


We hope this video inspires you to do something nice for someone in need in your community in the next 24 hours.

Gigster: Bailey Branham
Where: San Francisco
Spark: Giving peanut butter sandwiches to the homeless.
Your Turn: What thoughtful deed can you do to help others in need? Do it and share with us. We may just share your GIG SPARK video with the world!


As part of GIG's mission to inspire our viewers to discover their power, we developed GIG Spark: A Lesson on Compassion. We want you to identify a problem in your community and be the change by capturing your action in a short 1-1:30 minute video. The goal is to inspire action in everyone that witnesses your good deed.

We're inviting YOU and your community (school, organization, friends, etc.) to use your passion and creativity to produce a "GIG Spark" and inspire viewers with your story. This is for anyone who can shoot and edit short videos.

Inspiration can be fun and infectious! We believe in the power of small acts and using technology to crowdsource ideas, capture it on video, spread the word online, and inspire immediate action. We know that people (especially youth) care and want to do something good for others, but just don't know how. So why not teach compassion to kids and adults in your life? This is a quick way for you to use your power to spark civic engagement and inspire a small ripple of kindness that will create a domino effect…

We can't wait to see inspiring acts popping up all over the state, country, and world! What can YOU do?

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