March 28, 2013

GIG Social Good Spotlight: African Library Project

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.  For more information and to read past Social Good Spotlights, click here.

GIG SOCIAL GOOD SPOTLIGHT: African Library Project – Changing Lives Book by Book

Compiled by Marcia Estarija Silva


What is the African Library Project?
The African Library Project (ALP) coordinates book drives in the United States to start libraries in rural Africa.  The organization has learned that all it takes to create a library in Africa is “1,000 books, $500, and some elbow grease.”  In the United States, its volunteers arrange book drives for gently-used children’s books and raise modest funds for shipping expenses in local schools and neighborhoods, then collect, sort, and pack these books to reach ALP’s partners in Africa.  Its African partners – from Peace Corps volunteers to school administrators - receive the books and organize them into libraries to serve local African communities. Along the way, donors learn about Africa and develop real connections to the people benefiting from their contributions.  To date, over one million books have been donated and 985 libraries have been set up in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Cameroon, Lesotho, Nigeria, Botswana, Swaziland, Malawi and Ghana by ALP and its partners.


What inspires the African Library Project to do this work?
“I’ve traveled and lived in 60+ countries. I’ve discovered how lucky I was to have been born in a developed country.  I haven’t had to spend my life getting out of extreme poverty...Getting out of poverty without an education is almost impossible.  Getting an education without books or information is also nearly impossible.  I am working towards making the impossible possible for those who need it most,” Chris Bradshaw, African Library Project founder, said in a recent post on Communicate Good.

The African Library Project was started in 2005 by Bradshaw and her family from Portola Valley, California. During a family vacation, they visited remote villages in Lesotho, a small mountainous kingdom in Southern Africa where about 40% of the population lives below the international poverty line of US $1.25 a day.  From this experience, Chris decided to work towards ending the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. She realized that the simple act of establishing libraries with gently used books would have a huge impact in increasing literacy, and she worked closely with local teachers and community leaders to make it happen.

Chris Bradshaw, African Library Project founder

How can GIGSTERS get involved and help the African Library Project?
- Start a book drive – Read the African Library Project’s Book Drive guidelines and get ideas from other book drive organizers by clicking here.
- Make a donation; click here to find out how.
- Volunteer your energy and skills – To see a list of open positions in the United States, click here.



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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March 25, 2013

Seven Crowdfunding Campaigns That Inspired Us: GIG’s Journey Towards Our First Crowdfunding Campaign

Go Inspire Go is proud to present a weekly blog series written by GIG Board Member Connie Chan Wang every week leading up to our 50 Stories in 50 States Indiegogo Campaign launching on April 24. Our goal is to give you a behind-the-scenes look into our world as we prepare for our crowdfunding campaign and to inspire you to join us on this revolution -- this movement to inspire!

By Connie Chan Wang

I’ve always been a believer in the power of storytelling to change the world. I met Go Inspire Go founder Toan Lam while I was at Yahoo! working on a campaign to leverage the power of Yahoo! to inspire people to take positive action. I was so inspired by his story and his work that I wanted to help in any way I could. I’ve been on the Advisory Board of Go Inspire Go for the past two years and am excited to help take the organization to the next level with our upcoming Indiegogo campaign.


As the lead for this campaign, one of the first “assignments” I gave our volunteer team was for each person to share their favorite successful crowdfunding campaign. This list of seven crowdfunding campaigns has been our guiding light ever since.



1. BAYCAT: The Show Must Go On!

  • BAYCAT is a nonprofit led by the amazing Villy Wang that educates, empowers and employs underserved youth in the digital media arts. When all of their students’ laptops were stolen last year, they started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $50,000 to replace them and they raised over $51k.
  • We were inspired by the incredible work they do, their passion for the community and the urgency with which they went about stirring people to action.

  • 2. You Inspire - Launch Nonprofit Movement

  • YouInspire is a nonprofit that features videos of survivors and those currently facing serious medical challenges who wish to share their stories of hope, support, and inspiration. They met their goal of $20k.
  • This campaign first caught our attention because their organization includes the word “inspire”. Turns out we’re kindred spirits as they’re also using the power of storytelling and media to make a positive impact.

  • 3. SoundOven, Youth Media in Action

  • This campaign was started by students of the advanced music production class at the Media Arts Collaborative Charter School in Albuquerque, NM. After one of their fellow students died in her father’s arms after a heroin overdose, they raised over $10k to create an album of original hip-hop aimed at educating teens about the dangers of heroin.
  • The visual look behind the scenes and touching personal stories shared throughout this campaign really drew us in.

  • 4. All Together Now

  • All Together Now is a project launched by StoryLab, an amazing incubator using story power to create, connect, and bring our best to bear on social challenges.
  • This campaign raised nearly double their goal of $7k and has been one of our guiding lights because, like us, they also use the power of storytelling to solve social problems. We particularly loved how simple their campaign was and that they provided regular updates to their donors all with a personal touch.

  • 5. Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes Album

  • Vari-Colored Songs is an album of songs written to Langston Hughes’ poetry, Haitian folk songs and original compositions. Leyla set out to raise $5k and ended up raising $20k to create this album.
  • We loved this campaign because of Leyla’s musical talent, her authentic voice and beautifully shot video.

  • 6. Boosted Boards - The World’s Lightest Electric Vehicle

  • Boosted Boards launched on Kickstarter with an electric longboard.
  • What inspired us about this campaign is that they aren’t just selling an electric vehicle, they sold a revolution. They found that the reason most people don’t take public transportation is because most public transport ends over a mile away from their destination. Boosted Boards solves the problem by giving you a 12 lb electric vehicle via a longboard. So you’re not just buying a longboard, you’re saving the planet (looking really cool while doing it).

  • 7. Misfit Shine: an elegant, wireless activity tracker

  • Misfit Shine is an elegant, all-metal activity tracker that you can sync with your smartphone just by placing it on your phone screen. They raised over $840k towards a $100k goal. Wow.
  • Not only is this a really cool product, we were hooked by the founder’s story and their visually stunning video.

  • This is the 3rd post in our “Journey Towards Our First Crowdfunding Campaign” blog series.

  • Check out our 1st Post Behind the Scenes 5050 Post
  • Check out our 2nd Post Meet Our Fearless Leader

    April 24 is the big launch date on Indiegogo. Until then, we’ll be blogging every week about what we’re doing to get there. Next week, we’ll introduce you to the volunteer team making it all happen.

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  • March 20, 2013

    World Economic Forum Young Global Leader Keely Stevenson

    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” – “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss.


    Keely blessed by "Grandma KoKo" Maasai village in Tanzania
    It’s as if Dr. Seuss wrote the book “Oh the Places You’ll Go” with Keely Stevenson, my childhood friend, hero and Go Inspire Go (GIG) adviser in mind.

    A GIG congratulations to her for recently being named one of the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Young Global Leaders (YGL). This prestigious recognition is awarded globally to leaders under 40 who are active in diverse areas such as business, civil society, media, government, education and entrepreneurship.

    "This YGL community is truly remarkable, and I am humbled by the opportunity to join these leaders in envisioning the future and working together to create a better world," Keely said. "This will be a meaningful way to advance my passions for social entrepreneurship, women's empowerment, health care, education and impact investing.

    Keely as a Shark Tank/ Dragon's Den Judge in Australia
    She joins the ranks of other YGLs including Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo), Chelsea Clinton, Larry Page (Google co-founder) and David Cameron (Prime Minister of the U.K.).

    Keely is an entrepreneur, thought leader and investor. She built global initiatives in her current role as CEO of Bamboo Finance USA, one of the world's first and largest private equity funds focused on balancing social impact and commercial returns. She also built Social Edge, the world's first online community for social entrepreneurs.

     Land rights projects, Guatemala supporting rural families
    Outside of her professional responsibilities, Keely serves on the board of several companies. As the first employee of Skoll Foundation, she worked on five continents, building the field of social entrepreneurship with Acumen Fund, Triodos Bank, Royal Bafokeng Nation and the California Legislature. She studied politics at UC Berkeley and received an MBA from Oxford University.

    Keely on iOnPoverty
    Personally and professionally, I’ve learned so much from being around Keely. Our friendship began much before Keely’s world vision. We both grew up in South Sacramento, Calif., where the majority of the residents were on welfare. Violence was ubiquitous and some of our friends and classmates succumbed to this mentality and culture. Crime, violence and prostitution were commonplace, but Keely was determined to literally and figuratively move out of the neighborhood. She has traveled the world and realized others lived in more dire circumstances than those in South Sacramento. That journey became her inspiration and changed the trajectory of her life.

    Sunrise jaunt in San Francisco
    As a child, I’ve always wished that I could give as Keely gives to others. I remember Keely spent holidays at the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen feeding the hungry. I didn’t realize it then, but food (at times) was also scarce in her own home. I have fond memories of Keely always making time to help a friend, or doing something thoughtful for those she cared about. When my father passed away, she stayed on the phone with me into the wee hours of the night. “If you feel alone and sad, even if it’s in the middle of the night, call me, I’m here,” she said, consoling me in her angelic voice. This simple gesture made me realize how something simple could have such a deep impact. It comforted me just by knowing she was there for me during this dark chapter in my life.

    Tanzania  project fighting against malaria with mosquito nets
    Growing up on welfare, I always wanted to do something, but didn’t feel like I had the money or time. I also didn’t feel like I had any impact or that I mattered. But witnessing Keely in action and implementing her ethos planted that seed and led me to do the work I do today with Go Inspire Go, a blossoming multimedia platform that tells authentic stories about everyday heroes so the world can discover their power to help others.

    Toan & Keely on a nature walk in San Francisco
    I was honored when Keely told me that she gets inspiration from the remarkable courage and kindness of everyday people in the GIG community.

    Thank you Keely for reminding me to always be open to all the possibilities in life’s adventure…. ”Oh the Places You’ll Go.”

    Who has inspired you personally or professionally?
    Please share in the comments section.

    Follow Keely on Twitter: @KeelySpeaks

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    March 17, 2013

    Meet Our Fearless Leader: GIG’s Journey Towards Our First Crowdfunding Campaign

    Go Inspire Go is proud to present a weekly blog series written by GIG Board Member Connie Chan Wang every week leading up to our 50 Stories in 50 States Indiegogo Campaign launching on April 24. Our goal is to give you a behind-the-scenes look into our world as we prepare for our crowdfunding campaign and to inspire you to join us on this revolution -- this movement to inspire!

    By Connie Chan Wang

    Go Inspire Go is the brainchild of Toan Lam, one of the most passionate, positive people I’ve had the honor of working with. You can’t not be inspired after you hear his story. So let’s get started.

    Photo: Vasna Wilson
    What inspired you to start Go Inspire Go?
    After nearly a decade of working behind the scenes and in front of the camera in local news across America, I didn’t want to bring stories of death and destruction to the living rooms of viewers. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I wanted to use my power of storytelling to inspire others to use their power (network, resources and talents) to help others. Many people told me they don’t see many stories of inspiration in the mainstream. I thought, “I could change that.” I started with one story hoping that it would inspire five people to help five others. A few hundred thousand viewers watched, many helped those we featured. A movement was born.

    How did you come up with the idea for 50 Stories in 50 States?
    Story ideas are sent to me via social media, friends of friends, all the time from all corners of the country. We don’t have the resources to travel to all these states. During a pho session (beef noodle soup, my favorite Vietnamese food) with a volunteer, Lily, I thought, why don’t I reach out to the viewers and their network to crowdsource story ideas and resources? We’re all about the small things that ripple out to meaningful changes. Some change here and there could add up to the support we need to highlight these deserving people.

     Editing 5050 Promo Video (Stay Tuned) Photo: Toan Lam

    Why are you excited about the 50 Stories in 50 States Indiegogo campaign?
    I know that every state has amazing human beings, street corner-style heroes who need the visibility and support Go Inspire Go can give them. Each hero symbolizes a story of hope, compassion and action and serves as the catalyst for viewers to become civically engaged. Our platform has proven that highlighting their stories can multiply their movement. Learn more about GIG’s IMPACT!

    Why should people join the movement?
    Everybody tells me they don’t watch TV anymore because all they see are sad and depressing stories. We can change that together. We have two choices: do nothing about it or be proactive, support content providers like us who are focusing on the positive. Our idea that authentic stories + leveraging social media = action … works!

    GIG Team Jumping for Joy on Social Media "GIG Walk" Photo: Guarav Mittal

    Here are some links to fun research that support this idea:
  • Good news begets better people. People with a strong sense of "moral identity" were inspired to do good when they read media stories about Good Samaritans' selfless acts.
  • The most widely shared stories online are stories that are awe-inspiring, emotional, positive and surprising.

    Share your favorite inspirational quote!
    My all-time favorite quote (that’s a huge statement because I’m a quote-thusiast) “Now that you know, you can’t pretend you don’t.” - Oprah Winfrey

    Go Inspire Go is on a mission. To inspire positivity, passion and action. We invite you to join us.

  • This is the second post in our “Journey Towards Our First Crowdfunding Campaign” blog series.
  • Check out our 1st Post Behind the Scenes 5050 Post

    April 24 is the big launch date on Indiegogo. Until then, we’ll be blogging every week about what we’re doing to get there. Next week, we’ll share the crowdfunding campaigns that have inspired us from the beginning.

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  • March 12, 2013

    A Crazy Idea That’s Not So Crazy: GIG’s First Crowdfunding Campaign Journey

    Go Inspire Go is proud to present a weekly blog series written by GIG Board Member Connie Chan Wang every week leading up to our 50 Stories in 50 States Indiegogo Campaign launching on April 24. Our goal is to give you a behind-the-scenes look into our world as we prepare for our crowdfunding campaign and to inspire you to join us on this revolution -- this movement to inspire!

    By Connie Chan Wang

    Flying is Robin Petgrave's first true love. He spent decades as a pilot flying celebrities around the world. After years of working out of his hangar in the city of Compton (of "Boyz n the Hood" fame), he realized the kids there desperately needed wings. So he started Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, where kids can earn one hour of flight instruction for every hour they participate in an after-school learning program. A few years ago, Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum celebrated Kimberly Anyadike, 15, the youngest African American female to fly across the Atlantic. Robin is inspiring a generation to share his passion for flying and soar.



    Over the past four years, the volunteer crew at Go Inspire Go has been highlighting stories of local heroes like Robin whose selfless actions have rippled out into enormous positive impact, inspiring people like you and me to take action along the way.

    Robin Petgrave and Toan Lam

     Fresh Off a Plane Ride, Piloted by James Knox, Tam Student

    A few months ago, our fearless leader Toan Lam had a “crazy” idea. What if we highlighted 50 of the most amazing stories across 50 states to inspire the whole country to act? We talked to everyone we knew about the idea to test out just how “crazy” it was. Instead of calling us crazy, people started sharing their stories – of Nico Castro, 6, a pediatric cancer patient who wanted to buy costumes for every child in the cancer ward and Reverend Lemaire Alerte, who wanted to build a school for children in quake-ravaged Haiti.


    Along the way, we learned this: These are the stories people want to hear, the stories they want to tell, the stories that inspire them to act. We are now more committed to our mission than ever. To inspire positivity, passion and action.

    So here we are, deep in planning mode for our first ever crowdfunding campaign called 50/50: 50 Inspiring Stories in 50 States. April 24 is the big launch date on Indiegogo (shout out to Amy). Until then, we’ll be blogging every week about what we’re doing to get there.

    Next week’s blog post will feature the story of our fearless leader Toan Lam.

    We’ll hope you’ll join us on our mission to inspire. Inspired to join our movement?

    Take action:

    1. Make noise: Share this blog with your network
    2. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
    3. Watch our YouTube channel and take action