We’re in Athens!

Posted on | October 22, 2014 | No Comments

AcropolisThis week marks the start of TBEX Europe, the big travel bloggers’ conference, which is taking place in Athens, Greece. We have two smiling and enthusiastic faces representing us there – Jess and Arua of The Gap Year Guru are ready to answer any and all questions about our charity beneficiary Sustainable Harvest as well as sharing opportunities for sponsorship and participation. Jess is serving as our social media coordinator this year and so you may have already met her online, but if you’re attending the conference you can see her in person as she will be at our table during the speed networking hours of the schedule.

We’re very grateful to TBEX for sponsoring us in both North American and Europe each year. They give us an invaluable opportunity to connect with members of the online travel community and to spread the word about our efforts on their blog and social media accounts. We certainly wish them and everyone else in Athens a successful and productive conference.

This is also a great moment to remember that the clock is ticking – our fundraiser starts in just under six weeks. If you’re a travel blogger who is interested in participating in Passports With Purpose this year, it’s not too late! We hope you’ll stop by our table in Athens and say hello. Not going to Greece? Sign up on our website instead and we’ll be in touch.

Get to know Sustainable Harvest International

Posted on | September 10, 2014 | No Comments

Passports with Purpose is so excited to work with Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) this year. As we got to learn more about them, we knew you would too. Here is a bit more about this amazing organization, from Sarah Clemens, development director of Sustainable Harvest International.

The 2.1 billion people living in poverty in rural areas worldwide suffer from ongoing malnutrition and inability to meet their basic needs. Though most have access to land and other natural resources and a desire to learn new farming techniques, they lack the intensive technical assistance necessary to recuperate degraded lands and make them productive in the long term. DCF 1.0

Typically, people in Central America and other parts of the tropics farm using the slash-and-burn method, which requires new areas to be cleared each year by burning the natural forest. Crops are planted and harvested for one year, which depletes the land and requires farmers to burn a new area the next year. Eventually, land becomes so depleted that crops can no longer be grown. Farmers are forced to start over again in areas of virgin forest (often in protected areas) or relocate to urban slums in hopes of finding employment that is scarce and often abysmal for those with very limited education. With little margin for error and few learning opportunities, farmers are hesitant to try new farming practices unless the transition is done slowly, in conjunction with a trusted and reliable expert.

In the face of these challenges, Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) has directly or indirectly helped 100,000 rural poor people to become stewards of our environment.  Five elements make our approach successful: SHI provides long-term assistance to ensure that changes take root; SHI selects communities based on socioeconomic and environmental conditions; SHI operates as a lean organization with low administrative overhead; SHI empowers individuals and promotes cooperative sharing of knowledge and resources; and SHI builds resilient communities that require minimal input from external sources.Don_Cheyo_1

Started in 1997, Sustainable Harvest International’s Honduras program is the organization’s largest and oldest program and is noted for its commitment to community participation and empowerment. SHI currently works with 186 farming families in the Santa Barbara and Yoro departments to provide them practical, hands-on training to improve degraded lands and rebuild ecosystems that were once rich in biodiversity. In 2013 alone, the Honduras program planted 178,000 trees and converted nearly 150 acres to sustainable, organic agriculture.

One of SHI’s leading objectives is the development of community leaders who have significant knowledge of sustainable farming and environmental conservation. These leaders are expected to train their neighbors, so that the actions being undertaken with SHI’s support have a multiplier effect. Development of these community leaders is critical in order to reach a tipping point in the community, in which more families choose to adopt sustainable practices rather than continuing with conventional methods. SHI’s “theory of change” holds that once this tipping point is reached, noticeable changes will occur in the lives of rural families, and improvements to the local environment will be made.

Don_Cheyo_2One such community leader is Don Cheyo. As a successful graduate of SHI’s Honduras program, Don Cheyo reflects on how far he has come, Before I grew just corn and coffee and now look at what I done for myself, for my children, for my grandchildren. We eat better and we live with the land. I plant good food and I have learned how to build up the soil and plant trees. I sell what I grow and I have purchased this land for my children. It is for them that we are working for a better future.”

We invite you to take a glimpse into Don Cheyo’s life in the follow short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX5WXGtnq7Y&list=PLJfxY4J2DV3kALWCG45Qa5IqA2RCkwmGq

 

 

 

 

What’s new with Passports with Purpose

Posted on | September 3, 2014 | No Comments

Honduras Sustainable Harvest InternationalFall is always an exciting time for Passports With Purpose. It’s when we begin gearing up for our online fundraiser, thinking about all the great prizes we’ll have to give away, and seeing bloggers sign up to participate. Like kids at back-to-school time we’re excited to greet old friends as they join us and meet all the new ones who come along.

The fundraiser will take place in a few short months from Monday, December 1 at 11:59 pm EST until Wednesday, December 17 at 11:59 pm EST. We can’t wait to help families in Honduras with Sustainable Harvest International. But before we do, we’d like to share what’s happening behind the scenes at our virtual headquarters.

Say hello to the new faces on our team

Dave ParfittDave Parfitt has a PhD in neuroscience and a heart that loves to travel with his family. The founder and publisher of Adventures By Daddy he also believes in giving back – not only through Passports With Purpose by raising money for Give Kids the World. He’s an avid runner, a great photographer, and a very nice guy. Which is why we’re so happy to have him join us as our blogger liaison. He’ll be the main point of contact for all bloggers who sign up for the fundraiser and will be there to answer questions and help support them every step of the way. You can find Dave on Twitter at @AdventuresbyDad. If you’re a blogger who plans to participate you’ll see Dave’s signature on all the #PWP emails.

Jessica Glynn

Joining us from from Ireland is the vivacious Jessica Glynn. A photographer and blogger also known as The Gap Year Guru, Jess has an infectious enthusiasm for travel. She’s been all over the globe from South America to Australia. She’s equally enthusiastic about helping others and has the Irish gift of gab, making her the perfect person to head up our social media efforts. If you stop by our Facebook page or Twitter account you’ll likely find Jess there sharing news and stories. She’ll also be representing Passports With Purpose at the Athens TBEX Conference (more on that in a moment). Greet Jess on Twitter at the @PassportpPurpose handle or @TheGapYearGuru.

Come say hi at TBEX – and a discount for our community

We’re kicking off the fall season with a bang this year by attending not one but two TBEX travel blogging conferences. TBEX has been a sponsor of Passports With Purpose for several years and we’re so grateful for their continued support.

We will have tables in both Cancun from September 11 through 13, where you can chat with board member Mara Gorman, and Athens from October 23 through 25, where Jess Glynn will be ready to answer all your questions. We hope you’ll stop by to say hello, to find out more about this year’s charity, to sign up as a blogger or sponsor, or to introduce new friends who are interested in joining us this year.

As an added bonus of their sponsorship, TBEX is offering a discount to the Passports With Purpose community. Enter the code PURPOSE20 when you register for either the North American or European conference and get 20 percent off the cost of your ticket.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until TBEX to get involved. Bloggers can sign up today. Interested in sponsoring our efforts? Learn more.

We hope to see you in person in Mexico or Greece or virtually on social media. And remember, if you have any questions, you can always send us a tweet or fill out our contact form.

Help us Help families in Honduras with Sustainable Harvest International

Posted on | July 28, 2014 | 1 Comment

Can you believe that 2014 is lucky number seven for Passports With Purpose? From schools to libraries to homes to wells, from Cambodia to Haiti to Mali, there’s been so much goodness that’s come of out our little online fundraiser. Who would have thought that bloggers, who spend their days working in the ephemera that is the internet, could make a difference in such concrete ways?

We’re very proud of all that work. But we’re not looking back – oh, no, quite the opposite. In fact, today Passports With Purpose is only looking ahead.

We’re happy to announce our 2014 partnership with Sustainable Harvest International

Farming in Central America has too often meant practices that lead to environmental degradation and endemic poverty. Since 1997, Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) has been working in the region to help family farmers not only grow their own food but to understand how to do so in a way that protects the ecosystems they live in and prevent tropical deforestation.

Sustainable Harvest International

The 2014 Passports With Purpose fundraiser will support SHI’s efforts in Honduras. And this year, instead of setting a fundraising goal we’re offering the following challenge:

For each $5000 we raise, Sustainable Harvest can help a family in Honduras for five years.

That’s especially meaningful because the approach that Sustainable Harvest uses is meant to be long-term, to make sure the programs take root in the communities they serve. SHI applies varied strategies that see them partnering with the communities, developing solutions together and then implementing those solutions, always with an eye toward independence and the sustainability that’s in their very name. We will be providing money that buys not only tools and supplies but also the necessary time to establish real roots and develop real solutions.

The sky is the limit – the more money we raise, the more lives we can touch.

Sustainable Harvest Honduras

We’ll be sharing more about SHI in the days to come, but please feel free to visit their website, follow them on Twitter, or like them on Facebook to learn more.

Helping $10 at a time

Our approach to raising money has always been primarily grassroots and driven by the online community. Bloggers either purchase or procure a prize from a sponsor and we auction off the prizes online. Every $10 buys a chance to win something fabulous from a resort vacation to a camera to a stylish new suitcase. We give every dime that goes into the prize pot to Sustainable Harvest International.

Sustainable Harvest Honduras

We are the traveler blogger’s fundraiser, and this year that is more true than ever – when the Passports with Purpose board was trying to decide what charitable project to fund, we turned to our 2013 participating bloggers and asked them to share their what type of project, and in what location, they’d be most excited to fund. This project was the overwhelming favorite.

You can make a difference

It seems like there is plenty of bad news to go around of late, perhaps even more than usual. But the next time you see a report about the crushing poverty in Central America that is driving women and children to flee to the United States in record numbers remember that there is something you can do.

Are you a travel blogger? Sign up to participate.

Do you work for a company that makes matching donations? Start making inquiries now and plan to include Passports With Purpose in your end-of-year giving.

Want to sponsor our efforts? Let us know.

And no matter what role you want to play, stay up-to-date with all our news by following us on Twitter and Facebook. Pass along our news to the world using the hashtag #PWP.

Sustainable Harvest Honduras

We can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get started working to raise money that will improve both lives and the ecosystem in Honduras – we hope that you’ll join us along the way. Thanks, as always for your help and support. We couldn’t do it without you.

 

Making Progress in Mali

Posted on | June 9, 2014 | 1 Comment

Last fall, we raised $84,000 for buildOn to construct schools in two villages in rural Mali.  We are excited to share that the villages broke ground for their schools in May and should soon be complete. We are also excited to share a little more about each village and the children you are helping to educate.

Mali map

Menie

One school is being built in Menie, a village that didn’t previously have any kind of school building. Menie was founded about 800 years ago in the Sikasso region of Mali. Villagers raise grains, peanuts and cotton and earn income from small trade and animal breeding. In the past, children had to walk six kilometers each way to get to school, so the construction of a school in Menie itself will have a huge impact.

Menie groundbreaking with chief

The village chief officially breaks ground for the new school.

Menie cement mixing

Community members mix cement for the new school.

Two students who will attend the new school are 11-year-old Lassina Togola and 14-year-old Mamou Togola. Lassina is the first in his family to attend school. His favorite subject is math and he wants to be a policeman when he grows up. Mamou’s mother went to school through grade 3, but her father never attended. Her favorite subjects are history and geography and she wants to be a teacher.

Lassina Togola

Lassina Togola

Mamou Togola

Mamou Togola

Folona

The other school is being constructed in the village of Folona, also in the Sikasso region of Mali. Villagers raise crops such as peanuts, corn, millet and rice and earn income from gardening and raising animals. Folona currently has a school that looks like this:

Folona old school

Existing school building in Folona.

The school we have funded will replace the one above.  Currently 125 students attend the school – 58 boys and 67 girls – and three teachers teach classes.

Folona goundbreaking

Community members sign a covenant at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Folona school

Progress on the new Folona school.

Toma Bagayoko is a 14-year-old who is the first in his family to attend school. Currently in grade 6, his favorite subject is biology and he hopes to be a doctor. Sali Traore is a 15-year-old in Folona who is also in grade 6. Both of her parents are literate, but her father dropped out of school in grade 7. Her favorite subject is math and she hopes to be a math teacher when she is older.

Toma Bagayoko

Toma Bagayoko

Sali Traore

Sali Traore

Thanks to all of you, Toma, Sali, Lassina, Mamou and all of their classmates will have the opportunity to further their educations and fulfill their dreams.

We’re Growing Our Team – and We Need Volunteers!

Posted on | May 13, 2014 | 1 Comment

Two students in the libraryDo you have a passion for doing good and a desire to be involved in the biggest, longest-running travel blogger fundraiser on the Internet? Do you want to work with a great team of like-minded individuals? Or have you ever wondered just what goes on behind the scenes here in Passports-with-Purpose Land?

If so, we may have a job for you. We’re looking for some new volunteer team members to help us plan and execute our 2014 fundraiser.

So just what are we looking for?

Although the work can be done from any location and will be spread out through the year, volunteers should be available to help during our 2014 fundraiser from December 1, 2014 until December 17, 2014. In addition, we will be asking all volunteers to commit to staying on the team through at least the end of January, 2015.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

Social Media coordinator: This person will be responsible for coordinating our social media strategy from the time he or she signs on through the end of 2014. In addition to spreading the good word about PwP, we need to engage with our audience and share news about our doings. Since all of our fundraising happens online, this person must be available for the entirety of our fundraiser from December 1, 2014 until December 17, 2014. Requirements: Outgoing personality and great Twitter, Facebook, and Google + skills, with a touch of Pinterest and Instagram ability as well.

Technical consultant/developer: This person will help maintain and update the PwP website including the prize catalogue and all forms on the site. We’re looking for someone with strong WordPress administration skills including experience with theme modifications, plug-ins compatibility, installation and management. Competency with SQL, CSS and HTML would also be great.

PR and Sponsorship assistant: This person will assist in communicating with potential and existing sponsors. The ideal candidate will have great communication skills as well as experience working on brand campaigns and contacts within the travel industry.

If any of these jobs sounds like it would be right up your alley, please fill out our Contact Form and let us know – we’ll be in touch. And if you’re interested in joining us as a blogger or sponsor in 2014, the links below take you to our blogger sign-up form and our sponsorship information page. (Bloggers should remember that even if they have signed up in the past, they need to fill out the form once again for 2014.)

Sign up as a Passports with Purpose blogger.

Learn about joining Passports with Purpose as a sponsor.

Help Us Find Our 2014 Charity!

Posted on | May 5, 2014 | No Comments

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Are you involved with a charity that does great work in developing countries?

Have you volunteered with an amazing nonprofit organization that could use our help?

Do you otherwise know of an organization that would be a great fit as the charitable beneficiary for Passports with Purpose in 2014?

The deadline to apply to be this year’s charitable beneficiary is May 15, 2014 – less than two weeks away!

Past projects we have supported include building libraries in Zambia, constructing water wells in Haiti and, most recently, building two schools in Mali.

The 2014 fundraiser will take place December 2-19 and will once again be entirely online.  We’ll be in touch soon regarding blogger involvement, including prize procurement, but right now we need to take care of the important task of selecting the organization and project we will support in 2014!

The charitable organization we select:

  • Must have a record of at least three years with previous success;
  • Must be able to provide us with regular updates before, during, and after the execution of the project so that we can verify that the funds are used properly.
  • Must be based in the United States;
  • Must not have a religious affiliation;
  • Must be able to accept donations via PayPal.

Additionally, the projects we choose to fund typically:

  • Are tangible projects that have a start and finish date and provide high impact to an entire community;
  • Directly benefit women and children;
  • Are in developing nations because we can make a larger impact with fewer dollars; and
  • Support basic human needs such as water, food, shelter, and education.

Interested organizations should submit an application no later than May 15, 2014. Questions? Let us know and we’re happy to answer them!

Traveling with a Purpose – New York Travel Festival

Posted on | April 22, 2014 | No Comments

The PwP team is excited to be a part of the New York Travel Festival, an event for tech-savvy, immersive travelers taking place April 26-27, 2014. Our very own Michelle Duffy will be speaking on a panel on Saturday, April 26 at 2pm called “Traveling with a Purpose.”

Michelle will be joined by folks from The Cultureist’s Culture Collection, MCW, and Learning AFAR.

For more details, visit New York Travel Festival at http://nytravfest.com/.

NYTF_ad01_2014

Visit us at the Women in Travel Summit

Posted on | March 3, 2014 | No Comments

WITSWill you be at the Women in Travel Summit in Chicago later this month? If so, keep an eye out for the Passports with Purpose table to learn more about how you can get involved with the 2014 fundraiser.  After raising $84,000 for buildOn to construct two schools in Mali last fall, we are excited to kick things off for this year!

The Women in Travel Summit is the first conference of its kind – bringing together female travel bloggers and brands at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago March 14-16. Three content tracks target the traveler, the writer and the entrepreneur and social events like a mentor breakfast and networking power hour provide plenty of opportunities to connect with fellow bloggers and travel brands. Our very own Katie Aune will be speaking at the conference about volunteering abroad and will be staffing the PwP table throughout the weekend. If you’re there, be sure to stop by and say hello!

For more information about the Women in Travel Summit, visit www.witsummit.com.

Calling charities: Applications for Passports with Purpose 2014 are open

Posted on | February 24, 2014 | No Comments

Two students in the libraryTwo schools in Mali.Five wells in Haiti. Two libraries in Zambia. A village in India. A school in Cambodia.

And of course, the most important thing: Hundreds of lives impacted.

The entire Passports With Purpose team is so happy to have worked with our bloggers and sponsors to raise money for all of these projects over the past six years. But we’ve never been ones to spend a lot of time looking back. In fact, we’re eagerly looking forward and asking the following question:

Who will our 2014 charitable beneficiary be?

We’ve already chosen dates for our 2014 fundraiser, which will take place from December 2 until December 19. It will take place entirely online – learn more about exactly how it works.

Here’s what we look for in our charitable projects:

  • Tangible projects that have a start and finish date and provide high impact to an entire community.
  • Projects that directly benefit women and children .
  • Projects in developing nations because we can make a larger impact with fewer dollars.
  • Projects that support basic human needs such as water, food, shelter, and education have been a hallmark of our efforts since 2008.

Additionally, we require some things of the charities we work with. They must have a record of at least three years with previous success. They must be able to provide us with regular updates before, during, and after the execution of the project so that we can verify that the funds are used properly. And they must be based in the United States, not have a religious affiliation, and accept donations via PayPal.

If you’ve got a project that you think would be a good fit, please submit an application. All applications are due by May 15, 2014.

Got questions? Please feel free to let us know.

Choosing a charitable project is a real labor of love for our team – we look forward to seeing how you’d like to change the world.

 

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