#GivingTuesday’s #UNselfie

Posted on | December 3, 2013 | No Comments



Are you part of #GivingTuesday? It’s global day of giving for everyone! Passports with Purpose is proud to be a Giving Tuesday partner. Thank you to everyone who continues to help us reach our goal of raising $115,000 for schools and education in Mali with buildOn. We’re well on our way with almost $30,000 raised and we could use your help by donating now and helping spread the word.

DONATE: http://passportswithpurpose.org/donate/


The Transformative Power of Travel

Posted on | December 1, 2013 | 2 Comments

Today we’re honored to have a guest post by Jim Ziolkowski, founder & CEO of buildOn and author of L.A. Times Best Seller Walk in Their Shoes.

When I was twenty-four, I entered GE’s Financial Management Program, a fast-track position that all but guaranteed a lucrative career in corporate finance. But fifteen months later I quit.

Before joining GE I had hitchhiked around the world and spend most of my time in developing countries. What I saw lit a fire within that could never be put out. While travelling through India and Nepal, I had seen cities and villages mired in extreme poverty. When I was in New Delhi, I saw the beggars and the street children, destitute and hungry, without any hope for a better life. When I was in a village in Nepal, I saw families living in mud huts without running water or electricity. The more I traveled in regions of poverty, the more clearly I saw that those conditions were directly related to rampant illiteracy and the general lack of education. While trekking up into the Solo Khumbu region in Nepal, I passed through a village where they were celebrating the opening of school that they had built. It was a two day celebration- they never went home! So now I’d seen more than the injustice of extreme poverty, I had also witnessed the courage, determination and faith these communities had for education.

buildOn Founder, and Author of best-selling Walk in Their Shoes, Jim Ziolkowski in Mali, West Africa.

buildOn Founder, and Author of best-selling Walk in Their Shoes, Jim Ziolkowski in Mali, West Africa.

Instead of just witnessing something amazing, I wanted to somehow act on these experiences. But I chickened out and joined GE instead. It took me over a year to muster the courage to leave the corporate world and start buildOn – a nonprofit organization that is breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education. Right now, buildOn is partnering with rural villages to construct a new school every four days in countries like Malawi, Haiti, Nicaragua, Nepal, Senegal, and of course Mali.

Travel changed my life forever, and now Passports with Purpose is using travel to transform the lives of hundreds of individuals in Mali, West Africa. Because of your efforts three of the economically poorest villages on the planet will be able to construct schools for their children. Additionally, these schools will be used for buildOn’s adult literacy programs which are also being funded by your efforts.

I want to thank you for partnering with buildOn and for harnessing the power of travel for good. Thank you for helping us to break the cycle.

Jim’s new book Walk in Their Shoes is on shelves now. To read more about his life-changing travels from Nepal to Malawi, from Russia to South Africa, download this free excerpt or pick up the book at walkintheirshoes.org.

To help PwP raise $115,000 for buildOn, visit the Passports with Purpose PRIZE CATALOGUE PAGE and donate before December 9 at 11:59pm EST.  THANK YOU!

Prize Winning Strategy

Posted on | December 1, 2013 | No Comments

DiceI’m salivating over the 2013 Prize Catalogue, debating the best strategy to win a prize. All it takes is $10 bid to win a prize, but where to put it?  Do I put all my eggs in one basket, or spread the love?  I don’t think I can pick just one prize to bid on. There are so many great prizes, I want them all!

Here’s a small sample of the fabulous prizes generously being hosted by travel bloggers around the world:


  • Perceptive Travel - Family Camp weekend program for 2 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama($848)
  • Solo Traveler Blog - Best of Morocco – 15-Day Small Group Tour ($1665)
  • Ireland with Kids - 3 nights in Connemara, Ireland + a Samsung WiFi Camera ($500)
  • Boarding Area -  110,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points for free nights, dining and spa experience ($2640)
  • Girl Gone Travel - HomeAway gift certificate ($1000)
  • Spanish Steps Apartment - Roman Holiday package of 5 nights and 2 tours in Rome ($3225)
  • Ciao Bambino - 3 nights at the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Mexico ($2850)
  • Child Mode - One week at a Global Resort Home in Kissimmee, Florida ($2000)


Good Stuff

No matter what strategy you choose, you can’t lose. 100% of funds go to fund buildOn schools and literacy programs in Mali, Africa.

Photo by Gaz via Wikimedia Commons

It’s a Go, Folks!

Posted on | November 28, 2013 | No Comments

This is it, we’re off to the races! The sixth annual Passports with Purpose is up and running. This year, we’re going to raise $115,000 for buildOn to construct three schools and fund three adult literacy programs in the Sikasso region of southern Mali, Africa.

buildOn buildingCheck out our gorgeous prize catalogue; it’s a beautiful showcase for the spectacular prizes secured by our international community of travel bloggers. We’re thrilled to see returning bloggers like Amie O’Shaughnessy of Ciao Bambino who is hosting 2 nights at Four Seasons Scottsdale  and new-to-PwP writers like superstar Candace Derickx of Life In Pleasantville who secured a couple of prizes, including a 2-night stay at Ottawa Marriott.

Thanks to our awesome bloggers, the prize catalogue features hotel stays–both in the US and around the world, holiday wishlist electronics like the HP Tablet, travel clothes and gear, and dream trip tours. Because a $10 donation lets you bid on the prize of your choice, the biggest dilemma is what to choose. (You may be tempted to choose it all!)

Prize Catalogue Page

Your $10 donation will build schools and promote literacy in a country with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world–only one in five Mali women knows how to read. But supporting the Passports with Purpose fundraiser does more than that. Amy Whitley of Pit Stops for Kids shared an email from last year’s winner of a Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel prize, “I just want to thank you again for the fabulous gift. My husband and I went to celebrate our anniversary and we had a fabulous time…we really appreciate the gift as we are not able to pick such a nice place to stay on our own.”

That’s the wonderful thing about PwP–it’s a win, win all around.

Now if you want to donate directly to buildOn without entering to win a prize, you can. Visit the DONATE page. You can bid on prizes until December 9, 11:59PM (EST) when donations for prizes close. We’ll still take donations, but no more drawing entries. We’ll notify prize winners and host bloggers on December 16th.

Okay, time to get busy. We’re drooling over prizes and chatting about buildOn and Mali on Pinterest board as well as FacebookTwitter, and G+.

As always, none of this is possible without the collective effort of travel bloggers, sponsors, prize donors and YOU. Thank you and here’s to another year!!

Time to Raise Funds for Mali

Posted on | November 26, 2013 | No Comments

The time is NOW!

Looking to check out all the amazing prizes procured by the travel blogging community?

Prize Catalogue Page

Here is the PRIZE CATALOGUE page where you can donate $10 for a chance to win hotel stays, tours, travel gear, clothing, gift certificates, electronics and MORE! Donations for prizes accepted between November 25, 2013 at 11:59pm EST to December 9, 2013, 11:59pm EST. Winners will be chosen at random and notified on December 16, 2013.

Looking to donate directly to buildOn without entering to win a prize? Visit the DONATE page.

And if you haven’t already updated your fundraising widget, please get the latest one here.

THANK YOU, for helping us reach our goal to raise $115,000 to construct three schools and fund three adult literacy programs in Mali.

Seven reasons why we’ve got a headstart on fundraising

Posted on | November 20, 2013 | No Comments

Finished SchoolCan you believe we’re less than a week away from launching the sixth annual Passports with Purpose?! Our virtual doors open on November 25 at 11:59pm EST. We can’t thank the travel blogging community enough for stepping up with some amazing prizes and travel companies for donating prizes to raise funds for buildOn. Last, but not least, we also want to say thank you to the handful of travel companies who are committed to helping us reach our goal by becoming a sponsor.

Some, like HomeAway, have been with us since year one (even donating a fabulous prize).

“This will be our sixth year participating in Passports with Purpose, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to help support this year’s initiative. We have been involved since the first event in 2009 and are incredibly proud to see how PwP has grown — uniting bloggers and stakeholders within the travel community to bring about change, each year even more impactful than the last. It’s been a pleasure to be involved and help make a difference in the world.”

We’re excited to welcome back two sponsors, Hostelbookers and GowithOh.

“Once again HostelBookers is delighted to support a wonderful project like Passports with Purpose and is proud be involved with such an important initiative,” said Preeti Vadgama of Hostelbookers. “The money PwP is looking to raise, $115,000, will help this worthy organization achieve their compassionate task to construct schools and adult literacy programs in the Sikasso region of southern Mali, Africa.”

“When the chance came up to be a sponsor of Passports with Purpose again this year, we said yes in a heartbeat,” said GowithOh’s Victoria Ducournau. “We have a really special relationship with the travel bloggers we work with and we know that this is a cause they hold dear. Thanks for allowing us to be a part of such an inspiring initiative.”

And we’re extremely grateful to the newbies of the PwP community: Eating London Food Tours, Rough Guides, DK Eyewitness Guides and Collette Vacations.

“DK Eyewitness Travel Guides is proud to sponsor Passports with Purpose, working to build not just schools but also a strong community of like-minded travelers making a difference. We believe that an informed traveler discovers more on their journeys and that education—like travel—has the power to transform lives.”

“As a company that showcases the world to our travelers, we are dedicated to partnering with communities and organizations that make positive change, specifically for the lives of children across the globe,” shares Daniel Sullivan Jr., president & CEO of Collette Vacations. “We are honored to sponsor Passports with Purpose and this year’s recipient buildOn for such a worthwhile effort that will benefit the education of families in Mali.”

“For us at Eating London traveling is one of life’s greatest experiences because it opens your eyes to all the beauty and diversity in the world, as well as its inequality. Passports for Purpose is harnessing people’s passion for travel and directing it towards making a difference in the lives of those in need. We are very proud to support two deserving organizations, PwP and buildOn,” said Kenny Dunn from Eating London Food Tours.

“Rough Guides is passionate about inspiring people to explore the world, share their experiences, and make the most of their time on earth. Our hope is that by partnering with Passports with Purpose to support buildOn’s work in Mali, we can make a lasting difference in the world through the travel.”

Want to help show them some love (because they certainly show their love for what we’re doing here!)? Here’s a quick list of who they are and what they do, to include in your blog posts.

See you back here on November 25!

Photo courtesy of buildOn.

Mali, the Philippines, and why we hope you’ll join us November 26

Posted on | November 17, 2013 | No Comments

The end of the year is an exciting time for the Passports with Purpose team. We can’t wait for our fundraiser to begin, for the travel blogging community to once again demonstrate how it can come together to make a difference. For that reason, October or November may be when you hear the most about PwP – we’re all about encouraging everyone to spread the word.

But in fact, Passports with Purpose takes a full twelve months to plan and execute. That’s because we work hard and carefully to choose a charity we know can deliver on the promises it makes. It’s extremely important to us that everyone who donates to PwP – whether they give $10 or $10,000 – knows that their money is well spent and that it is in fact going directly to the country and people we have all committed to help.

Like everyone else, we are hugely concerned about the situation in the Philippines. The news coming out of that country is devastating, the pictures beyond belief. It is obvious that much help is needed there and that it will be needed for years to come.

buildOn Mali girl

The sad fact is that no one country has a monopoly on human misery. From Syria to the Sudan to Haiti there are many places on this Earth where enormous and complex suffering are a fact of life. The need in Mali is as pressing as it was when we chose buildOn to be our 2013 beneficiary. There is still violent unrest there. It is still one of the poorest nations in the world. It still has one of the lowest literacy rates globally. All of this will remain so after we have helped construct schools there.

As has always been the case with our fundraiser, and as the PwP team has seen with our own eyes, the charities we support do create meaningful change for the people they help. And that is our goal: Not to help everyone, but to actually make a meaningful, long-term difference for as many people as we can.

In 2014, we will without question put applications from charities who want to help in the Philippines at the top of our list. And as we did after the Haitian earthquake, we will make sure that we look carefully at the situation on the ground to make sure it  is stable enough so that any aid will actually arrive as promised.

If  you would like to make a donation to help in the Philippines immediately, we’ve listed some reputable places where you can do so below. And we hope that you’ll join us to help Mali when our fundraiser kicks off on November 26. Because together, we can all do much to make this world we all love a better place.

Donate to the Philippines:

The Philippine Red Cross

Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development

Doctors Without Borders


Last Minute Instructions

Posted on | November 15, 2013 | No Comments

Wondering what to do next? We’ve got you covered.

Prize Sponsors:


  • Please fill out the Prize Hosting Form with information about you, your blog and the URL for your blog post describing your prize. (No need to publish it yet, just give us the link of your post draft. See tips for PwP blog posts.)
  • If you are a blogger who is donating a prize yourself, we need both a Procurement Form and a Prize Hosting Form for your prize.
  • Don’t have a prize, but want to support PwP by hosting a widget? Here’s where you’ll find it. You can also help spread the word on FacebookTwitter, InstagramPinterest and the hashtag #PwP.


  • Check out the prize catalogue page starting November 25 at 11:59 pm EST to begin making a donation for a chance to win a prize!

See the PwP 2013 Checklist for full upcoming schedule.

Expedia.com Joins Passports with Purpose for the 2nd Year

Posted on | November 15, 2013 | No Comments

Passports with Purpose is excited to welcome back Expedia.com as a platinum sponsor. You know that $115,000 we’re raising for buildOn? Well, Expedia and all our sponsors are giving us a head start by donating to our fundraiser. Here’s Sarah Gavin, their director of public relations and social media, explaining why they joined us for another year:


When we launched the Expedia “Find Yours” campaign in the summer of last year, we had today’s modern traveler in mind. The campaign struck at what we saw as the heart of travel: that each trip is unique and personal, with the power to transform. While we love sitting poolside at a beachfront resort as much as anyone, the travel experience often goes much deeper. And it’s for that reason that we were touched by the work of Passports with Purpose, an amazing organization uniting the online travel community around the common goal of giving back to destinations worldwide.

Last year we sponsored Passports with Purpose as they raised money to build wells in Haiti with Water.org. Not only did they exceed their fundraising goal of $100,000, they raised enough funding to build wells and provide access to clean water in five communities in Haiti!

Brick Laying in Mali

Brick Laying in Mali

So this year we’re again working with Passports with Purpose to make education– another everyday reality for so many of us –more accessible to those in other parts of the world. We’re thrilled to see that the bar has been raised with an initial 2013 goal of $115,000 for buildOn to construct schools in the Sikasso region of southern Mali, Africa. buildOn’s mission is to “break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education.” They have mobilized rural villages in the last two decades to help build several hundred schools around the world.

We’ve found ourselves gravitating toward Passports with Purpose not only because of their mission, but because of the profound power they’ve had to rally a very influential set of travel bloggers. It’s a tight-knit and passionate group that we’ve taken notice of and invested in the last couple years, most significantly a few months ago with the launch of the Expedia Viewfinder blog. And as we make the turn for the holidays, we can’t think of a better way or a better group to partner with– all in the name of a more educated, and better traveled world. Won’t you join us?

Bloggers Tell All: Why Participate In PwP 2013

Posted on | November 14, 2013 | 3 Comments

BuildOn MovementIf there’s one thing that proves that travel inspires compassion, it’s that–for five years running–travel bloggers from all over the world have come together to make a BIG difference where it’s most needed.

Why do it? And why keep on doing it? Find out what a few first-time and veteran bloggers have to say about raising money for buildOn to construct primary schools and fund Adult Literacy Programs in the Sikasso Region of Mali, Africa.

Pssst…You want to help, but don’t have a prize yet? It’s not too late. Get in touch, we’re here to help.

Why Participate in PwP 2013?

Nicole Wiltrout, Arrows Sent Forth

I have no doubt I’ll always participate in Passports with Purpose in some way. But this year in particular, I feel so connected to the cause. I’ve been on an incredible journey with my oldest son the past few months. He started school this year and is in the process of learning to read. Watching the way education is transforming him has been so eye-opening. So I love that this year, Passports with Purpose is benefiting buildOn and giving that same gift of education which so many of us take for granted to those who will have their lives changed by it.

Candace Derickx, Life In Pleasantville

I signed up with Passports with Purpose this year after hearing about this great organization at the TMS Family Travel Conference. I’m a big believer in being a gracious traveler and always doing something to help out my host country. I’m excited to take it to the next level though and do something really great with the connections I’ve made as a travel writer. Of all the things I’ve seen and done this past year, the highlight for me will be seeing buildOn receive the full goal amount to build the schools in Mali. So very excited to be participating for the first time…..but not the last!

Amy Moore, Everything Everywhere

For several years I’ve been involved by giving money, but this is the first year I’m participating by hosting a prize.  Watching PwP do such good work, I’m proud to be involved.  Literacy has always been a passion for me, and I’m excited to help affect the lives of the adults and children these schools and programs will serve.  I hope that it starts a chain reaction of good in their community.

Amie O’Shaughnessy, Ciao Bambino

Ciao Bambino wouldn’t miss supporting Passports with Purpose! This annual fundraiser is the one time during the year when the travel blogging community works together for the good of others, not just the good of our blogs and businesses. In our increasingly connected world, it’s seems easier than ever to focus on “the little things” instead of what really matters. Passports with Purpose always supports awe-inspiring projects, from building libraries in Zambia to building an entire village in India. These essentials benefit people who would otherwise live without what we tend to take for granted. This year’s effort, building schools in Mali through buildOn, follows suit. We’re sponsoring two amazing prizes from one of our favorite brands in the entire world this year and can’t wait for the fun to start on November 25th!

Alessandra Granata, I Viaggi Dei Rospi

We are so excited to participate in our first Passports with Purpose, as we’ve really appreciated the work and efforts made by the team in the previous editions. As parents and travel bloggers, we feel so close to this year’s goal about schools and adult literacy programs. Giving people from Mali and all over the world an education, should be mandatory for all of us, as it is exactly what we wish for our kids. Learning is the first step of personal improvement as travel opens your mind and give you a wider base of knowledge. Everyone’s commitment can help to change things for the better. Now, with all our passion we can’t wait to be part of this, we’re “Mali enthusiastic”!

Keryn Means, Walking On Travels.com 

As a mother traveling with her sons across the globe it is important not only for me to give back, but for my sons to give back to those they may come across on our travels. Passports with Purpose continually works with organizations making a meaningful and lasting impact that my family can be proud to be a part of, whether it is building communities, libraries or schools. Each project is something that my boys can relate to in some way. After all, kids just like them live in ever nation, but they may not have the luxuries we take for granted at home. I’m thrilled to partner with PwP for the 3rd year in a row as we help build schools for children in Mali, kids who otherwise might not have the opportunity. My oldest is just starting his education. I’m sure many wonderful conversations will pop up as we chat about the schools we are going to help build with buildOn.

Julie Henning, Wisconsin Parent

This is my second year helping raise funds for Passports with Purpose, but my first time talking about global welfare on WisconsinParent.com. In the Midwest, childhood obesity is a bigger concern than access to clean water and nutritious food. Not to mention, as residents of the United Sates we are entitled to free education and illiteracy among adults hardly is seldom a topic for discussion in the local news. With Black Friday and commercialism about to dictate our shopping habits, this fundraiser is a wonderful opportunity to take a hard look at our first world problems. Donations are tax-deductable and if your employer matches charitable giving, Passports with Purpose can also serve a dual purpose on your 2013 tax return.

Elena Sonnino, Live.Do.Grow

Travel and finding ways to give back are characteristics of being a global citizen- something that I was raised to be as a child and something that I try to foster in my own daughter and other tweens. While you do not need a passport to be a global citizen, you do need to act- to care- to give…in ways big and small. The ability to be part of a community effort like Passports with Purpose brings together some of the most powerful tools to use social media for good: collaboration, purpose, passion and action to raise awareness and funds for buildOn to foster sustainable futures for children in Mali by building schools.  It does not get much better than that as far as global citizenship.

Dana Freeman, Find and Go Seek

This is the first time that I am participating in Passports with a Purpose as a travel blogger, however I have been a supporter of the program for many years. I am so impressed by what this group has been able to do with their fundraising efforts. I am confident that by harnessing the power of the travel writing community to benefit buildOn, we will be able to reach our goal of $115,000 so that new schools will be constructed and adult literacy programs will be funded in Mali.  Becoming involved in this group blogging effort inspires me to do something more with my writing. I am looking forward to the outcome of this year’s campaign.

Vero Autphenne, All Over the Map

When you’re starting out as a blogger, sometimes you wonder whether anyone is listening.

When we started our blog in 2010, we weren’t sure if anyone but our families were reading our posts, or if anyone who was reading was getting anything from them, so participating in the Passports with Purpose fundraiser was a chance for us to put our little voice to work with lots of other bigger voices to create a chorus of good. We loved knowing that the work we were doing was going to benefit that year’s charity directly, and we put everything we had into getting the word out. It felt great to know that we were doing something that would make a real and positive change in the lives of people who had been struggling in Haiti.

We are excited about this year’s chosen charity, buildOn, because we believe wholeheartedly in their mission to build schools and break the cycle of poverty in Mali. I think any of us would do whatever we could to eliminate poverty if only we knew what to do. Well, this is way for us to make a mark. Research shows there would be a 12% drop in global poverty if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills. And buildOn is addressing that directly, by building schools in Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world. Even better: enrollment by girls is increasing each year and is now at 43% of the total enrollment.

We are lucky to live our lives confident in knowing that our children have access to quality education. Let’s help make that basic right become a reality for their brothers and sisters in Mali.

What’s Next?


Word. Thanks a million to all you beautiful, magnificent bloggers! It’s a privilege making this magic happen with you.

- Sandra

Photo courtesy of buildOn.

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