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May 15, 2016 | News: ClassACT projects

ClassACT Bulletin seeks help for classmates from classmates

We get by with a little help from our friends

GOT SKILLS? Wanted: Expertise, Professional Help, Time for ClassACT and classmates' nonprofits, such as:

ClassACT We're in need of classmates with experience with CRM software like Salesforce. If you or staff you know at nonprofits you work with have some we could use the help! Contact Sallie Gouverneur, Jonathan Sprague or Marion Dry for details.

The Children's Orchestra (NYC), run by Yeou-cheng Ma

*NEEDS: Management skills, Fundraising experience, Production help, Data management *

Or, as Yeou-cheng puts it: 'I found an ad for a t-shirt that said: Executive Director, because " miracle worker" is not a job title.'

"Having been in the Children's Orchestra under my father's tutelage, and having raised it from dormancy 32 years ago, I have had the joy and tribulation of learning on the job all that is necessary to keep a non-profit afloat. We now have a team of production and recruitment people who are doing a wonderful job. The tricky part of succession planning is how to externalize my brain, and transmit all the data, relationships, etc. necessary for fund-raising, and the million tiny tasks that need to be planned for ahead of each production. I would welcome any suggestions from classmates and colleagues to get a grip on how to start such a process." Contact Yeou-cheng at or see

White Pony Express, Emily Fields Karakashian, a ClassACT Bridge Project

*NEEDS: Management expertise, Web skills, Administrative help *

Because, as Emily writes, "WPE's newest program, the White Pony Inn, is creating a comprehensive program to tackle the intractable problem of homelessness. To sustain this level of growth and continue our programs, we need help, your creativity and expertise to help develop basic tools like a professional press kit, website updates, assistance with a marketing campaign to raise operating funds and bring in more long-term volunteers, and help creating and running a fundraising campaign. We always need dedicated volunteers, especially administrative help, which could be done remotely from your home. Local alums who live within easy driving distance of Pleasant Hill, CA, who could volunteer as food runners and dispatchers, would be especially welcome, as would regular volunteers in our Free General Store workshop where we prepare clothing, toys, and children's books to give away to neighbors in need."

Any experience you have in these areas would be welcome! If you'd like to help or just more information, please contact Emily (Fields) Karakashian at or 925-451-5241. See more about White Pony Express at

Osiligi Foundation, A ClassACT Bridge

NEEDS: Medical Supplies

The Maasai Health Clinic Facility of the Osiligi Hope Foundation has been completed! Practicing both traditional Maasai and western medicine, it consists of a pharmacy/office, examination room, labor and delivery room, an observation room, a dental examination room, and two bathrooms. It now needs medical supplies: everything from stretcher and wheelchair to bed pans, hot plates, incubators and nebulizers.

Classmate David Weeks has a complete list of needed supplies with US$ prices; altogether they total $8500.

Party for Humanity, founded by Helen Hershkoff

This 100% pro bono New York-based online program encourages kids to celebrate birthdays and other big days by including other kids, donating via a curated list of child-focused charities.

NEEDS: Management advice, tech help, both advisory and hands-on; graphics/web design skills; help rolling out the Party model for other areas, and legal assistance

Here's what Helen tells us about Party for Humanity: "Created years before Facebook or Evite, the site offers a non-commercial, non-cluttered e-space to help a child and responsible adult talk about why caring for others should be a regular part of our lives." The site targets groups that will benefit from modest amounts of money. Helen Hershkoff founded Party for Humanity together with her husband building on an idea that came from their son, then 10. The Board includes classmates Kavery Kaul (filmmaker with a documentary-in-the-works shot in India and New Orleans) and Arthur Lubow (journalist and author of a biography about Diane Arbus); Evelyn Chung '00 (a Labor Department lawyer who was Helen's student at NYU Law); as well as a pediatrician/musician, lawyer, and graphic designer. The organization builds on a volunteer model: every aspect of the organization (other than Internet hosting and government fees)-from the act of incorporation, to the design of the logo, to the trademarking of the name, to web design, and so forth-comes from pro bono service. We would welcome participation from our classmates."

Classmate Helen at or visit for more information.

September 13, 2015 | News: ClassACT projects

New Orleans in October!

On October 17th, JusticeAID produced a rockin' concert at the House of Blues in New Orleans - giving ClassACT a chance to show off 2 stellar nonprofits our classmates support and an excuse to let the good times roll. The concert featured Ani DiFranco and Hurray for the Riff Raff, with a parade preceding the concert by the band from The Roots of Music that played for President Obama during Hurricane Katrina commemoration ceremonies. 100% of the proceeds went to The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and the Innocence Project New Orleans, organizations dedicated to correcting and preventing wrongful convictions.

Classmate Steve Milliken's JusticeAID supports charities seeking to eradicate barriers to justice and equality, promoting justice through the arts, while The Roots of Music, (classmate sponsor Rick Weil), provides free music education, tutoring and mentoring programs to middle school students in New Orleans. Check out a video of Roots HERE! ClassACT is very proud to work with both of them and to have linked them together for this event.

We conjured a gathering of classmates, spouses and friends to join in the fun, with a Friday dinner with classmates October 16th and The Roots of Music parade/performance and JusticeAID concert Saturday, October 17th. On Sunday, October 18th Rick Weil conducted a walking tour of New Orleans. We had a fantastic soul-food brunch and attended a thrilling 2nd-line parade in Treme.

If you still have your kids' musical instruments and don't need them anymore, let us know! Roots is interested in donations of musical instruments in good working conditions. For information contact Sallie Gouverneur.

June 10, 2015 | News: ClassACT projects

ROOTS of Music in New YouTube Video

January 8, 2015 | News: ClassACT projects


Enjoying the fruit of years of good work

The Corner Institute (El Rincon)'s Ellen Calmus '73 recently emailed with details of the Corner Institute's activities for the benefit of migrants and their families. Some examples:

Sharing our methods with Mexico's teachers

Teaching a Ministry of Education-sponsored statewide workshop for teachers of migrants' children.

I was delighted when a delegation from our state's public university asked me to help design a program to train our state's public school teachers in methods to help them teach the increasing numbers of migrants' children in our state's schools. Over a hundred primary and secondary teachers from across the state attended the resulting course. They were hearteningly eager to learn methods for handling the challenges of teaching children growing up separated from their migrant parents, children often suffering many displacements themselves, and I was very happy to share what we've learned in seven years of special programs for migrants' children.

Helping migrants' children overcome tragedy, beat the odds, and stay in school

Veronica Medina received "Dreamer" (DACA) status, and is studying for a degree in hotel management.

Veronica, whose migrant parents brought her to the U.S. as a child, was forced to drop out of school and go to work full time after her father, Roberto Medina, died in U.S. immigration detention. The Corner Institute located expert pro bono legal assistance in Georgia attorney Brian Spears, whose investigative work made it possible for Veronica's family to receive U.S. government compensation, which helped Veronica apply for Deferred Action status. Veronica is now putting her protected status to work with a will, working part-time to put herself through college.

Improving our region's security and strengthening accountability

The Aztec Itzcuintli logo on our community security fliers.

The Corner Institute has followed the news surrounding the disappearance of the 43 students in the neighboring state of Guerrero with great concern, considering what we might do to improve this country's situation. Though our community security project necessarily operates at the local level, we're hopeful that our strategy of providing basic security information not generally available to people in rural areas of Mexico could be useful in other places. Our community security fliers are the only existing publications of this information available in an accessible form in our region, and our work in this area will continue to focus on creating a more informed, less vulnerable citizenry. Our newest community security project is a set of simple accounting notebooks developed in coordination with our parish for the use of our barrios' festival committees. By teaching basic accounting skills, this project promotes accountability at the local level by developing the skills needed for citizens to participate in oversight of local agencies. We've found our community accounting methods make an effective preventative measure against corruption.

Hosting seminars for students, researchers and service-providers

University of Barcelona psychologist Isabel Cardenas led a seminar on migrants' family psychology.

El Rincón has always worked in partnership with the Malinalco community, always learning from the people we serve, and always happy to bring students and scholars seeking to deepen their understanding of migrants' hometowns like Malinalco together with the people of this community. For instance, USC grad students interviewed a migrant returnee for a policy paper on U.S.-born migrants' children.

USC grad students interviewed a migrant returnee for a policy paper on U.S.-born migrants' children.

Thus it's nothing new for us to bring people from the U.S. and elsewhere to study and sometimes teach in Malinalco. But now these activities have been blossoming.

A seminar for Fulbright scholars shared tips on dealing with the challenges of conducting research in Mexico.

We're looking forward to developing more of these seminars in the year to come!

Please join us in celebrating the launch of our new Corner Institute of Malinalco!

Frankly, we're pretty excited about our little Corner Project growing up to be a Corner Institute!

We love our new name, even if it does sound a bit, well, contradictory. Aren't institutes supposed to be big and important? But that's exactly the point: we're the little institute on the corner. Which turns out to be an ideal location for working with friends, academics and a brilliant historically-Aztec community in search of solutions to the challenges faced by places like Malinalco in today's globalizing world.

So what do you think? We're going strong, but so much remains to be done. Having taken this ambitious step, we need to build our capacity as quickly as possible in order to meet the challenges we've taken on. Carrying on our crisis assistance and programs to keep migrants' children in school, while bringing some of the most thoughtful and creative people in Mexico and the U.S. to participate in seminars designed to work with this community toward solving some of our region's big problems: it's an enormous, fascinating, daunting task, but one we find deeply inspiring -- and I hope you will, too.

November 17, 2014 | News from the Board

Board members huddle with HAA Director

ClassACT Co-chair Marion Dry and Board Member Carl Muller had a fruitful and promising meeting with HAA Director Philip Lovejoy, who expressed encouragement for the ClassACT effort

November 14, 2014 | News: ClassACT projects

Washington area Classmates dine and discuss the Corner Institute

first ClassACT regional get-together

Class ACT’s first Dynamics of Change local-connection event: Wednesday, November 12th at Primi Piatti Ristorante Washington, DC Partnering for Development: Dinner and conversation with HR73 classmates Roger Myerson and Ellen Calmus.

Ellen Calmus ’73 is founder and director of the Corner Institute (Instituto del Rincón of Malinalco, Mexico; Roger Myerson ’73 is an adviser to the Corner Institute and Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Economics, University of Chicago and 2007 winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics. Classmates attending: Allen Lee, Robert Clayton, Julia Frank, Charles Horn, Jane Luxton, Thomas McNamara, Christine Pendzich, Laurie Quarles, Thomas Mattair and wife Laura, and Walter Morris.

This Class ACT gathering of Washington D.C.-area classmates showcased the inspiring results that can grow out of a partnering approach to Third World development challenges. Ellen's topic included the successes that can result when challenges to development are addressed by providing technical expertise for projects initiated and propelled by locally-generated ideas; Roger spoke about his travels to Malinalco for a 2006 brief-residency Rincón seminar and what he observed there.

Classmates were invited to participate in a discussion of the conundrums of development: How can we help underdeveloped communities emerge from poverty? How can these initiatives become self-sustaining? What can Americans do to improve the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico?

November 14, 2014 | News from the Board

ClassACT receives nonprofit status

Getting right with the IRS

ClassACT legal counsel classmate Kevin Crane announced that, with the help of Len Easter '73, our effort has officially received 501(c)3 nonprofit status.

May 5, 2014 | Announcement

Roots is pretty loved in Nola!

A couple more pieces of good news for the Roots of Music.

Rick Weil recently shared a couple more pieces of good news for New Orleans' Roots of Music:

  1. We played at the Mayor’s second inauguration a couple days ago, closing it: View Video Here - Btw, the mayor comes to teach a class at Roots from time to time.

  2. The Greater New Orleans Foundation (the main regional umbrella nonprofit) held a city-wide fund-raiser yesterday, and by my calculations, out of 309 nonprofits, Roots came in ranked #14, averaging the number of gifts and the total amount of funds raised. (See Here)