Call To Action: Family Separation at the Border

  • Raising funds to assist families separated at the southern US border.

  • Highlights 4 carefully vetted charities per quarter in the areas of Poverty and Health, Education, Human Rights, and Natural World.

  • Sign up here to be considered for our next Teams deployment.

  • Service Corps volunteers save lives and fight for gender equality by supporting local human rights organizations in Ghana’s Northern Region.

  • Our Beyond Belief Network is a collective of organizations putting compassionate humanism into action through community volunteering and charitable fundraising. 

  • The hosts of our official podcast travel the country telling stories of life-changing events, expanding our horizons and our compassion.

We are Humanism at Work

Foundation Beyond Belief is a humanist charity that promotes secular volunteering and responsible charitable giving. Guided by the principles of secular humanism, our mission is to:

  • Unite the humanist community in volunteering and charitable efforts.

  • Advocate for compassionate action throughout the world.

We forward our mission through our programs: Grants, Disaster Recovery, Service Corps, and Volunteer Network.

Inside FBB: Latest News

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In June, our Beyond Belief Network teams kept busy supporting people experiencing homelessness and poverty in their communities. For some information and ideas for how you or your team can help see our National Youth Homeless Awareness guide

18-6_bbn_kol-hadash-soup-kitchen-groupIn the Chicago area, St James soup kitchen organizes a regular supper program. In June, Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation Community brought food, prepared it, and served 60 attendees. Kol Hadash volunteers had a good time and felt like they were doing important work. Great event! 

South Texas Atheists for Reason (STAR) in San Antonio focused on hygiene supplies for their giveaway for people experiencing homeless in downtown San Antonio. Volunteers also brought clothing, water, and snack foods that they were able to give to the approximately 45 people who went through their line. Keep up the good work!

18-6__bbn__humanists-doing-good-gardeningIn Grand Junction, CO Humanists Doing Good spent a day in June at the Fruita Community Garden weeding and planting vegetables and herbs. The team of volunteers were treated to terrific overcast weather for the majority of the time before the clouds burst and sent everyone running for the cars just as they were finishing up. It was a great event to bring the kids to giving them a chance to play in the dirt. 

Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless had their largest single giveaway in June supporting approximately 250 people! 

06-18_bbn_atxahh-june-giveaway-lineThe record breaking giveaway was possible because of the 25 volunteers who came, despite the hot, humid weather, with supplies, smiles, and time! They also had awesome donations ranging from sunscreen to backpacks. They received monetary donations, including a FBB grant, that allowed them to purchase additional backpacks, granola bars, and razors, among other items. Here's to another record breaking event next month! 

Humanist Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) and Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) in Columbus joined forces again in June to volunteer as servers at the Community Shelter Board (CSB) facility on Van Buren Drive in Columbus, Ohio. This was their 30th joint shelter event! CSB provides housing and meals to families and individual men and women experiencing homelessness in Central Ohio. 

COUNT had another event in June where four volunteers worked as housewarmers at the Columbus Ohio Ronald McDonald House (RMH). RMH provides housing and meals to families with children being treated at Nationwide Childrens Hospital and other area hospitals. Housewarmers work with the guests to provide a home-like environment. 

People experiencing homelessness in the US is an epidemic, but it's one that has solutions. It's an issue that impacts every community and one that every community service group can help address. We are very proud of our Beyond Belief Network teams who are taking on this issue and of the results they are seeing. Great job teams! 

By FBB

June’s Beyond Belief Network Picture of the Month comes from Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless’ record breaking giveaway supporting people experiencing homelessness. At June’s giveaway they provide items--including sunscreen, backpacks, granola bars, razors, and reading glasses--to more people than ever before. Twenty-five volunteers came despite the hot, muggy weather. Great event Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless! Here’s to another record breaking giveaway next month!

June’s Team of the Month, Humanists Doing Good in Grand Junction, CO, had a wonderful event in June too. Until a rain storm forced them to run for their cars just as they were finishing up! June took them to the Fruita Community Garden where they weeded and planted herbs and vegetables, which was a fantastic opportunity for kids to get involved. Looking forward to seeing your cucumbers, squash, peppers, and basil harvest in a few months!

By FBB

To read part one click here

Last December the 2017-2018 HSC team (volunteers and FBB leadership) mutually decided to leave Yendi. The HSC program faced some unexpected challenges in 2017 that forced several big location changes for our volunteers. While these challenges were entirely outside our control, we want to remain transparent about the status of the program and how we have adapted our 2018 schedule. Even though we were all disappointed to leave Yendi, we are proud of our accomplishments in the north, and are optimistic about the program’s future.

hsc_ghana_learningtomakesheabutter_july2017We decided to start the next phase of the HSC program in January instead of July. This phase will use an evaluation and improvement process to determine how best to use knowledge gained from the Northern Region as we transition to other parts of Ghana. Although we planned to expand to other parts of Ghana, we never expected it to happen so quickly. We are continuing our partnerships in the Northern Region to build on our accomplishments remotely, but do not plan to have anyone there at this time. We expect one or more volunteers will return at some point in the future. 

Establishing HSC in Cape Coast
After extensive research we chose Cape Coast, the capital of the Central Region of Ghana, as the location for our team to begin the next phase of the HSC program. Yvonne moved to Cape Coast in January and has spent the intervening months re-registering the HSC program with the Ghanaian government, getting to know the region better, and building relationships throughout the community.

In Ghanaian culture, relationships are the cornerstone of society. Building a strong relationship with every person with whom you interact on a daily basis is of the utmost importance. We cannot succeed in Ghana without having these relationships solidly in place. In many ways, this is part of why we struggled when the HSC team was forced to relocate so quickly in 2017; we did not have adequate time to establish strong relationships in Yendi.

Establishing Partnerships
Now that the HSC program has officially been re-registered with the government and the bulk of her relationship-building efforts are completed, Yvonne will begin to meet with NGOs operating in the Cape Coast area. She will be using the knowledge gained from our past experiences with partner organizations as she evaluates potential partner organizations.

HSC GhanaYvonne is also looking for a second person to help vet the Cape Coast NGO's - two people will have a much easier time evaluating an organization than one person alone could have, and offer multiple perspectives during the evaluations. They plan to spend approximately 4-8 weeks shadowing 2-4 organizations that seem like a truly promising fit. She explained that in Ghana, it can be challenging to get someone to answer a question if the answer may be perceived negatively or to admit to not knowing an answer, which added to the difficulties we faced in earlier partnerships. By spending two weeks onsite with potential partners, we will have firsthand knowledge about how an organization operates. 

The HSC Advisory Board & Website Updates
The Foundation Beyond Belief HSC Advisory Board is not only committed to the HSC program, but we are also committed to ensuring that the program moves forward in the most sustainable way possible. This program requires a serious commitment of time, energy, and financial resources, and we have no intention of spending any of these frivolously. The HSC Advisory Board last met in March. The date for the next meeting is still being finalized, but is tentatively planned for September.

We have also been working to update the HSC portion of the FBB website. With the many changes to the program, it has been challenging to reflect these changes on the website. Yvonne has put in a number of hours updating the information, and the changes are 80-90% complete.

Program Continuity in the Northern Region
HSC1Although we left the northern region of Ghana, the programs and projects that were established have continued to improve women’s rights. This is exactly what we hoped to achieve: partner with the local community to establish sustainable solutions which will lead to real improvements.

As you may recall, Lukeman Domba is a Ghanaian who worked with our Non-Ghanaian volunteers in the Northern Region during the 2016-2017 service year. He continues to work with the women in the Kukuo camp for alleged witches, and communicates regularly with us about his progress. Lukeman is facilitating best practices training in henna farming for women at Kukuo. Henna is a staple crop in the northern region of Ghana, as it is used heavily in traditional and religious practices. He is also working on a savings program: the women contribute money into a joint account each month and are able to take turns borrowing funds in an emergency.

The tailoring apprenticeship program has been more challenging to track, partly due to cultural barriers. Yvonne Nyahe, (HSC Ghana: Program Coordinator), noted that the perception is that NGOs come to the northern region, set up a program and distribute funding, and leave with no expectation of follow-up or reporting. Despite these challenges, Yvonne has been able to collect some information regarding the program’s progress. 

hsc-donating-sewing-machines-and-materials-to-vocational-training-participants-2Among the women who were initially selected for the program, one chose not to participate in the program at all, and the trainer was asked to select a new participant. Another woman chose to train with a family friend rather than the assigned trainer; this is a perfectly acceptable compromise as far as we are concerned. Yvonne has asked the trainers to send photos and other information about the training itself, but this is as much information as she has received despite repeated efforts. She notes that this is simply to be expected to some degree when we’re attempting to get information regarding projects in the north. She will continue to push for more details so we can evaluate the ongoing results of our work in the north.

We’d love to hear your questions and comments. Thanks for your ongoing support!

To be a donor, click here. Thank you for being #HumanismAtWork.

By FBB

You may already know that Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) collects monthly donations from humanists across the globe and uses every penny of these funds to make grants to secular charitable organizations in the categories of Poverty & Health, Human Rights, Education, and the Natural World. Each quarter FBB chooses four organizations--one per category--to receive an unrestricted grant.

What you may not know is that one quarter of each year is reserved for our single, game-changing Compassionate Impact Grant (CIG). Organizations begin the application process months in advance, and FBB selects the very best proposal for funding. A program must be innovative, transformative, evidence-based, and solve community problems to receive CIG funding.

While each of our finalists’ projects were strong in many ways, The Tandana Foundation's proposed project in the Bandiagara District of Mali is truly exceptional and will be receiving CIG funding in the Human Rights category.

Women in the Bandiagara District of Mali experience extreme gender inequality in terms of reproductive health, empowerment, and economic activity. While the region’s main economic activity is subsistence farming, women are traditionally barred from owning land. Furthermore, literacy for women in the region is approximately 10%, leaving them vulnerable and extraordinarily dependent.

Recognizing that the challenges faced by women in the region cannot be addressed without a multifaceted solution, Tandana has worked closely with the women and communities themselves to identify and prioritize needs and solutions.

With CIG grant funding, Tandana will be enrolling 600 Malian women from 20 villages in literacy and numeracy classes. Among these women, groups will be selected for leadership workshops. Women in the leadership workshops will then develop plans for income-generating enterprises, the best of which will be selected for implementation. The program was developed based on successes and challenges from past programming, as Tandana has been working in the Bandiagara District for the past 11 years.

Tandana’s strategies aligned so clearly with FBB’s in so many ways: the emphasis on planning initiatives based on community-identified needs rather than implementing projects based on preconceived assumptions; teaching literacy classes in the native Tommo So language rather than a western language such as French or English; and the emphasis on building long-term independence for the women.

We look forward to seeing the program begin in January of 2019 and are eager to share updates with you.

By FBB

The Podcast

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By following two humanists living radical experiences, this unique podcast expands our worldview and enlarges our capacity for compassion.

 

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