10 in 10 Challenge

FBB is turning 10! Let's celebrate. For 10 months in 2019, FBB is challenging 10 humanists to become monthly givers. Help make the world a better place and help FBB grow for 10 more years!

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

  • The camps of the Rohingya refugees are flooding from monsoons. Your donation can help.

  • Donate for hurricane recovery efforts throughout the hurricane season.

  • 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 volunteer 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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This article is part of a series written by FBB volunteers detailing their experiences in the Humanist Service Corps. The opinions expressed in this article may not necessarily express those of Foundation Beyond Belief as a whole, its staff, or donors.

Elroy Leday is a Humanist Service Corps volunteer who has traveled to Ghana for the first time as part of a year-long service commitment in the town of Cape Coast. This is his second entry in this blog series. (Click here for his first installment.)

October 2019.

Hi everyone, Elroy here. I wanted to give you all an update on my most recent month. It was very action-packed. It started with a festival called Orange Friday, which itself is a part of Fetu Afahye, but more on that later. Orange Friday is a festival where the entire town wears orange. There is music played throughout the town and everyone dances as they march through town. It is a high-energy, all-day event, and is particular to the town of Cape Coast. For the weekend celebrations, there are numerous pop-up bars and restaurants to accommodate. In addition to immersing ourselves in local culture, we also discovered non-governmental organizations doing great work in Ghana.

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As I said earlier, Orange Friday is a part of Fetu Afahye, which is a festival the following Saturday. Fetu Afahye is a festive celebration of a time when there was an epidemic that killed a lot of people, and the people prayed for salvation from the disease. The festival is also part of a purifying ritual to clean the town. It is accompanied with the carrying of the chiefs.

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Meanwhile at our partner organization SAPID (Services and Advocacy for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities), we started making really good progress on getting admin access of SAPID's Facebook page back into their hands after a hacker gained access a few years ago. It turned out to be a far harder problem that a simple account recovery option. I was, however, able to fix many of their computers, which I enjoyed, although it brought about a certain difficulty I didn't expect getting cyber-tools without internet.

Speaking of things I enjoy: for the second time, I was able to participate in P.E. with the kids and play soccer/football. As I have been steadily trying to improve my physical health while I am here, this helped to gauge how far I had come since last month in a fun and interactive way. However, not everything went so easily. I especially had difficulty coming up with fun songs for the children, as well as helping them come up with slogans for fliers and stickers. We still have more work in progress building a website and finding grant opportunities for our partners.

This month, instead of our regular beach cleanup we joined another organization's efforts to clean the beaches. That organization is called Global Mamas, and I hear they are all over the... globe. They are an international nonprofit organization that creates livelihoods for women. There was an amazing turnout! Chiemi and I did socializing as well as networking as we cleaned up. There, we also met another group similar to SAPID called ACA, or Autism Compassion Africa. More on them next month.

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Back home in the village where we live, Wiomoah, we have started a vocational project for girls. It required many meetings with the chief and elders. We initially came up with a few ideas that we could do and the elders got together to discuss them and choose this project. Although because of the language barrier the talk was hard to follow, it was an interesting discussion. I met up with the elders again last week to get permission to plant some trees, and one elder told me that he is very excited for this program specifically because it helps young ladies find livelihoods. He told me about a young girl he came across recently who he found crying, because she felt she had no prospects for a livelihood. That was a heart-wrenching scenario and he was grateful to be able to tell her there is hope. I am really happy that our vocational project is happening in the village in which we live.

Recently, my close friend John invited me to his grandmother's funeral. The funeral lasted for at least three days and we had to travel back to John's maternal home town. Fun fact: in John's tribe, a person’s hometown isn't where they were born, nor even where they were raised; it is where their mother came from. So you can have a hometown that you have never visited before. The funeral is more a celebration of life than a somber reflection of death. Because of that, the village was abuzz with energetic partying and music. There were multiple funerals going on at the same time, as a rule exists restricting all funerals in the village to three one-month periods. This is in order for people traveling from afar not to need to make multiple trips. It feels weird to say I enjoyed the visit, but it wouldn't be false.

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Make sure to sign up to our newsletter to hear more about the work we are doing in Ghana.

More pictures from the Humanist Service Corps can also be found on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

By Elroy Leday, HSC Volunteer

There’s nothing quite like harnessing the power of the people for good.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been proud to be part of a movement that’s re-energizing grassroots activism aimed at protecting endangered wildlife and the most important places where they live.

The Center for Biological Diversity is often rightly noted for its legal and scientific work over the past 30 years. But at the core of the organization is an activist’s heart, a belief that saving wildlife and wild places is a long journey where success will be born of people standing up and standing together — facing down the powerful so that future generations will have a planet where the wild is still alive.

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That’s been our driving mission, especially during the Trump administration’s unprecedented attacks on wildlife. In response we’ve dramatically ramped up our work to mobilize the public — building a network of thousands of volunteers ready to answer the call.

In the summer of 2018, we helped organize people around the country after the Trump administration ended federal protection for grizzly bears that live in and around Yellowstone National Park. Trump’s move paved the way for Wyoming and Idaho to approve trophy-hunting seasons authorizing more than 20 bears to be shot and killed, including 13 females. We couldn’t let that stand. So while the Center launched a legal challenge and we put up billboards, our organizing team tapped into a coast-to-coast network of volunteers ready to take action.

Our volunteers held more than 40 “Brews for Bears” events at bars, coffee shops and breweries to learn more and write postcards to the Trump administration. It was heartwarming, topped only by a judge’s decision in September 2018 that reinstated grizzly protection and nullified any plans for trophy hunts.

But there wasn’t much time to rest. A few months later, the Trump administration announced plans to end Endangered Species Act protection for nearly every wolf in the lower 48 states. His proposal would pull the plug on 40 years of wolf recovery work and take us back to the days when these fascinating animals were persecuted to the brink of extinction.

Once again we turned to our growing network of volunteer activists in a campaign we named “Call of the Wild.” This time we took it to another level.

We held calls, empowered volunteers, conducted trainings, set up mentorship programs, rallied in wolf masks, hosted presentations, phoned governors, worked with students, made art… the list goes on and on. It was inspiring to see so many people motivated and working so hard for the cause. Yes, we steered them in the right direction and supported them along the way, but it was truly a people-powered movement that went beyond anything we could’ve done on our own.

And the results were staggering. 

Over the course of several months, more than 1,000 volunteers fanned out across the country and collected some 53,000 pro-wolf comments at farmers markets, dog parks, street fairs and other local events. By the summer of 2019, we and our other allies in the environmental movement turned in more than 1.8 million comments calling on the Trump administration to retain wolf protections. It was the largest number of comments ever submitted in the 45-year history of the Endangered Species Act.

But the other shoe dropped less than a month later, when the Trump administration rolled out a series of disastrous new rules crippling implementation of the Endangered Species Act. This time it wasn’t just wolves or bears. These rules cast a long, dark shadow over hundreds of species protected by the Act — and even those in line for protection.

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We took a deep breath and dove in once again. Our “Act for Endangered Species” campaign was up in running within a few weeks. More than 400 people — volunteers around the country — joined our first campaign call, fired up and ready to go. The next day they were flooding Congress with phone calls and then starting to recruit more people into the movement. We notched our first key victory not long afterward with a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to roll back the Trump administration’s attacks on the Endangered Species Act.

This fight to save the Act — and the wolves, bears and other species it protects — will be a long one. It may last months or even years — honestly, that’s hard to say.

But what I know for certain is that we’ve tapped into everyday people’s incredible love for the wild and for wildlife. In the long run, love is stronger than fear. And when we channel our love for the wild into activism, when we mobilize together, support each other, learn as we go and never stop fighting, we achieve something that’s priceless in times of darkness: hope.

Valerie Love is deputy director of the organizing department at the Center for Biological Diversity.

By Valerie Love, NCSE

Where are they now? Some of our first beneficiaries are coming back for the fourth quarter of 2019, bigger and better than ever.

 

To celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we are going back to where it all began: this quarter we have selected four beneficiaries who we funded (with your donations) in our very first grant cycle!  The beneficiary organizations have grown since those first grants in FBB’s early days, but their commitment to evidence-based, sustainable interventions has not changed. We are thrilled to see the progress and accomplishments they’ve made and are proud to be able to support them again now.

 

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Nearly one third of LGBTQ students drop out of high school due to violence, harassment, and isolation, which is seven times the national average. Our Human Rights beneficiary, Point Foundation, works to counteract this trend. Their mission is to empower promising lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential—despite the obstacles often put before them—to make a significant impact on society. Point provides grants for higher education as well as leadership training and internship opportunities. They also match each scholar in their program to a mentor with whom they work to design and implement an annual community service project that supports the LGBTQ community.

 

Since its founding in 2001, Point has awarded approximately 400 scholarships including 85 for the current academic year. Point alumni include elected officials, doctors, scientists, filmmakers, authors, lawyers, academics, business professionals, and entrepreneurs. FBB is honored to support Point Foundation and the work they do to empower marginalized LGBTQ youth. This grant will specifically support a trans student of color.

 

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Water For People, our Poverty & Health beneficiary, envisions a world where all people have access to safe and reliable water and sanitation services. Water For People does more than build wells and install toilets in the nine countries in which they are active. Water For People works from foundations of community conversations for sustainable, long-term change. They work to transform entire systems so that there will be safe and clean systems for generations—without relying on ongoing aid.

 

Everyone Forever, Water For People’s impact model, is designed to reach everyone in the district in which they are working no matter how remote and no matter how marginalized. And they design systems that will be aid-independent. A key aspects of this model is its foundation on co-investing, capacity building, monitoring/reporting, and replication. Water For People does not fully fund infrastructure, in order to ensure the communities are invested in the outcome. In the end, the communities own the systems they build and can maintain them without Water For People. While building the systems, Water For People trains local people to collect and analyze data to keep the systems operating at a high level. With every successful system, it is easier to get buy-in from new communities.

 

FBB is proud to support Water For People and their commitment to sustainable, community-centered, and data-driven systems for safe and reliable water and sanitation around the world for Everyone Forever.

 

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The work that the Center for Biological Diversity, our Natural Word beneficiary, does is based on the belief that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to the existence of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants on this planet. The effects of human activity on Earth result in species going extinct at up to 1,000 times the natural rate. With the tools of science, law, and creative media, the Center works to save any species—large or small—on the brink of extinction.

 

The Center’s work spans the entire planet, from the oceans to Antarctica, to fighting air pollution, to supporting 100% renewable energy. The Center’s environmental health work curbs toxic contaminants that harm humans and animals alike. Their solutions for a sustainable future include the empowerment of women and girls, universal access to reproductive healthcare and education, a healthy and secure food system, and clean energy.

 

FBB shares The Center’s commitment to a sustainably healthy planet for all living things and is happy to support their data-driven, grassroots programs that seek solutions for the survival of humans and our environment.

 

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Our Education beneficiary, National Center for Science Education, promotes and defends accurate and effective science education, because everyone deserves to engage with the evidence. Well-established areas of science that are culturally controversial, such as climate change and evolution, can be challenging to teach. In addition to numerous resources on their site, NCSE trains teachers and others in approaches for these subjects that have been proven to reduce conflict and help learners overcome misconceptions. NCSE also works to help local communities block legislation that would result in miseducation for students.

I wanted to expand my knowledge of teaching a tough topic. It’s harder when you’re out there “on your own” without a system or support network. Living outside of DC, it’s become an incredibly political topic. I wanted to strengthen my ability to cut through the talking points and teach the science. ~Melinda Landry, NCSE Teacher Ambassador

 

Please take some time to explore the beneficiaries that we are featuring this quarter.

By FBB

Two years ago, Myanmar’s military launched a violent crackdown against the Muslim Rohingya population.

Last week, local regulators compounded the Rohingya's sense of isolation by ordering a halt to all cellphone service in the area of their camps.

Imagine that your own government has burned your villages into the ground, attempted to kill you, and forced 750,000 of your people to flee for their lives. Imagine the country you fled to trying to send you back. Imagine the tension and dread you would feel with your phone service cut off, with no way to contact those important to you. This is the experience of the Rohingya refugee population currently languishing in Bangladesh.

Our contact in Bangladesh has reported that the blackout is stoking worry as relatives are not able contact one another between camps, in Myanmar, or abroad.

"The Rohingya are now a people of nowhere," the Washington Post recently wrote. "They shouldn’t be abandoned."

As human beings, we're predisposed to care most about people closer to home, who look most like us and whose plight we can most easily imagine.

Unfortunately, this means that while we've seen an exciting response to our fundraisers for disasters like Hurricane Dorian and the US immigration crisis, our fundraising goals for Rohingya aid have been much more difficult to reach. We now face the unpleasant reality that Rohingya needs have taken a back seat to U.S.-based appeals.

We will not give up on the Rohingya. Despite the challenges, we will continue to support the refugees through this appeal. However, our ability to do so depends on the response of humanists in the next few weeks.

2019-sept-rohingya-busOur beneficiary for this crisis is ActionAid USA, chosen for their ability to respond to monsoon-related floods in the Bangladesh camps. The monsoons may be over, but the refugees there still face immense challenges from the disaster, including a devastated water and sewer infrastructure. ActionAid's work also includes workshops intended to curb abuse and exploitation of Rohingya women, to make them less vulnerable during the next emergency.

We hope you will not abandon the Rohingya either. If you are able, please help us keep this fundraiser open, and give the Rohingya the resources they need to rebuild.

Count me in.
Thank you for helping build a more compassionate, equitable, and inclusive world.


*The Humanist Disaster Recovery program is sustained through a partnership between Foundation Beyond Belief and the American Humanist Association (AHA). We thank AHA for their generous support of our efforts.

Photos courtesty of Ro Yassin Abdumonab

By FBB

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