Igwe Study Project

Nigerian humanist Leo Igwe’s ongoing project studies, protects, and provides for the needs of people (often women and girls) accused of witchcraft in northern Ghana. Accused witches are stripped of their belongings and shunned by family and friends, and are often unable to get medical treatment for their injuries or to ensure their own safety…

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Pathfinders Project strengthens bonds across the globe

Pathfinders ProjectBy Conor Robinson. Click here to lend your support to the Pathfinders Project fund drive.

When we announced the Pathfinders Project, we shared our excitement for its potential to demonstrate humanism at its best and serve as the launching pad for the Humanist Action: Ghana. We are also eager to build synergy among humanists and humanist groups and strengthen the connection Foundation Beyond Belief has developed since its inception.

At Foundation Beyond Belief, we engage in a thorough vetting process for selecting beneficiaries. Through this process we come to know and value the people of these organizations and their amazing work. When Foundation Beyond Belief selects an organization as a beneficiary, it marks the beginning of a relationship with that organization, not the end. Foundation Beyond Belief is proud that Pathfinders Project will strengthen its relationships with some of its beneficiary organizations even further, while exploring relationships with organizations that may very well become beneficiaries in the future.

For their first project, the Pathfinders will work with Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), one of Foundation Beyond Belief’s inaugural beneficiaries from 2010. In addition to providing meals to all those who are hungry, TASK provides adult education services to encourage self-sufficiency, informs the wider community about the needs of the hungry, advocates for resources to meet these needs, and offers educational extracurricular activities for needy children on days when local schools are not in session.

Kasese Humanist Primary SchoolThe Pathfinders will be working with two former education beneficiaries when they get to Uganda, where there is a promising profusion of humanist schools. One such school is the Kasese Humanist Primary School, a beneficiary from 2012. Another is the Mustard Seed Secondary School, one of the institutions supported by the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust, a beneficiary from 2010 and an Encore Beneficiary in 2011. The Kasese Humanist Primary School and the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust develop lifelong learners who care for each other and for their communities. The schools encourage students to be open minded and questioning, to respect evidence, and to appreciate shared human values. We wish we saw more of this approach to education in the United States!

Leo IgweDuring part of their stay in Ghana, the Pathfinders will visit some of the witch camps where Leo Igwe is currently conducting his research. Leo Igwe’s field study into witchcraft accusations in Ghana is currently being supported by Foundation Beyond Belief in collaboration with the James Randi Educational Foundation and the Institute for Science and Human Values. Igwe is one of the most prominent and acclaimed humanists on the African continent, and his work raises awareness of the deplorable living situation for the many Ghanaian women who have been accused of witchcraft and expelled from their villages. The Pathfinders will help identify the needs of these women, needs that Foundation Beyond Belief is committed to helping address in the future.

During one of their months in Guatemala, the Pathfinders will work with Avivara, one of Foundation Beyond Belief’s 2012 small grant beneficiaries. Avivara is a small organization with a big impact—its multifaceted approach to improving educational access and outcomes for impoverished youth in Guatemala has yielded tangible results for Avivaramany students, schools, and communities. 

With your help over the past three years, we have been hard at work putting our money where our mouth is in support of some incredible beneficiaries. Now, with your continued help, we will put our young humanist leaders to work furthering the exemplary efforts of our beneficiaries and the principles of humanism on the ground. If you’d like to contribute, please visit the Pathfinders Project fundraiser on IndieGoGo.

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Meet our new beneficiaries for the first quarter of 2014

By AJ Chalom, Humanist Giving Program Coordinator

We’re kicking off our fifth year of compassionate humanism with a fantastic new slate of charities. These organizations work to prevent suicide, teach the world about climate change, help some of Guatemala City’s most vulnerable children access education, serve as an advocate for homeless LGBTQ youth, and make sure children raised in devoutly religious homes have access to the medical care they need and live free from abuse. Learn more about these organizations below. Members, to adjust your donation allocation for this quarter, log in and select “Manage Donation” on the right side of the page.

AFSP

Encore Poverty and Health: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) seeks to reduce suicide rates through initiating and participating in projects that develop, implement, and evaluate innovative approaches to suicide prevention. Their programs concentrate on social awareness, reducing the stigma of mental health disorders, and early intervention.
 

350.org The Natural World: 350.org is a massive grassroots organizing network that raises awareness of climate change and the use of fossil fuels worldwide. Their use of video and social media is extensive. Their goal is to provide scientific information regarding climate change to a cross-section of the world’s population to inspire them to take action.
 
Safe Passage Education: Safe Passage provides educational opportunities for children who live in and around the Guatemala City garbage dump. These children often spend their days with their family scavenging for wood, metal, and other materials to earn money and help build housing in the slums at the base of the dump. Pathfinders Project will work with Safe Passage in May of 2014. 
 
Ali Forney Center

Human Rights: Ali Forney Center’s mission is to help homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth be safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood. FBB’s grant will be appropriated to Ali Forney Center’s Learning, Employment, Advancement & Placement (or LEAP) program, which provides career and educational advancement services for homeless LGBTQ youth. This program concentrates on providing legal assistance and financial stability counselling. They also cultivate a community of acceptance for their clientele.

The Human Rights beneficiary this quarter is the first selected under our new RFP process. We invited pre-screened charities to participate in the RFP process to provide additional information about their programs.

Child-Friendly Faith Project Challenge the Gap: The Child-Friendly Faith Project is a new endeavor that spreads awareness of how to support children in devoutly religious homes and protect them from abuse. They furthermore encourage devout communities to provide proper medical opportunities for their children. The group does not want to convert people; instead, they want to make sure that all children are being raised in abuse-free homes.
 

Women's Leadership Project

Leo Igwe Research Project

Small Grants:
Women’s Leadership Project (WLP) is a feminist humanist college prep mentoring program for girls of color in South L.A. high schools. WLP fills a vacuum in a school district that has few programs that specifically address the intersection of sexism, racism, misogyny, and heterosexism in the lives of young women of color. The majority of their students will be first-generation college students. The WLP college-prep curriculum sends girls of color to four-year colleges and universities at above-average rates.
 
Leo Igwe Research Project: Many women accused of witchcraft by their communities in Ghana have also endured torture and beatings. Stripped of their belongings and shunned by family and friends, they are often unable to get medical treatment for their injuries or to ensure their own safety from further harm. Nigerian humanist Leo Igwe, who is currently fighting witchcraft accusations in Ghana, has created a victims’ fund to provide initial support for these women. Foundation Beyond Belief is proud of its ongoing commitment to supporting this fund.

Members, don’t forget to log in and select “Manage Donation” on the right side of the page to allocate your donations for the first quarter.

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Meet the Pathfinders

Pathfinders Project

 

We’re excited to announce Pathfinders Project, a humanist service and research trip. Pathfinders Project is our small-grant beneficiary for the second quarter of 2013. Click here to learn how you can help support the project and fund their international service trip.

Project: Pathfinders Project
Project Leader: Conor Robinson
Sponsor: Foundation Beyond Belief
Full project budget: $108,000

Pathfinders Project is a yearlong international service and research trip sponsored by Foundation Beyond Belief. From July 2013 to July 2014, four humanists will complete clean water, education, and human rights projects in collaboration with local nonprofits and NGOs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. As they complete these projects, the Pathfinders will collect data on each country and partner organization with the ultimate goal of evaluating sites for the forthcoming Humanist Action: Ghana.

OUR PATHFINDERS ARE:


Conor Robinson
is an elementary special education teacher in Los Angeles. He graduated from Yale University in 2010, after founding the Yale Humanist Society, majoring in English, and minoring in intramural sports. A lifelong vegetarian and six-year vegan, Conor is looking forward to the culinary exploration that will go hand in hand with his cultural exchange.

 


Ben Blanchard
is a biomedical major at St. Cloud State University, serving as president of SSA-SCSU as well as VNC for the UpperMidWest Network for the National SSA. Ben aspires to create plastic-eating bacteria, then become a pediatric oncologist. In his free time, he enjoys absorbing knowledge, friendly debates, doing science, and amassing nerd-cred.

 


Michelle Huey is a student at the University of California, Davis where she studies Design and Political Science – Public Service. She looks forward to using her skills to work on a cause that is right at the intersection of her three main passions: humanism, service, and social justice.

 


Wendy Webber
is a graduate student at Yale Divinity School, where she is a founding member of an atheist, agnostic, and multifaith community that fosters interbelief dialogues and initiatives. Wendy is a published author who plays tennis, takes photos, and enjoys offbeat museums like the chamber pot museum and surgical instruments museum.

 

Pathfinders Project Itinerary
July 2013   Trenton, New Jersey: Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), Poverty Beneficiary Q4 2010

August 2013

 

Bridge of Life School (photo credit: Eddie Roohan)EDUCATION PROJECT SPOTLIGHT
Siem Reap, Cambodia: Bridge of Life School

While in Cambodia, the Pathfinders will work as English teachers at the main school in Siem Reap. They will also help construct a floating latrine for the Bridge of Life School in the laketop village of Kampong Kleang.

September and October 2013   Kasese, Uganda: Kasese Humanist Primary School, Education Beneficiary Q3 2012
October and November 2013   Central Uganda: Uganda Humanist Schools Trust, Education Beneficiary Q3 2011 and 2010
November and December 2013   Northern Ghana: Leo Igwe Research Project, Small Grants Beneficiary Q3 2012
January 2014   Pedernales, Dominican Republic: Children of the Border

February 2014

 

Water Ecuador (photo credit: Allie Cuozzo)CLEAN WATER PROJECT SPOTLIGHT
Muisne, Ecuador: Water Ecuador

While in Ecuador, the Pathfinders will work to dig wells, install water purification systems, and educate about clean water, hygiene, and sanitation.

March 2014   La Guajira, Colombia: Aguayuda
April 2014   Guatemala City, Guatemala: Safe Passage
May-June 2014   Guatemala City, Guatemala: Avivara, Small Grant Beneficiary Q4 2012

Pathfinders Project and the Humanist Action: Ghana will enable humanists to put their values into action, thereby demonstrating those values to the world. Pathfinders Project has been described by Hemant Mehta as “the ultimate service project for Humanists” and by James Croft as “a life-changing opportunity.” Certainly, Pathfinders Project will have a meaningful impact on each of the communities visited and a profound effect on each of the Pathfinders. Furthermore, Pathfinders Project will shape the humanist movement for years to come. In taking the first step toward launching the Humanist Action: Ghana, the Pathfinders are building the structure of a flagship program not just for Foundation Beyond Belief, but for the entire humanist movement.

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A final look at our second-quarter beneficiaries

Before we say goodbye to our second-quarter beneficiaries, take another look at these great organizations and the work they’re doing to make the world a better place. Poverty and Health: 50 Cents. Period. Menstruation Matters was the rallying cry—and Twitter hashtag—for the first ever Menstrual Hygiene Day held on May 28, 2014, and 50 Cents.…

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Meet our beneficiaries for the second quarter

We hope you’re as excited as we are about our second-quarter 2014 beneficiaries, 50 Cents. Period, The Greening of Detroit, Worldreader, Leo Igwe Research Project, and Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Get to know them in our latest video. If you’d like to adjust your donation allocation, log in to your account and click…

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Introducing our second-quarter beneficiaries

Our new slate of beneficiaries for the second quarter of 2014 is a fantastic collection of organizations working to promote literacy in low-income countries, combat stigmas surrounding women’s health, nurture green spaces in an urban landscape, defend those falsely accused of witchcraft in Ghana, and staunchly defend the separation of church and state. Learn more…

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FBB announces new procedures for small grant awardees

Our current small grant awardees were announced along with our first quarter slate in January. We are thrilled to feature two fantastic organizations that are often looking for funds to keep their programs running. Here are our Q1 2014 small grant awardees: Women’s Leadership Project (WLP) is a feminist humanist college prep mentoring program for…

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