Category Archives: Popular Posts

Club Penguin Teaches Kids the Value of Philanthropy

Last week select media received a behind-the-scenes look at Disney’s Club Penguin headquarters in Kelowna, British Columbia at its first ever media summit. For those of you who are not familiar with Club Penguin, it is the world’s largest kids’ MMO (massively multiplayer online) game. The average Club Penguin player is between the ages of 8 – 12.

I was particularly interested in Club Penguin’s corporate citizenship and social good efforts. With millions of active kid players that span five languages, Club Penguin effectively uses its online platform to teach children the value of philanthropy. Every year since 2007 Club Penguin has hosted its Coins for Change event where the kids choose (using in-game coins) social issues they want Club Penguin to fund from building schools and libraries in developing countries to helping educate girls in India or bringing clean water to rural villages, for example. To date, Club Penguin has donated over $10 million to charity. 3.4 million kids  have participated in Coins for Change and have used 13.7 billion coins to help choose the issues they want funded.

“We want to give the kids the sense that they can change the world,” said Chris Heatherly, General Manager of Disney Interactive Worlds. “We also want to make a difference in the lives of children around the world,” Heatherly continued.

Nicole Rustad, Corporate Citizenship Program Director at Disney Interactive Worlds, noted that from the beginning Club Penguin wanted to improve the lives of children globally. “We believe that kids can change the world through connected play,” said Rustad. Through Club Penguin-funded programs 200,000 children’s lives are positively impacted each year.

“We bear a responsibility to give back because we won the lottery in life,” she said.


Once Club Penguin players have decided the issues they want funded Club Penguin partners with NGOs to take action. One organization Club Penguin has funded for many years is Free the Children, a Toronoto-based NGO that empowers children to be global change agents.

Erin Barton-Cherry, Free the Children

Erin Barton-Chéry, Director of Free the Children’s Development & International Operations, shared Club Penguin-funded projects that have made measurable differences in the lives of children in need. For example, right after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Free the Children was able to build a brand-new school in a rural area of Haiti where a previous school had been completely destroyed. Barto-Chéry also noted that Club Penguin helps fund Free the Children’s sustainable Adopt a Village program with ongoing efforts in eight developing countries.

Teaching children about philanthropy can be a daunting task, to be sure, but the kids who play Club Penguin seem to get it! Nicole Rustad mention that when presented with three social good causes to fund each year the kids proactively play and earn more coins that they can then donate to Coins for Change. And surprisingly, as a collective effort, the children make sure that each of the causes are equitably voted upon. So, not only do they understand the philanthropic concept, they also believe many different causes should be funded as opposed to one cause over the other.

Club Penguin has made philanthropy a seamless and fun priority for Club Penguin kids’ gaming experience and from the number of children who get involved every year, it’s working.

Visit Club Penguin at

Photos: Chris Heatherly (Disney) Nicole Rustad and Erin Barton-Chéry (Mom Bloggers for Social Good / Jennifer James)

HBO Presents New Documentary About Poverty – ‘American Winter’

UPDATE: Did you watch American Winter and want to help? Visit their Facebook page for updates. You can also donate to their Kickstarter campaign to help the families profiled in the documentary.

Tonight at 9 PM on HBO a riveting new documentary, American Winter, will premiere to millions of people. The award-winning documentary shows the injustices of American families in Oregon as they brave poverty and winter.

American Winter

THE FILM: Directed by Emmy-winning filmmakers Joe and Harry Gantz (HBO’s “Taxicab Confessions,” “The Defenders”), AMERICAN WINTER features struggling Oregon families who called into the state’s “211info” social services hotline in search of help in the winter of AmericanWinter_KEYART_2012. The film presents an intimate snapshot of the state of the nation’s economy as it is playing out in the lives of many American families, and reveals the human consequences of rising economic insecurity, budget cuts to the social safety net, and the fracturing of the American Dream.

WHEN: Debuting MONDAY, MARCH 18 (9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

WHY: The latest U.S. census data shows that 48.5 million Americans are living in poverty, the largest number in the 53-year history of published poverty estimates. This includes 16.1 million children.

American Winter

Watch the Trailer

Top 10 Social Enterprises Improving the Lives of Women, Girls

The more women and girls can receive a helping hand the better for the entire world’s future. It has been said time and time again that women and girls are the future of so many developing countries and yet they typically linger on the bottom rung of society.

Each year Women Deliver celebrates International Women’s Day by highlighting social enterprises that improve the lives of women and girls worldwide. Out of 25 very deserving organizations 10 made the final cut after public votes were cast. Winners were  announced last Friday.

The winners represent a global mix of organizations that range from helping young girls code to empowering the next generation of women leaders. Each winner will receive a full scholarship to attend Women Deliver’s conference in May that will be held in Malaysia.

Great read: The Impact: What Social Enterprises Can Do for Girls Everywhere

The full list of social enterprise challenge contestants (in alphabetical order) are below.

Black Girls Code

Location: USA and Africa


Educate2Envision International

Location: Honduras


G3 Box

Location: Kenya


Global Health Media Project

Location: Global


New Incentives

Location: Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, India, Bangladesh, and Cambodia


Teen Revolt

Location: United States


Torath Production

Location: Qatar and Middle East North Africa region


VOICE 4 Girls

Location: India



Location: Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Thailand


Woman to Woman Foundation

Location: Uganda


Photo: UN Photo/Stuart Price

Under Five Child Survival Under Microscope at Summit

This week child survival is under critical review in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the African Leadership for Child Survival – A Promise Renewed summit. This meeting, held at the African Union headquarters and convened by the Ethiopian government along with UNICEF and USAID brought together African Ministers of Health to enter into discussions about markedly improving child survival rates. The summit ends Friday.

Between 1990-2011 child mortality has decreased 39% in sub-Saharan Africa. According to UNICEF, 1 in 8 children in sub-Saharan Africa die before their fifth birthday from five leading causes: pneumonia, pre-term birth complications, diarrhea, intrapartum-related complications, newborn infection, and malaria.

Key tweets and infographics are emerging from the summit at the #promise4children hashtag.

USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah addressed the summit via video:

Child Survival Summit

Child Survival Summit

Child Survival Summit

Some of the topics in discussion are community-based newborn care, reducing stunting to increase child survival and increasing skilled birth attendants to decrease newborn and child mortality.

For more information on child survival and child mortality rates visit

Photo: Jennifer James

Spend November 10th in Solidarity for Malala Day

By now you have probably heard about Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old schoolgirl in Pakistan, who was brutally shot by the Taliban in retaliation for promoting girls’ education in her country. Since news broke about Malala being shot and her subsequent weeks towards recovery, millions have stood in solidarity with Malala in a global show of support reiterating to the world that Malala’s work has not been in vain.

On November 10, the world will celebrate Malala Day created by the The Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education.

What can you do now and on November 10th?

  • Sign the petition to call on Pakistan to agree to a plan to deliver education to all its children:
  • Spread the word. Inform your audience of the #IamMalala campaign and invite them to sign the petition.
  • Spend November 10th in solidarity for Malala Day. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown – the UN Special Envoy for Global Education – and his wife Sarah will deliver thepetition to the Pakistani president on this day.