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The Elfenworks Foundation
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Season’s Greetings from all of the elves at Elfenworks

In this season of reflection and giving thanks, we look back on our year with joy. Through the stories we shared, we kindled hope. Through our Breathing Butterfly mindfulness-based stress reduction app, people of many ages and nationalities used our stress-busting butterfly to battle stress. And through the power of teaching, we brought our powerful methodology for growing hope to new frontiers…

We invite you to think about ways people have changed your story for the better, how you’ve done likewise, and all the good ways WE ALL can still change the story for the better. For a list of ideas, visit http://elfenworks.org/resources/ripple/. Remember, never underestimate your ripple!

On the Road Again


Why did we even bother to unpack our suitcases? On the heels of a hugely successful trip to Jordan in the Middle East earlier this year, Elfenworks founder Dr. Lauren Speeth and Executive Director Ken Tam turned around again, this time to the Far East and China. The purpose of these international trips is always the same: to bring a new message of hope about how to be successful in bringing about lasting, measurable, positive change through social entrepreneurship.

Speeth and Tam visited with social entrepreneurs and introduced the framework outlined in Speeth’s book Intelligence and Compassion in Action: The Seven Pillars for Social Entrepreneurs. It was an exciting moment, because it felt like the beginning of something new. Only a few decades after China began embracing entrepreneurship, we are seeing clear signs that social entrepreneurship is emerging as a force for positive change there as well. How wonderful to participate in such a moment!

Speaking to students at the College of Urban Economics and Pubic Administration in Beijing, Speeth put out a call to action, asking, “Why wait for some mythical hero to step in, when you are the one who sees a way to help?” Speeth also debuted the “Star of Hope” $1,000 scholarship for aspiring social entrepreneurs and announced the winner in the college’s first-ever social entrepreneurship competition. The first scholarship recipient is Zhan Tiancheng, whose vision to cleanse the air was quite timely, given that Beijing was experiencing historic levels of air pollution. A second student, Sun Tong, whose vision is to preserve Chinese culture and lessen anti-Chinese sentiment, will be joining us with an all-expense-paid trip to the 2016 In Harmony with Hope® award ceremony in Burlingame, California.

Audiences around China were eager to learn more about doing business for social good. Interviews on China Radio International and by Meng Shengnan, host of the “Public Power” series on China’s predominant broadcast station, CCTV, the local television outlet China Youth Net, and in other media outlets allowed Speeth to carry her message further. In her CRI radio interview, Speeth spoke about the fulfillment that comes from introducing young people to the possibilities of social entrepreneurship. Host Zhou Heyang spoke with Speeth about her introduction of a new methodology in an embryonic field in China, and her questions delved deeper into how each element of the Seven Pillars functions on the ground.

When Sun Tong travels to Burlingame next October, she will have the unique opportunity to learn from some of our country’s trail-blazing social entrepreneurs at the 10th annual In Harmony with Hope award ceremony. What she learns and takes back to China will help grow a global community of inspired people with bold initiatives for the greater good.

Taming Dragons


In early October, the Elfenworks Foundation brought a new message of hope to the guests of the ninth annual In Harmony with Hope awards ceremony by reminding them that each and every one of us has the power to change the story for the common good. In her keynote address at Burlingame’s Kohl Mansion, Elfenworks founder and CEO Lauren Speeth, said, “Did you see that sign up front? It said ‘fairy tales are real because they teach us that dragons can be beaten.’ We changed that last word from beaten to TAMED. With one little syllable, we forged a totally different story. One word. We all have dragons, but even so, we have agency. We can participate in weaving our own narrative. And we have the power of the storyteller. In big and small ways each of us can tackle those scary elements – dragons of dissonance and despair – bringing them in harmony with hope. For ourselves, and for the greater good.” Here’s a closer look at the passionate innovators whom we honored this year.
From left to right: Emcee Elijah Kelley, Eric Dawson, Lauren Speeth, Rose Broome and Ted Gonder
In Harmony with Hope 2015 awards ceremony at Kohl Mansion in Burlingame, CA

Rose Broome, co-founder, Hand Up

HandUp provides a compelling way for individuals to donate directly to people in need. The idea for the mobile-friendly website came to Broome one brisk winter night as she passed a homeless woman huddled against the cold. Broome’s website features vignettes showcasing individuals in need that include a description of the resources necessary to give that person a hand up. The charitable giving platform is a simple, elegant, and direct way for donors to immediately impact the lives of their less fortunate neighbors, those HandUp calls their members. Donations are redeemed through the member’s case manager at the organization’s well-respected partner social service agencies. Donors can also elect to contribute on a recurring or one-time basis to the National Fund. HandUp then allocates the funds from the National Fund to those it assesses are most in need. The platform also gives members and donors the opportunity to communicate gratitude and encouragement as the members begin to realize their goals. San Francisco, CA ~ handup.org. For more information, visit http://elfenworks.org/handup/.
 

Eric Dawson, co-founder, Peace First 

While at Harvard, Eric Dawson became involved with an annual festival called Peace Games. In the playing of cooperative games and shared visions for peace, Eric found his calling. While still in college, he grew Peace Games from an annual festival into a yearlong conflict resolution program serving thousands of Boston area youth. Nearly 20 years later, Peace First (as it’s now called) is a national movement whose aim it is to spark a conversation about the potential our young people have to create positive and meaningful change. The program promotes courage, compassion, and the ability to create collaborative change through two initiatives. The Digital Activity Center features an online curriculum that is tailored to meet the developmental needs of young people and to help them develop and practice positive behaviors. The Peace First Prize is designed to showcase young people who have confronted injustice, crossed lines of difference, and had the courage and compassion to create lasting change. Boston, MA ~ peacefirst.org. For more information, visit http://elfenworks.org/peacefirst/.


Ted Gonder, co-founder, MoneyThink

On the eve of the 2009 financial collapse, Ted Gonder and fellow students in the Blue Chip Investment Club at the University of Chicago were ruefully examining the existing data about our nation’s financial illiteracy. Examining these numbers in the context of our country’s growing inequality made the students think: what if college students served as mentors teaching financial literacy and investment skills to low-income high school students? Today, Moneythink’s more than 600 volunteer mentors from 30 different college campuses reach 2,200 students each week with a powerful, relatable program on financial planning. Taking advantage of the similarities in age between the students and their mentors, the exciting lesson content is culturally relevant and engaging. In the past year, the successful model has been further enhanced by the introduction of MoneythinkMobile — an Instagram-like app that puts financial learning firmly in the hands of students where they need it most, outside of the classroom. Chicago, IL ~ moneythink.org. For more information, visit http://elfenworks.org/moneythink/.
 

Other Details

If the scarecrow on NBC’s recent live cast of The Wiz seemed familiar, it might be because you met him at our ceremony. Our celebrity emcee was acclaimed actor Elijah Kelley. We loved him in The Butler, Red Tails, and Hairspray but we really appreciated his heart for social justice when he partnered with Campus MovieFest as our emcee announcing the Elfenworks/Campus MovieFest Student Social Justice Award earlier this year. We were also graced by our partner musician Alex Bondarev’s powerful rendition of For Our Time (www.elfenworks.org/peace) and, from his new solo effort, Conversing with Oceans, the debut of Always Running. The audience was additionally treated to a few insights from David Roemer of Campus MovieFest and David Grusky from The Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality. And for the fifth year in a row, our corporate partner was Wells Fargo Bank. Our grateful thanks to all who helped make the night memorable (and stay tuned for our 10th annual award event). If you missed it, why not watch on our website, or simply choose to watch the vignettes from many of our winners and hosts over the years. www.elfenworks.org/awards
In Harmony with Hope: Elfenworks works to foster intelligent compassion in action and to cultivate hope through creative and technological solutions that advance change. Use the butterfly app – and other tools – to help make a positive difference. And, never underestimate your ripple! For further information, see www.elfenworks.org/ripple.
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