I often get asked why I pursue social justice. My mother was super involved in extra-curriculars (PTA, Girl Scouts, etc) but we never volunteered as a family. I've always been internally motivated - I found Alternative Spring Break my freshman year at University of Illinois. ASB is an organization that sends service learning trips for college students over academic breaks. The focus is more on education and changing the individuals on the trip than on service. I went on 7 trips in 5 years, issues ranging from Hunger and Homelessness to Youth Literacy to Environmental Issues, served on the planning board, and made friends that I can't imagine life without. I'm still involved in by serving on the Board of Directors for Break Away, overseeing the national movement of service learning trips and building lifelong active citizens.
I get frustrated when so many smart brains spend their time building the next "What's for Lunch" Apps - so many people only see "First World Problems" and spend a ton of time, money, and smarts solving non-problems. (That's not to say I won't pay $.99 for that Whats for Lunch app. A girl's gotta eat.)
After graduating with a degree in General Engineering and a minor in computer science, I went to work for Accenture. I spent most of college thinking I would join Teach For America; I felt like I was selling out when I joined. Post Accenture I served as as IT manager and eventually Interim VP of IT for the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a non profit focused on early childhood education in the US. It turns out the skills I picked up at Accenture working for "the man" are incredibly invaluable in the non-profit world - an industry that drastically needs data and technology help and smart brains to solve big problems.
I currently work at a startup called GiveForward - we are a crowdfunding platform for medical expenses. If you know anyone that has Medical related expenses (even pets! or travel related to medical procedures) check out GiveForward, start a fundraiser, and email me about it - we've raised over $90 million dollars for individuals in the US. We have a collection of amazing stories - Pat and Jess that were injured in last year's Boston Marathon Bombing and Lacey Holsworth, an 8 year old girl that befriended a Michigan State Basketball player. We we share stories amongst our staff that will have you crying at your desk - sometimes tears of joy, sometimes genuine tears of sadness.
I have a few asks for you :
I'd love to hear the causes/big problems you care about. Find me on Twitter @Lnhaynes or email back here!
Learn a little bit about Human Centered Design (there's a course by Ideo and Plus Acumen that's free) and find a way of identifying and solving a real problem.
My birthday is April 28th. For my birthday I'm raising money to help Break Away build out it's website - the website cost was about 3x what we expected it to be, $15,000 in total. If you'd consider checking out my campaign, that would be awesome. To find it, go to Razoo and search for "Lauren's Birthday - Give Break Away a New Website"
Check out these other organizations I love :
Dance For Parkinson's
University YMCA - Champaign, IL
United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee
Splash - Seattle, Washington
2nd Story Chicago
Streetside Stories, San Francisco, CA