supported program: Black Star Shining, Ghana

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You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.
– Anonymous

Last year while on a business trip to San Francisco I stopped by an event organized by the amazing people at GO (Groundwork Opportunities / The mission of GO is to invest funds and resources into the most vulnerable communities, promoting a cycle of self-sufficiency and sustainable micro-development that will enable the improvement of the human condition. It’s a mission that I want to fully help fulfill!

I listened as the invited guest speaker, Eric, shared with the group his mission to see funds raised to help further build upon a school in Ghana. GO had already raised enough money to build the school and enroll students who would have otherwise never received an education, but with the demand such in the village, there is a long wait list to attend the school. So fundraising is already underway to raise $10,000, which will build a second floor on the school and enroll another 80 students! Now the next step is not only to build the second floor but double the school and build living quarters for orphans and low-income children.

I promised that night to raise $1,000. But as the New Year came it occurred to me that the amount I had promised was a good goal but I wanted to achieve a great goal! So I am embarking on a fundraising campaign for the first half of 2011 to raise $10,000 to help support GO’s mission but more so to give opportunity and hope to children who otherwise have little. I hope to reach this goal by June 4th, my 30 birthday. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

I am asking you to consider those in need and help these children in Ghana get a good start in life by giving $10, $100 or $1,000 if you can. Any amount will go a long way and giving could not be easier. Just click on the donate button above and follow the steps. Whatever amount you contribute will go to a group of children for whom you will probably never know but who would benefit greatly from your support.

With my sincerest gratitude,
Ben Strauss-Malcolm

Groundwork Opportunities (GO) operates off a simple maxim: The Power of Their Ideas and Our Support. GO aims to provide an alternative solution to failing international aid policies by empowering communities through sustainable and community-owned micro-development projects that alleviate poverty. Like micro-finance, “micro-development” is a demonstrably effective means for helping build the local human infrastructure necessary to support positive, long-term economic growth.

GO’s purpose is to identify and partner with developing world communities that envision and manage sustainable programs aimed at addressing these fundamental communal issues. Once partnerships are established, GO provides the community with start-up capital to bring their ideas to fruition and creates a global support network to scale the impact of their work. In this manner, each partner can focus on their core competencies making development work efficient; the GO staff leverages volunteers, resources, and partnerships that are abundant in the developed world and our local partners can focus on implementing successful programs that enable their communities to build a sustainable livelihood. Our ability to provide compassion and love is what makes humans unique in our world. We all have the inner strength to not only care for ourselves but also to help others less fortunate than us. This is the essence of of GO’s work and the essence of Ubuntu, a word from South Africa that means you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness and our generosity. More than 1 billion people struggle on less than $1 a day to build a life of hope and dignity for themselves and for their families. One of the most important things people in the developed world can do to help fight global poverty is devote sufficient resources and support to those groups working on long term, viable, and community run solutions.

This project is aimed at dually improving health and education standards in Ghana by sponsoring a surgeon through medical school in Kumasi and by building and staffing a primary school and foster care facility for over 80 street children in Adoteiman. There are currently thousands of people living in the slums of Accra, many without adequate opportunities to receive health care or even a proper education. Out of this group, those particularly at risk are children. Having lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS, and often left to fend for themselves, these slum children often end up in gangs or even worse. By providing quality primary schooling, coupled with the residency layout of a foster care home, these children will be able to learn the skills and forge the relationships necessary to improve their lives and leave the slums.

In 2009, GO built a primary school with Sovereign Global Mission, a local Ghanaian organization run by Eric Annan. The school was GO’s very first project and GO directors Kyle and Bart helped build the school with shovels, hammers, and other rudimentary equipment alongside the Ghanaian community. The school opened for 35 students in 2009 and with the addition of further classrooms, now educates 85 children every day.

We started with 3 dedicated volunteers and an initial $2,000 investment. In 2.5 years, we have raised nearly $400,000 off the initial $2,000. GO currently has 5 dedicated staff members – currently unpaid – and 25 volunteers around the world. GO serves nearly 1,000 people EVERY DAY with 10 projects in 7 countries. GO partners with over 100+ corporations and nonprofits around the world $2 gives a child in Rwanda health insurance for 1 year; $50 buys a self-sustaining cook-stove in Nicaragua; $100 gives a child an education for 1 year in Ghana; $500 buys a cow in Uganda; $1,300 builds a home in Rwanda; $2,000 build a well in Cambodia

About Ben Strauss-Malcom

Ben Strauss-Malcolm was born and raised in Portland, Maine. He began pursuing a passion for the arts towards the end of high school, graduating in 2000. He attended Union College where he received a BA in Fine Art and a minor in Psychology. During his time in college he worked for several artists in New York City as well as pursued studies in Greece and Jamaica. He graduated in 2004 with honors and received the Charles Alexander Richmond Prize (excellence in the arts).

Upon graduating college he headed West to explore. Having worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego he accepted a position at Quint Contemporary Art where he currently serves as the Director, working with such artist as Robert Irwin, Ryan McGinness, Roy McMakin, Roman de Salvo, Kelsey Brookes, Kim MacConnel and many more. He is a board member of Christopher Michael Sullivan and has been on the art selection panel for the USO Park & Gateway for the San Diego International Airport as well as the Advisory Board for the Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair.

Passionate to live life to it’s fullest he enjoys new experiences, culture, his friendships and family, travel, exercise, and above all giving back.