Marriage Can Wait, Education Can Not: CRY


Saleema (name changed) is about to reach her eighteenth birthday and cannot wait to begin her journey into life. But she is also sad to leave her school behind. After all, it was this school that gave her a new lease of life when she joined back four years ago. Saleema was married off when she was just twelve.

After going through the perils of extreme domestic violence, she came back home in a year’s time. It was a school teacher that got in touch with her family living in one of the remote villages of Jharkhand, India – called Modidih, an intervention area of Child Rights and You (CRY).

That was the turning point for Saleema. She went on to not only start on life afresh, but started taking part in singing competitions, winning accolades and using her talent to spread awareness about the importance of education and the perils of child marriage.

But not all girls are as lucky and courageous like her. In India, girls are still seen to be burdens to the family, to be married off soon, often in exchange of dowry. As the world gears up to celebrate the International Day of the Girl, 1 out of every 5 girls enrolled in school drops out after Class 8, 12.5 million girls between 5-18 years are child labourers and 1 out of every 3 child brides in the world is an Indian. Globally, 130 million girls are out of school and 15 million girls of primary school age do not even enter a classroom. This largely comes from the social mindset that investing in girls’ education is not worthy enough.

Puja Marwaha, CEO at CRY says, “When a girl goes to school, she stays away from early marriage, grows up as an empowered citizen who can secure her own future and take care of her family. It’s the responsibility of every individual and the civil society to be responsible and ensure accountability to implement and invest in schemes and legislations for girls’ education.”

CRY, a leading Indian non-profit, believes in creating access to education for girls to grow up educated and capable of influencing their communities. Along with many grassroots level partner organizations, CRY works for ensuring lasting change for children.

One in Five Children in Grandfamilies are Living in Immigrant Families


Children whose parents were detained or deported often go into the care of relatives


More than 544,000 children live in grandfamilies where the child, a parent, and/or a relative caregiver is foreign-born, according to a new report from Generations United, Love Without Borders: Grandfamilies and Immigration.

With increased immigration enforcement and children being separated from their parents, grandparents and other relatives often step up to raise the children left behind.

“The critical role grandfamilies play in providing love and care for children who have been separated from their parents is often overlooked in the immigration debates,” said Donna Butts, executive director at Generations United. “Research shows that relatives are uniquely suited to buffer the effects of the children’s stress and reduce the trauma of separation. Yet they usually take on this role with little to no warning and need support.”

Most grandparents and other relatives face a host of challenges caring for children who cannot remain with their parents. Grandfamilies with immigrant members, according to the report, face compounded challenges including restricted access to support and services to help the children, language barriers, and fear of government agencies.

“For the first time, a national report focuses on the intersection of grandfamilies and immigration,” said Ana Beltran, special advisor to Generations United. “Generations United shares its lessons learned from twenty years of working on behalf of grandfamilies so that children in immigrant grandfamilies – most of whom are U.S. citizens facing compounded challenges – can also be supported and thrive.”

The report’s recommendations include:

Advocating against policies that discourage relatives from stepping forward to care for children of parents who were detained or deported.
Ensuring that “Public Charge” determinations do not have detrimental effects on children.
Encouraging the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to require follow up contact for children released from ORR custody to connect them to services.
Ensuring that parents who are under threat of detention or deportation have useful tools to give other family members the legal authority to care for children.
The report also found that the number of children being raised in grandfamilies continues to rise. There are now 2,677,000 children being raised by grandparents, other relatives or close family friends without the children’s parents in the home. The percentage of children in foster care who are with relatives has increased by 9 percentage points from 24% in 2008 to 33% in 2017

First-Ever LIVE! CONCERT FOR A CAUSE Features Legendary Pop Star Richard Marx In Exclusive Performance To Benefit The Casey Cares Foundation On Friday, October 26 At Live! Casino & Hotel


Partial Proceeds from Inaugural Charity Concert Support Baltimore-Area Nonprofit Programs for Critically-Ill Children and Their Families



Live! Casino & Hotel is hosting the first-ever LIVE! CONCERT FOR A CAUSE, featuring 80’s and 90’s pop sensation RICHARD MARX, on Friday, October 26, 2018. Partial proceeds will benefit the Casey Cares Foundation, a Baltimore-based nonprofit organization providing personalized support to critically ill children and their families throughout the Mid-Atlantic, Washington, D.C., and parts of the Midwest. The concert will be held at the new state-of-the-art Event Center at Live! Casino & Hotel, the newest entertainment venue in the region.

Must be 21. Tickets and full details are available now at

Packages include:

VIP tickets ($150 each) featuring a Meet & Greet photo with Richard Marx, heavy hors d’oeuvres, two (2) drink tickets, $10 in free slot play at Live! Casino, preferred floor seating and a specialty Live! tote bag. Doors open to VIP tickets at 6:30pm.
Tier 1 tickets ($100 each) including heavy hors d’oeuvres, two (2) drink tickets, $10 in free slot play and floor seating. Doors open to Tier 1 tickets at 6:30pm.
General admission tickets ($60 each) including two (2) drink tickets, $10 in free slot play and riser seating. Doors open to GA tickets at 7:30pm.
“Live! Casino & Hotel is deeply committed to supporting non-profit organizations in our community, especially those whose mission is so closely tied to helping families in need,” said Travis Lamb, General Manager, Live! Casino & Hotel. “The Concert for a Cause series will bring local audiences together to raise awareness and resources for charities that provide services and programs that mean so much to our neighbors.”

Live! Casino & Hotel, and its parent company The Cordish Companies, ranked 4th in the list of top philanthropists in the region for 2017 by the Baltimore Business Journal. Since opening the casino in 2012, the organization has contributed tens of millions of dollars to local charities, and donated time and resources to a variety of non-profits including the Susan G. Komen Maryland, the USO of Washington-Baltimore, the Capital Area and Maryland Food Banks, SPCA Walk for the Animals, and others. Live! Casino & Hotel will further increase its longtime support for Casey Cares through the inaugural Concert for a Cause.

The evening’s headliner, Richard Marx, has sold more than 30 million albums over a three-decade-long career. His self-titled debut album reached #8 on the charts and spawned four Top 5 singles, including “Hold on to the Nights,” with “Don’t Mean Nothing” earning him a Grammy nomination for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. His follow-up album hit #1 and reached quadruple-platinum status, with two #1 singles, “Satisfied” and “Right Here Waiting.” He is the only male artist in history to have his first seven singles reach the Top 5 on the Billboard charts.

Marx himself is dedicated to several charitable causes. He donated royalties from his hit single, “Should’ve Known Better,” to build a room at the NYU Medical Center for pediatric cancer patients, and his recording of “Children of the Night” brought attention to the plight of homeless children on the streets, raising more than $500k for the Children of the Night Foundation. Marx has also performed benefit concerts over the years for the TJ Martell Foundation, Toys for Tots, Make a Wish Foundation, the American Cancer Society, Best Buddies and the Special Olympics. He and his band entertained the U.S. troops stationed in Germany and, since 2008, he has hosted an annual event in Chicago for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the first of which featured a concert by Richard and Kenny Rogers. Richard has also organized an annual all-star benefit concert for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, raising more than $4 million for research to cure the disease.

September is International Balloon Month

Earth, Society

#LiftUpSomebody with balloons but always use a weight and never release them


Sharing smiles and Smart Balloon Practices are the focus of this year’s #LiftUpSomebody campaign which is part of the International Balloon Month celebration.

The #LiftUpSomebody campaign inspires people around the world to “thank” someone special in their community by giving them balloons, and then share those moments of joy on social media. The campaign also encourages people to promote and follow the motto: “Don’t let go: Inflate. Weight. Enjoy.”

“Giving balloons to important people in our community such as firefighters, care givers and teachers, helps spread goodwill and demonstrates the positive power of balloons. This also provides a great opportunity to increase awareness of the proper ways to use and handle balloons, so they don’t wind up in places where they don’t belong,” said Lorna O’Hara, Executive Director of The Balloon Council which sponsors the #LiftUpSomebody campaign.

“Simple practices such as always weighting balloons, popping and disposing of them after the celebration, never inhaling helium, making sure children are always supervised when playing with balloons, and most importantly never releasing balloons, are just some of the tips we are encouraging people to share,” explained O’Hara.

The Balloon Council recently announced a revised stance on balloon releases to emphasize the fact that balloons should not be released. “Over the years, as the social and political climates have changed, our position has also evolved. This change in stance fully recognizes the need for everyone to be as ‘green’ as we possibly can be to protect our planet,” said Dan Flynn, Chairman of The Balloon Council. “Our new motto is “Don’t let go: Inflate. Weight. Enjoy.”

Photos using #LiftUpSomebody that are shared on Facebook and Instagram (@balloonsliftup) will automatically be entered into the photo contest. Winners will be featured on and announced at the FLOAT 2019 convention.

Schools and community youth groups are encouraged to take the “Faraday Pledge Card Challenge” and compete to see which organization fills out the most pledge cards. The pledge is part the national “Meet Faraday: Smart Balloon Practices” campaign that is travelling around the U.S. to educate communities about smart balloon practices.

The Balloon Council is a non-profit organization made up of responsible retailers, distributors, and manufacturers dedicated to educating others about the wonders of balloons and the proper handling of them.

Sodexo Canada achieves Women in Governance Parity Certification

Awards, Business, Society

A  focus on gender balanced teams for operational excellence earns Sodexo recognition as a Parity Certified employer


Sodexo Canada’s commitment to supporting a gender balanced workplace has earned recognition by Women in Governance with 2018 Parity Certification.

Sodexo will join 30 other Parity Certified organizations to be honoured at the annual Women in Governance Gala on September 11th at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal.

The Women in Governance Parity Certification helps Canadian organizations increase the representation of women, especially in decision-making and senior management positions. This innovative standard not only assesses parity at the decision-making level but also assesses an organization’s commitment to implementing mechanisms that enable women at all levels to achieve career advancement and create a pipeline of female talent.

The Parity Certification Committee thoroughly researched trends across sectors and formulated a questionnaire with the support of McKinsey & Company and the Quebec Order of Certified Human Resources Professionals (CRHA).

Sodexo in Canada
Sodexo has been delivering On-Site Services in Canada for over 40 years. Recognized as a strategic partner, Sodexo Canada is dedicated to providing Quality of Life Services for clients, their employees and visitors in the corporate, education, healthcare and energy and resources segments. These Quality of Life Services create healthy, safe, and efficient environments allowing individuals and organizations to grow and succeed. Delivering food and facilities management services for over 175 clients, Sodexo is a market leader in Canada in terms of revenue and consumers served, and has been recognized as a top employer for the past six consecutive years. Sodexo Canada is proud to have created the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, an independent charitable organization that has donated more than 1 million meals to at risk youth in Canada since it was founded in 2000.

No Kid Hungry And America’s Restaurants Unite To End Childhood Hunger In The U.S.


This back-to-school season, millions of students in the United States will hit the books lacking an essential school supply – healthy food. No Kid Hungry, a national campaign to end childhood hunger in America, is coming together with more than 15,000 restaurants and their guests to help the 1 in 6 children in America living with hunger.

Every September, restaurants across the country unite to end childhood hunger in America through Dine Out for No Kid Hungry, a guest-supported fundraising initiative. When guests dine out at a No Kid Hungry partner restaurant, from popular chains to local mom-and-pops, they can donate in exchange for valuable rewards. Every $1 donated provides a child with up to 10 meals.

To help raise awareness about childhood hunger and to highlight where to dine out this September, No Kid Hungry is launching its Hunger Can’t Wait tour, which will travel to 5 cities across the country, hosting special events at partner restaurants from August 28 to September 17. The tour will kick off in Los Angeles with stops in San Diego, Denver, Dallas and Atlanta. These events will engage the public in a conversation about the urgency to end childhood hunger in America and celebrate restaurant employees’ commitment to the cause. Mobile billboards will be deployed in each market to spread the message and recognize employees and guests who support of the campaign.

“Nobody understands that hunger can’t wait better than the restaurant industry,” says Russ Bendel, CEO of Habit Burger Grill, and a longtime Dine Out for No Kid Hungry partner. “We’re excited to continue our support of No Kid Hungry’s work, and look forward to giving our guests a simple way to be part of the solution.”

Childhood hunger isn’t isolated to inner cities and rural communities. It affects kids and families in every city, town and suburb across America. When kids don’t get enough to eat, they are more likely to struggle in school and get sick more often.

“Hungry kids can’t learn, and kids who can’t learn can’t reach their best and brightest potential. Yet three out of four teachers regularly see kids come to school hungry,” says Diana Hovey, Senior Vice President at Share Our Strength, the organization behind No Kid Hungry. “Now is the time to act, and we’re honored to once again have the support of restaurants, their team members and their diners in this work to end childhood hunger in America.”

More information about where to dine out and No Kid Hungry’s Hunger Can’t Wait tour and can be found at The public can join the conversation on social using #HungerCantWait.

Dine Out for No Kid Hungry national sponsors include Citi, Ecolab, Food Network, National Restaurant Association and Open Table.

Sodexo Named a Top Corporation for Disability-Owned Businesses

Awards, Business, Society

Sodexo, a food and facilities management company committed to improving Quality of Life, announced today the company’s recognition as a 2018 Disability:IN Annual Inclusion Award Winner for the Top Corporation for Disability-Owned Businesses for demonstrating outstanding inclusion of Disability:IN-certified, disability-owned businesses; including businesses owned by service disabled veterans; and demonstrated commitment to disability business inclusion in its supply chain processes and supplier diversity program.

“Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is reflected throughout our supply chain,” said Jim Pazzanese, VP Supply Management, Sodexo. “We are proud to lead a diverse supplier program with more than 2,400 vendors, including disabled-owned companies, that mirrors our company’s values and support of local communities. Thank you for recognizing our contributions and awarding Sodexo as a top corporation.”

In addition to the organization’s purchasing efforts and supply chain opportunities, Sodexo has taken an active role within Disability:IN as leaders, mentors and more. Additionally, for the past six years, Sodexo employees that participate in SOAR (the Sodexo Organization for disAbilities Resources) serve as site visitors as part of the certification process for Disability:IN throughout the country. The company’s combined efforts led to its top corporation distinction.

Beyond supplier diversity, Sodexo advocates for disability inclusion through goals, including the organization’s commitment to make 100 percent of their workforce accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

Sodexo’s commitment to diversity and inclusion has been consistently recognized by external organizations and notable diversity publications. Recently, Sodexo was recognized as One of the Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion, for the fourth consecutive year, by the Disability Equality Index (DEI) — a joint initiative between the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Disability:IN. Sodexo was also named to Bloomberg’s 2018 Gender-Equality Index (GEI) – its first sector-neutral list of 104 global companies, and recognized on three of FORTUNE Magazine lists in 2017, including World’s Most Admired Companies, Change the World and the FORTUNE 500.

Smile Train India Awarded Oracle Grant for Providing New Smiles to Children Born With Clefts

Awards, Society

Smile Train India, a children’s charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate, announced that they have received a grant from Oracle, a global leader in cloud applications and platform services. The grant will provide free cleft surgeries and comprehensive cleft care to 360 children born with cleft lips and cleft palates in FY 18-19. The cleft treatments will be provided at Hyderabad.

In India, over 35,000 children are born with clefts every year and hundreds of thousands of children with untreated clefts live in isolation, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing and speaking, as they cannot afford the life-transforming cleft reconstructive surgery. Smile Train India’s ‘teach a man to fish’ model focuses on training, funding, and supplying resources for local medical professionals to provide cleft treatment in their own communities. These medical professionals then go on to train other medical professionals, creating a long-term and sustainable system.

Through this sustainable model, Smile Train India has provided over 500,000 free cleft reconstructive surgeries and comprehensive cleft care across India, through a network of 160+ partner hospitals.

“A child born with a cleft needs timely and comprehensive cleft care and our aim is to facilitate the same, free of cost. With Oracle’s support, we will further strengthen our programs in Hyderabad and bring comprehensive cleft care to many more children. We thank Oracle for their generosity and look forward to creating an impact together,” said Mamta Carroll, Vice President and Regional Director-Asia, Smile Train.

“We are proud to support Smile Train India, which transforms children’s lives and life prospects daily, and builds capacity in the local medical community to do more of the same,” said Colleen Cassity, Executive Director, Oracle Corporate Citizenship.

Dallas Morning News Story Hurts Families of Fallen Officers


Because of the personal attack on me, Sgt. Demetrick Pennie, and the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation and Texas Fallen Officer Foundation, as written by Naomi Martin of The Dallas Morning News, which bares several racial undertones referencing to my upbringing in the ghettos of Houston, Texas and my political views as a Conservative Republican, I felt that it was to necessary to release the following statement:

“The Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation and the Texas Fallen Officer Foundation are two independent 501 (c) 3 organizations – both designed with a central mission of supporting the families of fallen officers in the Dallas-Fort Worth region and throughout the State of Texas, respectively. Both foundations are controlled by their own independent governing Boards, which embrace the central focus of providing immediate support to the families of fallen officers in the initial aftermath of a tragedy and providing continued support in the form of: social gatherings, financial assistance, comfort and advocacy long after other forms of support have ended elsewhere.

“Over the years, I have garnered the trust of police families across the nation based on my supportive efforts. As a nationally-recognized law enforcement advocate, I have always represented the best interest of fallen officers and their families in every decision made. Unfortunately, The Dallas Morning News story has distorted my efforts, as well as the organizations’ mission, focus and objectives for the purposes of attacking my character, integrity and background. The Dallas Morning News story was saturated with half-truths and misrepresentations about the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation and Texas Fallen Officer Foundations, which to this end will only serve to hinder and detract from the foundation’s abilities to acquire future donations in an effort to provide support and resources to police families and survivors.

“For the full story behind the motivation for the left leaning Dallas Morning News’ defamatory political hit piece to harm me and our foundation, go to

New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for GBPI’s People-First Plan

Society, World

An overwhelming majority of Georgians want the state to invest in people-first strategies including expanded access to education and mental health services, while raising new revenue to pay for them, according to a Mason-Dixon statewide poll conducted this month.

“We’re thrilled that the poll revealed widespread support for GBPI’s People-Powered Prosperity vision,” said Taifa Butler, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s executive director. “Georgians across the state endorse the pillars of our plan to build a stronger and more inclusive economy, focused on educated youth, skilled workers, thriving families and healthy communities.”

Georgians strongly support more affordable higher education options, including funding for the state’s new need-based financial aid program and tuition-free post-secondary technical training to develop skilled workers.

Nearly nine in 10 Georgians surveyed support additional state spending to better screen, diagnose and treat people who suffer from mental health or substance abuse problems.

The GBPI-commissioned poll of 625 Georgia voters found broad support for raising state revenue to pay for new investments in things like education and health services by raising tobacco taxes and enacting a minimum tax on Georgia corporations.

Nearly nine in 10 poll respondents want the state to scrutinize returns on investment Georgia gets from hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks that deplete the state treasury.

Nearly two in three poll respondents support leveraging federal dollars to put an insurance card in the pockets of hundreds of thousands of Georgians to expand affordable health care access. A proposed Georgia Work Credit drew similar support.

Other poll highlights include:

  • 72 percent of poll respondents said they support increased funding to meet the education needs of Georgia’s students if a study supports it.
  • 69 percent of poll respondents support a state school funding formula that sends more money to districts that serve many students from families in poverty.
  • 71 percent of Georgians favor increased state spending for the state’s subsidized child care program to serve more working families.

The telephone poll was conducted from July 9 through July 11, 2018 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, an independent research firm that conducts public policy and political polling research and has been polling Georgia voters for 20 yearsSee full poll results.