Love it or hate it, it seems this whole crowdfunding phenomenon is here to stay. From Kickstarter to GoFundMe to IndieGoGo, there’s no shortage of places for creatives to get needy on the net. As journalists, and therefore inherently impoverished creatives in our own right, we decided the best way to deal with all this internet charity stuff was to write about it — the good, the bad, even the projects we think you should (gasp!) give your hard-earned money to — in a little series we’re calling “Fund Me S.B.”
For the first installment, we’re profiling Global Youth Projects.
If you work downtown and enjoy (read: rely) on a good cup of coffee, chances are you know Kellie Kreiss and Robb Klassen. Both members of this young couple are full-time baristas at The French Press, but of late their sights are set on much more than lattes. Klassen, 25, attended Brooks Institute and Kreiss, 23, is a recent UCSB global studies grad and Independent internship alum, and in their two years together they’ve dreamed up one extremely ambitious little plan they’re calling Global Youth Projects.
Kreiss and Klassen are currently using IndieGoGo to fund the first stage of their initiative. The campaign, which is looking to raise $8,500 by Tuesday, July 23, aims to bring “awareness and recognition to grassroots youth-run organizations worldwide through the use of photojournalistic documentation.” What it means: If the project is funded, Kreiss and Klassen will spend five months working in and documenting the day-to-day goings on of two education organizations in Burma and Thailand, respectively. Both programs are young, community-based, and desperately need to spread their message in order to stay afloat.
“When I was in Thailand I found a lot of organizations — whether they were community development or childhood development-based — that were doing really well, save for a few things,” explained Klassen. “The one area they all struggled in, though, was bringing volunteers in and making their presence known. … We’re just wanting to give these people a voice.”
While there, Kreiss and Klassen plan to create a book about the organizations and their experiences, which will help shine some much-needed light on these smaller, community-run groups. More importantly, though, the pair plans to use the trip to further their bigger picture plan: a social media-esque website devoted to helping smaller non-profits and community projects connect with each other, as well as to potential volunteers around the world.
“It’s an idea that’s been brewing in both of our heads for quite a while now,” said Klassen. “I’ve known ever since I was little that I wanted to help people, I just didn’t know how I was going to do it.”
Working off of a handful of contacts Klassen acquired during a 2011 trip to Thailand, the pair have decided to split their documentation between an English education program called the Learn2Give Project in Thailand and an orphanage in Burma. Upon their return, they’ll use the book and their experiences to help develop and, hopefully, lure investors for the website, which they see as an ideal way to bring sustainable assistance to impoverished communities around the world.
“Internet access exists even in the smallest communities now,” said Klassen, who believes an interactive and user-friendly site could help young organizations troubleshoot problems and grow their reach organically.
“If there’s any hope for movement or hope for change, we’ve got to work outward and bring it back in,” said Kreiss. “If you branch out and connect with everybody then everybody can support each other and it becomes really wide-reaching.”
To donate or learn more about Global Youth Projects, visit indiegogo.com/projects/global-youth-projects-southeast-asia or globalyouthprojects.wordpress.com.