In case you missed our Foolanthropy 2007 kickoff letter, The Motley Fool will henceforth align our annual charity drive, Foolanthropy, with our core mission -- to educate, amuse, and enrich -- by focusing our efforts on financial literacy. That's right: We've decided to narrow the focus from broad-based organizations to programs addressing that issue.
Specifically, we're focusing on financial literacy for young people. And we're aiming high. Our long-term goal is to ensure that every young person in the world gets a basic financial education. We realize this won't occur overnight, of course, and that the road ahead of us is long. We also realize that financial literacy is a crowded field, and we're proud to join the cause toward which companies such as Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Charles Schwab (Nasdaq: SCHW), ING (NYSE: ING), and so many others have dedicated their resources.
As we've done every year for 11 years, we began by sending out a call for nominations from readers on our Foolanthropy discussion board, because we believe in the power of community intelligence. After extensive research and deliberation of the nominees, the Foolanthropy Committee is pleased to announce this year's most Foolish charities.
Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED): Revolutionary programs developed by CFED combine financial education with personal savings. Thousands of young people are realizing dreams they once thought were out of reach. Individual development accounts and "SEED" accounts provide financial instruction while teaching kids the practical discipline of saving. When savings are matched, account balances grow, and peers use the accounts for college, starting businesses, and even buying homes, young people realize they can take control of their own lives and set their sights high.
Junior Achievement Worldwid: Junior Achievement has been inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy for more than 88 years. Today, in the U.S. and more than 100 countries worldwide, JA is synonymous with financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work-readiness education for students in grades K through 12.
Mercy Corps' Silent Disasters Program: Over the next 10 years, 1 billion young people in developing countries will be competing for a scarce number of jobs. Mercy Corps is working to create opportunities that will help unleash the potential of tomorrow's workforce and avoid the deepening poverty and potential conflict that unprecedented unemployment could cause. Mercy Corps works with communities to empower and educate young people and their families. Through innovative approaches that incorporate financial literacy, microfinance, mentoring, capacity-building, and job-skills training, Mercy Corps is giving the next generation the tools they need to define what their economic futures will look like.
Operation HOPE's Banking on our Future Program: Operation HOPE was founded in 1992, following the civil unrest in Los Angeles, as a way of providing an alternative solution to building wealth and creating stakeholders in underserved, inner-city communities. It does this through economic education and empowerment. It improves the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities through programs that create stakeholders: converting check-cashing customers into banking customers, renters into homeowners, small-business dreamers into small-business owners, and minimum-wage workers into living-wage workers.
Share Our Strength's Operation Frontline Program: Share Our Strength is a national organization working to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry. Its Operation Frontline program teaches low-income families how to use their limited financial resources wisely through hands-on courses on financial literacy and food budgeting. This can mean the difference between feeding families for just one night, and making sure they never again have to worry where their next meal will come from. This is how Operation Frontline, and those who support it, helps Share Our Strength make sure that no child in America grows up hungry. A donation of just $100 allows it to send a low-income family through an entire Operation Frontline course, giving them the skills needed for sustainable financial security. To date, more than 45,000 families have benefited from these classes.
To learn more about each charity or to donate, go to http://www.foolanthropy.com/. Each charity has set up special links to keep track of how much money comes in through these pages. Each week, we'll post a running tally of how much each charity is bringing in so you can see how your favorite charity is doing. The charity that raises the most by Jan. 7 gets a $10,000 bonus, chipped in by The Motley Fool.
As an additional incentive, we'll also sweeten the pot with the proceeds from our "My 2 Cents Campaign." For every single post to all of our Fool boards in the month of December (and we have many, many boards with very vocal posters), we'll donate $0.02 to the pot, to be divided equally among the four charities not winning the $10,000. So post away come Dec. 1!
We thank you for taking the time to consider these organizations, and we hope you agree they're doing exceptional work in the world of financial literacy.
Thanks in advance to everybody who decides to join us in supporting these Foolish charities and in helping young people around the world get the same access to financial education that Fools have. We're looking forward to another decade as successful and enriching as the past one!