One of the great joys of writing books is sharing with a wide audience some of the organizations that inspire me. Below are the organizations I featured in The Upside of Stress as examples of communities that aim to transform adversity and suffering into meaning, connection, and positive action. I encourage you to explore these groups, donate if their mission resonates with you, and allow them to inspire you to create similar communities of support.
Our mission is to connect under-resourced students with resources, schools, and donors to make college possible. ScholarMatch’s three-pronged program increases college persistence by leading students through the college admission process, securing financial support, and helping them select the right school. We partner with college success organizations to offer continued support to students throughout their college career, all the way to graduation. We also engage our alumni to stay involved and give back.
Sole Train: Boston Runs Together is a free, non-competitive, long distance running program based at Boston Public Schools and Department of Youth Services. In Sole Train, teens from Boston neighborhoods, many of whom have never run before, train for and complete a half marathon or 5-mile race. In the process, they find their place in a supportive community that celebrates them and helps them discover just how far they can go.
The Dinner Party
Our mission: To transform life after loss from an isolating experience into one marked by community support, candid conversation, and forward movement.
Through beautiful, unstructured dinner parties hosted by friends for friends, we invite those who’ve experienced significant loss - whether a parent, partner, sibling, or friend - to dive into long-tabooed territory, sharing a defining part of ourselves that rarely sees the light of day. Together, we’re pioneering tools and community through which young people who’ve experienced significant loss can use their shared experience as a springboard toward living better, bolder, and more connected lives. We're well aware that combatting the isolation that so often comes with loss can not be done solely behind closed doors. That's why we're also working to tackle widespread cultural taboos, and to create spaces and tools through which those who have yet to undergo the experience can learn to be better friends or partners to those who have.
Images & Voices of Hope
At Images & Voices of Hope (ivoh), we believe that media can create meaningful, positive change in the world. Our global community includes journalists, documentary filmmakers, photographers, social media specialists, gamers and more. Our common thread as a nonprofit is the desire to effect positive change through our work in media.
To us, positive change is about focusing on the world we want to live in – not only problem solving the world we have. It’s not about glossing difficult truths. It’s about amplifying the best in human nature and whenever possible shining a light on the steps we can take towards the future we want.
Glide Community and Glide Memorial Church
GLIDE Memorial Church believes in a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization. You can listen to their Sunday Celebrations through Glide’s podcast, and learn more about their many innovative community support programs that blur the line of who is helping and who is being helped.
Hope After Project
Hope After Project strives to create more empathetic, grief aware communities by building acts of community service in memory of those who have died. We believe no one should have to face grief alone and that every grief journey deserves to be honored.
At Hope After Project we build community service projects inspired by the lives of extraordinary people who have died. These acts of community service become living memorials that provide a positive and productive way for those who are bereaved to honor their loved ones and to find hope.
Every Hope After Project is custom built based on the life we're remembering and the needs of the bereaved. We've built military care packages, weeded in community gardens, cared for homeless animals, served food to cancer patients and planted trees.
Other Programs Mentioned in The Upside of Stress
PERTS (Project for Education Research That Scales)
A Stanford University research organization dedicated to applying research to raise academic achievement across the nation. PERTS creates and evaluates free resources that help students become more passionate, resilient, and successful learners. Educators and parents should check out their Mindset Kit, a free resource for those who want to foster adaptive academic mindsets.
EMS Corps (Pathways to Emergency Medical Careers)
The purpose of the program is to increase the number of underrepresented emergency medical technicians through youth development and job training. EMS Corps is a 5 month paid (stipend) program for minority young men between the ages of 18 to 26. EMS Corps students will be trained and educated through daily classes, tutoring, Life Coaching, mentorship support, physical fitness, and will also participate in professional and career development workshops.
Warrior Canine Connection
Warrior Canine Connection is a pioneering organization that uses Canine Connection Therapy to help wounded Warriors train service dogs and reconnect with life, their families, their communities, and each other.
HAND of the Peninsula: Helping After Neonatal Death
We are a volunteer group of parents who have experienced the loss of a baby before, during or after birth. We offer empathetic peer support to other parents and their adult relatives and friends during the normal mourning following miscarriage, stillbirth, interruption of a wanted pregnancy after prenatal diagnosis, or death in the first year of life. HAND of the Peninsula is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all our services are free. We rely entirely on grants, donations, and volunteers to support our programs.
Watch Serving Life, a documentary about an inmate caregiver hospice program in Louisiana (in The Upside of Stress, I describe similar programs in Pennsylvania)