We recently announced the 5 Winners for the FACT Social Justice Challenge and we are thrilled at the caliber and impact of all the Projects. As such, we want to give you a closer look at these collaborative technology Projects and the people behind them. Over the next 5 weeks, we'll be posting interviews from all the Winning Projects using the fact interviews tag, and we hope you'll follow along!
This week, we're featuring Cory Glazier, the founder and CEO of SCHAP which stands for Sustainable, Comprehensive, Humanitarian, Assistance and Planning. His team's FACT Project submission was wikiSCHAP, an online, open-source collaborative platform that will consolidate the wisdom and experience of community development practitioners all over the world. It will allow the practitioners to have easy and direct access to a central location of information related to International poverty alleviation.
Learn more about SCHAP in the interview below!
Q. What was the inspiration for your Project?
Long story short. I was traveling through Kenya several years ago and after observing the poverty in the communities that I chose to live with I decided that I could not “not do something”. And I think that there are many people who have had very similar experiences when traveling around the developing world. What makes my situation a bit unique is that my academic background aggressively taught me that humanitarian AID can undermine local communities, and that the things they are doing to help “develop” usually does the exact opposite of the original intention. This put me in a challenging position, which was to try to start an organization that could serve and empower without undermining and corrupting. My mission was to create an organization that trained aspiring philanthropists in the most absolute sustainable and comprehensive forms of humanitarian assistance and planning: and SCHAP was born.
Immediately one of the things that we identified as a major limiting factor to training and developing community development facilitators was the lack of a central hub of information, trainings and resources... the nuts and bolts if you will...a place for people to go to find a practical applications to further their humanitarian goals. Along with the process of training aspiring philanthropists we currently carry out "Comprehensive Rural Community Development Projects" (CRCDPs) in Kenya, with projects in Uganda coming in the next year.
Had we had a reliable source of information when preparing for the CRCDPs in Kenya, we know we could have initially done significantly more to assist the community there more efficiently and at a faster pace. None of us are credentialed in Humanitarian Development work... and that is the point... there is SO MUCH that the average individual can do to make a substantial impact in poverty stricken communities if they just have access to the right resources.
wikiSCHAP is designed to facilitate just that. Development Practitioners have been working for decades to design programs, technologies and systems that are extremely effective in dealing with certain aspects of rural poverty. The roots of poverty, however, are complex and intermingled and there are countless issues that a development practitioner may confront. wikiSCHAP would act as the provider of reliable information that any practitioner, Development NGO or even governmental organization could reference during preparation or execution of any development project. We believe that by effectively empowering the masses, directly through our training programs and indirectly through wikiSCHAP, we will be able to have a very significant impact in overcoming extreme poverty as we know it.
Q. What else are you working on right now?
wikiSCHAP is a tool that SCHAP will use to accomplish our ultimate objective which, as mentioned, is to recruit, train and dispatch aspiring philanthropists. In order to effectively do that we are creating an online, informal university that will expose interested individuals and groups to the real issues of poverty and the things they can do to help empower a community. This, in turn, will facilitate the people in lesser developed communities to take the tools and trainings they receive to identify their own problems and discover their own solutions. Right now we are working on the curriculum, which we are manually distributing to our trainees. In the relatively near future we want to build a highly interactive platform that will be able to automate the training process, which will allow our impact to stretch limitlessly across the world. We are also working with our latest "batch" of practitioners, training and preparing for our summer 2011 projects in Kenya and Uganda. Lastly, we are beginning the process of developing a SCHAP based social network that will allow our volunteers to collaborate with one other all over the world as they engage in poverty alleviation in their respective projects. As this networking platform develops it will be made available to non-SCHAP specific development practitioners allowing them to connect and share ideas.
At the end of the day: we have an online university for development practitioners, an information rich open source hub providing reliable tools, resources and training materials and a social network able to connect practitioners all over the world.
Q. Where do you see your Project in 5 years? What about in 20 years?
5 years... We see all of these 3 components very well established and being utilized by thousands of practitioners or people who would like to become involved with sustainable poverty alleviation all over the world. As a result of the projects that our organization has directly executed, we will plan to then see those who helped, execute their own project, taking schap all over the world. These people will have our support, be trained through our program, ultimately resulting in them helping hundreds and thousands of people who were previously strapped with extreme disadvantages in the world. In doing this, we will inevitably created a magnet for other Americans and citizens in other developed nations, to enlist themselves in the fight against extreme poverty. We believe the days of searching high a low, just to identify with an organization they can trust themselves to get involved with, are gone. SCHAP is already emerging with a great reputation, as a serious group others are encouraged to join, in order to help change the world and end extreme poverty.
20 years from now... We will see global poverty as we know substantially reduced. This will be in part, the result of our organization, as well as countless others working diligently to develop and implement the most effective forms of empowerment. From education to sanitation work, micro enterprise to low cost electricity options, computer literacy to clean water access and high yield organic farming. We believe SCHAP will have had a VERY significant role in this movement and will ultimately be responsible for not only opening up projects and carrying out the previously mentioned initiatives, but developing the practitioners who have been thoroughly trained to carry out sustainable projects as well.
There are awesome organizations out there, who primarily focus on one aspect of poverty. Which ultimately will result in being highly ineffective in actually overcoming poverty. What they are doing is a quick fix, treating one 'symptom'. By combining our efforts, we plan to bring in the aspects other organizations are missing, which will make them comprehensive. We plan to provide well trained volunteers, as well as access to information about proven methods. Including step by step manuals and pre-fabricated field curriculums.
We are anxious for the day when more and more information will be brought directly into the homes and living rooms of those who are unaware of the extreme issues our world faces, through sharing stories of the people most effected and encouraging them to connect with our efforts.
As an organization, we know there are fewer things in the entire world, more fulfilling than helping a community overcoming crippling disadvantages. And we also believe that with the help of more empowered citizens, the more communicable the entire movement becomes.
Q. What help do you need to to get your Project off the ground?
SCHAP started out as the epitome of a grassroots movement. We had no money, no connections to any official sources of funding, no non-profit experience, we were students and all trying to survive ourselves, while working to start this organization. We have put in hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours over the last two years, through our founding members and volunteers that we have attracted along the way. We have all invested thousands and thousands of dollars of our own money through both cash and opportunity cost and have been able to successfully stay on top through very hard earned donations from our community.
Funding is the single largest limiting factor. Both large ammounts of money, and more importantly, reliable sources of regular funding. We are working extremely hard to continue our grassroots funding, and if that were supplimented with private, corporate, or foundation based donors then there is no limit of what we could do... and we could accomplish all of the aforementioned objectives without the perpetual stress of how we will afford rent or gas. If we could hire several of our founders and provide them with a full time salary, which would result in 80 plus hours per week of labor each and some of our other committed volunteers part time salaries, which would result in 40 plus hours per week, then we could very effectively accomplish our objectives as an organization and deliver the impact that the world is waiting on us for.
We are also in dire need of modest operating budgets for each of our departments so that we can literally afford toilet paper for the bathroom and ink for the printer (two challenges that we deal with regularly). We consider ourselves to be extremely well organized and capable of achieving our mission. We also have dozens of very committed volunteers. The awesome thing about SCHAP is that although the work we do is really exciting, we also have no problem attracting committed volunteers. We are confident that we can maintain a 20 to one ratio... meaning that for every one full-time employee that we are able to hire, we are able to effectively manage 20 committed volunteers and interns. Therefore, any small amount of support would yield tremendously leveraged results.
At the technical side, we could use development support for ALL three components of our online presence. None of us are experts and to date, we have done everything ourselves and have figured out our media and online needs ourselves. We would anxiously accept the assistance of anyone interested in helping us to develop our wikiSCHAP, SCHAPuniversity, or iamSCHAP platforms which we hope to all be integrated, video-centric and highly enjoyable to use.
Q. How can people best follow your progress and/or get involved?
Presently, our only office is in Carlsbad, CA (North San Diego County). We have not developed an effective system of getting volunteers involved off-location, so until an efficient SCHAPters (SCHAP chapters) system is in place, we are only in a position to bring on volunteers in San Diego. We are anxious to accept volunteers and inters. The application to get involved can be found at http://bit.ly/cw7OOj.
If people are interested in signing up for our 2011 project and associated training program, the application for that will appear on SCHAP.info in the next several days.