Pulling For The Underdog (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Pulling For The Underdog

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:26:10
Welcome back to "Metro Connection." And this week, we're all about the underdog. Underdogs have been around forever. You have biblical underdogs, like David when he faced Goliath. You've got historical underdogs, like the American colonists breaking away from English. You have, of course, underdogs in sports. Thank James "Buster" Douglas beating the previously undefeated Mike Tyson in 1990.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:26:35
But you also have all of these unsung underdogs, everyday people who are just doing their darndest to make their communities, their world a better place, often in the face of some pretty tough odds. And next, we'll hear about a group that's devoted to finding these underdogs and creating ways for people, all over the world, to connect with them and support their causes. "GlobalGiving," is a D.C. based non-profit that touts itself as a sort of marketplace.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:27:02
Its mission is to unleash the potential of people around the world to make positive change happen. Here's how it works, you go to GlobalGiving.org, you find a project, a cause to support and right there on the spot, you can make a tax deductible contribution. Not too long ago, I was surfing around the site and I happened upon something called, "The Pulling for the Underdog," fund. Thinking this could be a great fit for, well, you know, for today's show, I contacted Donna Callejon.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:27:32
GlobalGiving's Chief business officer. I met up with her at GlobalGiving's headquarters in Northwest D.C. And she told me, last year, the organization dispersed approximately $11 million to roughly 1,300 projects worldwide.

MS. DONNA CALLEJON

13:27:46
And so, you know, a couple of examples would be a young man named Joseph who lives in Uganda, lost many of his relatives to AIDS and got a job, made a little bit of money and decided what he really needed to do was help people like his family and the people in the village that he grew up in. So he runs a grassroots organization that works with HIV-AIDS widows. So it's a great example of just a guy in a village in rural Uganda who, otherwise, how would he raise money in the United States?

SHEIR

13:28:18
So then the "Pulling for the Underdog," fund, is that an offshoot of GlobalGiving? What's the relationship between the two?

CALLEJON

13:28:24
Yeah, so just to take a step back, I guess. Dennis Whittle, one of our co-founders, really tries to emphasize the benefits of listening to people in communities to understand what they need and providing them with the tools and access and capital that they need to test out their solutions. And so we kind of think of ourselves as an organization that's pulling for those underdogs. And in most cases, those folks are also pulling for underdogs in their communities, right?

CALLEJON

13:28:54
So, you know, we're always thinking about who are the folks out there who just don't have as much opportunity to access resources as many of us do? Dennis, after 10 years, has decided to move on from the day to day of the organization. And so in his honor, we created this, "Pulling for the Underdog," fund, which is basically a project on GlobalGiving. And so we've asked friends of GlobalGiving, friends of Dennis', supporters, donors to consider making a contribution to this fund.

CALLEJON

13:29:23
And what we do with it exactly is kind of still to be determined. It's really our first time actually asking people to support GlobalGiving, to invest in, kind of, our ability to keep providing this service to all the other underdogs around the world.

SHEIR

13:29:37
I would love to hear more about these underdogs. You mentioned the man in Uganda.

CALLEJON

13:29:41
Yes.

SHEIR

13:29:41
What are some local underdog projects that are involved with GlobalGiving and the, "Pulling for the Underdog," fund?

CALLEJON

13:29:47
Yeah, one person who is just really amazing here is Lisa Greenman who runs an organization called, "Take 2." She's a lawyer so it's completely in her spare time. She and another person started up this organization. And it's very much focused on children with mild cases and forms of autism, like Aspergers Syndrome. There are thousands of kids in the D.C. Metro area who are suffering from these kind of mild versions of autism and so she and her partner created this camp here in D.C. for kids.

CALLEJON

13:30:20
And it's really looking at taking, you know, studies from N.I.H. and a lot of the other medical research groups and applying the latest in the technologies for socialization for kids. She's basically a start-up little, you know, organization. And so she found us and was able to raise $20,000, I think, for her camp through GlobalGiving. Another example of an underdog who is not doing work in D.C., but is based in D.C. is a very young man, named Marshall Bailey. And in his quote-unquote spare time, he has started an organization that works with small non-profits in Nigeria.

CALLEJON

13:30:54
Helping them build their capacity. And so he's been able to raise funds through GlobalGiving, not just to support his work, but to support the work of all these other small organizations in Nigeria.

SHEIR

13:31:05
So it's, like, levels upon levels or layers upon layers...

CALLEJON

13:31:09
Yes.

SHEIR

13:31:09
...of help...

CALLEJON

13:31:10
Mountains upon mountains, right, fractals. You know, for the quants (sp?) out there, it is almost like a fractal, you know. It's, like, at every level, there's somebody, right? There's the people in rural communities who don't have access to, you know, electrical services and then there's the person who came from that community who wants to make a difference where they, you know, grew up and they've moved on. And so they go back and they figure out a solution. And then, there's GlobalGiving, sort of, in the middle trying to help their voice be heard.

CALLEJON

13:31:38
And then, there are fantastic donors. We have 140,000 people who've given to one or more projects, who are providing those resources. And one of the things that's really cool is that on our website, if you were to give, let's say, to Joseph's project in Uganda, we ask him to post updates every quarter. And so when those updates come, you get an e-mail that says, you know, "Hey, Rebecca, Joseph's project posted an update, here it is." So you get to look at it and you can -- there's, like, a chat wall. So you can comment on it. He might respond to you.

CALLEJON

13:32:08
So we're also trying to create that community from far away so that the underdogs on the ground can meet the people who are supporting them as well.

SHEIR

13:32:16
Well, Donna Callejon, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today.

CALLEJON

13:32:20
It has been my pleasure.

SHEIR

13:32:22
To learn more about GlobalGiving and the, "Pulling for the Underdog," fund, visit our website, metroconnection.org. And if you know any underdogs in the D.C. area who are working to improve their community, we want to hear about them. Post a note on our Facebook page, that's facebook.com/metroconnection.org
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