Why Do We Do the Projects We Do?
At Humpty Dumpty we try to put the pieces back together again. But how do we choose the pieces we work on? After all, the world is full of things that need fixing – there are more than enough broken things to go around.
On top of this, we have limited resources, both in money and personnel. And then there is the issue of time, the scarcest resource of all.
In spite of these daunting challenges, we make as big an impact as we can as fast as we can.
This makes our choice of projects all the more important.
As a result we analyze every project we consider very carefully. We are looking for places where we can make a big difference. We focus primarily on literacy, animals and conservation and food-related issues. We also work to impart important values and highlight important issues through storytelling. All of these areas relate closely to the mission and products of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
As we searched the world for opportunities to help we learned that the UN touches more people than any other organization on earth. We decided to use our resources to help the UN do their work better if we could. We reasoned that if we could do this we could help more people than we could by doing anything else.
As a result of this belief we have spent 15 years working hard on this effort: we have hosted over 600 members of the U.S. Congress to meet with senior UN leaders, building bridges between them. We have educated thousands of students about international affairs in cooperation with the UN and other experts through our Higher Education Alliance. And, we have connected Hollywood with the UN through the Global Creative Forum in an unprecedented way that is designed to amplify the UN’s messages around the world. Our entertainment industry-related efforts resulted in the establishment of the Creative Community Outreach Initiative at the UN, an office charged with continuing to build on the relationships we initiated, and the Burkle Institute at UCLA, which provides resources to Hollywood when it is working on global issues.
Because of the incredible reach of the UN our own UN activity continues as a regular part of what we do year in and year out. But, we seek to do more. Every year we look at other projects inside and outside the United States. We want these projects to make a big difference too; we try to choose projects that we believe allow us to bat above our weight and accomplish a lot with a little.
For the past five years one of these projects was our Mushrooms with a Mission Program in Vietnam. We have now turned this program over to the Vietnamese and have left behind an industry that didn’t exist before we arrived, i.e. mushroom farming. We changed the lives of many, created meaningful jobs that will last for years to come, and left behind a better standard of living, a cleaner environment, a better educated population and more that should endure. We are proud of that.
This year we have begun to accelerate two new projects: Bobby’s Breakfast in the US and the International Film Exchange. Both of these programs have special aspects that allow us to have a big impact.
Bobby’s Breakfast feeds hungry kids right here at home. We found that many public schools (primarily with underprivileged students) couldn’t get together the funds to qualify for the USDA School Breakfast Program. They need to upgrade their kitchens and train their staffs to get access to the USDA Program. A mere $15,000 investment gives them access to 20 times that amount in matching funds to feed nutritious breakfasts to hungry kids throughout the year. We decided this was something that had to be fixed so we started Bobby’s Breakfast with restaurateur, Bobby Azinian, and we plan to fund the thousands of schools that have not been able to qualify for the USDA Program.
The International Film Exchange started as an experiment two years ago when we joined with the US State Department to enable promising Iraqi filmmakers to come to the U.S. for an intensive training program in partnership with the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television, one of the country’s finest film schools. This year we are expanding this program to Pakistan. We like this program because we understand the power of movies and television to shape people’s views of their world. We want to empower these promising filmmakers to tell great stories promoting important values. We believe that a few creative people with training and resources can positively impact many, many more through their films and TV programs.
In summary we try to do more with less. Every project is designed to deliver the biggest possible impact for the smallest expenditure in time and money. We finish the projects as fast as we can because as we all know there are a lot of other broken things to fix. We don’t expect to run out of things that can be made better. If you like what we do, please consider helping us with contributions of money or your time. Thank you!