Thank you for giving me the opportunity again to support interests that Austin and I shared. I think about Austin every day and so it was relatively easy to decide on charities and organizations that are important to both of
us. Among these causes are science education, the natural world, music and music education, animals and animal welfare, and a new one this year: public radio (although it fits in a bit into the previous categories). My personal and professional interests also shaped my decisions; a theme throughout all of these organizations is outreach to traditionally under-served and under-represented communities.
Once again, in order to honor Austin’s memory responsibly and effectively, I used Charity Navigator to demonstrate that these organizations are accountable, transparent, and
donate a majority of their income to charity purposes and programs rather than to administration or fundraising. (I
tried to approach it with a critical eye and think Austin would have appreciated this).
Technology Access Foundation $100
The Technology Access Foundation (TAF) provides access to technology and tech education to children in low-income and predominantly minority school districts. Through their work in school districts, as well as the
establishment of their TAF Academy, the program
is effectively working to reduce the color and income gap in technology and science education. I think that Austin would have approved of this organization, which demonstrates that all students, regardless of income or ethnicity, should have access to high-quality math and
science education and an equal opportunity to pursue a STEM major in college, as he did.
Tech Trek by the American Association of University Women $100
In Austin’s college application essay, when asked to write about a person who made an impact on his life, he wrote about Laurie and her career as a scientist. Specifically, he said that she showed him the value of “scientific inquiry, expanding collective human knowledge in the process, while ensuring that the work can truly alter the lives of people for the better.” Given the persistent under-representation of women in the domains of science and technology, I think that he would support the efforts of the American Association of University Women. Specifically, the AAUW sponsors Tech Trek, a week-long science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) summer camp for rising eighth-grade girls. The camp is designed to develop girls’ interest, excitement, and self-confidence in STEM fields.
The curriculum was developed by women scientists, and attendees do hands-on experiments and workshops, see professional female role models in their instructors and visitors, and are provided the “college experience” during their time at camp, which increases their likelihood of attending college later on. Additionally, the camps are open to virtually everyone: there is a flat fee of $50 to attend. The donation will support Tech Trek at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM.
Big City Mountaineers $100
One of my favorite things to do with Austin on my visits to Albuquerque was to go hiking in the Sandias. Austin and I shared a love of nature and the natural world, and were lucky to have families, friends,and organizations that allowed us to experience the outdoors. With that
in mind, I chose to support Big City Mountaineers, a program that serves underrepresented urban youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions that seek to instill critical life skills. BCM partners with community-based youth organizations and work with over 1,000 adolescents annually. Additionally, BCM researches the effectiveness of their programs and has demonstrated an increase in participants’ likelihood of retention in school and a reduction in violence and drug use among participants.
Sierra Club: Inner City Outings $100
For the second year in a row, I chose to donate to the Inner City Outings program from the Sierra Club. I remember Austin saying that while he loved Chicago, he missed getting outside the city into nature. However, after he joined the Outdoor Adventure Club, which
gave him the opportunity to explore the natural world outside of Chicago and make great friends in the process. This donation seeks to provide the same opportunity to children in urban areas who don’t normally get to explore the natural world.
Austin and I shared a love of music and were both involved in music education at our schools, he in
the orchestra with violin and me in band and choir. I know that these were valuable experiences for us in both development and appreciation for the arts. However, I am also aware that not all children have the opportunity to learn an instrument, or even have access to music
education programs, like we did. Thus, I want to support organizations that sponsor music instruction programs and provide instruments in low-income schools and districts where it is most needed.
Education Through Music $100
Through Music (ETM) is an organization that develops and supports music instruction programs in disadvantaged schools, which enhances students’ academic performance and development in long term partnerships with elementary and middle schools that lack the resources for school-wide
music programs. ETA hires qualified music teachers, provides training, and encourages music and teaching faculty to work together to demonstrate the value of music education to student development and performance. The organization performs regular program assessments to ensure that they are meeting their goals and supporting their students.
The Harmony Project $100
The Harmony Project is a research-based nonprofit organization that sponsors music lessons and ensemble participation for underrepresented and low-income youth in Los Angeles. Their goals are to contribute to the healthy growth of children and communities through the study, practice, and performance of music, as well as to use music to bridge diverse communities. The program has targets at several levels: the children, who learn and
perform music, their families, who support their children’s growth and development, and communities.
Austin and I both shared a great love for cats, especially our cats. On a couple of occasions I remember talking to him about the objective reasons why Misty was the best cat, while my primary allegiance was to Mojo.
Additionally, we are both label-readers and put a great deal of thought into where our food comes from; I remember him patiently listening to me and being receptive to my decision to become “mostly vegetarian” for sustainability reasons. For this reason, I choose to devote $100 dollars to animal welfare at two levels: the first, local, to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, an excellent provider of support for animals and the community in Tucson, AZ. The second, national, goes the the Humane Society of the United States, which researches and advocates for responsible animal farming practices and other animal welfare issues.
Humane Society of Southern Arizona $100
This year, the HSSAZ officially became a no-kill shelter, and expanded their services to care for more animals. Additionally, they created new programs including low-cost animal first aid classes (I took one this year). They also do extensive work with local communities with children’s programs and animal cruelty prevention.
The Humane Society of the United States $100
The HSUS is the largest and most effective animal welfare organization in the United States. Their efforts support not only the work of local humane societies, but also contribute to broader issues in animal welfare and advocacy. Specifically, they are a powerful provider of advocacy to combat animal cruelty including factory farming, the wildlife trade, puppy mills, and animal fighting.
On our visits to Albuquerque, one of our most common activities was sitting in the kitchen, with NPR always
on in the background. I listen to public radio almost constantly (even during pledge drives), and I think that Austin and I both appreciate it as a source of unbiased, civil, and intellectual journalism that is available to anyone with a radio. Additionally, NPR is a provider of interesting programs including Radiolab, which provides a discourse on science that is engaging and, I’m sure, responsible for inspiring many young scientists. Thus, I devote a portion of my donations to KUNM, the local NPR affiliate in Albuquerque, and WNYC’s Radiolab.
KUNM is a public radio station that broadcasts from the University of New Mexico, but also reaches smaller towns and rural areas in New Mexico. Listener support accounts for 50% of the station’s annual operating budget. KUNM airs programming from NPR and local programs, including the country’s only call-in show focusing on Native American issues, Native America Calling. (However, it does not yet host Radiolab, so hopefully we can ask for that on the donation form).
Radiolab describes itself as “a show about curiosity, where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.” This sounds like something that Austin would have appreciated and supported, not to mention the fact that they occasionally devote episodes to the intersection of science and classical music.
Each episode focuses on a specific topic and investigates it from several different angles with thought experiments, stories, and interviews with researchers and reporters. The program’s award winning sound design adds to the awesomeness, and it sounds different than any
other program on public radio. Not only does Radiolab provide programs that explore science and philosophy, they do it in a way that is engaging and accessible.