Just a few words this Thanksgiving



Just a few words 

My great aunt once told me, gardening is a way of showing you believe in tomorrow. A memorable phrase someone told her I'm sure. I'd like to reflect on a couple of inspirational words and promises I will keep the next year.  

Percy Bysshe Shelley said, "By all that is sacred in our hopes for the human race, I conjure those who love happiness and truth to give a fair trial to the vegetable system." As you scoop your mashed potatoes today and slurp kibbles and bits and gravy bits, remember that fresh food is the backbone of our healthcare system. But some folks in our communities lack access to healthy food and other basic needs. 

We're all about to get swept up in the Black Friday craze followed by Cyber Monday. So I ask that as you shop, instead of looking for the best deal, look for the most impact. Support companies like Soma Water, BioLite, Back To The Roots, TogetherFarm or pledge your next birthday to charity:water so others can gain access to the basic of fresh agua needs. 

I'm pledging this holiday season to make a conscious effort to do business with companies whose mission is to inspire, educate and support their local communities. I'm also making a promise to fulfill obligations to those who have supported my personal mission to cultivate the next generation of growers. You know who you are. 

I truly believe that gardening is a way of showing you believe in tomorrow. So show others you believe in tomorrow this holiday season. 

With love,


High School Student Inspired to Become UrbnEarth Changemaker

“Help Others Grow Fresh Food” is the simple, but powerful, message Reece Williams gave when he launched a crowdfunding campaign called Green Roots using Piggybackr. The campaign successfully raised over $1,300 dollars to buy UrbMats for selected low-income families.

Reece is a high school senior from Hickory, NC who is passionate about both improving the environment and helping less-fortunate families. He witnessed how less-fortunate families must often resort to fast food and processed snacks because they cannot afford fresh, healthy meals. He is aware that this type of lifestyle not only causes health problems, but it also leaves a negative impact on the environment.

To encompass both of his passions, Reece became involved in facilitating community gardens where he provided many of the harvests to selected families. However, he felt that they were not as impacted by the harvests as he was because they did not see where the food came from. So, he became inspired to do something bigger.

Reece realized that growing food with the UrbMat is a great way to engage the community and pursue a project based on his passions. It allows families to easily grow their own food with a sustainable, environmental method. So, in May 2014, he started the Green Roots crowdfunding campaign to purchase UrbMats, where he exceeded his goal of $1,200 by 20 percent. With the funds he raised, he plans to provide UrbMats to selected families, as well as teach them how to enjoy their food and live a healthy, green lifestyle.

While the campaign has ended, his project has continued to take off. Supporters from all across the country have shared and helped market the Green Roots project. Members from Reece’s local community are also fully supporting the project. Since the campaign, many local groups have helped donate tools, topsoil, and volunteers to help start off the project.

Reece’s project is a perfect fit with UrbnEarth’s own mission. He saw how guided gardening can be used to connect and educate communities about the health benefits of homegrown food. The UrbnEarth team is so excited for his project and hope that he inspires others to use guided gardening in their own neighborhoods.

UrbnEarth awarded "Most Innovative Venture" at Points of Light Demo Night


With more than 200 in the audience, the Civic Accelerator Demo Night and Good Frenzy Atlanta ended a day of innovation June 16 at the Conference on Volunteering and Service – shining a light on local and national social entrepreneurs.

Representatives from the winning teams, from left – Piggybackr, City Pioneers and urbnearth – show their award certificates.

Representatives from the winning teams, from left – Piggybackr, City Pioneers and urbnearth – show their award certificates.

The evening at the World of Coca-Cola featured the graduating spring 2014 class of the Points of Light Civic Accelerator, a 12-week boot camp for entrepreneurs launching enterprises with a social purpose.

The event started with a VIP networking session bringing together startups with industry leaders, influencers and change-makers. A warm-up competition calledGood Frenzy Atlanta, a nod to ventures emerging in the Conference's host city, featured six innovative Atlanta-based social startups that presented three-minute pitches. Prizes included a featured interview on WXIA-TV (the local NBC affiliate) and a three-month team membership to NEX Atlanta.

Then the 14 startups participating in the Civic Accelerator had three minutes to compete for some startup essentials from prize sponsors, including legal services provided by Taylor English Duma LLP, a subscription to iMeet, compliments of PGI, and profiles on CSRWire.

Congratulations to the winners:

  • Best Pitch/People's Choice – City Pioneers of Atlanta, which connects local public organizations with hometown talent to solve city challenges and create an ecosystem of public entrepreneurs
  • Greatest Impact Potential – Piggybackr of San Francisco, which teaches teams of all ages and experience levels how to crowdfund
  • Most Innovative – urbnearth of San Francisco, which makes guided gardening kits that empower everyone to experience the health benefits of homegrown food

The guest judging panel included Joy Anderson, co-founder of SOCAP and Good Capital, and president and founder of Criterion Institute; Anna Cunningham, manager of global responsibility at Starbucks Foundation; Joe Sibilia, CEO of CSRWire; and Amy Stursberg, executive director of The Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

The audience selected the People's Choice winner by using a mobile app.  

To find out what else happened at the 2014 Conference on Volunteering and Service in Atlanta, click here.

UrbnEarth Pitches at Points of Light CivicX Accelerator in Seattle

ATLANTA, April 8, 2014 – The Points of Light’s Civic Accelerator – the first national startup accelerator dedicated solely to investing in civic ventures – announced today the 14 startups selected to participate in its spring 2014 program. This will be the fourth round of the Civic Accelerator since its founding in 2012. The ventures participating in the Civic Accelerator, which include for-profits, nonprofits and hybrids, all mobilize people to create positive change and come from across the United States.

The 14 ventures will gather in Seattle on April 22 for the start of an intensive, 12-week startup boot camp that includes mentoring, entrepreneur education, peer support and networking. Points of Light will offer two of the most promising ventures – as selected by the entrepreneurs themselves – a $50,000 investment following the conclusion of the program at a June Demo Day in Atlanta.

Application and selection committees screened more than 200 social ventures and reviewed 76 formal applications before selecting the top 30 finalists. Additional criteria were included in this year’s selection process – which focused on supporting local ventures from Atlanta and the southeast region and on including cutting-edge technology-for-good ventures from across the country.

The chosen ventures use innovative methods and platforms to bring people together to address social issues in areas including education, environmental sustainability, community and economic development and technology-for-good. The platforms used to confront these issues are equally as diverse. Some entrepreneurs have produced models driven by cause marketing and micro philanthropy. Others seek to empower communities through design thinking and youth fundraising.

“We are thrilled to have completed our seed phase and to have our founding and new partners at the table as we launch the next three cohorts over 18 months,” shared Ayesha Khanna, president of the Points of Light Civic Incubator. “We continue to see breakthrough models and new solutions that engage people to move the needle on critical social issues – in areas from STEM workforce readiness to food scarcity – and look forward to another fantastic cohort kicking off in a few weeks.”

The startups participating in the Civic Accelerator’s spring 2014 program represent California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri and Washington, D.C. They are:

  • Accountability Lab (Washington, D.C., nonprofit) The Accountability Lab empowers citizens to fight corruption and promote accountability though media and innovation in the developing world.
  • Catalysts by Design (St. Louis, nonprofit) Catalysts by Design is a network of social design organizations that partner with communities and organizations to resolve critical social challenges. 
  • City Pioneers (Atlanta, hybrid) City Pioneers strengthens cities by connecting local public organizations with hometown talent to solve city challenges and to create an ecosystem of public entrepreneurs.
  • Code2040 (San Francisco, nonprofit) CODE2040 creates pathways to success for blacks and Latino/as in the innovation economy, with a focus on the critical transition from learning to earning.
  • eatiply (Minneapolis, hybrid) Eatiply is a cause marketing platform that sustainably fights hunger while providing businesses and nonprofits a valuable marketing solution.
  • Edgeflip (Chicago, for-profit) Edgeflip uses technology and analytics to accelerate the influence of nonprofits, advocacy groups and other social good organizations.
  • Food Recovery Network (College Park, Md., nonprofit) Food Recovery Network empowers students to recover food from colleges that would otherwise be wasted and donate it to hungry Americans.
  • Piggybackr (San Francisco, for-profit) Piggybackr teaches teams of all ages and experience levels how to crowdfund.
  • Project SYNCERE (Chicago, nonprofit) Project SYNCERE is a STEM enrichment program for underrepresented students in grades four through 12.
  • SEMADevelopment (Atlanta, hybrid) SEMADevelopment sells community-created mobile app games to raise money for nonprofit organizations.
  • tinyGive (Washington, D.C., for-profit) tinyGive is a micro-philanthropy platform that enables individuals to support causes and social good organizations through simple, social and meaningful actions.
  • UrbnEarth (San Francisco, for-profit) UrbnEarth makes guided gardening kits that empower everyone to experience the health benefits of homegrown food.
  • WorkReadyGrad (Atlanta, for-profit) WorkReadyGrad enables students to proactively acquire the right skills, experiences and mentors to reach their career potential.
  • Zealous Good (Chicago, for-profit) Zealous Good connects people and companies with excess items to local charities with matching needs.

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About the Points of Light Civic Accelerator
The Points of Light Civic Accelerator is the first accelerator program and investment fund in the country focused on "civic ventures" – for-profit and nonprofit startups that include people as part of the solution to critical social problems. The three-month, boot camp-style program convenes 10-15 teams in person and online with the goal of equipping each startup to seek investments and scale their social innovations. The Civic Accelerator was launched in 2012, in partnership with Village Capital, and receives generous support from PwC Charitable Foundation and Starbucks Foundation, both founding partners, and from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, SAP and the official hotel sponsor, Hilton Worldwide. For more information, go to www.civic-x.org and follow @PointsofLight #CivicX.

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