I recently came across the website WhatGives?!, which is dedicated to spreading the good word about volunteerism, organizations, and causes, using social media to help raise awareness and funds for nonprofits. It’s teeming with useful information I love to read about and is now on the top of my bookmark list. More importantly (and relevant to this article), is that I read about Pando Projects for the first time. A new start-up based in New York City, it’s mission and platform immediately caught my attention and I needed to know more. Enter: Milena Arciszewski. Ask and you shall receive; I was able to get on the phone with Milena and learn more about Pando, and confirm that she is, in fact, as cool and candid as the voice she writes with on her site and blog.
Pando Projects is a nonprofit that “empowers people to step up as leaders and develop new, local solutions to the problems in their communities.” The Pando platform that was created will allow project leaders to create personal sites for their local causes to raise money, manage volunteers, organize events, and share their experience and results. As projects are completed, the leaders will become mentors to 5 more up-and-coming Pando Project leaders; with Pando as the catalyst, this is sure to become a chain reaction for change and create a true social network for good.
Though Pando Projects accepts applications from anyone over 18 years old, their primary demographic is Millennials: us young people born between 1980 and 1994. This includes Milena herself, who told me that our generation has big ambitions to change the world but we’re bored with what’s out there. Millennials don’t necessarily want the traditional volunteer experience, they want to create their own project and make change happen on their own terms. This is sure to harness the passionate energy of millennials not only to start their own projects, but also to donate to local projects to which they feel most connected. When I asked Milena about whether Pando Projects would serve mainly as an online platform or something that connects people in real life, she said that “Our platform definitely encourages off-line action. The idea is that we give Millennials the encouragement and tools they need to start amazing initiatives in their own communities. But then they come home and share their experience on their website and then distribute the update through Facebook, email, and Twitter. It’s offline action that’s documented through social media.”
I love the concept of Pando Projects, and I’m really happy that Milena chose New York City as her base of operations. In such a big city it’s easy for a lot of smaller, local community issues to go unnoticed and unfixed. Pando Projects is ready to empower New York’s ambitious Millennials to step up and fix the problems they see in their own backyards. I can’t wait to watch how this progresses as projects are successfully completed and the network of NYC do-gooders begins to grow through the mentorship program.
The pilot has officially begun- check out the inaugural projects by visiting http://pilot.pandoprojects.org. You can sign up to volunteer or make a donation on the individual project page you’re most passionate about (or more than one-they’re all pretty interesting!).
And if you’re wondering why it’s called the “Pando Project”: Pando is the name of the largest aspen forest in the U.S. whose trees are all connected with one root system. <<insert ‘The More Your Know’ jingle here>>