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Better To Give

The Uncommon Life

RAINN and the Rape Kit Backlog

September 21, 2017

Editor’s Note: Today—September 21, 2017—is RAINN Day, an annual day of action designed to raise awareness and provide education to college students about sexual violence on campus. Although we’re not exactly a campus, we’ve chosen today to pay special tribute to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, better known as RAINN, with whom we’ve proudly partnered for nearly a decade. Read on for more on how you can help RAINN with one of their most urgent, challenging initiatives: addressing the rape kit backlog in the US.

Across the US, an estimated 100,000-plus rape kits sit untested in crime labs, evidence rooms, and police headquarters. Although these kits contain DNA evidence with the potential to solve crimes of sexual violence and identify repeat offenders, they remain untouched, often for reasons that are difficult to pinpoint. In a world where 1 in 6 American women (and 1 in 33 men) has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape, DNA evidence is an invaluable asset—one we can’t afford to let languish in storage. And that’s why RAINN, our Better to Give partner of seven years, needs your help.

RAINN’s work on the rape kit backlog spans years, and includes efforts to raise awareness of the issue by educating lawmakers and the general public. Still, there remains a great deal to be done in every state. Our causes page provides detailed information on the scope of the problem, with links to case studies and survivor resources and a simple form that allows you to contact your representatives directly in support of funding to address the issue.

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The Uncommon Life

Americares: Responding to Hurricane Devastation

August 31, 2017

UPDATE 9/25/2017: Americares emergency teams have been deployed to Puerto Rico and Dominica in the Caribbean. The organization has been working with the Puerto Rico Department of Health to stock emergency shelters in San Juan with medical equipment and supplies. As of last week, Americares has provided $9 million in medicines, supplies, and other assistance to more than 50 partners in Texas, Florida, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and St. Martin to help survivors of the recent storms.

UPDATE 9/19/2017: Earlier this week, Americares airlifted $1.8 million in critical medicines and medical supplies for Hurricane Irma survivors throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hurricane Maria, now a Category 5 storm, is predicted to plow through the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico starting this evening. Visit americares.org for more updates on emergency response efforts for those caught in this hurricane season’s devastating paths.

UPDATE 9/11/2017: Americares has deployed emergency response experts to assist in relief efforts for communities in the path of Hurricane Irma. Before it reached Florida over the weekend, Hurricane Irma killed more than 25 people in the Caribbean and devastated several islands, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Barts, St. Martin and St. Thomas. Click here to learn more about Americares response to Hurricane Irma.

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The Uncommon Life

Why it’s Better to Give
with 826 National

July 9, 2017

“Once upon a time there was a sheep named Oddy. He was a regular sheep in the grasslands with all the other sheep. Then, one day he fell in the Arctic sea, and he saw a big wave. It pushed him to shore towards a cyclops’s cave. Oddy took big steps towards the cave. The cyclops had a superpower that could turn anyone into a cyclops like him.”

Pretty intriguing first paragraph, right? It was written by Wahaaj, a young creative writing student who “likes pizza and french fries, and he loves to spell Mississippi.”

Wahaaj’s story is funny, imaginative, and might not exist without the help of our newest Better to Give partner, 826 National. Through their network of seven—soon to be eight—chapters across the US, 826 National has helped thousands of kids like Wahaaj let their imaginations run free, develop writing skills, and build confidence. The non-profit organization takes an uncommon, but extremely effective, approach to teaching writing to students age 6-18. They are passionate about their mission “to empower students with the skills to write their own paths forward, undefined by circumstance.” The 826 Network believes in the power of making learning fun, and the power that quality education can have in influencing children’s lives. All of this, along with their clever storefronts, dedicated staff and volunteers, free programs, and general ability to make every person who learns about them proclaim something along the lines of, “That is SO cool!” made us realize that we really, really wanted to join forces with them.

Now that 826 National is a part of our Better to Give program, you can select them to receive a $1 donation from us (at no cost to you) each time you shop at UncommonGoods. These donations will help 826 Network writing and tutoring centers across the country provide services to kids in under-resourced communities.

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Design

Designing a Force for Good: Behind the Scenes of Our Hope Shines Necklace

June 30, 2017

 

For 16 years, we here at UncommonGoods have demonstrated a commitment to supporting causes we care about through our Better to Give Program, an initiative that allows us to donate $1 from each purchase to a non-profit partner of your choice (and at no additional cost to you). Earlier this year, our Product Development team joined forces with one of our longest-standing Better to Give partners, RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, to craft a unique item of jewelry to benefit their organization. The result—our Hope Shines Necklace—is an elegant emblem of what RAINN stands for, symbolizing hope, reflection, and triumph over darkness. But how did we arrive at this design?

 

 

The process was a long one—about four months—but our team began with a few ideas in mind. At first, they used text as a springboard, attempting to translate everything from statistics—like RAINN’s assertion that every 98 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted—to the number for the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline into wearable pieces of jewelry. Soon, however, they broadened their approach, exploring ways to highlight some of the more general themes associated with RAINN’s mission, like hope, forward motion, and the ongoing nature of one’s story.

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The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Values: Our Guiding Principles

June 21, 2017

What makes a workplace great? Your knee-jerk response might focus on salary and benefits, but we all know it’s more than that. Do you feel challenged? Are you encouraged to grow? Do you have a say in your company’s direction? Do you feel like it’s your company? Do you like your co-workers? We’ve had the goal of being a great place to work for a long time, but that can mean different things to different people. We realized that in order to actually make it happen and in turn become a stronger, more impactful business, we had to figure out what “great place to work” meant to us.

Arrow
Arrow

 

Through discussions with our leadership, work with our human resources team and a trusted advisor, looking at the practices of businesses we admire, and a lot of feedback from team members across the company, we put who we want to be as an organization into words with our seven Guiding Principles.

Each of our Principles helps us define what we’re working to be as a company, and what we want to mean to the people who work here. In short, they’re a set of guidelines to keep us all moving in the same direction. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be differences of opinion expressed. In fact, the Principles are set up to empower folks around here to do just that.

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The Uncommon Life

Planting the Seeds for our American Forests Collection

April 18, 2017

Sleeping Fox | UncommonGoods

Each time you shop at UncommonGoods, we donate $1 to a non-profit partner of your choice through our Better to Give program (at no cost to you). In 2010, we were proud and honored to welcome American Forests, the oldest conservation organization in the United States, to Better to Give. Since then, we’ve donated more than $380,000 (and counting!) to further American Forests’ mission to protect and restore forests worldwide. But there’s still work to do.

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The Uncommon Life

Introducing Family Values @ Work

April 3, 2017

Family Values @ Work | Better to Give

UncommonGoods team members are passionate about their work. As partners, parents, sons, and daughters, we’re also committed to family. All workers should be able to balance the two, but most Americans can’t afford to take time off to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. In fact, the United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave program, and only 14 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave through their employer. Thanks to a lot of active voices (including ours) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the strongest paid leave policy in the United States last year. However, there is still more work to do.

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The Uncommon Life

Supporting Survivors and Spreading Hope through RAINN

February 17, 2017

At UncommonGoods we strive to use our business as a force for good. One of the ways we do so is by giving to non-profit organizations that we care about through our Better to Give Program–which lets you chose a non-profit partner to receive a $1 donation (at no cost to you) each time you shop.

As the leader of our Sustainability Steering Committee, I am proud that our relationships with our Better to Give partners go beyond the monetary donations we make, by having elements that include volunteer outings, speaker sessions, and attending off-site special events hosted by our selected non-profits. While all of these areas are partially what makes it an absolute blast to work for UncommonGoods, what is most inspiring is hearing about when our team members take it upon themselves to support our Better to Give partners outside of our organization.

Tanya Castin, UncommonGoods Merchant Assistant and RAINN volunteer

Since October, our Merchant Assistant, Tanya Castin, has been devoting her nights and weekends to becoming a volunteer working with one of our Better to Give partners, RAINN.  Last month, Tanya completed her training and is officially an online hotline staffer for RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline.

A speaker session with RAINN’s Development Director Chelsea Bowers that we hosted back in August prompted Tanya to get involved. “Just hearing stories about our team members’ experiences with sexual assault and being aware of the statistics [related to sexual abuse] pushed me into taking action,” she explained. “Being an online hotline staffer was something that I didn’t know was an option, but when I found out about it through our guest speaker, I looked it up online and found that they had one slot open in a New York City-based training over a weekend, so I signed up.” Signing up was the first step toward a large undertaking. To be a hotline staff, RAINN’s requirements included an in person weekend training session (16 hours split between a Saturday and Sunday), followed by a robust online training program.

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