graigslist foundation

Non profit bootcamp – helping people help

Whether we are new to yoga or seasoned practitioners, there often comes a time when we inquire deeper into what our yoga practice means and ask ourselves, “How do I take my practice off the mat?” Many of us dedicated to inward union and outside expression have chosen career opportunities, volunteer positions and commitments that reflect this inner desire to serve, connect and “be the change” in our communities and world.

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San Francisco’s own Craig Newmark, founder of, asked a similar question. His Craigslist Foundation, established in 2000, is a publicly supported, non-endowed, nonprofit. Just as is about “people helping people” by facilitating online connections, Craigslist Foundation creates community in the nonprofit arena by “helping people help,” regardless of cause or sector. Expertly guided by Executive Director Darian Rodriguez Heyman, the Foundation is uniquely positioned to support nonprofits by providing free and low-cost education opportunities to emerging nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs, thereby fulfilling its mission of “providing knowledge, resources and visibility to the next generation of nonprofit leaders.” Rather than bestowing grants to select organizations, the Foundation produces events and resources that benefit as many nonprofits, causes and people as possible. 

In keeping with that mission, the Foundation usually hosts every year a gathering of over 1,500 nonprofit leaders and participants at the Annual Craigslist Nonprofit Boot Camp. The boot camp received rave reviews from participants in the past. “CL treated us like we mattered all day,” said one attendee once said. “They celebrated us, wined and dined us and honored us.” In an effort to create an environment that educated and empowered nonprofit leaders, the event honored good works, visionary causes, extraordinary people and provided the opportunity for connection among the nonprofit community and many of its potential supporters.

The boot camp usualy includes more than 40 presenters, who discuss such topics as nonprofit basics, fundraising, social entrepreneurship and technology. An additional 35 exhibitors and over 30 experts and career counselors are on hand to individually provide answers to participants’ questions.

Participants ‘Start Getting Real’ One of the most exciting and inspiring events of the day awards prizes for the Reality Grant-Making competition – the Craigslist Foundation’s version of American Idol. The contest begins on Saturday with a grant-making session, which featured a panel review of eight proposals selected out of 48 submitted by event registrants. The panel consists of Christopher Herrera of the Tides Foundation; Karen Topakia of the Agape Fund for Social Change; and Carole Watson of United Way of the Bay Area.

Proposals are judged on a scale of 1-5, based on such criteria as clarity, formatting and the ability of an organization to complete the plan. The audience listens in as the merits and weaknessees of each proposal sre weighed. The first place winner in 2006 was Community Water Center of Visalia, which took home a grant package valued at over $3,500 for their proposal to engage underserved audiences in water policy decision-making in the San Joaquin Valley. Their proposal strongly demonstrated the Craigslist Foundation’s mission of helping people help people.

Produced with the help of over 80 organizations, the boot camp clearly achieves its aim of educating and empowering the next generation of nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs by connecting them with valuable industry resources. As the Foundation’s website states, “It’s through empowerment and connection that Craigslist Foundation works to transform community.” 

As for the rest of us, and our practices, on and off the mat…What are we each standing to transform? Whether it be transforming our thoughts while in tree pose or standing in line at the grocery store, what calls and moves you to action? In seeking an answer to the question, “how do I take my yoga practice off the mat?,” notice where you are drawn when an inspiring thought comes over you. What solutions will take shape in the world because you acted on your ideas? What nonprofit is calling for your unique gifts and talents? Once you have a sense of your passion, start exploring and sharing!  Truly, your practice is dedicated to a higher purpose.

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