Village_Volunteers_Kenya Mug.jpg
Village Volunteers
Being politically correct and saving the world is hot right now, and the award that exemplifies this is the Classy Award, which honors

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NW Philanthropy Organizations Keep It Classy with Award Nominations

Village_Volunteers_Kenya Mug.jpg
Village Volunteers
Being politically correct and saving the world is hot right now, and the award that exemplifies this is the Classy Award, which honors outstanding charity and philanthropy work. This year, local nominees include Seattle-based organizations Village Volunteers and the Borgen Project.

The Classy awards are put on through StayClassy, a start-up that develops online fundraising products for nonprofits. The awards were founded specifically for the San Diego community in 2009, but expanded nationally in 2011. Public voting for the 2012 Classy awards is going on here until July 26 to help pick regional winners. Then, a team of leaders in the philanthropic community will select the national winners for the September 22 award ceremony in San Diego.

"There was not a unified industry event for nonprofits, and we saw a need for promotion and recognition for these organizations," says Pat Walsh, StayClassy co-founder.

The Pacific Northwest contenders include the Borgen Project and Village Volunteers, two organizations that work in poverty and hunger relief. The Borgen Project focuses on bringing political attention to poverty relief by meeting with government leaders and spreading poverty awareness to individual citizens. While the organization has had its successes and has managed to establish solid connections with politicians, founder Clint Borgen acknowledges the project still has work to do to achieve its goal.

"We have had good and bad progress," says Borgen. "It's been a rough political climate to work in."

Village Volunteers partners with global organizations to sustainably develop rural villages in Kenya, Ghana, Nepal, and India.

"I realized that it was really important to take a holistic view on development," says Shana Greene, Village Volunteers executive director. "We were educating girls, but there wasn't adequate jobs for them. We needed a more holistic solution."

Another example of this type of solution is Village Volunteers' sanitary pad project, designed help reduce the number school days girls in developing countries miss due to a lack of feminine hygiene products. By distributing feminine hygiene products, girls in these areas of the world will hopefully score higher on exams and then go on to high school, Greene said.

Portland is also being represented in the Classy award nominations, through Sisters of the Road and Sseko Designs. Sisters of the Road works to alleviate poverty and hunger through a cafe, which operates on a coupon and barter system. The organization also orchestrates advocacy programs for affordable housing, healthcare, and civil rights. Sseko Designs sells handmade sandals through a not-just-for-profit business model, allowing it to employ East African women at fair wages and match savings to help workers go to university.

Of course, every award ceremony has sweet prizes to give away. The Classy Award winners will receive an eBay Giving Works auction, fundraising software, and digital marketing consultations.

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