Victor Jung is a committed philanthropist from New York City

Category: Philanthropy Page 2 of 3

How Fighting Child Poverty is Both an Ethical and Economical Responsibility

Poverty remains one of the biggest issues facing many Americans today. Thousands of people, including children, suffer year after year because they do not have the financial means to sustain an adequate lifestyle. Children have been one unfortunate target of poverty, as approximately one in five children grows up poor. However, the issue of poverty has impacted specific demographics harder than others.

Children of color have proven to be disproportionately poorer than their counterparts, and they comprise 70 percent of the poor children population. In addition, black children are projected to become the majority in 2020. The issue of poverty stems beyond these numbers, however, because poverty is color-blind. This calls for an inherent ethical responsibility to fix the poverty situation.

Study after study has demonstrated that poverty has an adversely negative impact on the development of children, and it can impact their ability to become successful when they grow up. This could mean not getting a decent job or not getting an adequate education. However, the impact of poverty can also affect one’s physical development as well. Being poor means they may not be able to have adequate nutrition. This can make them more susceptible to numerous infections or important deficiencies in their body that can affect their health.

This country owes it to those who do not have opportunities to not jeopardize the future of many Americans. While many people have the fortunate reality of escaping poverty, they are offset by those who enter into that same situation. The issue is further exacerbated by the fact that many people work a full-time schedule, and are just barely able to make ends meet. That should not be the case, especially considering the millions upon billions of dollars that the country spends on other pursuits such as military defense recklessly.

The leaders of this country who have the majority of wealth and cannot possibly relate the struggles of those who do not know when the next meal is coming have to be held to a higher standard. It is contingent upon leaders of every form of government to ensure that its citizens are given ample opportunity to succeed in life. The issue of poverty can be fixed, but the desire to devise a means to fix it is what’s missing.

How Your Restaurant Can Serve Both Food and Altruism

Restaurants have been leaders in serving their respective communities through philanthropic efforts for quite some time. The restaurant industry gives over $3 billion in resources every year, and over 90% of American restaurant operators donate to charity regularly. Roughly three out of four restaurant owners contribute to local and national hunger relief programs as well.

When restaurants do good for their communities, their investment pays off immensely. They garner a reputation among both their employees and their communities as a business that cares about more than the bottom line. Giving restaurants attract attention to their establishments as people learn about them and associate them with charitable efforts.

Your restaurant can help meet the needs of individuals and organizations on a local, state, national, or global level. Are you searching for new ways to engage with your community? Here are a few great examples of how to contribute wherever you may reside.

Embrace a Cause

A community program that is meaningful to you and your staff will likely have a greater impact, as you will have a deeper emotional connection, thus putting more effort into it. Florida-based Firehouse Subs has raised over $17 million to increase public safety in over 40 states and Puerto Rico. The chain has dispersed these funds to fire, EMS, law enforcement, and public safety organizations.

Host an Event

The holiday season — the season of giving — is an ideal time to rally support for a charitable cause. For decades, Rhode Island-based Gregg’s Restaurants & Pubs has joined with philanthropic groups to host a yearly event called The Giving Tree. Over 300,000 Christmas gifts have been distributed to residents in need throughout the community via this program.

Donate Leftovers

Do good with your surplus food and help alleviate hunger in your neighborhood. If you do not normally have a substantial amount of leftover food, consider using your purchasing power to acquire extra food at wholesale prices. Passport Pizza, based in Michigan, has been a hub for eateries, vendors, and retail grocery stores to distribute leftover food, which is then forwarded to shelters, soup kitchens, and other non-profits in their community.

Invest in Youth

Giving someone a meal feeds them once; teaching them cooking skills can help them feed themselves and others for a lifetime. Obviously, a paraphrase of an ancient proverb. Nonetheless, providing apprenticeship opportunities for young people could also enable to raise up another generation of faithful employees. The California-based Cohn Restaurant Group’s Garfield High School Foundation has graduated over 2,000 at-risk teenage students. The students have run the foundation’s yearly Thanksgiving benefit luncheon which has raised over $300,000 over the past 18 years.

Restaurant owners all over the country have realized the immense value of supporting the communities that support their establishments. Doing good is a significant part of good business. Your generosity builds a circle of giving that continuously benefits your restaurant, employees, customers, and community.

The Bezos Day One Fund: An Overview

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos recently declared their first philanthropic endeavor. “The Bezos Day One Fund” is expected to tackle two issues: homelessness and early education. Bezos explained that his organization would tackle homelessness by serving as a supplemental source of operational funding for other nonprofits invested in aiding homeless families. His approach to early education would be managed more directly, seeking to establish a network of high quality nonprofit preschools within low-income areas. Bezos has high expectations that his business acumen will lead his charitable efforts just as well, specifically saying he would use the same guiding principles that led Amazon to excel: an obsession with satisfying customers. In this particular case, the “customers” are children.

Because technical jargon in marketing can be troubling, here is an assessment of what Bezos’ child-first schooling would look like. Bezos schools would mimic the unstructured approach used by Montessori schools. While that may sound scary, 4-year-olds are not exactly needing of intense structure.

Alina Adams, author of a “Getting Into NYC Kindergarten,” explained that parents tend to be overwhelmed with choosing a preschool. The market is loaded with dozens of keywords, leading to further confusion regarding which institution would be best for a human recently-freed of diapers.

The bulk of preschooling revolves around keeping children engaged while their parents work. Things like socialization or advancing cognitive development can occur elsewhere. One Head Start program study indicated that preschooling laid the groundwork for better adult earnings and educational gains for mothers. The ideal preschool scenario would be a mixture of daycare and schooling. When looking to low-income families, as Bezos is, the ability to offer flexible hours would be of great benefit.

Another approach the Bezos schools could take with their focus on aiding children is to offer lots of time outdoors. Free play has continued to diminish in public schools since 1955, partly because parents have risen in control over what children get to do and, consequently, lead to the increasing prevalence of depression and anxiety in children. Keeping that play outdoors would help in managing stress, obesity, and other health issues by exposing children to nature.

Bezos’ schools will have the greatest success if they work toward customizing education down to each child, rather than adhere to one-size-fits-all approach most institutions take.

3 Benefits of Intergenerational Programs

Children and senior citizens often have much more in common than more than meets the eye. Grandparents and grandchildren seem to form special bonds in many families, but sadly, we live in a world where older generations are spending more of their days alone. As of 2010, over 11 million senior citizens living outside of nursing homes were without a roommate of any type, and the likelihood of living alone only increases with age.

Thankfully, intergenerational programs are gaining popularity and recognition. These arrangements connect children with senior citizens who may not have younger family members to bond with, effectively creating mutually beneficial relationships. The activities shared between these two groups can range from anything to teaching older individuals about the newest forms of technology, to having children learn about new ways to approach certain situations in life they are bound to come across. The goal is to create meaningful, transformative bonds between two generations who can greatly benefit from each other’s presence in a variety of ways.

Both parties learn new skills

The generational gap between children and senior citizens is filled with educational opportunities. What senior citizens may have an enormous amount of experience in, children are more than likely lacking in terms of knowledge of that field. They can learn a large amount of information from the wisdom older individuals possess.

Conversely, children can teach their elders about things they might have little access to. As mentioned before, younger generations are much more in tune with technology today than they were in decades past. From smartphones, to tablets, to newer types of computers, children and teens can teach seniors how to use these devices and harness the advantages that come with them.

Creates a sense of purpose

Many senior citizens today may feel like their life’s purpose has dwindled in their later years, leading to a lack of fulfillment. By introducing them to intergenerational programs, this feeling can be directly combatted. Going off of the aforementioned benefit, the skills that seniors bring to the table and teach children gives them responsibility and a sense of purpose.

Children who are looking to help others in any way that they can will find purpose through intergenerational programs as well. As I have discussed before, giving and charitable efforts have a positive, direct impact on a child’s well-being.

Reduces elderly depression

These programs have been linked to lower levels of depression and social isolation in older individuals suffering from these complications. Spending long periods of time alone can have damaging effects on a senior citizen’s mental health, but allowing them to positively interact with a younger crowd can prevent, and even reduce symptoms.

Want to Make Your Kids Happy? Teach Them to Give

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to many that giving and engaging in charitable efforts can have a positive effect on our outlook on life. Generosity can boost our endorphins and release oxytocin in our bodies, which creates a feeling of empathy and happiness. When applying this concept to children, one may think that their constant want for toys and material items would blind them from these benefits. However, teaching a child to give can do just the opposite.

Compassion and the want to give comes at birth and is a natural instinct in human beings. For instance, if you’ve ever seen a child no older than 1 or 2 years of age attempting to share whatever it is that they’re holding, you’ve witnessed that innate sense of wanting to give. Children are born with the ability to help despite not being taught the values of their actions, and studies have shown that giving can make them much more happier than receiving gifts.

A responsibility you have as a parent is to nourish this ability to give, and encourage your children to continue these efforts. There are countless benefits that come with giving and partaking in charitable efforts, but an increased sense of happiness is perhaps the best of all. However, it has been proven that giving also improves our health. It can reduce stress and even lower blood pressure in individuals that may be struggling with both health complications.

In terms of how you can encourage your children to give, there are a number of ways you can do so. First, talk to them to find out what their interests are and what they feel strongly about. Whether it’s animals or fellow children, this can give you a good idea of which organizations you and your children can work with.

Work close to home. Allowing your children to dedicate their charitable efforts to friends, family, and their respective community can have a profound impact on their overall happiness; something donations to an anonymous source on the other side of the world can seldom do. Perform these activities as a family to maximize happiness and the health benefits that come with donating your time and effort. It is a great way to bond with your children as well.

Encouraging your children to give and teaching them the values of charity can also promote social connections. Most charitable outings involve large groups of people gathering together to promote the betterment of a community, and doing so can allow relationships to develop among volunteers. Social interaction is very important in the growth of children, as it can improve both physical and mental health.

The Success of the Ice Bucket Challenge

In the summer of 2014, an internet sensation took off as a way to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Millions of people all over the world took part in the “ice bucket challenge,” in which they poured buckets of freezing water over their heads and the heads of their friends as a means for spreading word about ALS, and raising donations.

While the origins of this challenge are somewhat hazy, being attributed to multiple people and organizations, it was perhaps most popularized by former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates. Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2013, and with the help of his friends, became an advocate and raised funds for the disease, promoting the ice bucket challenge in particular. Not long after, celebrities all over the United States began posting videos of themselves taking part in the challenge, which sparked the nationwide phenomenon. Former president Barack Obama, LeBron James, and Justin Bieber are just a few huge names to participate.

Through the power of social media, word of the ice bucket challenge spread like wildfire, with more than 17 million people taking part, and 2.5 million U.S. citizens donating over $115 million to the ALS Association. With so much funds raised, participants may wonder how exactly their contributions were used, and how they were able to make a difference. Luckily, the association is taking full advantage of all the money donated.

Of the enormous amount of money donated, the ALS Association put $77 million toward research of the disease. Numerous studies have yielded positive results in the treatment of ALS, and provided stepping stones to finding a cure. One such study found that ALS treatment in our canine companions can actually benefit humans as well.

$23 million was dedicated to patient and community services. These can range from increased grants for improved treatment in patients suffering from ALS, to support groups developed throughout communities for patients and their families. The ALS Association has invested this money for the betterment of all those affected by the disease, and many benefits have already begun to show. In Pennsylvania, for example, caregivers are now able to receive free training sessions, and family members who have lost loved ones to ALS are offered grief counseling for no cost.

$10 million was given to public and professional education. This effectively spreads awareness far and wide enough to reach Congress, which can lead to an increased support of ALS research. It can provide a better understanding for certain researchers and companies so that they are able to direct their efforts more precisely and effectively.

Of the last of the donations, $3 million was put toward fundraising, and the remaining $2 million was for external processing fees, showing that only 2% of the money given to the ALS Association was used for outside fees. The efforts and contributions of the millions of people that took part in the ice bucket challenge did not fail, and successfully raised not only an enormous amount of money, but awareness throughout the world.

image of child for victor jung's blog post, "why you should vacation with your kids."

Why You Should Vacation with Your Kids

Many people view summer vacation as a time to get away from all of their responsibilities, and enjoy themselves in their favorite location in the world. Though the idea of spending time alone can be alluring to some, spending time with one’s family is actually scientifically proven to be more fulfilling, and much more enjoyable.

Vacations are perfect opportunities for parents to bond with their children, and give them the invaluable gift of time spent together. Aside from the joys of playing on the beach and sharing laughter together, these types of interactions are known as “attachment play,” and is vital for emotional growth in children. Essentially, you as a parent are giving your children your undivided attention, which they understand as you reveling in every second you spend together. This effectively builds their self esteem.

Almost every parent understands just how important and beneficial spending time with their kids is, but few may know that taking them on vacation can actually enhance their brain development. Time spent with your children outside of home can exercise two areas of their brains that react to playing and visual stimulation. For example, giving your a child piggyback ride stimulates the “play” area, while taking them on a hike to experience nature and see animals and plantlife stimulates the visual area. Doing both can reduce stress levels in children, and allow them to relax in terms of emotions, unlike the experiences they have at home, where much less mental stimulation tends to take place. As parents begin to relax, so do their children.

By taking your children on vacation with you, you are also exercising their explorative nature, which is essential for going on to live a rich, fulfilling life. This creates a drive within them that, when applied to the working world, can set them up for a great deal of success. It also improves their social skills, concentration, and cognitive abilities.

Though studies are still being conducted, many researchers believe there could be a connection between vacations and higher IQ’s in children. Because of the cognitive benefits that come with taking your children on holiday, there is a theory that their levels of intelligence are increased accordingly. Exposing children to new and exciting environments can trigger several areas of the brain, exercising them not unlike muscles in the body. The frontal lobe is enhanced through this stimulation, which can improve one’s stress regulation, concentration, and ability to learn.

No matter where you and your family are traveling in the world, the benefits that both you and your children experience are endless. While their young minds are being positively molded through unique experiences and bonding with their parents, they are also creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Victor Jung

The Impact of Social Media on Children

It is no secret that technology is one of the most ubiquitous entities in our modern society. While this fact comes with countless benefits — from increased speed and efficiency in performing menial tasks to the introduction of life-saving technologies — its drawbacks are almost as plentiful.

Take, for example, the Western world’s increasing dependence on technology and social media for communication, entertainment, and even newsgathering. Not only have these tendencies led to gross misinformation amongst the masses, but have resulted in radical lifestyle changes via widespread internet addiction as well.

Unfortunately, the negative impacts of technology are not exclusive to adult users. Instead, thanks to the introduction to technology and, more specifically, social media to younger age cohorts, researchers are finding that more teens, adolescents, and even young children are showing symptoms of problematic internet usage and other subsequent psychological disorders.

This is mostly rooted in the fact that active participation in social media triggers a positive neurochemical reaction — in other words, a burst of dopamine. When users receive technology-related cues, such as their smartphone buzzing with new notifications, they get caught in an endless cycle of dopamine exposure and withdrawal. The desire to avoid such withdrawals can lead to users spending hours scrolling through social media in search of their next burst of dopamine.

When children become entangled in this vicious cycle, they are less likely to resist the urge to avoid pertinent tasks — such as homework, extracurricular activities, or even face-to-face socialization — in favor of spending hours scrolling through their social media accounts on their various devices.

However, forcing a child to cleanse themselves of social media is not necessarily the key to putting an end to these negative ramifications, as they are quickly becoming addicted to just using their devices as well — whether it be for texting friends, streaming music, or other relevant activities.

In an article for The Huffington Post, Dr. Jim Taylor reviewed several pieces of research that all proved the existence and brevity of addiction to technology. One of the students that were surveyed in an aforementioned study stated, “Media is my drug; without it I was lost. I am an addict. How could I survive 24 hours without it?”

That being said, there are substantial benefits to using technology and social media in moderation. For example, teens and adolescents can use social media to accomplish specific social tasks, such as: staying connected with distant friends and family, making new acquaintances, and sharing photos and life events.

Additionally, social media and technology offer enhanced learning and community engagement opportunities, as teens can utilize social media to form groups in which they can exchange ideas and expand their knowledge of the world around them.

It is imperative to note that no technology is inherently good or bad, but that their ultimate purposes are defined by their common uses. If parents, guardians, and other authority figures are proactive in ensuring their children are safe online and off — and spend their time online responsibly as well — they will likely see more of the benefits of social media than their drawbacks.

Victor Jung

Teaching Children With Special Needs

Educators that have been trained to teach students with special needs are familiar with the challenges faced in this field, and are dedicated to helping said students receive the education they deserve. Learning disabilities can be any number of complications involving a child’s difficulty to read, write, or speak, and can be a challenge for both student and teacher. With that said, accommodations must be made, and there are considerations that should be brought forth beforehand in order to provide special needs students with the best learning environment possible.

The first consideration every teacher should keep in mind is the aesthetics of their classroom. Children tend to thrive in an engaging environment, yet with limited distractions. Conversely, programs with little structure that allow freedom of expression can be just as beneficial. Utilize colorful labels and checklists to help them stay on top of their tasks, but give them the option to change up how they do their work. Children with special needs often struggle when trying to complete an assignment with distractions around them. If changing where they work helps, allow them to do so.

Your tone of voice when speaking to children with special needs plays a bigger part in their receptiveness than you may have initially thought. Be animated in the way you speak rather than monotone. Varying between loudly speaking in a higher pitch to whispering according to the conversation can teach them to do the same, as well as encourage them to take part in the activity you are asking them to.

Rather than focusing on just teaching verbally, help students with special needs learn more efficiently by including visual and auditory strategies. Children who suffer from dyslexia may excel at lessons dealing with color or light, and those who have speech disorders may be excellent writers. It’s important to expose them to a wide range of categories in order for them to experience the joy of doing a job well done.

Always provide positive feedback and reinforcement. When faced with a difficult task, children with learning disabilities can become intimidated and frustrated. Immediately point out what they’ve done correctly and their accomplishments thus far. Inspiring them to continue is crucial. Structure lessons around certain students according to their disabilities. For example, children with autism often thrive when given strict schedules and are rewarded for completing them, whereas a child with ADHD may perform better when given a task that allows them to restructure their environment.

Take time to sit down with these children and talk, listening to what they have to say to best learn their interests and habits. Whether you’re a teacher, or just a parent of a child with special needs, the strategies mentioned above can be extremely beneficial in both a school setting and at home.

The Importance of Helping Child Immigrants

Victor Jung

Two conversations about immigration are fresh in the American political conscience of today. The first: the Syrian refugee crisis, which has led to an influx of Syrian migrants throughout the middle east, Germany, and the United States. The second: the persistent flow of immigrants from Central America over the American border into the Southwestern United States. Both of these groups contain large numbers of children, many of whom are younger than twelve, many of whom are traveling on their own.

Many of the children fleeing Syria have been raised in a state of war. Those that come as refugees have grown up in a highly stressful environment, dealing with bombings and shellings, the deaths of family members, the loss of their homes, or injuries. 50% of Syrian children have had to drop out of school, causing them to miss out of education during an important developmental period. Those who flee without refugee status have often endured many of the same hardships, but without the promise of asylum. And even for those granted asylum, many find themselves in refugee camps with insufficient resources–safer than they’d been before, but a far cry from a normal life.

It’s not surprising, then that these children face long-term mental health risks. 25% are at risk for developing a serious mental disorder, and their stressful lifestyle also puts them at risk for a variety of developmental disorders, heart disease, diabetes, and substance abuse.

Meanwhile, south of our own border exists a different humanitarian crisis. Despite those that assert that Central American immigrants to the United States are coming for purely economic reasons, in reality a huge number of these immigrants are children fleeing violence back home. In countries such as Guatemala, gang violence, spurred by the United States’s own drug consumption, has rendered areas extremely unsafe. Cartels recruiting from schools pressure children to join them, and those that refuse risk death.

As a result, young children are fixing their sights on the United States, often turning to human smugglers, called coyotes, to get them underway. They risk being sold off to sex traffickers, as well as death at the hands of gang members. If they successfully make it to the United States, they can be arrested for illegal immigration. Children that are caught are sent to family awaiting the court date, if they have family in the States. If not, they are sent to shelters, which are often cramped and understaffed, unable to keep up with the number of people arriving. They are not guaranteed a lawyer at their hearings, and even with the help of lawyers working pro-bono, many ultimately get sent back home.

The number of child immigrants from both Syria and Central America highlights the seriousness of the conditions in these areas. Failure to address these issues will not be looked on favorably by history. We must face the issues, or risk depriving an entire generation of children of a future.

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