As part of our 10th anniversary of fostering volunteerism and service, NobleHour.com invited high schools, higher education institutions, and nonprofits throughout the United States to compete for $1,000,000 through NobleCause, a grant competition mobilizing volunteers to address the greatest challenges facing their communities. Made possible by an anonymous donor with the GiveWell Community Foundation, the competition is organized by Noblehour.com, our volunteer management tool that promotes a culture of civic engagement and charts meaningful, measurable acts of goodness.
While the competition awards 100 organizations with $6,500 grants, seven exemplary organizations – having demonstrated a remarkable ability to raise community awareness and cultivate civic leaders who take action – will be recognized with $50,000 grants. More than 100 organizations submitted applications for the $50,000 grants identifying an extraordinary range of relevant local issues and how they would recruit and enrich the social responsibility of volunteers and promote volunteerism. To ensure the NobleCause goal of nurturing these innovative and collaborative acts of goodness, inspiring a greater civic-mindedness, and fostering a growing culture of volunteerism, NobleHour.com assembled a panel of elite judges to evaluate and select the winning grant applications. These eight judges are respected leaders in the fields of higher education, service-learning, volunteerism, sustainability, and social good. They are passionate about their own desire to do good for others and we are honored they are part of our commitment to achieve the NobleCause goal.
Meet the NobleCause Judges
Melony Bell was elected Florida's Polk County District 2 Commissioner in 2010. Since that time, she has been a champion for the arts, economic development, education, and youth outreach. In 2012, she shepherded the effort to restore the allocation of a portion of the tourist tax for promotion of arts and cultural events that attract overnight visitors. In addition to the arts, Commissioner Bell is committed to the growth and development of Polk County and is also passionate about maintaining the small-town character that defines her community. She was chosen by her peers to serve as the 2012-2013 board chairman after serving as vice chairman the year before.
Prior to her current position, Commissioner Bell served as Mayor of Fort Meade, for three terms. She was also a Fort Meade City Commissioner for 14 years. Bell is a graduate of Bartow Leadership, Fort Meade Leadership and Polk Leadership.
Amy Cohen is the executive director at the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service at The George Washington University. For nearly a decade Cohen served as the director of Learn and Serve America, the federal service-learning program at the Corporation for National and Community Service, the parent agency for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. Prior to coming to GW, she served as Associate Vice President for US Programs at Save the Children. Her career in academic service and civic engagement began at the University of Pennsylvania, where she worked at the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, an international leader in university and community partnerships.
Bill R. Daggett, Ed. D., is the founder and chairman of the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE). Dr. Daggett is recognized worldwide for his ability to move education systems towards more rigorous and relevant skills and knowledge for all students. For 25 years, he has traveled the world leading school reform efforts to effectively prepare students for their future. He has helped many states and districts with their school improvement initiatives, often in response to the No Child Left Behind Act’s Adequate Yearly Progress provisions. He has worked with education ministries in several countries and with the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Governors Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and many other prominent national organizations. Prior to his role with ICLE, Daggett was a teacher, local administrator and director with the New York State Education Department. He has a special commitment to individuals with disabilities and volunteers his time and support to related programs.
Callahan Fore, an entrepreneur and founder of Sweatmonkey.org, is passionate about service. While struggling to find volunteer opportunities to help him fulfill his high school graduation requirements, Callahan saw the need to help connect students with ways to do good in their community. His website also allowed people to track their volunteer service hours to show the impact being done in their community. The Sweatmonkey website inspired the creation of NobleHour.com. Callahan received his master's degree in architecture from the University of Florida and currently lives in New York City.
Chef LJ Klink is a winner of the Food Network’s hit show EXTREME Chef. Chef Klink has spent his entire life combining his love for the outdoors with his passion for food. After growing up in the woods of Washington state, Klink journeyed out into the world and spent years roaming the virtually inaccessible wilds of Alaska as a tour guide, hunter, and executive chef at a private fly-in resort.
He can customize motorcycles, fix kitchen equipment and make a perfect Manhattan. The desire to push limits and cross lines led Chef Klink to multiple American Culinary Federation certifications, including the present rank of Certified Executive Chef, and the completion of his EDD (Educational Doctorate Degree). Klink's culinary experiences are paired with proven teaching abilities, having been in a classroom setting for more than 15 years as an administrator, tenured faculty, and adjunct faculty. He is also passionate about using his culinary knowledge to help promote nutrition and teach families about healthy eating.
David Lawrence Jr. retired in 1999 as publisher of The Miami Herald to work in the area of early childhood development and readiness. He chairs The Children’s Movement of Florida, a non-partisan grassroots movement aimed at making children the state’s top priority for investment and decision-making. He is a member of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet and twice chaired the Florida Partnership for School Readiness. In 2002 and 2008, he led successful campaigns for The Children’s Trust, a dedicated source of early intervention and prevention funding for children in Miami-Dade. He is the “founding chair” of the organization. Lawrence is also a board member of the Foundation for Child Development in New York. In 2002-2003 he chaired the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Child Protection, and in 2011 he chaired a similar panel for the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families. In 2002, he was a key figure in passing a statewide constitutional amendment to provide pre-K for all 4 year olds. He is a board member and former chair of the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe. The David Lawrence Jr. K-8 Public School opened in 2006. An endowed chair in early childhood studies is established in his name at the University of Florida College of Education. In 2015 he was appointed by the Governor to the Board of Trustees of Florida A&M University.
Betty Platt works for the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency. Betty Platt has served in a number of positions over 20+ years, including almost nine years as State Program Director for North and South Carolina. In this role, Betty supported scores of non-profit and local government organizations that received several million dollars of federal funding in their implementation of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps projects. In the past year, Betty has been learning the art of bookbinding and volunteering with a Raleigh, NC, arts organization.
Dr. Judith A. Ramaley is President Emerita and Distinguished Professor of Public Service at Portland State University in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government. She is also President Emerita of Winona State University. Dr. Ramaley holds an appointment as a Senior Scholar with the Association of American Colleges and Universities. She is also a member of the board of Second Nature, an organization committed to creating a healthy, just, and sustainable society through the transformation of higher education.
Dr. Ramaley has a special interest in higher education reform and institutional change and has played a significant role in designing regional alliances to promote educational cooperation. She has contributed to a national exploration of the changing nature of work and has written extensively on civic responsibility and partnerships between higher education and community organizations, as well as articles on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.
For over a decade, NobleHour has been promoting civic engagement and quantifying social and economic impact by connecting and equipping thousands of communities, schools, non-profit agencies, and organizations to chart meaningful, measurable acts of goodness. To date, more than four million volunteer hours have been logged via NobleHour, totaling an economic impact of more than $110,000,000. Now, through the NobleCause $1,000,000 grant competition, the leading community engagement platform is helping educational institutions and non-profit organizations continue to pay it forward.
NobleHour.com is dedicated to using NobleCause to increase volunteerism that raises awareness at the local level and develops community members who can take action. The grant is a one-time opportunity, and funding is not committed for more than one year. Award winners will be notified in March 2016.