Sahba Naderi | Philanthropy

Sahba Naderi is a committed philanthropist

The Mutually Beneficial Relationships of Pet and Child

In the 1970s, registered nurse Elaine Smith noticed how well patients responded to visits  from a chaplain and his golden retriever, and started a program for training dogs to visit patients suffering from various mental issues ranging from autism to PTSD. But, people have been reaping the benefits of pets long before this; indeed, humans have been domesticating animals for at least 12,000 years. There are plenty of benefits for a child to grow up with pets. Here are a few that I read about on the Huffington Post:

They offer unconditional love: Pets are non-judgmental and offer companionship for children, especially for those that are lonely or suffering from distress. Pets can comfort, give support, and listen without judgement. 

They can teach children they don’t have to take out their problems on others: Children sometimes become bullies if they don’t have a safe space to share their emotions, and can project them onto other children.  Yet pets love your children no matter what they say, giving them a confidant.  

They can teach empathy: Caring for a pet that’s so 100% dependent upon you teaches a child empathy as they learn to read the needs of their ward.  It’s a skill that can be taught, and which bullies often lack.  

They can teach confidence and responsibility: The responsibility of caring for a pet can help give children confidence; children as young as three can fill a pet’s food and water bowls, and as they get older they can groom and walk their pets as well.

They can help socialize children: Pets don’t just offer children social and emotional support, but also cognitive language skills to support children. That’s why you see children chatting away with pets; their simple presence offers a verbal stimulus to help your child practice socialize and talking. This can be especially beneficial for children with special needs, as they may struggle to socialize with other people. Having an outlet like a pet can help them overcome the challenges of a disability.

They can be therapeutic for children: Studies have shown how pets can lower blood pressure, speed up recovery time, and reduce stress and anxiety. Children with mental issues can immediately relate, since they sense that animals are unconditional in their love and affection.

The Pros and Cons of Renewable Energy

“Renewable energy” is a blanket term for various energy technologies from sources that are never-ending and can be replenished. Some examples are wind, solar, water, and geothermal. These are in contrast to fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which are popular sources of energy in large parts of the world, yet are also ultimately unsustainable. While this is in itself a great case for renewable energy, like anything, it’s an issue with its fair share of pros and cons, although the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. I recently read an article that looked at this exact same issue. Let’s look at the cons they pointed out, and then the pros:


  • Its capacity still isn’t large enough: Fossil fuels still generate the vast majority of electricity today, so renewable energy can’t be solely relied upon to power the entire country overnight.  Facilities will need to be set up to meet growing demand while looking for ways to reduce energy consumption.
  • It can be unreliable: Renewable energy depends on the weather, so if conditions aren’t ideal, then renewable technologies couldn’t generate any electricity.  Yet if renewable energy generators are set up over a wide area, then that can be fixed, since weather disruptions in one area will be different than those in another.  
  • It has low-efficiency levels: Since they’re still pretty new to the market, renewable energy technologies lack plenty of efficiency, posing forecast problems that could lead investors to shying away from investing their money.  
  • It requires huge upfront capital outlay: Investors shying away from investing in capital is particularly pressing, since renewable energy facilities, while lucrative, are also extremely expensive to set up.  Wind turbines, solar panels, and hydroelectricity plants are all relatively expensive.  


  • It’s eco-friendly: Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy has next to no carbon and greenhouse gas emission.  Solar and wind power emit zero toxic gasses, cutting back dramatically on air pollution.
  • It’s renewable: Fossil fuels are ultimately limited resources, and they could run out in the future.  Renewable energy, being renewable, can help developing countries avoid over-reliance on fossil fuels.  Powerful winds, heat from underneath the earth, sunshine, and moving water all offer steady energy supplies.
  • It’s reliable: Over-reliance on fossil fuels has led to world security being threatened; they’re prone to trade disputes, political instability, spikes in prices, and war.  Solar and wind energy are often seen as unreliable, yet that’s easily remedied by a solid infrastructure.  
  • It creates jobs: Renewable energy is cheaper than most traditional sources of energy, and has already helped create jobs in countries such as Germany and the UK, where renewable energy has been encouraged.  
  • It stabilizes prices: Since the cost of renewable energy depends on the initial cost of installation of renewable energy technologies as opposed to inflation and availability, it helps stabilize global energy prices.
  • It requires less maintenance: Once infrastructure is laid down, little to no maintenance is required, meaning that the owners of facilities can reap big profits while providing cheap electricity.
  • It boosts public health: Fossil fuel emissions are directly responsible for various ailments, such as heart disease, cancer, and neurological disorders.  

It empowers people in rural areas: Renewable energy generation mainly takes place in more rural settings, not only offering new sources of energy to those regions, but also helping socially and economically regenerate them.

Summer Spotlight: Striving for Marine Conservation

While everyone is enjoying summer weather, vacation, relaxing on the beach, or even shopping on the boardwalk, there’s a major crisis happening that many are unaware of. Despite sustainable efforts and marine conservation research, the ocean is in great danger. With plastics and other contaminates making their way, not only into the water but into marine life’s environment, it’s a clear sign that the world needs to do something about it. Here are some nonprofits around the globe striving to make an impact on the environment to conserve marine life and our oceans.

Pura Vida Bracelets

Spanish for “pure life”, Pura Vida is a Costa Rican saying to encourage the appreciation of life’s simple treasures. Celebrating the good and living a slow life is what Pura Vida strives to embody. This bracelet company was founded on the philosophy of a laid back lifestyle that makes a notable impact on society.

Each bracelet is hand-crafted by artisans in Costa Rica, providing the artisans with full-time jobs and a better life. Although Pura Vida partners with over 190 charities donating to great causes, Pura Vida has a strong connection with marine life and ocean conservation. From supporting environmental causes for saving dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, orcas and more, Pura Vida is a prime example of how one small thing can make a big difference.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Including animal care and exhibits, 61% of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s profit goes towards conservation and science education programs. The aquarium attracts not only guests from all over the world, but also volunteers and supporters too. Making ocean health, ocean wildlife, climate action for the ocean, sustainable fisheries and reducing ocean plastic a priority, Monterey Bay Aquarium is fighting the good fight to a more sustainable world for the sake of the ocean and all of it’s inhabitants.

Shark Savers

Through establishing and building awareness, education, and action, Shark Savers’ main goal is to save sharks and manta rays. Over recent years, the populations of sharks and manta rays have been dwindling due to a few reasons: overfishing, contaminated oceans and even shark fin soup which is considered a delicacy in foreign countries. The “I’m FINished with FINs” campaign, Shark Savers seeks to reduce the consumption of sharks, altogether reducing sharks used for soup and cosmetics.

This program of WildAid, an environmental organization, stresses the importance of spreading awareness and inspiring action. Shark Savers provides a great example of how campaigns can make a lasting impact. Would you want shark fins in your soup?

World Wildlife Fund

Being home to more than 2 million species, marine life depends on the ocean’s biodiversity and resilient ecosystems. The ocean plays a critical role in the planet remaining inhabitable for all forms of life. From the micro bacteria to human beings, the ocean provides ample oxygen, regulates climate and circulates global carbon. With the World Wildlife Fund, this organization has a keen focus on rejuvenating the ocean’s health through sustainable livelihoods.

Norton Point

Recently, I published a blog on the dangers of plastic in the ocean. One extremely cool brand dedicated to reducing ocean plastic is Norton Point. Sea Plastic Differently is an environmental initiative from this sunglass company. Creating sustainable eyewear, Norton Point takes plastic straight from the ocean and turns it into a wearable item. Taking sustainability one step further, Norton Point also collects plastic from landfills to reduce the amount of plastic that makes its way into the ocean.

Norton Point’s ultimate passion for ocean conservation shows that it’s possible to turn trash into treasure while saving the planet at the same time. Additionally, 5% of their net profit is donated to research and educational efforts.

Together, these nonprofits and organizations are showing the world how to step up. Supporting causes for marine conservation is as simple as one donation or even getting out there to volunteer. The world can make the ocean a thriving ecosystem once again, it just takes effort around the globe.

The Dangers of Plastics in the World’s Oceans

It’s difficult today to grocery shop without coming across hundreds of products encased in plastic in some form or another, including the bags in which we carry our goods home. While this can be an everyday convenience for shoppers, it can be extremely hazardous to marine life, should that plastic reach our oceans.

Aside from packaging and bags, plastics can come in many different shapes and sizes. Microplastics for example, which are found in shampoo, toothpaste, and polyester, can easily enter waterways leading directly to the oceans. Larger plastic materials, like bags, soda and water bottles, and fishing nets pose as a serious threat to all animals within our oceans, and can even contribute to the population of microplastics after breaking down over time.

As mentioned, nearly every species of marine animal is affected greatly by plastic pollution. Sea turtles can easily mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, of which are a main part of their diets. Birds flying overhead searching for fish eggs will consume smaller plastic pellets that resemble them. Fishing nets left in the waters by fishermen entangle nearly everything in their paths, catching and eventually starving any animal that falls victim to them.

Plastic is an extremely durable material that does not break down easily. It can take up to 500 years before it is no more, which spells disaster for marine life when it reaches the oceans. There are many ways it can get there as well. Aside from careless littering, flushing plastic materials down the toilet and reaching the main sewer systems in any way can carry these materials far and wide. Though it is now illegal for fishermen and boaters in general to dump plastic overboard, that law is not always followed, and many individuals sailing the world’s oceans continue to do so regardless.

The argument that oceans are big enough for one’s pollution to never actually come in contact with a marine animal is entirely false. Ocean currents are constantly moving any and all materials found in the water, and are also popular areas for millions of fish to spend their time searching for food and breeding. One animal that was affected particularly badly was the seal. Several different species of seals were being killed at an alarming rate due to plastic entanglement back in the 1970’s, which led to 6% decrease in the seal population in 1976, and a 50% decline in Northern fur seals. Hundreds of other marine species have been harmed over time as well, leading to a plea by the American people to regulate and reduce the production of plastics.

Finally, laws were set in place restricting the dumping of plastic in oceans around the world, but there is no way for law enforcement to ensure that everyone is actually following these rules. Companies across the United States are doing their part by using more biodegradable products, but there is still plenty of plastic debris floating around today. To do your part, recycle as often as you can, take part in local cleanups, and spread the word.

Educational Programs Worth Fighting For

The President’s 2018 budget presents major cuts to the educational budget, including proposing to cut a number of educational programs. The budget reasoned that these programs were overly similar to other programs, that they “lacked strong evidence of meeting…objectives”, and, generally,  that they would be better off being carried out by local or private programs, or even by different areas of the federal government.

However, many of the programs listed are, in fact, vital parts of our country’s educational infrastructure, and should be, if not maintained in their current state, at least replaced by a similar alternative funded by the Department of Education. Localizing these programs, as the budget suggests, would only negatively impact schools in areas too poor to take up the slack. Here are a few of the  programs on the chopping block that deserve our support:

Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS): The CCAMPIS program provides parents pursuing postsecondary education with campus-based child care. This program encourages low-income parents to go back to school, which improves social mobility and increases the overall American education rate. Additionally, educated parents are much more likely to raise educated children, and be generally supportive of schools of all levels.

Full-Service Community: Full-service community schools are schools that provide not only education, but also youth development, family support, health and social services, and community programs to the surrounding area. These schools provide services in high-risk communities in a cost-efficient and convenient way, while making the school a hub of the community, which improves parental involvement in education.

International Education and Foreign Language Studies Overseas Programs: The United States does not perform well in foreign languages. Even dedicated students, and dedicated schools, find road blocks in a lack of qualified teachers, and an even greater lack of immersion opportunities. The International Education and Foreign Language Studies Domestic Programs were designed to help schools surmount these obstacles, a task that becomes increasingly necessary in today’s globalized world.

Arts in Education: As the name suggests, the Arts in Education program provides children and teens with art programming, specifically focusing on serving low-income and disabled students. Studies have shown that arts education improves creativity and boosts morale, and students that receive arts education perform better in school.

Strengthening Institutions: This funding helps schools maintain good physical infrastructure by supporting construction, funding maintenance and assisting with renovations. It’s not the coolest-sounding program, but it is necessary. Schools cannot function if the school building is not in good condition. Without infrastructural support, underfunded schools can find themselves with overcrowded classrooms, inefficient utilities, and dirty or even dangerous facilities.

Sahba Naderi

5 of the Best Environmental Charities

It is no secret that President Donald Trump is in search of methods to cut federal spending. Just days after taking office, he cut off all funding to upwards of 19 agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts.

More recently, President Trump made the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) his next target, both by proposing a 30 percent decrease in funding and trimming back on regulations to permit environmentally hazardous activities.

However, hope is not lost. There are several ways to counteract such dramatic environmental setbacks, with the most effective being making donations. Here are 5 environmental charities that deserve your attention and contributions:

1. Friends of the Earth

This organization is bold in their approach to combating environmental injustice, setting itself apart in its pursuit to “push for the reforms that are needed, not merely the ones that are politically easy.” Some of their accomplishments include: shutting down the nuclear reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Southern California, blocking the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and reducing the number of genetically enhanced seafood products in grocery stores. Furthermore, 83 percent of FOE’s funding goes directly toward program expenses, so those who make donations know their money is being put toward the cause rather than an executive’s paycheck.

2. Greenpeace Fund

Greenpeace has been a major player in environmental activism since its inception in 1971. With several active campaigns under way, the Greenpeace team is advocating for several critical causes, such as: fighting global warming via energy reforms, saving the Arctic and the polar ice caps, and protecting our forests — and the creatures that reside in them — from depletion. All funding for Greenpeace comes from public donations, with 79.6 percent of revenue being spent on program expenses,14.2 percent on fundraising efforts, and 6.2 percent on administrative expenses.

3. Environmental Defense Fund

An international presence, the Environmental Defense Fund has been combatting environmental decay since 1967. Although the EDF is headquartered in New York, it currently boasts 12 total offices, with 9 established in the contiguous United States and 3 overseas. The organization’s current focuses are solving climate change, restoring oceanic life populations, fighting for sustainable agriculture, and advocating for safer chemicals and cleaner air. With only 2 percent of their funding coming from the United States government, the EDF receives over $132 million in public gifts and grants annually. These funds are spent in the following manner: program expenses (78.5%), fundraising expenses (15%), and administrative compensation (6.5%).

4. Rainforest Alliance

Founded in 1987, the Rainforest Alliance has been striving to build a global alliance in order to strengthen rainforests and rebuild dwindling rural communities. Now, 30 years later, the Rainforest Alliance has made serious headway in reaching that goal, with a presence in 78 countries and counting. Unfortunately, a majority of the Rainforest Alliance’s funding comes from government grants and aid, meaning that its progress could be seriously hindered by President Trump’s inevitable spending cuts. To prevent such a setback and balance the scales, consider making a contribution.

5. Union of Concerned Scientists

In 1969, the Union of Concerned Scientists was formed in retaliation to the U.S. government’s gross misuse of science. Today, the UCS is concerned with combating climate change via clean energy and vehicles, transforming the United States’ agricultural industry, and preventing the use of nuclear weapons. Funded entirely by public donations and gifts, the UCS strives to make every cent count, spending 77.8 percent on program expenses, 18.3 percent on fundraising, and a mere 3.5 percent on administrative compensation.

Nonprofits in Developing Countries: Doing More Harm Than Good

Many people want to do their part in making the world a better place. That can be anything from donating money to local charities to visiting third world countries and volunteering your time and effort to better the lives of those who are less fortunate. For people eager to help, it is not uncommon to donate without doing any research beforehand. Though there are countless nonprofits around the world helping tremendously, where and how they choose to help can have adverse effects.

With the number of commercials on television today spotlighting children without food, shelter, or clothing in third world countries, the sound of a nonprofit traveling directly to those countries to help sounds like the best possible thing for that country. Video footage of a child without shoes? Surely that country is in need of shoes. TOMS shoe company noticed this problem, and visited these developing countries to help, establishing factories in their name to produce as many pairs of shoes as possible. What this actually did was damage the economies of these countries.

In most cases, the commercialized products that we are led to believe is in high demand in developing countries is, in fact, not. Many of these countries don’t ask for things like shoes and construction companies coming in from other countries. When a nonprofit enters a developing community and establishes businesses that make goods or provide services, they are pushing the local businesses with the same goods or services out, bringing forth the argument that these charities and NGO’s are in it for profit.

Even if these organizations do have good intentions, it’s best to look at their services as a limited option. When considering the classic saying “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime,” these charities are doing the former. These attempts being made at improving the quality of life in underdeveloped countries are short-term solutions, and do not have last effects. Moreso, they are harming the economies of these countries.

The film Poverty, Inc. casts light onto the topic of nonprofits actually hurting developing countries. One particular story highlighted in the documentary is that of Enersa; a solar paneling company in Haiti. Business was flourishing for the small company, as they were selling upwards to 50-60 panels a month. Then, upon the 2010 Haiti earthquake, a flood of nonprofits and international relief organizations poured into the country to help; some of which donating solar panels. This severely damaged Enersa, as their sales dropped tremendously due to the competition.

This isn’t to say that all nonprofits that offer their services to developing countries are bad, but rather, we need to rethink what or how we approach these subjects. The main thing to take away from this is that flooding developing countries with goods or services can have adverse effects. Developing educational systems and offering business loans to companies and entrepreneurs already within these countries’ borders is a much wiser investment, and presents the opportunity to allow these local businesses to grow, thus growing the economy.

The Role of Animals in Therapy

Considered a form of alternative medicine, Animal Assisted Therapy is becoming much more widely accepted in today’s world. Animals as therapeutic tools can be greatly beneficial for patients suffering from all kinds of illnesses. Children with congenital diseases, senior citizens with poor sight, hearing, or mobility, and even those with special needs can all find relief in a certifiably trained animal.

It is no secret that our pets make us happy. The pure joy expressed by dogs, the love we receive from cats, and the general appreciation for life possessed by most animals is infectious. That boost in mood can actually have a bigger impact than you think. More and more research is being done connecting improved health with the introduction of animals.

There is a difference between Animal Assisted Therapy and Animal Assisted Activities, however. The therapy aspect deals with assisting those recovering from injuries or dealing with severe health problems, while those partaking in activities are typically for a much more general purpose i.e. keeping senior citizens company and providing enjoyment.

Animal therapy has the capabilities of greatly reducing pain, depression, or anxiety for people dealing with all types of health complications. One of the most common animals to become a certified therapy animal are dogs, and they have been doing so since the early recordings of history. However, not until 1976 did a program come about recognizing this new form of therapy, when Elaine Smith founded Therapy Dogs International, providing those in need with canine assistance regardless of the health complication one might be dealing with.

Alongside a trained handler, therapy animals of all sorts visit hospitals, retirement communities, and more to offer relief in all forms. Cats, horses, rabbits, and even birds are common animals used for therapeutic reasons as well, all of which can be trained to comfort those in distress. Military veterans suffering from PTSD or physical disabilities are another demographic that benefit greatly from this form of alternative medicine, as it can greatly improve psychological treatments.

While many people argue that Animal Assisted Therapy is nothing more than a distraction from one’s pain or health issues, there is no denying that actual results have been recorded from several studies. For those with terminal illnesses, there may be no better way to boost their moods than to introduce an animal dedicated to spreading love.

Charities That Promote Clean Water

Gathering water puts a burden on many poor families in developing countries. Often people have to travel for hours just to get water. Sometimes this task falls to the children. In recognition of the global water crisis, the United Nations designated March 22 as World Water Day. Here are some charitable organizations whose mission is to bring clean water to underserved communities throughout the world.

Charity: Water is a ten year old New York based charity that has helped to fund 20,000 water projects in over 20 developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. 100% of public donations go directly to clean water projects including wells and water filtration systems. The charity uses social media platforms to bring attention to the global issue of water.

MIYA focuses on reducing non-revenue water (NRW) or fresh water that is lost from the distribution system before it reaches the consumer. These municipalities suffer a loss of millions of cubic meters of clean water every day. MIYA also promotes community awareness about water preservation. In addition to delivering more clean water, cities save energy and get lower costs for water. The program currently operates in the Philippines, Brazil, Canada, South Africa and the Bahamas.

WaterisLife cites its mission as bringing clean water to needy populations through short and long term solutions. The organization developed a water filtration system call The Straw. When this device is immersed in a water source, water borne bacteria is removed with each sip. The device lasts up to one year. In terms of long range goals, the program promotes sanitation, hygiene and education about how diseases are spread. Countries served by WaterisLife are Haiti, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and parts of South America.

PureMadi is non-profit organization composed of faculty and students from the University of Virginia. Working with the University of Venda in South Africa, the team produces ceramic water filters using local materials to efficiently purify water. They also created MadiDrop—a simple water purification tablet that can disinfect water for up to six months. is an organization co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White. The organization provides information about good hygiene and basic sanitation to local communities in developing countries. They also work to secure safe water by building wells. Donors to the charity can track progress by using  GPS coordinates. The co-founders also created WaterCredit, a nonprofit which connects micro-financiers with individuals and communities who use small loans to build wells and toilets.

How You Can Help Local Wildlife

There are a large number of species currently considered endangered at the moment, and a fair amount on the brink of extinction. From elephants, to gorillas, to the black rhinoceros, all of these animals need our help if they are to survive, and hopefully, reproduce enough to become self-sustaining once again.

While journeying to the country of origin of the animal that you wish to help can be a truly rewarding experience, it can be difficult, and expensive. Rather, there are a number of simple strategies you can implement to do your part right at home.

Educate yourself

Learn about any endangered species in your area, and promote that education throughout your community. The more friends and family members know about the dire situation these species face, the more likely they are to do their parts. Understand how this wildlife plays a part in your community rather than just the anesthetic reasons. Plants and animals alike often play great roles in their local areas including the control of other population sizes, clean air and water, and commercial benefits.

Modify your home

Many wild animals are attracted to houses in their communities due to easily controllable factors. To prevent them from developing a dependency on human resources and becoming comfortable around humans in general, properly secure any garbage cans you have, feed pets indoors, and avoid feeding any yourself. The reason being, wild animals that regularly visit residential neighborhoods looking for food can pose as dangerous, increase their chance of being hit by cars, and may also begin to starve without the help of human-produced food.

Another great way to help out your local wildlife (birds specifically) is to place decals on your windows. An astonishing 988 million birds die every year due to window collisions, simply by misjudging the distance or not seeing the glass at all. By placing decals or stickers on a window that clearly indicate its distance, you can prevent this number from rising.

Be eco-friendly

Regular maintenance on your home garden and yard can help it maintain its visual appeal, but using herbicides and pesticides are hazardous on many levels. Beginning at one of the smallest levels of the food chain, insects and rodents that may eat these poisoned plants can lead to poisoning their predators i.e. foxes, hawks, owls, etc. The effects are damaging and long lasting. Instead, try attracting native bees and butterflies to pollinate your plants and flowers. By doing so, local plants will flourish, and invasive species are not introduced, which cause increased levels of competition for resources, promoting the extinction of native wildlife.

Drive slowly

A simple but effective strategy; slowing down when driving in wooded areas or communities in general allows you prepare for any sudden animal running across the street. Many species live in developed areas that introduced roads and neighborhoods right in the middle of their homes. This forces them to navigate a hazardous terrain on a daily basis. By driving slowly, you allow both yourself and the local animals to go about their ways safely.

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