Opinion | Gifts That Change Lives


You can donate easily to the three nonprofits through the Kristof Holiday Impact Prize website, which I’ve used for five years now to support the nonprofits in my giving guide. Here’s what your contributions will accomplish:

Help girls in Africa attend school. That’s the work of Camfed, the Campaign for Female Education: For just $150, you can support a girl in secondary school for a year and give her a chance to become a teacher, a nurse, a doctor.

Of the dozens of nonprofits I’ve recommended, Camfed is the top audience favorite, with readers contributing $4.6 million and giving tens of thousands of girls in Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and other African countries the chance to attend school.

I’ve admired Camfed for many years, including its help for a girl in rural Zimbabwe named Angeline Murimirwa. Angie had done brilliantly in exams at the end of primary school — the best in her school’s history — and everyone else was celebrating, but Angie was weeping.

“There was no way my parents could afford secondary school,” she told me. Then Camfed paid Angie’s fees, and she soared — and today is chief executive of Camfed.

Camfed has helped 1.8 million girls across Africa attend high school, enabling these young women to then get good jobs and pay it forward: On average, each member of the Camfed alumnae network pays for three other girls to go to school. I think of it as a perpetual motion machine that changes the world.

Help a kid go to college or technical school. Another reader favorite is OneGoal, which helps disadvantaged students here in the United States complete high school and attend a university or trade school.

OneGoal works with students beginning in 11th grade — 94 percent of them students of color — and takes them through their first year in a postsecondary institution to make sure they are on a path to success.

The coaching and tutoring is transformative. OneGoal students miss fewer days in high school than their peers and are 94 percent less likely to drop out of high school. They are 40 percent more likely to earn a degree or technical certificate that will then lift their lifetime earnings and help support their children. That’s how you break cycles of poverty.

It costs $1,500 to support a student in the program for a year.

Melissa Connelly, the chief executive of OneGoal, cites the example of Caleb Navarro, a boy in Chicago who didn’t see a path forward. But with OneGoal’s help, he attended college — and he eventually earned a doctorate and is now developing drugs to fight cancer. Some of us might one day benefit from Caleb’s education.

Empower struggling Americans with job skills. My third nonprofit this year is Per Scholas, also a reader favorite and an engine of opportunity.

Per Scholas starts with adults who have a high school degree but are marginalized in the labor force, earning on average less than $20,000 a year. It then trains them to fill jobs that are in high demand in the tech world: I.T. network support; cloud computing; cybersecurity; software engineering; and more.

The Per Scholas training sessions last 12 to 15 weeks and put people on a new trajectory: Eighty percent of graduates find a job within a year that pays an average of $50,000 annually — almost three times their previous wage.

Helping people is harder than it looks, and job training programs have a mixed record. But Per Scholas has been very successful partly because it works closely with 850 employers to design courses that match what the business world is looking for.

Every $700 that is donated to Per Scholas will cover the costs of textbooks, lab supplies and certification exam fees for a learner to go through the training program.

The work of OneGoal and Per Scholas in lifting people onto a better trajectory is particularly meaningful to me because, as I’ve written, many of the friends I grew up with in rural Oregon never got much education or found decent jobs, and ended up succumbing to addiction, alcoholism and deaths of despair. There’s no perfect remedy, but I have no doubt that some would be alive today if they had been supported by OneGoal in high school or later had the chance to attend a Per Scholas training.

Each of these three nonprofits will receive a $50,000 Kristof Holiday Impact Prize, an award for the groups I choose that is underwritten as in previous years by a foundation and other donors. Focusing Philanthropy, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that promotes high-impact giving and is partnering with the Communities Fund and me, covers credit card fees, so that the nonprofit receives 100 cents of each dollar donated.

In addition, various donors have made $3.25 million available in matching funds so that your contributions to my three chosen charities can have double the impact. So for the holidays, you can give your aunt a scarf and your uncle a tie, but wouldn’t they prefer donations in their names to send a girl to school or help change a life at home?

For those who don’t have money to donate this holiday season but may have time, let me suggest another option:

Volunteer by sponsoring a refugee. Welcome.US helps Americans sponsor people from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Haiti, Congo and elsewhere. You can band together with friends for this purpose, or you can work through your book club, religious congregation or some other organization.

Welcome.US provides all the guidance necessary to sponsor refugees and settle them in your community, and it has helped Americans assist more than 350,000 displaced people in finding homes, jobs and schools in the United States. Still, there is a long waiting list of qualified, government-vetted refugees who simply need sponsors.

“Our sponsors are inspired by the opportunity to be best of who we are,” Nazanin Ash, the chief executive, told me. That moves me because of my family history. My dad was a World War II refugee from Eastern Europe who was sponsored by the Cameron family and the First Presbyterian Church of Portland to come to Oregon in 1952. I exist — and this column exists — only because of the generosity and vision of the Camerons.

We all have that power to lend a hand. These organizations represent some of the highest-return investments available in the world today, so I hope you’ll consider joining me and the reinvented Times Communities Fund in supporting these organizations. You can do that and benefit from the matching funds at KristofImpact.org.

Nicholas Kristof joined The New York Times in 1984 and has been a columnist since 2001. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes, for his coverage of China and of the genocide in Darfur. You can follow him on InstagramFacebook and ThreadsHis forthcoming memoir is “Chasing Hope: A Reporter’s Life.”
@NickKristof





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