Humanist Grants present evidence-based solutions in new beneficiaries


Foundation Beyond Belief’s Humanist Grants program chose four beneficiaries this quarter that highlight the use of evidence-based solutions in their methodology. Our new Poverty and Health beneficiary, World Bicycle Relief, lives by the motto, “Do it right, even if it takes a little longer,” which is why they used a long pilot period to test their bicycle prototype and distribution processes in order to ensure the best results. The Center for the Victims of Torture (CVT) has spent decades treating patients both with mental and physical impairments due to torture and they now have the expertise to share their resources nationally and internationally.  Sadly, torture is one of the most common human rights violations. CVT is our new Human Rights beneficiary.  Sky Truth is our new Natural World category beneficiary because they create scientific applications to solve real-world environmental health and hazards concerns.  HIPPY USA, our latest Education beneficiary,  stands for Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters. Parents are their children's first, and ultimately constant, teacher. They work as a support organization by distributing their curriculum, consulting with agencies and schools using the curriculum, and promoting the HIPPY model of education.  We welcome these new organizations to the FBB beneficiary partnership.

World Bicycle Relief (WBR) mobilizes people through “The Power of Bicycles.” They envision a world where distance is no longer a barrier to independence and livelihood. WBR was launched to provide bicycles to those in need as a way to provide access to education, healthcare, and livelihoods while reconnecting entire communities. While considering their approach, they asked themselves many questions, including, “Why do many bicycle programs in Africa fail?”  The answer is, largely, because the bicycles are not sturdy, do not have proper replacement parts, nor technicians to fix them with standard tools. What use is a bicycle if it is broken and abandoned on the side of a road?

WBR set out to create the Buffalo Bicycle,  a bicycle that can withstand the conditions in which they are used. All parts have a vital purpose and each bicycle has fewer parts than a normal bicycle.  Even with fewer parts to break, things still will which leaves the problem of who has the ability to fix a broken bicycle. WBR also trains mechanics to fix the bicycles in all the locations in which they are distributed. Along with their Mechanics program, they also offer their bicycles for sale to large multi-national NGOs and distribute bicycles in their own philanthropic program.

Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) rebuilds the lives and restores the hope of people who survive torture and war atrocities. The needs of the refugee population served by CVT is a classic example of a gap that occurs when human rights are not addressed during conflicts.  

CVT provides international services mainly in the realm of small group mental health counseling sessions, while those with severe trauma receive individual counseling until ready for group therapy. CVT also works with local community members and refugees to train them in counseling, physical therapy, advocacy, and education in areas where these services did not exist.  CVT’s National Capacity Building Project uses the website as a resource for other service providers and rehabilitation centers to gain access to CVT’s research into best practices, clinical skills, fundraising, and program evaluation.

From their offices in Washington, D.C., CVT advocates for the end of the use of torture, resources for survivors, and promote refugee resettlement here in the United States and internationally. This work is vital because conflict, war, displacement, and the ongoing plight of refugees causes incredible challenges. Furthermore, torture victims bear an additional burden that must be addressed.

At SkyTruth, they believe that if you can see an issue, you can change it. One of the methods they use is Remote Sensing. Remote Sensing is the process of creating layered maps from disparate sources to collect data needed to study a topic.   SkyTruth uses these maps as well as aerial photos, satellite images, and filters of these images to provide data and research on a range of environmental issues. Their focus on the natural world and scientific applications are reasons we chose SkyTruth as our Natural World Beneficiary.

SkyTruth had its public debut when the DeepWater Horizon drill rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. John Amos, the founder of SkyTruth, began downloading aerial photos each day that were following the size and extent of the plume.  He and a fellow researcher devised calculations that made BP and governmental officials admit that their estimates of the spill were off by at least 10-fold.  

To demonstrate its effectiveness and scientific contributions,  SkyTruth’s work is integral to environmental health and hazards research, including scientific peer reviewed articles  including oil spill tracking, illegal global fishing, and water quality in Appalachia,

HIPPY USA has a long history of academic rigor and educational best practices to lend to the field of education. Working with students 0-5 is regularly cited as the most effective educational intervention. A key component of the HIPPY model is their Role Play-based curriculum up to age five.  This method of teaching engages both children and parents in learning key object lessons. The HIPPY learning and parenting program empowers parents to actively prepare their children for success in school. To do this, HIPPY provides parents with a set of carefully developed curriculum, books, and materials designed to strengthen their children's cognitive skills, early literacy skills, and social/emotional and physical development. In-home trainers also connect the parents and the agencies together and help to guide parents in the program to succeed.

HIPPY helps parents empower themselves as their children's first teacher by giving them the tools, skills, and confidence they need to work with their children in their home. The program was designed to bring families, organizations, and communities together and remove any barriers to participation that may include limited financial resources or lack of education.