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Giving Where It Works

By Tina Rosenberg

At Fixes, we often argue that good ideas are plentiful — but ways to keep them going are hard to find. That’s why we pay a lot of attention to sustainability, especially financial sustainability. Life is always precarious for programs that depend on government financing or charitable donations, particularly so today. So we choose many of the programs we highlight because they have found a creative new way to sustain good work, often through combining social and for-profit missions.
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An Electronic Eye on Hospital Hand-Washing

By Tina Rosenberg

Beeps and blinking lights are the constant chatter of a hospital intensive care unit, but at the I.C.U.’s in North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., the conversation has some unusual contributors. Two L.E.D. displays adorn the wall across from each nurses’ station. They show the hand hygiene rate achieved: last Friday in the surgical I.C.U., the weekly rate was 85 percent and the current shift had a rate of 91 percent. “Great Shift!!” the sign said. At the medical I.C.U. next door, the weekly rate was 81 percent, and the current shift 82 percent.
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Lessons in Transit Innovation

By Lisa Margonelli

Reader responses to last week’s column about transit innovation revealed a lot of love for transit: Readers reported their appreciation for light rail in Trenton, N.J.; buses in Austin, Tex.; the pedicabs of the Philippines; the transit planners of Portland, Ore.; dollar vans in Ghana and Guatemala; the SLUGS of Washington D.C. (an informal car pool system); and the Skytrain and songthaews — pickups with benches in the back — of Bangkok.
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Thinking Outside the Bus

By Lisa Margonelli

Until September of 2010, Pam Boucher’s life was small. Living in Brunswick, Me., a rural town of 21,000, she was dependent upon others to move. At the time, she used crutches or a walker to get around and seizures prevented her from driving. She’d get rides to medical appointments from a social service agency. Trips to buy groceries, or visit her husband in a nursing home, required the help of her adult sons or scheduling a social service staff member. A trip to the local Wal-Mart would cost $28 in taxi fees. Socializing outside her apartment was pretty much impossible. “I was very limited,” she says.
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For Weight Loss, a Recipe of Teamwork and Trust

By Tina Rosenberg

On Friday I wrote about Saddleback Church, which is using its small groups as an infrastructure to help its members lose weight and live healthier lives. The megachurch has megaplans for this idea — the church’s pastor, the Rev. Rick Warren, hopes to expand it through the worldwide network of thousands of churches that are affiliated with Saddleback and the 150,000 pastors who subscribe to his newsletter.
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At a Big Church, a Small Group Health Solution

By Tina Rosenberg

About a year ago, Rev. Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California, was conducting a baptism when he noticed something. As with everything at this megachurch, with some 30,000 members, baptisms are large events — this time, 858 people were being baptized. “Along about 500 I thought — this is my honest truth, it wasn’t a very spiritual thought — we’re all fat,” Warren told his congregation later. “I know pastors aren’t supposed to be thinking that when they’re baptizing, but that was what I thought: we’re all fat. But I’m fat, and I’m a terrible model of this.”
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Outsourcing Is Not (Always) Evil

By David Bornstein

On Friday, I wrote about two social enterprises ― Samasource and Digital Divide Data ― that extend computer-based employment to people with modest educations in developing countries. The strategy of harnessing the Internet to bring low-cost data management jobs to remote and impoverished communities has been called “impact sourcing.” Some estimate that the market for these services, $4.5 billion today, could rise to $20 billion by 2015, providing jobs to 780,000 people (pdf, p.14).
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Workers of the World, Employed

By David Bornstein

More than 60 percent of the world’s gross domestic product comes from global trade. This is double what it was in the 1980s. Most economists agree that the astonishing increase in trade over the past quarter century has boosted economic growth and job creation, and, in many countries, led to a decline in absolute poverty. But while the economic superhighway has spread around the globe, in many parts of the world there are still not enough on-ramps.
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How to Feed the Hungry, Faster

By Tina Rosenberg

On Friday, I wrote about how people in Dhobley, Somalia, are getting emergency food despite a guerrilla war that is keeping out aid workers ― and food.  Instead of trucking in sacks of food, World Concern and its partner, the African Rescue Committee, distribute  vouchers that people in Dhobley use to buy what they need from local merchants.
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