Photo Credit: Jennifer Collins

Ball Generates Electricity for Poor Kids…Until It Breaks

I’m so happy to bring you our first story produced by an outside contributor. Reporter Jennifer Collins’ investigation was made possible by the generosity of Tiny Spark’s Kickstarter backers. Read more…


Our New Intern!

I’m very happy to introduce Tiny Spark’s first intern!

Dhanya Addanki is a journalism major and senior at The University of Texas at Austin. She is interested mainly in using different media platforms to affect social change and to empower developing communities. Read more…

Peacekeeping - MINUSTAH

Want to Help? Three Lessons from Post Quake Haiti

Typhoon Haiyan has led to an enormous loss of life in the Philippines. The search for survivors continues, and getting medical care to the wounded as soon as possible will be key. As international relief agencies begin to coordinate the humanitarian response, it is important to remember what we’ve learned from past natural disasters and figure out how we can most effectively help those in need. Read more…

TOMS Shoes Listens to its Critics

An announcement came out of the Clinton Global Initiative last week. It didn’t involve lofty issues of world peace or universal access to education. But the announcement was important and it’s worth noting here. Read more…


An Idea Sparked in Africa

I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know about the impetus behind Tiny Spark.

For several years, I worked as a public radio and television correspondent in Africa. During that time, I traveled around the continent, seeing a range of social enterprise initiatives and aid programs on the ground, each meeting with varying degrees of success. I also discovered that well-intentioned ideas, poorly executed, can actually do harm. Read more…

Amy Costello, Head of Strategy, Lily Jamali, Dir of Technology, Justin Nowell.

Tiny Spark at NYU

Last night we took part in a showcase at NYU’s Stern School of Business Social Venture competition. Read more…


Should Volunteers Who Live in Poverty Be Paid?

Across the developing world, many international charities rely on local, volunteer staff to perform all kinds of work. Many volunteers provide low-level assistance to organizations. However, thousands of volunteer healthcare workers are bringing vital skills and expertise to rural areas, which suffer from a severe shortage of doctors and nurses.

Many praise the “volunteer spirit” that makes rural healthcare possible, but what about the well-being of the volunteers themselves, many of whom are poor? Read more…

Credit: Reuters

Saying Goodbye to Mandela

I lived in South Africa for five years and if anyone embodies “doing good” it must be Nelson Mandela. Read more…


We Did It!

So pleased to announce that our Kickstarter campaign has succeeded! We were 124% funded, raising nearly $31,000! Thank you to all those who pledged your hard earned money to helping Tiny Spark reach its full potential. This is an incredibly exciting time!

Read more…

Jeffrey Sachs speaks at anti-poverty rally at UNC Chapel Hill. Photo Credit: Kevin Tsui

Tracking One Man’s Quest to End Extreme Poverty

Jeffrey Sachs has twice been named among TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World”. The New York Times Magazine once described him as “probably the most important economist in the world”.

Sachs has devoted much of his career to figuring out how to end extreme poverty across the globe. He says if you give even the poorest communities enough money and resources, extreme poverty can actually be eradicated. Read more…

Long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets

Bed Nets – A Simple Idea Proves Complicated

My first Tracking Charity story with PRI’s The World investigates a seemingly simple and promising technology: the insecticide treated bed net. Hundreds of millions of nets were distributed across Africa as part of a multibillion dollar campaign to fight malaria. The nets were supposed to last from three to five years and protect people from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

My story from the African nation of Malawi shows how growing insecticide resistance is now compromising the power of the nets. And I meet many families who say their nets became riddled with holes after less than a year of use. Read more…