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Four More Winners of Upworthy’s Kindness Fund

Saving the descendants of Eleanor Roosevelt’s monkeys. A “So You Think You Can Dance” finalist teaching kids in the foster care system to dance. Spreading Christmas cheer to kids in Peru. Creating a lit bookfest in the most diverse city in the U.S.

At first glance, these initiatives might seem at odds with each other, but if you look closer you’ll see that they all embody simple acts of kindness for those most in need in their communities—human or otherwise.

Plus, each project has received a $500 financial boost thanks to the Upworthy Kindness Fund—a collaboration between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates and amplifies everyday acts of kindness.

Through the end of 2021, you too can tell Upworthy how your GoFundMe is making a difference in your community for a chance to receive $500 for your project and a shout-out on Upworthy.

So far, more than 120 people have received a financial boost from the Kindness Fund. Meet the latest batch of winners:

1. Fostering Dreams

Throughout Melanie Buttarazzi’s dance career, she has been a finalist on “So You Think You Can Dance” and has worked with Jennifer Lopez, Pharrell, Pitbull and Ne-Yo. For her, dancing is strength and offers freedom. These are some of the core tenets of Melanie’s nonprofit Fostering Dreams Project. The organization partners with school districts to bring a comprehensive curriculum designed to enrich the lives of foster youth both academically and socially.

Since 2018, the Fostering Dreams Project has used dance, movement therapy and meditative practices to improve the grades, self-esteem and behavior of more than 1,000 students in 25 schools. But now, with COVID-19, many school budgets have been reduced.

Melanie’s GoFundMe for Fostering Dreams will allow kids in foster care to continue to have a healthy way to release the stress, anxiety and depression that many battle every day.

Image courtesy of Fostering Dreams Project

2. Christmas for Kids in Peru

Biancha Medina believes in “una Navidad para todos,” which translates to “a Christmas for everyone.” But in many parts of the world, including Peru, kids don’t get to experience the joys of the Christmas season.

With the help of Upworthy’s Kindness Fund, Biancha’s fundraiser will bring gifts and supplies to kids and their families living in extreme poverty in Peru’s agricultural Incahuasi district.

In partnership with Lions Club International, Biancha aims to spread Christmas joy and address the basic needs of more than 400 children in many more villages throughout Peru.

Image courtesy of Biancha Medina

3. Let’s Build a Monkey Sanctuary!

Seventy years ago, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt imported tiny vervet monkeys from Africa for biomedical research in Florida. Nearly a dozen of them escaped, and in the ensuing decades they procreated—as monkeys do—and settled around Dania Beach.

But the monkeys remain wild and, as such, face risks due to human interaction. Deborah Williams, organizer of the Dania Beach Vervet Project, writes on its GoFundMe page, “We’ve lost many monkeys over the years to painful electrocutions, car collisions, and wounds due to possible snaring.”

And because they’re not a native species to Florida, the monkeys are not entitled to proper veterinary care. The best solution is to build a 3.5-acre sanctuary that would reduce human interaction in an urban environment and allow the monkeys to live peacefully and injury-free.

Image courtesy of the Dania Beach Vervet Project

4. BIPOC Bookfest

Journalists and writers of color have come together to form the BIPOC Bookfest in Houston, Texas, with a mission to ensure that people’s reading experiences are, as they put it, “a little more diverse, and a lot more lit.”

The two-day festival in what is one of the country’s most diverse cities will celebrate books by Black, Indigenous, Latino/a/x, Asian American, Pacific Islander and other marginalized groups’ authors. A vital aim of the festival will be to combat low literacy rates in Harris County.

The festival is currently raising funds to pay for venue rental, artist fees, book giveaways and other logistics—all crucial in making the event come alive in Spring 2022.

Image courtesy of BIPOC Book Fest

Do you have a GoFundMe or an idea for one that helps your community or the planet in some way?

Through the end of 2021, we want to hear about projects that make a difference—and should your project qualify, we’d be proud to support your efforts with a $500 grant to your fundraiser!

For questions and more information, please check out our FAQs and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.