Starting with one May 18, 2011  by      

If you do community development work, chances are, you believe in the ripple effect. Sure, metrics and measurable outcomes are important indicators of success. But what about the long-term, often unforeseen, sometimes intangible stories of success? Despite our best efforts, let’s face it, we just can’t predict the future.

When UNC Alum Lucius Burch started the Burch Fellows Program, he clearly wanted to enrich lives. The program’s purpose is to “recognize undergraduate students at the University who possess extraordinary ability, promise, and imagination. It grants up to $6,000 to support self-designed off-campus experiences that will enable them to pursue a passionate interest in a way and to a degree not otherwise possible.”  In starting the fellows program, it’s likely that Burch thought about the value of the investment without really knowing the tangible outcomes that would come. He couldn’t know the impact of  those experiences on students’ lives or what it might lead to. But he knew that providing opportunities like this for students was important. And he invested in creating the opportunity.

Carolina for Kibera co-founder Rye Barcott was a Burch Fellow. In fact, it was that award that allowed Rye to go to Kibera for the first time. If it weren’t for that opportunity, he wouldn’t have had the means to go.  And as we know, that first experience in Kibera sparked something in Rye. (for the full story of how CFK started, read Rye’s memoir)

In that same spirit, Carolina for Kibera invests in local leaders in Kibera. We connect talent to opportunity. Our programs have measurable outcomes. But at the end of the day, we do this work because we believe in people. We believe that no matter where you are born, you should have the opportunity to live a healthy, safe, and self-sufficient life. You should be able to realize your dreams and inspire others to do the same.

And so, we believe in the ripple effect. A good deed, an investment, an opportunity will create more good. The Burch Fellows led to Rye co-founding CFK.  Rye’s $26 grant to the determined Tabitha Festo helped start a clinic that now serves more than 40,000 patients a year. It might take time to see the results, there might be bumps along the road. But investing in one good person, one good idea – is worth it.

Every day, we have the opportunity to start a ripple effect. It always starts with one.


2 responses to “Starting with one”

  1. grace wangui says:

    i am a student at the University of Nairobi studying Development Communication, how do i apply for internship as a volunteer in your organization? thank you

  2. Jane Kilonzo says:

    Very inspiring especially for us Kenyans living in Kenya. We always feel that our small contribution cannot make a difference in the magnitude of problems that appear insurmountable. Let us empower one and change the lives of a community…….

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