FAQs

Program Overview

What is Join My Village?

Join My Village is a new approach to fighting global poverty. It channels the power of online communities to help real communities in Malawi and India create lasting change. By breaking down barriers of culture and geography, Join My Village strengthens the bonds that unite women everywhere. Supporters of Join My Village can release funds from General Mills, Inc. and Merck through actions on the JoinMyVillage.com website and on social media sites including Facebook, Facebook Causes, and Twitter. Web users are connected to CARE's work in the field through blog posts, photo stories and videos of the women and girls that Join My Village is supporting.

Why do you focus on women and girls?

Statistics show that women are the largest single group impacted by poverty, and also the greatest potential agents of change in the fight against global poverty.

Women work two-thirds of the world's working hours, but earn only 10% of the income. They own less than 1% of the world's property. Women represent two-thirds of the adults who cannot read or write, and girls are 55% of the children not attending primary school.

But even one pebble of opportunity creates ripples that benefit an entire community. For example, research shows that each extra year of primary education that a girl receives boosts her wages later in life by 10% to 20%.

Join My Village shares the belief that women everywhere are a powerful force for change – and that empowering women empowers families and communities. By investing in women, Join My Village believes we can help change lives in Africa and India. That being said, our work does not exclude boys or men. Join My Village recognizes the importance of inclusiveness in community-building and welcomes the involvement of all those who are invested in sparking positive change in today's world.

Can anyone participate?

Yes

Program Goals

What are the goals of Join My Village?

The vision of Join My Village is to empower women and girls in Malawi and India to realize sustainable change that nourishes their families and communities. The goal is to increase economic and educational opportunities in order to create long-term solutions to poverty. These programs will provide a foundation on which the communities can build for years to come.

General Mills and Merck hope to release up to $800,000 by June 30, 2014 to support CARE's work in Malawi and India through the Join My Village program.

Projects in Malawi

Where is Malawi?

Malawi is an inland country located in the southern part of Africa. Tanzania lies to the north and Mozambique lies to the south. Malawi shares its western border with Zambia.

Why Malawi?

The United Nations' Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy and standard of living, ranks Malawi 164th out of 177 countries worldwide. It is one of the earth's most desperate areas. It is also one of the most promising – because positive change is already occurring there. General Mills has been investing in Malawi, in partnership with CARE, since 2007. Previous investments have enabled communities to learn new farming techniques to improve crop yield and storage, and gain training on new businesses that complement their agricultural skills infrastructure. Join My Village seeks to build on the existing momentum in Malawi by introducing programs that empower women to build a better future for their families. Lessons learned here can be applied in other parts of Malawi – and beyond.

Why is General Mills investing in African relief projects when there is so much need in the U.S. right now?

General Mills is a global company with a proud tradition of philanthropy – and a stated commitment to Nourishing Lives, both domestically and abroad. For nearly a decade, General Mills has contributed about 5% of its pretax profits to charitable causes. In fiscal 2008, General Mills donated nearly $87 million to communities across the United States, Canada, Mexico, China and many other countries. That's an increase of 6.1% over fiscal 2007 and a 17.5% increase over fiscal 2006. For more information on General Mills philanthropic contributions in the U.S., please click on "General Mills" in the "About" section of the global navigation bar on the homepage.

What is a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA)?

To empower women economically, CARE has been implementing village savings and loan associations (VSLAs) in Malawi since 1999. CARE has established more than 850 VSLAs in Malawi to date, comprising more than 16,850 members with $108,828 accumulated as savings (and $145,164 loaned to members). More than 85% of the participants are women. CARE's research shows that VSLA programs enable women to increase their families' income, and build self-confidence, independence, and leadership skills in the process.

VSLAs are informal, self-selecting groups consisting of 15 – 20 members. The members contribute small, individual savings into an association fund. Each association sets its own "charter" which specifies loan terms. Savings are accumulated for a period and then the association determines how to loan the money to members. All transactions are carried out at meetings in front of all the members, promoting transparency and accountability. Members pay back the loans based on the guidelines specified by the charter. Loans are generally used to start small businesses or pay for family needs often related to sending children to school. After a year, the group pays out the total savings in a lump sum payment to each member based on his or her contribution plus interest. This lump sum distribution provides otherwise unavailable sums of money that each member can then apply to his or her own families' needs.

What will Join My Village do to support the advancement of education?

CARE field officers will work with the school management committees (SMCs) of approximately 15 primary schools (each primary school serves approximately five villages). They will prioritize the needs of these schools from a list of program modules, including provision of textbooks and reference materials, secondary school scholarships for girls graduating from primary school, construction of sanitation facilities, and construction of housing for female teachers. Field officers will work with SMCs to conduct baseline studies for each school and identify desired areas of improvement. Once the SMC has set a course of action for the school, CARE will support the village in securing the necessary materials and expertise to implement their plan.

How are women and girls in Malawi really benefiting from this program?

Through the introduction of VSLAs into the villages, women will have a new opportunity to contribute to their families' income. VSLAs enable small groups of village members, primarily women, to pool their savings and loan money to members within their group. When women have the opportunity to borrow money, they can start a small business, access transportation to local markets where they can get higher prices for their goods, or purchase school uniforms and books for their children.

Additionally, Join My Village will provide school materials, improved school facilities and increased access to secondary education to children in the villages we are serving, with the primary focus on girls. Of the 75 million primary-school aged children in the world who do not have access to education, 55% are girls. And, of those who are enrolled in school, girls' achievement rates are often below their male classmates. Join My Village is working to ensure that girls have equal access to education, which will in turn help to increase their opportunities in life.

Projects in India

Why India?

Life can be short and uncertain for many children in Uttar Pradesh, where many of them never make it past their fifth birthday, falling victim to malnutrition, diarrhea and common childhood illnesses.

India's population is more than 1,189,172,906 people. India is the second largest country on earth with 77% of the population living on less than $2 a day. Deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth each year in India are over 63,000; nearly 18 percent of maternal deaths worldwide.

How will Join My Village help in India?

Strengthening Maternal and Newborn Health in the Barabanki District of Uttar Pradesh. Join My Village will enhance CARE's current programs in maternal and newborn health in 1000 villages (equaling a population of 1.6 million) in the district of Barabanki. Efforts will include increasing community involvement in improving maternal and newborn health by engaging individuals and households in the delivery of public health services, leading to a sense of ownership on behalf of the community. In addition, there will be a focus on strengthening and empowering the Village Health and Sanitation Committees (VHSC) as well as Mothers Groups (MG). There will also be an emphasis on enhancing government health systems at both the district and village levels.

Improving Girls' Education in Mewat, Haryana: In many parts of India, girls' education is undermined by factors such as poverty, customary beliefs and attitudes devaluing girls and a limited number of schools in remote areas. In response, CARE has created and implemented strategies aimed at providing access to education to some of the hardest to reach children, including girls. CARE has piloted and refined a residential education camp model called Udaan (to soar), designed to help girls aged 10-14 who are at extreme social and economic risk and who have missed out on an education. Udaan has been running successfully in Uttar Pradesh for about 11 years and through Join My Village, CARE hopes to take the Udaan model to the state of Haryana.

Each annual Udaan camp session educates approximately 100 girls, who live on a residential campus together in a tight-knit community setting, along with their instructors. The accelerated courses allow girls who never attended school, or dropped out early, to complete their basic primary education (grades 1-5) in 11 months, and transition to formal schooling in upper primary (grades 6-8) and secondary school. The program's curriculum includes activities relating to basic competencies in subjects like science, language and math, but also emphasizes a Social Learning curriculum aimed at sharpening girls' critical thinking and leadership skills, as well as supporting their social development.

Through Join My Village, this accelerated learning program will be implemented in Haryana in partnership with other agencies, including the Indian Government's Education Department, to help never enrolled girls or girls who have dropped out of school in Mewat to complete their primary education within 11 months.

Basic activities to help establish an Udaan school in Mewat during the first year of the program include: adapting CARE's curriculum to the community in Mewat; orienting partners on the approach of Udaan, specifically around issues of lodging/boarding and academics; community mobilization for identifying and supporting girls' to attend the program; regular interaction with parents to talk about any changes their daughters may experience because of their time away at school; conducting teacher training; improving school libraries; and organizing review meetings and community seminars to help build community support for girls' education.

Strengthening Quality of Education in Government Schools in Uttar Pradesh: CARE has partnered with the Government of India to implement and scale up a similar approach as Udaan in government schools known as Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalay (KGBV), which serve isolated and minority communities with low female literacy rates and large gender gaps in education. KGBVs are boarding schools where girls receive upper primary school education (grades 6-8).

Girls enrolling in KGBVs come from diverse academic backgrounds and learning levels, ranging from never enrolled students to primary school graduates. However, many times, school authorities have limited experience in planning for such varied learning needs. Therefore, CARE provides a range of onsite academic support, community mobilization, and systems support to KGBV schools in Uttar Pradesh. Through Join My Village, CARE will be able to scale up that support to reach thousands of additional girls.

Key activities will include enhancing CARE's bridge program. CARE recognized that many girls entering KGBV schools may not have the skills to be in the sixth-grade, and so therefore developed a "bridge program" to bridge the gap between education levels to ensure that girls are prepared to enter upper primary school. The bridge program is similar to the Udaan model, where girls live on campus and participate in an accelerated learning program to ensure they have a basic primary school education. CARE's bridge programs have been so successful that they have now been made compulsory in all KGBVs in Uttar Pradesh.

Other key activities include a Social Learning curriculum that will incorporate components of developing confidence, working in groups, critical thinking, problem solving, persistence in the face of difficulty and respect for others. As well, CARE will engage in multiple activities to enhance teachers' understanding of various pedagogical issues and learner-centered techniques. Teachers will be trained in inclusive and participatory education methods. Simultaneously, they will improve their knowledge of course content and skills in conducting classroom activities.

Given the challenging backgrounds of girls in the residential schools, it is imperative to provide them not only a quality education but enhanced exposure and skills to negotiate their place in society and ensure that their voices are heard. Join My Village will support these goals, while also sensitizing teaching staff and communities to the importance of helping girls achieve their potential.

Why General Mills, Merck and CARE?

Who is General Mills?

General Mills is the world's sixth-largest food company and our trusted brands are known the world over. Cheerios®, Betty Crocker®, Nature Valley®, Progresso®, Pillsbury®, and Green Giant® are just a few that may be familiar to you and your family. Just as importantly, General Mills is widely recognized for its giving culture. About 82% of our U.S. employees volunteer and we've contributed about 5% of our pretax profits to charitable causes for nearly a decade. Programs like Box Tops for Education and Yoplait's Save Lids to Save Lives, to name just two of our philanthropic efforts, have collectively raised hundreds of millions of dollars over the years in the U.S. And others, such as General Mills' Science and Technology Transfer Initiative, are already benefiting other parts of the world, including Africa. It's all part of our corporate mission of Nourishing Lives – making lives healthier, easier, and richer.

Who is Merck?

A global leader in healthcare, Merck is dedicated to helping the world be well through its innovative health and medical initiatives and its strong charitable giving program. Through Join My Village, Merck and its global employees are having a positive impact on women and girls, particularly in India, through community-based health and education programs. Join My Village is linked to Merck's 10-year plan called "Merck for Mothers," committed to improving maternal mortality around the world.

Who is CARE?

Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Working side by side with poor people in more than 65 countries, CARE helps empower communities to address the greatest threats to their survival. Women are at the heart of CARE's efforts to improve health, education and economic development because experience shows that a woman's achievements yield dramatic benefits for her entire family. CARE is also committed to providing lifesaving assistance during times of crisis, and helping rebuild safer, stronger communities afterward. We advocate for policies that defend the dignity of all people and promote the eradication of poverty.

What is each partner doing in this program?

General Mills, Merck and CARE are joining forces in the Join My Village campaign to implement an innovative approach to fighting global poverty. Depending on the amount of consumers' interactions with the program, General Mills and Merck may contribute up to $800,000 in donation money to lay the foundation for positive change in Malawi and India. With these funds, CARE will work side-by-side with women, girls, and communities in Malawi and India to implement integrated programs that will help build an infrastructure for lasting change.

Will you try and sell me products as part of this program?

No. General Mills and Merck are investing in Join My Village to help people in two of the poorest places on earth – and to invite people in the United States to join them in demonstrating the power of this new approach to fighting global poverty. It's not about selling products. It's about honoring our corporate mission of Nourishing Lives. If we help people in Malawi and India access the tools and training they need to build a better future for themselves, we can apply lessons learned to help nourish lives in other parts of the world.

Donating Dollars through Participation

What can I do to participate?

What makes Join My Village unique is that your participation in this program has the power to release dollars provided by our sponsors. You can participate simply by visiting our site, viewing our videos, Liking our content on Facebook and sharing our stories with friends. Here are the details:

  • Click all over our site
    Every time you visit a page on joinmyvillage.com, watch a video, or share a project or blog post on our site, money is donated
  • Like us on Facebook
    With each Like for Join My Village on Facebook, money is donated by our sponsors.
  • Like our Facebook posts
    Each time you Like our posts, money is donated.

Making Personal Donations

Can I make donations by personal check?

It is possible to make donations to Join My Village by personal check. To donate by check, simply contact CARE's donor support team at 1-800-422-7385, and they will guide you through the process.

Can I make a donation by international credit card?

Yes

Is making a donation online secure?

Yes. Online donations are processed through CARE via its data management partner VeriSign, which is certified as being in compliance with the Payment Care Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard.

Who benefits from my personal donation?

All funds that are donated to the Join My Village program go into a centralized fund. While both of the program's key initiatives focus on women and girls, experience shows that improving the life of a woman or girl also creates lasting change for her family, community, and the world. 100% of your donation goes to help in Malawi and India.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Yes, your contribution is tax-deductible as described on the receipt you will receive immediately following your donation, and to the extent allowed by law.

How do I know that my donation was matched?

Matching dollars for personal donations cannot be reflected instantaneously on the site given the need for data verification. But please be assured that General Mills and Merck will match all personal donations made by credit card, up to $1,200,000 by December 31, 2013.

Troubleshooting

If you have questions about your donation, please contact CARE at info@care.org, or 1-800-422-7385.

I want to talk to someone about this program

Please direct general questions about Join My Village to General Mills Consumer Services at 1-800-248-7310 between (7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. CT, weekdays).