Rising Sun’s International Fellows

Earlier this year, Nicholas Piffeteau, Toni Ayonrinde, and Lau Prieto joined the Rising Sun team as paid fellows through Collabriv, a social venture based in San Francisco that helps young professionals worldwide gain global collaboration and leadership skills.

Nico is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Management in France. Passionate about social entrepreneurship, he has worked in Germany, Ireland, China and Ecuador. Always looking for new adventures, Nicolas enjoys hiking, backpacking and exploring, and used to practice inline speed skating at a national level (Junior French national champion). While at Rising Sun, Nico is working on the expansion of the CYES program and on researching new revenue models.

Toni grew up in Nigeria but studied a Bachelor in Management Information Systems and graduated in Ghana. She interned at a nonprofit in Zimbabwe, which was centered on educating youth and children on global warming and sustainability in Africa. Toni is working on the website development and marketing while at Rising Sun.

Lau is a dual-national, British and Spanish, and was born and raised in London, United Kingdom. In 2013 she obtained a BA in Social Anthropology from SOAS – University of London and has since then gained work experience at a nonprofit in London as a Fundraising Coordinator and most recently in Bolivia as a Commercialization Coordinator. While at Rising Sun, Lau will be working on fund development, including corporate sponsorship, grants and awards.

trioTogether they have been assisting with social media and the build-up towards Rising Sun’s incredible Bright Night fundraising event taking place in May 2015.

Being in Rising Sun has expanded my mind in various ways. It has given me the chance to understand energy efficiency in a new, unique and sustainable way. Working here, has also brought me in contact with an amazing set of people who I learn from every day”. – Toni

I was really impressed by the two energy specialists I met whilst watching a Green House Call in Stockton. They were determined, highly professional and able to clearly explain to us what they were doing”. – Nico

 “One of my highlights during the last three months has been attending the GETS graduation as well as the Green Festival. Seeing the GETS participants on this special day was truly inspiring”. – Lau

Toni, Nico and Lau will be working with Rising Sun from September 2014 until March 2015.

Imagine, Create, Learn 3

Day one, read here

Day two, read here


This morning I had an engaging conversation with a Vice Chancellor from Kenya and an expat living in Kenya who has developed a low cost private school model in Kenya. The organization, a for profit, opens schools in rural areas  where schools do not exist and charges parents about $6 a month per child schooling. $6 per month is about 10% of the average monthly income. Parts of the lessons are taught with model tablets that can store a great deal of curriculum, lessons and books, bringing mobile technology into the rural areas. It is an interesting model for education and one I want to think and learn more about.

The morning session was about how children succeed; the hidden power of character.
Paul Tough gave the keynote address, which emphasized that character building skills are as important as basic academic skills for a child’s success. Character building skills are defined as curiosity, optimism, creativity, self-control, zest, gratitude and grit.  He defined grit as the passion and perseverance for long term goals. He stated that there are two critical times in a child’s life were intervention in teaching these skills is imperative: early childhood and adolescence. Adolescence because of the brain’s development at this time and its ability for metacognition; reflection of one’s own behaviors and ability to change patterns, habits and behavior. This made me reflect on the CYES program and the opportunity we have to foster these character building traits with our youth. In fact, much of what we do does exactly this, but a key question is how can we continue to enhance our program to foster this and continue to develop the inner strength and resilience of our youth?

A couple examples Paul gave was around teaching youth to manage failure and mistakes through consistent and honest feedback that was tough and demanding as well as supportive and encouraging. This builds trust and shows care, which is essential in building grit. He also said communicating high expectations and belief in them was critical. He defined the creativity equation as not just about brainstorming and innovative ideas, but also the ability to turn those ideas into something through productive, hard work where there was lots of iterations. These are the skills that help a young person become successful.
Continue reading

Imagine, Create, Learn 2

Rising Sun Executive Director Jodi Pincus goes to the WISE Summit in Qatar

You can read on day one here.

Day 2

After a depressing morning session that focused on how far away the world is from reaching the UN millennium goal of all children having access to primary education by 2015 — 58 million to be exact and  two thirds of those children live in conflict zones, refugee camps or are dealing with Ebola — I decided to go to workshops that focused on hands-on learning where I learned by doing not just talking and listening.

I went to a Lego workshop where I built a spinning top out of Lego, built a machine to make it spin and then programmed it to spin using the computer.2editedI teamed with a woman from China and we entered into a competition to see which team’s top would spin the longest based on design and programming. I thought we would definitely win, but unfortunately our top fell off the table, so we were disqualified. I didn’t win the Lego prize for Alejandro, my 3 year old son. The workshop was refreshing and clearly demonstrated what 21st century education should be like.

Again, we feasted on an abundance of food, although it is toned down since the last visit and I enjoyed watching all the woman in their newly fashionable Abaya’s, which are the traditional dress that the woman wear. The abaya’s have gone through a fashion trend where they used to be only black and now they are adorned with different designs and pops of color.

In the afternoon I took a break and went to the Persian Gulf harbor to see the sea with another woman from San Francisco. I finally got a sense of the country. All the buildings are sandstone, and from a city planning perspective, this city is not designed well and far from sustainable. It is prone to traffic jams and impossible to walk.

I returned to my hotel and got ready for that evening’s Gala, during which I spent most of my time talking about education, fundraising, politics and traditional clothing with a variety of people from all over the globe.  It was a very fun, elegant, and enlightening evening.

 Read next post here

Imagine, Create, Learn

Rising Sun Executive Director Jodi Pincus goes to the WISE Summit in Qatar

The first day of the WISE Summit, I grab my UN headset, which translates at least five languages, and sit down for the opening session. This year’s conference theme is imagine-create-learn: creativity at the heart of education. The opening scene is a theatrical presentation with phenomenal production values. Click here for the video.
Her Highness, Sheikha Moza Bint Nassar (The Queen) gets up to speak. She has tremendous style, like Jackie O, and besides being an incredibly interesting woman to look at, I am struck by her leadership and initiative to educate the fifty-eight million out of school children around the world. She is doing remarkable things with her wealth and pushing the boundaries for women in the Middle East. I sit in the room with over 1,800 people from around the globe, 130 countries represented and I remember why I find this conference so exciting.

The next speaker is Tony Wagner, first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard. He talks about the reality, that education is no longer the key to upward mobility and that creativity is now a moral imperative. In order to prepare children for the 21st century we need to cultivate their creativity, their ability to solve problems differently and that education based on testing and getting the answer right, it not the right kind of education for the 21st century.
He went on to say that with the internet, knowledge is now a free commodity like water (although we can debate whether water is free commodity for all) and that information is easily accessible for to all. What matters most is not what you know but what you can do with what you know. Businesses are looking for people who can solve complex analytical problems, collaborate to solve those problems, can figure things out on their own and can innovate.

The key question is what must we do differently to develop people’s capabilities to innovate? We are all born curious, and it makes me ponder how can formal and non-formal education – such as Rising Sun’s programs — foster this. Wagner thinks this can be done by teaching collaboration; teaching that failure is key to innovation; and encouraging risks, failure and mistakes. “Fail early and fail often.” He also says the role of a teacher is as a coach and not a knowledge bearer; that changing education is an economic necessity in an innovation economy.
The session made me think about the role of nonprofits a problem solvers to social and environmental problems and how we are part of a system in which the funding doesn’t necessarily give us the flexibility to solve these problems creatively through trial and error. Continue reading

Build It Green

Last week our friends at Build It Green hosted their Water Wise Homes Conference, where building professionals learned from other builders and designers about water-saving practices and technologies. From the simple to the complex, experts covered everything from appliance choices to best practices related to conveyance of hot water. Babak Tondre of the design and building firm DIG Cooperative discussed the wide variety of grey water and rainwater catchment systems options.  Systems like these that DIG installs help with drought resilience and erosion reduction.  Participants also heard from presenter Chie Kawahara who spoke from the vantage point of the homeowner learning about water saving measures and her process of choosing the retrofits and contractors that best matched her home’s needs and her budget.  An afternoon panel included affordable housing developer, Eden Housing. Staff from Eden from spoke about the cost savings that investing in major water and energy efficiency projects has generated for their multi-unit affordable dwellings.  Thanks to Build It Green for inviting Rising Sun to participate!