Here at the Thomas Foundation, we believe in the principle of global development, sometimes referred to as international development. While humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts often take on the vital task of providing assistance and support in times of need, those solutions tend to be acute, limited to the alleviation of a specific hardship or challenge. Global development is what happens before, during, and after. It’s when communities come together through active engagement to provide education and guidance. Global development looks to strengthen people and communities across the globe, providing long-term, sustainable solutions.
In a word, global development means “growth.” Give us two more words and we’ll expand that to “growth for all.” There are no boundaries on the limits of the human spirit, or on the vastness of human potential. And there are no limits to what global development is looking to achieve: a better society for all, one that goes past the bare minimum, empowering people not just to survive, but to thrive.
Global development is a wonderful cause and we are proud to be a part of it here at the Thomas Foundation. But it can also be daunting. How do you help everyone? To guide our efforts and help answer that question, we focus on the areas of art, health, and community.
The power of art is transformative. It serves as a means of connection and self-discovery. What’s more, artistic exploration and expression often act as vital outlets, providing a hopeful view that stretches beyond one’s immediate circumstances. Take the Sondeluz Dance School for example, an organization we are proud to support. Located in Cali, Colombia, the academy provides a place for people from some of the poorest sections of the city to learn and perform salsa dancing. Dancers discover a place beyond the confines of their neighborhoods, and grow to form the tight bonds that serve as the foundation of a new community.
We were so incredibly proud to help the CEM Diery Fall high school in Bambey, Senegal to renovate all of their classrooms and bathrooms. Founded in 2007, the school takes in children from the surrounding villages, with more than 1,000 students enrolled. By funding these efforts, and providing this basic necessity—a clean, functional place to learn—we were able to help the school in their mission. The renovated facilities have spurred greater attendance and performance throughout the school.
WERK for Peace represents the power of what a group of dedicated individuals can do when they come together. What began as a queer grassroots movement based in Washington, D.C. to promote peace and create an inclusive, equitable society that embraces LGBTQ+ individuals is serving as the seed of a nation-wide movement. The group has had incredible success promoting their message through varied forms of dance, and now activists in New York, Orlando, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have reached out for support and guidance in founding their own chapters..