Bridge to Ukraine - Start-up Fund!
Hello friends! I am proud to introduce you to Bridge to Ukraine, Inc. (B2U), a newly developed (soon to be non-profit) organization aiming to build an everlasting bridge between Ukraine and America. Bridge to Ukraine commenced in 2013 by a group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who wanted to continue their experience, connections, passions and skills to continue the contribution to Ukraine's future development. A "˜bridge' symbolizes many facets: cultural, traditional, social, economic, and communal.
The first program to be initiated by Bridge to Ukraine is the B2U Youth Bank. This program will lay the fundamental connection by enabling Ukrainian youth to enact positive changes in their communities while developing their creativity, confidence and organizational skills. The youth will develop skills in all areas of project management, and will learn important lessons about leadership, critical thinking, decision-making, teamwork, problem solving, event planning and more! Youth banks are important for personal development and empowering of youth in the community and also serve as huge investments towards the future of Ukraine, with immeasurable returns.
As our network of connections grows in Ukraine and America, we will begin more projects that will connect Ukraine and America in new and innovative ways.
There's one thing we need before we can get started! We need to apply for non-profit status (in law terms, that is 501(c)(3) status). We have already filled out all the forms, had a lawyer read it over, and it is ready to go. We just need $300 in fees to file the paperwork. Unfortunately, the boards of directors are all either Peace Corps Volunteers, or have just returned from Ukraine as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. That means we don't have the money to pool together and start our work. All we ask is a few dollars from each person, and together we can enrich the world, share cultures and make a better and more connected future for all of us!
The additional $200 will go towards the first two Youth Bank projects. These projects will be pilot projects and will lay the framework for future Youth Bank projects to come! We can't wait to share the results with you. With the success of two projects, we can show the results to future contributors, future youth participants and our network of Peace Corps friends and family!
Ukraine has been through a lot in the past year. There was a revolution that toppled a corrupt and backwards regime. Crimea was stolen from Ukraine in the wake of the revolution. Now unrest and violence is festering in the two most Eastern regions of Ukraine. It is a difficult time for Ukraine and all that care about it. It has also proved quite a challenge for our young organization.
Regarding our non-profit status; it has been a long waiting game, but this week we finally gained non-profit status. Why did it take so long? When you submit a non-profit application, most are automatically approved. A small percentage are looked over on one section and there is a slight delay in processing these. A very small handful of applications are randomly picked for a thorough review. We were picked for a thorough review, which requires a wait of 6-8 months. It is quite relieving though to find out we did not spend all that time creating a pile of paperwork and some detail be out of place. I'm thankful for all the help I received while putting together our application.
As for the Youth Banks; we have faced challenge after challenge trying to implement them. Our first challenge happened when we were helping our first group of youngsters apply for a project and plan for it. We held a training, coached them through the planning process and had set a date for the project to take place. Unfortunately, this is when the protests began, and young people had to choose between doing work on their project and tending to something that would effect the rest of their lives. We decided together to postpone the project until things calmed down. They never calmed down. Things in Ukraine continued to spiral out of control. Then, a major backbone to the Youth Bank project, Peace Corps Volunteers, were evacuated from Ukraine because of the turmoil. After accessing our options, we have decided to postpone the Youth Bank project until we are certain we can do it effectively again.
There are two youth bank projects currently in the process of completion. Once those are finished, we will shelve this project. We will still work on details behind the scenes, but we won't sponsor any projects until we believe we can do it successfully.
In the wake of the human crisis facing Ukraine, we have decided to shift our role to deliver humanitarian relief until Ukraine finds peace. We will help fund and deliver humanitarian aid to internally displaced people (IDP) in Ukraine. Through trusted friends and partners we are in the midst of establishing contact with several refugee camps to identify their needs. Once we find what they need, we will work closely to fund humanitarian efforts, beginning with refugees in Zhytomyr oblast.
Once we can confidently send aid to refugee camps, we will begin a campaign to raise funds so we can help as much as possible with this crisis. We'd be glad if you continued to support us by sharing our cause with others, volunteering your time, and raising funds to help unfortunate Ukrainians running from their homes. Keep on the lookout for us beginning this campaign in the very near future.
President of Bridge to Ukraine
We are experiencing a few small setbacks while finalizing our paperwork to apply for non-profit status, and we wanted everyone to be aware of these issues. First, it looks like the government has increased the application fee from $300 to $400. We will have to put $100 more towards the process of the application, unfortunately. However, thanks to all the support, we can handle the increased fee and still support three Youth Bank pilot projects.
The second setback is that we will have to amend our organizing papers with the state of Florida. The lawyer that is helping us out says that in order to qualify, we'll need to amend our Articles of Incorporation, which takes time. After we submit our amendment and get the amended documents back, we will be ready to submit our paperwork to the IRS.
What this means is that it will take a little extra time and money to finish the process. We'll be sure to keep everyone updated.
Despite the setbacks and frustrations with paperwork, we're still on course to begin our first three pilot projects, and can't wait to get these started!
Thanks for everything!
President of Bridge to Ukraine
We'll keep the fundraising going for a few more days, because each additional $100 pays for another Youth Bank Project! Right now though, we can safely say we'll soon become a legitimate non-profit organization and start our first Youth Bank projects!
We will keep everyone posted on our website and facebook page ( www.bridge2ukraine.org and www.facebook.com/bridge2ukraine). Stay tuned to see how everything goes!
Thanks again to all our early supporters! I can't wait to see what we can all do together!
President of Bridge to Ukraine, Inc.