National Two Dollar Challenge

45 percent_2 dollars a day

This statistic takes our breath away. It should.

This statistic has also spurred many young Americans to take steps to end global poverty. These steps have taken many forms: mission trips, orphanage tours, donating used clothing, and buying a pair of TOMS shoes.

Some have been effective; a lot have not.

How is this possible? Weren’t we the generation that was supposed to end global poverty?

We were. But we won’t. Here’s why:

When we take steps to end global poverty, we inject ourselves, our efforts, and our programs into a community’s on-going process of economic development. This process is Complex, Long-term, Community Specific, and (should be) Locally Driven. We, on the other hand, are Imperfectly Informed,Culturally and Geographically Distant, and engaged for a relatively Short Duration.

Given the realities of economic development and our limitations, it’s no wonder our efforts have a less than stellar track record.

Do we still have role to play? YESBut, it may not look like the one we were conditioned to expect.

Here’s what we can do:

  • We can know what we do not know about the economic lives of the poor.
  • We can unlearn what we have learned about the end of global poverty.
  • We can exercise our voice. As citizens of one of the world’s democracies, we can take action to support life-saving effective foreign aid.

Sign Up for the National Two Dollar Challenge (April 6 – 10, 2015)!

We’ve joined forces with Oxfam America and RESULTS to open a meaningful nation-wide conversation about global poverty and foreign aid. Finding solutions that truly work will require radical new ways of thinking about the problem.  By asking you to live on $2 a day, we hope to push you outside your comfort zone to critically engage with, and empathetically reevaluate global poverty and your role in its end.

Join a more mindful movement to end global poverty. Take Action by voicing your support for life-saving, effective foreign aid.

The content for this post comes from the Two Dollar Challenge’s “Our Purpose” page. The ideas in this post are the result of a iterative-collectivist process that began in the fall of 2006, continues today, and includes the contributions of countless participants and past student leaders (Erin Kitten, Courtney Hayes, Meredith Greenwell, Ben Saunders, Brian Downing, and Emily Sherman) and those still actively shaping our path forward (Laura Dick, Stephanie George, and Sophie Savage).


If you enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy my This is the Work newsletter.

Thanks. – shawn

P.S. Read the Sidekick Manifesto and Take the Pledge!