The popular song by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers "I'm in heaven…" could describe quite a few elements of the HEAVEN (www.heavens.org) benefit at the Sony Wonder Labs on Tuesday, June 22nd. Now before I go into the who's who that was there, let me explain a little bit about HEAVEN. HEAVEN (Helping Educate, Activate, Volunteer, Empower via the Net) is a non-profit organization that uses the "online medium to benefit society and bridge the digital divide" with hopes of providing a powerful online forum for positive social change and getting youth the tools and training they need to succeed. By bringing together charitable causes and calendars, volunteer efforts and opportunities in one appealing and effective place, HEAVEN helps its online audience find out where, when, how and why they can make a difference. It enables organizations to increase traffic and raise awareness and funds. And, through an innovative ANGELS education program that couples computers and career training with community service, it uses the Internet as a democratizing force that helps lessen the gaps between technology haves and have-nots." Now, this is quite different, but completely complementary with MOUSE (Making Opportunities to Upgrade and Schools and Education), which provides volunteer human-power and technical support to the New York City public schools-- wiring schools and training teachers and students how to use technology. Some people might confuse the two, but once schools are wired and kids know how to use the Net and technology, they can go out in the world, volunteers, get active and help others in return.
Both organizations, run by dynamic, warm, supportive and intelligent people deserve all the support companies in the Alley (and beyond) and their employees, friends and others can muster up. If we don't start getting our youth and online and provide access for everyone, US school test scores will continue to be among the lowest in the world, our nation will be full of fat, lazy, uneducated, unwired and unsatisfied non-contributing members to society and we will be further behind in technological and societal developments than we already are! How do I really feel about this issue? Come on people! NYC is wiring our town at a rate 100x slower than Asian countries and our youth are continually falling behind other nations in tests. I love this country, which is why I want the United States to do well in the world economy. We have an egocentric view of our developments because we've done so well for so long, and still are ahead of other countries in many areas. But just as we all must stay on top of developments and adapt to the fast pace and changes in the Internet industry for our businesses and personal success, our country too must adapt and move quickly. We need a supportive government, not one that is meddling with enterprises and regulating so much. We need our leaders to focus on spending money on education and technological advancements of our country.
And among the movers and shakers in this industry, who do care, that came out in support of Heaven and its benefit honoring Ted Leonsis of AOL and Bob Friedman of New Line Cinemas were Robert Levitan of Flooz (who told me his company has now grown to 26 in number), Barbara Frerichs (a consultant), Randall Stempler (charityevents.org), Steve Messer (LinkShare) and Chris Patyk of Riverside Management Group. Guests enjoyed delicious food by the Myriad restaurant group, imagine stations with interactivity (caricatures by The Humor Network) and music from Pseudo. Marc Scarpa of Jumpcut was telling Cecilia Pagkalinawan of Boutique Y3K and myself about his upcoming 10-city tour with an interactive talk show and his three-day stay-away-and-webcast-marathon for Woodstock. Middleberg & Associates associates Rob Argento, Adam Glazer, Maureen Landers and Christopher Hayes were out in full force. I met Dargan Coggeshall of LifeMinders.com and caught a bunch of people, including PR dynamo Renee Edelman of PR 21, out of the corner of my eye who I didn't get to chat with. HEAVEN should be in their own heaven today with a wonderful turnout of 614 guests and donations of over $500,000 in cash, in-kind and pledged commitments.