Welcome to our Blog!

Logo (Website) Outline copyA very warm welcome and thank you for exploring our blog! Here you will find regular posts that cover a wide range of topics related to the mission of Beyond the Block. These include: updates on our programs, services, fundraisers, and other goings-on a BTB; educational and informative posts about our curriculum, the students we serve, and the complex social issues that BTB engages with; and more personal posts from both our CEO, Debbie Ribera, and our Executive Assistant, Nate Micinski, about the philosophies, theories, and frameworks that underpin the organization and guide our work.

A quick disclaimer from the outset: we know we don’t have all the answers! Stick around to read a few posts and this will become readily apparent. We recognize that the problems and issues related to BTB’s mission and practice are complex. They take careful thought, consideration, and adaptation to effectively address—in fact, Debbie wrote a whole dissertation on this and still feels like she only scratched the surface! This blog is not written to establish any positions, but to practice one of the things we teach to our students; the importance of critical thinking. So we will be asking a lot of questions and seeking answers while remaining open to various points of view.

We see this blog as a dialogue—a place where you can hear us speak about our mission and where you can give us your feedback.We are a better organization with you, your support, and your input, so be sure to check back regularly to stay engaged with the conversation!

Global Awareness: What is it???

earth-clip-art-sdf-mdPart of Beyond the Block’s mission is to make our students more globally aware citizens. You may have heard of the idea of global awareness before, or related ideas such as globalization and global citizenship. But what do we mean here at BTB when we say that we “improve global awareness” through our educational travel documentaries and curriculum? We believe that improving global awareness can be achieved through fostering four important skills: understanding others, understanding yourself, thinking critically, and imagining a better world for self and others.  Read on to see what our students say after learning about these four aspects of global awareness!
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Playing with Legos: Building a Custom Solution with Salesforce

All you tech-savvy people out there might be interested in this! Over the past year, Beyond the Block received theSalesforce Logo - Labeled for Reuse_0 amazing opportunity to implement Salesforce, a customer relationship management (CRM) program valued at $15,000! The Salesforce Foundation generously donated this program to us. I worked personally and closely with our tech consultant extraordinaire, Kelly, in order to customize the program for our specific needs. The program is now officially live for BTB and assisting us on a daily basis!

Salesforce is an extremely versatile and adaptable program that is designed to suit the needs of thousands of different companies and nonprofits, who each use the progra3040223-poster-p-1-192-lego-when-it-clicks-it-clicksm in a different way. To accommodate for this, Salesforce starts like a set of unassembled Legos and it is up to the user to assemble them in the way that best suits their needs. Kelly helped us put BTB’s Lego pieces together in ways and patterns that we couldn’t imagine on our own. The results have been amazing!

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Taking education more seriously, putting more effort into school work, and thinking seriously about graduating high school and college—the vast majority of our students believe in the importance of these after watching one of our videos! We encourage our students to complete their education! (Click image for larger view.)
Keeping a tally of all the students we've reached—3,893 and counting!
Keeping a tally of all the students we’ve reached—3,893 and counting!

In just the first few months of use, Salesforce has proven to be immensely useful for coordinating, organizing, and tracking everything related to the organization. And I really mean everything! This includes tracking donations, services we provide to schools, demographic trends of our target population, and student survey data. You may have received a confirmation receipt related to your recent donation to Beyond the Block—that is Salesforce at work! Storing and cataloging our students’ survey responses has proven particularly valuable in evaluating the outcomes of our programs. (To read what some of the kids are saying, check out this post about our global awareness curriculum.) Salesforce has allowed us to become a more efficient, mobile, and responsive organization, enabling us to put your donation dollars to the best possible use by keeping our overhead costs low and our program-dedicated budget high! You can be confident that we are harnessing the power of the best tools available to maximize our impact here at BTB!

A Quick Hello from Nate, the Newest Staff Member


I feel so proud to be working with an organization that aligns so closely with my personal values. The legacy that this organization will leave behind and the impact it will have—and has had already—on thousands of kids and the world is one that I’m honored to be a part of. It seems that every day brings a unique opportunity for me to contribute to both the organization and its mission. And in turn, I get to contribute to making this world a more positive place; every day and one day at a time! This year has amazing potential and I’m so happy to be on this journey with all of you—your support gives me passion! Thank you!

– Nate

To learn more about Nate’s background, check out his profile on our website.