FAQ Veterans Statements

  1. What is the Veterans Education Challenge?
    • The Veterans Education Challenge is dedicated to providing need-based scholarships to United States Military veterans that the GI Bill does not cover.  This program includes a matching component, whereby every dollar raised by the general public will be matched up to $1 million. 
  2. Who is matching the money raised through the Veterans Education Challenge?
    • Bruce and Avis Richards have committed to matching up to $1 million raised by the general public.  Mr. Richards is the Chief Executive Officer of Marathon Asset Management, a New York-based Hedge Fund, and Mrs. Richards is the founder of Birds Nest Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. 
  3. Which universities will be eligible to receive grants to provide these scholarships?
    • Accredited four year universities participating in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon Program (http://www.benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/yellow_ribbon.asp) are eligible beneficiaries of this program.  A funding committee established by Birds Nest Foundation will select universities within the eligible universe.     
  4. Can I designate a university of my choice?
    • Donations of less than $5,000 will be disbursed to universities selected by the Birds Nest Foundation funding committee.  If you are making a donation of $5,000 or greater, you may designate a specific university meeting the criteria described above. 
  5. What qualifications must a veteran possess in order to become a beneficiary of this program?
    • In order for veterans to be eligible beneficiaries of this program, he/she must have served at least 36 months of active duty in the U.S. Military from 9/11/01 onward; he/she must be in good standing with his/her respective branch of the U.S. Military; and he/she must be eligible for entitlement under the GI Bill (http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/)
  6. Who decides which eligible veterans receive benefits under the Veterans Education Challenge?
    • Universities receiving funds through the Veterans Education Challenge have complete discretion as to the disbursement of funds among the university’s eligible student veteran population.  If, for example, $5,000 is donated to a specific university, the university determines which students receive the donation and in what amount, based upon standards and criteria the university has put in place. 
  7. When can I make a donation?
  8. How much of my donation will go toward veteran scholarships?
    • 100% of your donation will be applied toward veteran scholarships. 

18 Questions: Avis Richards

Each month we ask a new eco-maven 18 questions about his or her life, occupation, and advice for other like-minded people. This month we connected with the Founder ofBirds Nest Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on education, healthcare, human rights and environmental matters and Birds Nest Productions which produces videos for charitable organizations.

1. What is your name?

Avis Richards 

2. What is your occupation?

CEO/Founder, Birds Nest Foundation & Birds Nest Productions

3. Do you have a “green” memory growing up?

Growing up in upstate New York, my favorite memories include picking apples, grapes and pears from my family’s backyard garden. My favorite recipe was a fresh strawberry rhubarb pie that I still make today.

4. What’s your favorite meal?

Any quick and easy vegetable dish that includes fresh ingredients from my local farmers market.

5. Who/what inspires you to be more “green” in your life?

Upstate New York’s vast farmland fostered my appreciation for the “green” lifestyle. Now I serve on the board of Earth Day Network, which informs and energizes communities worldwide, Âso they will act to secure a healthy future for themselves and their children.

Additionally, observing how Birds Nest Foundation’s Ground Up Campaign impacts children through hands-on gardening reiterates the importance of living a “green” life.

6. Where on the “green scale” do you fall ?

On a scale of 1-10, I give myself an 8. I only buy organic/ eco-conscious products and foods. I also support my local farmers, recycle, drive a smart car, and ride a bicycle whenever possible. Of course, there is always room for improvement, and I hope to do just that over time.

7. What are the most rewarding and most challenging parts of your job?

I love helping both non-profits and companies tell their stories in a unique, innovative way, but having to limit our projects due to time and financial constraints is always disappointing.

8. Where’s your “green spot” for food, body care/beauty, oceans, home or neighborhood, explain:

My home in Southampton, located just across from the ocean. While there, I shop at farmers markets, buying only organic, in-season produce, and grass-fed, organic beef from our local butcher. I love that I have access to fresh, local fish during these summer months, too.

9. Where do you turn for your news?

I love the Huffington Post, CNN, and The New York Post.

10. What is one environmental change you vow to make in the next year?

I hope to compost more and own a battery-operated car.

11. If you could trade places with one person from any time in history (past or present) for one day—who would it be and why?

I don’t want to trade places with anyone! I am blessed with wonderful, family and friends, and I wouldn’t want to miss a moment of it.

12. You have a meeting with the leader of every country in the world. You have 30 seconds to tell them anything you want. Go!

Let’s secure a commitment to enduring peace, cleansing the environment, liberalizing the economy so that all workers have ÂÂan equal chance for prosperity with the lessÂÂfortunate gaining access to better healthcare & education.

13. You have the chance to send one tweet to all the tweeps in the world. Let’s hear it in 140 characters, or less!

Let Birds Nest Foundation, a one-of-a-kind non-profit, help tell your story– and donate to the cause today!

14. If there was one industry/product that you could make more eco-friendly, what would it be?

Cell phones. They give off harmful microwave radiation that has lasting negative effects on the human body. I explore this issue in-depth in my upcoming documentary, Talk Smart Âhttp://www.birdsnestfoundation.org/about-talk-smart

15. Where in the world would you most like to be right now?

Although I love it here at my desk in NYC, I wish I could be in the Hamptons: sitting on my patio, drinking iced green tea with mint from my garden, and listening to the ocean waves. Otherwise, I would love to be walking down the streets of Paris on my way to Café de Flore for a cappuccino.

16. What is the best book you have read recently?

Thug Kitchen, Eat like you give a F*ck  by Matt Holloway and Michelle Davis

17. What makes you cringe?

Seeing young people smoke cigarettes.

18. What do you want your legacy to be?

Knowing deep down inside that I did my part to support my community and improve the environment so that the world is a better place for our children, elderly, and those less fortunate.

8. What do you want your legacy to be?

Knowing deep down inside that I did my part to support my community and improve the environment so that the world is a better place for our children, elderly, and those less fortunate.

Original story in Eco18

Video:Smiling Hogshead Ranch

Our interns this summer visited the Smiling Hogshead Ranch located in Long Island City, Queens. This is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental awareness. The ranch was once a train lot owned by the MTA, which was filled with trash till founder Gil Lopez cleaned the land and created a garden. Smiling Hogshead wants the community to participate and become educated on the importance of ecology.

When you enter the grounds you will see all the different types of vegetables, flowers and fruits growing on the property. They are also in the process of building a theater to attract artists and performers.

Smiling Hogshead consists of volunteers who help maintain the area and educate the community. Watch this video to know more. 

Doctalk: The Unknown Known


Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris, best known for the Fog of the war (2003) & Tabloid (2010) created another heated documentary. In his latest film, The Unknown Known, Morris probes former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld trying to find the truth on why the United States invaded Iraq.

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Is social media invading our social setting ?

With our documentary TalkSmart! movie coming out soon, which is about how cellphones changed the lives of children and how they should use them more smartly, it seemed like the perfect time to hit the streets and hear people’s experiences with cell phones and social media invading social settings i.e. parties, dates, dinner parties, concerts, etc. Instead of focusing on children who have grown up being exposed to consistently using  electronic devices and their constant presence, this piece focuses more on teenagers and young adults ranging from age of 17-21 simply because this is approximately the age group that is electronically adept, but can also remember a time when a lot of these current gadgets and outlets didn’t exist.

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What do you know about Celiac disease?

There are many foods today, that people avoid in order to be healthy; refined sugar, sugar, carbohydrates, meat, processed foods, dairy and wheat. Wheat, especially, has a bad reputation, nowadays. Not only it is a source of carbohydrates, but  followers of the Paleo diet it is simply unnatural. For others, avoiding wheat is a necessity. People who have celiac or non-celiac gluten intolerance cannot actually digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barely and therefore must avoid it.

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Losing Paradise: Climate Change Threatens Marshall Islands

Beautiful islands are a paradise. Marshall Islands are known to be one of the best vacation spot in the world. Those peaceful, serene Marshall Islands are not a peaceful place anymore. Climate change has swept away the residents’ livelihood forcing them to relocate. The number of people leaving Marshall has increased and they have become “climate refugees.”

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Video: Reinventing Pier 42

Pier 42 is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Pier 42 was once a newspaper terminal, later  turned into one of the largest shipping terminals in NYC. In 1987 it was shutdown, Pier 42 was no longer in use, all that stood on Pier 42 was an abandon warehouse.

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‘I want my work to make a difference’

                                                  ( A customer buying fresh vegetables at a local farmers’ market)  

There are people in the professional working world who wake up every morning to go to work and make a difference in the world. This is one of those ideals that every job seeker and career-getter aspire to have; that their work is influential in someone’s life. The dream that their efforts have made a change for the betterment of a community, a family or an individual. For some it may be becoming a professor or a doctor but there is no reward sweeter than writing “philanthropist” on a resume.

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E.A.T: Conference for a healthy youth in America

Food Fight, a company dedicated to equipping teachers with the knowledge and tools necessary to implement healthy lifestyle and eating into their students lives, hosted their annual event called E.A.T: Educating America’s Teachers to Lead the Fight Against Obesity last Wednesday.

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