This Member Spotlight features Christina ‘Tippi’ Cogen, the Founder of Thrive Global, a local non-profit that hosts international service trip opportunities for busy professionals. She describes the group as the ‘Forward Thinking Humanitarian Service Travel Team.’
We chatted with Tippi to learn more about her trips, the mission of Thrive Global, and how our members can be a part of these service travel opportunities.
Andrea Bertoli (AB): Tell us more about Thrive Global- it’s such a cool opportunity for busy professionals to take time out to travel and also to GIVE back during their trips.
Tippi Cogen (TC): Yes, I developed Thrive to do exactly that: to become a provider of short term international service trip opportunities. The trips give back to underserved youth, and focus on helping to break generational poverty cycles by broadening their worldviews and helping to build confidence for a great future. It’s great because adults can explore and serve foreign communities while supporting the development of youth here in Hawaii.
AB: Let’s talk more about the term ‘Travelatarian:’ how does this demographic of people come together to make a big difference?
TC: Travel-tarian describes what we were accomplishing in our mission. This is a person who has a passion to travel and serve – a combination of traveler and humanitarian. For our first two years of our organization, we really were trying to find the best word to describe our target audience. We word interchange common descriptors like travelers, volunteers, humanitarians, and others, but they weren’t capturing what we were trying to convey with this new mode of service support.
Our search for the best Traveltarians come through social engagements, referrals, and local supporters. In order to build a team that will function well abroad, we set the groundwork well in advance of taking off. This includes team socials, trainings, and meetings. What begins as a bunch of strangers coming together for a great cause, finishes as a great foundation for lasting friendships.
AB: What’s the next trip and why did you choose this destination?
TC: In November 2019 we are headed to Brazil for the first time to conduct a 3-day Jiu Jitsu Youth Camp for at-risk youth in the favelas, and we’ll be hosting 5-day community support projects repairing homes, working in urban gardens, doing graffiti clean up and mural projects, and supporting women- and youth-focused educational opportunities.
There are so many factors that go into selecting our trip locations. We felt especially moved to serve in Brazil this time because it’s an outstanding location, and more importantly, we felt a great need to serve in the favelas and empower youth. We see the similarities of struggles between Hawaii and Brazil, and feel good about the partnership and friendships that have already been in established in advance of our arrival.
AB: Our Co-Founder Anne Weber has recently started a fun challenge: tell us more about how you’re working with Anne and Impact Hub HNL to raise funds for your group?
Thrive decided to implement monthly challenges that could raise funds for our youth program in a unique and fun way with the community. Partnering with influential business leaders can help share the good work we’re doing and further our mission.
As a long-time Member of Impact Hub HNL, it made sense to partner with Anne (Impact Hub HNL Community Director and Co-Founder). We came up with the idea of “What Costume?” for her challenge – this means she has been wearing random costumes throughout the month of September, while pretending nothing is different. We do eventually let them in on what’s going on so they can donate and help spread the word. The challenge kicks up a notch when donors make a donation of $150 or greater where they get to pick her costume. Anne has raised more than $500 for the organization AND had tons of fun dressing up as a hamburger, a ‘bronie, Rosie the Riveter, and more.
Justine Espiritu of Biki Hawaii hosted her challenge in August. The goal was to raise $500 by entering into her first longboard surf competition at Duke’s Ohanafest. Justine not only raised $645 but also went on to dominate in the competition and placed third as a FIRST-TIME competitor. This has been an amazing start to a great fundraiser. We couldn’t have asked for a better lineup of community to get things started.
AB: There’s another trip coming up Spring 2020: where in the world are you going this time?
TC: We just announced our two returning Spring trips to Bali and Philippines. In March the team will travel to Bali, Indonesia, for a turtle conservation, composting, gardening, recycling and education project. In April, we’ll go to the Philippines to work on a water filtration and youth outreach project. This will be our second time to both Bali and the Philippines and these locations are always interesting and engaging – it’s a great opportunity to give AND both are great places to vacation.