As the Director of Partnership Development and Internal Programs for Whole Planet Foundation, Joy Peterson helps develop strategic partnerships and guides our Team Member Volunteer Program. Two weeks ago Whole Planet Foundation announced our Changing The World, Together campaign to raise $1.5 million for 40,000 impoverished people living in communities around the globe where Whole Foods Market sources products. We are off to an excellent start with over $750,000 so far. Thank you! Don't forget you have until March 31st to donate at our stores or online. One of the heart-warming aspects of the fundraising side of things with Whole Planet Foundation is having the opportunity to partner with like-minded companies who are committed to planting seeds of prosperity around the world. Our Supplier Alliance for Microcredit was created with founding members Allegro Coffee Company, Back to Nature, Balance Bar, Celestial Seasonings, Earth's Best, Ito En, Naked Juice, New Chapter, Seventh Generation, Stacy's, Teas' Tea and, of course, Whole Foods Market. Along with our newest member, Cascal, this alliance has pledged $1.2 million to support our microlending programs. Getting the opportunity to meet and work with the people who make up these companies is a pleasure and a privilege. They are committed to supporting microcredit as an opportunity for poor women to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Just a quick refresher: microcredit is small loans - usually less than $200 - requiring no collateral or contract provided to the poor to create or expand home-based businesses such as neighborhood stores, weaving, sewing, raising chickens, pigs and cows, small-scale agriculture, pottery, artisan goods, prepared foods and many more. For the last two years I've been working with Joe Browne and Susan Johnson, both with the sales team at Seventh Generation. (Who, by the way, is doing some great work regarding sustainable palm oil.) Joe says their inspiration to participate in the Supplier Alliance for Microcredit is due to "the tangible benefits of adopting a holistic approach to ending the cycle of women locked in persistent poverty. We believe that by employing these kinds of sustainable business practices today we will enable future generations to live better tomorrow. We incorporate social, economic, environmental and ethical factors into all of our organization's business strategy, decision-making and daily operations. Whole Planet Foundation is a wonderful example of how we partner with other like-minded organizations." Last year, Susan traveled to Kenya to provide community service and witness the Whole Planet Foundation-supported microlending project in coffee-growing communities with microfinance institution partner Jamii Bora Trust. She explains, "On August 19th I traveled with the Jamii Bora Trust team to one of the new centers made possible by the Whole Planet Foundation grant in Nyeri. I met over 20 loan recipients and visited some of their businesses, met many of their children plus spent time with the incredible staff of the new center. They were so proud and appreciative that we visited and wanted us to bring back their big 'Thank You' to Whole Planet Foundation for the grant that made their program in the coffee producing North District of Kenya a reality. This was one of the highlights of my four-month sabbatical in Africa." It's a highlight for me to see the outpouring of support - from Supplier Alliance partners to Whole Foods Market shoppers and team members. We are Changing the World, Together.