The Darwin Project, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 charitable organization founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2008 by Jonathan Haar and Linda Mongelli Haar. The Darwin Project’s inception was in 2003 with the two of us rounding up friends and colleagues to implement community-based charitable projects as the expression of our social activism.
Our first projects included: a STEM initiative taking 3rd to 5th grade girls to the Franklin Park Zoo for tours by female role model zoo keepers and veterinarians; pro bono design of the conservatory building and exhibits/curriculum for the Boston Botanical Garden & Conservation Learning Center ( www.darwinboston.org); design of a self-contained transportable surgical suite out of used cargo containers for global surgery use; annual packaging of Christmas care packages for our troops still in harm’s way, with the assistance of our friends at Turner Construction and the support of Hanscom Air Force Base for delivery.
In addition to our fundamental mission of direct, hands on social activism, the Darwin Project is now also providing seed funding grants to launch promising ideas which support our mission. The Darwin Project supports relatively small existing charitable initiatives through grants which will serve as catalysts to move their programs forward to their next step of success. Our primary geographic area of focus is our greater Boston area community. With a broader lens, we also are involved in health care provision in low and moderate income countries where a small infusion of funds or provision of practical new technologies can generate broad positive public health changes.
In 2018, the Directors of the Darwin Project also were designated trustees/Directors of the Nan Haar Legacy Foundation which is governed by the same mission and guiding principles as the Darwin Project and provides us with additional funding capital.
The Mission of the Darwin Project is to improve the quality of life for people and animals, through small acts of kindness which affect the individual, family and community, particularly the disenfranchised and under-served in our communities. We directly fund proactive projects by charitable organizations on a one time basis such as emergency repair of a shelter, or on an annual basis to help sustain a program such as early literacy. Our primary areas of interest include:
Early Childhood Literacy as the Foundation for Adult Well-being
The quality of learning experiences during a child’s first three years is critical in preparing her/him for learning to read and flourish in school as she/he matures. Yet only 1 in 3 children in the US is prepared for kindergarten by age five and for learning to read. Students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than proficient readers, and to be disadvantaged members of society.
In order to give children a sound basis for life-long learning and wellbeing, we support initiatives which provide early exposure to reading and learning, through literacy training from newborn children to age three – the most critical years in a child’s development.
We also support initiatives which promote healthy children primed for learning, supporting remedial reading programs, as well as sports and fitness programs, particularly for grades one through three which are fundamental for personal growth and societal success.
We support STEM learning, particularly for young girls, who are less likely to be exposed to the sciences.
Support for Disenfranchised and Isolated Members of Our Community
We support programs that provide tools for teens living on the streets which encourage personal growth and achievement and integration back into the community.
We support shelters, especially for battered women and homeless families.
We support programs that provide services to prisoners to help them get their GEDs, and for social programs to help in reintroduction into society as productive contributing members.
We support initiatives which value the services of our overlooked military veterans and also our active military serving our country in distant lands.
Global Surgery and Public Health Initiatives
Today there are more than 5 billion people in the world who have no access to life-saving surgical and anesthesia care. In 2010, approximately seventeen million lives were lost from common conditions needing simple surgical care. The Darwin Project supports initiatives which help to improve this global public health issue by developing educational tools for future International surgeons, and supporting the distribution of innovative surgical equipment and by designing sterile surgical suites. All of which reduce the complexity and increases the sterility of surgery in under-served countries.
Clean, potable water and sanitation are the most basic need for any individual or community, and the foundation for all public health initiatives. Lack of this resource plagues not only many low and moderate income countries, but also communities in the US where water is inaccessible or has been contaminated by industrial effluent. While the Darwin Project does not have the capacity to effect major improvements to water supplies, we do support innovative local initiatives and technologies which improve access to clean water and better sanitation.
Animal Rights and Well-Being Initiatives
Animal rights is the idea that animals are entitled to the possession of their own existence and that their most basic interests—such as the need to avoid suffering—should be afforded the same consideration as similar interests of human beings.
We support animal rights initiatives, programs for care and feeding and housing of animals in distress in our communities, and efforts to protect species’ habitats. In general, we support initiatives which treat animals as beings integral to society, and support legislative actions, such as that taken in California, where animals are no longer chattel and abuse is viewed as a criminal offense.
We continue to support random acts of kindness which are transformational from the individual, to the family, to the community, and ultimately, to the world.