Mo Manklang
Everyday Philanthropist

Mo Manklang - Everyday Philanthropist Profile for the Season of Giving Campaign

Mo Manklang, Communications Director - U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives

Additionally, I have the honor of serving on the following boards throughout Philadelphia:
         Board Director, Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance
         Board Director, Sustainable Business Network

What’re 3 organizations or causes people should know about in 2019?

  1. 1149 Cooperative - It’s a new producer co-op in South Philadelphia founded by food makers for social change. Their mission, articulated so beautifully is “to provide a seat at our table for all their neighbors, proactively including and involving black folks, folks of color, folks with disabilities, immigrants, women, queer and trans people, and everyone with intersections of these identities”. They are taking over the El Compadre space that was, until recently, the home of South Philly Barbacoa. It’s exciting to see these beautiful people making delicious food, centered around community.
  2. Kensington Community Food Cooperative - It’s a member-owned grocery store, 10 years in the making! After many years of neighborhood organizing, it’s opening in early 2019. People don’t realize how much they vote with their dollars — co-op grocery stores give people the opportunity to have a voice in the food that’s available close to home, and to choose fresh, local food that’s healthy for families.
  3. Coded by Kids - A nonprofit that’s focused on raising a new generation of tech leaders. It’s been around for awhile, and I’m always struck by their rigorous commitment to ensure that kids who love technology and computers get to explore their passion. Sylvester, the Founder and CEO, is a fantastic leader who is truly dedicated to increasing equity and inclusion in tech, and is invested the long game to make sure that happens.

If you look at philanthropy as social currency - contributing not only dollars but your time and talent, how have you made philanthropy a part of your everyday life?

It’s important to look past the word philanthropy as we know it, if we’re talking about true social currency. To me, the “spirit of philanthropy” means that we care about and engage in social issues that are meaningful to us, and are invested in the community around us. All the choices we make, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat, give us the opportunity to make an informed decision that speaks to our commitments. For instance, if you get coffee, where are you getting it from? Drinking a coffee at the Monkey and the Elephant in Brewerytown goes a lot further than drinking one at Starbucks — it’s supporting an organization grounded in empowering former foster youth, and they in turn work with other local businesses and nonprofits.

If there’s a nonprofit I give to, I try to volunteer with them regularly as well— an even deeper impact comes from staying connected to the mission, like doing design work for the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, or buying my art supplies from the Resource Exchange rather than Michael’s. I am happy to share my talents with organizations, like design and photography, to help fill gaps in their capacity.

Has an act of philanthropy ever changed your life? (done by you, for you, in front of you)

Absolutely. I did a project a few years ago with Dawn’s Place, a non-profit organization that proactively supports women negatively affected by commercial sexual exploitation. For Valentine’s day, we did a fun photo shoot with their residents, doing their makeup and taking photos that they could have. To see the effect that it had on the women; having other women come alongside them to pamper them, tell them that they are beautiful, and be in community with each other, was phenomenal.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a difference, but isn’t sure where to start?

Start simple! For example, volunteer at Broad Street Ministry for one of their breakfast or dinner service opportunities. It always reminds me how important it is to break out of my normal day-to-day. Remember that we’re all humans trying to make the best of life, and the importance of treating each other with dignity and respect, always.

Do research! There are thousands of nonprofits in the Philadelphia area, and there is something that can resonate with everyone. Find an organization (nonprofit or otherwise) that speaks personally to you, and go beyond just giving money — get to know the team and make a real connection.

What is something people might not know about the cause you’re devoted to?

When people hear “cooperative” they think mostly about food co-ops; there’s a whole world of cooperative business out there, all dedicated to economic justice. I mostly work with worker cooperatives, which are businesses owned and democratically managed by the people who work there, and I don’t think a lot of people even understand that to be an option. I want people to know that democracy is possible beyond voting in May and November, and I’m eager to talk to people who want to know more!

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