This week, we have wellness and well-being on our minds, having just put out a call for submissions for women-made products and women-provided services for our ‘Resolutions’ Gift Guide. So for this installment of our crowdfunding column, we thought we’d take a look at fundraising efforts for projects with the potential to improve lives. Whether it’s enriching a language, representing an ethnic community or ensuring opportunities for the homeless, these women are working hard to make our world a better place.

Check out these 5 women-led crowdfunding campaigns:

1. Brewing Up Opportunities for the Disenfranchised (via Indiegogo)

The Business: Madison Chandler, Katie Koehler and Mark Smesrud are the terrific trio behind Purple Door Coffee, a nonprofit shop in Denver that hires homeless teens and young adults to serve caffeinated delights to customers. “We have been open for over two years and have hired and supported 11 brave people who wanted to leave homelessness forever,” the campaign states. Due to the size of the shop, Purple Door Coffee has only been able to hire three employees at a time. Now, it’s hoping to expand the business, so it can bring hope to more at-risk youth.
The Money: Within the next 17 days, the team is hoping to raise at least $100,000 — and has a stretch goal of $135,000 in place. With those funds, the folks at Purple Door Coffee would purchase a coffee roaster. The addition of roasting work and the anticipated increase in business due to making and selling products in-house would allow them to hire about five more employees off the streets.

2. A Sustainable Alternative to a Holiday Staple (via Kickstarter)

Credit: Kickstarter

The Business: Demelza Hill is a U.K.-based designer who is passionate and considerate about the materials she uses in her artwork. How else would one dream up a sustainably sourced alternative to a Christmas tree? Hand-crafted and made from responsibly cultivated Ash wood, her “tree” is a charming and contemporary alternative to the real deal (and saves owners the trouble of cleaning up pine needles off the floor).
The Money: By or before Oct. 10, Hill is hoping to raise the equivalent of $6,929. She would use the money to buy more of the materials she needs, and to ensure delivery in time for the holiday season.

3. Telling the Story of a Woman of Color (via Kickstarter)


The Business: Comedienne Mariola Figueroa describes herself as the “anti-typical Hispanic woman.” And she hopes to dispel  assumptions and stereotypes about Latinos through her interactive new web series, “Spanglish.” Her campaign explains: “With Latinos becoming a larger and larger demographic in America, we think now’s the perfect time to showcase a Latina character who is completely unlike the silly stereotypes currently prominent in film and television.” The “interactive” element of the series involves games that are designed to go with each episode in the series, and will educate viewers by teaching them words in Spanish.
The Money: Figueroa and her cast and crew are looking to raise $8,450 before their Oct. 15 deadline. The money raised would go toward camera, lighting and sound equipment, as well as wardrobe, props and other production-related costs.

4. Changing — and Improving — the English Language (via Kickstarter)

Credit: Kickstarter

The Business: English is estimated to be the third most commonly spoken language in the entire world. The folks at Millbrae, Calif.-based Wordnik, led by Erin McKean, are hoping to take the language to new heights — by adding a whopping 1 million words to it. To be specific, they want to work these additional words into a massive online database that allows users to search for any term, phrase or word and learn more about it. (For example, here’s our quick search of the term “dude” on their site). Definitions are curated from a variety of sources, offering fluidity and depth to each word in the database.
The Money: McKean has set a goal of $50,000, which would go mostly toward fortifying and expanding Wordnik’s servers and storage for its online tool. The team has until Oct. 17 to raise or surpass that amount.

5. Bringing Fun and Friendliness to Gym Goers of All Ages (via Indiegogo)


The Business: Childhood health and fitness is a priority for many people, including trainers Denae Foster and Oneeka Noble. They are the women behind I Am Fitness, a personal-training outfit that will offer free entry and classes to children between the ages of 12 and 17. The Philadelphia business — which, if its physical location is secured, would be open to health-conscious area residents of all ages — says it wants “to be of as much assistance as possible to those looking to better their health… and also provide a safe haven for children to come exercise, seek educational assistance or decompress after a long day in school.”
The Money: Though Foster and Noble already a certified, working personal trainers, they’re hoping to turn I Am Fitness into a brick-and-mortar entity that serves as a positive presence in their neighborhood. Within the next 39 days, they are hoping to raise $25,000 to reach that goal.

Want to be featured in The Story Exchange’s Crowdfunding column? Drop us a line and tell us about your campaign at [email protected]