Parsons Grad’s Non-Profit Looks to Solve Global Water Crisis
The concept of Water Collective, a new non-profit organization, was born last spring when Parsons graduate Sophia Sunwoo was working on her senior thesis. Sunwoo’s work consisted of designing a disaster-prevention program for developing communities on both a local and global level.
Along with her friend Josh Braunstein, Sunwoo co-founded Water Collective in 2011. The organization approaches the global water crisis in a multidimensional fashion, bringing together experts from various disciplines such as business, design, and urban planning. Though currently focusing on the situation in Northern Uganda, Water Collective’s ultimate goal is to help the estimated 894 million people globally who lack clean water, according to its website.
“With Water Collective, we work in collaboration with other non-profits, NGOs and communities to develop the best possible solution for the area we are working in,” Braunstein said. “We have a lifetime commitment to the communities we serve by providing community development projects along with our water projects.”
Water Collective, having partnered with the charity Drop In The Bucket, is wrapping up their Northern Uganda project this holiday season. The non-profit will be hosting an event on December 10 at the Wooster Street Social Club, and proceeds will go towards providing clean water to the people of the sub-Saharan African nation. The organization recently finished their Call To Action Campaign, which raised awareness to the lack of safe, clean water in the Lira and Alebtong districts of Northern Uganda. The two month campaign, which began in September and ended on November 14, met its goals and raised $40,000 for the clean water project.
“We received a lot of microdonations (small donations valued at $25 or less), which was a signifier of the success of the message of the campaign,” Sunwoo said. “The message of the campaign was that small donations can make a huge difference for someone without clean water.”
The holiday fundraiser on December 10 will raise the remainder of funds needed to support water and community development projects in Uganda. Sunwoo’s fellow Parsons graduates Alex Levin and Shant Tawalian are co-sponsoring the event, as well as DJing under the name Alkamyme.
“I really believed in Water Collective's mission and wanted to be involved,” Levin said.
Besides taking a different approach to the way non-profits work, Sunwoo also said that Water Collective is attempting to change the way philanthropy works, and get more students involved as well.
“It is a big goal of Josh and I to get students involved in our organization wherever possible,” Sunwoo said. “We want to integrate high school and college students in our organization and its projects, and create a platform that will innovate the way donors interact with our organization.”