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SEEDCap Japan

 

The Social Entrepreneur Enhanced Development Capital Program (SEEDCap Japan) supports nonprofit organizations in Japan carrying out innovative projects that can serve as models for broader application. In 2009, SEEDCap shifted from a closed application process to an open grant application process to allow organizations across Japan to apply for funding. We received 56 grant applications from around the country, and Pangaea was settled on as this year�s new grant recipient. Renewed funding was also provided to Total Health Care for Artists Japan, KOMPOSITION, Kotoba no Atelier, and Heartful Holiday. Detailed information on the individual activities of these organizations is provided below.


• 2009 Grantees

Pangaea

Pangaea was founded in the wake of the 9/11 attacks by two Japanese who were initially scheduled to fly on United Flight 93 on the morning of September 11, 2001. Their close call inspired them to take action to bridge national, cultural, and religious differences by founding a nonprofit organization that would encourage young children around the world to communicate with one another and develop personal ties. The ultimate goal is to promote cross-cultural understanding when these children are in their formative years.

Pangaea operates programs that allow children to communicate online with one another in a nonverbal manner through various games and activities. Pangaea sites are currently located in Japan, Korea, Austria, and Kenya, and 2,800 children from 3rd to 9th grade participate in them. Pangaea is currently working to reach more children and to expand their activities internationally, in part through the creation of a franchise model that will make the program self-sustaining. The funding for Pangaea’s first year will allow them to provide online training for facilitators and to add more sites around the world. They are also exploring partnerships with various institutions globally, including UN agencies .

Total Health Care for Artists Japan (THCA Japan)

Second-year funding was awarded to THCA Japan to expand access to affordable healthcare for dancers and other artists who often fall through the gaps of the Japanese healthcare system. In comparison to Europe and the United States, Japan has a weak support system for working artists. THCA Japan holds healthcare seminars that bring together artists and healthcare experts such as doctors and trainers, and also offers “healthcare grants” to help pay for the costs of recovery for injured artists.

The first year of SEEDCap funding enabled it to strengthen its organizational base by conducting a survey to assess the needs of its clients, strengthen its publicity activities, open an office in an area where artists gather, and grow its membership. With the second-year funding, THCA Japan will focus on strengthening its institutional base by expanding its activities and broadening its ties with arts organizations and healthcare providers.

KOMPOSITION

A second year of funding was also provided to KOMPOSITION, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization that offers opportunities for young people to express themselves and to develop their potential through art and sports in ways that will be appreciated by society. The organization began its efforts with an innovative “Legal Wall Project” that provides youth with a wall of a building on which they can legally display their work. This has proven to discourage illegal graffiti and has enabled KOMPOSITION to build up its network of ties with other institutions. SEEDCap funding was provided to enable KOMPOSTION to turn the Legal Wall Project into a sustainable program.

In the second year of SEEDCap support, KOMPOSITION is planning a "wall art" competition and is working to incorporate wall art into local revitalization efforts. It will also support the artists by introducing wall art to the broader art world and exploring how wall art might be bought and sold.

Kotoba no Atelier

An alarming number of Japanese youth—primarily teenage boys and young men—withdraw from society and live as hikikomori, or “shut-ins.” A third and final year of funding has been given to the organization Kotoba no Atelier, which works to draw unemployed young people back into societal contact by helping them to gain the skills needed to support themselves. Since 2007, the organization has used SEEDCap funds to expand its “Tokiwaso” housing and training program for young people who wish to become professional manga (comic) illustrators. This initiative is unprecedented in Japan and is being closely watched as a promising model. It has expanded from 1 home and 3 young participants prior to receiving SEEDCap funding to 10 homes for 53 youths.

In the last year, 8 young participants have debuted as manga artists and several others have found success in other creative careers. The project has received extensive media coverage and was featured on two documentaries by major television networks that covered the lives of the Tokiwaso residents. Its 30-year-old founder, Shigeru Yamamoto, has become widely recognized as an example of a successful Japanese social entrepreneur. At the end of the final year of funding, Kotabano Atelier will have 80-100 rooms under management at its homes.

A Dream A Day in Tokyo/Heartful Holiday in Tokyo for Terminally Ill Children

Also in its third year of funding, A Dream A Day in Tokyo/Heartful Holiday offers terminally ill children and their parents a one-week stay in Tokyo to go to amusement parks and tourist sites that they have dreamed of visiting. Although numerous organizations in Europe and the United States support terminally ill children at the final stages of incurable diseases, no other comparable organization exists in Japan. With its first-year grant, Heartful Holiday produced promotional materials and built a network of volunteers and supporters, and its second-year grant allowed it to strengthen its institutional capacity and to scale up its operations.

In December 2007, Heartful Holiday hosted its first family. They stayed for six days in Tokyo, visiting Tokyo Disneyland and other sites. This first visit gained wide publicity among patient support organizations, and since then, a total of eight families have been hosted. The positive impact on the children and their families has been noticeable. In the third year of funding, Heartful Holiday is working to raise awareness of its activities and to further expand its fundraising base and consolidate the organization’s support.