May 12, 2017
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Amazon is building a homeless shelter into its Seattle headquarters

Get inspired by these three stories of innovation and ingenuity across America

Mary’s Place provides housing, food, and resources for homeless women and their families in Seattle. Amazon recently announced that it would donate a permanent space for the nonprofit in its new headquarters. Photo courtesy of Mary's Place

Ship and shelter: Earlier this week, Mary’s Place, a Seattle-based organization that provides housing and resources for homeless women and their families, announced that its residents will be settling into a new permanent home with a well-known Seattle neighbor: Amazon. The retail giant is donating to the nonprofit more than 47,000 square feet of space in its newest headquarters building, set to open in 2020. Mary’s Place aims to serve 65 families, or approximately 200 people, in the space, roughly half of the new six-story building. The proximity will also give Amazon employees more opportunities to volunteer at the shelter. “The opportunity to move into [Amazon’s] headquarters permanently is truly a dream come true,” said Mary’s Place Executive Director Marty Hartman. “This unique, first-of-its-kind shelter will remind families that they matter and that their community wants to help them succeed.” This announcement comes two weeks after Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, pledged $30 million to help construct new permanent housing for Seattle’s homeless.

Banks back girls: CEO of U.S. Bank Andy Cecere recently met with a surprising group of young app developers. In the bank’s boardroom in Minneapolis, he assembled six teams of teenage girls—immigrants from Latin America and Somalia, and girls from local middle-class suburbs—to present the finance-focused apps they had developed. U.S. Bank sponsored the six teams to participate in the Technovation Challenge, a global tech competition that empowers young girls to solve community challenges through apps. Some teams created apps to help kids and parents save money and budget; another app allowed users to practice on a mock stock market without the risk of losing real money. U.S. Bank supported the teams in order to get insights into how different people think about finance, and it also wanted to encourage teenage girls to consider tech and finance as a career path.

Community gardening: Here’s an inspirational roundup of several women who have taken up farming in Los Angeles as a way of reclaiming autonomy and building community. A new feature from LinkTV, part of the nonprofit media organization KCETLink, profiles a half a dozen women who are “taking initiative” in the male-dominated farming industry. Zoe Howell, for example, decided to cultivate a farm in a vacant open-air parking space in her apartment building. The small project then blossomed into a larger community affair among her neighbors. “There were 40 to 50 [plants] growing out of that space in one time,” she told LinkTV. “There was never any money exchanged. Some people would bring down compost, people would drop off and take whatever they needed. It was an honor system.”

Mikhail Klimentov

Mikhail Klimentov is a contributor for The Renewal Project.