Concord, NH (PRWEB) October 05, 2011
CouchSurfing International, a global online network that has brought millions of travelers together through its interactive online community, has recently established a cultural exchange fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
CouchSurfing began as a website connecting travelers with local hosts. It has evolved into a mission-driven global community of people engaging in thousands of connections, homestays, and events every day in locations all over the world. Today, its three million community members are dedicated to cultural exchange and creating experiences that contribute to personal development. CouchSurfing members have reported nearly 20 million days of cultural exchange experiences and over 3.5 million new friendships formed.
The idea for CouchSurfing was first conceived as a nonprofit organization in Conway, New Hampshire by its cofounder, Casey Fenton, who was born and raised in the Granite State. Unable to obtain federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, the organization recently converted to an out of state B (or Benefit) Corporation, a type of corporation designed to create general benefit for society as well as its shareholders. (More on B Corporations can be found at http://www.bcorporation.net).
Nonprofit conversions require that charitable assets are preserved for the benefit of the public. To this end, the Board of Trustees of CouchSurfing and the New Hampshire Office of the Attorney General petitioned the court and received approval to transfer the value of CouchSurfing’s net assets to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. The proceeds were used to establish a new grant-making fund known as the CouchSurfing Cultural Exchange Fund, to be administered by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
The fund will award grants to foster appreciation and understanding between different cultures — with an emphasis on youth and young adults — through such means as international travel, international cultural exchange programs or projects that support or promote:
· Cultural exchange between refugee groups and the communities in which they live,
· Classroom-based international information exchange and relationship building programs that may use technologies such as Skype,
· Cultural understanding between ethnically or racially disparate communities.
The new fund will support organizations or activities throughout the country with a preference for applications that benefit New Hampshire residents.
“We are honored to steward this fund in keeping with its purpose of increased cultural understanding,” said Shari Landry, Vice President of Philanthropy at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
The fund will provide between $30,000 and $50,000 annually for grants to nonprofits, schools or municipalities whose mission or programs meet the criteria of the fund. Potential applicants should apply through the Foundation’s existing Express or Community Impact Grant Programs, which accept proposals twice each year. Interested applicants can visit http://www.nhcf.org to review the guidelines for the two grant-making programs or call 603-225-6641.
“The Charitable Trusts Unit of the State of New Hampshire was pleased to work with CouchSurfing International Inc. as they moved to align their business structure with their mission,” said Anthony Blenkinsop, Director of the Charitable Trusts Unit at the New Hampshire Attorney General's office. “The CouchSurfing Cultural Exchange Fund puts the company’s net assets to a charitable use that is consistent with CouchSurfing’s underlying purpose.”
The creation of CouchSurfing Cultural Exchange Fund was made possible by an investment by Benchmark Capital and Omidyar Network. “With its network of more than three million members, CouchSurfing has tapped into a passionate and highly-engaged community at the nexus of the social, mobile and local trends,” said Matt Cohler, partner at Benchmark Capital. “We see an enormous opportunity, and couldn’t be more excited to back this team.”
About CouchSurfing International
CouchSurfing International is a global cultural exchange network that connects travelers with locals in over 248 countries and territories worldwide. The CouchSurfing community is made up of members from more than 81,000 cities with more than 342 languages shared. CouchSurfing International is headquartered in San Francisco, California. For more information and to start participating in the CouchSurfing community, please visit: http://www.couchsurfing.org/
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