As a Madison Avenue advertising and marketing veteran, Bill Blackman was highly successful at increasing clients' sales and visibility.
When he founded Hearts & MindsSM in 1996, he again identified a need and filled it, demonstrating a knack that his professional clients prized so highly. However, this time the bottom line had nothing to do with profits. It had everything to do with helping people.
A long-time volunteer for the good work of many organizations, Blackman was impressed by the dedication of so many people. Nonetheless, he felt that there was still a real need to get to the root of pressing problems.
Hearts & Minds was born out of this frustration.
One Sunday afternoon in April 1996, Bill was waiting for pancakes with a friend in a local New York City restaurant.
"I wrote the words Time for Change' on the paper tablecloth - and it was," says Blackman.
"Time for Change," the April 1996 doodle that "started" it all
Founding of Hearts & Minds
He focused his energy and know-how on creating an organization to combat social ill and help as many people as possible. True to the times, Blackman started an Internet-based, information network where people could easily learn about effective ways to create positive change.
Hearts & Minds is a nonprofit, public-service organization that addresses poverty, protecting the environment, revitalizing our democracy, overcoming addictions and many other important social issues. Their website - www.change.net - has many hundreds of articles and links to many hundreds of organizations. The website has provided millions of visitors with inspiration, advice, links and resources to help themselves and others.
Since starting Hearts & Minds, hundreds of longer-term volunteers and interns have shared Blackman's interest in inspiring community involvement and fostering a strong sense of compassion for others. These volunteers are of all ages, races, nationalities and economic backgrounds. Each one gains valuable, vocational experience.
Bill, himself, has worked thousands of hours without pay. "This is the lowest paid job I've ever had," he says with a smile, "but also the most rewarding."
In addition to volunteer time, Blackman secured donations and loans for start-up expenses and an office. Thanks to all the donated work, furniture, computers, and more, Hearts & Minds accomplishes many dollars worth of work for each dollar it spends.
We Can Change the WorldSM
"These urgent problems are not fully dealt with," Bill says. "Any one of these issues could threaten the lives of billions of people, all future generations - and us. Our growing campaign works to inspire, educate and empower the public. We the people can powerfully advocate the most effective solutions."
The first focus of Hearts & Minds' long-term GSC is the End Poverty CampaignSM, a nationwide, grassroots public education and advocacy effort. It works to more quickly end extreme hunger and poverty worldwide. No other organization has such an ambitious and achievable platform.
Working for clients as diverse as the AFL-CIO, Encyclopaedia Britannica, General Foods and Time Warner, his experience encompasses broadcast and print advertising, publicity, sales and direct mail.
For example, Bill helped direct the launch of the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP), a watchdog organization that promotes wise giving to charities. He handled a full range of activities, including strategic planning, publicity, copywriting and design. As a result, Blackman helped AIP obtain substantial funding, membership and coverage in more than 400 newspapers, radio and TV stations nationwide during the first six months of its existence.
Prior to college, Bill worked for five years as a farmer and carpenter in Tennessee, North Carolina and Oregon. He has a B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University in NYC and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Construction Technology from Portland Community College in Oregon.
Blackman also speaks five languages - English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish - and is now teaching himself Mandarin Chinese. "I enjoy learning about other cultures and using my language skills to help Hearts & Minds reach people around the world," he says.
Some of more than 440 people who've given ongoing volunteer time to Hearts & Minds, Bill is on the far right (though not necessarily so politically :)
A history of volunteering
This included working with RESULTS, a national anti-hunger lobbying organization. He also managed a group of volunteers to help publicize UNICEF's State of the World's Children report, which promoted the goal of immunizing children worldwide against serious but easily prevented diseases.
Blackman regularly participated with New York Cares for several years as well. He volunteered for cultural and recreational activities with homeless youngsters, tutoring and soup kitchens. In addition, he distributed fliers about soup kitchens, shelters, counseling and other resources to homeless individuals in Manhattan.
Jillian, a participant in Bill's Beautiful People Project, an in-depth look at what makes people beautiful on the inside and the outside
Additionally, he volunteered his time to teach photography and darkroom techniques to disadvantaged junior high school students on the Lower East Side in New York City. One of his students won a citywide Rehabilitation through Photography award.
Changing the world
Bill still views the work as far from done, despite having reached more than 8.5 million people since founding the organization. With more than 6,500 website visitors each day, however, he knows that the passion for positive change enters more hearts and minds every day.
Minds' Blog - Bill's personal thoughts on Hearts & Minds and how to change the world.
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