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Local Nonprofit Participates in National Contest

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Rising International makes it to the top 16 in a Huffington Post-sponsored fundraising challenge

Rising International, a Santa Cruz-based nonprofit focused on helping women around the globe, is taking part in The Raise for Women Challenge. Created in collaboration by The Huffington Post, Skoll Foundation, and Half the Sky Movement, the event runs from April 24 to June 6, and encourages the public to participate by "investing in women who change the world."

So far, Rising International has raised enough money in The Raise for Women Challenge to earn them a spot in the top 16 charities. The charity that raises the most money will receive a $40,000 donation, while second place receives $20,000 and third place receives $15,000.

"This is a friendly competition, where we are all raising money for a great cause," says President Carmel Judd. "This is all about women and girls winning, because they need our help."

Judd (pictured) founded the organization in 2002 after reading about how Afghan women were imprisoned in their homes for five years during the time that the Taliban was in control.

"I have freedom as a woman in this country, so the idea that it was modern day and we had women imprisoned in their homes spoke to me," says Judd. "I wanted to get involved."

Judd connected with Nadia Hashimi, a student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, to create the Afghan Dolls Project in 2003. Afghan widows would make dolls, and Rising International would market and sell them, and donate the profits back to the women.

Since then, Rising International has expanded to create more craft sales and marketing projects to help women in 20 countries.

On Tuesday, May 28, Rising International will hold a community event at Laili, an Afghan restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, where 20 percent of the day’s proceeds will be donated to Rising International. The event will also feature several dolls from the Afghan Doll Project.

"Anything we can do to bring community awareness helps bring much-needed attention to women and girl’s global issues," says Judd.

For more information, visit risinginternational.org.

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