Thursday, June 16, 2011

Got Your Back Movement
Austin Casselman and the team at Got Your Back Movement have purchased an RV for a tour to promote their 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides school uniforms to children in need worldwide. GYB has selected five summer interns that will embark on an 8000 mile, 20 state tour from Nashville to Maryland, to Seattle and back.

The interns are young adults in their mid-20s from Florida, Oklahoma, Illinois and Tennessee, who have quit jobs to travel the entire summer, will work to bring overall awareness to this GYB movement, but their direct mission is to create sustainable change by providing school uniforms across the world. The RV, which is nicknamed Reggie Valentine, left at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning headed to their first stop in Kentucky.

“When I started YouthMerch, the for-profit company, I measured success quantitatively with dollar amounts. I thought that was how success was measured,” said Austin Casselman, president of Got Your Back Movement. “My father died and I realized then that success is measured qualitatively – what can you do to make a difference.”

The interns arrived June 1 for two weeks of training and also spent time booking their own housing through churches and houses during the down times. The crew will work at 17 Christian and 17 secular four-day festivals.

“We have a lot of campaigns but the one for festivals is the shirt for shirt campaign. Someone buys a shirt and the proceeds provide a school uniform,” shared Casselman. “Their goal is to provide 10,000 uniforms in 90 days and they will find this out Wednesday morning at 5 a.m. 70 million kids in the world are not in school and 70% are girls so we decided to address that in Africa. In Haiti we work for both boys and girls.”

The cost of a uniform can range from $15 to $20.

Being in the clothing merchandise business, selling t-shirts to raise funds was an easy fit for GYB so the group began there. The cost of the t-shirts is $20 and the funds raised will go to pay for uniforms that are created locally in the communities in Africa or Haiti.

GYB takes on partners that go through their vetting process and then GYB meets with their board of directors, application and interview process. Then Will Hill, executive director and other team member fly to Haiti or Africa to obtain a community assessment. It is important says Casselman that the assessment is led by their natives to prove that the school uniform is one of the major hurdles to getting their kids in school. GYB will then pay the local tailors to create the uniforms and the tailors are required to put the money back in the community. GYB will enter in to a 3-5 year memory of understanding agreement with the community.

“It takes a tailor three years for a community to undo what we can do in thirty minutes by dropping a box of clothes in a village,” said Casselman. “A campaign by the United Nations in their millennium goals called Education for All pressured third world country’s presidents to provide free education in primary school. The governments tried to counteract the edict by requiring school uniforms which kept the division of classes intact.”

The underlying goal besides the education of the children is making the community sustainable and never dependent. The non-profit began in October, 2009 and Casselman stresses that the biggest thing the team understands is this endeavor is led by God.

“We really felt us had to make sure we were being responsible and doing our due diligence to make this happen,” Casselman shared. “I will never make a penny doing this. And we don’t do anything unless everyone, the board and staff, agree to it.”

GYB Movement exists to restore purpose, give hope, & show love through the global distribution of school uniforms to children in need.

“Will and I did two events last year to test the waters and this year the interns will do 34 events over 90 days,” said Casselman. “Will and I met through some friends as he was helping run a non-profit called the Doorpost Partner project and knew he would be the perfect partner.”

Casselman will make the first stop with the crew of interns at the ICTHUS Festival in a town outside Lexington to show them the ropes. Then the group will travel as far north as Pennsylvania and far west as Washington across 23 states.

Austin Casselman (!/austincasselman) works with a team consisting of passionate individuals who are committed to seeing lives restored through education & who understand the power of a simple gift given in the name of love. The group is talented including film, web, design, social media and photo experts.

The vision is to create a world in which children begin to see their hopes & dreams become a reality through the lens of education. By removing the financial obstacles of obtaining a school uniform, GYB hopes to help the children achieve a primary education. The longer term goal is to maintain an economically sustainable model for their entire community.

You can check out and follow this movement across the country this summer. And Casselman is working hard to be at Bonnaroo next year. “Some left their families, they gave up their jobs and other internships and one is married. They all had to raise $2000 in 30 days to pay for their expenses of fuel and food,” said Casselman. “Two of the interns gave up internships with Fortune 100 companies.”

To organize Ground Force, Casselman did a lot of research. He shared, “You get ideas from other great non-profits. Invisible Children was inspiring and we modeled their “roadies” and made it our own.”

Originally posted in the Brentwood Home Page.

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