The Virtual Foundation - your donation makes it happen

Model U.N. Delegates Debate and Support "Real Life" Projects

Don't just pass a resolution; experience the reality of global involvement.

Choose from dozens of projects in different countries and regions; price range $150-$5000

By choosing to fund one of the projects posted on the Virtual Foundation web site, Model UN high school and college students are becoming directly involved in the international community. These projects are ideal because they:


What Projects Have Already Been Funded by Model UNs? What Conferences and Clubs Participate?

What Does the Virtual Foundation Give to Model United Nations participants?

What is the Price Range?

How to Choose a Virtual Foundation Project - the Process

Suggestions for Fundraising for Virtual Foundation Projects

What do Model UN Student Chairs Say About Virtual Foundation Projects?

What do Faculty Advisors Say?


What Projects Have Already Been Funded by Model UNs?

In Lithuania: Wells: What is the Water we Drink? involved community members in well water testing, and provided public information on improving drinking water quality through reducing pollution. ($1090) Chenango Forks Model UN, Spring 1997

"Green Wall" to Stop Desertification of the En Ge Bei Desert in China organized a tree-planting by 108 citizen volunteers in a dry area north of Beijing. ($1040) Upper Mohawk Valley Model UN at Hamilton College, Fall 1997

Pen Pals: Protecting Nature and Promoting Peace enabled children from Kazakstan to correspond with school groups in California, New York, Texas and Georgia. ($154) Upper Mohawk Valley Model UN, Fall 1997

Greening the Wounded Czech Landscape cleared areas and planted native trees to create a "biocorridor" in a region damaged in former decades. ($1375) Chenango Forks Model UN, Spring 1998

Protecting Family Farms from Desertification in Kyrgyzstan renewed farmland by providing water access which had been lost by these family farms after the breakup of the USSR. ($2310) Upper Mohawk Valley Model UN, Fall 1998

Libraries and Eco-Education in Central Asia supported public-access libraries on environmental issues at five different locations in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. ($990) Manlius-Pebble Hill Model UN, Fall 1998

Youth to Preserve Nature and History in Czech Carpathian Mountains provided funding for a summer camp for young people, organized in a biosphere reserve on the border with Slovakia. ($374) Chenango Forks Model UN, Spring 1999

Trees to Benefit & Beautify Community in Brest, Belarus enabled local residents to revive a residential area damaged by recent urban expansion, increasing their quality of life and adding green to their environment. ($1661) Chenango Forks Model UN, Spring 1999

Eco-Minded Youth to Clean Up Beach in Kazakhstan organized a riverside beach improvement effort which united the community and encouraged public action to combat water pollution. ($1658) Upper Mohawk Valley Model UN, Fall 1999

10,000 Trees to Reduce Risk of Flooding provided one Nicaraguan community with saplings and equipment needed to re-establish trees along eroded flood-prone river banks.($1100) Chenango Forks Model UN, Spring 2000

Communities to Protect a Cloud Forest in Honduras established nature reserves in a fragile ecosystem. ($700) Upper Mohawk Valley Model UN, Fall 2000, photo below

"Traditional Sweets and Dairies - Women Entrepreneurs in Uzbekistan" provided training to encourage women's self-sufficiency ($1089) Upper Mohawk Valley Model UN, Fall 2000

"Let the Voice of Greens in Central Siberia Be Heard" supported e-mail costs for the Sakha Public Ecological Center ($165) Middlebury Union High School Model UN, Vermont, May 2001, photo below

"Hydroponics to Give Juvenile Delinquents a Second Chance" in Nicaragua provided teenagers with job skills in ecologically sound gardening.($1100) Middlebury Model UN Conference at Middlebury College, April 2002, photo below

Tree Planting in Tblisi, Georgia, a project to build community as well as improve the environment. ($500 - partial contribution) Manlius Pebble Hill Model UN, September 2002.

"Save the Beaver! worked to protect European beavers and their habitat, in Czech Republic. ($880) Upper Mohawk Valley Model UN at Hamilton College, December 2002.

Houses Built of Straw hopes to construct environmentally-friendly housing in Uzbekistan. ($100 - partial contribution) Middlebury Model United Nations, April 2003; photo below

What Conferences and Clubs Have Participated?

What Does the Virtual Foundation Give to Model United Nations participants?

  1. Delegates are motivated to use their debating skills to make a difference in the "real world"; they are empowered by their involvement.
  2. Favorable publicity in local media can honor Model UN members; they are recognized as leaders in modeling a constructive and non-violent approach to problem-solving.
  3. Participants can establish connections with people in another country, through corresponding with the members of the group whose project they sponsor.
  4. Participants increase their knowledge and awareness of global issues, by seeing them through the perspective of people "on the ground" in different countries.

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What is the Price Range?

Virtual Foundation posted projects range from $150 to $5000. Matching funding may be available to Model UN groups, through the Virtual Foundation. This matching funding may be able to cover from 25% to 50% of the project cost. Contact the Virtual Foundation Project Director, Carolyn Schmidt, (cschmidt@ecologia.org) with requests for matching funding.

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How to Choose a Virtual Foundation Project - the Process

(1) Search the Virtual Foundation web site: faculty advisor, or students, search the web site and print out summaries of all the projects in your price range.

(2) Select 4 or 5 projects. Club officers, club members at a meeting, or faculty advisors narrow down the choices.

(3) Print out and copy (xerox) the descriptions of the four or five projects selected for the debate - enough to provide copies for each delegate. Either distribute to group members /conference participants in advance, or hand out at the debate and allow reading time before the debate itself.

INFORMAL DEBATE

Members can discuss/debate projects in a caucus session, and choose among projects either by consensus or by vote.

FORMAL DEBATE at a MODEL UN CONFERENCE

This can be done in the plenary session, or in a particular committee. To start debate: chairs list the proposals on the board, by name and country.
Chairs create a speakers' list and recognize delegates wishing to speak in favor of each project, in rotation. Speaking time - two or three minutes, yield any extra time to questions, to another country's delegate or to the chair.
After two or three rotations, when the speakers' list is exhausted or delegates vote to close debate, the delegates vote.

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Suggestions for Fundraising for Virtual Foundation Projects

Some of the money collected in conference delegate fees can be set aside for this purpose. A conference with 100 participants, providing $5 each, thus generates $500.
Community residents or businesses can provide (tax deductible) donations to the UN group for use on its VF project.
Fund-raisers and sales at conferences (flower sales, for example) can be ear-marked for this charitable purpose.
Matching funding may be available from the Virtual Foundation itself, (through the generosity of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Open Society Institute, etc.) to student and community groups. Thus, your club may only need to raise a percentage (50% - 75%) of the posted project amount.

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What Do Model UN Student Chairs Say About Virtual Foundation Projects?

Jim Maximowicz, Allyson Collins, and Nicole Knapp

Nicole Knapp (15 years old): "It is a good cause and I thought it was a good idea how we let the people debate it to decide. I think it's good that we connect with other nations, that we can have a peaceful coexistence with everybody. I like the Virtual Foundation because a lot of the time in Model UN, you construct a solution to a problem but don't actually go through with it, because we're just a model of the real thing. I like how we are putting our ideas into action." (Nicole likes to write poetry and stories and swims competitively. She is interested in a career in archeology. Nicole has chaired General Assembly, and is the Secretary of the Chenango Forks Model UN Club for 1999/2000).

Jim Maximowicz (18 years old): "I think it's a good program because it provides the people who are presenting their projects with a wide audience. Discussing the projects as a club made us aware of the things that were going on in other countries. It really opens you up to the countries' problems and gives you a way to help the world out. One of the projects we discussed involved preserving the white storks. Curtis didn't think it was a good idea and he said, 'they're just birds and there are more pressing problems.' But he didn't realize, that to that area, it's important because those storks are a sign of clean nature. When the storks leave, it's a sign of damage to the ecosystem. I guess I'd say that Virtual Foundation projects make all these debates real." (Jim is majoring in graphic design at SUNY-New Paltz. He has chaired Security Council and General Assembly debates, and served as Co-President of the Chenango Forks Model UN Club.)
Pictured left to right, at United Nations headquarters in New York City: Jim Maximowicz, Dan Richards, Jenn Grady, Dan Schultz, Mike Woodruff, Josiah Stephens; September 1998.

Allyson Collins (16 years old): "I think the big reason for having a Virtual Foundation project is to get people interested in the entire world community. It allows people in each area of our country to get together and reach out to the other places of the world and try to connect with the global society." (Allyson has chaired General Assembly and Human Rights Commission; she plans to become a doctor and, in summer, 1999, is volunteering at a local hospital.)

Following are some of the ideas raised by Model UN delegates in an actual discussion of the merits of various projects (April, 1999; Chenango Forks Model UN Club meeting, Binghamton New York)

"I support the students' water quality monitoring in Beijing, because they won't just be testing the water for pollution, they'll be working with this scientific agency to learn what the results mean. We know there's a lot of pollution in China, with all those people and industries and they've got to start dealing with it."

"Don't you think that the Czech - Greek museum and nature trail would be a better choice? That's got people from two different countries working together to do something new. Isn't it better to have a definite outcome, a concrete result, rather than just find out that there's a serious problem?"

"If we want a concrete result, what about combating desertification by planting trees? This would have a real tangible result that would also help people create valuable farmland instead of seeing it destroyed."

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What do Faculty Advisors Say?

Sherry Wright, Model UN Faculty Advisor at Waterville High School, New York State; coordinator of Upper Mohawk Valley Model UN at Hamilton College. "I think what hit me the most was that Virtual Foundation shows students that they could actually make a difference. Now they don't just come back from our Model UN conference and say, 'we debated this and this,' but they say that 'we did something that affected people in another part of the world; we're helping save family farms in Kyrgyzstan.' I think it's that connecting link that Model UN isn't just talk; with the Virtual Foundation, it's a sense of reality. They don't just make a decision, they see the reality of what was done. It [the project report] comes up on the website and they watch it [the project] grow."

Michele Forman,Social Studies Teacher, Middlebury Union High School, Middlebury Vermont; National Teacher of the Year, June 2001 "The Virtual Foundation debate made the situations in the countries become real for the students. It was no longer an abstraction. During the debate, the students became advocates for the different projects. They weren't being competitive like a sports team; they were being thoughtful and arguing on the merits of the projects.
"We all know that the [normal Model UN] simulated debates are not the real world. The Virtual Foundation debate gave the students the opportunity to make real world decisions. They realized that this is serious stuff, this was not a game, these were real people." - in her classroom at Middlebury Union High School, Vermont, June 13, 2001.
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