Ballpark Vendor Uses Beer Money to Fight Global Poverty
With degrees in cultural anthropology and international development, as well
as a Fulbright award to his name, Elliott School alumnus Adam Carter, 34, is
not your typical beer vendor at Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs. That's
because selling beer is only part of Carter's double life. For the other half
of the year, Carter is an international micro-philanthropist, or someone who
gives money directly, bypassing the bureaucracy that can burden large charities
and development organizations.
On his trips, Carter engages in "travel philanthropy," which involves
distributing small donations he has collected to people in need. Carter's travels,
which have taken him around the world, help him identify needy individuals
and organizations. While studying as an undergraduate at the University of
Michigan, Carter visited Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and north Africa.
After college, he traveled to Africa, Central America, and India, and
enrolled at the Elliott School. A Fulbright in 2001-02 helped Carter study
the effects of Moroccan immigration in Spain.
Carter is also associate director of 100 Friends, a philanthropy travel organization
started in 2002 by his friend Marc Gold. He has worked in the favela shanty-towns
in Brazil, with marginalized children in Colombia, and with Cambodian orphans.
He pays his own way on his travels, so all the money he raises goes directly
to people in need, and he keeps his donors apprised of his progress through
detailed field reports, his blog, emails, video footage, photos, and mailings.
This year, he plans to travel to West Africa to help AIDS orphans and former
Carter received his master's degree in international affairs with a focus
on international development from GW in 2001. At the Elliott School, Carter
studied development with Barbara Miller,
director of the Culture in Global Affairs research and policy program, and
remembers that "we learned not only the positive aspects of development,
but also the limitations and downfalls of many development organizations and
"This wake-up made me realize that as international development professionals,
we need to be ever-vigilant that our efforts are culturally-sensitive and sustainable," he
said. "Just because a development organization has good intentions does
not make their work inherently positive."
Carter's projects have also enabled him to educate other experts and the public
about his work. He has been invited to speak at symposia and helps develop
According to Carter, philanthropy is becoming easier and easier for young
people with the ease of social awareness and networking through the internet. "Philanthropy
was once confined to rich old men and huge foundations, but these days, the
face of philanthropy is drastically changing," he said.
"When I started traveling the world 12 years ago, I learned early on
just how fortunate I was; I never had to worry about having a roof over my
head, clothes on my back, or food on the table. Sure, we all have our own challenges
to overcome, but in the big picture, we are incredibly fortunate. In this light,
I see it as my duty to help those that were born into such dire circumstances."
Read more about Carter's philanthropy work at his blog and
about 100 Friends on its website. Carter
also maintains a Facebook group for 100 Friends, and those who are interested
in contributing to Carter's work should email him at email@example.com.