Webfinder : Charitable Giving

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Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (Give.org) – Evaluates the management practices of hundreds of national charities. Also offers Advice for Donors and related resources. (Council of Better Business Bureau, Inc.)

Charity Navigator – Rates the financial health of thousands of charities. If you register (free) you can also receive an occasional e-newsletter, suggest groups you would like to see evaluated, and keep track of charities that interest you. The site also offers special reports on topics of current interest to donors, as well as Tips for Donors, and an annual report on charities’ CEO Compensation. (Non-profit organization; site includes advertisements)

Charity Scams – “If you’re thinking about giving to a charity, do your research to avoid fraudsters who try to take advantage of your generosity. Here are tips to help make sure that your charitable contributions actually go to the cause you support.” (Federal Trade Commission)

Charity Watch – Another site that evaluates charities, as well as offering tips and articles for donors. (American Institute of Philanthropy)

GiveWell – An independent, non-profit charity evaluator that assesses how well programs actually work, rather than focusing on financial factors. GiveWell is focused on finding “a small number of outstanding giving opportunities” rather than rating large numbers of charities. Click here to learn more about GiveWell’s evaluation process.

GreatNonprofits – Reviews and ratings “by people who have been touched by a nonprofit and want to share their story about it… you’ll discover stories of people who have volunteered or donated to nonprofits, as well as stories of people who have benefited from their services.” [NOTE: All reviews posted on GreatNonprofits are individual, subjective opinions, and any user’s experience with a given organization may or may not be typical. Content posted by Users is not reviewed by GreatNonprofits.]

GuideStar – ‘The donor’s guide to the charitable universe.’ A searchable database of 1.9 million U.S. non-profit organizations and foundations. Provides financial and management information derived from IRS Form 990 or IRS Form 990EZ. Includes links to each charity’s website, where available. Also offers Five Simple Steps to Better Giving, plus a blog for non-profit managers. NOTE: Free registration is required for full access. Philanthropedia, a division of GuideStar, ‘rates verified, financially responsible charities according to how much great work they’re doing’.

Pro Publica Nonprofit Explorer [NEW!] – ‘Use this database to search over 1.8 million tax returns from tax-exempt organizations and see financial details such as their executive compensation and revenue and expenses.’

Too Many Solicitations? – Is your mailbox bursting with frequent requests for charitable donations? This page from Charity Watch offers help to reduce the flow. For more advice on dealing with aggressive fundraisers, read Charity Navigator’s articles on How to Stop Solicitations by Mail and What To Do When A Charity Calls.

Links updated November 30, 2016.

DISCLAIMER

Webfinder : Home Energy Conservation – Heating

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Burn Wise – Information to help you choose EPA-certified wood-burning appliances (wood stove, pellet stove, hydronic heaters, fireplaces, and related products), and use them efficiently and safely (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

Consumer Guide to Home Heating – Advice on deciding whether to replace your existing system, finding a good contractor, selecting a new system, improving your system’s performance, and more. (ACEEE, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

Consumer Information: Saving Energy at Home [NEW!] – Practical tips from the FTC on saving energy and money in your home. (Federal Trade Commission)

Energy.gov: Home Heating – Tips on saving money & energy on home heating. See also Home Heating Systems and Heat & Cool Efficiently. (U.S. Department of Energy)

Energy Terminology – Wondering what the difference is between ‘U-Value’ and ‘R-Value’, or find out about different types of insulation? This site defines dozens of terms and abbreviations related to heating & cooling, insulation, window efficiency, water heating, and lighting technology (U.S. Department of Energy).

Heat Pumps – Heat pumps can be a cost-effective alternative for heating and cooling your home. This site explains how to choose a heat pump to meet your needs. [NOTE: Some details on financing and installation are specific to Tennesee.] (Tennessee Valley Authority). The U.S. Department of Energy offers additional information on Air Source Heat Pumps and Geothermal Heat Pumps.

NJ Rebates & Incentives, Energy Assistance and Related Programs [UPDATED LINK!] (NJCEP) and NJ Homeowner Incentives for Clean Energy (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency) – Information about available financing, rebates, and other incentives for energy-efficient home improvements.

Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR – Instructions on installing weatherstripping on doors & caulking around windows, sealing air leaks, adding insulation, and other home energy conservation projects (U.S. DOE/EPA). See also Residential Insulation (Industry association : North American Insulation Manufacturers Association).

Additional resources from USA.gov on Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Tax Incentives, and more.

Links updated November 2016.

DISCLAIMER

Webfinder: Meditation & Stress Reduction

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Relaxation Techniques for Health: What You Need To Know – Reviews the scientific evidence for the effectiveness – or ineffectiveness – of relaxation techniques in managing a variety of health problems. NOTE: Relaxation techniques are generally considered safe for healthy people, but those with serious physical or mental health problems should discuss relaxation techniques with their health care providers. (2016, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

6 Mindfulness Exercises That Each Take Less Than 1 Minute [NEW!] – Quick & easy mindfulness exercises for people who don’t want to do formal meditation (2013, Psychology Today; site includes advertisements). Quick Stress Relief has advice to help you recognize when you’re stressed and learn techniques for quick stress relief when you need it. The same site offers lots of additional advice on Stress Relief and Emotional Health. (2015, HelpGuide.org)

Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress – A brief overview of the benefits of meditation and different techniques for meditating. (2014, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

Guided Meditation Audio [Link opens an MP3 audio] – If you’re having trouble getting started with meditation, this free audio from the Portland Insight Meditation Community will guide you through the basic practice of mindfulness meditation. The site also offers additional guided meditation audios [AUDIO] for deepening your practice. Basic Relaxation Audios [AUDIO] from the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Counseling Center are free audio downloads to guide you through two different relaxation techniques – the Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique and the Combination Relaxation Exercise. For many additional free audio downloads, see The Mindfulness Solution [AUDIO] (Ronald D. Siegel, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School) and Free Guided Meditations [AUDIO] (UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center).

Stress – Links to additional information on different kinds of stress and how to manage stress, plus related resources. (2014, U.S. National Library of Medicine)

Stress Management – Explains how stress affects your physical & emotional health, and suggests a variety of techniques for controlling stress (2014 – 2015, American Heart Association).

Physical exercise can also help reduce stress! Check out our Fitness, Sport, & Physical Therapy links for some good exercise resources. For additional mental health resources, check out our links to information about Mental Health, Self-Help, & Support Groups.

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Links updated November 2016.

DISCLAIMER

Webfinder : Learning Disabilities

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Additude Magazine – Information and support for families and adults living with ADHD and learning disabilities. Includes practical advice about raising children, expert Q&A, and resources to help students with attentional or learning differences succeed at school. (New Hope Media LLC; site includes advertisements)

Do 2 Learn – ‘Thousands pages of social skills & behavioral regulation activities & guidance, learning songs & games, communication cards, academic material, and transition guides for employment & life skills.’ This site offers many free resources, but also sells related products. (By computer engineer Dr. Dorothy Strickland, Virtual Reality Aids, Inc.)

Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center – This page is designed to help families understand their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), connect with other families, and find high-quality resources related to caring for infants, toddlers and young children with disabilities.

LD Support and Resources for Parents – “A wealth of information on understanding learning disabilities, negotiating the special education process, and helping your child and yourself.” (Learning Disabilities Association of America; site includes advertisements)

Learning Disabilities: Understood – Expert information and tools for parents of a child with a learning disability. Covers learning & attention issues, school & learning, friends & feelings, family, and more. (National Center for Learning Disabilities et al.)

Learning Disabilities Articles – A collection of articles for parents covering topics such as diagnosing a learning disability, learning problems in teens, types of learning problems, your right to special services, and more. (HealthyChildren.org, American Academy of Pediatrics)

Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) – A non-profit organization committed to empowering families as advocates and partners in improving education and health outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youth with special needs. SPAN is the statewide Parent Center for New Jersey.

Links updated 11/16

DISCLAIMER

Webfinder: Adult & Continuing Education

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CAUTION! Before signing up or paying for any education program, please verify that the school or program is properly accredited. A complete list of recognized accrediting agencies may be found on the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION website.

LOCAL RESOURCES:

South Plainfield School District: Adult Education – Information on local adult education programs including Adult High School, Adult School Brochure, and Trip List.

Middlesex County College Continuing Education – Information about non-credit certificate programs and courses to support career and professional development, career training center, and more. To find out more about courses, programs, payments, and transfers, see Middlesex County College Information for Adult Students.

GENERAL RESOURCES:

Distance Education Accrediting Commission – The accrediting agency for distance education (formerly Distance Education and Training Council). Includes a searchable directory of accredited distance education high schools and postsecondary institutions offering a variety of programs from non-degree through bachelors, masters and professional doctoral degree levels. A complete list of recognized accrediting agencies may be found on the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION website.

GCF Learn Free – Free tutorials, articles, and other learning materials aimed at helping you improve the technology, literacy, and math skills needed for success in both work and life. Covers a wide range of subjects from operating ATMs and reading subway maps to using office software and running a home-based business. For learning on the go, download a free mobile app for iOS, Android or Kindle. (Non-profit organization: Goodwill Community Foundation)

Mobile Apps to Support and Enhance Online Courses – Links and resources for using mobile apps in three areas of online learning: Learning, Connection to the University, School or Organization, and Connection to the Instructor. (United States Distance Learning Association)

Open Education Consortium (formerly Open Courseware) – Free online college-level course materials covering a broad range of topics, from universities around the world. Includes course overviews, assignments, readings, handouts, practice exams, and related resources (Non-profit educational consortium). Coursera also offers free online courses from top universities including Princeton, Duke, Georgia Tech, University of Virginia, University of Illinois, and many others. Learn at your own pace, test your knowledge, and reinforce concepts through interactive exercises. Courses cover a wide range of topics in the Humanities, Medicine, Biology, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Business, and Science (founded by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, Stanford University). The edX site offers online classes from the world’s best universities. Topics include biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more (non-profit created by Harvard and MIT). The Saylor Foundation also has a free collection of self-paced, college-level courses, with no registrations or fees, and no application process; registration is required if you wish to receive a certificate for completing a course (Non-profit organization). Udacity offers interactive online courses developed ‘to provide the most relevant and cutting-edge tech education that bridges the gap between academia and the needs of the 21st century workforce.’ (Sebastian Thrun et al.) [NOTE: All Udacity courses provide free access to course materials, but some additional services may be offered for a fee.]. Open Yale Courses ‘provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University.’ 2U: Online Graduate Programs [NEW!] ‘partners with some of the world’s leading colleges and universities to offer online graduate degree programs to students everywhere… Most programs can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis.’

Road Scholar and Lifelong Learning Institutes – Educational travel and lifelong learning opportunities for adults. Non-profit organization; there is a charge for travel programs.

See also Sites for Seniors: Education.

Links updated November 2016.

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