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The Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Podcast

Dec 31, 2019

See Full Show Notes here:

Andy Freedman is the co-founder and managing director of Miles4Migrants, a nonprofit that uses donated airline miles to unite separated refugees and immigrant families. Since their inception in 2016, they’ve flown over 1,800 people, reunited 600+ families, and redeemed over 27 million frequent flyer miles, the equivalent of over $700,000 in cash value. In 2019 alone, they’ve flown nearly 400 individuals internationally, and with the worsening of the U.S. border crisis this last year, they’ve flown over 700 individuals within the United States. They certainly are not slowing the pace, as they’ve recently partnered with United Airlines for a Miles on a Mission campaign, where they were tasked with raising 5 million frequent flyer miles in 28 days. As of November 15, they hit that goal. 

What’s incredibly valuable about Andy and Miles4Migrants’ story is the power of volunteerism and how it really takes a village. Andy and his two co-founders all currently volunteer their time to manage their organization. All work day jobs and are actively engaged husbands and fathers in addition to running this organization. While they finally were able to hire paid staff this year, they also relied on the power and passion of volunteers in a rapid period of growth after a tweet mentioning their work went viral last year. Learning more about how this organization was run without paid staff for several years is inspirational for those just starting up.

There are two fascinating topics of conversation in this episode. The first is the opportunity to learn and understand more about the needs of these refugees and asylum seekers. In efforts to put into perspective how impactful a small action like these airline miles can be in making such a significant life-changing impact. On the other side, following the trajectory of Miles4Migrants can help you visualize the process of identifying a problem in a population you’d like to serve and taking it from an idea to a full-blown execution.