Category Archives: Team Dayā Updates

8 Seconds: When You Build a School in Senegal, Dancing Happens

When you roll with Team Dayā, dancing happens.

When you build a school, dancing happens.

Enjoy this video of 8 seconds of happiness.

The community of Nguiddine Keur Sara, Senegal expresses thanks for the new school building. If you missed our prior reports from Senegal – read Mike’s first hand account of the Senegal build and the thank you from Chief Khokhan Nolong.

Michael “The Bricklayer” Benedek on Building (hopefully) the First of Many Schools

by Team Dayā Member Michael Benedek

The flight to Senegal for a Team Dayā school build with Jay Sears & Hasan Arik was a short flight at the end of a long journey that began years ago when I read about Jay Sears’ vision to give back and launch a charity— Team Dayā–backed by corporate and individual donors from the adtech / martech world to build schools in the developing world.

It Seemed Far Fetched

The vision spoke to me at the time but it seemed so theoretical and far-fetched—- how would I and others like me do something like that?  I was focused elsewhere–my work at Datonics, my family, my co-op board, and my involvement as a co-sponsor (the less important one) in launching a charter school in Manhattan–a well-intentioned project that ended up getting rejected by the State of NY’s bureaucratic, charter-granting body despite numerous meetings with state and local representatives, community board meetings, and more.

Education & My Family

The importance of equal access to education has always been top of mind for me. My grandparents, who had their later school-age years stolen from them, never attended college but made up for it with street smarts and ensured that their children, who grew up in Canada, went to college.

Mike talks about the purpose and meaning of the school build.

My father arrived in Canada as a teenager from Romania, speaking neither English nor French, but graduated with a PhD in engineering from McGill University about 10 years later.  My mother studied French in college & worked as a teacher in her early years; my wife taught in progressive schools in New York City & now runs a middle school in Manhattan; and my own company Datonics has played a leadership role with a charity called Futures and Options for many years–providing gifted and talented high school students from historically underrepresented communities with the opportunity to intern with and work for technology / financial services companies in New York City–opening students’ eyes to opportunities they might not have been aware of.  Education is and always will be part of my DNA.

Team Dayā 

When I read Jordan Mitchell’s heartwarming post about Team Dayā’s Nepal school build  and his sentiment that “I’m not sure I will ever find the words to describe the experience (and I tear up when I try), but I hope that everyone I know has a similar experience at some point in their lives ”, I knew this was something I had to do.

LUMA Meeting

Brickmaking with The Bricklayer

A bit before COVID-19 hit, I saw that Luma Partners was hosting a Team Dayā info session in New York led by Jay Sears.  I put that in my calendar, but work got in the way and I did not attend.  But I remembered meeting Jay at IAB Leadership Summit in Palm Springs a couple years prior and getting a great vibe, so I gave him a call and gave him my best pitch about why he should accept me as part of his team and let me get involved. 

Thankfully, he accepted me, telling me “Welcome aboard— as soon as you raise $10,000 you can go on a school build.”  And off to the races I went, during COVID-19, benefiting from generous corporate/personal donations from old friends, new friends, family, and from Datonics’ own adtech giveback initiative with agencies and brands that helped me reach our goal–but how were we going to build a school during COVID-19 in developing countries where most are unvaccinated?  The school build was inching closer but still seemed so far away!

Senegal Quick

In January 2022 I get a call from Jay–“Mike, our school building partner, buildOn, told me we may be able to build a school in Senegal starting in mid-March–are you in?  I want to get this done ASAP to build momentum and make up for lost time due to COVID-19–so that we can then do the next builds in Malawi & Guatemala.”  This is a man with a vision–he was planning for Senegal to get done as a path to the next two!  I loved it and said, “Let’s do it!”.

Only two months later, after countless vaccinations, multiple COVID tests & the promise of 2-3 tests more before we arrived to & during our time in the village–we met at JFK on a Friday night for our flight to Dakar.

Senegal Welcome

All Team Dayā members are required to dance. No experience is necesary.

Three days later, after receiving our names in Wolof (mine was “DIEN GAI”) along with valuable language/cultural instruction, we arrived in the community of Nguiddine Keur Sara in the Fatick region of Senegal accompanied by two translators, and were met by galloping horses, pick-up trucks with cheering children, and a parade of dancing women and children. There were drums & local dance moves, and a ceremony in honor of the school groundbreaking. The whole community (I would estimate 200+ adults, with 150+ children were at this celebration) then signed a covenant to build the school with us, and we delivered speeches of thanks in response to their speeches of welcome and thanks, putting the first shovels in alongside the Village chief, village imam, and women leaders. 

Team Dayā being greeted as we enter the village for the first time.

Our Days in Nguiddine Keur Sara Village

Over the rest of the week, we connected deeply with members of the community–a community without electricity or running water. We slept on the floor in a grain shed adjacent to their homes under a mosquito net (normally we would have stayed in their homes but to protect them from COVID-19, we stayed in the grain shed), walked through their fields, played soccer with their children (and I even taught them how to play some card games), danced to Senegalese music, and worked hand in hand with them, day in and day out, for five hours per day in 109 degree heat.

Days started with stretching and that led to brick-making, cement mixing, digging the foundations of the school and the latrines, and more. Like Jordan experienced in Nepal, we wore work gloves and earned blisters, while the community worked with their bare hands (with no blisters)!

Each afternoon we spent on cultural exchanges–meeting the Village Chief and elders, meeting the representatives of the women, meeting the principal & teachers, learning how to prepare millet, learning how to build a chicken coop, tame a bull, and just hanging out with the kids and their animals–donkeys, sheep, chickens, roosters.

What’s Next

My takeaways were like what Jordan experienced in Nepal. First, WOMEN RULE!!!!–the Senegalese women, dressed to kill, often with babies hanging from their arms (and breasts), outworked the men–mixing and carrying cement, rallying the men to work longer and harder, and dancing at the work site.   

The second key takeaway was–something that should be obvious to all–that money and material things do not bring happiness (though your donations do help build a school!). This community had very few things, yet they had everything they needed and were very happy. The only thing they lacked easy access to was “education”–with their kids walking 5 miles to school in some cases, and in other cases having classes in a thatched hut.

When it was time to say our goodbyes, the whole community again came together to dance and sing, and we all shed many tears that will bind us together forever. The world is a small place and while I arrived to give, I received far more in return–happiness and fulfillment that cannot be described.  

I pray that with the support of Team Dayā and our generous donors–you and others like you–Senegal was only my first school–Malawi, Nicaragua and Guatemala here we come. I can’t wait to get started with your help!

Mike’s remarks at our closing ceremony in Nguiddine Keur Sara

A Thank You from Nguiddine Keur Sara, Senegal

Team Dayā on the worksite with Nguiddine Keur Sara community members.

After a long pandemic hiatus, Team Dayā successfully kicked off its second school in Nguiddine Keur Sara in the Fatick region of Senegal.

The new school will be used by first graders (35 students), second graders (35 students) and third graders (34 students), replacing the two current classrooms built from sticks, leaves and cardboard.

You – our donors – make this possible.

Team Dayā members Michael Benedek, Hasan Arik and Jay Sears worked in 107 degree heat alongside community members digging the foundation, hand-mixing cement, making cinder blocks, carrying gravel and sand in bucket lines and bending rebar.

A thank you from Chief Khokhan Nolong.

Team Dayā with Chief Khokhan Nolong after signing the covenant governing the school building.

“If we had the word that expressed more than thank you, we would use that,” said Chief Khokhan Nolong at a closing ceremony with Team Dayā and Nguiddine Keur Sara community members. “We pray for you, the way you come in peace here. May you also go in peace in your country.”

Watch his full comments:

Chief Khokhan Nolong of Nguiddine Keur Sara

Your donations will allow a project leader and skilled laborers from our NGO partner buildOn to assist community members to complete the school building over the next few weeks. We will continue to share stories of our time in Nguiddine Keur Sara and updates on school construction over the coming weeks.

Please consider a donation so Team Dayā can continue its work.

Three Ways You Can Help

  1. Make a Donation Online
    • Example investment opportunities:
      • $100 Five shovels for excavating the school’s solid foundation
      • $250 All the nails, nuts, and bolts to build a roof for the school
      • $500 In-country mason during the entire construction of the school
      • $1,000 Paint for a school
      • $40,000 Fund an entire school
  2. Spread the Word
    • Share our mission with your friends, your company and your industry
    • Invite us to speak about our mission to your network
    • Follow us on our website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  3. Join the Team & Travel on a School Build
    • If you have a combination of fundraising chops, an adventurous spirit and the belief each of us has the capacity to be Building Change, get in touch with us and have a conversation.

Thanks again for your continued support,

All of us at Team Dayā

Team Dayā member Hasan Arik during math class in Nguiddine Keur Sara.

Building Change for these Senegalese Students

In one week Team Dayā heads to Nguiddine Keur Sara in the Fatick region of Senegal to work on our first school build since before the global pandemic.

None of this work is possible without you–and the myriad of our supporters from across the technology, advertising and media sectors.

Meet the Students of Nguiddine Keur Sara

Your donations will be building a school used by first graders (35 students), second graders (35 students) and third graders (34 students).

The current school, started in October 2019, is built from sticks and straw.  It has two temporary classrooms used by three local communities.

We welcome your donations for our Sengal school build. You can donate to Team Dayā overall or to any of the three members traveling to Senegal:

  • Donate to Michael “The Bricklayer” Benedek. Michael is the president and CEO of leading independent data marketplace Datonics, with over 25 years in the Internet, financial services and healthcare fields based in New York and in Tel Aviv.
  • Donate to Jay “The Instigator” Sears. Jay is the founder of Team Dayā and a longtime ad tech executive. He has worked at Mastercard, Rubicon Project, Pulsepoint, ContextWeb, EDGAR Online and Wolff New Media.

We will be telling each of you more about the Senegal school build in future updates.

Three Ways You Can Help

  1. Make a Donation Online
    1. Example investment opportunities:
      1. $100 Five shovels for excavating the school’s solid foundation
      2. $250 All the nails, nuts, and bolts to build a roof for the school
      3. $500 In-country mason during the entire construction of the school
      4. $1,000 Paint for a school
  2. Spread the Word
    1. Share our mission with your friends, your company and your industry
    2. Invite us to speak about our mission to your network
    3. Follow us on our website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  3. Join the Team & Travel on a School Build
    1. If you have a combination of fundraising chops, an adventurous spirit and the belief each of us has the capacity to be Building Change, get in touch with us and have a conversation.

Thanks again for your continued support,

All of us at Team Dayā

Senegal $10K Challenge; Building Change with 5,000 Bottles & Cans

In three weeks Team Dayā heads to Nguiddine Keur Sara in the Fatick region of Senegal to work on our first school build since before the global pandemic.

None of this work  is possible without you–and the myriad of our supporters from across the technology, advertising and media sectors.

Senegal $10K Challenge

We are pleased to announce a $10,000 matching challenge from U of Digital and its CEO Shiv Gupta for our Senegal school building. 

Donations between now and Friday, March 18th will be matched and designated for our Sengal school build. You can donate to Team Dayā overall or to any of the three members traveling to Senegal and your gift will be matched:

  • Donate to Michael “The Bricklayer” Benedek. Michael is the president and CEO of leading independent data marketplace Datonics, with over 25 years in the Internet, financial services and healthcare fields based in New York and in Tel Aviv.
  • Donate to Jay “The Instigator” Sears. Jay is the founder of Team Dayā and a longtime ad tech executive. He has worked at Mastercard, Rubicon Project, Pulsepoint, ContextWeb, EDGAR Online and Wolff New Media.

We will be telling each of you more about the Senegal school build both leading up to, during and after the build.

Building Change with 5,000 Bottles & Cans

It is not everyday you meet a high school student running a non-profit. Early in the pandemic we met Mark Copple, the founder of Nickel by Nickel. 

Now a senior at Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, California, Copple collected and redeemed 5,000 cans and bottles in order to raise $250 for Team Dayā. We are excited to share our interview with Mark and to put his investment to work during our upcoming school build in Senegal, West Africa.

“Education should be everyone’s top priority,” Copple told us.  “A society cannot function without an educated population, and it is great that you are building schools and providing people with education.”

Mark–we agree and are humbled by your generosity and the bravery it takes to be someone Building Change.

Three Ways You Can Help

  1. Make a Donation Online
    1. Example investment opportunities:
      1. $100 Five shovels for excavating the school’s solid foundation
      2. $250 All the nails, nuts, and bolts to build a roof for the school
      3. $500 In-country mason during the entire construction of the school
      4. $1,000 Paint for a school
  2. Spread the Word
    1. Share our mission with your friends, your company and your industry
    2. Invite us to speak about our mission to your network
    3. Follow us on our website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  3. Join the Team & Travel on a School Build
    1. If you have a combination of fundraising chops, an adventurous spirit and the belief each of us has the capacity to be Building Change, get in touch with us and have a conversation.

Thanks again for your continued support,

All of us at Team Dayā

Student Redeems 5,000 Bottles & Cans for Team Dayā Schools

(PHOTO: 5,000 Bottles & Cans Were Redeemed to Generate this $250 Donation for Team Dayā schools.)

It is not everyday you meet a high school student running a non-profit. Early in the pandemic we met Mark Copple, the founder of Nickel by Nickel. 

Now a senior at Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, California, Copple collected and redeemed 5,000 cans and bottles in order to raise $250 for Team Dayā. We are excited to share our interview with Mark and to put his investment to work during our upcoming school build in Senegal, West Africa.

Please meet Mark Copple:

Team Dayā: Introduce Yourself.

Copple: My name is Mark Copple and I am 17.  I am a senior at Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, California.  

Team Dayā: You founded your own non-profit called Nickel by Nickel Corporation – tell us about it.

Copple: My nonprofit works to collect bottles – aluminum, plastic, and glass – and redeem them for the CRV value.  This is then donated to various charities, Team Dayā is one of them, in order to make a difference.  I started this charity about five years ago with my father, and I work on it mainly on the weekends.  

Team Dayā: What inspired you to start Nickel by Nickel?

Copple: I used to go door to door in the neighborhood collecting bottles in my toy wheelbarrow.  I then figured that I could make a difference doing this, which is how Nickel by Nickel was born. 

Team Dayā: Where do you find all the bottles and cans to collect, redeem and recycle? 

Copple: I save them from home, collect them from various people I have agreements with, and also collect them from my school.  

Team Dayā: Recently Nickel by Nickel donated $250 to Team Dayā – thank you! Your gift will pay for all the nails, nuts, and bolts to build the roof of our next school. What appeals to you about Team Dayā and its mission? 

Copple: Education should be everyone’s top priority.  A society cannot function without an educated population, and it is great that you are building schools and providing people with education.  

Team Dayā: For one of your peers, or for an adult, what advice would you give to someone who has dreamt of starting a non-profit project to give back? 

Copple: I would say that it is important to note that it is a lot of work.  If you are not willing to do the work, it will be very difficult.  However, if you are willing to do the work, it is very rewarding to give back.

Team Dayā:Thank you Mark!

Make a donation Team Dayā.

Back to the School Build: Senegal in T-Minus Six Weeks

There was never any doubt if–the only question was when

In late March, Team Dayā will be back Building Change

For the first time since the global pandemic derailed our plans, a small intrepid group will be heading to Senegal in West Africa to work on a school build.

“A school is an open door to the world,” said Michael “The Bricklayer” Benedek, CEO of the independent data marketplace Datonics and one of the Team Dayā members that will be heading to Senegal. “It is truly humbling to be part of such an amazing cause and help open a world of opportunity to a community so far from home.”

Of course none of this is possible without you–and the myriad of our supporters from across the technology, advertising and media sectors.

Why Senegal

Senegal currently ranks 168 out of 189 countries on the UN Human Development Index. Nearly half of all Senegalese over the age of 15 are illiterate and more than 6 million (38 percent of the  total population) are living below the poverty line of $1.90 a day. Nearly half of all children living in rural areas are not enrolled in school, compared to 21 percent in urban areas. 

We will be sharing details about our school building project in the weeks leading up to our departure–be sure to follow us.

Three Ways You Can Help

  1. Make a Donation Online
    1. Example investment opportunities:
      1. $100 Five shovels for excavating the school’s solid foundation
      2. $250 All the nails, nuts, and bolts to build a roof for the school
      3. $500 In-country mason during the entire construction of the school
      4. $1,000 Paint for a school
  2. Spread the Word
    1. Share our mission with your friends, your company and your industry
    2. Invite us to speak about our mission to your network
    3. Follow us on our website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  3. Join the Team & Travel on a School Build
    1. If you have a combination of fundraising chops, an adventurous spirit and the belief each of us has the capacity to be Building Change, get in touch with us and have a conversation.

Meet the Team Dayā Members Traveling to Senegal

Michael “The Bricklayer” Benedek. Michael is the president and CEO of leading independent data marketplace Datonics, with over 25 years in the Internet, financial services and healthcare fields based in New York and in Tel Aviv.

Hasan “Trust & Transparency” Arik. Hasan is the founder & CEOof Redmill Solutions, a specialist media data management company headquartered in London. He has worked at Mediacom and GroupM.

Jay “The Instigator” Sears. Jay is the founder of Team Dayā and a longtime ad tech executive. He has worked at Mastercard, Rubicon Project, Pulsepoint, ContextWeb, EDGAR Online and Wolff New Media.

We will be telling each of you more about the Senegal school build both leading up to, during and after the build.

Thanks again for your continued support,

All of us at Team Dayā

Watch Wolff Howl – On Demand

If you missed our annual fundraiser with journalist Michael Wolff, author of Fire & Fury and Siege, and IAB Executive Chair Randall Rothenberg holding a fireside chat discussing Trump, Biden, the US elections and the transfer of power, you can now watch it on demand.

Not on NetFlix or Hulu or Disney Plus. Watch the fireside chat exclusively right here on SupportTeamDaya.com – it is Donation Video on Demand! 

In all seriousness, watch the replay, and if you missed our fundraiser and can make a donation, we appreciate it. Until December 31st, The Trade Desk is matching your donations up to USD $40,000. Donate here.

Randall and Michael played themselves in classic fashion, with a fun, insightful chat on American politics between two old friends.

Editorial note: in classic 2020 fashion, Randall’s camera malfunctioned for the first few minutes. All other bloopers were edited out, only seen by our production staff or left in on purpose ;)-. Enjoy.

Matching Grant & Pandemic Updates from Team Dayā

Namaste!

We hope this post finds you and your family safe and healthy during this pandemic. We are writing with updates including a new challenge grant we have been given for the month of August 2020.

First, one of our current supporters, Shiv Gupta, the founder of the digital marketing education company U of Digital, will match the next $4,000 in contributions to Team Dayā.

If you are able, please consider a gift.

The other good news is we have an expanding team that is ready to go into the field to resume school building in 2021, post pandemic, when we get the green light from our non-profit partner buildOn.

In addition to our Nepal team members (who all intend to participate in future school builds), our new team members include Michael Benedek of Datonics, Gerry Berton of Microsoft and Youssef Ben Youssef of Roku. These individuals have committed to a personal fundraising goal as well as traveling to a future school groundbreaking.

The pandemic has been a time of reflection for many of us. We want Team Dayā to come out stronger than ever on the other side of this. This means continuing to build our core team and staying ahead of our fundraising goals. Our non-profit partner buildOn has seen donations drop 20% this year, so if you have the means, please consider a 2020 gift.

Want to smile?

Remember our first schoolhouse in Dhayapur, Nepal was completed in February before the world started to shut down in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nepal has been impacted like everywhere else, but as of now, schools are scheduled to reopen this month.

Our second school groundbreaking, scheduled for Malawi in East Africa in April, was postponed just five weeks prior to departure. Schools in Malawi remain closed at the moment with the looming possibility of a country lock-down to curb a recent rise in COVID numbers.

Help Team Dayā stay healthy during this pandemic so we can rise stronger than ever after this pandemic. With your help, we can be prepared to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy in some of the poorest countries on earth.

Donate to Team Dayā. August donations will be matched (up to $4,000) by Shiv Gupta and digital marketing education company U of Digital.

Have questions? Think you or a friend might want to join our team? Please get in touch – we would love to hear from you.

Grateful for your support,

Jay Sears
Founder
Team Dayā

School Building Progress in Dhayapur, Nepal

When Team Dayā left Dhayapur this past October, we had successfully completed the school groundbreaking, working with the community to dig the foundation and organize various materials (stone, brick, rebar) that would be used for the school construction.

The Dhayapur community, along with skilled labor provided by our non profit partner buildOn, has made amazing progress on the three room school house and the accompanying girls and boys latrine since the October groundbreaking. Here are a few photos of the work through the first week of January.

Your donations made this happen! Please consider making a 2020 donation to Team Dayā so we can continue our school building work.

If you scroll down below this new album, you can see a few photos on what things looked like in October during the ground breaking, just 90 days ago. We expect the community will complete the school between now and the end of February or so. We’ll continue to provide updates.

-Team Dayā

PHOTO, below: Team Dayā member Jordan Mitchell at the groundbreaking ceremony in October.

PHOTO, below: The first days of activity were a lot of intense, manual labor – all the foundation was excavated by hand using hoes and shovels.

PHOTO, below: After the first week of work, the foundation was excavated and the footing and column work was underway.