Today we interview Tommy Jordan. Tommy Jordan has organized Project Phoenix Rising with a small group of volunteers around the globe. The team is working to bring a modern classroom experience to students in Libya. Tommy Jordan is no stranger to being in the spotlight having gained worldwide fame after posting a YouTube video of himself using a handgun to destroy his daughters laptop. That video today has over 38 Million views on YouTube. The controversy that erupted following the video featuring his non-traditional parenting practice was enormous. Today Tommy hopes to use that celebrity status to raise money in order to help others in Libya with Project Phoenix.
What is Project Phoenix?
Project Phoenix started out as a plan for western companies to bring tech into Libyan schools; we wanted to augment the learning experience in Libya with modern technology using the same official curriculum that students are learning from books. We refer to the original concept as our phase one plan but it was more of our first official request to work in Libya.
We hit roadblocks in our phase one plan; infrastructure isn’t in place over there to handle today’s technology. The electric power grid in Libya has big gaps and is not the most reliable, that alone presented a huge challenge. The more details we discussed the more roadblocks we conceptualized as obstructions in the process of deploying a classroom experience in the same manner done in the United States.
With phase 2 we began fresh with the concept of bringing an entire purpose built classroom to the students of Libya. We realized there is a large quantity of storage containers available at steep discounts; these containers are a by-product of our consumer-based economy. The containers are made of solid steel and are weather proofed to provide protection over months of travel onboard a shipping container. These containers can also be inexpensively shipped over seas making them the perfect option for our project.
After months of planning we have engineered these containers to be self sufficient in even the most inhospitable environments. Each classroom facility is designed to accommodate 12 students and a teacher, with tablet computers, high speed Internet, electricity, air conditioning and lighting inside. The design for a Project Phoenix Rising classroom facility includes electricity provided by solar panels and backed up by a diesel generator. Then we designed the classroom facility to be transported and accessed while it’s loaded on the back of a truck, making it possible for the facility to visit multiple communities each week. The exterior of the classroom facility features a canopy that will pop out the side for kids to work in the shade if there are too many kids in a community to sit inside the classroom facility.
What was your motivation behind this project?
We can trace the roots of the project back to when I first had the opportunity to work in Libya from 2006 to 2009. I love to travel and it was the first international work I ever did. During that experience I learned about the people and culture, it’s a beautiful country. Unlike so much of the world that has chosen to adopt a “westernized” culture, Libya has retained its own unique culture.
The concept for this project came together back in January 2013 while having a conversation with the head of a large international charity. I was helping them with something on their website and my ability to recognize words in Arabic came up in conversation. We started talking about how I learned to spell some words in Arabic, which brought up my experience in Libya. The project has evolved from those early conversations.
Who is involved in the project?
Many talented folks have been committing resources to this project. I would estimate that over $250k has been committed in resources from our friends. Those friends are:
- Worldwide CAD – Murray and his architectural firm out of Texas has been helping us out with designs.
- DEI Industrial – Chad and his team out of Texas have been instrumental in nearly every stage of this project.
- TwistedNetworx – This is Tommy’s consulting company.
- Lightworks – Lou has been advising on the lighting and electrical equipment, his recommendations have been instrumental in lowering power consumption.
- Doctor Gillian Gillespie – She has been instrumental in connecting our project with the right charitable organizations and government agencies.
How can I help out?
We are raising money with GoFundMe.com
Please Donate Today! – http://www.gofundme.com/phoenixlibya
Today this is all a concept that requires we raise $100,000 USD to found the charity in the US and UK then to build the first prototype. The costs for these classroom facilities will be $65,000 USD so out of the $100,000 USD we raise at least that much money will go directly into the classroom. The rest of the funds will be used to properly setup our charitable organization within the United States and for travel. Donations made within the United States today are not tax deductible.
Why choose GoFundMe.com over using Kickstarter.com for funding?
I checked into using it and indigogo.com as well but settled on gofundme.com for a couple of reasons. There are big problems with using kickstarter.com for our concept; the first is they hold onto funds until you reach a goal set when you create the funding request. The second is they return all the funds contributed to the cause if we don’t reach our goal. With GoFundMe.com our team has access to funds as the donations are made. As a newer organization we need these funds to help the kids today. If we did the kickstarter.com route and didn’t reach out goal we wouldn’t have any funds to work with.
How is this charity structured today?
The project has undergone multiple changes in the last half year. It started out as a commercial venture. We thought it needed to be a commercial venture until we started talking about actually building schools. Then we realized it would need tremendous international support. We are going to use the funds donated to form a charitable organization so future donations will be tax deductible.
After the charity is formed we intend to get registered with the United Nations in order to obtain additional funding from the international community.
How can I learn more?
Tommy has featured Project Phoenix Rising on his website with far more information than we included on ManhattanDigest.com for this interview. If you are interested in learning more about the project or want to keep updated with the latest news it would be best to head over to http://8minutesoffame.com/phoenix-rising/ for the latest news and information.