The Human Rights Pocketbook Project

Project Description

The Human Rights Pocketbook Project provides an effective tool for Rotarians who care that links their historic legacy to their vision of action and peace, a caring economy, and ethical business.

Project Title
The Human Rights Pocketbook Project
Project Description

(Read Google Doc with hyperlinks at Human Rights Pocketbook Project.)

The reason this Human Rights Pocketbook Project is needed in our target area of Ohio is because respect, protection, and promotion of fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person must become common sense in order for caring and peaceful societies to be effective in expanding freedoms. When it comes Rotary’s promotion of peace, Rotarians are more effective when they embrace their UN legacy. When it comes to Rotary’s work to grow local economies, our work is more sustainable when Rotary grows caring economies packed with ethical businesses.

The Empathy Surplus Project (ESP) is grateful to Reem Ghunaim, Executive Director, Rotarian Action Group for Peace (RAG4P), for her considerable encouragement and help with this Global Grant application. Reem, a former Rotaractor of Ramallah in Palestine, is now a member of the Rotary Club of Portland, Oregon, in Rotary District 5100. She is a member of the First Caring Citizens’ Congress, Wilmington, OH, a member organization of the ESP. An advocate for social entrepreneurship, Reem is also a former UNC Rotary Peace Fellow and serves as a Global Peace Index Ambassador of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

ESP and RAG4P are committed to a partnership that strengthens The Human Rights Pocketbook Project among Rotarians, builds on their strong, empathy surplus, and expands intergenerational leadership for human rights among Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact Clubs that makes positive peace possible.

The IEP reports that there are not enough caring citizens in all of the member states of the United Nations who respect, protect, and promote one another’s human rights, which prevents the world from attaining what they call “positive peace” in the world.

Respect, protection, and promotion of one another’s human rights is the most important of the 8 pillars of peace that contribute to positive peace within communities. The act of respect, protection, and promotion of one another’s human rights requires (1) empathy, the soul of democracy, and (2) the strength of character to act on those core values. Empathy alone is not enough to wage peace; Rotarians must, to paraphrase UNESCO’s motto, build peace in their own mind by linking RI’s six causes to the human rights that define RI’s six causes. And, linking RI’s six causes to human rights, is the mission intersection of the RAG4P and the ESP.

ESP supports the work of cognitive scientists, like George Lakoff, who confirms that no idea resides outside of a human body’s neural pathway system. More importantly, the repetition of ideas, especially linking RI’s six ideas to their respective human rights, otherwise known as life long education and training, leads to strong neural pathways around the particular idea of human rights and positive peace, otherwise known as expertise and common sense. ESP, celebrating its 10th year this year, and RAG4P are committed to this mutual mission.

Eleanor Roosevelt, writing in 1948, shortly after the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations, alluded to the need for the idea of human rights to become common sense for peace to prevail. She wrote:

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home . . . Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. . . Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”


The Human Rights Pocketbook Project was conceived in 2017 by the First Caring Citizens’ Congress, a member organization of Empathy Surplus Project (ESP), a 501(c)4 tax exempt organization. ESP is a participant of the United Nations Global Compact and received permission from the UNGC to use its logo in the first printing of 1,000 pocketbooks in 2018. In that original request in July and December 2017, to the UNGC for logo use, ESP told UNGC we intended to partner with civil society organizations, like Rotary, to educate youth about human rights. ESP is now set to commission its second printing of 1,000.


Chuck Watts, the founder of ESP, that manages the Human Rights Pocketbook Project, has attended Rotary Day at the UN every year since 2013, except for 2018, when it was hosted in Nairobi. In 2014, when the ESP was accepted by the United Nations Secretary General as a non-business participant, its original commitment letter, found on page 73 of the The Human Rights Pocketbook, described the future partnership with Rotary International that ESP envisioned.

The ESP founder, a Rotarian since 1981, has traveled extensively in Southern Ohio to more than two dozen Rotary Clubs in the past year. He always gives a happy buck during introductions of visiting Rotarians with the following question: “How many of you are aware that Rotarians started the United Nations and helped write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?”

Most Rotarians in those two dozen clubs in District 6670 and 6690 are (1) NOT aware of their legacy with the United Nations, (2) are challenged to make connections between RI’s six causes and human rights and why it matters, (3) do not link human rights to RI’s vision or mission statements, (4) currently do not naturally entertain the necessity to consider aligning district, multi-district, or zone leadership around human rights, and (5) do not yet fully appreciate that both the UN and Rotary International are calling for strategic partnerships between effective government, ethical businesses, and caring society organizations to respect, protect, and promote human rights in their spheres of influence. The 2013 RI MOP was the last RI MOP that actually contained the words “human rights” in the document.
The Human Rights Pocketbook Project has two educational components, similar to The Dictionary Project: Engagement and Partnership.


Member and partner organizations of the ESP are already engaging UNGC participants, business and non-business; and candidates for UNGC participation; around the need for them to either [a] fulfill their promise as UNGC participants to align their operations around around the Ten Principles categorized around human rights, decent work and leisure, clean air and water, and anti-corruption of government, or [b] step up to the high calling of respect, protection, and promotion of human rights. Such engagement has invited organizations to use the Human Rights Pocketbook to fulfill their promise. Four organizations have stepped up around engagement.

The University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, bought 100 copies of the Human Rights Pocketbook for distribution to their 20th Anniversary Educational Celebration of their Human Rights Center, the first week of December. UD has been a UNGC participant, since 2017. They have promised to continue to partner with us in Dayton, Ohio.

Christ Episcopal Church, Dayton, Ohio, bought 100 copies of the Human Rights Pocketbook for distribution to their congregation the second week in December, known as Advent, to educate their congregation of their participation in the UNGC, since 2015. They have promised to continue to partner with us in Dayton, Ohio.

Three financial advisors with Edward Jones in Wilmington, Ohio, donated $2600 in 2018 and have pledged $2400 in 2019, to sponsor with a full page ad in the first printing. Chuck Watts and Jason Hillard are long time Rotarians, who have attended Rotary Day at the UN since 2013. Jerry Bailey is a new dual member of a Rotary and emerging Rotaract Club. They are committed to this project.

The Edward Jones headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, doing business in both the United States and Canada has donated $5,000 to this project to [a] promote their 100 percent rating with the Human Rights Campaign for LGBTQ human rights with a full page ad for the next 10,000 copies of the pamphlet, and [b] educate and promote to their two country sales force of more than 17,000 financial advisors and 17,000 branch office administrators, who could be Rotarians or Lions, to educate that sales force that Edward Jones established processes include respect, protection, and promotion of human rights in all their spheres of influence..


While the educational component of engagement focuses on educating adult community leaders, the second component focuses on educating youth leadership for the purpose of partnership. Specifically (1) the project invites Rotary Clubs and Lions Clubs in the United States (and Canada) to partner with high school and college administration to invite their seniors to advance human rights through Rotary and to (2) align whatever their passions for social progress and larger freedoms are around respect, protection, and promotion of human rights, and (3) consider partnering with them in their Rotaract Clubs and / or Leo Clubs.

Since last year, when The Human Rights Pocketbook Project raised almost $8000 for 1,000 copies, ESP has discovered it is a sustainable project at $94/box of 12, because of the reserve we set aside when pocketbooks are sold. ESP is poised to commission a second printing of 1,000 pocketbooks, however, to offer a sustainable project at $95/box of 24, similar to The Dictionary Project, will take a larger commitment from stakeholders like Edward Jones.

As of this writing in Wilmington, Ohio, where ESP is headquartered, a coalition is developing around the Human Rights Pocketbook Project and District 6670s 4 Way Test Speech Contest, having been in existence more than two decades. High school students are invited to write and deliver, without notes, a 4-6 minute speech that highlights the 4 Way Test about something they are passionate about. The Wilmington AM and Noon Clubs usually partner for this project.

This year, Jerry Bailey, a brand new 25 year old member of the Wilmington Noon Club is wanting to organize a Wilmington Rotaract Club. He suggests a three way partnership between the two Rotary Clubs and the IDEA of the new Rotaract Club. Jerry, a youth leader in his church, wants to recruit local high school seniors to Rotaract.

Jerry’s vision is that the new Rotaract Club would partner with Rotarians around RI’s six human rights causes. Jerry sees the 4 Way Test Speech Contest as a way to inspire the youth with Rotary’s UN / human rights legacy and invite seniors to join Rotaract. He suggests giving six copies of the Human Rights Pocketbook to each of the six high schools in the county, with instructions that at least six high school students step up, study about human rights, identify their passion with a human right, and then link it to the 4 Way Test Speech Contest.


Ohio Rotarians, and probably most USA Rotarians, suffer from hypocognition, not knowing what they don’t know. In the case of human rights, Rotarians don’t know the world’s #1 human rights organization, the United Nations, was created by Rotarians. They don’t know that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a direct result of Rotarian participation.

The reason that Rotarians and youth in the United States are the target audience for The Human Rights Pocketbook project is because (1) the USA ranks 121st, in the bottom third of the countries ranked by the 2018 Global Peace Index, (2) Ohio, where 80 percent of ESP members and partners live, ranks 20 out of 50 of the United States ranked by the 2012 US Peace Index, (3) the lack of recognition of one another’s human rights is the primary reason for a lack of peace in the world, the USA, and Ohio, (4) despite The Rotarian magazine articles like the one in November 2018, describing Rotary’s legacy with peace, the UN, and human rights, most Ohio Rotarians are UNAWARE of the connection, and do NOT think of RI’s six causes as human rights, and finally, (5) youth are our next generation of caring citizen leaders. ESP has member / partners in California, Oregon, Indiana, and Pennsylvania as well. Rotary District 6670 is where 77 percent of ESP member / partners are located; 3 percent are in District 6690.

ESP focuses on caring citizen leadership education. It is scientifically defined by ESP as (1) daily inward digestion and usage of human rights values, (2) weekly investment in discussion of human rights values, how to implement and invite, (3) implementation of human rights policy directions / projects, and (4) invitation to leadership education. ESP calls these four I’s The 4-Empathic Activities.


The primary partners of the Human Rights Pocketbook Project are currently the ESP emerging federation of Caring Citizens’ Congresses with members and partners in 9 cities in Ohio that contain 21 Rotary Clubs, 2 Rotaract Clubs, and six Interact Clubs within a ten mile radius. Dialogue is already taking place in Wilmington, Ohio, by Rotarian / Rotaractor Jerry Bailey; and in Dayton, Ohio, by Rotarian Jason Hillard; and all the other clubs mentioned by Rotarian Watts.

Rotarian Watts, financial advisor, started inviting large ethical businesses, like his own firm, Edward Jones, to consider purchasing a one page ad to appear in the next 10,000 copies of The Human Rights Pocketbook. His primary target for ad conversations are business or non-business participants of the UNGC. Edward Jones, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, who consistently scores 100% on the 2018 HRC Corporate Equality Index, donated $5,000 to the Human Rights Pocketbook Project in December 2019.

Watts has invited the regional leaders in 22 of 300 regions of Edward Jones in the US and Canada – 8 Ohio regions and 14 Canadian regions, to help him identify the financial advisors who are Rotarians, Lions, and Kiwanians. There are about 60 financial advisors and 60 branch office administrators in each region, or 2640 men and women, who work for Edward Jones. At this writing, one regional leader has responded; it’s early, he will be following up.


The Human Rights Pocketbook Project is modeled after The Dictionary Project (TDP), the most popular annual Rotary Club project in the state of Ohio. Established 1995, Rotary Clubs purchase multiple boxes of 24 dictionaries for $84 / box to distribute to 3rd graders. As you can see, TDP has built an impressive feedback loop to continually update their partners about how successful their partnerships have been. For example, this screenshot focuses on Clinton County, Ohio, where ESP is headquartered, showing that 85% of the county’s third graders received a dictionary in 2017-2018.

In contrast, this screenshot shows Clinton County, Ohio, coverage before TDP’s accounting software was able to do individual counties. There are two Rotary Clubs in Wilmington, Ohio, and they have been distributing dictionaries for more than ten years. However, you’ll notice that statewide participation has fallen 10.5%.

Part of what’s going on is Rotary Clubs engage their school district and discover a growing number of schools providing electronic tablets. Our particular school district likes the interaction between adults in the community and their students, so our two clubs continue to participate. TDP has been in operation 24 years and continues to provide a way for Rotarians and public educators to partner around three of RI’s six human rights categories – peace, education, and saving mothers and children. What’s lacking in the action is NOT connecting dictionary distribution to respect, protection, and promotion of the three human rights identified.

Rotary and Rotaract Clubs, especially young professional community based Rotaract Clubs, would benefit from the Human Rights Pocketbook Project, because the TDP model facilitates education / training behavior around talking about human rights. ESP expects to develop feedback loop software similar to TDP’s as they ramp up their engagement /partnership activity so that the feedback would include not only high schools and colleges participating, but also to account for how many Rotaract (or Interact) Clubs were created as a direct result of participation; or how many partnerships between Rotary / Rotararct Clubs / Districts and ethical businesses, effective government, and other caring society organizations took place as a direct result of engagement and partnership to distribute the human rights pocketbook?

In 2013, George Kell, executive director, UN Global Compact, addressed Rotarians at the Rotary Day at the United Nations. Kell challenged Rotarians to go home and find ways to join the UN Global Compact. The Empathy Surplus Project founder was in the audience. He accepted Kell’s challenge and joined the UNGC, specially to partner with Rotary International. Five years later the Human Rights Pocketbook Project was born. That conversation continues because freedom and peace are the strategic reasons the world needs more empathy like the empathy of Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Interactors!

Project Description Excerpt
The Human Rights Pocketbook Project provides an effective tool for Rotarians who care that links their historic legacy to their vision of action and peace, a caring economy, and ethical business.
Project Contact Name
Chuck Watts
Project Contact Email
Preferred Language
Project URL (website)
Project Categories
Human Rights
Project Location
1665 W. Main Street
Wilmington, OH 45177
United States
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Project Information
Project Time Frame
Rotary District
Club Name
Rotary Club of Portland
Project Resources
In 2017, the Human Rights Pocketbook Project, an initiative Empathy Surplus Project (ESP) member organization, First Caring Citizens’ Congress, raised money for the first printing of 1,000. As of 01/01/2019, as we prepare to commission our 2nd printing of 1,000, we still have 40 boxes of 12 that sell for $94/box. Shipping is free in the United States. In preparation for the 2nd and future printings of the Human Rights Pocketbook ESP is looking for ten sponsors to purchase a one page ad that will appear in the back of the pocketbook for the next 10,000 copies. Edward Jones, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, and doing business in the United States and Canada, purchased our first ad. Ten sponsors would allow us to offer a box of 24 Human Rights Pocketbooks at $95/box, with shipping free in the United States.
ESP (1) supports the latest brain research by Dr. George Lakoff and colleagues that strengthens caring citizen leadership for government of, by, and for people; (2)
promotes local development of caring citizen leadership education that respects, protects, and promotes human rights through a federation of neighborhood Caring Citizens’ Congresses; (3) helps its federation implement their caring policy directions; and (4) builds an empathy surplus in our expanding spheres of influence through partnership with effective government, ethical business, and other caring society organizations like Rotary.
Is there a Global Grant for this project?
Edward Jones, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, doing business in the USA and Canada is the largest financial services firm in the USA with 17,500 financial. It has received 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign for the LGBTQ Workplace. ESP is grateful to the $5,000 donated by two financial advisors in Wilmington, Ohio, and the $5,000 donated by the firm itself.

ESP founder, Chuck Watts, along with the Berkeley Rotary Club, recently presented Dr. George Lakoff a Paul Harris Fellowship for his important work in cognitive science and linguistics that led to the establishment of ESP.

ESP is grateful to the UN Global Compact for giving us permission for the use of its logo.

Images – Photos