Whole Planet Foundation has committed more than $5 million to fight poverty in the U.S. through its partner, Grameen America, a nonprofit microfinance organization that offers microloans, training and support to help women who live in poverty build small businesses to create better lives for their families. The money will help Grameen America launch a new microlending branch in Austin, and will support existing programs in six metro areas: New York; the Bay Area; Los Angeles; Charlotte, N.C.; Omaha, Neb.; and Indianapolis. To date, Whole Planet Foundation has committed more than $48 million for microcredit projects throughout 59 countries across Asia, Africa and the Americas. “Poverty is not just a developing-world problem; it’s an issue we’re battling at home,” said Philip Sansone, president and executive director of Whole Planet Foundation. “Microcredit offers real solutions for low-income entrepreneurs and their entire families. We’re excited to invest in our communities and help our neighbors get a fresh start.” With no collateral or credit history required, microloans offer many low-income women their first chance to gain financial independence by starting or expanding their own business. Prosperity from their food carts, at-home bakeries and flower shops are helping women provide healthy meals, housing and education for themselves and their children. The average first loan size is $1,264 in the U.S. and $177 in the developing world. “You don’t need to donate millions to make a real, lasting impact on someone’s life,” said Sansone. “Microcredit is proof that even small donations can spark big change. This spring, it’s easier than ever to get involved and help those in need.” Through March 31, shoppers can make a difference by participating in hundreds of fundraising events at Whole Foods Market ® – from charity races and tasting events to garage sales and fashion shows – all as part of the foundation’s nationwide Prosperity Campaign. Shoppers can also donate at store checkouts or online at wholeplanetfoundation.org. Through these efforts, the foundation aims to raise $7 million for microlending projects in just five weeks. Shoppers can also enter for a chance to win a trip for two to Mexico, courtesy of Intrepid Travel, to see the impact of microcredit first-hand. On this six-day expedition, travelers will meet borrowers supported by Whole Planet Foundation and take in the country’s vibrant sights, sounds and flavors. For information on the trip and how to enter, visit Whole Planet Foundation’s Facebook page at facebook/wholeplanetfoundation. For more information about Whole Planet Foundation, fundraising opportunities and testimonials from microcredit clients, visit wholeplanetfoundation.org.