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Ustream Launches Charitable Program: Ustream for Change

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Live video platform Ustream has been used to share dramatic footage from around the world -- such as the Arab Spring uprisings or the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami -- and now, when the company is focusing on enterprise customers and de-emphasizing free services, it wants to make sure that those kind of era-defining events continue to reach a global audience. Ustream is announcing Ustream for Change, a philanthropic program designed to use live video for social good.

"I know that live video won't solve all the world's problems, but I've seen for my own eyes that we've made a difference by giving a voice to the voiceless," says Brad Hunstable, Ustream's CEO and founder. "This is something that's near and dear to my heart."

The broad goals of Ustream for Change are to promote internet freedom, emerging democracies, and stable societies. Citizen journalists have been using Ustream to spread their stories since the platform launched. This program is meant to capitalize on the momentum the site has seen in the past few years, especially with the Ukraine protests: Ustream has donated more than $900,000 in services to help three citizen journalist groups in Ukraine, and those three channels have reached more than 50 million viewers in under three months.

Ustream for Change will be run by a multi-department committee of seven Ustream staffers (Hunstable won't be one of the), and it won't have a specific budget or any quotas. Instead, it will accept submissions year-round and will donate video streaming, training, equipment, public relations efforts, or more as the situation requires.

"The world changes all the time, and the changes don't have budgets," Hunstable says.

Over time, Hunstable says he'd like to expand the effort, perhaps modeling it after Salesforce.com's 1/1/1 program, where the company donates one percent of it's revenue, time and resources to a worthy cause. At launch, Ustream for Change is not a registered charity.

One Ukrainian citizen journalist working with Ustream is Oleksandr Aronets, who runs the channel Aronets Live. He knows firsthand how live video has helped the events at Independence Square -- known as Maidan -- the central square in Kiev that's home to the protests:

"Streaming to the internet is important because thousands of people can watch live what's happening in Maidan. Many people who watched my stream then come to Maidan themselves!" Aronets says. "It was people not only from Kiev and the rest of Ukraine. One Ukrainian woman from Germany watched my stream and it motivated her to come to help in our revolution. Ustream really helped to mobilize people. I remember 11 December, when in Maidan there were some thousands of people, and police attacked us. I was streaming, and two hours later to Maidan comes more than 50,000 people. They stopped the police!"

Visit Ustream for Change for more info and watch the video below.

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