AUSTIN, Texas (April 25, 2012) – More than 180,000 poor individuals around the globe will have a chance to lift themselves out of poverty, thanks to shoppers who donated more than $5.5 million to Whole Planet Foundation® during its five-week Prosperity Campaign.

From Feb. 22 to March 31, shoppers donated at the checkouts in more than 315 Whole Foods Market® locations, and online at: Customers joined in-store fundraising efforts – from garage sales and tasting events to benefit concerts and fashion shows – all helping the foundation soar past its 2012 campaign goal of $4.1 million.

“Thanks to shoppers’ generosity, thousands of individuals who are struggling to provide their families with basic needs like food, water and shelter, will now have a chance to create or expand a home-based business and the opportunity to change their own lives,” said Philip Sansone, president and executive director of Whole Planet Foundation.

Whole Planet Foundation also celebrates Tasha French, the winner of its “Small Change for Big Change,” essay contest and prize – a trip to India provided by Intrepid Travel to meet microloan recipients first-hand.

In her essay, French shares how one handshake inspired her to launch a “street newspaper” that has brought more than $2.6 million directly to impoverished Tennesseans. Facebook fans selected French’s story out of more than 200 personal essays describing how individuals’ small actions are driving world change. To read French’s full essay, visit:

Through grants to microfinance partners in the U.S. and 50 other countries, Whole Planet Foundation funds microloans in developing communities where Whole Foods Market sources products. To date, the foundation has committed more than $26.5 million and disbursed more than $16.5 million worldwide.

 To learn more about Whole Planet Foundation or make a donation, visit: