The Initiative Generation

On top of Max Patch

Leadership is a product of personal initiative.  

It is a decision, a thought process, an act of the will, and an expression of identity and personality.

However, for initiative to constitute leadership, it also demands that it produce change, a change that matters, a change that makes a difference, a change that advances toward a goal.

The context for change is almost always some group of people socially connected around an idea that matters to them.

This is a basic understanding of what leadership is becoming in the 21st century. It is different than in the past because it is not based on wealth, social class, educational credentials, national origin, religious preference, geographic location or organizational title, position or rank.  

This new sort of leadership is based on personal initiative, social connection and the desire to make a difference. As a result, it is a kind of leadership that anyone can do.

Therefore, I think it is safe to say that, 

Passive followership is over; Personal initiative for impact is in. 

The implications of this shift are significant. If you are the senior executive leader of an organization, it means that the game of recruiting talent is changing.

This is an ongoing conversation that I'm having with Gretchen Zucker, Executive Director of Ashoka's Youth Venture. Recently, she gave a presentation on Talent for the 21st Century. She, graciously, shared her presentation with me for this blog post.

Gretchen points out that

"8 million jobs have been lost since 2008 in the US; nonetheless, employers are still having difficulty filling jobs with the right talent." 

She quotes Robert Litan of the Kauffman Foundation.

Between 1980 and 2005, virtually all net new jobs created in the U.S.were created by firms that were 5 years old or less. That is about 40 million jobs.

Who is creating these new businesses and the jobs that follow?

People who take initiative, are socially connected, and have a clear purpose that drives their desires to make a difference.  The difference though is in the numbers.

While there may be a long history of small business in the US, entrepreneurism did not become the world changing movement that it is until about 30 years ago. 

This came clearly to mind recently as I sat across a work table in the office of a web designer, colleague and friend who is in his mid-20s. As he took a call and left the room for a moment, the difference hit me that when I was his age in the late 1970s, I did not have a single friend or acquaintance, in my age group, who had started their own business. I know entrepreneurs existed, but I didn't know any. Sitting in my friend's office, I realized that his circle of friends were creating a new culture of entrepreneurism in our community.  

According to Paul Reynolds, entrepreneurship scholar and creator of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor,

"by the time they reach their retirement years, half of all working men in the United States probably have a period of self-employment of one or more years; one in four may have engaged in self-employment for six or more years. Participating in a new business creation is a common activity among U.S. workers over the course of their careers."*

My own path to entrepreneurship began in the mid-1980's with the reading of Peter Drucker's Innovation and Entrepreneurship. My contact with people who had started their own businesses was very small. Not so today.

What this indicates to me is that there is a growing class of initiators whose leadership is changing not only the landscape of business, but of communities and nations worldwide.  

This is the point that Gretchen Zucker presents.

Gretchen's organization, Youth Venture is part of Ashoka, created by Bill Drayton, who coined the term social entrepreneur.  Ashoka and Youth Venture invest in people who are changemakers.  

Ashoka and Youth Venture are shaping an Everyone A Changemaker™ society: every individual will take initiative, develop solutions to social needs and drive positive impact.Every part of society will benefit from having more changemakers, from a company to a school to an entire country.

Ashoka and YV help ensure the success of any entity, region or field by finding the best new ideas, by cultivating the changemaker talent to act on those ideas, and by designing new ways to allow major change to happen.

Ashoka and Youth Venture are helping to nurture the people I describe above. Currently Ashoka is supporting 2,500 Changemakers in 60 countries. So you can see that as this trend continues, it not only changes the world within the proximity of each person who is a changemaker, but it also sets a standard by which their peers begin to understand themselves.  

This standard is appealing because it isn't based on someone else's idea about who they are, but their own. It is out of their passion and commitment that these Changemakers venture forward to change the world within their reach.

This is the world that is coming to schools, congregations, scout troops,  and businesses everywhere.  This is a societal change that is being led by children and young people. This is a grassroots, entrepreneurial movement that begins at an age young enough to care for the needs of the world that they can identify, even at six or eight years old.

Recently I asked Gretchen Zucker to respond to two questions.

What is the single greatest misperception that businesses have about the current generation of young people as employees?

Businesses need to realize that the current generation of young employees (Millennials) is very different from the last generation (GenX) or the generation before that (Baby Boomers).  Times have changed dramatically and Millennials reflect that accelerating change in a new information era.  Millennials are very purpose-driven, tech and information savvy, globally aware, highly engaged (volunteer at twice the rate as their parents), and struggling to come out from under the very broad wings of their parents.

The best thing a manager can do to maximize the productivity of young employees is to encourage and enable them to be changemakers.  They are craving this!  Don’t be threatened.  They will amaze you with their creativity, drive and ability to mobilize teams to get things done.  

I've seen this trend grow over the past twenty years. A tipping point is approaching that will mark a shift that is of historic proportions. This point will be when a critical mass of people worldwide decides that they are going to take personal initiative to make a difference, and do so within a social context of shared responsibility and commitment.  When they do, they will no longer look to institutions to take care of them, as in the past. They will join together to take care of each other and their communities. 

I asked Gretchen, 

"Where do businesses go to find people like Ashoka’s Changemakers?"

Any employer (businesses included) needs to look upstream to figure out how to get far more changemaker talent (entrepreneurial problem-solvers with strong team, leadership and empathy skills), as the proportion of our society who are changemakers today is only 2-3 percent, making the “war for talent” as fierce as it’s ever been.  By enabling and supporting dramatically more people – in particular at a young, formative age – become changemakers through actually experiencing taking initiative to address a social need and leading change. 

Once a young person experiences the power of entrepreneurship, teamwork, empathy and leadership, he/she will forever carry the mindset and skill set with him/her in all aspects of life.  As change accelerates and employers must stay ahead of that change, the single greatest factor of success will be the proportion of their community (staff, stakeholders) who are changemakers.  

So, you can see how monumental is this shift for organizations.

No more passive followers who care little about their company. No more disgruntled employees who only care about how well the company compensates them for the sacrifice of personal time and the personal inconvenience they must go through to be away from the things they do care about. Strangely, it means that owners and managers will have to respond to a higher form of expectation for how their organizations function.

The cause of poor morale in the workplace isn't the external realities that affect the business. Rather, the internal ones. Morale is not some mysterious human social phenomenon, but rather an outcome of organizational design and management. It is an indicator of uncertainty, and produces a passive aggressive followership which is antithetical to the genuine leadership of personal initiative. The talented and self-motivated will leave or force change.

Regardless, organizational leaders have a choice to make. To resist the emergence of a generation of leadership initiators and watch their organizations decline, or to embrace them as a beneficial movement by accommodating their energy, ideas and influence to create new opportunities.

What, then, must a business person do to create an environment that is most conducive to attracting the young men and women that Ashoka and Youth Venture support?

First, envision the possible.

See it in this illustration from Gretchen Zucker.

What if this was your typical employee?

"I saw a problem with our operations and so I got our team together to devise a solution, which we’re now working on implementing with the involvement of other colleagues. I just wanted to make sure with you that I’m moving in the right direction. Is this okay?"

Second, invest in people.

Read my post Return on Initiative: ROI for the 21st Century. You can take a regressive cost/benefit approach to the development of people. It isn't a zero-sum game. Instead, it is a game of survival. Every business' survival is dependent upon creating an environment that accommodates and nurtures the kind of social entrepreneurial initiative that Ashoka and Youth Venture are developing in people worldwide.

This shift changes the talent recruitment game from a race to hire the best credentialed person to the one who has demonstrated that they are a Changemaker.  

Third, understand what motivates people to take initiative to make a difference that matters. 

No one asks people to initiate. It comes from an inner desire to make the world a better place. Ancient philosopher Aristotle saw this motivation as a function of the purpose of every individual. Something inside points to something outside that connects the two together and creates what the ancient Greeks called eudaimonia which is happiness or human flourishing.

In simple terms, this desire for happiness, that is a kind of completeness, can be seen in three goals that I observe in people.  These goals are active reflections of their inner purpose. This is what people want from their life and work.

Life that is Personally Meaningful

Relationships that are Socially Fulfilling

Work that Makes a Difference that Matters

The children and young people that come to RandomKid** have these goals, as do those who work with Youth Venture. The people with whom you work, play golf, and share the subway have these goals. Each person's expression of them is unique. Yet, we are the same at a very fundamental level.

We look for social and organizational settings where these goals may be pursued. This is why children and young people are coming to RandomKid.

RandomKid's mission is to provide staff and services to youth, of all backgrounds and abilities, for the development, management and accomplishment of their goals to help others.

We educate, mobilize, unify and empower youth to directly impact local and global needs. By helping kids to become innovative and successful world problem-solvers, we are securing a better fate for our world now, and into the future. We don’t ask you to be a part of us; we become a part of you (emphasis mine).

In this sense, RandomKid provides an organizational structure for these young leaders to take initiative by creating projects that make a difference that matters to them. As Anne Ginther, RandomKid Co-Founder recently commented,

"What is most important to remember is that our mission is to help KIDS help others. It’s about empowering youth to make a difference. It’s about building the change-makers of tomorrow."

Dana Leman, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President tells me that they have learned that kids want ownership, fun and measurable impact from their projects.

There is a parallelism between what I observe in people and what RandomKid has identified in their project leaders.

Personally Meaningful = Ownership

Socially Fulfilling = Fun

Make a Difference that Matters = Measurable Impact

There is no dividing line between the child and the adult in this regard. Their goals are one and the same, just expressed differently.

This is the environment that initiators and Changemakers want. This is not the business environment of the 20th century. It is of the 21st century. 

Dana Leman commented to me recently about what she sees in the kids who take on a RandomKid project. 

Today's kids are not about trying to fit their ideas into standard business models. They are trying to develop business models that fit their ideas. They think about process as an afterthought and tend to engage in a more organic and responsive approach to today's emerging markets.

This is why so many young people in their 20s and 30s are starting their own businesses. Because they don't see themselves fitting in the institutional setting of the last century. And what organizational leaders must understand is that their competition for talent is not within their industry, but rather between the business structures of the past and the future. Either accomodate or become irrelevant is the reality that we face.

I started this post with the following manifesto.

Leadership is a product of personal initiative. 

It is a decision, a thought process, an act of the will, and an expression of identity and personality.

However, for initiative to constitute leadership, it also demands that it produce change, a change that matters, a change that makes a difference, a change the advances toward a goal.

The context for change is almost always some group of people socially connected around an idea that matters to them.

This is the future of leadership. And its future can be seen in the 10 year olds, the 14 year olds, the 18 year olds and the twenty and thirty somethings who are taking initiative to follow their passion to make a difference in the world.

Sixteen year old RandomKid Co-Founder and CEO Talia Leman speaks of her organization's mission as 

Leveraging the power of kids worldwide to drive an economy of positive change.

This is the purpose they share with Ashoka's Changemakers and Youth Venturers. This is the 21st century talent pool that stands apart from the rest. 

If you want these young people to work for you, then you must become like them. You must become an agent of change by encouraging and equipping the people in your business to take initiative to create an environment that can make the difference that matters. 

This may seem to be one of many options for the course of organizations and businesses. I'm convinced that this is the future that is fast approaching.  It isn't an option.  

When Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom in their book The Starfish and the Spider write about "leaderless" organizations, they are advocating for a leader-filled organization.

In a traditional sense, it could be said that organizations like Ashoka, Youth Venture and RandomKid are developing the next generation of organizational leaders.  In reality, these kids are already leading random organizations of social connection that are making a difference in local communities across the globe. The future is now, not tomorrow or next year.

This new future may seem filled with ambiguity and doubt. The reality is that as you accommodate your organizations to the ingenuity and 21st century leadership skills of these young people, a level of impact that your organization has never known will emerge. I'm convince that our best years are ahead of us, and they are going to be fun.  Because the children who are leading us today would not have it any other way. 

The Initiative Generation is here. Welcome them with openness, support their initiatives, and celebrate the difference they are making now.

*Wikipedia: Entrepreneurship-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entrepreneurship

** Disclaimer: I am the Board Chair of RandomKid.


Kids get Philanthropy

Acumen Fund Fund Day for Kids

Oh, to be a kid again with the whole world opening up to you as you get exposed to people like those at the Acumen Fund. Watch this video of Fund Day at the Acumen Fund.

And how cool to hear a kid say,

My favorite part of the day was creating a business.

Share the video with kids that you know. Influence them to see that they can make a difference in the world.

This week's The Economist has a article - The Patient Capitalist - on the Acumen Fund. I also encourage you to read founder and CEO Jacqueline Novogratz book, The Blue Sweater. I posted my review of her book here.

RandomKid/ Sustainable Cambodia/ Green Valley School (PA) water project

If you children want to get involved in social enterprise opportunities, check out RandomKid, a place where kids can get the mentoring to take their own ideas for helping and making a difference and change the world.

Yesterday, I received a report from RandomKid president Anne Ginther about one of their projects. Here's what she wrote.

Recently we partnered with a group to put a windmill in Cambodia that will provide the energy to water gardens for 40 families. The cost for the project was $4500, and the funding was donated to us by Exelon Nuclear for this purpose, in partnership with a RandomKid school in Pennsylvania. The cost included the windmill materials, catchment, seeds-- everything needed from start to finish. It's being built as I write this.

These kinds of projects are taking place all over the world. Just as the Acumen Fund needs investment funds, so does RandomKid, and a host of other organizations that help kids become social philanthropists. If you can help financially do so, if you can, pass along this post to those who can. Your influence just may make the difference for a child.

Thought you'd like to see one of the children from the village that  received the well. Her name is Sreyvin. Here's her letter of thanks.Nou - Mong Village Cambodia - RamdomKind

My name is Sreyvin, I am a 12 year old girl. I have four sisters, and no brothers. My family and I eat fish for dinner. I live in Mong village, Svay Att commune, Pursat town. I am in grade 4 at Chhom Monny primary school. I like to read books in my free time. I know a little English.

They built a basin next the pond. There will be a fan about the basin to suck water into the basin. There are water tubes to share the water from the pond.

Because of you, I am able to go to study on time and regularly. You have provided me with enough water to use daily, and to cultivate my plants. My community has become a very green community. Because of you, my family will have a better life.

Here's a drawing of their village by one of the children. 

Mong Village drawing - RamdomKid

The children, with RamdomKid's assistance, worked with Sustainable Cambodia on the water project.

Richard Allen describes their organization.

As volunteer CEO and co-founder of the Rotary-supported nonprofit
organization Sustainable Cambodia, I invite you to explore the work our staff is doing in Cambodian villages. We are a working to help the residents of these rural villages create a sustainable quality of life through wells, irrigation systems, schools, training and empowerment. By our founding principles, only native Cambodians may be employed as paid staff, and all international officers, directors and consultants must be unpaid volunteers, ensuring that 100% of funding goes directly into the rural village programs. Please explore more about Sustainable Cambodia at www.SustainableCambodia.org 

These are projects that children through their schools, congregations and other organizations can support. Acumen Fund and RandomKid are doing different things, but they are complementary. Acumen Fund addresses poverty through "patient capitalism" through investment in the establishment of micro-enterprises. RandonKid is a catalyst for children's interest in making a different in the world by connecting with projects suited to their commitments and abilities.

These are the kinds of organizations that will be the media structures for the emerging global society. Stay in touch and support their efforts. They are the real change agents of the future.


Congratulations RandomKid - Winner of the BESTBUY 15@15 contest

RamdomKid is an organization that mentors children and young people through the steps of philanthropic /social entrepreneurial projects that the kids want to do. They have helped on projects to fun water pumps in Africa, build a school in Cambodia, build houses on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, buy shoes for children with club feet, and many other projects.

RandomKid works as a facilitator of the relationship of a child, her or his parents, their school or congregation, and the agency who provides the service.  The money from this award will go to establish a state-of-the art website that will make it easier for more kids to translate their passion for helping others to actually doing it. I'm very proud to serve on their board.

Here's the press release from Talia Leman, the RandomKid CEO who happens to be an 8th grader in Des Moines, Iowa.

TO THE MOST WONDERFUL NETWORK ON THE PLANET:

I just had to share the great news. Not only is it confirmed that we won the $10,000 grant, Richard's Rwanda won with us! I thank all of you so much for helping them to make this happen, too. I know that if they could, they would want you to know how grateful they are.  I know that are jumping for joy just as I am.

We can hardly wait to send you the link to our new website for RandomKid, and we will be sure to let you know what Richard's Rwanda was able to do-- all of this because of YOU. All those votes of yours will make a difference in the world, you will see how much, and I know you will be proud of what we do.

You have the best day ever, and here is one final . . .

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"At times our own light is kindled by a spark from another person.

Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude

of those who have lighted the flame within us."

--Dr. Albert Schweitzer


 Thank you for lighting our flame.

Very Truly,

Talia Y. Leman


Talia and Bill on Giving

Here is Talia Leman, RandomKid visionary, on how to turn kids' desire to give into opportunities to make a difference. Listen carefully. This is not like anything that has been happening.

Talia references Bill Gates 2007 Harvard commencement speech. In that address, he says.

But humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries – but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad economic opportunity – reducing inequity is the highest human achievement.
...

If we can really see a problem, which is the first step, we come to the second step: cutting through the complexity to find a solution.

Finding solutions is essential if we want to make the most of our caring. If we have clear and proven answers anytime an organization or individual asks “How can I help?,” then we can get action – and we can make sure that none of the caring in the world is wasted. But complexity makes it hard to mark a path of action for everyone who cares — and that makes it hard for their caring to matter.

Cutting through complexity to find a solution runs through four predictable stages: determine a goal, find the highest-leverage approach, discover the ideal technology for that approach, and in the meantime, make the smartest application of the technology that you already have — whether it’s something sophisticated, like a drug, or something simpler, like a bednet.

...

Pursuing that goal starts the four-step cycle again. This is the pattern. The crucial thing is to never stop thinking and working – and never do what we did with malaria and tuberculosis in the 20th century – which is to surrender to complexity and quit.

The final step – after seeing the problem and finding an approach – is to measure the impact of your work and share your successes and failures so that others learn from your efforts.

You have to have the statistics, of course. You have to be able to show that a program is vaccinating millions more children. You have to be able to show a decline in the number of children dying from these diseases. This is essential not just to improve the program, but also to help draw more investment from business and government.

But if you want to inspire people to participate, you have to show more than numbers; you have to convey the human impact of the work – so people can feel what saving a life means to the families affected.

  There are many obstacles to making a difference, and they are all overcome with a power that each of us has. Each of us as the power of initiative. Either we take initiative or we don't.  If we don't, something happens, and often it is for the worst. If we do, we have a chance to make a difference. Most of us don't know until we try.

Talia tried, and tried again, and again and again. Her life is making a difference. And yours can too if you take the first step.


Talia says Thank You

I've written about Talia Leman and RandomKid. But words do not quite capture the significance of what Talia is doing. Watch this video and realize that a generation of kids touched by other RandomKids will emerge into adulthood different than those in their 20's to 80's. Through kids like Talia, they will understand that they have the power to do things that most of us didn't dream of until we were well into adulthood.  If you can contribute to RandomKid in your end of the year giving, please do so. Your gift will make a difference.


Vote for RandomKid at BestBuy.com during December

Last week I wrote about Talia Leman, the 13 year old CEO of RandomKid, a kids' social entrepreneurial / philanthropic organization. Talia had been featured in a column by Nicholas Kristof in the NYTimes on Sunday, November 16. Talia writes

to ask a favor.

Best Buy is giving my organization, RandomKid (www.randomkid.org) the opportunity to fund a new website through a $10,000 grant. The catch is that I have to earn that grant by getting people to vote for my grant project on-line.  Out of 30 projects selected by Best Buy (RandomKid is one of them), 15 will receive $10,000 grants to advance their goals. (The odds are good, since I have a 50% chance of being one of them.)

Here is my project in a nutshell, so you will understand the value of it.  Before I describe it, though, I want you to know that I am not asking you to vote for me as a friend, or family member, because I don't feel that one person deserves this over any another.  I am asking you only to vote for my project, if you feel it will bring a value to the world that makes it deserving of this grant. 

Purpose of my project:

To save lives, and improve lives, by empowering youth to achieve their goals that make a difference. 

How: 

By providing advanced computer technology that unifies youth fundraising efforts around the world toward common goals so that together we can solve real world problems, literally building schools, placing safe water wells, vaccinating children, and more.

Impact: 

So far we unified the efforts of schools in 8 states to fund safe water wells together serving 5000 in Africa, we unified the efforts of kids in 19 countries to build and name a school for 300 students in Cambodia, we unified 10 kids from 5 states to raise the money to build a home in the gulf, and now we want to rally kids around even more great projects ideas.  By having this website, our potential is unlimited.

Best Buy grant goal: (I have already raised $21,000, and I need the final $10,000)

Finish development of a website that allows kids to safely create or join into any project in real time and raise funds/resources that can be seen accumulating on a real-time thermometer toward their goal-- all under the umbrella of our 501C3 so that every donation is tax deductible. (I am modeling this site after www.globalgiving.org, only it will be geared toward kids with curriculum supports and safe networking/educational opportunities.)

The voting period is from December 1st-December 31st. I am trying to figure out the best way to run my campaign for votes, and this is what I think would work best:

  • I am looking for friends and family who are willing to vote for me once per day for one month (whenever they can). 
  • I want to know if you are able or willing to do this, and if you are, please email me back with a YES.
  • I will send you an email every day for all 31 days in December, with the link, and some words of inspiration for the day (how about that!)
  • You do not have to register to vote, you can just go to the site and simply click where you want to.
  • You can only vote once per day per computer (per modem, actually), and once per day for every cell phone you have if you wanted to go above and beyond.
  • It will take only 20-30 seconds each day
  • The contest requires you to vote for 2 different projects each day to encourage people to vote for people they don't know, based solely on their projects (a good twist)
  • I truly believe that the project I am putting out there will create something phenomenal for the children of the world, and that is why I am comfortable asking you to do this
  • Here is what I have so far for the home page for the website, so you can get a sneak peak: http://securemockups.net/php/randomkid/wireframe/version%205/index.html

I hope that you will consider this.  My goal is to find 30 people who are willing to take this on with me and make it happen.

Thank you so much.

Very Truly,

Talia Leman, with the support of  Anne Ginther (my adult RandomKid partner who shares this dream with me every day).

Talia, I think we can do better than 30.

If you would like to receive a reminder from Talia each day in December, she is going to send out a little inspirational message to her email list. If you'd like to hear from her, leave a comment here on this post, making sure that when you register to comment that you include an email address. I'll collect them and send them to her.

Thanks for your help.

 


Talia for President

See UPDATE from RandomKid below.

Nicholas Kristof in the Sunday NY Times writes about Talia Leman. Talia Leman

When Talia was 10 years old, she saw television clips of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and decided to help. She galvanized other kids and started a movement to trick-or-treat at Halloween for coins for hurricane victims.

The movement caught the public imagination, Talia made it on the “Today” show, and the campaign raised more than $10 million. With that success behind her, Talia organized a program called RandomKid to help other young social entrepreneurs organize and raise money.


Talia is an eighth grader from Des Moines, Iowa, who is the embodiment of the idea that kids can make a difference if only given a chance.

She's a friend of our family met through our daughter's involvement in RandomKidTalia is the CEO, and has just been honored by World of Children for her activism. 

I'm very happy for Talia. She's a great kid from a wonderful family. Her little brother, who goes by the name Little Wolf, is one of my all time favorite kids. Check out his weblog.

RandomKid helps kids with philanthropic/ social entrepreneurial projects. A kid contacts RandomKid online, and and the RandomKid team gives them the support to make their dream a reality.. It can be a small project like raising money for a sick kid at school, or big like building Habitat houses along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. RandomKid is also helping kids raising money to provide water wells in Africa. It is an amazing organization that holds great promise for the future of our society.

Nicholas Kristof concludes, "If kids like Talia can accomplish so much, without credit cards or driving licenses, just imagine what adults could achieve." I totally agree.

I'm convinced that kids 10-13 years old are THE prime candidates for leadership development and philanthropic initiative. Once puberty sets in all sorts of doubts intrude into the psyche of kids and for many adults, they never get over believing that they have nothing to contribute to this world.

The distinctiveness of Talia and her RandomKid counterparts is that acted on their ideas. If you have a kid, talk to them about how they can make a difference. Don't tell them, ask them, and then help them to make it happen. If you need help, contact RandomKid. There is no better time than now to do so.

UPDATE: Thought you'd like to hear from Talia, CEO and Anne Ginter, President of RandomKid.  If you wold like to receive these newsletters, go to the RandonKid website and sign up there.

Hello all our Random Friends!

This week has been a wonderfully crazy week!  We have had the pleasure of hearing from many, many random kids who want to solve real world problems, after being inspired by a column in Sunday's New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/opinion/16kristof.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss).  We're also thrilled to be hearing from lots of random grown-ups who want to support these awesome kids!

We're already kicking off a number of new awesome projects... the brain-children of... well... children!  We only wish our new website were online now.  We can't wait for you to use it!  We're in the process of redesigning our entire website to make it so much easier and faster for millions of kids to safely connect to solve real world problems.  If you're interested in investing in new technology to help this new generation of philanthropists, please let us know.  Our 13-year-old CEO Talia Leman has a great track record for Return on Investment (see http://godblesshumanity.com/articles/?p=146 for examples).

If you're a teacher, a youth group leader, or a kid looking for a cool way to solve real world problems, please check out www.randomkid.org/randomprojects.asp.

One project that has a lot of momentum right now is our water project to ease thirst around the earth:  See www.randomkid.org/water.asp and www.easethirst.blogspot.com -- be sure to check out the videos of the kids and their teachers talking about what a life changing experience this has been for them!  Our National Task Force to Rebuild the Gulf is also really close to finishing a house for a family in Mississippi that was displaced by Hurricane Katrina 3 years ago-- you could help us with that simply by purchasing a carabiner or making a donation!  (www.randomkid.org/randomstore.asp).

And if you're an education university student who needs an internship, let's talk!  In 2009 we want to explore having someone help us formalize some of our project curriculum that we provide to teachers.

And now, I'd like to close with this wonderful story.  We have been working with many schools on the water project.  The stories across the country are all very similar, but each one is unique and touches us deeply.  One of the schools we're working with right now showed us their students' test scores.  Before the water project, there were 11 kids "at risk".  Now that they're well into it, all of the kids are testing in the 90th percentile and above.  Why?  Because they're putting their education into action.  They're passionate about what they're doing and they're taking ownership.  Three moms came up to us at one event with tears in their eyes, telling us how much this has changed their child's experience at school.

We are humbled and honored to be serving so many outstanding kids, random kids just like you, who want to change the world.

With gratitude,

Talia Leman, CEO and Anne Ginther, President


Vote for Tiron and Tonisha as the Cartoon Network's Most Talented Kids

The Cartoon Network is conducting a Most Talented Kids contest. I know two of the finalists - Tiron and Tiron_tonisha Tonisha.  They are on RandomKid's National Taskforce to Rebuild the Gulf along with my daughter. Tiron is an excellent artist, and Tonisha is one of the sweetest, most poised kids I've met in a long time. They lost their home in Slidell, Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, and were the first family in their community to receive a Habitat house.
Here's RandomKid's piece about the contest. Please click through the links and vote for these two kids.

PLEASE VOTE with ONE CLICK to support KIDS HELPING OTHERS!

Cartoon Network selected 20 "Most Talented Kids" across the USA to be featured on their network and on their website.  All of the kids are gifted singers, actors, surfers, etc.  But two siblings stand out amongst the crowd.  Tiron and Tonisha are featured for their
community service work!  These are remarkable kids who survived Hurricane Katrina.  After moving into their Habitat for Humanity home in Slidell, LA, they hooked up with RandomKid to "pay it forward".   They have rallied their classmates around rebuilding their community, and worked to inspire kids nationwide through a wide variety of initiatives to get involved in rebuilding the gulf.  They raised $25,000 to help replenish Tonisha's school that is slated to reopen for the first time this fall, three years after the storm.   And they're currently working with kids across the USA to fund Habitat for Humanity homes in the MS Gulf Coast.   All of the children in this contest have followed their dreams.  Wouldn't it be neat to recognize, amongst these kids, two siblings who are achieving their dreams to help others?!  :) 

You don't have to register, or give out any information. Just click to vote.  Click/vote more than once if you like.


*** Please visit http://www.cartoonnetwork.com/promos/props/ and click on "Tiron and Tonisha."  Be sure to specifically click on "Click Here to vote for Tiron and Tonisha" so that they get a vote. ***  

For more information about Tiron and Tonisha, please visit http://www.randomkid.org/RockStarTonishaandTiron.asp and click here to read about their recent work with the MS Gulf Coast Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.   
 

And click here to watch this 4 minute video about RandomKid and The Power of ANYone 


Thanks!