"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." - Mary Ann Radmacher
Kids and Communities Are the Difference
By Molly Yuska, PGK Founder
As the founder of a nonprofit, I'm often asked "Why Project Giving Kids?" As someone who has been through enough management classes and a couple of start-ups to know well enough the inherent challenges, I have even asked myself that question. But the answer so far as been simple: because it's different and it's important - too important that not doing it hasn't felt like an option.
Project Giving Kids occupies a unique space. We see ourselves as a technology solution to a frustrating lack of good information about ways to get kids involved in service at the earliest of stages. But we are also, by necessity, a grassroots organization, as our "technology solution" is only as good as the nonprofit base used to populate our site and the kids, families, schools, after-school groups, and others that use our resources.
When thinking about starting a nonprofit, one of the most prudent questions one can ask is, do I need to create yet another nonprofit organization or can I achieve my "mission" by aligning myself with an existing group? When I started PGK, the former seemed the most feasible option, largely because what we wanted to do was different than anything else we saw out there. And we believe we still are. Why?
1) Project Giving Kids is designed for kids and teens, only. Our platform is uniquely crafted for easy consumption by kids and we are developing solutions that meet kids where they are. While the introduction may need to be facilitated by adults, we want kids to go to our site (and soon our mobile app), self-identify with causes they care about and begin their own service journey. Our content reflects this fact because we believe that when kids are empowered, great things can happen.
2) We partner with local nonprofits that make our communities better places to live with the goal of helping advance their volunteer agendas and identify new ways to engage the powerful kid/teen/parent demographic.
3) We aim to be no more than three clicks away from an actionable idea/project that is vetted and verifiably kid-friendly, one that a kid can take and run with without having to look any further for more information.
4) We aim to transform giving back into a more consistent part of kids’ and teens’ everyday realities. We want to use data to drive engagement, incentives to prompt action, and centralized storage for easy retrieval of volunteer hours.
5) We want to be a source of inspiration as well as information. Stories of kids making the world a better place move us all. We want to share those stories. We want kids to inspire other kids to take action...and if it inspires an adult or two along the way, even better.
At PGK, we believe every child can be a changemaker...and we want to see it happen.
What Do Boston, May and PGK Have in Common?
By Rachel Hanebutt, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, PGK-Boston
There are so many great service activities that you can do with your kids during the month of May in Boston. Check out our list of 5 great activities that you can do this month, some without leaving your home!
On May 10th, from 5:30-7:30 PM, you can help by checking toys, folding and shelving baby clothes, and organizing our client space so that it stays beautiful for the families served. Room to Grow is a nonprofit organization that provides families in poverty with individualized parenting support, information and guidance, as well as all of the baby items parents need for their growing baby during their first three years of life. Your family can help sort
Do your kids love nature? Volunteering with Friends of the Blue Hills is a great way to help them to learn more about conservation of wildlife and natural environments. It only takes about 2-4 hours of your time. You will enjoy music, face painting, crafts and a scavenger hunt while helping with an essential task: pulling up invasive weeds that threaten the Blue Hills. They provide everything you need.
3. Visit Animals at the MSPCA.
Especially with younger children, it can be hard to volunteer on a regular basis. However, your family can visit a local animal shelter, such as the MSPCA, to visit and play with homeless animals. You might even find yourself giving an animal in need a forever home!
4. Help Save Nature with Emerald Necklace.
Spring has finally sprung and your family can keep Boston Commons looking great by working to at Emerald Necklace Conservancy to help remove Invasive plants, the plants that take over a forest. When you help remove invasive plants, you help make sure that native trees will grow and stay strong, and that the birds, insects and other animals that live in them will stay in the park too.
5. Celebrate Memorial Day by Hosting a Cell Phone Drive for Soldiers.
Summertime is a great time to teach your kids about how to run their own goods drive to collect unwanted or gently-used items. Collecting cell phones for soldiers is a great way to teach them about technology, donating, and the armed forces, all at once! For more information about how to host your own drive, check out our “how to” description on the PGK website.
There is not a shortage of options of great service activities to do with your kids this May in Boston! Find the causes that your kids care about on the PGK website by using our activity finder: http://projectgivingkids.org/activitiespage/.
Why It Really Matters
By Wendy Thurmond, PGK Board Member and Mom of Three
The days of making sure they are asleep on their backs, cutting their food into tiny pieces and snapping their onesies are sadly over. Little kids, little problems. One of my biggest worries now, is making sure my kids have a conscience. On a recent trip to Miami, I was in awe of how many young girls spent a considerable amount of time on the beach taking so called selfies. As opposed to being in the moment, they seemed more concerned with how they would look on social media. I immediately thought, how do I make sure that’s not my kids in 6 years?
For much of my life I have volunteered, to help others and to also take the focus off of me. Giving back wasn't as easy when my kids were really little. Once they hit elementary school I felt they were ready to give back, the problem was finding places that allowed them to volunteer at a young age. A friend mentioned Project Giving Kids, an interactive way to connect kids to causes. I fell in love with the concept, not only for its convenience, but for its commitment to helping raise kids to be better humans. Studies show kids who volunteer are more likely to feel connected with their communities, and less likely to engage in risky behavior, such as drug use. The non-profit Child Trends found kids who volunteer are much more likely to graduate from college than their peers. The evidence on the benefits of volunteering at a young age is abundant.
I sing the praises of Project Giving Kids to friends, colleagues and even strangers, any chance I get. The cause seems to resonate with everyone. Those people have in turn gone to the site, registered and gotten their children involved. Old fashioned interaction has allowed me to hear from kids first hand about how, where and when they want to volunteer. Kids talk to other kids about what they have done, and they too want to be a part of the action. In this world of constant stimulation, staying relevant isn't easy. As long as we at PGK continue to spread our wings and bring more phenomenal non-profits onboard, I believe the kids will come, but we depend on parents to be the facilitators.
Ego is the latin word for self. I always tell my kids too much ego is never a good thing. Volunteering will never go out of style, but I hope selfies will. To react to the outside world, you have to pay attention to it. When you are always pointing the camera at yourself, it’s hard to see what’s going on around you. PGK has allowed my kids to see a small sliver of the real world; some parents spend weeks in hotels while their child undergoes cancer treatment, some kids can’t afford soccer cleats, and some elderly people never get a birthday card. PGK has helped take the focus off of us, and put it on those in need. A priceless education. Sure, I take plenty of cell phone shots of my kids volunteering, but the focus is on what they are doing, not what they look like.