Kids Boost is teaching kids to be philanthropic
Children want to do good; they just need an opportunity and support.
Children naturally empathetic, want to help others, and want to do good things. They will rush over to an injured classmate on the playground or try to soothe a crying baby.
Kids Boost, nonprofit founded in 2014, takes empathy one step further and turns this desire to help others into raising money for good causes. Kids Boost teaches kids to be philanthropic by giving them the tools they need to raise funds for a worthy cause.
Kids Boost founder and Childcare specialist at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia (CHOA) Kristen Witzel found a common theme with the children and families she worked with. She explained on the organization's website that when the children she worked with recovered from their illnesses or injuries, they were thankful and wanted to give something back to their communities.
Her inspiration for Kids Boost came from a boy named Jared. When he was six, Jared traumatically injured his arm and had to undergo seven surgeries in a few years' time. He wanted to give something back to CHOA in gratitude for the care he received. So, according to Witzel, Jared who loved to do rock climbing, asked his friends to pledge a donation for a climbathon. Jared climbed 100 walls and raised $2,500 for CHOA.
When he presented his check, Witzel said, "I remember thinking 'what if every child had the opportunity to use their gifts and talents to do something positive in the world?'" That's when Kids Boost was born.
The Atlanta-based organization gives kids (ages eight - 14) who want to help a cause $100 and a mentor to jumpstart a project and then gives the kids the tools to raise funds for their cause. Then they meet weekly to learn how to invest the seed money, plan, and implement the fundraiser. After the fundraiser is over, 80 percent goes to the cause and 20 percent goes to Kids Boost to seed other projects. The kids personally present the oversized checks to their cause.
“It’s a season just like you would sign your kid up for soccer, baseball or maybe drum lessons or tutoring,” Witzel said “We want it just to be just as easy for parents to get their kids involved in philanthropy and volunteering and civil engagement.”
Witzel told Goodnet that, " we have given kids $10,500 and they have turned that into more than $200,000 for 70 nonprofit organizations. While the numbers are impressive, our biggest success stories are about the kids and what they get out of the Kids Boost experience."
She explained that many of the kids come to the organization with low self-esteem and who already feel defeated. "But they have a huge heart and desire to make a difference… At the end of the project, we see kids beaming with pride as they present a giant check to a cause that's important to them. The parents report a boost in esteem, self -worth and confidence."
The organization works with kids of all abilities and all socioeconomic levels. Many of the children have received charity and want to give back, according to Witzel. She said that many of the children are grieving the loss of a loved one or have survived cancer or a traumatic injury.
"The Kids Boost project is a way to grieve in a positive way, while remembering the loved one and helping others. It turns their heartache into something positive and productive. It's been pretty life changing for some of these kids," said Witzel. Many of them continue to work for their cause after the project ends.
Right now, there is a waiting list of kids who want to support a cause and the organization hopes to be able to expand to other cities. This is a big win/win for the children who learn about philanthropy first-hand and for the causes they support.