Wednesday, October 26, 2011

12 year old Elliot Mast: A Home Run for Children’s Hospitals

Contributing Writer: Brandi Milloy

Twelve year old Elliot Mast has been using his love of baseball to make a difference in the lives of sick children.

He got the idea to help his local Children’s Hospital after seeing a commercial about major league baseball player, Curtis Granderson, whose Grand Kids Foundation provides education and baseball opportunities to inner city youth.  As a means of fundraising for his Scoring For Schools initiative, Granderson asked his fans to pledge money for home runs, runs scored and extra base hits.

Elliot became inspired to do the same thing and decided to dedicate his baseball season to the kids at a local Children’s Hospital.  A member of the KooDooZ youth advisory board, Danielle Beauregard, interviews Elliot:

Elliot is no rookie player.  Last year he raised more than $5,000 dollars by playing ball!  Elliot plays pitcher, catcher and first basemen for two travel teams and logs on average 65 games a season.  This 12-year-old breaks records whether on the mound or on the plate-striking out more than 100 batters and hitting .500 last season.  That’s a lot of money batted in when he’s pledged to donate $2 for every base hit, $5 for every strikeout he pitches and $10 for every home run he hits.  If doing his best isn’t motivation enough, his best season thus far was last year when he dedicated it to the kids in the hospital.

All monies raised benefit the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation’s Give to Children and Child Life Programs, which aids ill children and their families while staying at the hospital and makes sure the child’s stay is fun and, according to Elliot, “not too scary.”  In the doctor-free zone, Child Life provides games, toys, video games, books and hosts events so the “kids can be kids and not just patients.”

Having been a patient himself, Elliot knows how important it is to have programs like the Child Life Program. Elliot was born with a club foot, and after being told he would never walk, Elliot underwent serious foot surgeries and procedures at the Pittsburg Children’s Hospital to correct his deformity.  Now that Elliot is better, he wants to give back to the hospital that helped him get on his feet and especially to the kids who are patients there.

In addition to raising money through his baseball performance, Elliot recruited the Altoona Curve, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Double-A affiliate to host a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital.  He sent letters to businesses seeking sponsorship and collected silent auction items and sold raffle tickets. That night he raised $800.  Elliot also encourages kids everywhere to donate crafts and become a pen pal to a patient at the hospital.

Elliot has received a lot of support from his community and even from major league relief pitcher Jason Grilli, who used his business website, Wild Pitch Marketing, to promote Elliot’s mission.  In addition to Elliot’s blog, he uses all forms of social media to promote his efforts.  He has a facebook profile, uses twitter and posts videos on youtube to network and share his mission to help kids in the hospital.   In the future he wants to design and sell t-shirts to help raise money.  He’s always thinking of ways to fundraise for the Child Life program.

In the United States, about 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sports, imagine how much money could be raised if all of us “pitched in and got involved,” by taking Elliot’s challenge this baseball season!

Posted via email from KooDooZ

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

ideate. innovate. inspire. implement. invest.

I am humbled and excited to join some of the most creative and innovative minds in the field of “doing good” as a speaker at the 2011 !deation Conference.  This year’s theme is “Love Human. Invest Good,” with conversations centered around how both the non-profit and for-profit sectors can work together for better human care.

A true “un-conference” in its’ design and layout, Charles Lee — CEO and Founder of Ideation Consultancy– is committed to cultivating the best conversations in social innovation.  Look at the line-up of speakers and you’ll see a long list of people who have made radical impact on the world.  But the gem here is that the speakers are purposed to spark conversation, while the participants are meant to carry the dialogue. 

Through this approach, the conference enables attendees to consider the implementation ideas of our peers against or own organizational problem-solving practices. 

ideate. innovate. inspire. implement. invest.

“Innovation is changing from top-down genius to bottom-up social evolution driven by young people’s need to connect.”
~ Graham Brown mobileYouth

My presentation, this year, will focus on the pressing need I see for more non-profits to invest in cradle-to-career humanitarian impact opportunities (not just education) for kids — starting in early childhood and extending all the way thru college. 

The complexity of humanitarian issues do not have to forfeit youth involvement.  Young people feel they should have a say in the future and the world we will be living in, and not only suffer the consequences of previous generations.

No more slactivism, no more ageism.  More non-profits have to learn what their corporate counterparts already know:  empower youth to impact your brand destiny, for they are powerful allies to have, with global reach.

Social media and mobile phones have accelerated the global reach of us all, but with smart phones and computers in the hands of kids as young as 7 years old, the awareness and compassion to what’s happening in this world has heightened at a much earlier age for the connected generation.

More to the point, if mobileYouth is correct in their predictions, then within 5 years there will be more mobile-owning youth living in rural villages than people in the entire United States. 

The conversation I would like to spark at !deation is:  Why public and private sectors should build better dialogue with the grassroots of youth who are not facing humanitarian strife.

Posted via email from KooDooZ

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Teens Tackle Abuse and Dating Violence

Most kids use the money saved from their first job to buy a car — but not Jordan Coleman.  After playing the voice of Tyrone on Nick Jr.’s Backyardians, his mom challenged her 12 year old son to “do” something positive with his earnings. 

This challenge ignited Jordan as a film-maker and he wrote, directed and produced “Say It Loud!” a documentary that explores the importance of education for African-American boys.  His work was showcased in AMC Theatres in a seven city tour and featured appearances by Rev. Al Sharpton, Ludacris and Kobe Bryant. 

Jordan’s next film, “Payin the Price” addresses teen dating violence, a subject which deserves more attention — and perhaps now will with the Presidential Proclamation that February is National Teen Dating Awareness and Prevention Month

Jordan says he was inspired to tackle this difficult subject after the violent incident between R&B couple Chris Brown and Rihanna that landed Chris Brown in jail and Rihanna in the hospital.  Determined to tackle this subject as his next film, Jordan began writing his script, and involved his family — his mother and brother for production support, and his father, Senator Adams for political support.  In June 2010 Jordan and Senator Adams held a press conference introducing two NYS Senate bills that protect domestic violence victims. 

Defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), dating violence is a pattern of violent behavior that someone uses against their partner to cause pain.

With close to 72% of 8th and 9th grade students dating these days, it’s important for this age-group to understand the challenge they are up against.

  • 1-in-4 teens reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual violence each year
  • 1-in-5 high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner
  • 1-in-11 teens reports being a victim of physical dating violence each year 

“According to national statistics, there are some parents who don’t believe teen dating violence is real, but it is.  And it’s happening more and more, and the violence is not just physical.  Now kids are using the internet and texting to bully and harass,” explained Jordan. 

Despite efforts to raise awareness of this issue, a vast majority of parents — an estimated 81% — believe that teen dating violence is either not an issue or admit to not knowing if it is an issue. 

  • Though 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58%) could not correctly identify the signs 
  • Even when the issue of dating violence was obvious to the parents, 78%of teens experiencing this type of abuse report staying in the relationship despite their parents’ advice.

Nationwide, 10% of students report being physically abused by a boyfriend or a girlfriend, which translates to 1.5 million teens nationwide.

While the relationship between the people is often different, the behaviors of bullies and teen dating violence offenders are the same.  Their actions are intentionally and repeatedly hurtful and involves a power differential.  Do you know the early warning signs of teen violence?

Jordan Coleman is not the only teen we know tackling the challenge of teen abuse. 

  • 13 year old Kate Garret started a Club at School and is selling wristbands to bring awareness around bullying (especially LGBT)
  • 14 year old Lindsay Swatland is part of a student-led activism group bringing awareness to teen dating violence yearlong.
  • 15 year old Patrick Kohlmann is a high school student who started an anti-bullying awareness campaign called “Through My Eyes.”  He ignited as a cause crusader after a bully in his school threatened his life, and pushed him down a flight of stairs. 
  • 16 year old Nadine Sanchez, Miss New Mexico’s new outstanding teen has made “Love Is Respect” her platform, serving to further raise awareness of teen dating violence.
  • 17 year old Artesse Conley, an ambassador of ”Start Strong,” has used skits to explore how easily signs of affection among their peers can turn into control games, harassment and violence.
  • 17 year old Miranda Blomquist, is one of five members of a new student organization, “Stopping Abuse Forever” or SAFE, that gives members the chance to help peers impacted by the problem.

Now through 12/15/2011, KooDooZ is asking youth 18 years and younger to join Jordan in raising awareness for these types of abuse by putting their voice on camera and takling the challenge of teen violence through the creation of a PSA.  Challenge participants have the opportunity to earn money and hours will be credited towards the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

NOTE FROM LEE FOX:  Adults interested in investing a deeper understanding of this subject are encouraged to read “Tornado Warning” by Elin Stebbins Waldal, whose book portrays the effect that living through an abusive relationship can have.


Posted via email from KooDooZ

Friday, September 9, 2011


Oh, the dichotomy of Generation Z (today’s teen, tween and kid)! Described as both selfish and altruistic, GenZs live in a world they believe is doomed, but they are also ecstatic about the possibility of their own impact. Burdened by the enormity of climate change, many are emerging as eco-warriors.

With nearly one-in-five mammal, reptile, bird or amphibian species facing extinction, it’s perhaps not surprising that the relationship today’s youth have with animals is altering from anthropocentrism – the tendency for humans to regard themselves as the central and most significant beings in the universe – to stewardship.

But to sociologists, who have proven that the loss of contact with nature … is nature’s loss, the biggest pardox is whether “natural world” experiences will remain the primary driver of biocentrism – the belief that nature does not exist to be consumed by mankind – or whether “virtual & online world” experiences will also prove their merit in cultivating GenZ’s compassion for animals and concern for the world?

Meet 9 year old Carter Ries and his 8 year old sister, Olivia. This brother and sister team are the founders of OMG, a non-profit dedicated to helping all endangered species survive at least One More Generation… and beyond.

Inspired to make a difference after learning that animals are dying because “we keep taking their land and polluting their environment,” explains Carter,the duo turned to the internet to learn what they could do to help. With each new devastating fact, the kids kept saying “Oh My Gosh, oh my gosh…” or OMG.

KooDooZ youth advisory board member, Danielle Beauregard, interviewed Carter and Olivia to learn how they are saving the lives of species half way around the world. Listen to the podcast:


 A Harvard Education Letter, entitled “The Greening of Environmental Education” stated the number-one rule for teaching young elementary school students about the environment is to veer away from the darker side of the equation.(NOTE: This is in contradiction to Carter and Olivia’s world view)

When every other facet in a child’s life paints such a bleak picture about global warming, deforestation, endangered species and access to clean water, how much should schools really “soften the blow”?


If marketers are going to float polar bears on a shrinking iceberg to advertise their product, educators should not have any trepidation about having the same green conversations in their classrooms, with school-aged kids.

In particular, environmental educators should focus on the period from 2nd to 5th grades.  For it is this age group that is most significantly characterized by a major increase in emotional concern and affection for animals. Any time later, and we’re hitting them too late. Research suggests attitudes toward wildlife have been firmly established by the 8th grade.


Pyschologists believe that giving children scary environmental facts will serve to (i) make problems seem unsolvable; (ii) label individual action as unimportant; and (iii) convey an overall sense of hopelessness and helplessness to children.

How true is this in light of GenZ’s proven tenacity as eco-warriors? Consider the impact these young social entrepreneurs have had:

  1. Ben Workinger, at the age of 8 started a way station for Monarch Butterflies at his school
  2. Colin Carlson, at the age of 11 created a multi-pronged project (with a website) to educate people in his community about global warming
  3. Nathan Moos, at the age of 11 recruited eighteen other 6th graders to help him get parents to adopt car idling restrictions as a way to prevent air pollution
  4. Alec Loorz, at the age of 12, organized Kids-vs-Global-Warming action teams who pledged to green their schools and get involved in local environmental projects
  5. Alexander Lin, at the of 12 learned that consumer electronics and heavy metals that end up in the landfill will irreversibly poison groundwater and promoted legislation to ban the dumping of e-waste.


Not unlike the eco-warriors before them, Carter and Olivia have had measurable impact. Since building OMG from the ground up in their hometown in Fayetteville, Georgia, Carter and Olivia have involved their friends, family, and members of their community in their cause.

During the Gulf oil spill crisis, the siblings collected supplies to assist in the rehabilitation of animals affected by the spill. After 4 months of planning and collection, the OMG founders took a 1,248 (round) trip journey to the Gulf, on Olivia’s birthday. “When we saw the first report on CNN showing the oiled sea turtles and birds, it hurt our hearts and we knew we had to help,” Carter explained. “Once we arrived and saw all the sick sea turtles and how the veterinarians and volunteers were working so hard, it was obvious that we didn’t just collect soap and rags and other stuff… we were actually saving sea turtles,” Olivia added.

Olivia and Carter have shown in more ways than one that they are a force to be reckoned with, for example, they have:

  1. Met with the Deputy District Director for Congressman Lynn Westmoreland to urge the consideration of co-sponsoring H.R.-14, the Ocean Acidification Act.
  2. Raised money to help support the Ann van Dyk Cheeta Rescue in South Africa, which has spent the last 40-years tirelessly working towards helping keep CheetahAfrican Wild DogBrown HyenaServalSuni Antelope andRiverine Rabbits from becoming extinct
  3. Written to their local Governor’s office to help:
    • stop Rattlesnake Roundups stopped and legislation amended to allow venomous snakes to be protected under local law
    • help the Gopher Tortoises that are being senselessly killed via the snake-hunter gassings during the Roundups
  4. Spoken with the local Southeastern Reptile Rescue organization about joining forces to help spread the word about how vital snakes and other misunderstood reptiles are to the eco system
  5. Coordinated the first annual OMG Day at their school which offered:
    • educational material from a local nature center to heighten awareness around the pressing issue of endangered species
    • hands-on opportunities to interact with animals threatened with extinction and learn why they are so important to the eco-system


For generation Z, interacting online is “second nature” and is as important as interacting in the “real world.” The fact is, the world wide web gives people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to become more “worldly” and savvy to the plight of all living things. Animals that we can’t even find at our local zoo can be discovered online, and when coupled with interactive multimedia components, these far-away creatures can come to life.

Personally, I believe learning about “abstract concepts,” such as the loss of rainforests and endangered species, should happen in conjunction with a child’s use of media and digital assets.

Generation Z demands transparency and meaningful engagement. If our environmental education sugar-coats the world’s biggest and most public concerns, we will further put our schools in risk of staying relevant.

If we are to “save the world,” we should embrace the mission of teaching kids how to be active citizens and stewards of the environment, by giving them as many hands-on and peer-to-peer learning opportunities as possible, both online and real-world.


Posted via email from KooDooZ

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cultivating Kidpreneurs

Home sick from school, 10-year old Tyler Page was watching an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” featuring a story on child trafficking in Ghana with his mom, Laura.

It was February, 2007 -- the date significant only because it ignited Tyler's beginning as a youthpreneur.

Tyler was aghast to learn that children, his age and younger, were being sold by their own parents into slavery. For as little as $20-dollars a month, fishermen could "buy" these children and force them to work twelve hour days with just one meal and little or no water.

Tyler wanted to "do" what he could to save at least one child from becoming a slave for an entire year. He told his mom his goal was to raise $240-dollars (one child $20/month X 12 months = $240/year).

To do this, he recruited friends and opened a roadside business -- a hand car-washing service which they intended to run until their goal was met. In just one weekend, Tyler raised more than $1,000. It was to be his first taste of success as a social entrepreneur.

Inspired by the ability to save more than one Ghanaian child’s life, Tyler and his team of friends, family and community members tried out a variety of business models. From rummage sales to hair-cuts, Tyler Page found new ways to incorporate the community into his mission of saving children halfway around the world. In just six months, $20,000 were raised, and a local news station picked up his story.


Turning inspiration into action, Tyler’s family created Kids Helping Kids Leadership Academy, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating children on how to transform their passion into purpose, while helping children in need. Their mission is to create global transformation one child at a time...all while using entrepreneurship as a foundation.

Meeting monthly to discuss topics such as integrity, accountability, time management, leadership skills, conflict management, communication and goal setting, Tyler's leadership academy focuses on cause, community and kids.

By allowing kids to contribute ideas, create their own fundraising campaigns and be in charge, Tyler's Leadership Academy effectively cultivates and ignites kidpreneurs.

To date, more than 300 local kids from his hometown have participated in Tyler’s vision of how to make the world a better place.

Some, like Brianna Howell, have expanded on Tyler's ideas, by collecting Christmas gifts for each rescued child. Brianna's initiative resulted in a team from Kids Helping Kids assembling her collected items into 500 bookbags filled with personalized Christmas cards, school supplies and candy.

In an effort to cultivate more kidpreneurs, KooDooZ and Kids Helping Kids have co-authored an "Education - Roadside Entrepreneur" challenge to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week.

From goal setting to budgeting, and location to marketing, kids are given step-by-step processes so that their ideas can be implemented as successful social enterprises.

For more information on Tyler’s leadership academy visit and to join Tyler by opening your own Roadside Business, visit to create a free account where you can track your hours of service, funds raised and network with other kids.

Posted via email from KooDooZ

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cultivating Entrepreneurial Creativity

“Entrepreneurship should become the fourth “R” right alongside reading, writing and arithmetic.”  I agree with Richard Florida.  Entrepreneurial creativity has always shaped the landscape of opportunity and wealth -- not just for the innovators, but for the countries in which they live. 

Consider the free-thinking of Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison.  Each brought economic and infrastructure greatness to these United States.  Although this last decade has given birth to Facebook, Google’s search algorithm and Apple’s iPhone, American creativity and innovation are reportedly on the decline.  Our slip to 4th place in the 2010-2011 Global Competitiveness Report and our fall to 3rd place in a study on global entrepreneurship issued by the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, punctuate this fact. 

The loss of these global footholds means new technologies and occupations will exist outside our borders, potentially further contributing to our economic duress. 

Creative Thinking & Our Children

Entrepreneurial creativity is defined by an individual’s ability to convert creative ideas into value-producing profitable business activities.  While there’s no question that the 20th century was largely pioneered by enterprising Americans, future generations can not rest on the laurels of yesteryear and expect an easy road ahead.       

Once an international leader in high school graduation rates, the U.S. is now ranked 18th out of 25 industrialized countries.  While other nations are heralded for teaching their kids how to create jobs, U.S. public schools are too often criticized of only preparing today’s youth for jobs.  We need to re-think our cultural support of entrepreneurship, if we hope to capitalize on the passion and energy this next generation has to offer. 

Just three years ago, a Harris Interactive survey revealed that 4 in 10 young people (ages 8-to-21) would like to start their own businesses someday, especially if that means they can use their skills and abilities to build for the future.  Although aspirations are high, action, execution and support for budding entrepreneurs in that age-group is embarrassingly low.

Educational Psychologist, Kyung Hee Kim (who was interviewed for a Newsweek article, entitled: The Creativity Crisis), believes that our current student body will be less prepared to deal with the future challenges that await them, if innovation and free thinking aren’t fostered and encouraged in schools.

“Future leaders will not be ready to accept risks, even though the population may expect the rewards that the previous generations enjoyed as their legacy.”

According to Dr. Kim, creativity in America is punished and discouraged by parents and teachers who perceive creative behavior as inconvenient and difficult to manage. (And I shouldn’t even open up this can of worms, but research also shows that many children diagnosed with ADHD are creative, and many creative children are misdiagnosed as having ADHD.)  As Dr. Kim points out, the very qualities that facilitate individual’s creative accomplishments can be the same ones that may cause them to struggle in what we have defined as “normal” and “acceptable” behavior in school.

Sir Ken Robinson’s “Changing Education Paradigms” speech poignantly endorses this assertion by examining the problems we have created with standardized curriculum, rote memorization and nationalized testing: 

While there’s a movement to abolish static teaching practices, all of us – parents, educators and business leaders – have to realize that the capacity to nurture our next generation of <social> entrepreneurs takes root in the conversations we have with kids at home and in our schools. 

In the past, I’ve suggested that we should more heavily invest in empowering kids with service to their community – because it brings heightened relevance.  I’ve really only hinted at how important I feel it is that we use mobile and social technologies as well in this context.  

The 2.0 web is a massive leap forward in human evolution.  According to a think-tank composed of scholars from Silicon Valley, Oxford, Harvard, Rutgers, the Universities of Tokyo and Lausanne and Kansas State University, “The last five years represent a quantum leap in the evolution of Homo Sapiens, comparable to far earlier transformations in hominid history.”

web 2.0 and entrepreneurial creativity

Characteristically, today’s youth value experiential learning and working in teams.  They want to gain knowledge by doing, rather than being told what to do.  Our social web facilitates these types of interactions better than most classrooms currently can.

According to the National School Boards Association (NSBA), more than 93% of educators surveyed say classroom technology has made students more engaged in learning.  But the reality is, we’re still years away from mainstream web 2.0 classroom implementations because of the following challenges:

  1. Social and mobile technology itself has to overcome it’s “mind-numbing, waste of time” reputation.   
  2. Educators, not used to teaching with web 2.0 tools, need to get training and support before they can cut ties with traditional teaching methodologies and print textbooks.

Cost no longer has to be the barrier, as there are a variety of free social media tools for teachers which provide immediate visibility and access to popular information.  Instant messaging & video conferencing enables us to communicate with people around the globe in a millisecond; wikis let us co-create and share ideas; and hundreds of thousands of smart phone applications are at our fingertips.

Academic rigor – the ability to master specific skills – increases with the use of technology.  Even when teachers implement a hybrid approach (coupling traditional methods with e-learning platforms), kids engage more deeply. 

“Our collaboration online has not only enhanced their learning experience, but my own teaching experience as well,” attests one educator.  Adds an 8th grade student:  “We can express our opinions like adults, not kids.”  These statements also reflect the power technology has to seamlessly add a multi-age component to schools – which I’ll save for another post.    

Cultivating kid-preneurs

Equity concerns about student access to devices have to be resolved -- and quickly -- because every time we confiscate social and mobile technologies from the hands of our children, we are disconnecting ourselves from them.  Research firms Frost & Sullivan and Forrester are predicting that by 2015, more than 80% of Americans will own smartphones, compared to 17% of us today.  Whether the proliferation will reach those proportions or not, it’s clear that we need to bridge our growing digital divide.

It pains me greatly that so many apps have been developed to be consumed as “toys” as opposed to teaching or informational tools.  I’d like to ask more brand counterparts to show their corporate support of education by investing in programs and products which foster creativity and innovative thinking.  After all, these are among the top 5 skills organizations say they need from their employee-base.

KooDooZ will again join the Kauffman Foundation’s effort in raising awareness for the importance of entrepreneurialism by participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW 2010).  Our team – and the kids whose lives we touch – will add our voices to the millions of people around the globe to participate in the world’s largest celebration of entrepreneurship and creativity.

Can your firm organize an event to cultivate and inspire youth entrepreneurs between November 15th and 21st, 2010?  I challenge you to do so.  Consider it a remarkable opportunity to invest in the future with a guaranteed return on investment.

Posted via email from KooDooZ

Social Media, Social Justice & Environmental Education

The intersection between youth, activism and new media technologies continue to grab the attention of brands, educators and policy-makers with growing interest.  "Green" has become the new face of youth activism and millions of young people around the world are participating in environmental initiatives discovered through online portals.

Here in the United States, there's also a growing movement connecting the natural environment to traditional school subjects including math, science, reading and writing.  As we guide our youngest generation towards environmental literacy, how much of a role should social media play (given the "brand dominant" nature of the conversations) -- and is it in conflict with the social and environmental justice sought by our parents, educators and policy-makers?

On Saturday, September 25th, 2010, KooDooZ founder, Lee Fox, will moderate a free workshop entitled: “Social Justice, Social Media & Environmental Education.”  The purpose of this blog post is to offer some context for anyone interested in adding their voice to the conversation. 


#1: Are we on the brink of experiencing a new generational divide...
that's green in color?

It should not be lost on any of us that today’s kids have been witness to the most severe environmental disaster our country has ever seen, that climate change has become a big part of our national dialogue and that the lives of millions of people, irrespective of age, geography or socioeconomic status have been directly affected by -- as stated in the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study -- “the irresponsibility of big business.”

82% of kids polled by Scholastic News stated they were concerned about the BP oil spill, and 48% said they were most concerned about its effect on the animals and the Gulf ecosystems.  Kids of all ages demonstrated their commitment to the environment by joining their voices with the public's out-cry:

  • 14-year old Lauren Spaulding who confronted BP representatives at a town hall meeting about its lack of initiative to educate children about the spill.  She pointed out that kids were “worried about the environment and their parents’ livelihoods,” and wanted to learn more about how they could help. 
  • 11-year old, Olivia Bouler, who contacted the Audubon Society looking for ways she could help fund relief for the wildlife impacted by the spill and raised $175,000 dollars.
  • 13-year old and 16-year old Toth sisters who collected dishwashing soap to be used to clean birds and animals affected by the spill.

While there’s overwhelming evidence that youth want to make a difference, it’s also apparent that our scholastic infrastructure has of yet to provide kids with the educational basis to translate their green altruism into leadership. 

Last year, a groundbreaking study revealed that U.S. students ranked 34th out of the 57 countries surveyed in both environmental science and geosciences.  Being that school is the main source of eco-education for 85% of kids (13-17 years old), isn't it clear we need some kind of an upgrade to help support the youth values of:

    87% recycle; 84% turn off lights; 80% reduce water use; 73% user energy-efficient light bulbs
    76% feel it’s very important or important for brands to get involved in the green movement (though not all are willing to pay the higher prices for the luxury).

#2: If there's a sense of collaboration and conversation, will youth turn to brands they trust to get information?

Luckily, trust is earned, never bought.  It comes from years of doing rather than saying.  Still, it's extraordinarily important that parents, educators and policy makers understand that brands are committing larger and larger budgets to building trust, and that cause-marketing is one of the vehicles.  When youth have high trust in a brand, they use the resources the brand gives them to advocate and spread the word.

BP is going to be an interesting case-study in the years ahead.  Though their brand-value was "destroyed" by mal-handling many aspects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP does have a viable opportunity to rebuild trust by staying committed to the community's needs and working closely with the people of the Gulf to rebuild their livelihoods and restore the environment that supports them.  BP's best asset is that it had a name consumers once trusted.  Now is the time for BP to exhibit profound green-leadership.

It bodes well for the oil giant that in recent years it has spent heavily on green education initiatives in California.  Just last week, BP completed a 7-year project which culminated in a 13,000 page curriculum designed to update California’s Environmental  Science Education offering for its’ K-12 public schools.  The curriculum is expected to be taught to over six million pupils in some 1,000 districts.  While many people support the investment California is making in environmental education, others are questioning the practice of allowing a brand -- that has paid to avoid prosecution, more than $370-million dollars in fines after admittedly breaking environmental and safety laws -- to shape the curriculum intended to foster critical thinking and open-mindedness on this subject. 

#3: Will environmental literacy extend past the classroom and into our homes?

Eco-friendly behaviors are measured in a variety of ways -- by people’s transportation patterns, household energy use, consumption of goods, and what’s being done to minimize the impact these activities have on the environment.  

At the surface, Americans do appear to be environmentally literate and capable of making sustainable choices.  According to the 2009 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey, 70% of Americans pay attention to what companies are doing in regard to the environment.

Sustainability has crept up the corporate agenda, now higher than ever before.  A company’s commitment to social and environmental issues has undeniable weight in the marketplace, and transparency has become a key component to building public trust and managing consumer expectations.

However, when it comes to practicing what’s preached, everyday Americans are not taking the same action-oriented approach to environmental stewardship that they demand of their brand counterparts. 

According to National Geographic’s Greendex, (a survey tracking global consumer choice in regard to the environment), U.S. consumers continually ranked last among 17 countries surveyed.  This is perhaps not all that surprising being that a Roper Report revealed 80% of American adults are environmentally illiterate.

A potential for discord exists between the next generation and the rest of us, if a higher commitment is not soon made to embrace social and environmental literacy.

#4: Is the social web, as a real-time medium, a viable tool for environmental education?

Join KooDooZ,  Green My ParentsAlliance For Climate Education, Team Marine, Real Curriculum and ReUse Connection as we explore whether or not the time is ripe with opportunity to incorporate 21st century skills in our schools to heighten relevance in the classroom.

Posted via email from KooDooZ