Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Link Between Innovation, Youth and Social Entrepreneurs

On Monday, November 16th, 2009 thousands of thought-leaders from top universities, non-profit organizations, corporations and social businesses engaged youth in various activities for Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Joining the celebration, KooDooZ was invited into a NFTE classroom to engage high school students in the principles of social entrepreneurship and social intrapreneurship.

The KooDooZ team engaged students from Soledad Enrichment Action Girls Academy with case study examples of how social intra/entrepreneurs have executed their good work – both from within the existing framework of an organization, as well as on their own laurels. Students also heard firsthand from field innovators who are tirelessly instituting change around United Nations Millennium Development Goals such as:

  • Millennial Development Goal #1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
    Mark Horvath, founder of InvisiblePeople.TV, who will put a magnifying glass on U.S. homelessness and the advocacy tools he is using to encourage public and corporate support

  • Millennial Development Goal #2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
    Scott Fifer, founder of GO Campaign, who will share his experiences of working with grassroots organizations to provide access to education and help vulnerable children worldwide

  • Millennial Development Goal #6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
    Nedra Weinreich, president and founder of Weinreich Communications, who will reveal which innovative social marketing stratagems have effectively been implemented in the health sector to advocate awareness and behavioral change around disease prevention

  • Millennial Development Goal #7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
    Alexandra Teklak, creator of Aquamantra, who will share her experiences about the new rules of business sustainability and why she decided to create an energy enhanced natural spring water bottle in the world’s first 100% biodegradable, recyclable and compostable container

Young activists have long been the vehicle for change in this country. KooDooZ believes KDZ will define the next generation of social entrepreneurs. By unleashing their creativity and ingenuity, they will naturally become agents of change on the path of empowerment and innovation.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Redefining a kid's relationship to knowledge

Youth need to see that they are an influential and vital part of the community. When we don't include our youngest members of society in conversations of innovation, we loose an opportunity to cultivate a great mind. Today's schools need to tap into the creative and collective mindshare of kids who have already identified an ability to strengthen their community vision and inspire change.

I am proud that Tara Treffry, Community Research Coordinator at KooDooZ, was invited to speak about her career in teen empowerment to the students at the Environmental Charter High School (ECHS) for the Third Annual Environmental Awareness Career Day (10/26/09 ). Of special import to ECHS students is how different careers impact the environment and the world’s resources. The goal of the day is to further the school’s emphasis on college readiness, environmentalism and social justice.

ECHS believes in the power and passion of youth and has created a program that fosters and engages its students. The school sports a never ending list of accomplishments highlighting their committment to the idea that education outside of the classroom is just as valuable as education in the classroom.

ECHS holds students to a high standard of social responsibility, requiring 80 hours of community service before graduation. Students are encouraged to develop meaningful relationships with non-profits and organizations in their community as a way to complete their hours.

Public charter schools educate 1.25 million students across 4,300 different campuses throughout 40 of our United States. Chartered with building on the academic strengths and passions of their students, schools like ECHS have been redefining a teen’s relationship to knowledge by teaching him and her to make the world a better place.

Since its inception in 2000, ECHS has integrated environmental education in its' curriculm – though back in the day, the school held classes in the basement of a local church. Now 460 students rich and with a 50-year lease from the Lawndale Elementary School District, students in 9th through 12th grades have the space to use the compost corner and nurture a self-sustaining vegetable garden, which they tend entirely on their own, even using the edibles as part of their lunch program. Leftovers are often converted into biodiesel.

Required for all students to take during their 10th grade year, the Green Ambassadors class is a grassroots program with the aim of empowering youth to be agents of change in their communities and the world:

  • One Billion Bulbs: this project involves youth empowering youth to imagine the possibilities of mobilizing the world to replace one billion standard incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs.

  • Plastics are Forever: is another initiative where youth empowering youth create cleaner oceans by banning plastic bags and Styrofoam (polystyrene) in Los Angeles with Algalita Marine Research Foundation, Bring Your Own, Heal the Bay and other non-profits. Most notably, in 2008, students finished building a “Flotation Machine” and earned first place for having made it out of 800 used plastic bottles. Did you know their vessel actually sailed from Santa Barbara to San Diego?

  • Public Recognition: Green Ambassadors are trained in Biofuels, Organics, Biodiversity, Remediation of our soil, and constructing buildings and structures out of earth friendly materials. The school’s students and teachers have won EPA awards, Environmental Hero awards, urban poetry awards, and many more. Of import here is the “Big Ideas for a Small Planet” documentary series which presented forward-thinking designers, products and processes that are on the leading edge of a new green world. Each episode revolves around a different green theme as it spotlights a specific innovator or innovation that has the potential to transform our everyday lives.

  • Environmental Educational: includes trips to places such as Catalina Island, Joshua Tree National Park, the Sespe Wilderness Reserve, and multiple green enclaves around Los Angeles. In 2007, students raised funds to go to Brazil and studied the giant river otter with the group Earthwatch.

KooDooZ hosted a booth and engaged with students who have proven that they have developed a life balance of heart, mind, body and spirit -- a balance KooDooZ hopes to inspire more kids to find.

Other invited speakers included Lisa Sarno, Executive Director at Million Trees LA ; Ana Maria Sanchez, Program Coordinator at Generation Earth / Tree People ; Lisa Cox Wildlife Biologist at Fish & Wildlife Service ; Gretchen Lewotsky VP State and Local Government Affairs and Environmental Operations at Fox Entertainment Group ; Juan Devis Director of Production at KCET ; and two dozen other speakers from socially conscious organizations.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How Can Kids Make A Difference?

Experts ascribe different traits to different generations. Based on my personal and professional experience, I would agree that members of “Generation Z,” (born mid-1990s through the first part of this decade) are just as anxious as their older "Gen Y Millennial" siblings to make a difference.

Gen Z is the “Look At Me” generation who enjoy social networks, text messaging and keeping in virtual (if not virtuous) contact with their friends. Social researchers anticipate a strong social conscious and work ethic.

Typically, their heroes are close to their hearts, many naming grandparents, teachers and mentors over entertainers or politicians.

True, many of the Gen Z youth are still in their tweens and early teens, thus in a stage of evolution. But these kids will be leading the world in a couple of decades, so why not invite them to share their strong opinions now?

In partnership with Dreams For Kids and Split Pillow, we decided to ask:

The above video was shot, produced and edited entirely by kids in the Dreams Leaders program, with the professional equipment and guidance from Split Pillow.

Wanting to tap into the savvy technology skills of these kids, KooDooZ proposed to the Dreams Leaders Director, Abby Kritzler and Dennis Belogorsky, Executive Director of media literacy non-profit Split Pillow, the development of an online KooDooZ site challenge for kids across the nation to share their thoughts on video about how to make a difference.

Local Chicago youth in the Dream Leaders program were educated about how they can use media as an influential tool for social innovation and drive awareness to humanitarian issues.

How are you making a difference? Share with us! Here's how:

  1. “Get In” KooDooZ by registering for an account
  2. On the challenge board, find the “To Get Focused on Philanthropy” challenge
  3. Click the “Subscribe” bulls-eye button to subscribe to the challenge and view all requirements
  4. Upload your video directly on the KooDooZ site
About Split Pillow: Split Pillow is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development of emerging filmmakers, the production of collaborative motion pictures and the promotion of media literacy through events, projects and workshops that foster education, appreciation and artistic innovation. In addition to providing creative opportunities for emerging film-makers in the Midwest, Split Pillow is also one of the region’s foremost advocates of Media Literacy education. Motion pictures are undeniably one of America’s greatest contributions to world culture and one of our most powerful tools for expressing the diversity of the human experience.

About Dreams for Kids: Founded in 1989, Dreams for Kids is a volunteer based, registered non-profit 501(c)(3) children’s charity that works to break down social barriers and end the isolation of children in need. Our mission is to empower young people of all abilities through dynamic leadership programs and life-changing activities that inspire them to fearlessly pursue their dreams and compassionately change the world. Through various initiatives from global awareness workshops to adaptive sporting events, Dreams for Kids unites children of every ability, race, religion, and socio-economic background and inspires them to realize their full potential and serve as active members of their communities and citizens of the world.

Also see: Focusing on Philanthropy with Kids
  • Today’s young generation deeply cares about impacting their local and global communities.
  • 54% of teens support a cause online
  • 34% volunteer, according to a recent Common Sense Media poll.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sustainability: Our Challenge. Our Future.

Today is August 12th – International Youth Day. Designated by the United Nations one decade ago, this day is purposed with raising awareness of youth-related issues around the world.

Sustainability: Our Challenge. Our Future.

This year the United Nations is encouraging youth to prove themselves to be key partners in sustainable development. “Young people often lead by example,” said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. “Sustainability is the most promising path forward, and youth can lead the way.”

According to the UN, sustainability does not only mean keeping our environment safe for the future, “sustainability encapsulates three facets of life: the environment, society and the economy.” That means that everything we do -- every action we take – can have a ripple effect expanding beyond local communities clear to the other side of the world.

One way in which KooDooZ is embracing the United Nations’ Sustainability Challenge is to encourage KDZ (our site users) to put a sustainable message on a bottle. Literally.

“We’re asking KDZ to design an image or a message that effectively communicates the importance of water as a source of health and wellness for both people and planet,” said Lee Fox, founder of KooDooZ.

The winning “Ripple Effect” design will be produced on white stainless steel water bottles, earning the creator $125-dollars PLUS $1 per bottle purchased on the KooDooZ website for the first year. Additionally, $1 from each bottle sold will also be donated to KidShape, a non-profit organization that builds healthy families.

Sponsoring this challenge is EcoUsable, a company with the mission to save our planet one bottle at a time. “Every day, 60-million water bottles go into landfills,” said Joey Mendelsohn, EcoUsable President and Founder. “We team up with other environmentally friendly companies with similar visions because we can’t do it alone. If we combine our efforts, we will be able to make the difference the world needs for the success of future generations.”

One hundred community friends in Southern California will be gifted with an EcoUsable water bottle on Saturday, August 15th during a KooDooZ co-sponsored walk to raise awareness for youth health & wellness.

As guardians of tomorrow, youth must be listened to, included and engaged today. It will be with their creativity and energy, that our challenge with sustainability will be turned into an achievement of stewardship.

To Create an EcoUsable “Ripple Effect” Design: (Challenge Ends: 09/30/09)

This challenge serves as a call to action for KDZ (kids & families using KooDooZ) to make a difference by focusing on a global sense of social responsibility. NOTE: “Ripple Effect” is also a term used to describe how one action can trigger another.
  • Go to KooDooZ:
  • Click “Get In:” on the landing page and “Log In:” on your KooDooZ desktop
  • Click on “Global” on the left side of the bulletin board
  • Click on “To Do A Water ‘Ripple Effect’ Design” challenge (Note: you may need to scroll down)
  • Click on the “Subscribe” button (the red bulls-eye)
  • Complete the challenge To Do List and turn this challenge into an achievement!
Together, KooDooZ and KDZ can celebrate 10 years of International Youth Day while inspiring health and wellness for both people and planet.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Obesity in America

According to the American Heart Association, approximately 9 million children (between the ages 6 and 19) are considered obese in the United States, equivalent to the entire population of the state of North Carolina. Something needs to be done to trim down the expanding waistlines of American youth.

This summer KooDooZ challenges us to raise awareness about the obesity epidemic and help the public understand that for the first time in history, this next generation will not outlive their parents unless we make a change.

Being overweight means greater health risks: Obesity impacts more than health: Social isolation, guilt, and even self-loathing can become wellness issues that follow obese people through their lives.

Fortunately, obesity is both preventable and reversible. Even small changes to diet and exercise routines can positively affect health and wellness. Here’s an easy call-to-action you can take now:

Tour De Fitness (Santa Monica, CA 08/15/09)

O2 MAX has partnered with KooDooZ to redefine fitness for youth by empowering them to embrace exercise, nutrition, and healthy living with a “power walk.” Branded Tour de Fitness (TDF), this walk enables youth and their families to enjoy a day of activities while promoting the importance of fitness, exercise and nutrition. TDF was created by O2 MAX to raise awareness about the youth obesity crisis.

We are providing three ways you can help us turn this healthy challenge into an achievement:

1. Take on the Tour de Fitness challenge in your own community:
  • To organize your own TDF, visit
  • Click "Get In:" on the landing page and "Log In" on your KooDooZ desktop
  • Click on "Global" on the left side of the bulletin board
  • Click on the “To Do A Tour de Fitness 09” challenge
  • Click on the "Subscribe" button (the red bulls-eye)
  • To be eligible for prize consideration: build in stops to refuel, document your group talking about healthy eating habits, share fun exercise methods by inviting local sports and fitness personalities to spend a few minutes training your group, and upload your TDF video documentary to the KooDooZ video portal
2. Walk on August 15th in the Santa Monica Tour de Fitness:
  • Go to KooDooZ:
  • Click "Get In:" on the landing page and "Log In" on your KooDooZ desktop
  • Click on "Global" on the left side of the bulletin board
  • Click on "To Do TDF '09 in Santa Monica" challenge
  • Click on the "Subscribe" button (the red bulls-eye)
  • Complete the challenge To Do List and turn this challenge into an achievement!
3. Over 18? Volunteer at the Santa Monica Tour de Fitness:
  • Volunteer to help register kids and their families in the morning, walk with groups of kids and/or help coordinate activity stops along the way
  • Register via Meetup at or send an email to
  • Indicate if you would like to volunteer for an AM or PM shift (the event is scheduled from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm)

Watch a video from last year's Tour de Fitness!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Focusing on Philanthropy with Kids

There are 80 million tweens, teens and twentysomethings in the Millennial generation (born in and around the 1980s through the turn of the century). More than half of these young people have community service experience or have tried their hand as entrepreneurs. Many are concerned with urgent social challenges – such as poverty, climate change, homelessness – and want to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Despite their social and economical potential, the voice of youth under the age of 18 remains a whisper in society’s ear. KooDooZ and two non-profit partners, Split Pillow and Dreams for Kids, are actively interviewing youth this summer to unearth the answer to the question: “What can you do to help people live better lives?”.

Our first interview was with Ben Spengel, a 12-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who thought kids with disabilities should be able to compete in a track meet. Just shy of his 11th birthday, Ben told his mom about a way he thought he could help people like him. "Figure out what you can do, and then just work really hard at being really good," his mom advised.

With his goal clearly articulated, Ben approached McHenry, IL Mayor Sue Low and explained his idea of hosting an “Assisted Walk” competition. Maybe it was because Mayor Low had been a special education teacher herself for 33 years, or maybe it was because Ben's passion was contagious. Either way, the Mayor believed Ben could take on this challenge and make a real-world difference.

He did. Ben started by typing out a proposal for the city council to consider and then spreading the word through his school, explaining how kids could empower each other with simple cheers of support.

This month, Ben saw his dream become a reality for the second time. The first race held in 2008 had two participants. This July, Ben's event more than doubled. Five 6-14 year olds using crutches, walkers, canes or wheelchairs were able to participate in five different activities: the 25-meter race, 100-meter relay, a softball throw, a discus toss, and long jump.

Ben's interview will be available next month.

It is our hope that Ben's story will inspire more youth to share their ideas on how to help people live better lives or to interview a local change-maker who already has.

Challenges facing today's youth (according to UNICEF) include:

These statistics only emphasize the need to empower KDZ to help kids, and that's exactly what KooDooZ, Dreams for Kids, and Split Pillow are doing. Will you take the KooDooZ Challenge** "To Get Focused on Philanthropy"?
Dreams for Kids is a children’s charity that offers a safe place where young people of all abilities are empowered to fearlessly pursue their dreams and compassionately change the world. Split Pillow is a non-profit motion picture production and media literacy education company. Together, these two Chicago-based organizations and KooDooZ are empowering KDZ to get behind the camera and take action.
Through this challenge, kids will get focused on philanthropy and improve their understanding of critical world issues.

**To register:

  1. Visit and click on the “Get In” button

  2. Create an account and click the “To Get Focused on Philanthropy” challenge on the bulletin board (on the left piece of paper)

  3. Click the “Subscribe” target button and start the challenge!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Entrepreneurs Can Change The World

I see a social entrepreneur as an ordinary thinker with an extraordinary thought. Who measures success -- not with income of dollars -- but outcomes of sense. Someone who tries not to fail, but more importantly, fails not to try.

Today, a friend shared the below video.

Applause to Sonja Jacob, Carly Cornado & Ben White (creators of this media) who developed it to inspire people to see themselves as a vehicle of change, with passion as the driver and innovation as the fuel. (I hope the viral nature of your piece benefits grasshopper, as it was intended).

As the video so clearly illustrates, a kdz age might limit his time on earth, but his impact on our world should be unlimited.

Please, challenge your kdz to achieve.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Make Everyday Earth Day

April 22nd, 1970 was the first time Earth Day was celebrated. Rallies were organized coast-to-coast and waves of students from thousands of colleges and universities participated in mass protest of unfriendly environmental practices. Even primary and secondary schools participated -- approximately ten thousand, according to the EPA.

Alongside non-profits and activists, everyday people shared the vision of saving the earth and its wildlife. As knowledge heightened around the issues of oil spills, polluting factories, raw sewage, toxic dumps and environmental destruction; hope blossomed.

Our first Earth Day mobilized 20 million Americans. “It worked because of the spontaneous, enthusiastic response at the grassroots. Nothing like it had ever happened before. While our organizing on college campuses was very well done, the thousands of events in our schools and our communities were self-generated at the local level… They simply organized themselves. That was the remarkable thing that became Earth Day.” (Senator Gaylor Nelson, Founder of the first Earth Day)

Today, approximately 500 million people will take part. Largely, we have the internet to thank. Hundreds of millions of people can be called to action with little to no cost. Many of the newborn social entrepreneurs will be our children.

According to a recent survey, 68% of the teen respondents indicated their families were not as green as they could be. Of the respondents, 46% indicated that global warming is the most important environmental issue to them.

Consider Alec Loorz, who at age 12 founded Kids vs Global Warming with the purpose of educating kids about global warming and empowering them to take action. Now 14 years old, he is the youngest person trained to present Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth slide show in the United States.

Likewise, brands, in recognition of this “New Era of Responsibility” have developed new socially-conscious initiatives such as cause-marketing campaigns, higher engagements of corporate social responsibility and for-profit philanthropy models. A few examples come to mind:

  • Last month, Whole Foods Market partnered with Teens Turning Green to launch a nationwide contest entitled “Project Green Prom.” Designed to encourage teens around the country to make earth-friendly decisions and purchases around prom season, this campaign kicked off with an online video contest for high school juniors and seniors to propose how they might green their prom.
  • launched an Earth Day Campaign that encourages primary school children (K-5) to utilize specially-designed greetings printed on 100% recycled cardstock.
  • MasterCard mirrors the millennial generation’s heightened levels of awareness in their new “Lessons” ad campaign (shown below).

    Earth Day is an opportunity for children to learn to cultivate their love and appreciate their world. How might parents challenge their kids?

    • Plant a garden! You can request a packet of Campbell’s tomato seeds (with proof of purchase of condensed soup) and 100 seeds will be donated to communities and schools across the United States.
    • Hidden Valley® also has a website encouraging kids to “Love Your Veggies” with games and gardening tips. If you cannot plant a garden you can still plant a virtual flower through Electrolux’s virtual flower garden campaign and $1 will be donated to Global Green USA’s initiatives for healthy green schools.
    • Take the Nature Conservancy’s challenge to put down the mouse and get out of the house! You and your family can “spring outside” by taking a hike, flying a kite, taking a walk in the park, planting a tree, etc.
    • You can also pre-purchase tickets to the opening week of Disneynature’s “earth” (opening on Earth Day) and Disney will plant a tree in your honor.
    • Turn over a new leaf” and support national parks by shopping! Macy’s and the National Park Foundation are partnering to raise awareness and funds to support our national parks. By making a $5 donation, you receive a shopping pass for Saturday, April 25th. On Earth Day, the first 150 kids at each Macy’s store will receive a copy of “Kid Power”, an activity book that teaches kids about how they can help the environment. The book can also be downloaded online.

    Consider the planet when making purchases throughout the year. A number of forward-thinking companies offer innovative products that address environmental issues:

    • ChicoBag is a reusable bag made from 7 plastic bottles
    • EcoUsable recently introduced the world’s first stainless steel filtered water bottle
    • AQUAMANTRA will be launching the world’s first 100% biodegradable and recyclable bottle in June
    • The Living Christmas Company rents live Christmas trees and picks them up after the holidays

    Let’s try to make every day Earth Day!

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    April showers inspiration to do good

    “We have not inherited the Earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children.” This quote by Lester Brown serves as a gentle reminder of how important it is that we involve our children in the relationship between quality of life and quality of the environment.

    A recent survey found that Americans could do more to help Mother Earth. “While America currently recycles 34% of its garbage,” the survey found, “75 percent of what we throw away could be recycled.”

    The month of April has the potential to highlight inspiration for kids:

    • April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day, highlighting that 1 out of 150 people is diagnosed with autism;
    • April 7th is World Health Day 2009, focusing on making hospitals safe in emergencies;
    • April 18th YMCAs across the country will be celebrating Healthy Kids® Day;
    • April 22nd is Earth Day.

    Here are some ideas of what you can do with your family:

    • Volunteer at your local medical facility or health-related nonprofit: Whether visiting patients or participating in a formal volunteer program, children and their families can be helped during difficult times. Ronald McDonald House Charities details 30 ways to volunteer during the month of April.
    • Involve your classmates & teachers: Ask if lesson plans related to health can be incorporated into your school day. Site content from the United Nations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Scholastic are good places to start.
    • Plan a contest: From recycling treasure hunts to building a life-sized sculpture out of recycled materials, there are a variety of fun & rewarding awareness campaigns that can be leveraged. Envirolink offers a variety of kid-friendly ideas.
    • Attend an event: There are planned events across the country to raise awareness for Earth Day.
    • Design a nature challenge: Nature Challenge for Kids has a series of challenges that help create an understanding of our relationship to the environment.
    • Learn about the relationship between your school and environmental / health issues: The Green Squad offers an online challenge, which can be leveraged for most ages.
    • Healthy Begins Here Video Contest: Did you know there are at least 63 toxic chemicals within a house? These “hot spots” of toxicity and pollution don’t have to exist. What would you do to get rid of them?

    Younger Siblings:

    • Teaching games: Kids Planet allows the kids to be defenders of wildlife while they travel through the web of life learning about animals and habitat.
    • Crafts: Kaboose offers a variety of kid-friendly activities in honor of earth day.

    Parents & Teachers:

    • Activities: EcoKids offers a fleet of lesson plans and printable handouts / activity sheets. Though specifically tailored to the Ontario Elementary Science & Technology curriculum, it is a great resource for all.
    • 50 things a family can do to stop global warming: Require a little effort/investment, but can help you save money.

    “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they will never sit in” is not a new saying, rather it is a Greek Proverb. Something as simple as planting a tree can have a major collective impact on our planet. What will you and your kids do this month?

      Saturday, March 21, 2009

      World Water Day

      (co-written by Lee Fox & Christine Guardia)

      Water is an essential element of life, yet more than 20% of our world’s population is robbed of this basic necessity. The situation is tragic: 1-billion people worldwide do not have access to clean drinking water; another 2.4-billion consume water that has been improperly sanitized; and there are more than 5-million deaths each year from water-related diseases.

      One child dies every eight seconds as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation. At any moment, almost half the population in a developing country is suffering from a disease linked to lack of access to clean water and sanitation. Women and children are most affected, because they walk some 200 million hours every day for water which often prevents them from earning a living or going to school.

      While no single person or organization can resolve a global issue of this magnitude, we believe bringing our collective good-will together in social action can make a positive difference. Members of civic society, brands, not-for-profit organizations, and local governments have to unite.

      Today’s kids can do some social good in this context as well.

      From simple walks/hikes/runs (serving as a reminder to how far some villagers have to go to get clean water) to artistic contests, concerts and film festivals, there are a wide-variety of events being held around the globe in observance of World Water Day.

      Encouraging the next generation to take an active role in ensuring the sustainability of the earth’s water supply is paramount. Some of the youth-oriented opportunities of which KooDooZ is aware includes:

      • Nature’s Voice Our Choice is the theme of this internet-based poetry competition.
      • The TAP project has partnered with restaurants in featured cities to help UNICEF provide safe drinking water to the world’s children.
      • Live online music concert to raise money and awareness for world water issues.
      • Dream Village, a children’s book publisher which allows kids to determine the outcome of their charitable donations, is sponsoring the World Changer Contest for children ages 6 to 10. Entries are due by May 1st for the opportunity to win a full scholarship to Beam Camp, a four-week summer program for boys and girls ages 7 to 17 in Strafford, New Hampshire.
      • Little Drops, Big Ripples, is new contest launched by Purex Natural Elements for Canadian residents to submit their tips on how to keep water resources clean. For every entry received, Purex will make a donation to the Clean Water Project. In the U.S. consumers can bid on a tote designed by a celebrity and proceeds will be donated to the Earth Day Network.
      • All The Way To The Ocean is a visual book developed to give kids the chance to understand the cause and effect relationship between our cities’ trash filled storm drains and the worlds water gateways.
      • Make your voice heard by signing an online petition to add Article 31 (right to water) to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) for adoption by the United Nations General Assembly.

      Conceived 17-years ago by a United Nations committee as an international day of observance, March 22nd is not the only day we need to conserve our water. If current trends continue, the United Nations estimates that by the year 2025, two-thrids of the people in this world will not have sufficient access to clean water.

      So what can you and your kids do? Start by looking at your water use at home:

      180-gallons used to water your garden
      60-gallons used to fill a bath-tub
      60-gallons used to run the laundry machine
      50-gallons used to run a shower (25-gallons if run "soft")
      12-gallons used to run a dishwasher
      5-gallons used to flush a toilet
      2-4 gallons used to brush your teeth

      On average, people in the U.S. use more than 100-gallons of water a day, while people in most developing countries use less than 2-gallons daily. If you shortened your shower by 1-or-2 minutes, you could save up to 700-gallons of water per month. Find more ideas on how to conserve from this phenomenal pdf published by UNICEF.

      It takes just $37-dollars for UNICEF to provide a water filter, purifier, and disinfectant that can be used by an entire village.

      How might your family raise money or awareness? We came across one family that has decided to turn off their house water for one week, thus saving a child's life for a year.

      Monday, March 9, 2009

      Change the Web to Change the World

      The KooDooZ Team is excited to be part of Social Actions’ Change the Web Challenge because we believe in the power of the web to change the world! During the next couple of weeks, we are participating in two Change the Web events and hope you can join us:

      1. On Monday, March 16th, the Change the Web Challenge Los Angeles Event will be held at 8:30 pm PDT, following Bloblive LA, at SOUTH in Santa Monica. If you are in the Los Angeles area, please stop by to hear how to apply your entrepreneurial ideas to change the world by listening to case studies, learning about the challenge and sharing ideas about how we can change the web. You can RSVP via or For those of you not in the LA area, the event will be streamed live via Thank you to our co-sponsors, Bloblive and Mixergy!

      2. On Tuesday, March 24th, we will be moderating an online Change the Web chat entitled “Twitter for Good”. The featured guests are John Haydon, a blogger and social media consultant for nonprofits, Amanda Rose, global organizer of Twestival, which has already raised over $250,000 for charity: water, and Stacey Monk, of Epic Change and Tweetsgiving organizer. The guests will share their insights and suggestions with nonprofits, as well as volunteers, who want to mobilize people to take action in their communities. The chat will begin at 2 pm EDT/11 am PDT.

      The purpose of the Change the Web challenge is to help people find and share opportunities to take action via websites, blogs and social networks. Joe Solomon, Director of the Change the Web Challenge, uses the example of someone reading a story about homelessness online and a pop-up window appearing with information about volunteer opportunities at a local shelter. Social Actions currently aggregates such opportunities from a variety of sources, including VolunteerMatch and, and is challenging people to develop applications to transform the web for change. For more information, please see

      Although the Social Actions’ Change the Web Challenge does not directly involve youth, the applications resulting from the challenge will help turn the good will and passions of kids into skills and strategies for creating change for years to come. Although it often feels like there is not much good news these days, we are encouraged by the stories we are reading about how youth are choosing to spend their spring breaks volunteering and applying in record numbers to organizations such as Teach for America. These are the most difficult times that the Millennial generation has experienced so far and they have demonstrated their desire to be part of the change to make the world a better place for themselves, as well as future generations.

      Thursday, February 5, 2009

      Yes They Can!

      Christine Guardia, who is the Cause Cultivator for KooDooZ Corporation, co-authored this blog entry with me:

      Having the ability to positively impact our world and the people in it is powerful – and volunteerism is key. A grassroots engagement of friends & family in support of a charity or a cause can have impact like no other effort.

      Those of us focused in this sector know that the economic riptides have cut program managers from non-profit budgets at a time when demand for more volunteers is growing.

      I can think of 80-million people who are willing and able to help right now – our Millennial kids (born 1982-2003) -- is a generation of young people who are civic-minded, success-driven, and environmentally conscious. Let's take the charge!

      Kids take their cues from people who are a part of their world – namely their parents, teachers, coaches, religious leaders and their friends. Youth blessed with role-models who volunteer are nearly twice as likely to volunteer than kids without philanthropic counterparts
      (Corporation for National and Community Service, November 2005).

      KooDooZ strongly advocates for a higher engagement of volunteerism in a child’s life. Not only does it go hand-in-hand with what the Edu2.0 thought-leaders are saying, it statistically increases scholastic progress.

      Sadly, less than a quarter of public K-12 schools have service-learning activities
      (Corporation for National and Community Service, November 2008). On the other hand, most of our high schools do require volunteerism hours to graduate, but this effort seems to be one step forward and two steps backwars since 16-to-24 year olds had the lowest volunteer participation rate (21.9%) in our country.

      But there is hope.

      Dub it the “Obama Effect” if you’d like, the fact that we had the largest volunteerism engagement in 14 years, earmarked by the 162% increase of volunteer projects on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day speaks well to this point (see the Corporation for National and Community Service report

      It is very telling that corporations across the country have become bigger influencers via their cause marketing campaigns and their willingness to provide project funding and allowing employees to take time off to volunteer.

      We would like to take this moment to profile some examples of 2009 campaigns aimed to help America:


      1. Feeding America partners with both Campbell’s V8 on the “Make Every Serving Count” campaign and General Mills and The Biggest Loser on the “Pound For Pound Challenge
      2. To address childhood hunger, Share Our Strength partners with AT&T on “Operation No Kid Hungry” and Ferrero on “Share Something Sweet


      1. Kohl’s Corporation benefits kids across the nation with their Cares for Kids program
      2. Colgate-Palmolive celebrates the joy of reading with itsHealthy Bedtime Habits program


      1. Starbucks earned the pledge of 1.2 million volunteer hours so far via their
      I’m In web page
    • In honor of the inauguration, Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops sold “Yes Pecan!” ice cream during the month of January and donated the proceeds to the Common Cause Education Fund
    • Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes “Get Your Stripes” campaign
    • Pedigree Dog Food is sponsoring pet meal donations in addition to their "New Leashes on Life" campaign, which advocates for adopting dogs from a shelter.
    • We now have an opportunity to show kids how they can help turn our nation’s challenges into achievements, such as by volunteering at a food bank, mentoring younger students or donating food, clothes, toys and books. If you and your kids (11-15 yrs) would like to be part of the KooDooZ private beta program, send an email to

      Says Christine: I consider my work here so important because KooDooZ aims to engage kids and families in activism 2.0

      Monday, January 5, 2009

      The Gift of Giving with KooDooZ

      On December 22nd KooDooZ organized a “KDZ Giving” event for members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica. Our purpose was to introduce kids to the KooDooZ philosophy (and software) by providing them with a series of online and offline challenges and rewarding them for their efforts.

      For me – after two years of intensive research, analysis, development and testing – this event stood out ... Not because it was monumental in comparison to any other product launch I've been a part of, but because the KooDooZ prospects ("KDZ" aka "Millennials") were so enthusiastic about a tool developed to increase their ability for "making a difference" in their personal, local or global lives.

      As an aside, I have to share my passion for Millennial change-makers. The concept of “doing good” is a rationale Millennials don't only impose on themselves, they extend it to their peers, parents, neighbors, communities and just as significantly, to companies (as pointed out by a recent Cone Study.) As the first global generation ever, Millennials care strongly about justice and the problems faced by their society. Not only are they engaged in some kind of civic activity at school, they also have a deeper sense of “community.” Additionally, no generation understands new technology as intuitively as the Millennials do. So it was such a compliment to earn their verifiable vote of confidence by way of enthusiastic participation with KooDooZ.

      On this day, we engaged 50 young minds (the youngest still in elementary school and the oldest just beginning to embark on their career) and while it was no surprise that most of these kids were more interested in “the doing” of a challenge than in “the prize” of a reward, it did spread my smile wide to see it in person.

      The “KDZ Giving” event very specifically reaffirmed the fact that Millennials:

      1. Prefer to learn by doing, within a framework of organization
      2. Crave challenges and have a high motivation for turning them into achievements
      3. Thrive in structured team activities where they can build new relationships and foster new dialogue
      4. Partner well with mentors
      5. Care less about personal rewards and more about benefiting a social cause

      Equally as important, the KooDooZ biz dev team targeted some forward thinking companies to sponsor specific challenges which allowed us to further prove that there is an emotional link that connects Millennials to causes and ultimately to the companies that support and/or benefit those causes.

      According to research, there are an estimated 15.6M Millennials in the United States who are actively engaged in helping humanity and sustainability. This represents a huge potential opportunity for companies embracing Cause Marketing / Branding.

      Sponsors from around the country who contributed to this event included: Albertsons, AMF, Ask Kids, Avery Dennison, Best Buy of Santa Monica, Color Me Mine, FedEx Office of Santa Monica, Pacific Park, Pavilions, Perricone MD Cosmeceuticals, Ralphs, Santa Monica Playhouse, Ultimate Arcade and Vons.

      Because the event was themed around “giving" these corporations supplied products and prizes for the offline challenges so that kids could create some personalized gifts for the holidays. I’ll highlight two of my favorites: (i) “To Get Fueled Up” in which the kids measured then layered ingredients into jars for a meal to share with friends, family or to donate to a homeless shelter and (ii) “To Get Sweetly Soft” with all natural ingredients for a sugar body scrub which they mixed by hand.

      What sold the “KDZ Giving” event to corporate sponsors was KooDooZ ability to add that third dimension into the brand marketing experience of fostering a relationship between the cause and the consumer. For example, KooDooZ challenged the kids “To Do Something Noteworthy” by either (i) writing a letter to Santa in support of Macy’s Believe campaign to raise up to $1M for the Make-A-Wish Foundation; (ii) designing an image centered around “change” for President Obama through the SecretBuilders contest; or (iii) composing a letter to a solider whose sacrifice for his/her country deserves constant recognition.

      As I write this blog, it strikes me that I have not shared the KooDooZ mission, which is to "turn the good will & passions of "KDZ" (kids) into skills & strategies for creating change." KooDooZ was built as a “virtual meets virtuous” social networking site where KDZ are rewarded for subscribing to, designing and collaborating on goals that address a social mission. KDZ challenge themselves both online and offline, giving them the opportunity to impact people within their family, school and community as well as the worldwide web.

      To prove that these young people constitute a potentially powerful force for good, KooDooZ engaged three other organizations: Iridescent, Centro Latino for Literacy and A Star Inside to continue to challenge KDZ throughout our private beta.

      KooDooZ is committed to strategic partnerships with ethical brands and institutions, foundations, non-profits, schools and families. Parties interested in participating in our private beta program should send all requests to