Every Child A Changmaker

What if every child knew how they could make the world a better place, had the inspiration to act on it & reaped the benefits of doing it?

Photo of Molly Yuska
6 16

Written by

Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

Project Giving Kids was borne of a mother's hope to raise socially-conscious and empathetic kids, alongside extensive first-hand experience working in the nonprofit sector witnessing the way nonprofits change lives and communities. At Project Giving Kids, we believe in the power of kids to make the world a better place, and that when kids take small steps in service, it often leads to big ones that impact both communities and kids for the better.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)



Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Massachusetts

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

We are a virtual organization, incorporated in MA, with board members and volunteers in 3 states.

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

We have been piloting our platform in the Greater Boston and Los Angeles areas for the past couple of years and are ready to expand nationally to make sure kids everywhere are connecting to causes... so they want to do it again, and again, and again.

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

While more socially aware than previous generations, today's youth are overwhelmed with information and many things compete for their time. We know that service to others can have a profound and positive impact on child development, but it can be hard squeeze it into the busy schedule. We aim to innovate the current system of "giving back" by using technology to engage kids in service at the earliest stages so every child can be a change maker.

Sataro once said, "Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean." Every child is hard-wired for empathy. Every child benefits from exercising their empathetic "muscle" and every community benefits, in turn, from that exercise. We believe that if children learn early on that they have the ability to impact their small corner of the world, big problems become small and every child becomes a change maker, a reality that strengthens children, communities and the world at large.

Participating in community service early in childhood not only helps cultivate empathy but also helps kids forge stronger relationships as they grow in their ability to understand at a deeper level the experiences and perspectives of others. Fast-forward to the teenage years and statistics show those who volunteer tend to do better in school, are less likely to use drugs or participate in other risky behaviors, have higher self-esteem, and develop strong leadership skills. Service makes kids and communities stronger.

Kids and teens today need to find ways to make a difference that resonate with them and need to find those ideas where they live - on their phones and other devices. Project Giving Kids aims to become the go-to resource for kids, teens and families looking to give back. By vetting, aggregating and streamlining the acquisition of relevant age-appropriate service information, we make getting involved easier for today's busy kids and families, making life-changing service more accessible and fun.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • No, not explicitly

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Community Development and Empowerment

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

Beyond the many ways in which service and volunteerism during youth positively impact the health and development of the individual child, those who volunteer in their youth are also twice as likely to volunteer as adults. Volunteering in one’s youth also influences both the propensity to donate (to charitable organizations) as well as the amount actually given. In addition to the positive impacts on both kids and the nonprofit community, youth service rates also correlate to higher levels of general civic engagement, including voting rates, as a stronger sense of social issues and a desire to influence them are also important byproducts. In other words, when the seeds of service are planted early, they flourish. Kids AND communities win.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Over the past year, we have added a second city to our platform, secured initial funding to add a third, more than doubled our average monthly site visits, increased our partner base over 200%, and launched plans for a new mobile app to be out by the end of 2016. (And we are just getting started.) Project Giving Kids aims to become the go-to resource for kids, teens and families looking to give back. By vetting, aggregating and streamlining the acquisition of relevant age-appropriate service information, we will make getting involved easier for today’s busy kids and families. Leveraging scalable technology, we will put this information at the fingertips of kids everywhere, making the giving journey more accessible, actionable and universal. And we will track the good that comes from this engagement through tools that allow kids to reflect on the service experience and to share it.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $50k - $100k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Project Giving Kids (PGK) aims to shift from a start-up nonprofit funded exclusively by private donations to a viable going concern over the next two years through a combination of grants, continued private donor acquisition, events and platform monetization, the latter of which is anticipated to be the ongoing revenue stream once PGK reaches a critical mass / user base.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

Most campaigns to engage kids in community service, as well as the activities themselves, are focused in the high school years, missing the most important window in terms of potential impact on children's overall development. Further, the majority of efforts related to engaging children in service fall into one of two camps: 1) They provide specific and finite service projects at a hyperlocal level; or 2) They provide information online that is general in nature and not necessarily tied to the local nonprofit ecosystem. PGK connects kids to organizations in their own backyards, everywhere.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 20%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 40%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 40%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 20%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 20%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 60%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 0%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 0%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 40%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 60%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 0%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 60%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 40%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 20%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 80%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 0%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Charlotte Stites

Sounds like an interesting program. Are you familiar with Free the Children and their projects? It was started by 2 12 year olds 20 years ago in Canada and spreading into the US. You might also be interested in National Center for Families Learning - they use service learning for families to improve school readiness. Lots of great energy in this area! Best of luck!

Photo of Christina Singleton Jenkins

Service-learning in our youth helps break down the stereotypes and creates the understanding that we all are individuals with a story.  Many with similar backgrounds.  Great project!

Photo of Andre Wicks

I'd like to connect and ask a few more questions. Contact me at andrew@spokaneschools.org. Thank you!


Photo of Melanie Gilbert

Hi Molly,
Hello from a fellow Boston Changemaker!
So far, the great state of Massachusetts is represented by you, me, Marquis Cabrera's RateMyFosterHome.com and Tufts STOMP.
I had no idea that so many creative, principled and dynamic people were at work on such interesting projects right in my 'hood. 
A powerful aspect of this project is the opportunity for us to connect. After Memorial Day, it might be fun to meet-and-greet one another and spitball about our work.
Your vision of raising "socially-conscious and empathetic kids" is very cool. I've seen the power of that manifested locally through Arlington EATS, a food bank serving the needs of at risk kids and their families as well as seniors, vets and other struggling to put food on the table.
The program encourages families to participate in a variety of services within the program: packing food boxes, stocking shelves, filling condiments and serving clients. Serving community, building awareness and modeling citizenship is a beautiful idea.
Project Giving Kids sounds awesome. Best of luck with your project.
- Melanie

PS: I followed you on Twitter ;)

Photo of Molly Yuska

Hi, Melanie.

Thanks for your message and the kind words. While I have some people there on the ground in Boston, I personally am not there any longer. (My husband moved his small software company south.) As such, getting together would be a little tricky for me, unless it is during one of my trips to the area.

At any rate, would love an intro at Arlington EATS. I am familiar with them and would like to add them to our site if they are interested. If you have a suggested POC, please let me know. Thanks!

Best of luck with your project. Sounds pretty great too! :)


Photo of Melanie Gilbert

Hi Molly,

Nicole Melnik is a kindergarten teacher at Thompson School in Arlington, and one of the lead people with Arlington EATS. Her email is: nmelnik@arlington.k12.ma.us

More than 27% of the 400 students receive free or reduced lunch. Arlington EATS helps these impacted families meet their food needs on weekends and holidays and during school breaks. Additionally, they serve the food needs of other at-risk people like seniors and vets. Until I got involved with their work, I had no idea Arlington had people struggling with food insecurity.

Hope your organization can add this vital community service to your list of service projects.

Thanks for the response and feedback. Excited to see all of us develop our ideas for children's wellbeing.

- Melanie