Brightening the lives of kids in foster care One Simple Wish at a time...

What if every child experiencing the trauma of fostercare had access to a caring adult to give them the joyful childhood memories they need?

Photo of Danielle Gletow
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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.

Jose came to my home in 2006 wearing a dirty onesie and an oversized coat. He had been removed from his home abruptly and all his caseworker brought was whatever she could grab. That was the first time I realized just how traumatizing foster care can be for the more than 400,000 kids that experience it each year. But I wanted to do more than just foster children, I wanted to foster the idea that we, as a society, should know better and could do better for these children.

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

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

Website

http://www.onesimplewish.org

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • New Jersey

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Trenton

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

  • New Jersey

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

All of NJ as well as 48 other US states.

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Each year over 400,000 children live in America's broken child welfare system. They move too much, they receive too little support, there are not enough qualified foster parents and they often feel as if they don't fit in anywhere. Since they are often minorities & children from low socio-economic backgrounds, they are widely ignored by society. They are truly America's visible children. We seek to show the world they are so much more than stats

We have to talk about issues in order to find solutions. People need to know what needs to be fixed and given simple ways on how to fix it. One Simple Wish does that so well that it makes it impossible for anyone to say no. We encourage people to start the conversation around foster care and how it impacts not only the children who experience it, but our society as a whole. Once we get people talking, then we can get them acting and by giving them a simple way to do that, we are able to mobilize large groups of people. This creates a movement. And only a movement can really change a problem.

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

  • Communities of color
  • LGBTQ or non-binary individuals
  • Low-income communities
  • Other

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services

Year Founded

2008

Project Stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages, and the next step will be growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

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

Lisa came from a big, loving family in middle America. She didn't know anything about foster care. After seeing a story about One Simple Wish on the news, she went to our website and was immediately captivated by the children's unique stories. That night, she granted her wish. Since that time, two years ago, she has granted more than $5,000 worth of wishes. Now, she shares the children's stories with friends and families and even grants wishes as gifts. She may not be able to foster or adopt but she has brought smiles and joy to hundreds of kids through her simple acts of kindness. And, just as awesome, she has inspired dozens of others to do the same.

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

One Simple Wish granted wishes for more than 4,000 children last year in over 30 states. We raised over $1 million dollars in cash and in-kind support and traveling over 10,000 miles spreading love, joy and awareness across the US.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $500k - $1m

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

One Simple Wish adds a small program fee to each wish that is granted on our website and also has a monthly giving program designed to support the operational aspects of our work.

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?

While there other wish granting organizations that are focused on this work locally, One Simple Wish is the only national organization that boasts a network of more than 750 Community Partner agencies. By collaborating in this way we are able to gain attention for more children at one time than any other organization. We are also the only organization utilizing a proprietary online system to promote, grant and fill the needs of our kids all over the US.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

For me the most important thing we are doing and can continue to do is change the narrative. I've always believed that in order to fix an issue, you have to first change the way you talk about it. We are always positive and solutions-based and we focus on innovative ways to connect people. We realize technology plays a key role in the daily lives of our citizens and incorporate that into every program we run.

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

  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

Kelly Keefe

Evaluation results

3 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. - 66.7%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 33.3%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 0%

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. - 33.3%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 33.3%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 33.3%

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). - 100%

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). - 0%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 0%

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! - 66.7%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 33.3%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 0%

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). - 100%

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! - 100%

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. - 100%

2 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Danielle Gletow
Team

Hello Marieke Hensel - let's connect!!! Please email me at danielle@onesimplewish.org!

Photo of Marieke Hensel
Team

Hi Danielle, I love your initiative and great to see its active and impacting lives of foster children across the US. I would love to connect with you, and share it with the foster families in my community.
Regards,
Marieke