Developing the human potential of our young generation with creativity, confidence, altruism, and civic engagement skills: BE FUTURE READY.

A journey of progressive series of activities and experiences to help youth become socially, morally, emotionally and cognitively competent.

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  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Michele Lai

Initiative's representative date of birth

9th July, 1969

Initiative’s representative gender

  • Woman

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • Hong Kong

Where are you making a difference?


Website or social media url(s)


When was your organisation founded?


Focus areas

  • Helping people adapt to technologies of the future
  • Financial skills and capability
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce

Project Stage

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $250k - $500k

Organisation Type

  • Non-profit / NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

This is the story of Kids4Kids. and it started with a mom – named Michele. Ever since her kids were young, she would tell them stories about how many kids did not have money to buy books or go to school . One day, her then 5 year old son had an idea. What if he sold some of his toys and books and donated the money to help? They worked together every step of the way, from sorting to pricing . It would have been quicker for Michele to organise it all, but she felt it was important that she did not do the work for him – but to just guide him. They raised 1000HKD, but something more magical happened . The young boy saw how his idea came to life. He gained confidence knowing that he can never be too young to help make a difference.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

(1) Over emphasis on exams and not students’ holistic development in the education system i.e. ‘4C Education’ (Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration). (2) Increasing poverty , inequality and lacking skills/ opportunities of employability (3) Declining state of mental and emotional well-being in youth population.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Kids4Kids believes that it is no longer simply acquiring traditional forms of “knowledge”, but that our young people must also start growing up in a new way developing themselves with essential adaptable skills previously known as "soft" skills - the 7C's of Confidence, Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Civic Engagement and a Changemaker mindset. Our 3 Youth Programmes progresses youth from : (1)Powered by Service workshops - helps build an understanding of "Me" : own strengths, confidence and introduction to the 7C's, (2) join the annual Powered by Youth Forum, where like-minded young people come together and be guided and mentored to build on their strengths and practice their adaptable skills and 7C's skills. Youth journeys through their secondary years with real-life opportunities of 'learning by doing' , and then go on to initiate positive change at their school, and community via our annual (3) Act!on for a Cause platform that encourages them to tackle problems confidently with their skills and create their own community project ideas in one of the "Passion" areas of - Environment, Mental well-being, Poverty through Education and Social Justice.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

The 3 core values of Kids4Kids are: community, responsibility and mutual respect. Annually, we onboard 30 "Action for a Cause" student ideated 'community' action projects with a HKD3K-5K seed fund and a Mentor to give students a chance to experience social entrepreneurship with the responsibility and accountability of "learning by doing" from project planning to implementation, resourcing and budgeting. We give the framework and empower the youth to work through the project themselves and the challenges they encounter. Like teaching a child to ride a bike, we don't hold on to them or ride it for them, but we give guidance and encouragement should they fall or go off course. We use the same principle as how Kids4Kids story started.

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

Our Youth programs is a journey starting from lower secondary (ideally 13- 14 years old) because as you get older, often one becomes set in their attitudes. It is necessary to learn these adaptable skills early on and become more skilled with practice to navigate and survive in a fast changing world. Yes, the world is changing rapidly, and today’s world is completely different from even ten years ago, and we cannot predict with any certainty what the future job market will be. However, if we equip young people with adaptable skills and the 7C's of - Confidence, Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Civic minded and with a Changemaker mindset, they can be ready to take whatever the future of work may be. Through our learning by doing principle, youth experience real life opportunities to take positive action.

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

Kids4Kids focuses on developing the human potential of our young generation with creativity, confidence, altruism, and civic engagement skills and be future ready. We conduct pre/post surveys of participants in our workshops and annual Youth Forum. We give opportunities to all young people so inclusion and diversity are important. We measure the percentage of attendees at the Forum and the no. of of Action for a Cause projects submitted as KPIs. For e.g. we currently have 40% attendees and 25% projects submitted by low resourced students and we wish to increase to 60% and 40% respectively.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Ashoka has a Lead Young initiative which highlights stories of youth change makers. These are inspiring stories to share. I have also found another submission from Open Classroom which is very aligned with out mission for nurturing social entrepreneurs holistically. There is also mentoring and out of classroom learning to give practical real-life experiences. It would be good to connect and look to collaborate and share best practices as we are all trying to achieve the same goals.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Action for a Cause programme started in 2014, and to date, there have been 115 community action projects , engaging over 300 students to lead, plan, organise and implement these projects serving over 4,000 beneficiaries.

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Action for a Cause programme have received ad hoc funding from different organisations (private and government) for usually 1 programme year cycle. This makes it very difficult for Kids4Kids to grow the programme as the funding has been short-term. We hope to have a multi-year funding (e.g. 3-years) so we can plan more long-term to include developing more online functionalities for the Action for a Cause site, youth site as being online can serve more youth through our programmes. We are also encouraging the student to fundraise and support their own project and to contribute any unspent seed grant from their project to the Action for a Cause fund for other students to be given an opportunity like they received with their initial seed fund.

10. Team

From one person, one idea, to now 8 full-time, 2 part-time and 2 skilled volunteers. Michele, the Founder continues to be active in the strategic direction of Kids4Kids and programmes, and is a part of a 7-persons Board. Each have diverse skills from corporate life - lawyer, Charted Accountant, Finance, Marketing, PR. The full-time team have skills in communications, NGOs, Social Entrepreneurship, education and Finance. To scale our impact, we need 2 Events Marketing /Program Development people.

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • Nationality
  • Gender
  • Socioeconomic class

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?

I am a Malaysian born Chinese raised in Australia. I now call Hong Kong my home for past 27 years. I am Chinese illiterate and would have struggled in the local education system. Without the language, how could I have been employable? Growing up, I learnt to have self confidence, built my adaptable skills, and without Chinese language skills, I had to strengthen my collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking. I survived, succeeded and want to share with others they can too.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact

11. Bring it to life: Please walk us through a concrete example of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address

Step 1: 3-part Powered by Service (1.5 hrs per workshop) at local low-resourced secondary schools, typically Form 2 -3 students. The student gain an understanding of "self", know their own "Power" and how he/she can use the "Power" to be a changemaker in their community. Step 2: Students attend an annual Youth Forum in Sept over 2 full Days. Day 1: students opt which "Power' Group to join, gain knowledge and understanding of how use their "Power" of - Creative Arts & Design, Movement, Tech & Voice. In the afternoon, join a "Passion" group - Environment, Mental Health, Social Justice or Tackling Poverty through Education. Using a tree visualisation process, work in groups to think through 'root' causes to problems and ideate community action projects. On Day 2, pitch for "Action for a Cause" seed fund to bring idea to life and learn by doing to implement with a Mentor. (See attached)

12. Skills Matching: HSBC Employees will have the opportunity to offer skilled-volunteering. If matched, which of the following skills would you be most interested in receiving?

  • Project Management
  • Research
  • Marketing Strategy, Design
  • Multimedia
  • IT Infrastructure/CRM
  • Web/Mobile Development

13. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

Revenue Breakdown by Type of Sponsor for FY2020-21

Foundation          34%

Corporate             22%

Individuals            41%

Earned income       3% 

Total                      100%

14. Financial Sustainability – please tell us more about how you plan to fund and scale your project over the next 12 months.

There are 3 steps in our Youth Development Journey - Powered by Service workshops, Powered by Youth Forum and Action for a Cause community projects. The budget for the programs include fixed costs (program staff) and variable costs ( depending on no. of workshops, participants). Operations is within 12-15% vs programs. Funding has already been secured for 3-years from 2020-2022 for Powered by Youth. We are in discussion with previous funder for "Powered by Service" and if successful, funding will begin Jan 2021. We are looking for this HSBC grant funding of our "Action for a Cause" program, which is an investment in youth changemakers to be equipped with future skills to make positive changes in the community. We plan to also pilot a peer e-mentoring project so youth with demonstrated future sills can mentor youth from under resourced communities and capacity build for a broader reach.

15. Growth Strategy: What are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Our Growth strategy will be to:

1. work with our Partner beneficiary schools and work with the schools to apply for the Government's "Life Wide" grant as an alternate funding source;

2. build a community of youth who care about the society and take a leadership role with training programs provided by Kids4Kids, and to help be trainers for a wider group of youth volunteers.

3. provide a structured youth engagement skills training program ( e-platform and in person).

16. Activating changemakers: How are you giving people the power to control their own destiny and support other people to become changemakers in their communities?

We are equipping students with future skills of learning by doing, raising their self-esteem, confidence and overall mental wellbeing of youth. Through the peer ripple effect of one changed youth, to go and inspire and encourage other students 

- Through AFAC projects achievements, Kids4Kids is able to increase its impact on the Hong Kong community, driven by what the secondary students’ care about.

17. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

ActIon for a Cause project has not received any Awards & Recognitions so far, but Kids4Kids as an organization received an Award for "Global Ignitor for Youth" from Usher's New Look in 2015, and Michele Lai, Founder of Kids4Kid was awarded an Ashoka Fellowship in 2020.

18. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project

It is critical to have schools be supportive of students and their projects, encourage sharing of ideas in their community . As "Action for a Cause" is very aligned with Ashoka's vision that everyone can be a changemaker, a recognised partnership would help scale the impact as participants would feel they belong to something larger and global.

Finally - Your Selfie Elevator Pitch: Share a 1-minute video that shares a quick summary of the problem you would like to solve, how you’ve chosen to solve it, and the impact you hope to see.

Video URL:
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Attachments (2)

Kids4Kids ppt HSBC 27022020.pdf

Introduction to Kids4Kids Youth Programmes


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