Karate For Kids

To provide at-risk youth with the experiences they need to further their character development so they can be successful in life.

Photo of Ethan Chandler
3 5

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Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

https://www.facebook.com/karateforkids.fitchburg https://twitter.com/karateforkids17

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

I am hoping that the fundamentals of karate will help children navigate issues surrounding them today. Karate is not only for self-defense,it also teaches self-control, perseverance, and goal-setting. These lessons help children build self-esteem and confidence, something they may lack due to social or emotional issues. Our hope is to raise money that will provide a karate experience to at-risk youth between the ages of 6-12

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

I work with my school district to help find students who are at risk and may benefit from a karate experience. The guidance and adjustment counselors are able to give names of students and we reach out to them. They are offered a two-week free trial at Family Martial Arts Center. We discuss the program and how it might benefit the child and discuss how much they may be able to afford. We feel that if a family can pay a small portion then there will be more commitment and motivation moving forward. Once we narrow down who is interested, an application is given. Finally, the Karate For Kids foundation reads through them and awards a 6-month scholarship to offset the price. The karate program builds characteristic lessons into the program which includes; perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit, and. Our hope is that we can expand to other activities that encourage the same lessons as, soccer, softball, basketball all offered through our city recreation.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

The first time I realized I wanted to start Karate For Kids is when I met a young boy named Aiden. Aiden is a 6-year-old that is full of energy and on the Autism spectrum. I trained with him for about a year and sadly he had to stop due to finances. It was then that I saw myself in Aiden and realized how fortunate I was to get this experience. I wanted to figure out a way to not have money stand in the way of karate. Shortly after, I attended a United Way Youth Venture Fall Kick-Off event and was inspired. I spoke to my mentor Mr. Martin Silva, about creating my own project. He guided me to create what is now known as Karate for Kids. To create my own program I had to create a plan and present it to local leaders who made the decision to award us $750 seed money. We had a long road ahead of us to turn that money into enough that would offset the price each month for karate.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

When someone wants to join our organization we make sure that they understand the commitment involved as well as the characteristics that we promote. It is important that we all exhibit these and become role models for the kids we scholarship. We then find out what talents and/or strengths they have that can benefit the Karate for Kids foundation. It’s important to delegate out jobs and meet on a monthly basis to make sure we are on the same page. Our vision is for this foundation to grow beyond High school and find kids who share the same commitment. We currently have one member that graduated last year and still helps out from College.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Our program gives kids the opportunity to experience karate. There is a misconception that karate is only for self-defense. It also includes lessons around Modesty, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, and Indomitable Spirit. This allows the child to see that something like self-control should not only happen on the mat, but also at home with parents and with teachers. Each of these traits are essential to good citizenship and being mindful. We also are hoping that the program will impact one of the scholarship recipients to one day be a member of our foundation to pay it forward.

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

In our almost 3 years of being launched, we have raised over $6,000, awarded two children scholarships for karate. Our very first scholarship recipient has shown commitment within her own journey, and has also begun to teach younger kids the art of karate and is thinking of a fundraiser to support our local homeless community. We have begun to branch out in other ways to give back to our community. We provided one senior at Fitchburg High School a $150 scholarship for representing the characteristics of karate, purchased a hundred non-perishable cans for Thanksgiving baskets and put together and delivered a holiday food/gift baskets to seven needy Fitchburg families during the holiday season.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Karate for Kids is always looking to find more ways to expand and improve. In the next year, we plan to not only provide kids with karate experiences but also activities such as soccer, basketball, baseball. These also help build characteristics the kids can use to navigate through the many challenges and obstacles they may face today. We also plan to have additional community partnerships. As of right now, we partner Family Martial Arts Center. In the coming months, we plan to partner with Fitchburg Youth Soccer as well as Fitchburg Basketball and Baseball programs.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Marketing Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Sales
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Recommended by others
  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 33.3%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 66.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

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

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 66.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Carson McBain

It's exciting to read your story and see the difference you're making in the lives of kids in your community. Do you have plans to expand the foundation's reach to additional schools in your state, and to other states? If there's a way to find others practicing karate, you may be able to approach them with the idea of starting their own chapter. You mentioned that you are currently a senior in high school; after you graduate will you continue to manage the foundation's work or do you plan to 'pass the torch' to others in your community? One last suggestion - in the future when you partner with other sports like soccer and baseball, will the name of the foundation still be 'Karate for Kids' or do you think it will evolve to encompass the larger idea of using multi-sport sportsmanship to instill these values? Really inspiring work; wish I could come be a student of yours. Best of luck!

Photo of Ethan Chandler

Carson McBain Hello thank you for all the kind words we do plan on keeping our name as Karate For Kids only because we will still be expanding to other sports but the goal is still to teach them the characteristics they would learn through karate.

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