Recycled Rainbows Bringing Arts to the underserved through recycling.

A crayon recycling program that reuses unwanted materials and turns them into new art materials for the underserved and disabled.

Photo of Riley Knows It All
7 13

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Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

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

Date You Started Your Project Started


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

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

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

There are two problems, the first being a lack of art resources for the underserved and those with disabilities and 2 a huge waste of artistic resources filling our land fills. These problems exist due to a lack of education and funding. Giving all children access to art materials and fair opp6equsls the aying field no matter their situation or ability.

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

Our original plan was to collect and unwanted and used crayons from organizations schools and restaurants and then eventually turn them into new crayons for other community programs. Once vested in the program that we created we realized the need was much greater than we had originally thought. So we started to reach out to organizations that help kids in poverty and focus on kids with special needs. We were able to support hospitals with new art supplies and crayons and we were also able to assist and programs that offer occupational therapy and physical therapy with crayons that are specially developed for those organizations and types of therapy. We have gone on to make special T kranz for people with disabilities and/or people that half to use a different style or a type of crayon in order to create. We were simply trying to color a gap that we saw in the community with our community members with youth and with adults. Giving adults and children access to things that they would otherwise have is very empowering and also giving people with disabilities the opportunity to do things on their own can really change their life and empower them.

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

Basically I was a volunteer at in after school program for underserved youth and I loved working with them and I was there every week for a couple hours a week. My main focus was working with children and highlighting science activities and art opportunities. It wasn't until Valentine's Day that I realize the lack of access and resources that these kids had. My personal story comes down to a sweet little boy who wanted to create valentines for his family members but when it was at the end of the day he was really sad and got really upset because he didn't have access he didn't have those materials at home and he couldn't finish what he had started. So that led me on a personal quest to fulfill that need because every kid should have an opportunity to be successful and something so small as a crayon or paper can pave the way to that success.

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

My sister Riley is part of my program and has been working with me from the beginning. Basically it's all hands on deck so that means from picking up to peeling to melting and delivering and presenting your all in. There's a huge community that is part of my project and program that's collect crayons and collect other things for my smart bags or birthday bags that my crayons are a part of I would say that I have community members in 48 States that are actively a part of recycled rainbows and some way shape or form. I've even had other kids from other States and communities come to my house and melt with me and learn my process so that they can take it back to their community and do their own.

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

I feel that recycled rainbows is unique not in the fact that I recycle crayons and utilize them as new crowns but I've seen a lack of resources and I am now for filling that gap so with that it is unique because something that was once unwanted unused and considered garbage is now providing access and resource for those who are underserved or suffer with disabilities. It's also unique because I've taken the time to sit down and speak with therapists on the type of crayons that people need that are going through physical therapy or occupational therapy.

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

My project turned into a non profit organization and is now in 48 States and 3 countries. My crayons and resources help children and adults all over the United States by coloring a gap for a need that is now met. My crayons and art materials are used in hospitals there therapy programs schools and resource centers. I've seen the biggest impact of what I do at life scape which is a housing facility for those with special needs and disabilities plus I've also seen a lot of joy come from the things I do at the reservations that my items and smart bags have been delivered to. It is estimated that I've recycled over 50000 kranz and have made probably 25000 new ones and that my number is continually grow as far as how many children I breach but it is upwards to 5000 children now.

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

One of my next ideas is to develop a children's picture book about a krahn who find self worth and really discovers personal empowerment. I would like to continue my relationship with the hospitals the children's hospital specifically to normalize their experience when they're they're making them more comfortable and letting them have access to resources that they otherwise wouldn't have. I also plan on continuing my work in other country is and spreading those resources because we don't realize the lack of simple things such as crayons& art materials that communities do not have access to in places like Zimbabwe. I'm looking to expand my reach to all fifty states.

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

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • T-Mobile page or contact
  • Ashoka page or contact
  • Email

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 50%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 25%

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

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 25%

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

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 75%

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

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

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 25%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 25%

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 - 25%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

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

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

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 33.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 25%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 25%

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 Stormy Barajas

Riley, the work you are doing with recycled rainbows is so awesome! It's so great to see a idea come to fruition, have such creativity and impact.

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