Youth Changing the World

H2O for Life engages, educates and inspires youth to change the world through service.

Photo of Patty Hall
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Written by


  • I am not an employee of BNY Mellon, or an immediate family member of a BNY Mellon employee
  • I am over 18 years of age
  • My organization is incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or I have a partner that is incorporated and could accept funds on my behalf
  • I have already piloted my initiative and have some initial evidence of impact
  • My organization is headquartered and creating impact in the United States


  • Woman

Where are you making a difference?

H2O for Life currently has participating schools in over 40 states yearly. We are reaching out to all states across the United States. Each year we engage over 150 schools to participate in service-learning projects through our global education program. Many schools join us for multiple years.

Focus Areas (required)

  • Business & Social Enterprise
  • Children & Youth
  • Civic Engagement
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Human Rights & Equality
  • Peace & Harmonious Relations

Date Started


Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

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

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


  • $1k - $10k

Website or social media URL(s) (optional)

Twitter URL

Facebook URL

LinkedIn URL

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.

Teacher Patty Hall received an email from a friend in Kathungu Village, Kenya. He told her that their children and cattle were dying due to lack of access to water. Patty reached out to her 800 middle school students and introduced a service-learning opportunity for her entire school. Students learned about the global water crisis and the importance of protection and conservation of our local water resources, and the critical need for provision of clean water for people all around the world.The students created action plans and raised funds to help implement a source of water for Kathungu Village. Since then 1000 schools have participated in our program and have provided water for more than 350,000 students around the world.

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

UN sustainability goal #6 has been identified as an enormous global issue. Water is one of the greatest risks to our world. Youth are 25% of our US population, and we will not solve global issues without their participation. Educating youth to become advocates and activists for our local water resources and civically engaged through their support of a global partner school project is developing a generation of global citizens.

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

We provide a robust online platform with curriculum for teachers focused on the global water crisis. Schools choose a global partner school, learn about why water is a critical need for schools everywhere, and take action to provide funds for their partner school. We focus on service-learning strategies that provide opportunities for students to become leaders, collaborate with others, develop their communication skills and develop empathy for others. US students learn how to create an action plan for a fundraiser that challenges them to design a program that fiscally gets them to their goal. Students need to figure in costs of doing "business" and outcomes from their efforts. Service-learning has been proven to impact students for a lifetime. Studies have shown that engaging youth through service leads to more civically engaged and philanthropic adults. Service-learning is life-changing.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.

Salem Hills Elementary School in Inver Grove, MN has participated with H2O for Life for 10 years. Year one, their focus was to raise funds for a partner school. Ten years later, Salem Hills has embedded our curriculum in every classroom in their K-5 school. They host an all school water festival where students showcase their learning. For example, their 3rd grade students use engineering skills to build a cardboard arcade. The arcade focused on water as an outcome, and the rest of the school is invited to play the game that students have created. 5th grade focuses on the water cycle including local and global impact; 4th grade on water shed protection; Kindergarten hosts a water stand with signage about stopping the use of bottled water, 2nd grade made felt water droplets for sale as holiday ornaments, and 1st grade provides songs and art representing their global partner school.

5a. Too many people in the U.S. have unmet needs for financial products and services. How is your work reaching a population(s) that is currently underserved? If it is not reaching an underserved population yet, how might it in the near future?

Our project provides a opportunity for youth to develop an understanding of poverty around the world and within the United States as part of their study. (grades 4-5) By participating in service-learning projects, each class must create an action plan that defines what they need to bring their project to fruition. How much felt is needed for rain drops, and how can they collect funds needed. For their partner school project- this year Nigeria, they organize a walk for water gathering donations.

5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:

  • other (please specify on question 5a)

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

Youth Service America, National Youth Leadership Council, Points of Light

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

Our program has been implemented by more than 1000 US schools impacting 550,000 youth. Our youth have had the opportunity to learn about an enormous global issue of high importance, and have participated in a service-learning program that allows them to design projects that have impact and realize that they can truly change the world. Through our fund-raising program for partner schools, students learn how to set up events, create budgets for hosting events, reach out to the local community and others for resources to get projects off the ground and learn skill that will prepare them for future jobs. Our global school connections have provided more than $3.5 million for implementation of water, sanitation and hygiene education projects for schools around the world. Our Water Warriors continue to spread the world about the need to protect, conserve and provide clean water to the worl

8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?

We continue to expand our curriculum and our reach to engage more schools each school year. Our goal is to add regional staff so that we can provide hands on service to all schools across the United States.

8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?

  • Trainings, Consultation
  • Federations, Associations
  • Campaigns

9. Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We have added a full time development director to our staff. Along with family foundations, corporations and events, we seek to grow our base of individual and sustainable donors. We are developing product for sale such as bracelets from developing world countries, branded t-shirts, water bottles for starters, and are seeking more ideas.

10. Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

We have an office team of 5 full time employees and a .5 curriculum staff. Our founder is a full time volunteer. We have a board of 9 members who have a variety of talents including Marketing, Finance, University Educational Professor, Business owner, Attorney, Bank Executive, and several teachers. We consider our collaborating teachers as our core volunteers who implement our program. They are true Water Warriors and are changing lives for students across the country and the world.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 - Which of the following categories do you identify with? (optional)

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

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)

  • No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
  • Email

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall, would you champion this entry as a excellent example to move forward to the next phase of the challenge and become a semifinalist?

Yes, absolutely! - 33.3%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 33.3%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

3. Is this entry IMPACTFUL on financial wellbeing?

Yes, absolutely! - 33.3%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 33.3%

No - 0%

4. Is this entry SUSTAINABLE?

Yes, absolutely! - 33.3%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 33.3%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

5. What are some of the HIGHLIGHTS of strengths of this entry?

Connection to underserved community - 100%

Clarity of Model - 50%

Clarity of Writing - 0%

Idea Originality - 100%

Understanding of the marketplace or sector - 0%

Impact measurement - 0%

Impact Potential - 100%

Financial Sustainability - 0%

Team - 50%

Partnerships - 50%

Potential to scale - 50%

6. What are some of the areas for IMPROVEMENT of this entry?

Connection to underserved community - 0%

Clarity of Model - 100%

Clarity of Writing - 50%

Idea Originality - 0%

Understanding of the marketplace or sector - 0%

Impact measurement - 50%

Impact Potential - 0%

Financial Sustainability - 50%

Team - 0%

Partnerships - 50%

Potential to scale - 100%

Attachments (1)


H2O for Life started because of the vision of one teacher and her students.


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Photo of Patty Hall

Thank you- We believe that the global water crisis is solvable in our lifetime and that youth can be leaders of change today and in the future. We are creating a core of global citizens who will change the world.

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