Day 23 – Start a Youth Program #30dreamdays

19 Sep

MickeyThe more that I keep digging into this whole DREAM thing, the more that I realize that the “whim” that I thought prompted the start of this challenge was not really a whim at all.  It was years of “backburner” dreams that had nowhere else to go but to be written and expanded on here.

Here are 2 lines that were in a document entitled “MY DREAM” in a folder called “What’s Next?”.  I last edited this document in October 2010.   It said:

  • Start the United Way of Youth Programs, the Civil Rights of Youth.
  • Be the protector of dreams for all that I meet, especially my family.

These 2 items are intertwined.  I love the teenage years.  So much potential.  So much exploration.  So much yet to discover.  Being involved with kids at this age is really exciting to me.

In January 2010 I decided to serve on the Allocations Committee for the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut.    It would actually be more accurate to say that I was INVITED to serve on the committee.  Invitations are important.  It is a great way to tell someone what you see in them that they may not see in themselves or haven’t explored yet.

I was in BNI, a networking group, with the woman who connected me to this position and she heard me go on and on about education and wanting to make a difference and here was this great opportunity for a business mind like mine to make a difference by evaluating and making recommendations on grant support for local programs.  I loved that opportunity and learned so much.

About one week after starting on the Allocations Committee I drafted my “United Way of Youth Programs” concept which would start with an Arts Exploration Program.  I wanted to start a loosely structured after-school program in one school with a small, but growing group of kids.  The initial focus would be to:

  1. Revise my business plan – work with students to understand why a business plan is needed, its components and develop plan as our goals and objectives for the program change.
  2. Structure of Meeting – lay it out with student input/design
  3. Growth within School – have students “invite” other students
  4. Replicating our model in another school – student team would handle logistics, planning, promotion, etc
  5. Marketing our program to other students, schools and especially to donors and supporters – have students develop posters, brochures, YouTube videos, songs, poems, short stories, testimonials, Facebook fan page, website, logo, logowear etc.
  6. Fundraising ideas – events & easy stuff like gift cards but proceed to develop plan to get local businesses to do commission based sales, project work or other needed functions.  We can use our FB fanbase to promote commission based sales.

The concept would be to broaden the horizons of middle to high school age kids using things they already know how to do, but engaging them in a much bigger mission and vision.  It would also be inspired by the Randy Pausch “head fake”– what you are teaching them when they think they are learning (or doing) something else.  See my Enabling the Dreams of Others post for video and more info on the head fake.

Would this work?  Probably.  Why haven’t I done this yet?  There are plenty of reasons but one of them is definitively that I have NOT been focused on achieving my dreams.   The year I drafted this my oldest daughter was only a freshmen in high school.  As parents we frequently backburner our dreams as we work to support our family and shape and mold their futures.  I will always be a parent but my duty of child-rearing is coming to an end soon with one high school senior and one high school junior.

It was observed by my friend and Life Coach, Deb Cwynar Miller, that this blog started almost immediately after I launched the first child into college.  I guess this is part of my “empty nest” syndrome.  I’m OK with that.  I feel more energized and alive and am enjoying digging up my old dreams and exploring those and crafting new ones.

I would like to share this video with you as I watched it last night and it is what inspired me to go searching on my computer for the information I wrote up about my own youth program.  Angela Jackson speaks at TEDxProvidence about Global Language Project which is the organization she started in NYC after her experience working with multinational companies and traveling abroad. She was the head of New Channels Marketing at Nokia, responsible for managing the North American marketing and strategic-partnership development for Nokia’s Nseries brand. In addition, Angela sat on a cross-divisional, global team that outlined Nokia’s best practices for improving profitability and increasing market share in Asia.

She saw kids who looked like her, were growing up like her but who statistically were more likely of dropping out, getting pregnant as a teen, living in poverty or in jail and she decided she couldn’t just ignore what she saw.   This inspired me and I hope it inspires you.


(Photo credit & Credit of Image with Quote)


One Response to “Day 23 – Start a Youth Program #30dreamdays”


  1. Day 26 – Lifelong Learning #30dreamdays | 30 Dream Days - September 22, 2013

    […] outside the classroom and under-stimulation inside the classroom.  I’ve written about social entrepreneurs like Angela Jackson who are starting programs to widen the horizons for childre… who wouldn’t get that without her […]

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