When you think of the Bay Area, what words come to mind? Technology? Innovation? Entrepreneurship? Amazing food trucks? OK, maybe the last one is just me (seriously, they are so good!). But I think everyone can agree that the Bay Area has a history of making the impossible possible by asking, “What if?”
As a 15 year resident, I find it amazing that an area with such a wealth of resources has so much need. The Bay Area is home to thousands of non-profit organizations working to strengthen the community. In recent years, these organizations have made great strides by tapping into their corporate neighbors and adopting innovative business strategies. Founded like a high-tech startup in 2005, Downtown Streets Team played a great role in the recent decline of local homelessness even in the wake of increasing rents. In 2014, Loaves and Fishes reinvented their 35-year old soup kitchen model, resulting in a 90% increase of meals. And most recently, The Art of Yoga Project (AYP), a leader in the rehabilitation of at-risk and incarcerated girls, partnered with YCore to design and build a platform that allows teachers to train virtually in AYP methods. By asking, “what if?” Bay Area non-profits have been able to make the impossible possible.
As someone who has made a career working with youth, I have a “What if?” question of my own. What if we brought our high-tech culture and vibrant non-profit community together in a way that allowed youth to become more active, engaged, and empathetic? What if we used existing technology to connect youth with meaningful, timely, and fun volunteer opportunities? What if youth could lend their voice to the non-profit community using devices at their fingertips?
Fortunately, I don’t need to ask my “What ifs” any longer. Project Giving Kids- Bay Area is here. It’s changing the way we look at youth service and cultivating the next generation of givers. Project Giving Kids is allowing youth to become a part of something much bigger than themselves and realize they have the power to make the world a better place. Maybe that’s the next great legacy of the Bay Area, and I’m excited to be a part of it.