Today the KIND Foundation announces its biggest bet yet — a $20MM multi-year commitment to connect one million students through an initiative called Empatico! The name, which connotes empathy, underscores the importance of the so-called “soft skills,” which are increasingly critical to success in a divided country and interconnected world.
We are so proud of the work the KIND Foundation is doing to create the next generation of social entrepreneurs, we had to talk to the director of the KIND Foundation, Dana Rosenberg. Learn more from our interview here:
Listen to our interview with KIND Foundation Director, Dana Rosenberg
In 2016, The KIND Foundation was formed in order to help KIND Snacks further their efforts to make the world a kinder place. Through the foundation, they have been able to fund projects that implement systems of kindness in schools, recognize and support those who have performed extraordinary acts of kindness, and award grants to organizations who are attempting to make a difference in their community.
We were lucky enough to be able to interview the director of the KIND Foundation, Dana Rosenberg, in our Change Creator Podcast where we discussed the origins of the KIND Foundation, their current initiatives, and what they’ve done to help the social entrepreneur community.
What is the KIND Foundation?
“The KIND Foundation was established by KIND Healthy Snacks in the beginning of 2016. Through our foundation, our mission has always been to foster kinder and more empathetic communities,” Dana tells us. “You might be familiar with KIND Snacks as the meter of healthy, nutritious snack options but what you might not know is that we were also founded with the mission to inspire and spread kindness. Furthering that value of being kind has been part of our efforts since day one.”
What is the KIND Schools Challenge and how did it form?
Dana knew that once the foundation was established, they needed to find ways in which they could engage with their community and help them further the belief that it was necessary to foster kindness and connect with each other.
“We were introduced to Rick Weissbourd who is the head of Making Caring Common, a program of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and were really blown away by the work that they were doing there. As we got to know them, we established the first KIND Schools Challenge.”
The first KIND Schools Challenge was launched in Making Caring Common schools last year with the intent to help schools and students create change within their own community. It was extremely successful and financial support was given to a school in Jacksonville, where three students created a program that helped other students realize that they were more connected than they initially believed.
“Based on that experience, we teamed up with Harvard once again and we are so thrilled. Applications are now open for this year’s KIND Schools Challenge,” she announced. “The big difference this year is that we are no longer limiting it to the Making Caring Common network. We are opening this up nationally. Any middle school and high school in America can take part. All they need to do is form a team of 3 to 5 students, find a teacher adviser, and address a challenge that they are facing.”
Those who win the KIND Schools Challenge this year will be receiving a small stipend to launch the program and expert advice from a team at Harvard so that they can better shape their community into a kinder place.
What are you trying to achieve through your projects?
“For us, I think this is really making kindness more top of mind and reinforcing it as a value that we should all continue to prioritize and think about as we go on with our daily lives. For us, kindness calls on us to treat each other with respect, compassion, and empathy. It means taking that effort to listen and get to know people that you might not otherwise get to know. It goes well beyond this program. We hope that it is a mindset that people continue to prioritize and celebrate in their own lives.”
Kindness Gives Students a New Kind of Platform!
Teaming up with leading technologists (including the former CTO of Kickstarter) and global education experts to incubate the online learning tool, KIND Foundation has created a whole new way to connect students. Through seamless video conferencing technology and standards-based activities, an 8-year-old in India can now explore what life is like for an 8-year-old in Arkansas. Perhaps more important given the state of affairs in our country, that same kid in Arkansas can meaningfully interact with his or her Brooklyn peers.
Daniel, the Founder & CEO of KIND snacks conceived this idea more than a decade ago (they have the 4 am emails to prove it!) after doing work in the Middle East and realizing the importance of giving people a platform to share their stories.
Will you be expanding your efforts at the university level to help address the importance of social entrepreneurship?
“Right now, we’re evaluating all different points of a young person’s journey until they enter the workforce. For us, our next step is going to be that third and fourth grade age range. We think it’s a really interesting opportunity in terms of the development of a child and their ability to accept and understand different viewpoints. However, we’re also exploring those older age groups as well.”
She goes on to discuss the free social entrepreneurship summit that the KIND Foundation hosted last year where interested entrepreneurs could learn about how to make money while building their own business that was socially conscious. All of the KIND staff took the day off to help entrepreneurs with different areas of business and they were able to speak with successful members of the entrepreneur community such as Arianna Huffington and CEO of KIND, Daniel Lewbetzky.
“It was really an incredible day and an opportunity to give back to our own history. KIND is really proud to be a business with a social purpose and a chance to really encourage that next generation of social entrepreneurs. We need more people who are thinking about, how do I create a great business but also have an impact at the same time?”
She also tells us that working on social entrepreneurship is not an area that they are currently focusing on but that it will be in the future.
What should people be doing to support the mission of spreading kindness?
“Submission for projects to be a part of the (KIND Schools) challenge closes on October 25th. I just encourage as many people across the country to get involved, to think of an idea, and to submit it and to really make an effort to make their schools kinder and more caring. The other thing is, in terms of your social entrepreneurs, I encourage them to look at the KIND Schools Challenge toolkit that came out of last year. These tips and tricks that we’re giving to middle school and high schoolers can be applied to social entrepreneurs to make this a part of your daily life.”
How to Spread Kindness in Your Communities – Key Takeaways:
- Make a real effort to learn from others. Many of the people in your community have gone through situations that you have gone through as well. Make an effort to learn about the lives of others and you will be better suited to empathize, connect, and show them kindness.
- Incorporate kindness into your daily life. Find ways that you express kindness to people daily and turn kindness into a habit.
- Get involved. Look for programs and organizations in your community who are trying to make a difference and get involved. Major changes begin with individuals like you!
- Kindness needs a bigger platform in this world! How will you spread kindness and empathy today?
- Think about opportunities to create a great business with impact!
You can find out more about the KIND Foundation and their initiatives through the links below: