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Student wishes come true

Created by Kauffman Foundation.

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Video transcript

- My name is Beth Schmidt, and my organization is called Wishbone.org. I started Wishbone to actually send low-income students on these afterschool and summer programs that are otherwise pretty much cost-prohibitive for that demographic. I was teaching 10th grade English in South Central Los Angeles, and I said, go research any afterschool or summer program in the Los Angeles area, and part of the research paper was to match a passion to this afterschool program or summer program that a student wanted to attend. There were about 13 papers that started with the sentence nobody's ever asked me what my passion is. And so I'm sitting there heartbroken, thinking (laughs) I have to send these kids on these programs. But I was on a teacher's salary at the time, so I can't afford to send them all. I actually ran a marathon to raise some money to send seven of them. Took the teacher route, and I stapled together packets of my students' wishes. They each wrote a paragraph, an excerpt from their essay about why they wanted to attend the program they chose. I took a photo of each student, and I mailed it out to friends and family. I like to err on the side of transparency, just because I think it motivates people to give more. Any donor wants to know where their dollars are going. That was really part of the whole design for Wishbone. People could actually see what the dream for the student was, and they could see the price tag to say, okay, my donation is actually making a difference. So it all started with the teacher packet. We had one student who is taking flight lessons. I think he did over 60 hours this summer of flight school with Wishbone. We have other students who want to go to iD Tech Camp and learn how to code. We have some students who wanna learn about stem cell science. These kids actually come back into their school day and become the experts on whatever they've done. It's powerful, what can happen within a single community when one kid comes back and has that a-ha moment. It's incredibly powerful to see peer groups come together and realize I can do that too. I took about a year to really think about whether I was gonna pursue this full-time, and then I dove right in. I realized I didn't wanna run a marathon again. That was the year I said I need to figure out a new, sustainable method for sending kids on programs. There's very humbling moments where you're constantly learning and iterating. And I remember when Wishbone earned its first $25,000, and I thought the organization was made. (laughs) Then you realize, oh boy, this isn't gonna get me very far (laughs), so it's a rollercoaster. But a piece that's unwavering is your solid belief that this is an issue and there's a specific solution to it. So for Wishbone it's really clear. There's an opportunity gap. Low-income kids are prohibited from path-changing opportunities, and the solution is to get them those opportunities. That is the piece you cannot waver on. The future of philanthropy, I believe, is definitely through technology. We have so much capacity to be able to give online, and it's one of the last fields actually to come online.