The roots of social change and the need for peace run deep in youth movements. Cycles of violence engendered by war and terrorism have unleashed young activists with surprising force across the world. 

Here in America, where our turbulence is more financial in nature, we are witness to a compassion boom, powered by youth philanthropy.

Youth is our country’s largest population group — reportedly 70 million strong.  In fact, 1 out of every 4 Americans is under the age of 18.  Over 13 million American teens volunteer an average of 3 hours per week, totaling over 2-billion hours of service per year.   

Far less information is available about kids 12 and younger, yet this group makes up nearly 18% of the world’s population and is characteristically just as civically charged.

Whether it’s a result of the most dismal job-market in decades, or an outgrowth of  the high availability of information about world events and issues, both Generation Y (“Millennials”) and Generation Z (“Homelanders”) are finding their identities as agents of change.

Even though GenZ is at a tender age of 12 or younger, they’re digitally wired and more conscious of their global counterparts, the economy and political happenings.  For example, kids as young as 7 can explain what a recession is, and how state budget cuts have impacted their school programming.

Frustratingly though, due to ageism, many of these young minds and able bodies are under-utilized in helping with the humanitarian challenges they care about the most.  This is perhaps why we’re seeing more and more pint-sized philanthropists founding their own philanthropic organizations in order to have impact.

The truth is, the concept of empowering the youngest generation is still relatively recent in the social entrepreneurship world.  For the most part, the general public regards youth-activists — like 11 year old Olivia Bouler, who has used her artwork to help save birds affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — as anomolies.

Kids of all ages have the capacity to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars and move tens of thousands of people into a deeper position of awareness.  Point in case, within a matter of months, Olivia’s efforts raised $175,000 to help the wildlife impacted by the spill, and she also earned just shy of 30,000 Facebook “likes” — impressive by anyone’s standards.

In a recent article, the press secretary at the Corporation for National and Community Service (@nationalservice) remarked of today’s youth: “They’ve been through 09/11 and Katrina and an economic recession, and all of this has forced young people to look around them and reassess their place in the world.”

According to recent PARADE poll findings, respondents were almost unanimous in the belief that it’s “important to be personally involved in supporting a cause we believe in” in our communities (94%) and in the world at large (91%).  More than 3 out of 4 (78%) think that the actions of one person can improve the world, and 78% also believe they’re move involved in making a difference than their parents were.

Generation Z is proving that no one — no matter their age — is powerless to help.  As the world strives to break the cycles in an economic-survival mode, KooDooZ strives to broaden the public’s definition of “philanthropist” beyond the reach of a deep pocket.  Helping youth recongize that they can tap their passions for acts of compassion is paramount. 

For the last month, KooDooZ has been challenging kids across Southern California — from Santa Monica to West Covina — to create “Caring Cards” inscribed with messages of peace.  On Saturday, September 11th, a handful of girls will hand-deliver a portion of the 150 hand-made cards to fallen heroes at the West Los Angeles VA Hospital.  Kids from other parts of the nation have committed to mailing their cards directly to soldiers overseas.

Being that this Saturday earmarks the 9th anniversary of the 09/11 attacks, the cards are a symbolic tool to drive awareness to the import of peace and the voice of youth in this conversation. 

Huge thanks to KooDooZ community partners:  the American Red Cross of Santa Monica and Hartnell for supporting and nurturing youth philanthropy in refreshing new ways.

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