Tom founded Dreams for Kids in 1989 at the request of his mother, Patricia Tuohy, a single parent of four children. Abandoned by his father at eight years old, Tom was deeply influenced by mentors who introduced him to a level of suffering in other children far worse than his own difficult challenges and presented him with a vastly different worldview.
Tom is an attorney, author, and public speaker and convinced social entrepreneurship will solve our local and global social issues.
Heather MixEvent Coordinator
Dreams for Kids
Devon ColemanCommunity Coordinator
Dreams for Kids
Alba CorneyProgram Intern
Dreams for Kids
Youth Executive Board
A dynamic group of young middle school leaders who are proving they are the generation we have been waiting for and that no one has to wait to be great and to make an impact. Our youth board has created nonprofits and social enterprises and is enrolling thousands of like-minded youth to raise money and to fund youth-led startups.
Project I Am
“In a perfect world, I would buy every homeless person a house. But since I can’t do that, I will try to help as much as I can.”
8-year-old Jahkil Naeem Jackson created Project I Am. Jahkil, now 12, has a heartfelt desire to help those in need. After helping his aunt distribute food to the Chicago homeless, he knew that he wanted to do more to make a difference.
It quickly became Jahkil’s mission to build awareness of homelessness and to help the homeless population by offering them what he calls “Blessing Bags,” a giveaway filled with wipes, socks, deodorant, hand sanitizer, granola bars, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bottled water, and more.
Jahkil Jackson has set and surpassed many goals in his young life. Distributing his Blessing Bags to the homeless has been one of his most significant achievements thus far. In just a few years, Jahkil’s efforts have touched over 35,000 men, women, and children across the world. Along with the help of friends and family, Jahkil has organized distribution to those in need in Chicago, Los Angeles, Oklahoma, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Virginia, and Idaho. He has also provided Blessing Bags to orphans in Mbabane, Swaziland, as well as volcano victims in Guatemala, and hurricane survivors in Florida, Houston, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas.
Jahkil is a motivational speaker on a mission to influence kids around the country to get involved in their communities. He plans to continue to join forces with other like-minded youth to lead a life of service, encouraging them to find their passions and make the world a better place. To continue to reach his goals, he is asking the public for supplies and monetary donations.
Summer 2016, he was named a Youth Ambassador for Heartland Alliance, one of the world’s leading anti-poverty organizations, working in communities in the U.S. and abroad to serve those who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety. Winter 2017, Jahkil became a member of the WE International Youth Council. WE is a movement that exists to make the world a better place. WE Day is also a celebration of youth making a difference in their local and global communities. Jahkil was a guest speaker for 2017 and 2018. Fall 2018, Jahkil became the youngest member of the Independent Youth group, which empowers today’s youth to become tomorrow’s business leaders and entrepreneurial innovators. Jahkil was recently voted Vice Chairman of the 2019 KidBox Youth Board of Directors, named one of BET’s 15 under 15 and is a CNN 2019 Young Hero.
Most notably, Jahkil was acknowledged as one of three influential people of 2017 by President Barack Obama and the Obama Foundation. Jahkil was also tapped to participate in Disney’s Be Inspired Black History Campaign, Lebron James’ #AlwaysBelieve 2018 campaign, Nike’s 2019 Future Varsity program and was named a Marvel Super Hero. Jahkil is currently Chairman of Dreams for Kids Youth Executive Board.
“I want to inspire other kids to be great and to make their mark on this earth. It’s time to make a difference!”
When Khloe Thompson was eight years old, she began distributing “Kare Bags” filled with socks, underwear, toiletries, and menstrual supplies for Los Angeles’ homeless community. Khloe is proving that her age has nothing to do with her ability to impact the world around her. She believes the only way to understand what’s going on in your community is to go out in the community and see what’s going on. “To make the world a better place by showing ALL of my neighbors that they are loved and cared for, no matter what their situation is.”
“In Kindergarten, I used to give my lunch away to other kids that didn’t have lunch or snacks. One day, when I was in 4th grade, I was on my way to school, and I kept seeing a lady who was homeless. Every day I would see her, and I wanted to do something to help her out. Her name was Michelle, and she inspired me to give back. Seeing her outside every day made me really upset and sad, so I knew I had to do something to make life a little easier for her.
One of my favorite moments is when I went to the LA Mission, and one lady told me I made her feel human again. She said what I was doing was helping so many women. When I pass out my “Kare Bags,” I also give every woman a hug. I feel this is important because everyone needs love.”
In 2015, she founded Khloe Kares, a nonprofit organization that distributes “Kare Bags” filled with toiletries and necessities for Los Angeles’ homeless community. Since Khloe Kares launched, more than 5,500 Kare Bags have been handed out to those in need through partnerships with local companies, churches, and nonprofit organizations.
Khloe has traveled across the United States and overseas for speaking engagements and hosting leadership workshops. She visited Ghana to help install water pumps and bathroom facilities for schools without access to clean water. She even was granted an acre of land in Ghana that will become the first Khloe Kares community center, allowing kids to do homework with electricity and warm food, as well as providing opportunities to learn new trades. Khloe is a Keds Kids Youth Ambassador and recently received the George H.W. Bush Points of Light Award. Khloe is currently Secretary of Dreams for Kids Youth Executive Board.
Hearing the Call
“Find your purpose and do something with it.”
It all started with Braden’s dog, Chewy. Aptly named, the Baker’s family pet chewed up a then 10-year-old Braden’s expensive hearing aids one warm, June night in 2017—for the second time. Born with a bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, Braden, a now 13-year-old Fort Worth, Texas native, has worn hearing aids since he was seven months old.
Forty-eight million Americans have some form of hearing loss, yet not all of them have access to hearing aids due to cost alone. This fact sparked something in Braden. “I was really sad that something like that could happen. It was okay because that kind of inspired me to do what I do now. It also kind of made me sad that other kids in the world couldn’t afford [hearing aids],” Braden says. It was then that he decided to do something to help others like him who needed hearing aids.
He filmed a short video to share on his mom’s Facebook wall and created a GoFundMe account to raise money for those who aren’t able to afford hearing aids. His original goal was to raise one thousand dollars. Little did he know, this video was the start of something big.
After appearing on the Ellen show in October of 2017, Braden raised well over $130,000 dollars (and counting!) for the Oticon Hearing Foundation through GoFundMe and his own foundation, Hearing the Call and has made mission trips to Guatemala, Ecuador and Zambia, Africa and has Braden helped reach more than 200 people in the U.S. and around the world receive new hearing aids.
He’s even started a campaign with his own slogan of, “find your purpose and do something with it.” He now has a website selling shirts with funding going back to the foundation.
Braden is a Marvel Superhero, “Battlin Branden.” Braden continues to make videos, speak at local TEDx Talks, and receive coverage from news outlets and magazines—all while finishing the 7th grade.
To other kids wearing hearing aids, Braden wants to remind them: “Don’t ever let it stop you. Don’t ever let [having hearing aids] get you down. It’s like wearing glasses; it’s just another impairment. You should never be sad about that. Don’t let it stop you from doing something you want to do.”
The Tiny Diplomat
“Even if you’re tiny, your voice is not. The world leaders need to listen to the little girls trying to make change.”
Havana Chapman-Edwards, a 9-year-old student activist, is fighting for stricter gun laws and better education for girls. ‘I am an “artivist,’ and future astronaut and POTUS.”
Featured on the Today Show’s Ground Breaker Series International Day of the Girl, Havana first made headlines in April 2018 when, as a first-grader, she was the only student at Fort Hunt Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, to join the national school walkout in protest of gun violence in U.S. schools. Her interest in advocating for gun control started after her cousin Tony was shot and killed when he was only 17 years old. She attended the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., the month before, and wanted to join the walkouts with the older students even though none of her elementary school peers wanted to join her.
Her tweet of a photo of Havana sitting alone under a tree in her orange astronaut suit on the day of the walkout, with the quote ” I am all alone at my school, but I know am not alone,” went viral and Havana was invited to speak in front of the Capitol in Washington D.C. on National Die-In Day. A few months later, in October 2018, Havana was photographed with other activists in TIME magazine’s Guns In America issue. She serves on Kid Box Board of Directors, named to Teen Vogue 21 under 21, and is featured in Barbies; We’re Taking Over video.
Havana’s newfound notoriety also presented her with a bigger platform to speak out about other issues she cares deeply about. Havana, who’s always been a globe-trotter as the daughter of a writer and a U.S. diplomat, has visited a dozen countries and encountered many people with varying socioeconomic backgrounds. She found girls across the globe need better education. And it starts with reading.
Havana’s GoFundMe raising money for her church choir’s book club climbed from $800 to more than $6,000 in 24 hours. The book club, called Rhymers Are Readers, has a specific mission: to read more stories featuring strong black characters. Havana teamed with Florida high schooler and fellow activist Taylor Richardson to raise $20,000 to buy books, toiletries, clothing, and other supplies for girls at the St. Bakhita Orphanage in Ghana.
“I wanted to help them because I want them to grow up and reach their goals and dreams like I want to,”
Mikey Knows Biz
“I want to be a leader, and I want to be a role model to help kids succeed in life.”
Michael “Mikey” Wren is an 11-year-old kid social entrepreneur. He is the owner of Mikey’s Munchies, inspirational speaker, and the author of the best selling children books Mikey Learns About Business and Biz is a Wiz.
Mikey Learns Business is about Mikey, a 9-year-old who wants to start a business, but he doesn’t know how to do it. Mikey meets a magical briefcase name “Biz” that guides him through what it takes to start a business. Mikey learns how to write a business plan, marketing strategies, networking, and much more.
Biz is a Wiz takes early readers on a journey to starting their first lemonade stand. It’s fun and has a business plan included in the book. Biz is a magical briefcase that teaches children how to start a business. Biz loves to teach children entrepreneurial skills that will transfer to everyday life skills.
He is the owner of Mikey’s Munchies Vending Machine Company in St. Louis. Mikey said the reason he wanted to start a business was that “I wanted to eat all the snacks out of the vending machine.” He had to create a business plan and come up with the money to get the business going. He did it by setting up a lemonade stand and raising $1,200 in start-up funds. Mikey now owns four vending machines.
Mikey is a member of Young Biz Kidz. It’s a nonprofit organization that encourages youth entrepreneurship. Mikey volunteers his time to help teach leadership and entrepreneurship skills to his peers, host toy drives, and donates 10% of the revenue from his businesses to nonprofit causes.
Love Your Art Project
“Do everything with your heart, and let love lead the way.”
Franiya Tiffany is an actress, author, entertainer, and innovator. At six years old, Franiya began taking professional piano lessons and then on to learning to play guitar. She started dancing at the age of 3, She wrote her first book Love Your Art at seven years old and then an inspirational A-Z book, How to Be a StartBoss when she was eight years old. She then began reading them to other children and talking to the youth and adults at different schools and a college to help inspire others and remind them that they’re never too young to stand up and use their voice for good.
Franiya has created her own talent show Love Your Art and Shine, which gives kids that generally don’t get the opportunity, an outlet to shine and share their talents, as well as encourage them to give back and become active in their communities as well. She’s always thinking of ways to help with the world and within her community.
Franiya was recently selected by the company KIDBOX, as one of their 2019 Kid Board of Directors. She’s an honor roll student, recognized by; the Floyd Maywheather Jr Foundation, and recently by Nick Cannon as a Power Player. For International Day of the Girl 2019, she was highlighted as a Groundbreaker on the Today Show as one of the 18 girls under 18 changing the world. She’s a member of American For The Arts, as well as the Young Artist Academy.
Franiya’s goal is to continue to set the bar for herself and others to reach high for all the goals they have in life. Currently, Franiya is working on launching her non-profit Love Your Art Project Inc, which will empower others through the arts, and education & teach them to dream bigger, all while helping the generations in need.
Helping others and giving back has always been something that she would naturally do as early as four years old, and it has never left her heart. Franiya believes that no matter what career path you take that we all can find ways to uplift those in need.
“I do not believe that the cost of something should stop anyone from pursuing their passion.”
At the age of 13, Alyssia Duda already has her sights set on pursuing her dreams. She is on a mission to achieve her career goal of becoming a professional ballet dancer, which would place her on a stage where African Americans and other women of color have been mostly absent.
The aspiring ballerina and Flossmoor resident, who has an interest in acting and modeling, has some impressive accomplishments to date. Alyssia has a high profile ballet performances of the coveted role of the Pierrot Doll for the historic Joffrey Ballet’s 28th Nutcracker performance choreographed by The Joffrey Ballet’s late founder. She had a double roll in the 2018 Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s revision of the Nutcracker for the Joffrey Ballet.
Recently, Alyssia expanded her resumes’ impressive creative credentials to include acting and modeling. Seen on the Fox Television Emmy- nominated show, Empire, she has appeared on NBC’s hit series Chicago PD, Chicago Med, and Chicago Fire. Alyssia appeared on the History Channel/A&E networks, GEICO, as well as GoGo SqueeZ, and Jones Dairy Farm commercials. She is featured in the 2019 American Girl, Girl of The Year product launch, and has been a model for American Girl, Bon Ton, and Clearasil.
Alyssia is the founder of the nonprofit Alyssia’s Dream. The nonprofit held an event last fall designed to inspire and encourage young girls and where Alyssia was a speaker. She is organizing a campaign to fund the dance dreams of young girls of color whose parents may not be able to afford the prohibitive fees for proper ballet training.
She has also worked with Brown Girls Do Ballet, a Dallas-based nonprofit with a national effort to help increase participation of underrepresented minorities in ballet programs by organizing and arranging ballet performances and photo exhibitions. It also provides resources and scholarships to help young girls in their ballet training and development.
When Alyssia is not onstage, on set, or excelling academically, she is an enthusiastic and active volunteer for the Community Engagement program for the Joffrey Academy of Dance, which fuels the love of movement among children in underserved Chicago communities. She loves working with other children to be an inspiration in any capacity she can, including working on her very own initiative called Alyssia’s Dream.
When she dances, she said, “I feel like I am in another place, like I am dancing in heaven. It is my passion, my world. I cannot imagine life without it.”
Sammie's Buddy Bench Project
“It doesn’t just have to be adults that make a difference. It can be Kids too! It’s good to be Kind!’
At eight years old, in 2017, Sammie Vance attended a local VBS (vacation Bible School) where she heard about the idea of the buddy bench. In her words “If someone is lonely they can go sit on the bench and others know to go up and ask them to play” She doesn’t want anyone to feel alone and at times would have used it herself. Also, a place for new kids to sit and those feeling left out or wanting to make a new friend.
She came home that evening and told her mom her school needed a buddy bench! She made an appointment with the principal to ask if they could get one. Her mom had heard of a company GreenTree Plastics in Evansville, IN that turned recycled plastic caps and lids into benches. Sammie liked that idea of recycling and decided that would be a great way to get the community involved and would also cost a lot less than a new bench. (new bench $900. Recycled bench $250). Sammie made a comic explaining the buddy bench and her mom posted on Facebook a video of Sammie talking about wanting a buddy bench for her school and asking others to help her save plastic caps and lids. It got shared a lot! Sammie’s Buddy Bench Project page was created on Facebook for people to follow along on the journey.
Her dream was a 6ft bench with back for each of the two playgrounds. 400 lbs of plastic caps and lids which equals about 10 (55 gal drums) were needed for 1 bench.
Another fun thing she did was get a cap sent from all 50 states and Africa, Israel, Germany, New Zealand, and Mexico!
Within 2 months she received over 1,200 lbs of caps!! By the time she brought the caps down to the company to pick up the benches, she had collected over 1,600 lbs!
Recently she was a guest on the Today Show where Walgreen’s announced all 150 Indiana Walgreen’s stores would collect their stock caps for her all summer! They collected 15,000 lbs! Enough for 75 Buddy Benches that were spread through Indiana!
A YouTube video is viral with over 25 million views combined. Reece Witherspoon has tweeted about it along with a story in USA Today, Martha Stewart Living, Babble, Upworthy, Norwex, and her Her View From Home. Her story has reached all over the world and touches the hearts of those lonely, those recycling, those wanting to make the world a better place. She was recently featured on The Today Show with Kathy Lee Gifford on the “Everyone Has a Story” segment.
Sammie would love to see Buddy Benches on every playground!
Sir Darius BrownFounder
“Save lives. one bowtie at a time!”
Sir Darius Brown, the 13-year-old with a heart of gold is a powerhouse teen entrepreneur, speaker, philanthropist, animal advocate, and founder of Beaux & Paws. He creates handmade stylish bow ties.
In 2017, Sir Darius was moved by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma and wanted to do his part to help. Learning that some rescue dogs were being transferred from the devastation in Texas and Puerto Rico to the ASPCA on NYC, Sir Darius thought of a unique way to use his passion of creating bow ties to help the displaced dogs look dapper and cute and help them be more noticeable in hopes of finding their forever homes faster. During his visit to the adoption center, Sir Darius learned that hundreds of dogs are euthanized daily at some shelters due to overcrowding. When he learned of this horrific reality, he was devastated. A dog lover himself, this was the beginning of Sir Darius’s mission to help save the lives of dogs and cats by donating his handmade bow ties to animal shelters across the nation. “It helps the dog look noticeable, very attractive,” he told TODAY. “It helps them find a forever, loving home … I love everything about dogs and cats.”
In 2019, Sir Darius created the “PAW-SOME MISSION”. The goal for the mission is to ship bow ties to and visit animal shelters in all 50 states. Upon visiting the animal shelters, Sir Darius will be donating his bow ties personally, assisting with adoption events, and using his platform of over 50K followers on social media to highlight adoptable pets and give them even more exposure to help them find forever homes faster.
Sir Darius has donated countless bow ties to shelters and adoption centers across the USA and the United Kingdom and has helped numerous shelter pets find loving forever homes.
Sir Darius is the recipient of several prestigious awards and accolades including being selected as the 2020 New Jersey State Honoree for the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, “Daily Points of Light Award” founded by former President George H.W. Busch, “Shining World Compassion Award” presented by The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association, “Leadership Award” from Leaders of the Future No Limits, “Outstanding Achievement Award” from the WDIB Conference, “Youth Change Maker Finalist Award” from Excel Honors, the” Jasmina Anema Youth Award” from the Black Cotton Foundation, the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the White House. Most notably, he received a letter of recognition from former President Barack Obama commending him on his commitment to service.
Motivated to inspire others around the world, Sir Darius speaks at conferences and events, educating others about the importance of education, volunteering, and giving back to the community. Sir Darius’s long term goals are to contribute to building a new generation of leaders, to be a voice for the voiceless by helping shelter pets find loving forever homes and to “SAVE LIVES ONE BOWTIE AT A TIME.”
Blankies 4 My Buddies
“I am proud to be able to help kids who experience the feelings I felt when I lost my little sister – loneliness, fear, pain, and grief.”
When C.J. Matthews was five years old, his family experienced a pregnancy loss. His mom was nearly six months pregnant when she became ill and learned that she was dilating prematurely. C.J. didn’t understand what this meant, why or how it was happening, but he was distraught to learn that the baby he had been waiting for would not be coming home after his mom’s three-day stay in the hospital. He had been so excited – kissing his mom’s belly and talking to his unborn sibling daily for months – and his dreams of being a big brother were crushed.
For weeks after his sister Karsen’s tragic delivery, his family recalls hearing C.J.’s wailing in the distance. “It was so disheartening,” says his mother, Kristen Wright Matthews. “I was already in so much pain physically and emotionally, but the thought of not being able to give him the little brother or sister he wanted so badly made the pain unbearable.”
After an especially difficult conversation with C.J., his mom helped him to come up with a project that she hoped would bring him some comfort. The emotions he was feeling were loneliness and fear. He wanted his sister. He wondered where she was. He was afraid she was alone. The two came up with a way that he could pay tribute to his baby sister while helping other kids who experienced these same emotions. Blankies 4 My Buddies was born.
Winter 2020 marks the 7th anniversary of C’J.’s passion project to deliver warm, cozy blankets to sick and displaced children. In 2017, he was the recipient of a Disney Be-Inspired grant. He launched the 1st Annual Giving Bowl, a charitable 7-on seven flag football game that promotes kids playing football to help others and provide blankets to families in his South Atlanta community for the holidays. During the game, children’ s-themed blankets and non-perishable foods are collected. Each year, at least 50 families have been provided with food to help them through the holiday season.
In March, he was recognized as the Community Service honoree at the 2019 YOU International Awards. This academic year Chris was nominated by one of his teachers to attend the Junior National Young Leaders Conference (JrNYLC), the premier leadership development program for middle school students in Washington, D.C., in Summer 2020.
Mia's Treats Delight
“You’re a kid. You can do it. Don’t wait if you don’t want to.”
13-year-old boss Tamia Coleman-Hawkins operates her thriving business, Mia’s Treats Delight, from her kitchen at home in the St. Louis area, baking up decadent brownies and cupcakes for a growing clientele.
She inherited her baking mastery from her grandmother at the age of 4 and was encouraged by her mom, Tamishio Hawkins, to launch a business when she became an adult. But Tamia didn’t want to wait that long. After an economics class in the third grade, where she learned the fundamentals of managing money and navigating entrepreneurship, she came home. She announced that she wanted to start her own business- today. So Tamia’s Mom took her to the grocery to purchase ingredients, and that might Tamia had her first sale.
“Who said that you have to wait until you’re an adult to start a business? Another goal of mine is to inspire other kids to dream BIG! I want all kids to know that if I can start my own business, then they can too! Never let anyone tell you that you’re too young to live out your dreams!”
Tamia does a lot of community service with her mom, who organizes events to feed the homeless while providing clothes and personal hygiene products to those in need. Through her work in her community, she has started development on programs to teach baking to kids in the inner city. Five years in business qualifies her as a seasoned vet, so she shares what she’s learned as a motivational speaker and philanthropist. Last year, she was invited to serve on the kids’ board of directors for Kidbox, an online retailer that donates new clothes to children in need for every box customers purchase and keep. Next up on her list of goals: move into a commercial kitchen and eventually open a brick-and-mortar storefront for Mia’s Treats Delight.
Join Our Youth Executive Board?We are looking for Amazing Kids just like you.
Join Our Youth Executive Board?We are looking for Amazing Kids just like you.
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