Change the World

8 kids turned big-time philanthropists

Young visionaries changing the world

Daniilantiq | Getty Images

In a world where more and more kids flaunt an air of entitlement, some parents are doing a great job at teaching their children to think beyond their own needs.

Philanthropy, of course, is about the act of raising money for others—not the dollar amount. But some kids have gone far beyond the lemonade stand to raise tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars—sometimes millions—for needy causes.

—Posted Dec. 4, 2014
By Chris Morris, special to

Vivienne Harr (10)

Vivienne Harr took her charitable movement with a lemonade stand to end child slavery into an empire.
Source: Make a Stand | Facebook

Harr actually did start her charitable movement with a lemonade stand, but she built it into an empire. At age 8, she saw a photo of two Nepali boys her age who had been enslaved. She set up a lemonade stand with the goal of ending child slavery. The story went viral, and 173 days later she had raised $100,000. That grew into a bottled lemonade business (Make a Stand Lemonade), which was followed by a featured TEDx talk and ringing the Nasdaq opening bell when Twitter went public.

Today venture capitalists, including Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey, are backing her Make a Stand mobile app and philanthropic crowdfunding service.

Talia Leman (19)

Talia Leman at the 2014 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards in Louisville, Kentucky, Sept. 27, 2014.
Stephen J. Cohen | Getty Images

Leman's philanthropic streak emerged after Hurricane Katrina. The then-10-year-old fifth-grader, seeing images of the destruction on the news, launched a charity urging kids to trick-or-treat for New Orleans, ultimately raising more than $10 million for the Hurricane Katrina foundation.

From there, she founded RandomKid, a nonprofit that provides resources for young people who want to make a worldwide impact on any issue. Among the company's successful efforts are reusable water bottles, which helped fund a water pump for an African village, and a push to provide crutches and artificial limbs to Haitian earthquake victims.

Olivia Bouler (15)

Olivia Bouler raised over $200,000 by selling her paintings of birds in the wake of the BP Deep Horizon disaster.
Source: Olivia Bouler | Facebook

When oil from the BP Deep Horizon well began washing up near her grandparents' house on the shores of the Gulf coastline, Bouler wrote the National Audubon Society and described herself as "11 years old and willing to help." Within a year, her offer had gone viral and she raised $200,000 by selling her paintings of birds.

Bouler, who describes James Audubon as one of her heroes, followed that up with a visit to Washington, D.C., to lay out the plight of the birds to representatives and publishing a book of her drawings, a portion of which went to Audubon.

Jordan Somer (20)

Participants at a Miss Amazing pageant which is a non-profit founded by Jordan Somer.
Source: MissAmazingInc | Facebook

Somer's fascination with pageants started when she was 7 years old. At 12, she volunteered at the Special Olympics. And in 2007, at the age of 13, she found a way to combine the two, creating the Miss Amazing pageant for girls and women with physical and mental disabilities.

The event has grown into a national event, with competitions in nearly 28 states. Next year it will be held in conjunction with the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in July.

Brittany and Robbie Bergquist (23 and 22)

Volunteers help collect cell phones for soldiers, a charity started by Brittany and Robbie Bergquist.
Source: Cell Phone for Soliders | Facebook

Watching the news in 2004, Robbie and Brittany Bergquist, then 12 and 13 years old, respectively, saw a story about a soldier returning from Iraq who had a phone bill of nearly $8,000. The siblings, who had a cousin fighting the war, were shocked that soldiers had to foot their own bill to call their loved ones. To help that individual, they started fundraising, and their efforts soon turned into Cell Phones for Soldiers.

The program, which collects used cell phones and purchases prepaid international calling cards, has raised more than $8 million in cash and phones and has sent over 181 million minutes of talk time overseas. Today they're expanding their focus, launching Helping Heroes Home, providing emergency funds for returning veterans to help with communication challenges—and hardships that come with assimilating back into the civilian world.

Adam Claggett (15)

Adam Claggett
Source: Help Adam Help Others Food Drive | Facebook

Thanksgiving and Easter are terrible times to go hungry. And Claggett has more than done his part to ensure people in the Illinois Valley don't have to. Since the age of 9, he has been raising food for the hungry.

It started with 88 pounds of food that filled the family car. Since then, he has held numerous food drives and collected and donated more than 12 tons of food to the local pantry, as well as thousands of dollars in cash.

Malcolm Sutherland-Foggio (16)

Malcolm Sutherland-Foggio founded Make Some Noise: Cure Kids Cancer Foundation.
Source: Make Some Noise: Cure Kids Cancer Foundation | Facebook

Diagnosed at age 10 with pediatric cancer, Sutherland-Foggio immediately began raising funds and speaking out about the disease. One year later, he founded the Make Some Noise: Cure Kids Cancer Foundation, which now has chapters around the country.

The foundation has since raised more than $1 million and continues to raise awareness with a traveling quilt that is filled with the names and faces of children who have been victims of cancer.

Paige Blake and Katie Easterly (17)

Paige Blake and Katie Easterly started What's Mine Is Yours charity.
Source: Whats Mine Is Yours

Two years ago, these longtime friends in Walnut Creek, California, founded What's Mine is Yours, a charity designed to gather and delivery gently used clothes to teens in foster care.

It quickly grew into a local phenomenon, and today the pair have provided more than 13,000 pieces of clothing to more than 16 Bay Area foster-care facilities.