$20 million initiative will help kids discover what life is like for their peers around the world
NEW YORK, Oct. 17, 2017 /CNW/ -- The KIND Foundation, started by KIND Snacks, today announces a $20 million multi-year initiative called Empatico, which will broaden kids' world views through meaningful interactions with peers across the globe. The free online learning tool will enable students to practice communication and leadership skills needed to succeed in a divided country and interdependent world. By the end of 2020, Empatico endeavors to reach more than one million students in 25 countries and eventually make it possible for kids everywhere to connect with one another.
Empatico is consistent with the Foundation's nontraditional approach to philanthropy, which often personifies KIND's name and embodies its longstanding mission to elevate kindness and empathy. Like KIND's other social impact commitments, Empatico is inspired by the early experiences of KIND founder Daniel Lubetzky.
"My heritage as the son of a Holocaust survivor and a Mexican immigrant have shown me what happens when people don't develop an appreciation for difference. That's why KIND has always strived to help people discover each other's humanity," says Lubetzky, Founder and CEO of KIND and President of The KIND Foundation. "Empatico is the most assertive step we've taken to realize this mission. Our hope is that this tool expands boundaries of understanding for the next generation of leaders so that they are prepared to tackle the world's problems together."
Leading technologists, passionate teachers and global education experts collaborated to develop the beta version, which is accessible at Empatico.org. Now teachers are invited to test the tool, share feedback, and help optimize it for their classroom needs.
Unlike other virtual exchange tools, Empatico is specifically designed for 8-10-year-olds. According to George Khalaf, the Executive Director of Empatico, this age range represents a unique opportunity.
"Neuroscience suggests that changing the adult mind is an uphill battle because so much of our brain has already been wired, and we have developed default assumptions about those who are different. In 8-10-year-olds, however, biases have yet to become deeply rooted," Khalaf explains. "Around this time, kids are asking questions about their place in the world. Giving them an opportunity to develop this curiosity and have positive experiences with diverse people can strongly influence how they perceive others in the future."
Empatico aims to be a one-stop-shop for teachers. The free tool combines reliable and intuitive video conferencing technology with standards-based activities on universal topics that supplement existing curriculum. To get started, all teachers need is an internet connection and a computer with a camera. While Empatico is currently only available for students who can converse in English, there are plans to expand it to non-English speakers.
For Heather Walker, an elementary school teacher, Empatico is an easy way for teachers to give their students a window to the world.
"Most students at our school have never left the boundaries of Chula Vista. Enabling them to have meaningful conversations and discover life outside their community has so many learning benefits, and will ultimately prepare them for the world," says Walker, who serves as an Education Innovation Specialist in San Diego. "We'd be doing our learners a disservice if we didn't provide them with this opportunity."
Sarah King, Deputy Director of the Global Learning Lab at Teach For All, reiterates the value of providing kids an opportunity to engage with those who have different perspectives.
"Our world is dramatically changing, and what is required of students to participate and be leaders in it has also changed," asserts King. "Empatico is a practical, globally-minded tool that can help teachers cultivate necessary character skills, like kindness, collaboration, and critical thinking."
Empatico is the Foundation's most ambitious initiative, in terms of both funding and vision, to date. To learn more, visit kinded.com/Empatico.
About The KIND Foundation
The KIND Foundation is a philanthropic entity established by KIND Healthy Snacks. Its mission, which is to foster kinder and more empathetic communities, is brought to life through a variety of programming meant to celebrate and inspire positive action. In 2016, through a program called KIND People, the Foundation celebrated seven individuals transforming their communities through kindness with $1.1 million in prizes. Each month, it also awards one socially-impactful cause with a $10,000 grant through a program called KIND Causes. In 2017, the Foundation unveiled a social media experiment that challenged Americans to add diverse perspectives to their Facebook feeds. Called Pop Your Bubble, that experiment is ongoing at popyourbubble.com. Earlier this fall, the Foundation once again partnered with Making Caring Common, an initiative of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, to implement the KIND Schools Challenge. The Challenge invites middle- and high-school students across the country to implement projects that will make their school communities kinder and more inclusive. Recently, the Foundation announced a $20 million multi-year initiative called Empatico. Empatico is an online learning tool that connects kids worldwide and helps them develop skills like curiosity and kindness. To learn more, visit kindsnacks.com/foundation.
SOURCE The KIND Foundation
For further information: Ashley Herendeen, KIND Healthy Snacks, O: (212) 616-3006, ext. 208, C: (781) 608-6837, [email protected]