Alumni Spotlight: Storybox Books

How one alum turned his passion into action

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There are some opportunities in life that have the ability to truly change perspectives. Although they are usually few and far between, I was able to find one such opportunity in an Ambassador Leaders program in 2015.

Midway through the program, we participated in a hands-on service project in partnership with United Way. When we arrived at a school in Boston where we were going to volunteer, we were able to speak to other volunteers who had made it their mission to improve the school we were visiting, in order to create brighter and more successful futures for the students. That idea, using the power of education to fight the poverty cycle, was immensely impactful for me. Throughout that day at the school, completing a variety of tasks, I pondered how I could make a difference back in my hometown as a 14-year-old.

I remember making my way to the kindergarten room with other students to help rearrange a learning area, when I was shocked to see how few books were in the classroom. After further research later that day, I came to discover that schools and families across the country were lacking age-appropriate books for children. I was shocked to find statistics illustrating the enormity of this problem. I was also motivated, because I knew this was an issue for which I could create a Community Action Plan to create change.

After working late that night in my dorm room, I realized that my plan truly had potential. I presented it the next day, and within three months I had implemented it in my community. Fast forward two years, and that original Community Action Plan has blossomed into a nonprofit organization called Storybox Books.

"Fast forward two years, and that original Community Action Plan has blossomed into a nonprofit organization."

Storybox Books is a completely youth-led nonprofit organization that has its roots in my original community action plan created during the Ambassador Leaders conference. Storybox Books now includes myself and other passionate and talented youth in eight states. Our goal of positively impacting the world one child, one book at a time is accomplished with book drives. Our hope is to give children in impoverished areas healthier, brighter, and more successful futures with the power of literacy.

I have personally seen how many of my leadership development experiences through Ambassador Leaders have had a profoundly positive impact on my ability to communicate with others, and maintain a cohesive team. These two skills are absolutely instrumental to running a nonprofit, and they surely make all the difference in our success as an organization. My Ambassador Leaders experience has directly contributed to my dream of striving towards making a genuine and lasting difference.

We, at Storybox Books, have goals of expansion in order to impact as many children as possible, and we know that providing the gift of literacy during childhood is a proven method of creating future success. To foster this growth, we are always seeking passionate, motivated teens to serve as Regional Directors or in other positions for Storybox Books. Please visit us online for available role applications. We would love to get to know you and introduce you to our talented and dynamic team.

All hands (or paws) on deck! Here's a Regional Director getting some help organizing donated books.

All hands (or paws) on deck! Here's a Regional Director getting some help organizing donated books.

I’d encourage all of my fellow alumni to choose an issue they are passionate about, and aim to create positive change. With the skills instilled by Ambassador Leaders, and other organizations, it truly is possible!

 
 

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By Justin Witt

Justin is an alum of the Leadership Summit at Harvard University in 2015. Through his involvement in several leadership development and youth philanthropic organizations in his community, as well as the founding of his nonprofit organization, Storybox Books, Justin seeks opportunities to make the world a better place.