This is a story about a young man and how one small idea can snowball beyond anyone’s imagination. This story is about Kylan, a 9 year old boy, who when he was 4 wanted to be in a book, who when he was 5 got a pen pal in Uganda through the World Vision Organization to learn about the challenges around the world, and who at 6 decided to start a “business” to save money for his pen pal’s village. Kylan is not a normal 9 year old. He is ambitious and inspiring (now I may be a little biased, as I am his mom) but everyone I tell his story to gets so excited and wants to help.

So here it is for you: after getting to know his pen pal and challenges in Uganda, we encouraged Kylan to save a little bit of money to help out, to make a small sacrifice to help others. He started with a lemonade stand, which wasn’t quite as profitable as he was hoping (even though he did it in a suit and top hat).

His next idea was to recycle scrap metal. He printed out flyers and sent them around the neighborhood, and before long we had scrap metal just showing up. Over the course of the last two years, he was able to save around $200/year and not only be able to send a gift each year to his pen pal but also to buy a goat, sheep, or chickens for the village. But for Kylan that wasn’t good enough.

Kylan thought that if he could get his school involved that he could do more, so he, like any 9 year old would, made business cards for his “company” he called Metal Mission, and requested a meeting with his principal. He took his new cards and a copy of the article that Mark Schmit wrote about Making the Kids Connection (click here the read the article) and told his story. His Principal, Ms. Lauth, was so impressed that she asked him to speak to the PTO. They all said they would figure out how to help. Everyone started telling his story and it spread like wildfire.

Carrie Morgridge, who runs the Morgridge Family Foundation, caught wind of the story and asked to interview Kylan for a book she is writing about giving where she will feature Kylan in a chapter about starting small. She wanted to tell others about how one little idea can change so many lives and how even a gift as small as $200 makes a difference. But what story is good when it is only half told, so Carrie is sponsoring Kylan to fly to Uganda in August to meet his pen pal to tell how this one idea has changed his life. This entire experience will be turned into a documentary, which will be shared with kids at Kylan’s school and get others interested in helping.

Carrie also made some incredible connections to several local schools to get them involved, including an organization active in Uganda called the Global Livingston Institute. This one idea now has so many people inspired that STEM Launch (Kylan’s school) will connect their students with 100 students in Uganda to all be Difference Makers.

You see, STEM Launch uses a learning method called Problem Based Learning (PBL). PBL is a teaching model in which students learn about a subject or challenge through the experience of problem solving. They apply different disciplines to find a solution to the problem. Through this connection the hope is that these STEM students can help solve problems that the Uganda students face every day, things like access to clean water, disease from exposure (such as malaria from mosquitos), safe cooking techniques, etc. Manufacturer’s Edge, the Colorado MEP under the Department of Commerce, is connected to a number of innovative manufacturers that have already offered to help produce and commercialize viable products that these kids develop. Which leads me to our ask: if you are interested in setting on a panel to review these kids amazing ideas and/or possible commercialization opportunities please contact me at: . Industry involvement will be key in making this story a true Difference Maker.

Now back to Kylan. At age 9 he has accomplished his first life goal of being in a book. When asked what his new goal was he responded with, “change Uganda”. I have a feeling he just might do it.