Ep 54: The 15-Year-Old Nonprofit Superhero (with Kayla & Andrea Abramowitz)

nonprofits are messy

This episode is going to AMAZE you and CHARM you. Truly.

After all, what’s not amazing about an 11-year-old who sees a need, makes it happen (and then some) and, as a result, founds a successful 501c3 organization?

In this podcast we hear the story of Kayla Abramowitz, the founder of Kayla Cares 4 Kids who is now 15 years old. Her own medical challenges, and the amount of time she spent in hospitals, prompted her to create a nonprofit organization that in the last 4 years has served 453 medical facilities in all 50 states.

Kayla knew, from experience, that when children sit in medical facilities for hours or days on end with nothing to do it is not only tedious, but already feeling ill, that boredom is not conducive to improving health. Kayla identified a gap — the lack of entertainment options in medical facilities — and knew that once filled, it could make a positive difference in the lives of children.

Kayla then used her passion,  and the power that comes from family and community support, to help sick kids feel better one smile at a time. Her mother Andrea used her own 25 years of experience working in communications, as well as her nonprofit experience, to support her daughter’s endeavors.

In this podcast, mother and daughter share ideas for how to grapple with challenges associated with new CEOs and founders (who may not be fit to be board chairs), how networking is essential to success, how engaging community, local entities, volunteers and media will help ensure the success of a foundation, and what it’s like to be a founder as a kid.

About Kayla Abramowitz

Kayla Abramowitz, 15, is the Founder and Chief Kid Officer (CKO) of Kayla Cares 4 Kids, which collects and donates educational and entertainment items to children’s hospitals nationwide. Kayla Cares 4 Kids “helps sick kids feel better one smile at a time.”

Kayla came up with the idea at age 11, after noticing a limited DVD selection during many hospital visits due to Crohn’s Disease, Eosinophilic Colitis, and Juvenile Arthritis. The organization has donated more than 15,000 items to nearly 450 children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses in all 50 states. Kayla oversees Ambassadors across nine states—and hundreds of student volunteers locally and nationally—while also serving on her organization’s Board of Directors.

For her efforts, Kayla has won six national awards, including National Young Entrepreneur of the Year; Christopher Reeve Service Award; Diller Teen Award; and Prudential Spirit of Community Award. In 2017, she was featured in an “Inspiring America” segment of NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.

About Andrea Abramowitz

Andrea Abramowitz is CEO of Kayla Cares 4 Kids. Andrea has more than 25 years of experience working in communications at entities such as ABC News, USA TODAY and local television, where she was a Telly Award winning news producer. She worked for The Palm Beach Post, where she covered health, business, lifestyle and even once, sports; and served as a Stringer for the Associated Press for five years.

Andrea and Kayla received a 2017 WEGO Health Award for Best Team Performance for Kayla Cares 4 Kids. Andrea is a board member of the Arthritis Foundation’s West Palm Beach office, and Florida’s Advocacy Co-Chair, as well as a member of the Family Advisory Council at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

In this episode

  • The biggest challenge running a startup nonprofit
  • How Kayla and Andrea built a board from scratch
  • How a 15 year old feels about being a board chair
  • How they motivate volunteers
  • Mixing business acumen and passion
  • Ways to secure media coverage
  • The unmistakable power of networking
  • Lessons learned
  • Advice for founders

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