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Maker learning projects, led by girls, that catalyze kindness and raise money for charitable causes.

When two first-grade girls came to their teacher with the idea to start a business that donates profits to charity, a maker-learning program became an incubator for young entrepreneurs. When the girls started making products to combat bullying, the business became a catalyst for kindness in the community.

HundrED 2020


HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2020

Pittsburgh, USA

Web presence






January 2019
Our community is changing as a result of this program. Bus drivers wear the shirt! So do police officers, cafeteria workers, dentists, the list goes on. These four simple words have come to mean so mu

About the innovation

How can we empower young learners to make a difference in their school community?

In 2016, first-graders Julia and Amelia approached their teacher Maureen and asked if they could start a business that sold products made in their school’s makerspace and donated the profits to charitable causes. That day, JAM was born, named for three co-founders’ first initials.

JAM began selling simple products like keychains and “tin bins” (mint tins that are repurposed into containers for fun themed items or craft kits) to people at their school. Each product that the girls produced sold out, and soon they were welcoming more JAM members who wanted to help.

Soon, dozens of girls (and boys) were developing maker and entrepreneurship skills to support causes they cared about, from cancer research to hunger. But something else was happening, too—by putting students in charge of what to make, JAM was creating space for the development of products that could change the world.

How can we empower young learners to make a difference in their school community?

One day at school, a kindergarten JAM member experienced bullying, and it gave her an idea: what if JAM could make and sell a way to identify the kind people? JAM members started making buttons with a simple message: #bethekindkid.

Buttons became #bethekindkid T-shirts, and JAM has now sold thousands of shirts—it’s impossible to turn a corner at the school without spotting someone wearing one. This simple phrase has spread kindness around the community, from students and teachers to cafeteria staff and parents.

#bethekindkid has helped the ideas behind JAM spread to other schools: four JAM clubs have formed at nearby schools. Each is as unique as its student members, but they’re all creating opportunities for young entrepreneurs to make a difference.

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Kidsburgh on KDKA TV
Avonworth Middle School JAM
Today a high school senior started a middle school JAM as her senior projects.  This is so exciting for our members.  It's good to know that once JAMMERS move from our building, there are able to continue to their making and kindness skills.  
Pittsburgh Children's Musuem
On September 27, 2019 several school districts meet to discover if they would be interested in forming a JAM in their school district.   Old JAM's meet with prospective new JAM's sharing information.  At the end of the day, we had 7 new JAM's!  What an exciting day to watch schools understanding the importance of making and how to use making skills to help spread kindness.
JAM - Kindness Song
Working with Avonworth Music Teacher, Mr. Ronnie Ziccardi, the members of JAM have begun to work on a kindness song.  Mr. Z took input from all the students and he will then go back and write the lyrics and meet with us at a later date to work on the song.
Kindness in Action
JAM students made 360 Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches to help Pittsburgh's Homeless community.  Two of our students with the help of their mom, personally delivered each sandwich and made some great friends along the way.
North Allegheny Kindness Day
One of our local school districts - North Allegheny has embraced our kindness movement!  They even invited us to come and talk to their school about how kindess can change one person at a time.
Learning to Interview
One of our JAM girls was interviewed by The Pittsburgh Riverhounds as part of a promotional #bethekindkid at one of their recent games.
Kindness Book
Our younger JAM students are working on a rhyming kindness book.  We hoping to take them through the writing process all the way through publication.
JAM learned about designing clothing by making a sketch and then using toilet paper to make it come to life!  We had suits, skirts, tuxedos and wedding dresses!  Future designers.
Dr. Dahar is so KIND
Our local orthodontist, Dr. Richard Dahar spreads kindness every Wednesday by wearing #bethekindkid - as well as many of his local customers.  This particular girl is a member of JAM!
JAM2 Up and Running
JAM2 is up and running at Greenock Elementary School in the Elizabeth Forward School District.  This group is run by Miss Stephanie Sciulli a second grade teacher in the school.  Miss Sciulli put together Greenock's first annual kindness night.
Kindness Book
Our kindergarten, first and second-grade students are working on publishing a book on kindness.  They wrote the text and are now working on illustrating the book.  The hope to show others how they can form their own JAM's in their communities.
JAM members made catapults as a making activity.  The catapults were later donated to a local pre-school that was working on a force and motion activity.  JAM tries to reach out to our local pre-schools to see if we can help make items for their teaching activities.
JAM - Final.mp4
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZJR-WrTpmgA2UAK7JzQZndIMs04_5vgJ/viewThis video was created by The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh as part of the Pittsburgh Commitment to Kindness Project.  The girls did not rehearse for the video, they spoke from their hearts.  It just validates how capable and kind our young students are - they will be game changers!
Exciting News
At our JAM meeting on March 13, 2019 - six boys joined JAM!  We are so excited that the boys jumped on board and got making right away!  JAM is open to all - everyone is welcome!
Grable Foundation
JAM was so fortunate to receive a grant from the Grable Foundation for our #bethekindkid kindness movement.  We have used our funding to help spread the making/kindness movement.  One way we are using our funding is helping other schools to set up JAM's in their communities.
Community Outreach
JAM had the opportunity to speak to WPXI a local news station about their making/kindness mission.  At this particular meeting, the students were creating felt spring scenes to donate to Meals on Wheels.  Meals on Wheels will add these scenes to each lunch they deliver.
Family Kindness
Our community has truly embraced the #bethekindkid kindness movement.  Kindness may look different for every family, but it's such a wonderful thing to build with each and every person, you're never too old to be kind.
Avon Club
A group of JAM girls met with a local women's group - The Avon Club Foundation - https://avonclub.benavon.org/site/ recently to help them celebrate their 75 anniversary by participating in the making of a video.  The club reached out to us as our two groups are so similar.  It was such a wonderful opportunity for the girls to learn aspects of video production and public speaking.
5,689,360 is an important number for JAM - it's our official registration number with the USPTO office!  #bethekindkid is now a registered trademark!  What an incredible feat for a group of girls ages 5 - 12!  They were able to take the making process full circle.
Pittsburgh Quarterly
JAM recently received a shoutout in the most recent issue of Pittsburgh Quarterly.  Greg Behr, Executive Director of The Grable Foundation stated:  "12, 976.  That's a lot of t-shirts designed and sold by some local makers.  Printed across each shirt is a simple yet profound hashtag #bethekindkid.  It's their pledge - and call - to be gracious, friendly, and good.  Picture all of us wearing and declaring such a promise to one another."This statement was part of an article - Pittsburgh Today and Tomorrow 2019 - What's the big idea".
Making in every nook and cranny
The spirit of making is so immersed in our district it's incredible to see.  Groups of girls and boys are making items in every nook and cranny in the school during inside recess and then selling the product and donating the profits to Meals on Wheels.  It's contagious.
Spreading the JAM
Our local orthodontist and his staff delivered a set of #bethekindkid t-shirts to the new local dentist in town.  Dr. Dahar is so supportive of the kindness movent that is fueled by making he wants everyone in our town to know about it.
CMP Partnership
On Friday March 1, 2019 JAM and the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh began a partnership to spread kindness in Pittsburgh.  The two groups will be working together to create additional JAM's throughout Pittsburgh.  Our first cohort has 4 schools - Avalon Elementary - Northgate, Bellevue Elementary - Northgate, Elizabeth Forward and New Castle.  The meeting was incredible!  Listening to teachers that understand the value of making and giving back was a wonderful experience
Shirts to MARS
#bethekindkid tshirts have made it to MARS - the Mars Area School District in Pennsylvania!
Bracelet Making
At JAM's February 27, 2019 meeting, 3 of our second-grade students taught our 4th - 5th and 6th-grade students how to make bracelets.  It was such an exciting time for our younger makers to teach a creative skill to our older makers.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit
The 5th and 6th-grade girls of JAM had the opportunity to present their kindness message this morning at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit with author Sharon Flake author of The Skin I'm In.  It was a big day for JAM presenting in front of middle and high school students, but they did a great job.  A lesson in public speaking, being confident and resilient.
Be a Kind Kid launches at a Vigo County school
Hoosier Prairie Elementary School in Terre Haute, IN has adopted the #bethekindkid movement in their school.  JAM was able to make connections through social media to get #bethekindkid t-shirts into the kind kids of Indiana.https://www.wthitv.com/content/video/502735952.html
Ohio Township Police Department
The Ohio Township Police Department is our local police department.  They have embraced our #bethekindkid movement by adding our logo to all their police cars.  It's so important for students to grow up trusting and believing in our police officers, knowing that our police are there to help at all times.
Special Olympics
Two of Avonworth High School teachers, taking the polar plunge in support of Special Olympics.  Role Models to our students and staff.
Pittsburgh Children's Museum
At a recent JAM meeting, The Children's Museum of Pittsburg helped us to understand what kindness is - what does it look like and how we can spread kindness.This information will be used to help JAM and The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh work on a kindness plan for interested school districts.
Provident Charter School
Many schools would like shirts, but can't afford them.  We keep a list of those schools and when people ask to donate a set of shirts - we partner them with each other.  There are so many kind people in the world - it's amazing to see.
Avonworth High School
Our high school students have embraced our kindness movement.  It's so incredible to see a younger student encounter an older student with a #bethekindkid shirt on - it's an instant connection.  It's important that all of our learners know we are a kind community - we are there for each other.
Excela Health
Dr. Nicole Bednarski and PA Molly Knoll spreading kindness to their patients at Excela Health Care in Greensburg, PA.The kindness movement is spreading in many unexpected places.
Lunch Time Helper
Our Primary Center Principal, Dr. Scott Miller cheerfully wears his #bethekindkid t-shirt each and every Wednesday on #wearitwednesday while helping out kindergarten in the cafeteria.It's so important to show young students that kindness can come from everyone.
Yinzers in the Burgh
Pittsburgh is a fanatic sports town - we love our Pirates, Penguins, and Steelers.  In the strip district section of the city, there is a store called Yinzers in the Burgh - where anything black and gold is sold.The owner of this wonderful story bought a run of our shirts to sell in his stores.  Pittsburgh is a kind community.
Little Girl - Strong Voice
Meet Aria - 6 years old - first grade.  Aria came to a JAM meeting in April 2018 and said: "Mrs. Frew we are never going to get rid of bullies, but we should make something that shows people who kind are!"  #bethekindkid was born - young entrepreneurs.
Sending #bethekindkid
We love to send surprise #bethekindkid t-shirts when we see students on social media doing kind things.  It's important to JAM to seek out other students that are being kind even when no one is looking.  Growing Up Kind ... It Matters! 
We love that teachers across the country are helping to spread kindness in their part of the world.  It's wonderful when you reach to teachers and they understand the importance of kindness in the classroom.  Growing up kind - it matters!
A 4th-grade JAM student spoke of a program - IBike@QV at her mom's school.  This program helps children with disabilities learn how to ride a bike.  JAM voted to purchase the 20 helmets needed for this year's program.  Many members of JAM will also be on hand to cheer the students on!
Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsurgh
On October 27, 2018, there was a horrible shooting in the City of Pittsburgh.  JAM decided to sell blue/white and green/red shirts to benefit the Jewish Federation.This shooting impacted the older girls of JAM tremendously.  When they spoke to me about this senseless crime, they immediately wanted to help.  These young girls are changing the world ...
Tourette's Association of America
A 6th-grade JAM girl made a presentation about Tourette's to our membership.  While she did not personally know anyone that has Tourette's she felt it was an important cause that we contribute to.JAM took a vote and a unanimous decision was made to donate to the Tourette's Association.It never ceases to amaze me how these young girls are trying to understand the differences in people and how we can all work together to help each other.
Highmark Caring Place
2 JAM sisters lost their father to cancer, he was a wonderful husband, father, and teacher.  The girls came and spoke about the Highmark Caring Place and how it helps so many people.  JAM voted and it was unanimous decision to donate to the Caring Place. 
Role Models
An Avonworth High School Teachers brings her pre-school daughter to our weekly JAM meetings and our JAMMERS have embraced her as a member of our community.  Each week Emma asks "are we going to see the JAM girls this week!"Growing up Kind!
Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
JAM is so proud to partner with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh to create a kindness plan for teachers and administrators to use in other interested schools.  CMP believes in the power of young children as makers, doers, thinkers and kindness ambassadors.
Valentine's Day
What a better way to spread kindness on Valentine's Day than with a #bethekindkid shirt for all of your classmates.  My pal, Noah (to the right of the teacher) gave each of his kindergarten friends a shirt to spread kindness in the North Hills School District in Pittsburgh, PA.Growing up kind.
California, PA Area School District
Meet the newest school that wants to spread kindness - California, PA Area School District.  One of their students wore a #bethekindkid shirt to school one day - and her teachers wanted to bring the movement to their district - and they did just that!Kindness is hard to stop!
Growing Up Kind
Many families in our district have reached out through emails how their families have embraced JAM's kindness movement.  They are so appreciative that their students will be growing up kind.
Avonworth Primary Center Staff
Our teachers are so supportive of our kindness movement, each and everyone of them have incorporated kindness into their daily curriculum.
Customized School Shirts
Due to popular demand, JAM is now available to provide customized school #bethekindkid t-shirts to school districts.
Vacation Pics
Our community takes kindness seriously.  During summer and school breaks we tweet pics where we are spreading kindness.
Cafeteria Staff - Avonworth Primary Center
Our cafeteria staff has embraced the importance of #bethekindkid, all members wear their shirts on #wearitwednesday.  The support of our community is incredible.
Mr. McFeely - Speedy Delivery
Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery from Mr. Rogers Neighboorhood was part of a presentation at the Avonworth School District Day kickoff!  Mr. McFeely reminded everyone about the importance of be kind to all. 
Hopewell Boys Varsity Basketball Team
One of our 3rd grade teachers at Avonworth, Mr. Dean Zuppe, coaches the Hopewell Boys Basketball Team.  Mr. Zuppe wore his #bethekindkid shirt to practice one day - and his entire team wanted one.  It's incredible to see that being kind is important to high school students.
Our JAM members starting a JAM2 at Elizabeth Forward School District in Elizabeth, PA.  Our second grade JAMMERS met with a second grade class from Elizabeth Forward, we helped them create 50 Tic Tac Toe Tin Bins and donated $300.00 to help them start a JAM2 at their school.
Guest Speaker
JAM invites a monthly guest speaker to speak about an idea, their profession or a cause.  This month, Mrs. Gill is helping us write a book about kindness.
Positive Player Profile: JAM Enterprises APC
Maker Faire Pittsburgh
JAM girls teaching salt water etching at the Maker Faire Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Penguins
Our high school music teacher Mr. Michael Warren proudly singing the Star Spangled Banner at a Pittsburgh Penguins game supporting #bethekindkid.
Presenting their Cause
Two JAM girls presenting their idea of where they would like JAM to donate to.  When a JAM girl wants JAM to make a donation, they must research their cause and present to the entire group for a vote.
Radio Station 100.7 Star
A few members of JAM had the opportunity to be interviewed on a local radio station about their mission to spread kindness in Pittsburgh.  It was such a great learning experience for our members.
Local Police Department
This photo illustrates the outpouring of support for kindness in the world.  The Ohio Township Police Department, our local police Department wears #bethekindkid t-shirts to connect with our students at each of our district buildings.
Community Support
Dr. Richard Dahar and Staff support our cause.  This is a local orthodontist that believes in our message and reached out to us to offer his support.
JAM Girls
JAM girls come in all shapes and sizes, but each JAM girl has a strong determination to make a difference in their community.
Construction Site
Members of JAM delivering custom Safety Tin Bins to a construction project in the City of Pittsburgh.
One of the most important aspects of JAM - our older JAM girls helping our younger JAM girls.  These girls have created a community within our group, where it is instinctive to help others.
JAM Meeting
Typical after school meeting where JAM girls are using their making skills to create products for others.
One of our youngest members hard at work creating plastic fusion pictures to give to a member of a nursing home.
JAM's Tin Bin assortment

Implementation steps

Find a sponsor/s
The sponsor/s will need to be willing to work with members of the group on a regular basis to accomplish the group's mission.  I began JAM on my own and after two years, I discovered that I needed a co-sponsor to help with the increasing amount of kids in the group.  It's always nice to have another adult to bounce things off of.  At times, we even recruit parents to assist us with our larger projects.  We also use our 5th and 6th grade students as mentors to our younger students.
Administrative Support
It is always helpful when you have the support of your school's/organization's administration.  When everyone is working toward a common goal, it is much easier to get things moving.  This individual should be available to help support the group in good times and in bad.  It could be a principal, a superintendent, or a member of the School Board.  It's also important to branch out into the community for expert help and support.
Find your Members
This can be done with flyers, word of mouth, and/or social media.  Members will come and go as they decide if it is their community or not.  NO ONE is left out if asked to join.  Our JAM members are grades K - 6.  It is very helpful to have older students with a desire to become role models act as mentors to the younger students.

As we consider what we will make and sell to our community, there are a variety of questions we ask ourselves.  What would the group like to make?  We usually come up with several ideas and then vote on the ideas.  We talk about who the product might appeal to, as well as consider supply and demand.  How will we price the product?  This is a matter of considering profit and loss.  Who will we sell the product to? Who are the consumers?  How will we deliver the product?

We started with very simple products - Heart Poppers.  These were made from toilet paper tubes, cut out hearts, and a balloon.  The balloon was attached to the back of the tube, hearts put inside the tube, and when the balloon is pulled back, the hearts pop out.

It's best to start with small projects and have the complexity of the projects grow based on what new type of making the group would like to learn.  We reached out to members of our community to come and teach making that we were interested in - bookbinding, crocheting, knitting, etc.

Making the Product

The kindergarten and 1st-grade students partner with 4th-grade students and 2nd-grade students partner with 3rd-grade students to begin creating the products.  The 5th-grade students are the quality control group that makes sure the products are being created to the best of our abilities.  To complete the process, 6th-grade students take the completed products and do the labeling and bagging of the orders.

In the beginning, we only sold items to individuals in our building.  The orders were then delivered by the girls to each classroom.  


When a member has an idea of where to donate money, they must research the cause and present it to the entire membership.  We then vote to choose one or two causes that will receive any monies raised during that month.  

We have decided that we will not donate to one particular individual, but rather to causes that may have an impact on an individual.  For instance, if someone in our group knows of someone with cancer, we will donate to an organization like the American Cancer Society.  

Donations don't necessarily mean money.  We have also donated our time.  For instance, we went to a local retirement home and planted flowers.  We have also made placemats for the Meals on Wheels organization.  More importantly, we stress to our members that you don't need recognition for doing something kind.  Being kind is simply the right thing to do.


Once our product was sold, and the money was collected and counted by the students we had to decide how we were going to handle the money.  A field trip was taken to our local bank where the tellers were kind enough to help a few members of our group set up the appropriate accounts.  Each meeting we talk about how much money we collected and how much we paid out.

These are such valuable life skills for our students - it's a true connection between school and their outside world.  It's more tangible for the students to complete this process hands-on than through a worksheet.

Sending Donations

Once the checks are written, the girls add a note, address the envelope and put the donation in the mail.  We feel that it is important for the JAM girls to see the process through to the end.

It gives them a true sense of how the world around them operates.  

All of the people we donate to, send us thank you notes.  This is especially important to show our students that they are making a difference in their own unique way.

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