2018 In Review

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Our mission

In a Perfect World inspires and empowers young people by giving them the opportunity, tools and voice to make a meaningful impact.

In 2018, we grew.

We grew our team, welcomed more supporters and launched new initiatives. And by forming partnerships with other organizations whose missions complement ours, we’ve been able to grow our reach exponentially.

We reached new communities, dug a little deeper, and celebrated another impactful year of service.

Overseas, we worked with Empower Projects, Formidable Joy, Kusewera, and Soles for Souls, and continued our work with buildOn. At home, we welcomed Mother Earth Project, Children Mending Hearts, KIND (Kids in Need of Defense) and The Birthday Party Project to our IAPW family. We also renewed our partnerships with LA’s BEST & DonorsChoose continuing our support of high-poverty classrooms in Los Angeles, supported mentorship and service with Horton’s Kids in DC, and lit the path to education for hundreds of children overseas with solar lights from our friends at MPOWERD.

IAPW 2018 in Review
IAPW 2018 in Review
IAPW 2018 in Review
IAPW 2018 in Review
IAPW 2018 in Review
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We welcomed 16 new ambassadors

From LA to DC, our new group of ambassadors kept busy learning about global issues and participating in service projects to help their communities. They donated and sorted clothes for the homeless, held shoe drives for children in Haiti, brought their time and talents to high-poverty classrooms, cleaned up the beach for Earth Day, planted school gardens, and even donated gifts to foster children. It’s been an amazing year of impact for our teens and they had fun doing all of it!

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We helped heal the Earth.

Partnering with the SurfRider Foundation, LA Ambassadors were joined by IAPW volunteers to clean up the beach. Our littlest volunteers also found the time to explore and learn about the creatures we were protecting.

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Lucia helped Over 300 kids

Our Junior Ambassador outdid herself by hosting another backpack drive to get backpacks and schools supplies into the hands of kids from high-poverty classrooms. For the second year in a row, Lucia was able to raise enough support for more than 300 children to receive backpacks full of school supplies. AND we threw them a party to celebrate together!

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And she donated her birthday.

After she found out that at-risk children often go without birthday parties and presents, Lucia wanted to do something about it. So, in lieu of presents for her own birthday, she asked friends and family to donate to her campaign so that kids facing homelessness could have birthday parties, too.

In partnership with PATH LA and The Birthday Party Project, Lucia sponsored 3 monthly birthday parties for some very happy and grateful kids!

“I never dreamed I’d have a birthday party AND get my very own paints! This is a dream come true!”

Kori, birthday girl
Lucia is all smiles as she hosts her first birthday party for children facing homelessness

And her little sister followed suit.

Learning that you don’t have to be big to do big things, little Luna joined in by donating her own birthday to raise money for Lucia’s backpack drive and rode her bike to raise money for sick children at St. Judes Research Hospital.

With a bit of effort and a lot of cuteness, Luna raised more than $1000!

Luna is ready to ride her bike in the Trike-a-thon for St. Judes

We empowered kids through art

We believe in the power of art to empower & uplift children in challenging circumstances. We did just that by weaving arts into many of our initiatives and by launching an after school arts program at Rocketship Rise Academy in the Ward 8 neighborhood of Washington, D.C. In partnership with P.A.I.N.T.S Institute, the signature arts program is based on curricula that is designed to teach and foster civility, cognitive development, STEAM, problem solving, career aptitude planning through gaming, and communication.

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We transformed.

We brought life to an unused classroom by transforming it into a fully functioning keyboard lab/music room for an underserved school in Minneapolis. And we donated a piano and world instruments to another classroom in need. The best part? We launched the project in honor of Prince’s 60th birthday, bringing the power of music and the arts to hundreds of children in his name.

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Our Founder was honored

Manuela was named one of L.A. Biz’s Women of Influence honorees for 2018 and honored at the annual Women in Entertainment luncheon in Los Angeles for her work on girls’ education and changing the lives of youth in the community and around the world. She was also recognized for her support of arts empowerment by the Maclean Project for the Arts in Virginia.

“My greatest honor is being able to work with the kids we serve. Inspiring and empowering them to be the next generation of change-makers.”


30,000+ miles and 2,400 kids

In 2018, Manuela traveled over 30,000 miles across 5 countries to visit children benefitting from In a Perfect World’s programs.

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We turned this… into that

On Manuela’s journey, she visited this village in southern Malawi. By funding a new school in this community, children no longer have to learn in an unsafe, temporary structure. In fact, these structures have now been outlawed by the Malawian government for the safety of learners.

and we dedicated it to Q.

At our inaugural Music + Art + Philanthropy event, we honored Quincy Jones for his tireless work for the betterment of humanity. As a gift for his support and mentorship, Manuela pledged to dedicate our next school to Q. And she did.

Now more children can go to school

With another school built and our 30th almost complete, over 400 more children will be going to school in classrooms funded by In a Perfect World, bringing our worldwide total to over 5,200.

211 of those students are girls, including Loda…

Now I have a good school and I am excited to learn every day. I can dream about being a teacher or a nurse even when I’m awake.

Like many children in rural communities, Loda did not have access to a school in her community. With the nearest school being 4 kilometers away, proper education seemed like a dream. But when In a Perfect World funded a school in her village, she saw her dreams becoming a reality right before her eyes.

A hand up, not a hand out.

We know that schools are critical. But building schools alone is not enough. So, we’re working to eliminate other barriers to education.

We spent time in partner communities, talking to elders, chiefs, teachers, parents and students, learning what else we could be doing to amplify our impact. We took what we learned and got busy.

LAPW Volunteer Jake Levesque gives a little one a hand up in Malawi

We dug a little deeper.

Where there is no access to water, girls spend their days fetching water from far away – and often dangerous – sources. So we brought clean water initiatives to five communities via our friends at Formidable Joy.

To combat issues of hunger, we welcomed our friends from Mary’s Meals who set up school feeding programs at two of our schools. For two schools in Kasungu, we’ve launched permaculture initiatives to transform them into “green schools”Solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems and self-composting toilets are now in place. As we gear up for the school gardens, the community is being trained in sustainable farming practices.

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Like beautiful Linda.

Linda put the knowledge gained from the permaculture training to use right away, planting her own garden with diverse crop and natural fertilizer.

“Sometimes I have no money to buy food, but now I know how to grow my own vegetables to feed my children. I also am growing different plants so that I can diversify my diet.”

And Zulesi.

“In my perfect world, there are enough trees for oxygen, girls are educated and we can have food for everyone. I see these things coming true now.”

And this amazing student.

Who managed to fashion his own generator to light up his home so that he could study at night. Now that he has solar panels on his school, he doesn’t need the generator. He can study in the evenings at school and he’s not worried about the high school graduation test.

And these incredible women.

As part of the Adult Literacy Program, these women (and men!) are learning how to read and write, basic math & numeracy, life skills, hygiene, etc. We surprised the women in the program with a donation of sewing machines and supplies and a few days of lessons. Teaching the women in the community how to sew empowers them to have an income and a voice. Teaching them how to sew reusable sanitary pads also ensures that older girls don’t miss classes during their cycle. Empowered women + girls in school = success.

Around the world, we came together

People from all over came together in support of our mission to empower children through education, mentoring and the arts. Like this dedicated team from CreativEngine in Los Angeles, who not only supported Lucia’s backpack drive by fundraising, but also came to show their support in person by volunteering their time.

Little people, big hearts

And like Violet, Kyree and Mila, who joined our pint-size activist crew by fundraising for Lucia’s backpack drive, too. They’re looking forward to what’s next!

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So many others lent a hand.

From care packages for at-risk teens and hurricane victims, to backpacks for classrooms in need, IAPW volunteers joined our ambassadors and helped bring hope and necessities to children that needed it.

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We were recognized.

We maintained our Platinum Status with GuideStar we were recognized as a Great NonProfit for the third year in a row. But our favorite acknowledgement? This drawing from a 2nd grade student in Minneapolis, thanking us for the instruments donated to his classroom.

We stayed in our gratitude

We know that despite all of our accomplishments, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for your support of our vision and mission. Together, we impacted more than 7,000 young people in 9 different countries.

We are creating the next generation of change-makers. Here’s to more impact in 2019!