2019 In Review

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We believe young people have the power to change the world.

We inspire and empower the next generation with the opportunity, tools and voice to make an impact on the world around them.

Our programs lead the next generation to become change-makers in their community by providing access to education and cultivating creativity, social consciousness, and leadership.

To date, we’ve built 30+ schools, supported more than 500 high poverty classrooms and empowered over 35,000 children.

In 2019, we grew… again.

We grew our board, welcomed our first Youth Ambassadors in Toronto and launched new initiatives in the US and abroad. And by continuing to form partnerships with other organizations whose missions complement ours, we expanded our reach… exponentially.

We are a convener, stretching the donor dollar even further by focusing on collaboration over competition.

For our international work, we welcomed new partnerships with School the World and Raising Malawi, while continuing our work with Formidable Joy, Empower Projects and buildOn. At home, we welcomed Design for Change, The Future Boys & Girls, Food for All DC, The Virtue Project, Martha’s Table, Nueva Vida and the Garden School Foundation to our IAPW family. We also renewed our partnerships with LA’s BEST & LA Works, continuing our support of high-poverty classrooms in Los Angeles.

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Our Youth Ambassadors grew their impact, from coast to coast…

From LA to DC (and even to Toronto!), our Youth Ambassadors kept busy learning about global issues and participating in service projects to help their communities. They packed and delivered meals for low income home-bound residents in need, beautified a school in a high-poverty neighborhood, cleaned up their communities, donated and sorted clothes for the homeless, hosted a holiday craft party & toy give-away, and lead young students through arts empowerment activities in support of children from asylum-seeking families.

They also used their voices to make change, marching for the causes they’re passionate about, like climate change and gender equality. One of our youth ambassadors, 13-year-old Noah, used his talents to create his own In a Perfect World song, encouraging all young people to do their part. Check it out here!

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And they expanded their impact internationally…

First to Guatemala, where our youth ambassadors had the chance to build a school and install a playground for a local indigenous community. They painted murals, taught English and sewing classes to parents, taught the students in Spanish, planted trees and poured ourselves into the tasks at hand.

They also immersed themselves in the Maya way of life, giving them a chance to understand the community they were there to serve. Making tamalitos, learning to use a traditional weaving loom called the wipil, washing clothes by hand and flipping their own tortillas on the grill fostered an even deeper sense of connection and empathy for the indigenous students and their families.

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“This experience has changed my life forever. I’m grateful to In a Perfect World that I was able to join this service trip and make a difference in the community. We came here to give to the community but they gave us so much in return as well”.

Noah, 13

Then they went to Rome.

Our Youth Ambassadors’ #TranquilTeens project, addressing mental health and well-being among teenagers, was selected out of 300 submissions to represent the United States at the Global Children’s Summit at the Vatican.

There, they met other change-makers from 40 different countries, each team presenting a solution to one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Giving them an opportunity to not only inspire others, but to learn and to be inspired by other young leaders as well.

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And Lucia’s picture was selected for a quilt given to Pope Francis!

“I wanted my picture to say that all kids can make a difference, no matter how small we are.

Lucia, 7 years old

Back at home, our Dreamcatchers were empowered.

We believe in the power of art to not only empower & uplift children in challenging circumstances, but also to cultivate their natural empathy and inspire them to act.

After learning about the challenges children face when they’re new to the United States, our Dreamcatchers packed up 100 care packages with essentials and some of their very own donated books and toys. They even sold lemonade to raise money to cover the cost of shipping their packages to our partner at the border for distribution.

Throughout the year, they also stuffed bags of baby supplies for moms in need, practiced recycling by turning everyday household items into art, and made friendship bracelets with words of hope and encouragement for kids in foster care. Little kids, doing BIG things!

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And they planted seeds…

Partnering with the Garden School Foundation in Los Angeles, our littlest pint-size activists also planted fruit and vegetable trees in a garden for a low-income school.

Not only did they give of their time, they also learned about nutrition and healthy eating while creating a meal out of the harvest from the garden. And they had fun doing it!

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So many others lent a hand.

Giving of their time and talents, In a Perfect World volunteers helped elevate our work, enabling us to empower more kids through service.

But they didn’t stop there. Many of our volunteers also became fundraisers, bringing more awareness and financial support to the work of our Youth Ambassadors and pint-size activists.

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Volunteers like Jennifer…

who not only fundraised for Lucia’s backpack drive, but helped Lucia exceed 1000 backpacks given to students from low-income families in Los Angeles!

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 our friends at Screenfeed, who not only sponsored a school, but sent along 2 delegates to Guatemala to work on the building of the school itself!

We showed some love…

By expanding our Love 4 One Another initiative into a North Minneapolis middle school, turning a storage room into a full-fledged multi-media lab. Giving budding change-makers the tools to raise their voices through music, video and storytelling.

IAPW Future Media Lab
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and we received some love in return.

Our Founder, Manuela, was named as the fifth recipient of the Muhammad Ali Voice of Humanity honor, putting her in the same company as Barack Obama and Lonnie Ali. Most importantly, she used the opportunity to remind us that it’s not about her, but about the next generation of change-makers.

“I focus my time and energy on helping kids find THEIR voice, lifting THEM up, inspiring and empowering THEM to make change… that’s what In a Perfect World is all about.”


Manuela on the move…

This year alone, Manuela traveled over 29,000 miles across 5 countries, working to empower the next generation. This year was extra special as the Youth Ambassadors traveled with her for the first time.

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Along the way, she met Don Isabel & his daughters

“It is a huge support for me as a leader in this community for you to bring education to El Arenal. We are so happy and grateful for you. After my daughters are educated, my dream is to go back to school to complete my studies.”

Don Isabel, Community leader, Guatemala

It starts with education…

In 2019, we broke ground on 2 new schools in Malawi to bring access to education to more children. While schools are critical to empowering the next generation, we know that building schools alone is often not enough. Where there is no water, girls spend their days fetching water from far away – and often dangerous – sources. So we brought rainwater harvesting and sustainable farming to two communities in Malawi with our friends at Empower Projects and water wells in partnership with Formidable Joy.

By implementing supporting services like rainwater harvesting, solar electricity and sustainable farming, we ensure that the community is able to support its students.

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A hand up, not a hand out.

To combat issues of hunger, we empowered students, teachers and families to plant and cultivate a school garden, turning a once-barren landscape into an abundant resource. At the beginning of the school year, the community was then able to start a self-run school feeding program, ensuring students go to class energized and ready to learn.

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Like this young student…

who was the first to receive a meal from the school feeding program.

Not only was the produce for her meal harvested from the school garden, but it was cooked in the new school kitchen by volunteers from the community using fuel-efficient stoves.

This is community self-reliance. This is empowerment!

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Even more children can go to school

In Malawi, and only 9% of students complete secondary school. Children graduating from primary school are often not able to continue their education because their parents lack the resources to send them far from home to a conventional boarding secondary school.  In partnership with buildOn and Raising Malawi, we were able to break ground on our first secondary school in the Zyalambe zone in Malawi, helping to ensure that every one of the 13,868 students in those 21 primary schools will have the opportunity to continue their education.

Over 1,450 volunteers from eight different communities worked together to simultaneously break ground on the three school blocks on the secondary school campus. The school will also include an administration building, a library and student activity center, student and staff toilets, a watchmen center, boundary wall, a borehole for water access and solar lighting. 

Meet Gracian.

Gracian Levison is 14 years old and in the 7th grade. His favorite subject is math and he wants to be a teacher when he grows up. Gracian is one of many students who will no longer have to worry about whether he will be able to continue school once he finishes 8th grade. With a secondary school in his community, he’s now much more likely to achieve his dream and break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy.

We were recognized again.

For both our transparency and commitment to excellence, by receiving both the Guidestar Platinum Seal and Great NonProfits award for the 6th straight year.

But our favorite acknowledgment…

“My wish came true! I have always wanted to help kids less fortunate than me, and today you’re here helping me do that. I get to send a bracelet with a message to a kid who needs some love.”

Grace, 9 years old

We celebrated…

while taking a moment to recognize our first and most ardent support, Prince. And we had our best fundraising year ever! A special thank you to Anthony Anderson, Greg Phillinganes, Judith Hill, Nikka Costa, Andre Cymone, Verdine White, Tamar Davis, Andra Day, Magic Johnson, Screenfeed, 400 Capital, Compass, B. Wise Vineyards and everyone who supported this magical evening!

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We couldn’t have done it without you.

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 thousands of young people across 9 different countries through education, mentoring and the arts.

Best of all, we empowered kids with the opportunity, tools and voice to become the next generation of compassionate leaders.