Idaho Gives: Youth 

"Our lane is that parent-to-parent, youth-to-youth support that nobody else can really do."

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Because International

There are more than 150 youth development-related charities in Idaho. Added to that are nearly 750 education nonprofits and 490 recreation, sports and athletics-related nonprofits in the Gem State. And they run the gamut, quite literally, from A to Z; from AquaAbility to the Zoo Idaho Zoological Society.

  • Because International

Many Idahoans may not immediately recognize the name of Because International, a Nampa-based charitable organization, but they might have heard of its increasingly popular product dubbed "The Shoe That Grows." Founder and Executive Director Kenton Lee was inspired to create a growing shoe while working with children at an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya.

"That was 10 years ago," said Linnea Hanson, Because International's marketing manager. "Since its creation, 250,000 pairs of The Shoe That Grows have been distributed in 100 countries around the world."

Because International's Idaho Gives website will also promote its Wear-a-Pair campaign, through which anyone can buy a fundraising kit that comes complete with a pair of The Shoe That Grows shoes to help further promote the cause.

"The last 10 years have been a humbling experience," said Lee. "I never imagined we'd be where we are today."

Another nonprofit, the Boise-based Idaho Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, assists families with children who are struggling with emotional and behavioral disorders.

  • Idaho Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health

"Our board and staff have lived with the experience of having children with mental health challenges," said Ruth York, the federation's executive director. "We provide peer support. And we're particularly proud of our youth M.O.V.E. groups."

"M.O.V.E." is an acronym for Youth Motivating Others Through Voice of Experience, and the program lets Idaho's youth take the lead on peer support for their peers. A donation of $5 during Idaho Gives might help pay for a phone call with a struggling parent that could connect them to community resources. A gift of $50 to the federation would provide a meal at a Youth M.O.V.E. support group meeting.

"Over the years, we've learned that people really love those different giving levels," said York. "That really speaks to people."

York said there have been some successes, of late, when it comes to providing services for Idaho families living in the shadows.

"But the thing that's a little crushing is that, quite often, some of those gains came because somebody had to file a lawsuit and say, 'My child was not being served and this really shouldn't happen to anyone else again,'" said York. "As a result, our health and welfare department, education department and juvenile justice just have had to step up to the plate. So, we here at the federation are asking, 'What's our lane in all of this?' There are a lot of gaps, but we ask, 'What's our lane?' Well, our lane is that parent-to-parent, youth-to-youth support that nobody else can really do."


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