I'm Laurie Flenner, founder of the ANYTHING CAN BE Fund. About a year ago, my employer, TOMS, announced a program called the Tomorrows Project. TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie, wanted to empower his employees to create a better tomorrow for others. I wanted to help children succeed, and so began researching local organizations that do just that.
As a former school teacher and a mother, I have seen a big divide between the "Haves" and "Have-nots" in our schools and communities. There are the kids who take piano lessons, compete in the soccer tournaments, perform in the dance recitals, and get black belts. These experiences build confidence, teach kids how to overcome adversity and conquer fears, and show them how to persevere to accomplish something truly great. They give children who might struggle in the academic school setting a chance to fuel their fire for success. They also cost money.
What I found from my research is that most piano teachers, dance instructors, and sports leagues provide some scholarships from their own pockets and sometimes through fundraising. But most of them are small business owners and/or volunteer organizations, and their funds are limited. Another thing they have in common is a passion for what they do: giving kids these incredible skills and experiences. They would love to provide more kids with these opportunities if only more scholarship funds were available.
I decided it was time to start something new. And my TOMS family agreed.
Shel Silverstein's poem has always touched me deeply, and so inspired the name of this fund:
Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WONT'S
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be