Bright Future Grant Recipient Spotlight:
Learn how one student is eliminating bullying and creating positive learning environments.
Matthew Kaplan was the recipient of a Unilever Project Sunlight Bright Future Grant in 2014, and with good reason: He created The Be ONE Project, an extremely successful program aimed at combating bullying - starting with middle schools in his hometown of Phoenix, Ariz. His program has grown significantly these past four years, boosting morale and reducing the serious problem of bullying in schools. Unilever has been a strong supporter of helping build strong self-esteem, so we checked in with Matthew on the success and the future plans of The BE ONE Project.
What is The Be ONE Project?
When my younger brother became the victim of bullying at our middle school, I decided to do something about it. I created The Be ONE: The Be “Open to New Experiences” Project, a community building and anti-bullying program for middle school students.
Since its inception four years ago, The Be ONE Project has reached more than 1,600 students in three states and I am continuing to expand nationwide.
How did Bright Future Grant support The Be ONE Project events?
The Bright Future Grant was invaluable to The Be ONE Project, allowing us to travel to schools in the greater Phoenix metropolitan are.
Are there other areas of interest you think you’d like to get involved in next?
Another passion of mine is youth social activism. In my role as the Arizona Governor's Youth Volunteer of the Year, I speak at events to engage kids my age on causes they are passionate about and to help get them started. I hope to expand my ability to work with students who are interested in creating their own service projects, showing them how to take their idea from inception to implementation.
What’s your hope for a bright future?
My hope is to bring The Be ONE Project to every middle school in Arizona and, ultimately, to have a network of Be ONE presenters throughout the country. There's no quick fix for bullying.
The solution lies in teaching students that we have the power to shape the culture in our schools. I hope Be ONE can create schools where students feel safe and have the emotional support to learn and thrive. It is unacceptable that 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.
Shining a Light on Inspirational Young People: Matthew is one of many young people we're excited to celebrate thanks to his passion toward making the world a better place. Unilever is inspired by the way kids see the world, because they embody the idea that all it takes is a small act to make a big difference.