CREATING COMPASSIONATE CULTURES: Seven Steps to Knowledge, Strength, and Compassion

Soquel, United StatesSoquel, United States
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Creating Compassionate Cultures offers educational programs for youth, families, educators, and psychologists based on proven curriculum, which awakens wisdom, ethics, and compassion for others, empowering them to make a positive difference in their relationships with their families and communities.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we educated children, youth, families & professionals through mindfulness, reflection, critical thinking, discussion, the sciences & arts, applying their insight & empathy to mobilize ‘wise & engaged everyday empathy,’ (WEEE) as local & global
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In our fast-paced, complex world, we are often taught to value competition & putting ourselves first. As a result, destructive emotions such as greed & anger arise more easily. If self-interest continues to dominate the thoughts & actions of our societies, the very survival of our planet is threatened. We need an educational system that awakens insight into the interconnection between inner & outer worlds & the importance of caring for others.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Seven Steps to Knowledge, Strength, & Compassion integrate universal human principles of mindful intention, interconnection, change, the power of perception, and the possibility of transforming emotions that lead first to a deep experience of empathy & then to compassion-based action. The Seven Steps awaken altruistic values & develop relationship skills through self-exploration & team-building activities that culminate in social change projects. Through co-operative partnerships we inspire our youth to apply their passion & skills beyond themselves toward issues in their communities. To truly make a difference we must experience empathy, design solutions that mobilize compassionate action.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Children worked with a local Chilean born farmer on his organic farm to learn about the farm to local store relationships and to prepare extra food for the homeless. We gathered community support for the farmer's dream to build a farm-based orphanage in Chile. Also, by partnering with local businesses for a day, we we were able to offer a percentage of the profits toward a collective vision & a service project. Youth apply CCC approaches to care giving across generations, infants - elderly. Global CCC & other networks of schools, & projects support each others' social service programs. Children study, document, share, replicate & develop future projects with support from volunteers & community members.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Pam Cayton founded Tara Redwood School (TRS) in Soquel, CA in 1989 as a pilot school for CCC. The Seven Steps to Knowledge, Strength, & Compassion curriculum was developed through educating children from toddlers to 5th grade. CCC is now expanding its program to serve teenagers & adults. Our new program will inspire teens to become guides to younger children & to engage in projects with the elderly. Parent & teacher observations provide a great deal of qualitative research. From a mother of a 3 yr old:"Iylee's expanded kindness & appreciation for others, even BUGS, is extraordinary. She lies down on the ground & treats the bugs with as much compassion as she would a person." If youth are awakened to their potential to exponentially increase the well-being & happiness of themselves & their interconnected universe, they will be a powerful force of Wise Engaged Everyday Empathy (WEEE)

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

In the 25 years we have been developing our methodologies & programs, we have positively impacted the lives of many children, families, and communities by awakening empathy & integrating ethics into every day life. CCC education creates profound, sustainable solutions that build bridges across generations, cultures & the natural world. Our plan is to develop programs that are accessible to a wide range of communities in order to support solutions for life's challenges from birth to death. CCC's global outreach provides an established network for long-term, far-reaching benefits.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our programs are funded by income from training programs; which include classes, workshops, retreats, global online training for teachers, parents & counselors. We have received grants to help with program development. Development strategies include expanding our donor base, additional grants, increasing membership fees, creating collaborative activities with local & global organizations, campaigns with communities who share the wish to benefit.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

CCC's educational programs and training tools are a powerful resource for a wide range of individuals and communities. Our secular training programs draw upon the experiences and skills of a diverse professional staff and over 20 years of innovative program development. CCC is uniquely poised to support our youth and communities, as our lesson plans and other materials are designed for adaptation to a range of specific needs and cultural environments.

Founding Story

When I moved to the US in ‘88 with my young children after living in Nepal for 10 years, I found the educational options didn’t embody essential qualities to educate the whole child. The predominant message seemed to be happiness = consume more, with a focus on me rather than we & a sense of entitlement. I was inspired to develop methods that blended the practical approach to acquiring knowledge in the West with the depth of wisdom & compassion of the East. I opened Tara Redwood School with the goal of developing mindfulness & compassion in children & teachers. Seeing the need to offer the Seven Steps curriculum developed at TRS, I then founded CCC to offer training for teachers, parents, educators & psychologists throughout the world.


CCC staff includes Director Pam Cayton, who is the founder, workshop leader, & curriculum developer. Supported by 3 part-time staff who assist with curriculum development, after-school program design, teaching & office management. They are supported by two volunteer youth program coordinators & 6 member Board of Directors:an ECE college professor, a community relations specialist,an educational research specialist & a local business leader.
About You
About You
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About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, CA, Soquel

Country where this project is creating social impact

, CA, Soquel

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Businesses, Regional government, National government, Customers.

Supplemental Information
On which of the following California counties does your project focus its impact? (check all that apply):

Santa Cruz, Other.

How does your idea help cultivate empathy skills to strengthen communities and equip young people to become leaders of change?

Communities & cultures across generations will be impacted by the CCC projects engaging adolescents, youth & adults.

Compassionate Care Givers: Awakening empathy with the 7 Steps & applying it to the practical work of child care. Program focuses on personal development & cultivates innate wise altruistic tendencies, for both caregivers & child.

Engaging Everyday Empathy: nature centered retreat for youth & young adults explore our inner nature in connection with the outer world. Awakening innate empathy & human values, we provide resources & on-going support for Wise Engaged Everyday Empathy projects both locally & globally.

CCC Community Center: Enriching body, mind & heart through workshops, guest speakers, events for all ages

Tell us about your partnerships

Foundation for Developing Compassion & Wisdom (FDCW): an international organization focused on developing training & materials for awakening wisdom & compassion. CCC is one of only three programs endorsed by FDCW.
Tara Redwood School: the CCC pilot school for implementing, developing & refining the CCC curriculum. We offer a 3 week internship program as part of the CCC Certification Course for students locally & globally.


We are expanding our program outreach! Our challenge is to gathering groups of interested participants for our teen programs.
Financial assistance: Many youths in our community struggle financially, and do need their parents to contribute. We will pilot new projects with Tara Redwood School alumni (teens & young adults) & their interested friends. Donors who wish to be a catalyst for positive social change have a myriad of opportunities to support issues and organizations. By expanding our visibility in the community, we can put our programs into community issues in need of empathic teams.

Does your project use any of the following approaches to cultivate community members as empathetic and collaborative leaders?

encouraging philanthropy, creating a safe space, developing emotional competency, building leadership skills, group play, storytelling, immersion, collective problem-solving, identifying shared values and differences, instilling courage, enabling action.

Target Age Group(s)

0-1.5, 1.5-3, 3-5, 6-12, 13-17, 18-35, 36-64, 65+.