Help Each Other Out

Help Each Other Out : Sparking community compassion with and for young people

Santa Clara County , United StatesSan Francisco, United States
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

For young people, personal hardships like loss, illness, or coming out too often lead to a sense of isolation by peers, family, and school personnel. Help Each Other Out inspires youth and adults in school and other community settings to reach out when life is rough with practical tips that work.

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

What if every young person suffering the injuries of life like depression, illness, or loss also experienced the small comforts of care from their peers and community that could sustain them through their personal trial?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Young people should not have to suffer personal hardships like depression or loss feeling alone, yet many do. Not necessarily because those in a position to be supportive lack compassion, but because they 1) undervalue the importance of reaching out to people in personal hardship, 2) feel awkward and helpless, believing comfort is tougher to provide than it actually is, or 3) lack understanding of what to do for someone in crisis.

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

We make it easier for young people and the people who care for them to reach out when a young person is struggling with crisis. We create exhibits on Being There that include posters of portraits of young people who share their story of a gesture that helped in a rough time. These are paired up with hundreds of hand written cards by community and school staff who list gestures that helped in their rough time collected at local Share What Works community events that precede the campaign. Exhibits will rotate and be displayed in schools, neighborhood corridors and public transit in Santa Clara (possibly pilot Being There workshops). Exhibits don't instruct but invite viewers to construct their own way forward for living a compassionate life.
Impact: How does it Work

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

Our Share What Works event is the beginning of our Exhibit on Being There that involves a wide community of invited participants including neighborhood merchants, members of several nonprofits and government stakeholders, and youth and families to all partake in sharing gestures that got them through a difficult time. The humanizing event inaugurates a poster series that will focus on young people but connects every community member to the fabric of caring. The effect is to increase participants’ empathic behaviors towards others and mobilize support for the exhibit. When the exhibit is posted in public spaces, it reaches many people who wouldn’t otherwise seek help with empathic behavior.

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

Our website offers advice on helping others based on our research on support during difficult times. Since January 2014 it’s had 7800 visitors, a majority under 34 who spend up to an hour on the site. Several of our 3700 Facebook fans are educators and youth development professionals. In April 2014, twenty merchants adopted our first outdoor Exhibit on Being There in a San Francisco neighborhood. Emails, calls and texts from countless viewers and participants describe gratitude for motivating them to call a niece who miscarried, text a brother on chemo day, or bring food to a sick neighbor, for examples. Other nonprofits want exhibits for suicide, loss, and special needs children. In December 2014 a premier San Francisco Art Gallery will exhibit our work for use of photography in community activism. Stanford Dept of Medicine is evaluating our campaign impact on cancer stigma.

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

We’ll pilot exhibits and community events in the Eastside Union School District in any number of its 12 high schools, work with Santa Clara Office of Ed to expand into other districts with support of school social workers. In five to ten years time, we want to: 1) Enable anyone in world to host an Exhibit on Being There in various settings like schools, neighborhood corridors, hospitals, you name it, 2) offer research-based Being There workshops for youth, school staff, general audience, workplaces that want to develop empathy and 3) provide a comprehensive online resource for helpful gestures

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

We plan to target education grants for work in school settings, health grants for areas like suicide prevention, arts and community grants for outdoor exhibits, and develop a for-profit public campaign presence for social causes. We also plan to implement Being There workshops and activities that are relevant for mainstream audiences and the private sector as a way to generate revenue that will subsidize youth/school work.

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

Community Matters promotes positive school climate with many programs for different ages, families, and school personnel. Roots of Empathy works in Oakland to spark empathy with young people’s play with infants. Both offer program rich experiences that are staff intensive with facilitated instruction in the school. Our exhibit differs in that 1) Requires less participation time, 2) involves a wider community net including neighborhood merchants and pedestrians, commuters, and whole school ecosystem from custodian to principal, 3) Is nimble with mass rotation to many schools and settings

Founding Story

I had two painful moments of know shying away from someone in a personal difficulty when I would have been kinder to reach out. I recognized this approach was not sustainable, but lacked confidence in what else to do. I wanted to create a manual on reaching out for all kinds of hard times. Because I was earning a PhD in community development, I conducted side-project research on this topic for an eventual book. I changed so much from reading and hearing people's stories of meaningful gestures in rough times that I wanted others to experience this kind of transformation through story telling too. The next step was a website where I put up my research in accessible prose, and now, programs to enable exchange of stories on gestures that count.


Kelsey Crowe founder PhD, 15 years in youth development 50% time. Ten board members in philanthropy, academia, arts and nonprofit. Creative volunteers: photographer Michael Shindler, Designer Lis Moran, and Copywriter Hope Singsen. Exhibit implementers: Rachel Ghezzi, Dept of Ed. + Project Safety Net TBD + Bay Area Young Survivors board members. Evaluation: Dr. Cati Brown, Stanford University. Grow 25% events coordinator + 2 social work interns.
About You
Help Each Other Out
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name

Help Each Other Out

How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, CA, San Francisco

Country where this project is creating social impact

, CA, Santa Clara County

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

Friends and family, Foundations, Customers.

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

Santa Clara.

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

Help Each Other Out combines edgy design with socially engaged art to create public campaigns called Exhibits on Being There. Displayed by local community merchants in store windows, in school settings, and in organization lobbies, they encourage viewers to reach out to young people facing life’s challenges such as loss, illness or depression. Follow-up workshops and a website offer more specific help on small but meaningful ways youth can be there for others. Our method gives voice to young people who’ve been through a rough time to share what worked for them, inspiring peers, school staff, neighbors, and others to reach out in simple ways that make a difference.


Publicity and social marketing


Consultation on supportive practice in rough times

Tell us about your partnerships

Santa Clara County Office of Education Recently implemented 17 new social work positions to promote Positive School Climate
Project Safety Net TBD A consortium of providers in Palo Alto preventing teen suicide
Bay Area Young Survivors provides peer support for young women with cancer placing cancer exhibit in Stanford Hospital
Stanford University, Department of Medicine: Evaluating campaign style for impact on stigma about cancer


1) To meet the challenge of multiple and unique community environments and audiences we’ll meet regularly with a core team of partner advisors to develop and adjust programming as it spreads to other schools and areas, 2) To create significant institutional, cross-sector buy-in and enhance opportunities for programmatic spread we’ll create an Institutional Cabinet that include school district, local merchants associations, hospitals, and public transit, and 3) to develop opportunities for more impact through deeper touch programming, we’ll pilot workshops or partner with similar providers.

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

creating a safe space, developing emotional competency, storytelling, collective problem-solving, identifying shared values and differences, instilling courage, enabling action.

Target Age Group(s)

13-17, 18-35, 36-64, 65+.