For more than a decade at Thirst Project, it was always really easy to point to the impact we made on the global water crisis — the number of people we were able to bring safe water to, reduction of waterborne disease rates over time, etc. It was much harder to articulate the impact we were making in the lives of students and young people. But, we knew we were making dramatic impact on youth culture — apart from just how much money they could raise to build water projects. Over four years, our Team worked with social scientists to measure the impact we made in the lives of students from a year before to a year after they went through our school programs. The results were incredible.

Students learned and developed 14+ different hard and soft skills that were critical for their academic careers, professional careers, and lives! Organization and Strategic Planning, Goal Setting, Communication and Public Speaking, Fundraising and more! And, students could use these skills not just to make impact on the water crisis, but ANY important cause or issue! We realized we could be intentional about designing prorams to achieve these outcomes IN students, not just work with them to raise money for a cause. And, we realized that these were really two distinct missions. One: to end the global water crisis. The other: to intentionally develop young peoples’ leadership skills and help them change the world! To give each of these two missions the attention and resources they deserved, we created Legacy Youth Leadership.

It is incumbent upon us morally and ethically to ensure that we disproportionately provide access to these programs in schools and communities that historically have not had as many leadership development opportunities. Because of this, we have prioritized offering our programs in schools whose students and families are low-income (below the national median household income) and Title 1 schools.

The reality that our students are living with is THIS.

  1. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young Americans ages 10-23. *
  2. 10 Million young people ages 12-20 abuse alcohol, and 90% of that is consumed through binge drinking. *
  3. 6.3 Million young people aged 3-17 years-old suffer from anxiety or depression. *
  4. 34% High School graduates do not go on to higher education that same year. *
  5. Children from low-income families are three times less likely to participate in after-school programs.*
  6. By sixth grade, middle-income students will have spent nearly 4,000 more hours in after-school and summer learning programs than their lower-income peers.*

BUT…the counter to that is, we ALSO know that when students get involved in these kinds of programs:

  1. 90% of young people who participate in extracurricular programs are less likely to commit suicide. *
  2. Young people who volunteer are 50% less likely to abuse drugs, alcohol & cigarettes. *
  3. Students who volunteer at least 10 hours per week are much less likely to feel depressed than those who don’t. *
  4. 75% of colleges state that extracurriculars are an important determining factor in the admission process. *

To help students develop the skills they need to take action around the causes they care about most, we built TWO programs: Our Leadership Program and our Speaking Program. If you are familiar with Masterclass, think “Masterclass” but to help young people develop the skills they need to change the world. 

These are FREE EDUCATION programs for students no matter what community they come from.

Each of these three programs are TIME-SENSITIVE. Students cannot go at their own pace. Each program takes 4 to 6 weeks to complete. Students sign up for one of those programs that run on a rolling basis throughout the year. They are COHORT-BASED. Students do not go through them as individuals, but are grouped with a cohort of 30 to 50 like-minded student leaders from around the world who go on this journey with them together. They are HALF Digital, pre-recorded content and lessons, HALF Live Sessions led by a Facilitator/Instructor who takes the cohort through the lessons, helps them complete the work, and guides them through the process. And it’s all housed within a platform that includes all of the written content, materials, worksheets, with the ability for students to interact with each other and build community as they sharpen these skills and grow as leaders.

Once students complete these programs and have learned these skills, they APPLY them by taking action to raise awareness of and funds for the causes they care about the most.

We are impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people every day, and ushering in the next generation of young leaders. A new day is coming. And the young people are here.

Seth Maxwell, Founder & CEO