What: Children's edutainment about charitable causes
Who: Brahm Wenger, Alan Green, Ken Everson and Heidi Glauser of The Helpful Doo-Its Project
Where: Irvine, California
When: Started in 2003
Startup Costs: $200,000
With an innovative approach to children's education, this team of entrepreneurs is making a difference. Brahm Wenger, 54, Alan Green, 56, Ken Everson, 57, and Heidi Glauser, 55, founders of The Helpful Doo-Its Project, have launched a line of creative edutainment products for children that raises money for national charities.
The project's books and teaching kits expose children ages 3 to 11 to the physical, social and economic challenges some people face, such as disability and poverty. In the stories, these issues are addressed and solved by a group of colorful creatures, the Doo-Its. According to president Wenger, a Doo-It is a "unique beast," just as those who start charities are unique beasts, and every adventure the friends have teaches kids "the meaning of compassion and the importance of helping others."
The first book, Dewey Doo-It Helps Owlie Fly Again, was inspired by Christopher Reeve and teaches children about victims of paralysis. Other books in the series, four so far, feature Feed the Children and Habitat for Humanity. For each product purchased, a portion of the sale goes to support the specific charity.
To date, The Helpful Doo-Its Project has raised more than $150,000 for charities and projects 2007 sales of about $500,000. This year, the team arranged partnerships with the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, Larry King Cardiac Foundation and Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation. Plans are in the works for more books and CDs. In 2009, PBS will start airing The Doo-Its Show, a TV series based on the books that will include celebrity guests like Natalie Portman and Stevie Wonder.
"[This business] is fundamentally good on so many levels," says Wenger. "It's entertainment for kids, exposes them to ways they can help and raises money for charities."