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After a Life-Changing Experience, This Founder Discovered the Power of Gratitude. Now She and Her Co-Founder Husband Want to Spread Positivity to Classrooms — for Free. Katie and Steve Wood discuss their 50-in-50 Challenge, a program designed to get free positivity journals into the hands of students in every state.

By Dan Bova

Key Takeaways

  • Katie Wood discovered the power of a morning gratitude routine after one of her children needed life-saving surgery.
  • When her search for a kid-friendly gratitude journal didn't yield the results she wanted, Katie decided to create her own.
  • Now, she's on a mission to distribute free gratitude journals nationwide.
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A Simple Seed

Former school teacher, business owner and mom of four Katie Wood has seen the power of gratitude first-hand. "Our daughter had to have life-saving surgery, which led to my mind spiraling out of control," she tells Entrepreneur. "That led to me embracing the power of a morning gratitude routine. It really helped me, and when Covid hit, one of our daughters asked me about my special mornings and if she could do it, too. I searched for a kid-appropriate tool for her to use and kept coming up empty. That's when the entrepreneur spirit — which is scary but so powerful — took over, and from there, I created A Simple Seed."

A Simple Seed of Growth, Gratitude & Giggles is a morning journal to help kids — and their parents — start the day with positivity, focus and accepting themselves for who they are. "We hear so much about anti-bullying initiatives, which are great," Katie says. "But daily gratitude can have a tremendous effect that goes even further. It has been studied by the University of Kentucky, and researchers found all kinds of benefits for children. They found that kids who practice gratitude are more empathetic, less likely to retaliate or be aggressive than kids who don't practice gratitude and are happier overall."

The study spurred Katie and her husband, Steve, who is a paramedic fireman outside of Boston, to create a school edition of their journal and launch the company's 50-in-50 Challenge. "Our goal is to give free copies of the journal to 50 schools in 50 states," Steve says.

The 50-in-50 Challenge works simply: Teachers or parents can nominate their school by visiting the company's site and answering a few questions about why they think it's a perfect fit. There is no "right" answer to who would qualify, Katie says, but she does have a soft spot for those school districts that face financial challenges. "I was a teacher in the South Bronx," she says, "and I love the idea of helping schools in underserved communities."

The couple hopes to get these books to schools with the help of sponsors. "This is a zero-profit project for us," Katie says. "We're simply looking for sponsors to cover the costs of the production and shipping of the books. And we believe between $10,000 and $15,000 would be enough to cover the entire United States."

Related: 'We're Curating Happiness': See How This Entrepreneur Is Transforming the Wellness Space

The Woods say this is an easy win for sponsors who want to do good in the world and gain positive exposure in the process. "These books will be in all 50 schools, and every parent and child at those schools will know who provided them," Katie says.

"The great thing is that we've validated the idea," Steve says. "We've seen it in action, and it works." A school in New Jersey was gifted the journals, and the principal reported back ongoing tangible proof that they had a positive impact.

"We heard that kids are leaving little nice notes on each others' lockers," Katie says. "The teachers would walk down the hall and hear kids yelling out gratitude chants in the morning. It all just confirms that gratitude can have such a tremendous impact."

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"Our goal is to do a questionnaire at each winning school before and after they get the books to find out what they learned and what was most powerful," Katie says. "We'll use that school and feedback as a pilot for the entire state where we can go to the board of education and show the positive impact it had and build out from there. Each school gets the chance to plant a small seed that will grow for their entire state."

To nominate a school or find out more information about being a sponsor, visit simpleseedjournal.com/50-in-50-challenge or follow katiewood_simpleseed.

Related: How This Entrepreneurial Couple Is Revolutionizing Brand Loyalty

Dan Bova

Entrepreneur Staff

VP of Special Projects

Dan Bova is the VP of Special Projects at Entrepreneur.com. He previously worked at Jimmy Kimmel Live, Maxim and Spy magazine. Check out his latest humor books for kids, including Wendell the Werewolf, Road & Track Crew's Big & Fast Cars, and The Big Little Book of Awesome Stuff.

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