The KIND Snacks Foundation funds $20M to video-conferencing initiative called 'Empatico'

With people seemingly becoming more and more cognizant of where their food comes from for ethical and dietary reasons, it helps to know that the companies you’re supporting have strong morals and ethics as well.

KIND Snacks is a company that’s historically coupled wholesome, good-for-you food with an even better-for-you message through its philanthropic organization called The KIND Foundation. 

SEE ALSO: Chobani announces 7 new startups in Food Incubator program, funds $175K total

In the the spirit of the giving season this year, The KIND Foundation is funding $20M over a multi-year period into an online tool called Empatico.

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Empatico, an online video-conferencing platform, is a free online tool that will connect students in different classrooms around the world — Think of it as a social media network of sorts for young students.

The tool is targeted for children ages 8-10, as Executive Director of Empatico, George Khalaf, explains:

“Kids at this age are particularly open to influence, with interactions during this time period significantly shaping their perceptions about people who are different … we also want Empatico participants to take away practical skills like collaboration, problem-solving and the ability to communicate across lines of difference.”

Khalaf summarized the platform’s purpose to AOL as:

“ … a free online learning tool that connects classrooms worldwide. It helps students discover what life is like for their peers around the globe, and, in the process, teaches skills like curiosity and kindness to future generations. “

The Empatico initiative was born as an idea from KIND CEO & Founder Daniel Lubetzky more than a decade ago, who felt that now was the proper time to put the idea into motion, as Khalaf shared:

“Lubetzky was finally compelled to put the idea into action amidst rising levels of polarization, a spike in hate crimes, and increased division both domestically and internationally. As the son of a Holocaust survivor and a Mexican immigrant, Daniel grew up learning about the importance of appreciating difference and celebrating our shared humanity. Empatico is his latest effort to foster connection and understanding between people.”

Khalaf calls Empatico The KIND Foundation’s “most ambitious initiative, both in terms of funding, desired impact, and vision, to date.”

He also drew attention to the fact that the name of the platform “intentionally connotes ‘empathy’” and offered his take on how we can aim to be more empathetic in our individual work environments:

"Empathy is a skill that many might associate with “softness” or “weakness.” In fact, it’s a great strength. In his book, Daniel Lubetzky, who created Empatico, writes about how he has relied on empathy, both inside and outside of the workplace, as a strength. It needs to start from the top, with leadership ingraining empathy into their day-to-day interactions with team members at all levels. In a previous role I had the good fortune of working with a global leadership team that placed a premium on “inner work” by creating the time and space for self reflection.  In the process, I found that the more I understood about myself, the wider my scope of empathy towards others…  Whatever the method, time for self reflection is a necessary step to practicing empathy.”

Empatico, though still a fairly new platform, has hefty goals and hopes for the future:

“To date, about 250 classrooms in 30 countries and 40 U.S. states have signed up. We expect these numbers to grow, and have an ultimate goal of reaching one million students by 2020.”

And doubt all you want, but the team behind the new initiative has their sights set high on major successes — with good reason:

“The team is scrappy and dreaming big. Thirteen years ago, no one could understand why Daniel was selling a fruit & nut bar made from whole ingredients and encased in a transparent wrapper. He was told that people would never eat the bar because it looked too healthy; of course, over time they were proven wrong. Today, it might seem unlikely that virtual exchanges with peers will be incorporated into teachers’ lesson plans. Similarly, some say that it will be challenging to make global connection a core part of kids’ educational journey. We’re hoping to prove them wrong, just like Daniel did back in the day!"

Something tells us that the Empatico team will do just that.

For more information on Empatico, visit here.

 

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