Rebuilding the Topple

When I started Topplers in 2008, with the help of some good friends, I had no idea what to expect. But I knew one thing… When you have the courage to put yourself out there, to start small, to trust that others will join you, good things will come. And that’s exactly what happened.

From 2008 through 2014, Topplers built a community of people who believed in the power of the Domino Theory concept. People from all over got involved by taking small actions that added up over time and positively impacted many lives. Each year our aspirations grew, donations increased, our efforts expanded, and things were looking up. Mostly…

After seven years, we hit a rough patch. It became clear that our strategy had some flaws. It was now time to step back and regroup. So, we slowed everything down and decided to solely focus on our most mature “branch” of the Topple: The Domino Award. As a result, the 2015 Domino Award was a huge success, but the bigger Topplers concept was in holding pattern.

Ramping down was disappointing for sure, but we knew that is was time to rethink our approach and restructure of the organization. However, as inevitable as it is that all things come to an end (usually proceeded by a fair amount of chaos), it is also certain that there will be a “rebirth” after a time of “emptiness.” So, we embraced the emptiness and trusted that things would eventually start back up stronger than ever when the time was right.

And that time is now.

With renewed energy and optimism we’re taking small actions aligned to our mission:

Topplers connects people who have inspiring ideas with people around the world standing ready to help make those ideas become reality.  We use our Domino Theory framework to organize our efforts, and to inspire people to join our community. We are dedicated to finding ways to demonstrate that small actions add up, and that anyone has the ability to make our world a better place.

In support of this mission, currently our efforts are now focused on:

What can you expect next from Topplers? We will:

  • Continue to grow our reach on social media (Facebook and other platforms).
  • Mobilize the Topplers community to help make someone’s inspiring idea a reality.
  • Build our community through partnerships with other non-profits.
  • Pursue opportunities to talk to groups of people so we can inspire and motivate them to find ways to grow their impact.

If you would like to help us build momentum, here are few things you can do today:

  • If you haven’t already, follow and engage with Topplers’ Facebook page (like, share, comment).
  • Join our community by creating an account on our sign-up website.
  • Sign up for the website advisory council (coming soon).
  • At the very least, “Think like a Toppler!” This means developing a mindset of seeing the world through the lens of Domino Theory and seeking ways to take small actions knowing that your efforts will set in motion more actions.

I never thought this would be easy, but I always knew that Topplers was a personal “calling” of sorts. I’m finding that life has a strange way of providing opportunities to remind me that helping people is one of the most important things I can do. So, just like it was back in 2008, I have no idea exactly what will happen next. But, I’m taking small actions, like writing this blog post, and one way or another I know things will add up.

I invite you to join me in revitalizing Topplers – an exciting new phase is underway!

Posted in Topplers News.

Topplers Steps Up For Random Acts of Kindness Week

It’s national Random Acts of Kindness week. To help get you started with some ideas for how to participate, here are a few ideas from the Topplers Staff and Board of Directors:

RAK candy cane“In Denver on the 16th street mall I handed out giant candy canes. I gave some to people having lunch, another to a street performer, and another to a random person on the street. It brought a smile to everyone’s face. Hopefully that tipped forward a few more random acts of kindness.”

-Herb Morreale, Founder and Board Chair

“I stopped last week to help a man on the street navigate a large ladder through a construction gate. I had to temporarily halt traffic and hold open some fences, but he made it and gave a genuine “thank you” for stopping to assist.”

-Katherine Holden, Board Member

“At the grocery store I saw a man in a motorized cart struggling to reach something from a high shelf. I asked if could help and helped him grab items from the rest of the aisle before I headed to check out.”

– Storey Blackwell, Executive Director

“I bought a coworker some surprise flowers today to help her have a speedy recover after surgery. They were yellow tulips and she was so surprised and delighted!”

-Katherine Holden, Board Member

Posted in Topplers News.

Meet The 2014/2015 Domino Award Winners

Julia HeilJulia Heil is a sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology as well as Computer Science. After completing an internship as a storyboard writer for a mobile application called “Zombie Joe”, Julia took an interest in video game programming and design. She is also interested in pursuing computational biology as a combination of her majors. Julia is also a member of CU’s equestrian team, and has enjoyed riding horses since she was young.

Austin HollerAfter earning a business degree and working in the hospitality industry for 2 years, Austin Holler decided, “I wanted to have a greater purpose in this world, giving to it in a way that I know could make a difference,” returning to school to pursue a degree in Computer Science and University of Colorado Boulder. In addition to attending CU Boulder, Austin works full-time and is a budding entrepreneur, with his sights set on receiving his Masters in Computer Science.

Will PreachukWill Preachuk is a Sophomore Computer Science Student at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and a member of both the UNL Honors Program and The Computer Science honors Program. He is currently the main writer for the college radio station’s blog and has a twice monthly music review column. Will is a former bone marrow donor and a spokesman for Be The Match, an organization that works toward getting people into the national bone marrow registry. He is also an avid volunteer for the SQL Server community in his home state of Minnesota and co-authored an article for an upcoming publication of the Professional Association of SQL Server Minnesota’s (PASS-MN) yearly guidebook.


Posted in Topplers Domino Award.

Topplers Seeking Teens With A BIG Idea For Making A Positive Impact on the World

Making a Difference Program to Help Teens With Cancer Set BIG Things In MotionSmiling cancer girl using laptop

Dakota is a high school student who likes spending time outdoors, skiing, and competitive ballroom dancing – she also has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). While undergoing treatment for her cancer, she’s found a way to give back to all those people who have helped her and her family along the way. Dakota shared her BIG idea with Topplers and is inspiring people from around the country to commit random acts of kindness.

“Going through leukemia has taught me that no matter what, things can always be worse, but that there’s always a silver lining,” she explains. “One of the biggest silver linings I’ve found is finding support from everyone around me. I thought if everyone could just have a small glimpse of this kind of support in their own lives it would motivate them to do good and pass it on to others. This is important to me because I think it will be very therapeutic — not only for me, but also for the people that surround me in my everyday life.”

The idea started in 2012, when Donna, a Pediatric Oncology Nurse, noticed that her young patients were spending long stretches of time at the hospital during their treatments and recovery time. The nature of the treatments leaves them confined to their beds and weakens their immune systems, so they don’t get to leave the hospital. She started thinking about how these patients could pass the time, focusing their energy in a positive way, while staying connected to their friends and communities.

“Working as a Pediatric Oncology Nurse for many years has made me realize a need that has been overlooked. The patients I’ve had the pleasure to work with possess such strong spirits and sense of the world around them. Whether it’s the diagnosis that creates this awareness, their personalities, or other life circumstances, I can’t say. One thing I’ve seen over and over again is the strong desire to give back to the community and/or others facing the same situation. Parents and families return to the hospital with cookies for the staff, homemade pillow cases, or hats for the newly bald children,” she recalls. “All of these gestures are greatly appreciated, but lack the longevity that many patients desire. The Making A Difference Program allows children and their families to give back and to stay connected in a way that is far reaching. It gives them the opportunity to stay in touch with their social circles, while at the same time offering a network of support to others, reaching a much broader audience.”

Topplers is seeking more teens being treated for cancer, who have a BIG idea they want to share. “Whether they are passionate about the environment, education, or poverty, Topplers has a community of action-takers ready to help move these young people’s BIG ideas forward,” says Topplers Executive Director, Storey Blackwell. “It has been such a pleasure to work with Dakota and to see the amazing support the Topplers community has brought to her idea, that we want to bring this opportunity to more teens with cancer.”

Teens or their family members can submit their ideas here to Topplers. Anyone interested in taking small, measurable actions to bring these BIG ideas to life can join the Topplers community here. To see a video and learn more about the Making A Difference program, visit

For more information or if you have questions, feel free to contact Storey Blackwell, Executive Director:


Posted in Making A Difference.

Topplers Announces Winners of the Annual Domino Award Prize for Computer Science Students

Students awarded trips to SXSW Interactive for their essays honoring the contributions of Richard Stallman, Paul Baran, and Barbara Liskov.

Boulder, CO – January 9, 2014 – Topplers ( announced today that it has awarded the 2014/2015 Domino Award for Computer Science. The Domino Award was founded in 2002 to encourage students to “think big” by seeing how seemingly simple technology advancements in the past have spurred chains of momentum that have added up to significant impacts in modern society and to inspire these students to see the potential they have to make a difference in the world through their future work.

Nationwide, over 100 Students from 44 schools participated in this year’s competition. Winning essays honored Richard Stallman, a pioneer in the open source movement, Paul Baran, a pioneer in the development of computer networks, and Barbara Liskov, a professor at MIT whose work designing programming languages led to the development of object oriented programming. Topplers congratulates winners Austin Holler and Julia Heil, students at University of Colorado, Boulder and Will Preachuk, a student at University of Nebraska, Lincoln. The winners will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to see tech innovation first-hand at the SXSW Interactive festival this coming spring.

Topplers was excited to offer the Domino Award to students nationwide for the first time in its 12 year history. “When we started the Domino Award at University of Colorado, we didn’t realize we were setting in motion a domino topple that would eventually bring this unique opportunity to students across the country. It is truly amazing that the Award has been able to grow so that we can honor the significant contributions of past computer scientists and use this to help inspire more students to think about the impact they can make as computer scientists,” said Herb Morreale, founder of Topplers and the Domino Award.

Topplers would like to thank Return Path for joining as a sponsor, University of Colorado’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Department of Computer Science for continued support of the program, professors Clayton Lewis (University of Colorado, Boulder), Ken Anderson (University of Colorado, Boulder), and Andre van der Hoek (University of California, Irvine) for their guidance and promotion of the program, and volunteers Ian Smith (2012 winner), Nithin Jilla (2013 winner), Andy Sautens (Return Path), and John Gary (SendGrid) for their help reading and scoring entries.

“The Domino Award is one of Topplers’ programs dedicated to inspiring individuals to make a positive impact on the world. Topplers’ sponsors and supporters of the Domino Award have helped to bring this inspiration to students across the country and the reception of our program in its first year offered at a national level has been extraordinary,” said Topplers’ Executive Director, Storey Blackwell.

Topplers is seeking additional sponsors to further expand the award and bring this inspiring opportunity to thousands more computer science students. For more information on sponsoring or participating in the Domino Award program, visit

About Our Sponsor Return PathReturnPathLogo

Return Path is a consumer intelligence company. We analyze the world’s largest collection of email data to show marketers how to stay connected to their audiences, strengthen their customer engagement, and protect their brands from fraud. Our solutions help mailbox providers around the world deliver great user experiences and build trust in email by ensuring that wanted messages reach the inbox while spam and abuse don’t. Consumers use Return Path technology to manage their inboxes and make email work better for them. Find out more about Return Path at

Posted in Topplers Domino Award.

2014/2015 Domino Award Competition Opens September 15th

Topplers is excited to announce that this year’s Domino Award competition for computer science students will begin accepting essays on September 15th.

Instructions for submitting an essay will be available on the Student page.

In the meantime, check out this video showing some of the fun our Award winners have had on their trips:


Posted in Topplers Domino Award, Topplers News.

Topplers Announces the 2014/2015 Domino Award

Domino Award at GoogleTopplers is excited to announce the 2014/2015 Domino Award. Established in 2002, this program for university computer science students encourages students to “think big” by seeing how computer scientists have significantly impacted modern society; inspiring them to see the potential they have to make a difference in the world through their future work.

We’ve launched a new Topplers Branch to help support this program as we grow this coming school year, offering the prize to students across the country.

This essay contest moves students beyond the “bits and bytes” of computer science to help them see the application of innovation out in the world and to think about the impact their work can have on society. Award winners are taken on a trip to see the latest in technology and innovation first-hand. This amazing opportunity to meet their tech heroes and ask them questions, see how the latest innovations are being applied to solve problems, and to network with fellow students and technologists, expands students’ horizons, introducing new possibilities for meaningful work and can change the trajectory of their lives.

Alex SXSWTake action and help bring this unique program to talented young computer scientists across the country:

Posted in Topplers Domino Award, Topplers News.

Topplers New Community Is Gaining Momentum

Branch pageEarlier this week Topplers launched our new online community, a revamped website improving the way our community members can make an impact on the causes that matter to them.

We’re excited about the response we are getting from members of the old community site, reclaiming their membership accounts, and new users signing up to receive invitations.  New impact stories have come in from members taking action on Dakota’s One Domino At A Time, helping her reach her goal of spreading 100 Random Acts of Kindness in the world, like this one from George A:

I have family dealing with cancer. Went up to visit them and saw how stressed they were with basic day-to-day life stuff. Like weeding the front garden. So I found some gloves, got a bag and cleared out the weeds. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was one less reminder of the things that they see that was adding stress to their already stressful lives. Take time to find a small way to help someone. The task can be small, but the gesture GIANT.

We’ll be launching new Branches for you to take action on in the coming weeks, so be sure to accept your invitation to create an account, or sign up here to receive your invitation. Read about how you can help make with causes that are important to you, share your impact story with the community, and “like” the stories other community members are sharing about the difference they are helping make in the world.

Posted in Topplers News.

Improving the Power of Connections: Topplers New Online Community

Home pageTopplers is excited to announce the launch of our new website and online community! Since our founding in 2008, we’ve been continuously  working to improve the ways we can harness the power of a community to help small individual actions add up, bringing BIG ideas to life.

Topplers is all about connections. The connections that, like a line of dominos toppling over, create a momentum that can lead to real change in the world. Topplers has been passing dominos and ideas person to person and tracking their impact stories over the years.

We’ve also been tracking feedback from our community members, listening to your great ideas on how to create a better system for spreading ideas and actions, as well as tracking the impact you are making, and hearing your desire to help make an impact beyond passing a single domino.

We’ve all heard about the exponential power that can happen if 1 person asks 10 friends to help and each of those friends asks 10 friends to help – what started with 1 person’s idea can quickly be spread to hundreds or even thousands of people. That exponential growth is the power behind the new Topplers community. Members can invite as many friends as they like to join in helping the causes that are important to them.

If you’re new to Topplers, you can request to join the community here.  If you were part of a passed domino in the past, your member login and impact story have been transferred to the new site. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the new community, a transferred member login, or have some feedback for us on the new website, at info[at] Your feedback will help us continue to improve the Topplers Community and make it easier for you to help with the causes that matter to you!


Posted in Topplers News.

Last Minute Volunteer Opportunity: 2 Hours To Help A Student Succeed

If you live in the Denver area, check out this cool opportunity from Mapleton Public Schools to help get their incoming high school freshman on track to attend college. Yes, college!

Mapleton Public Schools’ innovative pre-collegiate camp for 8th graders going into 9th grade, called Camp 2018 (named after the year that the participating students will graduate from high school), needs your help on Friday, June 20 to make it a successful and rigorous experience for their students!

Camp 2018 is from June 17-20 and during the 4 days the students are exposed to college and career planning activities, motivational speakers, leadership activities, college visits, and a community service activity. At the end of the week, the morning of June 20, students will be giving presentations of their learning and showcasing their college planning portfolio. In order to give our students their first interview experience, they are asking for your help! Each student will present their college planning portfolio two different times, to an adult/business person/community member.

June 20th from 10:15-12:15

York International School
9200 York Street
Thornton, CO 80229

If you are available  they would love to have you come and see the students in action as they start on their steps toward college. Please email Julie Silipo at for directions, rubric, and sample interview questions.


Posted in Higher Achievement, Topplers News.