Tech, Inspiration, and More Tech at South-by-Southwest Interactive

Alex Tsankov, Nithin Jilla, and Brittany Arthur (l to r) show their dominos while looking through the SXSW Interactive schedule and planning their day.

Alex Tsankov, Nithin Jilla, and Brittany Arthur          (l to r) show their dominos while looking through the SXSW Interactive schedule and planning their day.

In 2013, Topplers took the first step in our dream to expand the Domino Award, by adding Awards at University of California at Irvine and University of California at Santa Cruz to our long-running program at University of Colorado. The three winners from the award joined Topplers and Domino Award founder Herb Morreale for an all-expenses paid long weekend of tech, inspiration, and more tech this past spring at the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival in Austin, Texas.

“What’s so amazing about this opportunity is that it allows you to take inspiration from things that you might have never imagined yourself taking inspiration from.” -Alex Tsankov

What better place to inspire these bright students to think about the impact they can have on the world through technology, than at a giant conference and festival attended by inspirational players in their chosen field of computer science. As Steven James Snyder of TIME said, “that’s still what makes South By Southwest Interactive an indispensable gathering of the minds – that this isn’t just a place focused on individual inventors or celebrities but on societal advancements. One impressive pitch here can be the starting point for a process/product that will change the way we communicate, vote, volunteer, and live our daily lives.”

Brittany Arthur, Alex Tsankov, Nithin Jilla, and Herb Morreale (l to r) meet Ryan Holmes (center), CEO of Hootsuite.

Brittany Arthur, Alex Tsankov, Nithin Jilla, and Herb Morreale      (l to r) meet Ryan Holmes (center), CEO of Hootsuite.

With a schedule packed with multiple presentations, panels, meetups, workshops, and exhibitions spread over multiple venues, choosing what to see was a hard task, but the award winners gamely made the most of their time.

They attended some great presentations including a presentation from Stephen Wolfram, Founder and CEO of Wolfram Research, who spoke about the implications of advances in technology on product development, industry, and research. Keynote speaker, astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, inspired with his unique insights about the universe around us, just before the debut of his television show Cosmos.

They also spent time exploring at the Create exhibit hall, where the latest advances in technology, like 3D printers, quadcopter drones, Raspberry Pi, and Arduino, are being used for new and exciting applications.  Among the meetups and companies available to meet with, a highlight was meeting and talking to Ryan Holmes, the CEO of Hootsuite, a fast-growing and highly respected company in the social media space.

Having fun in Austin.

Having fun in Austin

“I like talking to people who are in the industry. Everyone is so inspiring. It’s really cool to think that you have a team and you are working on a project that is so personal to you. It sounds exciting!” – Brittany Arthur

Beyond their time exploring the conference halls (collecting as many t-shirts as possible), listening to engaging talks, and meeting with their tech heroes, Nithin Jilla (UC Irvine), Brittany Arthur (UC Santa Cruz), and Alex Tsankov (CU Boulder) took some time to enjoy all that SXSW Interactive had to offer: having their picture taken with Success Kid, “crashing” a few industry parties, spotting Shaq (yes, that Shaq), and catching some local music that Austin is so famous for.

Nithin gets serious with Success Kid

Nithin gets serious with       Success Kid

“This experience has given me an opportunity to already help people. I’m hoping that this will lay the foundation for future opportunities where I can help serve others and make an impact.” -Nithin Jilla

A big thanks to all of our 2013/2014 Domino Award sponsors Adeptive Software, Applied Trust, ClickBank, and Gold Systems, whose generous support made this inspiring trip possible.

Posted in Topplers Domino Award, Topplers News.

Topplers 2013 Annual Report

2013 Topplers Annual Report

2013 Annual Report coverDear Friends,

Our BIG dreams in 2012 led to some big work in 2013, crafting plans and systems aimed at scaling the Topplers model to help us reach more people than ever before.

The Domino Award was expanded to two additional universities, reaching thousands of computer science students and awarding this expanded prize to a bright group of students. Higher Achievement inspired a class of graduating high school seniors to think about the impact they can make on the world, and awarded multiple book scholarships to help them realize their college dreams. Making A Difference launched its pilot program with Dakota, an inspiring teen fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia who wants to see more Random Acts of Kindness in the world. 

We have learned a lot of valuable lessons from our expansion and piloting of our Branches and are ready to do more. With a plan in place to grow our community and reach more people who want to help make a difference in the world, we are building a dynamic new website set to launch in 2014.

Thank you for your continued support and for keeping up with us as we tackle our Big Idea of helping Set Big Things in Motion.

-The Topplers Board of Directors

Posted in Topplers News.

Topplers Announces New Executive Director

DSCN0421Storey Blackwell comes to Topplers after integral posts at United Way and BeadforLife 

The Board of Directors of Topplers is pleased to announce that Storey Blackwell has been named Executive Director. Topplers, a non-profit bringing together people with big ideas and a community to help set things in motion like a domino topple. Ms. Blackwell will lead the organization in its efforts to set big ideas in motion. Blackwell is a seasoned nonprofit professional who has provided leadership and advocacy for nonprofit organizations for more than 6 years, with extensive experience in the realm of finance and building effective programs. 

Board President Neil Hartley said, “The Board of Directors looks forward to working with Storey. She will be an effective leader of Topplers and a passionate advocate for individuals and branches of the ‘topple’ which will inspire the Topplers Community with whom we partner.” 

Ms. Blackwell brings a strong background in finance and project management from national and international nonprofits including United Way. She is passionate about building effective programs, developing innovative fundraising methods for organizational sustainability and using new media to reach new audiences and engage existing supporters. 

She is a graduate of Regis University’s Master of Nonprofit Management program, where she focused on organizational capacity building. She has served as board treasurer for Boulder Youth Body Alliance and as the local board chair for Boulder County’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program. 

Blackwell adds, “This is a tremendous opportunity during this important stage of growth. I am extremely excited about joining the team at Topplers and I’m inspired by seeing the momentum of each individual’s big idea grow with the support of the Topplers community.” 

Topplers’ Mission is to enable You to impact the world in a positive way by setting big things in motion with charitable programs that inspire, educate and motivate people. Topplers is a 501-C3 member organization that brings together individuals to use their collective impact on featured issues. We provide a new way to get involved with philanthropy and volunteering, tailored to fit our busy modern lives. We give everyday people easy and meaningful ways to address important issues. 

For further information please contact: Neil Hartley Neil@topplers.org

Posted in Topplers News.

Got 2 Hours to Help a Student Succeed?

Mapleton school district is seeking volunteers to help on with their Mock Interviews. Volunteers sign up at a schooInterviewl of their choice, helping prepare students for professional and college interviews. It’s easy to participate and a great way to help a student get great feedback to help improve their interview skills.

See the attached form to sign up for one of these sessions:

Thursday, February 20th 2-4 pm Mapleton Early College

Tuesday, March 11th 8:15am-10:00am Academy High School

Tuesday, March 11th 10:00am-12:00pm Academy High School

Tuesday, March 11th 1:00-3:20pm MESA High School

Thurday, March 13th 8:45-11:10 am Global Leadership Academy

Friday, March 21st 8:30-11:45am York International

Friday, March 21st 12:15-2:25 pm York International

Wednesday, April 16th 10:30- 11:00am North Valley School for Young Adults

Thursday, April 17th 10:30-11:00am North Valley School for Young Adults

Wednesday, May 14th 10:30-11:00am North Valley School for Young Adults

Thursday, May 15th 10:30-11:00am North Valley School for Young Adults

Mock Interview Sign Up Sheet 2014

Posted in Higher Achievement, Topplers News.

Be The First to Get an Invitation to the New Topplers Community and Get a Free Domino

Pretty dominos croppedWe’re excited to share with you our latest project here at Topplers – an engaging new community website that will make it even more fun and easier than before to help set BIG THINGS in motion!

Sign up for an invite to this community using at join.topplers.org – the full community experience will launch later this spring!

As a member of the Topplers community, you:

  • Will receive a commemorative Topplers Domino
  • Will enjoy showcased stories of passionate people and the causes that inspire them
  • Will see easy suggestions for helping those people make a difference in the world
  • Will be able to invite your friends and others to join the community and lend their help
  • Will see the impact of your actions – Topplers tracks your progress along the way!

It’s free to join and reserve your Domino at join.topplers.org

Sign up today to receive an invitation to join the community this spring.

Posted in Topplers News.

The Travels of Domino #3453

1452370_10151749580242267_1931349199_nWatching a Domino travel as it inspires person after person to do a Random Act of Kindness, is amazing as it is fun. Inspired by Dakota I sent Domino #3453 out into the world and love seeing the updates. I passed along this domino to a friend, telling her how Dakota’s story had inspired me to take action. My friend, in turn, passed along the domino with Dakota’s story to her friend.  Reading about the travels of the domino, show how Dakota’s story is inspiring others to help her reach her goal of 100 Random Acts of Kindness. Here’s hoping that domino keeps up the momentum:

&lquo; I received the Domino from my coworker who shared the details and story =) Upon receiving it, I invited our neighbor (who recently experienced a difficult breakup) to mass and coffee with my wife and me on a Sunday morning. We talked about the experience and it seemed to be good timing to help lift his spirits!
&lquo; My dear friend, Ashley, gave me Dakota’s domino and explained the program while we were on a beautiful summer hike at Hessey Trailhead. I was really touched and of course wanted to be a part of things. I am so sorry it has taken me so long! I brought the domino and card with me to work last week, thinking it would be a good inspiration to do something on one of my breaks. Today, I was out for a stroll on the 16th street mall. I saw a Denver Voice vendor open the door for a gentleman in a wheelchair leaving a store. I thought this was very sweet and polite of him, so in return for his good deed I bought a paper from him 🙂
&lquo; It was a surprise treat when I received this domino from Storey. We were catching up, sharing what we’re passionate about in our lives and giving each other encouragement for our endeavors. So, when Storey handed me the ” domino” I was excited to share the spirit of random acts of kindness. I thought about what I’d do for some time and then one day In an ” act in the moment” I was reminded of the domino – and of Dakota. I saw a car trying to pull out of the gas station. I waved him on and we had this great exchange of smiles and waves like we were old friends; a nice reminder that we don’t need to be strangers on the road.
&lquo; I’m excited to be part of Dakota’s Random Acts of Kindness. For this domino I stopped to let a car cross the highway after watching for 5 minutes up the traffic jam that no one was letting them through.
Posted in Making A Difference, Topplers News.

More Random Acts of Kindness Inspired by Dakota

Dakota’s story has been spreading! Be sure to check out the Topplers webpage for updates on the Random Acts of Kindness that Dakota has been inspiring. Here are a few more highlights that we’ve seen:

In Denver, campbece just claimed domino 3453.

&lquo; My dear friend, Ashley, gave me Dakota’s domino and explained the program while we were on a beautiful summer hike at Hessey Trailhead. I was really touched and of course wanted to be a part of things. I am so sorry it has taken me so long! I brought the domino and card with me to work last week, thinking it would be a good inspiration to do something on one of my breaks. Today, I was out for a stroll on the 16th street mall. I saw a Denver Voice vendor open the door for a gentleman in a wheelchair leaving a store. I thought this was very sweet and polite of him, so in return for his good deed I bought a paper from him 🙂

In Henderson, Leanne just claimed domino 3377.

&lquo; I received this Domino from Victoria, an amazing friend and someone who knew how much I would love this type of project. I know a young woman who was moving out of her shared apartment to live with her younger sister. Her former roommate had owned most of the household items. She had a bit of furniture but no kitchen items. Her plan was to use her student discount at Goodwill and slowly get what she needed. I texted her one day telling her to meet me at Wal Mart and not to ask any questions. When she arrived, I set her up with a shopping cart and told her to go pick out her new kitchen. She started crying right there in the isle. She was thrilled, as was I to see her so happy and thankful of the gesture. Random acts of kindness warm my heart and soul. Thank you Dakota for inspiring others.

In Louisville, herb  just claimed domino 3449.

&lquo; I’ve been waiting for a moment of inspiration to add a random act to Dakotas branch. I started carrying the domino in my pocket in hopes that it would remind me that all it takes is a quick simple decision to make an impact. Today it wasn’t much: I gave $10 to a guy holding a sign at an intersection. But he definitely appreciated that it wasn’t simply $1. And my daughter got to enjoy the moment with me. More to come but it feels great to be helping Dakota see her big idea becoming a reality.
Posted in Making A Difference, Topplers News.

Checking In With Our Book Scholarship Winners

Half-way into the fall semester, we checked in with our 2013 Book Scholarship winners to see how they’ve adjusted to college life. We were excited to hear that they are thriving and finding ways to overcome the financial challenges of paying for their educations:

I’ve been doing great! I’m loving the college life thus far. It isn’t a really big transition for me because I believe that all the habits I created in my previous years in high school have made this transition smooth for me. College requires hard work, organization, and dedication, and I was making sure that those requirements were fulfilled with the habits that I created in my junior and senior year. For example, using a planner and creating a to-do list really helps. This scholarship is a very big part of aiding my purchases of books. I’m a bio major, so the thick science books that cost $150-200 a piece really was a struggle. Thanks to Topplers, I had $350 off of the total of the text books that i purchased which took up about 30% of my total costs for books. This goes a long way and I’m very appreciative of your help.

 

I’m doing well. Stanford is definitely very different from high school but all the changes are exciting and refreshing. I have a job on campus as a freshmen liaison, organizing events for El Centro Chicano. I am also trying out for the Polo team (though I’ve never ridden a horse), playing with the scatter band, and on the competitive cross country club team. The opportunities here are vast and
it’s incredibly hard to choose between all of the amazing experiences available.

As far as challenges go, it has been a little hard for my family financially because my father had a stroke around three months ago and was out of work for two months. The Topplers scholarship has been very helpful already in covering my book expenses for this quarter and more than likely the next quarter (maybe the whole year if I’m thrifty). It has also been interesting and a bit challenging to find time to sleep amid all the chaos and excitement!

Again, thank you so much for the help and your generosity! I’m sure the MESA seniors this
year will benefit immensely from your contributions!

Posted in Higher Achievement, Topplers News.

Domino Award Featured in NCWIT’s Academic Alliance Newsletter

NCWIT logoThe National Center for Women & Information Technology’s Academic Alliance featured the Domino Award  in their recent newsletter. As we begin our preparations for the 2014 Domino Award, we are looking for universities interested in bringing this unique program to their students. For 2014, our goal is to partner with 10 universities, offering 10 Domino Award prizes to students around the country.

If you are interested in learning more about how easy it is to bring the Domino Award to your computer science students, please contact us: dominoaward @ topplers.org

Posted in Topplers Domino Award, Topplers News.

Volunteers Needed: 1 Hour to Help Prepare a Senior for College Interviews

York International School in Thornton, Colorado is looking for community/business volunteers to assist their seniors (class of 2014) in reviewing their resumes and critiquing their professional dress:

When: Wednesday, September 11

Times: Anytime between 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Where: York International K-12, 9200 York St, Thornton, CO

Contact: Misti Gossett-Thrower, Post-Secondary Options Coach/Counselor, throwerm@mapleton.us

This experience is INVALUABLE to the seniors as they write their first resumes to help them prepare for college/scholarship/job applications. Please consider volunteering on this day, even if you can only spare an hour or so.

Posted in Higher Achievement, Topplers News.