Category Archives: Topplers News

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.

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.

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

Posted in Topplers News.