It was a scorching day, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of excited kids. “You don’t have anything illegal there – droids or anything?” asks the Stormtrooper, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.
The man inside the suit is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people through small acts of kindness.
Yuri’s organization is one of the first four recipients of the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best in humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving away $100,000 to changemakers around the world.
To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. By the end of 2021, each accepted person or organization will receive $500 for an existing GoFundMe and shoutout to Upworthy.
Discover the first four winners:
1: Balance dance project: This studio aims to make dance accessible to everyone in the Sacramento, CA area. Fundraising manager Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop and ballet. Balance launched a GoFundMe to raise funds to cover the tuition of dancers from low-income communities, purchase dance team uniforms and upgrade its facilities. The Kindness Fund’s $500 contribution moved Libra closer to its $5,000 goal.
2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school professor James Pike introduces his students to the field of robotics via a Lego construction team dedicated to solving real-world problems.
James started a GoFundMe to fund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school vs. school match that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help covering half the cost of the expensive $4,000 robotics kit. With help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team surpassed their original fundraising goal.
Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team Video Update
3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few black tattoo artists. To solve the problem, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support black tattoo artists. While the Brooklyn organization is open to anyone black, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to form in a space of affirmation among people with similar identities.
To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved to a larger studio with a third position for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that exclusively supports the organization, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute GoFundMe profits directly to emerging black tattoo artists who start their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part by a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards equipment, supplies, furnishings and other start-up costs for artists.
4: “Hope for the Holidays” from AFutureSuperhero And Friends: Founder Yuri Williams is raising money for a vacation trip to spread joy to those in need in all fifty states.
Along with his collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will distribute gifts to children, adults and animals dressed as Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool and other Star Wars movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will visit disabled or seriously ill children, bring leashes and toys to animal shelters for people bringing home a new pet, and spread blessings to those without. housing, all in superhero costume. This will be the third time that Yuri and his non-profit organization have taken this journey.
AFutureSuperhero launched a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of freebies as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund donated $500 to this worthy cause.
Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you bring kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please see our FAQs and Kindness Toolkit on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.