Make the World a Better Place with Kindness


International Random Acts of Kindness Week is February 10-16, 2014. Take this opportunity during the week to step out of your normal routine or comfort zone and attempt a new random act of kindness each day of the celebratory week.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is an internationally recognized non-profit organization founded upon the powerful belief in kindness and dedicated to providing resources and tools that encourage acts of kindness. You check out their website to see ideas on how to perform a random act of kindness, educator resources, stories of kindness, resources like downloadable greeting cards, and more.

The Top 10 Kindness Ideas include:

1. Just smile at one extra person.
2. Eat lunch with someone new – at school, at the office or wherever you like.
3. Make sure to say I love you or give someone special an extra hug.
4. Volunteer!
5. Download Kindr from the Apple App Store and brighten someone’s day by sending a creative compliment, a hug or even a cute animal video.
6. Try to cook something healthy for your friends or family, and throw in a new vegetable or fruit.
7. Try to park your car a little further to provide a good parking spot for someone who needs it.
8. Send a positive message to someone in need or help someone who might not need it , but appreciates it.
9. Donate unwanted or unused clothes or household goods to a shelter, non-profit or animal rescue organization.
10. If you feel you just must make a monetary contribution, buy someone’s groceries or offer to help pay for someone in line.

If you participate in Random Acts of Kindness week, use the hashtag #RAKweek to tag your social media posts.

–Written by Sara Wright City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley Alumni ’09


Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Payne

Hi, my name is Sarah Payne and I am from Henderson, Kentucky. After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 06’, I made a decision that continues to positively benefit my life—I committed to serve with City Year. I served in the 2006-2007 corps, as well as 2007-2008 as a Senior Corps Member. I often look back on my corps member experience and think how grateful I am to have had this opportunity to be a part of something greater than myself, and thankful that I surrounded myself with people who truly care about making this world a better place. My City Year experience was truly life-changing and it continues to make me a better leader, communicator, and person. I currently work in Cambrian School District in San Jose as a 4th grade teacher.

Sarah Payne, City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley corps member '06-'08

Sarah Payne, City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley corps member ’06-’08

 In every classroom I teach, I begin each year by building the beloved community. It is my personal mission to build classroom environments that foster success, community, and self-confidence. The importance of community, instilled from my City Year experience, will always be a part of every class I teach. Service learning is powerful! After introducing my students to the Starfish Story, each student is making a personal commitment to changing the world, as a class we are committed to holding one another accountable for our commitments.

 Ultimately I want me students to know that they have the power to make a difference. In our classroom we have a Wall of Positivity and a Wall of Good and Beautiful People, Places, and Things.  These are essential components of our creating our classroom community. As a teacher I think often about Putting Idealism To Work, or PITW# 98 All people-especially young people-need the same eight things: Meaning, adventure, community, power, respect, structure, challenge, and opportunity. City Year provided me with these eight things and I am committed to providing my students with these as well.

Alumni Spotlight: Greg Currey

Written by Alumni Board Member Greg Currey who served in San Jose ’09-’11

Serving on the founding Lee Mathson Middle School Team ’09-’10 was frequently challenging, but we supported each other through praise.

Serving on the founding Lee Mathson Middle School Team ’09-’10 was frequently challenging, but we supported each other through praise.

I love the leadership compass. If I tell fellow City Year alum “I’m a southeast” they’ll know exactly what I mean. City Year has changed the way I talk about leadership. A good leader can lead with actions, with ideas, with details, or with feelings. But I’ve also learned from City Year that a great organization leads with praise.

We all enjoy praise. There’s something great about having someone tell you that you did well at the end of a difficult day. But as an organization, City Year uses praise not just to boost morale and recognize achievement, but also to encourage hard work and innovation.

City Year’s very public, frequent, and multi-directional system of recognition gives its corps and staff a very clear message: “this is what your peers, supervisors, and organization values.” By praising people publicly and always giving reasons for the praise, ambitious corps members learn what they can do to get noticed. When we see our peers being recognized, we feel glad for them, but we also feel an urge to earn what they have just been given.

This process encourages corps members to go above and beyond, thinking of new ideas they can earn a note in their appreciation bag, or be celebrated during a Community Day. Of course, institutional praise is not the only thing that makes City Year members serve with all their heart: they also carry a passion for their work, and a desire to provide excellent service for the sake of their students and those they serve. But frequent praise is part of the process that encourages staff and corps to take on even more than their daily tasks, and really do something great. Leading with praise changed my life, and it is something that I, as a City Year alumni, will take with me wherever I go.

Thankful Thursday: 2011-2012 Corps Members

This is to the City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley corps of 2011/2012.

Congratulations to all of you.  Thank you for your service.

As I was preparing to write this blog I came upon the realization that “Thank you” is such a trite way to express gratitude.

I can list the great accomplishments of your 2000 hours of service. The 100’s of students served, the difference you made in schools around attendance behavior and course performance. But that does not capture it all. There is “behind the scenes” work that no one sees that’s helps make this all happen.

Things like:

  • Preparing lesson plans after 10 hour days
  • In some cases, convincing your parents to let you do this
  • Stepping up when a teammate was sick
  • Minimum days (which were really maximum days)
  • Living on a small stipend
  • Piloting programs
  • Data and all the entry, analysis, adjustment of same
  • Serving on committees in addition to your regular responsibilities
  • Staying late, with a great attitude, until the l a s t  s t u d e n t is  finally picked up
  • Lunch with students, spending the time to get to know them and building relationships
  • Walking students home
  • Working with teachers, doing meetings, tracking student progress
  • Talking with parents and siblings of students and building relationships with them


  • End of year events

You took time from your life and devoted it to service. Pure service that entailed you giving your absolute best ALL the time to make sure students that were total strangers 11 months ago became the reason for your being.

You’ve been trained, observed and evaluated. You rose above daunting challenges and chose not be overwhelmed by your task of giving a year and changing the world.  You just did it. You put your shoulder into the grindstone and did it via your 50+ hour work week, minute by minute, line by line, math problem by math problem you did it. You changed the worlds of so many students. You worked with students who had no hope, no confidence and no investment in their own future. These same students now have goals, and aspirations. Once more, they can write about them and even figure out how to achieve them.

You chose this path perhaps for personal or professional reasons. Maybe both. All of you were challenged. Some left. But if you are a City Year San Jose / Silicon Valley graduate. You stayed.

And here you are, 53 friends who were strangers a year ago.  A corps of 53 change agents. You took a chance to join City Year and change the world. And you did it. Thank you and congratulations.

Beach Pace, Executive Director CYSJ/SV

A CYSJ alum embodies Ubuntu

Daniel Becton served on the Civic Engagement Team last year. In the photo above, he is leading an NVIDIA volunteer at Project Inspire 2009. Photo courtesy of NVIDIA via Flickr.

Ten months of service with City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley made me realize just how much young people are capable of, and how powerful an impact can be made when a group of diverse, idealistic thinkers work together. Far from draining my will to fight the uphill battles of social equality, it enriched my desire and tripled my belief in my own ability to change the world.

City Year corps members are united by a remarkable commitment to helping children overcome the educational inequality that plagues the United States. They understand that it doesn’t simply take extra money, or new policies, to change this: it takes human efforts. Yet instead of standing idly by while two children drop out of high school every minute, corps members offer that effort, and for almost no pay.

Why do we do this?

Because it’s unacceptable that our younger brothers and sisters don’t get a fair chance. This, to me, is the true spirit of ubuntu: we suffer because our children suffer.

I believe there are people in every community that embody this spirit, volunteering their time to help others overcome unfair obstacles, especially for children who literally lack the resources to pursue the “American Dream.”

Drawing particularly on the skills and network I acquired during my service in East San Jose, I want to spend one week in one community in every state and Washington, D.C., supporting and inspiring such heroes, as well as telling their story to spread Dr. King’s message that “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.” This tour of service has been aptly named Project Ubuntu.

I have planned out my schedule to run from August 2012 to August 2013, beginning in Maine and finishing in Tennessee. It’s a campaign that will rely on the kindness of others, and I hope to show that when kind hearts come together, as with a City Year corps, there is a synergistic result of goodwill that’s more than the sum of its parts. I’ll support many non-profit organizations throughout the year, but will go to as many City Year sites as possible, as well as engaging alumni wherever I can.

If you want to get involved, please contact me! I’d love to know of “good people” or organizations you think I should partner with, and will hope to connect to such kind folks everywhere.

For more information on the project, visit and please Like the group at and follow @ProjectUbuntu on Twitter to help show support so I can put my City Year in-kinding skills to work!

Daniel Becton, ’10 Alum CYSJ

Recruitment Manager at City Year London