Talia Leman of Waukee, is not your normal 18-year –old–she’s the CEO of RandomKid, an organization that provides services to youth, allowing them to help others in need.
Recently she has been awarded the 2013 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award–an award for $36,000 that recognizes teens for their commitment to social action as well as volunteer service.
"It really came to a surprise because we’ve never received a grant this huge," Talia said. "We are looking at those funds to go toward an (mobile) app to provide kids with site access wherever they are."
Leman’s idea of starting RandomKid came into fruition in 2005 when she decided to Trick-or-Treat for change for Hurricane Katrina and Rita relief efforts. She also asked her classmates and her brother, Zander Leman, to support her efforts of raising $1 million.
"One of the things that made RandomKid successful was due to my little brother, who said ‘I’m opposed to Trick-or-Treating… I’d rather be a pirate’", Talia said. "His opposition gave us publicity on the ‘Today Show’ where we ended up reporting $10 million for Katrina relief."
After that project, RandomKid came into existence, which now provides services to 12 million youth from 20 different countries. The organization has helped fund water pumps, built schools, provided medical care as well as foster peace. The organization also delivers a 100-1,000 percent return for every dollar invested.
"RandomKid is a place for kids to come and have all the tools for them to be successful," she said. "On our site kids can pick what they are passionate about, and we help them make them successful."
The site provides services such as how to become a project CEO, built leadership skills, establish networks and gain entrepreneurial skills.
Although Talia is the CEO of RandomKid, she attributes her mother for helping bring her ideas to light.
"My mom really helped me get going and I could have never done this without her support," Talia said. "She believed in me seriously and that allowed me to form this organization."
Talia will be attending Stanford University in the fall, but will continue to operate RandomKid.
To learn more about RandomKid visit www.randomkid.org.