Innovative Volunteerism

By Michelle Carlson 9 months agoNo Comments
Maker T-shirt Build the Future

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been almost a year and a half since we founded Future Development Group!  Time really does fly when you love what you do.  I know it’s been a while since I’ve published a post here, as all of my writing energy has gone into finishing the book, which will be out this month – YAY! (More on that later)  I’ve missed writing on this platform and am excited to be back at it now.

Today’s post is all about finding ways to defy the odds and do what you love, in spite of obstacles, reality and other pesky challenges.  This is one of those moments where I am especially fond of one of Adam Savage’s favorite things to say: “I reject your reality and replace it with my own.”  I recently listened to an interview with Simon Sinek on London Real which inspired me to think even deeper about my work and how I can create a model of service that, although dependent on having an income to continue, does not have to have profit as the focus.  One of the things Sinek mentions during the interview is the fact that over 90% of small businesses fail in the first three years.  That’s a scary thought.  But not one to keep folks like me from going head first into it, because my burning desire to create positive change for kids, community and the world around me far outweighs any fear of failure I have.  And, lucky for us, we are half way through that first three years now and the future is bright!

One of the things that startups have to keep a keen eye on is: are we in the black?  Many times, that puts profit in sharp focus, because small businesses need to stay in the black to keep the doors open.  With FDG, much of the work is in consulting, so the old saying that time is money is very real here.  But what about making time to serve, to volunteer, and to be generous?  These things are very important to us, and as such, they are written right into the core values of our company, which are:

  • Building synchronous connections between education and industry is critical.
  • At the end of the day, it’s all about people.  Treat them well.
  • We are passionate about community and believe in giving back (check it out).
  • We are bold, socially minded and live to make the world a better place.
  • We believe in being joyful, courageous and fun.

There is a lot of work to be done out there to bring our vision to life, and much of it is done through volunteering and giving back.  To fund growth and expansion in our volunteer efforts, we’ve launched a shop on Spread Shirt, selling super fun t-shirts and accessories.  It’s a win-win-win kind of deal.  Selling these items allows us to:

  1. Volunteer, mentor struggling kids, and give back to the community
  2. Offer you cool swag (designed by famous graphic artists like Heather Vine, who recently created all of the artwork for Carlos Santana’s new album)
  3. Spread the message of joyful learning and the Maker Movement far and wide

We would love to have your support in this effort!  Grab a fun shirt, share this post with others and in the process, be a part of the amazingly dedicated tribe of people who are doing things to bring joyful and relevant education to all children.


Here are some real-life examples of the work you are supporting:

“Michelle Carlson has been a huge influence in my life and she opened the first door to my future career. By giving me a chance to be a part of an amazing project called makerspace and allowing me to develop and discover my skills. Without Michelle, I would have never had the opportunity to discover what I love in my life and have the motivation to pursue it. Anyone who ever meets her will never forget it, she is that type of person who it only takes one conversation for her to impact your life.” – Ericka N., Recently started college majoring in computer science and film

  • Meet Ericka and Maryn, two teens who share their stories via podcast here
  • Mentoring and organizational support at juvenile hall – podcast interview coming soon
  • Mentoring teens as they explore college and career opportunities
  • Speaking at conferences such as reMAKE Education to inspire and support educators in their work
  • And even more here

Interested in knowing what people are saying about our work?  Check out honest reviews and testimonials on this page.

We thank you for everything that you do to support joyful and relevant education and look forward to an amazingly bright future that helps others defy the odds!

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