Karen De La Maza is the founder of “Kids Can Change The World”, a program designed to instill humane values in children while developing essential life skills and positive leadership. Karen and her family relocated to NJ from her native Mexico City in 2008 for her husband’s job.

Karen has always had a strong passion for helping people in need. With ten years of experience in banking, she initially volunteered with a microfinance company in NYC, Pro Mujer (Pro Women) helping low income women in Latin America start their own businesses. This work inspired her to earn a Masters in Administration Science on Nonprofits, Global Health and Human Services from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Volunteering her time with her kids as a Girl Scout Leader and as a coach for her son’s Odyssey of the Mind team, Karen realized she wanted to do more. She created an 8 week program to work with kids designed to encourage humane values and life skills that would translate to higher self-esteem and a higher sense of purpose for a meaningful life for themselves and those around them.

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The program invites elementary and middle school students to learn about social problems relating to hunger, the elderly, animals and the environment. The class visits local organizations catering to these causes for intimate exposure to these social challenges and the benefits of community service. Following the field trips, the group creates an impact project that encourages them to “leave their mark on the world.”

Karen ran the program last fall and this spring, with a dozen kids enrolled in each session from Basking Ridge, Long Hill Township and the surrounding area. For their final project, the fall group chose to organize a holiday celebration for the seniors at a local assisted living facility. They showcased their skills as musicians and dancers to entertain the residents. The kids also brought homemade cards, treats and board games to the festive event. The spring class formulated a project to help animals. For more information on future classes, Karen can be reached at karendelamaza@yahoo.com.mx