Global Game Changers 2020 Annual Report

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2020 Annual Report

Our Story

Jan Helson, a dedicated philanthropist and businesswoman, has spent her life building

meaningful connections and positively impacting her community. For two decades, she and her

husband, Tim, developed a niche food manufacturing company, Golden Foods & Golden

Brands, into a global leader within the fats & oils field while simultaneously owning and

operating a real estate investment and development company. Through her experience, she

noticed that many of their young production workers, who came from at-risk and impoverished

backgrounds, struggled in the workforce, lacking the confidence to effectively communicate

within the workplace to become resilient and successful employees.

After selling the business in 2011, at the age of 51, Jan decided that her “Second Act” would be

committed to giving back and helping to make the world a better place for all children,

especially future generations of the most underserved and marginalized students. Her research

found that essential social-emotional competencies such as leadership, collaboration, and

empathy were not being taught in a meaningful way.

Jan’s first step into this space was joining her daughter in co-authoring two award winning

children’s books, Philanthropy: A Big Word for Big Hearted People and The Global Game

Changers. Both books featured an exciting real-life superhero theme that was the impetus for

creating The Global Game Changers, a nonprofit with philanthropy at its core. The mission was

simple: anyone can make a difference no matter who you are and where you come from.

Drawing on the support of family, the organization expanded beyond the books themselves.

Niece Anne Walker’s academic background and experience as a career writer brought unique

skill sets to the development of the GGC program that bridged Jan and Rachel’s contributions.

Her ability to translate GGC’s creative and practical framework into an impactful academic

curriculum and engagingly bring GGC students experiences to life paved the path for growth.

Global Game Changers 2020 Annual Report 1

A three-school pilot program featuring teachers from a public, private, and parochial schools

proved the model, with teachers reporting substantial behavioral improvement in their


Since then, GGC has developed into a robust, evidence-based in-school and afterschool

program in hundreds of elementary schools across the nation, and has catapulted partnerships

with the YMCA, United Way, Feeding America, AmeriCorps/Corporation for National and

Community Service, Muhammad Ali Center, and the University of Louisville College of


With the launch of an Online Educator Portal in 2019, thanks to a $1 million grant from the

Novak Family Foundation, the program has now been implemented in 43 states and 9

countries. Focused on scale and sustainability, Global Game Changers is developing a children’s

television show, reality competition show, and a consumer product brand that aligns with the

core curriculum.

In September 2020, thanks to a grant from the Corporation for National and Community

Service, Global Game Changers launched The 9/11 Lesson: Celebrating Real Life Superheroes!

This interactive website, available at 911lesson.org, is a comprehensive teaching tool for the

events of 9/11, and includes lesson plans, virtual heroes experiences, a virtual museum, and

service projects to engage students in giving back in honor of 9/11. It also offers professional

development videos and tips, as well as teaching videos. On September 11, 2020, the site

received over 10,000 hits. We look forward to expanding this project with a grant continuation

for the 20 th anniversary next year.

Global Game Changers continues to play a robust role within its own community of Louisville,

Kentucky, having launched the In-Residence Expanded Learning Partnership program in Spring

2016, bringing together cultural sites and Title I Schools to create meaningful social-emotional

learning experiences. The program has expanded to three local schools (Byck, Cane Run, and

Young Elementaries), and is currently undergoing a transformation into the School

Empowerment Zone (SEZ) project.

Knowing that GGC’s social-emotional programs can only be a piece of the puzzle for these

students, SEZ brings needed wraparound services directly to parents through the schools. We

piloted this program with Byck Elementary, administering a needs assessment in Spring 2018

and hosting several events. In spring 2019, we applied for and received a 5-year 21 st Century

Community Learning Center grant through the Kentucky Department of Education in

partnership with Byck Elementary, which will allow us additional support for expanding SEZ.

In addition to our after school partnership with Byck Elementary, we have also worked with

them to replace other SEL curricula and for Byck Elementary to become a Global Game

Changers Talent Magnet School. Registration with the Magnet Schools of America showed that

the Global Game Changers magnet program is the first social-emotional learning magnet

program in the country.

Global Game Changers 2020 Annual Report 2

Growth and Quality Data

Global Game Changers has been able to grow successfully each year in terms of students served

and in terms of the development of the program. We are excited to be competitive with

programs locally and nationally according to a number of different measures.

Quality Data

As part of the submission to CASEL, Global Game Changers completed a comprehensive study

of growth for Byck Elementary as compared with other local elementaries with similar

populations. See below for some of our findings graphed.

Rate of Change








MAP Reading - Change in % of Student at Grade Level


Byck’s reading at grade level

improvement outpaced

- District by a magnitude of 2.8,


- Cane Run by a magnitude of 4.3

- Maupin by a magnitude of 4.6.


District Byck Cane Run Maupin


Rate of Change









Difference of Suspensions between 2018-2019 to 2019-2020




District Byck Cane Run Maupin


Global Game Changers 2020 Annual Report 3


Comprehensive School 22.76 Survey - Student Change in % Agree from 2018 to 2019


Rate of Change






















Furthermore, Global Game Changers uses the Staff Rating of Youth Behavior to measure

student social-emotional growth between two proscribed deadlines, one in the fall and one in

the spring. This tool is available through the David P. Weikart Center as part of the BLOCS

Program, a local community of out-of-school time programs organized by Metro United Way.

As you can see, our program outpaces the local community across the board in terms of

growth. Data shown is for the 2018-2019 school year, as comparison data is unavailable for the

2019-2020 year; however, we are happy to report that GGC students again reported significant

growth (over and above the previous year) for the 2019-2020 school year, despite our program

being cut short due to COVID.
















24% 24% 27%


9% 6% 8% 9%

% Improvement Expresses Emotional Behaviorally Manages Social-Role Mastery Goal-Striving Mastery

Knowledge Emotions

In Residence Partnership - Byck In Residence Partnership - Cane Run BLOCS

As part of the BLOCS Program, we also participate in the Youth Program Quality Assessments, in

which 3 rd party observers visit the program and rate it for its high quality practices on a 1-5

scale (5 being the best).

Global Game Changers 2020 Annual Report 4












GGC vs Local vs National YPQA Third-Party Assessments





GGC BLOCS Network National


Finally, Global Game Changers surveys parents to determine their reception of whether our

programs translate to success at home and in school. The 2018-2019 data is available below.


Byck Parent Surveys Responses - % Agree

100% 100%








Improved Behavior Improved Self-Respect Improved Awareness of

Impact on Others

Improved School


Global Game Changers 2020 Annual Report 5

Student Story

Meet DaiDrione (DAY-dree-ahn). He’s kind, he’s quiet, he’s immensely creative, and he’s one of

nine children in his household, so he can be pretty competitive, too! DaiDrione is also his own

worst critic.

As adults, we know that this quality can be one of the hardest things to overcome. But at GGC,

we know everyone has a Superpower, so we work as hard as we can to support a child through

the process towards self-appreciation and acceptance.

Nothing DaiDrione created or engaged in was good enough for him when he entered Ms.

Zediker’s classroom in the Fall of 2018. Given the opportunity to compare himself to others –

whether reading aloud, playing a game, or displaying art – Daidrione always found himself

wanting. He created an amazing zebra bear as part of an Animals Heart Badge activity and

instead of sharing it, he crumpled it up and threw it away before his classmates could see it.

At times like this, he would hide. He would fold in on himself and hide under a winter jacket he

refused to take off even when inside. His teacher described this as “turtling,” as DaiDrione

would retreat under his jacket just like a turtle into a shell.

Ms. Zediker worked to provide DaiDrione with strategies to help him. She urged him to use the

Stop and Think Corner, a quiet space in the classroom, whenever he felt like this. She

encouraged engagement in activities by making them his own. When he suggested a notebook

to write a book about a favorite animal – owls – she provided it.

Despite these strategies, she would still find DaiDrione in the Stop and Think Corner, hiding

under his jacket, clutching his special notebook. But they did mean that he was starting to learn

how to ground himself during difficult situations.

As the year proceeded, she could see progress. Working independently, he could make it longer

through class work without a meltdown. And instead of allowing one incident to ruin his day,

DaiDrione would visit the Corner and return when he was ready.

But the real change happened when Brother Harry stepped into the classroom. Brother Harry is

a retired Xavierian monk, who visited as the class was learning about the Elderly Heart Badge.

He has had experience with schoolchildren around the world through his religious commitment.

Harry and his fellow brothers visited for interviews and a game night.

DaiDrione formed a fierce connection immediately. His face lit up with a smile that stayed

throughout the program. And it even stayed after Brother Harry beat him in a game of cards, an

incident that would normally send DaiDrione to the Stop and Think corner for the remainder of


Global Game Changers 2020 Annual Report 6

Brother Harry visited again, on a difficult day for DaiDrione. But once the young man learned his

elderly pal was there, he dragged his chair over to sit next to him and spent the rest of program


Of course, when it came time to put his Superpower Equation together in the Spring, there was

only one choice for DaiDrione. What could have been a difficult project for this young man with

confidence issues to plan became a joy instead, as he decided he would have a game night with

Brother Harry. DaiDrione discovered that helping someone have fun is a great way to have fun


In class the following fall, DaiDrione was a changed kid. While he still occasionally needed those

moments of reprieve, the confidence he had built the previous year meant he was willing to

raise his hand share his ideas in class, something that would never have happened a year prior.

His more constant smile attested to the power of self-value he had gained and continues to

develop. We are so glad that DaiDrione finally saw in himself what we were able to see from

the beginning!


Global Game Changers has been a solid foundation for helping Byck Elementary

change the trajectory of our students. Sense of belonging was a major issue for

our school because students simply didn’t know how to talk or interact with one

another. GGC helps teach the critical foundational skills that ensures a safe,

equitable and compassionate learning environment exists.

- Carla Kolodey, Principal Byck Elementary


The COVID-19 pandemic brought dramatic changes to Global Game Changers, our students, and

our educators just as it did to the rest of the world. Thanks to the resilient spirits of our team

and the generous support of the community, we have been able to survive and thrive amidst

these unusual circumstances.

In the spring, we joined the Mayor’s Lift Up Lou initiative, a Facebook Page and series of videos

designed to improve the spirits of Louisvillians as we quarantined at home. We partnered on

those videos with local literacy organization, I Would Rather Be Reading.

Global Game Changers 2020 Annual Report 7

Also, we responded to a call for masks desperately needed for staff, volunteers, and patrons at

the Salvation Army and other homeless shelters throughout our community. As a result of this

need, Global Game Changers started the Make a Mask, Make a Difference program. We created

no-sew mask-making kits which included a pattern and t-shrits, as well as directions for making,

sanitizing and delivering the masks. We distributed 1500 kits throughout our community, and

eventually donated 4018 homemade masks to the Salvation Army. Jeremy Warf at the Salvation

Army told us, “The masks are absolutely meeting our needs and have been such a blessing for

our shelters! From all of us here at The Salvation Army and Metro Government, I want to give

The Global Game Changers a big “Thank You” for all you and your team have done to protect

our community’s most vulnerable! You guys are truly superheroes! We appreciate you so very

much.” The mask-making project continues to be available via Global Game Changers’ website.

We transitioned to a virtual environment for our SEZ program classes, and pursued and

received access to Google Classroom to better connect with those students using a platform

they know already. We developed a nearly 200-page activity book to support students’ virtual

learning, which we dropped off at each enrolled student’s house, along with other supplies. We

continue to explore and expand ways to work with partners and schools to get students the

supplies and interaction they need. We have participated in drive throughs with Byck

Elementary to pass out needed supplies and make personal connections that it can be more

difficult to do online.

We have developed tools for our educators to make their virtual teaching easier. We virtualized

180+ worksheets so that students can complete them solely online. We developed a quick

visual guide for making nearly all of our 504 base curriculum lessons more COVID-safe and

virtual-friendly. We are in the process of creating teaching videos for each of those lessons as

well, so that the teacher can assign them for students to complete asynchronously.

Furthermore, we created 20 COVID-specific lessons.

As mentioned above, we connected with thousands of new and old individuals via our 9/11 site,

a project that was originally planned to be in person and transitioned to virtual following the

outbreak of COVID-19.

We continue to think of new and innovative ways to adapt to the challenges of living under the

public health restrictions of COVID.

Unfortunately for many of our students, however, the transition has not been as successful.

Many working caregivers do not have jobs that allow them to work from home. Internet

connectivity has been a challenge, as has adequate access to and knowledge of the technology

that makes learning successful. Adults have lost jobs, leaving families depending on continued

unemployment checks and extensions rent, water, and utilities moratoriums to keep their basic

needs fulfilled. And even when none of these barriers exist, it can still be difficult for children to

find quiet space in a crowded house to dedicate to learning. Finally, students have been

deprived of social interactions and stimulation, further stunting social-emotional growth.

Global Game Changers 2020 Annual Report 8

We do anticipate significant challenges for our students and our families moving forward, even

if the threat of COVID ends today. Substantial learning loss, instability, and lack of socialemotional

skills are some of the outcomes we see coming and necessary to address.

Global Game Changers is working to be innovative to address these problems proactively. We

are working with partners to connect individuals to services and make special opportunities

available to our families.

What we need, however, is systemic change that will address an education system ill-equipped

to teach our most at-risk children under the best of circumstances. We believe that – despite

the difficulties facing us – this is a time for radical innovation and rethinking how we educate

kids. GGC asks you to urge local and national educational leaders to spearhead new ways of

doing things so that we can better reach our students and set ourselves up for a future that is

not bleak because of the ravages of COVID-19, but bright because of how we used it to make

the changes we need.

The Future of GGC

Global Game Changers is currently pursuing several avenues for growth:

• Expanded development of the 21 st Century Community Learning Center grants and

partnerships, to further enhance the School Empowerment Zone program.

• Growth of our online Educator Portal to bring high-quality free SEL curriculum to all


• Development of additional brand assets:

o TV Shows:

§ An animated Global Game Changers series for children;

§ A family-friendly Ignite Good! Challenge reality competition series.

o Books: Expand the library of GGC books following the release of two new titles in

2020, Never Forget 9/11: Love Always Wins, and So Much To Learn.

o Merchandise including an activity book

o An interactive website for kids

• Strong promotion of The 9/11 Lesson for the 20 th anniversary of the September 11


• Expanded data collection culminating in the completion of a QED study of GGC’s impact

by EOY 2022.

Kids Site

Global Game Changers is excited to announce that a Kids site is under development. This site

will engage kids directly in our curriculum and our characters. It will feature fun downloadable

activities, and we will be creating games and quizzes as well. We hope to integrate a map of

Global Game Changers 2020 Annual Report 9

children who have done good deeds, so that kids across the country and the world will be able

to see how many kids just like them are doing what they can to Ignite Good!


In the fall of 2019, GGC was awarded a three-year grant by the Corporation for National and

Community Service to honor the events of 9/11 and encourage service in honor of it on and

around the National Day of Service each year, starting in 2020. Of course, we had to pivot from

the plans in the grant after March of 2020, as our original request included in-person visits and

assemblies at schools around Kentucky.

By the beginning of April, we had decided to pivot our learning experience to be totally virtual.

We developed intentional, engaging, and robust online versions of each of the components

listed in the grant, including:

• An educational animated video of the Global Game Changers characters introducing the

history of 9/11 and inspiring students to engage in service in honor of the real-life

superheroes that responded to the events of 9/11. The video features:

• Interviews with an FDNY firefighter present on 9/11 and Pentagon employee

whose office was near the crash site

• A call to action for students to engage in service.

• Interactive Heroes Experiences including:

• A simulated stair climb featuring Louisville firefighter Jordan Youdis a

student, Wilson, whose father is currently serving overseas in the Special

Division of the Air Force, to honor the firefighters who gave their lives saving

others in the Twin Towers

• A Ground Zero police traffic direction game, where students take the place

of police officers in directing an ambulance from Ground Zero to a hospital,

solving obstacles along the way

• 16 In-Depth Virtual Museum Galleries featuring over XXXXX items.

• 26 Engaging elementary level lessons about 9/11

• Numerous Service project opportunities on a local, state and national level as well as

being COVID-safe, meaningful and attainable.

• 2 children’s books by published author Sammy Leight and illustrator Scott Soeder:

• Never Forget 9/11: Love Always Wins about a Global Game Changer’s journey

to Ground Zero and the memorial and museum there.

• So Much to Learn about two Global Game Changers stuck at home during

quarantine but still determined to helps stop the spread of COVID-19.

Global Game Changers completed significant media in order to publicize this project. We

received 8 weekday story/interviews with seven news outlets in five states that reached an

estimated audience of 1 million people. In addition, PSAs created by GGC aired on local

television stations with over 70 runs. This, along with our personal outreach, resulted in 13,287

unique visits to our site during the month through September 30, reaching an estimated 120,00

students. One educator shared with us via email, “This is by far the best site I have found.”

Global Game Changers 2020 Annual Report 10

Students nationwide shared hundreds of amazing drawings and illustrations honoring the first

responders and military personnel who responded. Many of them are on our website at


For social media, we reached over 100,000 people on Facebook, including 4350 post

engagements. On Twitter, we had 7,965 impressions throughout the month of September, and

39,000 on Instagram. Between YouTube and Vimeo, the videos we created for the 9/11 project

– including “Learning 9/11,” survivor interviews, event videos, book readings, and our PSA –

have received 11,760 views as of this report. You can view all videos uploaded to YouTube via

this playlist link:



In addition, our co-branding efforts with our Global Game Changers Educator portal led to 362

sign-ups in the month of September alone.

News article links:










Global Game Changers 2020 Annual Report 11

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