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H2O for Life- Youth Changing the World

H2O for Life engages youth, through service-learning actions, to tackle the global water crisis both locally and globally.

Photo of Patty Hall
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

H2O for Life will engage 250 schools around the world to learn about the global water crisis while implementing local actions to conserve and protect water resources and will plan events to raise funds to support implementation of water, sanitation and hygiene education for a global partner school. H2O for Life has an online platform that provides educational tools for teachers to educate youth about UN sustainable Development Goal #6. Our platform contains local action ideas such as shore-line clean-ups, storm water stenciling, building riparian walls, and more that provide hands on opportunities for youth to be leaders of community change. Our global school- to school partnership provides an opportunity for donor youth to reach beyond local borders and realize that their actions can make a difference in our world. Students become engaged global citizens today! Providing water, sanitation and hygiene education for schools changes the educational experience for our recipient schools. Illnesses decrease, more girls stay in school when given access to an adequate latrine, and youth carry home hygiene education practices that change a community. Improvements in WASH can provide sustainable solutions to environmental conservation and climate change issues around the world. There is a critical link between human health and freshwater ecosystem services, that support human societies. WASH in schools programs have immediate benefits for children’s health and education. An example in India showed that the implementation of a sanitation program at school increased girls’ enrollment by one third and increased academic improvement by 25 percent for both girls and boys. Furthermore, research shows that for every 10 percent increase in female literacy, a country’s economy can also grow by 0.3 percent. Girls who stay in school access educational opportunities that improves their economic output. Educate a girl-Change a community.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Beneficiaries of our program are youth K-12 in the U.S. who learn that by taking action they can be leaders of change. We will engage 100,000 youth during one school year to become change-makers. Additional beneficiaries are students attending recipient schools that receive implementation of water, sanitation and hygiene education. 100,000 US youth will donate funds to complete WASH in Schools projects for 100 partner schools, changing the lives for 50,000 students who will have access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene education.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

We are providing an educational program for youth to connect with schools around the world. These connections open doors to the understanding of cultures, similarities and differences between countries and will allow students to navigate their place in a global world. Our program provides opportunities for youth to participate in meaningful service learning that is helping alleviate poverty; reinforces the need to protect and conserve our water resources; and connects youth to a world outside their school community doors. Service-learning focused on the global water crisis also fosters an understanding that all of us on the planet need to have access to basic needs: water, sanitation, food, shelter, and education. When we see similarities and not only differences we know it will lead to a more peaceful planet for all.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Full Scale Roll Out: I have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

H2O for Life educates, engages and inspires youth to learn about the global water crisis through service- learning that promotes both local and global change to protect and conserve community water resources and provide clean water and sanitation to global partner schools.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

After traveling to Kenya for over 14 years I received a message from a long time friend asking for help. His community desperately needed to implement a water project to revitalize their river as their children were dying due to lack of water. I engaged 800 middle school youth to learn about the issue, create an action plan and implement the plan to raise funds to support the village. Our entire school was inspired by the cause, and learned about the enormous global issue surrounding WATER.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

H2O for Life believes that education can change the world. Educating youth about places outside their own community opens their eyes and hearts to a global world. Learning more about one another can only help lead to peace. Education leads to jobs, economic development and prosperity. Providing infrastructure that supports schools (water, sanitation and hygiene education) are essential parts of a successful school. Lastly, teaching youth about the importance of protecting our water resources, and utilizing proper sanitation will lead to a healthier planet for all.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

H2O for Life works with schools across the US and the world to learn about the global water crisis. We partner with YouThrive, National Youth Leadership Council, and Youth Service America to collaborate on campaigns and youth engagement. Within our recipient school network we work with Non-Governmental Partners who are experts in implementation of WASH and engage the local community to be part of the process from start to finish to be sure the project is "owned" by the local community.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Most schools in the United States and across the world have strategic goals designed to educate youth of today about navigating our global world so they are prepared for a future in an ever increasing global society. Teachers are searching for global projects that align with their standards, provide action activities for their students and have measurable and relevant outcomes. Our service-learning program is our strength. Our platform is designed to provide a turn-key program for schools.

Geographic Focus

United States service learning schools and recipients of WASH in 13 African Countries.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

One year to engage 250 US schools educating and engaging 100,000 youth through action who will provide water and sanitation for a minimum of 50,000 students at global partner schools.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

Attachments (1)


Reader's Digest story about H2O for Life.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Nicole Ballou

Hi Patty Hall 

I think your work leveraging American youth to engage in service learning is a fundamental step in addressing global challenges and the 2030 Agenda. It sounds like your commitment to this issue transcends typical awareness-raising campaigns and leads to true impact. Our project is similar in that we hope to use the power of youth voices to create lasting change in our community. My question for you is how are you determining the 250 schools to engage with? How many schools in the US are you already working with?

Best of luck!

Photo of Patty Hall

Hello Nicole,
This school year we have engaged 160 schools across the US and Canada to participate in our project. We have a small staff of 5.5 and know that if we had additional funds to add another outreach staff we could increase our numbers of schools. We attend many educational conferences and conventions where we are presenters and exhibitors that allow us to meet teachers across the US and Canada. Our program is available to all countries and we are beginning a campaign to reach International Schools and schools around the world. We have developed amazing curriculum focused on the global water crisis, and our service-learning program provides opportunities for youth to develop empathy, leadership skills, collaboration and communication. All schools are asked to study the issue, create an action plan, implement the action and reflect on the results and impact. Connecting a school to a global partner school shares a real and meaningful outcome through photos and stories. Students are able to "SEE" the project they helped fund and realize they truly can change the world. Too often, we ask youth to donate to causes where they never see the impact. We believe seeing the project from start to finish is important. Our recipient schools benefit from access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene education which truly transform the educational experience for schools. Youth (under the age of 18) are about 35% of the world's population. We will not solve global issues without engaging our youth to be part of the solution. Thanks for taking the time to comment and as you are in the youth sector, if you would like to speak further, you can reach us through our website: