Marketing and events pro Omid Sabet had spent much of his career organizing festivals and fundraisers. The Five Group founder and social entrepreneur got fed up with the red tape and a lack of transparency that come with organizing events for others and decided to create a nonprofit of his own. He launched The Positive Movement Foundation three years ago and now, on top of his day job, works with local elementary and middle schools to help at-risk kids succeed.
“Philanthropy has always been an important part of what I do,” Sabet says. “Giving back is part of who we should be in our day-to-day. Regardless of what our job is, we can give back.”
The Positive Movement Foundation sponsors schools and classrooms in historically underserved or economically disadvantaged areas. Their commitment lasts for at least two years, during which they provide funding for school supplies, education workshops, scholarships, mentoring, tutoring, clubs, student incentive programs, and appreciation events for teachers and staff. The foundation’s programs are currently in four schools.
“It’s not a simple pat on the back; it’s a long, sustainable plan to slowly change the culture, begin to shift mindset, and leave a foundation that can stay past our existence,” Sabet says.
Sabet has received positive feedback from teachers and staff members and says attendance and participation in Saturday school and other optional events have gone up. The foundation’s Fun Fridays, monthly student-appreciation events with food, a DJ, and special guests, saw the biggest attendance boost. A similar event called Wellness Wednesday, with therapy dogs, yoga, and sound baths, will launch in February.
Part of the impact, Sabet says, is showing kids that they don’t have to come from wealth to participate in these types of programs.
“I grew up in an underserved area, so part of my connection to this is having one teacher that made such a difference for me—he made me feel, seen, heard, and important. We believe that we can play that role with a lot of kids,” he says.