Headshot Photo of Matthew Kaplan
2015 Award Recipient


Project The Be ONE Project

Location Phoenix, AZ

Issue Area Education | Mental Health & Emotional Support

Matthew always looked out for his younger brother. When he learned that some of his brother’s classmates had been bullying him via text and social media, Matthew decided to address the explosion of pernicious and pervasive bullying being targeted at and perpetrated by his peers. Matthew developed The Be “Open to New Experiences” (Be ONE) Project, a peer-to-peer program that helps bullies understand the pain they are causing and works to stop middle school bullying before it becomes a habit. During his four-hour program, he uses games, activities, and guided discussions to create a more inclusive school environment.

The Be ONE Project now has 501(c)(3) status and has expanded its outreach efforts through a public service announcement on Disney Channel and a partnership with Teen Lifeline, a local teen crisis response organization. Through community programs and speaking engagements, Be ONE has engaged hundreds of teen volunteers and reached more than 3,600 students in Arizona, California, Virginia, and Indiana. Besides these statistics, the best measure of Be ONE’s success is the apologies offered and accepted, the friendships repaired, the bridges built, and the lives touched.

Be ONE creates a non-confrontational forum for kids to understand that their words are powerful, and that they can choose to wield that power to build others up, rather than tear them down.

Matthew Kaplan
“It is never too late, too early, or too often TO GIVE BACK AND MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE”
Helen Diller