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Brooks Dyroff: A Teen Helping Teens

What would Boston College be without its passion for social justice?  Appalachia, Arrupe, Lynch School service trips, 4Boston, Pulse, and Haley House cookies are among the “brands” that define BC.

Similarly, where would the BC boy be without a backwards baseball hat?  The Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, and even the Yankees are among the logos that adorn the heads of most boys on the Heights.  There is a new hat on campus, however, that just might snag the title of the “it” hat. 

Sophomore Brooks Dyroff originally designed the blue and white CEO 4 Teens hats for those involved with the non-profit.  When he gave hats to the entire hockey team as a thank-you for their support, however, the hats went viral on campus.

“I tweeted one day that I had five hats left, and within a minute they were all gone,” says Dyroff.  Perhaps it makes sense that the hats were such a hit.  They combine two things BC loves most:  social justice and a baseball hat. 

CEO 4 Teens is a non-profit founded by Dyroff and his best friend, UNC sophomore Kenny Haisfeild, in 2007.  CEO 4 Teens works to help underprivileged teenagers in Ubud, Indonesia, pursue educations.  Every year since 2007, the organization has awarded 10 scholarships that send the recipients to yearlong college-level classes in English and computer skills.  CEO 4 Teens has been so successful that Dyroff was recently awarded the 2011 Hockey Humanitarian Award.

“I realize how lucky I am to be going to BC,” says Dyroff.   “Other kids around the world have to drop out of high school to bring in an income for their families.  We wanted to give them a scholarship to get back in school to help themselves and their families.”

When Haisfeild came up with the name CEO 4 Teens, which stands for Creating Educational Opportunities for Teenagers, the rest of the project took off.  Kenny had been to Indonesia to visit his grandmother, so the two decided on Ubud, Indonesia, for their country of focus.  The boys started fundraising with a letter to family and friends.  They explained their mission and how much it would cost to send a student to school, which was $600.00 in 2007 ($1,000.00 today).

They also came up with a pledge system.  For example, for every hour of community service Dyroff or Haisfeild did in their hometown of Boulder, Colorado, people would donate a specified amount towards CEO 4 Teens.  The boys have gotten creative in the past few years while brainstorming more ways to fund the scholarships.  The hats, for example, have raised $400.00.  Lately, however, CEO 4 Teens has found Twitter as a powerful resource. 

CEO 4 Teens has recently begun a Twitter campaign that gives a dollar to CEO 4 Teens for every new follower.  Twitter, however, isn’t the only thing that CEO 4 Teens has used to their advantage. 

One of the most influential and inspiring motivators for the organization has been the documentary they filmed while in Indonesia together for the first time, interviewing and awarding the scholarships to their first class of 10 students.  “We went without the intention of making a documentary.  But when we had so many hours of footage, we decided to make a highlight film of our trip, like a sports highlight film,” says Dyroff.

The boys created the eight-minute documentary A Drop in a Bucket and gave it to some generous donors.  Dyroff and Haisfeild then had the idea of entering the documentary into film festivals, hoping to reach a larger audience.  “We put it in thinking there was no way it would be selected,” says Dyroff.

The documentary was chosen, however, and soon Haisfeild and Dyroff were standing in front of some 200 people answering questions after the screening of their first place, award-winning film.  Dyroff has made subsequent short films that he has posted on CEO 4 Teen’s YouTube channel.  The films have proved to be major donation motivators.

In its fifth year, CEO 4 Teens is excited to offer 10 more students with scholarships, bringing their total to 50 students.  What the scholarship students have accomplished is one of the more inspirational parts of the organization.  “Some alumni are getting jobs that pay up to 10 times what they used to earn.  Others are continuing their education through further scholarships,” says Dyroff.

When the boys returned to Indonesia a year later, they remarkably held fluent English conversations with their students, who formerly couldn’t speak the language.  They then traveled to a remote village in Indonesia, where their students had been inspired to teach English to elementary school children.  “Our grads were teaching them English and singing them songs,” says Dyroff. 

So what’s next for CEO 4 Teens?

“Controlling enthusiasm!” says Dyroff.  “I have so much trouble sleeping at night because I always want to work on something, whether it is the Twitter campaign, larger projects, or future plans.  My mind goes too much.”
 The organization is working on keeping the scholarships in Indonesia funded and are hoping to start a program to help underprivileged teens and young adults right here in Boston.  Furthermore, a new installment to the non-profit will be CEO 4 Teens merchandise available for purchase via their Facebook page. 

You can “like” CEO 4 Teens on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. 

Julianne is an Ohio native studying communication at Boston College with a concentration in journalism. She got involved with Her Campus BC when the chapter launched in December 2010. She began as an editor and contributing writer, and since has moved up the ranks to Campus Correspondent. Aside from working for Her Campus, Julianne is a certified personal trainer at Boston College's Flynn Recreational Complex and teaches group fitness as well. During her sophomore year, Julianne was a part of the Arrupe Program at BC and traveled to Guatemala, learning about the culture, political, social, economic, and religious issues of the country. Her goals post graduation include writing for a health and fitness magazine or working in communications for college or professional athletics. As for now, however, she is enjoying life at the University she loves so much! An avid hockey and football fan, one can always find Julianne in the stands rooting on BC and the Boston Bruins! Other hobbies include running, yoga, cooking, baking, and photography.
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