Karen Clawson

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When I was young, I was inspired by stories about women who had a can-do attitude. They really believed, and they would lift up their fist in the sky and say ‘I can do this!’

Karen Clawson - 2013 MAKER

Karen Clawson’s passion is what defines her.  Her love of children. Her love of helping children realize their potential.  Her desire to make things happen.  Ten years ago, she asked her children’s elementary school teachers what she could do to help. Like many involved parents, she tutored students and read in the classroom. It wasn’t long before she was publishing the first graders’ stories and developing class newsletters. When she volunteered to help in the school library, she realized a tremendous need for additional books.  Children were coming in “desperately looking for a book to read.”  That’s when her  K is for Kids Foundation was born.  “I began raising money to buy more books,” she says.

Ten years later the K is for Kids Foundation has collected and purchased thousands of books for schools and libraries.  In 2012, Clawson’s organization collected more than 14,000 books in one six-month period.

K is for Kids Foundation “promotes not only youth literacy, but youth leadership by inspiring kids to reach out to other kids to create a circle of reading commitment. For the kids and by the kids, the Foundation has a strong Teen Advisory Team, which provides the voice, energy and inspiration that fuels the Foundation’s efforts and mission.”

“Think out of the box” is one of Clawson’s mantras. She often advises her teenage volunteers to “look outside the box; look at what’s inside the box; look under the box; hang yourself upside down if you want to; flatten the box. What can you make with the box? Be resourceful.”

Armed with two bachelor’s degrees in psychology and fine arts from the University of South Florida and a passion for thinking out of the box, Clawson has weaved a web of young volunteers who are passionate about reading, making a difference and building a successful future.  “It’s a wonderful thing to know your future is just around the corner, no matter what your age.”