Notable Life | In Conversation with Ivy Wong – Founder of Ripple Foundation and Creative Director at Splash Interactive

With an impressive career spanning from philanthropist to entrepreneur to educator and publisher, Ivy Wong is a devoted, guiding force for the next generation.

As the owner of Splash Interactive, Ivy has cooperated with Fortune 500 companies and the world’s largest advertising agencies since 2001. Ivy taught creative design at Sheridan College, George Brown College, and the International Academy of Design in Toronto, cultivating skills for future creative leaders . In 2010, she launched Ripple Digital Publishing to publish eBooks and produce educational apps for children. Then in 2013, her first book, “Red is…” was published to great acclaim. The book won the Gold prize for Best Children’s illustrated eBook in the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the Bronze prize for Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards.

In 2012, her ultimate dream of giving back to a cause came to fruition with the creation of 100% volunteer-run educational not-for-profit charity, Ripple Foundation – her true labor of love.

Notable had the opportunity to speak with Ivy, and dig a little deeper into what it really means for her to support and invest in the next generation.

How did you come up with the concept for Ripple Foundation’s creative writing contest?

I am passionate about giving back to the community and inspiring children and youth to get in touch with their creative sides. Having volunteered at various charities and having educated future creative leaders over the years, I wanted to make more of a direct and lasting impact with my efforts. In 2012, I launched Kids Write 4 Kids (KW4K) creative writing challenge as a not-for-profit initiative for kids in grades 4-8. The intent was to publish the winning story into a book and make it available for sale online with proceeds donated to charity.

How has it expanded over time?

With the success and momentum generated around the KW4K writing contest from the support of our volunteers, we registered Ripple Foundation in 2015 as a not-for-profit organization to take over the KW4K program. When reading the contest entries, we realized some students lacked creative writing skills; this led to the development of Ripple Foundation’s creative writing workshops, now known as Write It Workshops. We now deliver these sessions virtually every Saturday to teach students the key pillars of story writing in a fun, interactive environment.

Since the KW4K contest and the Write It Workshops were developed for students in grades 4-8, we also wanted to provide a platform for students in grades 8-12 to continue their writing journey. The Wave Blog was launched in 2016 to serve as an outlet for students to share their experiences and thoughts on topics relevant to them and their peers. To increase the visibility of Ripple Foundation’s programs throughout Canada, I applied for charity status, which was granted on April 26, 2018.

Tell us about the Ripple Foundation and its mission.

Ripple Foundation is a 100% volunteer-run national educational charity. We create and deliver free community programs across Canada advocating creative literacy among children and youth. By advocating for creativity, we are teaching the next generation about the benefits of creativity in their current and future lives, helping to shape the leaders of tomorrow.

Why is this mission so important to you?

I truly believe that creativity is the skill of the future, and literacy is necessary for life success. Investing in kids is an investment in their future success. By building their confidence, boosting imaginations, promoting creative thinking and problem solving, all while helping children learn how to express themselves while expanding their reading and writing skills, ultimately all feeds into our mission to build promising futures for the next generation.

Please share with us about Ripple’s core pillars

Ripple Foundation is grounded by these core pillars: Creativity, Education, Leadership.

Fostering creativity matters, and today’s innovative ideas and creations are a result of an individual daring to imagine and dream. Beyond creativity, we want to be an extension of what goes on in the classroom by developing programs to teach Canadian youth the benefits of creativity and knowledge in their current and future lives. Through each and every one of our programmes, we offer informative, educational, and practical experiences where children and youth can build their skills and experience. Holding creative power unlocks promising futures for many. Advocating for creativity and education in youth and making this possible through our programs has the potential to shape the leaders of tomorrow.

Tell us about the blog and how that impacts the youth it works with.

Our Wave Blog is the only independent online publication in Canada for grades 8-12 written by youth for youth. It is open to writers from any high school throughout Canada, regardless of whether the school is public, private or independent. The Wave Blog provides an outlet for young writers to develop individuality and communicate self-expression – skills that will aid their future success. Writers also get to share their opinions and experiences on various topics that matter to them and their peers. To become a Wave Blogger, students apply with their resume and writing sample. We then interview students by phone or video conferencing to discuss what they’ll be writing. The bloggers have the opportunity to not only write blogs but work with our professional editors to gain first-hand experience of what it feels like for a real published writer. Editors will provide actionable feedback that youth can apply to their writing, and will help them finesse their blog before it’s published. Wave Bloggers can earn up to five volunteer hours per blog post.

Did you encounter a shift within the charity during the pandemic?

In 2020, we had 125 in-person Write It Workshops scheduled at public libraries in Alberta, BC, Ontario, and PEI, but due to COVID-19 we had to cancel all of them. Instead, we adapted three workshops into downloadable activity sheets and piloted virtual writing workshops on Facebook Live. We were overwhelmed with the response, with over 1,700 viewers joining us for these interactive online sessions! Due to the positive feedback, we launched virtual writing workshops using Zoom, which enabled kids from remote areas, such as Yukon and Newfoundland, to participate while stuck at home during the pandemic. Down to its ongoing success, virtual workshops still and will continue to remain a core part of our offering. From May to December 2020, we had 717 student participants, and in 2021, we delivered 38 virtual Write It Workshops with 1,338 attendees. This year, we are hosting virtual workshops every Saturday and have added two additional workshops into the series.

What did this shift teach you?

We need to be agile and able to adapt to changing economic conditions so that we can continue to help children and youth on their writing journeys, no matter what is going on in the world.

How do you see Ripple evolving into 2023 and beyond?

We will continue to expand our outreach with our core programs, Kids Write 4 Kids creative challenge, Write It Workshops and Wave Blog. In addition, we will be hosting our inaugural annual conference to advocate for creative literacy for students in grades 4-12. Our very first virtual conference will be held on October 1st this year with the theme Express. Inspire. Connect. Watch this space for more details! As a 100% volunteer-run charity, we are hoping the annual conference will provide us with opportunities to get sponsors and fundraise so we can eventually offer scholarships to assist low-income students attending post-secondary educational institutions.

If someone was interested in volunteering where could they look to take part?

We are always on the lookout for volunteers to help bring our mission to life! We post volunteer opportunities on our website.

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