When they began brainstorming, Jan and Nancy agreed that their do-good project should benefit kids facing catastrophic illnesses. Naturally, it should also involve art, since that was their shared passion. Their idea: an educational program to benefit patients at CHB that would host art parties in schools as well as in the hospital, to give kids a creative outlet during their stays.
Hannah, in eighth grade at the time and required to do community service, suggested her mom add a volunteer component. Older kids could build leadership skills by being role models for the younger ones, getting involved in every aspect of the parties—from planning to assisting the artists to selecting drawings and determining how they'd be used. She recruited five friends to form the Kidz b Kidz Young Entrepreneurs Club (which now has over 40 members). "It brought our concept full circle," says Nancy.
Once Nancy and Jan had filed for nonprofit status, recruited a board of directors and contracted manufacturers to mass-produce the line, KbK was ready to party. The first event took place in early November 2008, at Newman Elementary School, which Nancy's two younger kids attended at the time. They distributed flyers that said: "Imagine one day drawing a picture, and the next day having it raise money for kids with cancer! Come create with us and make a difference." Forty kids showed up, viewed a short video about a boy successfully treated for lymphoma, and colored for one and a half hours. Six of their designs were selected for the debut retail product line; additional shirts were made for the artists to sell at their school, which raised $2,000 to fund future parties. Later that month, Nancy and Jan threw another KbK art party, for the media and pediatric patients at CHB. Gary Pihl, their web designer, arranged for members of his band, Boston, to perform. A couple on the board of directors invited their son, Lee Eisenberg, former executive producer and writer for the TV comedy The Office. He brought along cast members B.J. Novak and Mindy Kaling to draw with the kids. The event created such a buzz that the party was covered on Access Hollywood.
Since then KbK has held more than 200 art parties and raised $25,000. Most of the promotion has been by word of mouth. "We talk up KbK to everyone we know," says Nancy. It's an effective strategy. Alicia Sacramone, an Olympic gymnast from Winchester, Massachusetts, who is now a KbK spokesperson, volunteered to attend a party after learning about it from her dad, the Cordermans' orthodontist.