Teenager sends classroom-in-a-box to Africa

August 26, 2008 7:40:55 PM PDT
A Sunnyvale teenager's project to earn his Eagle Scout rank is attracting support from an impressive list of who's-who in Silicon Valley. Tad Malone launched a remarkable campaign to help children in Africa and his idea is having a powerful impact.

Two years ago, Tad Malone decided this would be his Eagle Scout project. He thought of filling a 40-foot cargo container with donations for a school in Africa.

"I'd sit here on Saturday mornings, and people would drive and bring me things. It just accumulated. It's amazing me how much stuff people donated," said Tad.

The container is now filled with seven pianos, 5,000 books, 20 Mac computers, chairs, desks and clothing. The donations Tad has collected are going to Children's Town in Zambia, a school for children orphaned by AIDS.

Tad visited the school three years ago and left determined to help. However, Tad also had some major expenses.

"The container's about $6,000, then the shipping's about $11,000, and then also every month we have to pay for the chassis, which is like $200 a month," says Tad.

Tad grew up in Silicon Valley, so networking was in his blood. His dad, Mike Malone, is a journalist who has covered high tech for 30 years.

"He was writing emails to corporate CEOs, very famous people, and they were writing back to him and giving suggestions, and helping him out," says Mike.

People like venture capitalist John Doerr and Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers both are helping to pay for the container and shipping. His grade school principal says it's rare to see someone Tad's age so committed to helping others.

"He had the vision, and he followed through. He did not stop with just getting a couple things. He said, 'This is what the need is. This is what I'm going to do,' and he did it," says Sister Georgi Coonis, the Resurrection School principal.

Sandy Herz is an officer of the Skoll Foundation, which embraces the kind of social entrepreneurship Tad's donations will support.

"People like Tad are actually making an amazing difference because how else will these social entrepreneurs get the resources, get the attention that they need to be successful?" says Herz.

Even the cargo container will get a new life as the school's computer classroom.

"This cargo container is how headed for Long Beach where it will be put aboard a ship and then be headed to Africa. The next time it gets opened will before a grateful school community that will be getting a lot of valuable equipment," says Tad.

This was Tad's last shipment, so doesn't need any more donations.


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