The Making a Difference Foundation

Daily Point of Light # 1454 Aug 31, 1999

The Making a Difference Foundation (MADF) is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit volunteer-driven, community based foundation whose mission is to improve educational and career opportunities for youth. To achieve its mission, MADF offers juvenile mentoring through personal encouragement, tutoring, SAT preparations, college selection assistance, English as a second language and GED courses, job and college application assistance, financial scholarships, grants, school to work/job shadowing, training and placement.

MADF's ultimate goal is to help every student participant improve their self-esteem and potential for a happy, productive life. The group also aims to work with a diverse mix of underrepresented multi-cultural groups, such as the Hispanic population of Southeastern Virginia. MADF volunteers seek to provide leadership and empowerment training to youth, adults and families and to make information about minority health education available. Finally, MADF strives to reduce youth violence through option building and compassion.

The Foundation started in 1991 in Virginia Beach, VA. The Make a Difference Foundation started with one site, and now operates 30 sites. Since its humble beginnings when Bobulinski, the founder, supported the program mainly from his own pocket, Making a Difference has won school-to-work grants from the state and received such in-kind contribution as office furniture from a local seafood company and scholarship and operating funds from local physicians and educators. MADF has launched partnerships with more than 150 universities, including Morgan State, Hampton and Norfolk State Universities.

The Foundation operates every day of the week, year-round because they understand that the nation's problems never take a break. Volunteers are mobilized from the business sector, colleges, military and youth to make the foundation vibrant. Throughout the community, they have earned the designation as the organization that is "walking the talk." Last year alone, an estimated 26,000 hours of service were provided by program volunteers to at-risk youth in Virginia. Since its inception, MADF has helped more than 5,000 students to attend college.

Concentrated efforts in 1998 by MADF, earned the organization numerous state and local awards. Consequently, they were selected as the subject of a University of Wisconsin/Learning Institute for Nonprofit Organizations documentary on volunteerism.

In an effort to fight the growing gang problem in the nation, the Foundation hosted the Virginia Task Force on Juvenile Violence and Gangs. Part of America's Promise-Alliance for youth, they worked locally to bring a South Hampton Roads Alliance for Youth into existence, with the objective of bridging racial divides.

With their local area being ranked among the lowest in the state's school systems, MADF has helped in bringing about a change to those statistics. Committed to their goals, the Make a Difference Foundation "walks the talk" for children and families at risk.