Thought Leadership Essays

A Call for Help

April 8, 2021

Vikas Narula

I don’t usually use this blog to ask for help, but I want to be upfront – I need your help.

If you have been following me for a while, you know I love trees.

Back in 2011, I wrote this blog post about how trees are a beautiful and powerful metaphor for entrepreneurship.

In 2013, I wrote about The Story of Neighborhood Forest – the social venture I started 12 years ago due to a “death-bed” experience, whose mission is to give free trees to kids every Earth Day.

A couple of years later (in 2015), I was giddy about a magical, unexpected, and serendipitous experience I had around trees, fashion, and the circle of life.

I know it has been a tough and unfathomable 12 months for the entire world.

A couple of years ago, even before all the craziness, I thought about throwing in the towel with Neighborhood Forest. Things were hard. Things were not moving as we expected. We wondered if our efforts were really making a difference.

Like many times in my past, my dear wife, Priya, urged me not to give up.

Then, we started to get photos like this:

And this:

And, we were like, “we can’t give up now!”

I am so glad we didn’t give up. I am so glad I listened to Priya because something wonderful and amazing has happened.

We went viral.

In the past month, we have experienced an incredible, unprecedented, and exhilarating surge of interest in our program, thanks to a small, yet mighty library in Michigan!

In the first 11 years of our program, we grew from serving 4 schools in Minneapolis to 150 schools in 14 states – about 10-15 new schools per year. It was a fairly slow and steady growth over one decade. 

In the past month, we have brought on more than 250 new organizations (mostly libraries) – a 20x increase in a matter of days! We are now serving over 400 organizations in 35 states!!

It was all very unexpected, thrilling, and overwhelming. This was the moment we had been waiting for. The moment when people would be clamoring from all over to give trees to kids.

We now have the demand for trees we’ve been envisioning and we need to meet it with adequate fundraising. Obviously, this was a growth spurt we hadn’t really planned for.

Our program runs through the generosity of amazing sponsors.

It costs us about $5 to get a tree in the hands of a child.

Consider for a moment, that the average American creates an annual carbon footprint that is equivalent to what ~20 trees sequester in their lifetime. So, for about a hundred bucks (per year), Neighborhood Forest can offset your carbon footprint by planting trees through the hands of children – tens of thousands of children.

We have been getting help from all over – in beautiful, unexpected ways.

My friend, Katie Strand, created this cool GoFundMe campaign.

Check out her epic video and song, “I Love Trees!”

I would love it if you would chip into her campaign. We can also receive contributions directly via Venmo or PayPal and we can provide a tax-deductible receipt if desired.

Would you or someone you know (an individual, business, or organization) be interested in supporting us this year (and beyond), given the wonderful, unexpected surge in participation? Every little bit helps!

I planted this tree 28 years ago. We want to give every child this joy!

Feel free to spread the word! 

Thank you for your help! I know we can answer the call for our children – this Earth Day and beyond.

With Gratitude,

Vikas Narula is Creator and Co-Founder of Keyhubs – a software and services company specializing in the power and wisdom of human networks, connection, and self-awareness. He is also Founder of Neighborhood Forest – a social venture dedicated to giving free trees to kids every Earth Day.

Related Blog Posts:

Trees, Fashion and The Circle of Life – The Magical Story of EcoJam

Giving Trees to Children – The Story of Neighborhood Forest

Trees – A Metaphor for Entrepreneurship

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