Young Angels Network Back Story

By Brook

by Brook Dougherty

In 2002, a 7th grader by the name of Matthew Geffner, approached me and my business partner, Debbie, about a community service project. We had a marketing company that helped grass-roots, non-profit organizations. Matthew wanted to do something to support one of our clients, a pediatric hospice. He initiated a meeting for us to speak with his community service group at The Mirman School in Los Angeles. It was decided at this meeting that what the group wanted to do was to have a Linkin Park concert.


We told them that was highly unlikely and perhaps they should consider having a dance.

But then, canine serendipity intervened, and I found out that I lived across the street from lead singer, Chester Bennington. Evidently, our dogs had been friends for a while. I summoned up the nerve to ask Chester’s wife if she would urge the band to tack on a benefit concert at the end of their tour. They said, “Yes.”

We held the event at the House of Blues and had to come up with a name for it, so we called it “Young Angels of America.” The event raised $85,000 for the hospice, and it was an eye opener into the abilities of a group of enterprising, caring teens. They liked producing events, they liked making money, and they liked presenting the money to an organization that needed it more then they did.

Larry Vallon, a top AEG executive, said of the night, “It was magic in a bottle.” Carla Rivera of the Los Angeles Times covered the story, and that was the beginning of a ten-year run of peer-produced, live events.


After that, we were lucky enough to have Jack Black and Tenacious D do a concert for us also at the House of Blues. Then we experimented with producing local band events at The Key Club on the Sunset Strip for high school audiences. Finally, we settled into what would become our specialty, middle school dances.

Our Pacific Palisades team produced 4-6 dances a year at the Fairmont Hotel, and then the Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club and the Pacific Palisades Lutheran Church. We always had a young celebrity at each of our dances, which helped us raise money. From Mandy Moore and Channing Tatum to Kristen Bell and Shailene Woodley, there was always a generous soul on board to help with the raffles and sign autographs.

These dances raised over $600,000 for a variety of causes, including Concern Foundation, Camp Ronald McDonald, Trinity Kids Care, Invisible Children, among others. Then one day, in 2009, we noticed that the economy had crashed and decided to take our program of teaching teens how to produce live events to a school in a lower-income neighborhood.

We reached out to Green Dot Public Schools, and launched our second team at Animo Watts Charter High School. That team went on to produce funds needed for their soccer team, their prom, and for special scholarships. We called it “The Dual Neighborhood Fundraising Project,” because money raised by the more affluent team was used to fund the production costs of the Watts’ team, so everything that was raised by them was profit. The two teams worked together at each of their events, and that was also magic in a bottle. Then we expanded to Animo Jackie Robinson and to Animo Locke.

Young Angels became part of the leadership curriculum and created many prosperous programs. Our favorites included “Young Men of Comedy,” which put comics in the classroom and our rap and D.J. workshops. We learned how to produce a comedy benefit. We had a gaming lounge, a student store, movie nights, and an Easter basket business. The principal described what we were doing as “turning her school into a fund-raising machine.”

We were happy about this, because it struck us as unfair that the schools in more affluent neighborhoods had parent groups that could fundraise for the programs that had been cut from the schools’ budgets, and the schools where we were working did not have that capacity.

But what caught our attention the most, and caused us to change course again, was when we began experimenting with media production. As technology improved, we saw that our future could be in a new model for a non-profit organization, a model that was truly financially viable. In 2017, we launched the experimental “Young Angels Network” as a testing ground for our theories about youth and enterprise and philanthropy.

We are excited to be embarking on a slate of productions that include live news, podcasts, videos and instructional webinars. This site is dedicated to the memory of Matthew Geffner who will always be our original young angel. May his memory be a blessing.

Join us on our adventure journey.