How To

The Leo Project is a chance to reinvigorate civil society while inspiring children with imagination and storytelling

The Leo Land books are a microcosm of a child’s real world, whether that child has a strong loving family or is facing a critical situation. They’re about making the world safer, kinder, and more welcoming. That message is critically relevant in such divided times. Leo and his pals bridge divided demographics with sweetness and adorability.

To get that message across, and to create demand for the movie/cartoon phase of the Leo Land stories, we propose a three-stage process.

Step 1: Launch The-Leo-Project (TLP) as a pay-it-forward initiative.

After The Miller Foundation funds the project, the team will send welcome letters to each school explaining the goals, processes, and timing of TLP. Each school will be given a month to decide about participation. Participation is totally free to public schools. Districts can decide if TLP will be implemented during regular classroom time, or in a designated activity-based club, though self-selection suggests that at least initially, TLP be adopted for classrooms. Once they agree, all schools will receive a launch packet: digital copies of the books/audio, and discussion questions for teachers to use in classrooms. Students and teachers will read as discuss the books over a two-month period.

Prior to launching TLP in a given school, all students will complete a socio-emotional assessment and a study of socio-political awareness. These will serve as a baseline measurements. We defer to Miller regarding their choice of SEL tools, with a preference for _______.

Step 2: Introduce Collaborative Creativity

After discussion of the core issues, students will participate in workshops to be developed by MEPAA. The short-run goals are similar to other arts-related programs: help individual students feel more confident about themselves as well as develop specific skills in music, storytelling.=, art, and performance. The long-run goals are more collectively-focused: get students talking to one another about tough issues in a collaborative structured environment.

MEPAA will develop and lead a series of TLP-themed workshop in each school. Workshops will include creativity training such as: learning how to do story-writing (about a pet real or imaginary); working with musicians to create songwriting a Leo themed song; being taught to draw TLP-inspired art; and learning to perform in front of a group.

Students may choose/be assigned/or randomly select a character to represent. This will immediately require the student to identify with the specific situation of that character. For example, a character might be small but clever, and need to accomplish a tough task. Or might be lost and need rescue or a new home. Each student will have to be that character’s voice and will advocate for him/her in the workshops.

Step 3: Create a Creative Community

Through The-Leo-Project’s Hometown Heroes initiative we hope to generate a special kind of buzz. The goal is to bring well-known role models as spokespeople to connect directly with readers. Every recognizable name comes from a family and community that knew that person when they were young. Every town from LA or NYC to Smallsville, USA has an elementary school, animal shelter, food donation program, pediatric ward, assisted living center, and a variety of other non-profits that those spokespeople can (and may already) support.

Here’s the marketing fantasy:

Part One:  _ adopts the Leo project as a pay-it-forward initiative.

 _ funds each/select celebrities in their robust entourage with seed money to support their favorite causes. Celebrities could match or increase those donations. On their next visit, each would do a Hometown Hero promotional event at the non-profit of their choice, e.g. a pet adoption or food donation center. The local paper would be invited to see the celeb donating books and talking to volunteers. The non-profit gets signed copies to raffle or gift to donors.

If the celeb is up for it, they could conduct a workshop for children invited for the event by the non-profit. The-Leo-Project, in cooperation with MEPAA, is developing a series of workshops designed for active involvement with children and senior volunteers. They include writing a song, drawing a picture, or writing a story or play about a pet, real or imaginary. The celeb (with MEPAA’s help) will conduct the workshop, and the results will go online at

Part two: We spread the word.

The-Leo-Project will provide each elementary school in that town with a copy of the book and curriculum materials for teachers. Schools in other locations may purchase books and will receive all curriculum material for free.

Every year there will be a new Leo-themed challenge for songs, stories, and art. For example, the first will be Leo in the Haunted Place, introduced with specific plot points, descriptions of new characters, and a problem to solve. All submitted material will be posted online and judged by a panel of experts and celebs. Winners will be announced at the end of the school year. There will be prizes.  

Part three: The Leo Land stories go multimedia.

Most franchises become films after a book becomes a series. The Leo Project proposes to turn that model on its head by managing branding from the outset. In addition to the book deal, __ will do the same with Disney/Pixar (or consider how “Pixar Publishing” could fund the books with marketing dollars in advance of a movie). Annual contest winners would have their stories become part of the ongoing visual streaming of Leo Land.

Meeting Leo!

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