You think about stuff, but sometimes it seems like no one wants to hear about it. We do. 

If you have an idea that you think could change the world – or even your block – tell us about it.

If we choose your idea, you’ll be thrust into a world of thought, creativity and getting stuff done. You will actively participate as your idea bursts forth from your head and becomes a real thing.

It can take anywhere from six to 18 months, so it won’t be instant gratification. But the payoff is big. You’ll get your very own mentor, who will work with you to make your idea a reality. You’ll conduct research, prove your concept, shape it, hone it, fine tune it … and, ultimately, release it out into the world for the betterment of others!

There’s no other experience like it for the thought leaders of tomorrow (that’s you).

Tell us about your idea. We’re ready to listen … and help you take it the next level.

The What If You Could Time Line

  1. Open application period (through Fall 2016)
  2. Top applicants interviewed (during November 2016). Students can also schedule to meet with someone to help them prepare for this interview anytime.
  3. Announcement of 2-4 finalists, whose projects will be launched (end of November 2016).
  4. Community Ideation Panels (December 2016)
  5. Timeline finalized, goals established, & team set in motion (by the end of December 2016)
  6. Celebration of accomplishments (upon completion of project)

What If You Could DNA: What Makes A Good Idea Tick


There are 4 core ideals to What If You Could:

  1. Students lead the way. It is the initiative, ideas, and passion of the students that drive each What If You Could project. The adults that are involved act as facilitators and mentors, not as leaders or managers. Sometimes this means things take longer than we would prefer. Sometimes it means they’re “awesomer” than we would have imagined. The point is that students lead the way.
  2. The process is malleable. Rather than making a curriculum that every project goes through, whether they need it or not, we work closely with a Lead Mentor on each project and work with them to shape activities, learning opportunities, and experiences that are molded to help that specific project receive the support it needs to succeed. This includes concepts centered on setting goals, budgeting, team recruitment, idea sharing, research and exploration, team building, and much more.
  3. Centered on the common good. There are lots of great ideas worth exploring in the world, but the ones that TomTod specifically works with are ideas that are pointed toward helping people to live better with each other and in the world. The common good is a concept bent on collaborating with our neighbors (whether local or virtual) for the betterment of all. There are big, hairy problems in the world and we think middle school students are ready to learn about and engage them now, with innovative ideas and creative solutions. Past projects have included clean water, poverty & homelessness, anti-bullying campaigns, and Down Syndrome awareness.
  4. Imagination matters. There are great organizations that are steadily gaining ground on important issues. Our goal is not to duplicate their work or reinvent the wheel. We look for ideas that students can implement that tackle issues in unique ways, break new ground, or engage new individuals and communities in addressing challenges. To succeed in the difficult situations our world faces, we need both steady doers and imaginative explorers. What If You Could is a space for exploration with the purpose of implementation.

FAQ for Parents/Educators

Is there any cost to participate?

No! All program costs are covered by TomTod Ideas, a 501c3 non-profit located in Canton, Ohio.

Who is TomTod Ideas?

TomTod Ideas is a dream incubator for middle school students that helps their imaginations hatch into realities that impact the world for good. Through a variety of immersive mentoring experiences, ranging from 1 week to 18 months, TomTod partners with middle school students to implement their ideas for the common good. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or subscribe to our monthly newsletter, the Storyboard, for more information.

How will student projects be accepted?

Students can apply through October 14, 2016. After that period, we will review the applications, give students initial feedback and let them know if they made the next round of interviews. Students can meet with an adult to practice before their interview. After all interviews are conducted, we will make the final announcement in November about what 3 projects were selected. 

How will my student benefit from What If You Could?

What If You Could gives students a platform to implement their ideas that enhance the common good. Students develop a concern for social justice issues while learning the core competencies of innovation and implementation, skills to equip them as tomorrow’s leaders today.

What kind of time commitment is What If You Could?

Make sure to view the timeline for an outline of the fall. If your student’s project is selected, they will meet with their Lead Mentor once every 1 or 2 weeks until the Ideation Panels in December. Once their team is formed, they will create their schedule, including meetings once every 2-3 weeks and work they’ll need to follow-through on in-between .

FAQ for Students

Why should I do an idea?

Do you have an idea for something that could make a change for good? Maybe it’s an idea that you’ve thought about for a long time, or maybe it’s one you come up with just for this opportunity. What If You Could is a chance for you to put your dream into action. You lead the project and make decisions with the support of your peers and a few awesome adults. Your voice matters and What If You Could is a way to share it!

Can I apply with a friend?

Collaboration is great! A team of up to 3 friends can apply together. Just fill out the online application together and submit.

Who is TomTod Ideas?

An organization that spends time with middle school students like you. We work to put your ideas in motion that will help others. Basically, we believe that middle schoolers matter and are leaders today!

How will my idea be chosen?

After applying September 10-October 10, we will look over your application, give you our thoughts, and let you know if you’ve made it to the interviews. Before your interview, one of our adults can practice with you to calm your nerves! After your real interview, we will tell you in November if your idea was chosen.

What makes a good idea for What If You Could?

Ideas that are imaginative, innovative, maybe a bit quirky or inventive are a good place to start. Great ideas are infectious and interesting. And all What If You Could projects are focused on an issue of the common good, meaning issues of compassion & justice that thoughtfully engage the world for good.

Middle schoolers are making a big difference in their communities and world, right now. Read their stories and current What If You Could ideas here.