About Melissa Helmbrecht
Splashlife Chair and CEO
In the course of a single decade, Melissa transformed herself from a struggling teen who failed ninth and tenth grades into one of the youngest women in history to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Melissa transformed her life by serving others. She credits her dramatic turn-around to the love of a mentor who encouraged her to volunteer with homeless children. So inspired by one trip to the homeless shelter, Melissa never failed another class and began a grassroots effort to engage young people in the volunteer experiences that changed her life.
By the time Melissa graduated from high school, she had personally organized more than 30 grassroots projects, successfully enrolling thousands of young people in volunteer service. She worked with the Bush Administration to implement Service-Learning in schools through programs of the Points of Light Foundation. By the time she was 18, she had received dozens of humanitarian awards, was speaking across the country on youth empowerment, and was inducted into the Frederick Douglas Museum and Hall of Fame for Caring Americans.
As a college student, Melissa founded the Youth Investment Project with a grant from Youth Service America awarded to the "six most promising social entrepreneurs in America." The Youth Investment Project was an intensive mentoring program for troubled middle school students. In this role, she worked with students after the Columbine massacre to organize a program called "Day of Hope," and promoted service-learning and conflict resolution programs in 50 Colorado schools, detention centers, and homeless shelters. The project, in partnership with the Heart of America Foundation, gained worldwide recognition and was featured in a Parade magazine cover story. Melissa traveled the country speaking about violence prevention in schools.
Melissa founded Champions of Hope, a youth-focused nonprofit organization, in 2001. In less than one year, she grew the organization from a startup with two volunteers to a global organization with 100+ strategic partners and 650,000 youth participants. In less than six months she secured agreements for sponsorship funds and promotional marketing partnerships with global corporations including; Verizon Communications, the Walt Disney World Company, AOL-Time Warner, Viacom, Regal Entertainment Group, Proctor & Gamble, American Idol, and many others. In partnership with Youth Service America, she founded the "United Day of Service," a program that united millions of youth in volunteer service across the U.S. and in more than 150 nations in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. For her efforts, Champions of Hope earned more than a billion media impressions and was featured in the Washington Post, New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone magazine, Newsweek, People magazine, TV Guide, Weekly Reader, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, Late Night with David Letterman, and thousands more. In 2002 she was appointed to the White House "Youth Service Compact." In 2003 she became a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Melissa has delivered hundreds of speeches on youth empowerment globally and received numerous awards including the National Caring Award for Young Adults, the Walt Disney Dreamers and Doers Award, the White House Building Healthy Communities and Healthy Youth Award, and the American Bar Association Silver Key Award for Outstanding Service.
Melissa graduated from the University of Denver College of Law in 2001 where she studied at the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center serving as an attorney for abused and neglected children in court. Melissa serves as a Director of two nonprofit organizations, Making Art Everywhere and Mobilize.org, and is an active member of the California Bar Association.