Miller '12 Trying to Build Not-for-Profit

by Gabe Watson '13

April 26, 2012

Sometimes the little things in life make the real differences. Adam Miller ’12 is currently promoting his idea for a non-profit organization that aims to improve life by emphasizing some of those little things.

He has been developing the ideas behind Let’s Have A: Ball ever since he lived in Greece for a summer.

“Every day walking to work I’d see kids playing soccer in the street,” he said, “and their ball was a pinecone.” The obvious need these children have for even basic sports equipment sparked an interest that continued to grow.

He later worked at a summer camp in Florida for children with severe diseases. “They just wanted to play sports and forget about their problems,” Miller said. The ability to get outside and engage with others through friendly athletic competition was their gateway to enjoying an otherwise complicated life.

This year, Miller’s senior rhetoric thesis was about a documentary called Kicking It, which focused on using soccer to help people overcome poverty. Sports can help bring out the fun, energy, and purpose in life. “They can act as a catalyst for overcoming a situation,” he explained.

Recently Miller presented Let’s Have A: Ball for five days at a Global Engagement Summit at Northwestern University. Along with 70 other students. with ideas of their own, he got advice that allowed him to formulate a business plan.

“I pitched the idea to Scott Crawford, and he’s been extremely helpful,” Miller said. Miller was also surprised at how supportive alumni were. “I learned that you have to be direct,” he said. “People want to help, but you have to let them know how.” He wanted to thank alumni Jason Bridges, Marty Brown, Rich Calacci, Bob Grand, Marcus Doshi, Michael Bricker, and Mike Dill for their help thus far.

Miller’s plan for Let’s Have A: Ball has developed into aiming to “provide sports equipment to underprivileged children through a hybrid ‘one-for-one’ business model funded by the sale of professionally signed, used sports equipment.” The program is currently competing with 68 other business plans for funding through the website GOODMaker. Anyone can vote through Monday, April 30 to get his idea funded.

If Miller can earn a spot in the voting, the website explains, “the funds from this challenge will help turn Let’s Have A: Ball into a reality. Specifically, the funds will help cover start up costs that aim to bring the not-for-profit organization to life. Our methodology represents bold innovation by combining the 2 billion dollar sports memorabilia industry with a unique social twist; the money from the sale of the athlete donated equipment will be used to purchase sports equipment for underprivileged children. Give a child a ball, give a child a dream.”

“Even if this doesn’t take off immediately like I hope it will, it’s been a great experience,” Miller said. “It’s been a learning process.” He will graduate next week and begin working on the promotion of a cross-country bike trip to raise the funds necessary to run Let’s Have A: Ball full-time. Eventually he aims to run the organization out of New York City.

“I’m trying to go about it the right way though,” he said. This bike ride is a perfect way to build up to his project. It too aims to use the simple act of bicycling to inspire passion-filled action in people. Miller will provide coverage through Twitter.

Voting online for the Lets Have A: Ball business plan ends soon, but Miller will continue to promote his ideas.


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