Web competition looking for anti-bullying slogans

If you are under 18 years old and one of your New Year’s resolutions is to make a positive difference in the world, Mark Grayson of Rocket21 wants to hear from you.

The group’s nationwide Dream Big competition, which ends Jan. 31, is looking for anti-bullying slogans for Fight Your Ignorance, a youth-run apparel company, to use on its T-shirts and creative ideas to stop bullying.

Partnering with a youth-run organization is new to Rocket21, which connects youths online to professionals in a wide variety of disciplines.

“This is the first time that we have partnered with a company founded by a member of the Z Generation,” Grayson, a Fairfield resident, said.

But it is far from the first time they have partnered with another group to inspire youths. Rocket21 has a long line of big-name organizations waiting to get involved, according to Grayson.

“The actual contest follows a successful format that we’ve piloted several times with lots of big organizations, [including] Converse, West Coast Songwriter’s Organization, Roush Fenway Racing,” Grayson said.

Fight Your Ignorance

Fight Your Ignorance is an online apparel company founded and led by 16-year-old Piedmont, Calif., high school junior Zayanne Rifai. Small in stature, Zayanne was bullied as far back as she can remember and began to stand up for herself (and other kids) at a very young age.

By the time she was in middle school, she had decided that ignorance was far from bliss. She was researching the effects of bullying on children — and adults.

In high school, Zayanne and several classmates developed an idea for an anti-bullying project and competed in a business showcase for Bay Area-based organization BUILD. Zayanne was named Most Valuable Professional for the entire San Francisco Bay area in May 2012.

“The upshot of [that] competition has been the creation of FYI, Fight Your Ignorance,” Grayson said.

And it is infused with the spirit of a kid who fought back.

“Kids that are bullied should not be bottling up their pain, and society should speak up more and more against bullying — both in consequences and education,” Zayanne said. “I have learned from my own experiences that when you speak up, not only is justice served, but you also might save bullies from themselves.”

Word got out in Silicon Valley, home to several Rocket21 partners, about the young entrepreneur, and Jodell Seagrave, president and COO of Rocket21, met with Zayanne’s father. The founders of Rocket21, who collectively make decisions, were impressed.

“[We] decided that we wanted to do something to support [Zayanne’s] enterprise,” Grayson said.

“I’m very excited to be working with Rocket21,” Zayanne said. “They are genuinely committed to making kids’ lives better.”

The feeling is mutual.

“We’re really pleased to support [Rifai’s] effort,” Grayson said.

The contest

To enter, join the Fight Your Ignorance group on rocket21.com. Then, link to youth PRO Zayanne Rifai. You can then submit your ideas for T-shirt slogans to help Zayanne “Squash-da-bully-nation.” You can also share ideas for how to prevent bullying in your school or community.

Entries may be submitted in text or on video. They may include photos and designs.

You must be a member of rocket21.com — membership is free — to enter.

Rocket21 helps kids at an early age to discover their interests and passions.

“[They] connect in a safe and authentic way,” Grayson said.

The group went to great lengths to ensure safety, including live moderation by a real person for anything that is uploaded.

“We invested an enormous amount of time and resources,” Grayson said. “It’s one of the safest places out there.”

Two winners — one for ages 9 to 12 and one for ages 13 to 17 — will be announced Feb. 14, 2014.

The grand prizes for each age group will include a “Squash-da-Bully-Nation Summit” that will include a songwriting session led by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Steve Seskin. He will collaborate with the winner and classmates to create an anti-bullying song just for the winner’s school. The group Cimorelli will perform live at each winner’s school, including a sing-along of the song written at that school.

Each school will receive at least 100 T-shirts bearing the winner’s slogan. Rewards also include a $500 cash prize for each winner and $500 for each school.

Dream Big

The goal of the Dream Big contests is to get teens excited about different topics to make “positive” decisions as they grow up.

“We’re doing this in really fun and exciting ways,” Grayson said.

Kids are changing with the times, according to Grayson. He sees today’s children establishing a high level of expertise that gets them to a point where they can function as if they were a pro on the Rocket21 website.

Grayson said Rocket21 is filling a gap in the way in which life’s possibilities are previewed for kids.

“They have enormous capacities,” Grayson said.

Learn more about the contest at rocket21.com/anti-bullying.