Boca teen’s outreach project feeds many, provides house in Jamaica

Nathan Berman has organized donations of $160,000 in food inventory for the poor. But his “most rewarding experience” was traveling to Jamaica in January to hand over the keys to a new home for a family of six.

“A mother, grandmother, and four kids went from a shack to a new house with running water and electricity,” said Berman, an 18-year-old senior at Spanish River High School. “Seeing the beaming smiles of a family who is receiving a place to call home for the first time is a feeling I will never forget.”

Berman created Teens For Tomorrow, a network of teenagers who collect excess inventory from various companies and then distribute these items to various charities. Berman’s charity of choice is the South Florida-based nonprofit Food For The Poor.

Berman says his motivation for change began when he was a student at Saint Andrew’s School, after his seventh-grade class visited Food For The Poor during a field trip. The walls of the organization’s headquarters are covered in images depicting what life is like for the destitute throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

“Never underestimate the impact of a powerful image. Poverty has a face, it’s not someone else’s problem, but a harsh reality that affects all of us,” said Robin Mahfood, president/CEO of Food For The Poor, in a press release. “When I hear about how the lives of young people are being impacted by what they witness here at our headquarters it warms my heart. It’s comforting to know that the spirit of compassion is being passed along to a future generation of young people, like Nathan.”

A few weeks after his class trip, Berman says he began to organize his thoughts in the form of business plans, detailing every aspect of what Teens For Tomorrow (TFT) would be and how it would operate. By the time he was in eighth grade, he began contacting friends to see if they would help his cause, through Web domains and Facebook pages.

TFT (website is made its first donation to Food For The Poor in the summer before Berman’s freshman year at Spanish River.

How the process works: A major issue today, for small businesses and large corporations, is how to deal with excess inventory. TFT is a service which helps those businesses dispose of the excess inventory in a way that benefits not only the company disposing the inventory, but also the charities that receive the inventory.

Berman’s network consists of business professionals and friends made at camps, competitions and sporting events. He’s also involved in The Boca Chamber’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

At Spanish River, Berman and event partner Bryan Carbone participated in competitive events with their school’s DECA chapter. The two wrote a 30-page business plan and made a 10-minute oral presentation about the growth and development of TFT.

After qualifying to compete at the state level, Berman and Carbone then qualified for the International Competition held in Orlando, which hosted 18,000 students from all over the world. Berman and Carbone placed in the top 15 in the world, and TFT gained valuable contacts and feedback about the business plan.

Recruiting high school volunteers is a pivotal aspect of the project, and one that gives Berman a special satisfaction. He said many of his friends are so consumed with rigorous schoolwork that they forget the serious problems other people are facing every day.

“It’s a lack of exposure,” Berman said. “That seventh-grade trip really opened my eyes. When teens are able to see what they are capable of, the world opens up, and they get excited about giving.”

Outside of the food inventory, most of the fundraising is done through persistent small donations at the school, sometimes as small as $5. For the Jamaican family that got the new home, Berman set up a Go Fund Me page and raised close to $3,000.

Berman and his army of high school volunteers spread awareness of the project through word of mouth and social media. They post pictures of themselves working on the project, and photos of people in need.

“A major key is making giving back something cool and fun, that it’s not just about service hours,” Berman said.

Fueled by his experience, Berman, who completed an internship with Google this summer, envisions a future for himself that’s strongly rooted in helping others. Next year, he plans to attend an out-of-state, public university with over 30,000 people. This will allow Teens For Tomorrow to get exposure on a national level, he hopes.

“In college I look forward to studying business and will implement the business acumen I develop in college into Teens For Tomorrow, making it the most successful it has ever been. I can’t wait to continue helping the poor in the future. I really love giving back so somebody can have a better tomorrow.”

For more information, visit To support Berman’s next home building project, visit

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