LifeHikes Foundation is on a mission to help people unleash their ability to do good, give more, and solve the problems we face in our communities and as a society. We are a 501(c)(3) public nonprofit foundation that is endowed by our founders and seeks grants to help us best reach our goals of helping others reach their goals.
For several of our programs we partner with LifeHikes®, a world-class training provider that employs more than 50 of the top 100 public speaking coaches in the world. LifeHikes coaches have written speeches for President Clinton and Governor Jeb Bush and trained celebrities and business luminaries like Sheryl Sandberg, Elisabeth Shue and others. These same coaches make time to work directly with our partners to deliver the same trainings.
With LifeHikes, the LifeHikes Foundation has implemented “Invest In All” Training, which works to empower the causes of various community support programs, non-profits, and other organizations by bringing world-class communication and leadership training to their greatest resource: Their People. We work to bring the natural talent and already high skills of staff, board members, and technical experts to another level through virtual and in-person workshops around the globe.
Our special areas of focus are women, the BIPOC community, smaller nonprofit organizations, educators, and high school and post-secondary age youth.
It all started with Bill and Marias’ inert belief in doing good and giving back
Bill Hoogterp, still in his 20s, crisscrossed the country motivating college students to pursue community service. Bill traveled in a red Mazda B2000 pickup long-bed truck that he appropriately named Nomad; the covered cab had enough room for a twin mattress, a rack for clothes, and a basketball.
Despite sometimes doing multiple presentations a day, Bill realized he was not a good presenter, so he started teaching himself and trying new things. Bill improved quickly and started getting paid to speak, which he donated back to groups he was helping.
1992 - 2011
After helping to launch a few national volunteer programs, Bill received a grant to explore community organizing in Newark, NJ. There, he created a leadership program for youth and neighborhood leaders, including a segment on communication and public speaking — the first iteration of what is now LifeHikes trademarked methodology. Instead of having them read leadership books, they each had to present a chapter from the book to the class in a creative way.
Bill and Maria met in 1993 after she tried signing him up as a volunteer for his own program. It worked. Together, they developed a program helping underprivileged Newark teenagers build leadership and communication skills.
In 2003, the Hoogterp’s launched their communication and leadership training company, Own The Room, now known as LifeHikes. German-based Siemens signed on as the first major customer.
Drawing on the Hoogterp’s roots in public service, Own The Room launched their #GivesBack initiative. The business provided no-cost trainings to hundreds of nonprofits around the world.
Bill and Maria brought their philanthropic roots to a new level and officially created and launched their own public nonprofit 501(c)(3), the Own the Room Foundation (eventually the LifeHikes Foundation). Their focus was to bring no-to-low-cost communication and public presentation training to educators, women, the BIPOC community, and youth.
Carol Nelson-Felzenberg joined as Executive Director to launch the foundation.
The #GivesBack initiative of their business was now a separate driving force to help those who did not have access to the training their business offered. The business coaches, all who have heart, could volunteer their time to deliver training.
Akbar Cook, principal at West Side High School in Newark, New Jersey asked us to help his ‘babies’ have a voice. We launched a semester long – once-a-week classroom Communication Skills training for junior and senior students – Own The Room for High School Students. Our work became more than communication skills training, on the ground in the classroom each week, Bill, Maria, Carol and certified Own The Room Coaches learned about food insecurity and building connections with the students. The coaches volunteered their time to help us transform the students.
Pandemic hit – educators around the world needed help teaching on virtual platforms. Through a free partnership with Zoom Communications, Own The Room and Own The Room Foundation provided a series 50-minute virtual interactive live training sessions to help educators adjust and continue to connect with their students in meaningful ways. Bill led each session as educators from around the world volunteered to be live in the ‘Hollywood Square’ while thousands tuned in to learn and participate through the live chat and poles.
Own The Room Foundation launched live virtual training programs for high school students and educators.
We transformed the #GivesBack to the #InvestInAll initiatives. Pre-pandemic in person training at specific locations transitioned to Virtual Interactive Live Training (VILT) sessions that could now be delivered anywhere in the world with stable internet access. Partnerships quickly developed with nonprofits, NGOs and charities in the North America, Africa, India, South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.
Realizing our purpose is to help everyone who is or wants to be a life learner, we rebranded as LifeHikes Foundation - because we are all on a personal journey to unleash our potential.
Kickoff of in-person Invest In All communication skills trainings for highs school and college students, educators, women, small business owners, nonprofit and government agencies. First of these trainings was held at LifeHikes Headquarters.
#InvestInAll in person and virtual trainings continue around the globe. LifeHikes continues to partner with LifeHikes Foundation.
Launch of Detroit based youth learning program: LifeHikes for High School Students