Matthew McConaughey and his wife, Camila, believe that an important part of living is giving back. When establishing their own foundation they chose to concentrate their resources on a specific objective so they could dig deep and create a meaningful impact. The just keep livin Foundation was founded with the goal of empowering high school students by providing them with the tools to lead active lives and make healthy choices for a better future. The name “just keep livin” was a natural fit because it captures the many aspects of health and well-being that the foundation emphasizes.
The just keep livin Foundation is purposefully geared toward at-risk teens on the brink of adulthood. “I wanted to focus on high school students because that is that time in your life where it is so important to stay on that right path if you’re on it or GET on the right path if your not. Because it’s the final “bridge” into adulthood, the decisions you make at that time impact and affect your future more than any other time in life,” McConaughey shares. “By focusing on kids at this critical point in their lives, you get them while they still have the incentive to change and if they are on a wrong path, this is a crucial time in their life that there’s a chance to redirect their lives in a positive way.”
High school is indeed a critical point in life for many of our nation’s youth. With more than 15 million adolescents left unsupervised after school, when students are most likely to engage in high-risk behaviors like crime and drug use, just keep livin provides a sanctuary for teens at a crucial time.
The bi-weekly after-school program is built around four components of overall wellness: fitness, gratitude, community service and nutrition. Participants become part of a community of positive mentorship where they are encouraged to improve both their physical and mental health. Students get in shape and gain confidence while also improving their grades, attendance and behavior. Friendships are built and fears are overcome. Just keep livin kids learn self-reliance through the development of important skills that will allow them to thrive throughout their lives.
The students in the just keep livin program thrive through their program. The proof is in the numbers. Just keep livin currently serves over 2500 kids in 32 programs across the country. “We have the science behind our program to show it is working,” McConaughey proudly shares. “The schools we serve have an average 50% dropout rate in the 9th grade, but 100% of our students graduated last year from high school and over 95% of our kids have improved their attendance, behavior and GPAs since joining our program.”
At the very heart of it all, of course, is GRATITUDE and giving back. One of the foundation’s building blocks is the gratitude circle, where students share what they’re thankful for and this was a tradition Matthew had in his home growing up around their family dinner table. As part of their personal growth journey, participants in the just keep livin program also learn to pay it forward through community service efforts including beach cleanups, aiding food banks and sending care packages to the troops.
“Gratitude is the icing on the cake in my mind,” says McConaughey. “The more you’re thankful for, the more you’re going to create in your life to be thankful for.”
In short, just keep livin is a foundation that just keeps givin!!