EchoDitto Blog

Introducing Camellia Network

At EchoDitto we like to imagine a venn diagram representing our ideal project, where one circle is the criteria that the project is technically innovative and the second circle is the criteria that the project be in line with our social change values. The Camellia Network website we just launched is right in the middle of that diagram.

Camellia Network came to us early this year with an ambitious goal: Build a powerful system that can facilitate a national network aimed at supporting the 30,000 youth who age out of foster care every year. When I started on this project, I wasn’t fully aware of the problem of youth aging out of foster care. I quickly realized it’s a rather stark crisis that is not often discussed. In most states, when a youth in foster care turns 18, they’re dropped from the foster system and effectively out on the street and on their own. After a childhood with often a half-dozen foster care placements (or more) and no stable family, these youth are thrust into a world with no support system to help them find their way. Whether they want to go to college or furnish an apartment or start a job, they don’t have the physical and intangible support to help get them what they need. This lack of support leads to a vicious cycle: 25% of aged out youth end up homeless, 25% become incarcerated, less than 3% will earn a college degree and 60% have children within four years. Year after year the cycle continues.

That’s where Camellia Network steps in. Founded by bestselling author Vanessa Diffenbaugh and brand strategist Isis Keigwin, Camellia Network aims to solve this crisis with two fundamental approaches leveraging technology: facilitate the ability for donors and supporters to fund the tangible needs these youth have to start out in adulthood, and build a network that youth can use to find helpful resources and opportunities in their community.

EchoDitto loved their approach, and we helped refine their strategy and ultimately built them a site to accomplish this goal.

Instead of giving you a bullet list of features, let me show you the power of design and technology working together:

Take Daneka.

Daneka is a youth who aged out of the foster care system. Using the site, she created a profile for herself that includes a registry of items she needs to meet her goals of continuing her education, finding a job / starting her career, and being a great parent.

The registry system is powered by integration with the Amazon API. The Camellia Network team uses the site to search for products and make them available to youth to add to their registry. Then, donors can visit a youth’s profile and donate towards the value of those products for any youth they choose. Once all items are donated towards, Camellia Network checks out those products on and ships them to the youth. This workflow is fully within the site and is smooth and easy to manage.

Daneka’s profile also features a message board where supporters, other youth, or anyone in the community can post messages of support to Daneka encouraging her in the pursuit of her goals.

To accomplish the second part of the mission, helping youth find community resources, there is a resources section of the site where local nonprofit organizations and businesses can post opportunities (e.g. products or perks) or resources (e.g. internships, job trainings, etc.) and youth can search and find the ones near them. See:

We encourage you to visit the site to find a youth that speaks to you and support them today. You can simply cheer them on with a message of support or help fund an item in their registry.

EchoDitto is proud of the work we did on this site and would like to thank the Camellia Network team along with Teal Media who delivered a stellar design.