Empower underserved youth to become community service leaders who make their communities more vibrant places to live.


Tap into the youth of underserved communities to build the next generation of social sector leaders.


Community Voice

Community Impact

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Community Leader Identity

Intrinsic Motivation Development

About Thiebaut Method

Thiebaut Method is a 501(c)3 that was founded by Paul Thiebaut III in 2009 in his East Palo Alto apartment. Thiebaut founded the nonrofit because after living in East Palo Alto since his teens in the early 1990s, he wanted to make a positve difference in the lives of the young. Thiebaut Method is formerly known as 10 Books A Home, and since its inception has been led based on one core value and principle: cultivate the passions of children in East Palo Alto.

In its 12 year history, Thiebaut Method has served the community of East Palo Alto in a number of ways, including:

  • donating 25,000 books to community members based individual passions

  • home tutoring 700+ preschoolers in their passions & teaching their parents how to continue supporting their children's passions

  • tutoring nearly 100 elementary and middle school students in their passions

  • (current) empowering 20 elementary and middle school students to do community service projects based on issues they are passionate about

Thiebaut Method has benefited thousands of children and families in East Palo Alto directly and through its youths' community service projects. The nonprofit has partnered with more than 50 organizations in the community including the EPAPD, EPA City Council Members, St. Francis Asissi Church, Onyxx Village Connection, EHP, Mastadons, YUCA, Ravenswood Family Health Center, and many more.

Thiebaut Method has also been fortunate to have the support of leading foundations and philanthropists, including Sheri Sobrato Brisson, CZI, SVCF, and more (See supporters). The nonprofit has also partned with countless organizations throughout the Bay Area, inclduing Stanford, ID Tech, 49ers, Santa Clara University, Bruce Bauer Lumber and Supply, Mc Dermott Will & Emery, and more (See people pages).

Thiebaut Method is devoted to empowering youth to live up to their potential through their passions. It is almost a universal finding that people who follow their passions from childhood to adulthood have successful and purposeful careers. In other words, passions are a gift. It is Thiebaut Method's ultimate aim to ensure all children have access to a life empowering source: their passions.


What do you think about when you envision youth doing community service? If you're like most people, you probably think of a high schooler doing community service to satisfy their credit requirements. In other words, you think of a student who is extrinsically motivated to help others.

At TM, we are rethinking the motivation youth have to help others from being extrinsically motivated to intrinsically motivated. We call being intrinsically motivated to help others, "helping from the heart", and we teach youth to help from the heart because of the benefits this type of motivation confers on youth.

Research on helping others, called “prosocial activity”, shows that being intrinsically motivated to help others conveys many benefits to youth. For example, in her book, “Teaching For Purpose: Preparing Students For Lives of Meaning”, Heather Malin, Director of Research at Stanford University’s Center on Adolescence, states that:

“Given the benefits of having beyond-the-self purpose, we might be inclined to require students to engage in prosocial activities, such as community service or volunteering. Prosocial activities are associated with many of the same psychological benefits found in studies of purpose, including increased energy, well-being, self-regulation, self-esteem, and sense of mattering. However, people only see the benefits from their prosocial activities when they are intrinsically motivated, that is, when they make their own decisions about what to do because they are personally motivated to get involved. They do not get these benefits when they are required to do them or when they do them for instrumental reasons, such as for college applications or to boost their grade. The question, then, is how to create an environment where students are motivated to engage in prosocial activity without coercion or external incentives.” (p.61)

TM's Social Good Project (SGP) Program empowers youth to "make decisions about what to do because they are personally motivated to get involved." (Malin) By making the basis for helping intrinsic instead of extrinsic TM youth have come to many profound and inspiring conclusions:

  • Embracing Challenge - "In TM, they help you create very challenging goals but then you learn about those goals and then you go to another level. Instead of level easy you go to an even harder level. That's why you turn from a kid to a grown up." -4th grader Jeffren

  • Career Aspirations - "I want to open up a nonprofit almost like PATH. I want to be able to make an apartment place where homeless people can stay over the night while we help them find permanent housing." -5th grader, Citlaly Arroyo

  • Awareness of the Effects of Helping Others - "Here you can do your passions as projects and it can help your future. You can help other kids and they get happy and help other kids in the world and it turns into a big happy world. Other kids don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, but I do know that TM will help my future." -6th grader Dana Chulin

When asked what makes TM different from school and others programs, the benefits of intrinsic motivation cultivation are strikingly clear:

  • Freedom & Liberty - “Thiebaut Method has a nice curriculum that lets you learn through your passions, which compared to school and other programs you almost feel forced to do what they want. Thiebaut Method gives you liberty and freedom to learn through your passions.” -8th grader Kevin Mendoza

  • Free Choice - "After I started coming to TM I realized it would be fun because you can choose a passion such as sports, animals, or the environment, which I think is amazing because most nonprofits don’t do that. They usually pick one topic for all the kids to do. But here kids get to choose their own projects." -5th grader Citlaly Arroyo

  • Interest Development - "Thiebaut Method let's us do what we love." -7th grader Leo

Ultimately, teaching youth to go into the real world to help others without any pressure to help or hope of reward does more than prepare youth for the real world. It teaches them to contribute to it now in ways they are passionate about. This is a goal that most parents want their children to achieve: find a career they love and that makes a difference in the world.

Helping From The Heart, then, is a new paradigm for empowering youth to leverage their passions to help others and discover personally meaningful career aspirations that have the potential to make the world a better place.