The “I Love U Guys” Foundation was started in 2006 by Ellen and John-Michael Keyes following a school shooting that took the life of their daughter, Emily. On that day Emily sent two text messages... One to her mother, Ellen, "I love u guys. K" and to her father, John-Michael, "I love you guys."
Our mission is to restore and protect the joy of youth through educational programs and positive actions in collaboration with families, schools, communities, organizations and government entities.
Today, the Foundation is led and supported by survivors, family members, first responders and community members with a vested interest in safety, preparedness and reunification in schools.
At the inception of The "I Love U Guys" Foundation, the focus was on the arena of school safety. The question was simple, "Can we really help?" We attended symposiums, conferences and events about school safety and did tons of exploration. The Foundation hosted roundtables of its own, and also contracted an Emergency Management Practitioner to jumpstart the learning curve and make introductions. (Perhaps the best research investment we have ever made.)
In January of 2009, John-Michael Keyes negotiated an exit from his company and began seriously looking at the landscape of school safety. His motivation was pretty simple: Does the Foundation initiate programs of its own, or does it simply raise a little money for other initiatives and programs?
What happened next was remarkable. With so many individuals, organizations, districts, departments and agencies looking at student safety, there still seemed to be a missing piece - a lack of clear, distinct, common language between first responders, students and staff.
Ellen and John-Michael Keyes devoted their skills in design and packaging, and critical thought. Their twenty-five year professional careers proved essential building blocks for the Foundation. And their passion is a beacon.
Because of circumstance, they are also invited into conversations not typically open to private citizens. But it didn't stop there; the "I Love U Guys" Foundation also began to solidify a strong, diverse Board of Directors and the volunteer base checked-in with its knowledge pool and skill-sets.
As we researched and convened with hundreds of students, administrators, public safety experts, families, and first responders it became painfully clear: there is a significant communication barrier between schools and first responders when it comes to emergency operations.
We set about to remove this barrier through the development of a common vocabulary and set of actions for emergencies. The result is a series of programs whose development is ever-evolving through the collaboration of first responders, school districts, psychologists, families, and students. Whose tactics are data-driven, researched and based on experience and leading practices. And whose implementation exceeds 30,000 schools, agencies and organizations around the world.
The programs are free (Seriously! No strings) and include a great deal of instruction so you can start implementing immediately. If your team would like more support, we do offer training and certification as well. And twice a year we produce The Briefings, a nationally recognized school and community safety event.
In March of 2018, Carly Posey joined the Foundation as Mission Director. Her family was directly impacted by the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 and she has woven her story into the fabric of the Foundation. She brought experience in both the private and non-profit sectors and her own passion for our work.
You see, the Foundation acts as a conduit. Through research and collaboration with experts in education, law enforcement, emergency management and psychologists the Foundation assembled real world solutions that could be brought to the classroom, in partnership with first responders.
The end result has been a "Perfect Storm" for advancing student and school safety. The ability to create, package, promote and institute programs and initiatives advancing student safety exists within the organization; including all of the supporting material necessary to advance them. With the ultimate in stewardship, we produce professional, relevant and comprehensive materials at a fraction of the typical cost. Simply amazing.
For some it may be difficult to accept. The right actions at the right time by the right people may not have the right outcome.
When what we hoped for didn't happen, some may want to find fault. But there is no fault to be found in the command decisions made given the information and behavior presented. There is no fault to be found in the courage and speed of their response.
From our family, there is only respect.
The best people did the best of things. The outcome could have been far more grave. We as a family know this and appreciate this.Real life doesn't always have a happy ending.
Excerpted from the Keyes Family Statement regarding the March 27th, 2007 release of the CBI Report on the Platte Canyon Hostage Crisis.Our Focus
The joy of youth is a gift given to each of us at birth. It is a gift that is both precious and fragile, and can be experienced and shared not just in childhood, but throughout one's lifetime. To know the joy of youth is to know laughter and exuberance, to be free of worry, to feel cared for, and safe. The joy of youth is at all times exposed to the elements of life. Inevitably, and sometimes very quickly, these elements erode or even destroy our sense of security and wellbeing, our positive outlook, our desire to give and to share.
It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
While there is nothing that can be done to absolutely protect the joy of youth from all of the elements which may undermine or destroy it, there is much that can be done to restore and protect it - for both children and adults.
In support of our Mission to restore and protect the joy of youth, The "I Love U Guys" Foundation has established three Points of Focus that guide what we do and how we do it:
Every vital organization has a soul, an ethos. Our soul is kindness. It is the example we set, and the energy we put into the universe. Kindness is one thing each of us is capable of, and perhaps the only thing over which we have absolute control. While we may not fully know the power of its presence, we do so painfully know the power of its absence. Anger, despair, and alienation are born of the absence of kindness. These same feelings underlie the desperation that leads to violent acts against others. What difference might a simple kindness make?
Community is the body in which our soul of kindness lives. It is where we gather in celebration and in sorrow, where we practice giving and experience reliance. Community is a rich confluence of different lifestyles, ideas, and resources. It magnifies and multiplies us, giving us the capacity to do those things that need to be done but which we cannot do alone.
Responsibility is our conscience. At its center is the awareness that our perceptions, words, and actions impact others. Each of us has the power to give, to support, and to create. As well, we have the power to hurt, to detract, and destroy. We are responsible for how we use our power. Responsibility is the energy that converts intentions to actions; nothing gets done if someone does not do it. Each of us has responsibility to do what we can for our own security and well-being - and that of others.
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
Vivian Greene Author
When The "I Love U Guys" Foundation first formed in 2006, the commitment was in part to help other organizations in support of the mission. We also funded a modest scholarship program for Platte Canyon High School graduates. During that time, school safety became an ongoing interest.
In 2009 the Foundation collaborated with schools and first responders to create the Standard Response Protocol and began an outreach program to show schools and first responders how it works. The results have been simply astonishing - millions of students; hundreds of thousands of educators, administrators and school staff; and tens of thousands of first responders. All using the same language, same training, same expectations of behavior during a crisis.
In 2010 the Foundation launched an awareness campaign talking to teens about the tough topic sexting. Behind the scenes, we spoke with District Attorneys and Prosecutors about sane intervention, without lifelong sex offender status.
In 2012 research indicated that there was another gap in the spectrum of school safety. Few schools had a plan to reunify students with parents after a crisis while maintaining accountability and accommodating mental health demands. Again, collaboration and research resulted in the Standard Reunification Method.
With a combination of in-house talent, a dedicated board of directors, tireless volunteers, and strong collaboration, the Foundation developed these programs at a fraction of traditional costs.
We knew we made the right choice to take a more grass-roots approach, talking with individual schools or districts about our programs, letting their success speak for itself.
It's not enough to have strong programs. Districts, departments and agencies have to know about them. Have to be motivated to implement them. And have the training to do it.
And motivation is the key. Anyone who has worked in institutional environments knows that it isn't enough to say something should be done. Motivated people need to do it. And they need the tools to succeed.
When the Foundation developed the SRP to address the lack of common language between students, teachers and first responders it was debated how best to introduce it. Of course we would not mind if some government entity comes along, adopts and mandates the program, but without first proving its effectiveness we knew it would be an uphill climb to take this approach.
We also knew that several Colorado schools were already working on or had pieces of critical incident response in their safety plans, so we talked with them directly. When Jefferson County School District became the first to adopt the SRP in 2009 we knew we made the right choice to take a more grass-roots approach, talking with individual schools or districts about our programs, letting their success speak for itself.
If you are a school, district, department, agency, or organization then all downloadable materials on this site are available at no charge.
In refreshing materials and guidance (early 2015), we looked at every aspect of the SRP. The "I Love U Guys" Foundation made a profound decision. While Foundation programs were offered free of charge to public schools, districts, departments and agencies, other organizations were asked for a modest donation to the Foundation. Across the US and Canada, Law Enforcement began expanding the recommendation of the SRP to other organizations.
While we welcome every donation, the suggested donation was occasionally a roadblock for implementation in the private sector. In 2015, the Foundation board approved providing the materials, at no cost, to any organization.
Saying it again, any school, district, department, agency or organization can use the materials free of charge. All we ask is that the Foundation is notified.
Any school, district, department, agency or organization can use the materials free of charge. All we ask is that the Foundation is notified.
Our ability to provide materials to districts, departments and agencies at no cost relies, in part, on charitable funding from the private sector. It is important to us that we know who is using our programs, how effective they have been, and any feedback - good or bad. So, please let us know if you are using our programs.
Schools, districts, departments, agencies and organizations may use these materials, at no cost, under the following conditions:
With experience in both the private and non-profit sectors, Carly joined the Foundation in March of 2018.
One of the Co-Founders of the Foundation in 2006, Ellen became full-time in 2017.
One of the Co-Founders of the Foundation in 2006, John-Michael became full-time in 2009.
With deep industry experience and knowlege, Shannon joined us in August of 2021.
Arvada Police Department / Jeffco Regional SWAT Negotiator (Retired)
Math Teacher (Retired)
Hunterdon County SWAT Commander (Retired)
Garland School District Security Director (Retired)
Our goal is to reply to every request, but the volume of correspondence is sometimes overwhelming.
Please embrace patience, and don't hesitate in trying again if we've exceeded your comfort zone.
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To restore and protect the joy of youth through educational programs and positive actions in collaboration with families, schools, communities, organizations and government entities.