Inspiring Youth to End Social Isolation

San Rafael, CA   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 27-1772372


To inspire students at middle and high schools nationwide to end social isolation and to create a culture of belonging for everyone. We are a student-led social justice movement and a source of professional development for educators for Inclusion based on Social Emotional Learning evidence-based methods. Beyond Differences is the nation’s leader on social isolation among middle school youth. Since it’s founding in 2010, more than 8600 schools across the country have used Beyond Differences programs and 550,000 students have been impacted.

Ruling year info


Executive Director and Co-founder

Laura Talmus

Main address

PO Box 9070

San Rafael, CA 94912 USA

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Subject area info


Elementary and secondary education

Graduate and professional education

Leadership development

Youth development

Population served info

Children and youth





NTEE code info

Nonmonetary Support N.E.C. (O19)

Nonmonetary Support N.E.C. (B19)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

No One Eats Alone®

No One Eats Alone®, Beyond Differences' most popular program, is a stand-alone event that takes place during lunch at school, including curriculum that can be used before or after the day. During your event, students make a difference on their own middle school campus by making sure that everyone is included at lunch and students sit with new friends and classmates. Schools in all 50 states participate in this program.

Population(s) Served

Know Your Classmates™ is designed to explore youth identity and belonging + help students embrace diversity, and help students speak honestly about their feelings. Now includes teen- created lessons on How to be An Ally, Diverse Expression of Gender, Recognizing Bias, and Anti Racism + National Stand Up for Asian American Youth Campaign materials. (FALL)

Know Your Classmates™ occurs in schools in all 50 states.

Population(s) Served

Be Kind Online™ (BKO) is focused on creating inclusive communities online and ending social isolation in digital spaces. Students learn how to stand up to hateful behaviors, positive and negative aspects of screen time, social media’s effect on emotions and how to regulate those feelings, how to build self-confidence online and how to build your future online. (SPRING)

Population(s) Served

Beyond Differences has created National Innovative Educator Cohorts, a professional development program supporting educators in NYC & FL (70 total). In partnership with a team of mental health practitioners, experts in DEI, LGBTQ educators (co-facilitators & guest speakers) + our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) trained staff provides training and tools that can be used immediately. Workshops provide adolescent mental health & SEL skill-based knowledge, tools & resources (SEL curriculum) to promote the well-being of teachers and their students. PD series are implemented as 6 workshops throughout the school year with brown bag sessions interspersed to allow educators to bond, exchange best practices & receive support.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of backpacks filled with school supplies distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Children

Related Program

No One Eats Alone®

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

We send out free school supplies to educators nationwide each year to promote our transformative social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum and lesson plans. 2020 and 2021 were anomalies.

Number of teachers recruited

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Adult Professional Development for Educators

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Number of students enrolled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Be Kind Online™

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

The Be Kind Online® program is an initiative aimed at cultivating social inclusion in virtual spaces. When students enter middle school, they become more plugged into the digital world. How do we make

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our ultimate goal is to eliminate social isolation and replace with cultures of belonging where middle and high school youth are included, valued, respected and accepted by their peers. Investment in youth voices is widely regarded as the key to realizing this dream.

-Increase national awareness of social isolation as a threat to public health among the public, parents and educators -- emphasizing the benefits of the youth voice in addressing the threat.

-Invest in data collection and evaluation of those school communities using Beyond Differences programs in order to leverage the diversity of resources and leadership needed to disrupt social isolation.

- Invest in the professional development of teachers, counselors and education administrators to become fluent in Social Emotional Learning (SEL).

-Invest in professional development for educators to support increased adoption of annual and multiyear Beyond Differences programs for youth in grades 5-6-7-8.

-Invest in teen leadership in innovating the Beyond Differences curriculum and giving middle and high schoolers the rare opportunity to be taught and inspired by teen activists, and to grow into teen leaders.

-Continue informing state and national policy via speaking, serving on committees and panels, research, campaigns, press, collaborations and partnerships.

-Broaden national reach into new diverse communities, with a teen board that mirrors the diversity of our communities.
-Integrate cultural competencies in the design and delivery of programs and campaigns to reflect the diversity of our communities.
-Recruit diverse talent for our Board and staff, to be reflective of whom we serve.
-Invest in DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging) training for our Board, staff and students.

Donations and other funding support help ensure our capability to meet the broad set of needs for hundreds of thousands of participants at thousands of schools across the country.

Beyond Differences is the nation’s leading expert on social isolation among middle school youth and our mission is the driving force behind our student-led social justice movement. Since it’s founding in 2010, more than 8,500 schools across the country have used Beyond Differences programs, impacting more than 3.77 million students in all 50 states.

The Beyond Differences model is predicated on the notion that students influencing other students is not only an effective means of changing school culture, but also a natural and profoundly life-changing opportunity for youth to take control of this issue that causes so many children to feel helpless. Beyond Differences has three high school teen boards in the San Francisco Bay Area and one in Portland, OR. These high school teen leaders model that connection and sense of belonging which has a powerful ripple effect and inspires middle school youth to believe in it, too.

To address emerging student and educator needs to address social isolation exacerbated by the pandemic, Beyond Differences is proud to have created a National Innovative Educators Cohort, a year-round professional development program supporting teachers, administrators, resource counselors and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) influencers in school districts across the country. Its purpose is to provide awareness, skills, training, and resources to promote the well-being of teachers and the students they serve.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time


Fiscal year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 108.43 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 18.5 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 12% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of BEYOND DIFFERENCES’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

Created in partnership with

* This organization changed its fiscal year accounting period in 2018. Please refer to its 2018 990s for more information.

Business model indicators

Profitability info 2017 2018 * 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $170,383 $122,439 -$17,487 $432,892 $369,492
As % of expenses 22.3% 11.4% -1.2% 33.5% 23.0%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $169,765 $121,781 -$18,145 $429,169 $357,038
As % of expenses 22.2% 11.3% -1.2% 33.2% 22.1%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $988,104 $1,390,081 $1,524,804 $1,904,764 $2,011,823
Total revenue, % change over prior year 38.1% 40.7% 0.0% 24.9% 5.6%
Program services revenue 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 16.4%
All other grants and contributions 99.9% 99.5% 99.6% 93.1% 76.7%
Other revenue 0.1% 0.5% 0.4% 6.9% 6.9%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $765,676 $1,075,198 $1,473,906 $1,290,479 $1,604,530
Total expenses, % change over prior year 4.6% 40.4% 0.0% -12.4% 24.3%
Personnel 43.3% 41.2% 46.8% 58.1% 54.4%
Professional fees 18.8% 22.0% 27.9% 31.0% 27.7%
Occupancy 4.2% 3.4% 2.7% 2.1% 0.2%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 33.6% 33.4% 22.6% 8.7% 17.7%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2017 2018 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $766,294 $1,075,856 $1,474,564 $1,294,202 $1,616,984
One month of savings $63,806 $89,600 $122,826 $107,540 $133,711
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $1,979 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $832,079 $1,165,456 $1,597,390 $1,401,742 $1,750,695

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2017 2018 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 7.7 7.5 8.2 14.5 13.9
Months of cash and investments 7.7 7.5 8.2 14.5 13.9
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 6.3 5.9 5.5 10.3 10.9
Balance sheet composition info 2017 2018 2020 2021 2022
Cash $492,495 $674,030 $1,001,633 $1,562,961 $1,857,200
Investments $0 $0 $365 $860 $1,394
Receivables $323 $150,018 $10,981 $56,865 $609,633
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $3,289 $3,289 $3,289 $3,289 $3,289
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 21.4% 41.4% 81.5% 100.0% 100.0%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 8.2% 6.7% 17.1% 12.2% 4.9%
Unrestricted net assets $406,888 $528,669 $675,565 $1,104,734 $1,461,772
Temporarily restricted net assets $52,045 $244,489 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $52,045 $244,489 $166,941 $348,829 $911,448
Total net assets $458,933 $773,158 $842,506 $1,453,563 $2,373,220

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2017 2018 2020 2021 2022
Material data errors No No No No No


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Executive Director and Co-founder

Laura Talmus

Laura Talmus founded Beyond Differences along with her husband, Averell “Ace” Smith, following the unexpected death of their daughter Lili Rachel Smith in October 2009. Laura has run the day-to-day operations of Beyond Differences as a volunteer since its founding and was hired by the Board of Directors as its first Executive Director in August 2015. With over thirty-five years’ experience in running and consulting to non- profit organizations, she is passionate about bringing awareness to the issue of adolescent social isolation. Ace and Laura have a 30-year-old son, Abram. They live in Marin County.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.


Board of directors
as of 09/01/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Mr. Wade Rakes

Centene Corporation

Term: 2021 - 2024

Ace Smith

Bearstar Strategies

Kerri Catalano

Bloomberg LP

Rahul Chandhok

Forty Niners Football Company, LLC

Larry Krause

Tessara Financial Advisors, Inc.

Karen Kwetey

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Ed Lehrman

Vine Connections

Alan Loving

The Boldt Company

Carly O'Connor Kawaja


Sheila Peluso

Cerberus Capital Management, LP

Michaela Simpson

NeuroLeadership Institute

Jen Traeger

United Skates of America

Marla Wiacek

Dearborn Public Schools

Jacqueline Neuwirth Swire

Founding Board Member

Allison Cohen

Reading Partners

Alexander Heckler

Partner, LSN Law Partners

Nancy Howe


Alexander Rivera

Achieve Program

Kristian Stiles

President, Stiles Partners

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/2/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/31/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
There are no contractors recorded for this organization.

Professional fundraisers

Fiscal year ending

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 Schedule G

Solicitation activities
Gross receipts from fundraising
Retained by organization
Paid to fundraiser