Founders of the Twelve in Twelve Foundation in the Media

The Huffington Post

Twelve reasons to take your kids around the world

My two sons and I set a world record. We are the first family in history to have traveled to all seven continents in one year, specifically to do humanitarian work. My passion now includes speaking to children and adults, alike, on the subject of travel and “volun-tourism.” Here’s a list of twelve good reasons to hit the road with your kids. Read More »  Read in Portuguese »


Parade Magazine

One Family, Six Continents, Twelve Good Deeds

Jackson Lewis, 14, stood before the steel door of Transit, an organization for homeless youth in St. Petersburg, Russia, anxiously wondering what awaited him on the other side. Would he and his brother, Buck, 9, be able to communicate with the kids? Would it be frightening? This was the first stop on their family’s quest to volunteer in a different country every month for a year—and they had no idea what to expect. But within minutes of entering the building, the boys were wrestling and laughing with their Russian peers. “We played games, like Ping-Pong and gymnastics, where you don’t have to talk,” Buck says. “The other kids became my friends.” The boys’ father, J. D. Lewis, 53, had a more poignant encounter, with a teenager whose parents had died of alcoholism. J. D., who lost his own mother to alcohol abuse and his father to suicide when he was a child, told him, “You can’t give up. You have to overcome your circumstances and go on to do great things.” When it was time to leave at the end of the month, “I sobbed,” J. D. says. Read More »


South Charlotte Weekly

Bringing Global Lessons Closer to Home

Showing acts of kindness has become a staple in the lives of J.D. Lewis and his two sons.

Students at Park Road Montessori School in south Charlotte were the first to participate in the pilot program Twelve Good Deeds. The program will take place at a number of local schools.
Students at Park Road Montessori School in south Charlotte were the first to participate in the pilot program Twelve Good Deeds. The program will take place at a number of local schools.
The boys, who in 2011-12 set a world record by traveling to all seven continents in 12 months while doing humanitarian work around the globe, are now helping some of Charlotte’s youth spread the kindness locally, and globally, as well.

The effort, called Twelve Good Deeds, is an initiative by Lewis’s Charlotte-based nonprofit Twelve In Twelve and exists this semester as a pilot program in 12 schools, six being in Charlotte. The goal is to open the program in September for any school that would like to participate. Read More »


Inspire My Kids

Twelve in Twelve – A Family Making a Difference, One Country at a Time!

Think about your everyday life – school, family, friends, hobbies, etc. Can you imagine giving it all up for a year? Well, that is exactly what the Lewis family did. J.D. Lewis and his sons Jackson, age 14, and Buck, age 9, put their lives on hold for an entire year for a wonderful reason … so that they could make a difference in the world. Read More »

Huffington Post

J.D. Lewis: 12K Race, 12 Months, 12 Countries

Lewis Family Photo for Huffington Post Article on Twelve in Twelve
J.D. LEWIS FELT like a big loser. He was quite sure his two sons were going to think he was the worst dad in the world, and quite possibly in the history of fatherdom. His big plan — for the Lewis family to travel to 12 countries in all seven continents, doing volunteer work for an entire year — had even been picked up by the local news media in Charlotte, and he worried they’d never be able to raise enough money. Worse, his kids had told all of their friends. He sulked. He was bedridden. Lewis had just about given up hope when he received a surprising email.

“We had gone to a noodle shop,” Lewis says. “My phone buzzed, I’ll never forget — it was the craziest thing.” The sound alerted him to an email from none other than Yoko Ono, who knew of his project through a friend. “I heard about your project,” it read. “Just go do it!” Read More »


The Huffington Post

12 Countries in 12 Months: Humanitarian Work on 7 Continents Begins

Like so many Americans, I was trapped in a cesspool swirl of middle-aged single-parent mediocrity. Waking up, caffeinating, making breakfast, packing brown paper bag lunches, getting my two boys off to school, working, re-caffeinating, working, picking up the kids from school, homework, dinner, half-caffeinating, working, bed. Wash, rinse, repeat … Read More »

Twelve in Twelve Logo Icon

Creative Loafer – Charlotte

Lewis family launches Twelve In Twelve

Even at 8, Buck Lewis knows how to work a crowd. Dressed in a blue T-shirt with the Twelve In Twelve Foundation logo, he makes his way around a conference room at the Dunhill Hotel with an iPad, asking people to donate. Many swiped their credit cards in the attached reader. He even tugs on his dad J.D. Lewis’ tan jacket while he’s making a speech to about 150 people to say, “Please donate to the Twelve In Twelve Foundation.” Read More »



One Family, One Mission, Seven Continents: Making a Global Impact One Country at a Time

J.D. Lewis is an actor who has appeared on shows such as Friends, ER, Suddenly Susan… all the way back to L.A. Law. He has been seen in hundreds of commercials including Bud Light, Vidal Sassoon, Arco Smog Pros, and as a spokesperson for L.A. Gear with Kathy Ireland. As a celebrated playwright, his works have been produced internationally, headlining The Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland and The UnFringed Festival in Limerick, Ireland. J.D. Lewis is most known for his work as an acting coach in Los Angeles. He started The Actor’s Lab in Los Angeles in 1990, and has worked with some of the top names in the industry. He has been very active, donating his time and energy in the arts working with inner city kids, and kids that would otherwise not be exposed to the arts. His greatest accomplishment is raising his two sons, who he adopted at birth as a single parent. Read More »


Journeys for Good

Twelve in Twelve: How One Family is Making a Difference

Travel is irreplaceable. No matter how much you read or learn in school, you can’t capture the real flavor of a place and the people who call it home until you’ve been there. It can feel scary—there are so many unknowns—but taking that risk is part of what makes it so unforgettable. For children, travel is perhaps even more important. Seeing the world’s inequalities first-hand, realizing that any of us could have been born in the slums of Kibera, we learn that there is nothing special about those who are born into privilege. It’s just dumb luck. For those of us who are so lucky, shouldn’t we be doing more to make a difference? Read More »

QC Exclusive

Global Giving: The Twelve In Twelve Philanthropic Project

Lewis Family photo by Jamey Price

After traveling the world in the name of volunteer work, Charlottean J.D. Lewis and his sons started the Twelve in Twelve Foundation — a new humanitarian endeavor that’s changing lives locally and globally. Read More »


The Charlotte Observer

Twelve in Twelve

Charlottean J.D. Lewis and his two sons are leaving for an out-of-town trip in July. But it won’t be a typical outing to the beach or mountains for some family fun and recreation. Instead, in what can best be described as an odyssey, the trio will over the course of a year travel to 12 different countries, where they’ll perform volunteer and humanitarian work. “What started as this little seed of an idea has turned into something remarkable,” says Lewis.Read More »

J.D. Lewis and Sons - Founders of Twelve in Twelve Foundation



2012 People of the Year: J.D., Jackson and Buck Lewis

Father and two sons travel the globe in 12-month social justice journey. Read More »


Whole Life Times

2 Kids, 12 Months, 12 Countries

When JD Lewis’ older son Jackson, 13, said he wanted to do something to help the world, he touched on a subject sensitive to his dad. Indeed, Lewis’ play AmerWrecka—the 2005 sold-out Highways production he penned and directed—featured an assortment of characters responding to the question: “In a world gone wrong, what would you do to make a difference?”

What his family is doing is traveling to 12 countries over 12 months, volunteering in local communities to do everything from helping save elephants to distributing mosquito nets to playing music with students in Haiti. Their journey will take them to Russia, India, China, Cambodia, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Australia, South Georgia Island, Paraguay, Peru and Haiti, with each location focusing on a different global issue, such as famine, HIV/AIDS, housing, education, water rights, environmental and resource issues, or child labor.
Read More »

Service Learning Success

J. D. Lewis is at Eastover Elementary in Charlotte, North Carolina, demonstrating to a group of 200 third through fifth graders how a gorilla bodychecked him. “I was so scared,” he confesses, lunging forward like the great ape that muscled into his shoulder while Lewis was in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. The gesture, he explains, was just the gorilla’s way of offering friendship.

Lewis was at Eastover for the kick-off celebration for Twelve Good Deeds, a service-learning program he designed for schools. An acting coach, Lewis started the program after taking his sons, Buck, then 8, and Jackson, then 13, to 12 countries in a span of 12 months to engage in humanitarian work. Their journey took them to Russia, China, Australia, and Peru, among other countries.

A before- and after-school program for schools nationwide, Twelve Good Deeds is a striking example of how service learning has evolved in the 21st century to combine meaningful volunteer opportunities with curriculum essentials (an in-school curriculum is under development).

Here’s how it works: Students retrace the Lewis family’s journey, learning about a different country each week and receiving stamps in their passport booklet. They are also required to perform one or two good deeds per week, such as donating toys to a charity. Read More »

Mountain Island Monitor

Local family to make yearlong global trip doing good deeds

J.D. Lewis and his sons, Jackson, 13, and Buck, 8, are giving up almost everything to travel across 12 countries and make a difference in the world.

“Jackson came home one day and said, ‘Dad, we have this incredible life. Why aren’t we doing something to make a difference in the world?’” Lewis said. “He said, ‘Why aren’t we doing more?’ … It really struck a chord with me.”

Lewis, owner of The Actor’s Lab in Charlotte, longtime actor and well-known acting coach, saw Jackson’s idea as an opportunity to teach his sons a powerful lesson. He formed Twelve in Twelve, a nonprofit organization, with the goal of taking his sons to 12 countries in 12 months.

“We are on this planet for such a short period of time and for those people who live in fear and don’t do what they want to do, I think it’s sad,” Lewis said. “Putting this project together is a big dream, but it’s also a lot of big work.”

Lewis and his sons will travel to Russia, India, China, Cambodia, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Australia, South Georgia Island, Paraguay, Peru and Haiti. They leave in July and return July 2012 as changed people. Read More »


CLT Blog

Meet J.D., Jackson and Buck Lewis, a local family on a trip around the world

A local father and his two sons are currently on a trip around the world, with a mission (beyond having a blast) of inspiring children and adults to engage in global issues, and lay the groundwork for an infrastructure that allows more families in the future to embark on similar journeys.

Their project, Twelve in Twelve, kicked off on July 1 this year. We caught up with them at Hart Witzen before they left, and heard from all three about what they would soon take part in.
Read More »



Twelve Good Deeds

My good friend J.D. Lewis has big news and and amazing concept to help others and teach kids the meaning of giving while turning them into active kind humans – immediately. If you know of a school to participate – please speak up!!

The Twelve In Twelve Foundation is excited to announce our most ambitious project to date! Twelve Good Deeds.

Twelve Good Deeds teaches kids the joy of giving. In addition, the program incorporates global education, a birds-eye view of relief work worldwide, and empowers kids to make a difference, both in their local community and throughout the world.Read More »


WFAE 90.7 – Charlotte’s NPR News Source

Twelve In Twelve: The Next Chapter

A year ago, three intrepid Charlotteans set out on a round-the-world mission. A father and his two sons – then 8-year-old Buck and his teenage brother, Jackson, visited twelve countries in twelve months. But this wasn’t a vacation. They chose the places they went so they could help the people in those countries in some way and all of this was Jackson’s idea. From nearly drowning in Thailand, to helping run a nursery school in Tanzania, they share their adventure of good will. Read More »