Call it a pretty sweet accomplishment — 15-year-old Michael Platt of Bowie, founder of Michael’s Desserts, has received the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes in recognition of his business and philanthropy endeavors.
Good citizenship is something the teen learned from his family as he was growing up. “I feel like everyone in my family is very involved in the community,” he says. “My grandmother was on the school board, my mom gave out soup to people experiencing homelessness, my grandfather was in Boy Scouts. If there’s a problem that needs to be solved, you need to do what you can to solve it.”
Platt got the idea for Michael’s Desserts when he was 11 years old and received a pair of TOMS shoes. The brand’s “One for One” model — in which, for every pair of TOMS sold, the company donates a pair to a child in a third-world country —impressed him. “I decided to use that model for my business,” he says. “If somebody buys a dessert, I give one away to someone in need.” He accomplishes this by donating either the product itself or money to No Kid Hungry.
Running a business has come with many lessons along the way. Platt already knew his way around the kitchen, having learned many basic baking techniques from his mom while he was growing up, but he grew as a baker by turning to cookbooks and YouTube. He also had to master practical business matters like pricing and time management.
Platt furthered his influence in his community by establishing a nonprofit organization, PLLATE, on behalf of Michael’s Desserts in 2018. Representing Power, Love, Learning, and Access for Everyone, PLLATE addresses the problem of food insecurity by distributing nonperishable healthy snacks to kids and establishing a pay-what-you-can grocery store.
From a parent’s perspective, mom Danita Platt says she loves seeing her son realize his ability to have a positive impact about the issues that matter most to him. “There are kids his age, they have so much energy and so many ideas and they’re very passionate about challenges they see in the world, but they also haven’t had as much life experience that can sometimes, unfortunately, leave people jaded,” she says. “We’re incredibly proud of him for still believing that if you see a problem and you can do anything, you should try to solve it.”
Find more information about Michael’s Desserts and PLLATE online at michaelsdesserts.com.
Article by Dylan Roche