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Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 charity wins 2024 Nonprofit of the Year

Be the Star You Are!® is the winner of the 2024 Nonprofit of the Year! Congrats to the volunteers, supporters, and donors! Celebrate.,

Vera Kochan wrote the article about BTSYA winning NonProfit of the Year!

Moraga's Nonprofit of the Year, Be the Star You Are!, is a 501(c)(3), and the brainchild of Lamorinda Weekly's own Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian. Her career credits extend to book author, producer, interior designer, radio host, and more.

While working with kids in 1995 as a casting director, Brian noticed that many of them had issues, especially with literacy. She was reading a lot of self-help books at the time and wanted to get the same message out to kids and women. By calling her charity Be the Star You Are!, she was planting a seed that "every person is unique. They have their own beauty and flame. We all have it -- we are enough."

Brian founded BTSYA! in 1999, along with her teen daughter, Heather Brittany, with the idea of empowering at-risk youth through literacy and positive media. "Had I had a crystal ball back in 1999 to foresee how challenging it would be to manage a nonprofit corporation solely with volunteers and donation dollars, I know I would not have taken the first step in creating Be the Star You Are!," she stated. "Thank goodness that I am not clairvoyant. I am a huge believer in being different, thinking outside the box, and valuing our individuality. My goal has been to provide encouragement, opportunity, and direction to women, families, and youth through increasing literacy, decreasing violence, providing positive media choices, and enhancing quality of life."

BTSYA!, is run by an all-volunteer staff that began by collecting and distributing books to nearly 118 organizations nationwide. It also produces positive-message radio programs that range from "education and advisement, to inspiration and guidance by covering every aspect of life, from abuse through money management, health, environmental stewardship, relationships, parenting, business skills, art, music, and entertainment." They support all ethnicities and have no religious or political agendas.

While Brian hosts one of the radio shows called, "StarStyle-Be the Star You Are!, the other one is hosted by teens. "Express Yourself" is intended to give youth a voice while teaching them to be confident, authentic reporters and writers. Both programs feature authors, artists, activists, musicians, and entrepreneurs who are making positive contributions to humanity. She estimates having coached over 70 kids/reporters for radio over the years, and they have gone on to jobs all across the country. BTSYA! is always ready to welcome more volunteers.

"We've done so many outreach programs," stated Brian. "We even have teens tutor teens. There are so many opportunities to help people. I support the kids and listen to what they want to do. Their suggestions have been important to the programs. We're constantly evolving and changing to make it relevant to the times. We also have a teen book review program."

BTSYA! is always ready to welcome more volunteers.

As an author, Brian is working on her eleventh book. Her first book, "Be the Star You Are!" was launched in 2001. Since then, she's written inspirational books that include teens' stories, gardening books, and picture books for children.

BTSYA! operates through contributions, in-kind donations, and proceeds from fund-raising events. They are not state or federally funded. For more information or to make a donation, or

The Moraga Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a coffee/pastry reception to celebrate the honorees on April 13 between 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the Moraga Library's Community Room, 1500 St. Mary's Road. Please RSVP by


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