Students Spark Change for Oceans and Natural Disasters

Through the program established by the Young American Center for Financial Education, student leaders determine who receives the collected coins based on categories voted on by the school.  This was the third year Spark Change successfully supported non-profits solely from the input of elementary students.  

In prior years, Health and Animal grant recipients included CLOVES Syndrome FoundationFreedom Service Dogs, and Pandas International (headquartered in Colorado) and a school-wide project assembling activity bags for Children's Hospital Colorado,   Lindsey and fellow volunteer parent, Robynn, enjoy leading Spark Change, especially when students use words such as fun and courage to describe the experience.  The Hayes Family Foundation is proud to have provided the Spark Change program its first ever grant and our second grant underwrote the new Spark Change Summer Camp. 

 Student Leaders prepare collection boxes for K-5 classrooms.

Student Leaders prepare collection boxes for K-5 classrooms.

Last fall, Park Hill Elementary Students collected $2,014.63 (almost entirely in coins) to support Oceans and Natural Disasters.  Spark Change student leaders decided to distribute the collected funds in three ways, including the promotion of a week-long Non-Perishable Food Drive for the Denver Red Shield Salvation Army. Through their research and interviews, student leaders learned that the number-one natural disaster in Colorado is a house fire and the Salvation Army offered a way that Park Hill Elementary can directly support the local community and those impacted by house fires and other natural disasters.  

Ocean First Institute received a $1,000 grant to promote ocean conservation through research and education.  Their goal is to educate and empower future generations by connecting youth (as young as middle school) with the wonders of the ocean and the importance of hands-on conservation through programming that highlights scientific exploration.   In addition, Oceans First Institute’s headquarters is in landlocked Colorado!    As part of the grant, Park Hill Elementary chose a name for a tagged shark in the ocean: Sharky.  Mikki McComb-Kobza, the Executive Director, shared that the grant will significantly impact their small $50,000 annual budget and was happy to accept it on Ocean First’s behalf.  

 Team Rubicon and the Student Leaders

Team Rubicon and the Student Leaders

With a $1,000 grant, Team Rubicon will provide disaster relief to those affected by natural disasters, both domestic and international.  Team Rubicon pairs the skills and experiences of military veterans with civilian volunteers (first responders and medical professionals) to provide services beyond immediate disaster relief.  Field Operation Coordinator, Travis Widder, a Team Rubicon volunteer (and paid firefighter), enthralled the student leaders during his interview.  His colleague, Chris Tillman, Denver City Administrator, accepted a check on Team Rubicon’s behalf.    

For more information about Spark Change, please visit https://yacenter.org/spark-change or contact Kelsie Byrd at kbyrd@yacenter.org