Carver students reach their ‘GivingPoint’ with partnership through Project GRAD

We’re excited to learn about a wonderful partnership between Project GRAD Atlanta and The New Schools at Carver and GivingPoint, a nonprofit based in nearby Roswell. The fine folks at GivingPoint shared this illuminating video clip (above) showing Carver students making a difference in their community.

According to representative Ansley Colby, GivingPoint is a youth-development initiative designed to inspire teens to find their passion, become actively engaged in their local communities, and develop into life-long contributors to society. “One of our top transformational priorities is to become a vehicle for nonprofits and schools to understand, engage, motivate and inspire young people to serve their community so that they can reach their full potential and succeed in life,” Colby said.

The group began working with Project GRAD Atlanta in late 2009 to identify potential schools that would be interested in providing students with meaningful community service experiences that spark their interest and expose them to cutting-edge technology that helps them track their impact as civic philanthropists. “A common goal of our organization,” Colby said, “was to implement a small pilot program that focused on building civic and philanthropic stewardship as a new dimension to help young people stay in school and overcome many of knowledge, opportunity, financial and legacy gaps that they face. ”

Project GRAD put the group in touch with Dr. Darian Jones, principal at Carver’s School of Health Sciences & Research. Dr. Jones and his team selected 90 students to participate in the pilot program. The Carver students have embraced the movement and are passionate about serving others, supporting their community, and creating a more compassionate world. “We are forever grateful to Project GRAD for introducing us to the Carver family,” Colby said. To date, Carver students have donated hundreds of hours to their community, earned thousands of points, and are in the process of directing grants back to the nonprofits they care about.

GivingPoint closes the “knowledge gap” by providing online education modules that motivates teens to learn about critical issues in a fun and engaging way. Through its Web site (www.mygivingpoint.org), the Carver teens earned points for learning about a diverse number of societal issues and taking interactive quizzes that matched their personal interests. GivingPoint closes the “opportunity gap” by providing meaningful service-learning experiences that match the students’ passions. When surveyed, many of the students at Carver indicated they were interested in learning and serving in the areas of homelessness, affordable housing, education and the environment. Based on their feedback, we organized Learn and Serve volunteer opportunities in these cause areas. Students were able to apply real-world experiences to their formal classroom education.

GivingPoint closes the “financial gap” by allowing teens to earn points (through e-learning, volunteerism, and fundraising) that can be cashed in for grants that are donated to their favored nonprofits. For every 500 points earned, teens can apply for up to $250 in micro-grants that get directed back into the community.  GivingPoint is the only nonprofit in the country to offer this unique, innovative approach  — taking community volunteerism to the next level by offering the opportunity for teens to get their hours verified, earn points, and cash those points in for grants for the nonprofits that touch their hearts. The Carver teens created GivingPoint accounts, logged their volunteer hours (that were verified by the nonprofits they served), and received points for every hour of service.

GivingPoint closes the “legacy gap” by offering teens modern ways to reflect on their experiences and share their voice with like-minded civic leaders. Youth can write, blog and advocate for causes. The Carver teens shared their voices and wrote about their volunteer experience on GivingPoint’s “Stories: Blog and Share” section, where they can inspired other teens to take action and give back to their communities. Students tracked all of their contributions on their GivingPoint profiles and created their civic resumes.

By the way, one of the students interviewed in the video is rock-star Carver Health Sciences & Research senior Orane Douglas, whom we interviewed in the Spring issue of The Atlanta Educator. You can read that story and his comments here.

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