Service-Learning Projects & MeritBooster: A Great Fit!

Today we went to Bailey Middle School, to meet with students in the Teen Outreach Program class, (a class facilitated by the Coordinating Council for Children in Crisis).  This class is doing a service-learning project.   We wanted to learn what the students were doing,  and to see if MeritBooster could be helpful to them.  These students are making and selling friendship bracelets to raise money to provide meals for  families  living at the Ronald McDonald House while a sick child is getting treatment.

We also got a chance to learn about other fund raising needs in the school. We learned that the 8th grade at Bailey goes on a field trip each year, to Massachusetts and Rode Island and it costs over $500 per student! That sounds a lot like the Washington D.C. Trip that the 8th grade at my school takes. In my school only 1 or 2 kids don't go on the trip, but at Bailey up to 1/3 of the 8th graders don't go due the cost of the trip.  That's a $45,000 funding shortfall for this school's 8th grade trip (there are about 250 8th graders).

The school does the typical candy fund raiser, but it is too small to cover any real cost. To cover the cost of their entire trip the Bailey students would have to sell 17 boxes of candy each (612 candy bars per student) because only 42% of the proceeds from the sale actually go toward their trip.  The students who did participate in the fund raiser told us that they didn't really learn anything useful from the experience of selling candy bars. This is exactly why I built MeritBooster.  I felt the same way after selling candy for my trip and I wanted a better fund raising option.

For the friendship bracelet project, we asked the students (in 2 different classes) what their class fund raising goal would be.  Most of the kids said they would be happy raising $100 (for the class as a whole).  A few of the more ambitious students set the goal at $300.  We would love to help these  students increase their efforts by a factor of 10.  Instead of $100, it would be awesome if they could raise $1,000. 

When we asked what more they would do if they COULD raise $1,000 – the kids had some great ideas.  One example was that, for the siblings (of the sick kids) who are staying at Ronald McDonald house, they would love to organize a laser-tag tournament.  It would add a bright spot to a difficult time in the lives of these kids dealing with a sick sibling.  It's great that the Bailey kids are thinking of others like this, and I'm excited about the idea of MeritBooster helping the Bailey students make a larger impact in their community.

We really learned a lot from this visit.  Our hypothesis that other kids out there would want a fund raising tool focused on doing cool projects and “crowd-sourcing” the funding was validated by the Bailey students. 

What excites me is to imagine the difference we could make if MeritBooster could help every service-learning project out-there increase their impact by a factor of 10!  Kids have amazing ideas and funding should not be the roadblock that stops them from putting those ideas into action.  That's what we're all about at MeritBooster.

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