Category Archives

How Iceland used the power of extracurricular activities!

Extracurriculars do so much more for children than provide the opportunity to exercise! The connections that can be formed with peers, the skills that are learned from life and so much more. I thought I’d share this article to help illustrate the power behind helping children gain access to extracurricular activities by closing the opportunity gap!

#founderfriday: Meet My Intern!

Hi Launchers,

I feel so lucky to have had such fantastic interns over the years. Sunny has been one of the most instrumental in regards to the LaunchPad program (you’ll find out why in the video). I had to convince her to shoot this video with me before she goes off to college so I set up a series of questions to help you all get to know her better as well as some questions regarding her experience! Check it out to see what its like on the “Sunny side of LaunchPad!” We probably had too much fun filming but that’s why meeting each week was so fun!

If you enjoy the video be sure to like and subscribe to the channel. If you’d like to be notified of when new kids are in the program be sure to sign up for The Launch List to join the other Launchers making a difference in your community!

Want to congratulate Sunny, leave a comment down below for her!


#ThankYouThursday…OUR followers and community!

This week’s thank you Thursday goes out to our Launchers! That’s all of you out there that support our mission, the organization and most importantly the kids in the program! Yesterday, I tried something a little different! I put up one of our kids that finished her cooking classes and shared her photos with us to share, something I do a lot, but this time I asked all of you to give her some kudos and guess what? YOU DID!

Thank you for taking the time to encourage a young girl on her journey to find that special spark! These activities provide so much more than just attending classes. They help kids learn how to navigate through life in real time with real situations.  Emily had to be without her mother with a class full of other adults but she navigated the uncharted territory while learning a new sense of independence; all from a simple cooking class that she may not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience! #ExtracurricularsMatter

So today I am recognizing all of you who make it possible for these kids to experience these different activities that could potentially set them on a course in life that none of us could have imagined! Thank you for taking the time out of your day to inspire, congratulate and motivate Emily on this journey to find her special spark!Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 11.48.12 AM

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#FounderFriday: Update- Gracie’s story

Hi Launchers,

In today’s video I’m so excited to share Gracie’s story! She is our first Astronaut to be launched in the program and that’s big news in our world! Don’t forget to subscribe to our new channel so you don’t miss any of our episodes! Let us know what you think of our new Vlog or give Gracie some kudos in the comments section and we’ll pass them on to her! Thanks so much for watching!




#TDT Pamela Salgado… A Day in the Life of a Physician Assistant!

As a Physician Assistant, I am able to spend more time with my patients providing excellent comprehensive, compassionate care.

1. What is your current job title and how did you decide on this career choice? IMG_4437-2

Pamela Salgado, PA-C (physician assistant certified)
I’ve been a PA for 5 years.
I currently work in Pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat, Head and Neck Surgery.

2. What types of qualities are important for this career choice? 

It’s very important for prospective PAs to be very hardworking, self motivated, independent and patient.

Employers look for someone who is dependable. Since working with sick patients, if very important for PAs to be compassionate about the field they are in. Employers need someone who will come in early and stay late.
If you have a lot of volunteer experience in medicine, even just shadowing another PA or physician in your free time, it can help with your application for the certification/graduate program.

3. What is a typical day or week in your position like? What exactly do you do?

I work part-time 7-5:30pm twice weekly. I work in a clinical setting and see patients that may need surgery to have their tonsils removed, have ear tubes placed or need a procedure completed in the office like removing cysts or cauterizing noses to help prevent future nosebleeds. There’s never a dull moment.

4. What areas of study would you suggest for kids interested in your field? What path would you suggest?

I recommend the premed route with a science major. I majored in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, which included all the prereqs needed to go into PA school or medical school. You can major in any field (even History), but the science classes will be extra work on top of your requirements depending on whichever major you choose in college.

5. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in your field?

I recommend shadowing a PA to see if it’s something you want to do.

6.What is one myth buster you would like to share about your field?

People often think a PA is like a nurse. This is not correct. PAs have a large amount of autonomy (independence) to treat their own patients, order labs, prescribe medicine, assist in surgery, etc. They are overseen by a physician, but a physician does not need to be present for every patient. They are required to sign off on 5% of our charts (states vary on different rules and regulations for PAs).

7. Did you take a linear path to get here? If not, what were some pivotal points that changed your direction?

I did not take a linear path. Throughout undergraduate school I was motivated to become a doctor. Once I graduated from school I worked in clinical research for 2 years and decided that I didn’t want to wait 5 or more years before I could start my career, especially with planning on starting a family in the near future. I discovered that PA school was only 2 years and I could work in any field and could still balance a work and family life without having to wait to begin my career.

8. What personal qualities have helped you succeed in your career?

My motivation to keep up with current research has helped me to expand my knowledge base and apply new findings to my current practice.

9. What do you most enjoy about your career?

I fell in love with the diversity of the field: seeing patients with hearing impairments to complex congenital diseases. I employ a wide range of skills including performing minor surgical procedures to complex in office endoscopies.

10. What kind of work experience as a student would be the most beneficial for this career?

Important work experience includes working in the medical field, in particular shadowing a physician assistant in a family practice setting. You’ll be able to see patients with various ailments and decide if helping people will spark your interests.

11. What education or training is required, if any, to reach your position?

A Bachelors Degree and a certification as a Physician Assistant. Many programs now offer a Masters Degree in Physician Assistant studies.

12. If you weren’t in this career field, what other career would you be interested in? And why?

If I wasn’t in this career field, I would be interested in working as a chaplain. This is someone who works with various populations to provide spiritual support during trying times, such as sickness and death, consoling families through trying times through prayer and scripture. This is a very difficult job and takes someone who is very strong willed and courageous.


Pamela’s favorite quote:

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand.” -Woodrow Wilson

#From the Founder Friday: Introducing our “2016 Spark In Education” Winner! #FFF

Some of you may remember and may have even participated in our first annual #NominateATeacher2015 campaign last November to find our 2016 Spark in Education! North Cow Creek School teacher, Mr. Damon Donnelly won by quite a landslide with a combination of numerous nominations on both Instagram and Facebook. He is our very first winner IMG_2860-2for the LaunchPad award. Please scroll to the bottom to read his bio and learn a little bit more about him.

We were able to visit his classroom to present the award and recognize him in front of his students along with our sponsors Dutch Bros Redding and The Centre for Facial Plastic Surgery. You could see in his students, his passion for teaching and the connection he held with them, which was both exciting and fulfilling for the presenters of this award as well!

Since our program relies on teachers to help us find children who have a spark and just need a little extra help monetarily to gain access to the many extracurricular activities out there. We, along with our sponsors, decided to take the month of November to show our appreciation by asking the public to “nominate a teacher”. The winner received a plaque from LaunchPad, a $250 prize and $250 to apply towards a child of their choice in the LaunchPad program! We are also in the process of creating a t-shirt specifically for our “Spark in Education!” Their picture and bio will remain on our website to share with our readers and sponsors.

We want to thank all of the teachers out there for doing so much for our community everyday by touching lives and being that special “spark in education!”

Get to Know Mr. Damon Donnelly

I want to say, “What an honor it is to be recognized by LaunchPad 4 Kids”. This program helps students find ways to fulfill their dreams, no matter what obstacles that might be in their way. Knowing that past, present and, even future students and parents were involved in my selection of this honor, makes it even more special.

I grew up in the small town of Orland, California where I was active in all kinds of local sports. My summers were consumed with my participation on the Orland Otters Swim Team. My first experience at teaching happened when I was given the opportunity to work at the Orland City Pool. I was trying to earn some spending money and part of my responsibility was to give swim lessons to some of the kids. I will always remember the look on that first boy’s face when he actually started to swim. I had helped him conquer the water and I was hooked. There was a special feeling within me as I watched the enjoyment on that child’s face. Knowing that I had helped, in some small way, give him a skill that he would use the rest of his life gave me a profound sense of accomplishment and pride. Swim lessons would lead to coaching and coaching would become a driving force of my education.

I graduated from CSU Chico and after earning my Teacher Credential, got my first opportunity to actually teach in a school. I taught 5th grade in Burney California and loved living in the mountains. Life events, though, would lead me in several directions. I moved back to Orland and took a temporary teaching position in a 4th grade class. I again had to relocate and was hired at North Cow Creek Elementary in 2004. I spent my time teaching 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th grade. In 2011, I was again displaced and so I went to Anderson Middle School and taught 8th grade math. I was able to return to North Cow Creek Elementary and am currently the 8th grade teacher there. I feel incredibly blessed to be teaching Middle School Math and Science to some of the best students in Shasta County. Every past experience in education has given me a unique perspective to teaching. I experienced wonderful times at each past site and I have memories that will always have a special place in my heart.

I love my job! I am just as passionate about learning today as I was as a child. I was always a good student and school was easy and fun. I want to share this love of education with my students. Every day is a new opportunity to LEARN. Education and learning are the tools which opens the doors to so much in life. I am proud to empower my students with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful, successful in future academics and in life. A positive attitude is also important. I have always told my students that if they smile the world smiles with them. I’m lucky because my students make me smile. I look forward to seeing them daily and I feel especially lucky when a former student comes by just to “check in and say hello”. I’ve been rewarded with 14 years of amazing students and can’t wait to share in the experience of my future students.

I have an amazing 7 year son who constantly makes my life interesting and fun. During our spare time, you will find us exploring the great and fascinating outdoors that are at our doorsteps here in Northern California. I enjoy exploring new areas, trying new things and experiencing life to its fullest. I try as hard as I can to share these passions and interests with my son and to each one of my students. I try to encourage them to live their life to its fullest, to the best of their ability. I am a firm believer that their future is very much my future and I cannot wait to see how each and every life I am lucky enough to encounter will turn out.

Damon Donnelley

#TDT Dr. Randy Tate…A Day in the Life of a Facial Plastic Surgeon!

“Strive to excel and be the top of your field at whatever interests you the most.”


1. What is your current job title and how did you decide on this career choice?

“I am a Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon.

I feel like the job chose me. I was introduced to medicine at an early age and was aware that the profession would be both challenging and gratifying. I’ve always had an interest in science and animals which is why my family always assumed I’d be a veterinarian. During high school, I knew I wanted to be a physician, however, many medical students don’t always know until they are in college.”

2. What types of qualities are important for this career choice? (What do employers look for?)

“Medical schools look for aptitude, discipline, talent, and well-roundedness. For facial plastics specifically, programs look for delicate hands, and a discerning eye.”

3. What is a typical day or week in your position like?

“A typical day provides a mix of activities. Surgeries 2-3 x/week. Office consultations 2-3x/week. Injections of botox/fillers, laser procedures, skin cancer removals, facial fracture repairs, cosmetic procedures, skin lacerations/scarring.”

4. What areas of study would you suggest for kids interested in your field?

“Areas of studies recommended: math, science, art, language. Many times, medical students that are chosen for presitigious schools have a degree in something other than science. Medical schools look for well-rounded, bright students who are good with people.”

5. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in your field?

“Strive to excel and be the top of your field at whatever interests you the most.”

6.What is one myth buster you would like to share about your field?

“Myth buster: Facial plastics is not only ‘cosmetic’.”

7. Did you take a linear path to get here? If not, what were some pivotal points that changed your direction?

“In general it is a fairly linear path to this profession. I knew many medical students who took time off before entering medical school and residency to travel or just take a break. There were also a few students that had families or started medical school much later in life.”

8. What personal qualities have helped you succeed in your career?

“Personal qualities that helped me: competitiveness, and discipline.”

9. What do you most enjoy about your career?

“Most enjoyable part of career is the happiness and joy that I can bring to patients by improving on appearance or preventing disfigurement.”

10. What kind of work experience as a student would be the most beneficial for this career?

“Work experience recommended:

1. Volunteer at a hospital,

2. Volunteer as a medical aid personnel.

3. Community service”

11. What education or training is required, if any, to reach your position?

“Education required: 14 years post high school: Bachelors degree (4 years), Medical school (4 years), Otolaryngology/Head and neck surgery residency (5 years), Specialized Fellowship (1 year)”

12. If you weren’t in this career field, what other career would you be interested in? and why?

“Other career interests: Professional soccer, International business, Law. Love to travel. Love a great debate.”


Introducing our first Astronaut! #WishfulWednesday

What is the Astronaut Program?
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Two and a half years ago LaunchPad was just an idea that we weren’t sure would actually even work! As it grew we were able to see the potential impact it could have not only on the children and sponsors, but the schools and communities at large!
When it finally began as a project to see if the model worked, we were so giddy with excitement that we let kids go through as many times as they wanted! We thought “Hey, this our goal! We want to expose kids to different activities so let’s not make a limit!” We were accomplishing the mission and the process was working, we could see that!
We found that many of the funds were going to repeat children rather than providing the opportunity for even MORE kids to experience that exposure. We had to make a pivot so that we could scale the program to serve more children that could use our help!
Enter The Astronaut Program!
Who is it for? 
The Astronaut program is the second level of LaunchPad for the children who have already completed three different activities and written their thank you notes! This shows us that they are dedicated and grateful for the scholarships they have already received. Since the Astronaut program is a commitment of one year of uninterrupted participation in an activity they chose to “stick with”, we only take children who have been through our program for the first year as we ask a bit more from them during this second year!
How does it work? 
Astronauts are added to our website, just like every other child with the annotation of “Astronaut program” in the heading.  We ask for a bio and letter about why they are choosing the activity and how they hope to use it in the future. We will add this to our blog to let sponsors read and learn more about this amazing child and their goals! We want to share the transformations of these children with others to show the impact from the child’s perspective!
The child is also required to send in a quarterly update so that we can track their progress. This is to replace the thank you note piece in the first year.
What happens at the end of the second year?
Once a child has completed the second year of the program, we send them a LaunchPad t-shirt and a certificate of completion of all of the activities they have experienced in the program! Our goal is to highlight their achievements rather than the exit from the program. Our sponsors will always have the opportunity to sponsor the child for another year if they are interested!
This is not a long term fix for the children entering our program.  However, with just two years of activities under their belt we believe that this is a great way expose these children to more opportunities. To name just a few, it gives these children the opportunity to tryout for high school teams, boost self-confidence, gain new friends and feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments.

#NominateATeacher2015 Campaign

Sparks start fires and fires burn as long as there is fuel!

your-spark-can-became-a-flame-and-change-everything-2-400x408Dutch Bros and The Centre for Facial  Plastic Surgery are teaming up with the LaunchPad4Kids program to find the 2015 Spark in Education! This contest is a way to show both individually and collectively as communities how we feel about the teachers who go to work everyday to help our kids. For many kids, the time they spend with their teachers is just as important as the time they spend at home. Isn’t it worth recognizing the job that they do that is so integral to the future of our children!
Each day in the LaunchPad 4 Kids program, teachers are firing up a passion in the children they nominate to our program by giving them the opportunity to experience extracurricular activities they may not have been able to otherwise. Without our teachers, the LaunchPad program could not run. Teachers know their students and families better than anyone. With the amount of time they spend both with the students and through interacting with the families, teachers send us the most deserving kids with that special spark.

What better time to show how thankful we are for the special teachers in our lives that have touched our hearts. Teachers are truly the pillars of our community by shaping the future. They help OUR children find that special spark and have a love of learning, one of the most powerful things you can give a child.

As the backbone of our LaunchPad 4 Kids program, teachers nominate children that have a special “spark” to receive a scholarship to participate in extracurricular activities! The “fire” is the experience these children gain that lasts a lifetime. The “fuel” is YOU via our nonprofit crowdfunding platform.

This is just a small way to say thank and show our acknowledgement of the people who help shape our children’s lives. Take the time today to say thank you and show your appreciation for all that they do! Help us find the “2015 Spark in Education”.

Vote on Facebook & Instagram: 

  1. Use the hashtag #NominateATeacher2015 and tag LaunchPad4Kids.
  2. Add your teacher’s name and school.
  3. Tell us why you are thankful with text, video or photos for your teacher.

Want to help your teacher win? Take a picture of your favorite teacher and tell your friends to repost by tagging LaunchPad4Kids with the #NominateATeacher2015 Contest will run from Monday the 16th- Monday 30th (Last day to nominate)

*Please note: Profiles cannot nominate the same teacher multiple times. There is no limit on the number of different nominations you make as long as they are separate posts.

Winners will be announced on Dec 4, 2015!

The teacher with the most nominations will win:

  1. The LaunchPad Spark in Education award
  2. $250 for the teacher and $250 to sponsor a child of their choice sponsored by Dutch Bros & Centre for Facial Plastic Surgery.
  3. A one of a kind ”Spark in Education” T-shirt
  4. Recognition with a bio and picture on the website for 1 year.