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!
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!
I just found out that I am a social entrepreneur! I always thought you had to be a huge nonprofit or business owner, so I had to do a bit of research! I found out that not only am I one and that you can be one too but also that there are three different types!
In this video I am sharing what I learned about the three different types and how to determine which one you are? Enjoy! Don’t forget to leave a comment and subscribe to the channel. Tell us about your social business or organization.
Remember, there is no limit to your spark so get out there and create something amazing!
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!
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 for 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.
LaunchPad4Kids, Inc. is officially a 501 C3 and I have to say that it feels amazing! It has taken two years of discussing, planning, testing and collaborating to finally get to this point! It’s hard to believe it but we can actually move forward on the journey to crowd fund for good!
Since this is the first blog post of this kind, I’d like to explain why I will be writing #FounderFriday! Well first off, Friday is just a great day for writing about good things! Second I want to share our mission, goals, vision and progress with our supporters. This will be an open diary of the journey in building a nonprofit together from the ground up. My goal is to share what we’ve learned, challenges we face, triumphs and accomplishments we make as an organization. I wanted to have a space to introduce all of the integral people that help LaunchPad accomplish our mission (and it does take a village)!
Surrounded by friends, family and community members in June of 2013, I unveiled the idea to begin a nonprofit project called LaunchPad. Our mission is to provide a way for one person to impact a child in need, by providing funds to an activity of a child’s choice.
I had no idea how to run a non profit and frankly, I am still learning. I have a feeling that this learning curve will always be there, changing and evolving with time. I just wanted an easier, simplified way to get kids into activities to expose them to the benefits that come along with being involved in activities. Unveiling the idea was one of the most terrifying and invigorating parts of this journey so far, but the feedback and excitement I received was the spark I really needed to move forward!
The process of beginning a nonprofit has been both rewarding and challenging, to say the least. Experiencing my community do whatever they can to help our LaunchPad Kids has been the most validating aspect of it all!
Originally we began with nonprofit organizations referring children which eventually shifted to teachers and schools to ensure that each child was vetted properly for our program requirements.
With schools and teachers we found that we could create a process that could be replicated for every school and the potential to expand with this method would be greater and faster.
Although we’ve run into a few road blocks getting the program into schools at a quick rate, the teachers who are involved in the program are 100% behind the kids that they refer. They are their champions and that has been the most critical aspect of the program!
We found that teachers always wanted to do more but didn’t quite have the avenue to quickly and efficiently refer a child for activities they were interested in. We are still looking for the right avenue to give the program the expansion into nationwide schools that we are hoping to achieve. However, in the meantime, we have discovered that sponsors are more than willing to help these children in any way they can which is fantastic news all the way around.
The scholarships make such a difference for these families. Self-confidence is boosted, children are so proud of their accomplishments and parents do whatever it takes to get these children to their activities. Appreciation doesn’t even scratch the surface of what many of these parents express both in letters and phone conversations.
Check out our infographic to see what we’ve done over the last two years!
*These posts may not always be perfect but they will be from the heart! I hope you enjoy and please feel free to leave a comment, suggestion or question. Also don’t forget to sign up for our Rocket Fuel Newsletter!