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Jefferson Awards impact: $36 million

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Wilmington-based foundation has honored tens of schools, hundreds of student leaders

 

Money raised for B+ by the Charter School of Wilmingtons Jefferson Council is shown.

The students learning about volunteerism, leadership and helping their community are surprised about the total value of what they accomplish, a Jefferson Awards Foundation official has noticed.

Their first reaction is Wow, thats a lot, said Michele Fidance, national director for Delaware and Central Florida.

Its a learning process how valuable their time is to nonprofits and hence to the community at large, she said. Without volunteers, nonprofits would not be able to exist.

When the Wilmington-based foundation adds up its impact in Delaware tens of schools, hundreds of student leaders, thousands of student volunteers, tens of thousands of volunteer hours and hundreds of thousands of lives impacted the total community value since 2008 tops $36 million.

That figure, from a report titled Delaware as a Model for the Nation: Service Impact 2008-2015, credits $28.8 million to Students in Action, a program now in 43 schools in Delaware. The rest includes $5.9 million from Lead360, a foundation challenge involving six cities, and $1.425 million in donated exposure from its media partners.

Updated numbers from the latest round of Lead360 projects, conducted after the report was prepared, brings Delawares community value to more than $39 million, according to Fidance.

The data that backs up that value comes from the students. As they develop, execute and assess projects, they use rubrics that explain expectations, just like rubrics used to grade their coursework.

The students have 25 questions to answer on each project, which they address in written reports and oral presentations. One of the most telling is this: Tell us the stories about your project, Fidance said.

They also collect specific numbers. So when Wilmington Christian students planned two food drives, they set a goal of how many families they would help (100) and how many they did (100).

They log volunteers and hours given. The Value of Volunteer Time from by the Independent Sector coalition ($20.22 per hour in Delaware and $23.07 in the U.S.) is used to put a value on those hours.

These figures are also important for funding foundations that want quantified data. And they show how a few people can spread ideas. Fidance exemplified that with a project that takes four students to develop but several dozen to execute. You can see how each group is engaging another one, she said.

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High school participants from last year's Students in Action Leadership conference that was designed and implemented by students in the University of Delaware's School of Public Policy and Administration.

That ripple effect shows up in the reports other part: how Delaware is a model for the foundations other 12 regions and 55 media markets. Fidance cited two examples of sharing best practices:

The effort in Delaware has grown with use of paid interns, often University of Delaware majors in human services, communications and organizational leadership. Heres what she said one of the best interns brought to the foundation: business knowledge with a compassionate heart.

The Students in Action program has strengthened by engaging college students to orchestrate training. The high schoolers relate really well to peers just a bit older, and the college students enjoy putting their classroom work into practice. That collaboration started nine years ago with Karen Stein, a University of Delaware professor who uses those conferences in her capstone course in organizational leadership. This year, a similar partnership started with Wilmington Universitys student ambassadors.

For the past eight years, Delawares community spirit and desire to continuously earn its reputation as the First State have made Delaware the perfect Jefferson Awards model for the country, Georgetown resident Sam Franklin said in a statement. Franklin, who at times grew up homeless, was honored with a Jefferson Award for the breadth of her volunteering, which includes Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, Students in Action, Crossroad Community Church and the Home of the Brave. They are positive, innovative and enjoy working together impacting thousands of lives.

Delaware might become a more informal model for the nation. Five projects from Delaware students were among the 15 finalists in the foundations recent Lead360 Big Idea Challenge.

One was Woodbridge student Chase Marvils Inspiring Project, aimed at reducing negativism with the hashtag #theinspiringproject. Another was Gauger-Cobbs student Braeden Mannerings 3B Ripples, to spread his effort to give healthy snacks, data on social services and maybe other items to the poor, the homeless and the hungry.

Theyre easy to do, Fidance said. And they have significant impact.

Article originally published by The News Journal.

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The students learning about volunteerism, leadership and helping their community are surprised about the total value of what they accomplish, a Jefferson Awards Foundation official has noticed.
3/17/2016
 
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