Many academic success stories begin with acts of philanthropy. In fact, every time you decide to give back to a school, your contributions have a profound effect on developing the intellectual gifts of young minds. It may also inspire today’s youth to follow your example to give back, thereby contributing to the momentum of support, like ripples in a pond.
So what can one person do to make the world a better place? Let’s consider a recent example involving a local science teacher who wanted to give her students a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of NASA’s space program. Through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) gave high schools across the nation a chance to design and propose a microgravity experiment to be conducted aboard the International Space Station. This science teacher saw the potential for Damien High School to take on this challenge.
School administration supported the project, so long as this science teacher could overcome the hurdle of raising the necessary costs, which were in the tens of thousands of dollars. With infectious enthusiasm, devotion to students, and a strategic fundraising plan, the project began to take shape.
The first seed gift was from parents of an alumnus, who value motivating young people to see the possibilities of science. Alumni, who began lifelong friendships in high school, also made donations to bring this program to campus. Additional fundraising support came from a broad base, including the foundation that previously funded a new engineering program for Damien, to a local veterinarian, who, after hearing about the project, also made a gift, though he had no direct connection to the school.
As proud parents and other community members gathered one night to see all the creative experiments designed through the process, we learned that one of the students on the winning team was stuck in traffic after an interview with his dream university: MIT. He was later accepted, in small part to this experiment. Through the efforts of this small group of caring people and organizations, this student was given a platform to showcase his talents. Now, he has completed his first year of college, and is heading to Brazil to help tutor low income students and encourage them to explore their interests in science.
So, what can you do to make the world a better place? Throw a stone in a pond and find out.
Lisa Welch, JD, Director of Advancement, Damien High School