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Philanthropy Friday: World-Record Penny Chain

 Margaret Robinson, The Columbus Foundation Philanthropy Friday: World-Record Penny Chain
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Incredible students from all over the Columbus area are coming together to attempt quite an amazing feat: create a world-record penny chain out of six million pennies.

The penny chain is part of See Kids Dream’s Penny Harvest service learning program.

This year, students from 47 schools in Columbus, Worthington, and Dublin have been collecting pennies to donate through the Penny Harvest program. Over the last four school years, $119,000 has been collected with more than $50,000 coming in this year alone.

“Penny Harvest transforms their worldview and it can transform their perspective about what they are capable of. It’s inspiring the next generation of philanthropists,” said Bill Grindle, executive director of See Kids Dream.

Students in the program, mostly from kindergarten through fifth-grade, spend the school year learning about philanthropy in three phases. In the first phase students gather pennies and work together to identify issues in the community they are passionate about.

Students use The Columbus Foundation’s PowerPhilanthropy to research nonprofits.

During the second phase students research community needs, debate causes, and learn more about organizations in their community. They review proposals and award service and community grants from the funds they have collected (typically about $1,000 or more per school). Students gain a deeper awareness of community issues, becoming powerful advocates as they ultimately decide how their money can make the biggest difference.

“They build new skills and talents around critical thinking, problem solving, research, and collaborating. Those things carry forward and really empower the intellect of our youth,” Grindle said.

In the spring, students take action to address the community needs they have become passionate about.  In partnership with nonprofit organizations, schools use their money to perform service projects, creatively addressing the needs of their communities.

“The service projects highlight the power of the individual. This gives them a chance to close the loop on their understanding. They can see first hand what their dollars are doing and understand the need on a much deeper level. It’s the ability to act upon their desire to help others, not just as a team but also as an individual. We are here to inspire that in kids.” Grindle said.

The Columbus Foundation made a special $265,000 Bicentennial grant to See Kids Dream to help expand the successful youth philanthropy program while also honoring Columbus’ past, present, and future.

“We are proud to support Penny Harvest. It is an incredible program that helps children understand the importance of community and also the power of informed philanthropy,” said Doug Kridler, president and CEO of The Columbus Foundation.

Students and volunteers lay a one-mile penny chain to prepare for the world-record attempt.

You can check out what the students have learned at the upcoming Power of the Penny event on May 22 at the Franklin County Veterans Memorial from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. See Kids Dream is also looking for volunteers for the June 3rd world-record attempt to make a 75-mile penny chain in and around Genoa Park.

“These students are really building the future of Columbus and ensuring that we remain smart and open,” Grindle said.

Learn more about See Kids Dream through their PowerPhilanthropy portrait and also on their website.

Information about local nonprofits is available 24/7 through the Foundation’s online resource, PowerPhilanthropy, which is available to everyone who wants to be more informed about the nonprofits they care about. PowerPhilanthropy makes it easy to donate to the causes you care about at columbusfoundation.org/p2/.

Follow us on Twitter at @colsfoundation and like The Columbus Foundation on Facebook.

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