Student business generates impressive donation

The Seattle Waldorf School Community Giving Store.

The Seattle Waldorf School Community Giving Store.

In Waldorf education, 6th grade is a time when classes get deeply involved in community service. For many, that means volunteering at food banks, or doing environmental cleanup. But Wim Gottenbos’ 6th grade class at the Seattle Waldorf School spent the past spring developing a lively business that raised $2,000 in profits to support Solid Ground.

“Kids this age are starting to really see themselves,” said class parent Kimberly Hiner. In order to balance that, it is important for the students “to see greater need and the greater world out there.”

For four consecutive Fridays, the class opened shop at the end of the school day, selling their artwork, homemade lip balm, hand-knit mittens, pencil boxes, candles, baked goods and other items to schoolmates and their families. Stunning geometric-colored pencil drawings were printed as note cards and a poster, then marketed through the school newsletter.

Every one of the class’ 29 students created products to sell and took on business functions like marketing, accounting and direct sales. “I told them: ‘Every family has a strength. Find out what your strength is and bring that into this effort.'”

The project drew on many elements of the Waldorf curriculum, including geometry, handwork and business math.

Dean McColgan, Development Director at Solid Ground, spent about an hour with the students talking to them about the role of nonprofit organizations, the importance of community support, and Solid Ground’s mission and services. Dean said, “The project taught basic business principles, like accounting and inventory, but emphasized the importance of giving back to the community. When I presented to the class, I was very impressed with the students’ knowledge and eagerness to learn about the importance of nonprofit work.”

Each student in the 6th grade contributed a pencil drawing to this poster. Note cards were also created from the drawings.

Each student in the 6th grade contributed a pencil drawing to this poster. Note cards were also made from the drawings.

Perhaps a more long-term result of the project was how it created opportunity for conversations about privilege and equity.

“We developed an awareness of people that do not have the wealth and comfort that we have,” said Wim. “These students have breakfast every morning in their homes; they attend a private school. Most have their own rooms and own beds. So we imagine what it is like for kids of the same age who do not have the same things, who do not have breakfast, and must wait at school for their breakfast. Our task is to open the world for them, to help them connect to the outside world.”

“The students were proud of what they accomplished,” noted parent Liz Yaroschuk. “There was a sense of ownership in the business, deciding what products to sell, how much to charge. They were stunned by the amount of money they raised.”

“And,” added Kimberly, “they were incredibly impressed at what Solid Ground does.” Dean hopes to return to the school later this fall and report back to the students on the impact of their investment.

(Disclosure: I’ve drank the Waldorf Kool-Aid. My daughter is a 2014 graduate of the Seattle Waldorf School and my wife is on its Early Childhood staff.)

National nonprofit conference coming to Seattle

This November 16-18, more than 1,000 leaders and practitioners from nonprofits, foundations and corporate philanthropies across the country and around the world will converge in Seattle for IMAGINE, the 2014 Independent Sector National Conference.

IS_imagineThe conference is a rare opportunity for face-to-face collaboration, idea sharing, and knowledge building about emerging sector trends. It’s where the sector’s leading minds work together to find new ways to improve our communities, country and world. You can view the complete conference schedule here.

More than 150 top-notch speakers will be leading 30+ sessions, including: Change Agents – Community & Cultural Organizations; The Evolving Dynamics of Corporate Philanthropy; Inclusion, Diversity and Equity: Taking Our Vision from Imagined to Realized; and Capturing Hearts, Minds and Credit Cards. There is also a full track being curated by Philanthropy Northwest.

Local philanthropic leader Sonya Campion of the Campion Foundation, sums up the conference with a story: “I remember an Independent Sector Conference session where people were frantically texting and literally sprinting out to find their colleagues so that they could participate in the conversation,” she says. “What was happening in that room wasn’t just important. It was electric. Experiences like that don’t happen anywhere else in our sector.”

IMAGINE features dozens of thought-provoking sessions and more than 150 top-notch speakers, ranging from Sue Desmond-Hellmann of the Gates Foundation to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Hedrick Smith to artist-philanthropist Alec Baldwin. It also turns the concept of a traditional conference upside down with creative networking opportunities, exciting social events, and dynamic performances from artists like tribal funk group Pamyua and Grammy Award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari.

Plus, with an array of offerings like exclusive tracks for CEOs and C-Suiters, preconference sessions for policy advocates and emerging leaders, and post-conference workshops on critical topics like diversity, inclusion and best ethical practices, this is an experience everyone will be talking about.

To register, go to the Independent Sector website.

Christmas in July at Safeco supports Broadview

The Seattle Mariners and Rick’s Toys for Kids are presenting the first ever Christmas in July on Thursday, July 25 at Safeco Field. The Mariners will take on the Minnesota Twins with a 7:10pm first pitch.

ChristmasinJuly-1_mooseA portion of ticket proceeds will benefit Toys for Kids, the charity started many years ago by M’s broadcaster Rick Rizzs and former M’s centerfielder Dave Henderson. Toys for Kids supports children and families who are homeless and surviving domestic violence, including the residents of Solid Ground’s Broadview Emergency Shelter & Transitional Housing and Brettler Family Place programs.

Toys for Kids has provided loving, generous, magical year-end holiday celebrations for hundreds of Broadview residents. Rizzs and Henderson are truly revered for this work by everyone connected to Broadview and the other programs involved.

So, come on out to Safeco Field and enjoy a night of baseball while supporting a great cause. Tickets are $20 with $8 going directly to Toys for Kids!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to www.mariners.com/christmas
  2. Select “Buy Tickets” then enter “Christmas” as your Special Offer Code.
  3. Purchase and print your tickets instantly!

The deadline to purchase is July 24!

Thanks!

Thanks for shining light into the darkness!

Art by Rainer Waldman Adkins

Art by Rainer Waldman Adkins

The winter solstice is one of the most powerful days of the year. In this darkest moment, the cold and gray cast a heavy shadow on the realities our clients face every day. And yet, the solstice promises the return of light to our world. It rekindles hope based on the reality that life-giving energy outshines the darkest days.

It is a time that many of the world’s traditions call out for pause, reflection and re-commitment. And so, all of us at Solid Ground would like to pause to thank members of our community for your dedication to our work to overcome poverty and racism.

Together we face many dark times. But we know they are overcome by the radiant smiles of children learning to read, or digging in the soil while learning how food is grown; by the joyous gasps of parents opening doors to their new homes, and the satisfied sighs of riders reaching their destination.

Through our work and your support, we kindle light, hope and thousands of better futures. Thank you. Have a warm and safe holiday season!

Pouring on the support

Executive Chef Augi and General Manager Tino in the kitchen

For many years, the Nickerson Street Saloon has come up with creative ways to support Solid Ground. With the support of their suppliers, they have a tasty history of donating a portion of their holiday beer revenues to Solid Ground.

This year is no exception: Through the end of the year, they will donate a portion of the sales of every glass of New Belgium’s Shift Pale Lager to Solid Ground. Stop on by for a fine brew to support a fine cause!

Also, last week Nickerson Street Saloon hosted its second annual Thanksgiving feast for clients of Solid Ground and the FamilyWorks food bank.

“Our involvement with Solid Ground started through Kira Zylstra [who manages Solid Ground’s Homeless Prevention Programs],” explains Chris “Tino” Martino, General Manager.

“She worked for me for a number of years and it was a natural fit. I think our goal as a business has always been to be partner with our community. We have always thought of ourselves as a neighborhood restaurant and part of that includes trying to help out and give something back. Fortunately we have been successful enough to be able to host these types of things and have always had great support from our vendors like Georgetown Brewing, New Belgium Brewery and Columbia Distributing.”

Tino adds, “Our Thanksgiving meal was something we started last year. We had talked about it for a number of years and last year it just sort of came together. Kira pointed me towards Jake Weber at FamilyWorks, and we just went with it. I’m really looking forward to this year. I was really struck by how grateful and thankful all the people we had last year were. I thought it was nice that we were able to serve people in the context of our restaurant; I think our guests enjoyed it. It’s something we plan to continue to do as long as we can.”

Kira volunteered on Thanksgiving, helping to serve the 75 guests. “This wasn’t a buffet: We served our guests and got them what they wanted,” she said. “It was a really welcoming environment.”

“Chris Gerke is the owner of the Nick and he has always been the reason we try to do what we do,” Tino says. “Giving back and trying to leave things better than you found them is something he has always preached and I have embraced as well. In the end, helping to care for each other is something I believe we are all responsible for and a great reminder of how fortunate I have been in my own life. Perspective is always a good thing.”

Growing change agents

Solid Ground’s September 2012 Groundviews newsletter highlights our Penny Harvest program through the experiences of program alums, and the Big Picture News insert introduces our new leadership. To read past issues of Groundviews, please visit our Publications webpage.

Penny Harvest students at Washington Middle School circa 2008

Penny Harvest students at Washington Middle School circa 2008

Solid Ground’s Penny Harvest doesn’t fit neatly into a thematic box – but this innovative program packs a powerful impact engaging young people (ages four to 18) in philanthropy and service learning. Youth collect tens of thousands of dollars in coins, then carefully review and make grants to causes they care about (such as housing for people experiencing homelessness, cleaning up Puget Sound, promoting animal welfare, and many other efforts).

Penny Harvest strives to nurture a new generation of caring and capable young people who strengthen their communities and create personal and social change. With a strong emphasis on social justice, the program gives students of all backgrounds the opportunity to come together and make a difference – creating a generation of leaders who think critically about community issues and take action.

To paint a picture of the long-term impact Penny Harvest can have, we spoke to three program alumni who served on a Penny Harvest Youth Board in 2005 – now young adults – to find out what their experiences with the program mean to their lives today.

Taken back in May 2005, Penny Harvest Youth Board members (l to r) Leah Heck, Ana Lucia Degel & Maddy Carroll-Novak

Taken back in May 2005, Penny Harvest Youth Board members (l to r) Leah Heck, Ana Lucia Degel & Maddy Carroll-Novak

Leah Heck
When she first got involved with Penny Harvest, Leah says, “I don’t think I really had an understanding of philanthropy. I did have an understanding of community service,” but she adds, “Mostly I associated community service with something older people did.

“One of the main things it showed me was that I didn’t have to wait till I was rich or older, but that I could make an impact already. I could do something. That was very important for me. Penny Harvest helped open my eyes to many things which just aren’t really talked about or, since I hadn’t experienced, I didn’t know about. My involvement has impacted my life in a number of ways. I really enjoyed participating in the Youth Board and everything we did. It is one of the reasons I have become interested in the nonprofit sector and social injustice and how important it is to get involved.”

A recent university graduate living in the Netherlands, she says, “I just started interning at a nonprofit, which focuses on human rights and women. Penny Harvest in a way jumpstarted my career decision. It showed me what is possible and what I can do.”

Damon Arrao
Like Leah, philanthropy was a new concept for Damon prior to joining the Youth Board. “I dabbled in community service and didn’t have a great idea of what interested me. Penny Harvest really enlightened me to what it meant to give back. It wasn’t even necessarily money, but time and empathy towards other people. The idea to me then, and now, of allocating precious time (much less, money) towards good causes is the foundation of community and having a good life.”

He speaks to the program’s equalizing affect and how it shatters the idea that only the wealthy can engage in philanthropy. “I think that’s probably one of the greatest things Penny Harvest does. On the Youth Board, I worked with students from many different socioeconomic backgrounds. Having moved from a low-income part of Portland, Oregon, I participated in philanthropy with students who lived in suburbs, went to private schools or who had the same background as me. The same goal brought us together, and the rest was trivial.”

He says, “During my time at Penny Harvest, I learned well my ability to make the hard decisions and come up with innovative ideas. I’ve been a role model for serving my community, and younger members of my family have followed in my footsteps. Career-wise, at this point I am still undecided, however whatever I aspire to, I know an underlying goal would be to support philanthropic causes and organizations that enrich our communities.”

Ana Lucia Degel
At the other end of the spectrum, Ana Lucia comes from a family that runs its own philanthropic foundation. She says her family’s social ideology taught her, “When you have, you must give.”

However she says, “It was through the experience of Penny Harvest that I really understood more about the process of philanthropy – the difference between advantages that I had, and things that I didn’t really have to consider or think about because it was a given for me. What stood out to me then was the social justice aspect of it.

“Along with that – being 17 years old and feeling angsty, like nobody listened to me – I felt taken seriously by adults. And that sense that you have the power to do something, that adults are going to listen to you – it’s HUGE. When a kid can have that experience, I think it sticks with you for a long time.”

Today, Ana Lucia teaches Special Ed through Teach for America and says that Penny Harvest strongly influenced how she approaches her role. She says, “It doesn’t work when you come in and think that you’re going to transform a community that isn’t your own.” She pushes herself and the organization to “mobilize families and people and students within that community to work together to create some changes” through “true connection and dialogue and listening.”

And creating opportunities to make lasting, positive change is exactly what Penny Harvest does best. ●

For more info on Penny Harvest, visit www.solid-ground.org/Programs/Legal/Penny or contact pennyharvestseattle@solid-ground.org.

Solid Ground names new leadership team

Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground President & CEO

Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground President & CEO

Solid Ground is pleased to announce that Gordon McHenry, Jr. has been named President & Chief Executive Officer. McHenry most recently served as the Executive Director of the Rainier Scholars, a Seattle-based academic enrichment and leadership development agency. Rainier Scholars increases college graduation rates for low-income students of color by providing comprehensive support from 6th grade until college graduation.

Solid Ground also announces that Sandi Cutler has been named Chief Operations & Strategy Officer. Instrumental in the growth of Bastyr University and other agencies, Cutler brings significant strategic, operational and organizational development experience.

The hirings highlight a time of intentional introspection and change at the King County nonprofit, as the agency implements a new strategic plan calling for increased collaboration and coordination among its services.

“We are thrilled to bring this talented leadership team to Solid Ground,” stated Lauren McGowan, Solid Ground Board Chair. “We undertook a national search and in our own backyard found leadership whose careers and life stories embody the notion of creating opportunity for all to thrive,” she said.

“People in our communities continue to suffer from the prolonged economic downturn,” McGowan said. “As an agency, we are being called on to do more, often with less. Gordon and Sandi have the vision and skills to expand Solid Ground’s response to poor and oppressed people, as well as our advocacy to address root causes of social injustice.”

“Fundamentally, it’s about leadership,” McHenry said. “We envision Solid Ground being perceived as a key leader when it comes to addressing economic disparities.”

McHenry previously served in a variety of executive leadership roles in The Boeing Company, most recently as Director of Global Corporate Citizenship in the Northwest Region. A lifelong member of the Seattle community, McHenry has served on many local boards, including the Central Area Motivation Program (now called Centerstone), United Way and The Seattle Public Library. He currently serves on the boards of Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Seattle University.

McHenry’s father was the first African-American engineer promoted into management at Boeing, as well as the first person in his family to graduate from college. His mother grew up and was educated in a segregated community in Texas. Their experiences gave their children deep respect for education and a strong belief in being active community leaders.

Cutler’s father led efforts to desegregate public schools in the Central Valley of California. His legacy bore fruit in Cutler’s early work as a political activist and management of progressive political campaigns and reform efforts.

“I am delighted to team up with Sandi Cutler. His activist roots and organizational development experience will help Solid Ground strengthen our community by giving more people the firm foundation they need to succeed,” McHenry said.

Ruth Massinga, Interim CEO since August 2011, will continue working with Solid Ground through the fall on several strategic initiatives.

“Ruth stepped out of retirement and guided us through a strategic refocusing. We are indebted to her for the gift of leadership,” McGowan said.

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