Students use program to make a difference in many ways

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Last fall, nearly 3,000 students from elementary schools in Columbus Public Schools and Worthington City Schools went door to door with their families, to connect with neighbors and raise money to help others. Since returning from their winter break they have been doing research and polling their peers and community members to understand critical issues in Columbus. These students are the first in Columbus to participate in the Penny Harvest, the nation's largest youth philanthropy program which is being introduced to Columbus by a local not-for-profit called See Kids Dream.

"My favorite part of the Penny Harvest has been working with my friends to do research and talk about how we can help people," said Jacob a 5th grader at Devonshire Elementary.

The students' decision making has come to a culmination over the past two weeks. They have been interviewing representatives from several local not-for-profit organizations. Some examples of the issues student plan to address with the money they raised include homelessness, prevention of youth and gang violence, improving neighborhood safety, helping children suffering from cancer and helping the poor to provide care for their animals.

Pat Price, the principal at Devonshire Elementary, said they decided to participate in the Penny Harvest because the teachers and staff from the school wanted the students to have an opportunity to have a voice and position of leadership in their community.

When asked about the experience so far she said, "I have been really surprised by the critical thinking skills the students have developed. I expected the students would meet people from organizations and come away feeling warm and fuzzy and want to give money to each because they liked them. Instead they have asked great questions, and it has lead to deep discussions and group debate. They have really analyzed who they feel can really use their money to make the biggest difference. The Penny Harvest is enhancing their learning."

The Penny Harvest concluded in the spring when the students took action by awarding grants and participating in hands-on service projects. Every penny raised by the students in the Penny Harvest program is allocated back to the community by the students.

See Kids Dream, the organization who brought the Penny Harvest to Columbus, is working hard to secure the essential funding needed to support expansion to additional schools next year. To learn more about See Kids Dream and how you can help bring the Penny Harvest to more schools and children in Columbus, visit