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Latest Blog Post

The Servie Challenge

The popularity of the selfie is phenominal.  Selfies are the most well recognized trend among social media users, but they paint an incomplete picture of their subjects.

The Servie Challenge launched by VolunTEEN Nation Ambassador Kate Parchman is designed to allow social media users to show a more complete picture of themselves.  Servies are images of individuals/groups engaging in acts of service to others and posted on social media sites with the #serviechallenge.

Servies do the following:

1. Serives show a more complete picture of an individual, going beyond physical appearance to highlight interests, talents, character and dedication.

2. Servies share ideas for service opportunities. Many willing individuals wish to serve but do not know what groups or organizations are in need of assistance.  Also, first time volunteers may wish to share the experience with a friend, and servies can help volunteers to connect and coordinate efforts, leading to an increase in volunteer support for the organization and a more fulfilling experience for the volunteers.

3. Servies raise awareness, highlighting issues, needs and solutions to problems in our local communities and around the world.

4. Servies inspire others and impact communities:  Servies show needs being met, lives being improved and communities changing for the better.

5. The Servie Challenge is a great way to show, share and increase your impact on the world.   What you need to do for the Servie Challenge is post servies  to your profiles and then challenge other social media users to do the same.  Servies can change the world, but you have to take the first step. 

Post your servies with #serviechallenge.

Raise.Me to an Affordable Education

Today, college can seem like a money vacuum. With tuition rising, it seems impossible to go to college and come out debt free. The website www.Raise.Me is working to fight against graduates in debt by awarding college scholarship money to you every time you accomplish a small goal during high school, like getting an “A” in a class or doing one hour of community service.

With a growing list of participating colleges, www.Raise.Me has been rewarding hard-working students for everything from getting a “B” in a class to being involved in after-school activities. Students can earn hundreds of dollars for doing what they love. The best part? There is no competition. This isn’t a scholarship students must write an essay for or one where they’re competing for a set amount of money. This is a program that rewards 100% of students for every goal they accomplish. “Any high school student can sign up, and receive money each time they achieve a small goal in high school,” said Shagran Hassan, Vice President of Raise.Me. With over 20 goals that students can complete, students can get thousands of dollars for their education. This also doesn’t mean that the scholarships provided are for just the Valedictorians or Salutatorians. 

Absolutely anyone can get money. www.Raise.Me is also completely user friendly. Students just sign up and then fill in the blanks. After you fill in a few lines, colleges instantly award you scholarship money based on each of your achievements. This money must be used at the specific 

college that is giving the student money; with the growing list of participating colleges at www.Raise.Me it is likely there will be one that is best for you. “They [colleges] are really a mix. Some are large public colleges like Penn State and University of Central Florida, which are two of the five largest public colleges in the United States. Then there are also some really good private colleges like DePaul University, and liberal arts colleges like Oberlin College.” There are colleges from everywhere. 

With this easy to use site and several dozen college partners, students can feel better about going to college and getting a degree without worrying about how much debt awaits them. Every single goal, whether it is one “A” in a class or two hours of volunteer work gets students closers to a more affordable future. If you want to sign up or know more about www.Raise.Me, follow this link to their website. As a member myself, I can say it is definitely worth your time.

Lab Candy: Making Science Accessible to Young Girls

If I have one hope for the future, it is to see an equal representation of men and women in science industries across the world. I wish that in the near future, science industries will see women at the helm of innovations and breakthroughs alongside men, and be radically different from the male-dominated bastions that they are today. But I know that for this sea change to take place, girls’ interest in science must be cultivated from a young age, and deeply ingrained cultural stereotypes about men and women in science must be uprooted.

This past week, I was fortunate to interview Olivia Pavco-Giaccia, the Founder of LabCandy a social enterprise venture that hopes to foster girls’ early interest in science and dispel false notions that men are the mainstays of science industries. Olivia, a rising junior at Yale University, says that LabCandy aims to fulfill this mission by showing girls that “the field has room for girls like them.”

Olivia cites the “persistent stereotype that scientists are nerdy, old guys” as one reason why girls are often deterred from careers in science. “LabCandy attacks this stereotype directly, allowing girls to change what they think a scientist is supposed to look like.” To achieve this, LabCandy makes available to girls “brightly colored lab coats, fun goggles, and engaging science adventure story books,” encouraging girls to “picture herself as the scientist that she can grow up to be.”

In addition to colorful and accessible lab coats and goggles, LabCandy boasts a series of story books that feature riveting and true-to-life characters. Understanding that the presence of women role models in science is crucial to closing the gender gap in science industries, Olivia notes that these characters were created to be “relatable, spunky role models who will help young girls realize the world of science offers them opportunities for creating, collaborating and solving real-world problems.” She hopes that young girls will be able to feel a sense of connection with these characters, and hone investigative skills.

So far, the team at LabCandy has liaised with hundreds of girls, parents, grandparents, teachers and scientists in the US to “bring LabCandy to life” and have its enlightening mission to come to fruition. Reflecting on her conversations with the girls, Olivia revels in seeing and hearing “the excited reactions of young girls when they put on our colorful labcoats, decorate up a pair of their own lab goggles, read our storybook and then try out [Lab Candy’s] experiments.”

When asked how youth can get involved with LabCandy, Olivia encourages everyone to get in touch with LabCandy and contact LabCandy team members through its interactive website. In addition, she wishes to see people spreading the word about LabCandy on social media. A creative way to harness social media to make science accessible to girls is to create a personal photo edit on what you perceive a scientist looks like. “Hashtag it with #labcandy and share it on Twitter!” Olivia urges. 

Ultimately, LabCandy works to address the dearth of females in science industries. “In the short term, encouraging young girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics promotes self-confidence, creativity, and critical thinking skills. In the long term, it opens up new job opportunities,” Olivia emphasizes. Indeed, getting more women involved in science will narrow the wage gap, empower the next generation of problem-solvers and innovators, and safeguard a brighter future for all.

How Youth Can Support the Ferguson-Florissant Community

St. Louis is our home. We have gone to clean up the streets of Ferguson and volunteered at the Ferguson Library offering free educational programs while the Ferguson-Florissant and Jennings School Districts remained closed. Youth can and do make an impact. One of our major goals is to inspire more young people to see themselves as positive changemakers and take action to improve communities. We will provide funding to youth that are making a difference.

Please submit your ideas. Below please find some examples.

1. Register voters and encourage young voters to vote
2. Teach children the art of peaceful conflict resolution
3. Integrate the arts in your community and schools to explore and promote non-violence
4. Plant a community or school garden growing produce to donate to local food banks
5. Serve on committees and task forces working to promote safer neighborhoods, schools, college campuses and communities.
6. Get involved in your community-Many non-profits, like food banks operate on shoestring budgets, cover vast geographic areas, and are struggling to keep up with the demand for their services. Youth can utilize http://www.volunTEENnation.org to find volunteer opportunities in their region. 

Please submit your ideas to promote peace in the St. Louis Metropolitan community and the greater world. We plan to fund numerous youth-led projects in our community. Contact us if you have questions: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Submit your ideas on how we can promote peace in the St. Louis Metropolitan community and the greater world: http://bit.ly/peaceinferg

Keds Brave Life Summit

It has been three days since I attended the Keds Brave Life Summit and my head and my heart are still swirling. Arriving in New York, I had no idea what to expect from the experience and I felt tings of nervousness and gratitude for the experience.

The plane ride from Georgia to New York gave me some time to think. I thought about my future as late as what I would do after retirement or would I be one of those workers who never retired and my future as near as the summit and what I hoped to get out of the experience. I even thought about the distant past of three years ago when I had last been in New York shortly after my mother passed away and the more recent past of when I almost did not send in an application for the summit because I did not think that I would get accepted. 

A lot had changed with this time and I am sure that a lot more will change in the future. I took away so many things from the summit, but my biggest lesson had to me my realization that all the tools that I needed to succeed were inside me. We hear speakers all the time tell us all time the old cliché of how we are in charge of our destiny and how we are the ones who can change the world. I can guess that many of us do not believe this although this is what we are taught and that is the decision we make.

After the summit, I decided to take this advice and apply it to all that I do. I decided to not be the one who gets in my own way. I decided to be brave.