Skate for Change Plans to Use $25,000 State Farm™ Grant to Expand its Reach.
Bloomington, IL (Aug. 28, 2012) - Let teens pursue their passion. Show them how it can be positive. Harness that power to make the world a better place. That's the recipe for success behind Skate for Change of Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska, a nonprofit organization of young skateboard enthusiasts determined to give back to their community.
"I think you are teaching a young person to not be selfish," said founder Mike Smith. "You are giving them an opportunity to do something they love, yet have a positive influence on someone's life."
Through Skate for Change, young people ride around Lincoln and Omaha with backpacks handing out necessities to the homeless and less fortunate. The organization started in 2011 after others began following the example Smith set in his role as a street outreach worker helping homeless and runaway teens. Today, hundreds of young people are volunteering in these two cities.
"One of my friends saw me do it, and then it went from one to two, and then it just kind of exploded from there," Smith said. "It really just started out of something I was doing on my own time. Once the kids got a hold of it, I realized it could really be something important."
Skate for Change is poised to grow, thanks to a $25,000 grant from State Farm. The organization was among 3,000 causes submitted to State Farm through Cause An Effect, a crowd-sourced philanthropic initiative benefiting non-profit organizations creating solutions to community issues. From April 27 to May 17, people who use Facebook were asked to visit the Cause An Effect Facebook application and vote for the 100 finalist causes competing for a grant. More than 38,000 people cast more than 1.2 million votes. Skate for Change came in first among 40 winning causes with 67,252 votes.
"The tremendous number of votes Skate for Change received says a lot about the passion their supporters have for making positive change happen," said Dean Van Loon, Vice President of Operations for State Farm. "We look forward to watching Skate for Change bring the Omaha and Lincoln communities together to make their neighborhoods safer, stronger, and better educated."
Young people want to feel important – and that includes young skateboarders, who can be marginalized and stereotyped, Smith said. "Just being in the top forty (causes) was amazing." But coming in first was pretty great. "I feel like we really showed the country how many people love our concept and how many of us are out there. It says a lot about the determination of our young people."
Winning the Cause An Effect grant helped Skate for Change raise its profile, Smith said. With the $25,000 grant, he plans to get Skate for Change in front of as many people as he can. "Any skateboarder in any city can do Skate for Change," he said. "Any kid can look at their community and make a difference."
Melissa Paulik, Media Inquiries, (309) 766 - 3886
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