A $10,000 Reward


From Newport News Public Schools Instagram Page

Menchville’s Lead4Change team, “Fare Share,” presented a check of $10,000 to THRIVE Peninsula on Tuesday, September 10.

Lead4Change, the student leadership program previously known as Lead2Feed, awarded Menchville’s Lead4Change team, “Fare Share,” a $10,000 grant last year for their dedication to the program and service to their community. The grant was to be given to a nonprofit organization of the team’s choice. On Tuesday, September 10, Fare Share presented the grant to THRIVE Peninsula, whom they had been working alongside throughout the previous year.

Many special guests were able to attend the ceremony, including Angela York and Regan Mosely from THRIVE Peninsula, Shelly Simonds from the Newport News School Board, Chairman of the School Board Gary Hunter, Donna Tighe from the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, and Katie Morgan, the Executive Director of the Youth Volunteer Corps of Hampton Roads. Linda Spahr, program manager of Lead4Change, was not able to attend, but she sent a video congratulating the team for their hard work.

“Lead4Change has an annual competition. Thousands of schools participate in this every year, and only five are selected as grand prize winners. At the beginning of the year last year, we invited Ms. Tighe and Ms. York, who we’d previously cooperated with in this program, to come and talk about both THRIVE Peninsula and the Virginia Foodbank, respectively, and asked the students to select one to become their nonprofit partner for the year,” explained Peter Mercier, the team’s staff leader. “As part of Lead4Change you’re asked to select a nonprofit, and if you should win an award through this competition, that nonprofit organization receives the amount of the award. The grand prize award is the amount of $10,000. We were one of five schools nationwide, out of thousands of entries, to earn a grand prize award, which earned $10,000 for THRIVE Peninsula.”

Fare Share completed more than twelve service projects throughout the school year last year to earn this award. They held a Thanksgiving food drive and donated approximately 2,000 pounds of food to the Peninsula Foodbank, participated in an anti-bullying campaign known as STAND Night, collected over $500 for United Way, tended to the school garden and Outdoor Learning Center, participated in Canstruction, and created a video spreading awareness about poverty and socioeconomics. The group in total raised over $3,000 for multiple organizations, donated at least 3,000 pounds of food, and collectively served over 1,200 hours doing work for the community.

“I’ve had the opportunity to watch the Lead2Feed program grow and expand, and it’s just amazing to me that by just having a club and doing some good works and raising some money with their own students and their own school, that you all [Fare Share] have been able to get a $10,000 check from a national organization. That is amazing! You guys should be so proud of yourselves,” congratulated Shelly Simonds. “We always say in Newport News that smart is something you become, and we see that with these students. You have formed this club and worked with a number of different organizations, and through trial and error you’ve seen which organizations are effective, and you’ve decided to work with really important groups on the peninsula, like Youth Volunteer Corps, the food bank, and now THRIVE because you know that these are the organizations who have that expertise- who can get the food to the people who need it. I’m just so proud of you for taking these opportunities and really learning because I think leadership is one of the most important skills you can practice in high school.”

The team celebrated after the presentation ceremony with cake, and immediately began working together to brainstorm ideas for future projects that they can accomplish this school year in order to further help their community, as well as which organization they will partner with this school year.