NEW YORK, Oct. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Scholastic Media, a division of Scholastic Inc., the global children's publishing, education and media company, and HandsOn Network, the volunteer activation division of Points of Light Institute and largest volunteer network in the nation, announced today the winners of its third annual "BE BIG in Your Community Contest," a signature component of the ongoing Clifford The Big Red Dog® BE BIG!™ campaign sponsored by American Family Insurance.
Twenty-five-year-old Illinois pre-Kindergarten teacher Andrea de Avila's BIG idea to transform her school's courtyard roof into a garden and play area for an early childhood program was awarded the $25,000 grand prize grant from the BE BIG Fund. The area also will serve as a place for older students to study science and eco-friendly topics. Andrea and her team will see the idea come to life with the support of Chicago Cares, a HandsOn Network affiliate.
The national contest invited participants to submit a BIG idea that demonstrates Clifford's Big Ideas (Share, Help Others, Be Kind, Be Responsible, Play Fair, Be a Good Friend, Believe in Yourself, Have Respect, Work Together and Be Truthful) for a chance to win a community grant to be used toward implementing the winning proposals. Since its inception in 2009, the contest has generated more than 2,500 entries from more than 60,000 children, parents, teachers and community leaders ranging in age from 2 to 70.
De Avila says she was inspired to apply for a BE BIG grant in order to provide a safe space for outdoor play and learning for her school's students. By encouraging participation in the creation and maintenance of an eco-friendly garden, de Avila's BIG idea will also foster an appreciation of caring for the environment and community. The project will depend on the support of local volunteers, who will assist in developing the play area and planting the garden.
"Andrea and her fellow teachers saw in the BE BIG Contest an opportunity to serve her school and its students," said Deborah Forte, President of Scholastic Media and Executive Vice President of Scholastic Inc. "Clifford's BIG Ideas are inspiring people of all ages; Scholastic is delighted that so many people are committing to improve the lives of others in innovative ways, while taking pride in service to their communities."
"We are excited to celebrate young, influential change agents like Andrea," said Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light Institute. "By joining forces with Scholastic, we hope to inspire and engage young people and families around the world to make service and civic engagement a priority in their everyday lives."
"So many great accomplishments start with a single idea," said Debbie Peterson, customer relationship marketing director for American Family Insurance. "American Family Insurance is proud to support these individuals and their creative ideas for helping others and strengthening their communities."
Ten additional contest entries were selected as first-place prize winners in the "BE BIG in Your Community Contest"; each will be awarded a $2,500 community grant. Nineteen second-place prize-winning ideas – one from each of American Family Insurance's 19-state business territory – also will receive grants totaling $25,000. The ten first place prize winners are below.
- Amy French, 35, of Columbus, Ga. will work with Volunteer Macon to create an educational support room for children who reside at her local battered women's shelter
- Brittany Bergquist, 20, from Norwell, Mass. and her brother will work with Boston Cares on her BIG idea, "Helping Heroes Home," a project designed to provide prepaid cell phones to veterans facing financial hardships
- Julie Raynor, 49, of Twin Lake, Mich. and her team will work with Volunteer Center of West Michigan on a residential summer camp program called "Camp Shout Out" for young people (ages 7-18) who stutter
- Yoni Kalin, 17, of Washington, D.C. and his team will work with HandsOn Greater DC Cares to expand the reach of "Color My World," an organization that collects crayons from restaurants and recycles them to local schools and early childhood care centers
- Megan Schreck, 26, from North Huntingdon, Pa. will work with generationOn to create "Beverly's Birthdays," a nonprofit organization that will provide birthday celebrations for local low-income and homeless children
- Jess Davis, 18, of Santa Barbara, Calif. and her team will work with Volunteer Ventura County to expand the nonprofit organization "Everybody Dance Now!" by creating a global network of chapters committed to transforming the lives of young people through free dance programming
- Hernando Buitrago, 27, of San Francisco, Calif. and his team will work with generationOn to expand MusicianCorps, an organization that teaches at-risk students to play a new instrument and uses the power of music to increase involvement in school
- Atnreakn Alleyne, 27, of Camden, N.J., and his team will work with generationOn to promote college awareness, college readiness, and high academic achievement in high schools through TeenSHARP college prep clubs
- Kayla Lafi, 16, of Fairview, N.J., will work with Volunteer Center of Bergen County to launch "Teens Living With Celiac" and spread awareness of celiac disease in her community
- Rubye Emerson, 70, of McGehee, Ark. and her team will work with generationOn to expand the Bicycle Factory, a program that introduces students to entrepreneurial business and marketing
More than 1,000 entries (comprising more than 20,000 community members of all ages) were submitted for the 2011 contest -- an increase from both 2009 and 2010. The winning BIG Ideas were selected by a panel of judges based on four criteria: feasibility, creativity, sustainability and impact. A complete list of finalists, and profiles about their BIG ideas, can be found at www.scholastic.com/cliffordbebig.
The Clifford BE BIG campaign invites everyone to take action and raise awareness for how Clifford's BIG Ideas can make the world a better place. Its mission is to recognize and reward others for their BIG actions, to catalyze change in local communities, and to provide resources for everyone to share BIG ideas. The initiative is sponsored by American Family Insurance, an organization with a long tradition of community sponsorships and involvement, contributing to organizations that improve the quality of life for those in need, particularly children.
Clifford's Big Ideas came out of the curriculum developed for the award-winning animated television series Clifford the Big Red Dog, based on the books by Norman Bridwell, that airs on PBS KIDS®. The brand continues to perform well internationally with television episodes sold to more than 110 countries worldwide. With more than 126 million books in print, Clifford is a literary classic embraced by parents, teachers and kids.
If you would like more information about Scholastic, please visit Scholastic's media room at mediaroom.scholastic.com/clifford. For more information on the PBS series Clifford the Big Red Dog visit PBSKIDS.org/clifford or PBS.org/pressroom.
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books and a leader in educational technology and related services and children's media. Scholastic creates quality books, print and technology-based learning materials and programs, magazines, multi-media and other products that help children learn both at school and at home. The company distributes its products and services worldwide through a variety of channels, including school-based book clubs and book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, on-air, and online at www.scholastic.com.
About HandsOn Network
The volunteer-activation arm of Points of Light Institute, HandsOn Network includes 250 community action centers that deliver 30 million hours of volunteer service each year and extends to 16 countries around the world. These centers focus on helping people plug into volunteer opportunities in their local communities, partnering with more than 70,000 corporate, faith and nonprofit organizations to manage volunteer resources, and developing the leadership capacity of volunteers. Annually, the network delivers approximately 30 million hours of volunteer service valued at $626 million. For more information, please visit www.HandsOnNetwork.org.
About American Family Insurance
Based in Madison, Wis., American Family Insurance offers auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, health insurance, business and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states. American Family Insurance is the nation's third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company and ranks 358th on the Fortune 500 list. On the web at www.amfam.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amfam, and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amfam.
SOURCE Scholastic Media