NEW YORK, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Scholastic Media, a division of Scholastic Inc., the global children's publishing, education and media company, and HandsOn Network, the largest volunteer network in the nation, announced today the winners of its second 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.
Sixteen-year-old Tucson student Jennifer O'Neal's BIG idea to create a hospital classroom for young cancer patients at Diamond Children's at University Medical Center -- has been awarded the $25,000 grand prize grant from the BE BIG Fund. The Arizona student will see her idea come to life with the support of Volunteer Center of Southern Arizona, an affiliate of the HandsOn Network.
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, the contest has brought in over 1,500 entries from over 40,000 children, parents, teachers and community leaders ranging in age from 2 to 70.
O'Neal was inspired to apply for a BE BIG grant after her sister was hospitalized at the University Medical Center in Tucson in 2009. During her sister's stay, O'Neal learned that children face substantial challenges keeping up with their school work while being treated, and falling behind in school is one of many young patients' chief concerns. With help from two members of Girl Scout Troop 484, Sharon Fass and Lauren Evans, O'Neal developed the idea to create a study room to help reduce young patients' stress.
"Jennifer and her team drew from personal inspiration to develop a BIG idea that will meet the needs of their community for years to come," said Deborah Forte, President of Scholastic Media and Executive Vice President of Scholastic Inc. "Clifford's BIG Ideas are inspiring people of all ages to embrace civic engagement; Scholastic is delighted that so many children and families are committing to improve the lives of others in innovative ways, while taking pride in service to their communities."
"The BE BIG program continues to inspire and help equip children and families to adopt a tradition of service," said Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light Institute and co-founder, HandsOn Network. "We are extremely pleased to partner with Scholastic Media in providing a way for a new generation, exemplified by Jennifer and the other award-winners, to make its mark on the world and realize its power to make a difference."
"Every great idea has a starting point," said Lisa Bacus, vice president of marketing for American Family Insurance. "These incredible ideas started in the hearts and minds of people of all ages and from various walks of life. American Family Insurance is proud to help provide the framework for these ideas to become reality in improving the lives of others."
Ten additional contest entries have been selected as First Place prize winners; 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.
- Will Lourcey, age 7, and his team from Fort Worth, Texas will work with Volunteer Center of Texas to organize local area little league baseball players against hunger in the "Hits Against Hunger" project.
- Erika Ferguson, age 17, of Northfield, New Jersey will work with United Way of Atlantic County's Volunteer Center on her BIG Idea for the "ACRM Farm Project" to grow and harvest food for the poor.
- Mackenzie Bearup, age 17, of Alpharetta, Georgia will work with HandsOn Atlanta to expand the reach of her "Shelter Libraries" book donation initiative.
- Lindsay Hyde, age 28, and her team from Miami will work with HandsOn Miami to double the size of the "Strong Women, Strong Girls" volunteer mentor program in her community.
- Leigh Pruden, age 17 of Houston will work with Volunteer Houston to keep a refugee education initiative thriving through a high school community service program.
- Milan Patel, age 15, of Clearwater, Florida will work with HandsOn Tampa to expand the "Teen Music Hospice Program" that plays bedside music for patients in his community.
- Jenny Chen, age 19, of North Potomac, Maryland will expand her "Connect Through Comics" mentor program into the Washington, D.C. community with DC Cares.
- Sandy Warrick, age 55, and her kindergarten students in Albuquerque, New Mexico will work with generationOn to support the "Kids Babyfood Drive" initiative for a local food bank.
- Shelley Sellwood-Davis, age 24, and her team from Lexington, Kentucky, will work with United Way of the Bluegrass Volunteer Center to expand the "Build-A-Bed" initiative to include 2000 volunteers in more communities.
- Rohan Chandra, age 15, of Fremont, California will work with generationOn to start his "Earthquake Kits/Emergency Preparedness" project for seniors in his community.
Nearly 1,000 entries comprising more than 25,000 community members of all ages were submitted for the 2010 contest. This represented an 82 percent increase in the number of entries over 2009 and more than a 50 percent increase in community members.
The 11 top-winning BIG Ideas were selected by a panel of judges based on four criteria -- feasibility, creativity, sustainability and impact.
The Clifford BE BIG campaign (scholastic.com/cliffordbebig) is a fully integrated cause marketing program that 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. A complete list of finalists, and profiles about their BIG ideas, can be found at www.scholastic.com/cliffordbebig.
Clifford's Big Ideas came out of the curriculum developed for the award-winning animated television series -- which celebrates its 10 anniversary on PBS KIDS® this year. 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. Newly repackaged Clifford classic stories by Clifford creator Norman Bridwell were introduced in May 2010 by Scholastic.
If you would like more information about Scholastic, please visit Scholastic's media room at mediaroom.scholastic.com/clifford. For more information on Clifford 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
HandsOn Network, the volunteer-focused arm of Points of Light Institute, is the largest volunteer network in the nation and includes 250 HandsOn Action Centers in 16 countries. HandsOn includes a powerful network of more than 70,000 corporate, faith and nonprofit organizations that are answering the call to serve and creating meaningful change in their communities. 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 344th 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 Inc.