Established in 2008, The Public Education Foundation initiated a new service-learning and volunteerism project to help teens discover that they can make a positive difference in their community by providing them with a unique perspective.

We R Community catapults high school students into the world of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations by transforming the teens into donors. The program introduces students to the importance of leadership, service, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector by giving them the ability to fund programs they choose.

How We R Community Works

Participating classes are provided $5,000 each for the year-long program. The students spend their academic year operating a mini-foundation by creating a mission statement, researching nonprofit organizations, reviewing grant applications, funding grants and generally incorporating this program into classroom learning and their daily lives.

The $5,000 grant money comes from generous community and corporate sponsors and is to be used for programs that inspire change and encourage potential in education, the promotion of healthy families, access to the arts or environmental enhancement.

The students are empowered, as they identify and address the critical community needs that matter most to them. Interested organizations submit proposals outlining how they will use the grant funds.

After much research and work, students select the recipients and host a grant award celebration where checks are given to the selected nonprofits. As part of the program, students must also volunteer two to four hours each month with a nonprofit organization. We R Community allows high school students to experience all sides of community service.

We R Community has grown from four schools during our first year to 16 schools this year. Since 2008, We R Community students have awarded $360, 000 to 87 local non-profit organizations. Even in these difficult economic times, community support has been strong and continues to build. A powerful student philanthropy and leadership movement has begun to take hold within our We R Community schools.

For more information on becoming a sponsor and adopting a school, please contact us at 702-799-1042.

Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates community service with academic study to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities. Service-learning is education through experience with civic engagement. We R Community is a prime example of how students develop invaluable life skills through interacting with members of their community.

We R Community is a student grant-making and volunteerism program for teens. Best used in the classroom setting, it can also be used as a club or other youth group project. Students extend their classroom learning by operating much like a mini-foundation. Groups or classes of teens are given $5,000, which they must award to nonprofit organizations and school programs of their choice. Volunteerism is also a component of this program.

We R Community is a service-learning tool that teachers can use to enhance their curriculum. It is a flexible but structured program which takes place during a typical school year. Students learn about issues in their communities and are empowered to make a difference by being involved.

The concept was pioneered by the El Pomar Foundation in Colorado. In 1997, The PGE Foundation in Portland, Oregon, began “Community 101” based on the El Pomar program. Since its inception, more than 5,000 students have been involved at an average of 25 schools per year. It is now a model program with more than $1 million distributed to Oregon nonprofit organizations. The Public Education Foundation is adopting the program, naming it “We R Community,” with the belief that public education should provide students with the opportunity to engage in service-learning.

The mission of We R Community is to provide teens with the opportunity for real-life learning through philanthropy and volunteering. Teens discover that they can make a positive difference in their community by being involved.

The Public Education Foundation welcomes applications from innovative teachers who want to add a community service-learning component in their classroom. Please contact The Public Education Foundation for more information on how to apply.

The We R Community application process generally occurs in January/February and may involve a teacher interview. The Public Education Foundation notifies applicants of the outcome by May-June. Teachers receive the “We R Community Advisor/Student Handbook” and are invited to attend a teacher/student workshop in September.

  • A completed teacher commitment form.
  • Funding for grant-making.
  • Student volunteerism. Students are asked to perform and document two to four
  • volunteer hours per month September through April. (Volunteering does not have to be done in connection with We R Community.)
  • The We R Community Advisor/Student Handbook.
  • A teacher or advisor who makes a two-year commitment to teach this program.
  • A minimum of 10 students with a regular meeting time who are committed to completing the program in its entirety. (The program runs seven to nine months, though exceptions can be made for specific circumstances.) Program time requirements average four classroom hours monthly, beginning in September and ending in April-May.
  • Attendance by teacher (and one or two students) at We R Community training workshop.
  • Optional: A We R Community volunteer may provide technical assistance to the teacher and students and oversee the program on behalf of The Public Education Foundation.
  • An awards presentation by We R Community students.
  • Student fundraising is welcomed and must be done in the name of We R Community.
  • Program recognition by school and community.
  • Completed monthly progress reports.
The concept was pioneered by the El Pomar Foundation in Colorado. In 1997, The PGE Foundation in Portland, Oregon, began “Community 101” based on the El Pomar program. Since its inception, more than 5,000 students have been involved at an average of 25 schools per year. It is now a model program with more than $1 million distributed to Oregon nonprofit organizations. The Public Education Foundation adopted the program during the 2008-09 school year, naming it “We R Community,” with the belief that public education should provide students with the opportunity to engage in service-learning.

The Public Education Foundation seeks corporations, foundations and individuals to sponsor programs so that more young Nevadans can experience this opportunity to learn about civic engagement and social responsibility. Sponsors make a financial commitment of $7,500 annually for two years. This funding provides a class or group of students with $5,000 for grant-making each year. A $1,000 stipend is given to the classroom teacher for the coordination and facilitation of the program each year. The additional funds are used for capacity building and materials.

The mission of The Public Education Foundation is to bring togethercommunity resources to support and improve public education through initiatives, programs and promising practices designed to enhance student performance and advance quality educational opportunities for all children.

Our solutions to the challenges of educating a growing and diverse Southern Nevada population are improving public schools and the school district at multiple levels from grassroots classroom participation to systemic reform. Our initiatives and programs empower teachers and students, reduce bureaucracy, ensure accountability, leverage resources and deliver results.

A grant is the award of funds to an organization or individual to undertake charitable or tax-exempt activities.

The 501(c)(3) status is a designation given by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) to an organization that exists for a charitable purpose, is a nonprofit organization, and is tax exempt. The IRS has a number of different designations for nonprofit organizations. A “nonprofit” organization could be one of a number of kinds of nonprofits. Just like a person might be a doctor, that person could be one of a number of kinds of doctors. It is helpful for you to know that organizations such as schools and governmental (city, county) entities are the government equivalent of nonprofit organizations.

We R Community grants are required to be in accordance with the focus areas of education, healthy families, arts and culture and environmental enhancement. Grants usually range between $500 to $2,000.

We R Community is extremely flexible and can be incorporated into almost all curricula. Examples of some programs that have been successful in the past are elementary, high school and college classes, language and culture classes, alternative schools, after-school clubs, academic competitions and juvenile justice centers. Teachers use the program as a tool to enhance the class curriculum by providing a service-learning opportunity.

There are resources available for students to investigate nonprofits. The easiest place to start is the Internet. Check out links to nonprofit search engines in the workbook. Other options are the library, local government offices, information offices and the good old-fashioned telephone book. Another great resource is talking with your friends and family. You will be surprised how many agencies you hear about just by starting a conversation!

For more information about how your organization or nonprofit can get connected to a group of We R Community students, contact the We R Community program manager at The Public Education Foundation.

Volunteers facilitate the implementation of the We R Community program with a teacher or youth advisor. They provide technical assistance to teachers and students and keep The Public Education Foundation and funding sponsor updated with the program’s progress.

Applicants should contact the We R Community program manager, or submit a letter of interest for the We R Community volunteer position at the address below. Please include leadership experience and career objectives along with a resume.

Please submit your letter of interest to:
We R Community
The Public Education Foundation
3360 West Sahara Ave., Suite 160
Las Vegas, Nevada 89102
702-799-1042 – main
Or email: info@ccpef.org

Participating schools are required to complete and submit a We R Community progress report monthly. This progress report provides a snapshot of the many activities that the teacher and students have been involved in throughout the month and helps determine whether or not a particular school program will receive continued funding.

We R Community School and Student Grant Guidelines

The We R Community program has set the following guidelines to ensure teachers and students are successful.

Participating classes or groups have $5,000 each to make grants to nonprofit organizations.

Of the $5,000 at least $4,000 must be granted to nonprofit organizations and up to $1,000 of the total may be given to your school to support in-school programs and/or projects. Students may choose to give the whole $5,000 to nonprofit organizations.

This funding is to be used for programs that inspire change and encourage potential in either education, the promotion of healthy families, access to the arts or environmental enhancement. Funding must be used to help people in Nevada, not animals, unless those animals are helping people, such as guide dogs or service animals.

All nonprofit organizations receiving We R Community grants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations located within Nevada.

The funds must go directly to the nonprofit organization and not pass through any other organization.

Funds cannot be used for lobbying or promoting any specific religion.

Funds cannot be given to any organization that discriminates on the basis of race, religion, creed, national origin, marital status, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation or color.

501(c)(3) Defined

The 501(c)(3) status is a designation assigned by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) to an organization that exists for a charitable purpose, is a nonprofit organization, and is tax-exempt.  The IRS has a number of different designations for nonprofit organizations, so when someone calls an organization a “nonprofit”, that organization could be one of a number of kinds of nonprofits.  Just like a person might be a doctor, that person could be one of a number of kinds of doctors.  It is helpful for you to know that organizations such as schools and governmental (city, county) entities are the government equivalent of nonprofit organizations and therefore eligible for funding under the We R Community program.

We R Community Sponsor, School and Student Benefits

The collaboration between our sponsors and schools creates a powerful new model for teaching the value of philanthropic activities and aids local nonprofits in their own endeavors. We R Community offers numerous benefits to participants, sponsors and our community.

Sponsors receive the following:

Recognition. Your commitment to the community is acknowledged in media releases, classrooms, the student/advisor handbook, school newspapers, newsletters and Web sites.

Leverage. Your contribution has twice the value because students learn the process and value of giving while nonprofits and schools benefit from additional funding.

Employee engagement. Your employees are encouraged to participate in classroom activities and events and serve as guest speakers.

Recruitment. Your partnership now equals potential employees in the future.

Choice. You select the school to sponsor and the student area of focus.

Students receive the following:

Empowerment. You create positive change in your schools and community through your own initiative while learning about social issues.

Job skills. This powerful service-learning experience connects classroom learning to the real-life world.

Confidence. Self-esteem increases and career opportunities could be presented.

Schools receive the following:

Innovative Curriculum. Teachers can close the achievement gap and incorporate civic/community engagement into the curriculum through this structured service-learning program teachers.

Energized Teachers. Teachers become mentors working with students who are assuming responsibility for their own learning.

Funds. A portion of the grant (up to $1,000) may be awarded to support in-school programs and/or projects.

Nonprofit organizations receive the following:

Support. Your organization receives much needed funding for your programs.

Relationships. Develop long-lasting business and personal relationships between agencies and students who are future donors, volunteers and employees.

Visibility. Increase your visibility through media releases and connections with business and community leaders and other nonprofit organizations.

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