Vered Kleinberger, director of Jasper-based Educational Excursions, recently received word that her non-profit could win $10,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Project --- but she needs help from you.
“I really love the concept of Pepsi Refresh because it’s the community supported projects that get funded,” she said. “They are chosen based on votes from the community rather than being chosen by a board of directors.”
In its first year Pepsi invested over $20 million in the Pepsi Refresh Project challenge, improving 78 parks, 123 schools, 21 foster homes and housing units, and bettering an estimated 163,000 lives.
Each month, the Pepsi Refresh Project awards up to 64 grants and more than $1.2 million to fund “amazing ideas that refresh the world,” according to the website.
While Kleinberger is no stranger to the grant application process, this is the first year she has applied for funding from Pepsi.
“Being a graduate at Emory and a resident of Atlanta I have always appreciated what Coke has done for the area,” she said. “They built our campus at Emory, but I’ve applied to get a grant with them four times in the last seven years with no luck, so that’s why I decided to take the leap and apply with Pepsi. It’s a matter of survival for Educational Excursions.”
To help Kleinberger increase her chances of winning, all you have to do is visit the Pepsi Refresh website at www.refresheverything.com/educational-excursions and vote for her idea from now until August 31. She’s already ahead of 50 percent of other applicants in her tier.
Above, Educational Excursions participants learning about edible landscaping at Whitestone Farm in Talking Rock. Educational Excursions offers a wide variety of programs that focus on environmental awareness, personal responsibility and stewardship.
You can vote every single day, unless you have a yellow Pepsi cap, which allows you to vote several times daily while multiplying that vote by up to 100 times.
But before you run off to cast, or click, your ballots, you’ll likely want to know a little more about Kleinberger’s “refreshing” community-oriented idea.
Educational Excursions is an organization that provides unique, hands-on activities for students of all ages. They offer a wide range of programs, but they tend to focus on those that promote environmental awareness, personal responsibility and stewardship.
Six years ago Kleinberger began the non-profit with the vision of opening a year-round learning center that offered programs from nature classes to gardening, sustainable building to primitive technologies, native crafts, alternative energy, arts and culture, and others.
“Basically anything interesting that comes along that fits our mission,” she said. “That's still what I'm working towards, so for now I'm offering day programs while I work towards making that dream a reality.”
The goal, she says, is to give people the confidence to try things that they have not tried on their own. Many of their activities involve teamwork and collaboration, and Kleinberger says this builds community.
The Green Building Adventure is one of those community-building programs.
For Phase I of the Green project, kids and adults were invited to a Jasper location to help construct a totally sustainable structure from nearly 100 percent recycled materials.
According to the Educational Excursions website, a group of select students will meet once a week for twelve weeks to work on Phase II, and during that time they will research various building techniques, alternative materials and energy, among other things.
Students will then use their newfound knowledge to design a new office space for Educational Excursions.
“Hopefully folks are leaving our programs with a few more friends and the confidence to try new things,” she said.
If Kleinberger wins, she says she will be able to give away lots of free programs and she’ll have the resources to add new programs to her repertoire.
“Normally I have registration fees to pay for overhead, but if I have funding I would have more flexibility,” she said.
Kleinberger is also asking people who drink Pepsi products to donate their yellow caps to the cause.
“It’s all about the yellow caps,” she said. “If you don’t vote but drink Pepsi, then I want your caps. I would be so appreciative. The yellow caps are not limited to a single vote. You can vote as many times as you want.”
If you would like to donate your caps, you can bring them to the Pickens County Progress office and drop them off at the collection box located in the front lobby.
“We've got a great thing going,” Kleinberger says, “and now we need just a little extra help to take it to the next level. This grant will do that. And for anyone who knows me they are already familiar with my work ethic. When I find something I believe in and that I set my heart on, I don't give up.
“Making a positive impact on the world around me is my personal mission in life and Educational Excursions is one of my tools for making that happen,” she added. “We've been operating on a shoe-string budget since 2004, so just imagine the possibilities if we win the Pepsi Refresh Challenge.”
Learn more about Educational Excursions at http://www.eduexcursions.org.