TIE’s Earn It Program

The “Earn It” Program: Teachable Moments for Elementary School Students and Teachers

Service Learning can be defined in many ways but it is primarily when students work on a project together for their community or communities far away. TIE believes it is an important learning experience for students to be involved in, especially at the elementary school level, and should be replicated in every school.
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TIE Founder, Budd MacKenzie, with Afghan students

Years ago we stopped calling our school fundraising efforts Change for Change drives, in favor of Earn It.  Change for Change had very little impact on students. The majority simply asked their parents for change, collected what little change was around their house, and put whatever they collected in a jar in their classroom. That was it, mission accomplished.

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 So we began the Earn It Program. At every assembly, we begin by telling students that we don’t want any money from their parents. They needed to earn whatever they donated. The benefits from earning it are many, including:
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  • girls at computer

    Afghan girls take a computer class

    Students learn, at a young age, how important it is to help people who are less fortunate and to take personal responsibility for making a difference.

  • Students are very creative in what they decide to do and often work together.
  • Students know and own what their dollars buy (i.e. desks, playground equipment, fruit trees, foot bridges etc.)Every school that participates supports two Afghan children through our sponsorship program. TIE reports to them annually on the progress of the children they’re supporting. Their Earn It dollars completely alter the lives of the Afghan children they support.
  • For many, it’s the first time they have been called upon to earn money. They are proud of what they earn and get a better sense of the value of a dollar.
  • Finally, students are asked to and many do embrace the view that their world includes more than themselves, their family and local community.
But in a career filled with so many variables and moving parts, teachers are often too busy to incorporate a service learning project on their own. TIE’s Earn It Program aims to get a service learning program up and running at their school and lessen the load on teachers by:
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Thank you WCI

Afghan students, 2014

Boys on playground

Playgrounds make going to school fun!

1) Presenting a community’s needs and defining a specific objective. Budd MacKenzie, TIE’s founder, will present TIE’s mission at an interactive assembly (the entire school can be invited to participate or it can be grade specific) — in person or via Skype, if outside of the Bay Area. Presentations enable children to learn about people living on the margin. Specifically, the people and children of Afghanistan. At the end of presentation, teachers and students together will vote on which need(s) to address and set a fundraising goal. It could be anything from raising money to purchase tablets for a classroom of kids on which educational videos can be uploaded to purchasing and installing school playground equipment at a village school. The possibilities are many.

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2) Giving students ideas and resources to accomplish their goal. We will provide handouts of example projects “beyond the bake sale” to get their creative juices flowing. Although we do love bake sales and lemonade stands, other ideas have included holiday gift wrap stations, a community flea market, putting together and selling a children’s cookbook, craft fairs, swim-a-thons and more. Whatever triggers their imagination and brings them to work together. There is no wrong way as long as they are doing it on their own!
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3) Providing classroom materials: Every classroom will be provided with an Earn It Goals poster to display and collection envelopes.students-2 (3) (2)small
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4) Showing the kids what their dollars earned. Because TIE
isa small, grassroots and primarily volunteer-run organization, the money we raise to goes directly and often immediately to our projects in Afghanistan. We give the kids gratification by giving them proof that they money they earned is doing good in the world  (i.e. photos of Afghan kids at their new desks, on their new playground equipment, a “Skype” night where kids are able to speak with their sponsored street kids through an interpreter, etc.). Seeing how much the Afghan kids appreciate what they are doing drives home the point that their effort is changing lives.
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New desks at Farza School, Afghanistan

Not every student will participate. And that’s okay. The same istrue of all drives. But an increasing number are and we are encouraged those kids who are stepping up when called upon to help Afghan children and their families.

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It has really turned into a great class project. I just wanted you to know how my students are responding to your call of action and at the same time are having fun. – Angeline Korzzeniewski, second grade teacher at Happy Valley Elementary in Lafayette, CA
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We learned to be persistent, to follow through on commitments, and also what happens when you put your mind to a task. – 4th and 5th grade students at Corte Madera School, Portola Valley, CA
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I think TIE is very important because it gives you some important life skills like service learning and knowing that there are kids less fortunate than you. Overall, I think that TIE is very important as it should be that everyone should sponsor a child if they live here. – Andre
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I loved talking with the kids who we raised money for, and it made me feel good inside. It was cool to see that kids and people in Afghanistan we have helped for awhile. I love doing projects, art and baking to help the kids to get off the streets.- Riley
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I felt like they needed me, and I felt like, well, I felt really good about it. I can’t even explain how happy I felt. It helped me see how much it mattered to them.   – Olivia

To organize an Earn It service learning project at your local school, please contact Heather Randolph at tieoffice1@gmail.com