By Carla Lucas, Correspondent
It’s called the Pepsi Refresh Project (PRP) and for 2010 the Pepsi Corporation is giving $20 million to groups across the country to fund community projects/ideas. It is asking individuals to vote for which ideas/needs to fund in this special grant program. Each month Pepsi awards
- 10 $5,000 grants
- 10 $25,000 grants
- 10 $50,000 grants; and
- two $250,000 grants
In addition Pepsi has partnered with its customers, media partners and others to hold similar but smaller regional or special interest projects, too.
According to a PRP press release, “PRP is not just about underwriting great ideas – it’s about inspiring great ideas and turning some of those ideas into reality to make a positive impact on the world.”
Website and text messaging based, every month 1,000 organizations vie to be in the top spots on the last day of the month and be named finalists to receive the grants. Once the winning ideas provide the proper paperwork and agree to the terms of the grant (similar to any grant program) they receive the funds.
Currently The Garage Community and Youth Center (West Grove branch) is competing for a $250,000 grant and Boy Scout Troop 191, from Avondale recently won a $5,000 grant.
As the executive director of The Garage – West Grove, Jeremiah Kauffman is trying to open a youth and community center in West Grove, Pa. Supported by the same foundation that runs The Garage, a highly-successful afterschool youth center in Kennett Square, this new facility will serve middle school and high school students in the Avon Grove School District. For the past 18 months he’s been working on obtaining the $200,000 needed to successfully sustain the program as well as working through the zoning and licensing requirements in West Grove Borough to open the center.
Kauffman says he drinks a lot of Pepsi and saw the ads on their products about PRP. He remembers thinking, “it would be really cool if we could get this grant.” He looked online at the types of projects being proposed and realized funding for The Garage-West Grove had a good chance.
PRP runs on a monthly basis. At midnight on the first day of each month applications are accepted for the following month on a first come basis. In June on his first attempt to enter the contest he wasn’t in a great hurry and submitted the application about two minutes after midnight. The application wasn’t accepted because all the spaces were filled. Kauffman quickly learned that the program is extremely popular and within seconds all 1,000 slots are filled.
He tried again, much faster, in July and August and still didn’t make it. Running against a November deadline to raise the funds needed or the program could be canceled, on September 1 he tried one last time. The Garage Youth Center –West Grove proposal was accepted. For the month of October it was in the running for the $250,000 grant.
If received the grant would be used as follows:
- $100,000 to complete construction renovations
- $50,000 to purchase equipment and furnishings
- $100,000 for the first 6 months of programming and operations.
On October 1, The Garage-West Grove started in 317th place in the $250,000 category out of 355 ideas. The project is gaining in popularity as word-of-mouth, publicity and endorsements are spreading. Organizations such as Historic Kennett Square, the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce, and a local band “Me Without You” all endorsed the project and encouraged their members and/or Facebook fans to vote. It has risen to 31st place on October 26.
With less than one week The Garage-West Grove has a chance if it can garner additional votes. Kauffman explains that only the ranking is revealed, never the number of votes. The contestants have no idea if they are 3 votes away from the lead or 30,000 votes away. He is encouraging everyone to help out by voting every day through October 31.
Votes are collected two ways. You can text 103432 to Pepsi (73774), (standard text messaging rates apply) or you can go online to www.refresheverything.com/westgrove to vote. Individuals can vote once per day.
Kauffman said it would be really fantastic if The Garage-West Grove wins this grant, but it is not the only fundraising being done. He has raised about 75 percent of the funds needed to open the center. With one week before the Nov. 1 deadline, he’s not counting on the PRP grant, but it would be really great. “We’ve build a lot of momentum in the last two week,” said Kauffman.
Chester County Boy Scout Troop 191, of Avondale, Pa. (chartered through the Avondale Fire Company) entered a regional PRP contest in conjunction with the Kennett Square Giant grocery stores in August. According to Christine Stewart, of the Kennett Square Giant, the 12 Giant/Martin/Super G stores in the region submitted one idea to receive a $5,000 grant.
Troop 191’s idea was to use the grant to help fund at least 20 Eagle Scout community service projects. “We thought it was a great idea to help our community,” said Stewart and they entered it in the contest. “The boys were just fabulous. We’re really proud of them.”
Troop 191 had one day from the day they heard about this opportunity until the idea had to be submitted. They looked at their troop and there were four boys trying to raise the funds to complete their Eagle Scout project ideas. “With the economy it’s harder than ever for boys to raise the money to for their Eagle Scout projects,” said Janis Harlow, Troop 191’s treasurer.
The plan was to establish this separate fund where boys could receive up to $250 in matching funds for costs associated with completing their community service project. At least 20 separate community projects would benefit from this grant, if won.
With a total of $30,000 in PRP funds (six $5,000 grants) being given away between 12 entries the odds were a lot better than 32 grants-to-1,000 ideas of the national contest. At a special website devoted to just this regional contest, people voted. “Our troop got out the vote,” said Dan Harlow, Troop 191’s committee chairman. “We knew we had a pretty good shot at it. The boys were instrumental in getting people to vote.” Troop 191’s idea came in second.
In the first month since receiving the grant two scouts from Troop 191 used the fund. A gazebo at Crossan Park in Franklin Township was refurbished with a new roof as part of Ryan McCambell’s project. The playground at the New London Township Park was re-mulched and four new