Promising Practices/Project Engage

Promising Practices

"Pay It Forward Program "

Years in Operation:
     2010 - Present


The Pay It Forward Program enables students to build character by giving to others. Students realize difficult times never stop—people’s needs continue.  Also, students experience the gratification of meeting another human’s needs.  Through SCOPE’s Pay It Forward Program, students’ giving reflects their understanding of the on-going nature of people’s needs and their responsibility to try to meet those needs; students experience the joy of helping others. 

Target Population:

Teen parents, children - boys and girls, adults - males and females or anyone needing a helping hand, whether a kind word or a kind gesture.

Program Goals:
It promotes and strengthens character development in several ways.  First, students learn that expressing kindness and concern for others begins with what you have—and perhaps that is a pair of shoes you no longer need.  Students experience the power of unheralded acts of kindness—almost always, they will never know who benefited from their generosity.  The practice of giving to others also teaches the students empathy.  Being able to recognize the feelings and needs of others produces lifelong traits in students—in their lives as teens, as young parents, as workers, and as members of society.  Ultimately, the Pay it Forward Program helps students experience the reality that cooperation and small acts of concerted giving can produce significant results.

As a school, we desire students to gain a lifetime commitment of helping others, or always “paying it forward.”  The creation of the Pay It Forward Room is one way we come together as a school to lend a hand.  New and used items are donated by students, staff and the community.  The donated items are things that one person may have very little need for, but that person’s seemingly unneeded item can make a demonstrative difference to someone in need.  The unforeseen needs of our students are broad and varying, and so, too, must be the items that are donated to the program.  A sampling of donated items would include these: clothing ranging from infants to adults, diapers, books, personal hygiene products, and other items reflecting the needs of our current student population.  Students who utilize the room are asked to think about how, down the road, they too can pay it forward.  

Staff and students are encouraged to bring in new or gently used items that they no longer have a need for—but they recognize that these items could benefit others.  Students who are in need visit the Pay it Forward Room and pick out items that would be of use to them, their babies or immediate family members.  We have discovered that baby items, such as swings, jumpers, and bathtubs, can easily be shared multiple times.  In these cases, students are encouraged to re-donate these items to the Pay It Forward Program once they no longer have a need for them.   This allows even more students to benefit. Frequently, students are so grateful to have received the assistance from the Pay It Forward Program that, when their situation improves, they begin to donate items, recognizing that their generosity will be of help to another individual. 

Structure and Operation:
The Pay it Forward Room is just one example of how students can get involved in helping others.  Students are experiencing how a small contribution on their part can have an impact on another person’s life.  What may seem trivial or insignificant to them may actually be of extreme value to someone else.  In conjunction with the Pay it Forward Room, we watch news stories together as a school community.  These clips demonstrate and promote the idea of paying it forward.  Allowing students to witness real world examples provides them with a visual catalyst for ideas about how they too can pay it forward in their daily lives.  Video clips have included people of all ages paying it forward:  a three-year-old donating her hair to kids with cancer, a 98-year-old woman taking her neighbor to the grocery store and a star athlete starting a foundation for families with babies whose lives are at risk.  The videos provide a positive, creative start to the school day by encouraging positive ideas about why, how, and what we can do to demonstrate care for another human.  Taking the time to do this as a group fosters discussion and a sense of community among staff and students.  

We collect can goods and non-perishables items for FEED MY PEOPLE, if you are able to help we would appreciate your support!
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