P.S. 163 Penny Harvest Roundtable – Reflections
by Ufuoma Barbara Akpotaire, Development and Public Relations Intern
Last week, I attended a Penny Harvest roundtable at P.S. 163 in New York City. One remarkable fact about this roundtable was that the chair was a 5th Grade Student. The aim of the roundtable was to discuss how the $1,000 the students had raised over the past year had been assigned. I was extremely impressed by the level of research these students had undertaken and their rationale for assigning grants to various organizations.
Below are some of the questions asked and issues which the students had to address during the roundtable.
Q. What are some of the organizations you considered to receive grants?
A. Nelson, a 5th grader, explained that there were initially five organizations – Dogs for the Deaf, Alley Pond, Dorot, Pets Behind Bars, the Humane Society – and that it was very tough for people to vote because there were so many great organizations and people were saying that the big organizations do not need that much money but other people were saying that the big organization do need more money…so it was just hard…but the votes narrowed down to Dogs for the Deaf, and Pets Behind Bars and Dogs for the Deaf won.
Q. A few students suggested additional organizations, what organizations were these?
Sebastian, another 5th grade Penny Harvest student, explained that the organization he supported is called Shelter Box and that shelter box provides people in disasters with a big durable box which often includes a stove, water purification, sleeping bags, and blankets to keep warm. He stated that what he liked most about it was that for each natural disaster they provide a custom box and are not giving people something they do not need.
Q. What factors did P.S. 163 consider in deciding what areas/organizations to donate to and what to do with the $1,000?
A. “we went around to each class room in the school and we took surveys in which each class would vote on the cause we wanted to give money to and at the end we added all the tallies we had and made charts representing each survey”…Anton
Q. What was the most difficult part of the Penny Harvest?
For Dylan, “the hardest part… was probably the ‘Secret Santa’. We had to pick between two families…one was a family of about seven who were living in a homeless shelter and the other was a family of five who were really in need and could not afford a lot household items …at first I voted for the family of seven but I changed my vote because I thought that it would be harder to buy for the family of seven with the limited amount of money, and we need to buy a lot of things but we have a tight budget.”
Q. How has the Penny Harvest helped you, would you encourage other kids to join the Penny Harvest Program next year and would you continue in Middle School?
There was unanimous vote in support of other kids joining the program and continuing in Middle School. Here is a sampling of their responses:
A. “We are all learning very important skills… talking with each other and trying to be persuasive. I kind of feel like we are in the house of representative where the democratic and republican party are pushing against each other…of course it is not really a political table but I kind of feel like we have the same organization and we are learning important skills for later”…Ronin
To watch clips of the roundtable, click here.