My Own Design A Better Future Project

Recently I’ve been put on the board for our Design A Better Future scholarship. The whole scholarship has nothing to do with grades, GPA, or academics at all. It’s based on a student serving in their community some way, seeing a path they can take to make it a better place. 

Mary wrote about how she unknowingly conducted her own Design A Better Future (DBF) project in her community so it got me thinking, is there something I am already doing, or can do to participate in this as well? After some time, I realized I have been working on my own project in my hometown. 

From the framework of our scholarship: 

Look, Listen, and Learn: 

This summer my kids have been enrolled in Infant Swim Resource (ISR) swim lessons at Utah Swim Acadamey in Provo. It’s life saving swim lessons that first teach kids to save their life if unexpectedly found in water alone, then teach the strokes and work to get out of the pool unassisted. After posting about it on my social media, I had multiple friends in my hometown of Idaho Falls ask how and where they can access these lessons for their kids. Unfortunately after some research, there wasn’t any options. 

So, I set out to change that. 

Ask Tons Of Questions:

  • Why aren’t they available in the area? 
  • What steps do I need to take to make them accessible? 
  • Where is most of the need? 
  • What would it cost to build a pool? Rent a pool? 
  • How much does a heating element in a pool cost and does it extend our window for teaching swim lessons? By How much? 
  • Who are my allies in this? 
  • How do I learn how to teach these lessons? 
  • Who can I hire to help me teach so that we can access more kids? 
  • How can we maximize the number of kids we teach while still starting small and reasonable? 
  • How do we spread the word? 
  • And so many more….. 

Understand The Process Or Problem: 

The problem is the lack of swim lessons in general the area, with the complete absence of ISR lessons. Why? I believe it’s linked with the lack of pools in the area, given the cooler climate. 

The process is taking research upon research. Reading articles and ordering some new books to read. How To Teach Your Baby To Swim by Douglas Doman and Teaching Your Baby To Swim by Françoise Barbira Freedman. More ways I am learning is by observing my children’s current swim lessons and seeing how something like this is run. 

Navigate Ideas:

During this phase I realized that living four hours away from the location I want to make this happen would be difficult for it to work out to run lessons from far away. I called in more resources and had my sister, who lives in the area, join in with me on this. 

This is my daughter at 2 years old, five lessons in. Can you hear my gasp because I was so excited?!

Create A Prototype: 

We brought swim lessons to the area! Our swim instructor committed to teaching for two weeks in the Idaho Falls/ Ammon area. We worked really hard to market, find useable pools, and organize schedules. And after two weeks we had about 35 kids floating and swimming! 

Highlight and Fix: 

From our initial launch, we are working on navigating a smoother way to schedule parents, have access to our own pool, and an easier way to get the word out about these lessons. We asked parents for feedback or what they would like to see happen. 

One common comment was a solid platform for communication with parents. We were answering questions and posting information about the swimming lessons by sometimes posting on my Instagram, sometimes posting on the swim instructors and various texts/ calls from both our phone numbers. Because of this, we are working at creating social media platforms just for this purpose and a website we can refer everyone to. 

Launch To An Audience: 

Because swim lessons will be happening outdoors and summer is coming to a close, we are nativating each of these steps over the next few months so that we can launch next spring to the Idaho Falls area! We are excited to bring such an important and life-saving service to an area that is lacking. I can’t wait to see where this project will go! 

Our instructor and my daughter after a successful two weeks teaching ISR lessons in Idaho Falls

Have You Heard About Our Scholarship?

Hello! McKenzie here with some news! Not only can I say I am an educational blogger, but I am now a scholarship chairperson! Honors Graduation does a very generous scholarship every year, they hand out five $10,000 scholarships to high school seniors attending college the next school year. You can read more about the scholarship here. 

I’ve always wanted to be part of a scholarship organization in some way since college. I was fortunate to receive many scholarships, both large and small amounts, throughout my four years and have felt inclined in some way to provide this for other college students. I know first hand the excitement and relief that comes with the award of scholarship money. When presented with the opportunity to be on the scholarship board for Honors Graduation I was thrilled, to say the least! 

The scholarship outline is to design a better future. Students create a project in their community that better it in some way. This is the second reason I love being here for this! One of my strengths is to look around at a situation and think, “How can I improve this?” When I was in high school I worked in the Sears shoe department where I was constantly moving shelves, reorganizing, and making the process more efficient for all, my supervisor loved it! 

As I’ve been researching this scholarship and reading about every past winner, I had a light bulb moment that I am unknowingly conducting my own design a better future project that I am excited to share with you soon. Stay tuned! And until then, check out our scholarship and see how you, or a high school senior you know, can win $10,000! 

Cover photo by Lacey Ross Photography

The Aftermath of Awarding $55,000 in Scholarship Funds

The past couple of weeks since announcing our scholarship awardees have been a incredible whirlwind. Most of it has been a joy as we have enjoyed the enthusiastic responses from students and their families. Some has been unfortunate as we had do deal with some plagiarism, which is always taken very seriously at HonorsGradU.

We especially love it when it works out to surprise our recipients with the news.

Xelah Baca, creator of BHS Recycle, received the news from her mentor during an awards ceremony:

And I was able to fly down to surprise Anthony Neil Tan with the news that he was selected as our top recipient during his senior awards night for his creation of the Maker Hub Club:

Check out the newly updated Past Winners page to view all 5 students’ prototypes, reflection videos, and colleges. We look forward to sharing more about the background of these 5 outstanding students this summer, and to seeing Anthony’s project grow with another fully funded iteration. Thank you again for your efforts to design a better future!

For you incoming seniors, be sure to stay tuned for the details at the end of the summer on our 2020 scholarship program!

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Announcing Our 2019 Design A Better Future Scholarship Awardees!

This is our seventh year of running a scholarship sponsored by Honors Graduation. Over the past two years, we have offered a program in which students develop a community-improvement project based on the model of design thinking.

We were inspired by the ambitious, generous, and innovative projects from this year’s applicants. The vision of these high school students gives us so much hope for the future. Our scholarship committee is pleased to announce this year’s 5 recipients:

Anthony Neil Tan, top recipient to receive an additional $5,000 toward another iteration of his project: Maker Hub Club

Xelah Baca: BHS Recycle

Elizabeth Hansen: Composting For A Cause

Sruthi Kundur: Stay Healthy, Be Confident Hygiene For Women

Cobi Reed: Envisioning a Better Future

Congratulations to our awardees! Watch for additional updates, including on our Past Winners page.

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Our Scholarship Finalists Have Been Emailed!

For those students who applied for our this year’s Design a Better Future scholarship program, we are pleased to announce that we have selected 10 finalists.

These outstanding students have been emailed some follow-up questions about future potential iterations of their project, as well as how they might continue local impact post graduation. Please check your email inboxes ASAP to respond to our questions so that we can make our decision on our final 5 awardees. We plan to make that announcement next week on Monday, May 20th!

Thank you to everyone for your participation. We are extremely impressed at the efforts and passion we have seen in this year’s group.

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Join Us For Our Scholarship Webinar Q&A on March 2!

Do you know any high school seniors? Would they be interested in earning a $10,000 scholarship by engaging in a community improvement project?

If so, please help spread the word about our upcoming Q&A webinar with applicants to help support them in their projects! Unlike many scholarships that call for an (often recycled) essay, our Design a Better Future program asks much more of students in working to give to their communities. We want to be there to help guide them in any roadblocks or questions that arise in their work.

The webinar will take place on Saturday, March 2 at 11 am MST. Two of our scholarship committee members, Mary & Lindsay, will field questions & lead the discussion. Register here to receive a reminder and the link to our Zoom meeting!


Announcing the 2019 Scholarship!

I’m excited to announce the 2019 scholarship here at HonorsGradU, sponsored by Honors Graduation.

We were overwhelmed at the ways high school seniors worked to improve their communities last year, and so we have decided to continue the design thinking community improvement format. Once more this year, there will be another five $10,000 tuition scholarships awarded, with the top recipient receiving another $5,000 toward another iteration of his/her project.

Check out the new requirements and information here, and please share with any high school seniors planning on attending an accredited college in the United States next fall.