Our Programs

We transform learning, we transform lives

Heart of America transforms desolate spaces into well-designed, welcoming environments that are conducive to learning. Working with our partners, we provide educational resources and tools to enhance these environments and ensure students get the most out of the redesigned environments. In order to ensure the long-term impact of these redesigned spaces, we rigorously screen and intentionally select sites that demonstrate both a need and a commitment to sustaining the vibrant learning environment.

The need is vast

The need for school repairs is vast. In their 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the infrastructure of American Schools a “D” grade. At least $270 billion are needed to modernize and maintain school facilities in the United States, but, as of 2012, government spending on school construction has been cut in half from 2000-2008 averages.

We’re stepping In

Heart of America is stepping in to address this growing and critical need. We create vibrant, engaging and safe places full of high-quality educational resources where children can learn and grow. These programs revitalize community spaces including elementary, middle, and high school learning environments into warm, vibrant places that engage students in learning.

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Types of spaces we revitalize and create include:
  • school libraries
  • media centers
  • career & college access centers
  • parent resource rooms
  • classroom reading corners
  • technology labs
    • outdoor gardens
    • classrooms
    • mobile technology stations

…and soon we’ll add

  • cafeterias
  • science labs
  • We are proud to transform learning by creating spaces that are fresh and vibrant, professionally designed and constructed. These new spaces are engaging, stock full of age-appropriate furnishings, such as tables and chairs, computer workstations, and reading corners. These spaces are also resource rich with new technology, often including new computers, Chromebooks, iPads and interactive whiteboards. Additionally, all students receive new books to take home to add to their home libraries.

    Compassionate service, tangible results

    An essential component of these programs is the engagement of volunteers, especially local youth, as well as corporate team members and other members of the community, in service and community involvement through school beautification and improvement activities, book distributions and one-on-one activities with students. The projects provide tangible results in the form of revitalized spaces, as well as the intangible results of engaging people in caring, compassionate community service to support children in need.

    New technology, new books, bright futures

    We create special literacy events, book distributions and read-aloud book activities to school students in under-resourced communities, including:

    • READiscovery Classroom Libraries with student take-home books and customized themes and activities for volunteers and parents. Themes include STEM, financial literacy, health and wellness, and character education.
    • DC-area Partner School Initiative – a group of under-resourced schools are selected each year to receive resources throughout the school year including books for students and classrooms, library books, e-books and more. Opportunity for sponsors to adopt a particular school for engagement and support throughout the year.
    • Online Resource Drives with the opportunity for sponsors to select a market and engage employees to provide resources (books, e-books, technology) to an under-resourced school.

    Celebrating achievement

    The Heroes of the Heart® Awards Program is a national recognition program that identifies inspirational individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to enrich the lives of others. The Heroes of the Heart® Awards Program is celebrated in schools across the country. The program also includes two service based award scholarships: The Christopher Reeve Service Award and The Gee Whiz Kids® Service Award.

    The Gee Whiz Kids® Service Award honors exemplary children age 12 and under, who represent the best of their schools and communities, the true heart of America.

    The Heart of America Foundation’s Christopher Reeve ​Service Award is presented in honor of actor and activist Christopher Reeve, who was awarded a Heroes of the Heart Award in 2000. Mr. Reeve was recognized with this award based on his courage in overcoming his own physical challenges so that he could advocate on the behalf of others with disabilities. Each year this award is presented to an extraordinary youth who has demonstrated tremendous courage, compassion and caring in serving his or her community. Award recipients receive a $1,000 scholarship for
    post-secondary education.

    Apply for a scholarship

    Nominations for the Gee Whiz Kids® Award are accepted annually from September 1st to December 1. Please submit your nomination here https://theheartofamerica.wufoo.com/forms/gee-whiz-kids-award/

    Nominations for the Christopher Reeve Service Award are accepted annually from October 1st through December 15th. Please submit your nomination here https://theheartofamerica.wufoo.com/forms/s14bg5h00vzqst4/

    Scholarship Recipients

    Congratulations to our 2014 Gee Whiz Kids® Award Recipients!

    1st Place: Isabella R. Griffin, 11, 6th Grade

    Alamosa, Colorado

    Created:  Be a Buddy – Not a Bully

    Having started an anti-bullying campaign at her school by fourth grade, Isabella embodies the 3 C’s of her movement: Compassion, Confidence and Courage. In third grade Isabella was the target of bullying and the following year she disrupted a bullying effort targeting a student with autism. The success of her personal efforts to “stand up and step in” led Isabella to create Be A Buddy – Not A Bully, a program that empowers children to make a positive collaborative change in their communities. Thirteen elementary, middle and high schools in Colorado and Pennsylvania have embraced Be A Buddy – Not A Bully. At every school, Isabella has shared her personal story of bullying and asks every student to pledge to Be A Buddy – Not A Bully. In addition to receiving a bracelet reminder that reads “Buddies Not Bullies,” students are asked to sign a poster created by Isabella, which is displayed at school. By signing the poster, peers commit to not taking part in bullying and standing up for each other if it happens. Isabella’s plans include bringing her campaign to every community in the nation.

     

    2nd Place: Ive Jones, 12, 7th Grade

    Apex, North Carolina

    Created Grant A Wish Liberia

    Motivated to put her faith into action, Ive Jones is helping children in West Africa, especially those who have been orphaned by the Ebola virus or have a disability. On her twelfth birthday she collected over $4,000 for the More Than Me Academy for girls and the African Disability Foundation both based in Liberia. Spurred by her success in raising funds and genuine concern for the children of Liberia she created Grant A Wish Liberia, which advocates and collaborates with non-governmental organizations supporting Liberian children. Through Grant A Wish Liberia Ive seeks to provide food and education for the children in need. One of Ive’s most recent awareness campaigns is the Bleach Pail Challenge demonstrating how West Africans must wash their hands with bleach to protect themselves from the deadly Ebola Virus.

     

    3rd Place: Marko Zirdum, 9, 4th Grade

    Hillsboro, Oregon

    Creates hygiene kits for homeless people in his community

    Unable to ignore the plight of the homeless, nine year old Marko knew he wanted to help. He began collecting personal hygiene items, donated from friends and family. Throughout the summer of 2014 Marko collected and sorted multitudes of travel sized soaps, lotions, shampoos, toothpastes, and various other toiletries. Utilizing donated money, he purchased re-closeable storage bags and additional personal items to create the maximum number of personal hygiene kits possible. Marko then personally distributed over 50 kits to homeless individuals throughout Portland, engaging each person in conversation before handing them the personal hygiene kit. Marko is now preparing specialized kits for the winter that include socks, gloves and hats.

     

    Congratulations to our 2013 Gee Whiz Kids® Award Recipients
    1st Place – Jessica Carscadden from San Diego, CA
    2nd Place – Hannah and Alexander Laman from Loveland, OH
    3rd Place – Connelly Cowan from Mount Pleasant, TX

    2012 Gee Whiz Kids® Award Recipients
    1st Place – Connor from Rochester, NY
    2nd Place – N’Jhari from Tampa, FL
    3rd Place – Bailey from Tompkinsville, KY

    2011 Gee Whiz Kids® Award Recipients
    1st Place – Joshua from Miami Beach, FL
    2nd Place – Sarah from Leesburg, OH
    3rd Place – Gabrielle from Mason, OH

    2010 Gee Whiz Kids® Award Recipients
    1st Place – Alexander from Lee’s Summit, MO
    2nd Place – Anthony from Columbia, SC
    3rd Place – Marlee from Saginaw, MI

    2009 Gee Whiz Kids® Award Recipients
    1st Place – Joelie from Sand Springs, OK
    2nd Place – Kamish from Carrollton, TX
    3rd Place – Coree from Wayne, NJ

    Congratulations to our 2014 Christopher Reeve Award Recipient Nicholas Cobb from Allen, Texas!