Updated: Local groups compete for Pepsi grantWritten by Gail Burkhardt | | email@example.com
Organizations across the country hope to win thousands of dollars from Pepsi each month.
Each month in 2010, the Pepsi Refresh Project will give away $1.3 million to people and organizations with ideas to better the world, using the money that PepsiCo otherwise would have spent on Super Bowl advertising. The monthly grants consist of two $250,000 awards, 10 $50,000 grants, 10 $25,000 grants and 10 $5,000 grants.
One thousand entities can enter the competition each month and the top 100 vote-getters from each category are automatically entered into the competition for the next month.
About 40 million votes across the country have been cast this year in the project from across the country, said Adrienne Caruso, a Pepsi spokeswoman.
“It’s certainly put us at the forefront of social engagement. I don’t think there’s been a program like this that has relied on the consumer base,” she said.
Although Pepsi has not announced if it will continue the project into 2011, Pepsi Refresh has gained more popularity each month in 2010, Caruso said.
“The public response has been overwhelming. Each month, the submission period fills up within a matter of minutes,” she said.
Andrew’s Adventureland Memorial Playground has been entered to win a $50,000 grant from Pepsi. The project is headed by Amy Peterson who’s hoping to turn the field where her 11-year-old son died into a park.
Andrew’s Adventureland Memorial Playground would feature a playground and picnic area so neighborhood children can enjoy the space.
“Voting is something that can quickly be done every day. Initially, it takes a couple minutes and you can be offline in a minute or two, once you’ve voted for a topic it automatically comes up on your profile for easy voting later,” Peterson said.
Andrew VanHorn was found in a field near his home in South Toledo on July 13, 2009. The land where he was found, near Ventura Drive and Chorus Lane, has been zoned as a park for more than 30 years.
“People hear Andrew’s story and they want to do something. This is one way to give back,” Peterson said. “This is a way, every day they can spend a minute or two and it’s not costing them anything, but the end result could mean $50,000.”
Peterson is working with the city to make sure the park has the appropriate support.
In addition to Andrew’s Adventureland, this month multiple Toledo area organizations are going for grants.
Imagination Station is asking for a $5,000 grant to fund outreach programs for 200 children in the Boys and Girls Club, and provide free memberships to 60 Boys & Girls Club families, said Anna Kolin, communications and public relations manager for Imagination Station.
Kids Unlimited Toledo, which is going for $50,000, provides an afterschool program for 200 inner city children and a summer program for 300 children, said president Chris Amato.
The Metroparks of the Toledo Area is up for a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant. The money would help fund a natural outdoor playground for children at Wildwood Metropark. The park would feature two play areas, one for children ages infant to 5 and the other for children 5 to 12.
BeInstrumental also is going for $50,000 and has been in the competition since June. The Toledo organization provides instruments and musical opportunities to students in the area, said Jeff Green, the director and co-founder. If BeInstrumental wins, part of the money will help pay for instruments that were lost in the tornado at Lake High School, he said.
My Seedlings, an organization that has worked to raise money after tornadoes destroyed parts of Lake Township, is in the contest for a $250,000 grant to form a nonprofit. The group hopes to use funds to establish a scholarship for Lake students who pursue a “green” career field, help tornado victims rebuild in a green-friendly manner and educate the community about green activities in the area. For more information about the group, visit www.myseedlings.org.
The Victory Center, which provides free services to cancer patients, survivors and their families, is up for a $250,000 grant. The center hopes to use the grant to increase the size of its facility.
In June, Mule Muscle Inc., a nonprofit organization that supports Bedford High School in Temperance, Mich., won a $250,000 grant from Pepsi to build a new weight room for the school.
Like many of the Toledo organizations involved in the program, Mule Muscle used social media and other networking opportunities to gain votes, said Rebecca Regnier, the president of Mule Muscle and a 13abc reporter.
“It’s something that you have to work, work, work at,” she said.
Mule Muscle entered the competition in April. Regnier called the first month a “learning curve” and said the organization pushed harder for votes in the ensuing months by using tools such as Facebook and e-mail, reaching out to fitness and other health organizations and telling others to get their friends to vote.
Most of the Toledo organizations are using similar tactics including teaming up with other organizations in the competition. One person gets 10 online votes a day, so groups can team up with nine other organization to share votes. But people can only vote once for a project each day.
This month’s voting ends Sept. 30.
For more information and to vote, visit www.refresheverything.com.