The Snowball Effect

360 Youth Services is teaming up with Chicago based retailer Groupon in hopes of snowballing $10 donations into full scholarships for local teens.
Each year more than 600 Naperville high school students attend Operation Snowball, a three-day event focusing on youth leadership and substance abuse prevention put on by 360 Youth Services.

“If there was one gift I could give to every teenager in this community, it would be the opportunity to participate in this program,” said the organization’s Director of Prevention Karen Jarczyk. “I think it’s life changing. Young people come away with just a boost of confidence; a boost of energy and feeling supported and truly cared for. “

With its many benefits, the retreat continues to grow in popularity, but in this economy many families can’t afford to register.

“Hidden here in Naperville, are many families that are struggling to make ends meet,” said Lorri Nagle, Director of Development for 360 Youth Services. “We know unemployment is prevalent here; we know families are having to make some hard decisions on what to do with their money. And allowing a child to spend $175 on a retreat weekend may not necessarily be in the cards for them.”

And that’s where Groupon Grassroots comes in. It’s the philanthropic part of the Chicago based discount website, which allows visitors to contribute to not for profit fundraisers electronically.

The Grassroots site redirects you to the main Groupon page and then using your credit card, you can contribute to various causes in affordable amounts.

“We price ours out a ten dollars and below, almost like the price of lunch,” said Groupon Grassroots Supervisor Kyle Klatt “Then after they contribute to a Grassroots campaign with a ten dollar donation, we hope they stay engaged with the work that they do.”

The initiative, titled “Leaders For Life” will accept donations on the Groupon site, from now through February 20th.

“Our goal is to have at least 35, $10 donations, that helps us reach our tipping point,” said Nagle “Which means after raising $350 we can begin charging the credit cards that people have used. So we have to reach that point in order to do it.”

After the tipping point is reached they hope to fund twenty new scholarships, which adds up to 350 ten-dollar donations.

To hit that mark, the organization’s counting on phones and social media to drive donations.

“Facebook, email, and we’re hoping people will use Twitter and get the word out and really respond,” said Nagle. “I think when you make it easy for people to respond and go to that link. We’re really just asking for a $10 donation, in the blink of an eye you can make that happen and change the life of children in need.”

In 2011, when 360 Youth Services was known as NCO they were one of the first offers by Grassroots Groupon and raised 13 hundred dollars… a number they hope to almost triple this time around.

To donate visit Groupon.com and search Naperville Operation Snowball.

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