Out of the Box Prize

in community engagement, Ideas, Organizing, Resources


The Community Tool Box is hosting an inaugural global prize contest for community innovations. The 2010 “Out of the Box” prize will recognize and honor promising initiatives from around the world that improve community development and community health. 

The Grand Prize will be $5,000 in cash, plus a free customized Workstation (interactive website that supports collaboration).  A second prize will be $2,000 in cash and a free WorkStation. 

We invite you to enter the innovations contest, and encourage you to share contest information with others doing innovative work to improve life in their communities. 

Your group’s innovation may involve activities to improve community health, education, urban or rural development, poverty, the environment, social justice, or other related issues of importance to communities. 

To learn more and to download an application form, please visit http://ctb.ku.edu/en/out_of_the_box.aspx. Or, for Spanish, visit http://ctb.ku.edu/es/out_of_the_box_es.aspx

The opening date for applications is August 1, with a closing date of October 31. An international panel of judges will select Finalists. Award Finalists and their innovative projects will be posted on the home page of the Community Tool Box. Public voting will then help determine the two top “Out of the Box” prize winners; voting will close on January 31, 2011. 

Many of you are already familiar with the Community Tool Box, which has been creating and disseminating practical guidance about community health and development online since 1995. For those of you who have not viewed our site recently, we invite you to visit us at http://ctb.ku.edu, where you will find over 300 how-to-do-it instructional modules and many tools for bringing about community change and improvement. 

If you have any questions concerning the Out of the Box Prize, please direct them to Christina Holt at cholt@ku.edu

50 ways to serve in your neighborhood

in community engagement, Ideas, Organizing, Resources

[ Extracted from the "Neighborhood Enhancement" section of 366 Community Service Ideas. Compiled by Janet Fox, 4-H Extension Specialist. Value-added: we linked to resources that might help you apply these ideas. If you have more (or better) links, please reply below. ]

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How to help seniors and kids in your neighborhood

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Be a foster grandparent

As a Foster Grandparent, you’re a role model, a mentor, and a friend. Serving at one of thousands of local organizations—including faith-based groups, Head Start Centers, schools, and other youth facilities—you help children learn to read, provide one-on-one tutoring, and guide children at a critical time in their lives. Put simply, you give the kind of comfort and love that sets a child on the path toward a successful future. For more information, visit www.getinvolved.gov.

Be a senior companion

If you’re 60 and want to share your experience and compassion, you have what it takes to be a Senior Companion. By becoming a companion to a frail person, you help that person stay in their own home. Whether you’re giving families or professional caregivers much-needed time off, running errands, or simply being a friend, youll make a difference that strengthens and helps preserve an individuals independence. And youll join with thousands of others to help control the rising costs of health care. For more information, visit www.getinvolved.gov.

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Volunteers clean up city’s back gate neighborhood

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As house painting and the neighborhood cleanup continue behind him, Billy Huegel, 18, a Palomar College student, does a little dance during a work break Saturday during the SUN (Supporting Urban Neighborhoods) Project on Arthur Avenue. (Photo by Bill Wechter)

A renewed sense of hope and community pride was born as the sun rose Saturday in an Oceanside neighborhood still recovering from recent gang violence.

An estimated 1,000 people turned out for the eighth annual Oceanside SUN (Supporting Urban Neighborhoods) Project. The partnership between the city and community residents, volunteer groups, and corporate sponsors gave participants the opportunity to paint homes, replace fences, remove trash and debris and make other minor enhancements.

Donning old clothes and bright smiles, the larger-than-average throng of volunteers got busy transforming the 500 to 700 blocks of Arthur Avenue just off North River Road.

“This back gate area is one of the most critical neighborhoods in Oceanside,” said Councilwoman Esther Sanchez.

Lt. Shawn Murray said he and his fellow officers were “ecstatic” to see the SUN Project come to Arthur Avenue.

“This is exactly what the neighborhood needs,” said Murray. “This is a great opportunity to reach out and build relationships with the normal, hardworking folks of a neighborhood normally claimed by a particular gang.”

Speaking for the group as they all nodded and beamed with pride, Talo, a sixth-grade student at Cesar Chavez Middle School, said that he and his 10-year-old sister Ella, 10-year-old cousin John Cruz and 8-year-old cousin Jahsaiah Toluao had “a lot of fun” making their neighbors’ houses “beautiful.”

Just down the road, Fono Atiga said he was overwhelmed by the job the volunteers did on his house.

“All I can say is how appreciative I am to the city and the volunteers,” said Atiga, as he pointed to his home. “They’re not even experts, but just look at the job they did, just look.”

“We should do this more often,” said Talo’s older brother Faatauvaa Wong. The 17-year-old senior at Oceanside High School said he really liked how people came together for the good of the community and that he was happy to see lots of familiar faces from school.

“I think it’s going to make a big difference,” added Faatauvaa.

Neighborhood services officials said funding for the project came from donations and Community Development Block Grants, and that no city general fund money was spent.

Read the full story: OCEANSIDE: Volunteers clean up city’s back gate neighborhood. By Elena Christiano

Project Ideas for Make a Difference Day

in community engagement, Ideas, Organizing, Resources

These projects by past Make A Difference Day honorees can inspire your brainstorm sessions for ideas on how your group can use its special services to make a difference. Also on this site: planning guides and other resources to help you turn your ideas into good deeds.

TEEN GROUP LENDS A HAND: 75 volunteers from the Palm Springs, Calif., Yucaipa Teen Center held a food drive, did home repairs for elderly and disabled citizens, and cleaned up parks and roadways.

LOCAL YMCA LEADS THE WAY: Galesburg, Ill., Led by the Warren County YMCA, 400 children and adults from Monmouth and surrounding areas renovated a refuge shelter for homeless and abused women and kids; donated food for the needy; picked up litter; painted and insulated a house for Habitat for Humanity; and entertained nursing home residents.

STATE WOMEN’S CLUBS MOBILIZE: Nearly 1,100 members in 58 chapters of the Illinois Federation of Women’s Clubs pitched in restocking homeless shelters, organizing community cleanups, visiting nursing homes. “All of the clubs are active in their communities,” says president Phyllis Cossarek. “But Make A Difference Day is a wonderful way for the clubs to do even more.”

MONEY FOR GLASSES, SCHOLARSHIPS: The Ellington (Mo.) Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce held a fall festival, parade and auction that raised more than $3,000 for, among other things, local scholarship funds and a children’s eyeglasses bank.

NEWCOMERS WELCOMED WITH EVENT: In Lenoir City (Tenn.) HOPE, an adult volunteer organization, held a Make A Difference Day Readin’ and Rummagin’ Day to benefit recent Mexican immigrants. Participants were given play money to purchase items donated by a church and were read to in both Spanish and English.

REUNITE A COMMON INTEREST: Former residents of the Homeless Prevention Center in Woodbridge, Va., operated by Volunteers of America, returned on Make A Difference Day to paint, lay a walkway and sort donated clothes.

HELP YOUR OLD SCHOOL: Alumni of St. Angela’s grade school in Chicago, Ill., restored luster to their 80-year-old alma mater, located in a neighborhood plagued by poverty and crime, by coming together on Make A Difference Day to paint classrooms, install proper lighting in the halls and a new sidewalk, repair broken doors, as well as donate $900. (more…)