Tonight marks the unofficial birthday of The Generation Project. If I were able totransport myself back in time exactly one year, I would be sitting precisely whereI am now, on my porch in Ann Arbor,MI. At that time, we were finalists in ideablob.com's Best New Business Idea contest and were collecting the final votes from friendly passersby. In the end, we didn’t need that final cushion, as we won the contest with a safe margin of over 1,000 votes (the largest in the history of the site). The website you see today was built because we won (which we owe to the incredible support we received from friends, family,and the Universityof Michigan community) and, because our entire model centers on the community we are buiilding through out website, we consider today The Generation Project's unnofficial birthday.
Since winning the $10,000 prize in the ideablob contest, The Generation Project has grown from what we thought was a pretty great idea to a fully formed, functioning nonprofit. As we are on the verge of implementing the first round of gifts in all ofour regions (see Amber/Duffy and Salam’s profiles to view gifts from our pilot program this spring), we have many milestones to share. So, please bear with us as we reminisce.
June 2008: Jessica (that's me!) leaves her job with Teach For America to take a really big risk (and a, err, non-existent pay check).
July 2008: The Generation Project incorporates in Illinois.
August 2008: Jessica and Eli enter their idea for The Generation Project in the ideablob.com Best New Business Idea contest and win by a record vote margin and with the most votes in contest history. The Generation Project files for nonprofit status.
September 2008: Ideablob award ceremony at Dominick’s in Ann Arbor, MI draws over 100 supporters—who wouldn’t want a picture with a big check?
October 2008: Pop singer Marie’ Digby partners with The Generation Project and donates proceeds from T-shirt sales.
December 2008: The informational side of our new website goes live, thanks to 365 Interactive Design, one of our sponsors. The Generation Project also begins collaborating with Detroit schools to gear up for the pilot program.
January 2009: The Generation Project secures partnerships with Teach For America in its launch regions. The partnership advertises gifts to Teach For America teachers and the opportunity to donate to Teach For America alumni. Ivan, one of Eli’s former students from the South Bronx, begins blogging for The Generation Project. His hilarious and insightful insights on politics, sports, and current events draw hundreds of new visitors to the site.
February 2009: The Generation Project receives confirmation from the IRS that we received 501(c)(3) status. The pilot program is launched in Detroit and New York City. Gifts implemented during the pilot program include an acoustic guitar for an aspiring songwriter in the Bronx, full sets of equipment to establish a baseball program at a Detroit school, an essay contest whereby students learned about and proposed peaceful solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and sets of donors favorite books. Also this month, students at the University of Michigan launch a student group to support The Generation Project and encourage other students groups to use The Generation Project for their philanthropic giving.
March 2009: Rugby Ralph Lauren announces five finalists in its Match grant competition for budding social entrepreneurs. All five nonprofits participating are led by Teach For America alumni.
April 2009: The Generation Project wins the top prize of $25,000 through the pilot Match Rugby Fund grant competition.
June 2009: The Generation Project is selected as a pilot portfolio with the Fast Forward Fund, a New York City-based foundation that trains youth to invest in youth-led social change ventures.
July 2009: The community section of www.thegenerationproject.org goes live, allowing donors to design meaningful opportunities for high-need students. The Generation Project’s launch tour, sponsored by Rugby Ralph Lauren, kicks off in Washington, DC on July 8th. Two stops follow in New York City on July 15th and in Chicago on July 22nd. These three stops raised approximately $20,000 for students in need in the form of nearly 200 gifts.
August 2009: Enterprise Rent A Car awards The Generation Project a grant for their commitment to Southeast Michigan. Jessica participates in the Detroit Quality Education Summit, reaffirming The Generation Project’s commitment to the children of Detroit.
September 2009: This month, The Generation Project will embark on its final two launch tour stops sponsored by Rugby Ralph Lauren in Boston on Wednesday, September 23 and in San Francisco on Wednesday, September 30.