About The Penny Harvest
The Common Cents Penny Harvest grew from one child’s desire to feed the homeless, and since 1991, children between the ages of four and 14 have been converting their natural compassion for others into action by collecting pennies and turning those pennies into grants for community organizations – $10.5 million in grants donated by children since 1991!
The Penny Harvest shows young people they have the ability to make the world a better place by introducing them to the power of philanthropy and service during their formative years. As children help others, they develop their generosity and moral character, and they learn through practice the skills and responsibilities of democratic participation.
Principals and parents find that the Penny Harvest encourages a caring culture and sense of belonging; teachers see it as an opportunity to enhance curriculum through a blend of service-learning, character education, and child philanthropy; community leaders value the millions of dollars and hours that children donate back to better our communities; and kids like the program because it’s fun!
These Pennies Really Add Up!
During 09/10, Penny Harvest students across the country collectively raised an astonishing $756,273.19 in pennies. These elementary and middle school students then turned their pennies into thousands of grants and service projects to better their communities.
Founder and Executive Director Teddy Gross puts it this way: “We at Common Cents regard America’s billion dollar resource of idle pennies –found in startling quantities in the homes of both the rich and poor–as the philanthropic property of young people. For this reason, every penny the children collect is theirs to give away in an educational group process.”
Philanthropy & Service
After the fall penny collection, the students delve into the heart of the program by forming Philanthropy Roundtables to study community problems and to determine which organizations could best alleviate those problems, and then in the spring they use the money they collected earlier to make grants. Last year youngsters made thousands of cash grants community organizations, such as homeless shelters, animal rescue organizations, community gardens and senior centers.
Students often want to do more and do so by completing Neighborhood Service projects. Last year’s hundreds of service projects included teaching English to immigrants; replacing graffiti with inspirational murals; collecting supplies for the troops in Iraq; assisting teenage mothers; and planting community gardens.
Annually, Common Cents and our Penny Harvest partners provide thousands of hours in training to more than 800 Penny Harvest coaches (teachers, librarians and parent coordinators) and creates a comprehensive national curriculum guide, which helps teachers connect philanthropy and service to a wide array of classroom subjects, including math, science, English, art and music. Every school also receives crates of materials, including canvas collection sacks, colorful penny bags, stickers, posters and honorary leader pins—everything necessary to conduct a successful Penny Harvest.
The Penny Harvest now operates in the Capital Region of NY; Colorado; Los Angeles, CA; New York City/Metro NY; Ohio and select schools around the country.
*Funds that are unclaimed or unused by grantees after the lapse of more than 12 months may be allocated by Common Cents for use to support Common Cents Penny Harvest program activities