One Hundred Dollar Solutions

One Hundred Dollar photos

One Hundred Dollar photos

Written by: Aurelia Spaulding and Lori Maddern; Photo by Cheryl Kirby-Stokes

Last academic year, students in the Community Approach to Service Honors Colloquium at Western Kentucky University began a journey to create sustainable solutions with $100. Using the $100 Solution model, students addressed the issues of transitional housing and self-sufficiency in the Bowling Green, Kentucky area.

The goal of the $100 Solution project is to teach students about partnerships, capacity building, sustainability, cross-cultural understanding, as well as problem-solving skills. The $100 Solution invites groups to identify needs and discuss ways to address problems using minimal financial resources.

WKU Seniors Kat Smith, Devin Bell, and Evan Gribbins, working as the Blue Summer Nights group, decided to develop a project for the Housing Authority of Bowling Green’s Reach Higher program.  According the Housing Authority’s website, Reach Higher creates opportunities for participants to enhance personal abilities, assists with overcoming barriers to self-sufficiency, move successfully into the workforce, and retain employment, ultimately removing the participants from welfare.

Blue Summer Nights communicated with T.J. Shockley, Community Initiatives Director, regarding potential projects for the group. “We got to talking to Ms. Shockley, and her big thing is to help participants become more self-sufficient, and we just thought this would be a good way to help do that,” Smith said during an interview on local television station WBKO.

The project incorporated a hands-on lesson in the basic mechanics of car maintenance. The participants learned how to change their oil and tires, and they became familiar with other parts of the automobile. The students utilized the $100 to purchase materials and incentives for participation.

Four other students focused on establishing transitional housing in Bowling Green. The group presented a strategic plan to the Board of Directors at Habitat for Humanity and HOTEL INC (Helping Others Through Extended Love In The Name of Christ). Once approved, Junior Kathryn Crimm, Senior Anthony Cooper, Junior Virginia Martin, and Sophomore Hillary Slaughter created an asset survey to determine what resources already existed in the community for transitional housing.

The students were interviewed on a local television station to discuss the survey and encourage participation. The group used the $100 to distribute the surveys and host a celebration in the community to present the results and community development ideas for a target neighborhood in Bowling Green.

The $100 Solution program was brought to Western Kentucky University by Bernard Strenecky in the Office of Internationalization. He utilized the $100 Solution during the Semester at Sea program at the University of Virginia. The $100 Solution began when the Prospect/Goshen Rotary Club decided to provide their two Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars with a challenge that would help them address the social needs of the people in the country in which they were about to live. In their new community, the students were asked to identify a social problem, study its causes, and with community leaders, determine strategies that could be employed to help address the issue. In an attempt to make the experience more concrete, the students were given a one hundred dollar bill and were instructed to utilize the money to address the identified problem. Through this experience, the students learned they can address complex social problems with small amounts of money.

The $100 Solution program will continue at the WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships in partnership with the Prospect/Goshen Rotary Club under the leadership of the Community Engagement Coordinator. Faculty, staff, and students may contact the Center to obtain the application and information on participation in the $100 Solution program.


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