First class of students at The $100 Solution™ House


Name: Andrea Daniels (Graduate Assistant)

Major: Student Affairs

What do you hope will come from living in The $100 Solution™ House? I am excited to witness the community that we build and how we can come together in order to help somebody and teach others about service-learning.


Name: Kurtis Spears

Major: Civil Engineering

What do you hope will come from living in The $100 Solution™ House? I hope to create strong, positive relationships, develop stronger ties with the community, and see the positive results of my actions.


Name: Kristina Downing (Kris)

Major: Family and Consumer Science with a concentration in Child Studies; minor in Social Work

What do you hope will come from living in The $100 Solution™ House? I am excited about meeting people with different backgrounds and having roommates. I was a Resident Assistant in Poland Hall and Meredith Hall, so this is one of my few opportunities to have roommates.


Name: Ihyauszz Khaiyroho Cole (K.C.)

Major: Psychology

What do you hope will come from living in The $100 Solution™ House? I hope to develop a good bond with good people, learn new things, and contribute to society


Name: NNeka Nwosisi

Major: Double major in Psychology and Sociology

What do you hope will come from living in The $100 Solution™ House?  I am really excited about living in the $100 Solution House because I think it is a great opportunity to show people who might not have the funds to donate to a cause, especially college students, that it is possible to find solutions through creative thinking that will have an influential and a long lasting impact.

The $100 Solution House™ Opens Its Doors!

Over the past couple of months, Western Kentucky University, located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, has been developing The $100 Solution™ House, the first living-learning community focused primarily on The $100 Solution™ service-learning program. On Sunday, October 5th, the new occupants of The $100 Solution™ House, located on Chestnut Street, had a cookout to celebrate the beginning of their journey.


The house was designated for The $100 Solution™ nationally-recognized NGO through a partnership between the ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships and the Department of Housing and Residence Life at Western Kentucky University in order to demonstrate the importance of giving back to the community. The ALIVE CCP is a place where campus and community connect to learn and serve and is the academic home of The $100 Solution™.


Over the course of the next year, students will be working to identify a community-determined need, develop successful partnerships with people in Bowling Green, and create a long-term solution that enhances the quality of life for others. Lauren Cunningham, Community Engagement Coordinator at the ALIVE CCP and facilitator of The $100 Solution™, will be assisting students in their endeavors.


Five undergraduate students and one graduate student will inhabit the coeducational setting in order to engage in service-learning opportunities according to the five principles of The $100 Solution™. These include reciprocity, partnership, capacity-building, sustainability, and reflection. The students are challenged to work with a community partner in order to determine a need and address the issue with only $100. As of this moment, the students are brainstorming ways to help the family of a four-year-old named Haley who has soft-skin tissue sarcoma cancer. They hope to fund raise through various methods in order to contribute monetary assistance to both the family and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


The ALIVE CCP and Western Kentucky University is excited to welcome such a diverse and motivated group of students into this home to grow and experience the positive impact of The $100 Solution™.

By: Samantha Mallory

WKU students’ personal experiences lead to projects benefiting community

Written by: Aurelia Spaulding

Twenty-seven projects, 17 community partners, five classes, and 123 students are utilizing the five principles of service-learning to answer a central question: “with this $100 bill, what can I do to enhance someone’s quality of life?”

The WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships coordinates The $100 Solution™ program at WKU as a way for students at the university, Warren Central High School, and Bowling Green High School to apply their academic interests and course objectives by addressing needs in the community. Through the program, students meet with community partners, identify needs, and then address the issue by using only $100. In addition, each group of students is charged with ensuring the project enacts a sustainable solution.

The idea of enhancing quality of life through these projects offered many of the students an opportunity to reflect on ways to support causes important to them.  Olivia Dorris’ group developed a project working with New Beginnings Therapeutic Riding, a nonprofit dedicated to serving individuals with disabilities by using the power of horses. “I had a cousin who went through a traumatic brain injury and went through a program just like this, with horses, and it really helped him out a lot. He is getting better to this day,” Dorris said.

The group is working with New Beginnings to increase their volunteer recruitment with students.  In addition, the students are learning about New Beginnings’ volunteer needs by volunteering in different areas within the facility. According to Volunteer Director Jeanne Cline, volunteers are very important to New Beginnings’ programs: “We always need help with what’s going on, and this is a big help with what the students have done.”

Micah McClendon, Natalie Gilliam, Jacob Soler, Justin Eckerd, and Kelsey Eposito-Wilcox have worked with the Buddy House for Down Syndrome to recruit volunteers as well as design and decorate the educational room for the individuals they serve. “We decided to do a project on the Buddy House because we saw an opportunity for a lot of needs to be met using our $100,” Gilliam said. “Because the Buddy House is funded all on donations, we knew they would really be able to use our help in getting the house open by March 21st. We also chose to work on this project because of the people we were helping.” The Buddy House and New Beginnings groups encourage anyone interested to stop by the organizations to learn more about volunteering.

Of the 27 projects, other community partners include Warren Central High School, the Humane Society, Community Threads Weaving Cooperative, New Life Church, Bowling Green High School, CEDARS, and HOTEL INC.

“We’ve learned a lot working on this project. For one, it’s been incredible to see how far you can stretch $100 and the difference you can make with such a small amount,” Soler said.

For more information about The $100 Solution™ at WKU, visit

Students make an impact through The $100 Solution™

Written by: Wendy Pons

The year is 2043 and you find yourself ill in the emergency room. Your doctor is compassionate and asks many questions to make sure she has all of the information needed to care for you. You notice how thorough and knowledgeable the doctor is which makes you wonder how she chose medicine…so you ask her. The doctor laughs to herself and then tells you about a group of Warren Central High School students who taught her kindergarten class a song about science and showed them fun experiments back in the spring of 2013. The smiling doctor explains how she still remembers the song and starts to hum it. This reminds you of another story you were told by a friend of yours while having dinner with him and his family. The family cooked a traditional meal from the Congo and it had many fresh vegetables that were native to his mother’s homeland. When you asked where they got the vegetables they showed you their garden and told you the story of Western Kentucky University students who helped them build and grow it with seeds their mother had brought to the United States. Both of these events had a common link – the high school and college students were all part of a program called The $100 Solution™.

In 30 years those outcomes are completely possible from two of the 27 The $100 Solution™ projects that are being completed by local students this semester. Matter Matters is a project run by five Warren Central High School students in partnership with Warren Elementary School. Matter Matters created a sustainable solution to fill the community need of getting students interested in science at an early age. They wrote a song that the teachers can teach year after year. Helping Grow Memories project is a partnership between five WKU Cultural Diversity students, Fern Runners Garden Center of Bowling Green, and a refugee family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The group determined the family’s need of cooking with sustainable fresh produce and combined it with the family’s desire to have food native to their culture. Each project was completed with $100 or less. What could you do with $100? These projects and many others have shown how you can make something seemingly small and turn into a world of change.

By: Jillian Weston

My group consists of two students and myself. We visit a Burmese family weekly to spend time with and learn from them. They cook us meals and share stories of the past. They show us videos and pictures from the refugee camp they lived at in Thailand. The children tell us stories about school and how they are treated differently. We share stories of the college experience and try to inspire them to further their education. We teach them how to fix things around the house. Our biggest project right now is teaching the father how to drive. He passed his written exam, but has not completed the driving portion. He knows the general rules, but we are trying to inform him of the unwritten rules of the road as well as further his understanding of the rules that are in black and white.

For our 100 Dollar Solution project we are searching for a nice set of tools. We would like for it to include the basics such as a hammer, screwdrivers, level, tape measure, nails/ screws, hacksaw, adjustable wrench, etc. The family has a working knowledge of tools; however, they are not familiar with the American version of tools. The father actually built a home for his family out of bamboo while living in the refugee camp. The skills are there, but we would like to transfer his skills so that they are applicable in his new home.

There are some other areas of Bowling Green that we would like to introduce to the family. We would like to introduce the art of coupon clipping. We plan to take them to the post office so that they can mail their friends letters. Not everyone from their refugee camp wound up in the same place, and some of their friends are still at the refugee camp. This weekend we are taking the family vacuum and clothes dryer shopping. The family does not want to line dry their clothing in the winter. Their previous vacuum bit the dust, so the grandmother has been picking up all debris by hand for the past few months.

We hope that we address the needs of our family and are effective in explaining correct actions to fix issues. We hope that all is not lost through translation and that we are making an impact on their lives as they are ours. They have had our hearts since day one. We hope to be as warm, caring, and generous as they are. They are our example of a family and how to treat others.

The Five Pillars

By: Chris Ford

When I was in my high school’s marching band, I dreaded the word “fundamental” because it normally meant we were missing something so basic that we should had corrected it ourselves without having to have it pointed out. Anyone who has been in a marching band can remember the many long afternoons spent in fundamental block – with the leader drilling everything from how to hold your instrument to how to properly step off and stay in step. Without these building blocks, nothing else we learned in marching band mattered. We could have had the best drill for the show and the best music, but without knowing the core element of marching there could be no way to have a successful show. This same focus on fundamentals applies to what I am currently involved in: The $100 SolutionTM (THDS).

For THDS there are 5 principles (referred to as the 5 pillars): sustainability, reciprocity, partnership, capacity building, and reflection. These pillars should be present in all projects and be fully addressed throughout the process. Like having good fundamentals in marching band, without having a solid understanding of these essential components, a THDS project will not be successful. All of the pillars are necessary but in my opinion, the most critical one is reflection.

Reflection is the continued oral or written dialogue you have with yourself or your group in which you transform the experience into meaningful learning. Without taking time to reflect at all junctures of the project, you miss out on how you could improve. Reflection is best done the day of the event and it is more than merely recording what was done but shows insight on the project as it has been developed.

The other four principles are addressed in the beginning of the project but should always be kept in mind as the project develops:  Sustainability is the staying power of the project or its effects after your group is done with the project. One of the greatest ways to make a project sustainable is to have a community partner that can look after the project after you are gone.

Partnerships are a practical way to jump-start a project; many community leaders and organizations have  connections and resources to help you and connect you to those who you need to work with. By working with a partner that have the shared mutual interests, a project is able to be carried out much further and can last long after a group leaves.

Capacity building is enabling those whom you help to be self-sufficient by teaching them skills, improving their understanding, and cultivating their natural abilities and talents. We want both sides of the project to benefit from capacity building, and one way this is done is with reciprocity.

Reciprocity is a way for those whom you help and work with to exchange their ideas and knowledge with you and provide them a way to “give back.” This can be done in many avenues but the most common is having those that you are helping work on something that shows their appreciation of the work you have done. It is capacity building when those you help teach you something but also learn from their own independent projects.

By remembering the 5 pillars, you will be able to address issues as they come up and expand your project beyond its initial objective. Without the pillars, your project will (pardon the pun) collapse on itself. I hope everyone who is doing a project or wishes to do a project keep the 5 pillars in mind. Anyone who wishes to know more or has more questions is welcome to email me at  or stop by THDS GA office next to ICSR.

The Process of a Project from a Student’s View


$100 Solution TM

            Our group has had a variety of things that we could do for our family. We went back and forth debating on ideas and thinking of ways to contribute as much as possible. Our family has brought up numerous times that the father would love to learn English and this to us was really important and we wanted to do something out of the ordinary than trying to teach him ourselves, so we all thought outside the box and ended up with one of the greatest ideas for our $100 solution tm. We as a group will see if one of the students here at Western, in the ESL program, will volunteer to go to our families house and teach them English 3 or 4 times out of a month for the rest of semester and hopefully to continue throughout the year. We decided on this for different reasons. One, our family. This would benefit our family immensely considering they all want and NEED to learn English in this country. Two, the experience. The student who takes up the job will be getting the experience of a lifetime and the student would already be a trained student who knows different methods to teaching English and that would be perfect. This could also benefit the student as well as it could broaden their profession, it would also look good on a resume, and this project could hopefully start scholarships and other organizations that will recognize the benefits of the student and family. And three, the budget. The work of the student would be voluntary so that makes the cost of our solution extremely cheap and affordable. The only things that will cost are the materials used to teach and we as a group would use our $100 to pay for any teaching material or expenses needed. I think our project for the solution is great and should benefit everyone, both the family and the student. I have learned that the solution isn’t about how to stretch the money but about how to use just that little amount of money to help those who need it and to give back to make others happy. I think our family would really appreciate the effort and we will appreciate the feeling of helping our family.


Written by: Jasmine Blue, Cultural Diversity Student

Leading a Group

The first few weeks were slow, but now it seems as if everything is happening at once. My group consists of four girls who are doing their project with the Housing Authority’s group Reach Higher. They went to talk with the person in charge at the Housing Authority and she was really excited about this idea of a day of empowerment. They came to me last week and said, “we think she wants this to happen because we talked half the time about little things that other people have done and the other half of the time about this day of empowerment.” Literally for half of the couple of hours the girls were there she seemed so enthusiastic about this one project in particular. Now my group has talked with the members of the Reach higher program and have acknowledged how much all of the women there want to participate as well. My group seems to be excited about this project and excited to get parts of the university involved as well. They want to go talk with groups on campus that might be interested in getting involved, and they even want to try and pair up with another Gender and Women’s Studies group to see if they can help each other. I’m excited to see what comes of my group’s project and to see how it impacts the university’s community and the Housing Authority in Bowling Green.

Written by: Leah Railey

Reflections of the $100 Solution™

In my role as a Graduate Assistant, one of my tasks is to look over the student reflections as they meet the challenge of the $100 Solution TM. This task gives me insight into which concepts about the $100 Solution TM projects they find most striking or most daunting.

Reciprocity is the concept that students instantly recognize as making this project different from almost any other service project with which they have been involved. Many students come to the Project with experience helping others. Some have participated in food drives, church outreach projects or mission work; others have participated in service activities as members of Greek societies here on campus. These are the students that usually tell us they are looking forward to the service-learning component of the class because they “enjoy helping other people.”

After being introduced to the concepts of the $100 Solution TM, it was obvious that the concept of reciprocity—making the” learning” part of the project mutual between the students and their partners—resounded with the students. In training, Nadia stresses that our students are not giving charity— our partner families and organizations have no personal stake in charity. Somehow, the students must find a way for the partner to reciprocate learning. This may happen when a partner organization allows students to practice skills making marketing materials, or when a partner family shares a meal with the group, or even when the partners make the students a t-shirt to wear during their presentation. Learning must be a two-way street.

The students seem to embrace this idea—that they are receiving something in return for their work, beyond just “feeling good” that they helped someone else. They are developing and using skills in communication and cooperation, as well as many other areas, that will serve them throughout the rest of their careers.

Holly D. Brooks

Training has begun for The $100 Solution

By: Wendy Pons

Training has begun! As Chris Ford went over the five pillars of The Hundred Dollar Solution students listened intently. Many took notes as he spoke and many asked questions. I could see a few even writing down ideas they were coming up with as he described the program. It was a bit humorous at the end of the class as the professor gave an assignment. Dr. Smith had the students scared for a minute when she told them to bring a community problem to the next class. She gave geographical boundaries to them to keep the community as Bowling Green. The instructions were to find a problem in the community and to bring in evidence that it exists. They got worried thinking they had to have their idea for The Hundred Dollar Solution right away. But their worries were put to rest as she told them it was only to get the feel for how the process will work. It was interesting to sit in the background and watch the curiosity build over this amazing program.