This January, local high school students will set their Saturday alarm clocks for fun, fellowship, and friendly competition through Mission Ignition, a service challenge run by United Way of Southeast Louisiana.
The concept of Mission Ignition is simple: schools compete to complete the most service hours during a one-month period.
What started in 2013 as a contest between two rival high schools, Benjamin Franklin and Lusher Charter, has grown to include eight Greater New Orleans area high schools (Benjamin Franklin, Lusher Charter, Haynes, Riverdale, East Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick F. Taylor, and Newman) representing more than 3,000 students. Participating schools gather on weekends over four weeks to complete joint service projects, or Missions, including park clean-ups and school beautification.
Mission Ignition is youth-led, with a board of student representatives from participating schools driving competition logistics and engagement strategies. In partnership with United Way staff, board members plan the service missions, recruit participants, and fundraise.
Fueled by a desire to drive community change, these high schoolers dedicate their time and talents to giving back and motivating their peers to do the same.
“I think that it’s important that we start young and that we work forward to trying to make sure New Orleans stays a positive atmosphere…it’s just really heartwarming to see that you’re promoting change in your area…” said Mission Ignition Board member Brianna Claveriec, a student at Benjamin Franklin High School.
Since its inception, Mission Ignition has created almost $500,000 in community impact through volunteer service hours. The program is a natural fit with UWSELA’s work to build Vibrant Communities, a key framework within our Blueprint for Prosperity, that are safe, thriving, and equitable.
“This is definitely contributing to Vibrant Communities for us; this is individuals empowering one another to take care of each other,” said UWSELA Director of Development Melody Reed, who heads Mission Ignition.
High schools interested in joining the competition can email Haley Mack, Resource Development and Volunteerism Associate, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students whose schools are not participating in Mission Ignition can sign up for missions as an individual volunteer at UnitedWaySELA.org/MI2018.