Common Cents




January 26, 2007

Primary school students will give away every penny in the form of nearly

 1,400 grants to non-profits this spring and launch close to 300 service projects.

NEW YORK – Common Cents Executive Director Teddy Gross announced

today that help is on the way for thousands of the city’s neediest citizens

 – and that help will come from thousands of the city’s tiniest citizens.

Nearly a half-million New York City children raised an estimated


in this fall’s 16th Annual Penny Harvest, the largest of the

Common Cents educational

programs, and that’s a healthy $62,000 more than

the previous year.  Students from

749 of the city’s 1,100 elementary and middle schools

participated, and they will now

spend the next 12 weeks deciding how to distribute

their funds and volunteering for

 hundreds of hours of Neighborhood Service projects. 

The children donate every

 penny to a charitable cause.

In December, trucks carted the 195 tons of pennies

to Brink’s for counting. 

The official, to-the-penny count will be revealed in April. 

(The difference between the estimation and the final count

is usually a couple of thousand dollars.)

This winter students from all five boroughs will form

Philanthropy Roundtables in the schools to study community needs,

a crucial step in the year-long, service-learning program

because it gives students the power and the freedom to decide

 how to spend the harvest funds –

decisions which are often considered too “grown-up” for such young minds. 

Common Cents will train

 more than 500 teachers to oversee the roundtables and to integrate the

Penny Harvest with traditional academic subjects, such as math, English,

 music and science.  The youngsters, ages four to 14, will research and

visit non-profit organizations and interview community leaders before

making their grant decisions this spring; most will also choose to fund

and to participate in community service projects.

Last year, 489,720 New York City young people used their Penny Harvest collection

of $655,508.54 to make 1,283 grants to non-profits, such as women’s shelters,

youth cancer centers, homeless shelters, and senior centers, and

carried out 309 community service projects, including block clean-ups

and literacy programs. 

 The average grant was $412, and the children most often voted

(18 percent of the time)

to support organization’s that support children.

Grant recipients included national organizations like

 Make-A-Wish Foundation, Smile Train,

Any Soldier and Habitat for Humanity as well as local groups like

Tuesday’s Children, Bobbi and The Strays, Pond Alley

Environmental Center and God’s Love We Deliver.

Some of the youngsters’ Neighborhood Service projects included conducting

 language workshops for immigrants; knitting caps for children

undergoing chemotherapy; filling wish lists for 35 homeless

Baychester families; providing school uniforms and supplies

for survivors of Hurricane Katrina in the Bronx; shipping

prepaid phone cards to soldiers in Iraq; and making quilts for veterans.

Nationally, Common Cents also operates the Penny Harvest

 in Seattle and The Capital Region of NY.  Penny Harvest pilot programs

are underway in Hayward and Oakland, CA; Cambridge, MA; and Rochester, NY. 

The program also expanded this year to Long Island

(Port Washington, Westbury, Bellport and Jericho). 

This fall Seattle students in 46 schools collected $32,555.04

while The Capital Region students in 12 schools collected $16,106.56.

The Common Cents Penny Harvest grew from one child’s desire to

feed the homeless, and over the past 16 years, children from virtually

every school and neighborhood in the city have donated

nearly $5 million to community organizations and completed

267,000 hours of service projects.  As children help others in their communities,

they express and develop their generosity and moral character,

and they learn through practice the skills and responsibilities of

democratic participation.  These young people demonstrate to themselves

and others their value as contributors to the community.

According to a 2006 survey conducted by Columbia University, students who

participate in the Penny Harvest gain self-confidence,

empathy for others, and the self-awareness that they can make a difference. 

Teachers report that students sharpen their teamwork, communication

and leadership skills and increase their dedication to school work, and

equally important, the students carry these positive impacts over time.




One comment

  1. […] Penny Harvest <~~~~~~~ Click here to read more. […]

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