Students put philanthropy tank dollars into teaching critical problem solving

In April of 2020, three students—now graduates—from St. Vincent Ferrer School in Delray Beach were awarded $13,500 from Palm Beach Philanthropy Tank to fund the implementation of an Idea Lab at Hope Rural School in Indiantown.

The Palm Beach Philanthropy Tank encourages students to identify social issues affecting the community and equips them to develop and execute sustainable solutions to these problems. The program grants participating students mentorship from leading philanthropists and local business leaders, as well as a chance to present their charity program ideas in front of a panel of philanthropist-investors. According to the organization’s mission statement, “The fundamental aims of Philanthropy Tank are to help shape students’ leadership paths and, through their creative solutions, address and improve social issues in our community.”

The application from students Pierce Dono, Oliver Charles Pierre and Angel Rojas were one of only five ideas chosen from hundreds of applicant submissions to present their idea to the Philanthropy Tank investors in a “Shark Tank” type setting. Soon thereafter, Charlotte Donelan and Evie Price joined the Hope Idea Lab Team to carry out the project’s mission.

Their collaborative leadership has taught problem solving through technology and design thinking engineering methods to help Hope Rural School students grow into problem solvers in their community. These students invested countless volunteer hours organizing classes, posting lessons to a website created for the students, recruiting volunteers and attending Zoom sessions with mentors.

On Jan. 29th, the Idea Lab group visited the Indiantown school to teach an in-person class funded by the Philanthropy Tank award. Philanthropist investor Evan Deoul, Executive Director Amy Brand and the Philanthropy Tank team participated in the class via Zoom. The students were commended on their professionalism and their ability to relate to the Hope Rural students by teaching them new technologies in a fun and engaging way.

Sister Elizabeth Dunn, director of Hope Rural School, staff and students were truly delighted to see the joy on the students' faces as they tinkered with iPads, coding, robotics and a digital riddle game using the Kahoot app.

Lisa Gustinelli, IT administrator and educational technology specialist at St. Vincent Ferrer School, said, “The student’s efforts are a wonderful example of our Catholic Faith in action.”

To learn more about St. Vincent Ferrer School, visit stvfschool.org or call (561) 278-3868. Follow the school on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @SVFVikings. To learn more about Hope Rural School, visit hoperuralschool.org and follow them on Facebook @HopeRuralSchool.