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Local teacher starts non-profit for students

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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Vista del Lago High School teacher Janice Johnson recently started local non-profit Invest LOV, Inc. after having great success from a high school project.

In December of 2017, Johnson added a Shark Tank-style project to her peer leadership class where student teams competed for a $5,000 grant to help better serve the Folsom community. Teams pitched their ideas to a panel of community leader judges by discussing how they would use the privately donated grant money to benefit the Folsom community or a local non-profit organization. The teams broke it down by their mission, goals, appropriation of funds and how their project would make a positive impact.

After one team won, another popular team’s project was also funded by an outside donor, making the first shot a major success for Johnson, and her students.

“I loved the projects we did with the students and seeing the results of their empowerment,” Johnson said. “The kids were more capable than they originally thought. I was gushing to my husband about how much I loved it, and he said if we were going to do it again, we needed to start a non-profit because the funds were coming out of my pocket.”

Invest LOV was established on Jan. 31, 2018 in hopes to bring it to more campuses than just Vista del Lago. Johnson already has the program planned for Folsom High School as well.

The program will start with an informational meeting about what the project is all about, as well as speakers from different non-profits to talk about their needs. After students decide they want to participate, they will form teams, and Johnson will hold a workshop to show them how to leverage their resources, how to talk to business, outline and PowerPoint and give their pitch. After, mentors, who will also be the judges, will come in and see what they prepared. A week later, teams will give their pitch and winners will be announced.

“Folsom and Vista will not be competing for the same grant, but the winning teams will be reveled at the same time,” Johnson said. “We are doing high school-age students simply because they have the level of communications skills needed. They are confident enough that they can call up a vice president of a corporation. Their maturity level is better and the community will take the process more seriously if it is old kids working to become leaders.”

Johnson said she is looking forward to seeing what the kids come up with.

“They look at things through a different lens. They don’t have a fixed mindset yet that there is one way to do things. They look at it in creative ways, and I am really excited to see what they are able to do that we haven’t thought of yet,” she said. “I think we have barely tapped into their capabilities.”

In the future, Johnson hopes to expand to more schools and communities with high needs.

Johnson said in the months of June, July and August, she will be campaigning for grant funds for the two high schools and needs your help.

“If you see this opportunity come across your computer or business, please consider supporting this because it turns the community into a classroom and our leaders into the teachers and that is really who should be teaching leadership,” she said. “All the money that is raised for the schools, 100 percent goes into the community. None of it goes to my overhead, so the financial support for Invest LOV is in more of an effort to get it to more campuses. It will change our community.”

For more information, go to InvestLOV.com, or contact Johnson at 916-407-2255.