Microsoft helps Sparrow Clubs find our wings!

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Sparrow Clubs USA
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Sparrow Clubs exists to set the stage for simple yet heroic acts of kindness in schools and youth culture by kids helping kids in medical crisis.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Dameon was only 12 years old when he became a hero. Lonely, isolated and struggling with his own problems, Dameon emptied his bank account to save his teacher’s nine month old son, Michael Leeland. The child battled leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant to live, but insurance refused to pay. The student body at Kamiakin Junior High in Kirkland, Washington quickly rallied behind Dameon’s sacrificial gift of 12 five-dollar bills and raised over $227,000 in four weeks—enough to pay for the transplant that Michael so desperately needed. Heroically as well, many Microsoft employees in nearby Redmond, Washington personally rallied behind the kids by giving generously to save Michael. Dameon, who was formerly the most picked-on kid at Kamiakin Junior High, won the Character Award that year of 1992 and received a standing ovation from his peers. This amazing story of young people rallying for the life of a child in medical crisis—and changing their own lives as well—inspired the concept of Sparrow Clubs. We believe that kids will do heroic things when they have heroic things to do! With that in mind Sparrow Clubs USA was incorporated in the State of Washington and established in 1995 as a unique, youth-based 501 (c) 3 public charity. The organization has now “adopted” over 600 children (sparrows) and disbursed over $4 million in charitable support to their families for medical and maintenance needs. This has been accomplished by hundreds of schools across 26 states and involving tens of thousands of youth annually—all starting from one, unlikely boy’s heroic act of kindness. Sparrow Clubs USAs’ infrastructure, growth and mission-advancement has been so rooted in the office tools that Microsoft provides us, that it would be difficult to imagine how we would function without them. Historically, the organization’s overhead has been minimal with well over 80% of our dollars being directed to program. In fact, Sparrow Clubs USA began as a “kitchen-table” non-profit operating in the first five years with no paid staff, no formal office and no template to follow. In the early years Sparrow Clubs USA founder and volunteer executive director, Jeff Leeland, essentially developed and managed the entire organization with Microsoft Office on a home computer—built upon the inspiration of what Dameon and many other kids did at Kamiakin Junior High to save his son, Michael. The following are several examples how Microsoft has influenced, enhanced and optimized our mission. The Sparrow Project is the core of our program and mission—where a child in medical need is paired with a local school or “club” that adopts that child as their Sparrow service project. We use Microsoft Access to track and manage our Sparrow Application data and other information related to each Sparrow Project. A local business or individual is sought-out to sponsor the program costs and Sparrow Cash for each Sparrow Project. We use Microsoft Powerpoint, Publisher and Word to easily create proposals and communications that will compel donors to support our programs. And, we use Microsoft Outlook to effectively manage and leverage the maze of contacts, relationships and communications with educational, medical and business communities that are connected to each project. All-school Sparrow Adoption assemblies are held to introduce the student body to their new Sparrow. We have used Windows Movie Maker to create and show inspirational videos and slideshows of the Sparrow in order to rally the kid’s support and enthusiasm. Students are challenged to earn the sponsored Sparrow Cash by doing community service hours and documenting it on service vouchers. We use Microsoft Word to create the innovative Sparrow Check™ Service Voucher. Through the service voucher system thousands of community service hours are completed, countless life-changing lessons for students are delivered at no cost to schools and, in addition, many families with children in need are uplifted by youth compassion and community support. We also use Microsoft Excel to create spreadsheets that track Sparrow Project information such as various types of community service projects performed, hours served and sponsor information. Sparrow Cash becomes actual dollars that get credited to each Sparrow’s Project Account as kids "earn" it through service hours. Families request these designated monies as needed from the organization to help offset their expenses. Often young people go far beyond the initial service and do additional fundraisers for their Sparrows—sometimes netting thousands of dollars in assistance to the family. In conjunction with Quickbooks, Microsoft Excel also helps us track, manage and communicate this data as well as effectively communicate our financials to outside stakeholders such as our board of directors. Sparrow Clubs USA adopted approximately 300 new Sparrows to Clubs from years 2001-2005 compared to 40 in years 1996-2000. The new projects raised approximately $1.5 million designated for Sparrows compared to $198,000 in the first 5 years. After we opened a formal office in 2002 a key factor in Sparrow Clubs ability to leverage high productivity and growth from a small staff and few resources was software contributions of Microsoft products through our TechSoup partnership. These contributions include: Microsoft Project 2002, Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Office Pro XP, Microsoft Office Mac, Microsoft Encarta and Microsoft Windows XP for networking capabilities. In 2008, we received upgraded licenses to Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2007, Microsoft Office Mac, Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft Visio and Microsoft Encarta Premium. In closing, the following words of a teacher written in her school’s newsletter to parents echoed the sentiments of many staff and administrators in schools regarding Sparrow Clubs. "The benefits for the children at Amity Creek far outweigh the monetary benefit that the sparrow receives. The Club provides an outlet for kids to express compassion and to contribute their time, energy and talents in an extraordinarily worthwhile manner. It empowers and legitimizes kids helping kids. It creates a caring culture. It promotes the developmental assets that help kids to grow up as healthy, caring and responsible individuals and members of a community." Truly, the lines of benefit blur as youth communities come together to support Sparrow Clubs. Medically fragile children are unconditionally loved and made to feel whole despite their broken bodies. Families in need receive priceless hope as well as financial assistance. Sparrow Club members exercise heroic kindness and rally together for their “adopted” child and find themselves capable of making a positive difference.

We at Sparrow Clubs are indeed grateful and indebted to Microsoft for your contributions that have leveraged our time, talent and resources to advance the mission of kids helping kids in medical crisis!

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery
Project Image
Supporting Work Files