Microsoft & TechSoup - Helping Us Improve Air Quality and Health

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Clean Air Champions
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The mission of Clean Air Champions is to improve air quality by working with respected athletes to motivate and educate citizens to adopt practices and lifestyles that enhance both environmental and personal health.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Clean Air Champions (CAC) was founded in 2001 by three passionate individuals with education and careers in the sport and environment fields. Through their personal and sport experiences they recognized the declining state of air quality and how this directly impacts our health and well being, and the very future of our planet.


Taking their passion for sport, these pioneers formed Clean Air Champions and reached out to their fellow athletes, the Champions; National Team, Olympic and Paralympic athletes who share these founders passion for our environment and health issues. Today, there are over 160 Champions who play a key role in delivering Clean Air Champions’ mission via a range of school and public programs. Simply put, these athletes inspire Canadians and others to get active for our environment.


We call it the Four Whammies of needed benefits: • Reduce air pollution • Reduce climate change • Improve physical fitness and overall health• Create more live-able, socially connected, safe and clean communities as more and more citizens choose more active and sustainable lifestyles


The Champions represent CAC by speaking at partners’ events and campaigns, at collaborative programs with local and national NGOs, but primarily via our Clean Air Champions’ range of programs – particularly our curriculum (school) programs.


All our programs and services engage our Champions with the goal of motivating people to make small changes in their lives that will add up to big differences. Most of our resources and time goes into delivering school and community programs across the country to educate youth (primarily ages 10 – 16) about air quality, climate change, transportation and health issues, and provide them tangible actions they can take to help improve air quality and their fitness. Our Champions are proven winners at reaching these young minds, opening new levels of awareness of the issues and their interconnections, and inspiring them to actually adopt new lifestyles – not an easy challenge to meet!


Currently there are four school programs run by Clean Air Champions: Clean Air Achievers (CAA), Stepping Ahead (SA), High School Climate Challenge (HSCC) and Get Active: Be Air Aware (Air Aware). CAA is a unique curriculum-based program for students in Grades 6-9 that explores transportation choices and its impact on air quality, climate change and health. It employs a sophisticated on-line greenhouse gas calculator (Trip Tracker) and students can see first- hand how every travel trip they make can reduce GHGs and increase their fitness levels (


SA targets physical education teachers who ideally work in tandem with the teachers implementing the CAA program. SA offers a 6 week physical education training program that sees students setting fitness goals while at the same time learning about air quality and health issues via physical activity games and exercises.


HSCC targets high school students and educates and engages youth teams to conduct energy audits on their school institutions gathering real GHG emissions data. The high end, multi-functional GHG calculator built for this program is the only one of its kind we know of geared specifically for the high school age group. The end goal is for these youth teams to assess their findings and in turn present strategic GHG emission reduction plans to their school staff, boards and facilities management. In addition, many small actions can be taken by these students at their schools such as changing light bulbs, reducing energy use, and installing bike racks.


Air Aware targets an active living and health message and incorporates the world’s first Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) at The main goal of Air Aware is to educate Canadians, including high school youth and adult audiences, about how living an active life can not only help to improve personal health but also reduce air pollution and climate change. A web 2.0 site will be developed over the next year that has downloadable modules and activities, games and a pan-Canadian link to other AQHI related programs and services.


TechSoup has been an incredible help to our charity. In our first round of Microsoft purchases we were able to purchase 7 Microsoft Office Pro 2007 (MSPRO) licences to optimize every aspect of our programming and services. Every service and program we offer depends on MSPRO to produce a wide range of needed program materials.


Each school program we implement includes materials that require time and cost intensive layout and preparation that in the past we paid a print house to do. Some of these items include: Teacher’s, Champions’, Students’ Manuals & Guides; posters; executive briefs, certificates of Achievement (see photo); PowerPoint presentations and more.


In particular, our CAA program is currently our largest school program reaching 7,000 students directly in seven provinces across Canada in 2008-2009. The Access software significantly increased our program reach this school year by making our outreach to schools far more rapid and trackable. The time and money staff saved through using the software, along with the proficient way to store school data, CAA staff was able to focus more energy into outreach and having more schools register. Proof of this increase can be viewed in the chart below that compares 2007-2008 school data to 2008-2009 school data for the CAA program.


Data Collected 2007-2008 2008-2009 ResultNumber of Schools registered 58 150 Increase of 92 schoolsNumber of Student participants 1,560 6,500 Increase of 4,949 participantsNumber of individuals reached 6,000 13,500 Increase of 7,500 individuals Cost of training Champions for CAA $4,000 $1,500 Cost savings of $2,500


The use of updated software for Access and MSPRO programs has increased the efficiency, professionalism and support with which we run all of these programs. The cost savings to CAC both in staff time and our ability to turn around materials more efficiently has been significant. We now can use PageMager to lay out documents reducing the print house work and our program costs substantially. Since implementing MSPRO we estimate we have saved over $1,700 in desktop costs.


Adding to the benefits of the Access software, we have finally been able to build ONE database and have spent that past several months inputting data from nine years of databases (excel based) in over 50 different files. Now with one Access database our ability to find, use, manipulate, share and update our data will be a very significant improvement and reduce all resource costs significantly. Organizing the Access database for CAC has increased the competence with which the programs are run, in turn enhancing the quality of programming so more time can be spent on outreach and support of participants. The table below illustrates the time and cost savings that Access has contributed to for CAC.


Data Collected 2007-2008 2008-2009 ResultStaff hours spent entering and managing data(per week) 20 10 10 hours/week saved

Costs spent on consultants hired for data entry $10,000 $3,000 $7,000 saved


We use PowerPoint extensively; 98 percent of our Champions’ presentations (to over 20,000 people in 2009) include PowerPoint presentations. The MSPRO has allowed CAC staff to increase the range of members served using updated PowerPoint software. Our Champions receive training on the programs, air quality issues and public speaking skills prior to being involved in the programs. The new PowerPoint software has allowed us to efficiently develop presentations to use during webinars to train the Champions. The 2008-2009 school year marked the first on-line CAC training webinar, and through the use of PowerPoint software, CAC can now reach more athletes through the online webinars, rather than running day long workshops with multiple training manuals being produced and a low number of Champions attending due to busy schedules. Each time webinars are held and more Champions are trained with the use of the PowerPoint software, CAC increases the range of members served.


All our school programs incorporate a multimedia presentation by a Champion and the PowerPoint software has not only increased the professionalism with which the programs are presented, it has also increased the audience reached. Specifically, with HSCC, Champions launch the program using a PowerPoint presentation that also focuses on recruiting youth leaders to register as participants, engage in the entire audit experience, and in turn become agents of change with potential to significantly reduce the GHG emissions from their schools. These youth often become mentors for the next generation of student participants.


Thank you to both TechSoup and Microsoft for providing software that is a key component to running a successful organization. The licenses CAC purchased from Microsoft have significantly increased the efficiency of how the organization is run on a day-to-day basis, as well as saved important staff time and costs that can now be focused on clients, Champions and and especially our youth audiences – tomorrow’s leaders. Clean Air Champions has been able to optimize mission delivery through the generous support of TechSoup and Microsoft, thus continuing to improve air quality and health for all.


Deirdre LaframboiseExecutive DirectorClean Air

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery