The program began in 2008 with the first trip to Boone, North Carolina, where students worked with Western Youth Network and Habitat for Humanity. We are proud of the growth and success that Miner Challenge has undergone since then.
In 2011, Miner Challenge experienced some exciting firsts!
2011 was the first year that Miner Challenge had two teams travel concurrently to two separate locations. One team served in Louisiana working with organizations combating poverty and homelessness, while the other team went to Tennessee to work with organizations contributing to environmental conservation efforts. This was also the first year a team has worked in two different cities with a wide variety of organizations, rather than just one city and one main partner organization.
In addition to the above, we began taking steps to connect with and include Miner Challenge alumni! Efforts have included inviting alumni to events such as the Miner Challenge Celebration, where current teams share about their trip experience through a presentation, photos, and conversation, with team members, donors, alumni, and other Miner Challenge supporters. These are the people who have allowed our program to progress and transition to the next level, and it’s been a great endeavor to reconnect with them!
2013 was all about record breaking! Not only did we have the most participation yet, we sent three teams across the country! We sent 14 amazing students to Tom's River, New Jersey, to help clean up after Hurricane Sandy. Another group of 15 students made up of two teams went to Biloxi, Mississippi, to help educate underprivileged children & work on environmental projects.
Realizing the strength of the students who help run this program the decision was made to give more leadership opportunities to the Miner Challenge participants. The decision to create a Miner Challenge Peer Involvement Advisor to coordinate the program was made. This has helped the program go from staff run, to a student driven experience! Trip Leaders have more stake than ever before in the success of the Miner Challenge experience.
2014 was a very big first for us as we journeyed to our very first International experience to Jinotega, Nicaragua. The students really got to experience a lot of what was a new culture for them and still volunteer and teach English to underprivileged children. We also created a non traditional trip - a five day abbreviated experience to allow students a bit of free time during their break. These students traveled to Moore, Oklahoma, to help Habitat for Humanity in doing tornado relief work. We had another group of students traveled to Austin, Texas, to work throughout the community and aide in combating homelessness. Our fourth group traveled to Greeley, Colorado, but spent a lot of time volunteering in the Lyons community helping in flood relief work.
2015 was a great year for growth! We added one more trip, allowing even more students to participate in the Miner Challenge experience. We went heading back to Nicaragua, this time to Santa Julia to work side-by-side with community members to build and improve local infrastructure. Another team headed to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to work with Habitat for Humanity to help those still in recovery from Hurricane Katrina. We had another team work with Habitat for Humanity and a few other local organizations to help combat homelessness in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. The last week long experience went to Detroit, Michigan, where participants worked with Young Detroit Builders in an effort to get those who are working on obtaining their GEDs interested in the STEM fields by presenting projects in those areas of study. For our 5-day abbreviated trip experience, a group of students went down to Little Rock, Arkansas to work with the Children's Programs put on by Our House, a facility that provides the working homeless with many resources to help them get back on their feet.
We are proud of what we have accomplished, and excited about where we are taking Miner Challenge in the future as we develop a strategic planning team, and engage with efforts designed to further the program and ensure its sustainability!