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UA SIFE Team Wins Honors at SIFE Nationals

June 19, 2012

On May 22-24, faculty advisor Marcia Klipsch accompanied 18 SIFE students to Kansas City to compete in the National Exposition. There were 157 teams in attendance, all of whom had to win their Regional Competition to qualify for the opportunity to face off against other regional winners. The teams were divided into leagues with the winners advancing to the top 20. Four teams then competed for the National Championship and will ultimately vie for International Awards in October. We are proud to say that the UA team placed among the top 16 teams in the country!

On May 22-24, faculty advisor Marcia Klipsch accompanied 18 SIFE students to Kansas City to compete in the National Exposition

To paint the picture, at the opening ceremony, 3000 students dressed in their school colors gathered in a huge auditorium in anticipation of motivational speakers, words of wisdom from sponsors, the Rally of Champions, and additional awards. As always, the music was blaring and there was electricity in the air. The competitive spirit was palpable!

During the opening event, the University of Arizona SIFE team was honored to receive two awards for projects that they had worked on throughout year. The first, Food4Thought, won the grand prize , which was sponsored by Lowe's. Led by Carley Howell and Marilyn Weigand, this gardening, composting, and recycling program focused on at-risk students at the Wildcat School. The team wrote educational lessons that teachers wove into their curriculum, teaching concepts such as healthy eating, math, and botany. At a year-end, family-style, garden-rich spaghetti dinner, the middle school students regaled their parents with their knowledge of healthy foods and their new-found love of gardening and recycling, which they insisted on practicing at home.

UA SIFE’s second award that night was sponsored by TIAA-CREF, for a project called Financially Empowering Gen Y

UA SIFE's second award that night was sponsored by TIAA-CREF, for a project called Financially Empowering Gen Y This year the team re-kindled its partnership with the Credit-Wise Cats (CWC) a project that was previously part of the UA SIFE line-up. Kiley Dumas and her CWC team members conducted financial education workshops for college students. They taught Credit and Debt Management, The Power of Credit Reports, and created book marks that had money management tips and reliable resources. The CWC program is now an ongoing program of the Take Charge America Institute for Consumer Financial Education and Research. It is an excellent example of a SIFE project that piloted a concept that was so successful it found ongoing support, and earned a permanent place in the UA's community outreach. They also executed TIAA-CREF's Financial Personality Campus Challenge reaching over 250 students and generating a donation to their charity, the Rubaga Community School in Kampala, Uganda.

The awards didn't end there. Over the next two days, the presentation team executed two flawless 24-minute multi-media presentations on four out of 11 of their most powerful projects, explaining to Fortune 500 companies how their work met all of SIFE's judging criteria. These awesome projects helped UA SIFE place among the top 16 teams in the country:

• Food4Thought - which also won the grand prize project partnership award as described above

• World Work - This project taught Tucson-based refugees job preparedness skills and gave them bikes to get to work in a timely manner

• Running Rubaga - Students became retailers with a social conscience by creating products that they buy, market, and sell to raise money for the Rubaga Community School in Uganda

• Hawk House - The school store that had supported the DECA chapter at Ironwood Ridge High School was forced to close. UA SIFE members showed DECA students how to remerchandise and reconfigure the store. Their hard work paid off and the DECA team ended the school year with a $1400 profit.

What does the SIFE experience provide students? Mike Moore, EVP and President of Walmart Central and Chair of the SIFE USA Executive Board, said "SIFE provides the soft skills required for success." He went on to say that there are specifically three skills that SIFE students learn: good judgment, communication with the ability to influence, and adaptability. Hopefully you'll agree that the UA SIFE students will be ready for the work world as a result of their SIFE involvement.

The SIFE team committed to be back next year at Nationals with their goal of winning the top prize. Thank you to all of our board members who supported our teams' efforts your coaching and contributions meant a lot to us.

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