The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and One of our Own

Hands On Central Texas (HOCT) at United Way for Greater Austin coordinates corporate volunteer activities as team-building projects and each year they help hundreds of businesses engage their employees in community-changing volunteerism.

On Saturday, Sept. 24., the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation teamed up with HOCT to give back at their annual Coke Scholars Service Summit. The Coke Scholars Service Summit is an opportunity for Scholars to gather from different parts of the country to build strong relationships, adventure in a new city, and continue to be inspired about community change. Austin’s Zavala Elementary School, where Coke Scholar Tim McCallum attended in 1991, was chosen as the volunteer project venue for the 2016 Summit. View photos from the Summit here.

In attendance was Madison Springgate, who in addition to being a Coke Scholar, is also one of our very own Campaign Associates. Madison was chosen as a Coke Scholar in high school and said, “I was thrilled to be a part of the project at Zavala, from the Scholar perspective, as well as part of the United Way staff.”

To get to know more about the Coke Scholars program and the impact it had on Madison, read the brief Q and A below.


What does it mean for you to be a Coke Scholar?

When looking at my personal journey, specifically when it comes to my passion for community impact work, much of it goes back to my experience as a Coke Scholar. Though I was very involved with volunteering and philanthropy in high school, it was really the Coke Scholar program that solidified my goal to pursue this passion as a career. I was extremely inspired by the people that I met in Atlanta during the 2009 Coke Scholar Conference. I continued my journey by studying Sociology at the University of Michigan, where my world was turned upside down by the concept of privilege. I also had the opportunity to study Community Action and Social Change, which taught me strategies on how to empower others and affect a sustainable difference.

Through the Coke Scholars program, I have seen the power and influence that young people can have on their community. This led me to join the Peace Corps, where I served as a Youth Development volunteer in a small town in Peru. I worked to give young people the same leadership tools that I was given in order for them to enact change in their community. I continue to look up to the Coke Scholars Program as an incredible example of a corporation impacting sustainable change through the empowerment of young people. I hope to bring many of these same values as I work with companies throughout Austin and inspire them to be change agents through the support of UWATX.

How did it feel to give back at Zavala Elementary?

I felt extremely connected to our work at Zavala for multiple reasons. First, I was truly inspired by the passion that Tim McCallum has for the school and his excitement to give back to the place where he grew up. I also was proud to serve at Zavala because UWATX works with them through our Success by 6 program. Because I often talk about the UWATX programs, specifically the Success by 6 program, I really loved the chance to be hands-on in the Zavala community.

What was your favorite part of the project?

I loved repainting number squares with other Scholars. Through these numbers squares, students will have a visual example of how mathematics works. It was also a great chance to talk with other scholars and hear about the incredible impact they’re having in the world.

What do you do now at United Way for Greater Austin?

Currently, I’m serving as a Campaign Associate, where I speak about the work of UWATX to companies throughout Austin. In partnership with Campaign Leaders, we structure an engaging campaign to inspire employees to be philanthropists and to give back to their community. Through financial gifts and volunteer opportunities, these companies have shown the true power of how we can come together to make a lasting impact.

What makes Austin Greater?

Though many people who live in Austin weren’t born in Austin, there is huge pride for this city. I have seen so many examples of people going out of their way to not only make others feel at home, but also to become fast friends. This translates to an extremely united community that works in unison towards positive change.