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Teen Article: A Lesson in Fundraising


SLFCU Teen Member Simran Bhardwaj and her HOSA Bowl team members,  Hannah Smith, and Leo Wang

I have always had a passion for studying medicine and am exploring healthcare career fields. Because of this, I was thrilled to find out that my high school had started a Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) National Medical Club. This organization strives to teach students about healthcare through competitive events. HOSA hosts several medical-related activities and testing events. Students compete in state competitions to qualify for the HOSA National Leadership Conference.

In early 2019, I competed with three other students in a team competition called the HOSA Bowl, where we race to answer medical questions. To our surprise, our team placed and qualified to compete in nationals!

We were thrilled, but our success raised concerns, as traveling to the competition in Florida would be very expensive. Six students from our school had qualified, and with the added cost of a sponsoring teacher, we estimated the trip would cost about $12,000.

We immediately began researching the best ways to raise funds, and came up with several ideas. Through my business, Simi’s Cupcakes, I started selling treats to school friends for $2 each, and donated the proceeds to our fundraiser. Our team also contacted restaurants to request fundraising nights. We also attempted to gain sponsors by bringing donation request letters to many businesses.

Despite those efforts, we weren’t raising enough money for our cause. So, we decided to do something big: apply for grants. We quickly figured out that writing applications is a long, complicated, and involved process. The same submission can rarely be used more than once, as each application requires different information. We created a cover letter to explain our goal and outlined how much money we needed. We applied through the Albuquerque Public Schools’ (APS) Education Foundation, which offers multiple grants and award amounts between $250 and $10,000.

Sadly, my team did not receive any grants as the APS Education Foundation had already distributed all of their funds for 2019. We learned some valuable lessons from this experience, however. First, it’s better to start fundraising at the beginning of the school year to kick-start our program. Second, grant applications need to be submitted early.

On the bright side, we raised $300, which was used to purchase custom letters for letterman jackets for 27 of our club members. And, the lessons we learned about fundraising will help make our program better next year – and maybe motivate us even more to qualify for nationals!

Teens Can Get $100

SLFCU members age 13-17 are invited to submit an article on a financial topic to be considered for publication in our Dollars & Sense newsletter and on our website. Teens are awarded $100 for published articles. Visit for details, topic suggestions, and to submit an article. SLFCU will review all submissions and respond within 30 days.

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