Griz Nation and Kiwanis Partnership

The Kiwanis International mission is to improve the world, one child and one community at a time by empowering communities to make lasting differences in the lives of children.

Sentinel Kiwanis of Missoula is excited to present an opportunity to join the forces of the Griz Nation and the Kiwanis family through a University of Montana program called the No Excuses University Project. This program partners Universities across the country with elementary school children in economically challenged areas to inspire children to go to college.

In 2015 University of Montana student and football player Cooper Sprunk was selected by Gerber Elementary School in California to mentor its 3rd grade class through this program. For the last two years he has not only reached out to the kids on a weekly basis through email, phone calls and Facetime but he also spent a part of his Christmas break at the school reading and working with the students on an individual basis. Through his efforts and inspiration the children have become committed to a new goal- to attend college. As a result this Griz has become their hero and mentor.

“This partnership exemplifies the mission of Kiwanis,” says Michele Wheeler, Lieutenant Governor of the Western Region of Kiwanis Montana. “As I read the article about Cooper’s efforts two things became apparent- first that Cooper has a Kiwanian’s heart and second, that these kids need to see him play during his last season at the University of Montana.”

This year the Griz football game closest to Gerber is in Portland on September 30, 2017. A trip to Portland would help the kids see that opportunity lies outside their own borders. Most of these kids come from families where college is not a reality. Imagine those kids walking in to the stadium and seeing Griz fans cheering for “their own hero” Cooper. That sense of community could be so impactful. While in Portland the kids will also have a private tour of Nike hosted by Nike Executive and Cooper's dad, Eric Sprunk. This will further demonstrate the opportunities and future that a college education can provide to the kids.

Sentinel Kiwanis, with the support of other Kiwanis clubs across Montana, is raising $10,000 needed to transport, feed and house the students, many of whom have never left their state of California. “We are partnering with Kiwanis clubs in California and Oregon to prepare the food and provide lodging for the kids. It will be a true Kiwanis family effort.”  Currently we have raised a total of $6,195.61 between GoFundMe and direct donations to make sure these kids see their dream come to fruition. 

Included in these funds are generous donations from the Red Bluff Kiwanis Club of California, Missoula Kiwanis Club, and Sentinel Kiwanis Club of Missoula.

Tax deductible donations can also be sent to the Kiwanis Foundation of Montana at P O Box 1171, Troy MT 59935.

This is a chance for the Griz community and Kiwanis family to inspire potential future University of Montana students- and to improve the world, one child and one community at a time. We would appreciate your support!


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Michele Wheeler 
Missoula, MT
Kiwanis Foundation of Montana 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.
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