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Jackson Charitable Foundation advances financial knowledge among kids

A leading provider of retirement strategies with headquarters in Greater Lansing recently introduced a financial education programs for kids through their new charitable foundation that advances financial knowledge on a national scale.

Jackson National Life launched the Jackson Charitable Foundation in late 2016. Their first order of business was to rollout Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids during Financial Literacy Month. The financial education program teaches basic money concepts to kids 7-12 through a series of three-minute music videos cast with animated characters that make real-world decisions about money.

Lansing's Post Oak Elementary School served as the pilot for the Cha-Ching program in early spring. Coordinated through a partnership with Junior Achievement USA, the five-week "JA Our City" program for third graders combined watching videos with facilitated discussion on spending, saving and donating money; different forms of money like cash, debit and credit; and entrepreneurship.

"These videos and activities help kids see money concepts in real life and everyday situations," says Danielle Robinson, executive director of the Jackson Charitable Foundation. "Personal finance affects people at every stage of their life. We think it's important not to wait until people are on the verge of retirement, but to get people learning the basics at an early age."

Robinson says the Foundation hopes the free program takes off in a variety of school districts in the tri-county area, particularly those that work directly with Junior Achievement. The "JA Our City" classroom program will be funded for six years through the Foundation, and is anticipated to reach about 2.7 million students in 15,000 schools nationwide. The Foundation has also invested in partnerships with Discovery Education to distribute the Cha-Ching program through broadcast and web channels. Cha-Ching currently broadcasts to eight Asian markets through the Cartoon Network.

Source: Danielle Robinson, Executive Director, Jackson Charitable Foundation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Engaged Outreach partners with tinkrLAB to offer new maker space

An educational foundation focused on the academic and personal success of K-12 students has partnership with a mid-Michigan retail entrepreneur to support STEAM education through a new maker space.
 
The private-public partnership between Engaged Outreach and tinkrLAB will provide kids and teens access to cutting-edge tools and opportunities through a new maker space called tinkrZONE. Located within the Meridian Mall, the new education center includes 3D printers, laser cutting machines, vinyl cutting machines, screen printing, and areas to learn about robotics and coding.
 
Students from LifeTech Academy, a Michigan cyber school supported by Engaged Outreach, will regularly use the space to participate in hands-on education activities that build or strengthen interests in particular careers. Other schools and groups may also visit and use the tinkrZONE space.
 
"We're all about giving kids opportunities to learn about new tools and upcoming skills so they can be successful in the workforce when the graduate," says Matthew Anderson, director of Engaged Outreach. "The people at tinkrLAB are passionate about working with the community and business leaders to provide opportunities that might not be accessible in traditional schools."
 
Anderson explained that the tinkrLAB partnership is representative of Engaged Outreach's goal to increase graduation rates, develop youth leadership skills, and ready students for career and college. The organization is the nonprofit arm of the for-profit Engaged Education: an educational consulting company founded in 2016 that specializes in curriculum design, management, professional development, and bridging the gap between the business and education sectors.
 
Source: Matthew Anderson, Director, Engaged Outreach
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 
 

LCC and REACH create community artwork honoring Malcolm X

Learning about Malcolm X and his message of social justice was just one goal for a group of students from Lansing Community College. Another was to partner with high school teens in creating a community artwork that recognizes the civil rights activist who lived in Lansing and Mason as a youth.
 
From October through November, 15 sociology students from LCC got out of the classroom and traveled to REO Town to meet with 10 high schoolers in the Teen Open Studio of the REACH Studio Art Center. Students from LCC led discussions on civil rights, social inequality and Malcolm X as REACH students created a life size, freestanding mural from tiles carved with highlights of Malcolm's X's life. The finished community art project also features a casting of a hand to encourage people to take photos of themselves "shaking hands" with the influential activist.
 
The project between LCC and REACH was among the increasing number of service learning projects coordinated through the College's Centre for Engaged Inclusion. The project with REACH involved students from two introductory sociology classes taught by Aliza Robison, an LCC sociology and anthropology teacher.
 
"Service learning helps students apply what they learn in the classroom to real life," says Robison. "In this case, we talked to Lansing area high schoolers about Malcolm X, and gave them a better idea of who he was, what the social movement was about, and how social inequality relates to them."
 
Robison says that the project took hold, both because of Malcolm X's connection to Lansing as well his connection to sociology and change.
 
"He was a free thinker and looked at things critically," she says. "He dissected the world the way a sociologist would, and challenged the idea that we have to think like everyone else. We do that in higher education as well."
 
The freestanding mural will be unveiled in the atrium of the LCC Library located on the second floor of the Technology and Learning Center Building at 400 S. Capital Ave. on December 8 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. LCC and REACH students and staff will talk about how the mural was created and explain the meanings hidden within the art work from 5 to 5:30 p.m.
 
The Malcolm X Mosaic will remain in LCC's Library throughout February in celebration of Black History Month. In March 2017, the mural will be permanently installed at the Shabazz Public School Academy on Barnes Road in Lansing.
 
"Our hope is that projects like these help students become engaged citizens who want to learn from other people as much as they feel confident teaching others," says Robison. "Service learning is a new way of doing classwork where students feel they can experience the real world, apply what they learn, and relate concepts to their future."
 
Source: Aliza Robison Sociology and Anthropology Instructor, Lansing Communitiy College
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 
 

Delta Dental Foundation prompts kids and teachers to join Water's Cool at School program

The Delta Dental Foundation will distribute a total of $100,000 to schools in Michigan that are selected for the foundation's Rethink Your Drink: Water's Cool at School program.
 
The new program wants to ensure that children drink enough water during the school day and avoid sugar-sweetened beverages. Schools can apply to the Delta Dental Foundation, and if selected, will have one or more of their older drinking fountains replaced with Elkay water fountain/bottle filling stations. The foundation will also supply reusable water bottles for all students and staff and up to $750 for the school to design and implement their own campaign.
 
Okemos Public Montessori at Central was the first school in the state to pilot the new program. In the first month of the academic year, the school saw an uptick of water consumption by students, and calculated that about 2,200 empty water bottles were saved from going into a landfill.
 
"In addition to being healthy and having a bright shiny smile, kids find it appealing to have their own water bottle throughout the day, and not have to spend their money on sugary drinks," says Teri Battaglieri, Delta Dental Foundation director. "Kids can also be directly involved in a campaign for their school, which makes the buy-in better, too."
 
Battaglieri reports that more than 50 percent of children and teens in the U.S. are not properly hydrated during the school day. That, she says, can affect cognitive functions and energy levels. She added that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages instead of water can lead to tooth decay, obesity and other adverse health effects.
 
"Tooth decay is the number one most chronic disease in kids, and is five times more common than asthma," Battaglieri says. "Kids miss 51 million hours a year from school due to oral health."
 
Michigan schools interested in applying to the "Rethink Your Drink Campaign" should submit their application to the Delta Dental Foundation by Dec. 1, 2016. For an application and more information, click here.
 
Source: Teri Battaglieri, Director, Communications, Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy, Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

New foundation to provide 3D printers and inventive technology to schools

A new foundation with an inventive twist is looking to support the next generation of innovators by providing funding, equipment and programming to schools, teachers and the local community.
 
Launched in spring 2016, the Mini Maker Foundation raises funds to encourage K-12 kids to become makers, inventors and problems solvers, with an additional emphasis on encouraging girl's involvement in technology and engineering.
 
Executive Director Joe Rabideau says that 90 percent of tax-deductible donations will directly go toward program development and equipment purchases for local schools. He says the foundation's passions include 3D printers, 3D modeling, printing instruction, hands-on learning and project-based programming—all areas that parallel STEAM education.
 
"While our goal is to get 3D printers into area schools, we're really about more than just getting new technology," says Rabideau. "It's about inspiring kids, sending that message that if you have ideas, you can bring them to life and have solutions. Today's 3D printers allow people to do that."
 
Rabideau would know. Several years ago, the self-described tinkerer and inventor came up with the idea for an "eargonomically" designed food and water bowl for dogs with long or furry ears. The Poochie Bowl dish keeps a pet's ears out of their water bowl. In 2013, Rabideau drew on resources provided through LEAP and Spartan Innovations to prototype the bowl using 3D printing. That prototyping ability led to the manufacture of Poochie Bowl through Lansing's Diamond Engineering, as well as distribution throughout the U.S.
 
Without the capabilities enabled through 3D printing, Rabideau says the Poochie Bowl never would have made it out of the pages of his idea journal. The experience of seeing his idea come to life prompted his quest to provide similar opportunities to kids. Toward that end, Rabideau also founded tinkrLAB—a kid-focused maker space in the Meridian Mall that offers classes, workshops and camps on 3D printing, robotics, tinkering, making and building.
 
"We see a lot of maker spaces for adults, but we're not necessarily inspiring kids in the same way," he observes. "We want to be on the forefront of things. On the foundation side, we're trying to make that connection with schools—a lot of which are strapped for cash—and to help provide the resources and equipment they need."
 
Source: Joe Rabideau, Executive Director, The Mini Maker Foundation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Husband-wife team bring bounce to parties and fundraisers

Kristi and Robert Caretti moved to Mason, Mich., when Robert got a job with the Meridian Fire Department four years ago. Having lived in Detroit most of their lives, they immersed themselves in their new community, eager to make a connection.
 
Barely settled in, the two jumped on the idea of starting a family-owned and operated business. Kristi had some ideas, but Robert had others—one, she says, that was a little far out.
 
"He loved the idea of renting bounce houses for parties," Kristi says. "I thought he was crazy."
 
But Robert won out, convincing her that the party rental business was a sure-fire way to bring a worthwhile service to the community while having fun at the same time.
 
The Carettis launched Tye-Dye Party Rentals in 2012, and have grown from servicing occasional parties to one to four events nearly every weekend. The home-based company provides a variety of party-related rentals, including moon bounces, slide-bounce house combos, tables and chairs, tents, and popcorn, snow cone and cotton candy machines. All rentals come with free delivery and setup as well as teardown once the party is over.
 
"Robert was right about this being a happy business," she says. "We get all happy phone calls, and then when you're there and the blower goes on the moon bounce goes up, it's just all smiles."
 
Kristi says Robert's work as a firefighter has helped them establish themselves as a community-oriented business. Charitable events regularly pop-up on their agendas, many related to the fire fighter community.
 
"We pride ourselves on our customer service," says Kristi. "It's part of my motivation as a mom. You want things taken care of. You want reasonable prices. We try to work with you to keep it fun."
 
While business is peak during the summer, Tye-Dye Party Rentals isn't limited by the season. Pole barns, gymnasiums and other large interior or public areas can be readily converted in party paradises during the spring, fall or winter. Tye-Dye Party Rental experienced double-digit growth in the past year, prompting the Carettis to add two staff to their team for the first time since opening.
 
Source: Kristi Caretti, Co-owner, Tye-Dye Party Rentals
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Sparrow, MSU join forces to develop self-testing diabetes app for teens

Sparrow has teamed with an assistant professor and researchers from Michigan State University to develop a smartphone app that will allow teens with type-1 diabetes to manage their condition with greater ease and independence.
 
The app will enable teens transitioning to self-care to test and track their blood glucose levels without constant reminders from their parents. Once the app is developed, a focus group of teens and parents will test it for ease of use and messaging components.
 
The project received funding from the American Diabetes Association in early 2016, and will be led by Bree Holtz, an MSU assistant professor with a dual appointment in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations and the Department of Media and Information.
 
"This grant will help my research team to succeed in our mission to ease the daily life of adolescents with type 1 diabetes," says Holtz. "We are so grateful that the American Diabetes Association is offering their support to the project."
 
The app will also offer cues for possible follow-up based on current clinical care guidelines.
 
"Use of the app is a tech-savvy way for teens to receive reminders to test and document their glucose levels, meals and insulin doses," says Julie Dunneback, a nurse practioner in Sparrow's Pediatric Endocrinology Clinic.
 
About 208,000 Americans under age 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes—or approximately 2% of that population. The ADA recommends the gradual transition to self-management during middle and high school years.
 
The team of specialists working with Holtz includes Shelia Cotten, Denise Hershey, Amanda Holmstrom, Amol Pavangadkar, and Katharine Murray, from MSU; Dunneback and Arpita Vyas from Sparrow; Michael Wood from the University of Michigan Medical School; and Joshua Richman from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
 
Source: Lori Dougovito, Communications Specialist, Sparrow
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

MNA partners with Refugee Development Center to aid Gardner Academy

Nearly 40 refugee youth participated in an initiative organized by their peers, Lansing's Refugee Development Center and the Michigan Nonprofit Association to clean and paint the interior of Gardner Law, Leadership and Government Academy in mid-April.
 
Funded by the MNA with a mini-grant from Youth Service America, the project was one part art, one part leadership and one part community service.
 
"One of the things we often hear about with the refugee community is isolation," says Sheryl Zukowski, civic engagement and VISTA member, Michigan Nonprofit Association. "This project was designed to encourage students to lead, teach others about their culture, and feel more at home at their school through their volunteer initiative and art."
 
Nearly 13,000 people make up Lansing's refugee community. The Refugee Development Center serves the needs of newly arrived refugees, providing youth programs, language classes and advocacy. Among the center's clients are Afghans, Bosnians, Burmese, Bhutanese, Burundians, Congolese (DR and Brazzaville), Croats, Cubans, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Hmong, Iranians, Iraqis, Kurds, Liberians, Meskhetian Turks, Somali, Bantu Somali, Sudanese, and Vietnamese, along with small numbers from many other countries around the world.
 
Eleven volunteers from the MNA as well as 25 students from Michigan State University mentored the middle-school aged youth while they painted to help the youth learn leadership skills like teamwork and conflict resolution.
 
The Refugee Development Center runs a number of youth programs that are housed at the Gardner academy. Youth Program Leader Bruce Winters says that managing school projects helps youth who are adjusting to a new life in Lansing feel more connected to their community.
 
"The students have really taken all the initiative in creating and implementing this project," Winters says. "They want to make sure their school is welcoming for newcomers and that their cultures are visibly represented."
 
The one-day initiative on April 13 was part of Global Youth Service Days—a program that promotes youth volunteerism worldwide.
 
Source: Sheryl Zukowski, Civic Engagement and VISTA Member, Michigan Nonprofit Association
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Lansing strengthens derby culture with first-ever flat track division playoffs

Get ready Lansing. Something big is rolling into town this summer.
 
From August 26-28, Greater Lansing will host the Women's Flat Track Derby Association Division II Playoffs at the Summit Sports and Ice Complex. This first-time event for Lansing, say organizers, will bring 10 teams, 200 athletes and up to 1,500 spectators to experience the unique, competitive sport in a family-friendly setting.
 
"This is a unique sport to bring to Lansing, and exposes our community and our youth to another athletic option," says Meghan Ziehmer, sports events manager for the Greater Lansing Sports Authority. "While it's not mainstream, roller derby is very competitive and a lot of fun."
 
Ziehmer says the Greater Lansing Sports Authority, the Summit and the Lansing Derby Vixens worked as equal partners to bring the Division II playoffs to the area. Teams will come from all over the United States to participate, building on the roller derby culture that has attracted an avid following in Lansing for more than five years.
 
"Moving into 11 years in the modern roller derby revolution, this sport has established its competitive pathways with WFTDA tournaments like these," says Chelsea Fristoe of the Lansing Derby Vixens. "We have had women who have played sports their entire lives and women who have never done anything athletic prior to joining the league. On that level, derby has brought an enormous empowerment and general awesomeness to upwards of 200 women, men and girls."
 
The Lansing Derby Vixens were formed in April 2010 and have steadily grown into one of Michigan's top roller derby leagues. The league regularly practices at the Westside YMCA and the Summit, and is a dues-paying member of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. 
 
The Division II Playoffs will be open to the public and held at the Summit Sports and Ice Complex in Dimondale. For more information, click here.
 
Source: Meghan Ziehmer, Sports Events Manager, Greater Lansing Sports Authority
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

McCartney Academy of Irish Dance opens, moves to new spot as demand jumps

A new dance studio that opened in September to offer a specialized style of dance in Greater Lansing has already moved to a new space to accommodate demand.
 
The McCartney Academy of Irish Dance took up residence in early February in a 600-square foot facility at 7868 M-78 in Haslett. Before the move, owner Meghan Scott had sublet spaces in other dance studios. Now ensconced in her very own space, Scott will continue with her seven classes as well as add up to four or five more as interest jumps.
 
"This space is the ideal shape for Irish Dance," says Scott. "It's square—not rectangular—which allows dancers to move in a more circular motion."
 
Scott should know. Growing up in Lansing, she learned the intricacies of the traditional dance form through the Irish Dance Company of Lansing, then went on to compete and capture championship honors as a solo dancer. She later earned a dance scholarship to Mars Hill University where she helped the team win two national championships.
 
Returning to Lansing, Scott saw the need for an Irish dance academy and set out to fill the niche.
 
"I wanted to be able to offer my dancers something I would have wanted when I was growing up," she says. "Irish dance is a high-energy style of dance that's deeply rooted in tradition. It's a cool opportunity to learn something very graceful, as well as to put on hard shoes and make a lot of noise."
 
Scott's 60 dancers range in age from 3 to adult. While her classes began in September and will culminate in May with a recital at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center, Scott is adding several 8-week classes in April so people can try it out.
 
"A lot of people are drawn to Irish dance because it's different," says Scott. "One of the reasons it's popular for adults is because many didn't have the opportunity growing up. Now they have a chance to try it. It can be really appealing to people who aren't necessarily drawn to other dance styles."
 
Scott will be taking dance groups on the road this summer, including a June performance at the Motor City Irish Festival. While she currently teaches all classes, she hopes to add two to three instructors in the summer to help with growing demand.
 
Source: Meghan Scott, Owner, McCartney Academy of Irish Dance
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

New Nordic Fire Festival heats up central Michigan

Mid-Michigan residents can warm-up during the final blasts of winter as community organizers bring the first-ever Nordic Fire Festival to Charlotte in late February.
 
Fire dancers, live music, and a chance taste and sample mead and Scandinavian and Nordic craft beers keep the blood pumping, while family-friendly competitions like hammer throwing, horn blowing, traditional archery and a cardboard ship sled race give guests plenty to do. Other festival features include a Viking camp, kid's tent, and a medieval feast including smoked turkey legs, hearty soups and bread bowls. Drawing on the popularity of tested festivals rooted in the Middle Ages, organizers are also encouraging guests to dress up in Viking-gear.
 
"It's going to be really, really fun," says Brian Myrkle, chair of the festival's planning committee. "We're catering to both traditionalists as as well as people who simply want to come out, have fun and even dress in costumes."
 
The festival came about in response to a slew of community feedback suggesting a winter festival that could melt winter doldrums, draws tourists and builds community in Charlotte.
 
"We're a great small, mid-American town, but we don't have the natural resources that drives a lot of tourism trade," Myrkle says. "We have to be a little more creative in terms of how we make people more aware of who we are. A big strategy is more events and festivals that give people a reason to give Charlotte a try."
 
The Michigan Nordic Fire Festival runs February 26-28 in Charlotte, Mich. More information is available here, and festival goers can follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter at #beaweekendviking.
 
Source: Bryan Myrkle, Chair, Michigan Nordic Fire Festival Planning Committee
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
 
Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.
 

Arts Council of Greater Lansing expands scholarship program

Within weeks of announcing the 2015 summer-time recipients of scholarships through the Young Creatives Program, the Arts Council of Greater Lansing unveiled plans to expand the seasonal program to one that will run year-round.
 
The Young Creatives program provides grants of up to $1,500 that support arts scholarships or free arts educational programming for underserved youth. Awards are competitive and provided to selected organizations. The program is funded by the Arts Council through the Arts Endowment Fund and Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.
 
"Expanding the program gives organizations more opportunity to be creative in what they do," says Josh Holliday, program manager for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. "It also provides opportunities for organizations that don't have summer camps."
 
Grant applications became available June 1 for the expanded program that will run on an October 1 through September 30 cycle. Applications are due August 1, with full or partial awards provided to about five organizations.
 
"We've been fortunate to be able to expand the program with the support of the MSU Federal Credit Union," Holliday says. "They've made it possible for us to provide more opportunities than we have in the past."
 
The Young Creatives program has awarded grants in support of summer programming for four years. Selected organizations provide scholarships for youth ages 5-17 with financial need to attend arts-related classes and programs. Recipients of the 2015 summer grants include All-of-us Express Children's Theatre, the Lansing Art Gallery, MSU Community Music School, and REACH Studio Arts Center.
 
Holliday says that increasing access to arts and culture through a year-round program can help better communities in the short- and long-term.
 
"These dollars are helping organizations that are already doing great work," Holliday says. "They're making arts and culture accessible to youth who will be our future leaders."
 
Source: Joshua Holliday, Program Manager, Arts Council of Greater Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Sparrow earns special designation in patient-centered maternity care

Sparrow recently achieved a national benchmark in quality care by being certified "baby-friendly" by the World Health Organization and the United Nation's Children's Fund.
 
Certification as a Baby Friendly Hospital means Sparrow demonstrates excellence in providing evidenced-based, patient-centered maternity care that promotes mother-baby bonding and best practices in infant feeding. Sparrow is one of only six hospitals in Michigan and 245 in the nation that hold the Baby-Friendly designation.
 
"I hear daily from our patients how much they like the approach," says Kathy Marble, director of women and children at Sparrow. "It's the voice of the customers saying 'you're doing it, and we're appreciating it.'"
 
The term "baby friendly," Marble says, simply refers to providing care considered best for mother and babies. Examples include immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby after birth, and keeping mother and baby together through the entirety of their hospital stay. When possible, all exams are done in-room, with physicians and nurses doing everything bedside with mother and baby together.
 
Sparrow delivers 4,500 babies each year, and has a 43-bed maternity area at the main hospital near downtown Lansing. All physicians, residents and nursing staff received extensive training in baby-friendly practices. About 100 nurses and 25 physicians currently work in labor and delivery and OB special care areas.
 
Marble added that the overall goal of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is improved health outcomes for mothers and babies, and in turn, the greater community.
 
"If you look at Sparrow's mission you see that we want to take care of people in our community," says Marble. "The baby friendly designation and way of doing things makes a difference in the lives of every baby born in our community, now and into the future."
 
Sources: Kathy Marble, MSN, RNC-NIC, Director Women and Children, Sparrow
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Crowdfunding underway for downtown soccer field

Crowds will be gathering on a new public soccer field in downtown Lansing if a crowdfunding campaign reaches its goal.
 
The campaign to fund development of a new field launched Friday, April 24, at the opening game of the Lansing United Soccer Team. The $60,000 fundraising campaign through the crowdfunding site Patronicity had been previously announced in mid-April by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and business and community leaders.
 
The $200,000 Beacon Field is envisioned for the southeast corner of Ferris Park. Plans call for a 60- by 120-foot synthetic turf field enclosed by a kick-board, as well as solar lighting for extended play into the evening.
 
The Capital Area Soccer League says about 5,000 kids in the Lansing area currently play youth soccer. No reservations will be required to use the neighborhood field that will be available to anyone regardless of their connection to an organized team or league.
 
Beacon Field organizers also plan to apply for a Public Spaces Community Grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The grant provides 1:1 matching funds if organizers can meet the $60,000 goal within one month. The city of Lansing would then contribute $80,000 toward the project to complete the funding.
 
The vision for Beacon Field rose from a public-private team that includes the city of Lansing, Wieland Davco, the Capital Area Soccer League, Traction and Truscott Rossman. Emergent Biosolutions donated $10,000 and Jackson National Life $20,000 in financial sponsorship.
 
Beacon  Field is modeled after mini soccer fields built in South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The fields were created as safe gathering places for youth in urban neighborhoods.
 
"Soccer is a global sport that bridges communities," said Bernero in a statement. "With the community's support, this field, located in the heart of downtown Lansing, will be a place where people from all backgrounds can come play a sport they love."
 
Supporters of Beacon Field can contribute via credit card toward the $60,000 goal by visiting www.patronicity.com. Contributions via check can be mailed to the Capital Area Soccer League at 1427 W. Saginaw, Suite 175, East Lansing, MI 48823.
 
Sources: Josh Hovey, Vice President, Truscott Rossman
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.

Capital City Comic Con to debut at Haslett High School

Dennis Louney drove to Grand Rapids with his son and came back with an idea for Lansing.
 
It was a dream, he says, he'd had for some time. And after seeing the thousands of people spilling out the doors at a comic convention, he knew the timing was right to bring a similar event back home.
 
Now, after eight months of planning, Louney and a group of like-minded professionals will unleash what promises to be a super-powered extravaganza. The first Capital City Comic Con—affectionately known as C4—will take place May 2-3 at Haslett High School. The convention will sprawl from the north end of the school, throughout two gymnasiums, a 700-seat performing arts center, dressing rooms, expansive hallways and cafeteria space.
 
"We knew we could build this," says Louney. "The most important thing now is to get people to come."
 
Louney and other members of the "Phantom Five" have planned an event based on people's love of comics, games, movies and television. Between 2,000-3,000 people are expected to attend the two-day event that will feature a variety of multi-media exhibitors and vendors of comic books, card and board games, action figures, merchandise, videos, apparel and more. Attendees can also participate in or observe costume and cosplay competitions, performance art, improvisational and interactive cosplay, panel discussions, and gaming tournaments.
 
"Our goal is to open things up to a wider audience," says Louney. "We've worked to make it family friendly and fun."
 
The convention will feature special guests, graphic artists and writers—both from the national and local arenas. Among the scheduled guests are Michigan novelist and screenwriter Rick Chambers, and actor Mark Boyd from Twelve Monkeys. 
 
"This is just a great way to bring people together," says Louney. "Lots of people follow sci-fi, read graphic novels or play online or board games. With all the high-tech coming to Lansing, it promises to be an event that will appeal to a lot of people."
 
Organizers of the inaugural Capital City Comic Con include Phantom Five members Christina DeJong, James Curtis, Malinda Barr, Randy Chapel and Dennis Louney. For a schedule of events and a list of participating vendors, artists and organizations, visit the website here or follow on Facebook.
 
Sources: Dennis Louney, Co-Founder, Capital City Comic Con
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
Got a story idea for Innovation News? Email Ann Kammerer here.
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