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Alumnus/teacher in running for $25K Pepsi Grant

Students would document school year with funding

Ohio University alumnus Ryan Olinski is trying to win $25,000 for his classroom and he needs your help.

Olinski is in the running for the Pepsi Refresh Project, which is giving away $1.3 million in grants each month to fund projects that have a positive impact on individuals and communities.

Pepsi grants are awarded in six categories: health, arts and culture, food and shelter, the planet, neighborhoods and education.

Olinski, a sixth grade teacher at Johanna Perrin Middle School in Fairport, N.Y., hopes to win an education grant. His proposed project would ask students to document their academic year with photographs. He wants to use the Pepsi grant money to purchase personal computers, cameras, publishing software and other technology devices needed to implement the project.

Olinski said he has been working to get his students more involved and engaged in their surroundings, to step away from the textbooks and make learning more real.

“They can use it to learn about growth, personal growth,” he said. “[They can use it] to learn that all the things they worry about aren’t as bad as they think. They can reflect and say ‘I’ve done this before and I can handle the change and this is where I can go from here.’”

Olinski said the documentary project would not only encourage students to interact more with the world around them, but it would help students deal with transitional periods in their lives and to acquire a better understanding of themselves.

He believes that if his project wins, it would be a great thing for the Ohio University community.

“If I win this thing it would be huge because it all really started at Ohio University,” he said. “I am where I am right now because of the experiences I had at OU.”

The 10 ideas that receive the most votes by Sept. 30 will receive the Pepsi Refresh Project grants.

Click here to vote for Olinski's project online or text 102109 to Pepsi at 73774. Normal texting rates will apply.