Our mission is to empower students to build a healthy habit of volunteering their passions.
Passion Impact (PI) was founded over two years ago by Stefan Peierls and his best friend, Brad Burns, inspired by the idea that individuals can impact their communities in simple and powerful ways, especially if they were passionate about what they were doing. The two adventurers–and avid volunteers for most of their lives–left their homes in Austin, Texas dedicated to do good in the world. Their initial plan was to travel across the United States, volunteering in the communities they passed through, documenting their experiences with the hopes that they would inspire others to volunteer too. But the pair’s beloved camper–Harvey, the RV–was not up for the adventure. After several arduous weeks, Stefan and Brad rolled into the Rose City and planted their feet, dedicated to start designing and implementing programs based on their travels, right where they were.
Being Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers for years inspired the organization to reach out to the population of young people in Portland. The youth population in the city are a part of a large school district that does not have the resources to reach out to large groups of minority and underserved communities with programs that can encourage and generate long-term positive outcomes–like career preparedness, civic engagement, service learning opportunities, and increased academic performance–for students. The lapse in these kinds of programs is evident in the second worst graduation rates in the country for Oregon youth, as well as an 18% unemployment rate for 16-24 year old in the state. Passion Impact also knew that communities all across Portland are suffering in the wake of immense population increases and delayed responses in government and public policy, happening too fast for organizations to address and help alleviate. By tapping into the underutilized youth population, and connecting them with local nonprofit organizations and volunteer opportunities, Passion Impact envisioned a community that nurtured passionate engagement and supported student success.
With their mission in mind–to empower students to build a healthy habit of volunteering their passions–Passion Impact set out with their first program initiative: Xplore and Ignite. In this program, PI helped students seek out local nonprofit organizations and collect professional skills along the way. Students visited seven nonprofits in the SE Portland area, charted out their skills, and explored their passions while planning a hypothetical event these organizations could implement. With the information they gathered, students presented their findings to a group of 15 community members to receive feedback. At the end of the program, PI conducted evaluations with students and found that the biggest problem they still faced when trying to volunteer was a lack of knowledge as to where they could find these opportunities. From this, the Volunteer Fair Program was born.
Passion Impact’s Volunteer Fairs have proven to be a much more effective program to reach students and build their skills. Students plan an event and recruit nonprofits to come to their school and meet with students, giving them information about their organization and opening their doors to student volunteers. The program has been implemented at Franklin and Grant High Schools, working closely with the SUN program director and Student Activities Coordinator. PI has reached out to more high schools in the greater Portland area and are gradually moving into more areas experiencing need, including Portland Community College, Merlo Station, Rosemary Anderson, Centennial, Madison, and Cleveland High School. Right now, Volunteer Fairs serve as the nuclei of the organization, helping us focus and strengthen our programs, delivering meaningful results in every way possible.
Passion Impact does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and clients.