In recognition of the tremendous effort in opening the Healdsburg Free Store for fire relief in 2017, five representatives of Corazón Healdsburg and the Free Store were invited to a special taping of The Ellen Show in early 2018, honoring those who “do acts of good” in their communities. In a star studded 60th birthday celebration for Ellen DeGeneres that featured former First Lady Michelle Obama, Jennifer Aniston, Jimmy Kimmel and many more, Healdsburg’s local delegates received the surprise of their lives.
In partnership with Cheerios, and in celebration of the talk show host’s 60th birthday, DeGeneres concluded the ‘One Million Acts of Good’ campaign – where individuals have been asked to log their acts of good with the goal of reaching one million good deeds - sharing that the goal of one million good deeds had been met. In the episode that aired Friday, February 2, 2018, five members of the Healdsburg community, Ariel Kelley, Elena Halvorsen, Lisa Meisner, Stephanie Coventry and Emily Peterson, were lucky to find a box of Cheerios under their seats when prompted by DeGeneres to look. In the big prize reveal, this box of cereal meant that each of the individuals was gifted a percentage share of a $1 million gift that had been given to every audience member in celebration of their individual acts of good.
The five local delegates – two of which were Healdsburg Charter School Kindergarten teachers – quickly realized they could do more than just cash their checks. The teachers reached out to the other members of the group and proposed the idea of pooling their winnings into something larger that could impact local education. Ariel Kelley, then chair of the board of Corazón Healdsburg and local Health Action chapter, shared research about the impact of College Savings Accounts (CSAs) on improving educational attainment for public school students, and advised the other members of the group to look at programs such as the Oakland Promise and San Francisco’s Kindergarten2College program.
With agreement from the five initiators, Kelley approached the Healdsburg Unified School District (HUSD) Superintendent Chris Vanden Heuvel and Healdsburg Education Foundation chair Dana Grande with the idea and laid out the program for them to digest.
With the stamp of approval of both HUSD and the Healdsburg Education Foundation, the team began seeking matching gifts from local businesses and residents who are passionate supporters of education in Healdsburg. The program was announced in February of 2018 with the first accounts planned to be opened at the Kindergarten graduation celebration at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.
Watch the $1 Million announcement from Ellen DeGeneres