ColumbusCoinThe Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is an independent Federal government agency established to “encourage and support research, study and labor designed to produce new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind.” Governed by a Presidential appointed Board of Trustees, the Foundation seeks to nurture and recognize pioneering individuals and programs which reflect the visionary spirit and pioneering heritage of Christopher Columbus.
The Foundation is currently seeking nominations for the following awards (self nominations are permitted):
The Life Sciences Awards:  $25,000 award to a scientist, with additional funds for research; three $10,000 awards to high school educators; and three $5,000 awards to high school students, who are judged to exemplify excellence in life sciences.   Nomination deadline is Tuesday, April 13, 2010.
Homeland Security Award: I’ve been asked by the Foundation to recommend outstanding candidates for this award so if you have suggestions, bring ’em on. $25,000 prize presented to innovators in each of the following four fields:  1) Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Chemical and Explosive Attacks; 2) Border and Transportation Security; 3) Cyber Security and Information Sharing; and 4) Emergency Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters.  Nomination deadline is Friday, May 7, 2010.
The Foundation also sponsors awards for kids in middle school. Full disclosure: I worked with the Foundation’s director, the National Science Foundation, the Bayer Foundation, and Discover Magazine to create this award back in the 90s. The Foundation’s the lone sponsor of this award now 🙂  Here’s some terrific news about one of the recent winning teams.The Recycle Because You Care team, 2009 Christopher Columbus Awards Gold Medal winners from Addison, Illinois, is an excellent example of how young people can make a difference in their community. Even the President of the United States agrees: last month, this team was awarded a Presidential Environmental Youth Award!
In 2009, the team entered the national Christopher Columbus Awards community service- based competition sponsored by the Federal Christopher Columbus Foundation.  The team decided to address the lack of recycling in their community as their project for the Christopher Columbus Awards program. They performed a controlled study on a six-block area in Addison and recorded their data. Each block was given different information regarding the need to recycle and the team tracked participation. What they discovered was that the blocks that received a recycling bin along with instructions regarding recycling, showed the largest increase in participation.
Their research helped their local waste hauler, Allied Waste,  receive a $60,000 grant from the State of Illinois. In September 2009, the State grant money was used to purchase and distribute recycling bins to all the homes in their community. Each bin was distributed with a letter from the mayor encouraging residents to recycle, and the team created a public service announcement that ran on the local cable channel.  A recent study conducted by Allied Waste in Addison shows that since the bins were distributed in September 2009, the town’s recycling efforts have increased 60% over the same time period last year
The Christopher Columbus Awards program seeks to nurture STEM initiatives within schools and community groups while making young adults active participants in their communities. To learn more about the Christopher Columbus Awards and the Recycle Because You Care Team’s project, visit the Christopher Columbus Awards website at:

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