When his dream of becoming a professional baseball player didn’t pan out, Seattle native Bryce Anderson decided to switch his career path to business.

Bryce Anderson, 24

But year after year, spreadsheet after spreadsheet, the 24-year-old began to grow weary of his work in insurance and real estate.

One day in the office two summers ago, Anderson turned off his computer monitor, and decided to refocus his career path again. This time, he was going to start his own business.

Anderson launched Change My School last November, a website that allows anyone in Washington state, specifically K-12 students, to submit videos to a monthly contest in order to win cash prizes for their schools.

“I wanted to create a company that actually made a difference in the lives of others,” Anderson said.

After attending a talent show at the elementary school where his wife teaches, Anderson said he was amazed by the skills and creativity of her students, and knew that education would play a role in his new business.

“There had to be a website where I could display their talents and ideas to the surrounding community,” Anderson said. “That was the beginning of changemyschool.com.”

Each month during the school year, anyone (students, parents, teachers, etc.) can upload a video about a topic of his or her choice. Participants are not required to have previous movie-making experience.

Video requirements are as follows:

  • The video must be, in some way, important and meaningful to the contestant who uploads it. 
  • The videos must be a minimum of 30 seconds and a maximum of 10 minutes, and consist of original content.
  • The subject matter must be appropriate for all viewing audiences and cannot contain any copyrighted material. 

The voting period is open during the last two weeks of each month, and after it ends, the videos in the elementary, middle, and high school categories with the highest number of votes are awarded $1,000. Each cash prize goes to its respective school to help make that institution a better place. Before accepting the prize, winners must briefly describe how they plan to spend the money.

One of the winning videos from November featured students from Emerald Ridge High School lip syncing “Call Me Maybe.” Other videos are more serious, like “Mirror,” — a video in the running for the January contest — which details the severity of Internet bullying through the lens of a young girl.

<embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=56258107" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="300"></embed>

Mirror from Houston Kraft on Vimeo.

One winning school used the money to purchase iPads for third-grade classrooms. Another bought new video equipment and technology for their media and dance classes.

Anderson has spent the past year raising money for the cash prizes with the help of family and friends, but said he hopes the site will eventually be able to generate revenue through online advertising.

During July and August, the contest opens to recent high school graduates, who can enter to win $1,000 to help pay for college.

Anderson told GeekWire that the primary goal for 2013 is to invite students and teachers from every state to participate in Change My School’s monthly video contests.

“At some point in your life you’ve probably come across a book, movie or other form of media that inspired you,” Anderson writes on the website. “This is your chance to give people a reason to laugh, believe in themselves or imagine a better tomorrow.”

For January’s entries, click below.

 


Previously on GeekWire: ‘Sigby’ raises cash to help busy parents find cool activities for their kids

Reach Lily Katz at lily@geekwire.com or on Twitter @LilyKatz

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