In August 2014, at the STARFLEET International Conference in Rockford, IL, a spur-of-the-moment fundraising campaign was born to benefit STARFLEET’s Scholarship Program. The reasoning behind the campaign’s formation was the news that donations to the scholarship fund had dropped off to the point that SFI had been forced to cash in one of its CDs in order to award that year’s scholarships. So, since the scholarships are awarded annually (to the tune of approx. $5,000/yr) and are a major part of what has set SFI apart from other Star Trek® fan associations, several conference attendees came up with the idea to help raise some money for the scholarship fund.
The three members (1 from the USS Discovery, 1 from the ISS Katana, and 1 from Retribution Station) made a trip to a local store and a couple of hours later the Pennies for Potential (P4P) program was born.
Over the course of approximately 20 hours, using ‘Penny’ (which has become the program’s mascot) and pencil boxes placed in each of the panel rooms of the conference, the fund-raiser took the conference by storm and raised $202.91 (mostly in loose change – which was the ‘theme’ of the program). One of the most amazing things about the amount raised, what that it was done in an unusually lightly-attended conference of only 83 attendees.
Before the final tally had been announced on Sunday morning the CO of the ISS Katana, ADM Robert Westfall, pledged (in the name of the Katana) to match the amount raised. This pledged was mirrored by by FADM Wayne Killough of the Retribution Station. These two matching donations brought the total amount raised for the STARFLEET Scholarship Fund, in less than 24 hours, to $608.73!
‘Penny’ has gone on to become not only the program’s original mascot, but the chapter mascot of the USS Discovery. Deciding to keep up with this fund-raising effort, and evoke some fun and friendly competition, the ISS Katana adopted its own program mascot: ‘Sen’ (named after a no-longer used sub-unit – approx. 1/100th – of the Japanese Yen).
Both ‘Penny’ and ‘Sen’ have now been joined by several other mascots: ‘Pingin’ and ‘Drachen NachtMi’ to name two. Since the Region 12 Summit in April 2015, the enthusiasm for the program is starting to gain momentum as more chapters and region begin to adopt mascots and participate in raising money for the STARFLEET Scholarship Program.