NEW PALESTINE — They know it’s a lofty goal.

As part of an advanced business management class at New Palestine High School, two students are spearheading an effort to raise $3,000 to support an Indianapolis school that caters to at-risk children.

Shannon Jones and Kara Mustard, who are leading the fundraising effort, hope to purchase playground equipment and repair a fence for Neighborhood Fellowship Church on the city’s east side.

The church houses the Neighborhood Academy, a kindergarten through 12th-grade Christian school that offers education, counseling and crisis intervention for at-risk children. It’s also a safe place neighborhood families in need can go to for gently used shoes, clothing, furniture and food.

The students want to raise money to help replace the dilapidated playground equipment and secure the area with a fence to ensure students have a safe place to play when they aren’t in class.

New Palestine teacher Jeremy Large, who teaches the course aimed at helping students learn business principles, said students have been challenged to organize community improvement projects. Students were able to pick their project; the guidance Large gave was to pick something they are passionate about.

“The results have been phenomenal,” Large wrote in an email to the Daily Reporter. “I’ve never had a more motivated and productive group of students.”

The key is giving students autonomy to choose a project that meets their interests, he said.

Shannon’s aunt, Kathy Meyers, is a volunteer teacher at the academy. After Shannon visited and saw the condition of the playground and fence, she was inspired to launch the fundraiser for her class project.

“It’s pretty bad, and they’re basically just playing in the dirt,” Shannon said.

Kara said it didn’t take much to convince her the fundraiser should be their project; she’s excited to be helping the community and the kids at the academy.

They hope to raise the money by the end of February so the playground is ready in time for spring.

As part of the project, they plan to reach out to playground equipment vendors to see if they can find a bargain so they’re able to purchase equipment that will last 20 to 30 years.

The students hope to raise the funds through a GoFundMe account. They’ve also created signs to hang around town.

In addition to learning about fundraising and the needs of others, Shannon and Kara said they are honing their business skills, which they will use in college and beyond.

“It’s definitely taught me that I love doing the business part of this,” Kara said. “It’s taught me skills to communicate with people and be in charge of things.”

To donate to the project, visit

At a glance

New Palestine High School students Shannon Jones and Kara Mustard are raising money to purchase new playground equipment at the Neighborhood Academy, a school on the east side of Indianapolis.

To donate to the project, visit

Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or