Not your average junior: how one student created his own nonprofit
December 16, 2016
The average junior spends their days hanging out with friends, driving around with their new license, or worrying about the upcoming standardized test. Will Snyder is not your average junior.
Snyder founded the nonprofit charity, Connect LZ during his sophomore year. Connect LZ is an online database that documents and raises awareness for nonprofits in the Lake Zurich area and connects them with volunteers in the community.
“Say that you have an organization that probably doesn’t have as big of a volunteer base as [you] need or [you] need a better way of communicating what events [you] have, that’s what this website [does],” Snyder said.
The idea came to Snyder last December, while working with Ancient Oaks Foundation, a local nonprofit that helps preserve Lake Zurich’s oak woodlands.
“The charity talked about how their volunteer base was super small and they were really struggling to get people to [volunteer],” Snyder said. “That’s when I had the idea to [build] a really simple way that organizations can get the volunteers that they need.”
Since its beginning last April, Connect LZ has eight local organizations involved, including a pending application from Partners for Progress, this year’s charity bash organization. Snyder’s website has guided 150 volunteers to those organizations and also has 1,200 views on social media.
“I think the biggest draw [for charities to get involved] is [that Connect LZ] has a history of being successful,” Snyder said. “Just with the organizations that are involved now, they’ve given great feedback on it. Since then, it’s just really grown into a success.”
Despite developing the idea, Snyder does not manage the entire website on his own. Duncan McMillan, junior and vice president of public relations, and Kyle Bajor, senior and vice president of technology and innovation, are also members of the Connect LZ executive team.
“[Will and I] live down the street from each other and we’ve been friends ever since I [can] remember,” Bajor said. “He knew that I have an invested interest in technology and website design and that I like helping out the community so when he was looking for someone to help him, he came to me and asked if I wanted to help him with this.”
For the past seven months, Snyder, along with his executive team, have been busy adding new charities to their database and connecting volunteers to those causes.
“It’s super easy; all you have to do is fill out your contact information and pretty basic background of your charity, and if you’re a nonprofit, you put that information in as well. [We] review all those applications and make sure that they’re credible groups that want to join. [And] There’s no charge at all.”
Snyder wanted to provide a free, practical service to the local charities that connect to the Lake Zurich, says Bajor.
“I love that [Snyder] is a person who cares about the community, a person who is a student in our high school, and [is] a member of the community and he took this on by his own initiative because he cares about the community so much,” Bajor said. “That’s what I find appealing to me, personally, how much heart he’s put into this. I think if every single person who volunteers can also puts in that same amount of heart, our community will absolutely flourish, more than it already has.”