Background on Going Places:
Going Places founder and executive director, Katie Blomquist grew up in Los Angeles, California, studied sociology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and then began a five year career in marketing while living in Chicago, IL before realizing she felt a desire to go into a career aimed at making a difference in people’s lives. She then received her Masters degree in Elementary Education at Roosevelt University. At a time when the Chicago Public School system closed eighty schools, Katie decided to move to Charleston, SC where she began teaching in Title-1 schools (low income, high poverty) for six years.
Katie was inspired to start a GoFundMe campaign in the spring of 2016 when she and a little boy from her 1st grade class were out for his birthday picking out some birthday gifts and he asked her for a bike. It shocked her he didn't have nor had he ever had a bike. Being a teacher, she could not afford to buy him one, but it got Katie thinking about how many other kids in her class and school didn't have a bike either. It was something that she couldn't get off her mind and it really bothered her knowing so many kids were growing up without the memory of joy that owning a bike brings. As a society, we all have these accumulated memories of specific childhood joys like riding a bike that she feels we take for granted and we just assume everyone has. Katie didn’t want to leave anyone out so she decided that she wanted to get all 650 students in her school a brand new, high quality bike. That’s when Katie started a GoFundMe campaign and soon Affordabike, a local Charleston bike shop immediately jumped on board and together they custom named and picked out the bike’s colors.
For many title 1 children, when they go home from school is when the real stress starts for them. Unfortunately, many live in less than desirable circumstances and being children, they can’t even temporality remove themselves form it. A bike, as one example, provides these children with sense of freedom, escape, a way to decompress, ownership (many title 1 children don’t have anything that is truly theirs, not even their own bed), and basic, untainted childhood joy. There are already so many wonderful organizations out there that provide services to children of things they need like food and clothing, etc, but there are not many programs out there that provide low income, high poverty children with things they deserve simply because they are kids.
Little did Katie know how fast this campaign would take off. It went viral, and almost every news station in the nation wrote stories on it, including The Steve Harvey Show which flew her out to Chicago to be a guest on the show where Steve donated a generous $20,000. TjMaxx also selected Katie to be highlighted in a week long Twitter campaign which focused on inspirational women in society who are doing something for others, and this attention also raised $2,000 for the campaign. The NBC New York Nightly News with Lester Holt even covered the bike reveal as well as The ABC World News! We have been mentioned in Time Magazine, Women’s World Magazine, The Post and Courier, Huffington Post, USA Today, and online The Today Show, Inside Edition, and Good Morning America.
The tremendous success of this campaign has led Katie to create a nonprofit called Going Places so that she can further this work on a much larger level. Our mission at Going Places is to provide children in Title 1 Schools (low income, high poverty) with the most basic childhood right; a right to joy. As our nonprofit continues to grow over the years, we will be implementing programs that focus on proving other typical forms of childhood joy in more ways than just bikes; joys people have been growing up with for decades. We currently also have a section that focuses on providing joys to the teachers that work in these schools.
At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, Katie made the very difficult decision to leave teaching to run "Going Places" full time. Going Places needs Katie’s full time attention and dedication in order to accomplish all that Katie envisions for it. Her heart is with Title 1 students and she knows through "Going Places" she will be able to positively reach hundreds of thousands of them.