You might say that ClearShark H2O has made a splash in the community. The nonprofit organization – which is dedicated to educating youth on environmental issues by connecting them with local waterways – recently held its fifth annual fundraiser brunch, and the milestone year for the event proved that businesses and individuals throughout Pasadena and beyond strongly support the ClearShark H2O mission.
In fact, this was the biggest year yet, according to Nichole Bentz, co-founder and executive director, who noted that the brunch brought in 300 guests and exceeded its goal of topping last year’s fundraising of $16,000. “The growth of the brunch helps sustain the growth of the company,” she said. “I feel like our mission is being fulfilled: to save, preserve and educate.”
The funds raised from this year’s brunch will further the growth of ClearShark H2O, which last year reached about 5,000 children and invested about $100,000 in the community. The event, which annually sells out in record time and even generates a wait list, took place at Two Rivers Steak & Fish House, which provided a spread of food and bottomless drinks for all the guests.
The brunch had a record number of more than 20 corporate sponsors, the biggest of which were Harbor Advisory Group, immixGroup and Prophasys. Irresistible items up for claim in the live raffle included a drone, a Chesapeake Bay charter trip, a framed oyster print by Kim Hovell and a Vera Bradley gift set.
Money from ticket sales and the raffle will help ClearShark H2O continue to reach more youth in the area and build on its success from last year. In 2018 alone, the company hired an education coordinator, Bryan Comes; doubled its reach of schools from 11 to 22; received a BGE Green Grant for $4,000; participated in Global Giving Tuesday and raised $3,500; sponsored the installation of the Blue Heron Gallery at Arlington Echo Education Center, allowing students to use art to express their connections to the environment; provided drownproofing scholarships to 70 fifth-grade students in Anne Arundel County so students from financially challenged families can interact and enjoy the waterways around them; helped launch the first Environmental Literacy Film Festival in partnership with the Eco Action Club and Environmental Literacy Program at Broadneck High School, featuring student-made short films related to the environment; provided two $1,000 scholarships to two SPECIES (Sparrows Point Educational Center in Environmental Studies) students to continue their environmental education in college and beyond; and sponsored the kids activity at PYY Marine’s open house, allowing kids and even some adults to enjoy painting oyster shells.
Bentz expects that the success of the brunch will mean ClearShark H2O will have even more success in the coming year. “The more people who are aware, the more people are fulfilling our mission in the community,” she said.