I'm Concerned About the Blueberries is the ultimate volunteer effort. It is creating an army of kids (changing their DNA, as Phil says) who learn to care, to make a difference, and to care.
Flint businessman and philanthropist Phil Shaltz wanted to raise awareness and make everyone stop a little bit and think. So, he put up a billboard on I-69 with a cryptic message, "I'm Concerned About the Blueberries." And, it went viral — mostly because no one knew what it meant. All over the world (literally) people wondered who exactly was concerned about little fruit and why.
Then, Phil came forward with a story that ultimately urges all of us to care for each other a little more and to do something good — anything really, maybe even something as small as a blueberry — for each other.
This is more than a feel-good effort. Way more. This is a do-good effort.
Phil's big idea now has become a program in which hundreds of students throughout Genesee County do random acts of kindness. Students commit to performing at least three random acts of kindness as a Blueberry Ambassador. Each is called a Blueberry Moment.
The student Blueberry Ambassador program started in February 2014 with 100 ambassadors. It was a pilot program to see if this big idea could really work. In the 2014-15 school year, it grew to 400 more ambassadors — creating at least 1,500 individual volunteer efforts. In the 2017-18 school year, a whopping 1,600 students from throughout Genesee County signed on to be Blueberry Ambassadors.
There are now thousands of good deeds happening throughout our community because of this program. Everyone loves it. Schools. Teachers. Parents. Students. And, we are just beginning to tap the potential for this program.
Entire school buildings have integrated Blueberries into their daily discussion with large banners and drawings of blueberries filling the halls reminding students to be “concerned about the blueberries.”
Ultimately, these Blueberry Ambassadors have become an inspiration for our community. When others see all these students are able to do and the impact they are having, we believe they too will be motivated to make an impact.
“Never underestimate the power of our young people. …
These students will be a positive force for change in our community — now and years from now.”
- Phil Shaltz -
I’m Concerned About the Blueberries also is continuing its partnership with the Genesee County Educational Foundation, a local nonprofit organization that is helping to spread word of the program throughout schools in the Genesee Intermediate School District.
Phil and his wife, Ardele, fund the operation of the Blueberry Ambassador program. Every participant receives a T-shirt and wristband as well as three Blueberry Cards to distribute. They also fund an annual kickoff party in the fall and end-of-year celebration for the students, which is generously hosted by the University of Michigan-Flint. Scholarships are provided for students to attend the University of Michigan-Flint through sponsorships by Phil and Ardele Shaltz, UM-Flint, and Huntington Bank.
Meet the Team
We all know that its really all the teachers, coaches, principals, parents, superintendents and BLUEBERRY AMBASSADORS themselves who make this program a success ... but here are three other folks who also do some stuff.
Philip W. Shaltz
The guy who started it all. He's also owner of Shaltz Automation and a downtown Flint developer in his spare time.
She has no title, just a deep commitment to Blueberries. She's also publisher and managing editor for Flintside.
A student at the University of Michigan-Flint. She's the one who really does most of the work.