Last Friday, October 24, Carrie Leopold was handed a stack of checks made out to her non-profit, Inspire Lab. The total: $14,900.

“I will never ever forget this moment,” Leopold said. “I will remember this my entire life.”

Leopold with the check, rockin' funky glasses at the Inspire Lab.

Leopold with the check, rockin’ funky glasses at the Inspire Lab.

The checks came from the women of Power of 100: Red River Valley, a global program recently brought to Fargo-Moorhead by Sandra Buchholz. They held their first event on October 14, 2015, and 194 women raised $14,900 in one hour.

The goal of a Power of 100 event is to raise $10,000 in one hour. Four times a year, at least 100 attendees gather and donate $100 to a local charity. Members can nominate a non-profit, and at the event three names are pulled from a spinner. They each have an opportunity to pitch, the women vote, and then the winner takes the cash.

Leopold nearly missed her opportunity to win.

“I thought it would be weird to nominate my own non-profit,” she said. But at the encouragement of Sue Gartin, a co-organizer of the event, she applied at the last minute.

Leopold said she will never forget hearing her name announced as winner.

“It was unreal,” she said. “Completely unreal.”

Inspire Lab

Students at an Inspire Lab event.

Inspire Lab’s mission is to offer STEM courses in a hands-on way for elementary students. Leopold travels to different classrooms and offers a variety of programs, with a focus on engaging low income students.

They recently launched an after school program in the hopes of giving kids a fun place to come after school. “Makerspace, tinkering, and innovating are all included,” the website reads. But their biggest roadblock has been getting kids transportation, Leopold said.

With the money from Power of 100, Leopold said Inspire Lab will now be able to offer transportation services to bring students to their after school programs.

“This is a game-changer, is what it is,” Leopold said.

Power of 100: Red River Valley is huge success

While there are different Power of 100 focus groups such as Teens Who Care and Men Who Care, Sandra Buchholz was inspired to bring the Women Who Care group to Fargo after she experienced the event a year ago in the Twin Cities.


The Power of 100 Red River Valley planning committee. Buchholz center, front.

“I was blown away that it was that easy to raise $10,000 for a local charity,” Buchholz said. “When you have 2 younger kids and a job, it’s hard to find a way to volunteer and to give back. I know I’m not the only who feels that way.”

That was made clear the night of the Fargo event, when 167 showed up to participate, and 194 women became members.

“We thought we’d be happy with 80 people,” Buchholz said, adding that the event in the Twin Cities had about 50-80. “Instead, on our first time we donate $14,900. This is exactly why I wanted to bring this here. This community is so awesome.”

Although there were 194 women in attendance, attendees have the option to form teams as well, with each team counting for one vote. At the Fargo event there were 149 giving units.


Co-organizer Sue Gartin said the energy in the room that evening was palpable. The fact that it was a group of all women made the event unique and empowering she said.

On October 24, when many of the women delivered the checks to Leopold at the Inspire Lab at the Moorhead Center Mall, Gartin said it was an emotional experience.

“This is my passion,” she said. “Doing these things that make an impact. If it’s one person, or a thousand people, it’s just knowing that these efforts make a difference.”

“I can’t wait to see who gets it next time,” she said.

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The next Power of 100 meeting will take place January 14. Learn more here.

The Power of 100: Red River Valley committee is: Alison Zima, Christy Dauer, Jamie Satrom, Jenaah Nyhof, Kristin Miller, Lacey Koep, Laura Wolf, Lindsey Gunderson, Rachel Gehrig, Stephanie Grosz, and Susan Gartin.

Photos courtesy of Inspire Lab and Power of 100: Red River Valley.

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Marisa Jackels