About the Project

Our beginnings

In 2009 Bryan Halsey, a business teacher at Columbine High School, created a leadership class that included a capstone project: the Big Idea Project.

He knew that leaders are not taught; they are made. He created the Big Idea Project to help students apply their passion to their responsibility to lead others well.

As the Project gained momentum, people outside of Columbine started to get involved. Individuals and companies came together to contribute funding toward the scholarship award and mentor the emerging leaders. On the night of the final presentation hundreds of community members attended to hear of the positive impact young leaders were making. Teachers from other districts attended and asked how they could bring the same opportunities to their students.

And so it happened that Big Idea Project could no longer remain just within Columbine’s walls.

How the Project works

  • Created by a teacher, for teachers

    Teachers know their students best and have more influence than outside program staff ever could. BIP empowers teachers to use their position of influence to provide an unforgettable learning experience.

  • In the classroom

    The Project is designed to fit in pre-existing classes as a cumulative semester-long project. English teachers can focus on themes and writing, marketing teachers on advertising. The options are endless.

  • Bridging business and education

    Teachers connect with local businesses, with the help of BIP, to build their professional network and increase classroom effectiveness. Businesses receive ongoing opportunities to have a real influence in the education of their future leaders.

  • Growing empathy and skills

    A critical step to become a generous leader is to think outside of yourself. Leading through the lens of empathy increases the learning and effectiveness of skills like problem solving, communication and team work (to name a few).


Student stories of impact

At the end of the semester students create a storytelling video that chronicles their results. The best way to see what students do through Big Idea Project is to watch the videos they create.

‘Project Home’ was a team that wanted to help with the issue of homelessness. Their results (and cinematography) were impressive.

More Videos

The power of service learning

Studies show that experiential problem-based learning, especially service learning, has a statistically significant and positive effect on student learning outcomes.

See some service learning statistics »