Pando News- January 2023


Helping Students

Two Wheels At A Time

Remember riding your bike as a kid? The wind blowing through your hair, the occasional scraped knee, the freedom that came with those handlebars. The driveway, sidewalk, and road were your path to the world! This past December, 34 Pando students each received a bicycle. Those 68 tires will help them go farther than they ever imagined.

Bicycle Xchange spends months before the holiday season gathering bicycle donations from the community. After receiving the donations they take special care in making sure they are in perfect working order; tightening chains, replacing tires and tubes, and adding brand new seats. Pando staff gathered at Bicycle Xchange to pick up and distribute the bikes to 32 of these deserving Pando students. Thank you, Bicycle Xchange for providing for PandoKids for over 20!

But sometimes a bicycle is not just for fun. For one Pando member at West High, the gift of a bicycle meant it would be a little easier for him to thrive. When Pando staff at the school learned that transportation issues were preventing Isaiah from getting to school on time, they took to the community to help find him a solution. He was walking more than 30 minutes to get to school in the morning, causing late attendance and missed opportunities.

Enter Bike Walk Wichita; a local nonprofit that is a collective group of volunteers and advocates working to increase biking, walking and active transportation around Wichita. The staff and volunteers at the ReCycle Shop take donations of bicycles and even provide workbenches, tools, parts, and mechanical assistance to anyone in need. For this specific need, they chose a 10-speed bike that would hold up to the miles that Isaiah would put on it getting to and from school.

Isaiah and his mother met Pando staff on a Saturday at the bike shop where not one, but two, bicycles were waiting. Bike Walk Wichita had also graciously donated a bicycle for Isaiah’s younger sister. Not only were Isaiah and his mother surprised with the gift of new bicycles, but the staff also included some teachable moments as well. The technician at the ReCycle Shop helped Isaiah assemble his bicycle and talk about maintenance to keep it in good shape, and even provided a lock to keep his bicycle secured while he was at school.

“I really appreciate the effort Pando did in getting me a bicycle!” said Isaiah. His mother, Daijna, said it was not only a blessing to him but to their family as well.

Because Isaiah now has a reliable mode of transportation to get him to school on time, he can focus on what’s important. His attendance has improved, he has more time to focus on classes, and is now able to participate in sports at West High. Thank you to our Pando staff at West High, and the staff and volunteers at Bike Walk Wichita and ReCycle Shop for helping Isaiah thrive!

We know the saying usually goes “It’s not about where you are going, but how you get there”. But sometimes it IS about where you are going; and the road to school and success for Isaiah is a little easier.

You Can Help Students Thrive

When Lily started 6th grade, she didn’t want to attend school and was closed off to teachers and friends. As a result, she was failing most of her classes. Lily was referred to Pando and began meeting with Miranda, the Pando Student Support Advocate. At first, Lily was very guarded, but over time began opening up to Miranda.

This year, when Lily started 8th grade, she hugged Miranda and told her “I just want to thank you for always helping me through my problems and always believing in me. I appreciate you!”

Through their relationship and trust, Pando was able to help Lily build confidence and provide resources for issues at home. Now, Lily is passing all her classes and coming to school regularly.

For 31 years, The Pando Initiative has connected students to people, communities, and organizations, helping them to engage at school and thrive in life. With Pando’s help, students improve their reading and math skills, attendance, and address concerns that create obstacles towards helping them reach their full potential.

Each year, YOU have the opportunity to impact the lives of thousands of students just like Lily. Gifts to Pando’s Annual Campaign support the 1,800 students on our caseload and the 20,000 students we serve annually through our PandoKids™ and Reality U™ programs.

Due to an unexpected financial loss, we have a 14% reduction of funding to our PandoKids™ program. Can we rely on you to help during this important time? By giving a gift to Pando, you help build relationships with students and the trust they gain helps guide them toward academic and personal success

Contribute online at or mail your gift. We appreciate your support and for being a part of The Pando Initiative. With your help, students thrive!

Volunteer at

Reality U



Upcoming Reality U™ events:

Pleasant Valley Middle- Feb 2

South High- Feb 23-24

Horace Mann- Mar 1

Gordon Parks- Mar 3

West High- Mar 7-8

North High- Mar 23-24

Reality U™ is kicking off the schedule of events at local middle and high schools, having already made appearances at Marshall, Curtis, and Truesdell Middle Schools in USD 259. With more than 10 school events in the upcoming months, Pando is seeking volunteers. You have the opportunity to help students understand how their performance in school can impact their future.

Reality U™ is a one-day financial literacy simulation that travels throughout the state. Students imagine their life as a 26-year-old and are given a monthly income, credit score, and family situation based on a pre-event questionnaire and their current GPA and school attendance record. Then they visit 12 volunteer-staffed booths to experience monthly expenses and financial decisions. Some of these major life decisions include housing, transportation, utilities, insurance, and daycare expenses. As student balance their monthly incomes and expenses, some find themselves in the negative and visit the “Help, I need more money!” booth to obtain a second job. Each booth at a Reality U™ event is staffed by two or three volunteers who help guide and educate students on making informed and smart decisions.

Volunteering with Reality U™ is easy, and there are no special skills or training required. Choose to volunteer at one 75-minute session, or for the whole day at a local school. You can even gather coworkers or friends to join you! Several upcoming dates still need volunteers. Click below to be added to our volunteer list, and we will notify you of upcoming events!


Volunteering with Reality U™ is easy:

  • One-time opportunities available
  • 75-minute sessions
  • No training needed!


Pando Receives Funds to

Improve Community Spaces


Thank you to the Beach Family Foundation for investing in Pando! Grant funds were awarded to improve community spaces at five Pando schools. The community spaces will include areas for clothing and hygiene closets, food pantries and calming rooms for students to access during the day. Funds will be used to help make the spaces more welcoming, comfortable and accessible to students at Derby High, North High, West High, Curtis Middle, and Truesdell Middle schools.

“When students have access to clean clothes, hygiene items and food, they are better prepared to learn. By making better use of the space with storage cabinets, shelving, organizational supplies, and clothing racks, students can get items in a dignified way rather than rummaging through boxes,” said Angela Kessler, Director of Development.

Thank you Beach Family Foundation for helping students thrive!

Reality U Welcomes New Staff

In December, Pando welcomed Jacob Bentley as the Reality U™ Manager.

“Jacob brings over 18 years’ experience working with students and parents in different capacities from direct care to leadership. We are thrilled to have Jacob on our team to lead the Reality U™ program in the metro area and help grow the program,” said Penny Olsen, Executive Director.

Jacob has experience working in higher education through his alma mater, York College and most recently worked as the Dean of Students/Assistant Principal at Life Prep Academy. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Organizational Leadership and Communication from York College and Gonzaga University.

Jacob is married to Michelle and together they have 4 children (Michal, Uriah, Elaine, and David). He enjoys riding motorcycles, traveling abroad, outdoor activities and has many small animals around the house.

THANK YOU to all of the generous donors who supported our Incentive Drive during the holiday season!


Join the Wichita Thunder for a give back night at Chicken N Pickle!

10% of all sales will benefit The Pando Initiative.

28th Annual STAR Luncheon

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Crown Uptown Theatre

More details to come!

Cooking for a Cause 2023

Mark your calendars for Wichita’s premiere tasting event!

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Wichita Scottish Rite – Temple Live

Posted in News on January 24, 2023.

Help Our Children Succeed

Gifts to Pando support the 1,800 students on our caseload and the 25,000 students we serve annually through our PandoKids™ and RealityU™ programs.