Shawn Sears '98 and Laura Dickerson Sears '99

Spirit of Adventure Award

Shawn T. Sears '98 and Laura Dickerson Sears '99 are the co-recipients of the Spirit of Adventure Award. Laura and Shawn co-founded Vida Verde in 2001 to help students experiencing poverty find new ways to see and feel their own potential, their bravery, and their awesomeness in the outdoors. With equity as a cornerstone of Vida Verde's mission, they are committed to examining, understanding, and working intentionally to do their small part in dismantling pieces of racism and institutional injustice.

Vida Verde's core program is a student-centered, three-day, two-night camping trip that is specifically designed to positively and powerfully impact students' social and emotional learning, connection to themselves, the outdoors, and their academics. Vida Verde has led over 600 of these trips, serving over 12,000 students and teachers from low-income schools in the San Francisco Bay area. Now Vida Verde also has a follow-up trip in the summers for the same students, once they reach high school age.

The unrelenting focus on the mission and values of the organization have driven its success and joy for 19 years. Shawn is currently the executive director and Laura is the director of strategy & improvement, and together they support a staff team of 15. They have raised over $17 million for Vida Verde over the years, including funds for the recent purchase of a 23-acre camp property on the California coast, homes for staff, a stewardship endowment, and the construction of a "green" education center on the property.

Laura and Shawn met at CC. After graduating in 1998 and 1999, they both joined Teach For America and were placed in the Mississippi Delta region where they taught public school for two years.

Much of their non-Vida Verde time these days is spent wrangling their sparkling, wild, wonderful, and non-conforming twice-exceptional 7-year-old child.

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