Connor Janzen, RS&H architect, has always had a passion for helping others.
When a high school project challenged students to make an impact, Connor’s passion for helping others sparked, and from that moment, he began the journey of establishing his non-profit organization, Open World Cause.
As the organization’s co-founder, Connor and his team ensure that at-risk communities and vulnerable populations around the world have access to quality education by funding, resources, technology and more.
Finding Purpose Early
Open World Cause was born from a high school teacher’s bold ask of students: “Today, I challenge you to create a legacy that will pass down to the senior classes that follow.”
Connor and his friend and classmate, Ben Honeycutt, did just that.
After a successful grassroots fundraising effort led by Ben and Connor, the Kansas community was able to give a Nepalese educator’s school two laptops, internet access and a library.
This one mission kickstarted something that would become so much larger.
“We made a connection with a teacher in Nepal and it grew into something more,” Connor said. “We serve vulnerable portions of the world, with significant efforts in countries like Kenya and Nepal.”
Recognizing the organization’s growing need, Connor fully committed his talent and efforts during his freshman year at the University of Kansas, developing a new website for Open World Cause and campaigning to raise funds.
When Ben and Connor reached the University of Kansas, the two pioneered an effort to transition their program into an official student organization, and it has been a steady fixture of their lives ever since.
“The non-profit has grown from just a couple of high school students,” said Connor. “It’s now large enough to include a global network of professionals, allowing us to collaborate and accomplish so much more. Being in architecture, I think our networking in the construction and design industry will grow, too.”
Giving Back All They Can
Since its founding, those behind Open World Cause have done everything they can to give as much of their donations back to their partnered schools and communities.
“We have raised over $125,000 and 96 percent of those funds have gone back to the populations we serve,” said Connor. “We are an organization that runs on goodwill; everyone is a volunteer.”
They strive to keep costs at a minimum, investing the remaining 4 percent into overhead costs of the organization.
To help support their mission even further, Connor applied for an RS&H Elevate Fund grant in 2019. The Elevate Fund is an RS&H program dedicated to community involvement and supporting associate’s charitable actions.
Open World Cause received a $5,000 grant which the organization put toward new funding initiatives to combat the lack of resources and technologies for children in need.
“The Elevate Fund is an important part of RS&H’s culture because it supports community projects that its associates are involved with,“ said Connor. “It engages with the efforts and passions that people have outside of the workplace.”
The program has allowed nonprofits to further their missions – all with unique ties to the associates of RS&H.
“Instead of focusing on simply sustaining our initiatives, we’ve been able to grow them,” said Connor. “The Elevate Fund has allowed us to extend funding to new areas of our initiatives that we hadn’t been able to develop prior.”
Doing Better by Being Better
With time, Connor has learned from the challenge of playing key roles within the organizations. He has learned to dedicate his full focus to each project he works on and has created constructive boundaries to accomplish goals across his entire career.
He’s received support for his efforts from peers at RS&H too, which makes all the difference as he pursues his passion.
“It was very rewarding and creates confidence that the company cares and wants to be involved,” said Connor.
While instrumental in Open World Cause and the RS&H Corporate team, he has driven himself to be better every day. He has pushed himself because he genuinely enjoys serving global communities and making a lasting impact.
“Working with RS&H has been a very supportive environment that’s ripe for growth and learning opportunities,” said Connor. “No matter what the problem is, I know my team is going to work through it.”
Cultivating A Brighter Future, Together
Connor hopes to continue creating lasting impacts both at RS&H and in his service to others.
He strives to help those around him – his teams, people in need, and so many more. And his selfless work at Open World Cause only demonstrates that even more clearly.
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