Custodian Service Initiative (CSI)

CSI brings together students and custodians to create relationships, reduce student apathy, increase student ownership, and foster respect.

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Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

June 20th, 2001

Help us stay in touch!

(970) 305-2180 2415 Treestead Road Colorado: Fort Collins (80528)

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The custodial staff works tirelessly to maintain our building, but does not receive the acknowledgment they deserve. Students add to the workload by being careless and not picking up after themselves. A common saying was, “leave it, the custodians will get that.” Custodians felt disconnected and isolated. Frequent turnover added to the problem. Student carelessness was straining the custodians, since they haven’t had a full team since 2017.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

I founded Custodian Service Initiative (CSI) in September 2017, bringing together students and custodians to create relationships, reduce student apathy toward littering/recycling, increase student ownership and foster respect for our custodial staff. We accomplish this by creating visibility and raising awareness through: 1) Multiple “get to know you” bulletin boards with custodian pictures, names, and profiles, including detailed interviews with fun facts about each custodian. 2) A series of annual events where students, custodians, and staff interact to build relationships. 3) Formal recognition and shoutouts at school assemblies. These aspects help students “know their custodians,” creating understanding and opportunities to know each other. Students “meet” the night custodians, learn their perspective, and understand their motivations. CSI is the liaison between students and custodians, transforming attitudes and creating unity. Imagine if there were an unbreakable relationship between students and custodians. Let’s create an environment where students pick up after themselves. Let’s create an environment where custodians feel valued, heard, and appreciated.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I began noticing my principal, Mark Eversole, picking up trash in the hallways and outside our school during my sophomore year. Key Club Advisor Krista Taylor would navigate the hallways in between classes, rounding up lunch trays left behind by careless students. Custodians and cafeteria staff disagreed about who was responsible for collecting trays and returning them to the cafeteria. One evening, I met Robert in the courtyard at school. Robert helped me see something new by sharing his passion and his commitment to our high school students. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Robert is a custodian at our high school. I founded the Custodian Service Initiative (CSI) in September 2017, bringing together students and custodians to create relationships, reduce student apathy toward littering/recycling, increase student ownership and foster respect for our custodial staff.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Together with Key Club peers, our Head Custodian Carole Herrick, and Key Club Advisor Ms. Taylor, we identified three goals: 1. Develop relationships and create unity between students and custodians 2. Enable students to understand the impact of our custodian’s efforts 3. Acknowledge the custodial staff and have them experience our appreciation 100+ teachers, 600+ students, and 15+ clubs engage with CSI. My greatest memory was leading hundreds of these ecstatic students in a parade to celebrate our custodians. We offered cake, gift bags, thank you cards, CSI shirts and our heartfelt respect. The look of pride, honor and joy in our custodian’s faces brought tears to my eyes. My dream was school-wide understanding, empathy and appreciation for our custodian’s selfless service. The custodial team later informed me that their passion for their work was reignited that day.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

We achieved a culture that opened up relationships and is respectful and aware. Six-hundred students have aligned and engaged with our vision. “I’ve never seen anything like this in 30 years in the district. No other schools, none, do anything to recognize their custodians, let alone have a program for them. It’s an honor to be part of this program.” - Donna, Chief Custodian, Poudre School District According to Donna, the district-wide mindset shifted from “isolated, individualized work for each employee” to a “teamwork-oriented operation where custodians work together.”

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Custodian Service Initiative continues to grow in impact. Students now go out of their way to talk with custodians and push past “staff only” signs to visit with custodians in their break room. Music students carry their cafeteria trays across the school, rather than leaving them for someone else to pick up. Classrooms challenge other classrooms to outserve the other. Students interact with custodians differently. I shared the CSI vision with incoming Principal Tam Smith. He was moved and inspired. He committed to continue our vision after I graduate. He also acknowledged our unique culture and the dynamic interaction between students and custodians: “I asked six students who they connect with at school. Three of them said the custodians, because of their valuable work and effort in cleaning the school.” - Incoming Principal Tam Smith (while meeting students in his first week)

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

It was 10:30pm. He lowered his head as I passed by. I stopped, leaned in and said “what is your name?” He quickly responded “Barbino, y tu?” I said “Soy Christian, mucho gusto.” He has been at Colorado State University for 21 years. He was beaming with pride. His passion and purpose runs deeper than mopping a floor, or emptying trash and recycling bins. He is more than “a custodian.” He is a friend and someone I want to celebrate. I envision a culture of dignity, love, and respect and I am reminded daily of the beauty of conversation and the opportunity to celebrate those who are not recognized. I celebrate my custodians and will expand CSI to my college. This is my mission and the environment I will create: love, dignity, respect.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Marketing Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges

Attachments (1)

Project Summary for CSI (Final PDF).pdf

Custodian Service Initiative (CSI) project proposal


Join the conversation:

Photo of Savannah Grasmick

Hi Christian! This is such a cute idea, it definitely means so much to the custodians when students simply talk to them! I've noticed that with my favorite lunch lady, it makes the school setting so much more enjoyable for everyone:)

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