Things keep growing for Katie Stagliano and her nonprofit organization Katie’s Krops. The College of Charleston senior was recently awarded $5,000 through Jersey Mike’s Sub Abover Grant program to help continue the momentum of her Summerville, South Carolina–based vegetable garden initiative.

Stagliano was among five grant recipients, chosen from more than 6,900 nominees. The grants support those making a difference in their local communities with a goal of helping the winners make an even bigger impact. In addition to the grant award, Stagliano will attend the Jersey Mike’s Subs’ annual meeting and leadership program in Orlando, Florida, in April.

“It’s very exciting,” says Stagliano, who is majoring in communication and minoring in leadership, change and social responsibility at CofC. “It is such an incredible honor, especially knowing how many people had been nominated. To know they supported my dream and the dream of kids around the country to end hunger really meant a lot.”

RELATED: Meet Katie Stagliano – the Cabbage Patch Kid.

Katie Stagliano

Katie Stagliano

Inspired by the experience of donating a cabbage she had grown to a local soup kitchen, Stagliano founded Katie’s Krops at the age of 9 after seeing how people in need could benefit from fresh produce. Today, Katie’s Krops empowers youth ages 9–16 to create vegetable gardens and donate the harvests to people in need. To date, more than 100 Katie’s Krops gardens have been started across the United States.

But the grant award from Jersey Mike’s isn’t the first time Katie’s Krops has garnered the attention of a major corporation. In 2018, Stagliano received $50,000 through the Feeding Better Futures General Mills Scholars Program. In both cases, the funds have gone right back to Katie’s Krops, providing other youths across the country with the seed money to start vegetable gardens of their own, as well as supplementing the cost of monthly garden-to-table dinners the nonprofit hosts at Summerville Baptist Church.

With the support of her mother, Stacy Stagliano, who currently serves as president of Katie’s Krops, Katie Stagliano has been able to continue the growth of the organization while pursuing her bachelor’s degree. In fact, she is on track to complete her degree a year early and graduate this spring so that she can begin the transition of taking over as president of the organization.

RELATED: Read more about General Mills’ recognition of Katie’s Krops.

“My professors have been really understanding,” says Stagliano. “It’s definitely a tricky balance, but I have an incredible support system, which makes it easier.”

And the hard work Stagliano has put into her education is poised to sprout dividends. Thanks to the skills she’s learned from her communication degree, Stagliano will be able to more effectively share the story and mission of Katie’s Krops to a variety of audiences across the country and around the world.

“I’m going to be able to bring what I’ve learned at the College back to Katie’s Krops to help us grow,” she says. “I want to help be a part of the solution of hunger. I think if we all work together we can make a huge impact, and I want to inspire people as much as possible – especially inspire youth – to be a part of the solution.”

Katie’s Krops is definitely on its way to making a difference. The nonprofit’s flagship garden recently moved from Pinewood High School to a larger plot at Crossroads Community Church in Summerville. Stagliano hopes to plant a fruit orchard in the new location in addition to expanding the vegetable garden and making the entire grounds handicap accessible.

“It’s going to be great, and I can’t wait to see it come to fruition,” she says.