Nearly 125 Middle School Students in Three Counties Participate in Sixth Annual Challenge
WATERTOWN — The Northern New York Community Foundation is pleased to announce $10,000 in Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge grants to 10 nonprofit organizations that serve Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties.
Now in its sixth year, the Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge was open to all tri-county middle school students. This year’s program committee reviewed 124 entries from seventh and eighth graders in 11 different school districts who recommended grants to 93 different organizations that serve residents across the three counties.
Schools participating in the 2022-2023 challenge include: Jefferson County — Carthage Central, Case Middle School-Watertown City Schools, South Jefferson Central, Thousand Islands Middle School; Lewis County — Beaver River Central and Lowville Academy and Central School; St. Lawrence County — Brasher Falls Central, Canton Central, Massena Central, Morristown Central, and Potsdam Central.
The initiative was launched in 2017 to introduce middle school students to concepts of philanthropy and community needs. The challenge seeks to engage youths as they explore the meaning of community and are empowered to recommend grants to support their concepts that strengthen the quality of life in the region. Students write an essay that articulates their definition of community and explains what makes it a great place to live, work and play. Participants are then asked to name a charitable organization that makes their community a better place through its service to residents.
“It is an important part of the Foundation’s mission and values to ensure a sense of community responsibility is passed thoughtfully to future generations,” said Rande Richardson, Community Foundation executive director. “For many of these students, it may be their first experience with exploring the way civic engagement and contribution can be a meaningful part of a fulfilling life. We know the impact of this program is not just for today, but for tomorrow.”
In the past six years, 113 students have been selected to present 109 grants totaling $60,000 to 86 different nonprofit organizations that serve tri-county residents. Since the Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge began, 714 students representing 23 school districts across the region have applied to the program, recommending grants to 214 different charitable organizations.
Charitable organizations students selected for funding this year range from those that provide support for essential human needs, youth development, and the elderly, to those that strengthen and enrich our communities through education, health and wellness, and recreation.
Gifts to the Friends of the Foundation Annual Community Betterment Fund, as well as corporate support from Community Bank and a major gift from an anonymous individual donor, help to underwrite program grants. A committee that included Community Foundation staff and a retired junior high school teacher judged and scored the applications with results as follows:
- $1,000, Watertown Urban Mission, Aidan O’Shaughnessy, Case Middle School, Watertown
- $1,000, Salvation Army Watertown Corps, Carson Brown, Case Middle School, Watertown
- $1,000, Movement Sports, Owen Marcolini, Case Middle School, Watertown
- $1,000, Hospice of Jefferson County, Devyn Pleskach, South Jefferson Central, Adams
- $1,000, Cape Vincent Community Food Pantry, Isabella McKillip, Thousand Islands Middle School, Clayton
- $1,000, Lewis County General Hospital Foundation, Lowville, Michael Whitcher, Lowville Academy & Central School
- $1,000, Lowville Free Library, Alannah McBroom, Lowville Academy & Central School
St. Lawrence County
- $1,000, Police Activities League of Massena, Alyssa Therrien, Massena Central School
- $1,000, St. Joseph’s Foundation, Ogdensburg, Kinley Lalonde, Morristown Central School
- $1,000, Society of the United Helpers, Ogdensburg, Peayton Stark, Morristown Central School
The Community Foundation and schools will work with winning students in the coming weeks to coordinate visits to their respective charitable agencies to present grants and learn more about the organizations they chose.
About the Northern New York Community Foundation
Since 1929, the Northern New York Community Foundation has invested in improving and enriching the quality of life for all in communities across Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties.
Through partnerships with businesses and organizations, charitable foundations, and generous families and individual donors, the Community Foundation awards grants and scholarships from an endowment and collection of funds that benefit the region. Its commitment to donors helps individuals achieve their charitable objectives now and for generations to come by preserving and honoring legacies of community philanthropy while inspiring others.
The Community Foundation is a resource for local charitable organizations, donors, professional advisors and nonprofit organizations. It also works to bring people together at its permanent home in the Northern New York Philanthropy Center to discuss challenges our communities face and find creative solutions that strengthen the region and make it a great place to live, work, and play.