Students Welcome New and Returning Council Members from Four High Schools for Yearlong Leadership Program
WATERTOWN — The Northern New York Community Foundation recently named its 2023-2024 Youth Philanthropy Council class, welcoming 11 new and eight returning students to the leadership program.
The Youth Philanthropy Council is an advisory committee of the Northern New York Community Foundation. Chartered in 2010, the program promotes positive youth development and engages young people in meaningful activities that build their skills while deepening their understanding of community needs and educating them about community philanthropy and its impact on Northern New York. Council members grow to become informed critical thinkers and philanthropic leaders as they engage in lessons
that may never be taught in a traditional classroom.
“We are continually impressed with the insight and perspective these young adults bring. We know that the best way we can honor the past is to help ensure that it is perpetuated and in good hands,” said Rande Richardson, Community Foundation executive director. “Consistently, students share with us that it is one of the most meaningful and transformative experiences during high school. It continues to be one of the most important ways we help advance the Foundation’s work and mission across the generations.”
This year’s Council includes 19 representatives from General Brown, Lyme, and South Jefferson Central Schools, and Watertown High School. Council members are in their junior or senior class. They are:
- Jack Adams, Watertown High junior, first-year member
- Justin Draught, Watertown High junior, first-year member
- Hannah Eldridge, Watertown High junior, first-year member
- Rosamond Hunt, Lyme Central junior, first-year member
- Mia Kelly, Watertown High junior, second-year member
- Elyse King, Watertown High junior, first-year member
- Vincent Knapp, Watertown High junior, first-year member
- Harper Lane, Watertown High junior, second-year member
- McKenna Lee, General Brown Junior/Senior High senior, second-year member
- Jack Mangan, South Jefferson High senior, third-year member
- Colden Marks, General Brown Junior/Senior High junior, first-year member
- Bennett Pistner, Watertown High junior, first-year member
- Anastaja Smith, Watertown High junior, first-year member
- Ella Smith, Watertown High junior, second-year member
- Finley Swartz, Watertown High junior, first-year member
- Olivia Urf, Watertown High senior, second-year member
- Sienna Virga, Watertown High junior, first-year member
- Maya Voss, Watertown High senior, second-year member
- Olivia Wisner, General Brown Junior/Senior High senior, second-year member
During its last meeting of the school year in June, students elected members to the Council’s Executive Committee.
Watertown High School senior Olivia Urf will serve as the Council Chair; General Brown Junior/Senior High School senior Olivia Wisner will serve as Vice Chair; and Watertown High senior Maya Voss was elected to serve as Secretary. South Jefferson High School senior Jack Mangan is Immediate Past Chair.
“I am very thankful for the opportunity to serve as Youth Philanthropy Council chair this year. This position has been a goal of mine since I entered the program, and I am ecstatic to be able to contribute to the Council in such an impactful way,” said Olivia Urf, Watertown High senior. “The Youth Philanthropy Council has greatly changed my perspective on life and giving within the community, and I am honored to be a part of it.”
Executive Committee members work alongside program advisors to set meaningful agendas and program goals while facilitating grantmaking efforts that include managing $25,000 in competitive grant funding available to tri-county nonprofits.
“I am honored to be chosen as the Council’s Vice Chair for the upcoming year,” said Olivia Wisner, General Brown Junior/Senior High senior. “I look forward to creating meaningful relationships with my peers and continuing the impactful work that YPC does in the community.”
“I am very happy to have been chosen as Secretary and I am looking forward to the great things the Council will accomplish,” Watertown High senior Maya Voss said. “I’m excited to be able to lead our new members and take the Council to the next level this year.”
Each of the three students now serving in leadership roles are in their second year of service on the Council while Immediate Past Chair Jack Mangan began his third year of Council service.
The Council also named committee chairs. Mia Kelly, Watertown High junior, will chair the Communications Committee; McKenna Lee, General Brown Junior/Senior High senior, will chair the Service Committee; and Ella Smith, Watertown High junior, will chair the Grants Committee.
Since its inception in 2010, the Youth Philanthropy Council has awarded 134 grants totaling $230,070 in support to nonprofit organizations that serve residents of Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties.
In the past 13 years, 151 students representing eight Northern New York high schools have been appointed to serve on the Youth Philanthropy Council.
The Youth Philanthropy Council and its grant program are made possible by gifts from donors who make contributions to the Friends of the Foundation Annual Community Betterment Fund and generous support from Watertown Savings Bank, RBC Wealth Management Watertown, the Renzi Family Charitable Foundation, and the Mart Liinve Family Charitable Fund.
A team of staff and volunteer advisors mentor students through the yearlong program. Advisors are Emily Sprague, senior advisor, and Northern New York Community Foundation board member; Kraig Everard, Community Foundation director of stewardship and programs; and Leslie Renzi, volunteer advisor.
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.