Now in Fourth Year, Program Sees Record 144 Entries from Middle School Students in Three Counties
WATERTOWN — The Northern New York Community Foundation announces $10,000 in Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge grants to 20 nonprofit organizations that serve Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties.
Now in its fourth year, the Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge is open to all tri-county middle school students. This year’s program committee received and reviewed 144 entries from seventh and eighth graders who recommended grants to 79 different organizations that serve residents across the three counties.
Schools participating in the 2020-2021 challenge include: Jefferson County — Alexandria Central School, Carthage Central School, Case Middle School-Watertown City Schools, General Brown Central School, Immaculate Heart Central School, Sackets Harbor Central School, South Jefferson Central School, and Thousand Islands Middle School; Lewis County — Lowville Academy and Central School; St. Lawrence County — Canton Central School; Morristown Central School; and Ogdensburg Free Academy. Two Jefferson County home-schooled students also participated.
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.
“Instilling an interest in civic engagement and service is one of our core values. We believe that collectively we must do all that we can to perpetuate traditions of commitment to community,” said Rande Richardson, Community Foundation executive director. “Interest in this program continues to grow each year, and that is a good indication that we have future leaders eager to step forward by making service a priority in their lives. It also provides a great pathway to the Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Council.”
In the past four years, 83 students have been selected to present 79 grants totaling $40,000 to 67 different nonprofit organizations that serve tri-county residents. Since the Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge began, 397 students representing 21 school districts across the region have applied to the program, recommending grants to 160 different charitable organizations.
Consistent themes of community that most often appeared in essays were: “caring for one another,” “working together to help others,” “safe and supportive people,” “encouraging,” “teamwork,” and “shared values.”
Charitable organizations students selected for funding range from those that provide support for essential human needs and animal welfare to those that strengthen and enrich our communities through education, arts and culture, scouting, child care, 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:
- $500, Disabled Persons Action Organization, Watertown, Caleb Hale, Case Middle School, Watertown
- $500, Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, Watertown, Riley Burns, Case Middle School, Watertown
- $500, Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways, Watertown, Destiny Gist, General Brown Central School
- $500, Hawn Memorial Library, Clayton, Anna Huizenga, Thousand Islands Middle School
- $500, Hearts For Youth, Alexandria Bay, River Costello, Alexandria Central School
- $500, Hospice of Jefferson County, Watertown, Koel Everard, Carthage Central School
- $500, JRC Foundation, Watertown, Luke Charlton, Case Middle School, Watertown
- $500, Neighbors of Watertown, Michael Lumbis, Case Middle School, Watertown
- $500, North Country Family Health Center, Toryann McKinney, Case Middle School, Watertown
- $500, Power Play Sports Foundation, Watertown, Trey Ledoux, Immaculate Heart Central School
- $500, River Hospital, Alexandria Bay, Londynn Lawhon, Thousand Islands Middle School
- $500, South Jeff Backpack Program, Adams, Alexsandra Blevins, South Jefferson Central School
- $500, Stage Notes, Watertown, Delaney Anderson, Carthage Central School
- $500, Watertown Urban Mission, Grayson Feisthamel, Case Middle School, Watertown
- $500, SPCA of Jefferson County, Watertown, Jack Adams, Case Middle School, Watertown
- $500, Hand-in-Hand Early Childhood Center, Lowville, Lillian Exford, Lowville Academy & Central School
- $500, Salvation Army Watertown Corps, Chase Nakano, Lowville Academy and Central School
St. Lawrence County
- $500, Canton-Potsdam Hospital Foundation, Canton, Olivia White, Canton Central School
- $500, Help Sami Kick Cancer Foundation, Canton, Vivian Coburn, Canton Central School
- $500, Renewal House for Victims of Family Violence, Jazmine Carpenter, Morristown Central School
As public health guidelines safely permit, 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.