The Northern New York Community Foundation’s Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge is now CLOSED for the 2023-2024 academic year applications. Winning entries were announced on Dec. 29, 2023. Click here to to view the announcement. Contact the Community Foundation, email@example.com, or 315-782-7110, with questions or to learn more.
About the challenge
The Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge began in October 2017 as an effort to engage middle school-aged children in the principles of community and philanthropy. That year, the Community Foundation selected 23 winning entries from more than 60 submissions by 7th- and 8th-grade students in Jefferson and Lewis counties, awarding grants to 19 nonprofit organizations totaling $10,000 in support. The Watertown-based nonprofit Stage Notes was a 2017-2018 Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge partner. The 2018-2019 Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge was expanded to also include 7th- and 8th-grade students in St. Lawrence County. Community Bank N.A., joined the effort as a program partner, providing a corporate gift to help underwrite grant awards.
Through a written essay contest, the initiative strives to help participants explore their concept of community and provide funding to eligible 501(c)(3) charitable organizations that embody and support what students feel makes their community a great place to live, work and play. Students compete for a chance to award a $1,000 grant from a total of $10,000 available that the students themselves recommend. Ten students are selected and each will personally present a $1,000 grant to the nonprofit they have selected while spending time with the nonprofits’ leadership, learning about the organization’s mission and how it serves tri-county residents.
In the past seven years, 122 students and an entire class have been selected to present 129 grants totaling $70,000 to nearly 100 different nonprofit organizations that serve tri-county residents. In its first five years, 842 students representing 25 school districts across the region have applied to the the Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge, recommending grants to nearly 220 different charitable organizations.
Watch a video here about the challenge and hear from past winners and nonprofit leaders about how they used a Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge grant to help their organizations.
Charitable organizations students have selected for funding range from those that provide support for essential human needs, fire protection, and animal welfare to those that strengthen and enrich our communities through education, arts and culture, health and wellness, and recreation.
Click to view a list of nonprofit organizations that presently partner with the Community Foundation.
We are pleased to continue this initiative with a major gift from an individual donor, corporate support from Community Bank, as well as all who give to the Friends of the Foundation Annual Community Betterment Fund.
Click here to to view an announcement of 2023-2024 winning students and the nonprofit organizations they chose to receive a $1,000 Community Foundation grant.
Check back to view a photo gallery of past Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge winners!