The Youth Philanthropy Council of the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge announces $7,500 in competitive grants to agencies serving our community youth. Members of the Youth Philanthropy Council will present the grants at an awards reception at 5:00pm on Tuesday, May 14th at the P. Buckley Moss Museum.
The Youth Philanthropy Council (YPC) was established in the fall of 2008 after it was noted that 63% of The Community Foundation’s annual competitive grants were awarded to youth programs. The Community Foundation identified a unique opportunity to promote youth development and leadership by broadening experiences in philanthropy. “There is no one better to determine the needs of youth in our community, and the most successful solutions, than the youth themselves,” noted Christiana Shields, Director of Nonprofit Services for the Foundation and advisor to the YPC.
Now in its fifth year, the YPC is currently comprised of two or three students from each public high school in the cities of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta and Highland Counties, who are selected annually by the principal or guidance counselor. The nomination and selection process identifies students in 10th and/or 11th grades, who will serve a two to three year term for consistency and leadership development. Members of the YPC must demonstrate a motivation to serve, leadership potential, a willingness to learn, and strive to be of good character in order to serve as a role model for the youth in our community. The goals of the YPC are to: promote youth development and empowerment through experiences of philanthropy; encourage and support community initiatives about which youth care; and engage youth and adults in partnership through giving and serving for the common good. The Foundation’s Board has appropriated grant-making funds to the YPC each year. The YPC uses these funds to support area non-profit programs that affect teens. In the past five years, their funding has improved the lives of over 1,200 teens, not including the eighteen council members who admit that their perspective on their community has been transformed. Lauren Ritchie, a student at Fort Defiance High School, noted, “YPC has been an amazing opportunity for me to be around other youth that share my passion for helping others; it has truly enriched my life, made me a better leader, and been one of my favorite activities I have participated in during my high school years.”
A needs assessment was conducted by participants amongst their peers who identified critical community needs in the areas of teen sexuality and teen pregnancy; career planning / job development / employment programs; stress / peer-pressure / depression / isolation / apathy; and programs that address transportation. Sessions were held on leadership and decision-making skills, key grant components, and processes to evaluate grant proposals. Applications were reviewed and debated, and final recommendations were presented to the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation.
“YPC showed me how rewarding it was to help others. Even if I did not know them or ever would, the fact that I was a part of making someone’s life better is incredible, and I have to thank YPC for giving to me,” commented Alex Oakes, a senior at Robert E. Lee High School and veteran YPC member.
The Youth Philanthropy Council is proud to announce the following grant awards for 2013:
Casa for Children – Funding to train and support 12 volunteer advocates to pursue expedited placement of 15 youth (13-18) into safe, permanent, and nurturing homes, so they remain in foster care. Trained volunteer advocates serve as an extra set of “eyes and ears” for the local juvenile judges, enabling them to make more informed decisions for the children’s future permanent placement. This, in turn, will provide a support system to encourage these teens to stay in school, graduate from high school, and pursue higher education at a much higher rate.
Valley Hope Counseling Services – Valley Hope will provide low-fee (or eve n no fee when necessary) counseling services to local adolescents. The funding received from YPC would subsidize the difference between what it costs the agency to provide the counseling and what the adolescent can afford to pay for it. With this funding, Valley Hope would be able to make services available to teenagers based solely on their own income, if any, rather than on total family income. Participants will work with a counselor for guidance on managing stress, developing effective coping strategies, and making well informed decisions about a healthy future.