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Youth philanthropy efforts continue to expand in the north country


North country teenagers are a part of the positive changes and improvements people see throughout their communities, and that effort continues on an upward climb.

Throughout the past few years, high school students have participated in youth philanthropy councils within the Northern New York Community Foundation. While some youth council members prepare to make grant award recommendations to the Community Foundation’s board of directors, other groups are accepting applications, and some are just getting their feet off the ground.

“It gives students an opportunity to be even more empowered,” said Max M. DelSignore, Community Foundation donor services coordinator.

So many Watertown High School students felt empowered by the program that the Community Foundation added twice as many students, and split them into two groups: one in the fall and one in the spring.

The spring group is requesting applications from nonprofit groups for programs or projects that may need the council’s support. Agencies and organizations must provide services in Jefferson, Lewis or St. Lawrence counties. The 18-member council will make recommendations totaling $10,000 to the Community Foundation’s board of directors, and funding is expected to be awarded in June.

According to a recent foundation news release, grant proposals should include a description of the organization, the specific program or project needing financial support and a monetary amount requested. A contact person also should be listed. Finalists will be asked to make a brief presentation to the youth council.

All submissions must be received no later than April 18. For more information, call the foundation at 782-7110.

Past grants awarded by the Watertown group include $1,700 to New Day Children’s Center, Watertown, for the purchase of two bench glider rockers for its infant room; $1,600 to Family Counseling Service, Watertown, to revitalize its children’s play therapy room, and $500 to the Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County, Watertown, to provide food, clothing and other items.

Meanwhile, the fall group of the Youth Philanthropy Council at Watertown High School has gone through a similar process throughout the past few months. That group’s recommendations will be considered at the Community Foundation’s board of directors meeting Tuesday.

The St. Lawrence County Youth Philanthropy Council, which is housed at Potsdam Central School, also is working through its grant proposals/application process. That group is expected to make $10,000 in grant recommendations to the foundation’s board. A similar council at Ogdensburg Free Academy is in its beginning stages.

Youth philanthropy efforts soon will expand to include Immaculate Heart Central schools, Mr. DelSignore said.

“There’s definitely enthusiasm that’s there,” he said, regarding participation from scores of students.

While the foundation administers the councils, each council will have its own advisers.

The Community Foundation also recently established the Leadership, Engagement, Access and Direction Council for community members ages 21 to 45 to learn about strategic grant making and develop skills to become community leaders. By year’s end, that group of young professionals could make recommendations to the foundation’s board for up to $10,000.

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