Fresh off its 20th anniversary, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation’s Youth for Community Improvement program this year focused its grantmaking on COVID-19 relief as well as access and equity across the greater Worcester community.
Pivoting online, nine students from the prior year participated in the 2020 YCI program. This group of high school juniors and seniors represented Bancroft School, Doherty High in Worcester, Grafton High School, Shrewsbury High School and Worcester Technical High School.
COVID-19 was always going to pose a challenge to the way in which YCI has been hosted in years past, said Barbara Fields, GWCF President and CEO. “I’d like to commend Sarah Shugrue, GWCF Program Officer and YCI’s program manager, and each of our students for their resiliency and commitment to making the pivot to an online platform such a success.”
Fields added: “I am always impressed by the students’ energy and curiosity – as leaders and philanthropists – throughout the weeks-long program.”
After three months of research, discussion, and deliberation, the 2020 cohort chose to fund 15 organizations with a total $26,500 in grantmaking. In total, there were 27 requests for funding from the YCI program this year.
From the start, said Shugrue, “it was very easy for the 2020 participants to land on these issues because they understood COVID-19 relief as well as access and equity are among the most pressing issues in our community.”
Shugrue added: “I’m proud of what they were able to fund. These are organizations that are committed to ensuring people’s basic needs are met and/or are working to create space for everyone.”
Each year, Shugrue’s goal is “to see the further evolution of authentic youth voice” among the requests for funding submitted by local nonprofits. “This year, that goal has been met,” she said.
Those organizations chosen to receive funding from YCI 2020 participants are listed below:
African Community Education’s ACE Ambassadors: $1,500
PROGRAM: Youth development program focused on leadership and advocacy
Ansaar of Worcester’s Youth-Led Community Service Projects: $1,500
PROGRAM: Series of community engagement activities led by students and informed by community needs assessments
Ascentria Community Services’ Racism Dialogues for Youth Advisory Council: $1,000
PROGRAM: Youth-led program on racial justice for unaccompanied refugee minors
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest’s Technology Access for Students: $2,000
PROGRAM: Purchase laptops and headphones for students
City of Worcester Department of Health & Human Services’ City Manager’s Youth Council: $2,000
PROGRAM: Youth-led program to support peers
Girls, Inc. of Worcester’s Girls Advisory Council: $1,500
PROGRAM: Funds to hire a racial justice consultant
Hope Coalition’s Peer Leadership Program: $2,000
PROGRAM: Social media campaign and virtual meetings to support youth mental health
Living in Freedom Together, Inc.’s Youth Outreach & Advocacy Services: $2,000
PROGRAM: Mentoring and crisis support for young people
My Turn, Inc.’s Fitchburg Employment Plus Program: $1,000
PROGRAM: Funds to purchase food, PPE, and technology support for participants
Nativity School of Worcester: $1,500
PROGRAM: Diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism workshops to support staff and students on the issues of racial justice
Pernet Family Health Service, Inc.’s Homework Club: $1,500
PROGRAM: A virtual academic and mental health support system for young people
Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center’s Pleasant-Piedmont Youth Leadership Council: $2,000
PROGRAM: Youth-driven virtual activity programs
Regional Environmental Council, Inc.’s YouthGROW: $2,000
PROGRAM: YouthGROW, or Youth Growing Organics in Worcester, supports youth farming jobs
Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts’ COVID-19 Relief: $3,000
PROGRAM: Support for youth to deliver PPE, groceries, and meals to community members
Worcester Youth Center’s Civic Partnership Program: $2,000
PROGRAM: Support for a new, youth-led civic engagement program
More information on the YCI program can be found on the GWCF website.